Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y is for Yes

I found this challenge quite challenging. To write on a topic with thematic and alphabetical guidelines really stretched me past my comfort zone folks. I skipped a few days of writing to take care of “real life” and myself/my needs. With this and one more post left, I am grateful I agreed to do it and stuck to my guns with minor wavering.

It was not without unforeseen glitches along the way.
Who doesn't have events beyond their control?
I don't know of anyone who does.

So in keeping with the promise I made to myself about posting essays, I have, on days I wrote yet wasn't eager to write, made use of a cheat sheet/topic reference list which I created two weeks prior to the A to Z challenge's maiden voyage. 
That list has been a go-to many a day.

Like with this post.

Oh sure, I wrote twice today already, but since I really want this to be over, I shall stretch.
And in this pushing, I will grow even more.

Proving to yourself that you can do things, which at first survey seem easy, yet are not as easy as you originally thought, is a challenge in and of itself. It is a real boost to the system though. Like sticking to a new diet or exercise regime, taking on something that propels you usually goes against current habits, and breaking them, even a little bit, is not a cake walk.

Today I want to talk about YES.

I said Yes to accepting this challenge.
I wanted to write about poignant issues filling my heart and head and life and share these contents with cyborglandiers, i.e.: you folks.
I wanted to grow as a writer and instill a new level of creative discipline into my daily goings-on.
That is not what ended up happening.

What did end up happening is this:
I wrote and wrote about subjects from my heart. I shared interests in ways I enjoy developing my soul. And I couldn't care less about the discipline of a writing practice. I got that. The letter limitation was a different story, but I approached that as a student's outlook and had fun regardless.

 Like anything in life- it is how you approach it- 
 your attitude dictates the real outcome. 

 I said yes. 

I want to say YES to many more creative ventures, 
YES to many more limit-pushing [yet small and gentle- for starters] challenges
 and YES to evolving.
I had no idea what I would actually get out of doing this, but I enjoyed it more than I would in certain ways and less in others.
Predictions are meaningless so often when it comes to our intentions.

I subscribed to and commented on blogs I would have not read any other time. I feel like we taught each other pertinent things about seemingly useless or random (only to others...) subjects and fascinated one another with sharing our personal mysteries. Who knew that some folks who “usually” blog about life and cars and work have passions for such unrelated things? Who knew that the cynics were as sweetly sensitive as they can be sarcastic? Thanks to this sometimes chore of a challenge, I know this now, and have a greater appreciation for you.
I thank all the readers who may or may not continue following and send lovey interweb hugs to anyone reading this blog ever ever.

To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death.

I say Yes to getting out of my comfort zone.
I say Yes to calling my own shots and boundaries.
I say Yes to YES!!!

X is for Xizang

Xizang |ˈ sh ēˈdzä ng |
Chinese name for Tibet .

I remember when I first got it into my head that I wanted to visit Tibet. I was monitoring a class of children as they took annual standardized tests, and I was in a classroom not my own. It was downstairs in the fifth grade wing, in a room reserved for Geography and Social Studies. Across from the teacher's desk where I sat, was a map of Asia.
As I looked at the map I began thinking about Tibet- which has been called the birthplace of all things.

I mused about the Dalai Lama and monks/nuns garbed in saffron robes. I pondered about meditation and chanting and Buddhism and what is implied by being called the birthplace of all things. I considered the Chinese occupation and deaths of over 200K Tibetan people about or before 1950. I wondered how long the trek out of Tibet took the people who were excommunicated, and the Indian people who gave them a new place to reside. I thought about folks who were told that Buddhism was no longer an option.
I daydreamed about yaks and sherpas and strings of prayer flags.

 The prayer flags are left to blow in the breeze even when they become shredded. 
 Then they transform among the elements. 

Perhaps less than a month later, a group of Tibetan monks came to our school. The monks lived in a monastery in India, and had grown up there since infancy. I cannot remember why they were specifically drawn to being at our school...

For whatever reason, they came to our middle school and were giving us a gift of a sand mandala and opening/closing chanting performances. I was blessed to be asked to come to the auditorium and help supervise the students. (I felt totally loved that day. I was not scheduled to take my students to the event, but my boss called me down at the last minute.)

I arrived as they walked out into the cement floor and sat down, lined up at the front of the open area- just in front of the stage. The monks did not want to be up, they wanted to be on the same level as we all ARE.

The men were all between 19 and 60-something. They were dressed in fine robes of the highest quality fabrics and wore these majestic headdresses that looked like horse mane mohawks made of garnet flora/plumage.

