Hello! We have streamlined the Blessings Blog and this Blog into one main site, which can now be found at the main Blessings Enterprises site.
Thanks for stopping by, please visit us at Blessings Enterprises.
Embracing all the path offers with mindfulness and giggles
30 Apr 2013 Leave a comment
Hello! We have streamlined the Blessings Blog and this Blog into one main site, which can now be found at the main Blessings Enterprises site.
Thanks for stopping by, please visit us at Blessings Enterprises.
09 Feb 2013 Leave a comment
“Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent.”
Hello all! It’s what my friend Janet calls Activist Shaman time, and she’s probably right. But if this isn’t about healing, then I don’t know what is.
Here are the facts of the case and they are undisputed:
One in three women will be raped or beaten at some point in her lifetime. Really take that in. Look around your office, your school, look at your group of friends, look at the women in your family. One in three women. One third of women, many of whom you know and love.
As someone who has worked in trauma therapy, my personal opinion is that the number is much higher, because that 1/3 is from women who can admit it happened. Because this is an atrocity at every level of life and impacts every single one of us, male and female, children and adults, we are joining the One Billion Rising Event. Feel free to pass this along to others who may be interested.
Here’s the info. If you are going to organize anything, please let us know, as well as the organizers of 1BR. Leave your info in the comments section and we’ll post it. Thanks.
ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.*
ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION
On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.
What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.
Q. Why dance?
A. When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent.
Q. Why should I join?
A. To show the world that we want to end violence against one billion women and girls! By being a part of One Billion Rising we will all discover our solidarity and the scope of this issue. We will come to know that ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty, or Aids or global warming. We will come to see that it is not a local issue or particular to any culture or religion or village or age. We will come to see what is possible. When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness.
ONE BILLION RISING IS:
A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being
28 Jan 2013 Leave a comment
The event is FREE, but you must register in advance to participate. We’ll be in the basement of The Word at Shaw again, 4265 Shaw Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63110. Saturday, March 2, from noon to 3.
Bring seeds to share, any amount is fine by us. Please, no expired seeds! Seeds may be store-bought or harvested from your garden. Gold stars for heirloom or organic. Clearly label all seeds and indicate whether they are full sun, part sun, or shade. You do not need to individually package seeds, but we certainly don’t mind if you do. Slow Foods is sponsoring again and has generously provided a grant to Drop. Swap. Grow. so we can get some native and heirloom seeds for the seed bank to share. It’s always a good idea to bring envelopes or baggies to store the seeds you pick out. We will have some envelopes to share, but they go fast.
The tool swap is easy-peasy, too. If you have any new or gently used extra tools lying about, bring them to swap with others. We’ll have a table set up for drop off when you arrive.
As everyone checks in we’ll have some snacks to share and time to socialize. Once we are all settled, we’ll have a couple short talks from some awesome local yokels who are going to share their wisdom. We’ll have a speaker from Slow Foods as well as Jenny Murphy from Perennial who will teach us how to creatively reuse common household items in the garden. We’ve got a couple other ideas cookin’, too. We’ll keep you posted as plans are finalized.
If you would like to volunteer at the event, please email Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can’t wait to see you!
03 Oct 2012 Leave a comment
in Emotions, Happiness, healing, Peace, prayers, Spirituality Tags: Africa, fasting, FirstGiving, Hunger, Kenya, Lent, Malnutrition, micro financing, October, Poverty, spiritual fasting, World Food Day
In the meantime, I wanted to update you on some things that are coming in October. This time of year is traditionally about honoring the cycle of the seasons, pausing to reflect on our abundance and blessings, and preparing for winter. To call attention to the ways in which many people on the planet are unable to take part in the abundance of harvest, UN World Hunger Day is held every October. Also called World Food Day in the US, it is a time to come together to move towards a solution to end world hunger.
I know, I know. It’s a crazy time of year. Some say it’s not possible to end something as huge as world hunger. I say, we do not have a supply problem on this planet. What we have is a distribution issue. There is already more than enough to go around, for all of us. Enough food. Enough time. Enough love. Enough money. Enough. Enough to share. Enough to know you are already blessed and abundant, right here, right now. It’s more about mindfulness and awareness for most of us. But for some, it’s only about being aware of their stomach growling, their physical hunger, their need for food, their need to feed their children.
I also think many of us hunger for much more than food, but often use food to fill the hole inside of us that says we aren’t good enough, that there isn’t enough for you to slow down and enjoy a meal or time with family. I say there IS enough, and that there are many kinds of hunger. I think a lonely, spiritual hunger can be as bad, if not worse, as physical hunger for many of us. But above all, I believe in abundance and living as if there is already enough to go around for all of us.
