Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2 Years, 5 Months & 1 Day

"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."  --Fred Rogers

This will not be easy. For me, certainly; perhaps for some of you, but here goes....This is my last post to the Refrigerator Oracle.

I find it hard to resist adding, for awhile or at least for now, but that is not what I mean. What I mean is that I am done. This blog is done. In some way anyway. Nothing, of course, is ever really done, but it is as done as something can be in this world.

This has been coming for awhile, but I have had a hard time letting go. It has, after all, been 2 years, 5 months, and 1 day in the making. And it has been good. I think it has been good. It has been good for me. It has been great for me. It has been a labor of love for me and a gift of love to me. It has kept me going through some hard times and it has given me a voice in a way I have never had before. It has - in many ways - "made" me a writer.

And now it is time to explore some other ways of being a writer. Some of those are clear to me and others are not, but my guidance is clear on this point.

So I say "Goodbye" and wish you well. Thanks for stopping by. I will miss you.

[BTW....I am still writing - just not as often - over at www.larasimmons.net. You can also find out about writing classes and other projects I am working on. Hope to see you there!]

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Myth of Meditation

"If it weren't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent." --Pema Chodron 

I think when most of us think about meditation we have this idea of a still mind, a quiet body, an idyllic experience. 

The truth, for most of us, is far from this ideal. 

I have had the chance lately to talk to a couple of people about meditation and the basic theme has been "I can't." 

"I can't because my mind won't stay still." 

"I can't because I don't have the time." 

"I can't because I don't know how."

I laugh now when I see a flyer for a "meditation class," despite having taken at least five or six of these myself, and getting a lot out of each one. 

The fact is, no one can teach you how to meditate because meditation is completely different for every person. 

But what it is not - for most of us anyway - is a blissful hour of complete silence and stillness. 

What it is for me is something like this: 

Wake up. Think about all of the things I need to get done today. Start to make a list. Remember my commitment to "meditate first" every morning. Get up and drag my ass to the kitchen. Pour a glass of water. Head into the living room. Queue up my meditation CD (Master Choa Kok Sui chanting OM). Lie down on the couch. (I often meditate lying down, despite learning in at least a couple of my classes that this is "wrong.") Cover myself with blankets and start to breathe deeply. Realize part of my body is sticking out and reorganize my blankets. Take another deep breath. Start to think about all of the things I need to do today. Think about the TV show I watched last night. Wonder if the main character is going to figure out that she has really blown it this time. Realize I am not meditating. Take a drink of water. Rearrange my blanket. Take another deep breath. 

You get the idea. 

This goes on for 45 minutes to an hour - sometimes a lot less - and then I get up and start to make breakfast for the kids. 

Maybe I felt complete bliss and the total love of the Universe and everything in it for a couple of minutes, maybe not. Usually I come away with at least three or four great ideas, many of which never see the light of day, but some that do. 

The thing is it doesn't matter - not in the least - HOW it all goes. Just that it goes. 

Last week I missed a day. By the end of the day I was so grumpy and angry and out of sorts that I sent myself to bed without any supper - to meditate. When I woke up the next morning, I headed for my spot without hesitation.

It doesn't matter WHAT you do or HOW you do it or WHERE or WHEN or even HOW MUCH you do - a good friend of mine does "just" ten minutes a day and finds that even this small practice makes a big difference in her life - it doesn't matter how it goes or even how you feel during your meditation. 

All that matters is THAT you do it. That you sit - preferably every day - and breathe and connect with that part of yourself that knows itself to be One with everything. However that looks for you and however it works for you. 

So don't get caught up in the myth of meditation, when you could be living the reality of its benefits, NOW.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

"Liz Lemon: 'I'm about to do something crazy.'
Her boyfriend Chris: 'You should! Real life is for March.'"
--From the 30 Rock episode "Leap Day"

Happy Leap day ya'll. I'm recovering from the flu (:p) and working hard on a blog entry for Verity Credit Union (click here to view), but I just LOVE the idea of a "leap day" so I wanted to write something about it.

“Leap and the net will appear.” (John Burroughs, American Naturalist and Essayist) has always been one of my favorite quotes. It's what we do all day every day. We wake up, trusting that the earth will still be spinning on its axis. We take a step, trusting that gravity is still the law of our land. We step outside, trusting that the air we breathe will fill our lungs with oxygen and sustain us for another day.

Every day is a leap of faith, but today is an extra special day. An extra day. “A day to do the things you wouldn't ordinarily do. A day to take chances.” (also from the 30 Rock episode “Leap Day”)

The other day I read an article about doing something different every day. Just to shake things up, to knock yourself out of your comfort zone, to take a leap of faith. I love this idea and I am going to try it, starting today. 

