Monday, March 30, 2015


"fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow"

This is not what life in the wilds encourages. It is nearly impossible to live in a teeny village and maintain the glibness which is an all too common attribute of city life.

I had the serendipity of meeting a community member at the Post Office, a place where everyone collects their mail. He was in the midst of a meltdown. You know those 'invisible' people who sleep in the doorways in the city? Here in the teeny village we know their name. When they have a crisis because they don't have all the gifts, talents and abilities many of us do, they have a melt down right where they are, in front of the Post Office as it happened today.

This dear man was anything but glib. He was as vulnerable and sincere and clear sighted about his life as anyone I have ever known when he told me he was beyond help. That putting a gun into his mouth would be a way of finding solution.

I asked him to please not do cousin did this two months ago and every nerve cell in my body was vibrating as he spoke those words.

I realize that in the context of a city life this type of encounter would usually be met with either something like avoidance or at best a phone call to 'the authorities'. Here in the wilderness this man is my neighbor, someone I know by name. I am, my neighbors are, the 'authorities'.

His distress activated in me a call to action. I was able to help him in some teeny ways and I let others of kind heart know the level of vulnerability he shared and they are also taking steps
When Barbed Wire is deeply embedded a tree will eventually die...
 to make sure he eats.

I have recently in my life been in active meditation on gratitude....I am so very grateful that I am not beyond help as this man sees (possible quite clearly) himself. That I can take baby steps in the direction of my dreams, that I even have dreams which have a chance of being real, that I have a place to eat, food to eat, the ability to navigate a bit of the complexity of every day life in America without having a public meltdown.

Please send your best thoughts and prayers for this dear hearted man...who shall remain nameless...send every best thought you might imagine you would need if you could not function and you were him NOW....

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Power of Ceremony

I am a big fan of using small fire ceremony for the release and surrender of old and the invitation of intentions for new. Many would call this prayer. That works.

Right now I appreciate the ceremony of laying the sticks, making visual offerings, taking time to write out what I am releasing....speaking it out loud before I strike the match.

I've been experiencing these tiny ceremonies as the invisible spearhead moving before me, creating room for me to move and live in life in a new way. The heat of the fire is magic alchemy, accelerating the process of change. I built the small offering in the photo on a tiny river beach near my home. I've been working with identifying and then letting go of the parts of my relationship to the father of my children which no longer serve anything good. Why? So I can live life as freely and creatively as possible, in love and compassion.

Friday, March 27, 2015

For the People in my Life

I spoke in a group of women a few months ago about having met the love of my life. They clapped and cheered. "I'd like to introduce her to you. Myself," I announced. Making this declaration out loud has had some quite astonishing consequences.

I hold you sweet women (and you dear ones in other circles) forever in my house of gratitude for creating a beautiful place to be able to speak that truth, hope, prayer, intention of forever self love out loud. I am grateful that in having received me you also hold some teeny invisible threads that help to hold together the container for that self love to grow, even if you have long forgotten what I said.
We are both the nectar and the harvesters of nectar.

Many things have begun to grow in my life that I had not thought possible. I do love the analogy of our lives as soil. My life soil had been cultivated until it was quite nearly depleted in vital nutrients and I nearly died. We all have these stories. Some of what led to my depletion...the death of my dear mother who was my best friend, my beloved children leaving the nest, a divorce that ended with my spouse hating me even though he initiated the divorce, a rebound engagement where a long time friend swept me off my feet and then tossed me away. Incorrect sourcing of my creative passion.

I think I understand that I had to have three long years of being inert, as much as that time was utterly disorienting. Depleted soil takes a long time to regenerate. It takes conscious intention to investigate how depletion occurred and to rebuild soil once it has come to that point. Until the soil is replenished nothing can grow.

Today I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful in this spring that creative expression, which I had thought lost to me forever, is beginning to grow once again. Somewhere deep in the root system of my being it never died. I am cautiously optimistic and deeply reverent for the return of this gift.

