Sunday, April 23, 2017

4/24/17—Being the Tragic Catalyst

Varner's on the left, Zeke's on the right and the girl in between is conservative.
So I was watching Survivor and something really deep happened.

If you don't watch, the show has been on 34 seasons (twice a year, so 17 years). The premise is that a group of maybe 20 people have to survive on their own in a deserted area and, one by one over the course of 39 days, someone is voted off the island. The fans seem to like it when old players return. So every few seasons they have an all-star show. This is one of those seasons. And I'll confess: I haven't watched all 34 seasons of the show, but I've watched a lot of them.

So there are these two, openly gay male Survivors, Jeff Varner and Zeke. (We call Jeff Varner "Varner", because the host of the show is Jeff Probst and he gets to be "Jeff".) So Varner and Zeke had recently struck a special bond in the game, and they confided in each other over some personal things. I think both of these guys are on their third game of Survivor, so they know it could be risky to confide in others and form secret pacts, but they did. And part of the bond was that Zeke would tell Varner if he was going to be voted out next.

So the in-crowd have a straw poll to see who to send home and it comes down to Varner and another guy, Ozzie. And this is where things start going wrong. Zeke defends Ozzie and says he'll vote out Varner. It's clear he genuinely likes both of them, so he must have a stronger pact with Ozzie. Then Zeke, keeping his word, tells Varner he's getting voted out. Varner figures out Zeke's loyalties aren't  with him, so he sets out to cast suspicion on Zeke and Ozzie, hoping they'll go against Zeke and vote Ozzie out instead. It's a pretty crappy game that way. Lots of backstabbing.

But that's not the bad part. It gets worse. 

When they go to Tribal Council that night to vote out either Varner or Ozzie (and we don't know which at this point) the host, Jeff Probst, asks some questions. And Varner starts talking about how everyone should vote out Ozzie and how Zeke can't be trusted. And then, to punctuate Zeke's deceit, he reveals something that NOBODY knew—at least not the viewers or other players. He outs Zeke as a transsexual. And, worse, he did it as if to say that being transsexual is a special kind of deceit that can't be forgiven.

All the players immediately attack Varner for outing Zeke. Varner himself then realizes how horrible he was...how low he'd go to win that million dollar prize. It was the first time in 34 seasons that they didn't even have a formal vote. Jeff Probst just kind of ejected Varner from the show. Which is big because Jeff is a stickler for tradition. He's dedicated himself to this show for 34 seasons and gets pissy when it's disrespected. And Varner...this huge Survivor fan...this proud gay man...will forever be humiliated by his own complete asshattery. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch.

But that's only half of the story. Because after Zeke was outed, one of his fellow players said she came from a conservative background and wasn't exposed to LGBTQ people very often. But she had known Zeke 18 days and thought he was kickass. And she had come to love and care for him. And she was emotional because now she knew that being transsexual didn't change anything. She saw how trivial gender identity was in the scheme of things. It was a transformative moment for her.

When Zeke finally spoke, he explained that he didn't want to be "the transgender Survivor player", he wanted to be "Zeke, the Survivor player." When people learn he is transsexual, then the topic of conversation changes to his gender and away from everything else and he just wanted to be like everyone else. He handled the situation so well. He didn't even have to defend himself, because the whole cast rallied around him and defended him. And by the time the entire confrontation was over, he was over it and hopeful that he would help others out there just by talking openly about it. It was a beautiful thing.

And the reason I'm writing about this is that, as I was watching it, I kind of detached from the drama and I clearly saw Varner as the tragic catalyst in a much bigger, more beautiful thing. And it really is tragic because you could see that his intentions were bad, but even he didn't realize how bad until the words came out of his mouth and he realized what he'd done. He was thinking about a million dollars and how to get out of being eliminated. He wasn't thinking of Zeke or the LGBTQ community (of which he's a part) or humanity as a whole. He utterly shamed and humiliated himself.

But without him, this beautiful thing wouldn't have happened. I mean, the audience has known Zeke for years. I honestly never suspected. And, like all of the survivors, I also found it utterly irrelevant in the context of the game, and shameful to out him in that way. I mean, clearly his family and friends knew, but nobody else did. But it was also irrelevant to who Zeke is. Zeke is weaselly, yet sensitive. But weaselly is the game. So I imagine millions of people watching wanted to jump in and defend Zeke, too. He is endearing.

So, this probably made a dent in the understanding and acceptance of LGBTQs. But in order for it to happen, Varner had to be shamefully malevolent. He was the necessary catalyst for this beautiful thing. He was the flap of the wing that set the whole thing in motion. Without that darkness, light wouldn't have had its opportunity to shine. And I thought of all the times someone's darkness was a catalyst for something, albeit painful in the process, better and more beautiful in my life. And how many times I might have been the dark catalyst in the lives others. In a way, it makes those memories that make you cringe, all of a sudden more OK. I imagine we have all been Varner and we've all been Zeke at one time or another.

Seeing it unfold the way I did was fascinating because you could tell there was something larger guiding it. I mean, Varner is no innocent, but that's not him. This was cruel and heartless, and it took him a good couple of minutes to even understand the gravity of what he'd done. He was possessed. By money and winning, yes. But also by something unexplainable moving through him to cause this moment to happen. I know I've felt similarly possessed before myself.

Ten months have passed since that happened in real time, but in show time, Zeke is still in the game. In real time he's still showing grace, but is having a hard time forgiving. Varner has lost his real world job and is in therapy over this. He is utterly ashamed and remorseful.

It's easy to be on the outside and see where all of this was necessary in order for humanity to move toward greater understanding and acceptance. Any kind of progress on that scale is going to be messy and painful. We saw it (and still see it) with racial and women's rights. And it will continue until we finally get in our heads that we are all equal.

There hasn't been a lot to be positive about in terms of social progress these days. But I had always had the belief that racism and the like is not quelled by policies, but by the voluntary policing of society. And stuff like this is what gives me hope that society is up to the task.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

4/17/17—Feeding the Duck

The duck, filled with Kizzie hair.
My boy Kizzie is a Chow Chow/Australian Shepherd mix. Which means he's a big furball who is one part matted, one part shedding and one part devilishly handsome.

Most nights when we sit on the front porch watching the sunset, I'll reach into his mane and pull out the matt-like hair plugs that would render him unkempt if he didn't have a mommy with a hair plug pulling fetish. Sitting on the porch steps beside us, there is a cute watering can that looks like a duck. It's useless as a watering can, so at one point I started putting all Kizzie's hair plugs in there. One day I noticed all the accumulated locks were gone. So we've been feeding the duck ever since.

