I’m honored to be a part of this collection of poems edited by Gabriela Marie Milton. The anthology is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit and our ability to heal and create from our wounds. Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women has been release one day early and is now available on Amazon.
Once again, like many others, I am feeling deeply bothered by the state of the world in which we all live. Today I am thinking of the words of Louis Armstrong and his beautiful lyrical antidote to a troubled world. A world that, more than fifty years later, feels, well, no less-troubled.
Where have we gone wrong? How do we make right?
We still cling to our violence like an infant clings to his “blankie.” We are hesitant to let go. The lust for power and greed continually supersedes our common good. We are a broken beautiful world trying to exists in the extremes of violence (mankind) and beauty (nature).
I use the world “mankind,” because let us be clear that it is the driving force of masculinity, whether it exists in a so-called male of female body, that lends itself towards violent acts. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it often is in our world. The driving force is also the creative force, bringing forth life instead of death, in all its myriad forms.
It is working with the “light” that drives the life force that threads through all of us in its purest form. It is what Christ strived for, and Buddha. It is a quest for a balance and harmony. For the common good of all life.
And here we are stuck in the throes of our extremes. Many of us are struggling to incite change: signing petitions, calling senators, picketing our capital buildings, voting…while knowing it is simply not enough.
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I don’t know what it is going to take for us to put aside our accumulated lust for power and find our common ground. I wish I did.
One thing that nags me continuously though, is those we keep silent. Those who pull the card of spirituality without actually doing the real work. The term spiritual bypassing was coined by a psychotherapist named John Welwood to define individuals who use spirituality and its practices as a way of bypassing the real work of healing and changing their lives. Now it is a term used to also include the lives of others.
We see it all the time. It has become a chronic problem. An excuse for either doing nothing, or worse, doing the wrong thing. I am stretching the limits of this term to define all of those who claim to be following the path of the “light,” but refusing to do the real work to support the balance and harmony of life, whether it be within or outside of them.
We see it everywhere, in all of its masked forms. Self-ascribed christians refusing to give up their weapons of death used to murder children. We see it in self-ascribed light-workers refusing to acknowledge their individual and our shared darkness in their need to hold onto the ideal of the “light” they think shines more brightly within them. Their need to feel special superseding the good they proclaim to spread in the world. Instead of digging into fact-based, real-world problems to work towards bringing light to our collective darkness, they add to the darkness by spreading falls theories created by bots and deranged individuals intent of perpetrating the chaos in the world. The irony is almost too much to bear, but bear it they do, with a perverse sense of delight. Otherwise they would not be “special.”
This chronic need to be special and have control over others negates the real work of the light and being a spiritual being, whether you are professed follower of Christ, Buddha, Allah…a pantheon of gods or one God.
A world filled with beings who are striving to be separate. To feel special. To be better. Beings that feast on individual greed and need…with always tip towards chaos.
Our beautiful world of “skies of blue,” and “fields of green,” is raging. Fires burn in lands turned arid by mankind’s greed. Fires burn from the bullets of guns, destroying life, over and over again, because of mankind’s lust for power and control. And the fires of denial burn in the hearts of those who bypass the real work of life and cling to their sense of otherness.
We cannot live in a wonderful world without doing the real work of nurturing life itself.
It’s been a week since my grandmother left this life and rejoined the realm of spirit. She was 94.5 years old, and for the last two decades of her life she awaited the day when she would be rejoined with her beloved husband, the man I used to call Poppy.
I feel lucky to have had my Gram in my life for nearly half a century. It is a much longer time than most. My mother was a young mother when she brought me into the world, and her mother was there to welcome me into this life. One of the last memories Gram shared with me, as she often did, was of that day.
“Did you know, Alethea,” she reminded me as I sat beside her on her bed, “I was the first person to hold you?”
I know the story well, as I do so many others Gram used to like to share with me. Although we lived, for most of our shared lives, 3,000 miles apart from one another, Gram and I spoke regularly on the phone. When it became evident that she was getting ready to transition out of this life, my sister and I decided to fly the distance to visit our Gram one last time.
