I am so lucky, so blessed, to be inspired, energized, and moved to gratitude by so little.
Oh it’s not that I don’t love witnessing grandeur. The Redwood Forests, Grand Canyon, the Mighty Mississippi, and a sunrise in Fiji, all moved me to tears.
And it’s not that I always remember to look for inspiration in the really small or mundane things.
But when I need inspiration, It shows up for me in amazing ways….
Like the sunset last night…first time I’d seen the smoke-hidden city and the Olympics in 10 days. Inspired me to keep holding on…
And these lovely, end of season flowers have been such a joy. I can only have flowers in my house in one location, the bathroom. My otherwise, well-behaved cats insist on dumping vases, just for fun, and the bathroom is off limits to them, because they also climb shower curtains!
My junior high school boyfriend, and his son, paid me a visit a few weeks ago from clear across the U.S. We’ve stayed in touch all these years, which inspires me to value shared history, and to refuse any limiting definition of “friendship” .
Spotting this lovely on my car inspired me to consider deeply, the hand-painted beauty of Nature!
This, in my yard…
And these at the local Farmer’s Market yesterday, inspired me to eat healthy, even though otherwise disgusting treats are extra tempting during this Covid Lockdown time!
Speaking of produce…this guy moved me to a huge Belly Laugh! At first I saw a large- nosed cyclops with a tail. But then I realized the tail was an arm…still on a big-nosed cyclops.
During our 8 or 9 days of Smoke-from-Hell, due to West and Northwest Coast fires, I had to be doubly sequestered…behind drawn shades, closed curtains, air purifiers blasting 24/7, and no daylight. So seeing the return of our usual beautiful blue skies was more than inspiring. It gave me the determination to hang on.
This morning in my unused office-group therapy room, I spotted this plant. At first, I thought “tears”…but then realized it could mean “abundance” (of water).
This one, you may have to think about for a minute, but seeing the two things side by side inspired me to remember…everything is relative, and I can choose different perspectives on things as time passes. (Forgive my rare derogatory, political comment, but seriously, have you ever seen a more condescending smile???)
Seeing that last one, I am moved, energized and inspired to encourage everyone I cross paths with to VOTE!!!
I’m made of thunder
I’m made of lightning
I’m made of dirt, yeah
Made of the fine things
My father taught me that I’m a speck of dust
And this world was made for me
So let’s go and try our luck
I got my roots down, down, down, down, down
Down, down, down, down deep
I got my roots down, down, down
Down, down, down, down
Down, down, down, down deep
I got my roots down (I got my roots down)
Down (I got my roots down)
Down deep (I got my roots down)
I got my roots down (I got my roots down)
Down (I got my roots down)
Down deep (I got my roots down)
So what are we doing here? What has been done?
What are you gonna do about it when the world comes undone?
My voice feels tiny and I’m sure so does yours
But put us all together, make a mighty roar
I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table, again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen
Directors- Chloe Smith and Leah Song Cinematographer/Editor- Alex Allaux Movement Director- Justin Conte
(This post is dedicated to my beloved Warriors for Justice, who, of course, went down to Seattle to join in an important protest, or supported those who went by staying in contact all day. Many of the things in this post came from them, even during the chaos of the day.)
Unusual for me to be speaking out like this…I tend to steer clear of politics on my Blog (and actually in my life) but I am a 60’s Flower Child-Peacenik, currently living in the Seattle area so the last two nights of protesting the horrific death of George Floyd, have been rough.
Then seeing that too familiar evolution, from protesting into rioting, well, it all has me flashing back to my youth.
Even back then, during countess Vietnam war protests, and passionate civil rights work in the deep South, I rarely approached things politically. Instead, these were Spiritual events and times in my life.
I find the same is true for me now. Earlier in the week, when I heard the awful news story about George Floyd, the content of the video they showed, on TV and online, shocked and dismayed me. Somehow I selfishly related most closely to this one woman on the sidelines, screaming repeatedly, while she had to see that policeman commit that murder. Her panicked and desperate plea, rising above the crowd noise, was something like “He’s trying to talk to you. He’s trying to tell you something.”
I feel like I have been that woman my whole adult life…just trying to advocate…as loudly and as effectively as I possibly can. In a way, I’ve done it for my living. It is my life’s work.
Probably more than any other teacher, I have tried to live the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so this morning, I am spiritually crumpled…just crushed to have to see where we are right now, as a people. So much tragic, senseless, horrendous violence…
They are trying to tell us something.
THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING!!!
