FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS 11-24-16

thanksgiving
Photo Franne Demetrician –

My last two posts have been sort of “downers”. Not surprising since most of the people I know are doing their best to climb out of the depths of disappointment and concern that have been the results of our illustrious election. This one, however, will be different. This one is about joy and giving thanks, and there is so much to be thankful for.

Personally, I am surrounded by blessings and I am spending as much time as I can thinking about them, looking at them, being conscious of them. My husband, best friend, partner in life and in service, my more – I am one lucky woman to have found him again in this life and that we have been sharing this life and way of being together. My daughter, Melissa. No mother could be more grateful than I. She is sweet, bright, funny, clever, compassionate, a wonderful mother and wife, and a gifted and talented teacher. And she is a friend to all who know her. She and her husband Daynon are amazing parents to my precious grandson, Logan, who is becoming a very conscious young man because of their love and guidance. He is a master baseball player, a bright student, and a kind and gentle boy.

When I think about all that I am grateful for I include my extended family and the deep relationships we have forged over the years together; my parents and ancestors; my dear and beloved friends; my workmates and students; the work I’ve been called to do. I am grateful to anyone who has taken the time to read my posts and receive my thoughts and feelings. The list is endless and goes on forever!

So, this year at Thanksgiving I am envisioning myself wrapped in a beautiful golden mist that is sparkling with the energy of everyone and everything that has come into my life and enriched it with light. I am basking in that glow and intentionally reflecting its luminosity back out into the world with the intention of illuminating anything in its path. I am affirming that gentle peace and kindness will inform all our steps as we move into the holiday season and a new year. I am inviting fun, laughter, good times with people we love and open-heartedness to all we encounter. I am looking forward to living into new opportunities to create; to music and art; to stepping deeper into my truth and to offering my service to anyone I can help step deeper into theirs.

Essentially, Life Is So Good, and I am so grateful to be here every day to live it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

MORE STRETCHING 11-17-16

cups

A week later and I admit that I am still stretching along with many of you. Based on the unfolding events I would imagine we will be stretching for a long time. In full disclosure, I have been on an emotional roller coaster ride with all the obligatory highs and lows, more lows frankly than highs. I’ve noticed despite all the skills and training I’ve had I have yet to land emotionally for long enough to feel solid ground beneath my feet, and that is disturbing to say the least. Disturbing seems to be the word I would associate with many things that have come out of the results of the election last week.

What is most disturbing is the language and tone of many of the conversations I’ve seen and heard. As an empath, I have found the discourse agonizingly painful to witness which adds to my personal challenge internalizing what has happened and how to keep myself from falling into the depths of despair and anger. I have pledged to be of service in the world and yet most days since last Wednesday I feel utterly paralyzed and barely able to function in any normal way. I’ve given myself permission to notice the intricacies of my reaction and to honor these feelings as they arise. Admittedly I didn’t expect that a week later I would still be in the throes, but here I am and I am continuing to honor them as best I can.

What is also disturbing is a message that has been offered by well-meaning people that we should simply “get over it and move on”, and other platitudes that in my humble opinion can do more harm than good. While I agree that we must move forward and get on with the work at hand (and there is much) we cannot simply bypass our feelings and emotions by spouting platitudes and going numb to pain. We need each other. We need our friends and confidants. We need our communities. We need time to heal and regroup in a way that honors each person’s process and allows space. I have the great gift of family, friends and community all of whom have come together in support of one another. Some are in better shape than I am, some in worse. In every case, we are offering each other help and support with our eyes on the future and the work ahead. We cannot bypass our feelings, our sadness, our grief, or sense of loss and fear, any more than we could or should bypass the feelings that arise when we lose a loved one. It is simply not healthy and in fact can and does do great harm. Our present situation is an unfamiliar one and we need to acknowledge that the strategies we have employed in our ordinary existence may need stretching to meet the present reality.

All of that said, as I look to my own erratic emotions, I continue to give myself permission to work it all through by allowing all my feelings their space. I have turned off the news and taken a break from social media. I have taken some “cave time” to huddle in the safety of my home; I’ve eaten some good food and sought out kind people who will listen and hold me. And I’ve offered the same to others. While I’m surprised that I am still struggling to find my center, I’ve chosen to be kind to myself. I’m in constant communication with the God of my understanding, praying and communing, asking for guidance and affirming that I am willing to serve the greater good. I am doing what I can do at a time when I have not the first clue what is going to be needed.

