Tuesday, June 30, 2009
He was about five months old here. Isn't he cute?
I loved my dog Jake more than anything else in the whole wide world as I told him every day of his long life. But I might as well tell the truth here - he was not a good dog. He was not an easy dog, maybe I should say.
When the dog rescue people discovered Jake with his littermates and mom in an abandoned warehouse in West Oakland, California, they were quite sure that the dogs had all starved to death. Somehow they revived the animals, though. It's kind of a miracle. Unfortunately one result of that near starvation was that Jake's digestion was always dodgy, especially as a very young dog. I cooked for him for a year and a half until he could tolerate commercial dog food. It was a labor of love, but it was a labor.
Indeed I nursed him back to good health. In his prime he was 90 lbs. of pure rippling muscle. His head was huge and he was a first class chewer. He ate shoes, books, underwear, woodwork. He tore supposedly indestructible dog toys, like kongs, into shreds within five minutes. See that cow femur in the above pic? He ate the whole thing within a couple of hours. Had a terrible stomach ache as a result. Oh yeah, he was never easy.
In his prime, about nine years ago
Jake had many redeeming qualities. For one thing he was beautiful, right up until his very old age. He could run like the wind, too. Damn he was fast. Both a blessing and a curse for Jake was his passion. He was wildly enthusiastic about everything and his moods could fill any room.
I remember one time in San Francisco when, in a fit of happiness he began to run huge ovals around the perimeter of Precita Park. His joy was so contagious that all the dogs joined in. None could beat him, but they all ran and ran. It was like the chariot scene from Ben Hur. From inside the oval of racing dogs, the energy was incredible, all of us dog owners agreed. I'll never forget that moment.
Unfortunately he was just as passionate about the things he hated, like men in uniforms (mailman, UPS, Fed Ex). When one of these guys dared to approach the house he would bodyslam the front door in an effort to get to them. It was very frightening, actually.
People on bikes were ok, also folks with baby strollers, but anyone on a skateboard? He believed with every bone in his body that those people had to be destroyed, as quickly as possible.
A couple of years ago
Caring for Jake during his final days was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had. Harder still was coming to the conclusion that it was time for him to go. I deal with clients all the time who are extremely ill. Several of my clients have succumbed to cancer, one of them while I was visiting at her house. I'm no stranger to the sadness of death.
But the death of Jake? This one has kicked my ass more than I could have imagined. With no offense to anyone I love, I can honestly say I've never loved so unconditionally. He was not a good dog, but I loved him with all my heart. I really did. And he loved me. I've never felt that before. His presence in my life was extraordinarily healing.
He had a big personality that faded over time, though it came back full force in his last minutes. He went out fighting, as a pit bull/boxer should, or so my wise sister Deborah says. I am devastated, like everyone who has ever truly loved a dog. And I'll recover, because we humans are incredibly resilient.
Many many thanks to everyone who sent love and support while I moved through this rite of passage. Jake is gone; that era has ended. I'm taking deep breaths, letting the tears come as they may. What else can I do?
Onwards & upwards, great friend and teacher! I'll never forget you or anything you taught me. Fly high, brother. I love you!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Ever since I made the appointment to say goodbye to Jake (this coming Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. EDT), he has been showing me, in every way imaginable, that he's ready to go. Every day he develops another awful symptom, becomes less interested in walking, less enthused about eating. He's not even excited about his favorite treat, or he fakes excitement, but then lets the treat drop out of his mouth unchewed. Other things are happening, signposts of his upcoming death, gruesome things I won't explain in detail.
In this way he is showing me that the timing is perfect, neither too early nor too late. Once again he is teaching me, in no uncertain terms, that I'm stronger than I think I am, braver, more capable of unconditional love, and not nearly such a princess as I used to be.
At moments like this, I am so grateful for my meditation practice, for my intimate and ongoing relationship with God, and more grateful than I can express for friends near and far, here and in the "real" world who are making sure I'm supported in this process. I'm in awe, actually, to understand how well loved I am. Wow. Thank you to every one of you who has expressed your sympathies - I feel the crowd gathering on the other side of the bridge, so thanks to all who called in their beloved ancestors to be there for Jake. It really helps.
Everything and everyone dies sometime. I've seen death bring out the worst in people, but in the case of Jake's imminent passing away, all I see is the best in people. I think that means I'm surrounded by the best people. Thanks, Jake, for showing me this beautiful truth.
Don't know if I'll feel like posting tomorrow or Tuesday. I'll figure it out one day at a time. This is the ultimate rite of passage for Jake, of course. For me, it's like walking through fire. That's why I disabled comments for this one post. You understand, yes? I know you do, thank you for that. See y'all on the flip side, OK?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The angels are here, and they have their shopping lists in hand. That's what I "heard" from one of my spirit guides yesterday. This is a far different idea than the open portal image I've been working with. If your name isn't on the list, you're good to stay here on this plane.
Whew. This idea has helped me calm down considerably, something I'm going to need next Tuesday. Really my spirit guides are so good to me.
As I looked at the last photos taken of Michael Jackson, in my mind's eye I "saw" him rising at last from his body. Floating up to the ceiling of his grand house, I "saw" him look down upon himself one more time. Surely the sight was as shocking to his soul as it is to my eye. Maybe he thought, "What the hell was I thinking?" or some such thing before he took off.