I don’t however believe, like some, that all the work we all did back in the 1960’s was a waste, or was not successful. As the Dalai Lama says, “If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant”.
I woke up this morning wondering if it was time to get out the poster board and paints, and find those old marching shoes? Or if it was time to think about how to pass on this baton I have held onto, mostly fiercely, for my whole adult life.
I’m still not sure but here’s how I am deciding.
I pay very close attention to things that cross my path, no matter their form. If something is in my face, I believe I can learn from it. A song, a dream, a comment from a friend, an event, the squirrel on the bird feeder…again…anything can carry an important message. So when I woke up this morning with the movie (and book) Absolute Power, by David Baldacci on my mind, it stopped me…though it took some work to get at why. If you don’t know the story (spoiler alert) it is about who actually has absolute power over whom? The US President, over everyone? A black mailer over the President? Or a daughter over her father.
Huh? Yeah, that’s what I said too. What does this have to do with right now? What the heck is the lesson here?
But then I remembered my experience of the previous night.
Here’s how it went for me.
I am in our extremely remote Mountain Retreat, 300 miles from our home which is outside Seattle. I am alone here because James is gone, jamming with the guys tonight, some 50 minutes away from here. I know there are protests happening back in Seattle because several wonderful friends (the previously mentioned Warriors) are texting from the rally in downtown. I turn on the TV (we only get one live channel over here) to do my once-a-day check in on the virus, but am instead greeted with Breaking News interrupting the regular news programming.
Between the TV and my friends texting and sending live videos from Seattle, I now see the shit is hitting the fan all over the country. This is upsetting, and I no longer care about the stupid virus at all.
Then, interrupting the “Breaking News” about rioting, which has superseded the regular news, comes an Emergency Broadcast System Weather Warning, “crawling” across my screen, voice drowning out the riot newscaster’s.
I suddenly care a lot less about tear gas, rubber bullets and shots fired 292 miles away. I now have to gather up the cats, and prepare the house and cars for a huge thunder storm with 70 mile an hour winds, hail the size baseballs, oh, and probable TORNADOES, headed my way in a way shorter amount of time than it would take James to get home!
So the shift for me, of absolute power, went from one form of life and death, that is most likely to be present for the coming years, Covid 19 (unless we want to try drinking Lysol)
…to another, that will undoubtedly last at least until the election (“looting will lead to shooting” threatens our president?? “Our most vicious dogs will be sicced on protesters???”)
…and then finally, shifting once again to the most urgent absolute power of all…
No contest! Mother Nature (some might even call her God) wins hands down.
She’s just plain bigger and louder!
With her awesome weapons of hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, she wins every time!
So here’s what I’ve decided; I’m in too many high risk health categories to protest in a crowd these days, masks or not. I can’t even walk far enough to get in a good March but I am still with it enough to continue my spiritual journey. And I can still write my thoughts and beliefs and still look for things to inspire those younger (and healthier) than me.
I can pass on the baton but still wear this mantle for a while longer.
Here is some inspiration, and even ammunition, for the current battle for Power in our country.
Please listen and watch and do let me know if it is useful. I so want to be contributing!!
And an older, Jackson Browne, get-off-my-butt to fight song, that is still frighteningly true!!
All of our protesting in the 1960’s may not have made visible, permanent changes, that we get to actually see “in our lifetime”, but I would not trade a single minute of the deep, passion and purpose-filled, spiritual life I have been blessed to live.
And, with that wreath of flowers in my hair, I still believe we will find our way…
PS Two more things about Seattle…1) you know you are there when the Police Force is riding their bikes, decked out in their shorts, and RIOT GEAR, and 2) the day after a riot you see this:
OK, it’s really getting long now…so it’s time to seriously shift our perspectives and consider instituting new, healthy daily habits into our “new normal” lives. Along with taking care of ourselves physically, we simply must attend to those other parts that are being insidiously drained, even damaged during this pandemic.
Here’s one of my regular self-care habits, a potential, inspirational resource, as well as a couple of new musical treats.
This is an excerpt from the newsletter of one of my favorite people, Karen Drucker. She is a talented musician, comedienne and public speaker.
Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
This is precisely the time when artist go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I have to admit I have gone through every emotion during this last month of shelter in place: thrilled to be home; deeper connection with my hubby; anxiety about gigs cancelling and how to pay bills; feeling like I need alone time; happy to not have to fly followed almost immediately by wondering if I will ever be on a plane going to a gig again! Back and forth – happy, panic, bliss, fear. Lather, rinse, repeat!