Luckily I am embarking on a new and exciting project that taps directly into my creativity and takes much of my attention. It’s a project that is grounded in service to others and that gives me a powerful sense of purpose and direction. My life’s work is grounded in service to others, and it is that work that will be the vehicle for me to climb out of the stupor I keep dancing with this last week. I’m stretching – I’m stretching hard. I’m thinking of all the other people who are stretching with me and hoping that if you need me you will call me. We need each other.

Today a wise and trusted person suggested that once the dust settles and all of the emotions are allowed to move through, there will be our strength and Power. I am taking that to heart and it gives me hope. It reminds me that we are powerful beyond our wildest dreams.

STRETCH: Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Reach out for help. Reach out and help others. We are all in this together. Be kind.

ELECTION REFLECTION 11-10-16

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It’s not easy to formulate a post this week considering the events of the last 24 hours. I shared on Facebook that I went to sleep Tuesday night with hope in my heart and awoke to news that made me cry for the better part of the day. And yet, as someone who has said “Yes” to the call to service I find myself living the epitome of what it means to stretch. Coming to terms with the reality that half of my country supports a man who is not fit to lead for reasons I choose not to reiterate (simply because I’m sick to death of the list that has been shared time and time again) is the ultimate stretch indeed.

I’ve heard it said that growth can be and often is painful. I can certainly attest to that having lived enough years to look back and see the truth in it. And many wise and insightful people have noted that our country has been considering the face of its own darkness for months. Those same wise ones are also saying that with the outcome of the election comes an opportunity for us to bring light into that darkness; to be agents for change – of heart and of mind. I dearly want to believe that to be true, and I dearly want to be one who bears light for those who cannot see. But today all I can do is honor the depth of my own feelings of disappointment, despair, fear, anger and confusion. Today I must acknowledge the feelings that arise, bow in great humility to those feelings, cry, hide, pound a pillow, whatever I CAN do to allow these feeling to come up and out. I must do this to clear the space in my heart where Love lives. And in this as in all situations, Love is all that matters. So, I spent the day giving voice to my feelings; letting my emotions have their way; crying my tears and connecting to my loving communities in prayer and meditation. I am noticing the wide expanse of emotional ups and downs, especially noting the depth of Love that has been shared in various ways. I’m always stunned by the human spirit, and how much we can hold in one tiny moment. I’m also stunned by the resilience of the human spirit and the way it finds its way to its CenterPoint in the aftermath of upheaval.

Deep in my heart, despite what has occurred, I believe in the Divine Spark that is alive in everything. I know that even within a shattered heart live millions of sparkling fragments that continue to illuminate our being and all of life. I know that all people share a deep desire for peace and happiness. That is our commonality and the point at which we come together regardless of our politics or beliefs. This is where I intend to arrive once I’ve had my tantrum and have come back into my own sense of balance. And from this place of intrinsic Divinity we will move forward into the mystery of what is to come. Personally, I feel that our best is ahead. I believe the wisdom we will gain from recent events and those to come will give us deeper and wider understanding so that we as a world can move forward into our greatest glory.

In the meantime, I am still working through my grief. I intend to emerge from this work with renewed dedication to be of service to all beings and to live into the idea of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept that comes from ancient rabbinic teachings calling for the “healing of the world”. Today I am reminded of the personal vows of service I took when I was ordained in 2003. I humbly share them with you here.

It is with great humility and gratitude that I vow:
to live each day with God as my friend and constant companion
to keep my heart open to myself and others and to look deeply into the heart of my fellow beings to see the Divine Spark that resides in each of them
to live with integrity, authenticity, and mindfulness
to be a conduit for God’s divine creativity and love, for the benefit of all beings
and to live with the consciousness of the Universe as a harmonious Oneness.

STRETCH: Honor your feelings; allow yourself to express any emotions that arise. Accept what you cannot change and stand firm in your intention to see the world as completely whole and at peace. Look beyond the darkness for the Divine Spark that illuminates all things.

