Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Burying and Celebrating

I had a dream the other night. I was in a grand cathedral for a funeral. A young man, who turned out to be my brother in the dream, was dancing down the aisle. A friend said: “If it were my dream I’d be asking, ‘What am I burying? What am I celebrating?’”

I had written a column a few years back about burying. A friend was explaining to me about a ritual she had done. Each person had a stick which they decorated with what represented all their cares, concerns, and complaints. Then they went outside and buried them. I thought about that for a while and then I said, “I wouldn’t bury my stick, I would plant it.”

Isn’t that what we tend to do with our difficulties and dilemmas? We often bury them, hoping they’ll go away, or ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. No, I thought. I want to plant my problems. I want to use them as fodder for the future. I want to, yes, put them behind me, but in such a way that they are the foundation for something else to grow. They are the steps in the unlimited possibilities of the abun-dance of life.

What am I planting this season? I’m finding in my healing work that my clients continue to teach me, and reflect my story back to me. Most recently I had a client tell me that they felt they were meant to do great things. Ah, this was an ‘aha’ moment! How often had I felt this very thing, along with the shame and guilt that what I am doing now is not enough, that who I am now is not enough.

So I plant this guilt, this shame, this judgment, this comparison. And I celebrate my uniqueness, my individual gifts, my value and my worth at this moment. Today I choose the abun-dance of Life using all the steps I made to get here as my own beautiful creation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Being Seen

I have always had a problem with being seen. In my family being seen meant performing, being perfect, getting it right, being in control. Who I was when I allowed myself to be seen was not perfect, was not right, was out of control. 

The twist in my familial beliefs was that I never felt I belonged; I was never good enough. I had the courage to charge ahead, to meet obstacles head-on, to challenge myself, and my limitations, with a passion to get it right, to become worthy—and it never happened. Since I was never worthy, since I was never perfect, I never wanted to be seen.

Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller, says that connection gives purpose to our lives, and that to have connection one must be seen. She says that shame comes from a fear of being disconnected—to be connected one must believe that he or she is worthy.

I was talking to my daughter about God. She told me that she believes that God is the connection, the interconnection between us all. That would mean that all are worthy of connection. I’ve always felt that in the connection is the creativity. In every relationship is the opportunity, the potential for growth, for belonging, for creating something bigger than one’s Self.

Yet this connection, this creativity, this Divinity comes about wholly, sacredly, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, open to receive, to be seen for who we are in our glorious imperfections. This connection comes, as Brene Brown goes on to say, with a willingness that has no guarantees, no expectations or predictions.

So, today I am practicing being vulnerable to myself, being open to my whole heart and soul—no shoulds, or have tos, no numbing or pretending. Today I am practicing breathing in others and breathing out me. Today I am practicing being seen.

“The idea of practicing love is deeply appealing to me, because built right in is an acceptance of imperfection. There is an acknowledgment to myself that I am going to mess this up, an understanding that there is room to grow. Each of my failures just affirms the truth that we are all starting over and rising again.” 
 Anna White, Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith

Rocky: I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Angels Watching Over Me

The angels told me this morning: “Your actions have consequences.”

I had been thinking of something that happened the day before. I had to do something that I had agreed upon and yet I was tired and grumpy. So I got angry. I didn’t show it externally. I didn’t express it physically. But I knew I was angry and I immediately regretted it.

Actually, I did more than regret it—I felt guilty about it. Then there was the self-talk: “How can you deserve this relationship when you’re so bad? Anne, you are so selfish.” Fortunately I’m getting more aware of self-judgment, so I sat with it yesterday—this anger and my reaction to it.

When the angels told me this morning that my actions have consequences it all fell into place. When I get angry and take it out on another there are consequences I can take responsibility for—or not. When I blame myself, I’m not taking responsibility. I’m either judging myself, or expecting you to punish me—withdraw your love or shame me. Either way digs me a deeper hole.

When I was young and went to Confession my most common sin was: “I got angry at my mother four times.” I was always angry at my mother. Today I thought: Wow, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the priest had responded: “And for your penance go talk to your mother about how you feel.” Instead he said: “Say two Hail Marys and one Our Father.” Afterwards I was still angry at my mom.

If my actions have consequences (and they always do!) let me look at those results. Let me take responsibility for those results. The judging and the blaming and the guilt and the shame are reactions to the actions. Owning the consequences by apologizing or forgiving or learning by choosing another action moves me, changes me and gives me a lot of hope.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Protection or Revelation

We so often see life as an either/or. Why can’t it be both/and? I want to protect myself—and—I want to open to new opportunities to grow myself without fear of being dependent. I want to take responsibility for valuing myself—and—I want to live in service to others without being manipulated.

Both scenarios require healthy boundaries; boundaries that support and protect me—and—are flexible and resilient in the face of life’s difficulties to allow for growing experiences that are sacred and revelatory.

Barbara Brennan speaks of the difference between the boundary of expansion and the boundary that we create in defense when “I” meet “You”. One holds the excitement of discovery, the other the separation and resistance to oneness or communion. One holds the uniqueness of a gift or invitation to love, the other a wall of anger, fear and pain. The one must encompass the other in compassion as we ground ourselves in our original nature, and learn to accept both as part of our worldly experience.

In a way, this both/and is a lot like the differences between men and women. We each have both energies—and—are healthiest when they are integrated within us. One day I was exploring my masculine energies and saw a magnificent Cottonwood tree. I took the opportunity to ask it: “You are an embodiment of focused power. What do you have to say to me?”