I have the idea to do it for a year, but perhaps I'll start with a month and see how it goes. I don't think this is going to be easy for me, but who knows? 

So Happy Leap Day to you! Now go out and TAKE A FLYING LEAP. The net WILL appear! 

[Leap Day Update: My "thing" for the day is to use my left hand instead of my right. For writing, for mousing, for brushing my teeth....whenever I remember for whatever I can. What's yours?]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Misery and Joy of a Staycation

"Misery and joy have the same shape in this world: You may call the rose an open heart or a broken heart." --Rumi 

My kids are off of school this week and my husband is home too, taking some vacation time so we can work around the house.

The week got off to a great start. We were all just so happy and in sync and the first couple of days were full of joy. 

Yesterday afternoon, however, the tide turned. 

My husband reminded me that he did have some work to do this week and it triggered something old and angry inside of me. I was miserable and I could not rest until everyone around me was miserable as well. 

This morning, I succeeded. 

"Where do we go from here?" I found myself wailing inside as I tried to imagine what came next. 

And what I got was similar to this quote from Rumi. "Just do what comes next. What you were going to do anyway. Do it with a heavy heart and it will gradually get lighter." 

Don't let misery stop you in other words. Misery is just another name for joy. And if you step forward in misery, you just might find joy again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loving What IS

"The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as the sunset." --Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


"Love is freedom. To look for it by placing yourself in bondage is to separate yourself from it. For the love of God, no longer seek for union in separation, nor freedom in bondage! As you release, so will you be released. " --A Course in Miracles

Happy Valentine's Day to you all! I L♥VE the idea of L♥VE as freedom, I always have. In the meantime, I show my L♥VE through control. :p What's that about? 

But, as a very wise man once said to me, "We are all doing the very best we can in any given moment." 

So, control was the best I could do at the time and today I am trying to do better. I am trying to release and L♥VE and offer freedom to everyone as a gift of L♥VE. I offer it to you. 

Do not place yourself in bondage to L♥VE, nor anyone else you L♥VE. And, when in doubt offer chocolate

I L♥VE you - have a fabulous V-day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Shooting Stars

"Thinking with our brains is like shooting blanks now, whereby thinking with our hearts will be like shooting stars." --Lauren G Gorgo in her energy alert from January 10, 2012 

I love getting the latest scoop on what is going on energetically in the world and I love it even more when it affirms my experience or my own intuition. More and more these days I find myself second-guessing what I am thinking in my head. 

For me this is revolutionary. I have been a "thinker" all of my life. Thoughts spinning and churning all day - and sometimes all night - long. Plotting, planning, figuring, designing....It's exhausting! 

And the great news is - I don't have to do it anymore! 

The time for thinking with our heads is over. It's our hearts that are leading the way now and thinking with my heart is so much less work than thinking with my head. A LOT less exhausting, a lot more clear and a lot more full of LOVE and KINDNESS and BLESSINGS and BLISS and all good things than my head ever was. 

It truly does feel like I'm shooting stars!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pick the Flowers

"Pick the flowers, despite the thorns." --Grace Waters, Intuitive Bodyworker 

I had a session with Grace this week. 

Grace means "gift of God" and oh boy is she! She says that bodies talk to her and I believe her. Mine certainly does. 

Today it told her that I needed some Saguaro Cactus flower essence to help me deal with some of the people in my life. She said that people can be prickly and rather than avoid them I can, "Pick the flowers, despite the thorns." 

In other words, enjoy what is beautiful and avoid getting stung by those things which are not. I thought this was beautiful advice and I am going to try and look for the beautiful flowers on the prickly people I encounter from now on. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life's Not Fair! (And that's the way it's SUPPOSED to be....)

"...[B]y wanting things to be fair, you are depriving people of their lessons." --LD

I was complaining to a friend the other day about something that was patently unfair and this is what she said to me, "Justice is a big issue for you, but by wanting things to be fair, you are depriving people of their lessons." And, BOING! My whole life flashed before me.

"That's not fair!" was my almost constant refrain as a child (just ask my parents) and it infuriated me to no end when they would answer matter-of-factly "Life's not fair."

I would like to think that as I have grown up I have grown in my understanding of the world and that I would have fully realized by now that the world isn't fair. 

And to be fair (ha, ha) to myself, I think I have. Some people have money; some people don't. Some people have good health; some people don't. To a large extent these "facts" of our lives are determined by the choices we make, but there is a good deal of luck and chance and privilege (or lack thereof) that determines how "fair" our lot in life is. I get that now and have (mostly) accepted it. 

