Hen Speaks

If Walt Disney (“Silly Symphony,” one of several animated short films produced during 1929-1939, staring the debut of Donald Duck) and Ronald Reagan (1976 political monologue) can spin new perspectives on the 1918 Old English Folk Tale, so can I. But first, the back story leading to integration.

Last Wednesday evening, I attended the introductory meeting of the Northfield Medical Aid in Dying Interest Group. I wanted to learn more about the status of The End-of-Life Option Act of 2017. Two prior introductions of the bill had previously been presented. Most recently Bill [145.871] HF1885, “adopting compassionate care for terminally ill patients; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 145” circulated in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

At the same meeting, I became aware of the New York Times article, “At His Own Wake, Celebrating Life and the Gift of Death” by Catherine Porter. In this highly compelling story, Canadian John Shields offers personal reflections of one man’s decision to end his life with the blessings of his family and friends. Suffering from a hereditary form of amyloidosis which, among other symptoms, caused his heart to stop periodically, he subsequently became approved for assisted dying. Medically-assisted death for terminally ill people was passed in Canada on June 17, 2016.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/world/canada/euthanasia-bill-john-shields-death.html

In providing much external information that stimulated my internal brain, the meeting also included an informal presentation by Sally Settle of Eagan. She shared a personal story of her mother’s death from leukemia, promising her mother in her final days to champion end-of-life choices. Since then, Sally has shared her mother’s end-of-life journey with newspapers, Facebook, and other numerous audiences. Her friends admire her for the work she is doing. They applaud her energy and cheer her on. They see externally. They feel internally, yet they do not move one pinky toe forward to further the possibility of additional end-of-life choices, regardless of their individual stand-alone issues. Thinking only of themselves, there is no integration, no unity.

This frustrating quandary reminded me of the basis of the children’s short story, The Little Red Hen,” retold and illustrated by Florence White Williams, The Saalfield Publishing Company: Chicago-Akron, Ohio-New York.          http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18735/18735-h/18735-h.htmhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Red_Hen).

In it, the little hen, who was busy scratching the ground for worms to care for her entourage of baby chicks, found something that looked very similar to a worm. After inquiring throughout the barnyard as to its identity, she learned that it was wheat seed. In spite of her endless responsibilities as a mother, Little Red Hen managed to see great possibility in the wheat seed and importance to the whole of the barnyard society. Offering choices beyond worms and greens, she decided that working with the wheat seed should be explored. Needing assistance for the momentous task, she asked her dear friends to help her plant the seed, care for it, harvest it, grind it into flour, and make it into bread. To her amazement, not one of her friends (represented by the cat, the rat, and the pig) agreed; each, in turn, replied, “not I.” They were willing to watch from the sidelines, live their lives as they had become accustomed, and not be associated with anything that differed from the status quo. They were unwilling to consider or act. Realizing the seed’s marvelous potential to change barnyard life and the personal value of having choices, the visionary Little Red Hen said, “Well, then, I will do these things myself.”

I’m choosing to stop the story here. While most people recognize perseverance, hard work, worthy causes, and the quality of daring to step into the unknown or unproven possibilities, they balk at action, caring more about what people will think than about staying true to their higher Self. They let busyness make excuses. Is this integration?

The cat, the rat, and the pig were happy to watch Little Red Hen from a distance, in the present moment. Only the protagonist saw possibilities for the wheat seed and was willing to venture into the unknown with no guarantees. Her actions demonstrated a trusting alignment with Source and the courage to meet whatever life brought to the moment. This is integration.

Knowing of choices beyond the standard diet of worms (even if they were fat and juicy) and greens did not occur to cat, rat, or pig. They were complacent and in denial. Little Red Hen, however, was willing to explore something new and different. Options may not be used by the entire barnyard society, yet, with choices, every animal (everyone) is free—free to make decisions within personal circumstances. This is why we have free will. This is integration.

 

From a higher vantage:  Choices should not divide us. Instead, let them unite us in free will and the joy and satisfaction of being able to accommodate our personal circumstances.

 

©2015 Barbara L. Krause

Co-existing with Energy Zappers

How have you been zapped today? By stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, losses, or limitations? Although these outcomes seem to have a pattern, you are not a specific target; random change and humanness are part of life. It is how you choose to view these robbers of personal energy—with acceptance or resistance—that determines your quality of life. Exploring a single word will help you co-exist with these responses. Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  1. You planned to go to an exercise class, got into your car, and discovered that your car battery was dead.
  2. A long-time friend forgot your birthday.
  3. You received a message from your doctor, asking you to return for a repeat mammogram or PSA test.
  4. You see the x-rays from your exceedingly painful wrist, confirming that you have advanced arthritis—a shock that you could do without.
  5. You want to make your wishes known about your health directive and will, yet your adult children have their own ideas about what is best for you.

And you thought that you were in control! You didn’t realize the extent to which energy zappers tighten your body by compromising your immune system; by increasing irritability, headaches, or insomnia; and by constricting the muscles that help you to breathe. Energy zappers affect your emotions, making you more susceptible to depression, restlessness, overeating, and drug or alcohol abuse. Yet, underlying all of these responses, and perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, is that they block you from experiencing your true nature of joy, love, calm, generosity and happiness.

Some of you may still be in doubt that energy zappers truly affect you; after all, you practice wellness: a balanced, organic diet; sleep; movement; and supportive relationships. You believe that you are strong, educated, and wise—denial has no chance. No, your responses to energy zappers are under control. Compared to the experiences of your friends, your quality of life is supreme—for the most part, you guess, perhaps not entirely. It may surprise you, but YOUR body—as well as everyone else’s—carries a tremendous amount of stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, loss, and limitation at any given time. Try this practice to evaluate just how your body is feeling from the inside-out. Take note of how you are feeling right now.

Begin: (You may ask someone to read this section as you listen and participate.)