There is much I could say about the inert time. I will likely refer to it over and over again in many ways in these blogs in sincere attempts to encourage others. But the bottom line was that I had to go through the dark times to discover who was always there with me and learn to love her and trust her and cherish her deeply. She is the one who will never leave me. The love of my life. Love.

It does not matter to me if you like to say She, or for that matter He and call the one (or One) who is with me someone other than myself. What I learned in the dark is that there is room for so much....and that where I fundamentally source everything in my life from....this is an ongoing Research Project about love....

To the lovely ladies of the circle, of my life....blowing you kisses borne on the breeze of violet perfumed love...for your beauty, vulnerability, the courage you offer by showing up for yourself and for all of us...

To the lovely men in my circles, in my life... nourishing love for your deep tender hearts and all it takes to be a male bodied person in these coming to you through the beeswax scented fir blossoms intoxicating you with desire for opening even more...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trauma Creates a Trailhead into a Healing Path

I was in a Mystery School many years ago studying with Carol Kamen. She ran an exercise called something like "how I got them to do this to me" in which we detailed out some awful event and tried to frame it in a way that brought full responsibility onto ourselves. It is a really interesting exercise and I am grateful for it.

All these years later and I now see that 'trauma', whatever it is, creates an opportunity to heal. A bold statement. I've been the 'victim' of cruelty by others. Some would call it 'uncalled for'. At this point in life I admit I am curious about how my inner wisdom might have been 'calling for' everything that comes my way, whether it looks good or feels good on the outside or not. A hurt is an opportunity to reflect on what is being mirrored to me about how I am living and showing up in life. The possibility of becoming Whole exists.

I do know that healing happens when I open to that possibility and intend to move in that direction. There are times when I am a reluctant healer, preferring to point my finger at the one who hurt me and stay in my hurt. But when I am clearer I know that no one can hurt me, that most essential me.

I hold myself. I hold the ability to frame how things land with me. And I can also surrender past hurts and allow healing to enter and repattern the parts of me that have held hurt inside.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dreaming Myself Alive

Three years ago today marks the anniversary of my death. It happened suddenly though the symptoms had been there for a few weeks. Even as I write about it I feel the lump in my throat and the involuntary downturn of my mouth as tears press to flow wildly. I must have known I was going to die. I began to cry when I was near him without knowing why. His cruelty was not something I knew about yet but it came as a chill wind in advance of his actions, the way Harry Potter feels Dementors, and before Harry, Frodo felt the Wraithes.

HE killed me. In all honesty I put my own throat out for him to cut, opened my heart up to him. I thought he was alive, a human being, someone with a genuine heart and soul. He was a coward, a fraud, fake. I know this now. He survives by camouflage. His cover is so deep it took me many years to figure this out and only after we became closer than he had ever been to another human being. Then the knives came out and he carved me to bits and left me for dead.

Dying while alive is no tunnel filled with white light. Dying while alive is agonizing. I think I get the fascination with zombies…I was one so I guess others are too. One of the people first on scene told me I was in a spiritual emergency. She helped to frame what would become the next three years. An energetic healer told me I lost nearly all of my chi, the spiritual equivalent of bleeding out.

My life priorities became totally altered. Imagine losing your connection to everything that ever brought you joy or passion. I spent enormous amounts of time sitting in meditation with what was underneath all the feelings of pain and loss. One dear friend literally sat with me to help me know how to be with myself in suffering.

A few days ago I was able to say that his murder of me was a gift. Living in a stripped down way made what is most essential and vital readily apparent once I was ready to experience this. Following the smallest sparks of interest led me into living life from a very different place. It turns out that what HE killed, the places he stuck his knives into, were parts of me that needed to die. He can’t help that he is a vampire and knows where and how to suck the vitality from another. But I now understand that I am the one who holds myself, no one else, and I was not aware of where I was not caring for myself. Now I have learned how to hold myself, to live with wholeness, a holiness, that I did not know before.

