Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The sun is a painter and a sculptor

"It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need of fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room. And that it is not only light but direct sunlight they want. I had rather have the power of carrying my patient about after the sun, according to the aspect of the rooms, if circumstances permit, than let him linger in a room when the sun is off.  People think the effect is upon the spirits only. This is by no means the case. The sun is not only a painter but a sculptor. You admit that he does the photograph. Without going into any scientific exposition we must admit that light has quite as real and tangible effects upon the human body."   (Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale, 1859)

I was at the coast in Wilmington (NC) during Christmas. When I drove there Christmas Eve, the sky was a strong clear blue, the air chilly. Later that evening, the temperature dropped. Rain began to fall, and into the next day. Christmas day was cloudy, and we had reports of hard rain.  Wind blew hard. For dinner, our cooks adapted their grilling plan with the sideways rain and strong wind. (The steaks were delicious!) Before I drove home, the following day, I went to Wrightsville Beach and had a walk on the sand by the ocean. The sky was grey more than blue, no rain, and the waves blended into themselves, smoothing out on the multi-colored sand. I breathed deeply.  It felt wonderful. Surfers in wet suits jumped and paddled in the grey water. When I read this sentence in Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing, I thought of experience as a wave itself, each memory cascading together, with the deep breaths reminding me in this moment of how wonderfully infinite they were and we are.

Healing. The basics of healing are and have been so easily forgotten. I am glad to be reminded, and so glad for the Earth, wind, sky, our family of life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Live and Let Live

 "London gravesites double up to accommodate the dead."  AARP Bulletin, December 2009.

I might never have guessed that the same person who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife wrote Her Fearful Symmetry. I like this aspect of Audrey Niffenegger's work - and I prefer the tour-de-force pace of The Time Traveler's Wife. That book gave me a narrative ride I hadn't had in years. I marveled at this debut novel; I marveled at her careful building of this "fractured" world; I marveled mostly at the regular clipping pace and rhythm of the language as the characters lived and hurtled through their world. I saw the film too, and liked it - though, typically, the two seemed only loosely related, similar siblings not identical twins. I appreciate the imagination of all artful image-makers.

What I also find fascinating in Her Fearful Symmetry is the explanation, if somehow appropriately thin, ethereal, of ghosts, of the relationship between energy and matter. The Chapter, Her Electrical Nature, for example - the lingering ghost discovering her powers, with concentrated focus, to affect electrical elements (dimming lights, etc.).

I love her choice of the Beatles' lyric at the beginning. Such a perfect opener for this book. "She said, 'I know what it's like to be dead. I know what it is to be sad.' And she's making me feel like I've never been born."

There is a lot of coming and going, a lot of clinging and cleaving, lingering, a lot of nesting boxes; juxtaposed with the open-air, old, historically dignified cemetary, complete with devoted supporters and knowledgeable tour guides. The underground tube, maps, getting lost amidst crowds, moving alone in a world crowded with ghosts, and love urging personalities out of nesting boxes into the sunlight of the street. To simply move, get out of bed, energies must be summoned, focused, to act, and we come to know our powers. We must also come to accept that so much is beyond what we may expect or believe. Add this to the consistently growing exploration of the "ghost-world," seen on television, in movies, in books.

Know what it means to be dead?
Know what it means to live?
Be careful what we wish for.
We live and learn. Tea and toast. Love.

What I enjoy about the logic of life is that answers always come. Some details I missed lingered, because they were keys to the nature and change of ghost to animation, in the story. How did Elspeth's ghost get back to the flat from the apartment, if she couldn't leave the flat? Valentina's much quicker way of solving the mystery of escape, freedom, made me smile. Be open. Open wide. Feel the new sensations. Trust. Do. Live and let die.

I was born the 3rd of triplets to a mother who was an identical twin. (Mom died in October, so I have to get used to saying, past tense, "was.") Her spirit lives, her energy presence as I knew her, lingers.  The multiple mirror creation in my life made me even more curious about this "twin powers" story. Open your eyes. See what's inside them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009

The quest for knowledge, and learning today

Mark Schwehn's Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America:

"The quest for knowledge of the truth, if it takes place in a context of communal conversation, involved the testing of our own opinions. And we must, of course, be willing to give up what we think we know for what is true, if genuine learning is to take place. At times, this will be easy, as when we learn that we were mistaken about some geographical detail or another. But much of our self-knowledge as well as our beliefs about what is truly good for us are not simply matters of what we know but matters of who we are. We thus often risk ourselves when we test our ideas."

I read this quote after following a link on Paul Harvey's post (Risk, Wisdom, and Education), which quoted John Fea's blog essay What is a Liberal Arts Education? Risk and Wisdom. I am always interested in people's ideas about what learning truly is. I've changed my thoughts and understanding of learning during my lifetime. I've always appreciated learning at some levels, and enjoyed it. Still, as I've learned more (to expand my mind-fields), I've deepened my understanding of learning as the conscious integration of knowledge which becomes our active (dynamic) truth of that moment.

I've explored the same thoughts that some of the students quoted here have expressed. It's an odd idea, really - we believe we are expressing our individualism, our "freedom of speech," our Rights, when we say we are offended by something, as students, and demand to choose for ourselves. It's a fascinating pattern, I think - for me, because I have not had children, I suppose I gain from this in a way parents already know. This inherent pattern of parents teaching children, of children being either open or resistant to learning, the dynamics of same, continues and repeats itself in so many ways. The rebellious adolescent mind does not want to be "told what to do." I am belligerent in my demand for my rights, for my self-expression. Yet until I mature my own mind, my self-expression and my expression of my rights are not tempered with the love (Ethical Values) which guide a truly mature and wise mind.

As Paul wrote in his post, "it's a strange sense of entitlement indeed, to demand not to be educated in literature, in a class on literature. " I see this parallel in life - and, as Kathy Oddenino wrote in her books: we think we are open to learning but we resist being taught. I have certainly lived with this attitude, and I thought about it when I taught literature to students too. Applying this to life in general, and to what Spiritual Philosophy has taught me, I recognize this pattern as one we, as humans, created as a way to "grow up." We have to be open-minded to question our perceptions, our beliefs - about ourselves, about life, about love, about death, about change, about learning. We have to want to THINK!

The passion for learning, which is based in love, makes learning, and therefore living, a joy. This would have sounded trite to me at one time; or, I might have thought I understood it, without really thinking about it further. As my heart opens to the vicissitudes of life (experience, including the smiles which come as morning breaks open, the sadness I share in my own or a friend's loss, the scare of the vulnerability of death as we know it, the absolute joy of the love in true friendship, the refreshment of the first taste of bold organic coffee in the morning), I appreciate the creation of context all the more. With each choice, I create.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Heroes, Internal Eternal Human Values

Thanksgiving night, my sister and I and a few other family members watched part of the CNN Heroes program honoring 10 nominees for "hero of the year," and acknowledging the good, productive efforts of many. I love the program, and each time I watch it, remembering bits and pieces of profiles I've seen throughout the year, I think more deeply about what it means to be human, and what courage it takes to live a truly human and humane life.

When I mentioned to my cousin that our focus of study in Spiritual Philosophy is the Ethical Values, he told me about a very popular Harvard Professor whose classes are now full and growing, and whose dialogue focuses on values, how and why we choose and believe as we do. He gave me an example he heard in the class, and said he'd send me the info - it's fascinating, he said!