  1. Tense your toes; scrunch them up tightly. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  2. Tense only your R leg, bringing your thigh to your torso. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  3. Tense your L leg, again bringing your thigh to your torso. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  4. Now, tense BOTH legs. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  5. AND, you thought you had no stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, loss, or limitation affecting your body.
  6. Tense your abdomen, chest, and stomach (pulling your navel to your spine). HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  7. Tense your R hand, making a fist. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  8. Tense your entire R arm, bringing your forearm in toward your chest. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  9. Tense your L hand, making a fist. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  10. Tense your entire L arm, bringing your forearm in toward your chest. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  11. Tense your shoulders up to your ears. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  12. Tense your jaw, gritting your teeth. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  13. Close your eyes and frown; “purse” your lips. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  14. NOW: Tighten your entire body at once. Feel all of your limbs and organs squeezing toward your midline. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.

Ahhhhh, your body should feel comfortably relaxed. Compare what you feel like now with how you felt before you started this exercise. No doubt, you are more in tune with your body and realize that it has been in a state of tension.  Visually, it appears as if you have successfully let go of much of that tension. Also remember that how your body feels directly affects your mind. As your body relaxes, your mind relaxes and is more open to expansive ideas. You return to your creative and positive self. This exercise has the same effect on you as if you had just returned from a mini-vacation. Some of you are even smiling.

You are ready to consider this question: Are you truly living with energy zappers or just pretending to be aware of them?

It would be wonderful if you could wave your magic wand and, POOF, these limiting responses would disappear, forever banished. In today’s society, if only there were a quick fix! That’s not the case, and probably for good reason. Time allows you to ask for guidance from your higher power, to see different viewpoints, and to find acceptance in situations. This is how you gain wisdom. Energy zappers are part of our humanness and are here to stay. They will never go away, regardless of how much effort you put into wishing, envisioning, or hoping things to be different. The most effective way to handle these responses is to co-exist with them and not let them consume you.

To understand stress, anxiety, judgment, confusion, or frustration, go back to the basics surrounding lack and see them through a child’s eyes. Go back a few years…well, maybe quite a few years.

Imagine that you have a sugar cone w/one scoop of Cookie Dough ice cream; you see another cone w/ two scoops. You think: Wait a minute, that isn’t fair—even if two scoops will give you a tummy ache. Without anyone else interceding, you become unreasonably frustrated because you can’t have what you want! You may even think that next time you want an ice cream cone, the ice cream will be gone, and you will be out of luck. That perception may lead to an underlying anxiety surrounding lack. You should have two scoops while the getting is good! These thoughts of frustration and anxiety become a part of your mindset or who you believe yourself to be.

Now imagine that you have an older sibling who laughs a lot and makes crazy faces; your neighbors always interact with your sibling. You, on the other hand, are more on the quiet side; these same neighbors say hello to you, yet that’s about it. You may perceive this as the neighbors not liking you and may try to mimic your sibling. Another reaction might be to create an imaginary world. Your mindset of judgment and confusion, based on this experience, becomes your reality, your story.

As you grow older, you think about perceptions over and over until you believe them into your reality. Returning to the ice cream experience of perceived lack: I never get enough ice cream. Now that I think about it, I never get enough of anything. And, remembering the experience of judgment and confusion: I guess I’ll just be by myself. Who needs friends anyway?

These perceptions are stories about you and your experiences, not who you truly are inside. When you understand that the stories of your ego are only perceptions of your reality, the truth of you emerges. Not having enough or not feeling like you are enough is about your perception of lack. When you’re feeling lack, find some way to feel more gratitude and appreciation in the situation. Gratefulness for what you already have and for your gifts balances your emotions. It’s hard to feel stress, anxiety, judgment, frustration, worry, losses, or limitations and be grateful at the same time. Should any of the energy zappers come your way, practice gratitude and feel how your outlook shifts. A bit of false perception melts away.

To understand worry, losses, and limitations, go back to the basics of fear. You are born with only two natural fears: the fear of startling noises and the fear of falling—all other fears are learned. Fears are stories told and retold by your internal voice (ego) or learned from outside influences (peers, parents, teachers, ministers, other adults).

An example of an internal voice: A newly-graduated high school senior: I get a pit in my stomach when I think of enrolling in the School of Engineering at college next year. I’d rather major in theater, but my dad is insistent, and he was an engineer. This dilemma causes feelings of unworthiness (a type of loss) and worry of family rejection.

And, an example of outside influences: Don’t go into the basement; there are monsters behind the stairs that grab your legs and cut them off. Hearing those words from a friend whose older sibling made up a scary story, you panic over the possibility of losing your legs and never go near the basement door. As an adult, perhaps a small recognition comes to mind as you remember childhood stories like this.

As an older child, teen, or “twenty something,” you encounter stress, anxiety, judgment, frustration, worry, losses, or limitations as part of being human. Most likely, you’ve had a few role models who’ve provided guidance and coping skills in these matters. At the same time, no doubt, you’ve also suffered. Suffering is universal. Most adults are still  searching for productive ways to work with these limiting responses. Consider how ACCEPTANCE helps you to move forward in spite of energy zappers.

“Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…this will miraculously transform your whole life.” ~Eckhart Tolle, author and the most spiritually influential person in the world, 2011.

“Acceptance is a letting-go process. You let go of your wishes and demands that life can be different. It’s a conscious choice.”~Gary Emery, Counselor

“Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” ~Valery Satterwhite, Information Technology Services

Through practicing acceptance, we have greater quality of life. Acceptance is not conformity, weakness, or waffling attitudes. It is a way to learn something about your feelings and approach to energy zapping situations. Do you exaggerate, underestimate, or deny all together? Next is to contemplate various perspectives of the situation, exploring a universal point of view and possible next steps. The final step is to accept, moving toward resolution.

Key points of acceptance promote more personal harmony as you live with energy zappers.

A= An attitude of gratitude (finding something worthy of authentic gratefulness)

C= Compassion for self and others (offering positive self-talk; wiggle room for others)

C= Contentment (appreciating what you already have)

E= Expanding love (extending love toward all energies)

P= Present Moment (consistently welcoming what the “now” brings)

T= Trust in a higher power (Knowing that a universal power is consistently working for your highest good)

Recall the earlier example of a family member wanting to share wishes regarding a health directive or will, yet who experienced some “push back” from adult children who had their own ideas about what was best. Practicing the points of acceptance could lead to more family harmony and an enhanced quality of life for all.