After years of doing this, my assumptions about what happens to the hair were finally confirmed. I looked out the window one day and saw a bird with a beakful of Kizzie fur. During nesting season, I can't keep the duck full. You wouldn't believe the wad of hair that accumulates over winter and it just disappears overnight when the birds are building their nests. After the winter fur is gone, we make daily deposits. And the birds make daily withdrawals.

Kizzie filled with Kizzie hair.
I'm pretty sure the birds spread the word around. No single nest in the world is big enough for all that fur, so it's clearly shared by many. There are probably some squirrels in on the action, too. And now that they know to look for it, they check the duck year after year, and day after day during nesting season. In fact, they know they can find it there year round if they need it and, periodically, the supply will be depleted.

I told Kizzie a story about how they like his fur because he's so masculine that it makes them feel safe and protected. And I told him that birds pass information down through generations, so 100 years from now, some baby bird will hear the legend of the dog that left fur deposits in the duck. As much as Kizzie hates me messing with his locks, he tolerates my picks and pokes. He does it for his legacy. And he does it for the birds.

Same duck, next day. Devoid of hair.
This week I learned that my Deck of 1000 Spreads is going out of print. It was a slow seller. (Get em before they're gone.) Thousands of people have one, though. One day it will be traded and sold among collectors. Some will covet their copy while others unload theirs to the first buyer. It did make me feel like I was leaving a legacy to the tarot world—a world I, at various times, considered a folly, an obsession, a religion, an albatross and a friend. Now that legacy, as slow selling as it was, will slowly fade.

I know that all sounds dramatic. I'll admit I shed a couple of tears, but I'm taking this as I always took it...with a certain amount of detachment. Upon writing it, my goal was to set it free without expectations, without ego. And I surprised even myself by accomplishing that. I would have thought it would have meant more to me in the ways that please the ego. I mean, I'm always talking about writing a more mainstream kind of thing and becoming a famous author and guru. You'd think I would have wrapped myself up in this more emotionally, but I didn't. And that has been an incredible gift to me, because while I think you should take pride in your work, you shouldn't be overly proud about your work. I suppose 30 years as a professional writer taught me something.

I think about my legacy from time to time. A professor I interviewed recently told me that they saw teaching as akin to passing tribal knowledge down to a new generation and that their lessons live on in that way. Kind of a cool thought. Which makes me ask myself, is it more important that people grow from my words, or that they know the words were mine? Is it more important the birds know the legend of some dog who donated his hair to their nests, or is it more important they know his name was Kizzie? Ideally, both would be nice. But the magic and greatness and gift is in the gesture—the sharing, the energy given and received.

I accept that nobody will go on Ancestry 100 years from now wondering if they got their moxie from me...haha. I have no lineage to pass a legacy down through in that way. Even if I do become a known author, my name and the details of my being will eventually get lost to time. It happens to the vast majority of us eventually. But the times I moved another person and got them to question themselves live on in the energy that vibrates and rises as a result of that learning. And I don't even have to write a book to claim that legacy, because so many of you have told me that my blogs have made you think and learn.

There are sparks that we ignite—and douse—over a lifetime. The more sparks we ignite, the more lessons we pass down and the more nests we feather, the more magic we create. I feel like, when you weigh my good vibes against my bad,  the net accounting of my contribution to humanity's greater good has been positive so far and it will continue to grow until I die.

Like Kizzie, I look for ways to get extra credit from time to time. Because a century from now, our names will be lost to history (or perhaps some internet archives), but what we do—what you do—that's positive (or at least better than yesterday) is an energy that brings up everyone around us. And the legacy of that reverberates forever.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

4/10/17—Holding On Long Enough

I'm not a spontaneous person. At all. But a couple of things happened this week that showed me how much I'd changed in that area of my life.

I've probably used the word spontaneous incorrectly. I am still today someone you can't call and hang out with on a whim. Like, there's no "Hey, I'm I'm the neighborhood and was wondering if you wanted to meet for coffee" in my life. I like plans. Preferably made a week or so in advance. Anything in less than 24 hours is nearly impossible for me to handle. Work is different. I'm constantly shifting plans to put out fires. I honestly don't know what it is, but something in my body just revolts at spontaneity in my private life.

So don't expect me to drop what I'm doing and meet for coffee. And horror of all horrors, do NOT show up at my house unannounced. You'd have to be bleeding for me to abide something like that. I have slated my healing from whatever it is that's beneath my hatred for that kind of spontaneity for a future lifetime, as I can only do so much in this one.

The new me I've discovered isn't in the area of doing things unplanned, as much as it is about having planned things change at the last minute. Two sides of the same coin, I guess. But last minute changes used to kind of ruin my day and now they don't. Especially when it's easy for me to accommodate them.

I have a friend I see a couple of times a month and she lives roughly an hour away in decent traffic. When we see each other, it's always her coming here. She can schedule work up here, then go out to lunch with me. But traffic is awful between her house and mine. Rain can double or triple the amount of time it takes to get here or go home. An accident can do the same. So she cancels at the last minute all the time. It's just part of the agreement. There may be passing disappointment, but no anger or anything. We see each other pretty often. So I guess this has tempered me some for other situations. 

A couple of times this week plans totally went to hell on me and the end result wasn't disappointing at all. In fact, it turned out better than planned. The first was a doctor's appointment I had. I scheduled a water heater repair person around the appointment so I would have an easy time getting back home in time. Then I was all set to leave for my appointment when I got an email from a client. It wasn't disastrous or foreboding email at all, but something told me in that moment that my whole day was going to go to hell and I better cancel that appointment. So I did. Which was a good thing because then the repair guy called me and asked if he could come two hours early. Which was good because, as it was, he left my house at 7pm. Had he come later, he'd have either stayed later or I'd be without water until whenever he could return. So everything somehow worked out ideally there.

The second time was yesterday. I had a long list of things to get done this weekend and knew, once again, the cleaning of the house would fall to the wayside in favor of more time-sensitive things. Like naps and such. So as I was getting ready for my nap, my sister-in-law messaged me she wanted to stop by and pick something up that I had for her later that evening. So that meant the house had to at least be presentable. So I cleaned and thought I might cook for her if she got there early enough. So I cooked. And she didn't make it for dinner, but my goal of having multiple cooked chicken breasts for eating this week was met. And my house was clean. And I caught a nice sunset with Kizzie. And, frankly, it was more than I thought I was going to accomplish. So, feeling quite satisfied, I built a fire. And when my sister-in-law arrived, we chatted by the fire under a clear starry sky, which was very nice. It was a much nicer Saturday than if I had napped all day.

