The "Holidays"

A friend recently asked me to name 10 things I like and 10 things I dislike about New York. My answers, not unpredictably, were heavy on the dislike and short on the like. (Living in a place that more mirrors who I am and what I value requires a longer post, and is an element of my inentioning for the new year)

But there is this thing that I am feeling particularly aware of today;
I very much like living in a place where for many, today is just another day. Some celebrate, many do not, some have nothing and cannot, and for some, today comes with dread, and stress, and/or pain. 
And all of this gives permission to not feel like a freak, for this not being a day I do anything in particular to mark.
When I was younger "The Holidays" brought up deeply painful feelings of not enough-ness, and lack, and sorrow. 
Today, I know that none of those old stories are true, and those feelings are no longer part of my tape loop. 
And, I am utterly free to do as I wish, in a city that judges and cares not, about how I spend Christmas day.
Today I woke happy. I gave thanks for, and extra adoration to my cat companions, I moved my body, fed it beautiful food, took care of the outside feral cats, and will spend a few hours reading a novel that takes place in 8th century Gotland. A truly Merry day.
Whether we mark today with celebration or not, with friends and family, or not, there IS no "normal" and whatever we choose, it is perfectly, enough.
Peace, joy, safety, wellness, liberty, and abundance to all. 
Today. And everyday.

Truth Telling

So much of my work, no, all of my work, is about telling the truth. And alignment; with the seemingly at odds parts of ourselves, with our integrity, our values, how we show up on the world, and ultimately, our essential selves.

We are always called to teach what it is that we ourselves need to work on. 
And so, I've felt challenged by aligning and sharing all parts me publicly.
Activist, shit caller, person of faith, lover of this earth, and coach.

Today it feels really important to up my game of authenticity and risk. 
Because the world needs us; present, and fierce, and awake, hearts cracked open, and fully engaged.
To that end, here is a post I wrote privately this morning, now shared publicly;

In Junior high I used to wear a question authority t-shirt just to be sure "they" knew I was not buying it. 
I've always been profoundly offended by injustice and untruth, and I never understood why no one else could see that the emperor had no clothes. 
I've mellowed with age, tremendously; where as before, my rage came from the anger and fight in me, it now comes from love (which is always the ultimate truth underneath) 
Not airy fairy, passive, lets all just get along kind of love, but radical, ferocious, defend my family, kind of love; 
for the earth, and rocks, and rivers, for the trees that speak profound wisdom, for the moss, and salamanders, and spiders. For the dolphins, and marmosets, and wolves, and fishes. 
For the rats in laboratories, for every mother cow, and every baby stolen, and for the humans too, who are enslaved, and brutalized, and marginalized, and so conditioned that we've forgotten who we really are, and lost connection to our true nature.

The ultimate truth is oneness. There is no "other". We are not divided by color, gender, preference, or species. There are billions of unique manifestations of source, but not a single one of these manifestations is separate from, or other than us. 

I've done a shitload of work to align the parts of myself; lover, healer, empath, live-er with reverence and awareness of the Divine in all beings, and fighter, justice seeker, caller of shit, and citizen of this planet, not this (or any) country. 
And I have more work to do. 
To quiet my anger, more. To live from fierce love, more.

Why am I saying all of this? 
I don't know exactly, but it feels important at this juncture. 
To name that calling out what is happening in this country -and the world, does not mean that we are living in the "negative" or being "unspiritual". 
We can hold the knowledge of wholeness, while calling out distortion. Know the ultimate truth of oneness, while naming the injustices and falsehoods that perpetuate the illusion of separateness. 
Stepping in line is not a requirement for evolution or awakening, nor to be "spiritual beings" -we already are.
 

#SpiritualActivism #Truth #Justice #Spirituality #Coach #Healer #Teacher#Oneness #Earthlover #TreeHugger

Every upheaval is an opportunity to reassemble the pieces in a way that better serves us, as they fall back into place.