Health Directive/Will: Disagreement between wishes of family member vs. views of adult children about family member’s wishes

*1. Family member (Dad) shares wishes…

*2. Response of adult children…

Feelings

*Disappointed; possibly angry, frustrated, feel they are “right”

*Wishes denied sensitivities of family members regarding death and dying

Contemplation

*We can’t possibly predict Dad’s thoughts or actions

*We can ignore, be silent, or resist Dad’s wishes. Is the resistance worth it?

*End-of-life should be positive, yet change or impermanence can sometimes

deliver a curve ball

*Whose life is it anyway?

Accept

*Attitude of gratitude for an actual end-of-life plan and transparent conversations

*Compassion for ourselves that it’s OK not to be in charge; compassion for Dad 

that he is taking this opportunity to voice his wishes

*Contentment in that we appreciate the gift of peace-of-mind engendered by a

legal health directive and will

*Expanding love through understanding, patience, and celebration

*Present Moment is a gift that life is unfolding exactly as intended on my behalf,

in positivity.

Accepting what the moment brings to you, especially when you encounter energy zappers, can be challenging. Be sure to keep a light-hearted perspective, as in this quote:

“Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.” ~Roger C. Anderson, Ecologist

 

From a higher vantage: Acceptance is about co-existing with and celebrating “what is.” Staying in the moment, regardless of change and humanness, balances your thoughts and behaviors, promoting an enhanced quality of life.

©2017 Barbara L. Krause

Private Rituals

One of my favorite magazines brought to mind the importance of ritual in life: maintaining structure and order, preserving values and beliefs, celebrating milestones or honoring personal or local community. Several definitions give meaning to “ritual”:

(1) “A ceremony or action performed in a customary way” (family members having pizza in front of the TV every Sunday night), (2) “sacred, customary ways of celebrating a religion or cultural heritage” (a bar or bat mitzvah), and (3) “a time-honored tradition” (watching the Viking-Packers football game or eating angel food birthday cake with Seven Minute Frosting). https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/ritual

Often we take rituals for granted—thinking that they will automatically be part of our life. That is, until the lead person or family who organizes the ritual chooses to discontinue or is no longer able to do so. Suddenly the ritual becomes hugely important. Resistance. Telling and retelling, expanding on the facts. Victimization. This happened to a family who had an in-ground pool. Every Fourth of July, they held a huge open house with grilled food, live entertainment, and swimming. They invited the entire neighborhood. One summer the family decided to vacation in Italy. Neighborhood expectations were not prepared for the shock. Whenever we begin to feel entitled, Ego puts on a show that is less than pretty.

The type of bond, length of relationship, circumstances, emotional and physical attributes and a host of other elements provide variables that make it impossible to determine exactly how someone will respond to loss. Responses are as unique as the people involved. However, an overarching thread is present. Interestingly enough, whether we are the person dying or the one left behind, we feel a loss of control.

During the days leading up to my mother’s death, she had called out to family members by name that had preceded her in death; her soul was traveling in-between this plane and beyond. She also wanted to know if she needed to pack a suitcase, take her pillow, and catch a bus. Her earnest questions indicated a childlike confusion and loss of control. Those around her were also feeling loss of control, trying to give her a response that was both understandable and reassuring.

All of us, regardless of where we are in life, are steadily losing control. It is wise to acknowledge that fact. Those who are actively dying have special gifts to share as we approach them with softened hearts. They give us the urgency to acknowledge our own mortality and to live our lives more fully. Their inner nature speaks to our compassion, and we can apply that compassion to others in grief. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, those actively dying will share wisdom from their heart which forges deeper bonds. Finally, observing and being with them reminds us that there is clearly a greater force at work beyond life on this plane.

Harvard Business School researchers Michael I. Norton and Francesca Gino have been studying how people respond to grief and why some individuals are able to move beyond grief more quickly than others. They found that those who seemed to be more resilient had created their own private rituals. One example was a woman who continued to wash the family car every Saturday, just as her deceased husband had done for years. Another person “gathered all of the pictures taken as a couple during their relationship and ‘then destroyed them into small pieces (even the ones I really liked!), and then burned them in the park where we first kissed.’”

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/in-grief-try-personal-rituals/284397/

Even a small change in attitude or self talk can be used as a ritual.

After her mother’s death, Charlotte L. Kent, 19, wrote regarding her college music theory class that she “simply could not understand it.” Her good friend’s advice was “Yet. You can’t understand it yet.” Charlotte went on to apply this advice to her life, especially with the thoughts and words she was using to express her grief. She began to add yet to the ends of sentences. “I don’t want to laugh—yet. I don’t want to stop crying—yet. I don’t want to let go—yet.” This reminded her that she was a fully in control work-in-progress.

~ “Readers Write: Leaps of Faith,” The Sun, March 2017, p.31.

These actions offered symbolic value to the persons participating in them and the actions were completed privately. Little rituals like favorite foods or preparation methods, a favorite wine, a happy or scary story, jokes repeatedly told, an accessory or flannel shirt, or sayings can offer comfort and a bit of control. Solo rituals do not have to be explained, approved, or tracked. Over time, we let go of them. They have served their purpose. We are able to move on without expectations or wishing things were different.

 

From a higher vantage: In grief, are you or a friend in need of a ritual? Choose the most memorable aspect about the loss you are grieving. Turn it into a private ritual, one that you don’t have to explain, gain approval, or feel a need to track. Give it all of your heart.

 

© 2017 Barbara L. Krause

Lift or Squash?

Somewhere around the ages of eight or nine—I have a grandson and granddaughter in this range—a child has capitalized on a growing Ego. The voice is almost magical and highly persuasive as it drives the child to distinguish character in any way possible. To stand out from the crowd begins with checking out the competition and comparing the assets and deficits. The child will feel either superior to (arrogance) or cheated out of (lack) as the situation is analyzed. These feelings carry over to the parties of any relationship. Comparison always results in greater separation from Source, separation that continues well into young adulthood and intensifies throughout mid-life.