The Cottonwood replied immediately. “The source of my power and longevity is two-fold. It is in my rootedness and my nourishment. Ground down deep into Mother Earth, and drink up all you can from your network of support and words of wisdom. Keep an open mind to transform each situation into a new layer of growth—it’s not just your skin, your edge, that is of importance. It is your rings of substance that make all the difference.

“My growth is directional (masculine)—always toward the sun, or reaching deep below the ground. And yet at my core, my power is relational (feminine)—xylem and phloem bringing that nourishment, sun and earth, to the heart of my being. From there I flower and fruit to share with others. Your power to grow is masculine. Your power to love is feminine. And yet they are one and the same.”

Hmmm, makes me want to be human—and—be a tree!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Walking the Labyrinth

Every morning I go out to the labyrinth to pray and meditate. On the way in I recite what has become our family's pledge. There are 8 points to it. The first speaks of reconnecting to the land and establishing a sense of place that is bigger than one's self, encompassing this place and the whole of the universe.

The next point reflects the spiraling lineage through which that oneness becomes Oneness, as the individual connects to a family, community, nation, world and cosmos, always seeking to live for a higher purpose.

To accomplish this, the third point speaks of being able to see all people and all things as one's relation. All of creation is a teacher, and what is being taught is true ownership - finding the essence of these aspects in our selves and in others.

Being responsible for contributing to a world based on freedom, peace, unity and happiness is the fourth point, while the fifth speaks of standing on the shoulders of our ancestors and passing on our inheritance and our legacy to others, as life moves beyond this moment and expands.

The sixth point speaks of using our gifts to enrich the community, embodying our thoughts and feelings so that the blessing can be shared. This action then becomes “rooted” in our culture, as we strive to recreate a culture of heart and oneness centered on love.

Lastly, our family's pledge speaks of the Great Turning - that the time to act is now. Remember past hurts and failures only in order to learn from them and move beyond them. It is most important then to let them go, to release the past. Releasing opens the door to a new future, and liberating ourselves from the burden helps us take that step through the door into a new life.

With that I arrive at the center and place the offering I have found along the way. Sometimes the offering comes with a reminder to keep going, sometimes with a reminder that the path through darkness does indeed lead to a new day. Sometimes I am entreated to focus on a particular person or situation, or encouraged to keep up the work I've already started.

I always begin the journey outward with an intention for the day. Family and friends always join me on the way out as well. The labyrinth receives it all, offering back love, protection, encouragement and peace. And with that, I begin my day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fire . . . AND Ice

 Today, even the spider webs froze . . . along with the drops that yesterday’s spring-like thaw provoked. Yesterday I could hear the water seeping down the hillside. Today the ground is alive with the crinkle and crack of ice contracting and expanding.

There is a curious thing I’ve noticed about this global warming experience. It’s allowing us the opportunity to become more flexible and aware.

I gave a presentation the other day to a group of intelligent, enlightened women. With this kind of group I’ve learned I can either be intimidated or curious as to how spirit will use me. I invited them to share with me a Beginner’s Mind—for even I am surprised by what I say sometimes!

The thing that made an impression on me this time was the other side of our blocks. Or perhaps I should say the “in” side of the block. We have an experience that hurts us, shames us, angers us, causes us to freeze, and we tend to block off that experience creating a wall of emotion that we don’t want to feel because we believe it is not safe.

Here I am, on the “in” side of this wall, investing so much energy into keeping myself safe. I’ve used my energy to create, block by block, a separation between this experience and myself. I’ve used it as a sounding board for other incidents that I believe are similar—ones that could hurt me, or scare me, or anger me.

And the amazing thing about this wall is that I built it! I built it—with my energy. The bigger the wall, the stronger I Am. That truly is a gift—my gift. Then I realize that gifts are for giving. I’ve got this incredible strength and I’ve hidden it behind this wall of shame, or fear or anger. Instead of devoting this energy to the story that I can’t protect myself, I can give myself the gift of connection and support, and give others my gift of compassion and forgiveness.

Without the ice, though, sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty and the strength that is the reality of our true selves.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Fire of Transformation

I saw a burning bush today!

Ah, so that's how it was done, was my first thought. Then, so what is God's message to me today? Take my shoes off? no way; it's 7* out here with 6 inches of icy snow on the ground. No desert here.

Again, I am struck with the importance of awareness for being in the right place at the right time. The bush, the sun, the atmosphere, the season, the hour, my spiritual practice of walking the labyrinth, the woods that generously allowed a space for the labyrinth, my move to PA--I could go on! and, I still could have missed the burning bush.

Even in His loudest voice God's work is relational and in communion with creation. If we're not paying attention, even the miraculous is but a whisper of white noise in the busyness of our mind's chatter or our multi-tasking lives.

 What was God saying? To Moses, He was promising a land flowing with milk and honey. God even told Moses His name: I Am. I wasn't looking for a miracle so I went back inside to prepare for my client. She has had a series of misfortunes from back surgery to losing her job; from a growing awareness of the damage incest has done in her life to a loving husband who has had a life-threatening illness.

Asking for guidance I was told to share these feelings with the client:
I am in pain AND I am grateful
I am afraid AND I am grateful
I am in despair AND I am grateful
I am angry AND I am grateful
I am speaking out AND I am grateful
I am letting go AND I am grateful

I guess that burning bush had a message for me after all AND I am grateful.