One by one the men started out with an awe-inspiring (because it literally makes you inspire... take abruptly deep breaths in, to merely watch and hear this!) cyclic chanting.
I swear that they can be heard on the CD/soundtrack for Heaven.
Their voices, being added one by one, melted and layered smoothly with each another's seamlessly. It looked as if they did not take breaths at all. If you have not seen or heard cyclic chanting, it is impressive at the least.
I was so moved, I decided to take a seat in the rear of the auditorium, where, I am convinced, the reverb and acoustics were best anyway.

 The flag's colors represent the Traditional Chinese Elements.  
 White/Metal. Blue/Water. Yellow/Earth. Green/Wood. Red/Fire. 

I in-visioned monks, many many years ago, chanting on the edges of sky temples in the Himalayas sending vocal-waves of prayer up and out... and the holy sound carrying on forever.

The power of vibrations made by their voices opens one up inside.
As I listened, I felt my heart burst open and the instantaneous connection of myself with the monks, the students and all living beings on the planet. (Like some Kundalini bursting alive event!) The opening chant lasted for over an hour. It threw me into reverie about the movie The Dark Crystal. I remembered the scene with the “Mystics” chanting- which sounded like these gentle men before me.
{Oh Jim Henson, you are greatly missed!}

As a kid, I was drawn to the Buddhist ways. (That was the platform for my argument for being a vegetarian when I was a little girl, Buddhists, and Hindus too... Not that it made my family accept the fact that I didn't want to eat meat. But that is another story for another day, I promise.)

When the Tibetan monks stopped the opening blessing chant there was a silence in the building like none other. We were all pin-drop quiet in the auditorium, and you could see how these children were effected as deeply as we adults were, it was beautiful!

 It was similar to this, but they had 3 foot long tubes used to tap the sand into the less-specicified outline/area than shown in this photo here. 
 Sitting on the floor, they sand-painted directly on the cement. 

A few deep breaths later, we drew closer to watch them create a sand mandala.
If you are not familiar with this art form, let me fill you in:
A sand mandala is a moving meditation, each colorful sand grain is laid out with intention as per where it is to go. An ornate pattern relating to a prayer or honoring a sutra is painted before your very eyes. Then after many labored hours, the sand is blown away by the wind, reflecting the impermanence of everything- both good and bad.

Being a photo/art teacher, I had a camera with me. I took some snaps of the monks at work (NOT using my flash though,) making the mandala, which turned out dark and grainy since the lights were very low. I printed one specific photo from that day's events to show my friends, which I did.

I do not know what happened to that film, or the photo. As a very organized woman, I keep my film strips and proof sheets ALL in ringed binders, dated and in chronological order.
But that roll of film and proofs and single print is gone.

 Talk about non-attachment and impermanence, huh? 

I may not have the pictures, but I will forever have that wonderful experience!

W is for Weight

 Atlas by Karim Design 

What is it that weighs you down? Is it worries about work or money or relationships? Is it literally poundage on your frame? Is it philosophical in nature?

Thinking often about this subject, I have come to realize that I am more weighed down than I wanted to look at. I have harbored toxic emotions which seethed beneath the surface poisoning my heart and mind. I have become someone I did not see myself as becoming.
Funny how we can have such distorted views about ourselves!

I have taken steps back from the things which I was aware were weighing me down. I have gained valuable perspective and am actively addressing the issues at hand. But it is not enough.
Like the onion, we are multi-layered and may even bring forth tears when peeling back those layers!

Let's face it, we all want to alleviate the stressors in our lives. Feeling stressed out and full anxiety is not a pleasant experience, but feeling the need to NOT feel them is like adding another layer of stress.

Pushing against the water of emotions is futile. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Earlier this week, I was blessed to see and face one of my most intense stressors of my life. I was asked not how I felt about them, but why I thought they were the way they were. In pondering this strange question, I thought of the reasons.

After a little while, I realized something huge:
 If I spend my energy and time and thoughts and emotions fixated on the painful holding on of these stressors in my life, 
 I become the pain. 
I may wear a different mask, but I become it nonetheless.

Whether I was taught to or expected to or volunteered to take the weight of the world upon my shoulders, I can always choose to change that dynamic.

 I choose to shed that layer of the onion NOW. 

I often remind myself:
Do not invest in fears related to the past.

Thinking about where we have come from and what decisions we made which did not serve our highest power are natural. Dwelling on them and berating yourself for them is counter-productive. As it is important to honor your light and shadow sides, you must remain in balance between the two, for no-one is all light, and no-one is all shadow.