It was, in many ways, just like old times. Except it wasn’t summer, there were no longer mystery meals to unwrap on the plane, or cigarette smoke to pollute our lungs. It was, though, just the two of us again, flying west to see the family we had left behind when we were four and six years old, if only for a few days.
And we are both glad we did. We spent many hours of those two days sitting with Gram, trying to help her find comfort in her increasingly uncomfortable body, and even wheeling her outside for some time in the fresh air to look at the gardens surrounding the facility where she lived.
Gram’s weariness with life was apparent, but so was her unfailing love for us. Gram was happy we were there and didn’t want us to leave.
Although our Gram and Poppy had their faults, as all people do, they always exhibited unconditional love for me and my sister. It was something we needed as children, and clung to, despite only seeing our grandparents for a few days a year, if we were lucky.
In those few, brief visits, I have compiled a lifetime of happy memories. Sitting on the sun-soaked deck of my grandparents’ pool and eating homemade dried granny smith apples with Pringles and cans of pop is one of them. As are the moments when Gram would take my hand and trace each finger from the base to the tip before she took her emory board out to shape my nails and push back my cuticles. “You and your sister have such pretty hands,” she’d tell me, “just like your mother’s.”
Mine was a childhood filled with a sense of not belonging, of feeling like I constantly needed to prove my self-worth and earn my keep, but never was that the case at Gram and Poppy’s house. For those few blissful days each summer, my sister and I were able to relish the bliss of unconditional love, and even of being spoiled a bit.
At Gram and Poppy’s we’d watch forbidden cartoons during daylight hours and gleefully open cabinets filled with the junk food of our choosing. Outside, we’d turn handstands on their perfect lawn and lift our feet above the water in their chlorinated pool. Whenever I smell cedar, I think of Gram and Poppy and their home atop Mt. Scott in Portland. It was the closest place to heaven I found in my godless childhood.
Gram and Poppy sold their house on Mt. Scott many years ago, but during our brief trip west to say goodbye to Gram, our father drove my sister and me to see it. It looked the same, but very much changed. Just like life. Just like the entire trip.
The night before Gram passed, I had a conversation with her in my mind. I told her how much I loved her and that it was more than okay to leave. I knew she was ready. She had been working hard, in fact, at letting go. Gram knew I believed in life after death, even if it wasn’t in the same way she did.
“Send me a red bird,” I requested the following morning after I learned of her passing. “Let me know you made it okay.”
I was in the car, and as I turned the corner, a red-breasted robin stood in the road in front of me. It looked at me, then flew away.
I turned the radio on, and through the speakers came the word “bird.” NPR was doing a showing on birds.
“Thank you, Gram,” I told her. “I love you.”
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jules De Vitto, a Transpersonal Coach and Trainer for Highly Sensitive People, as a guest on “The Highly Sensitive Humans” podcast. During the podcast, Jules and I chatted about our experiences living as HSPs and how we have used our own struggles and triumphs to help others thrive in a world that can both overwhelm us and fill us with joy.
Jules is offering a 3-Month Professional Training on How to Coach Highly Sensitive People starting on September 5, 2022. The course is accredited by the International Association of Coaches, Therapists and Mentors. It offers an integrative and embodied approach, drawing on psychological and spiritual perspectives, to help empower highly sensitive people who struggle with life.
Jules uses a mindfulness, trauma-informed, compassion-focused approach to her training. In the course, you’ll learn the fundamental skills needed to coach HSPs. Upon completion of the training, you’ll also receive Professional Development (40-hours) certification credentials.
Spaces for the course are limited to just 20 people. More detailed information on it can be found here.
Jules has a small number of scholarships available for those who require financial support to join the course. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to apply for the scholarship.
My journey into the world of podcasting continues with episode 88 of Steve Silverman’s “World Gone Good” podcast. I had a wonderful time chatting with Steve about healing, writing, reiki, yoga, and following your joy. Some of the highlights include our Jodie Foster stories, how we healed our stomach aliments through mindfulness, and how we channel our inner truth through writing.
