clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


1 Comment

Listening to your own wisdom

This month has brought a huge amount of energy to us Earthwalkers, both collectively and individually. For months now I have shared the collective experience on this blog. Tonight I would like to share a personal view.

Obviously Life isn’t always what it seems on the surface. It’s important, when given some breathing space, to take time to reflect on your life and relationships, in relation to how they brought you to Now. I have had opportunities to do this recently, and it has been helpful.

Dear Readers, perhaps some of you have also been looking back at events and periods of your life in order to understand how you have come to Now. What those experiences brought you, whether painful or joyful, were opportunities to grow and heal your soul. We often cannot understand it in the moment, and indeed some of those painful times hurt so much that all we really want is for them to be gone! Now! Forever! But, we still had to live through them, and coming out the other side we can again breathe, think, and gain understanding.

I think it’s very difficult not to have regrets about your life; what I might have chosen, had I not gone down that road, may have been much more wonderful and made me infinitely happier than the path I did choose. Then there’s the trap of guilt; had I chosen differently, I might have spared my loved ones a whole lot of pain and suffering. This is all speculation, and probably not a helpful way of thinking. After all, I chose what I chose, and my current life is the result of the cumulative effects.

I’ve had intense moments of sorrow lately about things that happened in my past. I believe they have come up again for review so I can heal and let go of them at ever deeper levels. We are really not consciously aware of how profoundly we hold our human experience: memory stored in our DNA from eons of time and vast experiences that we may only recall as a vague feeling of discomfort, anxiety, anger, or sorrow. As we continue to evolve into our multidimensional selves, we must let go of the old experiences of separation. How many times have we loved someone, only to be hurt by them? Or likewise, have hurt the very one we so passionately cared for?

silhouette-person1080p

We may feel alone in the world, but in reality we are always connected with all life, both on Earth and in the starry realms.

Nothing we said or did can be taken back. The play has been performed, the actors all played their roles perfectly, and that show is done. More and more I see my life as a series of one acts, improvs and feature length films. I observe myself living my life a lot these days. Now I am riding the bus; now I am standing in the sun with these other people; now I am cooking; now I am dreaming about what happened years ago. It’s an odd feeling, like I am both in and out of my body, observing and being observed.

The events on the world stage this past month have caused great anxiety and also moments of great exhilaration within my soul. I’ve had moments of pure stillness, when I am certain that beneath all appearances to the contrary, we are fundamentally alright, we will be alright, and in fact, will enter a golden age at some point in the not too distant future. Then I have days when everything seems grey, dark and nearly hopeless, those moments when fear grips my soul so strongly that I have anxiety attacks. The fluctuations are crazy, like a lifeline; up and down, relentlessly.

Dear readers, I write these words to you all tonight in hopes that some of you may take them to heart. Those of you who are feeling similarly buoyant and despondent by turns, please know that you are not alone. Even if you feel like you must be going mad, or the only one who feels like that, you must know that there are far more of us walking upon the planet now than ever before. Together we are here to create a new world. It is time for the crumbling and destruction of the old paradigm for real: Here and Now, in all the countries and continents of Gaia. The old ways of controlling people, resources and economies no longer work. We are collectively awakening, en masse. So the struggle, or rather battle, for freedom is raging strongly at this time.

From this battleground, the fires are burning. Eventually they will smolder, and then there will be ashes. From those hard won ashes, the Phoenix will rise. It’s happened before, countless times throughout our planet’s history. And it will soon happen again. The battle of the human soul is both personal and collective. If you feel like you are in the middle of a battle of some kind or other, that is correct: You absolutely are. So take the time, as much as you can, to rest. To find stillness and peace within. The more peaceful and joyful our experience while in the midst of all the chaos, the more we can each contribute to the whole. I do not advocate drowning yourself in substances which make you oblivious, not at all. Rather, it’s all about becoming evermore conscious. But warriors need to step back from the battle, in order to replenish. Every day.

Thank you for all that you are doing to help the world, the animals, and nature. Everything counts; no matter how small, it matters not. What matters is that you are contributing to the good, the positive. Keep forgiving yourself and everyone else, and shining your light.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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.


10 Comments

Turning despair into amazement

“But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.” –Mumford and Sons

These days, the dinner hour is the cruelest time of day. On the fortunate days when I happen to be with others (read my sweet family members), then preparing, serving and eating dinner is alright, it is really fine. But on those other days when I find myself alone and faced with cooking and eating dinner with only me for company, that is when those lonesome blues sneak around, filling the cracks and crevices of my soul with an unshakable melancholy. After years of cooking dinner for two each evening, and then sitting down to feast after feast, served with candlelight and wine, my new habit of cooking and eating alone, sometimes with a book and othertimes just me and the plate, is the nightly reminder of my newly acquired single status. Quite frankly, I do not enjoy it.

Just in the past couple of days, I have begun to feel a little hopeful again. After plummeting to the very depths during the twelve holy nights of Christmas, this week brings me some glimmerings of possibilities, of a future that could be filled with meaning, where I am living for a larger purpose and making a positive difference in others’ lives. I can nearly see this future me, happily busy at the work of creating good here in the place I find myself now. Perhaps there is hope for me yet, a small voice quietly tells me, where I can serve others in positive ways, where my voice and my actions will actually improve lives and consequently the world. Where I matter. Where I help a suffering humanity in the ways that I can, that I invent and am inspired to create. A future where self-centeredness gives way to working for the Greater Good. Where I can finally realize my long-held dreams of doing something for the world.