All during the holiday, I thought about what motivates me in my life. I thought about this as we created and lived our familiar rituals, including the constant changes big and small. I'd bought my plane ticket early (as Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year), we'd all made our plans to be in Memphis (even though Mom had died in October, and Dad in February, and their house is now empty). Cousins made their plans accordingly as well. As we ate familiar food, saw familiar faces, took naps, laughed together, threw the football, washed dishes, I thought about the nature of rituals and how we want them to become "second nature." Yet they require conscious planning, thought, execution of a plan.

Ferrell McCollough, a fantastic photographer, wrote a great post on his blog called The Creative Plan. He explained his creative plan. The deliberate creation to fulfill a "look" or a vision in his mind - intention carried out by active pursuit,planning the necessary physical details, always open to change-in-the-moment. When I read this, I thought again about our rituals of life, and what motivates me in mine.

If true learning is truly unlearning what we think we already know, then we have one more validation that change is the only constant! Without Mom and Dad's physical presence at Thanksgiving, our biggest annual family ritual, change was evident, yet love lives on, life goes on. I felt my Mom's presence in every twinkle in my Aunt's eye, in every laugh she offered, in so many gestures she made, stirring her coffee after adding sweetener, touching her hair. I felt Mom's smile and sigh when I turned toward another on the couch, and when I rolled over in bed as I spoke to her in my mind. I miss you, Mom, I said, smiling, and with tears rolling down my cheeks. I had visions of Dad as his old smiling self, his sighs, his simple pleasures, his love of life and of people. I asked questions.

What motivates me? The energy of life and love is my creation, and the growth and change of my own consciousness as an energy being is the ultimate in self-motivation. The branches of that tree are many - all I enjoy about life, and the crazy details that sometimes make it up. Sometimes I feel I am gathering too many thoughts, details, ideas, plans in my arms like a big load of warm laundry from the dryer, to the next stage of folding. Socks drop. I'm learning to appreciate this sense I've grown into, and in small ways always had, of life being so BIG, so full, and my arms so small. Energy is real. The image of myself as running with balloons always fits, stooping to taste chocolate ice cream and keep it from dripping onto my clean dress, squinting into the sun, and, always, studying the waves in water. We have a lot to be grateful for, as Dad always said. Energy is Real.

Happy Thanksgiving...go fish, football, sunshine, Food...Family...Memphis, TN

Monday, November 02, 2009


My mother died about two weeks ago. My relationship with her has been one of many colors, nuances, dynamics. Learning Spiritual Philosophy has given me the greatest gift to understand not just myself but also my mother, and therefore to heal nuances of misunderstanding and enhance so much love within our energy fields, which is a gift of eternal lifetimes.

I always thought of my mother as smart, responsible and capable and compassionate. (I say “always” now with a new sense of appreciation and wonder - as long as I can remember, at least, and perhaps this is just an example of how we come to believe, accept, that “what we think, is,” what we think always was,” until our memory and sensory awareness expands beyond that concept or moment-in-time.) I did not always think of my mother as understanding, being a child and teenager myself once and an adult often of a mind all-consumed with “knowing it all.” An “I know it all” adult is less easy to smile about than an I-know-it-all teenager, it seems to me. It was always clear when my mother did not want to talk about some subject, even without words. Some things didn't need to be said, my mother believed, and that included so much that was said. Just pay attention, she'd say. The You'll understand was implied. As I got older I began to truly appreciate my mother’s exquisite sense of humor, and her understanding. Her dry humor was at times playful and often profound. With simply a smile sometimes, we acknowledged understanding the bond of thought which went so far beyond what any paragraph could explain – except when we say that Energy is real, and love always pleases the senses.

As my mother lived her death, she taught me more too. Her stoic courage never overwhelmed her playfulness in simple moments that pleased her. I’ve learned that loss and grief are symbols we create to show ourselves that we are eternal as energy. Each relationship we create and live offers us so much to be grateful for (as my Dad used to always say), and so many reminders that we are never alone, never separate (only as physical matter), always one, sharing our energies as we share our lives.

Thank you to all of our mother’s friends and relatives who have acknowledged what she has meant in your lives, simply. She would approve, and absolutely appreciate all of your expressions of love and remembrance, as we do.

"Always, deep inside the motivation of knowing from the soul and the inspiration to grow from the spirit will give them a sense of joy in overwhelming adversity. In the most challenging times there will be a consciousness of a tiny, joyful light within. That light is the vision of hope that shines with total undaunted faith within self to overcome all odds and be successful."(
Sharing,by K. Oddenino, 278.) My mother was undaunted by life and by death. She loved. What a legacy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Margaret Anne McMullen Martin, remembering when....

"Get off the horse. Before all else, listen. The pathway to change is through relationships, and you can’t form a relationship if you’re not at eye level
." Tim Shriver
"Life hangs by the thinnest of threads." Kathy Oddenino

Monday, October 12, 2009

To The Inn and Beyond

What a beautiful day yesterday! Invited to Sunday brunch at the lovely Carolina Inn, which is always a feast for multiple senses. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you haven't been, please do.....! Thank you, my good company!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What We're Open To

"Each lesson of life is truly a lesson of love." (Sharing, 101)

"Integration is essential to your individual growth process. Keep that foremost in your mind, and look at yourself in total love with total positive energy. It is your love of yourself, your belief in yourself, and the positive energy that you will create from that love, that will help you to integrate, to balance, and to evolve without fear." (Sharing, 136)

During my quick weekend trip to Memphis I read chapters of Kathy Oddenino's book, Sharing: Self Discovery in Relationships, as I sat in the airport, on the airplane, and in between other transitions from room to room. It was great to read this book in the midst of the busyness of a place like an airport, and the intensive energy of people and things compactly placed in a flying cylindrical tube. I checked my email while waiting too, and received a message from a childhood friend and classmate who had read my book. It was fun to read her feedback, which included a poem she had written about me when we were in 10th grade. The poem described a person "closed inside her shell," the fun and laughter and also the "cloak of humor" I wore. "Somewhere deep inside of her lies a mysterious person that no one but herself knows. Or does she even herself know?"

I really appreciated her email, and it was perfect timing for her to send this while we're doing this first Online course on Sharing! "Will I ever know her well?" she wrote in our sixteen-year-old-time. How wonderful it is for me say that Yes, I do know myself well now! Her poem shows me- what change can mean, and how familiar such a wall, such shelling is. Each person, each personality has his/her own energy field/s. Where we've grown, how, what we're open to.

"Know Thyself!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Chain of Life

Loving yourself allows you to love other people.

"This could be compared on Earth to the most creative jeweler designing the ultimate in beautiful chains. Life is the ultimate in a beautiful chain. Each link grows from the last beautiful link until you have an unbroken circle of beauty. Within that chain of family and friends who love you is the strength to break the fear of separation and enhance the beauty of creation." (Joy of Health, 221)

I’ve been thinking about this paragraph since I read it a few days ago. With our first Online Course using Kathy’s third book, Sharing: Self Discovery in Relationships, I’ve seen the beauty of “sharing” energy in new ways. The art of communication as creation happens, as we live the changes inherent in life’s (creation’s) design, is teaching me, again, to enjoy the absolute beauty of creating through the energy of love. As a friend said, You know, truth makes a mind do funny things – it compels you to act! One phrase that Kathy said stands out in my mind: It is very important that we not lose our own voice. The ethical patterns of us, and within me, emerge as I let them, as I honor them.

