Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Growing A Bodhi Tree

I brought home, from Sri Lanka, the sprout on the top. When it was about a foot tall in this blue pot, I transplanted it to a full sized garbage can with wheels. It has grown to just over 5 feet tall since I planted it in the beginning of April. 

The garbage can has holes bored in the bottom and sides. First there is a layer of rock, then sand, then black cow, then  Miracle Grow potting soil which is aerated with tiny styrofoam balls. I planted the Bodhi tree in this because it does not tolerate less than 40 F. I knew I would have to move it to a warmer place now and then during the  December- March cold spells. 

I hope that this April, I can plant it in the ground so it will grow during the summer and be acclimated to the cold next winter, given protecting the roots and trunk during those periods. 

I visited the original Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India last March.  It stands many stories tall and has golden posts supporting it. There it stands, probably replaced several times over the centuries, representing Siddhartha the Buddha's enlightenment moment. 

I also visited a memorial park which is the site of one of the Buddha's monasteries. It was built by his father, the King, who wanted him to be nearby to advise his brother who inherited the kingdom. In this memorial park is another Bodhi tree called Ananda's Bodhi tree. It probably has been replaced several times over the centuries. It represents a time when all the Bodhi trees died and more were brought from Sri Lanka. This one was planted to see if the other  seedlings would live. It, as well, is supported by golden pillars.  Around the tree were many different groups of pilgrims, chanting many different chants at the same time.  I was overwhelmed with the presence of such power.

the Bodhi tree has lasted through the cold  days of the winter because I wheeled it under the house to keep it from the freezing temperatures. Now it has grown as high as the ceiling of its protective cover. Hopefully, the dangerously cold days have passed. Bodhi sits under the stars again and seems to be thriving. I speak to it every day and hold a few of its leaves in a healing pose of my hands.  I will plant it in a place which will be protective from high winds (in case of a hurricane) and build a shelter frame ready to protect it from the next cold spell of winter. 

Here in Florida, where I and the Bodhi live, is not really tropical nor is it prone to long freezes.  But, like other places where climate change  is effecting the environment, predicting the course of the weather is not really possible. 

Growing a Bodhi tree is much like raising a child, and definitely like caring for a pet. Like all my trees, attention to its health and nurturing its ability to keep on growing is of the essence in its care. When I have those occasional moments of feeling as if I have no purpose and of little to offer, I ned only to return to this journey of my Boshi tree in my life, to know otherwise.

The Bodhi tree is but a metaphor of caring for the earth and its many forms of life. "All The Earth Belongs To All", as a song puts it, is "The Vision And The Call".  We are all responsible for responding to the crisis of the health of our Earth. 

While I choose reverence for life, the Bodhi tree, under which the Buddhi was finally enlightened, is my symbol of this responsibility which I have chosen. 

To what and where is it you have been called to care?  What is your vision of the purpose of this caring?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Healing Perspective

Taken b  y Kurt Rolfes in one of the Buddha's gardens during our pilgrimage in India.

In my previous blog entry, I wrote the interpretation of a life experience from a psychoanalytic perspective.  This was just the beginning of a healing process. I consider this first step an awareness of suffering of all the agents involved in a traumatic experience. But, it is not a deep empathic understanding of my own suffering or the suffering of the others involved.

I have to say that rereading that last blog, my response is "So what, Has anything really changed?"  The answer is, "No". I still have resentment and so does everyone else.  The reasons for the resentment are displaced, not yet named, and therefore, not really in a position to  release it all to its highest good.

I might say, the mindfulness phase of processing grief is accomplished and half the data has been collected. Now,  in order for the healing to continue, the Soul now creates the dance.

No one person is to be blamed. No one circumstance can be blamed. No one action can be blamed.  The whole thing happened because all  our unique histories of living came to a place where the inevitable occurred. There were no other options, given the ability of all involved to function under the circumstances.

Things happen because they happen. People respond the way they do because that is who they are at that time. Outcomes are the outcomes they are because that is the way the course of history went. We all did what we did, said what we said, felt what we felt at the time. Dust settled, and here we all are. The past cannot be changed, nor does it have any reason to do so. It is what it is.

So here we are. I don't know where the rest of them are at with all  this, but that is not my responsibility.. I have only myself to heal, so what does this mean for me?

I dive deep within my heart and ask the Divine Wisdom, which abides at Heart's Center, "How do I proceed?".

From this perspective, I learn the lesson the trauma and its accompanying events have taught me. I envision how I will conduct myself from this moment onward, determined to live as a free agent, mindful of the effect of my actions on others. I embrace the resentment I still carry and release its power over me.  I acknowledge my hypersensitive intuition and direct it toward understanding that  I am not here to control how others behave, only how I dance the healing dance.

The next time I met face to face with those I was holding this grudge, I greeted each with an open heart. It was an opportunity for each to either also let the past go and embrace the peaceful coexistence of this encounter OR continue judging me for not fitting their image of what they would have me be.  Both happened.

The difference is, that  whether the response was collegial or adversarial, it did not affect my decision to be alive and happy to be so right now.

I am so grateful for all that is. Life is a miracle and so is each person alive today.  I choose to bow to the gift within each encounter.

When has acknowledging your own suffering and embracing its gift, been like beholding the abundant beauty of a rose that you have planted in your own garden?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Parental Alienation Syndrome

I may not publish this, but I am going to write it from the tension between the knowledge I  on the subject and my own experiences encountering this phenomenon. I will describe the pattern and perhaps proceed from there.

Parent A and Parent B fall in love, get married (or make serious commitment to stay together), and have children. After many happy memories are made, and a lot of not so happy memories, Parent A abandons family.

Parent B is left to care for children and is unable to support family financially and/or emotionally.  Parent B abandons care for children and eventually gives responsibility to Parent A.

Having suffered abandonment by Parent B, Parent A becomes the hero by providing food, clothing, shelter, affection, teaching new skills, etc. This is all motivated by regret for having abandoned in the first place, since Parent B was not able to care for children.

Children bury resentment for original abandonment by Parent A, having all their basic needs met by Parent A.

Parent B eventually repents and children are legally returned to parent B. Parent B is now able to provide for and meet the basic needs of children. Children bury resentment, loving Parent B. An extra attachment is formed with Parent A from whom they are now domestically separated.

All is well. There are no hard feelings toward either Parent A or Parent B. However, there is a strong preference for Parent A and a loving  mistrust of Parent B's ability to make good decisions.