Honestly, there was a time that feeling I have to cancel a doctor's appointment and having an up-in-the-air day with so many "maybes" would have left me bitter and resentful. I wouldn't have been open to the thought that a change of plans could leave me better off. Like maybe I'd have some unexpected nap time. Or maybe the rest of my day would be less stressful and time-sensitive. Or maybe everything could end up being in divine order. The change has come gradually over time, but just seemed suddenly obvious this week, for some reason. And I'm kind of digging it.

I feel like my life is moving in the right direction in a lot of ways lately. I mean, man, my life was shit all those years I was sick. And the past year or so since getting well has been difficult in so many ways. You don't just miraculously get well when you finally get treated for asthma after being debilitated by it for so many years. You have to learn to live with your new diagnosis. You have to learn how to work your medications and recognize your triggers. Knowing what I have helps enormously, as does treatment and the much better sleep I'm getting, but it hasn't put me back to normal. It didn't quite pull me out of the darkness either.

But I've turned a corner on all that in the past few weeks, too. I'm figuring it out. I'm learning how to get back to normal, or at least a new version of normal that doesn't make me feel like my life is forever ruined. Things are harder than before. And I have to move a lot slower than before. I need many breaks. Some of that may be age, but most of it is asthma. That said, a very active day working outside now can accomplish as much as a very active day working outside 10 years ago. It just goes slower.

This spring, and having to clear out my back garden that has random volunteer trees growing in it and mending my fence and other chores that have always been difficult things to accomplish, brought me an epiphany in figuring the right combination of elements that have to be in place for me to get the job done. Last spring it was hard and my brother was doing most of the work. So figuring out how to do it all myself is life changing. I've learned how to be active again. And if I can be active, I can get healthier. And I'm sure that will help the asthma even more.

So anyway, that's a long jumble of words to say I feel like I've broken through a long, bleak wall in my life. Which is a good thing, because I was worried about whether I'd ever be able to move forward. I think some of it has to do with leaving Facebook. But I also think some of it has to do with my own fight and determination. In addition to the illness, a number of other events over the past few years have really stripped me of my fight. I haven't shared them all with you, but some have been pretty painful and I've taken steps to remove those things from my life. So it took a long time to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. I was worried about what might happen if that light never arrived, but it has. I just had to hold on long enough.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

4/3/17—Questioning My Beliefs

I'm pretty sure I'm in the midst of some post-mid-life crisis or phase lately. I seem to be questioning everything. Particularly my beliefs. 

I think it's healthy to question your beliefs. It may not be the most comfortable thing to do, but I think it's a good thing to reflect upon—or even have cause to question—your beliefs. After all, that's how you got them in the first place, right? By questioning. So it's not outside the realm of possibility that you might have missed things or made incorrect assumptions along the way. 

To be clear, I still believe in a higher intelligence in the universe and the interconnectedness of all things. I believe in that enough to be certain it's fact. There is a "magic" and a logic out there that humans don't understand and largely ignore. Our egos tell us we are the ones in control here on earth. And maybe we are. Or maybe the universe allows us to believe whatever we want to believe. Which leads to the question I've been exploring (or struggling with) lately. 

Are we here on a mission? Do we have a purpose to fulfill here? Or are we just a function of evolution in a universe that adheres to laws for creation, but doesn't actually create anything itself? And thus, this universe has no larger agenda because it has no agenda at all. It's all just math and physics. And we have no special purpose in being here. We're just a product of evolution and biology.

In such a universe, man might be among the least evolved, because we're among the least attuned to the universal intelligence, as a whole. Certainly a swarm of birds is attuned to something that can't be perceived by the five senses or explained by modern science and technology. Dogs can somehow know their owners are on the way home, even if the owner is miles away and returning at an unpredictable time. I mean, I believe every living thing both receives and transmits invisible, unexplainable communications to/from/through/whatever this higher intelligence. But does that intelligence have intention? Or is it just math and waves and physics?

Man's complex minds are a blessing and a curse. They hold the seed of extraordinary connection to —and even one day unlocking the secrets of—this higher intelligence. But they also hold an ego that constantly gets in the way of attuning to it at levels even close to our full potential. It's like our technology is state of the art, but there are glitches or a virus in the system. Which means we're also not as evolved as a sentient being can get. There's something better yet to come. Meanwhile, it's as if earth were littered with all the previous attempts at evolving the kind of critter that could really take advantage of the complex physics of the universe, but that critter hasn't come along yet. In a way, earth is like the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

What if my own self importance is what makes me think there's some higher reason for being here? Are the destinies and life's purposes we run toward—or away from—merely manufactured in our own minds? Do those thoughts blend with the magic and logic of the universe to then make them true? Were we actually NOT sent here for a reason?

If I'm honest with myself, logic leads me to believe there is no "grand scheme" thought up by the universe. The universe—or a higher intelligence kind of "deity"—has no special plans for me. Humans tend to anthropomorphize this energy...the angry or forgiving omnipotent god. But assigning human characteristics to this energy is, at best, a comfort to us and, at worst, a function of our egotistic belief that humans are the highest intelligence and everything revolves around us. 

I have to admit, this line of thought shakes things up. It's never something I really questioned so much before. I just took for granted that I am here for a purpose and have a destiny. It sounds so romantic, doesn't it? And it gives us a reason to persist here. It doesn't preclude the other stuff I believe in, like reincarnation, life after death, manifestation and divination—things I truly believe I've "witnessed" too many times NOT to believe. That's all part of the energy, the magic...the math...of the universe. But I must admit, it's a really depressing thought. If there's no higher reason for me to be here—for us to be here—what's the point? Is there really NO point? 

As I'm looking at the 20 or 30 years I have left (if even that) I feel like I'm only now ready to stare into the possibility there is no higher purpose to us being here. I'm ready to face the scary, ugly truth. Because a higher power without intention makes more sense to me than one that gets pissed off and rains down fire and brimstone. Or even one that loves. I mean, math and physics don't have emotions or ulterior motives. And while I've known that all along, it has only now broken through in a way that I'm willing to embrace. If this is all true, then a good part of what, in the past, has given me hope and confidence for my future, is a lie I've been telling myself. Depressing indeed.