Noting comparison behaviors in a child is a wake-up call to all adults to carefully consider how they approach comparison in their life situations. Adults cannot expect from a child that which they are not willing to see in themselves. The exploration of the still, inner voice is unconsciously cast aside in favor of personal development, with an opportunity to be heard, once again, at the sunset of life.

Anecdotal evidence may lead a child (or an adult)…

(1) To believe s/he is “right” about most things, evidenced by playing the card of the older sibling or adult knows best or uses physical or mental prowess to gain the upper hand.

(2) To unabashedly tout good fortune by playing the card of the announcement to go on a trip or constantly talk about how exciting it will be to experience an amusement park ride (with a height requirement).

(3) To mock and belittle the actions or situations of others by playing the card of calling out the emotion observed and adding an undermining comment.  (Stop crying like a baby because you can’t go to the Children’s Theater—you’d never understand the play anyway).

(4) To want to feel superior at another’s expense by playing the card of criticism (Look at your hair—mine is cooler).

In using comparison behaviors, the child (or adult) thinks only of personal self and believes that RECOGNITION is guaranteed. At the heart of these deductions is self, or Ego. The child (or adult) desires personal happiness—at all costs. And, as we observe an eight- or nine-year-old, this realization is almost forgivable except that a child imitates adult comparison behaviors that are witnessed in a variety of environments. Interacting with adults who have honed these skills of comparison, we often shake our heads or are quick to judge.

Comparison behaviors can be effective when used to lift someone’s outlook, desires, or dreams rather than to dash or to squash those qualities. Recall the anecdotal evidence and spin them in a positive way.

(1)  This is what has worked for me…

(2)  Even though I’ll be gone for a while, I know that you will make our pet happy.

(3)  Dr. Seuss’s “The Sneetches” at the Children’s Theater is the perfect play for you because you have so many friends with different interests.

(4) You’re getting better with the gel—let me put some of mine in your hair.

 

From a higher vantage: Regardless of age, time of life, or profession, a choice to lift or to squash someone else’s outlook, desires, or dreams is always at-hand. Lifting encourages self-esteem, compassion, camaraderie, and inclusion. Overall, each act or exchange of words affects the state of the whole. We are all in this life together. Choose to follow your higher Self and lift at every opportunity.

© 2017 Barbara L. Krause

getting to forgiveness

Ego: It’s not fair! I told Patti, in confidence, about a newly-discovered breast lump from my recent mammogram. She told someone else in our women’s group, and now everyone knows. I haven’t even returned for a follow-up screening yet. It was my story to tell!

Higher Self: That’s a tough one.

Ego: It was an insatiable personal urge to tell someone so that I would feel some comfort; however, it turned into a nightmare.

Higher Self: Even words presumed as confidential carry no guarantee that they will be honored as such. Feeling betrayed is difficult—a trust has been broken.

Ego: I don’t think that I can ever talk to Patti—again! For all I know, others are thinking that I have only six months to live!

Higher Self: You and Patti are long-time friends. It seems as if she acted out of character. You remember that her sister had breast cancer two years ago. Perhaps your news brought back scary memories.

Ego: I don’t know. It makes me angry, though. Maybe I should call her and tell her off!

Higher Self: Try looking at what has happened from a different angle—with an accepting and loving heart.

Ego: Fat Chance. If I let her off the hook by forgiving her, what’s to stop her from deceiving someone else?

Higher Self: Try to separate Patti the person from her behavior. Usually a kind and gracious individual, Patti forgot to be sensitive to your needs. Perhaps she was overwhelmed by your news and panicked.

Ego: Make no mistake: She just didn’t think!

Higher Self: I know her actions have made you upset. I believe that she had an urgent need to enlist help from others to support you.

Ego: Her behavior hurt me!

Higher Self: Have you ever made a tacky, thoughtless comment about someone when you didn’t realize that person was within earshot?

Ego: No! Never! (pause) Well, maybe, but I didn’t mean it. I was just kidding.

Higher Self: The comment was still insensitive, right?

Ego: I guess.

Higher Self: See how easily we can slip into our humanness? First accept what happened. Then offer forgiveness because it eases you out of situations with potential long-term negativity by imparting divine love into the mix. Mentally extend compassion and benevolence toward the person who “wronged” you. Finally, have gratitude for another way to witness Source. Accept. Forgive. Love. Extend. Gratitude. Remember that forgiveness is not about the other person. It is about you.

Ego: I can’t do that!

Higher Self: You’re not ready to do that, yet. Raise your consciousness to another level. When you focus on the divine spark of Source within you and within the person responsible for the grievance, you understand that you both are one and one with Source. What you do to others, you really do to yourself.

Ego: I need to think about your words.

Higher Self: Withholding forgiveness hardens your heart and compromises your health. It is divisive and causes separation.

Ego: (looks away)

Higher Self: Inner wisdom breaks open your heart. Over time, your attitude and disposition will be transformed. You’ll hold yourself (as well as the “abusers”) in acceptance, forgiveness, divine love, and compassion. This is a “sure remedy”!

Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore offers a way to practice forgiveness as found in a 1924 Unity publication entitled, “A Sure Remedy.”

“…Sit for half an hour every night and mentally forgive everyone against whom you have any ill will or antipathy. If you fear or if you are prejudiced against even an animal, mentally ask forgiveness of it and send it thoughts of love. If you have accused anyone of injustice, if you have discussed anyone unkindly, if you have criticized or gossiped about anyone, withdraw your words by asking him, in the silence, to forgive you. If you have had a falling out with friends or relatives, if you are at law or engaged in contention with anyone, do everything in your power to end the separation. See all things and all persons as they really are—pure Spirit—and send them your strongest thoughts of love. Do not go to bed any night feeling that you have an enemy in the world.”