The most positive thing for me, though, during this time has been connecting back to doing music. My friend, Alan Cohen, has a great expression: “Make the main thing be the main thing!” I realize that with all the gigs and traveling and hyper-busy-ness, I let the joy of creating music get pushed to the back burner. It seemed to me I just didn’t have the time. What has become clear to me as I analyze what really lights me up is how writing and performing healing music helps my soul. When I get emails from people telling me that a certain chant helped them get through cancer treatments, or how singing along with me during this challenging time we are in is easing their anxiety – these messages validate what the main thing is for me – creating music. Right now, what feels like a suspension in time also feels sacred to me to be able to have the space to write and record again.
The greatest gift along this healing path that I have received was delivered this month – a beautiful 64-page booklet produced by Unity Churches featuring my “Heart of Healing” songs. It includes essays written by various writers and Unity ministers, with affirmations around each of the themes that the songs convey. This is a free booklet available to anyone. Even though this project was started last year it seems so perfect for what we are all going through right now. For information on how to receive your booklet contact: The Heart of Healing
So like the quote above from Toni Morrison, I am committed to do my part in helping us all heal by writing songs that, hopefully, will uplift, heal, and connect us as we all get through this challenging time together. I wish you peace during this time and hope that we will meet in person soon!
Here is Karen’s calendar (lots of virtual options) and a way to hear her music and to get her newsletter.
If Karen isn’t your cup of tea, find a person or organization who speaks yourlanguage, fires up your brain, and touches your heart.
And really important, keep access to it easy, handy for those days when you need something to balance out the bad news we are be inundated with daily! (I read the Greater Good Science Center articles.)
When all else fails, music can make us think differently, feel deeply, or just smile!!
And this really fun one that was around even before this Virus took over our lives!
Look up more songs by Playing for Change ! I bet you’ll find something you like.
That’s it for now. As always, I love comments, any kind, and I’m not getting many, so if you “like” this post, take a minute to write me something, just a sentence will do!!
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
BEST for LAST!! This is so sweet!!!!
My favorite thing yet. I have watched it several times and feel moved toward hope again and again.
Watch this to help meet your Recognition Hunger…virtually!
And here is one of my favorite organizations. I have loved their newsletter for a long time and they are a wonderful resource during these days. I especially liked the collection of articles in the April 21st issue.
This post is a departure from my recent attempts to be uplifting and entertaining. A month and a half into being sequestered, there are still sweet stories to be found everywhere, but we are learning hard lessons too.
At least, I am. Some lessons are mind-blowing, and some are embarrassingly simple!
I have been semi-retired since last summer, so I was already reviewing my life’s work before the virus hit, trapping me in this endless solitude. But being faced with mortality daily, in such an urgent and graphic way, I find myself in hyper-drive examining my 40-plus years of professional life.
I started my practice as a Psychotherapist through both a very direct and also an unusual route! Direct because I was “called” to do this work at Church Camp in the 4th grade and have never once veered off that course.
But things also evolved in a round-a-bout way, starting my practice in the back of my Conversion Van, in the parking lot of where I was still waitressing, while finishing school. (A long, fun story for another day…)
During these last 45 days of isolation, quarantine, sheltering at home, etc., I have had many hours to contemplate the most important learnings of my life so far.
Here is what has risen to the top of an endless list.
I have four concepts, tenets, or theories that are the core of my therapeutic and life philosophies. I try, by the way, to have those be the same thing…practicing what I preach, etc. I know where some of these originated, but they have been with me so long now, I have no idea how much I have changed them in the process of making them my own.
And some I thought up by myself…
It seems like a perfect time to write about (and share) these four models. I really want folks to read these, and comment, so I am putting them in four separate posts.
I do hope you will indulge me in this summary of my life’s work. And as always, I would love your comments and/or questions.
In this first post, I want to address the concept most obvious to me during these Covid 19 days….Scarcity.
I had a wonderful Teacher/Mentor/Adopted Mom for 30 plus years. Elaine Childs Gowell was an amazing woman, way ahead of her time. An ARNP, and public health nurse, with a PhD in Anthropology. She grew up travelling with her family on various religious missions in Africa. She lived in New Orleans, practicing as a Public Health nurse, and working for Civil Rights. Then she moved to Seattle where she became a well-loved professor in the Nursing School at the University of Washington, while she started a private practice in Psychotherapy. She also studied Shamanism all over the world, and eventually became one herself…a very loudly outspoken spiritual leader respected by thousands.
