DIVINE DESTRUCTION ~ with marshmallows !

I’m remembering ~

Nature shows us life’s absolute, comforting cycle.

Spring is the time of CREATION, rebirth.   Winter’s once hibernating seeds bud and begin to blossom.  We’re inspired, excited, rejuvenated. The sun is warm again.  The sky, piercing blue.   We’re outside, nurturing ourselves, earth. Anticipation runs high:  What will our creations look like ?!

The arrival of summer begins the SUSTAINING.  Spring’s kept her promise !  Blossoms and greenery, fully expressed and vibrant, surprise and dazzle us, invite us to languish in all we created.  Surrounded by luscious rewards, we bask in our bounty.  It’s party time !   We vacation.  We cook outside, picnic.  We confidently explore new places and things, enjoy.  Children squeal with delight at the beach.  Dogs run into the waves.  We consume nature’s finest  buffet.

And then of course, there’s  Fall.  Time to start settling down.  Nature, in all her loving wisdom, aids our transition, begins to prepare and comfort us for her last phase:  Winter’s DESTRUCTION.  A crispness tinges the air.  Rich, effervescent yellows, oranges and reds begin to burst across the landscape like celebratory fireworks.  The last hurrah.  Our mood deepens.  We spend more time inside.  Buy firewood, trim and protect our plantings.

But sometimes, due to climate change, destruction comes early – like this year.  A big storm came through and shattered the flowers, raped the trees.  There was no transition.  Suddenly, all color was gone, the landscape, a picture of chaos.  A cold, dark gray sky loomed over ravaged brown earth, and triggered great anger, sadness and fear.  It felt so unfair !  So WRONG.

Yes…

AND~

As I quietly sit inside, looking out into the early morning darkness, hugging a hot mug of coffee, I feel my roots strengthening, reaching deeper into the earth.  Fully facing into the destruction, I wonder.  What seedlings can I begin to sprout, water, shine a light on ?  What bounty do I want all to enjoy come summer ?  How might I sustain MYSELF throughout the long, harsh winter ahead ?

I remember hot chocolate – with marshmallows !  Sitting by a warm fire, swaddled in a blankie with a cup of tea and good book.  I remember snow angels, starry Christmas lights, carols, champagne, friends, family, connections…  I LOVE WINTER, so quiet and contemplative…  It’s a glorious time to rest, fortify, reflect, truly live inside…

So today, I’m looking forward to winter and invite you to do the same.  Spring isn’t that far off and it will all begin again.  In the meantime:  MARSHMALLOWS !

Beaming strong roots ~

naturescycle

 

DIVINE ~~~ COOKIN’ !

photo-5IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN HAVING A HAPPY LIFE AND TRUE CONNECTIONS, look no further than your kitchen.

I discovered this as I recuperated from surgery.  Homebound for a month, watching an embarrassing amount of cooking shows, I noticed how the five basic tools for shifting my state and connection were very much like my favorite kitchen ware.  For instance ~

BREATH is like my favorite WOODEN SPOON.  My go-to for any situation.  Just a few deep belly breaths not only changes and calms my brain, allowing for better thoughts, actions, but also changes the energy around me.  So it is with the spoon: it stirs, scrambles, digs toast out of a toaster, kills bugs, reaches distant objects, jams garbage down the disposal, and in some homes, (not mine !) is a threat to small children.  Its uses are far and wide.

PRESENCING is like my favorite BIG KNIFE.  I use it constantly. Combined with breath, it’s a sure fire way to slice through anything, change my state.  Mostly it’s about noticing body sensations.  Just NOTICING.  No judgement.  Your brain can’t focus on your body AND THINK at the same time.  (Try it.  Impossible !)  So when walking my dog – a responsibility I usually don’t enjoy – I practice presencing:  my heels as they touch the ground, the tightness in my jaw, the fullness of my OWN bladder.  It quickly clears way for inner peace, gratitude.  Suddenly, I find myself noticing beautiful, little things – the intricate designs in leaves, pine cones, trees, ducks doing synchronized swimming in the lagoon.  This also works beautifully when encountering “stressful” situations – airport delays, grumpy worker bees, sick people/animals, death, dying, and taxes !  Centered and grounded, the world is a different place because I’M in a different place – my BODY !

