Sunday, March 25, 2018

3/26/18—Checking In

Just a quick post to let everyone know I'm alive after open heart surgery and on the road to recovery. I had a difficult time at first and spent a week in rehab regaining my energy. It was both a good thing for me and a nightmare experience akin to something from a Stephen King horror. I'm sure I'll tell you all about it at some point. But we were able to escape the facility on Friday and I spent my first days at home this weekend and I have all confidence I've got what it takes to get past this recovery stage now.

My brother (who wants to be known to my blog audience as the hunky housekeeper) spent the weekend with me and really helped make my transition back to independence. He also did some cleaning and other chores around here. Having a brother who is ADD and obsessed with cleaning can be a good thing. I will still need help with some things on a daily basis...I get tired quickly and suddenly and need to sleep a lot. But my sister in law is on spring break this week and will visit often, plus I have neighbors and friends volunteering to come by. Plus I will have at home visits from a physical therapist.

Soon I'll be as good as new. It's a different kind of exhaustion than I was feeling before. I have less energy, but also less breathlessness. I'm being kind to myself, one of the many wisdoms I've learned from this experience. Please keep me in your thoughts and send me energy and well wishes!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2/19/18—Facing The Black Hole

Here's a classic post from my tarot-draw days. I may be doing classic posts for a while. I feel like I have little to contribute these days.

I could depress you by telling you how scared I am about the probability of having open heart surgery, but I don't want to put words to those fears—surgery is what will bring me back to the "normal" I've been missing for so may years and I want to be grateful.

I could tell you about how I was left gasping for air after navigating the rows on the left half of a 7-11 while in search of toilet paper. That's how limited I am—I haven't been to a grocery store or drug store for months because they are too big (thank god for Amazon Fresh)—and that is heartbreaking for someone who has three dogs, used to power walk five miles a day and do the "difficult" hikes at the park.

I could also tell you how frustrating it is to live like this while the doctors slowly lead me through a battery of tests because apparently there's no rush because, I guess (I don't know), I'm not at risk of dying. This bad valve doesn't qualify as heart disease nor is it an imminent threat of heart attack. At least I don't think it is. I'm sure they'd be moving faster if I were at that level of risk.

To go into detail about any of those things would send me into a black hole I may never crawl out of. And I need to stay in the light right now, because some days that's all I feel I have going for me. I wish I could be wiser or a better observer of the spiritual world right now, but I just can't. So here's today's classic post...

Today's Draw: Nine of Swords—The Black Hole—from the Science Tarot. Do you often feel that something's missing in your life? Is there a bad habit or excess you'd like to eliminate from your life? How often do you spend time by yourself with no distractions—no radio, not when you're driving the car, not while you're reading—just you, yourself and thy sitting around being good to each other?

A black hole is when a star collapses in on itself, pulling all its mass into something so small it can't even been seen. Everything in its vicinity is pulled inside, too, never to be seen again. Not even light can escape the prison of a black hole.

Even though all that mass compressed into an invisible black hole is tough for even my favorite astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, to wrap his head around, on one level, we kind of understand it, don't we? Because each of us has one inside us...a black hole so vast that no amount of Oreos, no kilos of drugs, no number of children, no posse of pool boys and no storehouse of sparkly things can fill it. Its gravitational field pulls us in. Nothing can escape it, least of all the light of peace.

*mindlessly filing my nails while some of you slit your wrists over this ugly truth*

So today's Nine of Swords comes to us for a couple of reasons on the final day of "how to create peace" week. (See this week to read more about peace.) The first reason is that it's in the suit of swords, which is the suit of the mind. Yesterday's card was a Swords card, too. And both of them are pretty dreaded cards to get in a reading. Not because they predict bad things, but because they point at things we're already doing—the  ways in which we allow our own minds to defeat us. Yesterday's card was about the negativities we dwell upon and today's is about disillusionment and the lies we tell ourselves. 

Really the two cards are very interconnected. Some of the negative stuff we dwell upon is about us and our abilities and potentials, for example. On one end of the scale we tell ourselves that a prince will come in on a white horse and we'll live happily ever after, thereby ruining every relationship we forge under that belief before it even starts. On the other end of the scale we tell ourselves in one way or another that we are somehow limited—not smart, lucky, pretty, creative or deserving enough to reach for the highest star. So these are some ways in which our minds defeat us. And with all that noise up there, with all our limited potential and dashed dreams, how will we ever find peace?

