clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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The Revolution has begun

Saturday, January 22, heralded the beginning of a new era in the United States. Within 24 hours of a new figurehead ensconced in the White House, millions of citizens took to the streets of major cities and small towns in nearly every state, to show an incredible solidarity and strength in numbers as they marched, sang, shouted, carried signs, and gave impassioned speeches. Not since the era of Civil Rights and the Vietnam war have so many people joined together in the streets to protest their government’s abuses of power and rhetoric. Welcome to the era of Love.

The Women’s March on Washington, accompanied by hundreds of Sister Marches worldwide, brought out everyone who cares about humanity, equality and justice for all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic class, educational level, or any other factor by which the US government creates statistics. Although it was organized and focused on Women and in large part was created as a response to the disgusting, disrespectful attitude of the new president during the election cycle, the marches and rallies were much more. Combined, it was a major show of support for the vast majority of humans who live, work, raise families, receive education, and contribute in myriad ways to our society.

Here in Denver, Colorado, the march and rally brought together a hundred thousand people, according to organizers. Denver is not known as a protest town, and the sheer numbers of people who showed up was extraordinary. Only Broncos football games bring huge throngs of people out into downtown Denver, so I am extremely proud of this community, joined by many from all along the Front Range area, for showing up to be a part of this movement.

For indeed an authentic, organized and strong movement has now begun in earnest within the United States. The past years have seen the beginnings of it with the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, NoDAPL, the Keystone Pipeline protests, and the supporters of Bernie Sanders, among many other justice movements. All of these together have worked to raise our collective consciousness and awareness of the extreme injustices being carried out daily by the heads of our government system, backed by powerful corporate interests, for their own benefit at the expense of most of us. No more, folks. With Trump now in office, the movement for a complete renovation of the system is on the menu.

gty-womens-march-washington

Americans during the Women’s Protest March: The New Normal?
Actress America Ferrera told the Washington crowd, “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. … We are America, and we are here to stay.”

What changed it so dramatically to bring millions of Americans into the streets during Saturday’s march, is that people have begun to understand that it’s no longer about isolated groups, causes or incidents, but that it’s about ALL of us. The new “president” (he’s not my president, no es mi presidente was a popular slogan at the marches) has succeeded in angering, disrespecting and inciting the majority of people from all walks of life, before even entering the White House. We are in for an interesting time to come.

In my view, the presence of Trump in the White House marks a turning point for America, from decades of apathy and ignorance, which only worsened and grew over the Obama administration, to this moment. People may still be addicted to their smartphones, but at least more and more are reading and watching stories about their new supposed leaders, and seeking out what is true, rather than continued reliance on corporate-controlled media outlets. They will continue to lose support and audiences as more people wake up to the lies being fed to them. The numbers of those protesting prove it: the People are waking up and they are finally paying attention.

The civil liberties and many laws designed to protect American freedoms are at greater risk of being lost than ever before. At this moment, it feels like there is smoke in the forest, and it could break out into massive fire. No one knows what will happen within the next hundred days, let alone the coming years. But it is clear from the protest marches across America and the world, that people are no longer content to let the status quo continue unabated. Many of the speechmakers spoke of the great need for continuous action on the part of all of us. That means Everyone, Every day, Doing Something. Putting our energy into thinking, talking, writing, and showing up to participate. Democracy is a verb, after all, as well as a noun. It is a living, breathing organism, made up of all of us. The only way to change a corrupt system is to clean it out, get rid of what has become diseased, and open it up to the clean air, water and life forces that will create a new, healthy system.

Dear Readers, if you attended a Women’s’ March and rally on Saturday, I applaud and thank you. If you supported them through your attention and prayers and energy, thank you. And if you weren’t there, weren’t aware of it, and would like to learn more, you have a great opportunity and journey ahead of you. These are the times we came here for. We are the ones we have been waiting for. The time is now: Step up. Show up. Speak up. Tell others. Together, we are changing our world.

 

 

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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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Heart wide open and vulnerable

Do any of you feel like you are on a roller-coaster emotional ride these days, Dear Readers? I know I certainly do. One day, one moment up, or at least holding steady, then the next– bam, slam, and down again. Awake again at 4 am, I finally decided to get up and at least make an attempt at something other than sleeping. The buzzing from an old fluorescent light in the kitchen kept me company until there was a horrendous crash, bringing the framed picture on the wall over said light, down into the kitchen sink below in pieces. Weird, right? Until some moments later, our landlord-upstairs neighbor and friend Bob knocked on the door, asking if we could hear a strange buzzing noise. This was just after 5 am. Sheepishly I mumbled, ‘oh, yeah it is the old kitchen light I have on, couldn’t sleep, so sorry,’ and quickly turning it off again, proceeded to sit in the darkness with only the computer screen for company. Not the best way to begin a new day.