“Diplomacy, democracy, grace, civility” – are words that come up often, and as a collective body we are struggling to accept and live, to understand. I recognize the tiny little energy bursts I feel as these “grace notes” reveal themselves to me in my mind, and my emotions dance around. Talking with my Mother last night fed that light of love within me in a way only a mother-love can. She had told me earlier that two of her new friends, staff at the Rehab Center where she stayed for a few months, called yesterday to say hello, see how she is. She laughed gently when she told me that upon hanging up the phone with one of them, she said, I love you. A minute or so later the woman called back and said, I love you, too, Mrs. Martin. Mom was amused at the fact that she had called back so quickly to say so. This brought tears to my eyes, because such a simple story reveals the way love heals, how change happens, how love expands as we communicate, simply. I felt “enlightened” because she shared her story. For that instant, in my own time and space, I felt the joy of that love shared. What a gift. I'm holding it within me, along with the infinite other moments of joy that have impressed themselves into my stream of conscious life.

Loving ourselves allows us to love others. Energy is real. Allowing the Spirit the freedom to be is the mind’s ultimate gift to itself. Acknowledging the love of spirit, of infinite energy, is appreciating the jeweler within each of us, and all of the “energy sharing” creation uses to fulfill its intention of beauty, freedom, love, and the truth of life as we live it.

Here’s another great reminder from Joy of Health, which brings me full circle:
“Good relationships contribute to good health and joy. They should be cherished and nourished, just as you would cherish any material possession in your world. Indeed, a good relationship is far more valuable to the world of man than any material possession could ever be. … A soul does not grow without the contact of other souls. The drama of life would not be much of a drama without the interactions that relationships provide.” (JOH, 254)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"If You Want To"

In the last Spiritual Philosophy seminar, this stood out: "If we miss how our life controls us, how will we be able to control our life?"

Remember the Rolling Stones' song, You Can't Always Get What You Want? The often-quoted "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need" is relevant here! The song was recorded in London in November 1968, and features the London Bach choir. I remember my mother saying to me so many years ago, You can't always do only what you want to. Mothers and fathers learn this differently than those of us without the gift of having children.

When I heard the phrase "if you want to" yesterday it got my attention. I keep thinking about the idea that our growth develops from our own needs. From some mouths, the words "if you want to" may seem dismissive or unkind, and from others assured elements of an energy stream which honors itself, its "host" energy, and the reality of energy interaction.

As I have been constantly learning to "Know Myself," and to "know what I want," I love this lilting, playful pattern which shows itself to me as I grow and change. Memories flash into my mind of other times (and energies), when I lived aspects of some of the patterns I live today. Now I let them run through my mind, fleeting glimpses of boys I was, of girls, women with a harsh dictum of running a household because governance as a body politic was another realm to women in those times. I recognize the reflective nature of energy, and how we expand and contract patterns as our energy fields move and change. I recognize frustration as the compaction or suppression of my own energy, and a shadow of its former self as the volcano image inside which has to diffuse. This is how I came to the image of "the volcano inside" so long ago, and as I described in my book. I feel how my energy compacts in these moments, and I hear the sound of my voice more like "barking" than soothing, more like a rush or muted "fire and ash" than melody. The love of life slowly becomes the way a plant grows, delicate and fragrant in its expression, and delightfully part of all that inhabit its "universe."

Honoring the truth of "what I want," what we create as our reality, is one of the beautiful gifts a mind can receive, and give. Creating a comfort zone for ourselves as we live our lives, as days pass, as energy moves and changes, is an art form which is delightful, sometimes challenging, and always an amazing phenomenon of human consciousness. What I want is to always honor these memories which cherish truth, to laugh always as I enjoy these memory-fields, and as I honor those I love and the energy of life in its multiplicity of constant change.

It is minds that go beyond the "boxes" and bones of what we have already thought before that lead the way into the future of our past, which becomes our present. The simplicity of creation is only truly revealed when we understand and honor its complexity - or, the other way around. I feel like we are in Homer's odyssey, the journey of yet another life, and determined to know, to map, the sea, sky and shore. We are and we bear treasures! Love is eternal, and its expression is simply the most powerful energy field in the Universe.

"For a worthy quest always leaves good traces behind it, and more treasures are won by heroes than they visibly brin ghome in their own day. A more careful examination of the true office of philosophy may serve to show us, in fact, both why final success in it has been unattainable and why the partial successes have been worth the cost." Josiah Royce, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Saving the Day

Saving the day 7-7-09

I slip into surrender
Counting that loss as gift

This discovery
This counting.
Saving the day.

by Mike Martin

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can Human Care Make Men Good?

A few nights ago while waiting for an order I met a cardiologist who is reading classics he's never read. He told me he is reading The Three Musketeers for the first time, and loves it! He was a chemistry major, he said, and never read these "classics" while in school. The Count of Monte Cristo, an 1846 European bestseller by Alexandre Dumas, this cardiologist said, is still one of the greatest books ever written. I've never read The Three Musketeers - though I feel I've lived variations of it over and over!

It was fun to exchange with someone who liked circling back to old "art" as he also wades in "new science" and fast-paced thrillers. He writes a lot - about science, medicine, lingers, savors Robert Frost, and, apparently, martinis.

I thought later about "classics." What we call classics in any aspect of our lives today: cars, clothes, familiar, standard, traditional, exceptional. The precision of thought required to know a pattern well enough to recognize its validity and legitimacy within the evolution of society and its own field and function, and then within our own individual path of growth. This is not necessarily the same as a "specialty, or an 'expert." This cardiologist was, apparently, an "expert" in his field, fully functional in the body of knowledge his own specialty seeks and uses.

Recently I said to a friend, after thanking her for helping me with some computer tasks,I feel I know a little about a lot of things, a lot about a few things. My quest in life certainly has been, and is, to know myself as thoroughly as possible. As a human being. This quest took me through the tangle of depression, because those were the woods of dispiritedness that I had to make my way through before I could "see the light." What is the light? The energy of love, of thought, of caring comes to light as a mind opens itself to change, and this energy in its infinite variations is one of the most beautiful sensations I can imagine.

Meeting a high school friend for dinner over the weekend brought up more memories of the "way we were." He had read my book during his beach vacation, and we laughed over his choice of "light reading." You projected such calm, such assurance, he said, and I remember that you laughed a lot! I did, I said! I was calm! Now I understand more clearly what I sensed! Our conversation prompted me to clarify again the many nuances and differences in being aware, conscious, knowing, and doing (infinite levels of expression). It takes time for the currents of thought energy to make themselves known to a growing mind while the heart beats, patiently. That's one reason we created Time, I think. It was such fun visiting with my old friend and sharing our life tales of the moment. In the last several months I've heard from several old friends - not just prompted by Dad's death in February, or by FBook. I'm glad for these cycles of life-sharing. Every moment, clearing the cache, refreshing my screen.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

History, Hospice, Compassion, Change

I have been thinking a lot about hospice care. According toone history, the word "hospice" comes from the Latin word, hospes: to host a guest or stranger. The history of hospice, of medicine, of care for the sick and dying is a fascinating one. The founder of the modern hospice movement is said to be Dame Cicely Saunders, in 1967. She was inspired by a patient. In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published "On Death and Dying," which became a bestseller. She is well known for many things, including the way she was treated by vandals who burned her home. (Those who have gone against the common collective mode of thought have often been made to leave by fire torching their homes. Where there's smoke, there's fire!)..