And yet, I have no desire to turn away from this. In any relationship you're going to learn a truth about the other that is hard to swallow. And that can turn you away. Or it can help you love more honestly. Even if there's no caring deity to receive that love, the universe does reflect that love back on me. It's part of the physics. And instead of doing something because I feel destined (which I still do, possibly because I created my destiny myself) I can do it for the way it makes me feel inside. Or for the way it helps others. And not because it's what I'm destined to do, as if somehow mystically anointed from above. It may be a depressing perspective in one way, but it does relieve a lot of pressure and fear around failing. I mean, I can handle failing myself, but it's harder to handle failing some god figure you're trying to win the approval of. 

So, anyway, this is what I've been noodling lately. For some reason, my recent birthday has me thinking a lot about the time I have left on this earth and what the meaning of it all is. Random birthdays from my past have triggered similar spiritual "crises". I generally don't think too much about getting older, but suddenly I am. The difference is that there's a peace and strength at the midst of this crisis I don't remember feeling before. It feels more like I might be entering into a new level of understanding, spiritually speaking. And even if there is no reason behind this madness we call life, gaining new understanding and seeing where that leads is reason enough to carry on.




Sunday, March 26, 2017

3/27/17—Claiming My Senior Privilege

The first time he saw the ocean, he was a boy. Here he's seeing it as a man.
Kizzie is getting grumpy in his old age. 

Things he used to be fine with are now met with a snarl. Sometimes when I can't sleep, I come down and sleep on the sofa. It's not a terribly comfortable sofa. It has definitely seen better days. But it gives good sleeping. So anyway, the other night I came down and found Kizzie sleeping there. It's kind of his domain at night. But I figure I outrank him, so I give him a poke and tell him to scoot. And BOY, did I get an earful!

Kizzie has never bitten or started a fight with anyone ever in his life. People who know him will tell you he's the most gentle soul there is. But in his old age, he's getting really good at trying to convince you he's turned and he will snap your arm off. I laugh as I write it, because that's just not him. But he has learned the art of intimidation. And it comes in handy when Mystic won't stop licking him or Magick tries to steal his treat or when I try to move him off the sofa at night. 

Kizzie has a couple of things working in his life right now. One is that he occupies the role of top dog in the house. With that comes privileges. He gets to sit on the front porch with me, frequently off leash, and watch the sunset, while the other two stew in their jealousy inside. He gets secret treats sometimes that the others don't know about. And he also gets a larger share of the treats than the others. Granted, he's as much as twice Magick's size, but everyone knows the real truth—Kizzie has senior privilege. 

The other thing is that he's getting old. He's 13 and he's a 70 lb dog. This is a good life expectancy for him...average to good. So he knows that. He's getting warts and skin tags. He has a perpetually festering carbuncle on his butt. He's getting stiff in the legs. He knows he's nearing the end. He may very well have a couple years left in him. But he knows the score. 

So he really doesn't want to take any of anyone's bullshit anymore, thank you. He just wants to be comfortable. Unfettered. And dripping in senior privilege. 

Don't we all.

I've written before about how inspirational his self transformation was in the wake of Passion's death. The moral of that story was that we become what we believe. And Kizzie began to believe he was BMOC...big man on campus. He developed an inner and outer swagger that, combined with his lifelong ability to charm the ladies, turned him into a confident, compassionate leader. He found his groove. And now he's found his privilege. 

By privilege, I mean, he has found his voice. He is comfortable in his body, as ramshackle as its becoming. Although there are days he feels like 100, he's still eager to get out there and feel like 10 again. Or 8. He's at peace with his capabilities and limits. He is taking his aging with grace. He has earned his opinion on things. He's not afraid to take a stand. He's not shy about asking for what he wants. And the fear and anxiety he had when he first met us is all but gone. In a word, he has found his inner confidence.

If Passion was the dog that taught me how to love, Kizzie is the dog that is teaching me my rights to self confidence, transformation, inner peace and senior privilege. I've got the grumpiness part down, but still have a way to go on many of the other qualities. 

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. I'm still young, I guess. I'm 54. But many days I feel much older. I'm questioning some of the things I perpetuate in my life. I'm questioning my own self-torture over those things, too. I've been distracted by the question of what I'm going to do and who I'm going to be for the rest of my life. I feel a little lost in the world now. Maybe it's a post-menopausal version of a mid-life crisis. 

And sitting next to me on the porch each night is the epitome of someone who transformed himself entirely in mid life, without even questioning it. And now he's taking his senior years with grace, sometimes feeling 100, sometimes feeling 8 again, and wanting to be alive and face it and persist on either day. 

When I grow up, I want to be just like Kizzie.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

3/20/17—Remembering Who I Am

TBT: Me before the whole world went to shit.
A few weeks ago I disappeared from Facebook. At first I thought I'd be gone a week, at most. Now I don't know when I'll return.

It had been coming for a while. A few months back I decided to just log out and take a break. I left a message saying I needed a break, so nobody would worry. And during that break, I found myself logging back in and poking around, but not responding to anything. About a week into that, I was back to responding.

What I needed a break from was all the political posts. I just felt there was a lot of fear out there and it was reflected in the sensationalist and biased articles people chose to post, and the things we were all saying to each other. Heck, I had fear myself, which is why I needed to retreat into my shell. I needed to find out where my own sense of truth was in all of that, and everyone else's sense of truth was out there so loudly, I couldn't think above the din. And, no matter what the truth is, I wasn't going to live the next few years of my life in fear. So I retreated in search of my own lost balance.

I also felt that, while Facebook has been very kind to me overall, something that was once just a really fun way of socializing became an addiction for me. The difference between the two was in how I felt about myself in regard to what it was bringing me at the end of the day. It was no longer energy giving. It would often leave me feeling tired and disconnected and fearful. It was the same old Facebook. And I have some pretty cool friends. But I was absorbing all the collateral fear going on around me. And I was responding in ways that displeased me. And I began to wonder, "what did I do with my time BEFORE Facebook?" It had been so long, I couldn't remember.

So I deactivated my account. There was a last-straw moment for me that triggered it. Have you ever felt like some invisible something was right behind you—maybe you're walking up a creepy stairway or in an interaction with someone that goes weird—and you have that overwhelming urge quicken your step so you can get the hell out of there as fast as possible? That's how I felt. Which is why I deactivated my account—made myself unfindable, as if I was never there in the first place. In that moment, I just had. To. Get. Out.

