clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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Late summer musings

Hello again dear Readers!  Facebook let me know that it has been 189 days since my last post, which is incorrect, but still, it feels like a good time for a post.

Joni Mitchell once wrote a popular song with the words, “everything comes and goes, like old lovers and styles of clothes.” I am feeling the truth of her words often these days, when it seems that so much of life flows along the stream of days and nights with barely a backward glance. Time has taken on a whole new dimension: certain moments feel large and profound, and many other times I can barely believe that ‘whatever it was’ happened only a short 24 hours ago. Although linear time is still a construct we collectively agree to, it feels like it is certainly going out of fashion quickly.

Summer is fading fast, as it always seems to do in late August. Some of us are sad to see it go, while others (myself included) are happy at the thought of sweater weather and cool mornings, temperate days, and the beauty of autumn. September brings new projects, school days, and a good supply of vegetable and fruit harvests to us. This summer has been the hottest ever recorded, according to global climate scientists. It has brought catastrophe and deathly heat to parts of our planet. I am extremely fortunate to live in a part of the United States that has been free from these scenarios, yet I feel deeply for those affected by floods, drought, fires and extreme temperatures.

I am in the middle of an extraordinary and important book for our times, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, by Charles Eisenstein. He wrote it in 2013. Eisenstein is not only a brilliant scholar, but a real humanitarian and important thinker for our present times. His words throughout this book resonate with deep chords in my soul, as he strives to explain the unique space we are collectively in at this point in history. He writes that we are essentially walking the land of the in-between: no longer is the old story of separation and power over our overriding philosophy on Earth (although there is still plenty of evidence of the old, crumbling story of civilization everywhere one looks), while the new Story of Interbeing is still being formed. He writes,

The more we share with each other this kind of knowledge, the stronger we are in it, the less alone. It needn’t depend on the denial of science, because science is undergoing parallel paradigm shifts. It needn’t endure the denial of livelihood, because from a trust in gift we find unexpected sources of sustenance. It needn’t withstand rejection by everyone around us, because more and more people are living from the new story, each in his or her own way, inducing a feeling of camaraderie. Nor is it a turning away from the world that is still mired in Separation, because from the New Story we access new and powerful ways to effect change.  (Eisenstein, 16.)

Reading Eisenstein’s book is an act of hope and of affirmation. He is wide awake to the world, where we have come from, and where we aspire to go. He is under no illusions about the difficulty of this journey. He is wonderfully honest. He acknowledges our cynicism, despair, and denial within the process. He also is a champion for vulnerability, naiveté, and courageousness. He advocates for both spirituality and activism as complementing each other. According to Eisenstein, “If everything has consciousness, then what we had believed possible, practical and realistic is far too limiting. We are on the cusp of an epochal breakthrough, coming into touch with the mind of nature. What can we achieve when we are in harmony with it?”

Dear Readers, this year has been transformative for many of us, myself included. We have worked very hard to let go of much of our old, third dimensional thinking and baggage. We have been clearing out what no longer serves us on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, soul and spirit. Many of us are coming into better alignment with the natural world, the unseen realms of nature spirits, beings from other worlds, the angelic and devic. We are growing and evolving exponentially right now, and feeling the various effects of that growth. I teeter between feeling fabulous one hour, to needing major sleep and contemplative time alone. No matter what your patterns or symptoms, the fact is that we Humans are changing, and it is not only necessary, but so very good, healthy and promising for the future.

It is easy to look at the world and become alarmed, frightened, angry, self-righteous, indignant, and generally anxious. We see before us a world that is crumbling, the dying paradigm of polarity and separation tearing apart as we watch. It is easy to get drawn into the fray, and give energy to that dying world. And yet. Even as all that is happening, there is, as Eisenstein so eloquently reminds us, a new world that is coming into being. It is not fully here yet, and yes there will surely be much more disintegration and crumbling of the old system before the new is firmly anchored. We are living through tumultuous times. These are times that call for all of the courage, grounding, sanity and resilience we can muster. If you haven’t already, make friends with your neighbors. Join a group and do some volunteering in your city or town. Grow a garden, or help in a community space. Give away everything you no longer use or need, and simplify your life. Most of all, consider the value of service. The next time someone pushes your buttons and you want to rip his or her head off, ask instead, How may I serve you?  Anger, frustration, judgement and bitterness are the old story. It is time to stop adding anymore of that old energy into the world, and instead to add your positive energy, enthusiasm, sanity and wisdom. How may you serve the new world that is wanting to grow?

Trees_in_early_Autumn-Pittman

I wish everyone who may read my blog a blessed and productive, happy and peaceful autumn. I see the light and the love within each of you, and I am honored by it.

(from Amazon.com review of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible: “God damn this is good! This version of the big story by Charles Eisenstein is one of the best I have ever heard. Charles, you are speaking for millions of us and we so know what you are saying to be true. We will absolutely tell the whole fucking world about it.”
—Brad Blanton, author of Radical Honesty)

 

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The Cruelest Holiday

There is a waning crescent moon outside my window tonight, reminding me that there is still a sliver of light within even the darkest night. Tonight is the eve of the rather ubiquitous Valentine’s day, a holiday that, more than any other which falls within the calendar year, serves to remind one of the folly and pain of love for those who are not currently in a hot relationship or happy with their partner.

Working inside my local and very mainstream American grocery store today, everywhere was decorated with products emblazoned with pink and red, while roses, chocolate covered strawberries, hearts, flowers, and every other kind of kitch imaginable to sell shoppers this holiday of love is on offer. Ugh. The whole thing made me want to run screaming away (as I do so often while working, but especially so today.) Another marketing extravaganza for the great American consumer society to lap up. And lap they do. In the cheese shop section of the store where I work, many slices of creamy, sexy (?) brie cheese were bought by couples, as well as many other delicacies for their lovemaking weekend of bliss. Now, before you, dear Readers, think I am just an old sourpuss for not thinking it is sweet or fun, please know that I understand all too well just how sensual and wonderous food and wine can be, especially in concert with other kinds of sex and romance on just such an occasion. Back to my original point, which is the pain and folly of romantic love for some of us humans walking around the planet this weekend.