What still gets me is when people act blatantly unfair towards other people. 

But the thing is, I don't get to be the ultimate authority on what is fair behavior and what is not. So even if I think someone is being really unfair, I don't get to decide that that is so. 

AND, even if I did, changing an unfair situation into a fair one by sheer force of my will would be depriving someone of a life lesson. And that's not fair!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sniff Out the Joy

"Keep your nose to the joy trail." --Buffy Saint-Marie
My parents didn't have a lot of music, but The Best of Buffy Saint-Marie was in heavy rotation around our house in the 70's. "Cripple Creek" was my favorite song and it still makes me feel like I am six years old and being mesmerized by this strange (in a good way...) woman's voice coming out of the speakers. 

This quote from Buffy comes via my sister in our column for this week. May you sniff out - and find - YOUR joy today!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ahead of Her Time

"We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be." --Jane Austen from "Mansfield Park"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Let It Go

 "What are you holding against yourself today? Let it go. Say, 'I forgive MYSELF,' and mean it."  --The Universe

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's ALL for Our Learning!

"Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for teaching you how to stand on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for teaching you courage to overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.”
--Jackson Kiddard from www.bheretoday.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The long-term evolution of my healthy self-sufficiency (Whew! That's a mouthful!)

"...[T]his is a critical moment in the long-term evolution of  your healthy self-sufficiency. For both your own sake and the sake of the people you love, you must find a way to shrink your urge to make them responsible for your well-being." --Rob Brezsny from my Free Will Astrology horoscope for this week

Monday, January 30, 2012

For a Monday Morning

"Once in awhile what you do for work is also what you do for love. And when that happens? It's heaven." Toni Colette as "Tara" in "The United States of Tara"

May you find the joy in your work today and every day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It Ain't Over Til It's Okay

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end." --Sasha Kemble, quoting her friend Lisa on the Verity Credit Union blog

This quote comes from one of my favorite writers on my credit union blog Verity Voices and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quote. 

It reminds me of a movie I watched tonight called, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." If you haven't seen this documentary about wild parrots in San Francisco, I highly recommend it. There is one storyline, about a parrot named Connor that perfectly illustrates this quote. 

Conner is a blue-headed parrot and, as such, doesn't really fit into the flock of red-headed parrots, but he tolerates them and they more or less tolerate him (although he does not have a mate, which is a bit sad). 

He is a quiet bird and brave, he doesn't cower as easily or get as excited when the hawks are flying around. But towards the end of the film Conner is believed to be scooped up and killed by one of the hawks. It is a sad ending for a bird so quietly brave, but the story doesn't end there (because it's not okay). 

In the special features there is a follow-up interview with a woman who found Connor on her patio that night - intact - and buried him in her garden among the flowers and amidst her other animals. She surmises that one of the ravens that also inhabit the area must of chased the hawk away and that he dropped Connor as he flew away.

So not only do we get to know "the rest of the story" about Connor, but he received a proper burial and is thought about and his grave cared for by the woman who found him. The End. 

[BTW...If you are still with a BIG BANK and want to switch to a credit union during Move Your Money Month in March, you couldn't do better than Verity Credit Union!]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Enjoy Every One!

“...[L]ife was a gift...one of those things about getting older was knowing that so many moments weren't just moment, they were gifts.” --Elizabeth Strout from her book, "Olive Kitteridge"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take the Banana

"If you say, 'No' to this do you know how many other things you are saying 'No' to?" --Philip McClusky, quoting a friend in his video, "Overcoming the Poverty Mentality"

On Saturday morning I went for a swim as I usually do except that I forgot to grab a banana on my way out the door. Doh!  

I knew I would be hungry after my swim, but I was running late so I took off, thinking I could just grab a smoothie after my swim.

In the locker room I ran into my neighbor who also swims on Saturday mornings. We went in, did our workout and finished up at almost exactly the same time.

As we rinsed off and got dressed, we chatted, and she said, "I am always so hungry afterwards. Sometimes I feel like I might pass out."

I said, "Me too. I usually eat a banana before swimming, but I forgot this morning so I am starving."

She then pulled a banana from her bag, peeled it, and offered me a piece.

Which I, of course, refused. 

And which, of course, puzzled her. I could see it in her look, "Why would she refuse to take a piece of my banana when she just said she wished she had a banana?"

Why? Because it's what I do. It's one of my things. An "area of growth" you might call it. I almost always say 'No' when someone offers me something I want.

I need to repeat that so even I can hear how crazy it sounds: "I almost always say, 'No,' when someone offers me something I want."  

