A Calling of Love

“Now there is a whisper: a calling of love toward further becoming.”

I go for a period of time with no awareness of change, and then, suddenly I experience a eureka moment—total joy, triumph, or breakthrough! The flowers that a tree displays before they turn into leaves or a date for my website completion. At the other end of the spectrum, I am incredibly disappointed and saddened by a dear friend’s health news that I knew was on the radar, but is only now confirmed. Then there are the changes in between.  Something happens:  A relative’s comment, a spouse’s action or reaction, or a dear friend’s tears, and it is several hours or even days before I may feel a subtle shift in understanding.  

Processing change has taken on new meanings because I am constantly evolving. There is no need to force an unfolding—no need to try. Trying, striving, and pushing are actually forms of resistance to Source messages. Instead, I allow the direction of a greater energy, whether through whispers, nudges, visions, or my friend’s reference, “2 x 4 applications,” as I excel in or weather my change. In love, Source guides me to become more than I can be or do by myself. I trust the choice to return to the steadiness of my inner voice, the timing of the universe, and the feeling of being lifted from chaos or into my desires. It matters not if I perceive the experience as negative or positive. Change just is.

What does matter is that, above all, change is a calling of love toward further becoming. I remember love as I explore change, as sublime or difficult as it may be. There are always choices. Duality thinking (good, bad; have, have not; yes, no) can become a one-way ticket to negativity. Recognizing that place, I don’t stay in that energy. Instead, I choose possibilities for gratitude, love, bonding, or greater understanding—regardless of the situation. I see circumstances from all angles.

Consider this Heartbeat when you think of the latest change you’ve experienced. May it help you to balance your thoughts, actions, and emotions and move forward.

CHANGE

What is change but…

A word that recalls possibilities and challenges?

An action that simultaneously champions beauty and resistance?

A feeling of soaring, yet longing?

Growing, sharing, laughing, and crying together, we know change is inevitable.

Our hearts expand to hold it all—the challenges and the triumphs.

Realizing dualities are just part of our humanness, we breathe.

Life continuously changes.

Now there is a whisper: a calling of love toward further becoming.

We trust, knowing a greater energy is at hand.

Forever connected, we learn.

Radiantly, we soar.

From a higher vantage: Whatever juncture you have arrived at, it is right for you. This experience is part of your journey. Love accompanies your becoming, whether you sense it or not. How will you respond?

© 2021 In the Thick of Things

The Mask—to Hide or Show?

Within minutes, the environment changed from a painted, asphalt parking lot to shades of lushness in a magical forest. It’s amazing how overcast skies enrich every detail. The three of us paused at a divergent path, pondering. Once considered to be hiding behind our masks, a regret from the past, we now celebrate our true Selves in newfound characteristics and interactions. We proudly live them. The pandemic offered time to hone who we are, to claim our birthright as Source expressing through us, and to share our purpose with the greater good.

The dirt paths shared their musk scent and observed our hesitancy. Each beckoned us to come closer and enjoy the gifts that could be found only in that direction. We agreed that each path represented grounding and a special unfolding of the moment. We would be grateful for whatever we encountered.

Violet, in a purple and lavender mask with beading, felt an instant connection with the scattered wild geraniums that graced the path to the right. No longer feeling the need to hide her emotions and fit in, Violet is transparent. She focuses on serving and loving others and remembers to spend time in personal self-care. Today she is a role model of calm and demonstrates grace, ease, and healing. She symbolizes compassion and life in the present moment.

Ruby’s red mask was ornate with feathers and gold ribbons. It was difficult to imagine that once she was concerned only with bold riches and being the center of attention. She was attracted to the energy and persistent hammering coming from the Pileated Woodpecker as its beak penetrated the bark of a tree near the left path. Now she reveals strength, courage, and confidence while sharing generosity, wisdom, and spirituality.

Swan loved her teal mask of gentleness, serenity, and thoughtfulness. Others once believed her to be easily swayed, weak, and of few opinions. She was excited to hear playful sounds of a stream somewhere in the distant left, parting a vastness of green. Now her words and actions soothe the nervous system, spark creativity, and lead open communication. She symbolizes originality, clarity, and rejuvenation.

Majority rules. The true Selves of the trio chose the path to the left, knowing that either way was right for them. They found elegant, wild strawberry blossoms and witnessed seas of strong ancestor ferns. Birds having no agenda sang for the joy of singing. High and camouflaged in the late morning hours, a Barred Owl seemed out-of-place with his distinctive song, “Who-cooks-for-you.” Yet its remarks offered a haunting comfort. On the ground in front of them were hoofprints of horses. What a wild variety of energy we have become, yet we all began with and will return to Source energy.

One more surprise. As the trio left the park, a common snapping turtle crossed the road to bid farewell.

From a higher vantage: Nature doesn’t hide. We sense its true Self. No promises. No expectations. No apologies. Exposing our true colors and characteristics, we share the oneness that is.