Mary Oliver once wrote that when death comes, she wants to be able to say that all her life she was a bride married to amazement. I think she always knew that she had it in her to do amazing, incredible things with her life, and so she went ahead and did them, through poetry and teaching and observing life and nature. For me, she embodies a life well lived, a beautiful marriage of giving oneself to the world and at the same time, making sure she always had enough time for herself, for solitude and contemplation. She has had the great fortune of a grace-filled life. She can rest in the knowledge that through her efforts, she has touched and inspired millions of people across the world. In my own humble way, I would love to be able to say, at the end of my life, that I too have been a bride married to amazement. That I too did something artistic and wonderful and giving which made a difference to others’ lives. That people grew for having known me, that they found a creative part of themselves which they hadn’t quite been able to access before. That knowing me inspired them in some way, and made their lives richer than it would have otherwise been. I don’t think this is purely an ego-desire on my part, but rather a sincere desire to share my gifts, to fulfill the purpose I was born to fulfill. I have spent the vast majority of my life not having much of a clue of what I was put on this earth to do. Finally, at mid-life, past my prime, my physical self going to the other side of that hill we all must eventually descend, I am beginning to see, starting to know why I am here, and what it is that I wish to do with my remaining time.

It is not difficult to waste one’s life on trivialities and petty dramas. People do it all the time. We humans are masters of making mountains out of molehills, and conversely, denying and covering up our actual pain and suffering so that we don’t have to deal with them. We are all grappling with being in these human forms, and the difficulties of embodiment on earth at this time. We are all aware of the consequences of this life: addictions, violence, separation, depression, suicide, dissolution, despair, desperation. What can we do, how can we deal with our anxieties and fears?

life-quotes-inspirational-life-quotes-appreciate-life

Everybody has a story to tell here. The biggest favor we can do for each other is to listen to another tell their story. Not with judgment or condemnation, but simply for the fact that they will heal by telling it, eventually. Many of us love to read stories, whether fiction or factual matters not. We love certain characters in a novel, play or movie because he seems all too familiar, because we see ourselves in her. My story is a little bit yours too. Okay, now I don’t feel quite so alone out here on the high seas of life. Your story has given me a lifeline, something I can hold onto, a way to help me get back to shore. When I am feeling low and alone, and like no one else in the universe cares or remembers that I exist, when eating alone the tenth night in a row is making me feel completely miserable, or when the demons come in the middle of night and attack me with their punishing thoughts, what can I do? Give in, lay down in a puddle on the floor and want to end it all? No. I will not give into fear and thoughts of hopelessness. Somehow I must find strength within myself to climb out of the hole, to hold on until the morning, to find hope that I will again one day be cooking for two or twenty. Because I am not only doing this work for myself, but for every other lonely and afraid human out there also. My struggle, my battle with the darkness of my soul is everyone’s battle. The single most important work that any of us can do now, is to embrace the love and light within ourselves, while acknowledging the darkness and pain there too, and work to find all the ways, big and small, to shine it upon the world. Every single day.

By now, I am way beyond self-help books and pep talks (even though I sometimes still read and listen to them.) Life is about more than that, and is much, much more complex. Good advice is all well and good, but the times are calling for something far deeper and greater. Our world needs compassion like never before. It can be the smallest gesture, a smile or a friendly greeting to another human as we walk down the street. It can also be simply noticing others, from people to the birds in the tree above your head. Every gesture counts. Every thought also.

I am working on marrying amazement now. When I learn how to truly love what is in my own heart, it will automatically free me to love everyone and everything else which appears to be outside of me. The illusion is that there is any separation. I love you.


7 Comments

Heartbreak, Loss and Resilience

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is our indication of sincerity… Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete’s quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.  — David Whyte, via makebelieveboutique.com/2013/12/20/7881/
Hello again dear Bloggers. It has been long since I have felt like sharing here. Now, on these last days of this eventful year, I wish to share my story, what is in my heart.

The past few months have been difficult and heartbreaking. During this time, I have left my life in Denmark, and returned to the United States. At one point I thought that I was ready for this change, and felt strong in my decision. But, as always, Life has had its way with me. Life has once again brought me to my knees, leaving me begging for mercy. There have been intense lifeshocks during this period, bringing a kind of pain to my heart and soul which I had yet to experience until now.

The end of 2013 is not only the end of this particular year, but also the culmination of the past four years of my life. The relationship with my beloved Danish man is at an end now. These are not easy words to write, and I have even been afraid to write them until today. I realize just how afraid I have been to let go of the life I built with him, and yet it was time to let go for us both. By taking the giant leap of faith across an unfathomable abyss this autumn, I freed us both.

The letting go has been more excruciating than I have words to describe, dear Readers. Some kinds of love are truly a kind of madness that takes over one’s soul utterly. And when it ends, one is left gasping for breath, crumpled in a heap on the floor, the doors to the heart completely opened through searing, white pain. It is as if the Creator himself opened His Great Oven and led me gently inside, to burn away all the dross of my human soul, leaving only the gold and silver behind. Salty streams of tears have flowed and flowed, helping the purification process along.

walking-away-rosesThis heartbreak flu has lasted for three days and nights. It leaves me empty, hollow, feeling half-dead.