So, yes, I know how crazy it sounds, but I didn't really know until I listened to this video called "Overcoming the Poverty Mentality," on New Earth Daily

As I listened, I recognized far more of myself than I would like to admit, especially the part about being open to receiving. I am not open to receiving for the most part. Not gifts, not money, not complements, not even a piece of a banana. 

As I thought about this - and meditated on this quote from the video - my throat tightened, my chest felt heavy and I felt sad. 

And I knew without a doubt that I have some work to do in this area. To open myself to receiving and to accept the gifts the Universe sends to me through others with grace and with gratitude. To take the banana.  

Because if I'm saying 'No,' to the banana I am sure there are countless other things I am also saying 'No' to that I am not even aware of.  

[BTW, Dear Soul Sisters was recently featured on this same website, New Earth Daily. Click here to see our first dose of Daily Inspiration!]

Monday, January 23, 2012


"I will not be afraid of love today." --A Course in Miracles, Lesson 282

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trying to Find Love in a Bottle

"Having obscene amounts of money, power and status is just one kind of success. (And often a rather boring one at that.) Far more intriguing are the triumphs that come from outwitting ones own shadowy behavior and unconscious habits...." --Rob Brezsny from Free Will Astrology

Saturday afternoon found me sitting by the fire, reading a book and drinking a glass of red wine. This sounds lovely I am sure except....I can't drink anymore.
I never really could. I have always been a lightweight, tipsy after two drinks, drunk after three or four and completely useless the next day, but lately (since I had kids, stopped being so unconscious, started meditating) I just have no tolerance for alcohol. 

Half a drink and I feel tipsy and completely hungover the next day. I guess this would be okay except gone are the days when I could spend a whole day recovering. 

I have breakfasts to make and laundry to do and books to read and boo-boos to bandage and fights to referee and playdates to arrange.....you get the idea. No rest for the wicked and all that. 

So I have quit drinking, for the most part. You don't have to hit me over the head. Someone up there (glance Heaven-ward) doesn't want me to drink. Okay, I get it already. 

The thing is, sometimes I just WANT to. I just want to be able to have a glass or two of wine, kick back and relax my mind. For as long as I can remember my mind has been like a hamster wheel, always spinning. Spinning tales of fear and judgement, of worry and anxiety, of shyness and social anxiety, of not measuring up, not being good enough, not being liked, not saying the right thing, not looking the right way.

I know these are, for the most part, tales of untruth. I am pretty lucky actually and can fit in most places I go. I can talk to most people. But inside my head it is a mess of what is wrong, what could go wrong, what other people might think is wrong. 

A glass or two of wine totally takes care of that. Whoosh! All gone. In its place is a fuzzy little ocean of love. That's right. LOVE. Pure unadulterated love in a bottle. 

It's soft and warm (or sometimes slightly chilled), tastes good and goes down smooth, leaving a path of calm in its wake. It feels so good to forget for a little while all the stuff that is in my brain.

But it is not without cost and lately the cost is getting higher and higher.

On Saturday I hadn't finished my first half a glass (I drank two half glasses instead of one full glass to make it last) before I started to feel hungover. Lethargic, headachey, a little bit nauseated. Blech!

I was so disappointed. My fantasy had failed me again. All I wanted was one afternoon by the fire with a glass of red and a fuzzy head. Was that too much to ask? 

Apparently so. 

The thing is, I want to drink AND I don't want to drink. Sometimes I do. But mostly I don't. Most of the time that is okay. Most of the time not drinking works for me. But sometimes the fantasy (the fuzzy little ocean of love) gets in my head and I just want to put on some fancy clothes, some high-ish heeled shoes and go out with the girls for a few glasses of wine. 

I feel like somehow I am being denied something that is my birthright. It is so engrained in our culture. A cocktail, Happy Hour, a glass of wine with dinner, a coffee drink to finish the night....

What I realized during this last "binge" (if you can call it that) is that what I am really searching for is the same thing I am searching for when I sit down to meditate. A feeling of complete and total love and acceptance. 

When I have had a glass of wine I feel like everything is as it should be. I am perfect and so is everyone else. It is complete love and acceptance for things as they are. It is LOVE. 

But it's a false love. 

Real love comes from inside. From that deep place inside that is hidden underneath all of the pain and guilt and shame and fear. In the center of our beings. The center that somehow gets revealed to us through drinking and drugs and, oh yeah, through meditation, without all the yucky side effects. 

So I am back on the wagon. It feels strange to say. I have never been endangered by my love of alcohol. Have never gotten a DUI or lost a job or even a friend because of my drinking. It has never led to any really unsafe situations or caused me serious problems, but I don't know if I can say that for others. When I am hungover I am much more likely to yell at my kids. To scream at my husband. To hate my life. 