Gratuitous photo of my next-life boyfriend, the phenom known simply as NdGT.
But the other part of this Nine of Swords is this black hole inside us. The one we fill with food, alcohol, social engagements, television and other, more innocent sounding distractions like music, books and gardening. (Oh, yeah. That.) None of those things are bad by any means by themselves and in moderation. But when they build up into a ball of noise and roughage so huge we can't hear ourselves think...when we use them to numb the pain inside...when they keep us from listening to our inner voice...when we expect them to fill the void...that's when they create problems. 

I think this is probably the #1 thing society is in denial of. Somewhere inside us, though, we know. We know "something" is missing. We know something else is excessive. A big part of it comes from looking to something outside of you—romance, children, potato chips, possessions, thrills—to make you happy or rescue you from the burden of your "self." Our fears overtake us and that black hole looks like a source of comfort, but it always ends up leaving you cold.

So what's the answer? Some of the answers have been given this week. Learn how to love and trust yourself, learn how to accept yourself and others and start a healthier relationship with yourself...listen to yourself, give yourself a break. That's the thing that's missing—a healthy, loving, respectful relationship with yourself. Yeah, I know it's hard to do. There's no Cliff Notes version. It takes time. Trust me, I'm still working on it myself. It's a practice, more than an event, meaning it's something you form the habit of doing every day. Just like you formed the habit of second-guessing yourself way back when. 

Still not sure who Neil deGrasse Tyson (NdGT) is?
But the biggest part—and, honestly, the reason I think you come here however often you do—is to stop being afraid of what you'll find when you look within. Have the balls to ask yourself the tough questions and be honest about the answers, which so many of you are already doing. So much is stuff we've been struggling with since childhood. The input we got from back then is deeply rooted and nobody escapes unscathed. Sometimes I swear I think we come here to this earth to heal our childhoods...haha. But another way of looking at it is that our childhoods happened the way they did to give us the cues we need to heal our souls. 

One of the reasons I'm so frank about my own life here at times is to show others they're not alone. Monsters thrive in the dark, and until we shine light on these things and deal with them as they are, we can't defeat them. But we can't do that if we think we're the only ones who feel emptiness or disappointment in our lives and in ourselves. The energy we spend holding on to the shame could be used to escape the black hole. This may not be possible in outer space, but it is possible within.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2/12/18—Chasing Sasquatch

A classic post...

Although I've lived all over the eastern half of the US and have many roots in the midwest, I've lived within a five mile radius of where I'm living now most of my life. So it has surprised me this weekend to learn two new things about this area that I never knew before.

The first was actually a well-kept secret for over 60 years. My favorite tree resides at Fort Hunt, a local park I've visited all my life. At the park there are prison cells and a watch tower, but the stories I always heard was that the park's role in anything exciting was fairly benign. It provided some defense during the Spanish American War and some training for other wars but not much else in terms of wartime activities.

Turns out, though, during WWII, the fort was code named PO Box 1142 and its mission was to extract secrets from German POWs, mostly scientists. They got all kinds of groundbreaking secrets out of them involving things like rocket science and microwave technology. And they didn't beat it out of them. They cajoled it out of them.

The other thing I learned was about something called the Mount Vernon Monster. In the late 1970s, local residents heard strange noises coming out of the woods in the region of George Washington's home. Some say it was kids playing recordings over loudspeakers. But some people witnessed a bigfoot-like creature and many others had encounters with the creature nearby, but not visible. They swear that there's no way it could be a hoax from the way things happened...the way the sound moved through the woods.

Now, I didn't live here in the late 70s, so I can see why I wouldn't have heard of it. But Bigfoot is, like, my favorite "mythical" creature. And to think one might have lived here? Exciting. Right now, in the very same area, people are saying there's a cougar on the loose. Maybe Bigfoot never left. Maybe he's a shapeshifter! :D

I don't consider myself much of a historian, so I'm not surprised I don't know everything there is to know about my little suburb. But it did surprise me to learn two BIG things in a single weekend—perhaps the biggest things ever to happen here (outside of George Washington himself.)

