Posts Tagged ‘Musings’

Talking seems so easy, so effortless to many people, but to me it feels like quicksand, taking me down, suffocating, burying me alive.  I don’t remember ever liking to talk unless it’s a deep conversation, the kind that makes your heart throb with pain and empathy.  I like people’s stories, trials and tribulations, stories that mean they’ve questioned and doubted and tested themselves on some level.  Nothing bores me more than an untested person.  I don’t have any patience, especially for a person who professes to be knowledgeable but all the understanding comes from spoon-fed learning or cerebral ego-inflation.  I feel myself quiver on a soul level when a person shares an experience that has essentially plastered them against the wall of all they thought was true, like road kill of their belief system; I love those conversations, the lack of arrogance and invincibility is refreshing and enticing.  I want to talk to the person who wonders if there is a God, who despairs about tomorrow, who sees their child’s feet as the most precious thing that could possibly exist in the world.  I like talking to the person who knows that shadow is as real as the idea of physical reality and both have their designated corners and neither should be ignored.  I enjoy speaking to those who have encountered the worst in themselves, have seen their guilt and blame, anger and manipulation, phoniness and compassion and they can get up the next day and try to care about something in the world outside themselves.  I like someone who is “over themselves” and shares what is interesting and unique while admitting that all the threads of the world make up the fabric of who they are, not just their skin and the blood pumping through their veins.  I want to spend my life with those who see and act through the eyes of kindness and clarity, forgiveness and remorse.  All that “has been” or “will be” can be salvaged in the bath of grace.  I know because I come from the grace-balm and return to the warmth at regular intervals.  Grace is the ability to love what is normally unloveable.  I want to embrace the unloveable, in life, in myself, in others.  To me, this is the only point of talking, of connecting with others.


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She tags you “it”

And you squeal and reel in laughter.

It’s only better

When the fog lifts

Off the meadow

Like rising cream.

You aren’t elated

Because of the weather,

You’re inside the outside collar

Of all the choke chains

Of the world,

Big-world, global-chokings

That tie off your joy

Like a snuffer on a candle.

You revel in the chase

Of new delights,

Not old games with stubbed toes

And bent-up kick cans.

Even the best of us

Can explode at the thought

Of one more compression

On our spirit,

Like a flat-iron on our soul,

The squashing

Feels like dismembering our toes

From our dancing feet.

You aren’t lucky,

You are selected

For “good times”

By your own bidding.

You picked the merry path

When you tired of the storm clouds.

Believe in the fairy

With the dashing smile

And buzzing wings.

You never know

When light will turn to water,

Will turn to tears,

Will turn to sweet nectar

Dripping into your insides

Like honey brewing

In a hive.

“Yes,” we say, “Yes.”

“Yes,” I answer, “I’m alive.”

It’s good to be alive.

Let’s see what

Other skips and scampers

Are in my step.

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I’m fascinated with understanding the “why” of the choices we make as human beings.  I remember having a sense of the “background” of people, even as a small child, although at the time I didn’t have the context to fully comprehend what I was observing.  I could feel when people were “saying one thing but doing another.”  This was very confusing to me and gave me reason for a lot of disappointment and disillusionment growing up.  Now I realize that to be disappointed in a person’s or one’s own “shadow” or “unaware” self is a recipe for constant dissatisfaction.  We all have a very active unaware self and most of our lives have been created from this unconsciousness.  

The obvious motivator of this “other self” is fear.  Anytime we are in fear, we rely on the reality of our unconsciousness instead of listening to our wisdom.  We act out by using control, isolation, withdrawal, abuse, phoniness, anger, resistance, guilt, pain, and so on.  We have a myriad of behaviors that allow us to express our fear and unworthiness.  What I’ve learned by working with clients as a spiritual therapist, teacher, helper of people as they are dying, mother, wife, friend, and pharmacist is that there are some key character qualities that can help us recognize this aspect of ourselves and because of these attributes we are able to use our will and make the “higher” choice of listening to our spiritual nature. 