The buried resentment is misplaced onto new partners of both Parent A and Parent B. New partners are set up to reject any bonding with the children. Parent of the new partner must take sides. For many reasons unnamed, children win and partner is rejected. It is the children's revenge, however covert, for their parent's abandonment and subsequent suffering from basic  needs not getting met.

Another way of seeking revenge is one or more of the children, adult now,  becomes totally dependent on one of the parents , who, motivated by the unresolved guilt from abandoning the children, devotes full attention to the adult child who is unable to live independently.  This, of course, makes it impossible for the parent to nurture and tend to the new partner.

The adult children's psyches, as a result of the trauma of the original abandonment and burying it deep, have developed a pattern of destroying any possibility of moving on in a healthy  way. All are stuck in the mud, so to speak, of early years trauma.

Unhealed wounds influence  present partnerships of the now grown adult children: inability to bond with a partner of the opposite sex, overprotective with their own children, exaggerated independence or over dependence,   parent/child role reversals, displays of unexplainable rages, and fabricated defense for decisions and behaviors.

Truth can heal the wounds. Acknowledging  the pain, placing the source in the right place - the parents who inflicted the wounds in the first place, is the beginning point if healing is to proceed.

Sometimes, for the adult children, the healing happens naturally with the death of the parents. The adult children are left with no one  to return the hurt they had suffered. They can either spend the rest of their lives resenting the new partners who no longer are in a position to receive the onslaught anyway. Or they can get on with their lives and heal their own partner and children alienation patterns.

This description of parental alienation syndrome is an interpretation of research on the subject in the position of having to move on with my own life.

 I let go of any attachment to the web of relationships which caused such pain and suffering in my own heart. I understand deeply the suffering of the adult children who have developed the pattern of parental alienation syndrome. I cannot heal their deep wounding, but I will be aware of it  should I ever encounter it again. No, I will not handle it differently next time. I will simply not put myself in a situation which could cause me harm. I will respond with loving kindness from a safe distance.

On the other hand, should a next encounter be awareness of the suffering of someone I know, I will be there to support healing.  A lesson learned is a teaching opportunity.

My wish is that this blog has brought a new awareness to senseless suffering which can be alleviated by understanding the cause that has produced the pain filled trauma.  Is there a resentment in your relationships that needs healing?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

On Being Woman

Although I had a few options on how I would spend New Year's Eve, I chose an all women pajama party at a friend's home. We are all n our seventies. Our partners for life have left this incarnation. We meet, most times, every Thursday for dinner at a local restaurant.

I could have spent the evening on the river, having brought my pot luck dish, watched the fireworks, sat by the yule log,  and interacted with a happy crowd of folk as they became totally inebriated.  I cannot say I did not enjoy those good old days. However, that no longer appealed to my sense of what this year and the upcoming year are  - except for the fireworks and the yule log.

I could have spent the weekend in a retreat of new beginnings with a sangha in Tampa. I am sure I would have experienced it as most meaningful. However, even though I would have been in a community of like minds, I knew none of them really well and would have had to travel a long distance and find a place to stay.

For the first time since I was younger, dressed to the nines,  and could dance all night while  sipping my share of champagne (about twenty years ago), I noticed I was having an amazing evening. I felt comfortable being me,  a woman alone, sharing an important celebration with others I know. We had no pressure to be other than women, dressed comfortably, sharing our lives, noshing on gourmet finger foods and sipping wine.

Later on at home, I crawled into bed, reflecting on how happy I was at that moment. As I settled into full relaxation, I reflected on the many New Year's Eves I had lived. Women who had pioneered the value, purpose and rights of the gifts of being woman, wove in and out of my conscious awareness. Their determination to move toward equality in society included much suffering.

 I was grateful for their pioneering determination. I was grateful for the wounding I suffered in being in the workplace and being me in a marriage with traditional  expectations during the radical entrance of  feminine energy into the mainstream during my  lifetime. I was grateful that this New Year's Eve was possible as bells of a new beginnings ring out for humankind.

Aging has its graces. Have you been happy lately just being who you are? Are you determined to be your natural compassionate self in response to the suffering in the world of which none of us can avoid being aware?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Reflections on 2018: A Year Well Lived

A labyrinth at St. Crispins's Conference Ctr. OK


         This has been no ordinary year, not that I have known an ordinary year for some time now. Folklore has noted that what happens on New Year’s Day, so goes the year. Well, 2018 began with an abundant feast at Pat Maden’s – can’t remember enjoying the company of friends and neighbors as much as I did this year. A labyrinth introduction event followed soon after. This was the beginning of what will someday be a permanent labyrinth in Crescent City. I spent most of February and March in Sri Lanka with my long time friend, Kurt. In about the middle of the visit, we journeyed to India for 8 days on a pilgrimage to sites marking the Buddha’s life.  At the same time, I was reading “Old Path White Clouds” by Thich Nhat Hanh which enriched the experience of this eight days, the most amazing trip in my whole life. Back home, I kept myself busy in the community with a Story Telling Project and choosing scholarship winners for the Woman’s Club. I also got involved in the beginning of a live theater endeavor. What I was really focused on was preparation for ordination in The Order of Interbeing. I had been studying the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh for several years along with a daily practice of meditation Qigong exercise and ongoing study. After a delightful Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with grandchildren, Chris and Maddie (and Stephanie), I went to a retreat. On November 30th, I received the transmission of The 14 Mindfulness Trainings of The Order of Interbeing. It was like I had been an old grey pregnant mare who gave birth to a colt. Now I am a new colt, ready to run with stallions.


While I continue growing in my daily practice, I really want to enjoy retirement in a meaningful purposeful way. I will be hosting a clan gathering in March and April. This will be a once in a life time impossible dream about to come true - again.  I will be planning for a graceful ease on into the rest of my life after that!!!

May 2019 be a year when
 the Divine Spotlight
 shines on a future of
 Compassionate care for the health and well being of Planet Earth.
May You be well, happy,
 peaceful, and feel really

Have you been aware of the growth of compassion for the suffering in the world today? Have you noticed some leaders taking a stand to end the suffering?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside down cake has always been my favorite dessert. I hadn't had it for many years and hadn't baked one in at least 50 years. During this past year, I was present at three meals which included this delightful dessert. One time it was a meeting with pineapple upside down cake was the dessert theme. That there are so many variations never occurred to me.