It is in this spirit that we approach World Hunger Day. This year, for this world wide event, we have partnered with one of our favorite charities, Micro-Financing Partners in Africa, also known as MPA. MPA gives micro-loans to those living in extreme poverty, allowing them to start a small business and work their way out of what once seemed like an impossible situation. Their tag line is “we give a hand up, not a hand out,” and that captures it beautifully. In Kenya, they give loans as small as a quarter in US currency (seriously, $.25 can change a life!) and these amazing women start a business and lift themselves out of poverty and the slums. They do much more, including a cow project and a soy milk factory, and you can learn more about those projects here.
This year we have started a team through FirstGiving to raise awareness and money for MPA and World Hunger Day. We are fasting for 36 hours, during the day October 19 and ending the fast the morning of October 20. We always joke, “why do they call it a fast when it goes so slow?” and yet there is a deep spiritual component to fasting. All of the religions advise it, and most have sacred times of year built around fasting. If you do not feel called to fast from food, or do not feel ready or able to do so, perhaps you could consider fasting from TV or the news or soda. Several years ago during Lent, I fasted from self-criticism for 40 days and instead feasted on acceptance. It was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.
So think outside the box on this one. The purpose at one level is to support MPA, but at a much deeper level, it’s to face those hungers within, to get in touch with things you might not be aware of or maybe didn’t want to face until now. You can do this in any way you’d like, but the key is to be aware of some kind of hunger and be in solidarity with those who experience hunger daily without a choice.
If you are interested, you can can join me HERE or start your own team by going to the MPA website and looking at the Hunger Fast page. Feel free to engage in some friendly rivalry with family, friends or colleagues on this one. You might be surprised how many relationships can be built and fostered through this sort of commitment. I also invite you to not focus on food but on your abundance and gratitude, your ability to join in with something like this, and the opportunities we all have to offer a hand up to someone in need.
Blessings to you and your families this time of year!
12 Jul 2012 3 Comments
in healing, prayers, Spirituality Tags: Buddhism, christian prayers, Christianity, dark night of the soul, Discernment, God is Love, healing, Impermanence, letting go, Love Is Kind, loving-kindness, maitri, meditation, metta, non-violence, peace, Pema Chodron, Spiritual Fruits, spirituality
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls…”
A friend and I just returned from Santa Fe, where we did some hiking, some writing and a lot of playing. We are working on a book about Spirituality and Grief, and I cannot think of a better place to ponder such things than the desert.
I snapped this picture near Skull Bridge, at the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) near Abiquiu, New Mexico. The Trail head is just over that bridge and heads south into the Rio Chamas Wilderness area, a gorgeous place no matter what time of year. I wrote about another trip here in a post titled Smile at Fear; if you are interested, you can read that entry from the Blessings Blog here.
It’s funny to me how small the world seems when I sit at my desk and type, when I can instantly communicate with someone in New Mexico or Australia, when I can click a few buttons and pretty much anything I want is at my fingertips. But the world takes on whole new dimensions when you are actually out in it. I am often filled with wonder and a deep sense of unease that it is easier to speak with someone hundreds of miles away via text than it is to walk across the street to talk to a neighbor. I have a house full of things my grandmother’s generation was told would save time and make life easier and I suppose in some ways they do. But time for what? More work? TV? Stress? Family and friends? What do we do with this supposed extra time and ease we were granted? We live in a world moving so fast that when something takes mere seconds I say it is moving slowly. But that’s when I’m inside, dealing with the non-human, unnatural world. Traipsing around on a trail that literally runs from Mexico to Canada makes the whole thing suddenly come into a more realistic perspective.
