Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watching the Garden Grow

Ni hao. That's Chinese for hello in honor the of the Chinese New Year. Knowing I’m a cheerful member of the joy luck coincidence club, Happy Friend from last week’s installment sent me a link to a website about synchronicity. Did you know there are “two symptoms of enlightenment?”

Fascinated with the energy body and the chakra system, I’m always on the lookout for symptoms that could portend a major domo insight. So, what’s the word for a hypochondriac in the spiritual realm? I’m keenly interested in discovering any indications that a transformation is taking place within me toward a higher level of consciousness.

Well, the first symptom is that “you stop worrying.” The fine print states that people and events no longer bother you. Drats! I’m certainly not afflicted with that one yet. The second symptom of enlightenment is that you begin to notice an increase in the number of coincidences that are lining up around you. And of course, the more you notice them, the more you get.

Rumor has it that synchronicities can escalate to the point where we begin to experience the miraculous. What is a miracle anyway? How about an absence of time between a desire and its fulfillment?

I may not suffer from the first warning sign of enlightenment (no worries), but I’m definitely experiencing the indicator behind door number two, the following examples are lifted straight from this week.

Riveted by the idea of coincidences and miracles, check out this line from “Frida a novel” by Barbara Mujica. “A brightly colored miniature parasol caught Frida’s eye, and Alex bought it for her. ‘It’s for a doll,’ he told her, ‘and since you’re a little doll, I’ll buy it for you!’”

I’d just read this passage when my partner in the Frida-capades, Frida Rosarita, returned home from a whirlwind trip to Hangzhou, China. She’s quite the poetic photographer, as you can see, and look what she brought me - a charming parasol! When I told a friend how charming the blue and white parasol was she asked if it was a drink umbrella. Huh? Never mind, the point is there was no time between the desire inspired by the novel and the manifestation.

This one is even harder to ignore. Thursday, I went to bread night at the Axe & Fiddle with Chakra Girl. While enjoying the community gathering in Cottage Grove, a display of ceramics caught my eye. In that moment, I imagined how fun it would be to incorporate clay into my work, but then I realized I would need a kiln. I let the thought go, content with the feeling it evoked.

That was Thursday evening. A day an a half later, I received an email asking if I had any need for a “starter kiln.” What?! By Sunday it was delivered and positioned in my basement, including a professional grade extension cord. My heart does a little jig every time I see it.

As if that wasn’t enough for one week, after last Wednesday’s inspiration to “get me a new song,” the receptacle for the paper shredder needed emptying. As the cross-cut confetti spilled into the recycling, three random single words from oodles of paperwork survived the decimation. Ready? “Your. New. Story.” Ooooh, this makes me so happy.

Which was a change in mood from my pity party. I may not be the perfect hostess when it comes to dinner, just ask our latest guests (they didn’t like our salad dressing, we served the wrong wine, they had to ask for water and their coats at the end of the evening. Oops), but I excel at throwing lavish pity parties for myself. I never forget a detail, I attend to my every complaint and always serve the right whine.

What was the occasion for my latest episode? Oh, the usual victimization of unfairness. If everything is energy and if I don’t like the results, that is, the boomerang effect from my personal energy field, then I must be doing something wrong. Confession, I feel like I’m energetically disabled. I would have said retarded, but that word is a red hot trigger and we wouldn’t want to be offensive even if what I do feel is that constant low grade fever of frustration from the knowledge I should be able to understand something but my development is just so damn slow. What I need is feels beyond my grasp.

What is effortless for others requires tremendous exertion on my part, as if I have partial paralysis. Frida Kahlo, the artist, suffered this kind of pain in her legs to the point of amputation. Perhaps I feel the kinship in my energy body. Grasping, clutching, needy. Uh-oh, needy is creepy.

I mentioned earlier today that I’m keenly interested in discovering any indications that a transformation is taking place within me toward a higher level of consciousness. I view my life as a garden, the fruit proof that I’m doing it correctly. I have this metaphorical little plot of earth and I have consulted volumes of gardening books written by the experts and I’m trying to do everything according to wisdom, planting with the rhythms of the moon, nurturing the seedlings with love and attention, attacking every weed with a vengeance.

But my little plot of earth remains barren regardless of the multi-vitamined watering system, the perfect balance of sun to shade ratio and the enthusiastic affirmations I coo to the fertilized soil.