Of course, I was determined to bake one myself. So, I pulled out an old recipe and went shopping for what I needed. After measuring out all the ingredients exactly as the recipe called for (which is NOT my typical way of proceeding),  I followed the rest of the directions exactly as written. The only differences were to double the recipe and use coconut sugar. This was the only heavy pan I had and I don't use refined sugar in anything.

I opened the oven once, saw that it was not ready, turned the temperature down 25 degrees, and let it continue baking til the aroma filled the house. When I opened the oven to take it out, I w as so disappointed to see that it had fallen in the middle. Nevertheless, I let it sit a couple of minutes and then turned it over onto a plate and let it cool. The consistency of the well browned, cooled  and delicious tasting cake was heavy, like a queen cake, but very moist. 

I put a photo of the cake on facebook. Many people responded both on the post and when I met someone in the village.   I took the cake to the church brunch.  It and my tale of its creation evoked many tales of pineapple upside down cake. Memories were shared of how a mother made hers - in a bundt pan, in an iron skillet, or in a cobbler pan.  I got lots of feedback accompanied with disaster stories on what might have caused the cake to fall in the middle. 

I didn't get a lot of feedback on others' experience of my cake, but the stories told and the conversations around pineapple upside down cake has been an event to cherish for a long time. 

A couple of days later, I was watching, quite by accident, although I have come to believe that there are no accidents, The British Baking Show.  The assignment was to create three different cakes, one for each round, with a different theme.  In all three rounds, the basic cake was to be a sponge cake. I watched as the contestants prepared their sponge cakes. As I watched, I became aware - well remembered - that the pineapple upside down cake recipe I used was a sponge cake. While watching these sponge cakes being made- some with success, some with unexpected results - I realized I was watching the answer to my bewilderment about why my cake fell in the middle and why it had the consistency of a queen cake. 

I am not sure I know the answer yet, but I am now very aware that the making of a sponge cake is somewhat of a skill in and of itself.  If there is a next time, I will make the cake with an old fashioned mixer, not the Cuisinart.  I will not bake a double batch and I will not open the oven before the delicate aroma of pineapple fills the air. 

In the meantime, I am waiting patiently for the next inspiration to call for me to respond. Perhaps there was a lesson in the pineapple upside down cake experience. Even though it was delicious, it just may have come out as I remember making it 50 years ago, if I also included the way I made it then.  I am not suggesting I should be t the person I was way back then, or a more conscientious cook.  I love most of my unexpected results, just as I have loved this one.

 I am sensing that in other areas of life's ongoing experience, I might trust that which I already know and incorporate it into what I am doing, trust my intuitions when creativity is calling me beyond that which I already know, and trust that the tension between knowledge/skill and creativity/intuition is always a great place to be alive.

Reflect on those times when your own unexpected results turned out to be meaningful moments. What's your story?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fight Flight Freeze

Recently, I was listening to a talk about responses to trauma. The speaker mentioned "fight-flight" response to trauma, but added "freeze". I googled this and, indeed,  stress experts have changed the responses to" "fight-flight-freeze".

My friend's leaving after being home-mates  for many years was acceptable to my understanding of what was inevitable. While there is always trauma in separation, the trauma of this was well within my ability to heal.  The trauma caused by his family's all out determination to totally sever our friendship has been huge. The lying they did and the actions they took were absolutely insane.

  My Mother and his Dad married shortly after we introduced them, so we were related by marriage. All of my family were in a happy relationship with him.  He and I supported each other during the end months of both my Mother's and his Father's lives on earth. We supported each other through both of our surgeries. We shared happy trips together as compatible traveling companions. We made each other's birthdays and holidays special.

He had been showing signs of dementia for a couple of years and his health was beginning to fail for more than a year before his acute cirrhosis almost took his life. The dementia and that day his systems were shutting down and his refusal to go to the hospital until I finally I called the ambulance against his will was an emotionally huge event.  But, the reactions of his family were too much to handle at the time.

As I reflect on my response to the trauma of their attacks on my person, "Freeze" fits perfectly.  Instead of taking the bull by the horns and calling a halt to the insanity, empathizing compassionately,  or just walking away from the whole thing, I   froze like a night animal  suddenly having a light shine in its face.

 All I was able to do was be there every day and pray for his comfort and healing, bring him things he needed,  and arrange for his rehab placement. Then,  while he was in rehab and when he returned home, the family's determination to sever our relationship permanently continued. For the next six months,  I still  was not able to function beyond monitoring his medical needs and be there to assist with daily care.

As I look further back in my life, I see that, for the most part, that has always been my response.  I would not stand up for myself and fight back.  I did not walk or run away  in the face of potential  physical or emotional danger .  I just stood there, speechless, numb, mind and  emotions void of any way to respond.

 But, I am learning that my challenge is not as simple as doing something besides freeze. My challenge is to transform this freeze into a pause for discerning reality and to access my own ability to respond as a healing agent.

My friend, step-brother and housemate completed his life on earth last week. The finality of it, has allowed me to peacefully grieve for the end of our incredible experiences together as well as the absolutely uncalled for,
yet now past, drama of the past three years.

  I observe others fighting back at what is happening in the world of politics and in their lives. I observe others defending what is happening in the world, which to me is a flight from reality, if not to them, of course.  I am standing here, watching it happen. I am determined to deeply understand what is happening before I respond.

The important new element of my life is transform "Freeze" into the discipline of  standing present to what is happening, taking time to understand from a place of love, and to respond appropriately, occasioning reconciliation when possible.

What is your response to trauma and how have you learned to transform it into a gift of compassionate response?

Monday, July 30, 2018

A No Mud No Lotus Year

Another birthday is here which means setting aside time for another reflection on the year just lived. This year, I am grateful for the feeling that a Lotus is  finally blooming in the ephemeral mud pond called life.

After some reflection, I decided, of course, the turning point of this year is the gift I was given of a trip to India,  a pilgrimage to sacred sites of Buddha's life,  and precious time with my dear friend in Sri Lanka.

But, as I looked into my heart, I began to see that pilgrimage as the blooming of a precious Lotus which had grown up from the mud of many events.  I am not equating mud with miserable suffering. On the contrary, the mud represents the rich nurturing soil which allows the Lotus to be born.