There is talk about the caterpillar turning in to the butterfly. I learned about the period of time in which this small being is mush, neither one thing nor the other. I was mush. In the mush there are dreamer cells that are the cells that orient the mush towards new life. Those few cells know when they are being called to orient. I knew it too. The small flames were vivid, having lived for nearly a year in the dark without any sense of a dream, when the cells began to call and orient my life. It is a miraculous gift life holds, this ability to regenerate. I am in awe on this day, three years after I died, that I am once again alive, dreamed alive by and different.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

About Being with Not Knowing

I love stories. I really do. I have gobbled up fiction from the time I was a small child. In the neighborhood I grew up in, there used to be a book mobile. A large RV filled with books. It stopped right across the street from my house every week. My great pleasure was going in to the RV and filling my arms with as many books as I could carry. I traveled all over the world, back and forward in time and into the lives of very different people through the fictional and stories.

These last three years I have read very little. Instead I have become deeply interested in the lives of  people who I encounter on a regular basis. I become intrigued with who they are, how they live, what motivates them. All these stories are happening all around me all the time.

I learned something about the human brain from a lecture I heard a few years back. We have what is known as a Reticular Activating System, RAS. This is the part of us that filters, sees and sorts what is happening all around us. In that same lecture I learned we have this other system, the MSU. For those places that we do not have data our brains do this amazing thing. We Make Stuff Up to explain what we do not see or know.

The thing about written stories is that they have a beginning, middle and end. The lives of people are not so neat. There is not always the way to know and understand. So very often I find myself inventing, Making Stuff Up in an attempt to understand and explain the lives of those around me and my own life. The problem with this way of engaging with life is that it takes up a lot of time and effort and rarely is my MSU correct.

Much more difficult, and a dear friend said 'terrifying, at first' is to realize that I do not know. In a culture that has trained us to have the right answers and 'know', leaning in to not knowing is a very new place to be. Greeting the unexpected or anything that arises with a 'not knowing' attitude asks me to be in curiosity. When it comes to myself and the melody of emotions riding through or the stories I tell to explain my own life to me...staying in 'not knowing' is beginning to create more spaciousness. My one year old grandson does not know anything more than what he is doing in the moment. Can I gift myself with that same freedom? And when it comes to being with others around me....what about greeting whatever arises with the same generous curious place rather than leaping in with my MSU?

Another friend said, "not knowing is the safest place to be". This was in response to my attempts to understand why my brilliant and well loved cousin chose to end his life. And what choosing to not know does is to free me from the mind and return me to what is real and present in front of me now, the only time in which I can truly be here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Living with the Melody of Emotions

I make a regular long drive once a month. I have nearly 7 hours in the car. I've taken to creating changing playlists on my shuffle device. As time has gone on these playlists change. I went through a very long period of time when all I payed was kirtan, Jai Uttal being my favorite. I mean, I could play one song (Ganesha Sharanam) over and over and over again flying down I-5 in the Central Valley of California. Certain songs cultivate different feeling states in me. I use the music to shift in to a state I want to experience.

What is new, as I am becoming more fluid in allowing my emotions to simply be, arise, be felt and then pass through without creating a story around a discovery of a new way of listening to music.

I listen to a very diverse range of music from Opera to rap and everything in between. I credit one of my brothers and my two children for expanding my musical horizons. My father cultivated a deep love of classical, my mother folk music. So I put together a playlist with piano concertos, James Taylor, Maria Callas, Sublime, Aretha Franklin, Coldplay, Rolling Stones, Jai Uttal, Tom Waits, Metallica, Louis Armstrong, Wilson Pickett, Celtic Bagpipes, Sur Sudha, Carla Bruni, Ze Manel, Cypress Hill, Murray Kyle, Bolot and Nohon Altai and whole lot more.

I discovered that allowing random play of all the different genres to go freely without skipping pieces that I am in the moment not attracted to has given me an unexpected gift. Each piece provokes its feeling state. I might normally be inclined to favorite certain pieces or resist others. But in allowing the play to move freely I am finding that I am becoming much more fluid in moving in my emotional being. Non attachment to any particular state.