Patiently reminding yourself of the weighty issues you wish to release and then lovingly letting them go, thanking them for the layer of protection they gave you, and explaining that you no longer need them, can be helpful.
This goes for excess mental, emotional AND physical weight.

We could all spend lifetimes going over the root cases of pain, so we may avoid the pain in the future, but I think that is too much retroaction and keeps you chained to the past. By releasing the need for holding onto the pain, you create more space to feel good, or at least neutral. And more often than not, if you still need to understand the painful foundations, you will do so in due time, naturally. Revisiting stressors with a non-attached heart does not sting nearly as much... if you wish to at all!

Some helpful affirmations to help release that which weighs us down.
I say them in the shower, in the car, while on a walk, or most-likely, in my head and heart.

I release the need to
(_fill in something you are addicted to- it can be a food, a drug, a person, a habit, a belief, a thought, etc._)
and I lovingly let it go, making way for better things to come into my life.

Today is a new day.

And one of the simplest, but a favorite of mine:

I am Safe and Loved.

P.S. I am not suggesting that you carry on in a bad relationship, in a job you hate, in anger and frustration, eating poorly, etc. instead of adding or replacing that stuff with healthier habits. 
But clearing space in your spirit and soul makes the healthy choices easier to make!  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

V is for Void


Vacant. Vacuum.

For my youth years, I spent too much time, energy and efforts in attempts to utilize my intelligence. I did not wish to ever be slack-brained. I even judged those who were simple-minded. I felt that a certain level of ignorance was indubitably unforgivable. I believed myself to be somewhat superior than those who seemed empty headed.

Many a sunrises have crested since then, and I am starting to be less and less inclined towards judging those who come across as vacuous. 
I figured that we are all born of the same divine stuff, so who am I to judge? 
More and more, ignorance looks blissful.

After decades of mental chatter and consistent thinking, a rest from my mental gears' spinning sounds perfect.

 I need a brain vacation. 

Setting aside time to meditate or spontaneously using meditation for a grounding and calming tool, has taught me a great appreciation for vacuum-headedness and consciously seeking the void.

Zen Buddhists pay great homage to the Void, believing it to represent the space where creative birthings and the great source of all resides. They paint Enso Circles representing the perfection of the Void.

Serenity and peace are relatives of the void.
And all creative ideas are born of it.

I find the quiet poetry of the Void calming and inspiring in itself, and pass this on to my expressive side...

Friday, April 27, 2012

U is for Unraveling


In a person, it may insinuate an undoing of sanity, a break-down of control, or perhaps a splitting up of characteristics and/or personality.
To most, this may come off slightly unsettling, hard to watch even.

But what if that person was all knotted up?
What if they were coming, going, confused and overwhelmed, and a little unraveling would help?

 To the tangled, I dare suggest: 

Shake loose the tight grips of perplexity.
Gently tousle the throes of limitations.
Free yourself from the chaos of the past.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

T is for Tarot

 "Oh no, NOT The Happy Squirrel!" 

It's no secret that I adore tarot. 

 VERY awesome Secret Tarot deck by Lo Scarebo 

I collect decks of tarot as tools of divination as well as works of art. 
In my possession, I have dozens of decks. Some I read from, some I do not. 
A select few are reserved for my use only, and I use a very small handful of decks for my readings for others. Through the years, I have traded decks, gifted them to others, and even lost a few along the years. 
I figure that they are in their perfect homes now.

 Not my exact collection- but you get the idea... 

Since I took up reading the cards, I have frequently been asked to read for people. I even did some public reading events at psychic fairs. It was many many moons ago when I worked at those events and I wasn't too into it back then. I felt pressured and required to read for folks who I did not jibe with.

 From the groovy 1978 Secret Dakini Oracle Deck 

I know better now as I hand-select my querants and feel comfortable declining a reading at will. I do not hold back as per why either. It often is the girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband who insists that their mate get a reading with me.
Come on, if they wanted a reading, they would ask themselves.
So- no thanks.

 a classic Rider-Waite card 

When I was around 10 or 20 years old, I was at a party where I met another young woman who read tarot for her work!
She was completely aloof, overly confident and overtly stunning to look at.
I saw her read some seemingly ornate tarot spreads for people without contemplation, as if she were a robot. Folks literally sat in awe, huddled around her feet as she read the cards.
I looked on and was simultaneously curious and repulsed by these exchanges.

 From the Aquarian Tarot 

I asked her a question about for how long she was a reader and where she picked up this skill. Not answering, or even pretending she had ears, she rolled her giant eyeballs in a circle and turned her now less than pretty head away from my direction as she forcefully exhaled her cliche'd plume of clove cigarette smoke.
Okay then.