The muddy pond began about a year ago, when rain began to fall in torrents in a circle of 15 people. The event planning  I was leading and working on for three months, was discarded by a unanimous vote, except for  me, leaving me devastated with disbelief.  I had been practicing the discipline of abiding calmly for several months, but had lost it when I first sensed this coup. I lost it again at the event when I was being bullied  and told the person to go to hell which also  ended a close friendship.I lost it one more time - my response was out of proportion. I had my legitimate reasons or so I was convinced of at the time. I The pond in which I was abiding was really muddy now.

The next weekend I attended a meditation retreat and, along with the dharma talks and meditation with a whole room full of like minds, the long silences provided a powerful opportunity to gain insight into the many ways the Universe was attempting to communicate with me. I listened deeply to the cause of my irrational responses.  I connected with what I really want to be at this end of my life's time on earth.  Since that weekend, everything has been different. I have been happy with that which I have chosen to do, who I have chosen to be with, and I have acquired the discipline of abiding calmly -  slowly but surely.

At that meditation retreat, the Lotus seeds were planted. There have been moments of relating to a seed buried in the mud. There have been glimpses of it emerging into the sunlight. These three sentences hold a whole year of experiences which have pointed the way to this year of new beginnings I finally claimed for myself at the beginning of 2018.

Miraculously, the first Lotus began to bloom in India. The turning point was the  meditation retreat, but life will never be the same since a powerfully full and meaningful pilgrimage to the life of a man who learned and then taught others  how to be alive.

This upcoming year I am looking forward to  being a member of the Order of Interbeing,  hosting a reunion of my family clan, and planting Lotus seeds for a permanent labyrinth here in Crescent City. Most of all, I will actually be considering how and where to be abiding calmly as I move on into my 75th year on earth.

Along with the Lotus, the Bodhi tree has become a precious symbol for me. I brought back a tiny sprout which has been growing tall and sturdy .For me, the Lotus holds the promise of new beginnings and the Bodhi holds the continuation of the mindfulness journey of new beginnings.

I am so grateful for the mud. I am grateful for the Lotus and the Bodhi. I am grateful for this year past and for the promise of this year to come. 

(Check out my new blog which I began in January: http://anandasmantra.wordpress.com )

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Crescent City is Home

I moved to Crescent City in 1991 and rented a house on Florida Avenue which belonged to Alan Talmadge. To the East and Southeast of this house were two vacant lots on Lake Street. They were untold stories, remnants of what had been two fine buildings. Both, according to historical accounts were the Orange Inn. I have a photo of one building on the corner lot which has written on it “Orange Inn”. I have another newspaper clipping of the building on the other lot. It, too, was known as “The Orange Inn”.  I would sit on the porch of the Talmadge house and imagine the lives that must have walked on those lots and stayed in those “Orange Inn”s.

Today, there are houses along Lake Crescent just to the East of both of these lots, which I now own, by the way. I built the house I have lived in for 25 years on the southernmost lot and recently bought the other lot.

When I was building my home, it was the first new construction to occur in Crescent City in years. People would pass by to watch the very slow process of its being erected. I would enjoy mentioning this fact in conversations when meeting new people who lived here. I do have to tell you, that I was soon upstaged by the new Winn-Dixie which was erected shortly after my house began.  The notoriety was fun while it lasted!

During the landscaping process, I found pockets of empty bottles buried by the Orange Inn proprietors when they cleaned the rooms of their guests. I found natural gas pipes, two concrete septics, one with an old metal toilet attached which must have been in a bathroom – not outside, but not in the house. I found the cornerstones of the Inn but, inspite of hopeful exploration, never found much else.

Over the next few years, however, I listened to many stories of the history of not only my land, but of the whole neighborhood. There used to be a lumber yard all along the lake and the office was just West of the Talmadge house- or was it the Talmadge house.  I would venture to say that about every home and building that is standing in this part of Crescent City has a story to tell.

 The most significant home is at the north end of Lake Street, The Hubbard Mansion which took up enough land to be referred to as Hubbard Park. It might also be called a park because Mr. Hubbard planted a botanical garden which extended all the way South right to Florida Avenue, where my land begins.

I have been on many walks around Crescent City.  The flora is present in abundance. At  their blooming time of year, the yards are filled with azaleas. The air is rich with citrus blossom fragrance. The Florida Iris or the Ginger or Hawthorne or Verbena or Crepe Myrtle or Bouganvilla or Plumbago or Prickly Pear or Morning Glory vines or any number of fruit trees or about anything that will grow in this climate flourishes in abundance. But, the Hubbard Estate, now divided into many individual homes, still blooms through and through, however sparsely,  with exotic bushes and flowers and trees. Even on my land, probably, seeds, probably carried by birds, a strange flower will grow for awhile until a storm or a freeze takes it away.

I am notcertain exactly when it was that I finally realized that I am no longer a stranger here, but I now feel quite at home here in this house where I have lived for 25 years. I am an elder. I live alone with my two cats. I feel safe and I feel that I belong where I am. When I take my daily walk, I savor the sights along the way. Down Prospect Street, the peacocks live in abundance. ALongthe route to  Lake Stella and back, the Osprey, the Limpkin, the Ibis, the Sandhill Cranes, the brown bunnies, an occasional alligator or snake, all seem to coexist peacefully.

Most of all the wondrous beauty that is my home are the magnificent sunrises on Lake Crescent and the breathtaking sunsets on Lake Stella. Just before the sunrises, although the sky is light, there is a total silence. Then, as the sun officially rises,  some birds take flight while others remain on their perches and the choir begins to greet the day.  Sunset is the opposite. The hustle and bustle begins to lull until darkness and silence prevails and the night sounds begin.

Storms and heat and  bitey bugs and, Oh yes, fleas and red ants  in summer and annoying freezes in winter bring balance to the affluence of beauty in this small village of a city. These intrusions make living all so real This is what brings people together making  a community HOME. This is what makes the beauty so vibrant. Crescent City is a special place, a quaint southern town of many cultures and perspectives. After awhile, I find myself wondering if perhaps I was born here and the fifty years before I arrived was another lifetime.  Who knows!!!

Well, that's my story of Home. Now it is your turn to write your story - the one that belongs in the annals of history of your home in the New Millenium. Write it from your heart,.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Gifts Which Last

I was married  for 30 years to Bob. We have been divorced for 25 years. We have three sons and four grandchildren to continue the journey of our genes. I have grieved our parting with sublime rage - at myself and at him and the whole tornado of events which ripped us up by the roots and dropped us into separate paths.