PLAY is like my TONGS.  Anything goes here !  I LOVE TO PLAY !  In his book “Play,” Dr. Stuart Brown defines play as a [critical, transformative] “purposeless” activity that gives you pleasure.  Think puppies chasing an empty water bottle.  “Mature women” dancing with doorknobs. (Ahem…)  Singing in the car, shower.  Bouncing a ball off a wall.  Tongs remind me of this.  I use them to swirl pasta, turn bacon, toss ingredients, and goose contemplative passersby.  They’re an extension of my hands – AND the brain is always looking to connect to our hands !  It’s also worth noting Dr. Brown’s list of “play personalities.”  There are eight:  The Joker, The Kinesthete, The Explorer, The Artist/Creator, The Director, The Storyteller, The Competitor, and The Collector.  I’ve noticed truly fulfilled people naturally “work” their play personalities.  I’ve also noticed stereotypical “A” peeps find the usual definition of play offensive.  They judge it as lazy, irresponsible, silly, unproductive.  Untrue.  These are the ones who get their jollies from competition, directing, athletics.  “Serious” play.  Me, an “Artist/Creator,” not so much…

LOVE is like my little PARING KNIFE.  When delicate, important handiwork is required – deveining shrimp, peeling the skin off an apple, an avocado, potato, or removing seeds from tomatoes,  I think LOVE.  Tiny, intricate moves that expose the best, essential parts.  I’ve seen body-mind masters peel away personas to get to the essential, true self with the aplomb of an Iron Chef.  That said, I also think of LOVE as BUTTER.  A delicious balm that elevates and intensifies almost anything !

Last is ~

CURIOSITY.  My old, browned, plastic SPATULA.  This tool requires a very deft hand, concentrated focus, intuition, and patience.  Think:  eggs over easy,  pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese.  It’s all about timing.  Observing.  Attention.  To flip or not to flip. For instance, notice the difference between these two questions.  “What do you love about sports ?” versus “Why do you like sports ?”  The latter has an undertone of judgement and accusation.  It lacks evidence of genuine interest and therefore results in superficial, defensive answers.  A dead end in relating.   BUT “what” questions, along with “when, how and where” glean more information, lead to greater understanding and connection.  There is a spaciousness around them that invites room for real expansion, connection.  Also an “Explorer,” I LOVE practicing curiosity.

A couple of days ago, I woke up with this thought:  OH !  We ALL naturally possess these tools !!!  They’re organic to being human !!!  We’re all breathing;  we all have bodies;  we all play and love; and we all endlessly wonder !  So how come we’re all not COOKIN’ ?

Maybe we don’t know how to use our tools.  Maybe we didn’t even know we had them all along – like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz !”  Whatever the reason, there’s no time like the present !

To cook or not to cook ?  That is the question.

 

 

 

 

DIVINE ALL

Cleaning brussel sprouts, I had the thought, “My mother would like this recipe.  She was a lousy mother, but a good cook.”

Immediately a gentle voice inside asked, “True ?  And what about you ?”

I rested my hands on the sink, stared at the greenery outside, breathed.  Yeah…  What about ME ?  I’ve sure had my share of shitty mom moments…

I grabbed the knife, started chopping.

What the hell IS a good mother anyway ?  I wondered.  I’ve played lots of female roles in this theatre called life, and BY FAR, the hardest, most challenging role I’ve played is that of mother.  There was no audition, no studying or preparing; all I had to do was show up, have sex, and BAM !  I got the part !   Nine months later:  REALITY.  I was on stage –  without a script.  Through the miracle of science, I had signed a contract to perform  24/7/365 days a year FOR DECADES, for FREE.  It would require every ounce of energy, love, perseverance, sacrifice, patience, ingenuity, courage and improv I could muster, and the reviews – based upon my history – would probably not render me Oscar material.

Yet ~

MY BOYS.

Just thinking about them, feeling how much I love them, how proud I am, triggers happy tears. They’re men now, gone, self-sufficient, delicious and delightful human beings, and for a few moments, I wonder how that happened.  We lived through some horrible times !!!  Times where I KNOW I unconsciously repeated my mother’s patterns, heaped some powerful hurt upon them in frustration, rage, desperation and just plain FEAR.  But somehow they survived.  Somehow they thrive.