Pain has a peculiar way of disciplining a soul; it is impossible to hide from it so all one can really do is give into its strange power. Surely I will recover from this, I tell myself. In time I will regain strength, find courage, and move on with my life. Just now, in the eye of the needle, all feels lost. Yet I trust and have faith that I will come out the other side of this time stronger, more compassionate, and more golden than before.

This world is a terrible, beautiful, terrifying place. There are moments in every life when no matter what you try, Life will lay you low. Life will beat you into submission, it will throw you into the air like a toy, and you will come smashing down to the ground. It is unavoidable, this thrashing of us by the Gods. All for our own good, of course. As much as I have faith in God, in Life, in the angelic realms to help, I also know this to be true. You cannot be a human soul in body without experiencing intense pain in your life sometimes. No matter whose life, no matter what the storyline. No one is immune to heartbreak here.

Today I look back on this year full of experiences, some happy and joyful, some dark and somber. I cannot help but be grateful for it all, for of course I have grown tremendously through all of it. I would not choose to experience such intense pain as have been the past three days, yet my writing to you now proves my resilience. I am still here. The new year is nearly upon us, a blank slate not yet written upon. I have become a bit wiser this year, enough to understand that no matter what we may wish to write into creation, Life will give us all things, people, situations to deal with as best as we can. The most important thing is to be very real with ourselves and with everybody else. To see Reality every day.

Dear Readers, I sincerely wish each one of you a blessed New Year. May you have the strength and courage you need to face your life each day. May you have all that you need for your lives to work well. May you grow in wisdom and compassion in the coming year. And may you find resilience within your soul, as you continue on your journey. Namaste to you all.

Related articles


3 Comments

The future’s uncertain and love is always near

Hello again Dear Readers. This will be my last post for a while, as I will be traveling out of Denmark for most of the summer holidays.

This post, then, is dedicated to the idea and truth of Love, because in the end, there is simply nothing more important than this. For me, this past year has been such a roller-coaster ride of emotions combined with a whole lotta inner work (an understatement to say the least). I could even say that it has been possibly the most difficult year of all, in some ways. Am I wiser for having gone through it? I don’t know how to answer this. I guess I could simply say that certain things have crystalized for me, as far as what matters the most in my life, and why any of us are actually here. I know there are no accidents, and that taking responsibility for one’s own life and circumstances is critically important.

That doesn’t mean that life becomes easier for doing so; in fact it seems the opposite. But. I can only take responsibility for my own thoughts, words, and actions, and not for anyone else’s. If another person becomes angry or upset with me, that is ultimately not my responsibility, even though at times it feels like they want it to be mine.Let everything we do

The other huge part of being a loving human being, of course, is learning to truly love oneself. For some of us, this is actually one of the most difficult lessons to learn. I honestly don’t have much good advice about how to do it: I only know that somehow, it is extremely important to DO it. And unconditionally.The world will not improve, nor humanity become a greater version of itself, without people in it who can truly love and honor THEMSELVES as well as all others.

I watched part of a quite interesting talk by an artist named Jerry Wennstrom last evening. His art is so beautiful and evocative, and his words about art and its place in his life, and in life generally, touched me deeply. He said,

“It’s our attachment that destroys more in our life than our willingness to let it go. There’s the sacrifice. Somehow, it’s letting the gods know you mean business. The willingness to let it go is putting it into God’s hands. Or giving it over to the Mystery who knows better than we do, how to carry our life. How do we do that? It’s the things we love the most, that we hold back the most.” Here’s the link for those who wish to watch this  on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LVVnxThwKLU#t=1775s

More words about love come from a recent blog post from one of my favorite blogs, Oracles and Healers. Here’s the quote:

Love starts with self, with living so that loving self is as natural as breathing. Only then can you give and receive love. Love is contagious, unlimited, omnipresent. It is what changes bleakness of spirit into fullness of spirit, illness into health, lack into prosperity. It is the absence of love that breeds all the woes of your world, and it is filling the void with love that will cure the woes. This is not asking you to love what brings misery and deprivation and harm! It is asking you to simply feel love so you can send forth that energy—it will seek its way to the void.  http://oraclesandhealers.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/matthew-ward-july-4-2013/#more-3606

At its core, Love is a verb. All the pretty words in the world are paltry in comparison to the actual ACT of love, which can change a human being, and hence the world, in an instant.

My gift to you all this evening, dear Readers, is the following prayer.

The Gayatri mantra is one of the oldest and most powerful of Sanskrit mantras. It is believed that by chanting the Gayatri mantra and firmly establishing it in the mind, if you carry on your life and do the work that is ordained for you, your life will be full of happiness.

The word “Gayatri” itself explains the reason for the existence of this mantra. It has its origin in the Sanskrit phrase Gayantam Triyate iti, and refers to that mantra which rescues the chanter from all adverse situations that may lead to mortality.

Aum Bhur Bhuva Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat

On the absolute reality and its planes,
On that finest spiritual light,
We meditate, as remover of obstacles
That it may inspire and enlighten us.