It's interesting all the layers of stories and lore that form like layers of sediment over time. Everyone focuses on our founding father's role in the immediate area, but there were layers of history stretching hundreds and millions of years before him. Indigenous people were all up and down this part of the river before the Brits even arrived. Dinosaurs, no doubt, drank from our waters. We're just about an hour or so as the crow flies from the some of the world's oldest mountains and, right here in the same state, is a river known to be older than those mountains and considered by some to be the second oldest river in the world. (In a bit of irony, it's called the New River and it runs backwards, just like the Nile, the world's oldest river, does.)

If you sit with nature long enough, you can feel mysteries yet untold. And not just because of backwards running rivers, ancient mountains and Sasquatch sightings. You'd feel it in the middle of the desert or along the Panama Canal, in the center of New York City or in the depths of Asia. There's magic and mystery and history everywhere there's earth. You don't have to dig to know it's there, because it's part of the vibration.

Many years back I had a "paranormal" experience in that park where the POWs were held. Now I understand more about why that happened. Whether you have the data in the form of recorded history  and artifacts or not, the body always knows. We just have to learn to use what we have and trust it.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

2/5/18—Admiring The Birds

Photo found online, credited to photographer Todd Henson.
I've been watching birds a lot lately.

Many mornings I'll sit out back with the dogs and drink my morning hot beverage—cider, hot chocolate, sometimes coffee. And since most other critters disappear in the winter, I find myself watching the birds.  

This morning I noticed a downy woodpecker carving out a nest in my tree stump. Of course I didn't know it was a downy woodpecker until I googled around. And I learned the bird is a she, because males have red on their heads. And, apparently, the males keep the females from foraging in the most productive spots—small branches and weed stems—and leave them to forage in tougher spots, such as large branches and trunks.

Typical males. 

But that also shows just how impressive the females are. This particular gal had excavated a small hole in a large tree branch that went deep enough for her to disappear inside, turn around, and come out again. Not sure whether she was in there feeding on larvae and things, building a nest or both. The male might have helped if it is a nest, but she was the one doing the work today. 

Watching her excavating the hole made me think about how impressive birds are. Birds see colors invisible to humans. They also see in the ultraviolet spectrum. Their eyes are relatively larger than humans', so they see better than we do. And an eagle's vision is up to eight times stronger than a human's. 

Then there are the murmurations of starlings, swarming in incredible unison, responding to each other as a group, rather than as individuals. Birds of many species can fly hundreds of miles away for the winter, only to find their way back to the exact spot year after year. Flamingoes mate for life, staying with their love for as many as 50 years. Female ostrices will care for another female's eggs. A falcon can fly at more than 100 miles per hour. An albatross can soar for up to six hours without flapping its wings. And a parrott can amass a vocabulary of 800 words—significantly more words than our president can speak. 

With a few exceptions, birds can achieve feats way beyond our ability. In fact, most animals possess qualities beyond human capability. A dog's capacity for unconditional love is certainly superior to a human's, for example.

So as I observe animals, I wonder what makes us "more evolved?" Some say it's our ability for speech, but why is that more evolved than communicating without it? Some say it's our ability to reason—rational thought—but many predators certainly display the same kind measured thought. Of course, you'll often hear it's our opposable thumbs, allowing us to build and do fine work. I don't see many animals suffering without that ability, however. They all find food, water and shelter easily enough. 

So, beyond the enormous egos that make us believe we are superior—the same egos that imprison us in ways that other animals aren't hindered by—what is it really? Is it our ability to kill and destroy? Does that make us more evolved? I doubt it. 

As I sat outside for an hour the other morning observing the birds, I noticed a small group of mourning doves perched on the utility wires the entire time, seemingly just gazing out into the beyond. They clearly had more time and freedom to enjoy the view than I. Plus they can store thousands of seeds in their throats, live off of seawater, and not for nuthin', they can also fly. 

There are many benefits to being human. I'm not saying there are not. But being human can be emotionally painful and just far too damned difficult much of the time. Our "evolved" brains torment us far more than we fully know. So sometimes as I watch the birds, I wonder how much easier life would be if our brains were smaller and less troubled, we could see things humans can only imagine and, with a few flaps of our wings, we could catch a breeze and soar far above the cares of "more evolved" world, perch someplace entirely different, and enjoy a whole new perspective on life.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

1/29/18—Reconnecting With The Past

This is NOT me and my friend. I found it on google.
Today is a rainy day and I'm not feeling my best. So, aside from writing this blog and throwing out some trash for the morning pickup, I've decided to spend most of the day sleeping and/or snuggling with my babies. 