As do I.

Maybe, like me, they learned valuable, important lessons from their hurts, became better because of, or in spite of, them.  Maybe like me, they know, no matter what’s going on, there is, and always will be, a commitment to love.

I tossed the sprouts in olive oil, contemplated ~

Love.

Long nights in a rocking chair.  Working on no sleep for DAYS.  Changing diapers, cleaning puke.  Smelling like puke !  Making bottles, baby food, meals, cupcakes, Halloween costumes, decorations, school projects.  Schlepping to school, lessons, activities, play dates, appointments, emergency rooms.  Caring for friends, pets, boo-boos.  Teaching manners, numbers, letters, puzzles, printing, how to brush teeth, wash, wipe, ride a bike, roller skate, build a fort, read, sing Happy Birthday, play Itsy-Bitsy-Spider.  All these things and more.  So much more… 24/7/365.

My mother and I did that.  Some days we lost it, said and did things that break our hearts to this day; and some days we were Betty Crocker, June Cleaver and Joan Rivers rolled into one.

BUT !

This I know for sure:  We gave it everything we had.  What we had might have been broken and beat up, but we gave it.  With genuine, loving intentions.  In sports they call it “your personal best.”  In life we say we gave it “our all.”  When I work the numbers (which is 16,425 days, 394,200 hours, 23,652,000 minutes – I think !), look at pure data, it’s easier to forgive us.  I think, based upon our ROI (return on investment), our children, the good we did must’ve out-weighed the bad.  Yes, there were surely angels – visible and invisible – lending a hand, but it was us in the trenches.  Day in and day out.  No sick days.  No time off.  Just us.  Bravely improvising, giving all.

Come to think of it, I probably got this recipe from her.

With love and gratitude ~

 

DIVINE WISDOM ~ a tribute to the teachings of Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks

 

“All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”  Shakespeare

Buzzed through a security door, I enter the most fascinating improv theatre I’ve ever experienced.

Immediately, the play begins, players appear.

Nell, a favorite, engages me first. Carrying her usual armload of stuffed animals dressed in baby clothes and aglow with delight, she starts her ritual of presenting  her “children.”   On and on, in rapid-fire gibberish, I somehow learn all about them for the umpteenth time.  I smile, listen, “ooo” and “ahh” with genuine interest.  Apparently they’re wearing new outfits.   I tell her they’re beautiful.  Satisfied, she beams, strolls away.

Next is Paul.  Another favorite. Today he’s  barefoot, holding his shoes, reprimanding them: “I told you receipts !” he’s yelling.  “Two, three nine, two three nine !”  I bow, give him our usual “TA-DA” hello. (Picture a tap dancer making a big finish.)  He looks, gives me a dismissive wave, continues ranting.

Then Addy, big as a minute and a hundred years old, approaches.  Brow furrowed, arms folded across her chest, she blocks me, comes nose to nose, and announces, “BULLSHIT.”  I, narrowing my eyes, equally serious, respond, “ABSOLUTELY.”  SHE walks away.

As I make my way through a living room scene, James, sitting, half watching an old Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie, grabs my arm, asks, “Have you seen the bride ?  I’m very concerned.  No one seems to know where she is !”

“Ohh my…” I respond mirroring his worry.  “Maybe one of the aids will know.”  I pat his arm.  “I’ll ask for you.”

“Oh, thank you !” he says, relieved and ever so polite.  “I’ll wait.”

Ahead, I finally see my “supporting actress” in this dementia play:  my mother – alone, slumped over, sleeping in her wheelchair.  I approach quietly, touch her shoulder gently.  I whisper, “Hi, Mom.  Howya doin’ today ?”

Her eyes pop open.  She shouts, “Is that you Linda Ruth ?!”

I smile.

“Yes, Mom.  It’s me, Linda Ruth.”

She grabs my hand, smothers my knuckles with wet kisses.

“Wanna go for a ride ?” I ask, taking the lead.

“Oh, yeah.”  Quick answer.  “I’ll go.”