I am much more likely to rail against things as they are and to want them to be as they appear under the influence of alcohol - perfect.   

That, of course, is impossible and furthermore, an illusion, even under the influence of a glass of red. Maybe especially under the influence of a glass of red. 

The world as seen through a glass of wine is soft and fuzzy, like the world through a pair of old glasses that no longer corrects your vision. You don't see clearly. Everything is blurry and you can convince yourself it is perfect, which may be why the world under the influence of a hangover is so hard to take. It is sharp and clear and painful. 

That same world, however, can be made soft and warm not by what you drink, but by how you see. Seeing the world through the eyes of love, instead of the eyes of judgement and hate, can give you that same soft fuzzy feeling, that same feeling of love. Without the bottle. 

It's not as easy, but it comes without a price. One that seems to be getting higher and higher every day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The January Blues

"Our bodies live off of LIGHT. Now (winter) is not the time to take on big projects. Now is the time to let things die. Self- introspection is the name of the game now. Follow the seasons - pop a big project in the spring. Reflect in the fall." --Dr Mark Dunn, ND 

I got this quote at a seminar I attended more than four years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I have always felt this, that the whole Christmas/New Years/Holidays with a capital "H" thing was all out of whack. I am feeling it again right now, particularly right now. 

January, in our culture, is all about new beginnings, resolutions, making plans and getting going. I don't know if I am the only one, but I am just not feeling it. Never have. Especially after all of the holiday busyness all I want to do right now is SLEEP. Rest. Lie in front of the fire. Read books. Watch TV. Be a total slug. Hibernate.

It is all I can do to get out of bed in the morning and I find myself sleeping later and later. Despite wanting - and planning - to get up at 6:00 AM and meditate or go to the pool before the kids wake up, I find myself lying in bed until 8:30 and then having to hop up and hurry them out the door. Even when I go to bed at 9:30 or 10:00 I can sleep until well past 7:00 these days. 

Part of me is railing against this. "You need to exercise, you need to meditate, " I tell myself, but my Self does not want to listen. My Self wants to sleep. 

As I reflect, I realize that it is this way every year. Every year I find myself swimming up stream, trying to fit a mold that doesn't really work for me, for my biology. 

So I am trying to do it differently this year. Trying to let it be. Trying to go with the flow and wait to be ready to "spring" into action. I imagine it will happen sometime around March 22nd. 

In the meantime, I am working on a plan for next year. For the holidays and beyond. To celebrate in a way that honors the season and my body. I wonder what that would look like?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Little Bee

"A billion people are hungry, hundreds of conflicts and wars are ongoing, tens of millions suffer from eradicable diseases, there is always at least one genocide underway somewhere on the planet, more people still live under dictatorships or oppressive regimes than live in free societies, and arms dealers still make more money than farmers. Of course individuals can make a difference, but the fact is that evil has had the whip hand in this world ever since Cain. That doesn't mean we should stop trying to be good, but we shouldn't kid ourselves, either. Evil is not going to be vanquished. Our job is to resist it, and to plant the seeds of further resistance so that goodness never entirely vanishes from the universe. There are degrees of resistance. It starts when you give a dollar to a homeless person and it escalates to the point where people give their lives, as Gandhi did, or Martin Luther King Jr. One person can make a difference by traveling as far along that continuum as they feel able." --Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee, in the author interview in the back of the Simon & Schuster trade paperback edition published in February of 2010

I just finished reading Little Bee, a book about a teenage refugee from Nigeria who is released, without any papers, after two years in a British detention center and has to try and make her way in the Western world. It is both brutal and sweet, devastating and hopeful, unbelievable and unforgettable. It is one of those books that I just can't stop thinking about. Can't stop remembering. Can't stop feeling. 

At first I was tempted to run off to Nigeria and see what I could do to help the women and children there who are being killed to fuel our cars. But I knew in my heart that this was impossible and irresponsible to my own family. So I looked around to see what I could do. I could send money, of course, to a charity that works to solve these kinds of issues in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, but that seemed too easy - "just" give some money. 

I could get rid of my car and walk everywhere. Or ride my bike. I pictured myself with a bike basket full of groceries pedaling home from our local Trader Joe's. My husband disavowed me of that notion immediately, "I don't want you careening down that busy street with a bike full of groceries. Talk about a recipe for disaster!"

I could sending loving energy to the women and children being tortured and killed. Think about them, remember them, keep them in my heart. Again, this seemed to come up somehow short. How hard is it for me in my safe home with plenty of food and plenty of freedom to send them light and love? 