Recently, I found this lanyard, although we called them boondoggles,  which I will so do here. It was tucked away in my safe and is over 60 years old. Bob made it and gave it to me when I was 12 and he was 13. I am not certain, but will remember it as a 12th year birthday gift of love.

As I held it in my hand, I drifted off into a world of live memory dreaming, remembering how we met and of that summer of getting to know each other.

Flagg Street playground was a community node with many activities for kids. I would walk or ride my bike down the hill almost every day and hang out, involved in whatever was happening on a given day. Once a week, we would get on a school bus and go swimming at Summit Park. In the winter, there was ice skating.

Pony League would practice on summer afternoons. I would pass by them on my way home. One day, I heard a whistle - the whistle that guys do to attract girls. I looked but none of the guys owned up. In fact, they all started whistling. After a couple days of this, Bob finally acknowledged that it was he who wanted to get my attention.  I don't  recall the exact details of this, however.

My memory skipped to the afternoon he walked me home from the playground.  This was the beginning of our summer love. I remembered clips of that summer and the years that followed. 

I remember how his brown eyes with those long eye lashes lit up under that baseball cap when he saw me. I remembered that they lit up the last time I saw him. We ran into each other in the post office recently, and he introduced me to his wife.

My conscious awareness returned me back to this gift from him which I was holding in my hand. Many events of our lives together and since our parting seemed to wash through my whole existence, leaving me empty of all that hidden anger. 

I stared into the memory of those love lit eyes, grateful for the life we had, grateful for the person I am today. 

Why? Well, this is the way life is.  We have changed, changed by all that happens while we live and breathe. All the past holds the pain and suffering as well as the joy and happiness, balancing each other in a delicate dance.

Finding and holding this boondoggle in my hand was to have been given this gift of love all over again. Love certainly is a gift that lasts forever.

Surely, we all have a boondoggle or two to hold. Which is yours?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Let's Keep On Dancing

This returning  after two months away from familiar space and routines, is a major adjustment period. While away, I had huge periods of time to reflect on my decision to make 2018 a year of new beginnings. Even with all this time to reflect , the two months was filled to overflowing with new experiences, some of which were long awaited dreams come true, all of which was one grand adventure into enjoying every minute of being alive.

Some days were difficult. I encountered each of these as challenges to learn how to be happy no matter what.  I learned to let go of my expectations.  I learned that I could feel loved only through loving myself as I am.  There were many days I felt old, fat, ugly and not welcome. Each time I was aware of this, I practiced unconditional love and forgiveness on myself and on the occasions of my feeling as I did.

I learned to not react when I was angry - and there were times when I definitely was angry.  I learned to breathe thru the anger into a place of understanding the cause and to trust those insights. I had been working on being able to do this for about two years. I could get to this place of understanding after the fact.  I do mean to say after I had blown my cool first. But, I had opportunity to practice immediate response to a wounding as it happened.

Now that I am home, I am experiencing the need to replicate my newly acquired skill for responding to anger and finding that it, too, takes practice here in an environment where I had on more than one occasion shown anger then regretted it as I processed it. So far, so good - sort of!!

Most days, I must emphasize, I am happy. I am happy to be alive.I am happy that I lived two months full of wonder.  I am happy to have a place to live where I feel very much at home. I am happy to be living in such a nature rich environment. I am happy to be alone.  This is the difference. I have been alone before and I have been alone even when I was not alone. The difference is, I am happy to be alone.  I am sure I do not want to be alone forever. But, right now, I am enjoying the freedom to care about me. I do believe I am not being self-ish. Rather, I do have the privilege, one for which I am grateful, to be able to take care of myself in preparation for whatever is coming next.

I am planting and pruning in the yard.
 I am refurbishing and rearranging space and furniture.
 I am weeding out clothes which are no longer me and adding new ones.
I am taking care of my eyes, teeth, and other physical ailments I have avoided.
I am nourishing my Soul with new information and images.
I am practicing being in harmony with my true nature and passion for life.
I am at peace with the way life is each day and with each encounter.
I practice being  happy.

I suppose there is more to say, but for now, that's all there is, my friend (as the song goes), so let's keep dancing. 

Are you being happy, too?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2017: An Intentional Journey

Labyrinth center in Chartres Cathedral France September 2016

On Inauguration Day weekend, I was at a retreat in Oklahoma City. That weekend brought into focus the path I have been intending  to walk for several years. During this retreat, i received the gift of following this path.Since then my life has been an unfolding  experiencing of qualities of The Higher Self. Yes, this has not been simple and easy, a new experience for me. I never had to study to pass a class in school.

As in Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces, I too have been on that journey.

I heard the Call to take this journey and responded with a vow to aspire to mindful presence and follow this path to more intentionally be of service to what this planet needs. Altruistic, yes, but also a Spiritual practice.  This journey is absolutely necessary.

I met allies and opportunities along the way as the year proceeded to support and nurture my decision to be on this path. Teachings of Thich Naht Hanh, The Center for  Contemplation and Action, The Florida Community of Mindfulness, and of course my  Mentor, Pat Webb.

When the opportunity presented itself for me to practice mindful presence, I battled with my response to small town politics on a project for the community. Failing miserably in managing the anger I was feeling from the unjust maneuvering and manipulating that was going on, I made a decision that was huge for me - to sever my relationship with the planning committee. I agreed to another project which would be part of that community project and failed miserably again in the end by telling off a bully because I was too wrapped up in self pity.

These events, for which I am totally responsible, sent me into a battle with myself. I earnestly sought guidance from mentors and teachers, both in person and through reading about how to process anger on the spot, instead of a remorseful  afterthought.

Then I was presented with one more opportunity to practice mindful presence and unconditional love and forgiveness.

As I was headed home, I spotted my ex-roommate's truck parked on the street. He no longer lives anywhere near here. My grieving process was definitely at the angry stage and there he was right when I was at the pinnacle of anger in my  heart, generously displacing it on others.

 I turned my car around, parked it and went in to the shop to be in his presence, determined to practice peace and compassion with this encounter.

 He acted like I was a big imposition on him at that moment, yet I continued to beckon a peaceful discussion. I became aware that he was not healthy. I recalled noticing that his truck appeared to have been in an accident. He seemed to be attempting to sort out whether or not he knew this person in his presence, and I sensed his fear of this encounter.

Compassion filled my whole being and, yes, I was at peace with the violent hateful unjust way that this friendship had ended after twenty years. I took his hand, and squeezing it, wished him well and told him to take good care of himself. Turning away to continue my journey, I was aware that a neighbor, one who had been special to him,  had come in to see him.

