FINDING HOPE ON THE BEACH ~ 8-14-17


Bradley Beach, NJ 8-12-17

We are probably all a little freaked out with the hype about the eclipses, moon cycle, and Mercury going retrograde all at the same time. I know I am. And while I do believe that astrological events can and do influence how things play out in our lives, I sometimes wonder how much of these occurrences are actually the result of these energies at play, or my projections and fears about their power. Regardless, energy IS moving around that I think may be related to the action going on “out there”; and it’s gotten my attention.

I pay heed to the advice of astrologers, especially my friend Lisa Zimmerman, who is a gifted one. I’ve learned so much from her about how aspects of astrological circumstances surrounding my birth influence how I express myself in this lifetime and am often comforted by her advice as she helps me understand what’s going on with planets and stars in relation to how life is unfolding. The eclipse energy portends upheaval, endings, beginnings, release and a variety of other possibilities. I am noticing how that is showing in various forms and while I see it in my personal life, what is most important right now is what is occurring in a more global way.

The most dramatic way it has shown up this weekend has been the horrific event taking place in Charlottesville, VA, and the tragic and needless death of a young woman, two policemen, and injury of 19 others. It is impossible to continue this posting without expressing my own feelings of shock and disgust that my country finds itself immersed yet again in the calamity and crime of racism and intolerance. I feel like I’ve been in a time machine that moved me in reverse and landed me in 1966 America, when firehoses and vicious dogs were fixed on peaceful demonstrators asking to be treated equally as men and women. And as a person of Jewish descent, the sight of nazi flags carried by a gang of angry white men was chilling and sickening to say the least. I keep shaking my head periodically to force those images away from my mind. Thus far, they are not leaving me.

The images from Charlottesville brought back some of the most unsettling memories of my youth, a time when change was rapidly taking place and hope sprang eternal despite the extreme turmoil of the times. Today I admit that my vision of my country has been badly damaged and I feel estranged from hope right now. But, I cannot and I will not allow fear and grief to derail my fundamental belief that we as a people are kind and good and that fairness and equanimity are the birthright of all people. What we are perceiving as darkness will be once again illuminated by the light of Truth and we will once again be proud of the legacy of the Great Experiment that is The United States of America. People of conscience must stand up over and over against the “normalization” of darkness and continue to be the bearers of light and love. Thankfully, there has been a lot of that in the last twenty-four hours. Hope.

Yesterday Bob and I spent our day on a crowded beach. I commented to him that we were here with probably thousands of people as far as the eye could see, gathered to enjoy the bounty of nature, focused on the ocean and a collective experience of breathing fresh sea air, the refreshment of the ocean’s waters, the gift of sunshine – all of us together. No politics, no suffering, no anger or violence. Just a colorful sea of humanity enjoying a day at the beach. This is my America. Did the thousands of people on the beach have different opinions about this or that? Probably. But we were together in one place, with one thing in common that allowed us to be there in peace. To me, this was the epitome of “possibility”. It was a helpful balm to soothe my broken spirit and helped to begin to restore my sense of hope for all of us.

The eclipse energy and the various astronomical influences notwithstanding, we are the masters of our thoughts and our responses. We are empowered to offset these influences with consciousness and intention. We can reach out to each other for support and counsel to manage our emotions and impulses. We can navigate these troubled waters with our own focus and awareness along with skillful guidance from those who know. We are fully responsible for the choices we make and now is the time to make the best ones possible. Love is the foundation of life. Nothing and no one can alter that reality.

WEEKLY STRETCH – 6-17-16

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It’s been a tough week since my last posting. Hard to believe that so many people’s lives have been turned upside down and so many are grieving. And that’s just the people we’ve heard about in the media. Many others are suffering who don’t attract media attention. In fact, most do not. Moment to moment someone is hearing news of a loss, or an illness, or a sadness that has taken them from their normal state of being to a completely different state of being…in a microsecond things have changed and nothing will ever the the same. Life is like that. Change is like that. We don’t always know when change will happen, and we like to think we have some measure of control over how and when it occurs. It’s the times when we don’t…have any measure of control…that turn our lives upside down. And it is in those times that the truth of our humanness is most evident.

This week the best and the worst of humanness has been calling my attention. Once again, as we see the faces of young people gone too soon and the “evil” that is responsible for taking them, we have the opportunity to make choices. Sadly I’ve witnessed some choices that are unthinkable to me…laying blame on the blameless, name-calling, racism, homophobia, extremism, hate. And I’ve seen heroism, kindness, unity, compassion and love. In some cases these incidents have brought people together; in others they have torn people apart. The dichotomy is startling since my first thought is always “how can I help?” rather than “who can I blame?”. The images and the discussions were too much for me at one point and I had to remove myself for a while to re-group my own energy and stamina for holding a higher space. After a 24-hour news sabbatical I returned with the resolve to look at the week’s events as an opportunity to be reminded of Presence.