Here is a beautiful version of this mantra, or chanted prayer, by Deva Premal. I hope you enjoy it, and may you all be blessed with love in every form, the light of Divine Grace, and all the beautiful gifts of this lovely season. Namaste and love, Leigh

<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/SlUsoWmso9U” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>
http://www.swamij.com/gayatri.htm

http://hinduism.about.com/od/prayersmantras/a/The-Gayatri-Mantra.htm

Related articles


4 Comments

Forgiveness is a process

“It is very important for every human being to forgive him or herself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. If we all hold onto the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror, we can’t see what we’re capable of being. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that, we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”– Maya Angelou ( http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/i_don-t_know_if_i_continue-even_today-always/9187.html)

What hasn’t already been said on the topic of forgiveness? It is intricately connected to our deepest heart, our most painful wounds, our most intimate places. We are human, we make mistakes. It is impossible for us not to err while we are in these limited human bodies, using our human minds to muddle through our lives. We know the old adage, ‘to err is human, to forgive divine.’ Actually, though, to truly forgive is precisely what all of us need to learn more about while in human form, as the practice of this art is one of the greatest assignments of the times we are living through.

Nearly every day, it seems, headlines appear of yet another covert scheme which has been uncovered, another wrongdoing exposed, another human being admitting their deception and lies, another scandal unfolding. Whether the mistake or misjudgment was huge, affecting many thousands, or small is simply a matter of scale. The issue remains the same, that of recognizing human frailty and human error, with the same opportunity: to forgive.

This is a tricky business in many ways. A typical human reaction to pain is to want to strike back, usually with anger. Another is to run from it as quickly as possible. We come up with all sorts of ways to continue the fight, with many justifications for our response. No one wants to feel they were wronged or mistreated, so we invent all sorts of reasons why we are right to be angry, to pass harsh judgement on another, perhaps to hurt the other in kind. It truly takes a larger perspective to turn away from wanting some kind of vindication or revenge from our tormentor.

be-kind-quote-tumblrHumans have created a world filled with heartbreak. One small example comes from the local Danish newspaper, which ran a story about a family of refugees from Kosovo, who came to Denmark in 1999, when Serbians began a horribly violent campaign against their neighbors. About 2800 Kosovo-Albanian refugees came to Denmark to escape the violence. Of those, over 500 gained asylum. This particular family stayed in Denmark for a year, and then in 2000, it seemed that things had improved in their homeland, and they were offered a package by the Danish government to return to Kosovo, in the form of some funds and a promise that they could return if things went bad again. So they returned, finding their home destroyed and their city in a shambles. Then they discovered, to their dismay, that it was impossible to get back to the larger city in order to obtain visas and return to Denmark. The mother of the family, Florie, told the reporter that nothing functioned, everything was in chaos, and the officials would not give them permission nor passports so that they could get their Danish visas. They were stuck in Kosovo with nothing and no possibility for more help from Denmark, or the EU.

Now it is twelve years later. The family somehow manages with very little money, and still misses Denmark, longing to return. Even though there is formally peace there again, the Kosovo-Albanians and the Serbians do not live in harmony. There was too much bloodshed and violence. Florie told the reporter that in 12 years, the Serbians have never apologized for harming their children and raping 20,000 of their women, whom will never completely heal and be human again. She said, “We are trapped. Kosovo is a little closed land, that the EU has abandoned.”

How do people forgive each other for such extreme trespasses against them? For raping, harming, hurting one’s family, one’s children? Conversely, how does a person live with himself, ‘look himself in the mirror,’ and forgive oneself for the pain he has wrought upon another? To my mind, there is only one way, that of compassion. Only through coming to a heart awareness and sense of the other’s pain, can a person find the place of forgiveness within. The story of the Kosovo-Albanians and the Serbians is an extreme, though sadly not uncommon, example of how humanity abuses itself through unawareness. It seems an unfortunate fact that humans learn best through experiencing pain. The act of forgiveness is a radical one because, if done completely, it will give total freedom to one’s soul. Yet, complete forgiveness is difficult to achieve for most of us, and it takes practice and patience. Wounds go so deep that one can live for many years without being fully aware that they remain, until one day something happens to reopen the wound. Though painful, this is actually very healing– what was festering for so long can finally be soothed and cared for, much like a physical sore which has been left for too long, enabling it to heal.

mistakes-forgiveness-peaceA powerful process for healing is to practice looking at yourself in the mirror, without judgment of any kind, just gazing…. and softening as you do, breathing deeply, until you can see yourself for who you truly are: a flawed human being who is nevertheless beautiful and holy. If you practice this, in time you will be able to have much more self-compassion, which in turn will enable you to have more compassion for all others. As Maya Angelou says, ‘If we can’t see our own glory in the mirror, we can’t see what we’re capable of being.’

Related articles


4 Comments

Life gives you what you need

“God doesn’t give you the people you want, He gives you the people you NEED, to help you , to hurt you , to leave you, to love you and to make you into the person you were meant to be…”– anonymous

Hello again, Dear Readers. This morning the sun is shining and the sky is blue overhead. There can be no denying that Spring has finally come to Denmark. Thank goodness.