A year ago today, the winds sang of spring. Rebirth toppled half a maple in my front yard and I woke to the lyrics of “Silent Night.” A soul had passed back into the realm of pure consciousness after a life well-lived as Sue.
I have yet to meet a more remarkable being. I doubt I will. Sue had a way of connecting to Truth that made you feel like you belonged, and everything around you did too. She was the embodiment of divine feminine energy in physical form. It is no surprise that Isis chose her as a vessel to tell her story.
The last time I saw Sue was the last time I traveled to England. She cleared space in her busy day to take Larissa and me to Uffington Castle and Wayland’s Smithy. I had tried to find the white horse during my first trip to England, but had landed in the other Uffington, miles away from my intended destination. Fate, it seems, had other plans for me.
I can say with assurance that my life would not have been the same without having had Sue’s presence in it, even though I knew her for less than a decade. Death, though, does not bring an end to the essence of life and Sue’s presence has not wholly departed. Today, on the anniversary of her passing out of physical form, the dogs drew me outside an hour before they usually do. It was with some reluctance and a fair bit of annoyance that I set down the writing of this post, gathered my coat, gloves, and hat, leashed the dogs and made my way outside into a blustery day much like the one I woke to one year ago.
Instead of turning right, down her favorite path filled with sticks to chew, Rosy pulled me to the left. There, above us, was a falcon dancing across the vast canvas of sky. I have no doubt Sue has managed to keep herself quite busy with her work on the other side, just as she did here on Earth, but somehow she still manages to make an appearance when it is most needed.
For many of us, traveling evokes feelings that range from excitement to dread. Some of us don’t like to fly. Others have trouble adjusting to new time zones and dietary delights. When we travel, we often do a good job of checking off our lists of “what to bring,” and “what to do,” but we’re not always great at ensuring we keep our energy as balanced and healthy as possible.
Since everything is, in essence, energy, including our bodies, it behooves us to do what we can to keep it flowing on the right pathways and in as much harmony as possible. As an energy healer and EMYoga teacher, I incorporate many of these simple tricks and tips into my classes and teachings. They can be great tools to take along with your travels:
- Spoon Your Feet: I learned this one in my EMYoga training. It’s simple and effective, and it works wonders. Take a stainless steel spoon and rub the rounded part of it in circular motions, or figure eights, on the bottoms of our bare feet. The magnetic property of the spoon will help balance your body’s polarity, as well as calm your nervous system. It’s a great way to both start and end your busy travel days and can help you sleep better.
- Energy Shields: Our bodies are complex networks of energy systems, one of which is our auric field. This energy field can extend about six feet out from our physical bodies. It is in constant communication with the energy around us. Therefore, it only makes sense to keep it protected. A simple visualization of an energy bubble around your body can help keep your aura vibrant. I like to use either gold, white, blue or a mixture of all the colors in the rainbow to wrap around my body.
- Weave Your Eights: This ties into the first two techniques I’ve mentioned. Donna Eden, the creator of Eden Energy Medicine, often talks about how our energy bodies use the repetitive pattern of the double helix (down to the level of our DNA and as large as our auric field). We use this weaving of figure eights a lot in EMYoga, which is based on Donna’s teachings. One way to incorporate the pattern into your energy body is to use the spoon technique on the feet mentioned above, but you can also use your arms to weave figure eights around your body, or simply visualize your energy body weaving together in this pattern.
- Hook Up Your Energy: Another favorite of Donna Eden’s, hooking up your central and governing meridians will give your energy a nice boost when you are feeling depleted. Simply put the middle finger of one hand in your belly button and the middle finger of the other hand in the space between your eye brows. Gently press them in and pull up for three cycles of breath (ideally in the nose and out the mouth). Here’s a fun video of Donna demonstrating this technique during a workshop.
- Calm the Nerves: There are so many great techniques to calm your nervous system. My favorites were learned during my EMYoga training through Lauren Walker, who trained under Donna Eden. All of them involved calming your Triple Warmer energy system, which is associated with your fight-flight-freeze response (among many other things). When we are nervous, we can calm Triple Warmer by wrapping one hand around the opposite elbow, and the other hand in a self-hug around our opposite low ribs. It’s an easy technique to use on a plane, train, etc. without drawing unwanted attention to your self.