It’s interesting to read about how tribes of us in ancient times responded to those who were ill and dying. Since death of one so affected the life of a group, the group responded. One supported the other – this was the nature of “community.” Roles developed, as did superstitions, so some were left to die alone and some were thought to have healing powers (“medicine” men or women). As medicine and hospitals developed, before we developed “germ theory,” many people died as diseases spread within hospitals. Families often preferred to keep their loved ones at home, because they feared they would not leave the “house of death.” I never thought about this history before, I suppose because I haven’t had reason to – i.e., the reasons that have been there, in our history, and made more visible with our current disease care and health care reform conditions, never got my attention. Things get our attention when we recognize how they affect us personally. I’m drawn to knowing more about compassion, how we have lived it, those who have initiated acts and movements (such as hospice) which were (and are) counter to the conditions that were growing in a physical way which wasn’t keeping pace with the Ethical Values that steer us as thinking energy beings. When I feel the tug of attention to something or someone, I pay attention in a different way now. I’m more open to knowing this is an “energy relationship,” because I am an energy being. Energy always moves and changes, and my mind, as an energy field, seeks to know itself in the love or the fear that is comfortable, inviting. Compassion compels me now, more than ever before in my life.

I think about hospice now and, as one web site states, hospice now is not so much a place but a philosophy. The purpose remains the same – “for them to find rest, to be cared for and to gather courage to face the remaining days of their journey together.” I can apply this to all of life! There is no agenda except compassion, human to human. This is why NDP, and studying who we are as energy beings, is so profound to me. Our history as human beings does not begin with our physical acts, our warfare, our beliefs, our life and death. Our history begins as energy creating.

When I review my experiences, I remember the patience change requires, the grace that comes with patience, the strength and courage that are called upon. As I live and learn, I’m beginning to recognize how each reflection of each experience, individual and communal, reveals our acceptance or fear of knowing ourselves as energy beings. Years ago I remember asking Dad if he was afraid of dying. He smiled, looked surprised, and also pained, No! he said. Not at all. I remember the look on his face. His faith was strong, his sense of life and change in keeping with his love. I think about all we do to show ourselves that we must learn to honor life, cherish life and those we love – including the Earth from which we are made.

Part of my growing up has been the acceptance of change as real, as an energy force always in motion. (You can’t push the river!). Love cradles, supports, honors, cherishes, communicates, celebrates. Life and death are one. One thing I remember from our latest Spiritual Philosophy event which has meant a lot to me is, if we don’t want to see ourselves as spirit energy, we will reject Ethical Values.

Energy fields-
The smiles, vague light,
The energy motion makes and takes.

Before he died Dad smiled and said, I’ve been talking to God about it. Honoring life as death. He tried so hard to think, physically, then, but the chemistry, the energy wasn’t there, could not gather enough together.

Cotton bolls, corn belt, tobacco dirt, leaves, dark juice. Each bone, each tooth, each sparkle of glitter has its layers, the growth it shows, the cells remember, the mind floats. Sweet dreams of days blend into nights, alive.

As I listen to all of the dialogue about health care reform, I'm reminded of the courage needed to challenge "what is," how we are called upon to take all change personally, as energy beings. The relationships of life, of institutions and realities we create, are all our responsibility. Habits and institutions are not our creators, we are! Thank you, all pioneers whose guiding light is the Ethical Values of our internal (Intelligent) design.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Cloud Studies

I recently discovered there exists such a group called the Cloud Appreciation Society! If you're a reader and a cloud lover, I suggest these two books, as others have: The Theory of Clouds (a novel) and The Cloud-Spotter's Guide. Here are two of my views from my Pittsboro-GPS point in the world.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I've been noticing books throughout history that relate to our human need to understand ourselves, the reality of what we think of as "time travel." Audrey Niffenegger's novel, The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)was one of the best novels I've enjoyed in years (her next is to be published this Fall, and a movie made of Time Traveler).

Energy is Real......!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Our World Shrinks and Grows

Last night three of us sat at a table talking about life. One asked, do you miss your friend who died? Our friend nodded, said Yes, I do. Fred was her neighbor, a man living alone in the trailer he and wife shared after their house burned. His wife had died a few years before. Fred never learned to read or write, and he’d had cancer that had eaten away flesh in his face, later in his mouth. He was a thinker, and a caring man. My friend spoke of how he would come over, check on things when she was gone, at work or away. He would show up to mow the grass, which she paid him for, or just to talk, to be there as she burned brush cleared from the land. He would ask her advice about medical questions, and had no fear of follow up to know more, with his doctor. Once she was home and her car was in the shop. She saw Fred appear in the front yard and walk to the garden. He had a bag and began to pick tomatoes. She watched for a minute, then approached. What are you doing? she asked. Roger wanted some tomatoes, he said, matter-of-factly. I don’t care who wants them, she said. Don’t steal my tomatoes! He heard her, and another day, another way, he related that memory and said, I’ll never steal from anyone again. I learned my lesson!

As we talked, I thought of what it must mean not to read or write, and even not to speak. I remembered when I took literacy training and taught an eager man to read. He was an adult, a family man with his own thriving business. He had hidden his deficit from everyone, including his family. I marveled at the way our minds support us with such determination as we choose. Now he wanted to learn, and he was going to surprise his family, especially his two little daughters who wanted to share their homework with him. As we met at our weekly sessions, I had to think about this gift of words and what it has meant to me too. Some days I was restless and tired after work, and keeping this commitment to him gave me promise of what gifts may come from our human interaction – beyond a paper shuffle and keeping order in a changing world. He would walk in, a little embarrassed at first, removing his baseball cap as he entered the room. When we read a page, he would look up and smile with a light that came from his eyes and a place as deep as he had lived. As we read together, side by side, I felt happy and more determined myself. When we finished our sessions and he was ready to continue on his own, his eyes shone like the little boy he once was. He carried his book under his arm like a treasure, and proclaimed that he was ready to read to his little girls! I cried when we hugged because I felt so happy. He gave me a gift of eternal happiness in that moment.

Our world shrinks and grows as our mind perceives and creates. When Fred lost his driver’s license, his world shrank to a small circumference, and his experience with his neighbors became even more important. My other friend remembered her father and his caring of others. She spoke of sick neighbors, some without the wide circumference of world experience and knowledge that he’d had in his life, and how he would care for them, be sure they had what they needed. I remember my father shaking his head over his changing life as he strained to move from bed to chair with absolute focus and intention. I remember his smile as he looked at us with that light in his eyes, and the way his mouth lifted on one side, the way he sometimes sang, spontaneously, just because he was happy. Our human connection is our most important energy resource, and we must cherish these gifts. Each gift lives as we do, uncovering them, daily, in memories! Thank you, friends for sharing the moments.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Honor, Kings and Queens

"Memory is like a phoenix, continually arising out of its own destruction." Kathleen McGowan, Discover magazine article, "Out of the Past" July/August 2009

We can learn so much from every human being. A few weeks ago some friends and I were talking, pool-side, after a great day of learning about ourselves as energy and matter (and Neural Depolarization), about the form and function of our nerves and nervous systems as our life-givers & receivers. The evening was beautiful, with a light breeze, sky thick with clouds in some parts of our view and clearing with shades of blue in others before the moon began to brighten as the sky darkened. As I listened, relaxed and energized, I heard how we are opening our minds to love, and the love of our creation. As one friend talked about all she felt and became conscious of as she walked to the mailbox on a bright morning, I remembered a scenario from a recent trip to Virginia for a college graduation party. A group of high schoolers were sitting at the pier over the pond. As we talked with them, they got interested in getting into the kayak to paddle around the pond that was busy with fish. One dark-eyed, particularly engaging kid, maybe 16 years old, was very excited, full of energy. Later, in the house, when he came in, we asked how the kayaking was and he answered, it was awesome! I felt like I was king of the world!, with his arms raised high and a smile to light the room. Still pool-side, another friend explained how she felt the purity of energy with her 3-month old granddaughter, what a beautiful reminder babies are of pure love and its power in life.