Many thoughts are spinning around in my head today. I wish to try to write something cohesive but please bear with me if it comes out a bit of a mess. Guess my soul is in a process right now (is there ever a time when it isn’t?) If I had a life motto, it would be, Work in Progress.

Last night my husband and I watched a movie by the filmmaker Robert Altman, called Short Cuts. It was made twenty years ago. The story takes place around Los Angeles and Bakersfield, and is filled with many characters who are neurotic, dysfunctional, angry, lustful, bored, frustrated, and just trying to get by in this crazy life. There are stories within the larger story, and they are woven loosely together through their relationships to one another. There is much irony in this film, just as there is in life. It was a long story, three hours running. Within this time, we witness people living in the middle of modern life’s sicknesses and excesses, trying to cope with themselves and each other. All the large themes are present: love, jealousy, avarice, lust, deceit, vengeance, desperation, despair, death. People living lives of not so quiet desperation. We watch, helplessly, as the characters hurt one another, lying to each other and themselves, without much compassion. Few of them are innocent, and the one character who is blameless (the good wife and mother, played by Andie Macdowell) is rewarded by having her just-turning eight year old son get hit by a car, go into a coma, and die during the course of a couple of days. This film takes no prisoners, there is no redemption for these people; only the continuation (for most of them) of this endless, sometimes utterly senseless and absurd theatre we know as Life.

The film did what all good stories ought to do; it showed us ourselves in the rough, without gloss or soft lighting. Whatever else you can say about life in a human body, you can also say that, shortly put, we’ve got issues. We’ve ALL got them, there is no one walking the planet today who is immune. We are in turns small, scared, angry, frustrated, guilty, guilt-ridden, loving, sweet, selfish and selfless. We toil, endure endless drudgery and suffering of many fools, not the least of which is our own self. We suffer, and suffer some more. We make decisions out of need, desperation, and desire for relief. What helps, what heals?

Facing the trouble, whatever it is, is a help. Naming it, speaking it out loud, seeing that we are not, are never alone in it. No matter what the trouble is, no matter how ashamed or filled with pain and remorse we may be, we must remember that we are not alone, not the only one with that heartache. On the contrary, there are many others with that same wound, carrying that same pain as us. Rilke once wrote that ‘perhaps all the dragons of our lives are simply princesses who are waiting for us to see them for who they truly are.’ My interpretation of his words is that even the most dark and terrible secret that a person can hold is something to help us learn how to love, how to become more human. The holes in the heart of one can and are healed by sharing them with another. It is painful to share these, yes. It takes time, maybe many years, for the healing to happen. But it CAN happen, it does happen, the miraculous thing is that by sharing one’s wound with others, instead of hiding it away, the wound can be cleansed, dressed, cared for, attended to, healing balm applied, sunshine and fresh air given it until it becomes smaller and smaller, and finally is gone.

We all want healing. We all have wounds and broken places. We are all of us singing over the lost bones of our lives, singing them alive again, calling them back into being. Yes we have lost our way and forgotten totally who we actually are and where we come from. Anyone looking around at the current state of the world will readily agree with that. The question is, are we lost forever? Will we continue sleepwalking through our lives, unwilling to feel or see that others’ pain is equal or perhaps greater than our own? Will we succumb to our own feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, letting the weight of life’s cares crush our spirits and smash any small sprouts of hope?

sometimes all you can do is laugh....

sometimes all you can do is laugh….

There is no one solution to this problem of living, but there are wise ones who have found some tools to help. I have a slip of paper (one of many) at my desk that states, “Practice looking at each situation in your life and forgiving everyone and everything throughout this lifetime, and most especially, yourself.” This is ongoing, daily practice. And it makes good sense, because if I cannot forgive myself for the messes I have made and the hurts I have given to others, then how can they ever forgive me? We are our own judge and jury in this life, ultimately. As in the Robert Altman film, each of us is walking about trying to keep our heads above the swirling waters of insanity which are all around us. How can we cope, unless we begin with self-forgiveness? And after that, forgiveness of everyone else, as difficult as that may seem, is really essential. We cannot possibly change this world into something kinder, more loving and peaceful, as long as each of us still carries hatred, greed and revenge around in our souls. In the movie, there is a woman blues singer who sings at a jazz club every evening. One of the songs she sings talks about being a ‘prisoner of life.’ You could say that this idea is the main underlying theme of this film. It is so easy to feel this way! I have, a thousand times over, and have felt quite justified in doing so. And yet. I am realizing more and more, that if I am life’s prisoner it is because I myself have been my own jailer. Realizing this makes finding the key to unlock the door much easier.

In the end, it is true that Life gives you what you need to grow and become a better, not a worse, human being. In the kitchen last night, after the intense experience of watching the three-hour long film, my husband and I spoke together. He mused, “I actually suffer much more than you do, however I carry my suffering with a lot of dignity.” I gazed at him a moment, and then replied, “Yes, you certainly do. You really have a lot of dignity, and it is one of your most beautiful qualities.” He was pleased to hear my words, and I meant them sincerely. Carrying one’s suffering with dignity is extremely important. So is the ability to laugh at the craziness of this life.