Self esteem is a word we hear frequently and much of the time it is culturally misunderstood.  And to a certain extent, the idea of self esteem that is cultivated in our society is a necessary first step in our growth.  Learning to be self-sustaining, finding our purpose in life, revealing our gifts in life, being the best we can be all sound very noble and enriching of our self esteem.  The problem is that our ego (the survival part of us) takes hold of what gains we might make with self esteem and mixes fear in the pot.  The result is that no matter what benefit we may see in self esteem growth as we move through life, our unconsciousness “taints” our perception of ourself and our life so that we can’t hold any really sense of worth.  We are left with only a fake, flimsy mask of self esteem that is subject to whatever whims our perceptions and experiences might bring to us at any given time.  

The attributes that can effectively move us out of this cycle depend on self-awareness.  We must be able to catch ourselves as we move into patterns of unworthiness.  As soon as I sense I am withholding my love, feeling sorry for myself or feeling angry, I need to notice that I’m doing that.  Every single time I am able to observe this, I build spiritual strength.  Every time I make the choice to move into care or understanding or forgiveness, I am enhancing my self esteem.  

The fruits of this kind of self awareness are spiritual integrity and accountability.  These two principles are the foundations of true self esteem, not society’s version of which we are accustomed.  Each time we make a choice to move out of unawareness by noticing when we are acting out of fear, then we add to our integrity and accountability “bank accounts.”  When we can take our actions a step further and not only stop ourselves from acting out of fear but can even switch to behaving through love, then we reap “compound interest” in our self esteem accounts.  

Why do we care about self esteem?  Because without self esteem we lose hope and purpose as human beings.  We develop illness, become depressed and cause pain in the lives of others and ourselves.  Often as I drive through the beautiful mountains where I currently live, I pass houses of occupants who throw piles of trash and junk in their yards.  Sometimes the debris is mounded up to the roof on their front porches, blocking their windows and doors.  With miles of amazing mountain range views available, these people choose to clutter and obstruct the natural wonders with their own accumulated refuse.  Why?  Why would a person choose pain, ugliness, depression instead of receiving the unlimited, free gifts of beauty all around them?  Because their self esteem feels so depleted, they live in such vile unworthiness, they are completely unable to perceive what is right in front of them.  

Choosing to foster self integrity and accountability often doesn’t occur to us because we minimize the huge significance of being honest (always) with ourselves and others.  We don’t realize how this builds congruency within us, which is the fabric of spiritual growth.  We find it tiresome and discouraging to notice when we are behaving in ways that are hurtful to others or ourselves so we prefer to see our masks.  Promoting our ego is a grooved pattern so we behave from the security of our habits instead of expressing our care.  But I know this as the truth… every single instance that we make the aware choice is a thousand times more powerful than any unconscious decision.  This is our David and Goliath certainty.  The weight of a loving action is far more potent than any action that comes from fear.  This is our spiritual evolution “leg-up;” we can undo much of our shadow with a fraction of the effort because love and kindness is exponentially commanding.  The blessing is the eternal hope and grace of which religions speak. We don’t have to climb a huge mountain to be redeemed.  We just have to make a different choice now, not burn and bury the whole negative baggage of our lives.  One choice at a time.  One objective observation of one’s self at a time.  One caring impulse in this moment.  