 From the campy Housewives deck 

At first, I was impressed when I saw her instantaneously read the cards for people. Personally, I spent much longer reading them and interpreting their meanings. I wondered if I wasn't as skilled a reader, like we all believed she was.
Silly me.
As if speed validates the skill of any reader.

 Barbara G. Walker knows her stuff!  
 Check her deck out!!! 

Fast forward what seems like eons-
I do not suffer the insecurity of reading for anyone- with use of any divination tool or without. I derive much joy and a deep sense of connection to my fellow souls when I read for them.

 Cosmic Tarot card 

When I read tarot for myself, I especially feel connected to all those who have read or created decks of tarot before me. I love the cryptic images & the obvious images.
Each card is a gift, a lesson, a symbol of truth.

 Daughters of the Moon's version of The Fool card 

Any Tarot-Related Questions? 
Post below...

Monday, April 23, 2012

S is for Silliness

Being a huge fan of laughter and humor in general, I love silliness.
Wit and brainy amusement have their place, as do slapstick and punny revelry. But on any given day, after a long day at work or in thought, I enjoy winding down with some silly shows that give me the giggles.

 You do not need to be in the company of other people to laugh aloud! 

Laughter is perfect at almost any time. It exercises the muscles and organs withing the abdominal area, releases endorphins and dopamine into the system, helps you relax while relieving stress and feels great. The Japanese even invented at-work laughter clinics! In the USA, there are hospitals and medical schools promoting and encouraging laughter as medicine to complement traditional allopathic therapies. How fabulous!

Here is a short list of what silly shows currently make me guffaw and snort and chuckle till I have tears actually running down my face:

30 Rock {chock full-o-priceless characters- I Love them all}

Eastbound And Down {like a toilet you can quote}

Louie {acerbic yet palpable}

And the micro-sized silly movie list, those which never fail me, no matter how cruddy a day I may have had:

The Big Lebowski {existential hero story}

Trading Places {feel good tale of reversal}

Blades of Glory {improbable drivel/amazing crap...priceless}
 Why not counterbalance the stresses of life with a laugh or two? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Respite

Let's face it, we all need a rest some times, especially from the crummy stuff.

I have been working very hard, at both of my paid jobs and on my personal growth. It has been longer than a month since I gave myself permission to DO nothing. To take a day off for real. Yesterday was an attempt at that day off. But I ended up cooking and doing housework (and thinking way too much) all day instead.

I woke this morning with a sense of urgency. Already abuzz with my wheels spinning, I felt compelled to get right up and make something I forgot to make yesterday. Talk about fixated!
Drive like that doesn't feel good.

 Ommmm Mooooooo 
And here I am, typing away on my true day off, writing this darned post about respite, when I need one so badly. This is my 5th attempt at writing the “R” post. None of them read how I intended them to read. My venture to guess is because I'm feeling a wee bit fried by this challenge.

What I learned through accepting the A to Z challenge:
~I am already a dedicated writer, whether or not I write daily, at a certain time, or share it or not- there is no contention about my love for writing.
~I must stop this insanity with following rules. It's not my style and when I adhere to these unrealistic “guidelines” I end up frustrated. I am not a linear person. Point taken.

I need a respite from any opinions and judgements.
I need a respite from anxiety and over-exertion.
I need a respite from others' icky moods and fears.

Respite for today:
A healthy brunch followed by a bubble bath!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is For Quiet

Quiet the mind.
Quiet the voice.
Quiet the ego.

And know peace.

I am so excited to be this close to living alone again.
I eagerly anticipate days and days- with no talking.
I cannot wait.

Be the peace you wish to see in the world.

P is for Prayer

Some nights I sleep better than others. I always hope to get a nourishing, restful night of REM goodness, but that isn't always the case. Depending on my dietary intake earlier that day/night, the planetary workings &/or my mental and physical cycles, I may get little or no sleep at all.
But one thing remains consistent in my sleep patterns.
My waking.

In spite of whether or not I wake naturally, by alarm clock, or eek! against my will, 
I do the same thing every day:

I say a little prayer.

As a teen and very young adult, my concept of prayer was a negative, dogmatic one- by default. Having in my youth been exposed to the extremes of those driven by religious fervor, by people influenced by the aeriest-faeriest of bells and whistles and atheistic folks, I was turned off by anything that was not tuned in from within me.

Truth be told:
I was convinced that most people were nuts.