I’ve been thinking of this, and of Michael Jackson, as I’ve watched the news about him, his life, his music, his death, his family. His legacy of caring is clear, his drive for perfection, the music in him, his magnetic energy of love, and of loss. One thing I’ve heard so many who knew him say is that he was always seeking to learn, to incorporate new knowledge, to expand what he could do. Let’s create a new instrument!, he said to one producer.

We can learn so much from every human being. There are no strangers. Trust love. To love, my intention must be honorable, ethical. It is the smallest of things, of fleeting thoughts that can become obsessive, take root, which reveal the lingering fears that have lived in my mind, and in collective minds, throughout time. The joy of this young boy on the pier, the strength and exuberance of his youthful energy, was a joy to behold and to feel. I was sad to see the cigarette dangling so casually from his mouth, from his loose fingers, but I understood the urge (I've lived it!) As energy, we grow into Knowing Thyself, as chemical energy beings. As I grow, as I change, as I experience the time and space of aging, of life energy moving and changing, I know why we look at life differently when we are consciously feeling love, despite the circumstances that we are living. “Our new level of sensory perception will continue to expand until it begins to affect our waking mind.” (174) Happiness is free, chosen by ready minds and hearts when we begin to feel the excitement of having physical feelings. In Spirit Consciousness, Kathy explains how we use our loving emotions to expand our feelings as we begin to gently caress our fears, bringing them into our conscious mind to heal. This is the pattern of the depolarization of our nervous system, which gives us life and through which we experience the reality of our own creation –we honor our creation as human life, and the purity of love as our creative energy, or we contaminate our chemical energy. We alter our memory simply by thinking with love. (See McGowan's article in Discover magazine!) Love heals!

I am enjoying the sensations of momentary life, of infinity in a grain of sand. The tethers of fearful thoughts like ropes and strings are the same as some doctors’ view of the nerves in the body as simply strings tying up a package. Thoughts are real as energy, and love honors the gift of life. I am grateful for the gift of knowledge as a growing conscious mind. Thank you, King of Pop, thank you, teenage king of the world, for your infinite gifts. You will live forever...

Monday, June 29, 2009

An old friend (thank you, facebook!) wrote to me asking for a description of my book (Sensing Infinity), which I had never posted, except a bit on the book site. Here is a brief description, an invitation to one kind of tell-all. Thanks for asking!

Think of moments, including birth, as memories rippling through our bodies. My mind is only one of millions,billions, like stars. Imagine one moment as all there is, what it is to be in an upturned coffee table, sailing the Horn of Africa in a storm, masts quivering, sails snapping, ropes stretching, wood creaking, water blowing, the full moment's movement all you feel, thrilling and real. I began to wonder if our images are real just because we think them. And lost, gone forever, if we forget. I wondered if we disappear as easily. I began (as we do) with a mind open to the ocean of innocence and experience, but my thoughts were squeezed by ancient bands of beliefs formed from chemical memories, tightening and tilting and coloring my world. This book is my way of defining how the circle of experience spirals and widens; how my egg of a mind began its fertilization, its quest to know itself. Ultimately, the mind always succeeds. With love, we grow up. There is infinity to remember once we begin.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Dreams May Come

Last night she dreamed of Keanu Reeves. He was an oddly goofy character in the dream, intensely focused on following his light-hearted senses with that intense mind. He danced with his lady friend, dressed almost as a clown, awkward yet child-like in his innocent enjoyment of the moment on the crowded floor as they moved around together. Somehow they connected, eye-contact, and that laser beam of light took enough flicker for her to know he would follow her before she reached her car. She didn’t know why. This was not the usual seduction scene. She had asked before she slept, to know the grace of acceptance, the ocean flow of energy as grace gives and changes. As she approached the block where her car was parked she heard him call to her. In the dark wet night his voice echoed around the street lamps and poles, cars and fire escapes, and she turned to see him running ahead of his lady friend and another as he called to her. She stopped.

Where are you going? He asked. I want to come with you.

His friend and hers reached their car in the alley, and she could feel their disgust, their misunderstanding of his intensity of energy, of change. Indeed, he did not have much grace in his way of making himself known.

I’m going home, she said. First I have to find my car.

He nodded matter-of-factly and proceeded to get his car, which turned out to be a trumped up jeep, like a combination of glider, jeep, and bicycle.
He followed her in her car and pulled up behind her as she reached the curb in front of her house. They entered silently, expectantly but without definition or destination. This was a different sensation. Then scenes in her memory mixed. In one she sat at a table in the small office, with no clutter around but an empty book open in front of her. She looked at the book without turning pages. The molecules in the room began to move, the air shifting and changing. She looked down at her own torso and her chest had changed to that of a young man, the muscles smooth and forming, her white shirt first disappearing then reappearing. She began to feel the arousal that came with the movement of muscle motivated by charm, by sea change so deep within the cells as if from the bottom of the ocean, by the urge and power of life expressing itself, the silt and sand heaving and lifting the particles into the waves like fine filigree, delicate lace. All of this came from her mind as she watched this body change as she sat still. She was lost in the sensations for a moment, which felt like a lifetime. When he came to the doorway and smiled at her, she marveled and smiled back as he turned to leave again.

Let’s talk about cellular reconstruction, she said, when they were sitting outside, at another place she could not name in her waking hours. They sat on grass in lawn chairs, overlooking a bay where birds flew at a distance.

When she woke up and poured a cup of coffee, Tom came to sit beside her at the kitchen table. He leaned against her, rubbing his chin on her shoulder. He was sleepy. She kissed him and began to tell him about her dream. He lifted his head and smiled a smile similar to Keanu Reeves in her dream. (a continuing excerpt)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Growing into Grace

Today I heard news that someone I know “took their own life.” She was not someone I knew well, but knew as someone who was desperate to know relief from pain and sought a “cure.” That “cure” would be a ticket to “heaven.” She was already focused a lot on dying, without this cure, but was willing to give it (life) one more try at relief before taking that action to change her own matter. As I think about the reality that there are no strangers to me, as a human energy being, I think also, especially today, of her. She was a specialist in addictions, and lived to help, to heal, to learn to love.

I have learned that fear is the greatest addiction, and that the only cure for addiction is a spiritual awakening. (“All addiction is fear of the separation from God.” JOH, 183) I remember my urges to distract myself from thinking or feeling at certain times when I was very depressed, mostly in my 20s - to stimulate senses in a physical (chemical) way, “externally.” It is another level of living the dependency upon only the physical as real. We get bogged down in the details. Like a thirsty man in the desert, we gulp the water – the need is literally a physical one. Deficiency within our cells for the nutrients that give us life and sustain life. Until we understand the gift this is, I understand now, better than ever, we can think the water is the salvation of us for time eternal. The be all and end all of our search for relief. As I continue to appreciate, we are energy beings living as matter. We are indeed made mostly of water!

