Ups and Downs

My son and his wife are loving, adoring, appreciating, and savoring their beloved and beautiful, now four weeks old, new baby, and they are tired. Baby loves to sleep in the day and play at night.

My son says I told him it was all pure joy, every moment of raising children pure ease and delight, and that I said that he and his brother were always perfect and didn’t cry, and childbirth was easy, and yes, I did say that because it’s true in the way of expanding understanding.  

It’s all worth it, the ups and downs.  Yes, I experienced pain in childbirth but then I was handed a child.

Yes, there were times it was hard and I was tired, and there were the gifts that were enhanced and wrapped and unwrapped in the ups and downs.

I told my son to watch the 1989 Steve Martin movie, Parenthood.  I sent him the clip of grandma talking about the roller coaster, the thrills in the fear and excitement in the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster, how that is preferable to riding a merry-go-round which just goes round and round.  

Right now, PGE is warning me my power will again be turned off at 4:00 on Wednesday when they flip a switch.  Again, there is no wind, but there will be, they say, though there never was last time or the time before. I have more solar lanterns coming today, and I’m thinking about food.  It seems this time because it actually was dangerous to shut down an entire county, they will leave certain streets and areas with power. As my husband pointed out, where he works the wires are underground, so it made no sense to turn the power off because of wind, and therefore it appeared to simply be a punitive measure.  Who has the power? PGE does.

My book group is reading Blowout by Rachel Maddow.  If you want to get depressed, read that, the history of the gas and oil industry.   I’m thinking of getting a windmill because if the wind blew as much as PGE says it does, I certainly wouldn’t need them, but here I sit with no wind.  If I had a flag, it would hang limp and my windmill would be still, a roller coaster at rest, and viewed positively, this way I appreciate the ups and downs, the light and dark, and the adaptability that lights and heats my life.

May we each enjoy and savor as we lick and scrape each fragrant drop, the icing on the cake and the icing on the sides and in the bottom of the bowl.

Smell the roses and appreciate the soil in which they grow.

How fragrant the scent!


Open Eyes – Open Heart

I’ve been studying the practice of Sensory Awareness since 1993, 26 years.  I came to it when I’d just returned from six weeks in Nepal, four in the mountains of Everest, Khumbu, and what I found or rediscovered in Nepal, I found in sensing. 

I studied with Charlotte Selver and when she passed in 2003 at the age of 102, I began studying with Lee Klinger Lesser. Around twelve years ago, Lee spoke with me about a vision. She wanted to give even more than she was already giving. From that Honoring the Path of the Warrior was formed which has become Veteran’s PATH.  She and Chris Fortin came together to create this work, and yesterday I was privileged to witness them honored by the veterans they’ve helped as they were helped, as in giving, we receive. There is no separation.

Hearts open and spill with wisdom and experience witnessed and shared.

I first met the vets at Mount Madonna at a Sensory Awareness workshop/conference.  I learned about meeting. In one experiment, I was matched with a tall, erect, muscular, handsome man who respectfully was concerned about standing back to back with me.  He was the age of my sons. Touch is a huge issue in the military, boundaries, but we worked together in the most respectful and touching way. We stood back to back, and held hands face to face.

I met women who’d been sexually traumatized in the military. Later, in other workshops I met a woman raped at gunpoint by a commanding officer.  I heard stories I won’t share.

More and more, each of us in both communities, sensing and veterans who worked with, and were changed by their work with Lee and Chris, met and were touched and opened. Eyes and hearts opened and spread.

I sit with that now with words shared yesterday, with tears shared, and laughter.  Tears and laughter come together like joy and sorrow in the deepest part of the heart and this morning I feel the fullness of my heart beating front to back, head to toe.

What I most deeply received yesterday is the power of the feminine, the strength, the receptive strength that radiates out like the sun when it’s nourished, welcomed, and shared. We can each be a mother to each other, but first to ourselves. What lives in us as we turn with tender care to our own heart and needs?

One man spoke of how he found it silly when Lee invited him to touch the back of his neck, the occiput, the connection of head and neck, but then, with time, he began to feel the living there, the living everywhere, the aliveness, the wake.