Source intends goodness to enrich every aspect of our lives, lessons in bounty. When we do not forgive others and ourselves, we interrupt that circle of fullness. This negatively affects every aspect of our being, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

~paraphrased: Science of Mind, “Our Need for Forgiveness,” Ernest Holmes

You may find this all-inclusive prayer of forgiveness to be meaningful: “I forgive everything, everyone, every experience, every memory of the past or present that needs forgiveness. I forgive positively everyone. I also forgive myself of past mistakes. The Universe is love, and I am forgiven and governed by love alone. Love is now adjusting my life. Realizing this, I abide in peace.”

~Catherine Ponder, Unity Movement

 

From a higher vantage: Recognizing the need for forgiveness and practicing it leads to miraculous heart transformations and increased personal happiness.

©2017 Barbara L. Krause

your heart song is forever

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.

~Arne Garborg, 1851-1924, Norwegian writer; translated The Odyssey into New Norwegian

In witnessing over one hundred external and internal experiences with Source, I believe that Arne Garborg’s quote is exactly how Source takes care of us. This infinite font of grace and supply continuously loves, supports, and offers us messages for our highest good—messages of awakening—with complete acceptance. Yet, because we are human, many of us sleep right through the wake-up calls. Possibilities to open, be compassionate, and understand our oneness with each other pass us by as we blindly tick-off the boxes on our “to-do” list. Still Source patiently waits for us to understand.

For many of us, identifying with “being” is unfamiliar. We are bulldozing fixers, arrogant believers in our own knowledge, and “doers” supreme. We have spent most of our lives differentiating ourselves and competing at all costs to be successful through accumulation of wealth, reputation, and material goods. Feeling fairly smug, it’s hard to admit that most of the time we have slogged through life disregarding Source, never believing that a true Self existed, let alone that we would someday meet face-to-face.

We have struggled and suffered, chalking it up to the naïveté of Adam’s and Eve’s apple munching, shaking our heads at the fate of generation after generation. The more we demonstrate our omniscience, the more we convey the way of Ego. Busyness keeps us distracted so we can manipulate our outcomes. We are on top of the world. We are invincible. With state-of-the-art medical technologies, we can even outsmart death, at least for awhile. This finality is for others—so sad for them—yet we cannot spend time thinking about it (because then it might happen to us!). On happy days, we welcome caring for others, particularly our aging parents. Our hearts are comforted by the availability to purchase in-home care or insurance. No biggie. Impermanence? What’s impermanence? We are separate from Source and loving it. Who needs an “awakening” journey or a heart song?

Then it happens. Impermanence abruptly turns our heads. We’re sorry that we hadn’t thought about the “I” word, nor wondered what it would be like should it become part of our life. Now Devastation walks right in and throws around its weight. How come such horrible dis-ease is happening to us? We’ve led a golden life, with a golden career, a golden spouse or partner and children, a golden home, and golden friends. This can’t be possible! Life does not come with guarantees; events simply happen. Where is this God that is always supposed to protect us? to be in “our corner”? to allow only the good things to unfold? What a ruse! Surely it’s an oversight. We’ve been brushed aside, forgotten. Anger, guilt or shame consumes us. Barely surviving these emotions, we realize that something exists that is greater than we are, and it’s to our advantage to reach out to it.

Have we really been forgotten? Has Source actually given up on us? That’s just Ego whining. We apologize and bargain. After all, we believe that we’ve done all the “right” things: listened to Ego’s advice, ate organic foods, drank only purified water, exercised on schedule, volunteered, and offered kindness. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Enough for what? To feel good about hearing accolades for being a highly celebrated person? To ease our suffering at the time of death? To get us into heaven? Our busyness actually blocks Source messages from coming to us. Quickly we change our thinking and remember that when we feel forgotten by our higher power, it is we who need to clear some blockages. Urgently we ask the questions, How do I find an awakening journey? Does a heart song come with it?

How much of our day has been spent reflecting less on drama and more on what really matters in life: ways to slow down in order to find portals to Source; thankfulness for everything in life, both great and small; the role of initiating self-compassion and compassion for others; and the discovery of a softened and relaxed heart that opens to the wisdom of consciousness.  It is never too late or too early to start pondering.

Many of us accomplish our secondary purpose, to find our talents and gifts and share them with the world. Our primary purpose, however and one that we all share, is to increase awareness of oneness with all other energies and move confidently toward remergence with Source. Have we made strides in that direction? Have we taken time daily to reflect on the questions, Who am I? What constitutes a meaningful life? How fulfilling are my relationships? Now we know what has been deep within our core and all but forgotten.

Clarity through infinite answers and direction waits for us, now that we know where and how to look. Source cares for us, loves us, and sings our heart song to us, as we gently awaken to connectedness. Benefiting by knowing our own heart song, we extend love to others by signing their heart songs.  We connect and daily walk toward the light.

Integrated perspective: Our humanness sometimes interferes with our “being,” and Source whispers our heart song. We stir. Sometimes we overlook our capacity to love and receive love, and Source chants our heart song. We yearn. Sometimes we forget how important it is to recognize and celebrate the connection of all energies, and Source soulfully sings our heart song. Remembering, we leap for joy!

Song: To Love Someone by Paul Krause:

© 2015 in the thick of things

You are So Much More

How much evidence is needed? You are so much more was the message that my softened and surrendered heart received from Source less than a week ago. What did this message mean and where was it leading? Previous to the night of the message, I had spent five hours with a nonagenarian relative in the Emergency Room (ER) and subsequent hospital room as he continued to interact with a racing heartbeat. I wanted to be with him and his daughter at his bedside to connect with him through “Heart Talk”—an approach of support, “being” in oneness and, above all, shared love in the present moment. “Our work is to come together in truth. To become the perfect environment for each other’s recognition that there is no other, but just the One to be shared,” Who Dies? Stephen and Ondrea Levine, p.171.

I adjusted his blankets for warmth, placed my hand on his shoulder, looked in the direction of his eyes and began to speak through heart vibrations. His daughter offered a comment to add some levity that he should decide between Red Lobster and The Olive Garden as a dinner destination for the following week. As the medical team prepared to shock his heart with the hope of gaining a normal heart rate, his racing heartbeat suddenly began to drop significantly. Nosedive by nosedive, it normalized. I was reminded of my inner spark of divinity. It was Source working through me that held sacred space for whatever would be the appropriate healing for my relative’s situation.

