Like an Old Friend…

Coming to my blog site is like visiting an old friend that has been a long time gone.

It’s late. I need to go to bed and rest, for tomorrow is another day of dawn to dusk laboring. I am in a birthing process. It is not a human baby I am birthing, well perhaps in a way, but I will get to that. What I am birthing is a dream.

For years I have dreamed of a gathering of all my beloved friends and family…a coming together of many souls whose only connection to one-another is me. From around the globe they will come and as their eyes meet for the first time they will see a kindred spirit. They will know one another in an instant of soul recognition. Eyes will light up with smiles and arms will hold one another in the warmth of loving embraces.
I am birthing this dream by creating a space for such gatherings. Each day is a labor of love but as in all birthings there are moments of fear and pain.
There is spilled blood, dripping sweat, and nights of aching muscles and deep fatigue.
Through it all is a push to complete. The urge to reach the climatic moment of revelation is intense. It is what wakes me at 5:30 with instant alertness and clarity of purpose. It is what keeps me moving from project to project, checking off one after the next as they reach completion. It is what makes my heart sing with joy when I vision the gathering of friends who will soon be crossing the threshold of Mountain Valley Retreat.
The birthing of Mountain Valley Retreat is also the birthing of me. Through this creation I am coming out as myself. Everything about this place represents my authentic self.

IMG_4967[1] I am, through this place, revealed at last.

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Matters Not?

I reread the words on page one of this narrative to remind myself that the words matter not. It’s the writing that counts. That seems strange to me when I read it. If the words don’t matter what is the point of writing them? Perhaps within the discipline lies a key to writing words that DO matter.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to attempt this often daunting task of putting something on the page.
There is a bunny hopping across my yard. His movement caught my eye. I’m rooting for him over the red-shouldered hawk in the oak across the way. I hope the hawk will go for those pesky ground squirrels and leave the bunny alone this morning. No judgment there…bunny on grass red shoulder hawk
Dozer and Dancer, our kittens, are nine weeks today. Dozer just climbed into the office chair beside me to check out what I’m doing…I told him, “not much.” Watching them grow and develop their feline skills is great entertainment. The daily changes are noticeable, not unlike a human baby in it’s first months of life. We still change every day…just not as dramatically. I suppose we get used to our own evolution and take it for granted.
Evolution. If the Universe is evolving, why do some things seem to be in regression? Evolution means progress, growth, development, advancement. As I watch the national news “evolve” it seems that mankind is regressing. Perhaps it is all in the lens. The wider the lens, the more I can perceive evolution? I suppose it is also the direction I point my viewfinder. What group of mankind am I choosing to look at, the suppressive regimes of the patriarchy or the courageous women of “Pussy Riot?”

pussy riot
“Pussy Riot.” These women demonstrate the evolution of women’s rights and even more, the evolution of social media. Without social media, I believe they would disappear. The world is watching, and in that fact lies some protection from the patriarchy and its fear of individual expression. Pussy Riot also brings to the surface for all of us in the west a reminder of the extreme suppression that is prevalent in our world. What we do with that reminder is an individual choice. At least we have a choice…
I am feeling a point of tension under my right shoulder blade. I feel like I am being poked with an electric prod…
I took a moment to go to Amazon and order an “S” hook massage tool…been wanting one for a while and was reminded when I saw one at a friend’s house the other day. This morning my back is reminding me again so I took action!
Which brings me back to Pussy Riot…I am so inspired by these young women who are risking everything, their freedom from imprisonment, their lives, to make a statement about the suppressive patriarchy they live under. As Nadia said, they are free in the way no one can touch, and that brilliant understanding inspires me.
This page is an example of free writing…the places my mind can take me…whew!

pussy riot shakles

Events That Shape Our Lives

I awakened at 6:00 this morning and sat up. I set my Insight Timer for 30 minutes and began my manta.
As a child attending primary school in Sturgis, South Dakota, my friends and I would crawl under our desks during “nuclear disaster drills.” Occasionally the curfew siren would sound the city-wide disaster drill. All of the schools would release the children who would walk to meet their parents leaving their jobs in mid-day to come home. I guess they wanted us to die together as a family when the “bomb” hit.
The assassination of President Kennedy when I was in Jr. High was the beginning of a succession of global events that affected me powerfully. These events included the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the trial of the Chicago Seven that followed. The TV screen was filled with protests and riots in 125 cities in the spring of 1968. It looked like America was going up in flames. At Denver University I walked with other freshmen in a campus protest of the Vietnam War. Some of the more radical students staged a sit-in at the administrative buildings and called it Woodstock for the musical revolution we were all listening to. My high school friends were being drafted and sent off to Vietnam.  I got stoned.      200px-Chicago8
The Kent State massacre in 1970 was perhaps the most defining event of my college years. Unarmed students peacefully protesting the Vietnam War were gunned down by the National Guard under orders from President Nixon. If anything turned my sense of the world upside down it was this. These soldiers, whose job it was to protect me as a citizen of the United States, shot and killed my unarmed fellow college students because they were protesting the government’s policy of the War in Vietnam. The impressionable mind of a young woman from a small town in South Dakota was being formed.