I grab the handles of her chair and head for the garden.  It’s a beautiful day and the outside world is screaming Spring !

“Look Mom.  Your favorite pinks,” I say, pointing to the tulips and locking her wheels.

“Oh, yeah, pinks,” she responds robotically, not even looking.

I take her hand, begin noting each flower and color, each tree, bird and bush.  She listens, but doesn’t speak.  Eventually, we simply sit, silent, breathing, faces lifted toward the sun.  Peaceful… Connected… Present.   

I reflect upon our beginnings here, how I initially dreaded our visits.  I had judged the whole place to be a total freak show – repulsive, pitiful, depressing, embarrassing, and then, truth be told, SCARY and SAD.

It was all about ME – ME facing my biggest fears:  What if this happened to ME ?  What if I was the one pooping and peeing in my pants, talking to shoes, dressing stuffed animals, depending upon strangers to bathe, feed, dress and care for ME ?  ME, out of control of my body, mind, emotions ?  Horrifying losses, fears…

Then one day, while visiting her in the activity center, things changed.  We were sitting, quiet, just like now, when I glanced down at her skeletal, eighty year old hand and noticed every nuance.  It looked like a hand I would see in a morgue:  a knot of clenched bones under a film of tan crepe paper skin with splashes of purple-black clots and waves of blue-green veins, sinking, sinking.  I breathed them in and immediately got the image of her making cinnamon toast in the broiler.  I used to watch these hands make breakfast… For a moment I could almost smell it !  More breath, and I felt my heart crack – just a little – just enough – for tears of sadness, then gratitude, to well, tumble.  Allowing all and deepening my breath, I felt my torso warm, expand:  OH !  LOVE !   All over !  From that place, my natural curiosity on fire,  I looked around the room with new eyes,  began to wonder as I would in the face of any challenge ~

~ How might The Divine see this ?

~ What am I being called to learn ?

~ How might this whole experience serve me and others ?

~ Considering life’s natural cycle of “create, sustain, destroy,” what might I create to move me, us, through this slow destruction phase ?

~ How might all this be a call from/to more love ?

~ What can I appreciate ?

Before me I saw white-haired toddlers.  One wearing a belt over pajamas and one shoe.  Another was dancing with a broom.  Yet another was singing and walking in circles.  All doing, being, saying, whatever they pleased in the moment, completely devoid of egos, social selves, propriety and worry.  Pure essence.  Totally free souls yet totally dependent.

And I loved them all.

Still do.

Once they were teachers, doctors, scientists, editors, business owners, artists, inventors and soldiers.  Today, their only job is to be present, play and love. (My favorite things !)   After a lifetime of service, perhaps this ending is an odd kind of gift, a time when others get to serve THEM.

Then again, perhaps it’s a time when they, in their last act, show us how to live.

It’s almost dinner time, so I wheel my mother to the dining room, tell her I’m off to walk and feed our dog.  She doesn’t open her eyes, just says, “Ok.”  I kiss her forehead, say “See you later,” and wave a cheerful goodbye to all my players.

As I’m buzzed out, I remember what my genius friend Jody Kaylor says:  “It’s all improv.”

It is.

Beamin’ love and play,

Linda

 

DIVINE ESSENCE

Whenever I doubt my divine essence, I remember the day I experienced it all.

I was about three.  My mother had kicked me out of the house with her usual, “Go play !  It’s too nice to be inside !” mantra, and I found myself standing in our front yard, alone, bored, and anxious for some kind of FUN.

Scanning the block for activity, finding none, I suddenly remembered a new family had just moved into the old house on the corner.  Perfect !  I was off to explore !

The run down place was surrounded by thick, tall hedges, an oversized willow hovering over all.  I stuck my hands in the leaves, spread branches for a better look.  Inside:  a girl !  Just my age, wearing a ponytail, crisp shorts and top, she was drawing in the dirt with a stick.  Bored just like me.

I took a chance.

“Hey kid !” I called through the hedge.  “Wanna play ?”

She looked around, seeking a face.

“Ok,” she answered, compliant, no face necessary.

Done !