I left shaking uncontrollably, but within the next  hour, that shaking  released  all that had happened during the drama of his parting ways and was being replaced with a showering of freedom, a renewed will to live, and gratitude to be alive and on this  new path.  I do believe this event was the turning point on my journey this year  if not of my whole life to this moment.

By this time, October was almost over and it was time for the claim the victory of the great battle of a life's time. I attended a mindfulness retreat to be guided in deepening my meditation practice and learn more about meditation with readings from the ancients . The retreat center had a labyrinth which I walked during my solitary time twice a day.  These walks were great opportunities to reflect on the intentional journey I had aspired to in January, the encounters on the journey through the year, and the transformation that was forming successfully in my Soul during this retreat.

And here I am at the end of this journey through a year, marked by a hurricane that came right up through the middle of Florida, hurricanes that nearly wiped out islands and island nations, earthquakes, volcanoes, and of course the unprecedented number and extent of wildfires in the West. The upheaval of the political systems in many countries, exposure of corruption, and abuse of living beings has resulted in a totally fear producing environment has all given cause for social outrage at its deepest place.

Yet, in the center of it all, there is a promise of peace, hope, love, joy and compassion and many other reminders that being alive is a good thing.

At the end of 2017, I am at home with all of it, not hiding from it or  from the truth that I intend to continue to walk this path on this journey.

I have asked many if they have experienced shifts in the way they relate to the world 's encounters in today's world. All have confirmed a shift in their response to life. I would love to hear from you on your shifting perspective.

How are you beginning to feel at home on this planet and with yourself, responsible for touching peace and radiating joy where suffering is most acute?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Life on a Labyrinth

Enhanced , hurricane ravaged labyrinth located in St. Francis Retreat Center, Tampa, FL

Even though the full size labyrinth was a bit of a shambles, the path was still clear. Debris and pine needles had been rakes away. The bricks, varied in size and shape,  were in disarray.

As I walked, mindfully of course, I picked up a stick here and there and replaced a brick or two as I passed.

Also walking the labyrinth was an elderly woman who I met on the first day of this four day silent retreat. Before we began  silence, we were sitting at a round table sharing with the others who had joined us. She told me her name was Norma and that she had been born and raised in a small town in upstate New York near the Canadian border. She was 83 years old, about 4'6" and radiated gentle energy. In between conversation, I noted that she was a mere ten years my senior and I  was looking forward to arriving at that age, as alert and filled with joy as was she now.

On the labyrinth, Norma was walking at a quick pace as she returned from the center. Soon she passed me, moving into the next pathway and back without even a pause. I reflected upon her passing that I definitely would be intending to maintain my healthy diet and exercise in preparation for arriving ten years from now in that same condition.

On another day, as I was walking the labyrinth, Norma entered the path as I was about one third of the way into the center. I giggled to myself that she would soon be catching up to me, fully understanding the accompanying metaphor for age 83 catching up to me quickly.

Aware of her presence, at one  breath, I paid attention to how much closer she was to me now.  My eyesight is not so good, so it took a minute for my memory to catch up to my conscious awareness.  When it did, I was fully aware that Norma had fallen on the path.

As quickly as is possible, I crossed the paths, heading in a direct line to her. A minute must have passed since she first fell, and as I reached her, she was getting up. She was beaming with a huge smile, one that did not seem possible for one who had just fallen and hit her head on the sharp end of a brick.

She said she was fine, but I walked with her inside and to her room.

In a very short time, as we waited in a lunch line, I felt her head. Long story short, she was examined by the doctor "in residence" also on retreat.  She had quite a bump on her head and the doctor recommended she take it easy for awhile. She did pass up mindful movements session, but was right back into the routine after that.

On my next walk on the labyrinth, I reflected on this whole experience. The metaphor caught up with me. She had fallen before she could catch up and I had, instead, gone to her. This is the way life really is.

I resolved to walk this path of the labyrinth as a drama of the way I would live my life.
I will live with intention, breathing in the present moment and breathing out in peace.

As w e were leaving the retreat, I mentioned to Norma that I noticed she was down for at least a minute or two. She replied that she was aware of this and explained that when she falls, she takes a few moments to assess "the damage" before she gets back up.  She pays attention to her heart. It has a skip beat which sometimes results in a fall.

Again, as we parted, I resolved to be mindfully aware of my heart as I breath. I will be 83 soon enough. Not a day goes by now  without remembering Norma's beaming smile at age 83 on the labyrinth and I smile, too. I sure hope this memory does not fade.

Have you been giving some thought to the gap between where you are now and where you will be in ten years?  Is your daily routine preparing you for being in that space and time?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Responding to Catastrophy

The frequency and immensity of recent catastrophic events on this planet has left everyone in a state of disbelief. This pre-reflective state of being has taken many forms. 

I would suggest all responses have been a way of shielding from the painful shock of the realities.

Some of us looked around aware of the geographical extent, considering not only the hurricane of the moment, but forest fires, earthquakes,mudslides and typhoons also ravaging, destroying,  and devastating all they touched. The initial awareness of the whole of it was somehow calming.

Others lashed out in blaming anger, pointing out the horrors of political policies which for years have  allowed things to develop to this point. At the same time outrage arose in people as they lashed out at the blamers, accusing them of heartless political opportunism. These also were a shield from stark reality.

Others turned to deep gratitude with a joyful sigh of relief, having lived through the ruthless ravaging of their environment. Their vigorous s positivity was accompanied by their sharing dramatic images of the destruction, accompanied with the assurance that all would soon return to normal soon enough.

All of these responses, and other responses too numerous to mention, as  are holding patterns - defense mechanisms  - until the whole of this new reality can be processed into a place of comprehensible acceptance. 

Even immediately diving into cleaning up the mess, repairing damages, healing wounds, and delivering food and water is comforting relief from the cruel upheaval of  a secure existence.  However valuable and practical is this care, the nagging foggy awareness of so many others devastated is fuel for denial.

To summarize, the overwhelming reality of what has been happening, can be paralyzing emotionally. You are free to process the state of the planet in any way you feel drawn. In order to process, I am drawn to diligent introspection and patience.

How are you processing this radically discontinuous state of life today?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Impermanence and Gratitude in the Face of the Storm

This is named Pause in the Storm by Judi White

Hurricane Irma is about to cover Florida. She is 500 miles wide, on a path up through "the State. She has left unprecedented destruction behind her.  