For the handful of you who read this blog, a few may remember that when I started writing, I was living with my Danish love in the country of Denmark, a bit lonely for my homeland and friends, but in love nevertheless. That was back in 2012, which feels like ancient history by now. Fast forward four years, and here I am on Valentine’s day eve, with no lover to dip strawberries into whipped cream and drink champagne with, among other delights that I won’t go into but instead will leave up to your imagination. It has been a long time since I have written honestly about my personal life on this blog, since I decided that it seems more important to write about what is happening in the larger picture of Earth and humanity than my own small life and problems. But. Tonight I am indulging myself in a bit of emotional processing for my own sanity, and you are invited to either read along, or delete this blog post. Your choice, as always.

Love Day, once a year?

This evening at work, I heard a couple of co-workers’ stories in short form. One, a woman about my age and a New Yorker through and through, described her life as a series of interesting jobs, a failed marriage, leading to her life completely coming apart, a brief stay with her father in southern Florida, meeting a nice man, working with, then moving in with him, and one day about a year ago, getting on a plane with him and coming here to Denver, where they remain to this day. There was a lot in between the lines of her story that I intuited, which involved pain and suffering. Then I heard another story, by a man who started the same week as I, who told me that ten years ago he was on track to finish his degree for becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), when suddenly out of nowhere, the financial aid woman told him he’d borrowed his limit of money for school, and cut him off. He had only 4 courses to go to finish his degree. Zap, just like that, there he was with a big debt, no degree and no CNA career ahead.

I am guessing that, were I to interview others who work at that big, highly corporate grocery store, I would find many more variations of the same theme: people who have gambled with their lives and mostly lost. It is a kind of land of broken dreams that I now find myself in, and I admit that I fit right in with the other lost and broken dreamers. I too have gambled with my life and lost, many times. In fact, I could make the case that I have mostly lost everything that mattered to me at one time or other. Sometimes I get very down about this fact, and feel like a real loser in this game we call Western Contemporary Society. I see others who look like they are winners, and I feel badly in comparison. Now, some of you, dear Readers, may want to tell me to just change my attitude and raise my self esteem and everything will be just fine. Well, maybe. On the other hand, when I look around and hear fellow travelers’ stories, I have to shake my head. There are many of us who have not ‘won’ in this game we are forced to play. Very often I have only wanted to escape, and somehow find another way to live that doesn’t involve winning and success in order to be happy. I have had glimpses into these other worlds, alternative lifestyles, or ‘off-the-grid” living situations. They seem nearly ideal to me, and I have wanted to be able to stay there for the duration. But never was I able to do that, something or someone always pulled me back into mainstream life again. So here I am, summoning my will strongly each day I have to go into that job, putting a smile on and asking folks if they want to sample some cheese. I am a cheese pusher now.

Tonight before I left work, I caught the last five minutes of the Republican debate in South Carolina. I heard three of the candidate hopefuls give their last pitch to the good old conservatives of that state, to try to convince them to vote for him in the primary election. Each one of those men said very similar things, and the gist of it was as follows: “I will be the man to help get our great country back to being great again, to having its values restored of one man and one woman marriage, of having God be our authority and not the government, to getting rid of Obamacare, to abolishing the IRS (granted this is not a bad idea), to keeping our enemies afraid of us, and most of all, to once again being the most successful country in the world.” After each candidate spoke, there was a burst of applause as the audience obviously agreed and liked each man’s words. What I realized from hearing these speeches tonight, is that we are still very divided in the United States between the folks who want to keep things as they remember them being for much of their lives, and don’t like the idea of anything changing (this is obviously a very large topic), and the folks who are at the completely other end of the spectrum, like me, who are very much wanting things to change radically for the betterment of humankind, starting with better laws, much greater equality between classes, races and economic divides, more honest and progressive people making decisions for the rest of us, and of course, a lot greater protection for our environment and all the beings living here. For folks like me, the concept of “winning against our enemies” does not exist, it is about quite other issues entirely.

How can we humans possibly resolve the gaping split that divides us? How can we meet and agree upon the most pressing issues of our times, when half the population simply wants to pretend that we can keep doing business as usual, and even return to pre-catastrophic times here on planet Earth, just denying and not even being willing to see the state that the planet, the country, and many many many of the people are actually in? Just right now, on this rather depressing evening before Love Fest 2016, it is feeling slightly impossible. Then again, I recall my dear friend’s admonition to me: “We’ll do the possible today, and the Impossible tomorrow.” Tonight I can only say, We’ll see.


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Change, awe, disgust and disillusionment

(Warning: this post will be a rant, so if you are feeling light and happy and wish to stay that way, don’t bother reading this one. Thanks for your understanding, Leigh)

In the space of the past twelve hours, my emotional soulstate has run the gamut from peaceful, strong and grounded, to disappointed, bored, anxious, resentful, sad, angry, doubtful, curious, frustrated, and even nauseated, and now simply grounded and resigned. Quite a boatload for one day in the life. Are you feeling alright?

If I had a magic wand or superpowers to change this world, I would not hesitate. Everybody would be in for quite a surprise after my rework of this third dimensional world was complete. The first thing I would do, I think, is to obliterate television and all the industry that feeds it while being fed by it. What a disgusting monster it is. It works to portray the absolute basest and worst of human nature while also drawing people into its poison trap. But no, that is only a small sidebar of what I need to rant on tonight, dear Readers.

Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Indian guru who came to the United States during the early 20th century to help raise human consciousness, once said (I am paraphrasing), “This world is like a terrible horror movie. All the people sitting in the audience don’t know that it is only a movie, and so as they watch it they are believing it is real. But the best thing to do is to get to the beam. Get to the light, for it is only a play. What is Real is the light of God.” His words are absolutely true, and more important than ever.

What is real, and where is the beam in 2016? Nearly everywhere I look I see disillusionment, despair, disappointment, disaster and people trying in various ways to cope. Self medication is popular through the use of tobacco, recreational drugs and alcohol, gluttony, and caffeine. Many use electronic devices to distract. There are hundreds and thousands of ways to check out of this world for a minute or a lifetime. Yet for most of us, sooner or later we once again must come back to the basic nature of our life, and we find what? One of the great mysteries, ourselves.

It takes real audacity to live on this planet now, and to do it well, yes, superpowers. I mean this not metaphorically as much as literally. To stay sane and sober in the middle of it all takes creating some super powerful energy from within to develop ways to cope and smile and be compassionate.

Four weeks into my job as a cheese clerk at my local supermarket and I can barely stomach being there. It’s a Great American supermarket, full of just about every kind of food imaginable that’s available in this country. It’s bright, shiny, colorful and packed with foods and merchandise of every description. And it’s all on offer, every single day and night for one’s shopping convenience. All you need is money, honey.

Each shift that I work provides me with yet another opportunity to see how much food gets thrown out for the flimsiest of reasons. To be fair, my store donates a considerable amount of unsellable food to the food pantries, and so helps people to get a myriad of free groceries when they go for their allotment. But. So much more perfectly good food gets tossed into the garbage compactor or industrial compost bin even as people are sleeping on the streets of this town, cold, hungry and about as low as one can get in their station in life. Why can’t any of this food be given to the homeless?

As I am sure many of you know, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is gathering a lot of momentum now. Following the trail on facebook each day, it is obvious that the Occupy Wall Street movement has devoted itself to getting Bernie into the White House this autumn. He is the Everyman’s Hero, a regular guy who is honest, cannot be bought, has been playing the game of Washington politics for a very long time, and he’s rallying the troops big time. He’s calling out Wall Street and the “billionaire class” for their crimes against humanity, he’s taking names and he’s intent upon dealing with the criminals in the way that so many of us would like: throwing them the hell out of their cushy seats of power and sending them to jail with no bond. Bernie is making all kinds of promises about what he will do to right all the wrongs done to Americans by those evil billionaires when elected. And it sounds so good, and I want to believe it could happen so very much.

Then I catch myself. Our American political system is at the point of being so corrupted, so full of arrogance, greed, self-interest, blasphemy and idiocy, that I honestly do not know how it can really be fixed. It really needs a complete and real dismantling and starting over again. Ben Franklin said it: About every 200 years, governments need a revolution and a new plan. That is where we are now.

Thomas Jefferson engraving after painting by Rembrandt Peale.

Today I saw a video made by a couple of scientists who were in the Arctic in November and filmed a gigantic chunk of glacier ice calving, or splitting apart and crashing into the sea. They said the size of the piece that broke off was around the size of lower Manhattan, except the walls of ice were more than twice as high as the skyscrapers. Watching the short clip was utterly awe-inspiring. Before my eyes, the ice that has made up the top of our earth for thousands of years was deconstructing itself. I do not doubt that it won’t be too much longer before all of the Arctic has melted completely. Then our world will look considerably different than it does today.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-longest-and-probably-largest-proof-of-our-current-climate-catastrophe-ever-caught-on-camera

The buds on some of the big trees in the park near my home are getting fat. It is the last day of January, I am writing from Denver, Colorado. What we used to think was normal, for example, trees budding in late April and blooming beginning of May, is quickly becoming a history lesson for the young. So much of nature is having to adapt to new patterns of growth and decay, or else will probably not make it into the earth’s future. Animals and humans as well. I envision a future where it will be virtually impossible to tell if the creature next to you on the street or in the commuter train is natural or a human constructed android of some kind or other. The science fiction authors are closer to the truth than we can really know.

I admit it freely: this future is not one that I want to live in. Not At All. I know I am an old-fashioned person with peculiar ideas, but living on a world that no longer differentiates between what is natural (meaning not messed with by man) and what has been created in a laboratory somewhere, where no one understands much of anything about the substances they ingest, including what passes for food, and where people are so disconnected from each other and themselves that they can no longer acknowledge another’s presence, is a world that I refuse to be a part of any longer. Sorry, but the game is over for me at that point. And it seems like it is fast approaching, already here.

Send me the map, give me the plan, help me to find the way. The way out of this madness that passes for our world, our common life, and into some nice bubble world where the people are kind, where society doesn’t undermine one’s efforts to simply live in peace, and where things are still Real. Does such a place exist in time and space? I don’t know the answer to that. But I surely want to believe that it does. Over the rainbow, perhaps. On another world. Maybe in another universe even. Tonight, I am ready to have them beam me aboard.

Here’s a quote I found by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Thanks for the encouragement! Pinkola_Estes_discouragequote

 


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Going to summer camp

Tomorrow I leave the city for summer camp in the Rockies. Excited I am, and also a little scared. The image of The Fool, that one who, white rose in hand, bundle of belongings upon one shoulder, is blissfully about to step off the precipice into the Unknown, is my symbol tonight: About to leap, in utter trust, and hoping for a soft landing.fool

The camp I am going to is indeed for kids, from ages 7 through 12 years old. It’s in a beautiful spot, high in the mountains at nine thousand feet elevation. There is a private lake, horses, archery, canoeing, and all the usual summer camp activities. My role will be in the kitchen, as assistant Chef. This means I will be cooking a whole lot of food for hungry kids for the next ten weeks.   I have the feeling we will have a good time together, with all sorts of forest creatures nearby, cooler, clean air and water, and millions of stars for company at night.