And I was also convinced that prayer was reserved for those individuals who were trying to beg or manipulate natural energies at work. Why would I want any part in that? I witnessed people trying to “pray” the “devil” out, to no avail, because devil is a false concept in the first place. I also witnessed wealthy, educated white people chanting to some Hindu gods for some more of whatever they desired. I even witnessed others denounce the existence of anything beyond their precious intellect and ego... Which sounded like an inside-out prayer to me.

The word prayer is defined as:

prayer |pre(ə)r|
a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship : I'll say a prayer for him | the peace of God is ours through prayer.
( prayers) a religious service, esp. a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together : 500 people were detained as they attended Friday prayers.
an earnest hope or wish : it is our prayer that the current progress on human rights will be sustained.

My deep, dark, sinking depression had me all bound up inside for far too long. My spirit was thin and choking, I lacked the joyous luster I held so dear and my much-loved activities no longer resulted in an iota of satisfaction anymore.
I tried everything I could think of, I went to therapy, even tried big pharma's pills for a tiny bit, I exercised and changed my diet, talked my friends' ears off, journaled till my hands cramped up, and nothing helped much.

I was convinced that it never would improve.

Being the avid reader that I am, I came across a book that had been popular in my inner circle for over a decade. Most of my friends read it already, and for whatever reason, I never did. I picked up a copy of The Celestine Prophecy from the local book swap. Now, I enjoyed the read, but by no stretch was this book a genius read. Yet something struck a chord within me that resonated off the pages and into my heart.

Awe and Gratitude!

The book brought to light an idea of sending loving, vibrational intentions and appreciation toward the auric field which all living things emanate outward. I speak that language so I felt a symbiotic connection to the message in the book. Having remembered the exit greeting from a{strange and smelly} yoga class I took years prior, I noted that Namaste' is the word used to acknowledge one another.

The light within me honors the light within you.

The Celestine Prophecy made me want to Namaste' outward to all that is and was alive, on a regular basis, for quite some time. And in that gentle, honoring space, including my actively practicing gratitude, I found it easier and easier to let go of my past judgements about what prayer was.

 Namaste', Nature! 

I said prayers to help others heal on all levels, to alleviate pain and suffering in the world, asking for guidance and focus- whatever I saw fit to pray for. Now, the dark clouds did not disappear in a burst of a-ha lightning, but I now understand my part in it, knowing that I have some control over how I react to the murky waters. I rely on my strengths more and more & external influences less and less. I do whatever I need to do to feel grounded and loving. Living intentionally (with love) has become my main focus.

More recently, I use prayer daily to start my day.

Before I even get out of bed, I say a little prayer, sending out my daily intention to the great beyond:

Bless me,
Bless Fletchie,
Bless Everyone I come into contact with today.


So simple, yet sending out a gentle reminder to the universe that I intend to experience blessings, I figure it can only help.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Origins

Where did you come from?
How do you identify yourself?
What is your ideal vision of how you wish to be perceived?

Our past does not define us, yet it influences us all.

When I think about my origins, a few points immediately come to mind. Firstly, I think of my upbringing and my child-life experiences, I think about that which was related to my socioeconomic identity, my family and my peers. I also think about my heritage, both my family tree whose branches were tangible and the lengthy off-shoots beyond my reach. And lastly, and most importantly, I believe, I think about my spiritual life, my karmic history and past lives.

 One Soul, Many Bodies 

I am one of those people who believes that the immeasurable part of us recycles into the primordial soup and back again. Call it reincarnation or whatever, I have my own theory about it. This is not that post though, sorry.

Remembering past incarnations as a healer, a midwife, a shaman, a guide, I find much of what seems natural to me in this lifetime to be perhaps related to living other lifetimes. Hence, origins.

It is where my soul came from that really matters.

I can eschew the admonitions of others related to my past, both in this body or another, but it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks, as long as what I believe feels right.
I know who I am, I know where I came from.
AND I know where I belong.

When I think about my origins of life in this time, it feels pretty uncomfortable.
Yet when I think about my life in other times, I get a sense of strength and purpose which supports what I am creating in the now.
In the presence of experiencing my true purpose paralleling with karmic memories, I experience a sense of validating freedom and enlightening of my spirit. It is when I feel this way that I know I am on the right path.

It is also easier to let go of the belief structures based on and tied to the origins of my upbringing when I take a soul-full life-time into consideration.

Suddenly, twenty or so years means very little.

I meet and will continue to meet people I knew from past lives. We will continue to grow together.
 Hello again. 
Lovers and friends often travel with us over and over, as do family members. Crazy to think that my mother could have been my brother a hundred years ago, and we could be playing out a past drama which was unresolved back then, in this timeline.


Expanding the view of existence one moment at a time.
One lifetime at a time.