Our Greatest Teachers Never Leave Us #lifeafterdeath #magic

Sue would have loved this smiling stone…

It is unfair to say she has not visited because my mind had hoped for more. This stubborn mule of expectation impedes the magic of the offerings. If I allow myself to weave the threads she sends through the veil, the tapestry becomes a perfect gift. With each offering, I weave the continuation of our story. She doing the work there, and I here, yet somehow there is no here or there. Only everywhere. Creation ever unfolding its mysteries. This is just what I would expect of my teacher, so why want more?

What I seek becomes our tapestry, and I step back to look at the whole still forming. How beautiful is trust as one reaches for the offering, saying yes, I know the source. I accept the continued mystery. I accept not knowing when the thread will pull the veil apart and ask to be woven in connection. She knows I like puzzles, a fellow seeker of truth. She knows the senses can be wholly alert when allowed to open.

If I tell you it all? What will be left?

The joy is in the journey. Delight arrives when the light of knowing illuminates questions. Life, she reminds, need not be a burden of holding, but the beautiful wonder of stripping bare the wrap of that which is cumbersome.

You can be anything in any moment.

The embodiment of the free soul, allowing. Dropping the pretense of control and letting go. That is why we dream of flight. The soul grows heavy in a body of gravity, but it need not.

Each footstep can be magical.

She knows I have felt the magic of the land. She watched in recognition the homecoming. Knew how the Earth’s secrets whisper to those who open to hear them. Each footstep a chance to peek through the door of wonder. Yes, how could I doubt she would not walk again with me? I see her in the cloak of feathers, weightless when she wants to be. She is laughing with the rocks. She is home, ever-nudging me to find it again.

How could I doubt?

The Rewards of Unconditional Hugging #unconditionallove #hugging

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I love that my daughter and her boyfriend greet each other with a hug. Their bodies mold into the embrace in the mutual offering of love and comfort. That is the beauty of a hug.

We’ve forgotten how to hug that way in my family, and if truth be told, I don’t think my husband and I every truly learned how to hug properly. When I was a teenager, working as a waitress, one of my coworkers surprised me with a spontaneous hug upon observing that I was having a challenging shift. My body stiffened in response. She noticed, but without being offended, she understood. Her understanding made me realize how complicated affection had been in my own family while growing up. There were plenty of hugs and kisses, but many of them were not wanted.

When my children were little I relished every hug and snuggle I got, and my one regret was that I didn’t do more to keep the hugs a normal part of our daily life. Too many comments were made about the dependency of affection and raising independent strong, children (mostly directed at the bond between my son and me), and somehow, over time, I gave them away. And so did he. My daughter, who was always more independent, never seemed to need my hugs. Or so I thought.

But I know better now. She gives hugs freely to those who seek them with her, while I am still working my way back those easy hugs with her. And her brother. We have begun to talk about it as a family. It’s not an easy conversation. There is baggage to unload, but it is necessary. Even teenagers need to be hugged. And often. They may not initiate the hug, just as they have a right not to have the hug forced upon them, but that doesn’t mean they are not seeking that connection.

So I am working my way back to those regular embraces, perhaps too carefully as I am overly sensitive about overstepping bounds, but I have found the journey not only rewarding and healing, but necessary. Everyone thrives on love and there is nothing that compares to a mutually loving hug where two hearts join together enfolded by the comfort of arms.

A Reading Aloud Moment Reminds Me of My Own Growth: Another Journey in Subbing the Middle Grades #middlegrade #teaching

Photo Credit: Pexels

Last week found me racing back and forth between classrooms in whirlwind days at the middle school with barely, if any, time for a lunch break. Yet, even during these hectic days, I am reminded of the gifts that arise out of this adventure in subbing the middle grades. I, inevitably, learn something. Last week, I learned that it was no big deal to read aloud to a group of middle schoolers.

Allow me to add a backstory. It is, I believe, no accident that I have chosen to substitute teach in the grades where my self-confidence was shattered when I was in school. It was during these formative years when I learned how to doubt my voice and blush at the drop of a hat. Now, subbing in the middle grades is another opportunity for me to grow and learn. Challenge pushes us to the doorway and asks whether we’re ready to step through.

Last week I realized how far I had come since my own middle school years. This growth hasn’t happened over night. It’s been many years now since I’ve found myself turning red in the face each time I meet someone new or step into the spotlight to use my voice, but I had not realized how comfortable I’d become in being placed on the spot until last week. It was, as I sat reading aloud from a book I had never picked up, with a classroom of middle-schoolers listening (or not) to every word I read, and fluorescent lights glaring down at my face, no big deal. I was performing the role that I had been tasked to perform and it felt as natural as washing the dishes.