WEEKLY STRETCH 11-3-16 – “HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND”

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It’s a wild and crazy week for me, getting wilder and crazier. With that in mind I am posting my weekly stretch early because my husband, Bob, and I are welcoming dear friends from Canada to our home for a 5-day visit and we will be touring New York City with them on Thursday when I usually write and post.

The holiday of Halloween is actually rooted in the Celtic New Year. Halloween is believed to have arisen from the Celtic festival of Samhain, which celebrated the end of the lighter half of the year and coming of the darker half. In reading an article in Parabola Magazine on the topic I had one or two moments of realization that may be useful to you as well.

First, in complete honesty, as a child my whole year pivoted on Halloween. I loved dressing up and I LOVED candy. Imagine? A kid loving candy? This kid still loves candy, unfortunately. But Halloween Trick or Treating has lost its luster. Year after year I’ve left a huge vat of candy outside my door (so that I could work with a client for an hour and so that the doorbell wouldn’t ring making Sophie bark) with a sign that asks the kids to take one or two pieces each and leave some for others, only to find an hour later that it is all gone. I promise you that much candy doesn’t disappear in one hour on a quiet street like mine unless someone decides to dump it all and run. I tested my theory and lo and behold…I was correct. Since we moved to our new home two years ago I thought I’d give it another try in a new neighborhood and…poof…same thing happened. It took about 5 minutes. So now I donate money to the local foodbank instead and it’s lights out at the “D” household on Halloween. I do miss seeing the little ones and hearing those cute little voices – ”Trick or Treeeeet” while they wait expectantly at the door to see what kind of the candy will be dropped into their little plastic pumpkin. So cute.

Samhain, on the other hand, has some real significance for me this year. I have historically had a love/hate relationship with Fall because while I love the vibrant color and the delicious smells and the crispy sounds under my feet, I dread the loss of light and the onset of the dreary frigid days of winter that it portends. The wisdom of Samhain is that the “veil” between worlds is very thin at this time of year, and continues to thin through the winter solstice when it is the thinnest. What this means is that if we listen carefully we can receive vivid clear messages and guidance from beyond the veil. What it means to me is that when “the darkness” arrives I am less distracted and more receptive to that guidance and to those messages, and for this I am exceedingly grateful. In ancient cultures darkness was actually celebrated and invited. Lights were extinguished to give the darkness the space needed to engulf the world in its wisdom. Lamps and candles were blown out in reverence for the darkness and its mysteries.

Parabola Magazine offered this: “Even if we think we’ve forgotten this ancient understanding, evidence of it remains. All-Hallows-Even or Eve (evening), falls on the night before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, a traditional mass day of the saints. This is a celebration of the hallowed ones, the ones who have gone beyond the limitations, the likes and dislikes and blind spots that blind the rest of us. Renunciation and practice made these holy beings whole in the sense of being able to embrace all human possibilities and the wholeness of life, light and dark. Nothing human was foreign to them. Nothing was unforgivable and unlovable. Built right into our trick-or-treating holiday is the implication that we must dare to embrace the darkness, to be with the unknown and frightening, to fully love and live. “

So this year as the darkness continues to descend evening after evening I am setting an intention to welcome it rather than dread it. I’m asking the darkness to bestow its wisdom upon me, knowing that as I move into my own brand of hibernation there will be many gifts and illuminations to light my way through. And when light evades me completely, I pledge to surrender my whole self to it allowing the silence and absence of light enhance my intuition and my ability to fully live in balance…light and dark each given their due. Frankly, this is a mighty stretch for me and I expect I’ll need to remind myself of this pledge from time to time. But, I am willing and open to a new way to approach this time of year with an expectation that come Spring I just might be stronger, wiser, and more complete than ever before. I sincerely hope you will hang in there with me and together we will see what happens on the other side. Meantime, it’s likely I’ll be reporting weekly progress…or whatever manifests along the way. My intention – make darkness my friend.

STRETCH: How can you embrace the darkness? Can you imagine welcoming your shadow as you would an old friend? Take some time to notice when you feel an absence of light and consciously make space for the wisdom the darkness has to share with you. Be still and listen.