Then I picked the book up again and read the author interview in the back of the book and I found this passage. I felt like it was telling me what to do. Get started. Do what you can. Make a difference by traveling as far along that continuum as you feel able. 

In September of last year I made a commitment to give $1 whenever I see a homeless person. After reading this book I made the commitment to walk whenever and wherever I can to cut down on my dependence on the oil for which women and children all over the world are being killed. Twice this week I have gone to get in my car and stopped myself, taking off on foot instead for the store and the bank. 

I will continue to look for opportunities to make a difference when and where and how I can. For now what I can do seems small, but someday I may feel able to travel further along the continuum of resistance and hope. Maybe even as far as Nigeria.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

I am taking the day off today. Just me and my pjs and the couch and "The United States of Tara" on Netflix. Hope it's a great one for you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More on Not Knowing

"...[A]ccept the non-knowing. There’s great power in not knowing, some might say the greatest. It doesn’t mean ignorance, or tuning out, or losing your self-awareness. It simply means finding joy, not anxiety, in life’s inconsistencies and mysteries....." --Anna Pulley 

I love the way the Universe works. As I wrote my non-post for Monday (that I actually posted on Tuesday ;) a "real" post about not-knowing came to me. See how that works? Accepting that you don't know actually leads to knowing. And vice versa I am pretty sure.....

Anyway, this weekend we went to the beach with some friends. You know how experts have been saying for years that eventually California is going to fall into the ocean? Well, in parts of Washington State, including where a friend of ours has a cabin, this is actually happening. 

They call it Washaway Beach

As you walk along, you can see bits of cement and rebar, cabinets and port-a-potties, half-full bottles of soda and baby dolls stuck in the sand and houses hanging off the edge of the dunes, just waiting for the next storm to come and wash them away. 

It is sad and it is scary and, at the same time, almost a relief.

Somewhere deep inside of all of us is the knowledge that we aren't really in charge. That we aren't in control. That there is something - a force beyond our understanding - that calls the shots in this life. But most of the time we live in denial. 

We buy things. We make plans. We build houses. With the expectation that these things will last, that they are set in stone. 

But nothing is ever set in stone. Nothing in this life is permanent. There is nothing but not-knowing everywhere we look. And there can be great power in that, if we can simply find the joy in it. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Knowing that I don't know

"Part of true knowing is knowing that we do not know." --Unknown, from an article entitled, "“Rising Above Sham Spirituality Part 1” from www.thenewcall.org 

I don't know what to write today. In fact, it is not even today, it is tomorrow. I am post-dating this post. 

I didn't post anything yesterday because I just did not know what to write. I wrote three or four posts, but none of them screamed "Post me!" so I didn't. I just let it go, knowing that something would come. 

And yet, here it is tomorrow and I still don't know what I want to write about this week. So I am just trying to be okay with that and I am going to share with you something fabulous that someone else wrote (and recorded).

I heard this story on NPR last Friday about Opal the Octopus who gave birth to 50,000 babies in a den in the Puget Sound near downtown Seattle and it just touched my heart for some reason. I feel sad and happy all at the same time when I think about Opal and her babies and all she gave for them. I hope you will enjoy it too. 

Knowing that we don't know is one of the hardest things there is about this human life I think. Maybe writer's block is the Universe's way of teaching me to be more comfortable with that. I am trying to learn. In the meantime, enjoy the story, enjoy the video and enjoying knowing that you don't know. Much love!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Being Open with a Capital O

"When you make a decision, the Universe moves to support you." --Mary Manin Morrissey

I am not sure choosing the word OPEN as my word for the year was a decision so much as a premonition, but whatever it was the Universe is moving to support me all right.

Part of what I had in mind when choosing the word was being more open to changes in "The Plan." Changes to what I had in mind for that day and for my life. Well, let me tell you, the Universe is moving to support that all right.

It started on the night before New Year's Eve, before I had even chosen the word OPEN (that happened on New Year's Day during my morning meditation). We had plans for New Year's, of course. Dinner with friends, maybe stop by another party after that. We bought champagne and were concocting a "signature cocktail" to bring to the dinner. Phone calls were made. Emails were exchanged. A Plan was in place. 

Fast forward to 4:00 AM on New Year's Eve. I am awakened by the click, swish of our bedroom door being opened by someone decidedly NOT trying to be quiet so as not to wake me. 


I grunt and squint at the figure standing beside my bed. It's my younger son, looking pale in the bathroom light. 

"I threw up." 

"Okay honey. What do you need?" 

"I need to come in your bed and I need some water." 

"Okay honey."

He lies down. I get up, empty the barf bucket we had the presence of mind of give him when he said his tummy felt funny the night before (we will not be so well prepared when the same virus hits my older son unfortunately), get him some water and head back to bed. 