I was lamenting my failure as a gardener when my sister crashed my pity party. I offered her my tears in fine bone china teacups. She said they tasted bitter. She also had the audacity to tell me “expectation was the opposite of acceptance.” You can’t force things to be, you allow them to be. What?

“And besides,” she said, gearing up for a doozy, “you’re blocking the sun with your body all hunched over your little plot of ground like that. I bet you even dig up the fresh seeds just to see what they’re doing if they don’t grow after the first fifteen minutes you’ve planted them.”

Gasp! How did she know? Was that not the right thing to do?

“Stand up, take a look around. That small patch of land is not your life. This,” she said using grand sweeping gestures with her arms outstretched wide, “is your life. You want to live off everything you produce - one seed in, one vegetable out. Your work, your effort, your payoff. Woman, look around. It’s the delight of allowing and appreciating everything in your world that yields a crop. You have an all-season garden, even if it does not grow straight from this heap of dirt.”

She was getting wound up now. “You are completely ignoring the person who brought you a jar of preserves for the winter, or the wheelbarrow full of zucchini for baking bread.” She was running with my garden-is-life metaphor. “You think the only value comes from something you have directly planted yourself. If you’re nice to this person, then you expect (grrr, there’s that word again) them to be nice back to you in direct equal proportions. There, now your energy equation fits. You give them this, they give you that, a perfect reflection of this energy mirror you keep going on about. Yes, scripture says we reap what we sow, but it doesn’t say we get tit for tat. Ever hear of the idea of paying it forward?”

Her words snapped me out of my funk and similar to the special effects in a movie, my worldview rapidly elongated while I stood still. Trippy. In that instant I saw myself planting and nurturing a seed, but instead of it coming straight up from that square footage of soil I’ve been obsessed with, the roots have gone deep and sprouted up all around me. I’m blessed with towering shady trees, luscious fruit, and a variety of flowers blooming all year long. Hey, I’ve got an all season garden and I didn’t even know it.

I’m giving a shout-out to my sister who transformed my pity party into a bountiful harvest of gratitude. Today, January 28, is coincidentally, her birthday, so everyone join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday.

P.S. - On a gossipy note, she’s currently in Las Vegas celebrating her third wedding to her 2nd, 3rd and 4th husband. I’ve now decided to call her Mrs. Harris the III.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"When the Rubberband Starts to Jam"

I didn’t pay much attention to the first one. Nor the second, third or fourth because my early morning brain had only one thought – me want coffee. By the fifth time in a row, however, I did start to wonder… a single rubber band would be waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Each morning, I’d stare at the thing, shrug and stick it in a drawer. Pretty soon I had enough to make a rubber band ball.

It didn’t stop. Snapped to attention by their materialization on the kitchen counter, I noticed they began to multiply, appearing everywhere. I’d find rubber bands in the shower, on the nightstand table, in the bed, on the washing machine, hanging from a door handle, in the refrigerator! No one in the house claimed responsibility and pretty soon we all were discovering them in the funniest places. The rubber band ball was expanding.

We deduced a most logical explanation: We have a rubber band faerie. Fine, how would you explain it then? As soon as I confided this reasonable theory to a girlfriend, which seemed to make her happy, she also began discovering rubber bands in the unlikeliest places.

Happy Friend, eager to investigate our supernatural hypothesis, asked me what I’d been reading, learning, doing when all of these rubber bands started showing up? Well, come to think of it, I was studying energy, learning how to follow intuition and listening to my gut.

“What do rubber bands represent to you?” she asked. I felt like I should be reclining on a couch while she took notes. “Um, they’re stretchy?”

“What else?” she guided. Fearful I would flunk her mental Rorschach rubber band test and reveal some dark personal secret I didn’t even know I had, I hesitated.

“Prosperity,” she said matter of factly.

Rubber bands equal prosperity?? Uh-oh, I was glad I hadn’t said what I was thinking.

“Why did you say that?” Ah-ha, now it was my turn to ask the deep and probing questions.

“Because you keep finding so many of them.” Duh, didn’t see that one coming. Think woman, what do rubber bands mean symbolically? Hmmm, I already said they were stretchy. Oh, I got one!

“They’re elastic.” I felt smug.

“So you’ve got the image of prosperity and flexibility. Anything else?” Man, how many do I need? In spite of my squirming, an answer sprang to mind. Last June, during a teleconference about listening to Intuition, I took notes. Finding them, I quickly scanned the paper until I saw the words scribbled in the corner, “put a rubber band around your wrist, check in with yourself, snap it to retrain yourself, breathe.”