Of course my audience helped. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be subbing in a district where the students are, for the most part, courteous and well-behaved when it really counts. When a German world appeared during my reading aloud and I mispronounced it, a student called out the proper pronunciation and we moved on. No big deal.

And what a cool experience that was, I thought, as I continued to read.

What really is magic and what does it mean to live a magical life? #magic #spirituality

The other day, I found myself chatting with a friend about our writing aspirations. While I was talking about my visions for the Warriors of Light book series, the conversation veered into the subject of magic. I mentioned how most books that use magical elements are placed into the category of fantasy because they are beyond the realms of the realistic. They entertain and enthrall us by encouraging our minds to play with the fantastic in the form of the impossible or unreachable. They stir our imaginations in a way that leaves us wishing for something we will never obtain. Fantasy, though, can also remind the imagination that there is more to life than we often allow ourselves to notice…

This photo was taken at Acadia National Park in Maine. To me the land looks like a sleeping giant. In the area of the heart, you can see an eye. The image embodies magic waiting to be seen. In book 2 of the Warriors of Light series, a giant much like this one appears.

How frustrating it can be to feel as though a magical life is illusive and always beyond the realm of possibility. When I mentioned that a few readers of The Labyrinth had compared my book to one of the most popular fantasy series written, our conversation began to explore the definition of magic and how much it differs in my series vs. the one it had been compared to. The young “warriors of light” protagonists are not wizards or witches, nor do they use wands or attend a school that teaches spells and potions. Instead, their teacher is the labyrinth, a magical maze they journey through individually and together to bring back the light where it has been broken by darkness. Sure there are somewhat fantastical elements. The six young protagonists learn how to shapeshift into their spirit animals. Some of them see ghosts and all of them converse with beings in other realms, but is there really so fantastic?

Magic Can Be Extraordinary

In The Labyrinth, the hexagram star is both an individual and a cooperative journey back to the center/heart of union.

Those how have traveled the shamanic journey will probably tell you that shapeshifting, or communing with spirit totems is not so fantastical. And, I’d wager most of us have had communications with spirits or beings from other realms, whether we realize it or not.

The hidden realms of life reveal their wonder as we open ourselves to the inherent magic that resides in all life. Like young children who have not yet lost their connection to inherent magic, our inner sight and senses re-expand beyond the ho-hum of the everyday routines. A mere walk in nature can stir the cells into a state of blissful union. Glimpses, or perhaps more, of the extraordinary become common, but no less magical. The more connected we feel, the more interconnected we feel as joy arises from our sense of being a part of an infinite web of light.

The Magical Inner Journey

When I journey into the ancient landscapes that still hold the imprint of magic, my cells hum with joy and time seems to collapse and open.

While adding truly fantastical elements to a book of fiction can be fun, the magic of a hero’s journey arises out of self-discovery. It is an inner journey as well as outer journey. This is magic that is not only sustainable, but grows with awareness. The state of joy becomes accessible, achievable, and sustainable unlike a material treasure that is not easily found and can be lost, or stolen away. The gift of inherent magic can only be robbed by the self as it resides within the self.

Magic is an opening to and not a manipulation of energy

True magic arises out of the very essence of life. It does not manipulate the forces of the elements, but opens to the inherent magic that already exists. Herein lies true wonder. The state of joy is accessible through the opening. When we allow ourselves to open to life’s mysteries we find connection, truth, and re-union. Although most of us are not trained in shamanism, or have the ability to shapeshift into our spirit animals like the protagonists in the Warriors of Light series, we do have the ability to connect with and glean wisdom, inspiration, and a sense of union with the animal and plant communities around us. Many of us experience an aspect of this connection with the animal companions that live in our homes, but we can also open ourselves to connecting with the wildlife outside of our homes. Sitting in the presence of a tree and bearing witness to its enduring strength and flexibility, or watching the transformation of an earth-bound caterpillar into a near-weightless butterfly can bring profound insight, peac,e and awe to the observer.

Magic is Living in Wonder

Often the closer we look at life the more wondrous it becomes

This is magic. It is opening to life and all of its wonders that exists and unfold in each moment all around us. It is the knowing that not everything can, or will be known, in one’s lifetime, because life is filled with such complex and intricately balanced beauty that no mind can truly understand creation.

Autumn in New England #foliage #newengland

It’s the time of year when cars snake the highways for miles while their occupants peep through windows with cameras at the ready. For a few precious weeks, if we’re lucky, the New England autumn paints us the colors of wonder.

View from Rattlesnake Mountain, Rumney, NH

When summer turns the corner into autumn in New England, the body and mind begin to succumb to the pull of winter. There is a natural turning inward to find the cocoon before rebirthing into spring. Yet, in this in-between time, we are graced with a glory that is hard to overlook.