I do plan on being visible again. I'm just not done with my mission of remembering what I did with my time before Facebook, yet. And I don't want to fall back into my old ways of peeking in just yet.

I feel bad, because I gave no warning. I mean, in my post a few months ago when I took a break, I basically said I might be unpredictable moving forward. But I never said (or even knew) I might actually fully disappear. And people knew they could come and see my Friday posts and my Sunday posts because I did them like clockwork...the Sunday post (which is what you're reading right now) has been posted every Sunday for seven years now!

And then one day I just disappear. Some people figured out new blog posts were still being posted here, at my personal website. Some realized I was still visible on Facebook Messenger and reached out. But I'm sure many more just thought I hated them or flaked out or something. So for that I'm sorry. But I can't stress enough how much I've been needing to take care of myself first lately. You'd be surprised how rarely a single woman with three dogs, a property, a house and a business to maintain takes care of herself first. I don't think single women get enough credit for all we shoulder entirely on our own. We may not be single mothers with toddlers, but it's not all bubble baths and bon-bons on this side of the fence either.

What I have discovered since leaving so far is that I get to bed earlier, which also means I get more sleep, which also means I feel healthier and get more done. Because I'm not checking Facebook compulsively, I'm less distracted, especially at night. When my attention isn't divided, I'm more engaged in one thing at a time, and I enjoy that thing more. In fact, overall, I feel more engaged in life, but all of that is also due to other factors. Work, for example, is going really well right now. I'm working on enjoyable projects, and I'm making money, which is always good. And spring is woven into our DNA as a time of renewal. So many things are driving positive changes right now.

I'm not going to lie, I'm terribly distressed by what is going on eight miles to the north of my house in DC. I'm heartbroken by some of it and appalled by some of it. And I'm still afraid of what this is making us and what it might make of our country. It's like seeing a wrecking ball repeatedly pound into your childhood home for absolutely no reason other than that it can....because the wrecking ball gets high on shock, destruction, attention and being in control. And there it is ruining everything you held dear in your heart for 54 years and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

I'm still trying to figure out a way to manage this period of my life with my inner peace and higher self in tact. I feel like we've been moving toward this moment for all our lives. It's revealing who we really are. As my dear mother would say, "it's shit or get off the pot time" for our souls. Do we want to be brothers or fearful, selfish savages? I'm shocked at the number of people in the WORLD who would choose the latter. And the funny thing is that they're often the ones who talk about Jesus the most. In their parlance, it's "are you ready to live Jesus' teachings or do you just want to use him as an convenient excuse to hate?" time. This period is revealing who we are at the core in contrast to who we claim to be, and none of us are coming out clean. We all have to do better.

So that's what I'm exploring these days. Kinda heavy stuff. But fear often works against healing ourselves and healing others. And if we want to heal, we have to be up to the challenge of addressing our own fear. Things actually could get worse, but only if we hold on to our fear.

A lot of what is going on in the world today feeds on that fear and cannot survive without it. Although I realized it before, I kind of had to break free of that for a while to realize my contributions to that, if not in word, but in deed and thought...in energy and attention. That's not who I say I am and it's not who I want to be. (And I'm not suggesting that that's who you are, either.) And I suppose I should be grateful to all of this for pointing that out to me. But now it's time for me to remember truly who I am.

PS: If you want to keep reading my blog posts, feel free to join my mailing list. It automatically sends an email when I make a new post, and doesn't otherwise spam you. You do have to confirm your subscription immediately after giving them your email address, though. So look out for that. You can subscribe at the top of my home page at www.tierneysadler.com

Sunday, March 12, 2017

3/13/17—Finding Peace Within The Chaos

The sunset view we enjoyed at our noisy cottage near the beach.
I have felt outside of the mainstream all my life. Growing up, I never fit in...not in my family or society. I moved around a lot, which didn't help. I couldn't even find a key chain with my name on it. There just seemed to be no place for me.

And as I grew older, other things separated me even further. In fact, I don't know for sure whether I chose to be a loner or whether it was just the way dice rolled for me based on who I was.

Recently, I went to the beach for a few days to celebrate my 54th birthday. Well, we didn't stay at the beach exactly, but at a B&B a couple of miles from the beach. We had a little cottage all to ourselves, apart from the main house. We had a fenced back yard to ourselves. And the view was beautiful, for being in a neighborhood setting. 


But just on the other side of a thin fence was a well traveled road with a lot of loud, fast traffic. There's a 4-way stop half a block away, but a lot people seemed to be plowing through. Regardless, we were getting the sound of their engines as they cycled down and cycled up. It was unusually loud, seemingly made even louder by the contrast to the pastoral view I was gazing at.

As I sat there in brief moments of relative quiet between cars, however, it occurred to me that there is a place for me. There is a place for a tarot loving, dog-obsessed "mommy", writer, blogger, spiritual philosopher, awkward, hermity kind of loner. The places are few and far between. And I hate saying a really loud street corner is a place for me...haha. But B&Bs are for me. Cute little private cottages with kitchenettes are for me. And places that allow three dogs, but discourage children are for me...haha. 


And the thing is, I can work with the noise. I'm noise averse in my own quiet neighborhood, so I have tools. I have earplugs to sleep in, because I have loud birds outside my bedroom window. And when I'm outside at night and my neighbors are entertaining, I have noise cancelling earbuds through which I listen to music. So, between those two things, I barely noticed the noise at the B&B. In fact I think adding a musical soundtrack to the sunset and stargazing actually made the experience more Zen. 

I'm not into flashy or perfect or "grand" in general. And, again, I'm not sure if I choose to have fairly "pedestrian" tastes or whether I've just settled for them because they were what I could afford (and access with three dogs in tow). In fact, I've been thinking about that notion a lot lately. I wonder whether certain opportunities I have available to me—from the neighborhood I live in to the way I live my life—are things I chose because I wanted them or because I compromised at some point and just didn't think I was worthy of more. I feel like when I was growing up, I wanted for nothing. But that was because the things I wanted were always within reach. I wasn't exactly the little girl who asked for a pony for Christmas. So I wonder if I just extended that into adulthood, not wanting anything too sparkly so I'd never end up disappointed.