© 2021 In the Thick of Things

Revelation. Release. Remergence.®

It’s been nearly eight weeks. Without a wig to tend or image to guard, I can feel at home with my natural Self. I continue to celebrate full alignment with a greater energy and the ease and flow of being transparent. Yet, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t mention that, occasionally, my ego has some doubts about my new appearance and often argues for the status quo. I inform her that hats are still available when it’s cold or windy, and that my wig is on a stand in the closet, should I deem wearing it for an occasion. Those explanations soothe her for a time, although she’s still puzzled by why I would choose a new look in the first place. Meanwhile, my Higher Self is enjoying new-found freedom, empowerment, and connection with others. This is where I choose to place my attention. During the last few weeks, I’ve learned a great deal.  Revelation, release, and remergence teach me about life and work. Perhaps you’ve noticed similar patterns.

Revealed and confirmedarewho I am, what I stand for, and my purpose. These beliefs become worth the risk of transparency, worth the risk of thinking BIG, and worth the risk of challenging others to consider new perspectives on subjects they’d rather ignore or place at the bottom of their priority list. In short…

Transparency is not defined by duality: good vs. bad;  right vs. wrong; or happy vs. sad. It simply refers to a way of being, thinking, or acting that I haven’t experienced before.

Yes, the choice to be transparent can seem like an uphill struggle or something I’m worried or nervous about, yet in my heart of hearts, I KNOW this is the path of authenticity.

Self-worth and service do not depend on appearance, what others think or say, environment, or ancestry.

Transparency allows sharing my soul’s light in a deeper, more courageous way. It speaks without words and is the only way forward.

Released from me are thoughts, actions, and fears that do not reflect a greater energy, that are not authentic to my work, and that are not open to the hearts and minds of others. In short…

Service needs to be inclusive, not fit only a select group of people. Loss, death, and dying are common to all forms, despite understanding being unique.

All life forms offer distinctive gifts, talents, and humanity to the greater good, without which, leaves an unfillable, permanent gap in the interconnectedness of life. Every life form matters.

My transparency encourages the same in others: to share their struggles, to stop pretending to be something or someone they’re not, or to unmask an untold, inner secret.

Every decision is driven by love or fear; everything else is inconsequential. Let love steer the choice.

Remergence is the realization of oneness with a greater energy, of going Home, of completing the circle of life. Each energy form honors its pre-earthly contract and reviews what it has learned. Remergence is a portal to another mysterious unfolding. In short…

Choose a more settled and fuller life, now, by preparing for death and dying. Expiration dates are not known. Take time to ponder the meaning of life; your wishes; relationships; and thoughts to share with adult children, grandchildren, and friends. Complete and distribute required paperwork. Gain greater peace of mind.

Consider that those who are able to focus, demonstrate flexibility, and practice self-control throughout their lifetimes are more flexible and accepting of mortality as they grow older. Those who find it more difficult to be transparent in life and who struggle with focus, flexibility, and self-control are less accepting of their mortality. ~Adapted from “Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality,” Sheldon Solomon, 2003 documentary

The dying process is not to be resisted or feared. Rather, think ease and flow. Transparency aids acceptance and openness. A dying person is completely safe and deeply loved.

Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) cite times when a body has been declared medically dead, yet its energy has not been fully assimilated into oneness, so has the choice to return and tell of the experience. Observations indicate great love and beauty.

From a higher vantage: You are invited to a more transparent and happier life. Let revelation, release, and remergence guide you. 

© 2021 In the Thick of Things

Why Become Transparent?

Yes, I got a haircut!

Yes, my true Self is radiant and free!

Yes, I intend my daring transparency to encourage others to radiate true light.

Right now, you may be thinking:

Shocking! It makes me feel uncomfortable.   OR

I’m so glad I have my hair.   OR

This kind of courage inspires me!!

Showing up bold, bald, and beautiful has been a possibility I’ve kept hidden in my back pocket for a l o n g time. Old stories and the expectations of family and society regarding hair loss made me feel uncomfortable with any change. I had been wearing wigs as a corporate trainer for nearly fifteen years. Why rock the boat?

However, wanting to earn my 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate in 2014 unknowingly pushed me along the path of transparency. Now I would be spending much more time in yoga classes and training sessions: more opportunities for my wig to fall off. Yet, I really wanted to earn my teacher certificate, so my desires outweighed the risks of shocking disclosure. I would need to publicly let go of a part of me that was not God-given, of something that made me feel luxurious, and of something that was enthusiastically accepted by society. I would need to embrace feeling uncomfortable.

“Uncomfortable doesn’t mean bad, uncomfortable simply means you’re doing something you haven’t done before.”   ~Joe Vitale, “The Secret” 2006

I didn’t know if I was ready to give up my wig entirely, but I did have enough courage to take an intermediate step. I started wearing hats and head wraps. Although they felt more secure, my ego often chided me to go back to wearing my wig and take my chances—ego always wants to maintain the status quo. There was a definite feeling of loss and times of yearning for my comfort zone. However, staying true to myself and receiving encouragement from other yogis made me feel more at home with my new image.

For some, my switch to hats indicated that something else was happening in my life. Many thought I was going through chemotherapy treatments or had beaten the odds to become a cancer survivor. People approached me with kindness to offer heart-felt support. When I thanked them for their concern and said it was hereditary hair loss—one form of alopecia—they seemed relieved, yet curious. To my surprise, many had never heard of the condition.