 


8 Comments

Your mother should know

“Let’s all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born. Though she was born a long, long time ago, your mother should know.” –The Beatles

Of all the relationships in one’s life, none are more connected to the heart than the relationship to one’s mother. No matter what kind of mother you may have (or had), it seems to be the one that goes the deepest. Today, dear Readers, I wish to wax a bit about my mother. Her name is Joyce. And it is certainly true that she is a character.

Joyce was born and raised in New York City, just in time for the Great Depression. She was an only child, close to her parents, and stayed close to them, especially her own mother, her whole life until their respective deaths. When not yet a teen, their family moved upstate to a town called Kingston, along the Hudson River. There she finished growing up during World War II, took a brief business school education, worked for the telephone company (think one, ring-a-dingy), met and after a few short months, married my father who was handsome, charming, hardworking (and working for her father’s clothing company) and had fallen completely in love with her. They married in 1949. She was twenty-one, he was twenty-six, America had emerged victorious from the War, and the future was bright.

Sultry and sophisticated was the style when my mother was a young bride.

Sultry and sophisticated was the style when my mother was a young bride.

They lived in a nice section of NYC for the first several years, enjoying all the pleasures of sophisticated city life in those years. My mother, though never an intellectual, was a sophisticated lady. She dressed immaculately, her hair and nails were always coiffed, red lipstick perfectly applied, she was perfumed and well-heeled, always. This was what she had learned as a very young woman, and remained so ever after. As a small child I remember being fascinated by watching her at her boudoir in the mornings as she ‘put on her face.’ She was very methodical, applying first pancake foundation, then rouge, eyeliner, color and mascara, eyebrow pencil, and finally the famous lipstick applied, first with a tiny brush to outline her shapely lips, then filling in with the stick. Rose red, cherry red, sensual, deep, gorgeous red. Red lips, red nails, black full hair. A shapely, beautiful, sophisticated woman was my mother during my entire childhood.

When I was seven years old, my father got a better position at a different clothing manufacturer and we moved to North Carolina for a couple of years. My mother tried to make the best of it, and decorated our brand-new, colonial style split-level house with her immaculate taste. The house was spacious and elegant, my parents were becoming well-off, and when my grandfather passed on during that first year there, my father did the right thing and gathered up my grandmother Rose and her things, and brought her down to North Carolina to live with our family. There she remained ever after, a third and beloved parent to me and my brother. A couple of years later my dad got an even better offer, and we all packed up and moved away to Denver, Colorado. It was 1972.

They ordered a new house from a brand-new housing development in the suburbs, and all that first summer we made the journey across the city from our rental home over to watch the progress as the workmen built our new house. It was fascinating to see. I remember one exciting Sunday afternoon, the Colorado sun blazing hotly down outside, in contrast to the white coolness of the house’s interior. It had been freshly spackled and painted, still smelling of new paint, the floors bare wood, our footsteps echoing as we walked through the rooms. What a miraculous thing, to watch your new home being created from the ground up! Finally the carpet (wall-to-wall, light green in proper early 70’s style) was laid, the finishing touches were done, and in mid-September we moved proudly into our shiny, pretty new house, and my mom made us a home.

The seventies went by, and Joyce did her best to adapt to the times. During the years in North Carolina, I remember her having some stylish clothing of the day, including thigh-high boots and even a fall (a kind of wig that adds length to one’s hair-do.) My mother has always enjoyed being fashionable. During the 70’s she took to wearing pant suits that were in fashion, always with the proper accessories and, of course, shoes. She certainly was a clothes horse and especially loved high-heeled shoes, which her small and dainty feet had no problem slipping into, unlike her daughter, whose feet grew larger, wider and certainly less dainty than hers.

Ah, the things one recalls about one’s mother! She smoked cigarettes throughout my childhood, in the house of course, like everyone did in those days. She was mad about crossword puzzles and pistachios in the shell. She was an avid reader, especially of spy and crime novels. She had a great sense of humor and the absurdities of life. She owned a gorgeous silver fox stole, which hung in the cedar-lined closets in the ever-cool basement, and which I was simply fascinated by as a girl. She also owned, and often wore when I was very young, a special grey fur coat (maybe some kind of special curly-haired sheep fur?) that was very beautiful. She kept most of her party dresses, along with the furs and many pairs of shoes, in those basement closets, and many times, for fun, as I grew old enough to nearly fit into them, I gazed at them, fingering the fine cloth, and with permission, tried some on for fun. Joyce also loved music, during those years my parents listened to all the popular singers from their generation, such as Frank Sinatra and those types, but my mom’s most favorite singer of all was Barbara Streisand. She could go into a kind of reverie as she listened to Barbara sing. Later on my parents became very fond of opera arias and listened to them together in their formal living room at certain times of the evening, especially after my father finally retired and they had lots of free time together.

After my father passed away, my mother was inconsolable. They were married for fifty years, and had loved each other truly. My grandmother was still alive, in her mid-nineties by then. For the next three years it was just the two of them still living in the same house we had all moved into all those years before. Finally, the summer before she would turn 99, my grandmother Rose passed on. Then my mother was all alone in that big house. When I suggested that perhaps she ought to downsize, and wasn’t she uncomfortable to be there all alone, she became offended. No, she shook her head, she would not leave that house, it had been her home for all those years, and Ralph (my father) had loved it, she was comfortable there, why move? My brother took to flying back and forth from his home in San Diego to visit her and keep an eye on the house. I had long moved away, had many adventures, moved around a hundred times, had three children and moved out of state. The neighbors, a very nice family with children, adopted my mother as their ‘other’ grandma. They invite her to all the holiday meals and family celebrations so she isn’t so lonely. Still, once my father died my mom stopped listening to the opera music, saying it was too much for her, reminded her too much of how much she misses him.