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I notice people’s hands.  I often can’t describe a person otherwise, whether they wear glasses, the shape of their face, their hair, but I can remember hands from far back into my childhood.  My sister has hands like my mother, strong, small and capable with broad nails.  My other sister and I share my father’s hands, thin, long-fingered, neat nailed.  This sister picks around her nails; they are constantly peeled and raw.  My children’s father has brown, working hands and his thumb crooks back in a tense L-shape when he is concentrating.  I’ve noticed the same with my son.  My favorite basketball coach in junior high with her dazzling blue eyes and extraordinarily beautiful hands, delicate, smooth with perfect white nail tips manicured into uniform points.  When I notice hands, I immediately feel compassion for those with the nails bitten off.  I can feel the tense moments, the loneliness, the driving compulsion and pain behind the act.  The surgeon at my hospital, round-bellied, always walking like he’s in a race, his fingernails chewed down to dots of afterthought, with lumps of skin-knobs replacing where his nail beds once were.  Often it seems that the bitten off nails belong to very “put-together” people, creating a juxtaposed impression, always a source of personal surprise and insight, peering into the vulnerableness behind the confident facade. My friend in high school, the cheerleader, beautiful long legs but hands with unattractive, arthritic looking knuckles. My stepson with uncut, excessive nails; I find myself feeling irritated just looking at their neglect.  My childhood psychotic neighbor, her hands fine-boned and lovely, yelling at me in her raspy voice to stop making snow angels on the bank across from her house. I remember having to hold hands playing dodge ball in the third grade with a boy named Tim Dancy, his hands soft and clammy. The copycat girl in 5th grade who coerced her mom into buying my exact outfits, her hands covered in warts.  My father’s hands, hard and dried; when he unclasps his fingers, the skin of his palm catches in tightness so the best he can do is a cup shape, never a full extension.  I noticed last year at the beach that my niece has the exact same hands of my sister.  An elderly hospital patient, the first two fingers of his right hand missing down to the second joint, an untold story that begs to be known.  My nephew’s ghostly white hands, limp and noodlely, appearing boneless.  My gin and tonic loving cousin, her always busy-when- she-talks hands endearing in their childlike smallness. My daughter’s hands, sturdy yet exquisitely gentle, their soft, fluid movements a reflection of her inner grace and compassion.  They say that hands are the instruments of our hearts.  I believe our hands can also reveal inner feelings and reflect our experiences. Hands, to me, are a window of introduction and a source of memory; people, places, events, feelings, and times.  Like timekeepers, the hands hold it all.

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Today I emailed Oprah Winfrey.  Don’t ask me why, except I really like her and just wanted to connect.  I think it would be great to have her as a friend to sit down and talk about things that matter.  I definitely like to talk to people about things that matter; I am not a casual, “talk about the weather” kind of person.  Chit-chat completely bores me.  One of the things I realized as I tried to briefly describe myself to Oprah is that I am a pretty hard-core skeptic.  I tend to believe almost nothing unless I’ve experienced it personally.  Even then, I work the experience over to make sure I’m not making the experience into something that I can call my own just to make me seem more important.  Being a pharmacist for the past 25 years has made me realize the limitations of allopathic medicine but, also being a teacher in holistic healing, I see the dogma and agenda-ridden pitfalls there as well.  Same with religion, same with politics, same with “how to” parent, love, act at work, invest money, cook, be happy.  In almost everything, there are many people with irons in the fire who don’t want “their life to change,” “their agenda to be lost;”  it’s rarely about the service or the product or the truth.  It’s always about the beliefs of the individual people who make up the entity and therefore it is infused with their fears, their control, their powerlessness, their “stuff.”  The hope lies in the individual’s ability to “see” truth, live with integrity, have authenticity, be in their hearts.  And, skeptic as I am, I know this is possible as I’ve seen people step into this place of spiritual love and oneness from all walks of life and in all kinds of circumstances. 