Wearing hats at home, when working in my office, and even when walking downtown with my supportive husband, Paul, made me feel more and more comfortable and at ease. It seemed that whenever I reached a plateau, however,  Source reminded me that I was a Work-in-Progress (WIP). Evolving continued. Isn’t that what we’re here to do, despite some confusion for others?  Most recently, I have felt greater changes in moving toward full transparency. Most of you know that I have been writing and speaking about loss, dying, and death for nine years now. My research, field work, inner contemplations, me! die?® workshops, and sacred bonds® book series have helped me to understand that reframing end-of-life living with ease begins with individual transparency and acceptance.

“Transparency is removing the mask and revealing who you really are; it is getting beyond the surface to what is really going on in your heart.” ~Kevin Martineau; Ontario, Canada

Recently, Source delivered upgrades once again. Many early mornings revealed hints of an altered journey, a deeper understanding. I often spent the hours between 3a-6a perceiving an energy that permeated every cell of my body. When I added feeling to that conscious energy, it intensified. I sensed my energy extending to clouds, to foliage, to the sea, and to the center of the earth. I opened beyond my senses.

Even though I was familiar with energy extending beyond the body, this was the first time I received firsthand anecdotal evidence; I was more than I could see. Giddy with possibilities, this knowing overwhelmed me. However, I know my higher Self can never be overpowered; its nature is to be open continuously. That is what makes me limitless. As I felt spaciousness in my body for Source to work, I wondered what would fill the space? Acceptance and transparency offered freedom and the unknown.

I felt challenged to explore that unknown. What else might I accept to become more transparent? What was I pretending, posturing, manipulating, or clinging to? What could I release? Image came to mind. I pretended to fit into society and impress with plastic hair.  Source was nudging me to entertain options. Perhaps I could wear hats exclusively and, eventually, champion my radiant head. YIKES! That would take immense courage! “I don’t know if I have that much courage” indicated small and one-sided thinking. What would Source say? I soon found out.

Almost nightly forays with Source continued. I journaled fast and furiously. I breathed. I allowed. I focused on possibilities:  By example, my transparency could bring about courage in others to give themselves permission to be transparent. To let go of thoughts, actions or things that kept them from being their authentic Selves. YES! This was my greatest hope for those I worked with: provide an example of transparency in the midst of loss, dying, and death so that they could do the same. Headed for complete revelation, I set an intention.

Not surprisingly during this time, I also had Zoom conversations with my branding consultant who has an abundance of spiritual awareness. She knew about my wig and asked if she could see me without it. Then she shared that she saw a column of powerful light appear the length of my torso as the protective, thin armor of past years of conditioning was falling away. Mystery and serendipity bring many thoughts and actions to fruition.

From then on, I joined virtual chat rooms and meetings, developed and led a complete church service, worked virtually with clients, and appeared on fliers in full transparency. I am empowered and thrilled to bring ease and soothe anxiety around loss, dying, and death, guiding people to live more authentically. Transparency leads to peace-of-mind and is worth every step of the journey.

From a higher vantage: “And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”  ~Rumi

© 2021 in the thick of things

the one thing there is plenty of

After nine months, I’d had enough. Every level of life felt like a challenge—for what seemed an eternity. I needed a distraction. The image of tying a knot at the end of a rope, as the expression goes, and just hanging on came to mind. What I saw from that vantage was plenty of trauma: Sexual assault or abuse; accidents, or injuries to self or other; natural disasters; or being in a life-threatening situation. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2017/PTSD-and-Trauma-Not-Just-for-Veterans#  I have been traumatized. I have sat with others experiencing trauma. I’m quite sure there is some trauma stuck within me.  Doesn’t everyone know trauma?

Racial injustice had escalated throughout 2020, as other circumstances—the pandemic, global warming, and political manipulation and unrest—became more widespread. As it turned out, a December book study featured My Grandmother’s Hands – Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Was this the diversion I craved?

Before signing up, I watched a few YouTube interviews with the author, Resmaa Menakem, whose calm and sincerity simply ooze through the screen. A trauma healer and psychotherapist, he is also a Minnesotan. Plus, I felt like he was someone I could trust. Hooked! Reviews praise this book of mending soul wounds (trauma) as the essential change needed to bring all bodies together—something this country desperately needs. As a healer, I wanted to know more about the author’s new approach to healing suffering. My mind was filled with possibilities for healing all kinds of trauma. Imagine the exposed space after the release of all that negative energy.

In his book, Menakem specifically addresses the history of racial trauma and steps in the individual and collective healing journeys surrounding white body supremacy, black and brown bodies, and blue bodies (law enforcement). His main idea is that trauma is not of the thinking brain but lives in the DNA of body cells and is passed down from generation to generation. Trauma happens to someone. “When something happens to the body that is too much, too fast, or too soon, it overwhelms the body and can create trauma…Trauma is the body’s protective response to an event—or series of events—that it perceives as potentially dangerous. This perception may be accurate, inaccurate, or entirely imaginary.” My Grandmother’s Hands, pages 6-7. The author shares examples, questions, and exercises that offer healing of individual racial trauma, creating more room within the nervous system and confirming that trauma can be healed.

