For All Holding On

Thirty years ago, I did my college thesis on Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry because her work riveted me.  Today my eyes are filled with the watery truth of this riveting poem by Parneshia Jones beseeching us to hold on.  Read the full poem by clicking on link.

What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do

Excerpt:

She’s right.
Hold On everybody.
Hold On because the poets are still alive—and writing.
Hold On to the last of the disappearing bees
and that Great Barrier Reef.
Hold On to the one sitting next to you,
not masked behind some keyboard.
The one right next to you.
The ones who live and love right next to you.
Hold On to them.

And when we bury another grandmother,
or another black boy;
when we stand in front of a pipeline,
pour another glass of dirty drinking water
and put it on the dining room table,
next to the kreplach, bratwurst, tamales, collards, and dumplings
that our foremothers and fathers—immigrants,
brought with them so we all knew that we came from somewhere;
somewhere that mattered.
When we kneel on the rubbled mosques,
sit in massacred prayer circles,
Holding On is what gets us through.

Hearts are everywhere

Hearts are everywhere

 

You too can sign up for a poem a day to light your way in the dark.

 

 

By Erin W

True Power

I listen to voices to earn a living. As anyone knows from being human, some voices are disturbed and eerie, others empowered or inspiring. Some voices tell lies, some truth.

With all the current voices around power shifts in worldwide politics and the power of violence and fear, outside of my daily work, I happened upon a voice that feels to me like it is speaking from the truest power on the planet. She spoke like an IV directly to my heart on so many levels that I am posting her interview about spiritual leadership here, in case her voice resonates with anyone else.

I am not Native, but the land of New Mexico I consider my first spiritual teacher (after my parents and my grandmother). My experiences with natural elements of plants and animals, soil and sky as a child seemed to me often more direct and immediate than connections with people. I always felt that was something “wrong” with me in my youth, but recently I have come to fully embrace that way I am wired and am only beginning to attempt to offer people leaderless circles and nature connection.

 

In this time it isn’t Indians versus Cowboys. No. This time it is all the beautiful races of humanity together on the SAME side and we are fighting to replace our fear with LOVE. This time bullets, arrows, and cannon balls won’t save us. The only weapons that are useful in this battle are the weapons of truth, faith, and compassion. – Lyla June, Dine’ (Navajo) – lyric from “All Nations Rise”

In my paid work, I have been seeking practices to detach and release some of the voices I am tasked with accurately capturing, since I rarely get to choose the voice I listen to in order to be paid. If I walk into a crowd of people, chances are good if I encounter a disturbed voice, I can choose to lean in if that person is seeking my attention and take some action toward them, or I can choose to focus my attention elsewhere, onto more positive energy. But when my sole task is to accurately reproduce what someone disturbed is speaking, I feel vulnerable to that person’s disturbance.  There are times I experience physical tremors for an hour after completing a transcript.

Other than leave the line of work I’ve held for 25 years, which is a hope of mine by year’s end, I appreciate learning any practices that can help me separate from voices or let them flow around me rather than through me.

This wise guide’s work I find very helpful. Each morning I’ve been doing basic releasing work in focusing on gratitude for four elements and directions. That helps set a tone for my day where I feel protected and balanced but does little to help me during my work. But today, she posted an energy protection practice I am going to try.

Visualize a translucent bubble filled with bluish white light around your whole body—top, bottom, front, back. Notice the edges of the bubble (Close in? Far away? It may change day to day).

Say: “I intend to take in only what is appropriate for me, and keep out everything that does not belong to me.” ~ Meg Beeler

Feeling Helpless?

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Mother/Grown fawn visited me yesterday after months away – carvings gifted by my sister to honor my deer connection with this pair

Small actions shake the web of life. We may never see outcomes, but all I know is we have to speak our voices and throw our intentions out there, because otherwise it is as if we did not exist while we were here.

Actions can be on different frequencies. Prayer is powerful. If all you have to your name is nothing but a body, you can sit and focus your mental energies somewhere to benefit someone.

Here are three small actions I have taken to throw my pennies into the wishing well of humanity, posting in hopes they might inspire others.

ONE

Today, to honor the Standing Rock Sioux call to prayer, I will be holding a water ceremony of my own. I have been doing private ceremonies for a while, and the only thing stopping me at first was the question, “Is this okay to do even if I’m not a Native or spiritually trained?” The answer I arrived at is YES. The only requirement to support the field of water protection is intention. You might consider taking a small amount of any water source you feel is sacred (Hint: ALL water is sacred) and bring it to stand before a larger body of water. State your intention however your heart feels, whatever comes naturally. Mindfully pour your sacred water into the earth in front of the water source so that it may join the larger body. Mine goes something like:

“May all Water Protectors be protected and Earth’s waters restored. May all life dependent upon water be protected. May every cell carrying water in my body be protected.”

Here is a hub of actions people can design over the next months in support of Standing Rock:  Every Day Of Action

In light of THIS, it is not off base to think that soon environmental impact statements may not be allowed anywhere.