Today was a whirl of emotional states, mostly on the low end of life’s spectrum. I watched myself go through grief, anger, overwhelm, confusion, blahness, and other such things. By the aftLove-quote-elephantjournalernoon I was so tired of myself that I walked over to the part of town where others are also experiencing similarities, known as Colfax Avenue. At least there I could see that I am far from alone in my suffering. First I went to the women’s place, which is a large three story building containing kind-hearted volunteers and helpful women who are helping other women who aren’t having such great lives at the moment. There I received information about all the various services and resources available to me, made a couple of appointments for next week, and left feeling slightly better. From there, I walked a couple of blocks down to Urban Ministries, which is a truly wonderful place. They offer help for the homeless and basically anyone who needs some humanity, in the form of a food pantry, legal aid, help with obtaining ID and birth certificates, job information, computers, the use of telephones and one’s own voice mail box, and access to other resources a person who is down on their luck might need. Today I was there to see about using their food pantry, seeing as ours was a bit empty, as well as my purse. An hour later, I had been given not only an amazing and healthy array of all kinds of wonderful food (thanks to the local Whole Foods market who gives their nearly out-of-dates and perishables to them each week), but also a very kind and friendly young woman was there to listen to my rant and my rage today. I entered nearly in tears, and left with profuse blessings on my lips.

The past weekend I attended a Kadampa Buddhist meditation and talk. The leader spoke about anger, and its cousin, aversion. She said that whenever we have the impulse of No, I don’t want this, and want to push it away, that is a form of anger which has not yet manifested outside of ourselves. As always in Buddhism, the invitation is to look at whatever it is that comes up in the soul, or the mind, acknowledge it, and then simply let it go. Simply let go. Of course, this is the tricky part. Today as I spoke with the young intake worker at Urban Ministries, I realized a kind of vehemence in my words. I had thought I was simply discouraged, sad and frustrated, yet my words once out of my mouth, told me how very angry I am, how helpless I feel. There is so much need in the world now, so many hurt humans walking around not having a clue what to do, where to go, how to fix themselves or anyone else. We are a broken people. Yet, if we ourselves are okay enough, getting by alright, managing our lives even barely well enough, then it becomes easy to simply forget our less fortunate brothers and sisters on the street. What I am finding out now, living in Denver, is that there are many people who are in need. And there are many people who are doing what they can to help. There are hundreds of charity organizations in the greater Denver metro area, working at every level to raise up our brokenness, to offer help, both material and emotional, to the youngest, the oldest, and everyone in-between.

As I walk through the streets on these mostly sunny January days, I see myself reflected back in all the faces– on the bus, in line at the grocery store, everywhere I look I see the human condition. They are me and I am them– we are all part of a great organism, we are each important to the whole. If the man on the street is without a home, money, and self-respect, then a part of me is also. Conversely, it must also be true that the ones who are extraordinarily blessed with wealth, beauty, and every material object their heart desires, also dwell within me somewhere. Inexplicably, it is much more difficult for me to experience them inside of me than the ones who are hurting. Obviously I still have much more soul work to do.

My heart is wide open and vulnerable now, more than ever before. Perhaps this is why I have days like today, where I so profoundly feel the pain of the world within my own personal anguish. Yet I would rather it be this way, than to have a closed heart and mind, unable to empathize or be compassionate. There is nothing else to do: once one’s mind and heart are awakened, there is no going back.


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The only difference between them and me

Happy New year! Wherever in the wide world you may be right now, I give you wishes of a peaceful, joyful new year.

To my faithful blogger friends who gave me encouraging comments on my last blog entry, I thank you all for your kind, healing words and thoughts. I truly appreciate you all, the fact that you continue to read my words, erratic as they appear these days, and that you all care about me and my welfare. I love you all, and feel much gratitude for your support. You help me to have a reason to continue writing here.