I've read a lot of mean-spirited notes and comments about MJ, all of which make me feel sad, and help me understand one of the reasons he became so weird close to the end. People, it is not kind to speak ill of the dead. Let the poor guy rest in peace, please? Thank you.
**Borrowed from the title of the blog Just Breathe Janis. What a great blog name! It's a great blog.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Shamanism is an art, not a science. All of us in the arts derive pleasure from tuning in to a subtle frequency, then interpreting and expressing what we're sensing. Sometimes we make paintings or create dances, sometimes we go into deep trances and then say what we've "seen" between the worlds. Every artist has her good and bad days.
For painters and dancers, sometimes they have to rely on what their audiences have to say before they know for sure if they successfully captured and conveyed their inspirations. I, too, rely on external validation after I've made a proclamation since I'm "wrong" as often as I'm "right." I believe absolutely that I can sense the subtle energies, but my process of interpretation, colored as it is by my values, can be spot on or completely off the mark. I never know for sure until the world shows me.
I wonder if there's anyone on planet earth who doesn't know that Michael Jackson died suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday. "Sudden" and "unexpected" describes many deaths of the last two weeks - like the pilot who died mid-flight a couple of weeks ago, my friend Gordon, the people who died on the Metro crash, and the biggest pop star on the planet. His talent was completely out of hand. He burned bright, then that brightness spiraled inwards, becoming quite dark and destructive, as a too bright light does sometimes. Though it's no surprise he died young, the timing of his death confirms what I was writing about yesterday. May he rest in peace. Farrah, too. She was such a good person.
Emboldened by yesterday's news, I'm going to say it again: there's a big portal open right now and apparently it's pretty easy to slip through it. So be alert! Take care, be mindful, please? Try not to ignore your intuition - at the very least - until God closes the gate. Gather the angels around you, I'm serious. OK? Safety first!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Yesterday was a perfect summer day. Hot enough to sweat, but not so hot that it was impossible to walk. The sky was a fabulous, ever changing panorama of cumulus clouds floating across an impossibly blue sky. There was a little bit of a breeze, just enough to keep me from ducking into an air conditioned space. It was so good to be outdoors with the birds, the breeze and those angelic clouds.
There's a lot going on right now in and around Washington DC, in and around me. There was a crash on the Metro a few days ago that killed several people. Nothing like that has happened in the thirty years the subway has been operating. It's shocking and sad. The crash occurred along a strip of track that's above ground, between Union Station and Takoma Park. It's a very creepy part of DC, haunted yet soulless. I've thought many a time about doing a healing shamanic soul retrieval dance right there, close to the Metro tracks, but somehow I never got around to what would no doubt be an extremely daunting task. If you could feel how creepy it is there (and you can feel it palpably from inside the Metro train), you'd understand why I always put that idea on the back burner.
It isn't just the crash that's got me creeped out. I feel that some big portal has opened. Things like Metro trains and people like that pilot who died mid-flight, like my friend Gordon who died so suddenly, are slipping through, moving onwards and upwards. Anyone could disappear through that portal at any second. At least it feels that way to me.
Beause I was a bit spooked, my feet lead me finally to Union Station, a place I find unbelievably cleansing and healing. It's a wonderful, beautiful station full of life. There are goings but also comings, a lot of to but also a lot of fro. It's a place of lively balance that always sets me straight when I'm in a mood.
The Fourth of July holiday is right around the corner, so there are also many many many many many many tourists coming and going. Ordinarily I do not appreciate their presence in "my" city, but this week with all the weird energy, I have been happy to see big crowds everywhere, dressed in matching t-shirts, carrying their huge water bottles and snapping pics.
As for the open portal, I wonder, God, if you could please close it gently sometime sooner rather than later, maybe right after Jake passes away. OK? Thanks, dear, and love.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Everyone who knows anything about me understands that I do not believe in the idea of "the best." I am confused by every award from the Academy Awards to the Pulitzer Prize. The Nobel Prize, in particular, gets on my last nerve. Maybe even more than that, the so called MacArthur Genius awards seriously bite my ass.
For every Nobel prize winner, there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even a thousand people who have contributed to the process that lead to whatever idea or breakthrough is being recognized. But when it comes around to the awards, they are given to one, maybe two people. What about everyone else who was a part of the discovery? Are they chopped liver?
On September 23, 2008, the MacArthur Foundation announced:
The MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2008. This past week, the recipients learned in a single phone call from the Foundation that they will each receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. The new Fellows work across a broad spectrum of endeavors and include a neurobiologist, a saxophonist, a critical care physician, an urban farmer, an optical physicist, a sculptor, a geriatrician, a historian of medicine, and an inventor of musical instruments. All were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.
"In a single phone call ..." Aren't they so GROOVY over there at the MacArthur Foundation? But why didn't they select Janelle, Jane, Willow, John, Barry, Hammer, LOL, Poetikat, Rosaria, Ronda, Pam, Steven, Elizabeth, Karen, Andrea etc. etc. etc.? Why didn't they choose Merle Sneed for God's sake?
Beyond the blogging world, why didn't they choose one of my sisters or my brother? Both of my roommates are creative, original and contributing to a great future, just like my blog friends, family, and colleagues. Why not them? Why not me?
You see I suspect that all these "best" awards have far more to do with politics and who is trendy than who is actually deserving. There will be no such thing as a Nobel Prize in the Age of Aquarius. No one will be elevated above the masses as better, superior, "the best." Everyone will be responsible for making the world a better place. Everyone will be recognized for contributing.
Can't happen soon enough for me. Grrrr!!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
WHY I BELIEVE IN ASTROLOGY
My first great teacher of astrology explained the way it works like this: She said we are cyclical beings living in a cyclical universe. All cycles are intricately interrelated and those relationships (they would be called "entanglements" now) are more complex than we can imagine. She told me that in many ways, the cycles of the stars and planets are exactly the same thing as our internal rhythms and the seasons of our lives. They are not separate or distinct. One reflects the other. That's why astrology works.
She was quite dismissive of the idea that the planets are "doing" something to us. What she said instead was that the more we know about the planets and their movements across the background of stars, the better we understand ourselves. Also true: the more I know about my own internal rhythms, the better I can comprehend the cyclic nature of the multiverse.
There is no such thing as objectivity. Every observation we make is colored by filters that are genetic, cultural and based on personal values. If our species was capable of objectivity, it wouldn't matter who was chosen to sit on the Supreme Court, right? The tricky part of astrology is in the interpretation of it, just like everything else. Of course.
The fact the Pluto became such a powerful force in astrology is emblematic of the way we thought during the last century of the last millenium. Pluto is the god of underworld, though originally he was the Roman god of metals. What does it mean that we decided to name a planet after Pluto?
Almost every astrologer links Pluto with transformation through ego death and rebirth, i.e. being dragged down into hell and then clawing your way back. From About Astrology:
You might be brought to your knees [by the power of Pluto's influence], but while there, rest assured that Pluto's dark and punishing face is that of a tough, but loving teacher, leading you toward a more authentic experience of yourself.
Liz Greene, a great (though very psychological) astrologer, links Pluto with the transformation that comes through Fate. She is brilliant and has written almost as many books about astrology as there are objects in the Kuiper belt. I highly recommend "The Astrology of Fate" which is all about astrological Pluto. If you're into it, that is.
Interesting that there was no planet exclusively linked to transformation via ego death and rebirth prior to 1930. The impact of Doctors Freud and Jung on the collective mind was absolutely Plutonian. Just after they put their theories out into the world, poof - Pluto was discovered. Wow. Just as interesting as the timing of its appearance in the night sky is what it means that the object representative of this kind of intense transformation is demoted. If you ask me, it's a good sign about how we view ourselves and the world.
What do I think it means astrologically that Pluto was demoted? I think it means that the areas in life in which we encounter these intense transformations are no longer an assignment of Fate - that our ability to transform ourselves is not fixed by Pluto's location in the natal chart. I think we now have access to a variety of choices around how to face this challenging aspect of being human at this moment in history. We're past the heroic age of Pisces, a time that was all about The One, but still getting used to the new age of Aquarius, which is about the many. We are befuddled and need options.
When Pluto was first demoted, I added a second Pluto to my natal chart, just to see what it would be like. Though I subsequently removed that second placement, I'm still intrigued with the idea of one thousand Plutos out there in the Kuiper Belt. I "see" a thousand fateful intersections out there at the far reaches of the Solar System. Instead of one crossroads that will break us or make us, there are now many possibilities for change and rebirth. We are not locked into one destiny. It's the mind's true liberation, it is.
THE PART WHERE I REALIZE THIS POST IS WAY TOO LONG
By demoting Pluto, we're giving ourselves a lot of wiggle room for transformation. We have 999 options we didn't have before. I'm for it! Bravo!!
Monday, June 22, 2009
I've been reading about the solar system, something we've learned a lot about during the last ten years. The twin Voyager spacecrafts took a zillion pictures and gathered a load of new information about the planets that has radically altered our vision of this solar neighborhood.
Did you know that Neptune and Uranus have rings like Saturn? So in many ways those three planets have more in common than we once believed. Pluto, no longer a planet, is part of the Kuiper belt of what they call "objects" - it's just one among thousands of things circling the sun, almost like another asteroid belt, way out on the far reaches of the Sun's gravitational field.
When they "demoted" Pluto, people left flowers and notes of condolence at the Smithsonian in front of the sidewalk sign that describes the former planet. I thought that was so sweet.
The astronomical community has embraced all this new information. Me, too! I think it's cool. Puzzling to me is that prominent astrologers haven't followed suit, working with the new information to update the art. Articles have been written about how the demotion has divided astrologers, but no one has yet come up with any ideas about how to incorporate that information in any practical way. It's interesting to realize that in this instance, astrologers are acting like sticks in the mud, while astronomers are going haywire interpreting the new data. Weird isn't it? Pluto wasn't discovered until 1930, so it's not like we're hanging on to some venerable aspect of the art of astrology. What gives with astrologers? Why are we so set in our ways?
Looking at so many images of the planets, I am more in awe than ever of this amazing planet. Though all the planets are interesting looking, nothing comes close to the intricate, elegant swirling blues, greens, browns and fluffy white clouds of planet earth. I am so glad to call this beautiful blue marble my home. Oh yeah!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Is there such a thing as pre-grieving? At least in my case, definitely. This morning Jake tried to jump up on my bed, seemed interested in a squirrel that ran past as we walked, had a totally normal poop and ate his breakfast enthusiastically which means that all the worrying I did yesterday, and all the crying I did between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. were a complete waste of time.
Unless there is such a thing as pre-grieving. Is there? Are days like yesterday my opportunity to start preparing for the loss of my dear dog? I did work out in my mind, for instance, exactly what I will say to the vet when that day arrives. Vets are trained to save lives, no matter what, and it's true that if Jake was five years old - or even ten - I would go ahead and let the vets do their thing - expensive tests and such - to try to save him. But Jake (somewhat like the new Aquarian Age) is beyond heroics. He's fourteen which makes him, in dog years, older than God. If he gets sick and doesn't bounce back, at this point, it will be my clue to help him cross over.
But that day is not today, even though I was so sure. Thank you to all of you who left your beautiful comments yesterday. I felt completely supported and encouraged. I'll turn to y'all again when Jake leaves this world, whether that's at the vet's office, or if he simply goes to sleep and doesn't wake up, like my friend Gordon, like that pilot who died mid-flight. If you're listening, God, could you nudge Jake in that direction? Thanks.
Happy Sunday and happy happy solstice - summer or winter, depending on where you are.
Onwards & upwards, oh yeah.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Does anyone else see a face in this pic? Looks like he's frowning to me.
Today I thought I would write a third post about entering the new age, a place without corporations or heroes. Tryptychs are such a lovely, harmonious form, don't you think?
But it's rainy again, so the wind has gone out of my sails (or should I say all the hot air has dispersed?)
The main reason I can't think is because Jake is very ill. I had to take him out a dozen times during the night. Not only did I not sleep because of that, but because I'm wondering, "Is this it?" Is this his way of telling me he's ready to step through the veil, join the other dogs in canine heaven? Everyone says I will know for sure when he is ready. We'll see if that's right.
He drank some water just now, a good sign. I'm making some brown rice cooked in chicken broth, always his favorite food when he isn't well. We shall see if I can get him to eat a little bit.
I can't write a good post today. All my energy and focus is on my old, old dog. Maybe tomorrow, OK? OK.
Friday, June 19, 2009
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
etc. (song by the Fifth Dimension)
One of my great teachers said that everyone loves their own astrological profile, even the "bad"* signs (like Scorpio). It's true for me, definitely. I love being an Aquarius. I'm a double Aquarius, which means that I have two planets in the sign. In my case they are the two brightest lights in the sky - the sun and the moon - and they are, coincidentally, both in the seventh house in my natal chart.
Ever since the musical "Hair" I've been intrigued with the idea of the Age of Aquarius - naturally. For a long time I believed that in this generation we would only experience being on the verge of the new age; that is, if there is such a thing as an Age of Aquarius. I figured it would be our kids' kids' kids who would live the lifestyle of the "mystic crystal revelation."
But I changed my mind the day before the U.S. declared war in Iraq. Do you remember that day? Because it was possible to spread the word over the internet, millions of people around the world marched in protest of the war, all at once, on the same day. Wow! Naturally our then idiot president paid no attention, but I did. On that day I knew in my heart of hearts that we'd arrived.
A new age is kind of like a newborn baby. For quite awhile after birth, the baby is completely helpless and vulnerable. Newborns barf and cry, have to be diapered and swaddled, lovingly cared for. The new parents are inevitably sleep deprived, disheveled, covered with baby poo and baby barf and are generally unable to complete a sentence, at least for the first few months. It's a big job!
And so it is for us, as we learn to live in the new paradigm. Some of us are getting into it more comfortably than others. There are areas in which we're doing pretty well, taking care of the baby Aquarian Age. I think of the rise of organic farming, recycling, and the awareness of global warming. Social entrepreneurship and "green" companies are organizational structures that are aligned with the new age. Blogging, twittering and facebook are electronic social networks that are completely democratic (small d) and utterly Aquarian in nature. I could go on, but you get the idea, yes?
Of course there are a lot of dinosaurs lumbering around, not yet extinct but definitely on their way out. I think of our ex-president - a perfect example. All the big corporations look like so many huge brontosauruses. They can not survive long in this new world. It's just not going to work.
I expect that those of us alive right now will be sorting through the chaos of the shifting age for the rest of our lives, as most likely will the next generation. A brand new life is tenuous and requires loving attention in order to flourish. I think it's our job to make sure this baby Age is well fed, bathed, and especially well loved. We don't know exactly what we're doing yet, but we'll learn, just as new parents learn that this cry means the baby is hungry, that cry means something else.
As bewildering as it is, I am so happy to be a midwife to the new age, happier still to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you reading this, all of you writing and publishing, doing good deeds that lead us, as the Fifth Dimension said, to the "mind's true liberation."
Oh yeah! Happy weekend all you Age of Aquarius heroes! BRAVO!!
*There's no such thing as a "bad" astrological sign. Also need to say, loud and clear: I LOVE SCORPIOS!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Garden in front of the EPA
There's something wrong with everybody - right? It's a foundational part of my belief grid. The idea of a perfectly healthy minded, flawless, emotionally sound human being is hard to imagine. All I can see in my mind's eye is a wax figure, two dimensional, devoid of humanity. Though, that said I'll admit I've never met anyone who was perfectly healthy minded, flawless, emotionally sound, which is why I can't conjure up an image. Can you? ... maybe the Dalai Lama?
One cultural bastion of adult wholeness* - until recently - was the archetype of the hero. There are lots of stories of wise kings, chieftains, clergy, and others who are - if not perfect - at least as close as a human can ever get. In the old paradigm, heroes always behave appropriately. True, they seek revenge after bad guys hurt them, but in some way they are still portrayed as being pure; i.e. they do not act from their wounds, but from valour, because they must. In the old TV series Kung Fu, the hero never wanted to kick the bad guys' asses. He always did, of course, but not because he felt like it. A hero's revenge is righteous. King Arthur's best friend fell in love with his wife, but before that he was as good as good could be: ethical, fair, strong, grounded - beyond the temptation to use his power to satisfy his own ego.
But our stories around the archetype of the hero are changing, at least here in the U.S. All of a sudden, heroes are being portrayed very differently than they were even just a few years ago. I attribute this shift to the fact that we have entered the Age of Aquarius, but maybe it's more about the decline of our society, who knows?
Certainly our TV heroes are a mess. In particular detectives and doctors are now portrayed as extremely off balance - obsessive/compulsive, addicted to drugs, autistic, or displaying borderline personalities. Our TV heroes these days are brilliant but so damaged that they are incapable of "normal," healthy behavior. Compare the lovely 1970's TV detective Columbo, for instance (who was quirky but definitely not neurotic), with the character of Robert Goren on Law & Order's Criminal Intent. Whoa. Our ideas about heroes have definitely changed!
Superheroes in the movies have always had chips on their shoulders. But recently the way they are portrayed highlights their flawed psyches rather than focusing on their good deeds. Think about Batman. What a mess!
So what is happening in our collective unconscious? Are we now ready to admit that there is no such thing as perfection? That everyone has some kind of problem? Or is it that we've lost our ability to imagine that anyone can stand above the crowd? Has the Age of Heroics truly passed us by? What do you think?
*I think we still harbor fantasies about the purity of childhood. There is also a lingering idea of virginity as pure, whole, and healthy. Or am I making this up?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Overcast or overcast weather is the meteorological condition of clouds obscuring 95% or more of the sky. Overcast happens when the entire sky becomes covered with clouds; hence the word to describe it. Periods of overcast weather can range from a few hours to several days. Overcast weather can also affect people suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
"Overcast happens." Kind of like, "sh** happens" ?? Well said - except I don't believe it's the most elegant way to articulate either phenomena.
Last spring was perfect, so it makes sense that we're having a gloomy season this time around. But I don't have to like it!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
If you could see my energy field you would laugh. Or maybe you would cry, I'm not sure. There are legs and arms and tense necks, tight shoulderblades, disembodied, flying around and around me, suspended in the electro-magnetic field that surrounds my body.
There are achey feet and clenched jaws, furrowed brows, muscles bunched up all around the bottom ridge of the occiput. Sciatica, cramped gastrocnemia, carpal tunnel syndrome, "restless leg" syndrome, inflamed SI joints. In fact it's so crowded here in my energy field, following my busy work week, I can hardly see. I feel encased in a jungle of flesh.
I have good boundaries. I cleanse my chakras at the end of every work day, rigorously, religiously, even. Nevertheless, sometimes, during certain weeks such as the one just past, I become completely entangled in my work no matter how hard I try not to. I become enmeshed in the stiff muscles of the people I work with, trapped like a rat, as it were.
Today is my Saturday; today I will unwind. A walk with Jake, a nice bike ride, some errands completed, and doing laundry will help clear some of the detritus left over from the week. Any remaining disembodied limbs still floating around after all that will be banished this evening when I meet a friend for drinks and dinner. A day away from work, well spent and well intentioned, functions as an excellent energetic exfoliant.
I love my work and I love working hard, I do. And I love my clients, too. But I'm no Hindu deity in need of extra arms and legs. I do not need to hold close to me all the aches, pains and stresses of my clients. Be gone, all ye leftovers of the week! Vamoose! I mean it. Yeah.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday night, June 14, dream: I am sitting at a nice bar in one of those restaurants that has a garage door so when it's open, it's really open. I'm talking to all my housemates. We don't often get together, so it's fun to reconnect. There are artists, dancers, several writers, too. No business people, though. I say to the rabbi who lives on the top floor, "I would love to attend your temple sometime." He smiles and says it would be great. Wake up to birdsong and the first light of dawn.
What a great dream. "All my housemates" means, to me, all the different facets of myself. Artists, dancers, writers, and rabbis, but no business people. Yep. That about covers it.
What the dream is showing me is that the effects of the full moon have faded and I'm back to feeling at ease with myself, even enjoying myself. I'm feeling open, like the big garage door, and convivial, the way you feel when you meet friends for a drink.
A whole lot of other folks are still thrashing, though. Breaking up long term relationships, moving away from DC to far flung locations, quitting jobs, suddenly deciding to retire, moving house. I know, people do these things all the time, but in every case I heard about over the weekend, these decisions were made during the last two weeks, as if out of the nowhere.
I'm a fan of life changes. Changing routines is sure to knock folks out of their ruts, always a good thing. But whoa! That moon! That old devil moon, as Willow described it. I can't remember the last time I heard so many stories of sudden, radical change all at once. I am in awe.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
If the human race survives into the new age, what do you think historians - say - 5,000 years from now, will make of the ruby slippers? Or the costume of 3CPO from the Star Wars films? The laptop on which Sarah Jessica Parker "wrote" for Sex and the City?
How adorable! I kept thinking, looking at the icons of this nation's culture at the Museum of American History yesterday. I'm guessing future historians might be puzzled, and perhaps not as amused as I was, by what is precious to us.
I studied for quite awhile a long row of protest buttons, dating back to the Suffragettes. A big percentage of these pins hail from the time when I was coming of age. There are pins calling for Civil Rights, "Women's Liberation," and many of them railing against the war in Vietnam. The era of the 1960's is historical, so bizarre to me since I remember it clearly. The 60's protest and peace pins are at least what you could call vintage, if not quite antique - not yet anyway. Just like me, I guess! Whoa.
One of my favorite rooms in the museum is the hall of First Ladies. In it are inauguration dresses going all the way back to Martha Washington's lovely - and almost unbelievabley petite - gown. That room is intensely haunted, but happily so. Walking in there is like entering a tea party that has gone on for two hundred years. Nice.
The pic was so blurry I decided to shamelessly photoshop it.
Of course there's an original Barbie, wearing her swimsuit and high heels, naturally. Interesting that she was paired up, not with Ken as you might think, but with G.I. Joe. Oh yeah! That's America! I thought, though I must have said it out loud because the people who were having their picture taken in front of a vintage vacuum cleaner a few feet away looked at me strangely right after I said it.
I know this is silly, but gazing at the ruby slippers (they're so tiny! Size 5!) really helped me move forward from all the weirdness of last week. The ruby slippers helped me heal - go figure! Onwards & upwards.
This is a banner on top of a stage set up in front of the capitol yesterday. The people were dancing for peace. Isn't that nice? I thought so, too.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The Dirkson Senate Office Building, reflected of course
I believe the Buddhists when they say life is a precious existence. I feel that truth in my blood and bones. That said, though, I'm not one of those people who wishes for immortality. I don't even particularly aspire to a super long lifetime. I'd like to live and die like my friend Gordon - live full throttle, then drop out of this body quickly, maybe even with ease.
There is so much emphasis in this culture (and in many - most?) cultures on living a long life, as long as possible. Why? Medical technology has made it possible to keep people alive long past the time when they would have died otherwise, at great expense and usually by way of a lot of suffering. Sometimes that is such a blessing. Sometimes not so much.
What's wrong with being my actual age (56)? What's wrong with looking my actual age? What's wrong with feeling OK about dying when my time is up, even if some people believe it's "too early?" Does my acceptance of my age, appearance and my curiosity about passing through the veil, when that time comes, does that mean I'm complacent about this precious existence? Not at all!
Instead of going on and on about this, I'll turn the rest of the post over to Mary Oliver. She says it perfectly, as always. Happy weekend, y'all.
WHEN DEATH COMES
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
Friday, June 12, 2009
What a strange week! Bad moods and better moods, thunderstorms at 6:00 a.m. as well as late in the afternoons (that's when we usually have them). A hateful guy who at 88 years of age decided to shoot someone at the Holocaust Museum, proving that wisdom does not automatically come with age, and that we can - if we want - hang on to anger, bitterness and hatefulness to the very end of life. We can be vicious and destructive to the day we die. How sad.
My old friend Gordon died quite suddenly (and gracefully - see the sidebar) this week. Though he had his moments of anger, etc. - like all humans - Gordon decided long ago to be loving and open minded, something he carried with him all the way to his final bike ride.
I want to formally thank everyone who commented on yesterday's post-within-a-post. Y'all gave me a lot to think about, including the idea that brutal, traumatic experiences, such as a visit to the Holocaust Museum, can be, for some people, healing. Though this was not my experience, I believe it must be true for some, maybe for many. Not for me, but it's not unusual to figure out that my ideas are way outside the mainstream. So be it. Thank you!
It's Friday so this strange week is winding down. Thank God for the passage of time. This week, too, has passed. Onwards and upwards.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The sky above Chinatown in DC, just before 7:00 p.m. last night.
Now that Jake is virtually deaf, I can enjoy thunderstorms again. He was so terrified of them when he was younger that he would try to wedge himself behind the toilet. He shook and panted. The poor thing was wild eyed until long after the storm passed. He could not be consoled no matter how I tried, but usually I tried anyway.
Now he's oblivious, so I'm free to check out stormy weather. Of course I enjoy it from indoors or the back porch. I switch off all electronic devices (since Brother Lightning loves to strike people holding celphones) and just gaze up in wonder at the sky.
Witnessing the storms of the past couple of days, I can't help but think about the parallels between them and me. When I get bent out of shape, I, too get kind of greenish purple. I roil up, become ominous looking. I shoot bolts of lightning out from my fingertips or eyes - or both. I rant and rave in a booming voice, cry a torrent. In fact when I'm angry, I am almost exactly like a big midatlantic thunderstorm, only smaller, definitely not as majestic, and a lot more embarrassed about it afterwards.
We humans are part of the family of nature, no matter how much we like to think of ourselves as separated from it, or above it, or below it. Lightning and thunder are literally my big brothers. Obviously they have been in a hell of a mood the last couple of days! Wow! I can relate brothers, I can relate.
Shadow (the other old dog in the house, the one I tripped over last week) is not deaf and therefore still terrified of thunderstorms. Imagine heavy panting, whining and lots of dog slobber. Poor thing.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
One of my favorite astrologers, the lovely Rob Breszny, says:
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Writing in *Earthwatch* magazine, Anne Marcotty Morris rhapsodized about her trek into Brazil's rain forest. The jungle is a fecund place, she said: "Several barbed seeds that had attached themselves to me on our walk into the forest had sprouted by the time we walked out." These fast-growing seeds happen to be an apt metaphor for the state of your psyche, Aquarius. You're a hotbed of lush fertility. Given that fact, I advise you to be very discriminating about which influences you give your attention to. Whether they're good or bad, empowering or corrosive, they will grow fast.
But - isn't that always true? Whatever we cultivate thrives, right? (By "we" I mean everyone, not just Aquarians.) One of my great teachers used to say that energy follows attention. Another way to say it: What goes around comes around. Joseph Campbell said: Follow your bliss. Isn't that more or less the same idea? The Golden Rule says it in a slightly different way. Dark and creepy begets more dark and creepy. Beauty begets beauty. Peace begets peace.
Of course there are fertile phases and fallow times, too, so I see what he's trying to convey. What he's saying is, right now more than ever, be the person you want to be. Dive head first into that which brings out the best, steer clear of the rest.
Last week was difficult. I engaged in a tremendous amount of flopping around. Consternation, worry, and regret kept tapping me on the shoulder, not only while I was awake but in my dreams, too. For a couple of days, it felt like there was no way out of that state of mind. I have no doubt that some barbed and poisonous seeds sprouted. They did not take root, however, thank God. The moon turned, the weather changed - who knows why - but things shifted.
With the image of my current state of fertility in mind, I'll be doubling and redoubling my efforts to cultivate buoyancy, cheerfulness, compassion, patience, and an open heart. Because that's who I want to be today, tomorrow and for the rest of this precious existence. Thanks for the reminder, Rob!
Ginger Rogers is so pretty. I love her bleached hair, high heels and great dress. But when Fred Astaire is dancing, I don't even see her. I am always completely fixed on him, on his dancing. Has anyone ever been so graceful?
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Whatever it was, the moon or the aftermath of Prince Charming's visit, or some internal fluxuation - whatever that mood was, just like the moon, it has turned. I'm back to my usual frame of mind, i.e. philosophical (as opposed to recent themes of depression and grumpiness). What a relief.
There really is no such thing as stuckness, is there? Everything moves, even the foulest of moods. Stuckness is a perception that accompanies discomfort and the resulting impatience. I felt stuck over the weekend, but it was just another phase after all. Go figure.
When I'm unhappy or in pain or feeling depressed I want to DO something to "make" it change. I breathe and OMMM, pray, walk hard until I break a sweat, or pour myself into a task that guarantees instant gratification, like cleaning my room or doing the very best massage I possibly can.
So there's a way in which I benefit from my periodic bouts of moodiness, and frankly, so do my clients. When I'm depressed, I double up on good deeds and self care. Of course it's never helpful when I act out my mood in relationships with others, but I think I mostly avoided bad behavior this time around. I was snarky but avoided picking a fight, so no harm done.
When looked at from this perspective, I must admit that a freaky full moon that kicks my ass is a "good" thing after all. I wonder if I'll be able to remember this the next time? Hmmmm.
Monday, June 8, 2009
This full moon (just fully full yesterday) was supposed to be a great full moon, especially for we Aquarians. But it was a terrible full moon for me. During the last few days, I have been, by turns, depressed or cranky, unable to contact my usual good humor. Either I couldn't sleep or I had terrible nightmares from which there was no escape. Even if I was able to wake from the dreams, when I fell back asleep I found myself right where I'd left off. Oh yeah I have been in a foul mood!
The power of the full moon is something people everywhere, throughout history, have remarked upon. Just ask anyone who works in a hospital emergency room if you doubt its impact. This moon, in particular, has made its mark. Janelle of Ngorobob Hill House, Willow of Willow's Manor, and Cynthia at Oasis wrote about it. I bet there are more posts out there about the moon. I just haven't found them yet.
We are definitely affected by natural phenomena and by extremely subtle shifts in the energy swirls around us. That much I know for sure. What it all means, though, is harder to figure out. Interpretation of subtle phenomena is where we humans get confused, though we have to try to understand what we're feeling, don't we?
If I'd thought more in terms of "potent" than "good" about this moon, maybe I could have hunkered down in resistance to my silvery sister, instead of hoping - and waiting - for the "good" stuff. Well, maybe. Maybe I was doomed to thrash through the full moon this time around. Who knows?
My great intuition teacher used to remind us, on a regular basis, to let go of interpretation. Rather, when sensing the subtle energies, we were asked to simply describe what we were sensing. Value judgments in particular obfuscate (thanks for the word, Miss Searcy) rather than reveal the meaning behind the complexity of the world we live in.
My fault, this time around, was to believe all my favorite astrologers when they promised me a "great" full moon. I should know better. My disappointment is not their fault, or the fault of dear Luna. Lesson learned! (Again!)
These are the three faces on my ultra cool new shamanic tool, the purbha, sent to me by the amazing Butternut Squash. Wicked cool, isn't it?
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Grass on the edge of the pool at Pershing Park.
Because of the rain, (no matter how much I complained about it) everything looks fresh and sparkling. The greens are greener, the colors of the blooming flowers more intense. The birdsong is more vivid, the sky seems bluer and the air is soft and clean. OK. Just because I complain about it doesn't mean rain isn't a Very Good Thing.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
In medieval Europe, sleep was often described as a "binding of the senses." Some people thought the senses had to be bound in order to digest food, an idea that makes sense when you think about what those people ate. For most Europeans of that time, there was no such thing as a balanced diet. Too much or way too little of every food group was the way of things. Can you imagine the indigestion? Yikes.
Dreams were not considered a part of sleep, though everyone understood that only by going to sleep could you access that state of consciousness. How true is that? I'm not saying I know what dreams are, but I agree, they are not the same thing as sleep. Sometimes when I watch Jake "running" and "barking" in his dreams, I think Jake is taking a shamanic journey to another world.
I love the idea of waking up as an unbinding of the senses. Especially when I'm in a deep sleep, struggling to come up to the surface to turn off the damn alarm clock, it does feel like I'm working free of a full length straitjacket.
In medieval Europe there were specific rituals meant to bring the senses back after sleep, including rinsing the mouth, splashing the face with water, singing and praying. Add soap to the rinse and splash, followed by a cup of black tea, and you've pretty much described my personal waking up rituals.
Getting up or getting ready for work sounds so much more tedious than performing waking up rituals, doesn't it? The Age of Reason swept away our ability to see the world with a magical eye. What a shame!
Friday, June 5, 2009
I must have seasonal affective disorder. After two solid days of rain, the stories that are running through my head are all about doom, gloom and hopelessness. What my head is telling me is that I'm going to hell in a handbasket, as we used to say in the midwest.
I know better than to believe the content of my stories. The "truth" is: there's always something to be worried about, always something to be joyful about, too. It's my mind's job to continually devise storylines as a way to explain my emotional situation. My cerebral cortex wants to make sense of my emotions. Silly cerebral cortex! Emotions are not rational! In a certain way I admire the storytelling aspect of being a human. Though futile (in terms of finding reasons for emotional fluctuations), it is so creative.
Because I meditate, I know that the stories are fleeting, ever changing to fit the mood of the moment. It's the framework beneath the story that's significant. A quick examination of the framework beneath my emotions reveals that it is, as you might imagine, completely soggy. No wonder, then, that my mental soundtrack is woeful, a sad tune played in a minor key. On days like this it's clear why I had such a hard time when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Whoa.
Even in the midst of my emotional slog, (because I meditate) I can remember that this, too, shall pass. It's supposed to clear up tomorrow. A visual infusion of bright blue sky and some gold rays from Brother Sun should pop me out of this foul mood straightaway. I can't wait!
Part of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote carved into the stone at Freedom Plaza. "Amid the swamps ..." Oh yeah.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Capitol from Freedom Plaza, fourteen long city blocks up Pennsylvania Ave. Love that super zoom.
I was looking at some mockingbirds sitting way up in the highest branches of the tall trees in Lincoln Park, wondering if they really get, if they can possibly understand, what a great view they have from up there. Surely they can see everything: the capitol, of course or if they face east, I'm sure they can see the Anacostia River snaking its way towards its confluence with the Potomac. I bet they can see George Washington's pyramidal masonic temple across the river in Alexandria. Maybe they can even see the White House from there. If they bother to look, that is. They're birds after all. Do they care about their fabulous view?
Two seconds later it occured to me that compared to Jake, my eyes, gazing out at the world from a modest 5'6" above sea level, have a view to die for. My guess is that Jake never feels any jealousy about my view. Why would he?
There I was, longing for what I don't have, forgetting the blessings of my life just as it is right now, right here. Life is good, and whenever I remember that, I am grateful. Oh yeah!
Jake's eye view.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The good news is, I am truly psychic. The bad news? I don't get to decide how that works. For instance, I can not intuit winning lottery numbers or "see" clearly whether or not a relationship is meant to be. I don't know who will win the Academy Awards or the presidency or a football game and I am terrible at predicting the weather.
But I am psychic, really I am. For instance: one day many years ago in San Francisco I suddenly developed a serious jones for a yo-yo. I needed a yo-yo bad. Unable to resist the impulse, I got myself to a toy store and bought a lovely, shiny, brand new yo-yo, after which I spent the rest of that afternoon baffled about the intensity of the urge, since, once I got to yo-yoing, I remembered that I had never really liked it much as a kid.
The next day, I watched a report on TV about some people in Michigan who had celebrated "National Yo-Yo Day" with a marathon of yo-yoing. Ah! So I am psychic, I thought to myself. But ... who cares about tuning in to National Yo-Yo Day?
Yesterday I was contemplating the end of my dog's long life. I was asking myself, Will I miss having to step over napping dog bodies all the time? (There are three dogs in this house, all of whom are fond of napping in doorways and other areas of heavy traffic.) I decided I would not miss that bit of being a dog owner, not at all.
An hour later, rushing through the foyer with a basket full of clean laundry, I tripped over the sleeping body of Shadow, the other venerable old dog in the house. Flew through the air (so did the laundry), banged my knee and shoulder, cursed myself for not paying more attention. Poor Shadow was gasping for air, she was so upset.
She's OK and I'm OK and yes yes, I'm psychic, but ... couldn't this talent be put to better use? Honestly!
From the southwest corner of Lincoln Park, a lovely winding diagonal path has been carved out of the lawn by those of us going back and forth to Eastern Market. This is a "walking tour" from the corner to the weird Lincoln statue in the center of the park.