My lifetime experiences with black or brown bodies have been relatively few, but positive and accepting; however, my family of origin casts some shadows. This book has increased my awareness of white supremacy and the stark effects of it on all bodies. I am shocked at how much more I need to broaden my understandings and actions. Committed to investing time and energy in healing my personal racial trauma, I begin.

Up until the time of reading Resmaa’s book, I thought any ancestral trauma I might have had was linked to my 100% German heritage. Scientifically, I now know some of the persecution and murder of European Jews and other minorities as well as Hitler’s strategy of an Aryan master race during the WWII era was passed down through the DNA of my generations. For example, whenever I watch a movie like Kate Hamer’s “The Girl in the Red Coat,” I have strong empathy, am moved to tears, and have difficulty emerging from scenes. Not proud to witness those actions, I condemn this senseless price that humanity was forced to pay. I wish there had been less tyranny and greater inclusion.

Menakem offers five tools to counteract familiar, reactive behavior patterns to life situations: fight, flight, or freeze. Paraphrased, these translate to 1) A struggle is coming, 2) That struggle is picking up traction, or 3) I sense a growing uneasiness in my body. For me, a growing uneasiness in my stomach signals trauma over a part of my heritage that I was not responsible for, yet somehow, still lives in me. The five anchors’ tool suggests ways to stay with the discomfort of my inherited trauma and move through it. Besides the trigger of movies, my senses have a way of creating scenes from historical readings and my travel experiences.

As I close my eyes, it’s as if I can feel, hear, see, touch, and taste the despair and fear of the Jewish prisoners and the arrogance and cold-bloodedness of Hitler. Sadly, it is part of who I am, how I act and react, and how I interact with life. I always wondered why I had such intense emotions relating to the Holocaust or to Hitler. Now, however, I know that I can set an intention to heal from my ancestral trauma.

Anchors 1-5 are paraphrased to show my experience of self-healing from trauma. See My Grandmother’s Hands, pages 167-175, for complete explanation.

Situation:

A billboard about a Holocaust exhibit at the Minnesota Institute for the Arts (MIA) triggers uneasy feelings in my body. I sense a tightening of my stomach muscles. I set an intention to work with my ancestral trauma, to heal from it.

Anchor 1

The discomfort of guilt, shame, and fear loom over me. I stop thinking. I begin to soothe myself by humming, rocking, or rubbing the area just above my navel. After about ten minutes, my mind and heart are quiet and calm.

Anchor 2

Then I notice sensations in my body. My stomach is clenched, a headache targets my temples, and pain attacks my left neck area. Guilt, shame, and fear accompany the pain. I try not to react to what I am feeling, so I repeat the names of the areas of my body that house the discomfort: stomach, temples, left neck area. Over and over.

Anchor 3

I accept the guilt, shame, and fear (discomfort) of my inherited trauma and stay with it as long as I can feel it. I do not fight, flee, or freeze. Reacting does not help me work through the trauma. Instead, I allow the discomfort to enter my body. I feel it and remain with it, no matter how unpleasant. I do not analyze it or think of strategies to overcome it. I don’t think! It is a natural inclination for the body to want to maintain stability. I focus on my body to accept, experience, and move through the discomfort—until it changes. It will change. It always does. However, it may take some time. I commit to waiting.

Anchor 4

I continue to stay with the guilt, shame, and fear (discomfort) and feel my way, moment-by-moment, as things unfold. I also allow uncertainty and doubt, knowing they are just passing feelings. I respond to discomfort (guilt, shame, and fear) from my highest Self and deepest truth. I don’t judge or expect others to help. Healing is instinctive. I continue to trust the process. For me, it takes about forty-five minutes before the discomfort lifts.

Anchor 5

I clear any remaining energy surrounding the discomfort by doing one of the following activities: shaking my body or yelling for three minutes; dancing or brisk walking for twenty minutes.

I am so excited to experience the lifting of some of my ancestral trauma. I feel more resilient and empowered, with a more expansive (and relaxed!) nervous system. If guilt, shame, or fear start to rear their ugly heads when my life connects with people who are Jewish, with documentaries about that era, or with readings on a similar topic, I will not fight, flee, or freeze. I’ll calmly repeat the five anchors’ exercise. Having this tool gives me a choice to privately identify my own trauma, to reduce trauma at my own pace through tools and exercises, and to become a more empathetic and loving family and community member because I have done the work of change. Now it’s time to heal white supremacy.

From a higher vantage: Reduce trauma overload—it’s holding you back! Take plenty of opportunities in the new year to send trauma on its way. Seize Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands. Listen to your body. Learn from its wisdom. Experience healing and ease.

@ 2020 in the thick of things

light up the dark!

For just a moment, close your eyes. Imagine these global-reaching gifts for the holidays…

  • Awareness of individual ancestry and culture
  • Respect for nature
  • A place to call home
  • Access to clean water
  • No person or animal left unfed
  • Simple lifestyles and expectations
  • Enough sustainable income
  • Coexistence of differences and inclusiveness
  • Love and harmony exchanged
  • A united, inclusive governing body

Now you open your eyes, and everywhere you turn, you are immersed in the negative column of duality. None of your reverie seems real, even possible, let alone attainable. You may feel angry, hollow, cynical, or in denial. Perhaps your attitude toward people and the world has changed.