Two days later while attending a Unity service, certain lyrics from “Hold On,” a song from The Secret Garden—a 1993 musical about death and loss—hijacked my attention. More evidence. Underlined passages resonate with me.

“Hold On” (excerpts)

“What you’ve got to do is finish
What you have begun!…

When you see the storm is coming
See the lightning part the skies
It’s too late to run
There’s terror in your eyes
What you do then is remember
This old thing you heard me say
“It’s the storm, not you
That’s bound to blow away”

Hold on…
Don’t even ask how long or why?
Child, hold on to what you know is true
Hold on till you get through.
Child, oh child
Hold on…

[When you feel your heart is poundin’
Fear a devil’s at your door
There’s no place to hide
You’re frozen to the floor
What you do then is you force yourself
To wake up, and just say
“It’s this dream, not me
That’s bound to go away”…

Hold on, the night will soon be by
Hold on
Until there’s nothing left to try
Child, hold on, there’s angels on their way
Hold on and hear them say
“Child, oh child!”

When you see a man who’s raging
And he’s jealous and he fears
That you’ve walked through walls
He’s hid behind for years
What you do then
Is you tell yourself to wait it out
And say “It’s this day, not me
That’s bound to go away”

Child, oh, hold on
It’s this day, not you,
That’s bound to go away.”

Again, You are so much more resounded in my heart, symbolizing an alignment with Source, my higher Self. When I focus on this alignment, my strength knows no boundaries and my path to enlightenment is clear. How much more evidence is needed? Yet, persuasive ego tends to derail me, although in fewer instances as time goes on. Thinking of my relationship with Source, I need only ask and then wait for guidance and answers to appear. It’s when I begin to doubt, question, and close my heart that things get murky. Staying in the moment and expecting to hear from Source, the next steps come to me. With a softened heart, I look to this as my reality, and situations that are difficult, worrisome or fearful—the dramas of life—are recognized as illusions. Perhaps it’s the day, the response, or circumstances. Each of these, not my higher Self, will “go away.” My higher Self is part of Source; therefore, I am steadfast and endure.

Over time, I believed that I had understood this concept, knew the right words to explain it, and could give examples. I see now that I had more living to do to fully realize alignment as a gift. It’s not important that circumstances have repeated themselves in a variety of ways to yield recognition or that understanding has taken a while to settle into my bones. When I set an intention to raise my consciousness and pursue alignment, it will happen. Timing is of no consequence. Source has a plan and is in and around me, always. Doubt came because I carried the alignment only in my head, vulnerable to Ego; now I believe in and hold the alignment with Source in my heart.

Then it was Tuesday. You are so much more defines connection. I received meaningful comments about the recently-held me! die? gathering; found the “right fit” webmaster, which was the result of completely trusting my intuition; and spent the day experiencing the world from the perspective of our eleventh-month-old grandson. Each precious moment offered endless gifts: smiles, exploratory movements and experimental noises created with his tongue, communication full of nuances, and the wonder and awe of earrings and zippers, to name a few. Even the moments spent reading Alaska 1-2-3 Counting Book for the fifteenth time renewed a fondness in my heart for his excitement as we approached that special page, and he exuberantly waved to nine polar bears waving back at him.

You are so much more goes beyond “correct” answers and possibilities—extensions of the mind. With the knowledge of Source alignment in my heart, I feel my thoughts, words, and actions through trust and patience, without strategy. The results are universally agreeable. Receiving awareness from Source in mysterious ways no longer surprises me. At 4 a.m. I awoke to “nudges” for this blog entry that ended in an obscure circle of light gently pulsating in my head. I know. Evidence is surpassed by joy.

Inwardly speaking: Set your intention. Ask your heart to lead you into alignment with Source. It will come to you in time. You are so much more than you think.

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

Rushing

Video: https://youtu.be/DCzeVaGXldw

A family gathering: Rushing to get there. Rushing to be together. Rushing to take time. Destination: Calgary, Alberta, to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Paul’s Mom. Over fifty family members and friends would honor the family matriarch and share stories. The busyness of the last three days was equaled, and eventually transformed, by the rushing waters of Fish Creek Provincial Park. I entered the peacefulness of nature. Red-leaved bushes and swooping, white-tipped tailed and winged Magpies echoed the freedom of the wild, the unknown. The refreshing sounds and sights beckoned my attention—a type of Pandora’s Box that was forever changing, unlike the hidden and forbidden contents of the myth.

Curiosity growing, I became the red leaves, the gracefulness of black and white birds with negative reputations. Movement morphed into questions. Would I find the area where, three years previously, Black-Capped Chickadees fed on seed from my human hand? Would the early mountain snowstorm quietly, yet assuredly, define every inch of surroundings? Is there an advantage to contemplating death while out in the very nature of life? Other than at death itself, do the questions ever stop? Does the inner work ever end? My best guess is that I’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP).

Life and death are complimentary partners. Inseparable, they have similar characteristics of accompanying the soul into the unknown, of exploring its purpose, and of extending love throughout the universe. Yet there are moments of drama and resistance that continue to plague my thoughts and emotions. Part of me is still trying to be someone or something. It is then that I feel there is a lot of surrendering to be done. Pushing and striving do not serve me. Rather, continuing to understand my experiences as illusions and non-essential frees more space for what really matters—the automatic knowing of unconditional love. What I know, I live and share.

Fluid connection and integration with the energies within and around me lead the way to an automatic knowing in my heart. This automatic knowing equates to the feeling that overcomes me while listening to a concert of professional musicians intersecting interpretation, rhythm, space and resonance, creating a peak experience. The giving and receiving between us leads to an upward spiraling oneness of unconditional love, unexplained by words.