Kent State Massacre

Kent State Massacre

I transferred from DU to Northern Illinois University outside of Chicago to get an education degree.  The woman who was registering me for my classes mentioned there was an opening in an experimental education program.  The word “experimental” caught my ear and I signed up.  I was one of twenty students trained in the Summerhill Progressive Education Method by a group of politically radical professors. This small faction of the Department of Education was later dismissed for teaching revolutionary ideas and encouraging the use of psychedelics with their students. I recall attending a “meet and greet” for new students at the home of the head of the department. I arrived to find my professors sitting around a hookah in the middle of the coffee table in the living room. As a student teacher of fourth graders in a public elementary school in DeKalb, my cooperating-teacher, a creative and compassionate woman in her mid-forties, sat with me on the back steps of the school and offered me a hit from her joint during recess.

Cabrini-Green ProjectsChicago, Illinois

Cabrini-Green Projects
Chicago, Illinois

My boyfriend was a case worker in the stark cement-block high-rises known as Cabrini Green, the most infamous of the experimental government housing projects for African-Americans who were being displaced from their homes as Chicago practiced “urban renewal.” In 1968, following the assassination of Dr. King, constant gunfire from snipers positioned on the upper floors of Cabrini-Green caused many casualties.  I went with Jim on a “field day” to visit his clients at the projects. The people I met and the living conditions I saw added another layer to my developing perception of the “real world” in America.

I graduated from NIU with a B.S. in Education and a revolutionized world view. I moved to Chicago and took a job with Red Top Cab. For three months I drove a taxi through the neighborhoods of Chicago during the summer of 1972. I was one of the few women cab drivers in the city and with my long straight hair and wire-rim glasses I looked about fourteen driving my fares through neighborhoods with snipers on the roofs. It still stands as my most empowering job.
In the spring of 1974 I took a 30 day course in Transcendental Meditation sponsored by the Public Library in Alton, Illinois. I had recently moved to Alton, a bedroom community of St. Louis, following a year of teaching in Denver. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had, in March of 1973, addressed the legislature of the State of Illinois and they had passed a resolution in support of the use of Maharishi’s Science of Creative Intelligence in Illinois public schools. I was a young, idealistic public school teacher thinking I could make a difference in the lives of these inner-city kids.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Somehow it all fits together…anti-establishment protests, psychoactive drugs, progressive education, Beatles music and the Maharishi’s meditation teachings. My college years, 1968-1972, were central to a vast cultural shift in America. My experiences caused an upheaval of my childhood beliefs about authority figures and the world as I knew it.  These are some of the events that have shaped my life.

Birthday Sandwich

English: Flowering Ocotillo Fouquieria splende...

 Flowering Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens photographed above Hawk Canyon at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA, USA.

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape.

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape.

Tomorrow is my birthday. That makes today birthday-pre and Sunday birthday-post. I think of it as a birthday sandwich. It’s just an excuse to create three days of “I’m going to do whatever I want” instead of one. It’s especially convenient that my birthday is on a Saturday this year so I have a long week-end of Birthday.
I have a theme for my birthday sandwiches. It’s been an ongoing theme that began when I was fifty. I decided to celebrate my birthday by doing something I had never done before. That first year I went on a solo road trip for the first time. I flew from St. Louis to Seattle, rented a car and drove down the Pacific Coast camping on the beaches of Oregon and California and visiting a couple of friends along the way. It was a two week trip culminating in San Francisco where I visited my sister and then flew back to St. Louis. Prior to this trip, I had been reclaiming my life and this solo trip far from home was a significant act of reclamation.
I was raised under the control of a great and powerful father. He is a man who commands respect and whose word was gospel in our house. It never occurred to me to go against his will as a child. I left his control following graduation from college and moved into a relationship that mirrored my life as a child. I married a man who was very “old school” in his beliefs about family and the roles of men and women. I was so conditioned in this way of thinking it took ten years before I cracked the shell and began to push my way out.
My rebirthing was not a sudden thing. It was a long, slow arduous process. Little by little I tested my boundaries and pushed against the resistance that held me in check. I chose my battles carefully and measured the fall-out against the progress. I was beginning to realize that I had a will of my own and it was ready to be heard and honored. I realized that what Chery thought mattered…to me.
For twenty years I midwifed myself. With the support of a few good friends and a lot of therapy I made my way home to myself. A spiritual meditation and yoga practice and my CranioSacral Therapy business were the most significant structures that supported my becoming. I started to meet people who saw in me more than I was able to see in myself. Those sweet souls who came into my life and “saw” me held up mirrors that allowed me to begin to see myself as they did.
I have continued to celebrate my life each year on my birthday by doing something I have never done before. Often I go somewhere I have never been. The list of birthday events include a trip to Paris, a sailplane ride, a meditation retreat with Gangaji, and last year some friends and I celebrated at a dance retreat in MardeJade, Mexico.
Tomorrow, G and I are going hiking in a remote location not far from our home where there are pictographs and ruins in the Anza Borrego Desert. After the hike we are going soaking at the nearby hot springs and on Sunday we are going to visit a camel farm where we will get to ride a camel for the first time!
Doing anything for the first time is a symbol to me that life is a celebration of new beginnings. Each day is an opportunity to experience a new me that didn’t exist yesterday and explore my surroundings with fresh eyes and an open heart. Life is a blessing to be lived not a problem to be solved, so let the fun begin.