Staying present in the moment is the only way I personally can manage the media onslaught. Present in my life, present with hope; present to breath and heartbeat; present with compassion and healing; present with forgiveness and vision for something so much better. I cannot control what anyone else will do in a given situation. I cannot change anyone’s deeply held convictions no matter how contrary they are to my own. I cannot take away the suffering or the pain I see in the faces of grieving parents and loved ones. I can only be present to life and be in a place of gratitude for the days I am given to live it. And living it, to me, means being fully present for all of the myriad experiences it provides. I can make the choice to bear witness to it all, with my heart open, my arms open, my mind open, my eyes…open. I can make the choice to help or blame. I can make the choice for Love. And in my view, Love always wins.

And so this week our stretch is about Presence.

STRETCH: Practice being present to whatever comes. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that arise, and give yourself space to feel them deeply. Be compassionate with yourself; be gentle with yourself. Hold space for healing, hope, gratitude, equanimity, and peace.

It is my deepest wish and hope that one day we will know that those we love are safe. Until then, may we all hold a vision for something so much better.

Your Weekly Stretch 11-16-15

LOGO COLOR (RIVA)

This week I offer you the opportunity to reflect on Oneness.  The graphic you see here is the logo for my husband’s and my ministry.  We are ordained Interfaith-Interspiritual ministers and as such we honor all paths to Divine Oneness. Notice symbols for the major religious traditions on the outside of the circle, the inner circle representing any and all paths not represented by the symbols and the interior colors of the four directions and it is said that these colors represent all of humanity.  All paths lead to the Great Oneness. In our years of study we have discovered that each one of these paths contains one Truth…All Is One.    In my personal view LOVE is all that matters.

Your stretch:  In the face of sorrow and the events of the past week our stretch is to stay centered; to keep our hearts and minds open; to be the essence of Love and Peace; and hold a vision of kindness and Love.  

 

The Muse & The Musing.

kundalini

A good friend Casey Leasure posted a gorgeous piece he wrote about his personal Muse. I was mesmerized reading it and I envied how well he could perceive her.

I cut through the veil of my dreams one night
to see just what orchestrated my visions as I slept.
And there before me was a painted woman,
floating gently in the abyss of my thoughts.
Her beauty was intoxicating, as I watched the paintings move and change designs on her body, as if one dream led into another.
No words were spoken, no sound was heard, but a flow of magical movement between her body and soul I watched.
Was this my dream maker?
Was this what guided me between the worlds of conscious and unconscious breaths?
Slowly she danced as her eyes called my soul, yet my body could not touch her, only my breath, only my eyes.
So passionately I loved the Muse behind the veil of my dreams.
Like a potter who sits at his wheel and creates a vase, or an artist who stands before his canvas and paints a masterpiece, the dream maker molds and paints my dreams.
So I say to you, now when I dream, I step behind the veil to commune with that which turns the wheel and paints the canvas.
For I have seen what calls me between the worlds of my conscious and unconscious breath.
~ Casey ~

from the book “Oneness of Soul ”
Chapter ~ Merging Souls of Love ~

Casey is a gifted writer, evidenced by this piece, his beautiful books, and the presence and power of his muse.

I’ve often thought about what my muse looks like, or if I even have one. In mythological terms a muse is a magnificent goddess, often depicted draped in diaphanous garments, with long waves of golden hair, stunning female curves, perfect skin, soulful blue eyes like pools of clear water, perfection personified in a divine way, undulating with creativity and beauty. Whew…wait a minute…I got a little carried away by the cartoon-like images I’ve encountered from Hollywood and other carriers of my favorite fantasies.  Let me reel this in and start over.

In most definitions a muse is a mystical female, a vision of perfect beauty, who inspires a man to create poetry, a novel, a piece of music or a painted masterpiece. She’s usually the source of creative inspiration. I love the idea of a ghostly figure out there somewhere orchestrating the magic that allows us to create art in all its forms. I also love the idea that this energy lives within us and constantly offers us the impulse of creativity. And, by the way, this muse energy is inspiring men AND women!!

During some rest and reflection time I contemplated what the creative impulse feels like in my own being. I’ve been noticing it in a big way for the last few months especially since I began my writing class at the end of August. I feel a nameless something moving within that says “write” one day, “paint” another day, and “take pictures” another. It urges me to reflect very deeply about almost everything that comes into my awareness. For instance, I’ve noticed that every recipe that turns up on my Facebook feed seems like something I can tweak and make into my own creation. And speaking of the kitchen, I’ve been concocting all sorts of delicious meals using the ingredients resident in my fridge or cupboards using only my wits and that nameless something that says “do it”.