Yet, attitude is one characteristic over which you have control—a present to yourself.  Consider this quote from Viktor Frankl, Austrian Holocaust survivor, neurologist, psychiatrist, and author:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Having visited the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington  D.C., I remember the haunting feeling of distinct limits on human life, of profound struggle, and of hopelessness. Being a deep feeler, it was difficult for me to shake the sight of young children’s worn shoes and clothing, the scratchy feeling of a lone, crinkled and discolored photograph of a loved one that I imagined placed next to skin, and the dark, heavy energy of the palpable emotions that reached to me through the displays. It took me several days of “sitting with” my psyche before I could balance my heart and thoughts. I have never forgotten, although I do not dwell on those scenes. Changing my attitude to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly lets me be in the world, but not controlled by it. Ways of thinking and behaving are up to me.

In some ways, today’s circumstances seem to engage the senses similarly. The pandemic, racial frenzy, denigration of nature, a broken economy, and egocentric and dictatorial government leadership ebb and flow during this time of unusual holiday celebrations. Although not always easy amid the surroundings, choose your attitudes.

Practicing a different perspective is another characteristic of choice. Since you don’t know what the next six months hold, better to be prepared, observe, and resonate with an offering of voice.

  • Are you short of toilet paper? You might try using crepe paper. It conveniently displays well on the roller, and the party stores are fully stocked. ~Terry Terrones, journalist for “The Gazette,” Colorado Springs, CO, April 22, 2020
  • One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers. ~Gwendolyn Brooks, In the Mecca, poetry, 1968
  • “…Being a good person and being the coolest can come in the same package….” ~Norma Johnson, writer and performer: A poem for my white friends, “I Didn’t Tell You,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UVIgjuovt8, December 29, 2013

Believing in the impossible—a cousin to developing resiliency—is a third characteristic that you can control. Irradicating world hunger may seem like an impossible reach, yet, in 2019, donations to Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization, gave 17 million people in 46 countries access to clean water, food, education, and healthcare. This is wonderful, astonishing progress. Each year, we give our adult children and grandchildren a holiday gift of experience (along with requested books or movie tickets). This year we will be supporting Action Against Hunger with a gift in each family’s name. https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/

Since the holidays have traditionally held magic for those who believe in the impossible, reading is another pleasure that warms the hearts of both reader and listener. My five-year-old grandson and I use FaceTime to read books from Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series. #8 Midnight on the Moon tookthe protagonists, eight-year-old Jack and his seven-year-old sister, Annie, on an improbable moon adventure. The kids were challenged by Merlin’s spell that turned Morgan le Fay, their librarian friend, into a mouse.

Despite trials and encounters, they persisted with the assistance of a fact book and Annie’s intuition. My grandson loved repeating the “M” word clues and joining in their emotions. Annie believed in the impossible: forget the flashlight, the moon can light the way; a moon base functions as a space hotel; and it is perfectly safe to talk to and get help from a moon man whom she believed was really an alien from another galaxy. Also, Annie could feel things in her body as positive or negative. She trusted these feelings, allowing them to guide her. At one point, Morgan le Fay thanked Jack for his love of knowledge and Annie for her belief in the impossible. The 28+ book series continues to hold the hearts of children (and adults!) as NY Times best sellers.

Sometimes the impossible is all you have to go on. No supporting facts. But if the impossible is your only option, why not trust it? I once stopped at a vendor booth that was selling hand lotion. I removed my engagement ring at the time and applied the lotion. I got caught up in the feel, the smell, and the purchase of it—and went on my way. I probably spent a half hour or so looking at other vendor booths. I returned to my car and all of a sudden, I noticed my ring was missing! I frantically checked my pockets and parcels. My heart and stomach were screaming, now what? Racing back to the booth, I kept believing, It has to be there. It has to be there. Breathlessly, I inquired. The smiling vendor had discovered the ring and put it in her apron pocket. I knew someone would be back for it, she said. Crying tears of joy and relief, I thanked and hugged her.

Believing in something that seems impossible starts with turning to your inner light—your consciousness—that works with your body and reflects your thoughts and experiences. You feel instant clarity and resilience, sometimes adrenaline, sometimes calm. This simple act of opening to your inner light joyfully leads to possibilities that bypass the chaos of your environment. This light of a higher level of thinking and feeling, in itself, is a beautiful, powerful experience. Sometimes an individual’s light may be dusty or hidden, yet it never goes away. Regardless of your circumstances, engage the gift of your inner light.