And I have been attached to states, clearly, in playing Ganesha over and over, just as in life I prefer some emotions to others. No judgment on this, but it is true. Just finding it so very interesting now to develop my emotional fluidity using this random play of a diverse list. The very act of noticing my resistance to certain pieces then releasing and surrendering is totally fascinating to me. I am letting the music move me through a very large continuum of feeling states. The random nature of shuffle surprises me with what will be placed in line. Maria Callas into Metallica. Talk about learning to shift states!

I am quite ecstatic with this new tool!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Finding Joy

It isn't too hard when I stop and look around. Joy is everywhere. I've just got to scale back my expectations about when and where I might find it. Or maybe abandon those expectations altogether and look at life as if I am one year old. Everything has the potential to fascinate. When I took my camera outside to take photos of the masses of violets I really had to get down in them to find an angle that worked. I've been enjoying their perfume just wandering through the garden, they are so abundant. But when I got down in them....oh....a friend tells me that violets carry fairy magic. I have to wonder if violets are fairies. There are few flowers so sweet, so alive, so upright...and I noticed today that they mostly seem to face the paths I have made, regardless of the compass. Could be my imagination...but these dear beings offer me sensuous connection to joy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Can the Numbers be Sacred?

I wrestle with this all the time....and today it came in so close it weighs heavily. My heart desires to do one thing and the economic numbers say another. The electric company does not weigh in the heart. If the bill is not payed the power is shut off. Paying our bills is considered one piece of what it means to be a grown up. Living according to our means. Finding right livelihood. I am new to this inquiry. How to manage to live in a economic system and also do the work of helping others to heal. I don't think they are mutually exclusive. Discovering how to be both compassionate and also appropriately calculating and staying balanced in the heart, grounded, all these beautiful terms...while looking at people in front of me who have less means than I and being unable, in the moment, to help, is a challenge.

I've written a lot about staying open or being in the heart. I find that I have, in order to live with these unsolvable (to me) discrepancies, had to close my heart. I did not know I was doing this.

Living with an open heart can hurt a lot. It is not airy fairy stuff. It is no wonder I choose to self medicate at times, or avoid, or live in a small bubble so I don't have to encounter what I can not solve or fix. But life continues to thrust me into situations and into the lives of those that offer me these rare opportunities to explore the question....can numbers be sacred....this question will accompany me for some time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Taking Pleasure in the Smallest of Things

The unseasonable warmth of a late winter day allowed me to line dry my bed sheets today. Have you ever inhaled the sweet scent of drying laundry? the violets that bloom nearby. Light fragrance, dampness mingling with warm clean mountain air tinged with fir blossom. The air so delicious I had to follow the path out and wander around.

It is in the simple that being fully present returns to me. I have vision boards of grand plans and ideas. The horizons I aim for. But what about the sea beneath my sails in this moment? I walked into the forest with Mo, the Anatolian Shepherd. I noticed a particular patch of forest where many trees fell this last winter. I sat on one log and watched the lazy flight of small gnats bobbing in the stillness. Mo gnawed on something near my feet that I could not see, the entirety fit into his mouth. He put it down to look after something else. At first it appeared to be some type of fungus, but it was too hard from the sound of his teeth clattering. When I bent over it the form became clear. A Western Pond Turtle pulled so deeply inside the shell i could not see any sign of the head. And the shell must be hard, only the barest scratches from a good five minutes of Mo's jaw work.

I picked up the turtle, reluctant to leave this little haven of peace. But I stepped over downed trees and made my way back towards the pond, turtle in hand. The feel of the feet just barely visible is seductive. I love the scales, the half inch long black nails curving from the feet. The scales are cool, smooth, elegant somehow. As I walked the nose became visible. I plopped her down into the edge of the pond and she sank like a stone. Mo scurried around the surface of the water sniffling madly. I don't know why these turtles navigate land so far from water. A mystery to investigate someday.

I am addicted to sitting in the forest. it has become the place where I give myself permission to be free of all concerns. There are days, like today, when I do not want to leave. I cherish these moments of the simple, when the story falls away.