No matter how scary, or unsettling or painful, there is always, always, an opportunity within the challenge. 
To shed trappings and falsehoods, to stand bare and learn, and become a truer, more present, and rawer version of ourselves. 
In every challenge there is an chance to crack open a little further. To take a step closer to wholeness.

Sometimes, it's too soon. We are too close to the pain. 
But the question is always there: where is the learning?

There is always an answer.

 

 

artwork by Christian Schloe

artwork by Christian Schloe

So often all of our planning, and ruminating, and discussing, gets in the way the thing we most want, of just letting go ...

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments.  
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. 
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. 
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  
She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. 
She didn’t journal about it. 
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. 
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. 
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. 
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. 
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. 
She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. 
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. 
There was no applause or congratulations. 
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. 
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. 
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
A small smile came over her face. 
A light breeze blew through her. 
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
~ Rev. Safire Rose

 

What does life without trees do to our essential nature?

I was at the gym the other day and had the beginnings of this series of thoughts;  (I intensely dislike “the gym” and have always thought the idea of fitness without purpose a kind of modern absurdity. It wasn't that long ago that LIFE was exercise enough. But like most, mine isn’t, and I crave the outlet of intense physical activity to keep me balanced).

The scope of the artificialness of our lives hit me all at once; I was engaging in engineered exercise on a man-made machine designed to approximate my natural gait and movements, under fluorescent lights, in a huge square cement building pumped with machine-cooled air, fake smells throughout to mask natural ones, and dispensers of destined-for-landfill germicide wipes for every surface. And sounds unlike anything that would occur in the natural world, or that my nervous system was created to be able to make sense of and assimilate, pumped into my ears through a plastic battery operated device …

We walk almost solely on uniformly hard surfaces. We live in homes (or boxes stacked on top of each other called apartments) and work in buildings of cement and synthetic materials, filled with no naturally occurring shapes or even colors, and most often, artificial light. The speed and quality of the movements around us, the things we touch, the shapes and horizons (or lack of) that our eyes rest upon, smells, textures, even our food and our patterns of sleep, bear no resemblance to that which our DNA is coded for.  

And then I read a short story about how birds that live in cities age faster and die earlier than birds in their natural habitat, because the city disrupts normal development. Even if there is more access to food, the stress of the city (noise, light, humans) make cells deteriorate more rapidly. And I thought, of course. True for them, true for us. Our animal nature cannot be sustained in a world of concrete, over crowding, and without the sounds of silence. This kind of stress and adaptation to un natural environments is contrary to our needs at a cellular level. 

In most of our daily lives, we encounter only that which is other than our bodies and nervous systems were designed to recognize and process. Just as so many of the highly processed and chemically engineered “foods” we now eat are unrecognizable by the body and are responded to as toxins, (and in turn create disease).

Studies have shown that spending just 1.5 hours walking in a forest decreases the brain activity responsible for psychological illness –this was true in every single person. And few days spent in nature increases levels of creative thinking by 50%

There are modern comforts I have great appreciation for; refrigeration is pretty wonderful, and though I have lived without running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity, I am fan of all three. I’m not suggesting that we stop showering, and return to rubbing sticks. But I have to wonder, as larger and larger populations live solely in an urban landscape, to what degree do we owe our individual and societal distortions to developmental deprivation at a cellular and spiritual level, of that which we need and are evolutionary designed to thrive on?

 

 

Depending on where we live, most of us go through our days, weeks -sometimes entire lives, never smelling the wonders of soil, or the air, pregnant with the smells of a recent thunderstorm, or have the experience bare feet on grass, or the magic of cool sand and blazing sunset, and a connection to earth elements and the natural rhythm of life. We never have the experience of our senses alight, and self as part of the whole.

What happens to a life without natural beauty?  What becomes of a lifetime without communion with a single tree?

