Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blog Award Oblige

I love all the awards circulating through the blog realm. I love it that we recognize each other and appreciate each other so much that we are compelled to bestow these awards. There are so many of them! I am deeply honored to have been the recipient of so many. THANK YOU!!

Have you noticed, though, that every one of these awards has strings attached? It might be more accurate to call them blog grants rather than awards, since in order to accept them, allegedly the receiver must fulfill a number of requirements that vary from prize to prize.

Most awards require the receiver to pass them along to other bloggers. I love that rule, even though I'm not able to do it in any specific way. Look at my blog list - how in the world could I choose only five blogs to confer any of these prizes upon? There are other blogs I also read that I just haven't gotten around to adding to the list ... so you see to choose only five bloggers would be, for me, like choosing the five prettiest stars in the sky or something. I can't do it!

The Award of Noblesse Oblige is the most intense of all the prizes I've received. Please understand I am honored, I really am, in particular because it was the luminous, marvelous, profoundly compassionate Val of Monkeys on the Roof who gave me the award. Her blog, which describes her life in Botswana, has widened my horizons in ways I could not have imagined. She brings her readers into intimate contact with her world, so up close and personal that I think I can hear the monkeys on the roof, I can almost imagine the group of giraffes at the bottom of the driveway, the warhogs scampering by, or the porcupine in the kitchen. She even made it possible for me to imagine elephant flatulence! Wow!! Isn't that cool?

I could write a post about every blog on my blogroll, explaining what it is about each one that delights, entertains and informs. They're all GREAT blogs, every one of them. I feel a kinship with each individual on the list, even though I've never met most of them. The ones I have met have become true friends. I feel so lucky every time I think about it.

I could write about how blogging has opened my mind, helped me remember that the U.S. truly is not the center of the universe. Hello! I could tell you how much I love being reminded that it's not only late spring but also late fall, depending on where you live on Earth. I could relate how, for the first time in my life, I was actually invested in the South African presidential election, or how I felt truly relieved to learn that the rains finally arrived in Tanzania, in Australia, too (gosh!), how I saw the most beautiful photos of Texas bluebonnet flowers on several blogs (something that helped me understand what a big deal that bloom is for Texans), etc. etc. I wouldn't know about any of this if I didn't have blog friends who live in those places, who are generous enough, articulate enough, and willing to artfully share their lives on their blogs. Thank you! Blogging is orienting, humanizing, socializing, in a global way.

I could write volumes about what I think blogging is doing, i.e. creating a planetary neural network for artists in preparation for the next evolutionary leap. In fact I have written about this numerous times. I could go on and on. And on. I could!

Blogging is a literary and artistic gallery space and social network unlike anything that has ever existed. And that's why I'm here.

OK do you think this is enough? What I'm asking is, by writing this post, have I fulfilled my obligation?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

Faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope, valor. All of those are qualities traditionally associated with the iris. I love iris and in fact if I had a favorite flower (I don't), it might be the iris. Or maybe the rose ... or ... OK really I do NOT have a favorite flower. I love iris, though, especially the purple ones.

Here's a true story. At my first initiation, part of the ritual involved being given flowers and herbs which, according to that tradition, also bestowed the initiate with the associated qualities. When one of my initiators placed an iris in my hand, she said, "Here is the iris, associated with hope." Just then she noticed that the iris was dead. Everyone laughed.

The next day I spread all my initiation herbs and flowers on newspaper, put them out in the sun to dry. (I planned to make a small herb pillow from the dried plants.) Two days later when I went back into the sun room to check on their progress, I discovered that the iris had bloomed! Faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope and valor bloom from a withered stem and shriveled flower bud? Oh yeah!

That iris, coming back from the dead, without water or any loving attention, was one of the best gifts of that initiation, and a significant part of the reason I still use the name Reya (the name I was given at that ritual) even though I don't practice magic anymore. The small miracle of the unexpected bloom explains, too, why I love iris so much.