Dear Readers, what will you do with your summertime this year? It is such a brief and lovely season, the mornings so fresh and soft, the heat radiating everything and everyone by afternoon, and the evenings so wonderfully long and warm. It is the luxurious time of year, when humans can shed outerwear and sensible shoes, women wrap themselves in sheer and flowing dresses, men wear little more than a pair of shorts and perhaps a tee shirt, everybody wears flip flops or sandals, and as the song goes, The living is easy. Generous, easy and a little bit lazy…… like floating down a slow-moving river in a row boat, swinging in a tree swing, hiking up a gorgeous mountainside full of flowers, or any of the hundreds of wonderous occupations and diversions that one can think of to enjoy himself on a sunny afternoon in summer.

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I would like to suggest to everyone reading this post, don’t be in a hurry this summer, or so set on DOING….. rather, focus more of your energy on simply BEING….. enjoying each moment as it arrives, flashes like a koi in a calm pond, and disappears again. No other time of year affords such luxury of time to simply Be. Enjoy it while it lasts, love and appreciate the people around you as much as you possibly can, and most of all, love yourself. You have been working so hard at this game of being human, it is time to reward yourself in many ways this summer. Celebrate being alive, your ability to laugh, hug and breathe the air, feel water on your skin, smell the flowers, see the beauty of our amazing planet, hear the birdsong, taste wonderful, fresh fruit and vegetables from a garden, touch another being. We are all so blessed to be alive, I hope you love it all!!


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Negotiating the Rapids of Our Times

Today is a holiday in the United States, a day for remembrance of those who have gone before those of us who walk the Earth now. Some remember the soldiers who fought in wars, others remember people they have loved who have passed back to the spiritual world. Remembrance is a two-edged sword; it brings up many feelings that can bring us pain and sorrow, as well as joy and warmth.

Today I walked along the river again. The water level is high, due to all the rain we have been receiving this month. It is gorgeous there now, as green as it ever gets in the prairielands of Colorado. I stood and watched the water gracefully flowing around a group of old willow trees, taking in the simple, wild beauty of nature all around me. A little ways above where I stood, there is a waterfall that flows under a foot-bicycle bridge. As has been the case for many weeks, the water was mightily and majestically falling from the higher to lower section of the river. Above it, the water was smoothly and calmly flowing, then suddenly rapids, with foam and spray and swirling, and then the river again became calm and smoothly flowing downstream to where I stood.

How do you navigate the rapids when they appear?

How do you navigate the rapids when they appear?

This spectacle seems like a perfect metaphor for our lives now! There is so much energy flowing and swirling all around us throughout the course of a day or a year, it often feels that we get caught up in the rapids and must do whatever we can to simply negotiate them until we can again find a calm place to flow. No matter who we are, our station in life, or where we happen to be standing upon Earth, there are cycles of smoothly flowing and periods of rapid change. It seems completely unavoidable.

Franz Kafka reminds us, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
( http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franzkafka134853.html#E5CZPUs2jwwHbPQf.99)

Given this unavoidable conundrum, the question then becomes, How do we navigate the rapids when we arrive at them? Again, there are no simple answers for this (although some may feel they have THE answer to it), but there are certainly choices we can make that will determine the kind of experience we will have there. If we take the metaphor of the river, then it becomes clear that there are a few ways to traverse the rapids. One, if you see or know that they are coming up soon, you can try to  get to shore, and simply walk or climb alongside the rapids until you pass them and return to a calmer place to get back into the water. Two, you can make sure your life jacket is strapped on tight, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and go screaming down the rapids. Or three, you can just get out of the water before they hit, and sit on the shore indefinitely, refusing to continue. Are there other choices to navigate the waters of our life? Probably many, but you get the idea. Perhaps a key to navigation is reflection and planning ahead for what you will choose to do when the time comes. Or perhaps you are the sort of person who just takes it all as it comes, and can strategize on the fly. In any case, what we know for sure is that you will face those moments, with varying degrees of grace.

As I was watching the water falling over the rocks a few days ago, I was delighted to observe a friend on the other side. Mister Heron was standing on the edge of a large rock, watching the cascading water with his keen eyes, contemplating the fish he was sure to catch. I sat on my side of the river and watched him for a long time as he patiently watched the water, and waited. Sure enough, eventually he stretched out his neck very far and peered closely into the white water, then in one sure and quick movement, snapped his needle-like beak around a silvery fish. He stood erect and quickly swallowed the fish whole. He seemed very happy then, and after a few moments, flew up to a nearby cottonwood tree to rest and digest. Delighted for him, I stood up and clapped my hands, congratulating him on his expert fisher prowess. It was an inspiring moment.

NightHeron-763816

If I could choose what creature to be on Earth, it would surely be a heron. I have long admired these beautiful and graceful water birds, that can stand for so long, waiting so patiently for the perfect opportunity to catch their fish dinner. They are magnificent to watch flying low over rivers, and have such a spirit of grace and harmony about them. And they love to stand near white water, enjoying the rush of the spray and the force of water around them, utterly fearless. To me, the heron represents a kind of ultimate freedom while living on Earth, a creature of air and water and land: The best of all worlds.

Dear Readers, I wish you all a peaceful and happy time as you find your own ways of traversing both the calm and the rapids of your individual journeys. I honor each one of you for your contribution to the whole of humanity’s slow but sure rise in evolution. Each one of you is precious and important, and I thank you for being here. I see the Light and Love within you, and I honor it.


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The wild places within and without us

Spring is the season of green and rain and changing weather. For those of us who enjoy a daily walk in nature, it is an ever-changing landscape from one day to the next. Very near to where I live is, miraculously, a nature area which some long-sighted city planners long ago designated as nature preserve. Although I live in the middle of a major American metropolis, I need only walk a few minutes down to find peace and wildness, a sanctuary space amongst urban sprawl.