What I think being a skeptic offers is this… you are immediately suspect of anything that has a belief system that excludes another belief system, which gives you discernment. Belief systems create “right” and “wrong” situations and that limits everything immensely.  In fact, that’s probably why we, as a society in this time, are so imagination limited and spiritually immature.  We keep bouncing from one belief bucket to another, thinking that this bucket is superior, more evolved, more exclusive, more righteous, and so on.  Hogwash!  No belief is better than the last.  If you have a belief that you can’t let go of and it doesn’t include everyone, it’s crap.  Being a skeptic let’s you step outside of situations and see things fresh, unencumbered.  Since you don’t have something you’re trying to protect, you don’t mind poking around in other ideas.  You don’t mind swishing it around in your mouth to see if the taste suits you.  You are more adventurous, freer, more open and compassionate.  You don’t mind hugging something disgusting because it doesn’t mean you own it, will get hurt by it or are taking it home.  You’re just loving it in its imperfection and giving it comfort. You’re less disappointed by people because you see the polarity;  we all have shadow that makes us act in ways we wish we didn’t.  To instead be righteous, judge and “protect your own” is a setup for exhaustion; you have to keep turning your “feelers” down because you can only handle the information that feeds your understanding and belief.  Everything else will overwhelm and upset you.  Skepticism takes the blinders off and let’s you see it all, but “the all” doesn’t stick in your craw because you’re not personal about it.  It doesn’t threaten your territory. 

Skepticism doesn’t mean you are virtueless, without care or truth.  In fact, it can offer just the opposite.  It can mean that you are more able to respond to your deepest nature, your spiritual essence, within each moment because you are more available.  You aren’t a squatter in your corner, defending, being in fear, hoping you don’t lose what you have. Your availability allows for a more resonant flow of the natural, the embryonic state.  You can grow with abandon because there aren’t rules to “fix” you into a state that is acceptable.  Your impulse to love and embrace is more limitless because there is less of “you” to filter and negatively react and behave selfishly. 

How about it?  Are there any other skeptics out there?

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 The Logical Song        

 By Supertramp- Breakfast in America

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

At night, when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run so deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am,

Who I am, who I am, who I am.

Isn’t this what we all want to know?  What are we doing, what have we learned, what is my purpose?   The quiet of night time allow these questions to rise from our deepest selves and we ponder and sort the questions of life in our dreams. 

Who are you?  What have you learned?