So all of this was swirling in my head as I blocked out the unfortunate traffic noise at the otherwise perfect B&B. And with my Chakra Chants blasting through my headphones, I looked up into the cloudless night sky, a 3/4 moon bright up above. A plane flew past and, with its quickly dissipating vapor trail illuminated by the moon, it looked like a slow moving comet streaking across the sky between the moon and Orion. Every 15 minutes or so, another "comet" would streak across the sky for me. It was a beautiful and inspirational sight, partly real, partly conjured by the trippy music and  partly created by my imagination.

And I thought to myself that the little girl who wanted a pony probably wouldn't have had this incredibly magical and mystical moment because she'd have no reason to block out the noise with Chakra Chants (which really made the moment...I used Native American flute music for the sunset), and she probably wouldn't sit for hours star gazing in 40-degree weather, either. In fact, she might not even know what Orion or a comet look like. 

If I'm being fully frank, many parts of my brief vacation sucked. My dogs get so filled with anxiety over new places that they didn't quite settle in for the few days we were away. And one is anxious in the car, making the trip home, in the snow, in high wind warnings while going over a bridge so scary that people actually make their living driving people like me over it, a nightmare. But the thing is, for better or for worse, this is the place for me. Most of the time I love it. And sometimes I cry thinking about how it might be somehow different or better.

It's interesting to note that last week's post was about being in the moment and, secondarily, dealing with disturbing noise. And as it turns out, this week's post is also secondarily about disturbing noise. In a way, that's what our spiritual journey is about, too—blocking the disturbing noise of our humanity long enough to access the peace and stillness of our divinity. 

It seems there's always going to be noise in our lives. It's not always the clatter of cars and birds and neighbors. Sometimes it's noise created in your head by a boss leaning extra hard on you. Sometimes it's the din of owing more in taxes than you have in the bank. Sometimes it's the cries of your own inner demons. And sometimes it's the long to-do lists required to keep ourselves fed and caught up on life. The ways in which we learn to calibrate life's cacophony go a long way toward defining who we are and how much peace we're able to find while we're here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

3/6/17—Enjoying the Journey

I've been getting a lot of messages lately about being in the moment, and appreciating its beauty before it passes. Because it WILL pass.

The first message was when I was watching a sunset with Kizzie the other night. All the clouds were in the northwest, when usually most of the action is in the west and southwest. So I was looking up my street when the clouds took on an intense pinkness and this one house in particular was framed perfectly by the deep blue sky and intense pinkness.

As I noticed that and thought to myself, "it's a shame I don't have my camera out here, because those guys missed the most perfect shot of their house there could ever be," the sky changed. That quickly. And the perfect moment was gone. And, even though I was looking at it the whole time, I missed the transition because my attention was on cameras and perfect shots. My wandering mind wandered away from the moment.

So a few days pass and I'm sitting out back on a chilly, breezy, but otherwise gorgeous spring day, and I make a point to appreciate it. Then one of my neighbors starts in with some sort saw or something. It was in short bursts, completely unpredictable, off and on. So I decided to make a deal with the high pitched, brain eating buzz and I get some really good in-the-moment appreciation in in between the whirring, as well as some practice at non-judgment in regard to disturbing noises.

And as I drank in the Vitamin D of the sun on a cloudless day, appreciated my fully flowered ornamental pear, saw trees beginning their multi-phase leafing process, heard birds chirping and wind chimes chiming, a half moon easily visible in the midday sky, I was reminded again to appreciate the moment. And I lingered out there for over an hour. Maybe it was an excuse to postpone housework, but I gave myself that.

Because life is a lot like my neighbor's saw on a beautiful day. There are times when everything is in perfect alignment, life is perfect and you feel organically at one with nature and the universe. And then someone turns on a saw. And while the goal is to transcend the saw—and I get better and better at that all the time—eventually your moment comes to an end. Life intervenes. Your mind wanders. And you lose touch.

This is true about moments throughout your day. And it's true about life in general. It's true in the micro and the macro. Joy is rarely found in the thinking...thinking that the neighbors should really have a picture of their cute house with the clouds. It's found in the non-thinking...experiencing the fluffy pinkness of the moment and being within it as one of its many organic parts...as part of the cellular structure of the moment. (And there's really no reason the saw can't be part of that cellular structure, too. I just have a prejudice toward nature-made sounds, as opposed to man-made ones.)

Moments pass. Dreams pass. Life passes. And we get to decide when to be in the moment and when not to be. We also get to decide if, when something intrudes upon the moment, it's actually an intrusion worthy of giving our moment over to. Sometimes that means welcoming the intrusion into the moment, sometimes that means finding another moment that's free of intrusions, and sometimes that means removing the intrusion altogether.

I feel like I've been going through a big sorting process of intrusions lately. And as a result, I'm finding more peace and joy. Knowing that moments like these pass either suddenly or gradually without noticing, I'm making more of an effort to stop and enjoy them when I can. I have a habit of interrupting these moments too quickly with thoughts of chores and other distractions. But today I'm thinking the toilet will eventually get scrubbed regardless. So why not enjoy a perfect day?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2/27/17—Spotting Your Reflection

Still waters reflect the truth of our heavenly and earthly selves. 
Today's post is a classic post from 2/6/12.

This morning, after a long absence, I returned to my favorite park spot to greet the sun. What I found both surprised and comforted me.

Everything was exactly as I left it three years ago when I gave up my sunrise trips in favor of sleep and blogging. The lone pine that bravely sticks its head above the canopy of deciduous trees—daring to be an individual, daring to claim the nourishment it needs—was still there. The constant din of traffic was there, still challenging the profound underlying silence of the park. And the same glassy water was right where I left it, reflecting the beauty of the sky above.

I confess I don't know enough about rivers to know why they always seem so still at the liminal times of the day. Maybe it has to do with the moon or tides. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it has to do with passing boats. But it seems like the river's surface is calmer at dawn and dusk than it is in the middle of the day. It could just be this particular location. A few miles away at Great Falls, the river is never calm.

We're kind of like the river in our spiritual journeys, aren't we? Sometimes we're calm and still, reflecting back both the beauty that beams down from above and that which gathers around us in our lives. And sometimes we're jumbled and chaotic, reflecting back a more distorted view of our reality. We move in and out of the pocket of love, flowing with the tides and the forecast. 

Looks like a pigeon, but it's a dove.
The other day, a couple of miles upriver, someone came across two doves that had been decapitated in some sort of ritual. The article said that doves and pigeons are pretty much the same bird. "Dove" and "pigeon" are used interchangeably and not even experts agree whether there's a difference or not. But you know the difference, don't you? Doves are those pretty white birds that mate for life. And pigeons are those nasty gray ones that poop on everything. Right?