CherryCreek-nature-area2

Cherry Creek nature area, still wild in the heart of urban sprawl

I was there today. There is a river there, that also changes depending upon the amount of rain or snow or sun we’ve had that week. It is an unusually rainy spring here, so there is a great deal of green both underfoot and on all the trees now. This part of the country is normally semi-arid plains, and there are cactus and many kinds of hardy perennial native plants growing there. Stands of old cottonwoods and their younger offspring grow all along the river banks, as well as willow, maple, alder, ash, hawthorn and wild apple. Many North American birds spend time there as well, from robins, sparrows, larks, etc., to mallard ducks who calmly cruise the waterway in pairs or small groups. Today I watched a small, white heron fly over the river on its way somewhere. Mostly the river meanders in a great curving flow from east to west, but there are a couple of spots where the nature conservation corps have set large rocks, and underneath one foot/bike bridge there is a rather spectacular waterfall. As all of you who spend time in nature are well aware, it is the best place to go to in order to heal oneself of any and all ills a person may be dealing with in life. In these quickly changing and accelerating times, there is nothing better than taking a walk, breathing in the fresh air, and letting nature soothe and heal the soul, body and spirit. For myself, I find myself usually walking a kind of pendulum between action and resting, between having to think and focus and being able to let go and rest. It is during the resting times that the emotions well up, asking to be released. My emotional state is so fragile and close to the surface at this point that all it takes is a kind word or two, or a compassionate human standing next to me, for tears to come. I am not ill or needing to be fixed, (although it is true that in the past couple of years I have been broken completely open) it is simply that my heart is expanded and so sensitive now to life, to nature and to others that I just FEEL so much. Walking along the river bank today, I marveled at the tiny, heart-shaped first leaves of the cottonwoods. The maple leaves with their red and green patterned leaves were just so finely wrought, so delicate. The hawthorn flowers smelled heavenly. The stalks of wild grass grew so tall and straight, their flowers still wrapped up tight like a present, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal themselves. We are like this too, wrapped up inside of ourselves, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal ourselves before another. The most daring and vulnerable thing we can do is to open up, to let go of our fears of being seen, of being known, and let the world into us completely. How do we heal ourselves from all of the horrors we have inside of us, from who knows how many lifetimes of pain, of cruelty, of hurting and being hurt? We can find the answer by emulating nature. As long as there is even a small amount of water, of sun, wind, rain, and soil, nature can and will recover from even tremendous devastation. The power of nature to heal itself, to grow anew each and every spring is beyond incredible, it is truly magical. Paulo-Coelho-quote I contemplate some humans’ ability to overcome the greatest obstacles and traumas imaginable. I sometimes can barely fathom how they could overcome such terrible circumstances, injustices, violence and horrendous brutality, how did they manage to go through such adversity and live to smile again, to love again, to write books and plant gardens and change the world? I believe the answer lies in the idea that we are a part of Nature herself, and within each of us lies a tremendous will to go on, to simply continue. It may take time, perhaps many years, to heal the old scars within us. Yet with time and with care, it happens. In fact it IS happening, all over the world. People are caring more and more, for each other and for the Earth. They are helping the Earth to heal in thousands of ways and places. As we do this, we become a greater part of the intricate web that constitutes all of us, the tapestry of life on Earth that we are, each one a strand that has value and importance. When we recognize this, a profound change occurs inside our soul. Life is definitely not about getting what we think we want. But it is about finding out just how beautiful and valuable our lives truly are, with all of its pain and its glory. Happy Spring, everyone.


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Who’s leading who?

Time seems to fly by these days now, doesn’t it? More often than not, I experience my life with a kind of detachment, simultaneously observing the life I am leading as well as living it from within this fragile body. Curiouser and curiouser.

Every morning is such a gift, though. I repeat my morning routine and ritual each day, take on whatever sweater and jacket I will wear, open the front door, step outside, lock the door behind me, and walk onto the street. The trees are blooming now, wearing their new spring green so joyously, as the morning birds sing songs from their branches. The air feels soft and clean, the sky huge and still. It is the rarest and loveliest moment of the day, as the sun rises and the world is still undone.

The internal work continues. I doubt if there is anyone alive right now, if they are at all conscious of themselves, who is not dealing with any number of issues, dramas, situations, or other moments where their self, their mind, the part of them that wants, needs, is reluctant, afraid or grasps, is not demanding something, wanting the limelight, grabbing the attention. The small self is acting up just like a three-year-old, and we had better listen. What is up with that, dear Readers?

A website that I’ve recently found, www.jeshua.net/, has some interesting and wise advice concerning this phenomenon. I’ve just read an article by Gerrit Gielen, where he makes the following points:

The soul is the creator of our human personality, we as a human being reflect one aspect of our soul similar to how an Archangel represents one aspect of God. The two most important factors that determine our human reality are: 1. our soul and its intentions for us, and 2. our willingness or unwillingness to work together in harmony with our soul, the source who created us. Our soul has a life plan for us that may contain goals that differ from our ideas about what is desirable in our lives. The basic creative force in our lives is our soul and not our human thoughts. We can work with the creative force of our souls, or we can work against it. Positive thinking aimed at wishes and desires that do not comply with our soul’s plan is not effective. But positive thoughts that are aligned with our soul’s intentions, support the creation process and add a sense of grace and ease to it.

If you do not follow the way of your soul, go against your deeper feelings, and try to control life too much, you lose touch with your soul’s wisdom and you start to feel empty inside. As with most of us, you may become carried away by earthly concerns and focus your attention on matters that you think are very important, but that essentially do not contribute to your inner growth: recognition, possessions, success, money, etcetera. Thus, the angel and you follow a different path and you start to feel unhappy and lonely.