Many men spoke of how they’ve learned from Lee and Chris to honor the strength in their feminine side, to soften and feel, to become whole in honoring the feminine as well as the masculine in which they were trained.  We came together yesterday, men and women, and touched with words and hugs and open eyes and open hearts.

As I said in my post last night, this is the time of year when we open our hearts and pocketbooks.  We share.

If you feel inclined, watch the video on this website, and give to support a program that is about healing, mindfulness, and Love.

https://www.veteranspath.org/

Yesterday someone quoted from the David Whyte poem, “Sweet Darkness”. 

You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in

When I left the venue yesterday I walked past the Middle School where young boys were skateboarding in what had been the controversial formation of a skateboard park.  They were respectful of each other as they rode their boards up and down the curving slopes. May we all be the same as we move up and down knowing there’s room for all, a place for all, and may we live in honoring that trust, that PATH, that stands for the Journey Forward: Peace, Acceptance, Transformation, and Honor, and as one woman added yesterday, Healing too.  

On the fence at the Skateboard Park by the Marsh

Mount Tam, Sleeping Maiden, as she leads and wakes

Commitment

Today I attended a Leadership Transition Ceremony for Veteran’s PATH.   Eleven years ago, my friend and teacher Lee Klinger Lesser and her friend and a Soto Zen Buddhist priest and teacher Chris Fortin created a program Honoring the Path of the Warrior which is now Veteran’s PATH.

I wish I had words for the depth of love in the room, the sharing of open hearts and tears of gratitude, love, healing, and peace.

Years ago, when I first met some of the vets I was struck by their integrity, honor and stance.  They were part of the Sensory Awareness workshops in which I participated and they brought a sense of service, and I learned more of what is required of those who defend freedom in the world.  I learned of their wounds, and perhaps in that, understood more of what my father experienced during World War II, and what my grandfather endured in World War I. I understood warriors share a bond.   

PATH in Veteran’s Path stands for Peace, Acceptance, Transformation, and Honor.

Charlotte Selver, my first teacher of Sensory Awareness said:

“If you have two things – the willingness to change, and the acceptance of everything as it comes, you will have all you need to work with.”

These words guide the veterans, as do Charlotte’s words, “A moment is a moment.”

I share the creed of Veteran’s PATH.  May it guide us all.  

Veteran’s PATH Creed

I live a life of meaning, purpose and joy.

I practice meditation and mindfulness with discipline, commitment and curiosity.

I cultivate an attitude of generosity, kindness and service.

I contribute to the safe and welcoming community of Veteran’s PATH.

I value the importance of each moment. I know this moment matters and I commit to make a difference now.

I use difficulties and challenges as opportunities to learn.

I will not turn away from my inherent wholeness or the wholeness of others.

I will use my own healing to support the healing of others.

I will use my energy, heart and spirit to ease suffering and cultivate compassion and connection.

I journey forward on a PATH of peace, acceptance, transformation and honor.

We are approaching the end of the year, which is a time of presents and presence.  It is a time to give. If you’re looking for a place to give to heal the world, I suggest you check out Veteran’s PATH.  We heal together, and as those in our military are trained, we leave no one behind.   

Check them out at: https://www.veteranspath.org

Compassion

I go to bed early these days though it seems late, but then I rise at 2 or 3, light a candle, sit with a cat on my lap and peel layers of velvet in the dark.

Last night I watched as dusk came, a soft blend of violet deepening into black.

This morning I feel my heart as I take in the news, news so depressing one can only use it as a knife to open and carve even more deeply and gently into the tints and hues of how we love.

My book group met yesterday and we discussed Anne Patchett’s Dutch House.  It deals with forgiveness, but also how we each might be inspired to “do good” or “be good”.  What does that mean to each of us, and how do we receive another’s needs even as we process and proceed with our own?

We also discussed how influenced we might be by family patterns and habits.  How do we choose, form, and cultivate our way? How do we listen and bring forth what is ours to bring forth in our lives, right here, right now, this amazing, miraculous, unique day?

I have no answers other than to know that when I’m up early, I seem touched by radiance as though I’m a candle and the wick is lit from within.  

Lately, I find myself with the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, her focus on the iris, and I come to one I painted years ago, though I don’t paint but something drew my hand needing to come through.  I look at it now and it’s as though the flower is a figure dancing at the end of a delicate branch.  