Starting over is not so easy, is it? Although I have started over so very many times during this life, each time seems an extraordinarily lot of work. Now is no exception, here in Denver. Walking around the streets of Capitol Hill and up to Colfax Avenue (Denver’s longest and most famous street), it is easy to blend into anonymity among the various folk walking or hanging around. Here are street people, ones down on their luck for the moment or for a long time, ones who are downtrodden, the users and abusers of various substances that offer slight relief from the relentlessness of their position in society. Here too are smart kids, young working class, guys promoting gay rights through the ACLU, panhandlers, day workers in front of the temporary work office. I see the whole spectrum of Denver society walking or driving past me as I walk, somewhat dreamily, in the afternoon sunshine.

seeking-human-kindnessEventually I enter a bright, friendly lunch shop, called SAME cafe. What makes this place unique is that it is not only a cafe that serves delicious, healthy food in a clean, nice atmosphere, but it is also a non-profit organization dedicated to the idea that All People May Eat, regardless of how much cash they might have in their wallet or not. The sign at the counter simply says, “Pay what you can or what you feel the meal was worth,” and if you don’t have any money, then you may work for an hour in exchange for the meal. Brilliant idea, I’d say! The owners, a sweet youngish couple, have decided to take the idea of a soup kitchen to a whole new and more community-oriented level. I order the soup, a delicious cream of cauliflower, with fresh green salad and am offered a shortbread cookie, fresh baked in the morning. I stuff my donation into the donation box, as there is no cash register. After lunch, I speak with a sweet-faced young woman named Sarah, who is glad to tell me more about how their cafe works and sign me up for my first volunteer shift next week. I leave feeling glad, and full of good food and friendship.

During the past 18 years since I last lived in this city, Denver has grown more graceful, more exuberant, more livable and way more green than it used to be. Technology based businesses have moved here, bringing new energy, money, and a kind of progressiveness with them which has vastly contributed to a more lively and interesting town than the one I remember when I was growing up here.

And humane: the Denver area is home to hundreds of non-profit and charity-based organizations. Yes there is still poverty and an underserved population here, particularly among Hispanics and Black community members. But. There are many more ways to help urban folk who need it than ever before.

homeless-studentIt struck me as I picked my way across icy patches of pavement on the way home, of what a fine line there is between me and the street folk now. Maybe it was always like that, I suppose in reality it was. I am in such a transition phase of life: no home to call my own, hardly any possessions, extraordinarily little monetary resources. Without the support of my own lovely children, I am in a frighteningly tenuous situation indeed. Indeed in today’s precarious society, nearly everyone except the very wealthy could soon find themselves in a similar boat as concerning material reality, and many have experienced great losses of home, nest egg and health options in these past years. There simply is no more place in western society for the old adage ‘us and them.’ Not that there ever really was, but it was a stubborn illusion for most of the past several eons of time. When I was a young person walking around Denver, I held to the illusion that I was somehow different than the people I would pass on the street, the ones who seemed unkempt and unsavory, unstable and unappealing. In my youthful egoistic vigour, I had little empathy for or understanding of ‘those type of people,’ and in fact I remember being distinctly afraid of them, hailing as I did from the middle class, mostly white suburbs outside of Denver. Now, many years and miles of road later, I no longer fear or loathe the less fortunate humans when I pass them on the street. Now I understand that the only difference between them and me, is that I am awake to the fact that we are all One Humanity with a zillion faces and aspects, while most of them are still asleep to this simple and profound fact. Remember the quote, ‘we are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars?’ I spend a lot of time looking at the stars, including our beautiful sun, these days.

It makes all the difference.

Heartbreak and loss are a powerful medicine for the soul. We all know this. Yet it isn’t until one is forced out of one’s comfortable life, and thrown back upon herself in a new way, that one is able to see life’s troubles in an ever-more compassionate way. Life has had its way with me, as I wrote previously. Just as it has with all the people on the streets. There is no judgment, no feeling of justice, of vindication, of receiving some kind of just desserts, none of that. I wish I could go around and sprinkle some kind of magic dust on people to help them see their own true worth and dignity, to help them clean the grime off so they could even want to look at themselves in the mirror, let alone to be able to like who they see reflected back. Self Love is the key to it all. Such simple words, yet so very difficult to reach for so many.

In this new year of 2014, I personally vow to continue to work on letting go, on ever more profound levels, of guilt and shame and self-loathing. Every time that someone close to me says something hurtful to me, accuses me of being less than a stellar human being, reminds me of some lousy thing I did or said or didn’t say in the past, my practice this year is to breathe it in, remembering who I AM, forgive them and myself for the past, and breathe it OUT again, transformed, raised to a higher level. Old, third dimensional, low vibrational ways of being are NOT the way of our new world, we all know this who are reading now. And yet. I see every single day just how easy it is to allow the collective density of these lower levels throw me off, to spiral me down into the mired depths again, at the speed of a few thoughtless words thrown my way. Mastery of the new energies of Light and Love and Joy is daily practice, moment by moment. Again and again, coming back to center. Breathing. Remembering. Trusting.

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