You try to solve this dilemma by working harder, by gathering even more success, money, or power, because the society in which you were raised has taught you that these things are very important. Or you try to solve your loneliness by searching for the ideal partner. You are looking for your inner angel in the outside world. That will fail, because another person can never fulfill the role of your inner angel; the result will always be disappointing. Rather than restoring the connection with your soul, you end up feeling even more alienated from it.

Often, at this point a crisis will occur that challenges you to wake up and realign with your soul: perhaps illness or other adversities such as a divorce or losing your job. It is vital that you now turn inward and actively seek to restore the connection with the angel. If you want to create a new and more fulfilling life, positive thinking alone will not help you. If your positive thoughts aim to only remove the setbacks so you can return to the life you were used to, they will fail, because they go against the soul’s intentions. And if the positive thoughts or mantras are aimed at merely eliminating the disease or misfortune, they will be a way of denying or suppressing the inner darkness that needs to be dealt with up front. Only by facing your deepest feelings and fears, and restoring the conscious connection with your soul, will a true solution arise. Your soul will create that solution for you, if you are willing to face your inner darkness and listen to what your heart truly tells you.

You may wonder why we have desires that go against our soul’s plan, or why the soul has intentions that go against our plans. The reason why this gap exists is that our soul’s primary purpose is inner growth, while we often seek external solutions to our problems. From the soul’s perspective, negative experiences are often there to guide us toward inner growth and liberation, but we generally want to avoid those experiences. We want to rid ourselves of emotional or physical pain, and it is a real challenge to open up to the possibility that this pain has meaning and leads us into deeper self-understanding. Only if we recognize the wisdom of our soul, which often surpasses our human understanding, do our thoughts really gain creative power. Only positive thinking that acknowledges the value and meaning of “negative experiences” is aligned with the divine force that creates the universe.

To know whether your thoughts are aligned with your soul’s purpose, you can also ask: “Is my positive thinking based on fear or on love?” If you have wishes and desires, it is wise to check carefully whether they originate from love or from fear. If it is fear, go inward and face the frightened part in yourself. Face it with kindness and honesty. Ask yourself: “What does this part of me really need at this time?” If you do that, you will often find that the answer refers to something internal, rather than something external: what is needed are qualities such as self-esteem, trust, the ability to set boundaries, compassion, or a sense of humor. You are often able to give yourself what you need by developing these qualities in your everyday life. In this way, you will heal the fearful part of you and your wishes and desires may change because of that. They will be based on love and genuine self understanding rather than fear. Healing inner darkness is a deeply creative feat. Facing fear and surrounding it with the energy of love is more powerful than any affirmation you can think of! The result is that you become closely connected with your soul. Your soul light begins to shine through you and it is this light that is creative. It will create an outer reality (work, relationships) that provides inner growth, joy, and happiness.

You can apply positive thinking and affirmations as much as you want, but you will still grow old. Your thoughts are powerless against the natural aging process. But now look at this issue from the perspective of the soul. Is the soul interested in keeping us young? From the soul’s perspective, we are timeless, only our bodies are aging. To connect with your soul’s viewpoint, look in the mirror: see how your face is getting older, while sensing at the same time that there is something inside you, behind your eyes, that does not change. This is who you really are. While you, the human being, would perhaps want to stay forever in this body, your soul does not. The soul knows that there are infinitely more worlds and dimensions to be experienced and explored. The soul looks beyond what our human eyes can see and knows: the universe is waiting for us. – Gerrit Gielen, http://www.jeshua.net/

Reading Gerrit’s words today has given me strength and been an excellent reminder that what is happening in my life, in all of our lives, truly has meaning and purpose– the soul’s purpose which is the reason for me being in this human body in the first place. So much has happened in my life that I simply have no good answer for the question, Why? It is a question that I ask myself often, usually without coming up with a very good answer. But when I take it to this higher level, and am able to drop the small me’s ‘but why?” through my tears and heartache, I realize the power, wisdom and strength of surrendering to my soul’s purpose. Aligning with your soul is no easy task, is it? Your angel, as Gerrit calls it, will ask you to do things and go places you probably will not want to do nor go. Ain’t gonna do it, no way, your small self protests. And yet. In the end, if you listen to your soul, your angel, or the Higher You, he or she will win out. And you will grow from it, and learn the lesson you need.

You must do the thing-EleanorRooseveltThere are so many days when I take myself in hand, make myself do the thing I do not wish to do. And I do it because I am committed to my Soul’s growth and I love Her. Once I asked an old teacher of mine about God. He replied, “You have to know what god you are praying to, as there are many in the hierarchy of Heaven.” At the time I did not understand what he meant. Now, many years and miles later, I think I understand more. Our lives and the human-spiritual world connection are complex systems with vastly greater workings than we can possibly understand in these human bodies. The times we are living in are a whirlpool of constant change. There are huge forces at work upon all of us and the planet in every moment far vaster than we know. But we feel it in so many ways, each day and night. What do you think you are doing when you lay down and sleep at night? You are very busy, dear Readers. We are off in who knows how many dimensions, working with angels, guides, councils, other humans, other life forms throughout our sleeping hours. No wonder we often awaken and feel so very tired!! Our lives are a constantly shifting, moving roller coaster ride. We all signed up to be a part of this great shift that is happening to us long before we incarnated into these peculiar human bodies during the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries C.E.,or however you wish to describe our time in history. Are you tired? Do you remember that you wanted to be here and be a part of all that is happening on Earth now? Hard to believe sometimes, I know. But we did, we all wanted this. Because without us, the Great Shift won’t happen, and our world will continue to degrade and eventually die.

a seeds greatest expression-OccelliBy each and every one of us being here, saying Yes! to life, to love, to committing to each other and ourselves that We are the Change, we stand up to fear, to terror, to pain and misery, greed and hatred and all the by-products of separation, and the world changes. It IS CHANGING, for the better in thousands of ways. We must not lose our perspective to this 3D matrix that is so cleverly spun around us, we must not let it overwhelm us. This is BIG WORK, dear Readers! There is nothing more important nor worthwhile in all the universes. We have to soldier on, whether we want to or not. The future of Gaia and all of humanity depends on the work we are doing now, today and every day for the rest of our lives. Our souls want this, we want it for each other and our great great great grandchildren, for all of the animals and nature that we love on this planet. Keep going!! Chin up. Rest as and when you can, love yourself very gently, always, and be in gratitude to your Self for all that you do. When the three-year-old is screaming and having his fit, take him into your loving arms and soothe him. See yourself in this way, and care for her as you would your precious child, for that is in reality what You Are.