Needless to say, Even though I have lived through other hurricanes, none has caused such  a heightened awareness of the possibility of complete annihilation as has Irma. Others have come close, but have always provided some sort of escape route. 

As I began to implement the long list of preparation recommendations,  I began to reflect on the many times I rebuilt my life from scratch  and how each time was refreshing new beginning.  I was under the impression for the past year and a half that I had done that once again. Here I am, once again facing the possibility that starting from scratch might just be on the horizon again very soon. 

In between arranging the ground floor shelter and stocking up on survival supplies, I finished several projects I had started and had felt no urgency to finish.

.All communication devices are charged and protected in plastic ready to take with me wherever I go. 

I stored legal documents and most valued possessions in the trunk of the car, packed a bag and put it and  the cat carrier  in the back seat in case I need to evacuate.  

I covered my projects and some framed pictures and musical instruments  I love and placed them in the hallway in case the hurricane resistant windows don't hold up this time.

I stored porch and patio furniture because it seemed like the right thing to do and got the potted plants under the house protected from being lavished by high winds.

When I sat down for a few mindful moments, I considered the furniture I  have accumulated for comfortable convenience and the three pieces I most treasure. Knowing I cannot take them or save them, I considered the reality of impermanence and how it permeates every single moment and place,  just as Irma is leaving nothing untouched. The winds of change today are highlighting  the impermanence of our very being.

It is not just I who is affected and effected. No one person is excluded. Dare I think this is all about me, I only need to look around and be aware that all hearts are touched by our common experience of inevitable change.  My thoughts turn to the suffering of all beings caught up in these storms, fires, and earthquakes  that have been relentless in their insistence on our attention. 

With this awareness, I am beginning to understand that we are all suffering in one way or another while total loss rears its ugly head. "I Am" is not little me scared to death. "I Am" is a collective energy of the compassionate response. 

 I am grateful for the given ability to wait patiently, prepare for the worst of all losses, then to begin anew when the storms pass. 

I am grateful that the tortilla strips were fresh even though I didn't store them sealed. I am grateful that the cheese melted perfectly and the salsa is the best ever. I am grateful I can be happy right now.

What reminds  you that you can live in gratitude while so keenly aware of the impermanence of our existence? 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Insider" and Charlottesville

When the movie, "The Insider" came out in 1999, it never entered my world. It was brought to my attention recently as appropriate in considering a response to the Charlottesville horror.

In case someone reading this is not aware of the event, I will summarize:
A plan is under consideration to  remove Civil War hero statues in public places in North Carolina  where they stand.
 A peaceful rally was held by the extreme right wing Neo-Nazi group. They were advocating that the statues remain where they are.
Another peaceful rally also was held by another group advocating the removal of the statues from public places.
Both groups were passionate about their perspective which led to violent interaction between the two groups of protesters. Lives were lost.
Various news sources report the day's events with different biases regarding the motives behind the protest rallies.
Most of the people I know were struck with disbelief that either of these rallies could be happening in this world today.
Apparently, the prejudice of both perspectives has been seething beneath the surface for generations. I find myself wondering if there are plans to remove statues in the North USA as well,  as I remember the Taliban bombing ancient Buddhist shrines some years back.

The movie, "The Insider" was about an Executive VP of a tobacco company who blew the whistle on the practice of adding a chemical to cigarettes to make nicotine more addictive.  I thought the story was going to be about him, which it was, but it was also about Lowell Bergman who was producing "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace, commentator at the time.
"60 Minutes" reported the news factually. You could trust what was reported and form your own opinions in relation to the facts.  Bergman and Wallace got to the heart of the matter and had a reputation which reflected great integrity and credibility. The story showed the extreme pressure to not pursue the truth of the horror of putting profit before people's health.

Of equal horror are the two stories:  one  of making cigarettes more addictive and; the other of violence caused by a movement to leave statues which stand for a slave based economy clashing with a movement to tear down memorials of lost lives.

Lowell Bergman never wavered in his quest to get the truth told. My life has been deeply addressed by his passion and integrity to get to the root cause of human suffering and bring it to the consciousness of, at the time, 30 million viewers,  in  a way that it could not be ignored.

I am inspired to be so committed and to call for the truth in a way that can not be ignored. I also want to add that the truth to which I refer is not the opposite of lying.  It is about exposing injustice which hinders the highest good.

Who in Public Service is there doing this today? Who is calling these destructive forces into account, demanding that what history has created will not be destroyed. I have heard only shallow, biased, and politically advanrageous responses to this tragedy of our times.

We see the same happening every day in so many ways, be it regarding climate change, public education, human rights or  health care, to name a few. 

The travesties of today are overwhelming. The truth is being denied public access, while at the same time we are suffering the consequences of realities. 

We, the public, are being terrorized by relentless threats to our sense of well being, to our trust in those who we have chosen to be our leaders.

 How do we be the Lowell Bergman's who catalyze the deep resolve that exposes the truth which blocks progressive policies and respect for human differences?   

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Life Lesson in Local Politics

Our  children, metaphorically and really,  continue civilization,  moving ahead from what we have created. Some will be carried on, some will be set aside as no longer needed.

I have always been interested in being a part of creating a community where everyone feels that they belong, that they are valued,  and are able to be  responsible for its well-being.

Our family was part of a great movement to make sure that there were demonstrations of this possibility.

Today I live in a small town where people are separated by many different belief systems and mindsets.  A political hierarchy is present in every organization. Here, those who can play what I call the King Kong game get to have it their way.. I do admire their skill.

Every time I attempt to get involved, I end up in the trash, metaphorically speaking again. I just never learned to follow the herd just because that is what is what is expected.  

Recently, I  have been involved in  pioneering an organization whose mission is to inspire creativity in this community. I have been intent on creating an environment in which people feel they belong and are responsible for its well-being.

Without going into details, having pulled a group together to pull off a new event towards this goal , the planning is not going in the direction that I would prefer. In fact ,everything is going in the direction that makes it impossible for me to participate in that event.

What am I to do?

My intent  is to occasion a community building event in which inspired creativity is of the essence, I choose to go with the flow. Otherwise my expectations become Dogma which has no place in community building.  Now, having no responsibilities I can fulfill because I will not be present, I take yet another trip to the trash with this venture.  