We are not designed to live in such close proximity and such extreme conditions with so many others. It's contrary to our needs and essential nature at a cellular level. Are we developing similar manias, and compulsive-destructive behaviors that occur in non human animals kept in zoos and other confined states, removed from their habitats, denied their every natural inclination and impulse. No earth under foot, sun on skin, or freedom to roam. (It is literally, madness, called zoochosis -psychosis caused by confinement)  

I think a degree of the same holds true of our own psychological and physiological response to living void of all that our animal nature needs to thrive, and this causes the unbalance and dis-ease we currently see in individuals and society as a whole. And we are being medicated for depression and stress induced behaviors in skyrocketing numbers.

I remember being about 6 years old and seeing cement roads merged with cement sidewalks, merged with cement buildings, and only a few square feet here and there where a tree or bit of grass popped through, and telling my mother that I thought the earth must be suffocating. I remember feeling so much distress, thinking she would be unable to breathe, or grow life. 

I think the earth is indeed suffocating. And where she goes, so go we. We are in urgent need of re-wilding

So what is the answer?  I don’t know entirely, I’m still finding my way, but perhaps a new awareness of the needs of the human spirit must be incorporated into architecture and urban planning, and ultimately a rewriting of what we value and how we live as a society, but it starts with awareness. 

And then comes intention; to find our way back to ourselves, to our essential nature, and the recognition that we are OF, not separate from. And with that …perhaps comes love enough to live into saving that which we need to survive. And in the now, there ARE small steps we can take that don’t require cross country moves to the mountains, or huge sums of money. 

The ways to creatively connect to our essential nature are numerous, but here are a few things we can easily do to ground and awaken.

•  Get up early and watch the sunrise -even in the densest of concrete jungles you will find symphonies of birds celebrating the morning. Listen deeply. Join the celebration.

•  Forget what anyone thinks and hug a tree, the older the better. So much wisdom.

•  Find even a small corner of grass, take off your shoes, place your feet firmly on the earth, and just BE. Gift yourself with at least 15 minutes.

•  Go to a farmers market, buy some gloriously beautiful rainbow beets and purple potatoes, and lemon cucumbers. Sit down to a meal of whole, minimally seasoned, unadulterated, fresh vegitables. Savor the subtleties of flavor and texture, and the direct connection to the earth they came from. Finish your meal with farm fresh organic strawberries. Drink in the sweet aroma.

•  Surround yourself with living green things, (And eat as many as possible too!) Add plants to your home -If your intimidated by plant care get hearty varieties like cacti and succulents 

  Share your life with animals, any and all time spent with animals, of fur, feather or fin, domestic or wild, connects us to our own essential nature, and to subtle and profound ways of relating and appreciating, otherwise lost in our daily hustle.

•  Burn pure (not synthetic) essential oils -not sweet scents like patchouli or lavender, but smells of wildness like oakmoss, juniper, cedar, and melissa. I love rosemary too -and really love the smell of citronella, its very therapeutic, but reminds some of mosquito repellant :)

•  Find a recording of the subtle sounds of natural elements, and let that be your background –wonderful things can be found on Spotify or created on Pandora.

·  And of course, there is actually being in nature. No matter where we live, there is a park, or a refuge, or lake, stream, or ocean that can be reached. If planning an excursion feels daunting let someone else take care of the driving and details. Search Meet Up for outdoor adventures. Google local hiking or biking day trips to sign up for, they can range from gentle to strenuous, something for everyone. I just did a 10-mile hike, plus yoga, and vegan lunch, with a small group and a guide. It was sustenance for the spirit, and all I had to do was show up.

 

How do you re wild? Please feel free to comment!

True Longing

TRUE LONGING
When you forget or repress the truth and depth of your invisible belonging and decide to belong to some system, person, or project, you short-circuit your longing and squander your identity. To have true integrity, poise, and courage is to be attuned to the silent and invisible nature within you. Real maturity is the integrity of inhabiting that "immortal longing" that always calls you to new horizons. Your true longing is to belong to the eternal that echoes continually in everything that happens to you. Real power has nothing to do with force, control, status, or money. Real power is the persistent courage to be at ease with the unsolved and the unfinished. To be able to recognize, in the scattered graffiti of your desires, the signature of the eternal.