Thank you for being here with me, for all the good you are and all that you do to help. I love you all.


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Humans and their ghosts

Hello again Dear Readers! It has been a long stretch since I have written a blog post. Incredibly, a couple of new bloggers have recently found their way to my blog, which has given me a little push to write again.

This summer I am working in a place full of ghosts. Although no one can see them, I am completely sure that they hang around and delight in wreaking havoc at every opportunity. You see, the restaurant where I am a cook is located within the Denver Botanic Gardens, and that is built upon the remains of an old and very large graveyard right in the heart of Capitol Hill. Once upon a time in the middle of the 18th century, it was the spot for Denver’s poor and unfortunates to be buried, many with no marker to honor their memories. Then around the turn of the 20th century, one of Denver’s elite city planners had the brilliant plan to use the land to build a lovely park for the upscale residents. In order to do this however, hundreds of graves would have to be dug up and removed. The plan was approved, the graves dug up and the remains removed, and Cheesman Park was created on top of the old burial site. (which really riled up the dead who were perfectly and peacefully resting in their graves.) Then after WWII, during a period of growth and prosperity in the city of Denver, the planners made the botanic gardens adjacent to the park. Hence, more grave digging and removal– and stirring up the ire of those spirits who could no longer sleep in their graves.

Fast forward to summer of 2014. The Botanic Gardens elite has an outdoor bistro built in a strategic location, at the south end of the Monet Reflecting Pool, to coincide with the opening of the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit that thousands upon thousands of visitors will be experiencing all summer long.

Chihuly-“Green-Hornets-and-Gold-Waterdrops”

And so The Hive is born. From day One, it is one catastrophe after the next. On a daily basis, things go wrong, stop working mysteriously, accidents happen, things come crashing down frequently from shelves (including the shelves themselves) : we do our best to keep up with the daily multitudes of hungry guests while working under very stressful conditions. The place is an utter paradox– the utter beauty of the flowers and plants all around us, the sometimes claustrophobic presence of a continuous stream of humanity, and then the mischievous and often malevolent ghosts as they gleefully create an obstacle course for the restaurant employees each and every day. Whew!

Of course, nearly everyone to whom I tell my ghosty explanation for all the weirdness and frustrations, don’t say much in return, and probably write me off as the crazy old lady cook in the back of the house.

But I swear I can feel their presence. Ghosts love to be where the living are, and this new restaurant is too good an opportunity for them to pass up a bit of fun at our expense. Damned annoying is what they are, and sometimes dangerous. Several people have gotten hurt in one way or another this summer while working. I even went so far as to suggest to my chef Jesse that we come in one morning with sage to smudge and do a ritual cleansing of the space, nicely but firmly asking all the ghosts to leave us in peace. She smiled and then went on with her day.

By the way, if you have not heard of nor seen the amazing glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly’s studio, I hope you will look him up online. The sculptures are brilliantly colored and gracefully formed, and perfectly compliment the graceful and flowing plant forms and colors of the gardens.

Dear Readers, I apologize for not being much of a blog reader or follower this summer. Since I have been working so much, I am spending the majority of my days living life rather than writing about it. Perhaps when summer is over and the cooler weather comes, I will again take up the blogging. In the meantime, I wish you all well in your various endeavors and locations around the globe. Namaste to all my friends near and far! Leigh


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Inquiry into the nature of pain

Hello again dear Readers. It has been some time since I have written a post here. Following is a partial reason why. Among all of the things Life has handed me lately, I have a fractured fifth metacarpal on my right hand. Translated, this means I am wearing a splint and bandage that covers my right hand and forearm. I still have use of three fingers, while my left, non-dominant hand has had to take over the reigns of doing the work of living. Shortly said, this situation sucks. It leaves me frequently tired and needing a lot of rest.

Being a curious sort of person, I have spent quite a bit of time inquiring into this situation from various perspectives. My mind has asked, “why me? Why now? What is the reason for this happening to me now, effectively stopping me in my tracks from the path I was on?” and on a bad day, the questions take on a more whiny tone, more like, “what the fuck?” Well, you can imagine.

Even heroes get the blues sometimes

Even heroes get the blues sometimes

Being mostly an existentialist nowadays, I realize that the significance of this unfortunate turn of events has the significance I assign it. Various things come to mind: I needed time for contemplating my new life path; there is something fabulous right around the bend, which I may have missed entirely had I kept going the direction I was headed; or perhaps it is yet another big life lesson in empathy and walking in another’s’ moccasins. Had I not broken my pinky finger, how would I know how difficult people have it when they cannot perform simple functions like opening a jar, a door, or tying their shoes? We able-bodied humans absolutely take for granted our manual dexterity and the ease with which we can do all those tasks we learned in early childhood. Now I realize just how tough it is when those capacities are suddenly taken away: Poof. Gone.

could be worse, I guess...

could be worse, I guess…

The pain body is a tough one. Chronic (or acute, for that matter) pain is such a crippling thing, shutting down one’s pleasure, will and desire for most things. Life becomes much smaller, closer, and time seems to drag to nearly a halt. These past weeks have been some of the longest I can recall. It seems there is so much I wish I could do and can barely manage, or not even. Cooking, one of my greatest loves, has shriveled in importance, along with my appetite. Keeping my personal space tidy has gone way down on the priority list, even showering has become less frequent. The amount of aches and pains around and in this body has grown exponentially. I feel suddenly quite old, and it is reflected in the mirror.