This discovery led me to reread all the notes from the teleconference and it was precisely the information of which I needed reminding. What I had learned earlier dovetailed with what I was studying now. Synchronicity.

I put a rubber band on my wrist and set the intention to breathe and to listen to my intuition. Not just listen, but follow where it was leading. “Rubber bands represent prosperity, flexibility, breathing and following intuition.” Got it.

The rubber band faerie was so happy.

Now that she had my attention, the sightings increased. Rubber bands continued to be everywhere. When I took a walk, many appeared on the ground. Wherever I went, rubber bands were sure to be. In addition to the frequency, I began to consider if their timing was important? On the alert, I discovered that finding a rubber band was consistently paired with an important statement. They are like exclamation points, italics, or bold font underscoring whatever point I’m meant to grasp.

(I’m going to whisper now.) It was like I was receiving messages. Dee de dee de -- here comes the implied crazy Twilight Zone music.

I casually mentioned this particular little insight to Happy Friend and instead of thinking I was riding the bullet train to Cuckoo Land, she displayed enthusiasm. “Yes, you are receiving messages. God - through the language of the Universe - is communicating with us 24/7 but most of us don’t notice.”

Hmmm, the language of the Universe. Uni-verse. One song. University, advanced place for learning. What is the language of the Universe? My friend had a ready answer. Energy. Life is a mirror, reflecting back to us what we’re putting out there. If we don’t like what we’re getting, change the channel, whistle a new tune.

This thought provoked a recent memory. While at a writer’s meeting, I had the opportunity to hear the author Shannon Applegate speak about inheriting a family cemetery and the book she wrote about the experience called, Living Among Headstones. Intrigued, I read it and found myself taking a trip to Yoncalla, Oregon to walk among those headstones in the Applegate Pioneer Cemetery.

While strolling under the old shady trees, I saw a tombstone simply marked, “Sing a new song unto the Lord.” In that instant, I got it. How tired God must get at times with our incessant complaining. Perhaps one circle of hell is getting stuck in an endless loop of a worn out story. Honestly, I just bore the ca-ca out of myself with my own witless droning. Maybe many of us are boring ourselves to death.

If we don't like what life is reflecting back to us what would happen if we released our stale, musty stories? Since I loathe the results, do I possess the courage to stop telling the constricting stories that “identify” me?

I heard a great quote from Sonia Choquette, “Hearing the music of Spirit is learning to dance with the Divine.”

Hey, I want to understand the music, the languageof Spirit. I want to dance with the Divine. We can replace our song with one that matches the Uni-verse. Eureka! That’s what it means to be “in harmony!” I’ve been walking around this planet out of tune, complaining how bad everybody else sounds.

I’ve gotta get me a new song.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Last Wednesday I wrote about “imposed healing.” Ha, the joke’s on me, because by Thursday morning, my imposed healing had begun. Apparently writing about it invited it in. Well ain’t that a barrel of stinky monkeys.

I woke up refreshed, ready to greet the day and made mistake number one. I opened my email (insert ominous music here). There, fresh as a steaming pile, was an email from a friend that not only threw a monkey wrench into my day, but sent my head spinning as well. The email came out of the blue, left field, or wherever surprising events originate.

I called another friend, not to discuss the contents of the note, but to hear her voice. She teases that her relationship to me is a “minion of God.” But it’s true! Many times in our past, she has delivered powerful information like a lightning bolt straight to the heart of things. Born in the South, she has a wonderful speaking voice and an infectious laugh. No surprise she’s a singer.

She is gifted with the ability to convey the truth with a powerful zing and then just laugh. Needing a shot of her medicine voice, I called up God’s minion. In fact, that’s how I started the conversation. “Hello? Is this God’s little minion?”

She laughed her morning, smoker’s laugh and it sounded as if she’d been asleep? “No, but I’m still in bed, loving my mattress.” Her brand new, luxurious mattress is another story, but it’s safe to say, anybody who’s talked with her recently knows about her fabulous new mattress.

We chatted a few moments and then I confessed that while things in general were going really well, a little poop storm was brewing that I hadn’t seen coming. Now here’s the deal between the two of us, we’ve agreed not to discuss petty details with each other because we’re familiar with the Law of Attraction. In fact, she’s the one who introduced me to the idea in 2005.