I meet my husband in the hall. He is going to sleep on the couch. Clearly I am on vomit patrol tonight. "Thanks," I say, my voice thick with sarcasm. He gets the point and joins us in the bed for a morning of restless sleep. 

The next day we spend deciding if we can go to the party or not. My sister is visiting and can babysit, but should we leave her with sick kids? Are we contagious? Does our son need us to be home with him? 

As the day wears on my sister starts to feel unwell and I can feel the wheels coming off the bus of our New Year's Eve plans. It just isn't meant to be. We call and cancel. Everyone is in bed by 10:00 and asleep before 2012 even begins. 

Two days later the kids are back to school and I have my week planned out:

Tues: Teach "GET GLOWING for 20-12 and Write YOUR Year" with my sister (who is feeling better and never did throw up thank goodness!)

Wed: Holiday Returns and Grocery Shopping. Get back to exercising. 

Thurs: Meeting. Massage. More grocery shopping. More exercise.

Fri: Write. Walk. Pack for a weekend trip. 

All goes as planned until Wednesday morning when my younger son once again says he doesn't feel well. He isn't vomiting or running a fever, but he looks pekid and tired. Going back to school the day before was obviously too much for him. So I pack in my day of shopping, move the writing to Wednesday, the shopping to Thursday and all is well. 

Thursday morning at 1:00 AM I hear the click, swish again. This time it is my older son. 

"Mom, I threw up."

Groan. "Okay, what do you need?"

"I need you to clean it up and I need some water."

"Okay, I'll be right there."  

I walk into his room and the first thing I see is a perfectly round puddle of vomit right next to his bed. The next thing I see is the splatter all over everything near his bed. Books, Pokemon cards, pillows and stuffed animals, all splattered with barf. 

I stand there for a few seconds trying to figure out how I am going to clean this up without making a bigger mess and getting it all over myself. Finally, inspiration strikes. The pancake flipper. 

After getting my son a drink, I head to the kitchen, rummage around in the junk drawer and pull it out. I begin to clean up. 

By 2:30 he is asleep and everything is as clean as it is going to get tonight. I wash my hands (for about the tenth time since 1:00 AM) and go back to bed. 

In the morning I once again give up on shopping and exercising and spend the day cleaning and taking care of my boy. 

By this time I am laughing inside.  

OPEN? The Universe seems to be saying to me. You want to be OPEN to new possibilities, new plans, a different way of seeing and being? All righty then, let's do it!  

Everyday since then there has been some change, some shift, some upset that I have had to adapt to, weather, come to terms with. And I have to say that I have handled this with aplomb. I have gone with the flow and flowed with the go. I have been OPEN to changes in my day and my plan and my world view. 

And what it all comes back to really is all I need to know about being OPEN is that I already am - and have been - I just didn't know it yet. 

We all are. The Universe is in charge, not us. Every plan we make is just one possibility for how our day (our life) will unfold. There are untold possibilities of which we are yet unaware. 

So stay tuned, because they are coming, just around the bend, or perhaps at 4:00 AM this morning.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Open My Heart (Again)

"A cry comes from within, 'Open my heart!'"--The Koran

Yesterday I taught a workshop with my Dear Soul Sister, Jennifer Alhasa called "GET GLOWING for 20-12 and Write YOUR Year!" It is an intention-setting workshop designed to help you throw out the old and embrace the new this year. 

In the workshop we talked about what it means to GLOW, what are some obstacles to getting your GLOW on and some ways to let your GLOW show. If you would like to do the workshop in your own time and in your own space, click here to go to our website and follow along.

At the end of the workshop we asked each participant to chose a word that summed up what they want to manifest for the year. My word is OPEN. 

As in OPEN to the flow of life. OPEN to what shows up. OPEN to a plan different than mine. But also OPEN to the people around me. OPEN to more sharing. OPEN to deeper connections. OPEN to life. OPEN to love. 

Over the weekend I had an experience that changed the way I look at the world and the people in it and around me. Someone I thought I needed to keep at bay became a friend over a cup of tea. 

It came out of nowhere and it made me realize just how far I still have to go on my journey to enlightenment. How much I still judge and categorize and prejudice myself against others. It was another step on the path and I am grateful for it.

As I looked for a quote to go with this post today I did a search on the word intention and came up with this: 

"No intention is ever hatched in consciousness; no plan ever laid there. Intentions are premonitions that flash in the corner of consciousness to indicate what MAY BE about to occur. " --Guy Claxton, "The Wayward Mind" from Zero Limits by Joe Vitale

I think this is absolutely true about the words that we chose together yesterday. I believe that the words that spoke to us in the workshop were premonitions of what is to come for us this year.