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Wow, it’s amazing how unspiritual you can feel even though your intention is to be the “spiritual working mom.”  Two days ago, I’m all teary-eyed about an army angel and feeling love in my heart and last night I dumped into and willingly wallowed around in “poor me,” my life is like a bad treadmill and I’m tired and never want to get back on the treadmill again.  Work was busy yesterday, but even that doesn’t really explain my despair. After eating supper that my husband lovingly prepared and I was too pouty to acknowledge, I started worrying about financial situations I have coming up: my MHA degree tuition due of $1000, need new tires for my car $360, going on a trip next weekend with my husband $300, stepson’s birthday this weekend $???.  Most possibly this was the catalyst of my hopelessness so, of course, I went to sleep with a headache and a brooding mindset which naturally breeds BAD DREAMS.  About 3:30 (I wake up frequently at this time for some reason) I woke with my nightmare hot off the press.  My two pharmacy techs and I were in a dressing room in a department store and an old, skinny guy (looked very much like the horrible serial killer who kidnapped and eventually decapitated a beautiful, college-aged female hiker in the mountains near me a year ago) somehow appeared in the dressing room and got between the door and us.  He was surprisingly strong for his scrawny build and although I don’t remember him really physically doing anything, I distinctly knew he could hurt us and he looked mean and crazy in his eyes.  I instructed the techs to dial 911 and they did but help never came and in the next scene we are coming out of the dressing room knowing that we never got help and that the insane guy could be lurking anywhere in the store.  This is where I apparently woke up.  Since I teach spiritual psychotherapy in addition to being a pharmacy director, I have my own way of interpreting dreams.  I believe almost every character in a dream represents facets of the person who is dreaming.  So in this dream, the serial killer guy is an aspect of me, the techs are an aspect of me, and so on.  The guy, therefore, stands for my “male” energy, the lonely overachiever who works all the time and is pushy, mean and unfeeling.  The girls are my “female” aspects who want to be safe, be able to express feelings, were in the store, bonding as friends, and probably browsing at beautiful clothes (which means the part of me that appreciates beauty, wants companionship).  The 911 help is my distrust in God being there for me, doubt that my physical needs (money situations) will be taken care of by God.  “He’s too busy to even show up,” so even when the male energy disappears for a little while (my judgmental, negative mind eases off a bit) my playful, intuitive, joyful side (female aspect) is always hypervigilant about being attacked again (my “male” mind belittling my natural desire to have fun or to rest or to feel good feelings).  Okay great, so what do I do with my lovely dream interpretation?  This whole setup is not new to me.  I know I’m an overachiever and can squash my enjoyment of life without much remorse. In fact, this is my spiritual cross; if I could learn balance the male/female within me, I would be redeemed.  I couldn’t go back to sleep so I played a CD I made for my stress management class that I teach to the community.  Being the perfect example of the painter who owns a house with paint peeling off the siding, I’ve never actually listened to my own CD with the intention of helping myself.  Go figure!  I was surprised.  It helped me after I got over the weirdness of listening to my own voice.  The only problem is that I played it on my IPod but didn’t think to put my meditation in a playlist by itself (because I’ve never really used my own meditation CD) so an Elton John song started playing loudly immediately after I was in a relaxed, open, free state and I practically jumped out of my skin. Plan B, go eat cereal.  Not sure why cereal is such a good make-you-go-back-to-sleep food, but it works almost every time for me.  By 4:30 I was back asleep.  At 6:45 I’m waking my 15 year old.  Peering into his sleepy face I long for the fluffy boy hair, the flawless skin.  When did he turn into a half-man, greasy hair, pimply skin person?  He’s still fun and likes his mom well enough, but my heart aches for him, the pain of being an awkward, hormone factory.  Upstairs, trying to fix my hair for work, I reflect on being the 48 year old mom.  I attempt to flat-iron my already fine, straight hair to comply with the “current hip style” (don’t want to be one of those out-of-date moms) and end up with a half middle-aged woman’s split-ends, mousy curls and half limp, 70’s, feathered look.  Facebook has been great at validating to me how incomplete as a modern, stylish woman I am, how I manage to wait until hairstyles are almost ready to go out of style before I even come close to mastering the technique. For instance, Tammy Pendergrass, the girl from high school who I saw drenched from rain getting on the bus when she was 14 years old looking impossibly as beautiful, or more so, than she did every morning getting on our bus, looking perfect in every detail, sweet smile always in place.  She has the “mod” hairstyle perfectly executed to top off her gorgeous, fit, 50 year old body, posed in the Facebook picture beside her husband who it goes without saying was the hunky football coach/teacher at our high school.  My, on the other hand, previous high school “fit” body is down to having 3 pair of pants from which to select an outfit after gaining 15 lbs. doing P90X for a year.  I’m positive I’m the only one who has done P90X religiously and managed to fitness myself out of my wardrobe. At least I don’t have to deliberate in front of my clothes very long each morning.  Selecting an outfit is a breeze.  Oops, did I let all that seep out?  Usually these discourses are hidden beneath my self-confident exterior and are only insane rants in my head; sorry about that.  Since it was a 37 degree morning, I sit awhile in my cranked car, waiting on my son.  I turn on the heat, the windshield defrost, the back window defrost, the side mirror defrost. 


Steam begins to lift from the passenger side mirror almost instantly. I marvel at the way the wintry scene reflection appears in the middle of the de-iced portion of the mirror, golden from the early morning glow, sparkly and iridescent.  I can feel something encrusted within me begin to lift as I watch the scene open in the square frame of the mirror.  The heat mist shrouding the mirror transfixes my tired, complaining mind.  As my son gets in the car, I turn the radio up and start listening to Kid Kraddock.  He’s talking about perception and cracking jokes about how we believe unpleasant things about ourselves and others because we are naturally drawn to drama and the negative.  I chuckle inside and glance at my son.  His eyes are closed, his body peaceful and still.  Today will be okay, I’m thinking.  In fact, I’ll be out looking for army angels again.

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