I had just returned from New York and we were at her house, let’s say drinking tea, and I was telling her all the ups and downs of the trip, including details about my traveling companions. Instead of reveling in the nasty undertones and gossipy tidbits, she blindsided me with her new philosophy.

“I know why all that happened,” she said.

“You do?” I was all ears. How on earth did she know (sitting in her leather armchair throne in Oregon) what my New York trip was all about?

The minion of God spoke. “It’s because of your point of attraction.”

“My what?” I was trying to play it cool. I’d just been in Manhattan after all, playing with the big girls and boys.

“Everything that happened to you occurred because of your point of attraction, your current vibratory set point.”

She might has well have been speaking high falutin’ gibberish because even though her mouth was moving and sounds were coming out, the words made no sense. Perhaps it was the drool caking in the corner of my mouth or the glazed look in my eyes, but she shifted tactics.

“You do know that everything in this Universe is made up of energy, right? Everything that appears solid is really a dance of vibrating atoms?”

Recalling high school physics, I nodded my head. She continued, “Your thoughts and emotions are no different. Because they vibrate at certain frequencies, the Law of Attraction (like attracts like) is the force behind the join-up.

“The join-up?” I repeat things.

“This phenomenon brings energies together that are in sympathetic vibration to each other. Haven’t you noticed that when you’re in a really bad mood additional frustrating events seem to occur? Or let’s say you’re having an excellent day and doesn’t the whole world seem to smile in your favor? So your point of attraction is your vibrational offering. If you’re angry or insecure, that’s what you are putting out into the world and then other people who are feeling angry or insecure will be a perfect match to you in that moment.”

I quickly flashed on the events and people in New York and saw the truth in what she was telling me. In that moment, instead of feeling like a victim of random people and seemingly unrelated events, I saw how my thoughts precipitated my emotions and how my energy went ahead of me, creating my day-to-day life.

My day-to-day life was about to change. The mental shift that had just taken place jump- started a hunger to learn more, and God’s minion loaded me up with all kinds of listening and reading material. The first suggestion was to stop jabbering to everyone about everything.

“Cold turkey?” I asked, a little bit afraid. She assured me that every time I opened my mouth to complain, I was simply asking the Universe to give me more to complain about. That sounded unpleasant.

I quickly learned how difficult it was to break the addiction of whining and sharing woes. I could rein it in, but the reaction from others was unexpected and disappointing. Turns out expressing dissatisfaction is a currency. Humans love drama and when I stopped using it as a medium of exchange, can you guess what happened? I was no longer in the thick of things, the one to call.

When I asked, “How’s it going?” I heard an enthusiastic recital of complaints. When I altered the question to, “What’s the best thing about your week?” I received a litany of silence. Talking about what is good was not on the forefront of many people’s minds and it equaled boredom.

I persevered anyway and was amazed at the improvement to every area of my life including relationships and finance. Encouraging, what? I practiced that for three years until I was ready to stop complaining to even my closest friends (mostly). I indulged in this new habit for a year, which brings us full circle to my imposed healing last Thursday. Remember the distressing email from a friend?

With God’s minion supine on her legendary mattress, I whined to her that I hadn’t been whining, so where did this poop storm originate? And this is where it gets good. She told me that while I had stopped complaining in general, I had not stopped telling the stories to myself.

“When you stop the drama in your head, then you’re home free.”

All at once, I could see it. What a relief to have this mysterious process reduced to an identifiable journey. While I may have been putting a smiley face Band-Aid on things, I had not yet truly broken my addiction to complaining. Even if I had reduced the impulse, I was manufacturing drama in the head, which in turn, still created a vibrational offering to the world. I now recognized where the poop storm originated.

It was not out of the blue or from left field.

It was from me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Great Imposition

I’ve got a very magnetic personality when I sit down to write. This charisma is potent and arrives without warning and stays suspiciously for the same length of time I’m at the computer. The phone vibrates to life, my doorbell rings, the cat eyes me like a giant stalk of catnip with an uncontrollable urge to use my leg as a scratching post, and laundry that was heretofore folded neatly in drawers spontaneously erupts into perturbed messes, requiring immediate attention.

And if I still manage to write anything during the enchanted mayhem, the magnetism disappears as quickly as it came. I’m back to being myself, with a quiet phone and the cat ignoring me. This has nothing to do with anything, I’m just telling you about my day. Hey, how’s your New Year considering we’re one week into it?