I find it interesting that a few old friends have reconnected with me recently. Some before I landed in the hospital, some after reading my blog about that adventure, and one old work colleague who connected completely out of the blue in the past week or so. Whether aware of it or not, there's a mysterious connection that prompts people to reach out at just the right time. 

One of these people is a woman I knew for five months when I was 10. The military is such a transient life that the people that make marks on your memories are often people you didn't know for very long.  

As I consider our friendship, it strikes me that we had an unusually memorable friendship. My perception—and overwhelming reality—is that it took me a long time to make friends. But this girl lived next door to me, and we were clearly fast friends. I remember spending a lot of time at her house rehearsing a truly horrific dance we performed for our classmates. (Thank god video cameras weren't a thing then!) She remembers raiding my brother's bedroom to borrow his albums. He would be flattered to know he had "the good music."

Anyway, we spoke last night for quite some time, reminiscing over those five months, the people we knew and both our lives since. I don't have a very good memory of childhood things, but I do remember that period in particular. It felt like longer than it was, too. I remember that it snowed on my birthday, which was quite exciting for me. I remember learning how to play tetherball at that school. And I remember something I didn't mention in our call, but if memory serves, this friend broke my finger while she was performing a handstand and she subsequently helped me write out my homework a few times because I couldn't do it myself. My guess is that I probably milked that for all it was worth. :D 

Coincidentally, (if coincidence exists) she and I are on similar trajectories right now, with bodies that refuse to cooperate with our desire to do the things we most enjoy. We're also both due for surgery to correct those this issues within the next month or so. 45 years have passed since the last time we spoke, but we find ourselves living next door to each other once again, figuratively speaking (and literally, kinda, as she's local.) Let's hope we don't decide to make up a "really cool" dance to celebrate.

She did say something to me, though, that I found interesting. She said she remembered telling her mom that I was soulful. I'm not sure how a 10-year-old is soulful or how another 10-year-old knows to identify someone as such, but I found it interesting because I never would have thought of myself that way at that age. It struck me the same way it did when a high school friend recounted a story about me saying something spiritually wise and comforting that stuck with her all her life. My perception of myself was that I had none of that in me at all until my 20s. I considered myself an atheist for the first couple decades of my life and had no concept of spirituality. So maybe I was wrong about that. Maybe I've been walking this path far longer than I ever knew.   

I'm really struck by the number of people who have reached out to me out of the blue since, say, November...probably around 10 people. Compare that to maybe zero in the rest of rest of 2017, and it's pretty remarkable. Add to that a couple of clients who are going out of their way to keep me working and earning money before I might need time off, and I feel blessed. Anytime you're facing surgery, you're also facing your mortality. I don't know anyone who goes under anesthesia or the knife lightly. The universe seems to be letting me know that I've mattered and I do matter. I don't feel that way—or perhaps LET myself feel that way—very often. But it's nice. And I'll take it.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

1/22/18—Repairing My Heart

The view from my hospital room. This looks east toward my home.
When I was well enough, I got up, looked north and could see the
Washington Monument. This is how birds view the world.
It was cool to see them so large in my window, with
all the cares of the rest of my world so small.

This is my first post of 2018. Regular readers will know that this is the first time I've skipped so many weeks—and the longest we've been without an original post—since I began this blog 7 years ago. Fortunately, I have a good excuse. 

Since the year began, I have had three ambulance rides, made two visits to the ER, spent four days in the hospital, had five additional doctor appointments, got two CT scans, sat for three EKGs, received multiple new medications (and a CPAP), have had fluid back up into my lungs twice, and have been stuck by too many needles in my arms and hands to count. Before the month is over, I will have at least two more doctor appointments, including a procedure involving having an echo device shoved down my throat. Then, in February, surgery is likely. 

So it had been a busy month. Turns out I have a problem with my heart...both literally and figuratively. 