Monday, March 16, 2015


There comes a time in every life in which there is nothing that can block out that most primal of forces….…no hurt suffered, no lack, no sorrow….

It beckons, it calls, across all of the pain, hurt, betrayal, pursuits, successes, distractions that life brings along the way. No drug, no addiction, no form of obliteration or obsession can stop that most essential pulse of life…

I may never live in the fullness of it that I most seek. But I can allow love to come through me towards those I come in contact with whether for the short run or the long term.

It feels good to love. The difficult piece is to love without any hope or expectation of return. But the taste of allowing love to come through without any expectation is an addiction in and of itself.

I have felt it, now and then, this sense of love surging fully in my heart. It has nothing to do with what I get. It has everything to do with being present to others in a most vulnerable and authentic way, a way in which another human has the room and space to be true and real about who they are….and the possibility of them living in to the fullest human they can be.

I am no saint. I have my own secret (and not so secret) longings and hopes. I live with disappointments and heartbreak. I have loved and found myself unrequited, at best, and devastated, at worst, when it comes to an intimate other. But in the realm of serving love, for its own highest expression, in this I have had the sweet taste of joy. I have heard others in their authenticity. That I have been entrusted with the deepest vulnerability another has to share is one of the richest forms of love I have ever known.

Love is not about what I get. It is about getting so out of the way that someone else feels they can show up for real about who they are and what is important in their lfie. The thrill of the fullness in my heart when I am trusted in this way is one of my greatest joys of life.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I was out to dinner last night and ran into a woman I have been acquainted with for three years. She has two young children. I asked how they are doing. She told me that she is so busy working that she has not really focused on her children.

It is very difficult for me to hear this response. This woman is enormously talented in so many ways. The hollowness of her response seems to signal to me one of the plagues of our times. How is it that we have forgotten the preciousness of being in relationship with our children?

This time passes so quickly. I work with adults who suffer greatly from the neglect and undeveloped maturation of their relationships with their parents. I doubt there is anything else, in the first world, that creates greater suffering than love lost in these most important relationships.

It is my fervent prayer that we wake, as a society, to truly value in all we say and do, these first relationships.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


What is there to lose, really? I ask this question of myself when it comes to the greatest game of all………life.

I KNOW the end of this game. You do as well.

I’ve seen it too many times now to be in denial around how it all turns out. The point is not about financial success. It is not about the size of my house, my spouse (or lack of one). The point has little to do with my tech savvy or how many gorgeous toys I drive, live with or wear. Having the fullest possible abundance of all of these things (which I am in the fortunate position to be acquainted with) does not alter, in any way, the end of the game.

How I play it is the point. What do I bring to the game? In the end…how do those around me experience me? How am I remembered?

Have I dared to love......have I allowed myself to lose everything that I have thought had value and meaning, whether hypothetically or for real? Have I let that which does not end to be what grows and thrives in me? What kind of legacy have I left for my children, grandchildren and all who come after me?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Self Worth

Is it actually possible to measure my own self worth and the value of what lights me up inside without putting a price tag on it? This is a very real question. It is possible to measure my self worth by standards other than what kind of financial compensation it might bring to me?

It is a very difficult thing to admit that in a consumer society, a society in which I must have money in order to maintain the lifestyle I have adopted as one I agree to, that there must be economic value associated to what lights me up. Otherwise I may not eat. Or pay my electric bill. Or have internet service or connection to others by phone.

It is a very humbling thing to live with the experiences I now have of offering great meaning to the lives of those much younger than I am because of my age and experience….wanted and needed support and wisdom….actually invaluable…..and yet what I offer is not something it feels right to ask for a monetary exchange…it is what might happen quite naturally in a society gives meaning to the elder….

I know that true presence can not be bought. Nor can wisdom, awareness, or consciousness. It is something to be shared freely, mentored over time, out of love for those who are seeking. But I witness all the time the ways in which we have commodified even this ‘skill set’. We have figured out how to credential and monetize eldership.