Leavin’ for Las Vegas

English: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

English: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is really early…0 dark:thiry. Leaving for Vegas at the crack of dawn so that means writing in the dark. This is the 65th day I have gotten up to write and it isn’t hard anymore. I like it. I’m not sure when it went from a struggle to a pleasure but it happened along the way. There is a lesson in this. Beliefs are such thin paper houses we live in. I was so married to the belief that I wasn’t a “morning person.” I dragged myself out of bed for years thinking that I was somehow hardwired to stay up late and get up late…that for me rising with the sun was “out of character.” And here I am getting up every day at sunrise (or earlier) wide awake and feeling fine. The secret was pretty simple…go to bed earlier, which was a natural occurrence once I got up early. Such silly creatures are we…
Leaving for Las Vegas…G’s daughter is getting married. It’s a five hour drive across the desert and there won’t be much traffic since it is mid-week…should be a fun and easy trip. I haven’t been to Vegas since my son turned 21 nine years ago. The Strip will have new faces on some of the buildings, the wrecking ball stays busy in the city of money, but it will remain basically the same.
The first time I saw Vegas I was eight years old. 1958. Dad and his friends loaded their families in the station wagons and took off from Sturgis on a road trip to Vegas for a National Jaycee Convention. We stayed in a motel on the strip near the Silver Slipper Casino. The sight of that giant high heel of lights is the primary picture that registered in my memory. Vegas wasn’t as kid friendly as it is now. No Circus Circus or Arcades. We kids spent our time at the pool of the motel and played in the rooms but the sight of the Strip at night was dazzling for this little girl.
My ex-husband was a black-jack player so we made many trips to Vegas every year. He counted cards well and his ability to beat the house consistently paid for our trips. The Dunes was our home-away-from-home. The huge court-yard space around the pools with a walk-out from our room made it easy to bring the two kids. His parents liked to come with us and since I had willing baby-sitters I was able to spend some time exploring. I am not a gambler. The idea of risking my money at games of chance never appealed to me but early on I discovered I could sit in a live poker game and play cards for hours without investing more than $20. It was cheap entertainment. Poker Rooms are all the game of Hold “Em now. Internet Poker changed the face of live poker dramatically. But before those high speed games took over, we played a lazy version of Seven-Card Stud. There was a lot of conversation in those games. You got to know your opponents and the real game was to figure out their “tells.” The cards said one thing, but the body language told another. A table was made up of “regulars”, “locals”, “tourists” and “drunk tourists.” I was kind of an anomaly. I wasn’t a local but I wasn’t a typical tourist either. I was there so often I knew the dealers and room managers by their first names and many of the regulars as well. Poker rooms were still male bastions in those days so an attractive young woman was a welcome addition to any table if for no other reason than it gave them something different to look at and interact with. The dealers were very “kind” to me.
The dealers of Las Vegas. That is a sub-culture unto itself. There are many jobs that expose the public in an unflattering light and create an air of cynicism and mistrust for those who are serving them. I would hazard a guess that the gambling business rates high on that scale. There are so many memories flooding my banks right now I don’t even know where not to go next! I think I’ll just end it here and pack my bags. I’m leaving for Las Vegas…

Do, Be, Do, Be, Do…

Acute catarrhal pharyngitis. The oropharynx is...

           (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Viruses are sneaky little devils…I thought I was over mine, but I’m not. Slept 12 hours last night! Seriously! That is a lot of sleep. Still have the sore throat, dry cough, tight chest and lethargy this morning and here I am writing my page. This may be the full extent of accomplishment today…and that is okay…or is it?

Perhaps the toughest part of feeling sick is my limited ability to do anything. The least effort is met with such resistance. My body is saying STOP but my mind says GO! When I stop, my mind goes into guilt-mode and starts preaching to me about sloth. Idleness, the devil’s playground, that is twice the word “devil” has shown up today…hummm.