May your day evolve transitioning softly light to dark and dark to light as mine does now.  Again there is a purple tint in the wrap of fog, layers of fragrance, skinned, like trust revealed and held in the center, the core, the ovary of the flower we are, the berth that births.

Reflection

A friend is losing her memory.  It’s tragic to watch, and frightening.  What does it mean for me?

I woke in the night, rose, and meditated, feeling my way, knowing I can’t control what happens, and ironically memories keep flowing in.  I think of Annie Dillard’s words in her book, An American Childhood.  “Living, you stand under a waterfall.”

She asks, “What does it feel like to be alive?”

Living, you stand under a waterfall. You leave the sleeping shore deliberately; you shed your dusty clothes, pick your barefoot way over the high, slippery rocks, hold your breath, choose your footing, and step into the waterfall. The hard water pelts your skull, bangs in bits on your shoulders and arms. The strong water dashes down beside you and you feel it along your calves and thighs rising roughly backup, up to the roiling surface, full of bubbles that slide up your skin or break on you at full speed. Can you breathe here? Here where the force is the greatest and only the strength of your neck holds the river out of your face. Yes, you can breathe even here. You could learn to live like this. And you can, if you concentrate, even look out at the peaceful far bank where you try to raise your arms. What a racket in your ears, what a scattershot pummeling!

It is time pounding at you, time. Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation’s short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.”

I sit with that today.  

Struggle

Last night I was hit with a wave of pain.  My brother passed away on April 14th of this year, and I’ve been doing pretty well with it, and then, there was a jolt.  I found myself with these words.

Younger brother dies

Night light out 

Support unseen

A bulb crushed – 


I woke in the night and went outside to bathe in the light of the full moon.

And then this morning my son sent a video of three week old grandchild playing with his activity gym, and then he called and the three of us Face-timed.

On his back, the little guy is grabbing for the ring, and then, on his tummy clearly wants to crawl.  He’s working hard moving arms and legs and yet, for now, staying in one place.

I sit with that today, with how Brene Brown writes and speaks of how we’re wired for struggle.  We’re made to pull ourselves up from the support of gravity and stand between earth and sky in our aliveness, aliveness in every cell.

Perhaps that helps with the news of the day.  I know my attitude is key. My ability to use my hands and feet in soft radiation from my heart allows me to meet what comes, to receive challenges and curve them in new ways, and yet when I think of nearly 70,000 migrant children held in U.S. custody this year, my heart spills open, a bulb crushed.

Vision

The day comes to light with a rose-pink glow.  I’m touched, invited outside. It’s the time of the Full Moon and meteor showers.  Mercury visibly passed by the sun yesterday. We’re invited into a wider world than the particulars that may absorb us at times.  We in the Northern hemisphere, are entering a magical time of year, more darkness in which to feel the Light.

Yesterday my Sensory Awareness group worked with our shoulder blades, with laying back to feel them fully, and in feeling that support, feeling our front.  First, we looked at a tree, no front or back, though one part may face north or south, but a lovely receptivity to all parts of the tree, and in that, to all parts of ourselves.  How does my back meet my front? How does front meet back? How much support do I feel from the circulation of air, from the back of a chair or from the floor?

Connecting with myself, I connect with the wider world of which I’m part.

This comes from Writer’s Almanac today. “On this day in 1980, the NASA space probe Voyager 1 made its closest approach to Saturn, 40,000 miles from the top of the gas giant’s cloud layer … Voyager 1‘s images reveal seven main rings, each named with a letter of the alphabet and made up of thousands of strands held in formation by the gravitational pull of the planet and its dozens of moons. The rings are made of ice particles — some as big as a car — and bits of debris from broken up moons, comets, and asteroids. Voyager 1 also discovered the “shepherd moons”: Prometheus and Pandora, small moons that interact with Saturn’s “F” ring and keep it separate from the other rings.”

How exciting is that, and that was almost 40 years ago.  What is ours to discover, uncover, and explore today?

Invite and give yourself a pause. 

Allow the lids to slip over the balls of the eyes.

How do you receive? 

How is vision now?

The morning sky