Living authentically both within and outside of a consumer society is a sacred meditation. I have no answers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015



Totally sucks. Who wants it? Not me. You probably don’t want it either.

But it came to me, twice, in a short period of time. I did not think I could or would survive. Let alone thrive. I lost some things very precious that I had no idea lived in me. Hope, faith, trust, belief in love.

It has been no picnic sitting with this meditation for much of the last three years. I mean, when you know that it is possible to be so hurt, so destroyed…and yet want to love again….how to move forward is the question.

The short and simple answer is self love. The reality of moving fully in to all this means has been the invitation of a lifetime. It has asked nothing less than full authenticity in me. It is thankfully beautiful, at times, and at other times piercingly raw, to witness myself as a middle aged woman leaning deeply in to showing up in life as a real human being in spite of all the tattered edges and flaws. To live as the Little Prince said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye,” is the journey.

Heartbreak is the opportunity to find out how my heart sees things. Surrendering bitterness, anger, hurt, fear….to learn how to love in such a way that loss is not possible. This is now my quest.

If I really do love….it is not possible to lose. Martin Prechtel has spoken about the difference between seduction and love. Love seeks to offer to the other what it is they need. Seduction asks for what I want. If I am loving, I can not lose. I can not have my heart broken. I can have my myths and illusions shattered. I can have my dreams quenched in the face of reality. But if I am loving then it is love that loves through me….and my job is to get out of the way….to surrender my attachment to outcome….and to anything I imagine that love will give to me….that I do not already give to myself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life is all about the small things.

I watched Tibetan Monks creating a remarkable sand painting. The actual act of using a file and carefully depositing the varied colors of sand to create an ornate madala is a long steady monotonous repetitive act. The glamour of the final art feels totally unrelated to the mundane actions used to create it. That chants are sung the entire time is where the beauty emerges. The sand, the patterns, the song, all of it moves as if through those who wield the files and then embodies the utmost refinement of human action. The monks themselves become invisible conduits of this beauty. Once this art is complete a ceremonial sweeping away of a months work is carried out with more chanting. The sand is then carried in a special vessel and slowly poured into the river, accompanied by more chanting.

Looking for meaning in life....of a life....seeking to assign value, worth....we arrive, we live, we die. Will I be a conduit for sweet chanting, a vessel to allow beauty to emerge....will I live with non attachment to the fact that when I die my art work, the art work of who I am, will be swept away and carried downstream and vanish in time?

Will I sing my heart out in love of this very precious gift of time....laying down patterns that please, singing in a voice that brings solace, joy, comfort and love to those who hear, who chance to pass by,  or know me the entire time I am here, as I busy myself with my small file and little piles of sand? To live with the utter nothingness of meaning in balance with the fact that I matter....I bow to this meditation....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Moving Out of the Story

There are two things that move me out of the story and in to the present. One is going out into nature and taking time to just be there and notice what is around me. The second thing is my one year old grandson who has yet to be in the story.

This boy spends time with what lights him up. His mother allows this. Rather than direct him to do this or that she just lets him follow his heart. So one day he spent ten minutes taking a grocery receipt and put it into and pulled it out of the hollow part of a marrow bone that had long been bleached by the sun. He crawled around with a nickle in his hand tapping it on the floor as he went. The great pleasure of his day...going in to my bedroom to the ceramic pot full of pennies and taking hands full of pennies and throwing them into my bed and onto the floor. I've left them far too long after his visit just as reminder.

The reminder is that I can carve out a place in my being that allows for life to be nothing more than about what really lights me up. I've gotten so tangled in earning a living, in trying to figure out what my status and value is, in making meaning of it all....but what if the most important thing is to cultivate and fertilize what lights me up? That I don't have to know where it is going or what it is serving or the great and grand scheme of how it will all turn out.

What if I could simply stay in the not knowing of it all, of taking the risks to play with my own version of the receipt or the nickle, tapping along? What if I could remain as open and trusting as my grandson and look clearly and cleanly into the eyes of those around me without covering or masking myself and offer love?