Let’s not mince words…LAZY. That is what my mind thinks of this foolishness…nothing but laziness. My mom taught me that illness is “all in your head.” No wonder I punish myself so severely when I am ill. So go ahead, Mind of Mine. Give me your best shot!

“Just get over it!” “What did you do to create this abominable situation?” “Why are you so fragile?” “How did you let your immune system get so weak as to allow this virus to run over you like this?” “What have you been eating?” “You haven’t been exercising.” “You get what you deserve.” “You are pathetic.”

Okay…enough of that. Is there any part of me with any sympathy for the devil? Where is my Angel now? I could use a little comfort, couldn’t I?

Mom’s technique for getting her kids over illness was to ignore it (them.) Zero tolerance for weakness in my family. “Be tough.” “Stand strong.” “Never let them see you cry.” “If you show your vulnerability, you will be taken advantage of.” This is the same mom that had her breast removed as an “outpatient procedure,” went home the same day and out dancing the following week-end. Same mom that at 88 is out walking every day in spite of a stroke that took her down two years ago. She is a “tough old bird,” as she would say about someone like herself.

Am I a “tough old bird?” Do I want to be? Is there a balance between strong and weak that is optimum? Optimum for what? Optimum for happiness?

When am I most happy? When I feel strong and healthy and I’m “doing” something in collaboration with another person and/or creative. I have a wide range of “doings” that create a feeling of happiness. Can I just “be” and also feel contentment and joy? I don’t even know what “just being” means! How does one stop doing? The act of life is a doing in itself. The most I can hope to achieve is to slow down and increase the level of acceptance and enjoyment I have with whatever I am doing in the moment…even if that is simply sitting and staring out the window.

What next? Could it possibly be nothing?

Indulgence

I am here.  My fingers are truly free-writing.  I have no idea what I am going to type. I am writing without a prompt, just letting my thoughts spill out onto the page. I am sitting with my feet resting fully on the floor.  My eyes are closed and the keyboard feels cold beneath the thenar eminences of my palms.  My eyes are a little puffy and wet feeling.  My body is a little achy and sore.  I am waiting.  What next?

My favorite mug sits here steaming with hot tea and I pause to take a sip.  A small smile lifts the edges of my mouth as I think of G, the man who has my back and brings me tea every morning so that I can sit here and indulge myself with the writing of these morning pages.  He is like the “gate keeper” who stands guard and makes sure the Queen is not interrupted as she humors herself in her bed chamber.

Indulgence.  It means tolerance and understanding and also extravagance.  Some mornings I understand my need to do this discipline and other mornings it feels like an extravagance.  Whose time am I wasting with this purge of words?  Self-indulgence.  Am I tolerant and understanding of myself?  Or am I wasting my time as well as the readers who choose to follow this book of pages?

Time.  What would I be doing if I wasn’t doing this?  Sleeping.  Would I be better off sleeping than flushing out my brain every morning?  I have to honestly say no to that one.  I am getting plenty of sleep. Since I started this process I go to bed earlier.  My body only stays awake a certain number of hours and it simply goes to sleep.  I am lucky that way.  I have friends who are insomniacs.  Their bodies are restless or their minds are disturbed and they lie sleepless in their beds regardless of how tired they are.  Not I.

What would you be doing if you weren’t reading this?  Perhaps voyaging the web for something of interest to capture your eye and take your mind for a ride?  Maybe these words are a distraction from your work which waits patiently for you to finish your daily internet experience. Maybe you are seeking clarification to some question in your mind and you hope hidden in this prose lies an answer.  And who knows, something you read may point you in the direction of your resolution.

The truth is that is why I am here.  There are many questions in my mind and I am still seeking.  On either side of this desk are bookcases to the ceiling filled with words.  I have sought the answers to my questions in their pages for over fifty years.  I have come to the conclusion that none of them hold the answers to my questions.  In fact, all they do is create more questions.  If there is an answer for me, it may show up on this page one day.  I write for that possibility.

I am not here for you.  If you are entertained or intrigued by my pages that is a bonus for me.  If you read something that tickles your fancy and makes you smile that is an even bigger bonus.  I don’t expect you to find your answers in these words.  I don’t believe anyone holds an answer for any of us. I am no longer seeking outside of myself.

The journey is in the inquiry and the response is hidden deep in our tissues.  Allowing the questions to take us inward without expectation or judgment is the voyage of our lives.  If ever I come to a point of satisfaction and feel contentment that lasts it will come from within.

So I indulge myself with this mining expedition in search of my soul.  I may never find more than the ramblings of my intellect regurgitating its digested words from all those books I’ve read.  But maybe, one day, I will tap into the mother-lode and discover the mystery of the universe that lies within each of us.  And in the meantime, I will sit here each morning allowing my fingers to find their way around this keyboard in search of the portal in.