As I review flashes of memory, I think of the lessons I have worked with, as a mind with my heart on my sleeve or tucked into my skirt, or “hidden” under my hat, inside my boots. I think of what I have learned from Spiritual Philosophy, that all relationships are created by our image of self, how fear is the survival energy of the ego self. I am looking carefully again at my fear (of “rejection,” separation from “God”), and beginning to know the truth and power of “knowing thyself,” gaining ground. The Garden of Eden was our training ground, as energy beings. We began as energy beings, feeling our way (literally, sensing in a way we have mostly forgotten) as energy more than matter, and slowly coming to “know ourselves” in the flesh of us, eating of that tree of knowledge to know we are exposed as physical humans, wearing the energy of our nakedness, the beauty and innocence of our vulnerability to life and all of its pleasures and opportunities of growth and change. In Kathy Oddenino’s third book, Sharing, I read, “The energy of you is part of the energy of all of man, part of the energy of Earth, part of the energy of God, and part of the energy of the Universe. In the sense of energy you are integrated. Integrating your physical understanding of your own energy will create for you a new consciousness level of self. Your consciousness level is your relationship to your physical life.” (82)

The purpose of life is to know ourselves and to celebrate creation.

I review the kaleidoscope of interactions I’ve lived, and I think of the dance life is, in its most artistic form. I appreciate dance and the dancer, the music of life. When I have been dissatisfied with life, it is because I have felt “unloved.” That need, or unsatisfied belief gave me the feeling of losing control over my world and of course led to powerlessness which is the embodiment of depression. I believed totally in the power of my beliefs to guide me, even those that were unconscious to my mind. Such a need creates negative obsessive behavior – challenging friends or family to “prove” they love you; getting angry when feeling victimized and jealous and competing with others who are happy, “powerful.” The list goes on. Without knowing “I am that I am,” an energy being, my mind cannot accept the grace of love in action, the ocean of energy constantly and eternally expressing itself. What is the energy of my true intentions as I live, breathe, act, choose? I think of the role that courtship has played, as we’ve created it, in our history as human beings: the Garden of Eden, the playful sprites in the woods, the Romans at court, the Victorians in their ruses and rituals behind starched collars and jewels, the Flappers and crooners and dowry presenters. The mind, as our male image, invites the emotions, as our female image, to be seduced in overt ways - the physical urge overrules all! The dignity, grace, and fun of true courtship satisfies, because love heals as it guides. The mother teaches the child in the ways of growth as life happens. The father creates with her, guides too, as he learns, shares, grows and changes.

Lifetimes ago, when I began to date a Cambodian man after years of my relationship with a woman, we were both hesitant, unsure of the “rules.” He had never dated an “Anglo” woman, and an older one at that, and my experience as “single,” and engaging romantically with a man was new to me, again. We laughed at our awkward ways for a while, because it was as though the same rules didn’t apply! Gradually we learned to communicate on new levels, expanding our “sensing” of each other, and we continue, as friends eager to “know thyself.” Now I think of this as one more example of how, within me, my mind creates its own “new” rules as it interacts with the love within me – the dance begins to form, to pick up, after the hesitant steps, the stomped-on toes, the straining to hear, the sweat of fear not exertion. As I open my mind to knowledge, my physical consciousness changes, grows into love. As I learn and do NDP, I realize this is the same exalted dance – such intimacy as human energy, honoring and acknowledging the creator of our lives, the nervous system, to love, to energize. As the old saying goes, “greater love hath no man.” (Or woman.) Physical gratification within us comes with the energizing of our matter, the love that nurtures us. What does it mean to be totally responsible for myself as an energy being? As physical people, through sex we can create human life. As energy beings, we create as chemical beings with thought, each breath, each ocean of memory moment, the architecture of us as energy form and energy/matter function. We must focus on how we are thinking and being first, and what we are doing will change. When truthful, I am open to change, and know my self-image as my spirit consciousness, others as the same energy design.

Hope becomes false advertising at some point, until we know love within us as energy beings. Spiritual Philosophy has taught me to know that I am energy first and matter second. I can choose to guide the winds of change within me as I begin to know myself and my motivations as an evolving consciousness. So, a nod to my newer friend and her gusto for life, her challenge with pain and profound loss. Love heals, and we do not live only one life! Healing happens as we change, little ways, big ways. Thank you for our meeting, for teaching me as an energy being.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dignity, Awe, Respect

Checking in on my good long-ago friend, Tom Wernigg, I found a few of his video clips. Also listen to his new CD, Already Home.

Monday, June 08, 2009

You Get What You Pay For?

Things seemed full, busy, colorful, vibrant. She liked to cook – especially mussels, scallops, any kind of seafood, to which she could add sauces tart and sweet, drizzling oil and all manner of concoctions she created, just imagining what her taste buds would like, listening to them as she closed her eyes and thought of the pools of green – pesto-laden ponds, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, ginger vinaigrette mixed with pomegranate seeds. She liked French toast, the fat slices of bread cooked in butter until golden, then sprinkled with brown sugar and some caramelized molasses, to add that dark, bitterness to the light sweetness of the brown sugar. The toast itself transported her into so many memories of flavors, and that fantastic urge she had to make new flavors. Ah, food. Her tennis shoes, her walkers, that is, loomed in her mind’s eye at times, the shoe-lace eyes appearing in her mind, open as a porthole, and the texture of the blue weave large and magnified and glistening with the water she walked through the last time she wore them. Pulsing and growing, the images came and went. The same with sounds. The life of the mind is rich, she thought. And she knew this was part of her attraction to advertising: the glossy rich colors in pictures done just so, the text needing to sharp, tight, just right for whiz-kids and people-on-the-go. She sometimes felt she was a subway car that never stopped. The subway car was fast becoming the electric high-speed rail without her ever getting off. The neon lights of the billboards beneath the ground, or in the subway tunnels, blurred into streaks like the sunset sometimes, or lightening bolts as a storm builds.

She was average size, with big, heavy limbs, though she didn’t feel fat. Her flesh felt heavy and soft a lot, and at those times she felt as though she were moving underwater. Did she see bubbles? This seemed a normal way of perceiving herself, because that was her continuing way of relating to her world.

What’s the point of advertising? To get attention. To satisfy a need. To make money. To persuade why just this thing, this service, this product is what someone needs. Truth or charlatan. “You get what you pay for.” Is it that the best things don’t need to be advertised, just to be shared?

(an excerpt from new story)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Things Begin To Happen

Today in an email update from Quail Ridge Books, I learned about Lynd Ward, master wood engraver, whose novel, GODS' MAN: A NOVEL IN WOODCUTS(Dover $8.95) was told without words, and which sold 20,000 copies even though it was released during the week of the 1929 stock market crash. "Do you think all graphic novels involve costumed superheroes? Before Batman....before Superman...., there was Gods' Man, a novel told entirely in woodcuts." Stories of this man and the context which shaped him (Methodist minister father, Chicago politics, activist of social agendas, Leipzig and German expressionism.....) are interesting, including his words through which he tells of his way of becoming an artist in society. The human story - resilience, beauty, strength, courage, the ethical values of our human nature - is timeless and always inspiring and mind-stimulating.

Lynd Ward, the master wood engraver, produced a remarkable body of work. From 1929 to 1937 he produced six novels in wood engravings. No words detracted from his strong images. All plot and characters sprang from the curl of a wood shaving pulled away from the endgrain of a wood block. Even today, Ward's sense of humanity cuts as sharply as his graver's tool. The images are sensuous. The stark black and white lines are pure ink and paper, you feel that nothing is hidden. The emotional appeal surprises; it feels primal. There are no words to dilute the story. Lynd Ward's novels seem fresh and current today.

I hope you'll visit their links.