Before anyone breaks into tears on my behalf, let me say a few things. First, as heart problems go, it's not horrific. I have a bad valve that is causing atrial fibrillation (afib) and making fluid back up into my lungs. The valve may be able to be repaired by minimally invasive surgery or I may need a replacement requiring open heart surgery. This is practically considered "routine", even "common", and not as big a threat to my life as a heart attack or other form of heart failure would be. I am on meds to hopefully prevent recurrence and the risk of stroke. My outlook is bright.

Second, I prayed to my mother to help me find a solution to my shortness of breath and physical limitation issues. Within hours of that, I was in the hospital. And so this was the answer to my prayers. It was something I purposely manifested (though I didn't ask for it to happen so traumatically. I'll have to adjust my prayers in the future to accommodate more gentle means...haha.) With as upsetting and scary as this has been for me, I have never lost sight of it being a blessing. I am, at times, overwhelmed with gratitude.

Third, in many ways, I feel better than I have in five years. I won't beat a dead horse, except for to say, if your doctor tells you to go to a sleep study for sleep apnea, do it. I have resisted for many years. I mean, who wants to wear a mask to bed, amirite? Well, guess what? The mask is comfortable...even air-conditioned, so it's not hot in there. I slept all through the night the second night I used it. And within days I was noticing marked improvement in my breath and energy issues. All of this occurred in the week I was in the hospital and could be due to countless factors. But certainly avoiding the CPAP exacerbated, and perhaps even caused, my issue. (I have always had a bad valve, but I believe having severe sleep apnea for years is what caused it to fail at my age. I also believe it is a large part of why I have been suffering from breath and exhaustion issues for five years.) So choose your health over your stubbornness and vanity issues. </lecture>

Fourth, it's true what they say—you find out who people are by the way they respond when you're sick. And the good news here is that I was surrounded by people who cared and didn't even know it. First and foremost is my brother Robert, to whom I have given a hard time more than once recently. But he and his amazing partner rushed to my side in the ER. He got me home from the hospital. And the two of them have been to my house twice—once to clear out my hoarder's (aka junk/storage) room and the second time to clear the clutter from my kitchen so I can enjoy one of my favorite hobbies again. Both of these issues have been weighing on me for quite some time. And they were happy and generous enough to take that weight off my shoulders. 

But it goes beyond them. There is the sister I never talk to who has texted me constantly since this happened. She is a nurse, so she has insight and advice to share. And her son, whose recent wedding I did not attend, is a doctor and suggested a test for the hospital to give me that made a huge difference in my care. There's my sister-in-law who visited me twice in the hospital. And my other brother who walked out of my life years ago, who has shown concern and is printing me a functional heart valve (for fun) on his 3-D printer. 

Then there are the friends who have been checking in with me regularly, including one who mysteriously reappeared in my life a couple of months ago, only to be extremely supportive throughout this. There is another friend, who is giving up a day of her life to drive a couple hours each way to accompany me for my procedure. There is the neighbor across the street who took care of my dogs at the last minute and picked me up from the ER the second time I went. There are also the clients who have been flexible, allowing me to push deadlines a day or two because of my situation. 

And then there are my dogs, who have been traumatized twice this month. Mystic is very attuned to me physically, so she knows when my blood pressure is rising and comes over to be near me and comfort me. And Kizzie has broken character, becoming extremely protective of me (to the point of not allowing the EMTs to approach me, unfortunately. But it just shows how much I mean to him in his old age.) And Magick Moonbeam, who gave me a kiss on the lips when I got home from the hospital. That NEVER happens, but she did it special to show me she loved me. 

I hope I'm not forgetting anyone or anything. But the point of all of that is that I've been extremely humbled. And I've seen where my prickly side...the walls I've built around my heart...have contributed to the degradation of what lies inside. My life is forever changed, not just from the physical failure of my heart, but from the spiritual and social failure of it as well. Every aspect of my heart is due for repair in 2018. And I'm learning who—and what—is important enough to focus on moving forward. 

I can't express how fortunate I feel right now. Not just for the people in my life, but also for the second chance I'm getting. While I'm not out walking my dogs yet (partially out of fear) I am able to do more around my home than in years...most days, that is. Not for nuthin', one of my meds makes sweet taste way too sweet for me now, so I've cut back on that addiction. From hospital food to changing my choices, I'm also dropping some weight. And the "panic" and severity around my breathlessness is all but gone (aka, I no longer gasp for air after walking across my house or getting out to my car.) I still have quite a way to go, but for the first time in years, the end is coming into sight.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

12/25/17—Living Through The Eyes of God

I have nothing cheery or inspirational to add for this Christmastime post, so I'm sharing a fitting one from last January. 