I made my way around the wall of hedge, stepped into her yard, and gave the place a once over:  small, mostly dirt, scant patches of grass, some pebbles, rocks, sticks and legs of mountainous willow roots erupting everywhere.  No slide or swings.  No sandbox or toys.  Nothin’.  Just a bunch of nature’s remnants.

I looked into her freckled, waiting face, smiled and firmly announced, “Let’s make mud pies !”

Hard up for fun as I was, and to her credit, open for anything, she shrugged, said “Ok” again and followed my lead.  As I commenced to  scour the grounds for perfect ingredients, she became my sous chef, running handfuls of water from the outdoor spigot as needed.  By dinner time we had a “bakery” of pies decorating her weathered back steps.  Trophies on a mantle.  A good days work.  A lasting friendship, born.  My 10,000 hours of mastery had begun.

Today, I look back on that day with awe.  At the age of three, I KNEW what I sometimes forget now:  I was born to be a master of transformation.  And if you think that’s a wild, grandiose statement, consider the characteristics required and utilized.

FLEXIBILITY ~ My mother pushed me outside and I was ok with it.

ADAPTABILITY ~ I figured out SOMETHING.  I knew how to “love what is.”

INTUITIVE ~ I followed my impulses.

ADVENTUROUS ~ I was willing and open to exploring the unknown.

CONFIDENCE ~ I invited myself, initiated a relationship.

ANALYTICAL ~ I immediately scanned for potential.

DETERMINATION ~ I WAS going to find and make something GOOD.

CREATIVE ~ I KNEW how to connect all the best parts of that sorry yard, create somethin’ from nothin’.

COMMANDING ~ I easily slipped into a leadership role, decided and announced the plan.

OPTIMISTIC ~ Somewhere inside I just KNEW things would work out.

FAITHFUL – I had no doubt.  Obstacles, lack, were non-existent.

REVERENT ~ I took pride in, and cared for, my creations.

PROLIFIC ~ I possessed an endless supply of ideas, configurations.

PATIENT ~ Believing in a good end result, patience was a non-issue.

CONTEMPLATIVE ~ I was a reflective.

We all had childhoods.  We all played.  And we were all born with talents to serve the highest good in ourselves and others.  We just need to wake up.

Remember.

Beamin’ love !

DIVINE TRIALS

THE MUD ~ anything from breaking a nail to armaggedon

The movie “G R A V I T Y” isn’t an epic adventure about outer space; it’s a non-stop, riveting journey through INNER SPACE, a cinematic tutorial on spiritual awakening,  proof that trials are invitations to decide and clarify:  What are we committed to ?  Do we want to live in fear or love ?  (all choices distill into these two)

George Clooney and Sandra Bulloch play the classic roles of Master and Apprentice.  George is the experienced, calm, wise, playful and encouraging Jedi; Sandra, the nervous, fumbling, trying-hard, panicking novice.  The entire movie is mostly about Sandra Bulloch overcoming a tirade of in-your-face, life threatening obstacles.  George has put in his 10,000 hours of mastery; Sandra, six months !  As the trials come, she starts racking up  intensive hours of training !  Over and over, in a split second, she must decide.  What does she want ?

The ending was, at first, curious.  But then ~ NOT.  A committed apprentice of loving choices, I decided to get really clear about my own decisions.  A visual learner and teacher, I whipped out my trusty drawing pad.

At the top of the paper I made two columns:  on the left “FEAR”; on the right, “LOVE.”  In the middle I listed all the fundamental tools for shifting to love.  Below is my list.  Feel free to add, subtract, question.

FEAR is ~

Contracting, complaining, blaming, secretive, petty, conniving, threatening, anxious, judgemental, critical, defensive, entitled, cheap, combative, disconnected (lonely, bitter), jealous, humorless, addictions (indulging in anything to excess, physical or mental – including worrying, drama, caring), withholding (affection, information, money, expression – anything), lying, shaming, drama, sarcasm, controlling, consuming (versus creating), avoiding, self-destruction (through thought, word, deed), closed mindedness, insecurity, bullying, dominance, gossipy, guilt, overwhelm, perfectionism, feeling not good enough,  unenlightened, unaware, uncommitted, powerless, directionless, sickness, stuck, unsure and just plain old MISERABLE !