Now my mother Joyce is an old lady in her middle 80’s. She says she no longer recognizes ‘that old bag’ whom she sees in the mirror, and that inside she still feels like she always did when she was young and carefree. Her eyes give her trouble now, she had laser cataract surgery last fall which helped with her eyesight but now they feel uncomfortable all the time. She has taken up Bette Davis’ adage that ‘old age is not for sissies,’ and rather hates being old, but what can one do? Most of the old friends and relatives she once knew are long-passed on. Yet she remains; for whatever reasons Fate has decreed that she would be the remaining living parent in my family. I have not been back to Denver to visit her for some years, but we still write letters. I know that were I to visit again, it would be just like it always was, sitting at her round kitchen table still in the dining nook from 1972, I would feel again just like I always did as a child growing up in that house. People grow up, change, do a thousand different things, yet when it comes to one’s mother, very little ever really changes, especially on the inside. And yes, my mother does know all those old hits from before she was born, and still remembers most of them!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIo219Z8R28&noredirect=1

Related articles


15 Comments

Overwhelm, fatigue, wonder, pathos and melancholy

What a week. Nearly every day this week contained the potential for blog after blog to capture some of the impressions and musings from my small slice of our collective world. Yet night after night I found myself ‘flat out.’ with overwhelm, fatigue, wonder, exhaustion, and finally melancholy. Now I am telling myself, Enough, already, and am making myself write something to you, my blogger friends and family near and far.

What I am musing just now is something about passion and pathos, those intense emotional states which humans have capitalised on for as long as anyone can remember in order to create the greatest art and cultural works of our world. There has been much speculation these days about the changes that humanity is collectively going through as we spiral up the evolutionary road towards…. bliss? Nirvana? Everlasting happiness, paradise? It is difficult to even put words on what this new time is actually about, since we are heading straight into completely uncharted waters, evolutionarily speaking. monk-meditatingHowever, if we take the world’s greatest wisdom traditions as a guide, for example, the goal of zen buddhism is total enlightenment, or becoming awake, a fully conscious human being. Some of what I have been reading for months now, points to the idea that once we become truly aware of our divine nature, we will naturally live in a blissfulor paradisiacal state perpetually. I take this to mean it will be joy and light and grace everyday-in-everyway.… the archetypal image of harp-playing, angelic beings floating about in long, light robes, utterly benevolent, radiating only loving, joyful, happy Yes! Energy forevermore. Well, that is perhaps one variation of a theme… but you get the idea. In other words, in this newly minted world of Peace, Joy and Happiness, those old emotional states of passion, desire, melancholy, and pathos will simply be passé, a funny memory, relegated to the dusty tomes of yesteryear, forgotten and good riddance, right?

And yet. As an artist and lover of high art and culture, I cannot help but wonder how our human life will be without intense emotionalism, without the old depths from which such gloriously, magnificently, profoundly deep emotional artistry arises. If we are all walking or floating around the planet in a perpetual state of bliss and peacefulness, won’t it be a tiny bit, well, flat?

MonaLisa-closeup

Dear Readers, I know I am treading on thin ice with these thoughts tonight. Of COURSE we all want peace, love and happiness to be the soupe du jour forevermore, don’t we? We are sick and tired and exhausted and nearly dead from thousands of years and who knows how many lifetimes of strife, violence, hatred, greed, and other equally negative states of mind and being, andso we are now collectively saying, No more suffering and separation, thank you! We are ready for the peaceful, harp-playing, robe-wearing, ever-smiling, everlasting happiness world NOW!! Glory Hallelujah. And not a moment too soon.

Davids_Face-everypainterpaintshimselfAcross the world of Great Cultural Achievement, it only takes a moment of reflection to see that without pathos, the world’s greatest artworks would be seriously hampered. If we only had art (including visual, music, poetry and verse, dance and drama) that reflected happiness and joy, I believe our cultural heritage would be extremely less rich and beautiful. One could use the analogy of eternal summer and daylight, a world without the mystery and depth which belongs to evening, nighttime, winter.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. Perhaps life without passion, darkness, suffering and pain would create the most fabulous works of cultural achievement so rich, so incredible that we cannot now even begin to fathom such a world. Perhaps the future world of peaceful happiness will produce works that will make Beethoven and Michelangelo seem like child’s play in comparison. It is impossible to fully imagine what a non-suffering human world would look like, since no one alive on Earth has the faintest recollection of such a world. All we have to try to grasp it is fragments in ancient stories, such as the garden of Eden in Genesis’s account of our first, paradisiacal world. Not too much to go on.