From a higher vantage: This season offers ways to support, love, and imagine. Envision changing just one of your attitudes, perspectives, or beliefs, allowing a brilliant inner light to shine. Maybe it’s time. Maybe not all at once. Maybe incrementally. Light up the dark!

contribution, not credit

We are witnesses in constant crossfires. Extended months and days of the pandemic and the calamities in its wake. Obvious social, economic, racial, and leadership contrasts across continents, but particularly during and leading up to our country’s ongoing presidential election. The crucial impact from people and businesses not taking Mother Earth seriously echoes increasing weather disturbances, wildfires, species’ relocation or extinction, and other natural disasters. And, more. We can ignore the statistics, or we can change our mindset, reach from our hearts, and passionately set a personal intention to shape an inclusive, responsible, and respectful world where all energies thrive harmoniously.

Shifting old paradigms and beginning new conversations with “wiggle room” that welcomes different perspectives from our own is what is needed now. A paraphrased concept popularized by author, teacher and dot.com marketer, Seth Godin, shines light in our darkness: It’s not about receiving credit, it’s about contribution. Contribution through spontaneous acts of making life better for others; through individual creative perseverance and determination that strengthen and sustain us, making us more compassionate and resilient members of humanity; and through voice and actions that engage heightened awareness of the environment and honor sustainability. It’s about connecting, consciously or unconsciously, with something greater than we are, to inspire the well-being of all.

This past week in Terre Haute, Indiana, Ben Boardley, an 18-year-old high school cross country runner participating in the state finals saw a competitor, Faizan Khan, fall, just a few feet from the finish line. Ben slowed, reached out to Faizan, and helped him to his feet. They continued running and, together, crossed the finish line. Spectators and reporters were impressed with Ben’s sportsmanship. To him, it was nothing unusual. I just kind of saw it and did it, he said. It’s the way my parents raised me. They taught me to treat others how I’d want to be treated and to be helpful when I can. Someone tweeted an eight-second video, catching the selfless act for all to see. Ben spontaneously aided a fellow runner, and, in doing so, also contributed to strengthening humanity. https://news.yahoo.com/high-school-runner-helps-stumbling-173617448.html

How might we become more compassionate and resilient contributors to society? Starting with ourselves, we recognize that we are part of a greater energy—one that wants us to succeed, to experience excellent health, and to live fully. Mindfully, we practice slowing down and taking time to create space for nudges from an unseen energy. Hurrying and personal agendas have no place here. Adversity, silence, and observations often show us a way to welcome inner thoughts. Often, when we pay attention, we are guided to share our abilities, talents, and purpose with others for the benefit of the larger community. However, sometimes this happens unconsciously.

Meet 14-year-old Kyler Nipper who, three years ago, was stabbed with a pencil by a classmate who bullied and teased him about his uncool, creased and cracked, black and white tennis shoes. As a result, Kyler was hospitalized and on a breathing tube for three days. After returning to his home, he developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the event. At the time of the incident, Kyler had just had orthopedic surgery and his feet were in casts. The surgery corrected a condition, idiopathic toe-walking. He had shorter-than-normal Achilles tendons that did not allow his heels to touch the ground when he walked.

After the incident, instead of focusing on himself, Kyler decided to help other kids who were bullied or ashamed because of their scruffy shoes. He started “Kyler’s Kicks” out of his family’s apartment to collect new and gently used shoes, clean them, and redistribute them to those in need. Several city businesses assisted his efforts as collection and distribution sites. He collected so many pairs of shoes that one business donated the monthly use of a party bus to drive through and distribute his shoes to low-income neighborhoods.

A year into his project, his family had to move to another state because of overwhelming medical bills. They relocated to a studio apartment in a community for homeless veterans. Despite his family’s financial difficulties, Kyler continued his altruistic efforts. Since then, “Kyler’s Kicks” has collected and distributed over 25,000 pairs of shoes, mostly to at-risk children, teens, and people who are homeless.

Recently, Kyler saw a man he thought was homeless, walking down the street barefooted. He gauged that they had a similar shoe size and gave the man his shoes. It’s the best feeling ever, he said. Clearly, a greater energy worked through Tyler without his knowledge. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/09/30/he-was-stabbed-by-bullies-who-mocked-his-shoes-he-now-collects-shoes-gives-them-those-need/

How might we come together, regardless of our culture or race, to gain greater awareness of solutions that honor and sustain the environment? Keeping our egos in check and practicing inclusion, we are more willing to see others’ viewpoints and engage in flexible conversations. We all want the same things. Our voices and actions inspire each other as we look forward together, generating sustainable solutions that benefit all.

Sam Grant, a longtime Minnesota educator and social justice organizer, is the executive director of MN350, a local growing movement to protect our climate. “MN350 supports stopping the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and shifting to renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, all while giving power and relief [food and first aid] to frontline communities most harmed by the climate crisis.” https://mn350.org/news/climate-group-mn350-hires-executive-director/

The New York Times climate team interviewed black climate activists and learned this basic premise: “Racism makes it impossible to live sustainably.” With this background, reflect on Sam Grant’s comments about how the climate movement can also be one of anti-racism.

“I believe part of our challenge as an organization focused on the climate crisis is to honor what’s primary for people and through dialogue and through relationships, help people see the connection between that issue and the broader climate crisis,” he said. “So it’s not choosing this or that. Or this, then that. It’s this and that.”