I love such expressions - "all plot and characters sprang from the curl of a wood shaving pulled away from the endgrain of a wood block." I've been reminded in many ways lately of how life springs from such simple curls, moments, wisps of thought, of breeze. We bought some flowers over the weekend which now live on the patio, and each day I think of them, look at them and study their life in moments. The petunias, lantana,portulaca, verbena, lilies - I've had to slow down as the heat rises and the moments require new thinking about life and change. Nothing is hidden - each level of teeming life in infinite images reveals itself as I acknowledge the energy of life. As Ward once wrote of his images, "Soon there is movement and things begin to happen."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What it Means to be part of the Human Race

Think about yourself and what it means to you to be part of the human race. (Sharing, 122)
See your relationships as gifts of love to yourself. See your family as shining spiritual gifts that you have chosen to have with you in this physical world.

Understand that the love within you is yours to give and in giving, you receive. The truth of love is found in the physical action of love. The physical action of love is caring and sharing all that is in your life with another. (122)

Lately I’ve been re-reading Sharing: Self Discovery in Relationships. I began reading this again with a prompt from a friend a few weeks ago. I have the book in a pile on my bed, and often pick it up and read pages at a time, when I feel moved to do so. This time was, as always, a perfect time for my mind, and I have found the energy of the words in the book extremely helpful in balancing my own energy of thinking as I end the day before sleep, or begin the day with coffee, thinking before I begin my “to-do” list. I’ve thought a lot about– what does this mean, “helps me to balance my energy,” why, how, how do I feel as I read, what is the difference it makes to me as I experience the day and interactions of the day. Some days that answer “it helps me to balance my energy” seems exactly enough – a full explanation of all it means and does for and with me, as my mind chooses to read, take in, absorb and heal in those moments of rest and momentum. Other times, I know that answering in more detail gives my mind, and whoever I’m talking with, more of an opening into my experience as I love it, and I feel my way as I talk about it. To me, it is reminiscing in real-time (creating!). As I think about my life, my thoughts, my feelings, I feel I am gathering them up together into a bundle - not so much like a bundle of dirty clothes to carry to the washing machine, but more like a blanket, warmed, that I am gathering around me.

As I feel this delicious feeling of comfort, I reflect upon the value of what I have learned and am learning in my life. This morning as I listened to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, and the humility with which she expressed how moved she was by this opportunity and the gratitude she has felt for all of those who have helped and guided her in her life, I thought about my life and the many ways of love and support I’ve experienced. This led me to thinking about how magnificent it is to know that our “spiritual design” is our own built-in guidance system, which is always supported by those we love and who love us, even when we do not necessarily recognize or acknowledge this love.

“Know that you have chosen to live in this life together, to learn and grow together, and that the lesson, the ultimate lesson of creation is unconditional love.” (119)

I listened to the nominee talk about her beginnings in the Bronx projects, the fact that she was diabetic at the age of 8, her father dying when she was 9. She did not dwell on the challenges, but beautifully acknowledged the gifts, the blessings, the guidance throughout, especially that of her mother. I’m not half the woman she is… This nominee has accomplished a great deal in her life of 53-4 years, which is universally acknowledged. She acknowledged beautifully, with such love, the true gifts of the heart, and the support of achieving any dream.

My parents supported us in this way. During the weekend when I went with Kathy to her granddaughter’s college graduation party, I had the opportunity to interact with her children and other family friends in a beautiful country setting. Driving to the event, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape – the rolling hills, both green and blue-grey in the distance, the vibrant green of leaves close up, the sounds of birds, the sight of hay rolled on fields exquisitely like tapestry, cows resting beneath trees and beside water. The peacefulness of the air (even bug-ridden at times), the soothing energy of the natural sights, the canopies of green, and especially the panorama of clouds, gave me infinite gifts which will linger in my memory forever. All of this enhances my appreciation of what it means to be alive – the giving and receiving as energy.

This morning I read in Sharing:
“As an adult, you now have the opportunity to repeat the drama as a parent of children. You become the primary teacher. You will choose to be or not to be a parent. The choice will be made according to the lesson that you have chosen. You will have alternate plans available to you. In being a parent you will act out the lessons that you have learned thus far in life.

The lessons that you have accepted with understanding will be captured within your unconscious memory and you will focus upon that memory as easily as you will focus upon your conscious memory. If you purposefully return in memory to the positive energies of your life, you will allow yourself to discover your purpose in life. “ (132-133)

When I think about my purpose in life, and I listen to the life accomplishments of others, such as Sonia Sotomayor, I reflect upon my own sense of myself and when I have felt I was productive, pleased with my accomplishments, and when I have felt like a failure, ashamed of what I have or haven’t or could have done (what was worthy of my time and energy, and therefore acceptable to others, too). When I am with others who own beautiful homes, have beautiful families, jobs with great and far-reaching effects, I appreciate these aspects of their life, and I think about my own choices of energy. I think about the absolute value and beauty of who we all are as energy beings, creative and playful in the best ways that we enjoy our creations – whether jobs, children, all relationships. As I gather the energy of myself and my life in moments, like this warm blanket (or cold dip in the swimming pool when the air is warm), I remember what I have absorbed from this book, Sharing: resistance from the intellect and ego occurs as something unpleasant to us, and it is a normal action for our intellect and ego when our spirit and soul are awakening. To consciously create as an energy form is a gift we all share. I’ve lived some wonderful experiences, with my father dying for example, and others I love in various states of energy, and the more I live and learn, the more I love what it means to be alive. It is so exciting to be able to think through the experiences of life and love them as I love the sight and energy feel of a bright orange butterfly that flits in my field of vision. With each “unpleasantness,” the joy in me grows, now. I feel the wonderful stability of maturing, not just in physical age but I mean mostly in my mind coming to know itself, and accepting the energy of love as the ultimate guiding force of my life. I have not had children, or a marriage, yet I have understood so much better what it means for us to have alternate choices, always guiding us in our evolution as consciousness, and how amazing this design of us is. An old friend once said to me, what I miss most is the laughter….. this made me think, because, while I cherished that, too, I also missed the opportunity to more consciously, physically engage in the energy of our lessons, the depth of what we shared, both verbal and nonverbal. This comment made me so conscious of the differences in our personalities, in our ways of relating to ourselves and our lives. The communication was a gift to me in itself, because it clarified this aspect for me and helped me to appreciate both of us and the truth of our friendship more.

“Your ego shuts out the light that allows you clarity of vision into your soul activities and your inner thoughts.“ (123)

To continue to understand sharing, giving and receiving as equal loving spiritual beings at our core, is to truly love. This book is a guide for me always in mapping my own journey – revealing my own map to me, and helping me to navigate the ocean of all interact I have lived and will live each moment as a physical human being. Balancing self creates acknowledgement of each part of us as One energy, consciously interacting – sharing, giving and receiving, being love. This book has helped me to appreciate all relationships, and to more consciously honor and acknowledge all those I create as I live my daily life. The freedom to be love is a gift we give ourselves as we learn to know thyself. Each friend I make and meet is a part of my human family. This is a constant revelation to me. I gather the thoughts and images of it like that warm blanket on a cold day. How amazing it is, and endlessly comforting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Heart, The Asylum's No Place for You

Eudora Welty photo, from the recent Smithsonian magazine article

"I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within."

"`I said, "Dear heart, I know the asylum's no place for you, but neither is the top of a real high mountain or a cave in the cold dark ground. Here's the place." And he said, "All right, Edna Earle, but make me some candy."' (from The Ponder Heart, 1954)
Eudora Welty

“Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it,” she later wrote in the memoir “One Writer’s Beginnings.” “These were things a story writer needed to know.” NY Times Art Review

Eudora Welty would have been 100 on April 24. My cousin forwarded to me the Times Literary Supplement's article about Eudora Welty's Centenary, which at last I read. Paul Binding's subtitle is "an appreciation of the travelling publicist of the New Deal and enduring storyteller of the Old South." I enjoyed the article very much. Anyone who has never read Eudora Welty's work has missed a treat and an education in the artistic world of human expression. Although always a fan, I would have missed this article without my cousin's prompt. Thank you!