Poised at the tippy top of 2009, much is being said about the ending of the Mayan calendar in 2012. A friend had something to add about this imminent mystery, “Yes, 2012 is verrrry important. It's right after 2011 and right before 2013.” I thought I’d pass that gem along.

And speaking of “along,” I saw a canned soup commercial today that showed a long line of people waiting to sample their newest flavor. It took a nanosecond, but then I realized the words of the ad might be suggesting the taste is worth the wait, but the message and image was that of a soup line. Fear sells, baby. Are we buying?

Last December, the front page of our local newspaper finally announced lowered gas prices, but that delightful news was trumped by headlines of dour sales predictions. Another story below the fold tried to connect a decrease in video poker sales as proof positive of a failing economy, however, when following the words to the next page, the article was really about Oregon’s January 1st smoking ban.

Subsequent articles are reporting about couples staying together for money, not love (they want to divorce, can’t because of finances), and about drinkers who are considering giving up cigarettes because of the recent smoking prohibition in bars.

Pop quiz: What does the Mayan calendar, soup lines, video poker, drinking, smoking and the economy have in common? Imposed healing.

It’s no secret that smoking, drinking and gambling all come with warning labels. I’ve yet to see a crisis hotline for joy, or hear cautionary tales about fulfillment and well being. As creation speeds up and more energy is thrown at humans than at any other time in history, the Universe is also willing to supply tools for the challenge. First fire, then the ice age.

Gambling and smoking go sweetly together, as do drinking and smoking. If they didn’t, tavern owners wouldn’t be frustrated over the new law in fear of losing business. For the couples who want to divorce, but can’t because of escalating mortgages, or for those at risk of financial ruin, the idea of “imposed healing” might be absurd, possibly insulting.

But if you’re not addicted to alcohol, nicotine and the thrill of the payoff, or living in the middle of estrangement and can stand back and witness, it’s interesting to interpret current events as tools for healing.

I cannot speak for everyone, but as an observer of human behavior, I have noticed that people drink, smoke and gamble more when their lives are underscored in pain, not when they are fulfilled. I’ve yet to meet a thriving being, lulled into a trance by the promise of numbness.

When a person is allowed to sit and smoke while drinking and gambling, the payoff in terms of self-soothing is immediate. But when the person is forced to disrupt their drinking or gambling in order to get a nicotine fix, then their pattern is interrupted, the momentary flow gone. This invites the person to break the pairing, for they must stop one to do the other.

In matters of the heart, romantic love is a fairly new idea. For the majority of history, people have had to stay together out of necessity and circumstance. Families needed each other and did not have the option of leaving when things got tough because things were always tough. The tribe’s survival depended on each member’s contribution.

Maybe the downturn in the economy is also an invitation to heal. It’s been said that some of the happiest people on earth are not those with an abundance of riches, but an abundance of relationships. No, I’m not suggesting in the least that poverty is good for the soul, but I am suggesting that if we’re looking, we might discover treasure.

In one possible scenario, a couple who’s not getting along might be forced to live through that awkward and disappointing phase of a relationship when the sexy hormone goes flat, and everything about the other person feels certifiable. A greater bond might be created when people cannot as easily cut and run when things are difficult.

“Death midwives” is a new term being introduced to the mainstream. These are specialists who help next of kin navigate outside the funeral industry’s red tape to host home funerals to save major moolah. While the idea of burying Aunt Martha in the backyard or having Uncle Marvin stretched out on the dining room table might be a tad shocking, I recall reading one of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and coming upon a passage about a funeral scene at home. I was thinking how heartwarming it would be to have that kind of tradition during times of grief. Of course, that was before the “deceased” sprang to life, scaring the behooties out of everybody.

But my point is about getting back to basics. Many of us have never even experienced the basics. Some children don’t know what a home cooked meal is, or had the opportunity to play kick-the-can with other neighborhood kids. It may not be the worst thing to have multi-generations living under one roof, all ages joining in the food prep or hanging out in the “parlor” after dinner playing non-electronic games.

If the 1930’s produced the Great Depression, perhaps this recession might become known as the Great Imposition. Many things about it could feel like an unwelcome burden, but those Impostidors (it’s a play on Conquistadors), such as the new smoking ban, or tighter finances, might just provide the tools for healing and force us to get creative in ways we didn’t know we could. The Great Imposition might also be a giant gift, endowing us with the blessings of community, stronger relationships and a sense of accomplishment that our spirits know we need.