LOVE is ~

Peace, harmony, cooperation, reverence, creativity, courage, faith, understanding, forgiving, kind, committed, wise, trustworthy, intuitive, compassionate, empathic, awake, enlightened, radiant, free, fun, laughter, serene, confident, adventurous, expansive, awe, tolerant, patient, sharing, generous, imagination, connection, fulfillment, clarity, joyous, playful, truth, easeful, appreciative, timeless, boundless, surrender, grateful, affectionate, abundance, responsible, open minded, open hearted, willingness, authentic, powerful, presence, flexible, curiosity, health, essence, purposeful, grounded, expansive and simply one rockin’, VIBRANT soul !

I AM COMMITTED TO COLUMN “LOVE.”

Simple but not easy.

In the past months, I, too, have been clunked by some dandy bits of “meteoric debris.”  Big life transitions !  Hit by a multitude of rocks at once, I spent a chunk of time and energy steeping in the aptly named “F” column !   Often, I lost my footing, slipped and fell into life’s “FOO-DOO” – the ol’ “Family Of Origin Excrement” (In today’s terms,  FOO is “software” of beliefs, values, patterns downloaded into me by others that runs on automatic, fueling my present “hardware” until I consciously decide to create something different.). Often, I was “just plain miserable.”

Luckily, I have a “George,” Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks, (of the famed Hendricks Institute) as well as several other masterful Jedis, to guide and support me !

To my delight, we, and Ms. Bulloch, use the same five fundamental tools to shift us toward love, our souls ~

BREATH – Just a few deep belly breaths can change your brain waves from this “!@#$%^&*+” to this ~~~~~~~. (The word “breath” btw, comes from the Latin “spirit.”)

PRESENCING/MINDFULNESS – Just noticing body sensations can drop you into your  body, turn off your “lizard brain,” shift fear.  And remember:  Your body cannot lie !  If you’re not sure what’s going on, notice ~ tight jaw ? tornado belly ? stiff neck ?  Notice, breathe.  Any images, feelings, thoughts arrive ?  Move. Breathe into the sensations.  What happens ?  Anything new ?

PLAY – Doing something just for the hell of it, no outcome in mind, is the definition of play.  Kids and dogs know this.   It changes your state.  Also, movement creates change – especially unusual ones which shake up the neural pathways. Making faces/ sounds, dancing, pretending, improv, stream of consciousness journaling – whatever we did as kids FOR FUN.  VERY essential for our development then and NOW.

CURIOSITY – Wonder.  Genuinely ask questions. (Note: “why” questions RARELY move us toward love.  There’s usually an underlying tone of accusation.) Explore, experiment.

LOVE – In the midst of fear, take a second to recall someone or something you know for sure, you love. Breathe them/it, in.  Let the delicious feeling of love, all its characteristics ooze through you like warm caramel. (love food metaphors)  Nothing bad can happen from this vibration.  In fact, since we ARE energy, it actually changes everything.

Sometimes, I mindfully walk the beach – my outer space.  In meditative silence, I watch birds fly in formation, shift their wings WITH the air…   toddlers build paper cup castles in the sand… dogs romp in the waves…  The sun goes in… and comes out.  Clouds drift… and the tide shifts.  Nature…  Miraculous nature !  And I’m a part of it !   And it’s generously  teaching me, showing me, who I am, what to do, how to be !

Yes, the trials come like the waves, wind.  Some big, some small.  But I am committed.  All will be opportunities for me to practice shifting from fear to love, to commit and RE-commit.  And every time I do, I will be practicing, practicing, practicing !   Racking up those 10,000 hours of mastery !

I have been awakened.

I have taken that the journey to my soul.

It is home.

I love it there.

Here.

Come on in !!!

Beaming love ~~~

THE DIVINE WHOOPS ! an addendum

THE MUD ~ Forgetting fundamental, automatic basics !

In my last post, I offered tips for self care in the midst of chaos (or anytime, for that matter).  This morning I woke up, began my routine and realized, “Holy-Moly, I forgot to mention THIS !!!”  So automatic – like brushing my teeth – I forgot to share the fundamental habits that sustain me everyday !!!

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