Turns out pigeons and doves reflect something back on us, too. 

Looks like a dove, but it's a pigeon.
Everywhere we look in life there's a mirror. Our friends and family reflect back our strengths and insecurities. Our words and actions reflect back our beliefs and attitudes. Even the things we don't do or say...the people we don't hang out with...reflect back on us. We may be able to successfully hide our truth from others, but no matter where we look or what we do, our truth is always looking back at us. That's both good news and bad. The bad news is that, wherever you see something you don't like, you're responsible for it being in your life. The good news is that you also have the power to change it. Even if you can't immediately change your circumstance, you can change the way you view or approach it. 

So this weekend, see how many mirrors you can spot in your life. What does your home say about you? Your choice of a mate? Your pets? Your job? Your response to the email you just got? The quality of your friendships? The condition of your shoes? If you see something you're not pleased with, why is it still in your life?

Moreover, check the state of your internal waters. Are they calm enough to accurately reflect back some higher aspect within you? Or are they choppy, rough and discombobulated? If they're the former, don't take that connection for granted. And if it's the latter, consider what stills you and move toward that. Ultimately, the difference between living a pigeon life and a dove life is all in the way you see it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2/20/17—Letting Clouds Pass

Cloudy, gray sunset.
Last Friday (this is a classic post) we talked about how clouds make the sunsets more interesting and colorful, as do the "clouds" that come along in our lives. Last night's sunset kind of expanded on that. 

See, it started out all overcast and gray. And I was pretty sure the sunset would suck. But then I saw a tinge on pink on the bottom of one of the clouds and thought, "well now". Then minutes later, the sunset exploded into fabulous color. 

This reminded me of what happened at my last job. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time to my boss and she, in turn, completely handled the situation poorly and it became clear my days were numbered. So the skies on that day seemed pretty gray. But almost immediately it occurred to me to become a freelancer. The gray clouds got a tinge of pink. Then days later, I gave my notice. And, since then, it's been one wild, colorful, spectacular sunset! 

Kinda. :)
A hint of pink lines the gray.

It has certainly resulted in the best years of my professional life. So the very best thing that ever happened to me started out as gray skies. For some, the very best thing started out with a spouse leaving them. Or catching a disease. Or like something that happened as a result of an old friend's actions many years ago.

My friend drove drunk on New Year's Eve and it resulted in a boy's leg being severed from his body. She went to jail and hasn't lived a day of her life without thinking about that. But this boy contacted her 20 or 25 years later and told her losing his leg was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was going down a bad path and it was just the wakeup call he needed. Today he has a wife and children and he doubts that would have ever happened had he not been in the "wrong place at the wrong time". 


The sky explodes into glorious color.
Sometimes our gray clouds don't show their pink edges immediately. And sometimes the pink edges are very subtle and hard to see. But I can't think of anything that's happened in my life—even the really bad stuff—that didn't end up with pink edges and even spectacular color. 

We tend to think of things in terms of winning or losing or of whether or not the universe is on our side. But in the end, there is no loss. There is no such thing as an unsupportive universe. There are just people who prefer to live in perpetual victimhood. That sounds harsh, but the fact is that what you take away from an experience is your choice, not your fate. 

You see this in the video of the guy with no arms or legs who turned his disability into an extraordinary ability to inspire. And through the young girl singled out and shot by the Taliban for promoting education who, after recovering her ability to walk and talk, took her fight to a much larger and more powerful audience. And through John Walsh, who used his son's kidnapping to create a national sex offender registry and the precursor to the "Amber Alert". There is no telling how many lives have been saved or criminals captured as a result of this man's gray clouds. 

All these people turned their gray clouds into spectacular shows. Really, what challenges do any of us have that compare? There is a win in every loss we have...a bigger plan than we can ever imagine when we're down. Last night I waited about 15 minutes to see why the gray clouds had to be that way. Whatever you're going through may take longer. But it will change and the beauty of it will be revealed. All it takes is trust and making the choice to turn your eyes towards the gift.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2/13/17—Prioritizing Your Values

I do a weekend tarot reading for people every Friday evening that can be seen by the public on my Deck of 1000 Spreads Facebook page. And the card I chose for myself this weekend got me thinking.

It was an oracle card about priorities and the advice I gave was this: Time is not something that can be saved for later. So to make the most of your time this weekend, consider your priorities and values. 

I'll be the first to admit that I often fritter away weekends, then regret being unproductive. I know of ways to combat this, but I don't. My usual MO is to be a total lazy arse one day and do chores the other. Even as I write the words, it seems pretty reasonable to me. Especially when I'm busy as I am now during the week, I need the down day. But even so, I feel I could do better than just napping and eating a lot.

So as I considered my own advice, I started thinking about whether or not I prioritize things in my life according to my values. In some ways I do. But then I think about how I value my health, but don't prioritize it. I mean, napping could be considered as being for my health...getting more of that rest/repair time in. So maybe I should say I don't prioritize it necessarily in all the most constructive ways for what I'm trying to achieve, which is feeling better physically. 

Then the more I thought of all of all this, the more I asked myself what my values are and how I prioritize them. Of course, I know what things I value. But I'm not sure I've ever lined them up and prioritized them. In fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't put much active thought into my values (outside of politics) in quite some time. It just seems to be one of those things you develop, then place on cruise control. 

The problem with all that is that I effectively can't act in accordance with the things I value most if I'm always just winging it and doing whatever I seem to conveniently value in the moment. I do love to nap, but the thing my "health values" might prefer is something more active. And where is my book writing in all this? My spiritual work? My role as a doggie mom? Basic survival always comes first—earning money, maintaining a roof over my head and food and medical care for all. We can probably all agree on that. But how do our priorities shake out beyond that?

It's funny. I used to be a more disciplined person and I value discipline a great deal. But many years back I felt I was being too hard on myself, putting some things ahead of others that were more important at the time. And I stepped back from those things. I "gave myself a break". And now I'm seeing where it might be wiser to stop "being kind to myself" in favor of "doing what's right and responsible for myself."

I haven't figured it all out in the 36 hours since I gave myself that advice. I will probably be noodling over it a lot in the coming days and weeks. But my eyes are more open now. So, think about it. Are you living in accordance with your highest values? Where are you working against them? And have you thought about which of the things you value should take the most precedence?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

2/6/17—Trusting Again

So stuff's been pretty chaotic lately, am I right? 