One of the reasons I love hiking is that the planet truly takes on a whole new dimension when you are walking through it– deserts and woods are not like other places. For one thing, they are huge, but more than that they are full of wonder and scenery, challenge and solitude, hope and a sense that we are not alone. Interestingly, when I get away from all the stuff that is supposed to save me time, I have all the time in the world. When I get way from the hustle of the millions of people on the planet, the less alone I feel. Wilderness trails offer a chance to reconnect to myself and in doing so I reconnect to my God as well. I love the water, but put me on a trail anywhere, especially in the mountains or the desert, and I have found my bliss. A path simply takes you from one civilized place to another, but a trail…Ah, a trail takes you from what we like to call civilization into the unknown. I believe the further we travel into the Unknown, the more we travel the path the ancients knew led to the Heart. By doing so, we allow the soul to take the ancient paths which lead to peace and rest. I think of Augustine’s line,
My soul is restless, O God, until it finds rest in You…
There is something so comforting about knowing that just as this area on the CDT was traveled for centuries before Europeans “discovered” America, so too has the Path of Life has been journeyed for generations before me. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote those words about ancient paths sometime around 600 B.C.E. We really haven’t changed that much in all of the years we’ve roamed this planet…we’ve always been restless, we’ve always sought rest for our weary souls. Leaders and subjects come and go, tides ebb and flow, children are born and someday die in old age, relationships are complicated and endure, money is made and lost and on and on. Cravings have always been with us, as has emotional pain and bliss, but time marches on and the search for meaning transcends generations. This has always been the nature of humans and I assume this will continue on long after I am gone from this body. Our technology has changed, but deep down we all want the same things we’ve always wanted…health, love, safety, joy, freedom from suffering, the chance to live and love and enjoy those with whom we live and love. These are the ancient paths we all walk, and while the details may change, the human story is pretty much the same over time.
The ancient paths are the ones I think we all long for in our depths…we all long to connect to ourselves and loved ones, to something greater than ourselves and to all Life can offer. Tillich said the word “solitude” reflects the joy of being alone, while the word “lonely” reflects the pain of being alone. We all need to have time alone to walk the path, to feel the pain and the joy of that “alone-ness” at times. And while it is comforting to know others have gone before me and I am never alone, the truth is that it is still my path to walk and the choice is mine to walk it. Growth is optional and not everyone chooses it, but that is also an ancient path. Buddha said, “You cannot travel the path until you become the path itself,” and I realize more and more how true that is. As they say in Zen, the obstacle is the path, and we can only truly travel that path with an open heart. What fascinates me is that we all have teachers and endless opportunities to open to the path, but we can only apply the lessons within if we choose to do so with an open heart and mind. So we all travel the path, but our choices can lead to a path of heartache or one of joy. As usual, discernment is the key.
What the ancients knew, that we all must learn, is that the good path will only open to us as much as we can or will give ourselves to it, without judgment of ourselves or others. In doing so, eventually we find what all the mystics tell us over and over about the path…such as, we are not punished for our anger, but we can be harmed by our anger. We are not rewarded for our good deeds, we are rewarded by them, including the ways in which our immunity and our cellular structure becomes stronger and more resilient as we practice compassion and joy. The deeper we go, the more love and humility and compassion we find, thus the more rest we find for our weary souls, which leads to more compassion and humility. I’ve come to believe essence of true humility is knowing I am neither too much nor too little, and that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone—even me. But that was one of the lessons of my path, I didn’t come in with that understanding at all. Like all of us, I grew into it and hopefully will learn to walk this path with a wise heart.
Just as Jesus said to love one’s neighbor as self, and Buddha said there is no one more deserving of your love than you, we all have to walk the path of embracing our own goodness. We have all faced demons and struggled on the path. We have all embraced the path or run from it, not realizing it was all still the same path. We have all had conflicts with parents or children, friends or bosses, teachers, lovers and maybe even someone we called an enemy. But choosing the good path leads to rest, and a rested soul is a wise soul, and wise souls usually come to understand the conflict is within, not outside of us somewhere. Thus they seek the wise path of peace.
We all walk these ancient paths, and the paths often diverge into addictions and an experience of suffering. The path always eventually leads to the same place of Home, but not everyone knows to ask up front, “Which one is the good one?” But the Universe, in all of its gracious abundance, always lights the path before us until we know to ask, until the answers become clear. Because this too is the nature of the path, leading us from one civilized place to another, ever offering the Light yet another day. Gautama Buddha addressed this hundreds of years ago with his own disciples, hoping to shed a light on the path for them, yet hoping they would also take responsibility for illuminating it themselves. He said to them,
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
But do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
So today, for all of us standing at the crossroads and asking, ‘Which one is the good way?’ I wish you peace and clarity, and rest for your souls.
12 Jun 2012 3 Comments
in Emotions, Grief, Happiness, healing, Loss and Letting Go, ponderings, Spirituality Tags: Buddhism, desert, Dharma, Divine, Eight Worldly Dharmas, God, Impermanence, letting go, philosophy, Religion and Spirituality, Rumi, spiritual deserts, Utah
Hello all ! It’s been forever since I stopped by, so I thought I’d say hello. Blogger Slacker, indeed! Truthfully, I’ve been out living my life instead of blogging about it. As part of those life adventures, I spent some time in the southwest, rambling around in the desert. This picture was taken while hiking in the canyons of southern Utah, one of the most gorgeous places on the planet.