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Water cowl I am knitting

TWO

KNITTING FOR LIFE – to benefit Syrian refugees

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Basket weave cowl

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THREE

I contributed my healthcare story to this Lifesaver Book collecting stories from 50 states. I listen to arguments against Obamacare. I do acknowledge there are many states seeing much larger spikes in premiums than in my own state, that there are many who do not fall in the income bracket the subsidies benefit, and I do know several states refused to implement it from the very beginning so their citizens never got a clear picture of its benefits. But for those of us the law has benefited, we must speak. If you feel called to distribute this storybook to your members of Congress as changes are in process, please do.

Another Walk

My daily sanity practice includes walking. Over the next month I will be ramping up my mileage speed to make a 20-mile distance. The last time I attempted this on my own to benefit someone, I was in such hot-iron, blister-footed pain by mile 18 I needed to call someone to pick me up. I am asking for $1 per mile, but I will gladly refund anyone via GoFundMe if I don’t make 20. Body, don’t fail me now!

Even though I have completed a full 26.2-mile marathon in the past, that is the past. There is always a new now. March 12th, onward ho.

As I am not on Facebook, I am posting this fundraising link here to benefit my daughter. She will be posting updates of other events to the page as they arise.

Carli’s Exchange Year

 

MANY THANKS!

Love Bubble

My heart has been aching a lot lately, knowing I would not exist had kindness of Americans not been shown to my not-too-distant ancestors that were refugees of war/immigrants. And I do not think paranoia is an answer to anything. Paranoia begets paranoia. Terror begets terror. Sanctuary cities will lose operational funding for trying to be a sanctuary.

All I know for certain is, the invisible army of people contributing to our society with the labor of their backs and hands for such low pay that no one else will take their jobs may suddenly be gone. Citizens may wake up one day soon and see fewer fruits and vegetables in the markets, residential lawns less manicured and landscaped, and even the most upscale restaurants less functional.

So what to do? Aside from calling leaders and taking any action one is able to share one’s voice on behalf of others, self-compassion has never been more important than during these times of change.  To that end, an image came to me along with two words to say whenever I am feeling overcome with emotion and helplessness about the changes I see around me.

LOVE BUBBLE

The only things allowed inside the love bubble are:

  1. I am (capable of) great love.
  2. I am remarkable.
  3. I am beautiful.
  4. I am at peace.

Serendipitously, I learned today that the Hebrew word for compassion means “womb.” Womb Love. Whenever I am feeling afraid, anxious, sad for fellow human beings who are simply trying to survive or even about whatever I think may be lacking in my own life, I silently say the words “love bubble” and I am there. Where we all belong.

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(I also make mandalas in nature – anything to remind me of wholeness – try making a mandala out of anything and see if you feel better)

Will

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Now that I’m 50, people tell me I should write a will.

 

Will

I will my life to all that is

One Earth

Indivisible

From topsoil to thin blue line,

Envelope of sustenance

Interdependent,

Miles of roots invisible,

Animals winged, finned, scaled and legged

No land or home to call my own,

Land and home of all.

 

Meditation and Crisis

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(My second Whidbey Rocks “peace rock” found on the trails;
thank you mystery painter)

Last year, I did an experiment.  I meditated regularly two hours each day for six months.  I made this a priority (other than working my usual seven days a week).  Something interesting happened.  The reason this practice only lasted six months is I experienced a type of dissociation that made it very difficult for me to function well in mundane activities.  Mindfulness teachers praise the “observer” state, because how else can we discover our own habits or preoccupations or negative self-talk patterns in order to be able to shift them and live healthier lives?

But I became so aligned with the observer that I felt I could not connect to the part of mind that dealt with paying the bills.  It was really a blissful state to be in and if someone had been able to pay my bills, I could see wanting to remain in that state.  Over time, I could more quickly slip into glimpsing a spacious state of consciousness beyond thoughts.  In fact, I wanted to meditate 6 hours a day.

Apparently Eckhart Tolle wandered in such a state for two years (minute 27 of autobiography interview) before he began writing, publishing and becoming one of the best teachers on presence.  From one outside perspective, he must have looked like a couch-surfing dude with no ambition, when in truth he was working on some serious wisdom that has helped many people around the world.

Now I limit my sit window to 20-30 minutes so I can pay my bills.

What occurred to me through my experience is that so much of the Buddhist approach I have gleaned feels like it is a perfect manual for post-traumatic stress and post-crisis healing.  This caused me to ponder if Buddha’s choice at age 29 to leave a wife, child and luxurious wealth behind and enter the streets and through much trial and error arrive at “enlightenment” was in fact a trauma experience from such an abrupt reinvention of himself.  In short, he developed and left as his legacy the software for the mind to cope with and thrive past trauma.  Now, he chose that disconnection from all he had known, whereas many of us have such a crisis thrust upon us (both hands raised).  But regardless, it’s all a crisis for the mind-body.