In this moment as I write I feel a quickening in my physical body. It’s like a buzzing, or a gentle electrical charge that seems to come up through my feet and down from the top of my head, meeting somewhere in the middle of my belly and twirling around itself as it moves continuously. I imagine what is called Kundalini energy in yogic terms, combining with the essence of the indwelling divine spirit that is called the Shekinah in Hebrew; mixing and mingling with all of the electromagnetic energy that is generated by my heart muscle and the other amazing systems that work synergistically to sustain life. I see it as multi-colored sparkling light moving at will in, around and throughout my physical being surrounding me like a huge halo reaching out into the ethers of the Universe and touching all of the energies emanating from you and every other living being near and far.

What I’ve concluded, at least for today, is that my muse is not a mystical goddess-like nymph. Neither is it the epitome of male perfection and beauty, sad to say. My muse is light. My muse is electromagnetic energy. My muse is the impulse that emanates from the depths of my hearts – the physical heart that beats my life force and the ethereal heart that connects me to my Buddha nature. My muse is the combination of my resident divine feminine and sacred masculine as they combine in an erotic dance that ignites my inner fire and moves me to create. Like my friend Casey, I can just about see it…twirling and spinning within me sending its sparks in every direction. And today I bow in humble gratitude for the greeting I receive upon recognizing it as it says to me, “Do it. I’ll be right here.”      ~FD

*Photo from “The Way of the Mantra”.

 

 

DAD, FAMILY & THE RED MOON

Dad's night hal and meDaddy with hat

My beloved Dad, Mike Ketofsky, was honored on Saturday night by our local community.  It was a great thrill to gather with my family so that my brother, Hal, and I could receive this honor on his behalf.  I’ve always been proud to be his daughter; never more than I was upon hearing from his peers of the many ways he served the community and of the love and respect he inspired everywhere he went.

My dad was a Prince.  He was the epitome of generosity and kindness; of love and dedication; of service and consciousness; of connection and of devotion.  Standing at the podium with my brother making an acceptance speech to those present was surreal.  In fact the entire event was surreal.  It was held at the South Brunswick Senior Center, one of Dad’s many projects and sort of The House That Mike Built.  He spent most of his days there orchestrating one thing or another, playing pool or bridge, driving people to and fro, or attending meeting after meeting for the various projects he had a hand in.  I could feel his energy that night. I could see his broad smile and his laughing eyes. And I could see the pride on his face as his son, granddaughter, and son-in-law sang and played music for those assembled in his honor.  There were a variety of other performers as well, singing and dancing in ways that would have delighted him.  He was always so appreciative of anything anyone did that made them happy.  It made him happy too.  What made me happy was looking out at the faces of Dad’s family, whose eyes glistened with tears and tremendous pride.  We all loved him so much and we were in the place that gave him his sense of purpose during the years when his wife, my beloved mother, was being ravaged by Alzheimer’s.  This place was his refuge, his respite from the horror of watching his beloved disappear bit by bit, day by day.  I will always and forever be grateful to the many organizations and clubs that he served all of those years.  They saved his life, and allowed us to have him in ours for much longer than we would have otherwise.

It was a beautiful tribute to a big man with a huge heart.  When I look at the beauty of the red super moon Mother Nature gifted us last night I liken it to my Dad’s beautiful, wonderful heart.  The energy of the eclipse and all of the astrological aspects that gathered at this moment seem to be in harmony with the honoring of my Dad.  It’s about change, about moving into a new phase of consciousness; about restoring equilibrium and balance;  it is a gateway into a new world where we will all have a deeper understanding of humanity, our purpose and what life is all about.   He would absolutely love being here for a moment of such unique significance.

As his daughter, I absolutely love having been here with him in this lifetime.  He has left an imprint on me and everyone else he’s ever known.  The beautiful moon outside seems to be a reflection of his light back to us, and that big round smile is Dad’s smile saying to me and our family, “Good Show”.  I love you Dad.

Alzheimer ’s disease is a cruel illness that knows no boundaries or limits.  It’s also a disease without a cure.  Most of us know someone, some family or friend, who has been touched by this tragic and unrelenting disease.  Please support The Alzheimer’s Association in any way that you can by donating generously, or perhaps forming your own team for the Alzheimer’s Walks taking place this fall all-round the country.  Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for information about how you can help.   And while you’re at it, please support the American Diabetes Association, The Senior Center of South Brunswick, NJ, and the Aging in Place Partnership of South Brunswick, NJ.  There are so many ways we can help locally and globally.  Our aging population has done so much for us.  Let’s give something back.

Dad's night-the fam

Pictured: from left, Hal & Kathy Ketofsky, Aaron and Lindsay Ketofsky, Bob Demetrician, in front, Melissa Blevins, Franne Demetrician – most of Mike’s brood!!  Missing are Logan and Daynon Blevins, but not forgotten.

With blessings.    FD