John O'Donohue
Excerpt from ETERNAL ECHOES

Progress Not Perfection


Perfectionitis is an insidious affliction. I know painfully well that of which I speak. 
It is the killer of creativity, minimizer of expansiveness, and crusher of dreams. 
What is the worst that can happen? So it doesnt turn out "right" 
And, we don't die. And, we learn. 
We create new openings, and places for ideas to take root.
And possibilities as yet unknown have room to percolate.

And maybe ...the best that can happen, happens.

Lean in, face forward in the direction of your life and that which calls you. 
Progress not perfection.

JOHN O'DONOHUE — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

I have listened to this interview with Krista Tippett over an over. Each time I find a new layer of wisdom and heart-stirring. And incredible beauty. John O'Donohue will always and in every way, be the definition of a beautiful mind for me. 

From On Being; The Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue was beloved for his book Anam Ċara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2008, he articulated a Celtic imagination about how the material and the spiritual — the visible and the invisible — intertwine in human experience. His voice and writings continue to bring ancient mystical wisdom to modern confusions and longings.

 

Hello, World!

We are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered…

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

--Hopi Elders' Prophecy, June 8, 2000

Our longings are the roadmap of our souls expression

The words and wisdom of John O'Donohue are a gift beyond measure. They feel like a soft caress for a fatigued spirit, and a gentle nudge and reminder of the knowing we all carry in our deepest memory, but forget amidst the daily tasks and surface identities the world deems important.
His book Anam Cara is one I return to again and again; the beauty and truths therein stir a soul knowing in me. And a longing to return to a place and way of living that I recognize as familiar, but feels older than this lifetime.

I awoke to this today, the reminder I needed; that our deepest longings are the roadmap of our souls expression. If listened to, they reveal our authentic selves and our most on-purpose path in this lifetime. Our longings are the voice of our soul.

AWAKEN TO THE INVITATION
As the density of night gives way to the bright song of the dawn, so your soul continually coaxes you to give way to the light and awaken. Longing is the voice of your soul, it constantly calls you to be fully present in your life: to live to the full the one life given to you. Rilke said to the young poet, "Live everything." You are here on earth now, yet you forget so easily. You traveled a great distance to get here. The dream of your life has been dreamed from eternity. You belong within a great embrace that urges you to have the courage to honor the immensity that sleeps in your heart. When you learn to listen to and trust the wisdom of your soul's longing, you will awaken to the invitation of graced belonging that inhabits the generous depths of your destiny. You will become aware of the miracle of presence within and around you. 

John O'Donohue
ETERNAL ECHOES

Burren Sky Photo: © Ann Cahill

Burren Sky
Photo: © Ann Cahill

Silence has been replaced with a cacophony of communication, and solitude with social media

I saw this quote recently and thought, yes, it has. And we both individually and communally are in desperate need of unplugging from the noise, and connecting deeply to our inner landscape and to the world we live in. 

But there is more. There is also this; solitude is something so many of us have come to fear, and often avoid at all costs. A day alone is thought of as lonely. Why? What makes being still so frightening? And connecting to self and truth bring up such compulsion to fill the space ..with stuff/people/food/busy-ness? 
What mysteries might reveal themselves if we if we got quiet and listened to that which speaks to us in the silence? 

My solitude is my self care. I crave it. Without quiet I would starve, as sure as I would without physical sustenance.

I've been told throughout my life that it is "too much" -too much for what? For whom? My experience is that it is people who think of solitude as "strange" who are most ill at ease being alone, and who experience feelings of insecurity from a lack of "neediness" in others. 

A love of being alone is confused with with UN love for another; friends, family, partners. But I suspect that healthy relationships of all kinds, including with ourselves, are enriched by the grounding and insights gained in solitude. Perhaps they even require them. 

I wonder at the changes we might be called to make in our lives and in the world, if we got quiet and listened to that which lives at the core of us?

I welcome your thoughts!