If you are interested in learning about EMYoga, as well as simple techniques you can incorporate into your daily life to strengthen, balance, and cleanse your energy body, I will be teaching a Spring Equinox EMYoga workshop at Sharing Yoga in Concord, NH on March 20 from 1-2:30pm EST. The workshop is also being offered via Zoom. To learn more about the workshop, and my weekly Zoom EMYoga classes, please visit my website.
“Warriors of Light: The Labyrinth, was a great story to read with my daughter. From a young age, she was aware of the suffering of humans and our disconnection from Mother Earth. Recently, it has been more palpable as we had to leave our beloved homestead because our water was contaminated by application of forever chemical (PFAS) filled sludge on our neighbor’s farm. When I asked her if I should have shielded her better from what is going on in our broken relationship with Earth, she told me that she was grateful that I talked about these things with her and what we do to be transformation because she could plainly see that the relationship with Earth is out of harmony. Initiation is a personal path that leads to the universal story, and seeing that there are guides and paths to healing, it is not an easy or straightforward journey. It takes grace, forgiveness, acceptance, courage, honesty, bravery… There is power, too, in that we are not the only ones on the paths of the labyrinth, but others are making their way and our stories interconnect.“
When I showed these words to a friend of mine, she told me she wished there we more dads in the world like this one. I replied, “If there were, the world would be a vastly different place.”
After I read the email from the father of a young reader, my heart filled with hope, and my eyes, tears. We are living in a world of extremes as we individually and collectively struggle to control the chaos that we have co-created. The irony is that, for the most part, we seem to have forgotten that we have, indeed, created the hatred, violence, anger, injustice, and degradation of life that we so desperately are trying to find a way out of. Instead of kindness, compassion, and empathy, we too often point the finger in blame. We rage. We fight. We struggle for control.
And, we and all life on the planet suffer because of our actions (and inactions), including the living planet itself. Our struggles to be right. To hold onto limiting belief systems and ways of living are inhibiting us from living in harmony with life. How telling it is that a 9-yr-old child knows this innately, but somehow the vast majority of us have forgotten this Truth.
What we reap, we sow. Years ago, I made a vow to “find the light behind the story.” We are all bodies of stories, and together we share the stories of our history. We are long over-due to change the narratives. Read the words of the father in quotes once more. Feel them in your bones. What are they saying to you?
For me, they are a reminder of why I write what I do. The only way to change the narrative is to rewrite it. By rewriting it, we Do Not erase. Instead, we dig into our shadowland and find the light, and the light is what we grow. Our very lives depend upon it. If you are in doubt, ask a child who has not yet forgotten.
On days when the temperature is above frigid, I don’t protest the dogs’ favorite habit stopping to gnaw at every single stick they encounter during our noontime walks. Instead, while they ravage the broken arms of trees to top off their stomaches already filled with lunch, I study the language of trees.
Winter is the season of dormancy, but also of exposure. By mid-February only a few stubborn bunches of withered brown oak leaves hang lifeless from the trees that bore them. The floor of the forest has long been taken over by the element of water, suspending time in its frozen form in a mosaic of matter in various stages of life and death.
The artful practice of mindfulness is everywhere in winter, urging the walker to slow down. To breathe. To be still and observe the state of stasis. I love winter because of its offering to be still. The other three seasons can overwhelm the senses, but not winter. Winter pulls the mind inward and begs it to find the magic always held within.
There are days when I think winter is ugly and dreary. It stretches time here in the northeast in a way that tries patience. Yet, when I look closer, while the dogs feast on their finds, I find the magic of stillness revealing itself. Lately, this magic has taken the form of the language of the trees.
In truth, it is not the language of the trees itself that I read, but the story of the insect life that feasts upon them. I am in awe of the patterns. When I stop to read their art, I marvel at how each one is unique. It is a language of pictographic script that only the insect scribe understands, in truth, but it doesn’t stop the wondering mind from making an attempt.