Town Pond, Bow, NH

Summer lingers in the warmer days, pulling the body outdoors to bask in the golden light of an autumn sun. “Look at me!” Earth calls out. How can we resist?

Another view from Rattlesnake Mt., Rumney, NH

And I am reminded, once again, how lucky I am to call this place home.

The Bow Town Pond from the trailside that runs nearby my home.

Subbing the Middle Grades & Why I Kinda Like it #substituteteaching #middleschool #empathy

Photo by Dids from Pexels

“You’re doing a good job.”

“I hope you sub for us again.”

“Have a great day!”

These were some of the words expressed by my preteen bosses yesterday, and they matter to me. A lot. This is one of the reasons I show up when I get the call to substitute for a teacher who is absent for the day. The pay is lousy, but the bosses can be pretty great.

By great I don’t mean easy. They test me nearly endlessly, as 10-13 yr-olds tend to do. They can be brutally honest, a royal pain in the neck, and incredibly kind. They are our youth in the process of becoming their adult selves. In the classroom, among them, I am reminded of my own struggles, the struggles of my own teenagers, and of how darn hard it can be to be human in the process of becoming.

Each day offers a clean slate. I generally have no idea if I will get the call, and if I do, where I will end up. No matter what, though, I learn something. And usually that learning comes from my young bosses. Yesterday, while taking a mask break outside with my charges bosses, I was reminded of the power of empathy and how beautiful the face of compassion is.

“Throw the ball! Throw the ball!” the words pressured the release of the girl’s hand, which threw without aim, landing the tennis ball on the side of a young boy’s head. It was an accident that resulted in tears but also an unfolding of frustration into the pure, opened heart of empathy.

In a matter of seconds the girl was by the boy’s side, her face awash with compassion and regret. Before he could find his own words, she had made her way to the nurse’s office and back outside with a soft ice pack in her hand.

Never in those moments was there anger or blame. The tears took awhile to disappear back into joy, but they did. By the end of our brief recess, you would not have known there had been an interruption if you were just passing by.

Last week, it was my turn to express compassion and empathy. And with all that baggage of years between us, I’ll admit it took me more seconds than it did for that 10-yr-old-girl.

“Hey, Sam [not his real name],” I called over to the 8th grader who had tested my limits last year like no other kids had. I was ready for resistance. Prepared for a rough day.

Instead, the voice behind the reply sounded impressed, even flattered. “How do you know my name?”

“I remember you from last year.”

“You do?”

“Yeah.”

That was all it took. If I had told him why, the outcome would have probably been vastly different. Instead, I made the choice to be honest without expounding upon why. I had remembered Sam and that was enough for him. It was, in fact, more than enough. It made him happy. It transformed him a little, and in turn it transformed me.

I don’t know what Sam’s day-to-day life is like, but I know enough about being a middle-schooler to know that it is not always easy. Each action, or non-action in the case of children who fold into themselves, is often a call for acceptance. A call for love. I can only assume that Sam’s tendency towards disruption is a result of his own struggles. Although it can be tiresome and frustrating, it doesn’t mean he is not worthy of love.

I can’t wrap my arms around these young bosses of mine, but I can choose to show them I care in other ways. Sometimes a simple act can yield a profound reaction. I’ve only subbed three days so far this school year and each day has left me transformed.

That, to me, is a day well spent.

What’s Happened to Kindness and Empathy #empathy #compassion #pandemic

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay

I live in a typical upper middle-class American town. People are kind when it’s convenient, and unkind, I suspect more often than most realize. At least these days. It is a place where behind closed doors comparisons are made and unkind remarks are uttered, but it is also a town where, more and more, unkind words are uttered in public. Especially on platforms like social media.

We have a town FB page that was created with the intention to build community. Whenever I go on it, I find posts where people are mocked and attacked. This is not community. This is not kindness. This is not empathy. This is not, I am sure, the only town like this is America. Or in the world right now. We are living in an era of extreme polarization fed by fear and hatred. More often than not, we are globally tapping into the shadowlands of ourselves to react to life, instead of finding the self in the other.

We can blame the previous POTUS for being an instigator and propagator of this dehumanizing type of behavior, but that is also a convenient excuse. Each one of us is endowed with the choice of our actions, thoughts, and words. In any moment we can behave with self-serving rhetoric, or we can step into the space of empathy, kindness, and love.

Some days, like today, I struggle with the pull to react and defend. To try to balance the scales back to humanity. Mocking a global pandemic, which has caused millions of people to die or become seriously ill, is not an act of empathy, love, or kindness. It is an action that is, simply, unjustifiable.

Undermining someone’s concern for their child’s welfare, and the welfare of their child’s classmates and teachers, by a laughing emoji reflects not only a lack of empathy, but a lack of humanity.