I was thinking about the desert and my Utah trip this morning. I love the southwest. LOVE IT. And as I proceed across the landscape of my life, with grief from recent deaths, lots of shifts in many areas and a renewed sense of intention about some things, I was thinking about how the desert represents that journey for me.
Sometimes I look into the depths of my life and it feels like the desert: Wide open, sort of dry in places, yet full of Light that knows how to get into the tiniest of cracks of the surface, into the deepest places inside of me, those places where there are just no words. Only stillness, a deep stillness inside of me. The desert is like that place… still, so still. Not silent necessarily, but still. It teems with life at night, when it’s easier and safer to be out, out of the harsh sun that gives life but can also take it away. In the desert, the most common ways to die are from dehydration or drowning, hence this sign. Paradox, paradox. The desert is full of life, full of mysterious canyons and deep drop-offs, ancient dwellings full of art painted or chiseled into the stone walls centuries ago, the artists long gone, yet their creative spirit remains. It’s also full of potential death if you are not prepared and observant, aware of your surroundings and willing to take care of the basics.
I think that’s part of why I crave the desert~~there’s nowhere (now here?) to go, nowhere to be, other than right here, right now. The basics matter. So when all else fails, sometimes it’s really important to remember the basics. Like, water and food and shelter. Like, fire burns and when it rains the earth gets wet. Like, my safety is my responsibility. Like, it’s important to know current and predicted conditions, because something happening miles away can sweep me off my feet in a second, a flash flood of emotion or information or experience, just as surely as a sudden storm in the sky. My journey truly is my responsibility.
This is one of those interesting times, the kind when it all sort of flows and time bends softly and warmly around the looking-glass, the kind that feels somehow touched by the Divine yet is sort of emotionally exhausting in that same way. I was thinking about all of that this morning, which led me to think of Rumi, one of my favorite poets.
I’ve been thinking of Rumi a lot lately actually, and also about the Buddhist sense of the 8 Worldly Dharmas. For the uninitiated, the 8 Worldly Dharmas are: praise and blame; pleasure and pain; fame and disgrace; gain and loss. Buddhism basically says that these become our attachments and aversions in life– we want the ones we enjoy or make us feel good. Therefore we constantly seek something outside of ourselves to hold onto, trying to do what it takes to feel good. Conversely, we try to avoid the things we think will feel “bad.” This creates a cycle in which we are forever caught in the wheel of life, trying to have pleasure, praise, fame and gain. At the same time, we frantically try to avoid the things we perceive as painful, and so the cycle continues with us trying to seek an ever-elusive happiness that cannot be found outside of us.
Our whole culture, as well as our whole economy, is based on the search for these things that we believe will bring us lasting pleasure. We are led to believe that if we have the newest shiny whizbang or the right car or the right mate or the right beer or the right whatever, then–Finally! you can be happy. And as humans we fall for that, over and over and over again. But then that changes too, and the new whizbang goes out of style, the spiffy new phone becomes a dinosaur in a few months, you wake up with a lump in your breast, the kids go to school or the person you love dies or the job you thought would be so good falls apart. And then, there we are, back into what is viewed as the opposite, the “bad” feelings, the aversions and the pain.
This happens to all of us at some point, and there are so many choices. But one of the choices is to look in the mirror and ask some hard questions, like… So now what? Who am I without my stuff, my comforts, my stories, my attachments, my distractions, my toys, my “isms,” my work, my need for control? Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, said,
“As humans we are always running after something— some pleasure, some reward, some way to avoid pain. But here’s the real $64, 000 question–when all of that is over, how much have you ever really connected with yourself in your whole life?”
All of this led me to again ponder this Rumi poem…
Why cling to one life
Till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
Squandering a hundred lives
God has decreed a life for you
And will give you
another and another and another and another….
So today, I am thinking of many things, watching it all sort of spin by, lazy on its axis, watching it pass through in the most interesting of ways…I ponder the $64, 000 question and think of worldly dharmas of pleasure and pain, attachments and aversions and all of the many ways in which they disguise themselves. I love Rumi’s take on the clinging, somehow understanding that it is in the letting go, it’s the fall into the soft spots of the heart and soul that bring us to new life. It’s not just about who you are, but who you are becoming, and if you are OK with that. And, like the child crying “do it again!” to a fun silly grown up trick, the sun will rise tomorrow and we get to choose all over again. And how cool is that? Always another chance to accompany the changes in life.
So today, I am pondering the desert and this garden party of philosophers and poets, and I thank them for their contributions to my life and soul. And I offer thanks for all the changes and chances to do it again. I hope this finds all of you happy and at peace.