Because I am not primarily focused on attaining enlightenment and therefore am not sure if I would make a good official Buddhist, here is a partial list of what has helped me personally, through crisis and beyond to feel more balance, joy and peace. Do not take this as any official list. There is Google for that.

Core Practices in Buddhism:

  • Mindfulness (dropping into presence)
  • Meditation (observing mind; providing spacious time each day)

Some Core Values:

  • Non-attachment alleviates suffering
  • Interdependence of all phenomena, cause/effect
  • Impermanence of all
  • Karma as the result of our actions, and we can work to choose the seeds of our actions
  • Work toward aligned speech
  • Work toward aligned action
  • Work toward aligned livelihood
  • Generosity

Two Wings:

  • Lovingkindness (focus on causes of happiness)
  • Compassion (focus on freedom from sorrow/suffering)

 

I love this beautiful conversation.

I Don’t Have To

Most empowering four words I discovered.

Happiness. Peace. Health. Comfort in my own skin. An adult life of body shame and discomfort shed like a molting snake.

A month ago, I spent 24 hours in solitary meditation. I experienced happiness and peace I had not felt since childhood. Or ever.

Suddenly the beauty of whatever I am as an interconnected, interdependent being apart from any conditioning about what I have to do or be shined forth.

Just as we don’t have to respond or react immediately to every input and demand for attention and we can learn to create a breath before response, so can we choose what we have to do.

It’s all conditions of our social structure, our culture, family, network we allow to tell us what is best for us to do. What if we do something different?

The issue I’ve caused myself greatest suffering around is intimacy and relationship. It’s been a six-year process since I walked away from online dating in disgust and despair and held a little marriage ceremony to myself in the rain forest. That was the beginning, but I kept longing for that soul mate that wasn’t myself.

It suddenly dawned on me all the times I’ve been in close relationship or partnered, my mental and physical health declined. I spent a good deal of my adult life being in love with people who were unable to love me. Whether because they chose someone else or because they were limited due to their own life experience.

It is truly liberating to see I don’t have to spend any more energy visualizing soul mates or pressure myself to date ever again or feel I’m broken or ugly or fat or inadequate or depressed on Valentine’s Day and all that crap and instead consciously choose to live the remainder of my life solo. I don’t have to continue believing the best way I can be my best self is if partnered in some magical future and therefore the majority of my adult years as a solo have been or will be somehow less than.

It has been a long process of letting go of a dream that probably never was my own, but now that I have, I intend to live the most compassionate, caring life I can for others and myself.

 

By Erin W

Sea of Compassion

January 21, 2017 – A day like none I have ever seen. Women’s marches (including a surprising number of men and families) around the world, the true numbers of which we will probably never know.  But our hearts felt it.  A low-ball 2.5 million in the US alone (updated count 1:100 Americans came out in almost every city 1/23).  Seattle local news channels estimate 175,000 showed. The largest ever protest in Seattle history.  I worked in the heart of Seattle during WTO. I remember. Three-quarters of a million marched in Los Angeles alone and in 50 states people walked together and talked together. Even in Antarctica. Even in Anchorage.

I was part of 4 busloads of people from Island County with 3 generations of my family, and learned  upon return to my town of around 2,000 that there had been a march of nearly that number of people here.  Our busload voted to donate hundreds of dollars raised from our group to a local organization supporting women.

In Seattle, police were primarily on bicycles and mostly a block away from the route, some even wearing pink hats for photo ops, many marchers cheering them, no incidents I am aware of along a 3-1/2 mile route. Favorite signs I could not capture while walking:

“Left or Right, everybody can see wrong.”

“Making history with blood coming out of our wherevers.”

“One girl standing in courage is a revolution.” (held by a young girl)

“Science is not a liberal conspiracy.”

“When we talk together, we learn. When we walk together, we go places.”

Aerial view Seattle

For astounding images from around the world, check it out. This is not a “sore loser” movement, this is people feeling compelled to take a stand and show up for one another due to what is closest to their sense of humanity feeling threatened.

No one is alone in concern for what is happening to a democracy we took for granted, including freedom of press, science, healthcare, respectful treatment of women, human dignity no matter race or color or ability.  In short, today people everywhere said compassion for one another is the way forward.  As one young person stated today taught her:

We are marching not simply because of one man’s words and ideas but because our voices must be heard as well. Other nations cannot just see this man and believe that all Americans share his policies. One white man is not America. The only minority harming this country is the 1%. Silence equals violence. Education is crucial. People are inherently good. Women will kick your ass and I have sisters as far as the eye can see.

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Day of Mo(u)rning

 

Night terrors shudder you awake before sun.

Make your way to the deep half-moonlit woods.

Wait for the curtain to be lifted, the switch flipped,

Blue-black lightens. All of a sudden, the birds.

Follow the trunks of your fellow beings, tall trees

Silhouette hands raised.

Know you will be okay as long as the birds rise

And the trees stand tall.

Stand like these trees, rise like these birds.

Tomorrow, float in a sea of pink compassion.