Dear Readers, I have no doubt that many of you can relate to what I am writing, and have been through similar situations. I have yet to find out how much longer I will have to keep the splint on my hand, how many more weeks I will be handicapped and unable to function normally. After the splint is off, there will be some period of strengthening and readjustment. Perhaps even some therapy. I feel like the sports player who is benched for the season, and frankly, just as unhappy about it. Now is the season for gardening, which I was looking forward to since wintertime. How unfair life is sometimes!

I realize I sound like a small child, complaining. I admit I have never been good at just ‘bucking up and taking it,” and suffering in silence. So this is also a lesson in maturity-through-adversity. On the positive side, I am learning to be ambidextrous, even cutting vegetables with my left hand. That hand, through perpetual disuse, is inelegant, clumsy, reminiscent of a three-year-old’s attempts with knife and fork. This time is also a biggie in learning Patience. I have to be patient with myself, and kind. I have no choice.

And finally, I am learning that sometimes one just has no control over what happens to them. What we always have, though, is the choice as to how we handle it. I have the opportunity, many times a day, to choose how to react to my hand being incapacitated. When I find myself really down in the mouth about it all, I recall my friend Mokasiya’s words: I can have all my feelings about it, and then I can make another choice. Slowly I am learning that he is absolutely right.


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Pushing through phantom walls of rock

You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you. —
Rainer Maria Rilke

Talk about pushing through what feels like solid rock. On this blustery Saint Patrick’s day, the winds of change are blowing through my soul and I feel like roaring. To all the demons whirling round my head, laughing, jeering, pointing out all the faults, imperfections, and reasons why things are supposedly impossible and cannot be done: I roar, as loudly as I can, FUCK YOU!! (apologies for offending some of my more sensitive readers.) There are simply no other words that seem quite as appropriate at this moment, dear Readers. It takes the strongest energy embodied in those oh-so-american words to send those mocking brutes back from whence they came. Anger, today. It takes anger.

What weapons do you use to fight these guys?

What weapons do you use to fight these guys?

My demons have been more than just brutal, they have been full of guile and subtle trickery. All this winter I have been fighting in the shadowlands of the psyche, sometimes in full armour, sometimes with tatters and bare feet, but I have been fighting. I don’t even know how many days I have wanted to raise the white flag and beg them to stop this cruel and unfair attack. I try to understand why they so wish to destroy me, why won’t they just let me be. It does not matter why, what matters most is simply that I prevail, not them. This is an existential battle of the soul, dear Readers, of epic proportions. The humans embody all their various roles, but the play is one of cosmic proportions.

On the street today, I passed a man whom I have spoken with before. He sells a newspaper, The Voice, that deals with homelessness and its manifestations in Denver. When I asked him how it was going, he shook his head. ‘Don’t ask me that today, man,” he replied. “Today is a terrible day.” Then he went on with his rant for awhile, how it was just one bad news after another. Then he threw down his phone, then his jacket and his papers, and just said, “I am just tired of it. All of it. I can’t do it anymore.” I looked at him, then told him, “I know just how you feel. But the sun is still shining on us. Tomorrow will be a better day, we have to keep believing that.” But he just shook his head. It was an existential moment and I knew exactly how he felt.

When life squeezes you so hard that you feel you don’t have any juice left, that you are as dried up and sour as an old used up lemon that someone forgot to throw in the garbage, what then? How do we make any sense out of any of this senselessness? How can I infuse my life with meaning when I am on my knees from the struggle of existence? Over the weekend I went to a catholic mass on Saturday evening. It was in a beautiful old church where the Holy Mother reigns supreme. There was not a sculpture of Jesus suffering on the cross at the pinnacle of the altar, but a large, beautiful statue of Mother Mary, Queen of Heaven. I am not a catholic, yet I adore the Divine Feminine, which Mary embodies. The priest gave a powerful sermon in his royal purple robe, reminding us that as long as we are living for ‘me and me alone, or me and mine” we are not living in the spirit of Christ. To live in and for Christ means to give of ourselves in the most loving ways we know how, not in words only, but every day from our deepest hearts. He basically called us on our bullshit in a really direct way.

It takes the right weapon to wield inner power.

It takes the right weapon to wield inner power.

Salvation and redemption are not one-time deals. They are not just Christian concepts. The work of saving one’s soul, of redeeming one’s faults and failures and being made new in the sight of God or Creator of the Continuum or the Void or whatever terms you want to put on it, is the work of humanity now. IT is our collective work. If I fall and no one comes to pick me up off the ground, we all stay down. If I see someone hurt and fallen, and I do nothing to help save that person, we all lose. Your salvation is my salvation. We are all in this ride together, aren’t we?

A very real part of this ride is to call people out on their crap, just as the priest did at Saturday’s mass. Someone who meant a lot to me gave me some crap today, and I called them on it. I did become angry because their words hurt me. I let them know it. Just as those who love me will tell me when I have hurt them, so I can know it. We have to know when we are falling short, or else we cannot change and do better. Anger is sometimes the medicine we need, the fire that lights up the psyche so we can pick up the sword and battle anew. I know I am not done fighting my demons, as much as I would like to be. But as long as I stay passively stuck in fear, incapacitated and unable to push through it, they keep winning. Rilke demands of his god, Break in! Come into my stuck place between rock and rock and feel what it is like. Then your transforming will happen to me. Then my grief cry will happen to you. Then we will become one, human and God, united being. And that, I believe, is the whole point.