We an use the argument of “lies” v. “truth,” which is ever-so-popular right now in our fear-driven, conspiracy-fed world, but where does that truely led us? To more separation from our core essence. To more separation from ourselves and each other. The need to be special, unique, right, and different, drives us away from the realization that we are all worthy of this life we are living.

On My Birthday #poetry #birthdays

The 12th card I drew

I’m going to imagine something different:

The beauty of the goddess unfolding

Light softening the edges of life

Years, a mold of becoming

The inner child emerging

and merging into the dance

of a perfection that is truth

This messy cohesion of unity

Something radiant called a Life

So many journeys to get to this place

Defining and refining

Breaking down to build

Whole

Like a chalice spilling over

to fill again, and again

Tireless infinity splitting open

the moment not like a wound

but like a lover seeking joy

This seed waiting to germinate

finding the sun was always there

in the full splendor of wonder

watching the budding of a radiance

thriving under the moon, night

as much a friend as day

the taste of sorrow becoming happiness

refined

I wrote this poem before drawing 12 tarot cards as a reflection upon this day. Forty-eight years ago I was born into this life. A life that seems, at times, difficult to define and accept. Birthdays have never been easy days for me, in large part because they have been days, like all the others, not wholly mine to embrace and be embraced by. I knew I would find the chalice in the cards, but I thought it would be The Queen of Cups, as this is how the “I” has reflected itself over the years, but 12 cards unfolding this journey brought The Ace. I had, after all, asked for something new...

Summer of Rain and Fire #climatechange #ahimsa #kindness #pandemic

I no longer wonder how long it will last, but how long we will endure.

We are living in extremes. One side of the world weeps, while the other side burns in fever. One element, without the other, leads to imbalance. Just like in the human body. Too much yin swallows life force. Too much yang, burns it up. Yet, somehow, for now, we endure. Endure to hold onto extremes…

We reflect what we create.

Denial can be a powerful force of destruction. Eyes resist focusing on what brings discomfort.

Turmoil stirs the Earth, but it also stirs the self.

How often do we forget that what we sow within, we reap outside of us?

I find myself growing tired of excuses. The unchecked ego filled with self-affirming prophecies refusing to go inward to see outside the self with clear eyes.

I find myself growing tired of the selfish mind refusing to remember that we are here to take care of not only the self, but the whole.

I am tired of those who insist on being right at the expense of life. Denying a crisis serves no purpose other than for the ego to feel justified.

We are taught by our spiritual leaders that all life is sacred. That we are just one part of a whole. We are taught interconnectedness and to do no harm, yet the ego’s search for separation has led to a world that burns and weeps extremes. A world where more than 4 million people have died from a virus that is mutating out of control because there are so many hosts that refuse to believe it is real.

Refuse to see that inaction can cause harm.

Our Earth was created with free energy and that energy has never left us. Yet we burn her lungs for profit, and drill into the body that feeds us for industrial gain. Temporary gains leaving trails of disease and death.

We are, undeniably, a selfish lot, but we don’t have to be.

Small gestures can go a long way…

Getting a vaccine can not only save your life, but countless others.

Wearing a mask if you are at risk of harming your own life and others, is not a violation of your personal rights, it is an act of ahimsa. It is an act of grace and kindness.

Tending to the planet is not an act of weakness, it is an act of strength. It is an act of ahimsa. It is an act of grace and kindness.

Summer Robin Family #robins #rebirth #birds

I have become enraptured by a family of robins. I noticed their nest about a month ago, hanging on a low branch of my lilac bush. A mere few inches above the top of my head, it is ideally situated for my viewing. It also happens to be perfectly aligned with one of the windows on my porch. Ideal for taking photographs without intruding on privacy.

On Tuesday I noticed the first hatchling and became enraptured. That was it. My heart filled with love and awe for the circle of life that had decided to grace my yard.

To be privy to this brief unfolding; to watch its emergence and transformation, instills within the humble joy of bearing witness to a miracle. It is the dance of grace. It is small, yet profound reminder that life is in constant cycle.

I have named this family even though they are not mine to name. I am calling the babies Sue and Rachel, and I think perhaps no one will mind that I do. It is my way of remembering two lives that are in their own process of cycling. Two lives I was fortunate enough to share with my own for a brief time. Both lovers of birds who are now untethered from Earth. It seems fitting.

Many a moment is now spent watching. Watching the mother, Bratha, as she tends to her chicks. There are only two, where the average is 3-5 eggs per breeding cycle for the American robin. The number fits nicely into my homage.

In just a few days the eyes of the chicks have opened and their bodies have sprouted thick coats of mottled gray. They are beginning to find their voices as they call out their hunger to their mother.

She is mostly patient and obliging, but she also gives them space. Space to emerge into individuality. I find it both heartbreaking and beautiful. It reminds me of loss, but also of hope.