However, while trying to be someone or something, I am unable to feel this connection of unconditional love. Striving is unnecessary because Source already knows my essence to be unique. Further striving creates separation from Source. To be ordinary is to be whole and complete, as created. Content with oneself. The higher realms pose this reality. I understand this principle, yet I hear Ego screaming, What do you mean, be ordinary?! You grew up encouraged (OK, pushed) to ‘make something of yourself’—be different, work harder, be better! This was also your mantra in life’s middle years. Now, in your later years, you want to give up on that? What a disappointment you are! Those words pierce my heart. They don’t describe my truth as I’ve come to know it today. They are just one of Ego’s ploys–stories I’ve heard repeatedly from parents, teachers, and bosses—a familiar societal rant. Really. I don’t have to try to be someone or something. I am worthy and perfect in Source’s eyes, just as I am.

Continuing on my walk in the park, I could recall few people over my lifetime that I would define as ordinary. One does stand out, only because everyone else at the time was trying to differentiate. Mary, my neighbor of thirty years ago, seemed to be content with life and had no need for striving. She and I got together to talk two or three times a week while our kids played on a swing set or devoured a yummy picnic lunch. I remember Mary most vividly because she did not worry about her two-year-old daughter or four-year-old son. She knew that her husband would always be a successful business person. She accepted the blight on her tomato plants, the Boxelder bugs that swarmed on the south side of her home in the fall, or the winter’s snow and ice. Diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, Mary had received a terminal prognosis of six months. Although extraordinary in her courage, what impressed me most, as I think back to our time together, was her acceptance of the ordinary within the present moment, something that I had no understanding of at the time. Not once did she pity herself. Without even trying, she was the strength of love, compassion, and connection. Oh, to remember these gifts among the living from one who was dying. As we are in life, so we are in death. Mary transitioned with great peace of mind—she knew her truth—and I am grateful for a deeper understanding of those shared moments.

Another question that comes forward from Pandora’s Box is “What do I celebrate in death?” Certainly the beginning of another cycle of rebirth. Preceding this celebration is the role model in death that we become to our family members, friends, and community. That is worth considering. By going inward, in advance of our compromised health or journey of dying, we realize what is important to us, how to make known our voice, and what we want others to remember. It is our exclusive deathright to decide how we want to die and what we want others to know about that time in our life.

Video:https://youtu.be/IvqWJiyd4hE

Walking along the park trail, I noticed the fluffy seeds of the thistle that are controlled by the timing and conditions of nature. This is a perfect metaphor for our dying and death experience. Our thoughts and feelings, directed by something unseen, yet felt, need to be thoughtfully expressed, not repressed or controlled by others. These expressions work to our advantage while we have the beauty of a sound mind. We, like the seeds, have no control over whether our thoughts and feelings fall on open or closed hearts, on fertile or infertile ground. Why not role model openhearted communication to share our legacy that lives in the moment, yet becomes a gift to generations?

Pandora’s Box is nearly empty with the fullness of self-understanding and gifts from the life-death cycle. Together, we share oneness of destination, framed by unique style.

 

Inwardly speaking: Have gratitude for questions posed, life and death explored, and insights learned in this lifetime.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

masks

Pièce de résistance. Why would intuition bring forward that term when contemplating yet another question regarding death? What do we resist? That which we resist is what we most need to explore. Yet, pièce de résistance, borrowed from the French, suggests three different meanings in life: “1) Creative masterwork or masterpiece, 2) Best achievement of an author, artist, representing a major life effort, or 3) Finest part of something, especially a meal” https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pi%C3%A8ce_de_r%C3%A9sistance. Are any of these definitions applicable to the dying and death experiences? The initial answer came, No! It’s just part of the vocabulary gleaned from a French minor completed in college. Yet, thoughts found the perspective intriguing. Yes! This noun perfectly describes life, death and dying.

Death is our crowning masterpiece, a culmination of the experiences we came to earth to explore. Death brings together our major life efforts—what we have learned, what we have given back, and how we have lived our purpose, recalling that our shared primary purpose is to learn the truth of who we are. Like food, death and dying are surrounded by rituals. Whether sitting down to a glorious meal with traditional table service and generationally-inspired, succulent entrees or witnessing our final moments amid the gifts of others’ stories, singing, and private moments, our intention is the finest, sharing our journey with family, friends, and community. We are not separate or alone, rather loved, safe and at ease; Source is with us.

Until we accept this awareness, we continue to “dig in,” often in subtle ways. Resistance seems to be one of many built-in paths honed by Ego. Justified and well-protected, these paths become patterns to live by. We advocate according to our comfort level. Everything outside of that range is questioned or dismissed, a sign of resistance. Many of us attribute resistance to our strong values and convictions; culturally, we believe this to be a good thing. And, it may be, to a point. It is only when these beliefs become exclusive to any other ways of thinking or being that we experience separateness. On go the masks!

Disconnection queries without facts; births misunderstandings that lead to grudges; withholds forgiveness from ourselves and from others; starts or accepts rumors to abet our own agendas; demonstrates one-upmanship through status, wealth, or talents; creates self-sabotaging thoughts or comments; or assigns blame. This is resistance to “what is.” We believe that these behaviors are acceptable and the “norm” in society. In reality, not only do these behaviors separate us from each other, but they separate us from Source. They are NOT of truth nor of the present moment, which is all we are given.

“The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What it sees as strength is weakness. So the ego exists in a continuous resistance-mode and plays counterfeit roles to cover up your ‘weakness,’ which in truth is your power.”

~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, pp. 215-16

In working toward discovering the truth of who we are, our wholeness, we explore what we resist, that which we mask to the world; its roots; and resistance itself. In the sunset years of life, it is to our benefit to revisit ideas or behaviors that, years earlier, we challenged, opposed, or denied for any reason. A second look now could usher in a new perspective as we approach our inevitable death and those of our loved ones. Research shows that those who devote time today to inner contemplation of their death, experience less fear, fewer regrets, more ease, and more love at the actual time of death.

Last Saturday night I awoke to a queasy stomach, shortness of breath, and overall anxiety. I was resisting my sanity in offering a gathering to talk about all things death-related the next afternoon. Ego brazenly posed questions about the validity of my idea: Why is a perfectly normal woman like you bringing such a “morbid” (others’ words) gathering to Northfield? You can’t imagine that anyone would come (I had four positive and two “maybe” RSVP’s)?! This is a ridiculous idea! You’ll see—it will flop. No one willingly chooses to discuss the dying process and death (I considered those to be inciting words).