Okay, I admit it: I am a died-in-the-wool melancholic to my soul’s depths. I can no more imagine living in perpetual sunshine and roses than I can imagine living without breathing the air. For those of us who live with sorrow as easily as with joy, a future without the shade, the dark, the depths, seems nearly impossible to fathom. I feel like a traitor even uttering these forbidden thoughts tonight, dear Readers, since so many of you seem so Up With JOY! And I hate to disappoint any of you with even the slightest hint of anything less than. And yet. I am musing as sincerely as I can about this, because it concerns me deeply. What is this fifth dimensional life really about, is it about letting go of emotionalism altogether? And if so, what would humanity be like without it? No more highs or lows, simply a constant state of Om?

I will end this little musing-rant tonight with some wiser words, from the great poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. He was a person of great sensitivity and insight, a true artist and believer in truth, love and humanity. He wrote, “How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples – those myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses, only waiting to see us, once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible in our lives is, in its deepest being, something helpless, that wants help from us.”

and, “So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever known, if a restiveness, like light and cloud shadow passes over your hands and over all that you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.”


10 Comments

Slow but Real progress

As most of you who read this blog are aware, I am an American living in Denmark. According to many Danes, their language is in the top three most difficult languages in The WORLD to master. After being here for two and a half years or so, I can attest to the truth of this assertion: Danish is tough, no two ways about it. It is a paradoxical language, because of the fact that its history and the history of my beloved mother tongue, English, are so intertwined. A surprising number of words are the same, or nearly, in both languages. After a certain point, the written language does become nearly manageable to some degree. However, the huge challenge of Danish remains in the hearing, understanding, and of course, speaking of it.

A Danish friend of mine, a teacher and self-professed expert of Danish dialects, has informed me that there are over thirty subtleties in the way the vowels are pronounced in Danish, as opposed to English’s paltry 20 or so (according to my Oxford American English dictionary). And the Danes are famous for their constantly evolving ‘shorthand’ speak, where they simply cut out certain sounds and up to half of the word itself, I guess in a similar way to French. At any rate, a simple language to learn it is not.

For foreigners coming here, learning the language can be rather a nightmare, depending on who you are, how old, how clever at learning foreign languages you are, and how much you are willing to stretch your brain on a daily basis. My own experience over the course of the past 2 ½ years has been mixed: a real like-dislike, its-okay-to-it SUCKS rollercoaster ride. Nevertheless, whether I hate it or accept it, I am in it every day. Working with the students and teachers out at the country Steiner school, is basically immersion in a Danish language practicum. After half of this school year now, my progress is painfully slow, and yet. As they say in Denmark, ‘Det kommer,’ meaning, It is coming along.

idontunderstand

I am still attending language school, and because I basically could not stand the teacher in the class I was put into in the autumn, I have now switched classes to a somewhat lower level class: it is not the high-speed train, but rather the local, with more opportunities to speak and hear Danish in a calm and understandable way. Tonight I went to my new class, with a very nice, gentle Danish lady teacher named Annette. Interestingly, instead of the high-speed class full of Russian and other slavic native speakers, this class contains a nice mix of men and women from places like Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Sudan, Poland, and a few other places. As usual, I am the sole person from west of the Atlantic but I don’t mind. The really heartening thing that I realized tonight was that I have, finally, definitively improved my Danish to the point where, in that class, at least, I am one of the better speakers. So I must admit to all of those patient friends, colleagues, teachers and my own beloved Danish husband, that yes it is true, being immersed in their language all the livelong day, painful as it sometimes REALLY is, is somehow transforming my brain to finally accept Danish into it more than before.

Having said that, it remains a fact that when among a group of Danish people who are speaking together at their normal rate of speed, I still only catch a percentage of what is being said: sometimes I get the gist and sometimes I am just plain lost. I also admit to having had a huge longing recently for Americans speaking American English at as ordinary a place as say, the grocery store or nearly anywhere, really. homesick-dollarvigilanteI had a sharp memory of being there last spring, just walking around, and how comfortable it was to simply be able to understand everything that people around me were saying, no matter how inane, it was a real joy to hear my own language spoken again. How many people throughout the world must have a similar experience to mine every day! How many walk through their days in a kind of foggy dream because they do not really understand too much of what is being spoken around them. When a person is living along in their native country, they simply cannot have a true understanding of what it is to be a foreigner there, how handicapped they are by the lack of a deep understanding of that land’s language which they take totally for granted. In Europe, and I would guess in many places around the world, it is common that many people from different countries are living amongst the natives– but in the States, ironically enough, awareness of the difficulties that foreigners have on a daily basis is sorely lacking.

Dear Readers, I am glad to be able to report my progress with Danish to you all tonight. Though I may end up living here for the rest of my life and never become truly fluent (a distinct possibility), I can see that I now have what could be called a ‘basic working knowledge’ of the language, enough to get around and more or less survive without relying too much on English anymore. Having said that, I am equally glad that so many Danes know English (for better or worse) so that I don’t have to give up my own language completely in order to live here.

The next time you are out and about somewhere, and you notice a foreign person in the que or on the bus or walking down the street near you, have some compassion for them. Chances are good that they are a very long way from home, not only in their physical surround, but also in their heart and mind, and yes, in their way of expressing themselves. Chances are, most of them are intelligent, sensitive human beings just like you are, only they have no real opportunity of expressing themselves well in English. Smiles are a sure bet to brighten someone’s day who might not have much chance to speak in words with you. Give a smile, a hand, a gesture of friendship if you can: take it from me, it means a lot.