But I also believe that they are manifestations of past intentions, set long ago, perhaps even in other lifetimes. I know mine is. 

When I searched my quotations database on the word OPEN I found a quote from April 15th 2008. It reads simply: "OPEN MY HEART" and is the "Life Purpose" that was revealed to me through an exercise from Dr Cat's Healing Handbook

Thus an intention set nearly four years ago is now coming to the fore, to be realized and made manifest in my life this year. 

I don't know exactly what this means or how it will look, but I am OPEN to it. 

I'd love to know: What is YOUR word for this year?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Best Gift of Christmas

"It is more blessed to give than to receive." --Acts 20:35 

I have been thinking a lot about this Bible verse this Christmas season, trying to figure out what is TRUE. And I think the truth, for me, is that both are easy and both are hard at different times and for different reasons. Here are some examples from this Christmas.

A week before Christmas I got a call from my brother-in-law. He knew a family, with two small boys, who had to make the choice between paying the rent and buying Christmas presents for their kids. Did we have any toys or books - any small thing - that we were no longer using that he could give to them for Christmas? 

Of course we did. I talked to my kids and told them what was up and they quickly gathered up a few things for these little boys they did not know. I was amazed at how generous they were. They gave away things I didn't think they would and my heart beamed at their willingness to give.

I wrapped and labelled and ribboned the books and toys and handed them off to my brother-in-law on the Friday before Christmas. It felt good to give. 

And it inspired me to help another family I know who is struggling in the same way. We picked out some more presents, I wrapped them up and included a grocery store gift card for a Christmas meal. Again I was amazed at my kids' generosity and willingness to share. 

I was also amazed at this family's ability to receive. And as I gave this gift I thought about how hard that is, especially around the holidays. "To give with graciousness and to receive with gratitude," (from the Unity Offertory Prayer) is tricky. 

We didn't exactly nail it on Christmas morning. 

As a parent I struggle with Christmas as you know. I just never know quite how to handle it. The kids make lists and I try my very best of make sure that they get most of the things they want, knowing that as a kid your purchasing power is very small and this can be frustrating and that Christmas is meant to be a magical time. 

But there are certain things I just cannot, will not, give to my children. Their own computer, their own handheld device, ANOTHER video gaming system, ANOTHER huge Lego set that never gets put together and ends up in pieces in our Lego trundle. These things make my blood boil just thinking about them.

A waste. Too much. Over the top. All of these phrases come to mind when thinking about the kind of Christmas my kids want and many kids in our little part of the world expect. Ugh. It just makes me sick thinking about it. 

And yet...

I know on some level that this is my judgement about it and that it comes in part from my experience of Christmas as a child. My parents were not rich and they were not flashy. They never had the newest thing or bought the trendy car. They were smart and thrifty and practical. All great qualities, but not what you're looking for as a kid on Christmas. 

Still, I can't entirely leave that conditioning behind. 

So even though I always wanted the Easy-Bake Oven or the doll that wets and cries - and felt disappointed because I didn't get them - I just can't bring myself to buy my kids an iTouch when they already have a DS or an Xbox 360 Kinect when we already have a Wii (which we got three years after it was the "thing" and the year the Kinect first came out). 

Which brings us to Christmas morning...

The kids wake up to stockings full of treats and a tree piled high with (some) of their greatest desires and the carnage begins. 

There are ohs and ahs and squeals of delight at first. Until the presents are all opened and the first barrage of, "But wait.... I didn't get ________! Where's my _______?" begins. 

And I lose it. 

But not in the usual way. I didn't yell or scream or begin a long lecture about the kids without presents. I got quiet. I left the room. I started to clean. 

And that scared the shit out of them. 

They started to tell me how much they liked the presents and how great they were and how they were going to use them right away. And I appreciated the effort. But it didn't change the fact that I had disappointed them. Again. I had worked my ass off and tried like hell to make it a great Christmas. And I had failed. Again. 

And that's when the thoughts came into my head about blowing the whole thing up. No more presents. No more gatherings. No more candy and cookies and cocktails. Just us at a homeless shelter. Or on a vacation. Or at home by the fire. 

So I don't know what Christmas is going to look like around our house next year, but I do know that the best gift I got this Christmas was the chance to give to those who couldn't and to watch my kids get into the spirit of that. 

"To give with graciousness and to receive with gratitude." That's what we're going for around here next year. I don't know what it's going to look like or how we are going to pull it off, but at least I know what we're going for. 

Let me know if you have any suggestions on how to get there. And I'd love to hear your holiday stories too, for better or for worse.