Half an hour had lapsed, and I noted little change in my physical ailments. I acknowledged Ego and openly accepted the possibilities she mentioned. So what? Me! Die? was not a life or death matter—even though we couldn’t talk about one without talking about the other! This gathering was an opportunity to bring Death out of the closet. By coming together in community to discuss views, fears, anxieties, and questions about death (and ultimately, life!), we would be living our finite lives more fully. Stories would join us too.

So what was going on in my mind about resistance in general, beyond the hosting of this specific gathering? Introducing an idea that is considered culturally “taboo” by most is swimming upstream—labeling and challenging. Yet my higher Self knew that I had been divinely led to pursue this path as a way to fulfill my purpose of healing and awakening others through words and healing energy—a respectful path of service. Over these thoughts I heard, You are not alone. I am with you. Only two other times in my life had I received words from Source. Grateful for this ultimate confidence, my over-stimulated nervous system was calmed. I relaxed and went back to sleep.

I had been questioning (resisting) the logic of my purpose and Source’s support; it was as if two personalities were arguing in my head. I was not leading with my heart. By yielding to my resistance (that my purpose was misaligned, not valuable), I understood, by contrast, the clarity of my higher Self. Miracles (my in-the-middle-of-the-night encouragement and a successful gathering) of Source followed. The right seven people participated in the Sunday afternoon Me! Die? dialogues. One commented, It was a very rich, meaningful experience. A good beginning.

Inwardly speaking: Recognizing and acknowledging our resistant actions and behaviors allows us to move beyond them and witness our truth.

© 2015 in the thick of things

Trust the Unknown

My 148-year-old rocker was waiting for me. I sat down and began to focus on my breath, feeling its familiar rising and falling to a count of six. Relaxed and comfortable, I continued in this way until time seemed non-existent. I began to recall impermanence and how it touches everything in the universe except Source. This means that all energy and matter follows a cycle of life evolving into death. Nothing is exempt. Strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and relatives came to mind. The last category hit a nerve, as one of my relatives is currently experiencing a health crisis. My breathing quickened and became shallow. Keeping the same inhale count, I lengthened my exhale to a count of eight, which usually relaxes my sympathetic system (fight or flight reflex). This small change seemed to help.

I remembered the cycle of life evolving into death demonstrated in the forming and crashing of waves, changing seasons, planting and harvesting the garden, letting go of beloved pets, and even regenerating my skin cells. I know life moves to death, and the cycle continues to repeat. These examples were substantiated by experience.

Suddenly, something in me became highly alert. The words, Nothing is exempt, resurfaced. Wait a minute—I’m personally involved. I am matter and energy. My death is certain. Actually, each day I get a bit closer to my unknown expiration date. My body, mind, emotions, and Ego will die. Quick breathing returned, accompanied by a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms. I felt sick. I heard an insistent voice.

Ego  What is going on?

Higher Self  I am thinking about my own life into death cycle, my death.

Ego Why are you doing that? It will only upset you.

Higher Self  What you really mean is that thinking about death and dying upsets you because it leads to your demise.

Ego  Well, I don’t know about that (I can’t admit to HS, that s/he is right!)

Higher Self Thinking about death and dying in the moment helps me to figure out what really matters for living and to make decisions that count. I can be myself.

Ego  Decisions are up for grabs. If you don’t like something, just change your thinking. Besides, don’t you already know what matters? Trips, wealth, electronic devices, cars, boats, houses, travel, clothes—that’s what I say. The more, the merrier!

Higher Self  By giving myself time and going inward, I discover what truly matters and let everything else simply “be.” The things you just named are “stuff” and they echo appearances, not who I truly am. Without attention, the “stuff” will have no meaning.

Ego  That’s a huge leap—no longer focusing on things that have anchored decades of your life.

Higher Self  Yes, but love, kindness, generosity and service hold a deeper meaning for me now. Becoming these characteristics defines my living.

Ego  And what about me? Am I not important any longer?

Higher Self  I appreciate your guidance regarding safety. Yet, as I age, I choose simplicity in all things and appreciate the clarity of “being” over “doing,” of fewer regrets, and of less fear in losing control. My direction is sure. I feel lighter and happier. I Am remerging with Source, knowing that my essence is well-cared for.

Ego  I won’t be around, yet I admire your conviction.

As the awareness of being in my rocker returned, I realized that I had equated death with me. I felt slightly better, relieved that I had moved in the direction of thinking about death, saying “death” aloud, and exploring its meaning. I know that this is just the beginning of my dialogues. More questions need exploration. More wisdom is forthcoming. More acceptances are in store.

I am slowly realizing that I am more than my body, my mind, and my emotions. I Am the observer and what is observed all at once. My “being” affects the “being” of every thing. The rocker grounds me with love and support; its silent stories evoke warm memories. We are a lot alike, my rocker and I. We offer service in this plane, yet our essences radiate heart and care.

Contemplating my dying process and death is not a one-time experience. To create more awareness of Self, I return daily to learn greater understanding of this culmination of life, knowing that successive dialogues will be easier. Source gives me insights as I am ready to receive and digest them—all in divine order. I welcome these knowings and feel them with a full heart. Collectively, they are the vast unknown that I trust, beginning with the mysteries of arrival in and departure from this plane. Had I been aware of what birth would be like, I may not have chosen to participate. Yet, here I am, no worse for the adventure. Without resistance, hope unfolds. As in birth, death is a solitary proposition. People may surround me with great love, tenderness, and anticipation of the Beyond, yet I, alone, will make the journey. Opening my heart to death, little by little, I will continue to explore questions, being grateful for insights.

 

Inwardly speaking: Can you find examples of impermanence? This is Source’s way of showing you that death is part of the life of every thing. Death is neither bad nor good. It just is, a natural part of life. Say “death” and know that you don’t need to fight it.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause