Thursday, October 21, 2021

LOVED TO DEATH

My mother nearly loved me to death.

It took me decades to realize that I had always been living in an atmosphere of extreme scrutiny and evaluation. I often refer to it as “the look.”

“The look” came from my mother. I am clear about that. I am equally clear that I perpetuated and augmented the look as my own internal perspective. I spent a lifetime living in the glare of never good enough evaluation. What I did was never good enough. How I did it was never good enough. What I am was never good enough.

I could not possibly live a fulfilling life from that faulty premise. Certainly not a joyful life. It was an all-pervasive lens. I saw myself and so my world in just that way. Not good enough. I lived in a subtle yet constant wince. Consistent scrutiny and evaluation left me in a state of oppressive torment.

Now, my mother did not set out to torment me or my siblings. I used to believe that was so. I came to know that it was not. Through consistent and persistent self-forgiveness work I came to the definite conclusion that my mother loved me so much that she felt it was her duty to correct everything she perceived was imperfect about me. And she found a lot that was in her estimation imperfect. I was sorely in need of fixing. Even the things I did well could be done better with her advice and counsel. It was like living in the energies of a microscope and a sledgehammer.

This state of perpetual evaluation is how my mother also viewed herself. Having known my grandmother provided added clarity to this realization. My mom saw me the way she saw herself. And the way she saw herself was largely the way her mother saw her. I came to know it as generational torment. I always felt like I was being judged and almost always came up lacking. Criticism was a consistent context. If I could put words to what was never actually articulated they would be “I love you so much that I simply must tell you everything that is wrong about you.”

Thanks?

Ouch.

This is not a missive about disparaging my mother. This is far more a manifesto of freedom from the tyranny of what I took on from her. I perfected it. I ramped it up with decades of practice. I made a home in scrutiny and evaluation. I hung art in this self-imposed hell hotel and almost never left. Whatever endeavors I pursued were done from a draining inner atmosphere of judgment, criticism, evaluation, and condemnation. It is a true wonder that I ever accomplished anything.

I was for a number of years a performing artist. I started as a professional gospel singer and then transitioned into being a musical theatre performer. My mother would frequently attend concerts or shows I was participating in. I have clear memories of seeing my mom in the audience with her head held down. When once I asked her why she never actually watched the performance she told me that she couldn’t because she was terrified that I was going to mess up.

She was terrified that I was going to mess up.

What must that have been like for her?

I gave up the performing arts more than twenty-five years ago and began my current vocation of ministry and spiritual lecturing. It was upon these platforms that I began to discover the subtle scrutiny I had always lived within. Though my mother never attended any of the services or lectures I have given it did not free me of her influence. I began to realize that every group I spoke to either had a woman who was not looking at me, or a woman who had a distinctly distaining look on her face.

There always appeared to be a woman in the audience who was terrified I was going to mess up.

Wow.

This realization began with dread and slowly evolved into almost delight. I would stand to begin my lectures and with no effort I would spot my mother in the audience. I would notice a feeling of scrutiny inside of me. I could sense a level of evaluation. I would notice, sense, yet not be affected by it in what I was doing. No one else knew that while they were listening to me speak of things totally unrelated a liberation was happening for and in me. I was still standing in the glare of my mother, yet I was not being governed by it. As I knew what I was experiencing and where it came from it had no authority over me. I clearly knew that the women out there were not my mother, and I was also clear that the “looks” I was applying to them were coming from me. And even if they were disapproving, I did not have to give them dominion over my expression. It was in my evolving freedom that I found the delight.

I firmly believe that we each have a mostly unconscious love -equation that until we become conscious of it will subtly if not overtly rule our experience. Part of my love equation was that love equals never good enough. Love equals I will tell you what is wrong with you. Love equals judgment, criticism, evaluation. Love equals scrutinizing stare.

Love equals I will love you nearly to death.

There may well be those still reading who might expect that this writing will culminate with a reporting that I am now totally free of the torment of scrutiny and evaluation. That I never, ever live with a sense of the look.

That is not how this missive ends.

It is not freedom from that is my experience. It is freedom with. I still feel wafts of the glare as I go about my days, and particularly my creative endeavors. I feel a level of evaluation every time I lecture, write, express. I still attract disapproving mother figures to my services and groups. And because I am aware of all of this the patterning no longer squelches my expression. I feel a wince, and I write, speak, express anyway. I always have people in my life more than eager to criticize me. Freedom means not that it doesn’t happen. Freedom is that it does not stop me. I survived my precious mother’s scrutiny. I can certainly survive yours.

My mother never knew the lasting influence she had over me. I am grateful that she did not. I would not have wanted for her the pain that would have caused for her. While it at times felt like she was nearly loving me to death she clearly did not. She is gone yet her influence remains and is continuing to evolve. I ponder in this moment if at some level she is reading along while I write. I wonder what she might say about this perhaps strikingly transparent essay. What criticism might she contribute? What observations might she edit out? Or might she be in a place now that would simply relish her son’s free expression?

Having nearly been loved to death has given me a transformed perspective on how I choose to live and to love now. I soften my well-practiced glare into a gaze. My scrutiny into a smile. My evaluations into appreciation. I watch the critic as I choose to express regardless of the feared critiques. It is my inner atmosphere that has changed and continues to change. I change from an awareness that though not perfectly I was indeed loved.

I am living proof that nearly being loved to death is in fact not a mortal wound.

Thanks, mom. You were and are the perfect teacher for me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

MAKING SENSE OF SENSE

It really does not make sense to choose to love after repeated rejections and hurts.

And I am choosing to love anyway.

It really does not make sense to continue to reopen after repeated boundary violations.

And I am choosing to reopen anyway.

It really does not make sense to continue to speak my truth when others shout right over what I am trying to say.

And I am choosing to speak my truth anyway.

Some of the most impactful choices I have made in my life made no sense.

And I made the choices anyway.

I have insurmountable evidence to justify staying closed, silent, and untouchable yet though it may be preceded by a wince I choose to open and to speak and to love anyway.

It truly makes no sense.

I guess maybe I will never learn.

Oh, it takes me longer than most, I guess. Or at least that is what others tell me.

It takes me a while to choose to love again.

It takes me a while to reopen.

It takes me a while to speak up and out.

I indeed have the timing of someone who has been hurt, rejected, silenced.

So, while my timing may not make sense to others it feels right for me.

The point is not how long after a bruising it takes me to reopen.

The point is that I choose to reemerge at all.

The point is that throughout my life I have continued to fall and then to rise.

To be hurt and then to reopen.

To be shouted over, and yet not remain silenced.

It truly does not make sense.

And I am not one prone to making sense of sense.

Nor am I one prone to explaining my senseless choices to others.

No, I have never lived and loved in ways that made sense to the masses.

And I pray I never will.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

THE CURE

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

This may be one of those times.

The likelihood is that the bacterial infection I have spreading in both lungs stems from the open-heart surgery I had in 2019. No one can say with certainty. It does not affect the treatment plan. I guess the mind does seek the resolution that comes from thinking we know the origin of something.

The reality is that I will never know.

The nodules that began in one of my lungs were discovered by accident. My knowledge of the nodules was also given me by accident, a year after they first appeared on a CT scan for something unrelated. It was presented to me as most likely a case of lung cancer. That in fact is not the case. It is an apparently aggressive and hard to treat bacterial infection that has spread now to both lungs. Though measurably spreading it has remained almost completely asymptomatic. I was sent from a pulmonary specialist to an infectious disease doctor. That physician suggested that we wait another six months before deciding when to begin the actual treatment. As an additional CT scan showed continued growth the doctor advised that I needed to begin a fierce regimen of antibiotic therapy that would most likely take a year or more to arrest the infection. He advised that if I did elect to begin treatment it would result in permanent damage to my lungs.

The caveat (one of them) in all of this is that the cure is reportedly much worse than the symptoms I was not actually experiencing. My ID doctor prophesied that when I began treatment I would be cussing him as I would feel much worse as a result of the treatment than I did as an effect of the disease.
,br> Great.

And so, I am in my third week of three different antibiotics taken at three intervals throughout the day. I decided at the onset that I did not have to live into the prognostications of how I would feel as a result of the treatment. I come from a long line of “power-through” survivors. I rarely have side effects from any drug. I began actively blessing the medications from the very first dose. And it truly seemed to be having a beneficial effect.

And then…

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

It started with a slight queasiness that was pretty easy to move through. Then it progressed to a noticeable level of brain fog, followed by what seems to be an increasing experience of fatigue. I had a couple of hours yesterday when I literally was not really able to function.

From asymptomatic to paralyzing reaction, all in the name of cure.

Really.

Let me be clear for those of you still reading that it gives me no satisfaction to report on my physical challenges or the distasteful results of my treatment. While I am aware that I may not be at my best for quite some time I write not to explain or defend that. I write solely in service of what I find to be a meaningful comparison, and in hopes that my transparency may benefit someone else. I do not expect that anyone else will care about my fatigue or more than usual brain fog.

It took me quite a while and more than a little confusion to recognize that in terms of spiritual awakening the cure can seem far worse than the disease.

I did not come to my current path of spirituality asymptomatic of struggle and emotional suffering. I was in a great deal of pain. I was self-medicated. I was drowning in victim consciousness and bound tightly by projection and blame. I was caught in a web of my making, yet I had no clue that it was true. The effects of my life were largely a mess and getting worse.

After a far too brief honeymoon period of surface high the cure began to kick in with shocking intensity.

The cure felt far worse than the disease.

I now know that my primary spiritual practice was about allowing the Love and Light to expose all the causations of what comprised my self-torment. I had lived at the effect of what I did not know I did not know. My own unconsciousness was what was fueling my unskillfulness. I was always looking through my own lens of consciousness and then blaming what I saw for my pain. I tried to treat symptoms without ever going to the cause. I deceived myself into thinking everyone else was the problem, when all the while it was me. My victimhood had gone viral, and I was the only one who didn’t know.

And so, I thought my life was going to be awash in pink and rainbows and flowers and maybe even a few unicorns. I was shocked that I did not realize the prosperity, perfect health, and boundless greatness.

What I got was more of a mess.

By grace I was able to recognize the increasing pain in the context of healing and integration. I was led to the perfect teachers and teachings that let me know the increased messiness was in service of eventual clarity and wisdom. It made the cure bearable, knowing it was part of the healing of the disease. I trusted that if I did not try to power through and avoid what was arising, that a far better way of living was emerging for me, from me.

I knew experientially that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. And I was willing to stick with it.

Did I like it?

No way.

Did I want to change my mind and fall back asleep in unconsciousness?

Yep.

And have I chosen to see it though?

Gratefully, yes, I have.

There are no permanent effects in consciousness. While the body does not always heal consciousness is forever malleable and transformative. Regardless of how long we have identified with erroneous beliefs they can always be changed. Chronic thoughts are both viral and contagious. And they cannot withstand the Light of pure Presence. And that is what healing is all about. Allowing the Light of pure Presence to shine within our Being.

I type these words with a feeling of queasiness in my stomach and more than a little fatigue and fog. I am aware that it is time to take my next dose of antibiotic, the strongest of the day.

Do I feel like taking it?

No.

Do I know that it is in the best interest of my body being cured of this bacterial visitor?

Yes.

My treatment plan is lots of prayer and inner presence, while also complying with the instructions of those way smarter than me about these matters. I have not and will not make this condition an enemy to conquer. I have been told that the drugs have a cumulative effect, and I lean softly into that potential while also not making it a fixed and inescapable reality. While physically I feel far less than well, I am knowing that the cure is indeed in service of my wellness. I love and trust my doctors, and I am choosing to love myself through this unpleasant stretch of road in my adventure in physicality.

Just as was the case and continues to be the case in my spiritual awakening there are many uncomfortable moments in the process. There is pain. There is resistance. And there is clarity. There is insight. There is an overall sense that everything is in service of my becoming.

I am applying the same truth to my current physical reality. I am not pretending I feel well. I am not allowing the symptoms to totally use me. In fact, I am using them as I write these words.

Sometimes it seems that the cure is worse than the disease.

That being said I know that this state of discomfort will pass. I know not when. I choose not to lock into resistance to the symptoms or to how long they last. As long as I need to experience this I will. Fully. Freely. I will continue to do what I need to do and to also apply supreme self-care as I do it.

Queasy. Tired. A bit fogged in. And yet not lost in those symptoms.

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Or at least it seems to be.

I am knowing that this current state of being is in service of my overall sense of becoming. I trust it. I lean into it. I let it be.

Just as with my spiritual awakening this current discomfort is in service of a greater knowing. A greater state of health and wholeness.

Even queasy I am knowing it is so.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

ONLY

This only for the sake of this.

Now only for the sake of now.

Here only for the sake of being here.

What an incredible liberation.

For most of my years everything I planned, thought about, did, achieved was always for the sake of something else.

Education was for the sake of what I would do with it later, when I was finished with school.

Working was for the sake of what I would do with the money, especially after work, on weekends, and on vacation.

Time was generally spent dedicated to ensuring that one day I would have more time to do what I really wanted.

Relationships were largely for the way they made me feel when they were going well. Otherwise, they were for the sake of fixing the way I didn’t like feeling. You were a way of achieving a perceived inner rightness. Unless you made me feel wrong. Relating was indirectly a means to an end. When I didn’t like the relating the interacting would end.

Youth was spent wishing I was older. I perceived that being older meant I would get to do what I wanted. Being older meant freedom.

Being older began at least by wishing I was younger so that I had the stamina and energy to use the freedom I finally obtained by indeed becoming older.

Then I saw how much of my life had really been a means to an end.

And I wept.

The weeping was not to get or be or do something else. I didn’t weep as a prerequisite for some other experience. It was a raw kind of weeping simply for the sake of weeping. Simply for the experience of allowing the tears to clear my eyes and mind of the compulsion to live for “when, then.” Weeping to wash away any notion that there was a better moment than just this moment. That there was a better place to be than actually being here. That there was something better to be doing than what I am doing now. Weeping not for a purpose. Yet in simply allowing the tears a purpose was in fact fulfilled.

I realized my life is not a means to an end.

I also realized my spirit-life was not a process of fixing what was broken. I found that I will never be more spiritual than I am right now. That realization allowed me to really experience it.

I realized awakening was not about changing what I am or how I am wired, programmed, conditioned. I realized that awakening is really just knowing all of those things and being absolutely, completely, unconditionally okay with myself just as I am.

Now.

Not when this happens or that gets fixed or I have more time, money, friends, education, awakening. Not when I am somewhere else with someone else being something different than I currently am.

Now this.

As is.

This only for the sake of this.

Now only for the sake of now.

Here only for the sake of here.

Writing these words only for the sake of writing these words.

My life has radically simplified with the editing of one two letter word.

I have moved from living in “if only.”

To “only.”

No longer if.

Only.

Only.

I am free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

GONE TOO SOON

She is gone too soon.

In saying that I also recognize that I may be attempting to write this too soon.

My friend Bonnie died Saturday evening.

I seek not to soften that reality by using words such as passed, crossed over, or transitioned.

My friend Bonnie died Saturday evening and she died too soon.

She is gone too soon.

I seek not to soften the raw reality of the too soon experience with spiritual by-passes and lofty ideals.

I know that in the Absolute the Essence of the person I knew has gone back into the quantum and lives on as eternal Spirit. I do not need to be reminded of that by those unable to sit with me in this devastating loss. I know that the spirit goes on. I know that at a level the spirit is still here. It is not the spirit that I grieve. It is the person. The spirit is here yet the person, the friend, the wondrous human that was Bonnie is now gone. And it is the person, the friend, the wondrous human that I am just beginning to grieve.

The person, the friend, the wondrous human is gone too soon.

Too damn soon.

My friend Bonnie was really and truly one of a kind. She was a complete original. As authentic as anyone I have ever known. She was real. Really real. Refreshingly real. Probably for some unnervingly real. You did not have to wonder how she felt about something. No pretense. Upfront. Right there. Caring yet unflinching. Tender yet appropriately tough. If it needed to be called out Bonnie called it out. She was all about right and wrong. Not that she decided those factors for others. But what she saw as right and what she saw as wrong she spoke to. Especially in regard to inequality and injustice. Bonnie had a well-defined sense of justice, and she devoted her life to defending and serving what she saw as just. What she saw as equal. What she saw as humane and true. And she did not stop at speaking about it. She put her time, her resource, her energy, and passion into it. Her words and her actions were congruent.

Bonnie was brilliantly smart. Wickedly funny. Fierce. Loyal. Loving. Caring. Compassionate. Honest. Fiery. Faithful. Forgiving.

Forgiving.

The realness of Bonnie was what made her so available to forgiveness. She did not pretend that things were alright when she clearly did not think that they were. She spoke out. She often spoke up to speak out louder until she knew that she was heard. She allowed the fire in her to rise and to flame, and then she let that fire be the light that led her into the avenues of forgiveness and mercy. Bonnie was not afraid to get messy. To be messy. To splash around in the messiness. To invite others into the messiness for the sake of inner clarity. Even when she doggedly thought she was right she was willing to be wrong. It was not ambiguity. It was an assertiveness and bravery to pursue what was true whatever the cost.

Talented, passionate. Articulate and adventurous. Generous and giving. My God, Bonnie was generous in every, every way.

Bonnie was incredibly strong in spirit. And Bonnie was often weak within the flesh. While her health might have slowed her down it never stopped her for long. She would rise again, pursuing her passions and embodying her values. When others would have given up Bonnie chose to give even more.

I write these words with as much clarity and conviction as I have ever put into words: The world is a better place because Bonnie lived.

The world is a better place because Bonnie lived.

Lived.

And my friend Bonnie no longer physically lives.

She is gone too soon.

For all my years of meta-physical knowing I am personally not ready for Bonnie to be gone.

I risk speaking this raw yet relevant truth in a public forum: my heart wants her back.

She is gone too soon, and I want her back.

That is what is true in my heart today.

A mutual friend told me that she was not done with Bonnie. I so get that. I will never be done with Bonnie. Never.

It is too soon for platitudes so please spare me those.

I am sure of a few things in this oh so early stage of engulfing grief:

My friend Bonnie has died, and she is gone too soon.

The world is a better place because my friend Bonnie has lived.

I am a better person because my friend Bonnie was indeed my friend.

I already see ways in which I can be a living memorial to her memory. I can be more authentic, real, compassionate, caring, uncompromising, fiery, feisty, bold, generous, outspoken. I can amp up my game for a more equal and just world. I can go even more deeply into the muddy messiness for the sake of uncovering the something greater.

Bonnie is gone too soon. Yet she lives on and forever in all she gave during the relatively brief tenure of her years. She lives on in the countless people she helped and served. She lives on in her brilliant and accomplished sons. She lives on in her equally incredible husband. The impact she and they have made humbles and inspires me. I love her. I love them. I will always love her. That will never become past tense.

I love you, Bonnie, and you are gone too soon.

Though she was a much better writer than I, I also know she is watching with love as I tearfully fumble with these words. It was, indeed, too soon to write. Yet I needed to begin to express the cascading feelings that are pulsating through me. I needed to say out loud:

She is gone too soon.

I will forever love you, Bonnie.

Forever.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

SPECIAL EDITION: TURN ON YOUR TV

“Turn on your TV.”

I can hear and feel the words as clearly today as I did those twenty years ago.

I remember it as a stunningly beautiful Tuesday morning.

I recall an especially deep, beautiful, profound extended practice.

I remember seeing the rhythmic flashing of my voicemail indicator and literally thinking to myself that whatever this message says I get to meet it from a spacious and freshly awakened place.

“Turn on your TV.”

I fumbled for the TV remote at the same time as I hit redial on my telephone. If there is onea gap in my memory of that September morning experience it is as to whether I heard my friends voice first or whether it was the horrific images I saw. They seemed to and perhaps they did happend simultaneously.

We spoke very few words. We did not need to. I could hear and feel his breathing as if it were my own. To this day I know in fact it was my own. For all of the stunning and traumatizing images we would see it is the shared breath that I so clearly remember. It was the connection of that shared breath that was my sustaining force and stability as I watched our world forever change.

Three ways calling allowed the gathering of we two to become the communion of we three. The shared breathing and almost wordless spaciousness will forever be the context from which I experienced and remember September 11, 2001.

I had no sense of time as we breathed together and allowed the breath to be our prayer. An indescribable gasp from one of us escaped as the first tower began to rumble down to the ground. Was it me who gasped? Was it her? Him? It felt as if it were the gasp of humanity. I believe it was.

“Turn on your TV.”

How could such a perfect, splendid morning have devolved into this? How did my always highly tuned energy system not perceive that something so dastardly was happening until I heard those words:

“Turn on the TV.”

We three prayed our way through the falling of the first tower. Prayed our way through the collapsing of the second. We prayed wordlessly through image after unspeakable image. Replay after remarkable replay. Commentary after narrative after speculation after prognostication. Words, words, words coming out of that TV.

I do not remember how much time elapsed before I quietly yet resolutely said that we must call our community together and share in a collective energy of prayer. I knew that we must face this together as a faith community. I knew that we much turn off the TV and turn on the shared prayer.

As my then Interfaith community was meeting in a private high school we were asked to wait until the parents of the students had collected their children before we met at the facility. By 3:00 that afternoon we were gathered in a circle of sharing, praying, crying, communion. I still feel the rolling dynamics of that time together. I still feel the power of the connection. The heightened emotional intensity, and also the amplified vibrational luminosity. There was an unmistakable triggering of trauma. There was a floundering in how to meet that. What to do with that. How to meet each other in that. And there was a level of support and compassion that we had never had to call upon before. We had never needed each other that much. We had never needed shared prayer that much. We had never needed community that much.

I knew before reaching home from that communal experience that the almost perfect contemplative morning I enjoyed was the context I would need to meet what was going to occur. I needed to be centered, strong, stable to be able to prayerfully lead the community that was in my charge. I would need increased stamina to draw people together in multiple arenas of prayer in my own and in the greater community. I needed to access an abundant Source of energy to do what I knew was mine to do, while also personally and intimately facing the devastation of what had occurred. I know I needed to find a balance between staying informed and saturating myself with replays of unspeakable evil and tragedy.

I met the events of September 11, 2001, within prayer.

I am meeting the twenty-year-old memories of September 11, 2001, within prayer.

While I know there will be much coverage and televising today of those historic images there is no voice within me advising me to turn the TV on. I do not feel called to replays and commentary.

There is, though, an internal voice that is leading me to keep the prayer energy flowing. I am praying with every memory. Praying with every Soul lost. Praying with every survivor. Every hero. Everyone affected by those images. I am hearing and feeling my every breath just as I did on that day.

I have been blessed to visit that hallowed ground that became known as Ground Zero. I have seen the one tower built to replace and I surmise redeem the two. I have prayed at the memorial site. I have read the names and I have cried my tears. I have heard countless times the echoing words of “turn on your TV.”

Today my television is off.

Today my memories are on.

Today my heart is open.

Today my prayer is vital and flowing.

I have grown strong enough since that fateful day to meet my experiences with a transcendent faith that is fueled my prayer. It is not that my faith may not waiver. It is that my faith always returns to center. I always breathe and I faithfully return to prayer. I know firsthand the power of sharing prayer. Especially but not limited to times of trauma and sorrow.

So, every time I see and hear the words “never forget” I know I never will. I will never forget those images. The suffering and the loss. The towers falling and the spirits rising. I will never forget how I chose to meet those events. With whom I chose to meet those events. What we contributed together as we met those events.

“Turn on your TV.”

Those words ushered in a whole new reality for me. And I, like our world, have never been the same.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

THIS IS IT

From my earliest recollections I knew this could not be it.

When I say I knew this could not be it the “it” I am referring to is the world I was being handed and interpreted by my then authority figures. Reality as it was being described and explained made no sense to me what-so-ever.

No sense what-so-ever.

I had a dream when I was six or seven that an Indian chief came and kidnapped me from my bed and carried me a long distance, laying me face down on a desert of very hot sand. Though I had been carried quite a distance I could faintly see the outline of my family in the direction from which I had been carried. It was more a revelation than it was a dream. I can still to this day feel every aspect of it. The huge hands around my waist. The sensation of the chief running and carrying me. The heat of the sand. The looking back. Way back.

I awoke with a start and with a deep knowing that I would never fit within my tribal system again.

And I never did or have.

I have had a similar sense of prayer and praying my entire life. I have always suspected that this could not be it. That the religious exercise that I was taught was as anemic as it was unfulfilling. And it was as ineffective as it was unfulfilling.

The ways of praying that I was taught as a child were left behind me when I was carried away to what I now know is a desert of greater possibility. The prayer of my tribal system was mental, bargaining, pleading, outlining, and downright arrogant. I was told inadvertently to describe my problems in detail to an up and out God, and then tell “him” how and when to fix them. I remember the sensation of squeezing shut both my hands and my eyes for greater emphasis. I also recall it feeling vague and vastly empty. The old praying “to-for” was dissonant from an early age.

I knew this could not be it.

That Indian chief carried me away to a place I now know I was born to dwell.

It was never about rejecting my “tribe.” I am clearer than ever that my family and culture were the perfect container for my Soul-unfoldment. I also know I needed to move far beyond yet in sight of those systems. The contrast was and remains highly useful. That includes the religious tradition I was born into. While I see and experience it in radically different ways at this point in my journey there is nothing adversarial in how I view it. I needed it then. I transcended it by including it. Archetypically it is still highly useful.

And I knew it could not be it.

I am grateful to report that while I discovered that there is indeed far more to life than what I was taught I do not reside in a fixed state that thinks I somehow now know. I am blessed to live within an openness regarding an ongoing evolution in perspective and in prayer. I remain curious and permeable. I do not fear the possibility that one night while asleep an Indian chief will once again pick me up and carry me further from the tribe and the culture that I now inhabit. I not only do not fear it. I welcome it.

Praying for me is no longer mental. It is void of bargaining, pleading, and outlining. If there is some sense of arrogance left, I am not aware of it.

Praying for me now is felt, intimate, uncontrolled, and vital. I have a far greater sense that prayer is happening in me than I do that I am somehow managing a process. I engage in praying by keeping my non-negotiable appointments with my “prayer-chair.” I drop into my heart. I breathe, I align, I attune, and I come into entrainment with the frequency of my Source. I not only do not tell “God” my problems or how I think they should be fixed. I do not tell “God” anything. I simply steep. I simmer. I let be.

I simply steep, simmer, and let be.

Nary a word. An indescribable state of expectancy. Variable yet also stable. I seek to change nothing about it or me. I simply show up and let prayer happen.

Vastly different from the prayers of my initial experience. Different, even blasphemous, I guess. Yet also deliciously intimate. Moving.

I guess you could say that long ago I got carried away. And it is still happening.

And while there remains room and openness to go deeper, I know that my Indian chief took me to where I was meant to be. Where I was meant to abide. Where I am meant to dwell.

There is finally a place within me that prays and knows beyond knowing that this is it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

THIS ONE'S FOR ME

Every talk I have ever given and every word I have ever written is ultimately for me. I simply invite others to eavesdrop and pray it is somehow of service.

This is certainly no exception.

I recognize that even as I share the framing by way of introduction that this particular reflection may well have an extremely limited audience. It may well only benefit one reader if even that. It has, however, been a profoundly impactful realization for me. I have never heard anyone else share of a similar perspective. I do not need any comradery to validate its transformative effects for me. And I do not need or expect agreement or affirmation to make it worth writing about. It continues to gain importance for me, and so I write of it in appreciation of what it has revealed to me about me and about the power of choice.

And so, this one’s for me.

For decades now I have had the experience of meeting someone new and instantly having a sense of a Soul appointment being kept. In some cases, there has been a strong sense that we had done an incarnational dance before. In every case I knew that there were lessons to be learned beyond just the physical realities of our joining. This has been a gift even when it seemed to feel like a curse. Some of the unions were of a very pleasurable nature. Some of these appointments carried with them an extreme level of torment. No matter how they unfolded or the duration of the proximity they came with a deep and unwavering sense that there was something far greater going on. I knew the meeting carried with it a huge possibility for my growth.

There have been rarer cases in more recent decades when I met someone and knew specifically that there was a very real potential of hurt and betrayal inherent in the joining. The meeting and the hearing of the name was impregnated with a strong sense of “uh-oh.” I met these few individuals and immediately had an urge to run. Equal to that flee-impulse was a sense I was meant to stay. I was certain of it.

The karmic implications of this are beyond obvious to me and most likely to you. They are also beyond the scope of this writing. The point that I am attempting to make is that impending doom is not always a signpost to disconnect. In these rare yet important appointments I somehow knew that there was a strong possibility that at some point I would be thrown under a bus. That I would end up as collateral damage to someone else’s ego agenda. I knew that if and when push came to shove that I would be the one to bear the brunt of the force. I knew not when. Yet I knew it was likely to happen.

And yet I felt compelled to stay.

I learned fairly early on in these relationships that what was said to me was not what was said about me. The dissonance between the words and the energy was unmistakable. Yet equally unmistakable was, whether or not my suspicions were actually born out, I was the one to learn from the incongruities in the relating. I knew that there were patterns to be resolved in my ability to remain and to choose to remain open. I knew that I was in the particular unions to support and to uplift, whether or not that was ever reciprocal. I was the one being called to develop increased stability and self-referral. I was the one being called to be what I was being called to be, whatever the choices of the other turned out to be. The coming together formed a chrysalis from which I was meant to soar.

Let me be very clear at this point, about this point: I have developed a clear and strong sense of boundaries over the years. I do not allow myself to be victimized, abused, or bullied. That is not what I am talking about. Anyone that knows me at all knows I am no pushover. I would not remain in an abusive or disrespecting relationship just to learn a lesson.

What I am seeking to share with you is that I now have direct evidence that leaving, disconnecting, or distancing is not the only option, even when you realize that others have ulterior motives. These are mostly relationships when I was in a position to actively support, uplift, and in some cases mentor others. I did so even while suspecting that regardless of how sincere my efforts were that there was a strong potential that it would somehow be turned against me. And yet I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew that I would become more even if the other person somehow treated me as less. I knew that if I let myself be drawn into condemnation and retaliation that I would be the one to drown in them. I knew from the get-go the potential for pain. And I did not let it impact how I showed up in my relating.

This perspective is characterized and crystalized by the fact that I am in no way sorry for continuing to take what I saw as the high road in my relating. I am not sorry I did what I did. I am not sorry I gave what I gave. I am not sorry for the pain and betrayal. I was not sorry even while looking out from under the wheels of the bus. This is not masochism. It is not glorified victimhood. It is a deep appreciation that I recognized the bigger picture, the larger enrollment. I was clear about what my part was. I recognized the risks, and I took it. I need nor do I expect any apology. I am not sorry, nor do I demand that the other be. This was a rare and radical appointment. These appointments were to resolve aspects of my own energy patterns, and to propel me into greater and less attached forms of service. I could never capture in words the depth of my gratitude in realizing what these lessons were really about.

If I could sum this up in one statement it would sound something like “I know you speak ill of me behind my back, yet I am not turning it on you.”

Suspicions. Suspicions recognized. Suspicions realized. Suspicions transformed. You showed up as less than you are. Yet I did not become less as a result.

I am thankful to know experientially that other’s agendas truly have nothing to do with me. They have nothing to do with me unless I choose to react to them in ways that make me less of who I am.

I am responsible only for how I show up and relate. I have really only learned this lesson via my critics and detractors. I learned from those who met me with pretense and offered me the underappreciated gift of offence. Those who said one thing to me, and something very different about me. Denial and betrayal are essential elements in my journey of transcendence. In MY journey. They form the container in which I am to choose forgiveness and freedom. I am who I am not only because of those who and have loved and affirmed me. I am who I am more because of those who gave me the chance to love and affirm them regardless of how they treated me.

Part of why I write is to clarify my perspectives by putting them on a screen where I may view, edit, explore, and see them in front of me. By seeing it in front of me I know it is not me. In that knowing I am the one who becomes free.

Another part of why I write is the hope that my often cumbersome, messy, and frequently painful lessons learned will benefit another Soul along the way. That perhaps my floundering meanderings will strike a chord for someone else desiring the freedom I am so drawn to. Freedom is always about the ability to choose how I relate. Not how others relate to me. How I choose to relate. And that is what this piece is all about.

So, while I repeat that I do not perceive this to be a common perspective I do relish my persistence in choosing to write and share it. And it just might touch someone else who has yet to clearly identify this dynamic in action. I do hope so.

And with that being said…this one’s for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

WHAT DO I NEED?

A subtle, somehow surprising, yet very distinct voice rose up within me.

“What do you need?”

I was stunned.

I was engaged in completing a mundane task, not feeling anything in particular.

“What do you need?”

I stopped what I was doing. I listened with fascination as the question repeated in my inner-being. Right behind the words came a deep sense that what I really needed in that moment was to weep.

I did not need to weep about anything specific. As I said, I had been completing a mundane task and was not aware of feeling anything in particular. There was no glaring problem. No emotional constriction. Upon closer inquiry the impulse to weep was in response to how infrequently I stop to ask myself that question.

“What do you need?”

It is commonplace in our culture to ask about wants. It is not only commonplace, but also encouraged. It is applauded. While there is nothing at all wrong with the human tendency to want, I also find that wants can act as comfort blankets to the less explored deeper needs. If I do not address my needs, I can distract myself with a list of wants. Wants tend to be more about surface experience. Needs go to more of an inner- depth dimension. If I do not get my needs met, I can assuage the aching feeling in my heart by filling the hole with wants. I know from personal experience that attempting to fill the emptiness of unfulfilled needs with surface and often material wants is short-lived at best. The emptiness is still there. The want is a temporary distraction that fades quickly, only to be followed by yet another want. The less my needs are attended to the more wants I have.

In some ways I have waited a lifetime for someone to ask me what I need. I did not fully realize, I guess, that the someone I needed to ask was me.

And so now I am asking.

What do I need?

I ask. I wait. I listen. I respond. I ask again. I question the question. I do so patiently, compassionately, spaciously. It is awkward. It is pitchy. It is unfamiliar. I realize how that level of inquiry was never modeled. I equally realize how often I have sincerely asked the question of others. I am vitally interested in what others may need. I see more often than not that most people never ask themselves that simple yet quantum question.

What do I need?

It is a question that is only born of a deep and unflinching caring. It is a question that is born from a place that is not afraid of hearing the answer. It is a question that will frequently invoke an impulse to weep. The weeping is not directly related to a specific sadness. It is related to the fact that it took so long to finally ask. Tears of relief come spilling forth. There is a mirroring of disbelief that so much subtle pain has been endured without a deep dive into what was causing it. Such a lack of deep, sustained caring and attention.

How often I have listened to people lament that their needs were going unmet. Yet I rarely hear or sense a deep knowing of exactly what those needs are. I rarely hear that those same people have asked themselves for what they need. There is an expectation that those close to us should somehow know what we need and then fulfill them. Yet we ourselves infrequently even know what our needs are. So how could anyone else know? And if we are not clear about what our needs are, and cannot ask for them to be met, how can we expect that there will ever be a chance for fulfillment?

And that perspective points to the core of the challenge.

We do not ask ourselves what we need. We do not ask others for what we need. We disguise our deeper needs with a never-ending parade of illusory wants.

Why?

Because we are so afraid that we will expose our needs and that they still will not be met. And then the exposure and denial can feel crushing.

Disappointment.

I risked asking for what I need, and you in some way said no. As I feared would happen. As I somehow suspected would happen. You said no to the deepest part of me. And now I am left with disappointment. And the disappointment feels unbearable.

I had a long history of never asking for what I need, even from those closest to me. This was a direct result of my equally long history of suppressing my needs. When I did uncover them, I would ask for fulfillment from people who had not yet earned the right into my deeper recesses. I asked people to fulfill needs that they simply were not interested in. These were people who had no clue what their own needs were, and so were not versed in the intimate language or the openness that is necessary. I am now clear that it was my own disconnection from my needs that drew me to people who had no ability to connect to me and to what was seeking a deeper level of attention. I was unconsciously longing for someone to ask me what I needed when I myself never made that inquiry. And avoiding disappointment led me to exactly that: disappointment.

I now see and feel the vital importance of frequently asking myself what it is that I need. I relinquish the expectation that it is the function of others to meet my needs, even as I open more fully to that possibility. Connection is a hardwired human need. As someone that is fiercely independent, I dance with varying levels of connection, and the challenges and hurts that can come with it. I watch and feel my relationship to the inevitable experience of disappointment. I am better at not letting the fear of disappointment keep me closed and unable to speak and let my needs be known. I am far more skillful at recognizing who is and who is not capable of the intimacy that needs sharing requires. And this is all made easier by the courageous and primary question I have learned to ask myself.

What do I need?

I have developed a greater capacity to risk speaking needs based on the fact that I have increased the certainty that I will meet my own. I ask what I need, and then I go about meeting those needs. The process has taught me that in actuality the more I meet my needs the less I expect fulfillment from others. And the more needs I meet the less wants I seem to have.

And so, dear reader: What do you need?

Will you dare to ask?

I pray that you will. It is a question so worth the daring it requires.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I am indeed finding out what it means to me.

I was taught as a child to respect my elders.

I was taught as a child to honor my mother and father.

I was taught as a child to honor and to respect all authority figures.

I am finding out as a late-season adult how little I was taught about what that really meant.

Respect as a concept has very little power. Being told to respect my elders, my mother and my father, and all authority figures does not take into consideration the factor that often times those very same people behave in ways that are not respectable.

I was not taught as a child that respect has to be earned.

As much as I sometimes resist the notion, I am now an elder. I am in a vocation that places me in a position of some authority. I will never be a parent, yet vocationally there are people who think of me as “father.” None of those factors in any way entitles me to respect. The only way for me to be respected is for me to live respectably. To engage in respectful activities and to treat others in respectable ways.

And I most certainly need to develop beyond concept a sense of respect for myself.

I was not taught that as a child either.

In an age of social media, it is easy to see a multitude of examples of disrespect every single day. People post disrespectfully and other people react disrespectfully. It goes far beyond elders, parents, or authority figures. We seem to have lost a sense of what it means to treat others with respect and dignity simply because they are fellow human beings. Now let me be clear; I see and hear things everyday that I do not respect. I am increasingly mindful of this, especially via choices that are being made during a time of global pandemic. I am learning that even having been reared with a sense that I should respect I have never given respect a great deal of consideration. I have not really seen through that lens. I have not stopped to ask myself who and what I respect, or even if I am concerned whether or not people respect me.

And now I do.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I am finding out what it means to me.

This deeper discovery is mostly happening via the direct experience of what I do not respect.

There are people that I deeply care about that have and are engaging in behaviors and choices that I simply do not respect. You can, of course, perceive that as you will. I am deeply grateful for the awareness as it is showing me that respect is a personal value that I was not really in touch with. In a number of cases there have been previously indiscernible dissonances about people that I could not clearly identify. Something was somehow off. I knew I guess that there was a backstory behind the words and the professed veneer. I just could not quite bring it into focus. In many cases I did not want to.

And now in an age of social media happening during a context of Covid I am gaining clarity about what the backstories have been.

Now I am left to dance between attitudes and behaviors that I do not respect, and how I can develop a caring and compassionate relationship that allows me to meet what I do not respect in respectable ways. How I can continue to care about people that in some ways I have lost respect for.

I am finding out that it ain’t easy, kids.

Much of this for me is directly related to what I view as a common responsibility to our shared humanity. I am observing choices that seem to me to be selfish and self-serving. I am finding that I have enormous respect for people who make choices based not only on personal preference, gain, and interest. Choices that are made for the greater good inspire and move me. It reaffirms how much I want to make those kinds of choices. I want to live and to contribute to a world that is not only about me. I have learned how gratifying it is to live and to serve beyond what I think I want to do. Those choices are what form a foundation from which I can live in self-respect, whether or not anyone else acknowledges or respects me for them.

When the Covid lockdown began I sat, and I had a real and deep conversation with myself. It was prayerful. It was determined. It was honest and yet it was accepting. I did not want to go through this experience without becoming more. I did not want to waste time or to deaden or distract myself. I wanted to use the time of distancing to deepen. To become clearer about what I truly am and why I am on this planet at this time. I wanted to contribute to the greater good of life. I devoted myself to challenging every personal preference, asking whether or not it was self-serving or Source amplifying.

I have not shown up perfectly during this time. Far from it. And having said that I am growing clearer about one thing that truly means the world to me.

I respect how I have spent this time.

I continue to dance with the awareness I have gleaned regarding people I thought I knew and clearly did not. Or maybe it is just that that I have now seen aspects of people that I did not know were there. I rumble with other choices that I simply do not respect. I grapple with the distinctions between attitudes, behaviors, choices, and the depth of who people really are. Most of you know me well enough to know that I will not pink paint over what I have learned. I will personally acknowledge that I have and am watching choices that I simply do not respect. I have learned things that I frankly wish I did not know. And I am determined to honor and to respect and to dignify people beyond what I may view as unconscious choices. If I do not, I will not be able to maintain respect for how I choose to relate. I have learned that respect is in fact an important value for me. And I have also learned that dehumanizing others is not.

I am learning how much I want to live a respectable life. I am leaning that self-respect and respect for others is inextricably connected. I am even learning that I cannot ultimately be disrespected when I am maintaining a sense of self-respect. That is gold, my friends. Pure gold.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

A great song. A soon to be released movie about a woman I still have enormous respect for. And beyond those things there is an invaluable lesson I am so grateful to learn.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I am finally finding out what it means to me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

We are definitely on each other’s nerves.

Have you noticed?

I am in what I consider to be a unique and very blessed position in life. Being in a serving vocation is an honor and a privilege that humbles me daily. While most think of me primarily as a platform speaker that is for me the least important function of what I am grateful to do. Many if not most people keep me somewhat at bay in terms of their deeper experiences. That is one of the drawbacks that comes from platform work. It is exacerbated in these times by the fact that I am speaking to far more people virtually than I am in person. There is also the human tendency to want to appear that everything is good, and if not, that we can at least deal with it all with composure and unflappability. I find this especially prevalent in New Thought spiritual circles. I think of this as maintaining the “church face.” While I am not here to judge this dynamic, I also know it does not lead to integration and healing. Pretense is, well, pretense.

There are also courageous souls who, when asked, will share with me what is really going on for them. And in these turbulent times that is, generally speaking, quite a lot.

What is happening in our world and between each other is getting on our nerves. And some of us are really taking notice.

While I do not consume large quantities of media, I have seen several reports of public eruptions in restaurants, on airplanes, and in numerous public settings. These are being called unprecedented incidents. Many are rude at best and violent at worst. Seeing the footage is for me shocking for sure. And yet is also understandable.

We are on each other’s nerves because we have not attended to our own.

The collective shadow is presenting itself in record ways. We are seeing the result of decades if not centuries of suppression and denial. We have not to any large degree committed to doing our individual grief and trauma work. It has festered and augmented, and the lid is blowing off. Our deep grief has become a volcanic rage. What might have been attended to while it was manageable is now explosive and disproportionate to the inciting incidents. It will only be denied for so long, and the gig is up.

Pass the salt can get you killed.

Projection and blame seem to place the internal pain out and away from where it really lives- inside our own hurting hearts. Displacing it is a momentary and ineffective fix. Screaming at a slow waiter or verbally pummeling a flight attendant does nothing to address the pain and emotional anguish that is the effect of years of internal neglect. While others may trigger us there must be a button within us to push. The less inner work we have done the more velocity there will be when the wall breaks and the dam bursts. Some of the scariest people I know have pasted smiles and affirmative slogans. The smiles are waning, and the affirmations are shrieking. If we all do not get real soon this current crisis can only get worse. More erratic and more explosive. More virulent and more violent. Service workers may soon be wearing bullet proof vests.

Oh, we are definitely on each other’s nerves.

So, friends, there is still a pandemic.

There is ideology identification and extreme political division.

There is racial inequality and dehumanizing legislations.

There is extreme poverty and inequality.

These are just some of the things we are facing in our world. There is collective disturbance and division at perhaps record levels. We are disconnected from our selves and from each other.

Then layer on top of that collective trauma the personal losses, hurts, disappointments. Is it any wonder that levels of depression are at an all-time high? We need to be connected to our own pain, and then have a place to share it directly and honestly. To come out of hiding, at least to someone who will listen, see, hear, hold, empathize and embrace us with our struggle. Someone who will not try and fix or correct us. Someone who has earned the right to our more intimate inner spaces. These people are rare. Rare and precious. When we have no place to express what is happening for us the alternatives are to become depressed, or to express in rageful and inappropriate ways.

The alternative is to blame who and what seems to be triggering our last nerve. And this is what we are seeing. And what definitely is not working.

I am writing this missive for those who are struggling and know they are struggling.

I write this for those who may be disturbed, depressed, and even despairing.

I write this as my perhaps feeble way to tell you it is okay to feel those things. It’s a chaotic, disturbed, and aching world. There is a lot of pain, tragedy, inequality. The fact that you are hurting is proof perfect of your humanity. Of your sensitivity to our shared experience. When you are living in a container such as ours, and then personal challenges are added to the mix it is hard. It is damn hard. And it is not insurmountable.

Our collective mental health is at stake. And there is a direct and inseparable connection between our mental health and our spiritual resources and resilience.

These times are undeniably taxing. Pushing away the pain only leads to more projection. More projections ultimately lead to more eruptions. Leaning into the pain will lead to integration and transformation. And this deep level individual healing will slowly and surely alchemize the collective pain and generational trauma.

It is possible to feel the pain while you pray. In fact, this is deep, intimate, transformative prayer.

It is possible to lean into the pain and not get lost. Leaning into the experience lets you know that you are the one that is leaning in. You are not the pain.

It is possible to navigate a mine-filled world and maintain your own sense of autonomy. Watch where you step. Sense the energy around you. Pause before reacting. And proceed with caution.
,br> We are on each other’s nerves.

Notice. And proceed with caution.

And ask for help. For the sake of all of us ask for help. Stoicism is highly over-rated.

And know that I am here. I spend an hour a week on that platform. It leaves me plenty of time and lots of space to join you in your heart.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

PUSHING THROUGH

I am not a fan of pushing through.

I know firsthand the resulting pain

I was taught to push through as a way of relating to life and to its circumstances. It was an invariable modus operandi for sure. Whatever was happening, just push through. There was nothing that could not be shoved aside if you only pushed hard enough. Persistently push, ignore the pain, and do it with a smile upon your face.

I was not, however, taught what to do when you simply had no more push left inside.

As I watch with so much of the world the painful journey of Simone Biles I do so with great empathy and admiration. I will never know the kind of pressure this young woman is experiencing. I have not been and never will be on such a worldwide stage. As she describes the pressure of feeling as if the weight of the world is on her shoulders, I can only connect to how that has felt at the level of my own experience. I am no Olympian. I possess no skills or talents that would compare to what this phenomenon is capable of demonstrating. I have repeatedly watched her in complete wonder. I clearly remember feeling deeply for her when the 2020 games were postponed due to Covid. I selfishly hoped she would make the choice to continue on when the games were finally allowed to be held. I read of her misgivings, and yet I wanted her to be the overcomer I perhaps perceived I would never be.

I guess I unconsciously wanted her to push through when I myself had learned that the force-against strategy was not always for the best.

I am sorry, Simone.

You see, I was taught that pushing through no matter what was an outward sign of inner strength.

I thought I had learned that the forcing-dynamic was a fallacy that most often resulted in pain and thwarted intentions. And in fairness to myself, I have learned it to a level. Yet watching and listening to Biles not only withdraw herself from what she gleaned would be a dangerous level of force but also publicly articulate why she was doing so opened a whole new level of awareness for me. I have learned to listen within and to know when pushing would be painful and even hazardous to myself. I have not been so good at openly saying why I am doing so.

If any of us doubt the depth of the remaining stigma regarding mental health issues this is a perfect demonstration of it in real time.

The fact that Ms. Biles would state that her reason for withdrawing from the group finals was her present mental state is simply stunning. It is bravery at its best. It is only augmented by the association she made between her mental and physical states. She refused to betray herself regardless of the pushback she knew she would receive. At age 24 she demonstrated the wisdom that gave way to knowing that if she pushed through her mental dissonance, it would likely result in physical injury. This is courage. This is self-compassion at Olympic levels.

Simply breathtaking.

I of course have no way of knowing what familial programming has informed the life and expression of Simone Biles. I can watch and see an incredible amount of discipline, drive, and commitment. Those are not foreign to my own life experience, though they have clearly been demonstrated in very different ways. What was clearly on display this week, however, is the distinction between discipline and a blind level of drive. What I saw was the discernment to not let commitment become injurious control. A dedication to being whole is more important than compartmentalizing in the name of performance. If she never performs another routine, she has stayed true to herself. For that I give her a gold medal. And a heaping dose of gratitude.

It is seductive in our culture to think that pushing through at any cost is a virtue. Taking the bull by the horns is admired far more than staying out of the ring. And I fully prescribe to the fact that there is a balance to be struck. But most of the suffering and exhaustion I have experienced in my life is because I have applied pushing through when in fact I needed to pause and let be. Non-doing is not admirable in our world today. We are a people who are driven to make it happen. Doingness bias is epidemic. Our minds are constantly busy, and so it is reflected in our activities. We are troubled, and we do not want to stop and simply admit that it is so. We go on pushing, and the mental-emotional toll is enormous. And it is then reflected in our bodies.

I have found myself caught in the tendency to try and push through this time of pandemic distancing. I have watched myself dog myself in terms of questioning whether I am doing enough to serve during this time. And I am grateful to at least be at a place in consciousness that knows I am watching. I am surrounded by people who employ the keep doing more strategy. “It’s not working so do more of it”. As I type the words, I clearly see the insanity of it. Yet in my desire to serve I can easily get caught in the spin and in the push. Even with personal tragedy occurring I can get kidnapped in the pushing through mentality. And the pushing through mentality is simply not good mental health. The illusion is that the push reduces the pain. I assure you that it is indeed an illusion. Anything you push against will always push back.

After decades of pushing through I personally am all about deeper listening, discernment, and inspired ease. I am daily checking in with my current mental health state. I attend to my Spiritual health by non-negotiable meditation, prayer, and presencing. When I find myself pushing, I trace back to what is behind it. I feel into my body, exploring how my mental state is being reflected in my physicality. I question what is driving me, and if it will result in what is highest and best for me. I do this knowing that what is highest and best for me will be what is highest and best for all.

I am grateful to not have the eyes of the world upon me. I am grateful to have no more mountains to climb or achievements to strive for. I am not out to win any medals. I am content to watch those who can and often do.

And I am deeply appreciative of one young woman who knew when to step back from the pushing through. Who gave us all an incredible example of courage, authenticity, and wisdom.

I thought at the beginning of the games that Simone Biles would be the biggest winner of them all. And indeed, for me, she already is.

Yet another example of why I am not a fan of pushing through.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE

I am going to take a risk here.

Some of you know that taking risks is standard operating procedure for me. I am not certain when that happened or what caused it to be so. I only know that something shifted within me that made speaking my truth less scary and painful than withholding stating what is real for me in fear of criticism or rejection. I am clear that if what feels to me like a risky and courageous choice to share can touch one heart then it is well worth the potential evaluations of those who might prefer that I express less boldly.

Disclaimer made.

I am going to take a risk here.

This thing that most people call God is only as good as is our own internal atmosphere.

If you reclaim the predominant off-planet God of theology, there is nothing out there to get to. Behind and beyond and interiorly the “we made God in our image” is a Universal All-Intelligence that is seeking to be a known as an intimate reality within our very being. It already is our very breath, the beating of our hearts, and our always occurring cell division. It is an Ever-present Intelligence and an all-pervading love. And the myths we have held about It compels us to put it up and out, at the expense of the down and within.

I have become clear personally that the God is love descriptive of my Evangelical upbringing was unconsciously obliterated by the hell and damnation meted out by the same being that was touted as Love. I was terrified even as I parroted how much I loved the God is love super-guy. I was “saved by the blood” yet always thought that I would be next. It didn’t matter what I was told at the level of the mind. In my heart I felt unworthy, unlovable, and unredeemable.

Did I mention I was taking a risk?

Part of my religious upbringing included the classification of all the other people who were to be feared, rejected, pitied, or at least proselytized. Those poor suckers would surely burn in hell, cast there by this same God of love.

What?

Though theoretically I was among the saved that fact did not save me from a barely below the surface self-loathing. I knew I was among other things an abomination. A mistake of nature. I was a study in contradictions. I was imperfect. Based on my parenting, schooling, and religious studies I was very, very imperfect. I lived in an internal world of scrutiny, evaluation, and self-rejection.

That was my predominant inner atmosphere.

I found after decades of self-abuse and shadow boxing that you cannot have any real sense of a loving God while hating yourself.

And I really did hate myself.

It became clear to me that for longer than I like to admit my spirituality actually made me feel worse about myself. I lived in constant examination. I constantly compared myself to my spiritual heroes. Long after I had moved on from the religion of my upbringing, I was regularly nailing myself to the cross of my own assessments. My inner atmosphere was numb at best and turbulent at worse.

I began to discover that esteem is an essential part of any authentic spiritual awakening.

We live in a culture that almost reveres neuroses. We are at a point in our evolution when we can easily be obsessed with self-examination. We talk and even obsess about our issues. In at least American culture it is rare to find people who feel genuinely good about themselves, exactly as they are. If you doubt this go to the self-help section of any bookstore or eavesdrop at any coffee shop. And there are groups for just about everything imaginable.

I did not need a group. I needed a new God.

If God is indeed love, then it must be known as self-love and self-esteem. Otherwise, it is merely theory. I had to take the ultimate risk of reopening my wounded self to begin to let this mysterious Source in. Not intellectually. Vibrationally. Emotionally. I had to move through the traumatic love-equation that was holding me captive. I had to begin to loosen the armor, piece by piece. I had to put down the shield. Take off the mask. I had to challenge my self-definitions if there was to be any chance of a Sourced definition. The redefining was a radical refining. And it was indeed sorely needed.

It was scary. It was hard. At times it is still hard. The habitual self-evaluation is an addiction that is hard to break. I remain imperfect, just as I was told. Though in not all of the ways I was told. I am indeed imperfect, and yet I am lovable. That was the part that got left out. Or at least obscured by other contrary messages.

My esteem is not based on what I do. It is based on what I am. It does not claim perfection. It is, however, an opening for that which is perfect to flow through as wisdom, compassion, comfort, and love. I had not known those qualities. Not really. Not unconditionally. Now they comprise the inner atmosphere I most often dwell in.

Discovering that I lived in a state of true atmospheric pressure has changed my living in a real and deep way. Facing my own self loathing has loosened the grip of it. My inquiry into what is real and true within my own heart has made space for something softer, truer, more intimate, and vital to move within me. It initially felt scary. It felt risky for sure. And it has been beyond worth the risk.

As is putting this into words. If one person can sense a familiarity with what I am sharing, and it moves you to look more deeply into yourself and to your own inner atmosphere, it is so worth the risk. A loving inner atmosphere is everything! It is living in the climate of God Itself. When we are awake in Source, we feel the Love. We feel the connection to what never evaluates or berates. It is an embrace that invites us to soften into It.

Moving from self-loathing to self-loving is the greatest of miracles. To move from atmospheric pressure to atmospheric presence is the greatest of gifts. Coming to know our Essence is the basis of true esteem. It is not theology. It is reality.

And I just had to take to take the risk that for me it is so.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

DEMYSTIFYING THE MYSTICAL

Surely it is time that we demystify the mystical.

As I begin to compose this missive by titling it I do so with a recognition that most of my readers do not dwell upon the reality of mysticism per se. Mysticism within the collective consciousness is, well, too mystifying to contemplate. We have relegated it to be the experience of historical exceptions. A few beings, mostly who lived in far off prior centuries, were granted access to a level of consciousness that the rest of us scarcely aspire to. These beings were privy to something that remains remote to most living in current times. Mysticism was the domain of the theological elite.

And I think that is where most people want it to stay.

If we could summon the courage to demystify mysticism we could transform reality in a nano-second.

Mysticism loosely defined is the direct experience of what most people call God. It is spoken of in hushed tones when spoken of at all. Most exemplars that are referenced are from Christian origins. There are exceptions. But when naming such examples Christian saints will arise most readily. Many priests and nuns. This is one area in which women are granted status though they had little authority when they actually lived.

By keeping the mystical exceptional and historical we keep it at a safe distance. We put it outside of ourselves. This is both unconscious and deliberate. As long as it is long ago and far away it has no chance of changing us. Which is actually what mysticism does.

Mysticism changes us by deeply revealing what is most true about us.

Without elaborating I will say that the chief block to this direct experience of God are the theologies about God. Those theories are walls that few are able to scale. Perhaps this is why the mystics seem to be so few. The outmoded descriptions of God circumvent God. Even the name God is objective and distanced. As humans made God in our image, we seek to worship a faulty premise. This God has a personality disorder and is in serious need of anger management. Who wants to have a direct experience of something that smites and tempts, bullies and bludgeons, plagues and crucifies?

Religious myths are about Source. They are not Source. They are maps, they are not destinations. They are explanations, not experiences.

This Source is not something to get to. It is Something we live within.

That is mysticism.

Oh Taylor, that is far too simplistic.

Perhaps.

Yet the direct experience of our Source is indeed the simplest thing of all.

Consider loosening the grip on exceptions that distance or theologies that demote. What if simply breathing was a mystical act? What if each and every heartbeat is direct rhythmic evidence of the One thumping in me? What if every gasp at a sunset was a praising prayer? What if every raindrop was natures baptism? Every river a flowing of the One into the One?

What if the fact that we are here at all demystifies the mystical?

There are those who would frame such notions as arrogant, audacious, even blasphemous.

And I would say that those accusations comprise the armor and shielding that keeps us from the vulnerability and awe that deep mystical experience requires.

I choose to honor the mystics of the past by opening to the mystical in each of my present moments.

I have a deep love and reverence for all things mystifying and magical. They confound my mind, which is the starting point for direct sacred experience. The mystifying and magical fling me into my heart, which is the portal of my own mystical experience. Seeking to figure it out is a defense mechanism built on fear and mistrust. And we fear and mistrust what is truest and most real within ourselves.

In times such as these we need mystics. We need heroes. We need prophets. We need courageous, brave beings who can challenge the historical and make it personal.

In my often not so humble viewpoint, we need modern day mystics who recognize that we are here to demystify the mystical.

And we need them now.

And so, I invite you to breathe, be, see, give, experience, and extend the Source of All in each present moment openly and unabashedly. You are, after all, already a mystic.

The mystics of the past did their part.

And now it is time for us to do ours.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, ANYWAY?

I grew up frequently hearing the question “whose side are you on, anyway?”

The question was most often framed humorously, though there could be undercurrents of sarcasm and even recoil for sure.

As I grew into a consciously awakening adult, I began to answer the inquiry with some version of “there are no sides to take.”

Well, sort of.

I wanted that to be true. I was growing into a preliminary awareness of the perception that all is one. To live that out I sought to end any type of warring with others. I wanted to give others their freedom, while also maintaining my own. I knew there would always be differences of opinion, and yet I did not want those differences to lead to rigid divisiveness.

I still want that.

It has become more challenging in these blaring and increasingly chaotic times.

I find myself with some frequency observing other people’s behaviors, especially those that directly affect me, and in my awareness, I hear that question:

Whose side are you on, anyway?

As I continue to surf the waves of this monumental time there is stunning clarity regarding where people dwell in consciousness, and how they choose to show up in manifest reality. At first it seemed to me that divisiveness is at an all time high. Upon further reflection I realized that it is not so much that there is more division. It is that the divisions that were submerged in the shadows have been brought forward onto the surface. What was barely hidden is now being clearly seen.

Lines are being drawn in the sand. Positions are being taken. Ideologies are being identified with. There are sides to be taken, whether we want to or not. Tribe against tribe. Race against race. Country against country, and county against county.

Truth against lies.

That is what is foundational for me.

While what we call truth is so often perceptual and highly fluid the Truth that I am seeking to live by remains all is one. I know down deep that every single choice we make affects the whole. Every thought, feeling, word, action has consequences for all living beings. I also profoundly believe that all of this divisiveness and warring is in service of a return to a state of actualized oneness. As messy as it looks and feels, something better is rising from below the unconsciousness of shadow shrouding. As much as I do not want to take sides, I find that in duality I must side with what I discern to be true. I must side with what I determine to be for the greater good. I must face directly what is relative in service of calling forth the absolute. And calling forth includes calling out.

I sometimes ponder what people a hundred years from now will say about we who are living now. What the narrative will be about our choices. How our divisions, clashes, chaos, and violence will be reported. I wonder how many generations will fault us for the world we handed them.

How many will ask “whose side were you on, anyway?”

I want to be able to anticipate that future question by how I live in the here and now. I want to get up each day and to decide to witness other’s choices with an increasingly awakened awareness. I will not pretend to agree with the choices. I will allow an internal emotional flow regarding how I see and feel those choices affecting the whole. And I will not fall prey to dehumanizing or going to war with others that I do not agree with. I will not pretend there are no temporary sides. Nor will I set up camp in one.

I have seen aspects of people I thought I knew that have deeply surprised and yes, disturbed me. These times have provided an internal gymnasium that has strengthened my being and most certainly my resolve. While I have frequently not respected choices that have been made, I have also maintained my respect for the right to choose. I have seen more clearly than ever the sides of truth and lies. The more closely I look the better sense I get that that they are aspects of an illogical and still unfolding new reality. Instead of locking into either/or, I breathe into the possibility of a mysterious both/and.

Is it possible that truth and lies can co-exist in an open and awakening heart?

I still waltz with the question.

For now, I watch the side you seem to be on, and I choose how I will relate to your current position. I commit myself to coming out of this time of distancing less divided. Less dismissive. More open and inclusive. More determined to side with the truth amid the lies. More aware that every choice I make is consequential to all.

And if by chance someone should ask me “whose side are you on, anyway?” I will honestly and wholeheartedly be able to say, “your side, my dear.” "Your side."

I am siding with the truth of you.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

BONE TIRED

I am bone tired.

And I am blessed.

I am grateful to finally know that those two states can co-exist within me.

I am an extremely passionate person.

And I frequently feel only a moderate level of energy.

I am grateful to finally know that those two states can co-exist within me.

I live in a consistent flow of inspiration.

I am not nor have I ever been the least bit ambitious. I do not often feel a particular level of motivation.

I am grateful to finally know that those two states can co-exist within me.

Like the name of my blog, I co-create from and as a state of radical expression.

There are times I simply want to curl up within and stare at nothing at all.

And yes, I am grateful to finally know that those two states can co-exist within me.

After more than a year of doing everything I could to serve in a context of distancing and pandemic, I am bone tired.

And I am beyond grateful to know I have given it my all.

It is within that knowing that I feel how very blessed I am.

A bit beaten down. Yet somehow lifted-up.

Feeling as if there is nothing to say. Yet also longing to put that into words.

I am bone tired, and I know I am blessed.

And I am grateful to finally know that those two states can co-exist within me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

KNOWING MYSELF NOW

Somebody I did not know died today.

Alright. Many people that I did not know died today. Many people die everyday that I do not and never will know.

I just do not want to be one of them.

Not that I do not want to die. That is inevitable and knowing the inevitability actually allows me to live more fully.

I just really want to know myself fully and completely before I die. And I want to be known for what and who I really am beyond other people’s interpretations and stories of me. The only way for that to happen is if people really know themselves. Then it can be clear where you begin, and I leave off. I genuinely want to know that distinction so that I may navigate a deeper connection.

I want to know me before I die. I want to know you before you die. And I want you to know me before I die.

Know me. Know you. Deeply. Fully. Intimately. Below the surface and above the story. Beneath the veneer of who we think we have to be. It takes courage. Fortitude. Bravery. Time.

It indeed takes time.

Time we may or may not have.

Somebody died today I did not know. And now I will never know them.

The reason that I know this someone died is that someone I do know knew and loved them. And so, the passing means something to me. It matters to me. It reminds me of the fragility of life. I do not need to know a person to care that they have died. And it is more vital when it is someone I have known or is known by someone I know. I care that someone has moved upon this planet and no longer does. That someone who has been, no longer shares this human adventure. It means something to me. It matters.

Somebody died and I pray that they really knew themselves before departing. That they felt known and seen and loved. That they really knew those who peopled their life. Knew their deepest desires, dreams, griefs, and gaffs. All of it. None of it rejected. Nothing in need of correction. The quirks and the quarks. Every bit of it.

In a world of astounding yet impersonally reported death statistics I do desire to deaden myself to the many who have and will die today. Not even those that I do not personally know. It is enough for me to know that they have lived and that now they do not. That is enough to engage my caring. That is enough to touch and move my heart.

It also engages in me a deeper desire to live this day that I still have life fully, freely, curiously, openly. I seek to live it with urgency and with integrity. I live it as an open excavation into what it really means to be me. I live it as an adventure into what it is to come to really know you. To find the places where we meet in harmony, and to potentially resolve the points at which there is discrepancy. I am willing to know and to grow from this commitment to a deeper knowing.

A deeper knowing and growing while we still have time. While we still have the chance. While we are still here. While there is still opportunity to get to know ourselves and each other.

Somebody died today that I did not know.

There will most likely be some kind of funeral, memorial, ritual. People will share of what they knew about the departed. The best of what they knew. Not the totality of what they knew. That is not what is done at these times. Someone will eulogize to the best of their ability. It is appropriate. Sometimes clumsy. In some ways comforting. Those in attendance who may not have really known the person will leave with a glimpse of what that being brought to life. There will be an unconscious relief that the ritual was for someone else. That the bell did not toll for me. Yet.

I will not be in attendance. This missive is my homage to the person I did not know. The passing has moved my heart even in my unknowing. I grieve with those I know who did indeed know this precious somebody. Precious simply because they lived. I cannot and do not attempt to fill the void with words, but I can embrace the space that has been left. I embrace it with my caring. With my compassion. With my commitment to live and love more fully for the sake of the dead and those still waiting to really live. I commit to really know and be known.

There will be people reading this that do not really know me. Some are privy to their unknowing, and some actually think that they do while they in fact do not. Perhaps someone viewing these words will one day hear of my passing. Someone will say that somebody died that they did not know. That knowing and yet unknowing will come from secondhand reporting, which is what spurred this reflection. There might be others who will shed tears that this somebody they knew is no longer here. And perhaps someone may ponder that they wished that they had gotten to know this being that is now no longer here to get to know.

Somebody died today that I did not know. And yet I care. And yet this passing has sparked in me a renewed knowing that I want to know and to be known. I want to fully inhabit the time that I have. I want to use my remaining duration to live and to love courageously, relentlessly, authentically. I want to know and to embrace every last tidbit of me. I want to leave this earth realm knowing I have opened to it all.

I have known much loss this lifetime. Yet I have not lost myself. Or my ability to hold you in your losses. That I have grown good at. I know how to be with loss. I am grateful to be an open space for that.

So, if you should be here when I indeed do pass, please do not eulogize me then. Do it now. Say it to me now. Let me know what you would say. Let me know what you think you know. And together lets really dig in and get to know each other. Or we can courageously agree that the deeper knowing is really just not meant to be for us. That is valid. We can show up to it undefended. Just real. Honest. No pretense. Knowing that we will remain unknown to each other. That is in and of itself a kind of knowing. We can die to the notion we should know each other before we die.

Then we can say with integrity that someone died that I did not know. Not really. And it was by agreement. We chose to not fully know. And yet we can still care. Care that someone who has lived is no longer living. Not knowing need not be closure.

It is all a beautiful part of coming to know oneself. While there is time, chance, opportunity. For the sake of the no longer living. And for the sake of those who long to live.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

GROWING UP

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Grown up.”

This was an actual exchange that happened for me a few decades ago, yet in my adulthood. It was a somewhat sarcastically asked question met with what for me was a sincere answer.

Grown up.

Familial circumstances demanded that I grow up at an early age. My father was diagnosed with early onset dementia when I was still in elementary school. In junior high I added care for me father, my sister, the house to my school and church responsibilities. Though I did not know enough to frame it thusly at the time, childhood abruptly ended, and I was propelled into some very grown-up activities at an age when other kids were playing and mostly carefree.

I truly am not complaining. I am actually grateful.

There was a period of time in my early adulthood that I thought I would reclaim my lost youth and refuse to live as a grown up regardless the consequences. If someone would have asked what I wanted to be I would have declared “anything but grown up.”

That did not last for long.

There will likely always be a part of me that is playful and even adventurous. Freedom is without a doubt my most cherished value. The scripturally referenced childlikeness is alive and well inside of me. I am committed to never losing my sense of awe and wonder

And I have become more grown up than ever.

What I am referring to when I speak of being grown up is a mature sense of being a responsible part of the whole. To be a grown up is to know that there are important things than personal preference. It is to know and to embrace that every choice that is made has consequences that affect others as well as yourself. It is to live in an active sense that life is not about just the individual. To be grown up is to live consciously, wakefully, responsively. It is to be autonomous, yet also deeply connected.

To be the grown up in the room is not always easy and it is often uncomfortable. There is a wounded child in all of us. That wounded child gets triggered by the wounded child in others. It goes into defense when it is frightened and provoked. The ways in which it reacts are age appropriate to the wounding. It is not uncommon to watch biologically adult people in full out tantrum when not getting their way. They may use very adult language (though that is questionable) but the behaviors and attitudes are things that they once employed on the playground.

Wounded children wound other children.

Bullied children bully others.

Growing up means doing the mature work of healing and integrating these early wounds. It means reparenting ourselves in very real and practical ways. It means being an adult authority when the internal kid wants to throw a reactive tantrum. It means making an unequitable decision that regardless of what anyone does around us we are going to choose to be the grown up in every situation.

I find this to be especially important in regard to my spiritual expression.

We are in what I believe to be one of if not the most crucial places in the evolution of the collective consciousness. We are literally in a “do or die” scenario. While we often hear the ideal that “we are all in this together” there is not enough evidence of that to make it of comfort. We need more grown ups in the rooms. More people to place the whole before the wants of the self. More people to consider that every choice affects all who live and breathe.

My spirituality is not about getting what I want. I do not turn Source into an ATM or a Cosmic concierge. My spirituality is about letting myself be literally grown UP. It is about allowing myself to be spiraled forward. It is about letting myself and my consciousness by used on behalf of something greater than myself. I live for what I may contribute, not for what I think I want to achieve.

This has never felt truer than during the time of Covid.

This time of pandemic has provided for me a container in which to look deeply into the further most aspects of my consciousness. It has confronted my preferences and busted my limits. I daily have felt forced to choose between what I want to do, and what I know I am called to do. I have examined my choices and excavated my underlying motivations. I have been expanded beyond my personal desires in the name of the collective betterment.

I have been deeply and irrevocably changed.

My questions have changed in terms of what drives me. I am not governed by what I feel like doing. I am not propelled by what I think I want. There is undeniably less of “me” than there was when this quarantine began. And the result is that I feel like so much more.

I still have work to do for sure. It well may be that I will never be a fully ripened grown up. But I am moving in that direction for sure. I am grounding in what feel like grown up choices that are beneficial to the whole of humanity. I am taking responsibility for the fact that I am still here. I am claiming authority over what happens in here, regardless of what happens out there. I intend to remain steadfast in a deeper Truth that how I show up matters. Whether I react or respond matters. When I go into tantrum or center in a place of stability matters.

Being a grown-up matters.

When enough of us grownups are more interested in what we can give than what we can get the world will change.

When enough of us adults are more interested in the we than the me the tide will rise.

When enough of us respond to the question of what we want to be with a solid and unshakable answer of grown up a quantum shift will occur.

Emotional fluency. Uncompromising integrity. Spiritual maturity. Collective congruency.

Growing up. And grateful to be.