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

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.

Citizenship

It’s a weekend to come together.

I rise early, 4:15, and sit with what is circulating within and what might be brought forward and out.

My arms move upward and raise and lower like bird wings. Shoulder blades rise and fall, petals opening and closing in light and dark.

I’m with the words of Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet.

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced 
and coordinated 
as birds’ wings.

It’s a weekend to give thanks, to celebrate and honor the service that leads to security, safety, and peace.

This comes from Writer’s Almanac today:

On this day in 1973, school officials in Drake, North Dakota, burned copies of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut had served in WWII, and he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner in Dresden when the Allies bombed the city. For years, he tried to find a way to tell his story. Meanwhile, he went to graduate school in anthropology, worked at General Electric, got married and had three kids and adopted three more, and struggled to find his voice as a writer. His stories kept falling flat — too serious and straightforward. But finally he wrote his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, which was published in 1969. It was extremely popular and for the most part it got great reviews, but it has been banned many times, for being obscene, violent, and for its unpatriotic description of the war.

In 1973, a 26-year-old high school English teacher assigned Slaughterhouse-Five to his students, and most of them loved it, thought it was the best book they had read in a long time. But one student complained to her mom about the obscene language, and that mom took it to the principal, and the school board voted that it should be not only confiscated from the students (who were only a third of their way through the book), but also burned. Many of the students didn’t want to give up their books, so the school searched all their lockers and took them, and then threw the books into the school’s burner. While the school board was at it, they decided to burn Deliverance by James Dickey and a short-story anthology.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to one of the members of the school board, and he said:

Dear Mr. McCarthy:

I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. […]

If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. […]

If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the education of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books — books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.

Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.

We rise and root with tender Touch, the moving hand of Light

Reflection

It’s the Saturday of a three day weekend, an honoring of veterans, of those who have served, and yet when I Google it, I see ads for sales.  Might we have one holiday that isn’t about buying things we may or may not need? 

I like to pause on a weekend like this, to reflect, and give thanks to those who’ve served, my father and grandfather among them.  We are entering into a complex and deepening time of year. For Americans, there is Thanksgiving, and then holidays that are sacred for many. Certainly the Winter solstice affects us all as we honor the tilt on the earth’s axis that shifts, and for those of us in the Northern hemisphere begins the return back to light.  

Today I’m with words from Richard Rohr.  

Following Rupert Sheldrake’s invitation to practice relating with nature, take some time to simply be present to a flower, plant, or tree. After choosing a quiet location (or selecting a photograph or art image if you’re not able to go outside), look around, above, below, and behind you, enjoying the environment and noting that you can feel completely safe and relaxed in this place. Open to your intuition or to any image or sensation about what specific flower, plant, or tree you will spend some time with in contemplation. 

Sit or kneel quietly nearby. As humans, we tend to be observers of the world that appears outside of us. Instead, allow the flower, plant, or tree to observe you. Let yourself be seen by this being. Or you might do like the mystics and have a dialogue with your flower, plant, or tree. If you like, you might keep a journal reflecting on your experiences or to express gratitude for any insights that might arise. To make this a regular “practice,” set aside a similar time of day at least once a week when you can visit this flower, plant, or tree.

I choose a Maple tree, well, two, actually three.  I know they connect through their roots and processing of breath and air.  I’ve been watching them carefully, as their leaves are changing rapidly, as the sun moves through the day, and some are beginning to darken, crinkle and fall.

I go outside and wait to receive.  I’m touched – trees, leaves, roots, soil, air, me.  All cycles in waving beams, all One.

Transition

Transmission

Extending Consciousness

My friend who worked in tech and then retired, is now teaching swimming to little people.  She works with six month olds and their parents, and gives private lessons to children up to five years old.

Yesterday she was sharing the process and experiences, the different responses of children.  Some love it; some cry, some say no to everything proposed, and some point out they already know the “right” way to do it.  

What I’m entranced with is the process.  With the six month olds, the baby is held by the parent and simply bobbed up and down, in the air, then, tippy-toed in a warm pool, up and down and then a little more.  Before total immersion, water is poured over the head. Depending on the response, the child may be dipped more or less.

I’m with how we learn, how we come in contact with a new experience, and how this new experience might “extend our consciousness”.

Okay, so that thought comes from my teacher of Sensory Awareness, Charlotte Selver.  In the book Waking Up by William Littlewood and Mary Alice Roche, Charlotte is quoted.

“What I want to say at the end is: you have all kinds of activities which are constantly happening.You eat, you lift your food to your mouth, and come down,you comb your hair, you brush your teeth, you do anything which belongs to daily living, and in all this you can practice. You can become more aware of when you are really allowing free contact with something or someone, and when you are constricting yourself and forcing something. I wonder who likes this extension of consciousness?”

Extension of consciousness – my intention is to notice, and with that, celebrate how easily a wall, or walls, might simply slip away.

Curving to Embrace

My father loved to listen to symphonies but he also loved the marches of John Philip Sousa born today in 1854.  My father was a faithful Democrat who piloted a B-17 in World War II. The plane was shot down over the border of Germany and Austria, and my father parachuted out to land in an apple tree on a farm in a little village which my husband and I later visited.

Some of the villagers saw him come down from the sky, and were still alive when I went to visit the village a few years ago.  When they heard I was there, they ran to greet me, thrilled that when they handed him over to the SS, they hadn’t handed him over to death.  He was transported by train to a prisoner of war camp in the north of Germany and survived.

I sit with that now, that village, and how my father’s ancestors may have come from that area.  I saw men who looked like him, and now here we are, so divided and separated, when I truly believe that living comes down to that we love our children, and that includes all children, all new beings living and growing on this planet Earth.

I listen to Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”.  I tap my feet knowing this song resonates no matter what our political beliefs.

I read this today in Writer’s Almanac, and do a double-take at the year.  Sousa said this in 1906. What would he think of technology today?

He was not a fan of the new recording industry and all its technology and spoke adamantly against it at a Congressional hearing in 1906: “When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today, you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”

I smile and lovingly tap my vocal cords, gums, teeth, and mouth as I connect to this new day which allows me to listen to different versions of songs, many of which are older than I.   I curve to embrace what centers flow, the latest theme in my life.

Camellias – do stamens cord and chord the air?