So let me tell you about the book I'm (slowly) writing. I won't share the title quite yet, but it's a sort of how-to be all spiritual and personal growth-y and shit. If you have missed the previous 1200 posts I've made on this page, let's just say that I'm into that kind of stuff. 

It's funny, because in my early research as to competing books and e-courses and whatnot, I've come across a lot of stuff that focused the pursuit of spirituality on burning incense and doing ceremonies. Don't get me wrong, I love those things and think they have their place in spirituality. But they are not spirituality.

To define what I think spirituality is, I use a comparison to religion. I see religion as what you learn about God* from scripture and what religious leaders tell you about him. And I see spirituality as what you learn about God from forging a personal relationship with him. 

That takes more than a smudge stick and moon phase. It takes all kinds of uncomfortable things like forgiveness. Letting go. Trust. Personal responsibility. Compassion. In many ways, the path of spirituality mirrors a path of personal growth. Your knowledge and understanding of God/Allah/Buddha/Universe/Source will always be limited until you understand, exhibit and embrace the things they represent. And you have to experience and embody those things in yourself—at least once—in order to truly understand. You can't just imagine your way through it. You have to become a different, albeit still imperfect, person.

Until you love fully, without condition, and open your heart to the "worst" and "least" of humanity, then God's love is just a concept you *think* you know. You don't know the surrender and trust—the courage—it takes to open your heart in such a way. You don't understand how far one's grace must reach or deep one's grace can go. And you know nothing of the peace and blessings that come from releasing all fears and loving at that level...from a place of oneness with all things. Until you learn to live life through God's eyes, his voice will be reaching you through a filter of fear, ego and separation. You will still know him. But if you want to know him better, you have to be better.

Of course, we'll never fully reach the end of any of our spiritual lessons. Or if there's one that we're particularly good at, like maybe compassion, we won't be as amazing at all of them. And I believe that no matter how far you go in your quest to become a living, breathing compassion machine, there's always going to be something that challenges the size of your heart. That said, in the pursuit of these lessons you'll get glimpses of reality through the eyes and heart of God. And you will begin to know him in ways no scripture can teach.

So far I've written much of the introduction to the book, including my full story of how I went from being an atheist to someone who won't shut up about this stuff...haha.  And I'm about 90% through the first chapter on self-awareness, something I consider the absolute bedrock of everyone's spiritual path. How can you truly forgive another if you can't honestly access the part of you that needs forgiveness and understands personal responsibility? How can you have integrity if you can't see your actions (and their repercussions) from a place of objectivity and honesty?

I struggle from time to time wondering if a book like this is needed, and if I'm the person to write it. But then I look and see there really isn't much written on the topics I'm addressing....not under one cover at least. And I see what things like ego issues and a lack of self-awareness can do in the hands of the wrong people. I look around me and observe myself and others fearing and holding on instead of trusting and letting go. And I get emails and comments from people who I have helped through my writing somewhere along the way. So maybe a book like this is needed and maybe I am the one to write it. 

It's hard for me to believe I'm needed or that I'm the answer to anything important. I will probably write a whole series of blogs about that when I have the courage and will to go there...haha. But I'm beginning to believe it's true. And, frankly, this is my plan for my later 50s through the end of my life, so if I don't make it happen, I'm kind of screwed. Fortunately, I have at least one well-connected angel-on-earth who is willing and eager to help me bring it to fruition.

There has never been a better time to move toward God—or if you don't believe in any version of God, toward the concept of love—than now. If I can help people get through their stuck places or misunderstandings (forgiveness, for example, is widely misunderstood, imo) then I'm using this wonderful passion for writing and spirituality to its highest good. I hope you'll all join me on that journey.

*I struggled over this word for a long time. So I'll say this. My belief and perspective is that everything that most everyone considers to be their higher power is the same energy or entity seen through many different eyes and by many different names. The one that resonates more closely with me is "the Universe". The word that resonates more closely with human beings in general is "God". Feel free to substitute your word for "God" as you read along.