Yesterday when I went out to sit in the forest I had some moments when it all fell away...all of the pressing pieces of the story that I carry as important. I was able to experience some moments of being in how wonderfully right everything is and my place is not all that important. I felt as light as a butterfly sitting on a small oak branch.

Some thoughts about Being with Death

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I am a spiritual midwife. I have been at over 14 births, intimately involved and known to those birthing. I have also been with the dying and death of more than 14 individuals who have been dear ones. I mean to say that I have spent countless hours, days, months and in some cases years with each of these experiences depending on how much time each passage took. I’ve leaned in to being as present as possible and as close as others will allow in these times. This is not something I particularly sought out in the beginning, but rather, it seems, life had this planned for me as part of my education from the time I was 7 years old. Being the good student that I am I sought extensively, over many decades, to understand both of these particular and inevitable passages in life. It is also my great pleasure to be with others in their healing in between these two life events!

I’ve spent much time in many of the wisdom traditions, studying with books and people in order to come to some kind of understanding about all I have found along the way.  I usually quote various teachers at some point. But for now I will offer what my own particular viewpoint has evolved into. My opinion, based on my observations, study and experience.

Each and every death and birth is a portal. The spiritual veil is thin at these times. Being present during these times offers the possibility to see beyond to what lies before and after our lives in the physical, to learn to see with the heart as the Little Prince describes. It was quite challenging in the first deaths to have any equanimity. The emotions of loss are tsunamis when one allows the heart to remain open to all that loss brings. Each death can sweep through and carry away what is not essential, those things that prevent the clearest seeing with the heart… those who are curious, intend to learn and seek this out. Finding out what the debris is, this is the work of each individual.Your debris may differ from mine....

And each death, the time spent with those dying, can offer shining glimpses into the highest and rarest joys, magnificent connections, amazing beauty and extraordinary clarity. Truly wonderful possibilities can be experienced while here in this life.

I’ve heard the term keeping the ropes clean. This refers to having good communication skills and using them to have nothing blocking the love it is possible to share with another being.  The extent to which good communication exists depends on how much those involved show up and make this a priority. A connection is possible moving beyond this life. The heart connection does not vanish. It alters, but it is still available.

Our mind creates many stories around loss and death. Tragic, too soon, now they are at peace and so on. And these can all be true. But to stay in the story is to miss the deep housekeeping and grand vistas that loss can usher in. Each death is a release of the spirit out of the physical and into the most essential form. This belief does not depend on having any particular spiritual tradition. The challenge is in being in our human form and having the very real emotions that loss brings, feel them fully, as well as learning to see with the heart in to what is most essential and then finding balance between the two. It is absolutely vital to have good self care and support while navigating loss in a society which seems to moving so rapidly that there is no time to pause and integrate what can be a profound and even mystical experience. It is easy to feel bewildered if you have been swept by the tsunami of death. From the outside no one may see what is moving inside of you. No matter. Honor this passage. Give yourself ample time to be with, contemplate, and integrate the changes.

And some most basic tips: drink lots of water, sit outside each day for 20 minutes (so grateful to James Stark, Christopher Kuntzsch and Katia Sol for formalizing this as 'the sit'). Seek the help of a trained herbalist if you need some help in smoothing out extreme emotions, find people in your life that allow you to talk as much as necessary about your loss, write about it, be gentle with yourself and those around you. If you feel you are in danger please reach out for professional help. Know that when lots of emotions are moving through, your body is more highly sensitive to everything and even something simple like a cup of coffee may keep you up at night when normally it would not.

Joy. Grief, the flip sides of the same coin as my dear teacher Martin Prechtel says.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Framing the Meaning

We all have these life experiences, these stories. As time goes by, as I have sought to find the highest possible meaning and gifts that heartbreak and hardship have offered, the meaning of events shifts. There is a way in which stories can be told and retold and serve to keep me in an autopilot knee jerk reactive state or I can remain in curiosity around the meanings.