After May 25, 2020, on behalf of MN350, Grant was one of the first climate activists to call for the prosecution of the police officers who were linked to the killing of George Floyd. Later, major environmental organizations like Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund joined with their solidarity. Grant suggests, “Police violence is an aspect of a broader pattern of structural violence*, which the climate crisis is a manifestation of. Healing structural violence is actually in the best interest of all human beings.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/vlimate/black-environmentalists-talk-about-climate-and-anti-racism.html

*Examples of structural violence include health, economic, gender, and racial disproportions. Additional spinoffs of structural violence include cultural, political, symbolic, and everyday violence. https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Flexible and accommodating conversations contribute to the well-being of humanity and Mother Earth. This is the higher path of compassion, softened hearts, and unity. We came to learn our purpose and share our contributions freely in ways that promote harmony.

From a higher vantage: Let us not be diminished by living for competition, for violence, and for choices that undermine others, so we can feel good. We are not entitled to anything while here and will take nothing with us but our memories—the stories that have defined us. May those stories speak to meaningful contributions.

© 2020 in the thick of things

do you look and see?

I can see it in your eyes, my Grandma Millie said. Let’s find something else to do. How did she know that I, at the tender age of eight, was bored with playing dominoes? I wasn’t interested in building necessarily and setting up a chain reaction with the thin, black blocks was entertaining for only so long. Clearly, my grandma was not only looking, she was also seeing. Directed by ego, looking is taking in and processing surface information through what can be seen (form). Seeing is relying on a higher vantage to interpret the information taken in and to understand the spaces between words and pauses accompanying actions (formless).

It has been said that your eyes are mirrors of your soul, your inmost thoughts and feelings. Your eyes reveal what is true for you. Researchers say that your eyes are the only part of your brain that is directly exposed to the world. Pupils can dilate or constrict, yet you cannot control that process. It is a natural reaction that is dependent on strong feelings or reactions to something that is said or seen. The limbal ring, the dark circle around the colored iris, likewise is affected by strong feelings or reactions. You may also position your eyes in a certain way as you speak. Gazing upward may mean you are thinking or creating mental images. When you glance sideways as you are talking, you may feel uncertain about what you’re saying.

And while your eyes are unconsciously showing your inmost thoughts and feelings, you are also learning about the feelings and thoughts of others. From a noticeably young age, as early as seven months, babies tune into social expressions, conveyed mainly through the eyes and mouths of their parents and those around them.

Through socialization, you learn to read emotions from another’s eyes and surrounding muscles. Examples include eyes that narrow, meaning questioning or doubt about something said or done and eyes that widen, indicating surprise or disbelief. Many other emotions are also revealed. Additional research verifies that when a person is near another like-minded person, tandem dilation or constriction of pupils occurs. This eye language is a way to gather information—a filter—when you’re looking. Keep in mind that the language of the eyes also applies to animals and nature.

Now, more than ever before, being together while wearing masks and remaining physically separate poses many challenges. It is essential and valuable to look at people’s eyes as windows to the soul, whether they peer over masks or are part of a Zoom interaction. What can you learn about their thinking, emotions, and preferences? However, there is more to it. Do you just look, or do you also see?

I have had many opportunities recently to look at eyes and collect information. These first examples are from my extended family. I looked as glee registered in the eyes of my youngest granddaughter (2) as she ran from her papa who was trying to corral her for a diaper change. Or, notice the ease, yet determination, in my middle granddaughter’s eyes as she (nearly 8) sang “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music.  Or, watched the enthusiasm and pride emerge from my oldest granddaughter’s eyes as she (11) offered an interpretive reading of an early chapter of her original manuscript, Dueling Diaries. I gathered the information and mentally tucked away the emotions in my heart.

Going deeper—seeing—to interpret what was behind those emotions in running, singing, and speaking, I saw so much more in their eyes. I witnessed the spirit of freedom, the challenge and poise of getting to know your own voice and sharing it, and the gratification of creativity resulting in form. Do you just look or do you also see?

Outside of the family, I recall looking at the unmasked, yet safe-distanced eyes of the candidates of the first 2020 presidential debate.  I looked and gathered information from Joe’s eyes: honesty through direct gaze, indicating  America has “gotten more divided, sicker, poorer, and more violent” under the current administration; substance rather than force, yet backed by experience and a plan to expand Obamacare; and compassion, focusing on Americans’ guaranteed right to vote in-person or by mail-in ballots.

Donald’s presence offered mixed messages: As he looked sideways, rarely at the audience, his voice was forceful, out-of-control and condescending. His words were sweeping generalizations: “weeks away from having a vaccine,” “schools are teaching students to hate America,” and “I left the Paris Accord because it was a ‘disaster.’” His eyes narrowed as he leaned on the podium and began his flippant ridicule of Hunter Biden being kicked out of the military due to cocaine use, and the later military reference to Joe’s deceased son as a “loser.” I also saw false innocence and contempt in his eyes as he spoke fear-inciting words, refusing to denounce White Supremacists’ actions even when given an opportunity to do so. He also insisted that voters watch for fraud at polling places.

Again, seeing by going deeper, I understood the emotions underlying Joe’s honesty, substance, and compassion. I sensed truth, direction, and capability. In the case of Donald, the underlying concepts that emerged because of his lack of leadership details, accusatory positioning, and consistent bullying allowed me to see only fear, mockery, and lies.