Though before my "time," my Mississippi roots are embedded here, and the publicist compassion Eudora Welty lived as she chose to forego her business degree at Columbia remind me of all ways we always find our way "home." She returned to Mississippi when she recognized the impracticality of her plan, Paul Binding wrote. She joined the WPA program, funded in April 1935, and her love of people and the cultural truth of life as it was then enhanced her way of doing her job. She saw the high spirits, the grinding challenge of life, of her familiar yet foreign landscape. She beautifully captured the nuances of certain microcosms of life, American life, Southern life. She famously wrote, "The Depression was not a noticeable phenomenon in the poorest state in the Union." Welty took photographs along the way - easily learning when to click the shutter, refining her sensibilities to know just the moment when people reveal themselves, "unposed." People photographed by the heart and the mind together make a different impression upon us. Her power of observation, her skill of articulation, with grace, the nuances of human feeling and gesture, in contexts clearly drawn, are unique and will forever impress their common feeling and uncommon expression.

My parents gave me a copy of One Writer's Beginnings sometime when I was in college. I treasured the gift, and Welty's writing it. Mississippi roots run deep, and although I grew up in Africa, there was never a time when I forgot porches, rockers, trellis vines, ice rattling in pitchers, overgrown green ponds, glass dog figurines, old gas pumps...pictures of all kinds float through, with feeling.

It's a profound gift to me to have been introduced to Eudora Welty's work, and to savor it at any level. Her way of observing and recording without propagandizing, noticing the dignity of people in every circumstance, continues to teach me in the best ways what it means to be human.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hanging onto Bliss

As I have been reading the last chapter (Celebrating Relationships) in Kathy Oddenino's third book, Sharing, I've also been re-reading Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion. What a book. Please read both of them! Joseph Campbell was born in 1904 and lived until 1987. He is best known, most popularly known perhaps, for his philosophy of "follow your bliss." I am a peripheral student of Joseph Campbell's - I never met him, though I continue to enjoy and learn from him in the form of his work and the preservation and popularization of his work. That sharing comes from his passion, and the passion of those with whom he interacted, those whose lives he helped to change for the better. I am a first-hand student of Kathy Oddenino's. I have the opportunity to learn from her directly, in person, as well as from her many books and "continuing education" classes.

"The energy within you is only affected by your perception of self. ... In each and every event of your physical world there is a celebration that is hidden. It is hidden from your conscious view by your own resistances to learning the lesson. Celebration is inherent in learning. Learning is movement, change, and growth." (Oddenino, Sharing, 341)

"You do not have a complete adventure unless you do get back. There is a time to go into the woods and a time to come back, and you know which it is. Do you have the courage? It takes a hell of a lot of courage to return after you've been in the woods. There are modes of having this realization, and the final thing is knowing, loving and serving life in a way in which you are eternally at rest. That point of rest has got to be in all of it. Even though you are active out there in the world, within you there's a point of complete composure and rest. When that's not there, then you are in agony.

When the world
seems to be falling apart,
the rule is to hang onto your own bliss.
It's that life that survives."
(Campbell, Reflections)

Read a few other readers' views of the Companion. Then make up your own mind!

Joseph Campbell knew how to use his mind for good. The only true use of a mind is for good, since we are designed to "know thyself." Daily I find little ways to "know thyself" more, with guidelines such as these. How easily and with what determination we attach ourselves to every physical way of thinking and doing as "all that is." This week I've gotten lots of advice, about a number of different things. I'm learning to listen, sift, absorb more purely what is truly in keeping with me and my own consciously opening energy self, and not be hyper-reactive to someone who comes with advice unsolicited. It's a big lesson for me in this life, and I love the many-splendored ways of finding and hanging on to my my own bliss. I've been hyper-reactive in my life when I've felt like I wasn't doing something right, and interpreted this as my own "failure," rather than simply, maybe there's a better way. It's amazing to me to THINK, to learn how my mind is coming to know itself, and love what it gains as I grow.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Friendship and Fencing

Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) Photo: Samuel Courtauld Trust, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery

Today in the British Telegraph I read an article about Van Gogh and Gauguin. Two German art historians have written a new story about how Van Gogh's famous ear "fell" off. They write about this "pact of silence" between the two friends, saying that Gauguin, a skilled fencer, cut off Van Gogh's ear as they fought in front of a brothel which housed a prostitute they both had passions for. Some art historians and scholars, curators disagree. I've been interested in Van Gogh for a long time, in his paintings, and his letters. He wrote letters, especially to his brother Theo, that are an archive worth preserving within themselves. His passion for color, his absolute absorption in the energy of the air, the color, the textures, the way light captured his own - all are revealing and fascinating to wonder about. I smiled when I read this article, because the details of fighting over a woman - the artists enraged and unable, for the moment, to come to gentler words - make much more sense to me in my appreciation of Van Gogh and his expressions than does the self-mutilation and the violence of razoring his own ear and bleeding for only his own disgust. The affection for Gauguin and other passions they shared, smoking gun or not, makes more sense to me, too.

The other aspect of this that is so wonderfully human is how stories are told, how we accept them, explore them, how they become "fact," until our perception changes to a new level of truth. Today as I was talking with Kathy Oddenino as we prepare for her next seminar, she answered a question I had with "energy is an event! We are an event!" As I come to know Life as energy in matter and motion, I smile to know Life, each moment, is an energy event. To know "we are an event" has yet another twist, another turn, another spiral of energy experience to explore. This story of Van Gogh and Gauguin, whatever the truth of the ear and the sword, reminds me of how passionately we live, and how much better we love as we learn to know our true colors and express them so.

In one letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh shared a poem which included the words "after the sun's good night kiss." I love the phrase. He spoke about the beauty and wealth of flowers and surprising peacefulness of the parks in London. He sold only one painting during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard (400 francs). Since then, his paintings have brought in record sums and attention. I love Van Gogh's absolute attention and devotion to his craft, to his loves. Speculations abound about the chemical effects of paint fumes, the depression and challenges he faced with beliefs that he worked with in his mind. The record of his passion is clear, and his appreciation of the vitality and life of color. He honored other artists with the same devotion, present, past, and future.

As I think about Van Gogh, his letters, his images, his struggles and joys, I think of letters and images in my own world of influence. As "National Nurses' Week" begins, I'm reading about Florence Nightingale and her work and world of influence. "The pioneers of one generation are forgotten when their work has passed into the accepted doctrine and practice of another." -- Edward Cook, Florence Nightingale . Her influence was in another sphere, which I'll write about in another post. As I read bits of current history, I see shining glimpses of stones in the road which are records of those who have gone before us. When an old friend found me on Facebook last week, she wrote to tell me congratulations, and that she had bought my book and was eagerly awaiting it. I was happy to hear from her again, and happy to know she shared my joy of writing the story of "my life" in one cycle as I've lived it. Out of that great "unknown" (facebook) appeared this friend again, with a picture of her with her beautiful little boy. What joy! Daily news is full of our stories and images. To love ourselves honors each other and each image we create, no matter what we "sell" in this lifetime. Let's honor our stepping stones, and not just wait for their biographers or footnotes in history. We are our own ancestors and we make history as we live every moment. Know Thyself - Share the wealth!