I've spoken before about how I've lost my center amidst the batshit craziness that surrounds us. So I stepped back from the non-stop misery and set about relocating my groove. And what I found is that before I was able to lose my center, I first had to lose my trust. 

I'm not talking about my trust in my country. I still have that to a large degree. I'm not talking about my trust in our president, because you can't lose something you never had. What I'm talking about is my trust in the universe.

The thing about trust is, you either have it or don't. Sure, you can "kinda trust" but then you're not really trusting—you're still holding on to doubt. You're still not willing to surrender. And wherever trust is missing, fear flows in to fill the gap. Clearly many people in this country stopped trusting years ago. Or never trusted in the first place. 

I'm not really trusting everything will work out great. Sometimes "great" is not in our best interests. There's really no room to grow. What I'm trusting is that things will work out the way they NEED to. I'm trusting there's a reason for all this. I'm trusting in the inherent goodness and love of the universe's prevailing energies. More than that, even, though, I'm trusting that each of us is far bigger and far more eternal than this moment. 

Remember that? Remember surrender? Divine communion? Remember how we're not just safe in the universe, rather we live in a safe universe? Remember faith? I had let fear fill too many places within me that once remembered all that. 

There's a point of fear that makes us think that we have to stay with the fear in order to effectively combat it. We tell ourselves the fear (or anger, if that's what you prefer to call it) fuels our warrior spirit. But I contend we are never more powerful than when we trust in our higher power. I certainly know I'm happier and a clearer "channel" for the universe when I surrender to it. 

There come times in our journey when we have to ask ourselves, "do I really believe what I believe?" And if you believe in grace, love, a higher power and an eternal soul, then you have to put your trust in that. If you don't, you either don't believe or are having a crisis in your belief. I can't see it any other way. If you really believe, you cast out the fear that stands between you and surrender. 

Mind that I didn't say to cast out the awareness of what's going on around you. You can be aware, but emotionally detached. You can choose to remind yourself of your trust when you feel fear coming on. You can remove yourself from sources of fear until you're in a better frame of mind. You can still act when action is called for. You can still disapprove. But if you remember who you really are as a spiritual being, you'll know not to take the darkness on.

The unknown is always going to intimidating. And we are definitely in unknown waters. But that doesn't mean we have to give ourselves over to the chaos. It doesn't mean we have to trade our trust for hypervigilant worry. So I've been limiting my exposure to online fear. I'm getting news from sources that don't barter in fear and clickbait headlines, like the Washington Post. I'm meditating twice a day to (and beyond) the point that I feel the trust and peace within. I'm recognizing when I'm getting sucked back in. And I'm stepping out of my extreme dislike of what I see going on around me to see the positive things as well, rather than taking everything as an affront to all that is good and holy. 

Freedom, happiness, peace-of-mind and personal power are not concepts your government or society bestow upon you. They are not things that can only exist under certain circumstances. They are divine rights that are regulated from within. Sure. There are times they are harder to come by than others. Things can certainly happen to make trust more difficult or fear more pervasive. But we're nowhere near that. We're not being tortured or starved or some unbearable thing. 

If we want to be SPIRITUAL warriors, then we need to maintain close contact and trust with the divine. Because the further we veer from the light, the more power we give the dark. And the more we trust in the power of our belief, the more invincible we are.

Image above by Ma Deva Padma for the Osho Zen Tarot.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1/30/17—Living Through The Eyes of God

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 spiritual 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. 

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.

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1/23/17—Floating on the Breath of God

I came across this quote today while poking around in old posts on my blog. It's for all of us with trust issues or who get held up on wanting to know WHY something is happening. 


I'm going to quote someone who's quoting it, because that's the only way I know the quote. Richard Bruxvoort Colligan* quoted St. Hildegard by saying:
"Hildegard of Bingen said a faithful life means 'to be a feather on the breath of God.'
And what does a feather know about wind?
What does a kite have to understand in order to fly?
How much knowledge of meteorology does a sailboat need to feel the strength of full sails?"
This quote is so great because it captures the essences of trust, letting go and surrender all in a single, beautiful snippet. Personally, I usually visualize letting go and surrender as laying, arms stretched, in a river and allowing the river to carry me to where I need to be. 

The river is God or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in. If you try to swim upstream, you'll waste a lot of energy and not get very far. That's what happens when we try to control situations...when we fight against what "is". We may make some progress in the direction we think we want to go, but eventually we end up where the universe wants us to be. And, from my experience, where the universe wants us to be is generally a much better place than where I think I want to go. And the more I fight against it, the less benefit I receive at the ultimate destination. So letting go is really the smartest way to get there. 

The quote also captures the "why" aspect. "Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening now?" Have you ever noticed the answers to those questions never come until you've reached—and embraced—your final destination? So the whys are just more wasted energy to add to all the swimming against the current we tend to do. 

Finally, though, this is about trust. It's about lifting all the questions up to the universe and allowing the answers to come in their own time. It's about trusting that you're being led to a place that will serve your higher benefit. That doesn't always look like a winning prospect in the beginning, but my experience in life is that we have no way to lose. If you believe everything happens for a reason, then withholding trust is, again, more wasted energy. 

What's key to know here is that things like trust and letting go aren't necessarily talents you're born with. More often, they're skills you develop. So when you say, "I wish I could be more like you and trust in the future," you can. If you work at it as hard as the person you're admiring, that is. Trust and letting go and surrender are all practices. They're things you work on every day in your relationship with your higher power. 

So when you notice yourself letting fear creep in, stop yourself and visualize yourself floating down the river toward a magical light or soaring through the air as a feather on the breath of God. Just absorbing the idea of floating on the breath of God alone will fill you with the faith you need to weather the storm. Over time, the trusting and letting go will become more and more automatic as you begin to see the wisdom in the practice. 

We don't need to know or understand why things are happening the way they're happening. We just have to let ourselves be taken away by the breath of that which has always looked after us, whether you call it God or Allah or Yaweh or the Universe. It has never failed you yet. And if you think it has, then you haven't yet embraced where you've landed. Regardless of whether you like an outcome or not, though, it is what it is. And you can live there in bitterness or gratitude. That's your choice. I choose to let go and trust. 

*If you want to read the Christian sermon this quote came from, follow this link or the link above (you'll find the links on www.tierneysadler.com.) The sermon goes on to help you with a prayer you can say and it references scripture and stuff. It's a good post.
 
This post originally appeared on 6/25/14.