Her most steadfast belief was that absolutely every issue, personally and globally, was caused by Scarcity…. literal or imagined.
Nothing, not one thing, can bring up people’s emotions and unfinished personal-growth issues faster than the belief that there is not enough of something!
Elaine moved on to her longed for “light” almost 13 years ago now, but she may as well be alive because I can hear her unapologetic proclamations daily, and loudly, during this pandemic. Pointing out to all the blatant proof that her theory was correct.
When all the factories and businesses shut down and those skies started clearing over Wuhan, I could just hear Elaine’s irreverent “Duh”.
She could tell you in a minute, what your personal/psychological scarcity issues were-whether perceived or literal…not enough time, not enough structure, or stimulation, or recognition or love!
At one point, back in the 1990’s, we even created an amazing 5-day therapeutic retreat called Experiencing Enough. It was designed to provide, for all who participated, the experiential, literal and symbolic healing effect of truly having enough. Plenty of time and attention and food and staff (and support for the staff) and sleep and fresh air and exercise and above all, love!! It went on twice a year for a long time. So healing for so many.
And Elaine could trace every single world problem back to a belief, imagined or true, about something of which there was not enough. Power, money, and natural resources all at the top of the list. (There are certainly some world leaders that could have benefited from attending Experiencing Enough!!)
Long before Oprah started talking about our life’s repeated lessons, Elaine was preaching about how our scarcity issues were going to bring us down as a species if we didn’t learn the lessons…and fast….lessons that first tapped us on the shoulder, and eventually smacking us upside the head with a two by four.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I decided I needed to have a “talk” with her.
She was pissed! After she got finished with her “I told you so” tirade, she quietly said, “I guess we’re finding out what comes after that two by four upside the head…”
Elaine was a Master of the Big Picture. She could see it all, the whole layout of the universe. And she knew there was enough…of everything…and for everyone! Even in her passing (she had a stroke), she hung around in her coma for way longer than her Doctors predicted possible, even “surfacing” repeatedly to connect with the current visitor to her home bedside….but the rest of us were not at all surprised. We knew why.
She was making sure all the people, who were coming from all over to pay their respects, to say their good-byes, had more than enough time….
I think my specialty is the Little Pieces, I can see minute details others miss, so I have always chosen to focus my energy, for myself and for those I work for, on the small blessings, the individual stories, and the next steps to be taken each and every day.
My goal? To learn, and live, and to show that Elaine was right. It’s always about Scarcity.
There may not be enough toilet paper or gloves or masks, but there is certainly enough beauty!!!
Thank you for reading…..and forgive me for not knowing how to do a “screen shot”. 😊
It may be difficult these days to think about being creative, but I’m telling you right now, it is absolutely your best defense against the situational depression that is starting to creep in for many, many lonely people, stuck at home.
My dear friend Brenda has been making these amazing pendants lately…before the Virus arrived. I had given her a bunch of broken bits and pieces of old jewelry to use in her pendants and she surprised me by making me this one. She hadn’t known that the tiny blue and silver dangle she used on mine had actually came from a necklace my Dad bought me on a trip to Mexico when I was about 9 years old. I LOVED that necklace from my Daddy. I wore it well into adulthood.
When the Virus hit, Brenda got inspired and made this beauty!
It’s big enough to fill both hands!!! I
t’s gorgeous, and one has to look again and again to see all it’s beautiful messages
Here’s what she wrote:
This is my latest creation. I’m calling it; Corona Heart 2020
During this very challenging time, I’ve had some really hard days, and some easier ones. There’s been fear, anxiety, shock, sadness and death, but there has also been compassion and caring for one another in new ways, people reaching out and helping, singing, healing, joy and even beauty. It’s such a mixture during this potent time. I wanted to create a piece that reflected all of that. Heart – I chose the heart to represent love, kindness and compassion. The heart is inclusive, caring, understanding, forgiving, strong and knowing. It can hold great pain and great love.
Yin/Yang – I’ve always loved the yin/yang symbol – a symbol of wholeness. Reminding us that life includes it all – light and dark, life and death, joy and pain. The circle is divided into black and white, but not straight down the middle. They are nestled together, holding one another; with a point of light in the dark, and a point of dark within the light – integrated and whole. Life!
Pink – The color pink represents compassion and caring, and during this incredibly difficult time, it’s come to honor the health care works and first responders and all the people who are risking their lives so that the world can still function. We’re all in this together, and love is what heals. Let your heart shine!\
So your job now is to lift your own spirits and go create something!