It would have been interesting to be in closer range to observe any changes in the candidates’ pupil size and the size of their limbal rings as they spoke. Clearly, they were not like-minded, but they may have had tandem pupil reactions to the frustrations with each other and the process.

From a higher vantage:  Look, yet also see. Deeper understanding helps you to build more stable relationships at all levels. Faces, whether masked or not, are dependable sources of eye language. Look at someone, further seeing that individual. What resonance, insights, or connections do you experience? Interpretation is furthered by intuitive tools. May you sense that there is always something beyond physical appearance that leads to greater awareness of the whole.

© 2020 in the thick of things

a new path is unfolding

So many losses! Deaths. Vanished livelihoods and businesses burned to the ground.  Misunderstood and thwarted equal human rights for every individual. Food and product shortages. Upended finances. Waning health insurance. Evictions, fear of rioting, or living out of cars on a Walmart parking lot. Uprooted rules due to COVID-19. Weather calamities. Presidential election rhetoric. Truth, support, and dignity? Amidst all this chaos and upheaval, this impermanence, this uncertainty, how do you live from the perspective of your higher Self?

By definition, higher Self is that unseen, inner voice that has been with you and loved you throughout eternity. It is valid, but not necessarily understood. For some, acknowledging the existence of a higher Self may take a lifetime, if it happens at all. For others, believing in the power of this energy is too risky and might upset the status quo, so only minor attempts are made. Then there are others who have accepted their higher Self, learning that this decision is not for the faint of heart. Trusting the unseen is not always comfortable and involves choosing to face all aspects of your life, especially the undesirable. However, should you choose this courageous quest, know that the more you engage with your higher Self, the more stable and content you feel. Acknowledging, believing in, and accepting your higher Self increases personal inner strength, happiness, and resilience. A stronger, happier, and more resilient society and universe follow. As the saying goes, What do you have to lose? Think of the gains! Right now, you are at a vital crossroads.

Start by getting comfortable, slowing down your breathing, relaxing your entire body, and setting an intention to welcome your higher Self. Rise above the layer upon layer of racing thoughts that continuously try to consume you. Ah, your heart rate begins to drop. Although you believe that you need to control your life to avoid worry of not surviving, fear that there will not be enough, or loss of entitlement, that is not the case. Control is simply an illusion. Remember the times when you thought you had everything planned to the smallest detail—only to encounter a circumstance that altered everything? Your decision to sense an energy greater than you are—to be more than you can be on your own—bolsters confidence and lessens resistance. Trusting the unseen becomes plausible. Senses that you relied on for decision-making can take a break.

Your higher Self knows what to do when you allow it to lead you. However, this is not the norm; people are used to being led by ego. At  first, opening to the unseen may seem counter-intuitive, feel strange, or strike you as insane. Of course, others may label you as daft, but no matter. That’s only a word. How can you compare that to the opportunity to invite an energy that is all-powerful, proven, resides everywhere, and is always available to work on your behalf? Has any other invitation satisfied so many dilemmas? With your higher Self, live the moments. Do not insist on immediate answers or fulfillment of specific expectations. This change in thinking will take trust and commitment. Seek or create harmony where you are. The “how” of a new path is unfolding.

A sampling of questions, based on current observations, that may lead to engaging your higher Self…

Question:  Given the last six months have heightened your focus on death as part of life, has your thinking changed?

Comment: Yes, there is no denying that death is challenging to face and carries with it a void that changes your life. Death has always been with you, but how have you responded to it along the way? Death is more prominent now because of Covid-19, and unfilled time magnifies death’s impact on your mortality. Yet, this opportunity to ponder your own death could be beneficial. Working through options gives you peace of mind and makes decisions easier for your surviving loved ones. You may not have all the answers, but keep patiently exploring the moment at-hand without resistance—fear, hate, doubt, denial, or complacency.

Question: Since you had no control over the pandemic or rioting and looting, how can you move on with life despite altered or destroyed livelihood?

Comment: There are no easy answers. People pull together. Out of times of monumental change, new community and business models emerge. Ponder the possibilities for greater potential at all levels, in all things, leading to a reframed and interconnected, thriving, global society. 

Question: How can I live (hear, see, do, say) a “just like me” platform with no retribution?

Comment: As a human, being, you are deserving of functional living rights, dignity, and love. It is up to each of you to look inward, persevere, and do the right thing by others. And you know what those things are.

International Bill of Rights

  • The right to equality and freedom from discrimination.
  • The right to life, liberty, and personal security.
  • Freedom from torture and degrading treatment.
  • The right to equality before the law.
  • The right to a fair trial.
  • The right to privacy.
  • Freedom of belief and religion.
  • Freedom of opinion.

~https://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/human_rights_basics

From a higher vantage: Acknowledge your higher Self. Listen, speak, think, and act with all things from your true nature of positivity. Initiate harmony, inclusion, and good will beyond familiarity. Hold yourself accountable. Be love in all circumstances. Love. Allow yourself to be loved.

©2020 in the thick of things llc