How I frame what has occurred makes all the difference in how my emotional state moves. Someone close to me  has often told me I am a victim. I am not naming who they are in order to respect them. Well, when things have been done to me I am actually a victim of those actions. But staying a victim is different. Leaning in to find the meaning around events, the deepest possible meaning and learning available, this takes conscious cultivation. This particular person does not like to dig around in events. "Why can't you just get over it?" has been one of their continual refrains. I have wondered why I don't just get over it, whatever the various its have been.

Anyone who has endured great difficulties at the hands of another knows you don't just get over it. Through it. Yes. Recover? Not possible to return to a place before things happened. But the elegant art of finding the treasures buried in the tragedy is something that takes a conscious decision, the ability to look clear eyed at all that arises as a result of hardship, a large measure of grace and courage.

The person in my life who does not like to dig around is somehow able to shut the door on things. I don't know how this will all work out in the end. There have been times when I have been deeply jealous of this compartmentalization. In my younger years events could easily swamp me. I am now finding I have become much more skilled at being a big wave rider.

The refinement of the way in which I am framing the meaning of life events is growing. In these last few years I have had opportunity to share some of the gifts with those much younger than I am. The fruit of having sorted through the debris to the gold is beginning to become clear.

I think, at least for the moment, the framing I now have is that life is a healing path. I am moving more profoundly in to this path because I am not masking or covering. I am present. What lights me up inside is being of service to others in their healing. So the meaning I give to hardship is as opportunity to be in not knowing and to open my sails to be carried away in taking the risks of being powerfully present, vulnerability and surrendering, cultivating fields of trust in myself and others.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Curiosity or Judgment

I have begun to feel that curiosity and judgment are the flip sides of a coin. The coin is how I approach anything that comes up in my life or in relationships to other people. And the way I land on one or the other has to do with another coin. This one has either love or fear. When I land in love I can also be in curiosity. Fear brings on judgment.

All of this is the inside job....self loving allows other loving...

Curiosity around myself or another makes room for all possibility. Judgment slams the door to growth.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Moving with grief.

I walked into the forest yesterday. Shooting Stars are opening. I've also heard them called Love Darts. These teeny bits of vibrant magenta color in an otherwise dry forest floor are thrilling. I went to the forest to sit quietly. A perfect spring day, warm afternoon, I wander until I find the warm spots and then settle down into the duff. My giant Anatolian, Mo, still a puppy, sits next to me at my back, touching me and towers above me.

It might be that the time sitting in the forest is when I feel the most inner peace. There has been so much pressure in my chest, like an active electrical current of emotion pulsing through. My throat has held a lump for days. I understand this to be grief and I am grateful the spaciousness of the forest can absorb this bit by bit without me having to tell a story around what it means. The very act of going out into the woods is the invitation to my body to release.

Some tears come each day.

Grief. One word....a river of experience....grateful to have time to sit and watch it, feel it, let it flow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Living with Fullness

I wish it were possible to openly wail in grief with others without this being scary or disturbing. When did we become a society in which exhibiting the deepest sense of loss is not considered polite?

When did we put a lid on ourselves?

When my mother died, a death we knew was coming, a wise hospice worker suggested that death is not an emergency. No need to call 911 or move the body out rapidly. We had 24 hours. All of her many and varied friends came and went all through the day and an informal wake just happened. Her political friends sat and talked over the latest news. Some played cards, mom's favorite pastime in the months before she died. And her two friends that were nuns came and wept at her bedside. The day came and went. I went to sleep and when I woke and came downstairs to see her body a long deep involuntary wailing began that woke my brothers. I threw myself on her body and let it come, the tears, the deep guttural uncontrollable sound. Oh did that feel good....a river long dammed moving once again. Since that happened nearly ten years ago all of my emotions move more freely.

I now notice the nuances of our culture and how many signals we give to shut down the free flow of emotion. Do you think our health might be affected?

Surrendering my attachment to how I might look to others for the sake of my emotional well being has been a practice. One well worth the work to move into more fullness of being alive.