When such occasions rise,  it is always healing to remember original intentions that were birthed in  care.

Also important is to weigh up the value of each others' gifts and limitations. Being realistic, anything I might have to offer can be offered by anyone else, and in most cases more successfully. In other words, I am expendable AND replaceable.

This intrusion on my trust in the consensus building process, really is an opportunity to assess what is important to me, where I really want to put my life, and who I want to have in my  life.

Most important, since consensus rest in what is best for the future our children inherit, is to live as a demonstration of peaceful coexistence.

The foundation of the future that is happening,  and it happening  in this small community service project. 

The realignment process is continuing with or without my approval.

So, I send the event and all involved a blessing and let whatever will be, Be!!

I read the other day that you come into this incarnation to learn lessons. If you don't learn them, you get to come back to try again.  Well, the opportunities to learn lessons are too painful to desire their continuation,  so I intend to learn the lesson I am here to learn this time.

Am I the only one experiencing this radical call to explore new ways of living?  How's it going for you?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Because I Care

Passion Flower in Crescent City FL
Sometimes I get so angry I can't even sort out the source of the eruption of this feeling.

At least four times this past year Anger has taken over and vented its frustration on whomever was around me at the time. 

I knew each time it was displaced, belonging to a deep unhealed wound.

One time it was because someone who offered to assist me left me in the lurch.

Another time it was because someone chopped down my flower bushes without discussing it with me.

Another time it was because someone lied about someone else  which caused serious damage to her ability to do her job.

Another time it was because everything changed on the national scene and I reached a point where I was even angry at every attempt by the resistance movement.

Most recently, by what seemed to be a blow to my own ego, I just quit a project I was working on.

Not until I listened to my own protest on the injustice of it all did I  hear the origin of that Anger which was overwhelming.

Out of the depths I have cried in raw anger. Real tears streamed down my cheeks.

I have never felt relieved by venting my anger. I get even more frustrated by being embarrassed and disappointed by my immature behavior. I even have ignored mindful practice of breathing when I feel Anger taking over. 

Breathing does assist in the disidentification from Anger,  and from actually performing the acts of violence I am contemplating. (note: embellishing to emphasize)

Having reached the point where there appears to be no purpose in talking things over, forgiving and forgetting, letting it all go, or getting to the root of the problem (which I already have done a hundred times), I nevertheless am making new decisions.

Mostly I cry instead of lashing out. I might confront with a question instead of letting it go. I vent my frustration instead of creating an alternative. I wish things were different instead of  discerning the gift in the reality of it all. But, mostly I cry.

At the same time, I am discovering it is relatively easy to be happy when I am making decisions about how I am going to live my life given the intrusion of events which unjustly change the status quo.

When I do not assume the role of victim, but rather create a response which respects the goodness of the changes, and disregards any presumptions about the  intention of that which has caused Anger to surge,  I am free.

When I understand my own anger, I alleviate the suffering which angry tears express.

Underneath it all, and bottom line, I care with a passion for the love of of this Earth Community.

And this Earth Community happens in these everyday events.

So the truth is, our whole lives are changing and will keep on changing. Some bring Anger to center stage. 

When we deal with our responses by the way we live our lives, we are free to be passionate creators of this  Earth Community.

When we make that kind of decision, support comes from everywhere.

How do you deal with your anger?  Where is the source of your freedom to be the gift that you are to the creative process?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Ode to Death

Welcome Death, welcome to my new day
Born to dance on up and down the road called "Bein' Alive"
For however long until the final moment arrives
When breathing ceases and heart beat stops
In the meantime I carry on with purpose
And when all  business is finished
When  all lessons are learned and its time to move on
When you invite me into a new kind of dance  I am willing
And take your hand as you guide me there
Safely home 
whole life lived
Perfect  in every smile and tear 
And dream and despair
All is well

May through July of 2016 I was in limbo from a dramatic life change. During that time, I remained numb. At the same time, my unconscious awareness (an oxymoron I know) was planning a healing journey.  During these three months i rearranged my whole house to accommodate living alone and free from the past. During this time I also made plans and arrangements for journeying to a healed and healthy place, a place in time where I now reside.

And so the journey through this year begins:

From August through October  I was on the road most of the time from Vermont to Chicago to  Germany to France and back. Every place I went I encountered an old memory, a new site, and a connection with those I have known and loved. I experienced  a full sense of belonging wherever I was whether it was on a road trip with my son, Randy, or a retreat at Plum village, France. 

November 2016 through February 2017 I began what I will remember as a reentry into the world around me. I got involved in the community with fear and trepidation. Would this environment allow my entry as the person I am or would I have to flex to accommodate belonging? The election war zone and my own recent years of sheltered existence  kept me on an endless nerve racking edge. At the same time, this reentry held delightful encounters and Spirit nourishing  invitations beckoning me to become new. I experienced myself as a seed  planted and beginning to grow (maybe  into a biblical tree).  Perhaps the despair was the earth being tilled to grow this new garden of me.

March through May definitely was a turning point. Spring had arrived and everything was sprouting and blooming and my venture into the community became a dance through this garden of life. Conversations with colleagues of yore, time with new friends, and deepening my own Spiritual path were filled with sunshine.  I was learning to live more fully than I have ever known. I realized this was happening when all regrets left to take their place in the past to rest in peace.

June began with my grandson, Justin Reece, completing his journey on Earth and is ending with dear sweet and lovely friend, Jan Simpson, also moving on  into the Light quite unexpectedly. These two months and two events have been laced with preparations for the coming year. My son, Russ, moved back to his home here in Crescent City, bringing with him the presence of  family in real time again. Death will invite us all soon enough. These two months have been a reckoning with the reality of Death. When Death takes my hand and leads me to the next realm, I welcome the continuation of the journey.

In the meantime, with a bubbling sense of freedom and adventure, I am committed to living each  moment wonder filled. I have plans for this year. They are not yearnings nor are they goals. They are projections of possible experience. They are Spiritual and practical and compassionate responses to a suffering planet, by the way I live my life each day.

EThis year has been preparation for a whole new cycle for me. It may turn out that it has been preparation for Death's invitation. I am just not going to be worrying about what it is or isn't. I am just going to be moving on up and down the road "Bein' Alive".

A yearly reflection on the occasion of remembering one's birth is a spiritual exercise.  I invite you to do the same. It is very personal and finally all about you. You  get to have that privilege at least once a year with ultimate legitimacy!!!