I believe in hope, valor. I am a person of faith, even when I'm struggling to believe. The next time your faith in all good things takes a dive, find an iris and just drink it in through your eyes. Iris strengthens faith, it does! Cheers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Awe of the Power of the Prokaryotes

Isaac Newton did his best work over a period of about a year during which he was holed up in a cottage in the country with a pen, lots of ink, and a book with 600 blank pages (a blank book was an extremely rare treasure back in the 17th century). He hardly ever left the cottage because a bout of the Black Plague was rampaging through England. Isaac had nothing to do but think, and write. During that year he developed the basis for modern physics. If not for the plague, he might never have written all that stuff down and would be known today only as the autistic savant who got lost in Alchemy.

Well, maybe.

Following up on my discomfort with the reports about Swine Flu (thanks y'all for calming me down), I read a fascinating article yesterday about how bacteria affects behavior in animals. The article, simply called "Madness," by Gerald Callahan (published in Emerging Infectious Diseases magazine*) describes the way a certain bacteria causes ants to cling to the tips of the blades of grass at sunset and sunrise, not coincidentally when cattle feed. The bacteria is serving a parasite whose lifespan includes moving through the digestive system of cows. The parasite must move from inside the ant to inside the cow. Somehow that bacteria makes the ants go crazy. Instead of returning to the ant colony, like the sane ants, they cling to the grass, giving themselves up to the cows.

As Callahan points out, there's no way we can imagine that these ants had abusive parents or suffered from any trauma. It's the bacteria that made them do it.

It's not just the ants, you know. We, too, are profoundly affected by the prokaryotes that are a part of our biosystems. From the article:

Gardening in T. gondii [cat parasite] cyst-infested soil, handling infected meat, or emptying litter boxes used by infected cats can result in infection. In fact, nearly half the people in this world have T. gondii cysts in the brain. T. gondii has never figured out a way to make humans palatable to cats, but that doesn't mean people are unaffected by the parasite. In psychological tests, women with T. gondii cysts in the brain were more outgoing and warm-hearted than uninfected controls, and men infected with the parasite were more jealous and suspicious than uninfected men - behavior with a twist, a protozoan twist. **

I'm telling you, these little dudes - I'm talking about bacteria and viruses - they may not be able to build rocket ships or write poetry, but the world belongs to them! The next time someone tells me I'm crazy, or I think I'm going crazy, maybe I'll blame it on the Prokaryotes. Why not?

*Yes I am a serious nerd.
**Just one more reason I am not a cat person, though maybe I would be nicer if I were infected.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The World Belongs to the Prokaryotes

I googled but was unable to find a diagram that shows how insignificant we Eukarya are in comparison with the kingdom of the Prokaryotes; i.e. bacteria and viruses. Eukarya is the name for all families of plants and animals. All the plants and all the animals that have ever lived are a mere blip compared with the Prokaryotes (including during the Cambrian Explosion when there were zillions more species than there are today). The Prokaryotes have reigned supreme since life first appeared on this planet. No doubt they will outlive even the cockroach - by a mile.

In March they discovered bacteria that live in the Stratosphere, unrelated (as far as they can tell) to any Earth-based bacteria, yet "not alien." Don't you wonder how they figured that out? There's bacteria that lives on the searing-hot fissures in the deepest trenches at the very bottom of the ocean. There's bacteria that lives on antibiotics. There is! Your body is full of bacteria, most of it either benign or helpful. In fact, we couldn't live without it. Kind of creepy to think about, but true.

In spite of how high and mighty we sometimes think we are, the truth is, we humans are an anomaly on Earth, a moment, the blink of an eye. The viruses and bacteria are the one truly indigenous species. They have been, and they will be.

I'm thinking about this because of the Swine Flu, now finding its way out of Mexico into the U.S., Canada and Europe. My sister Hannah, who is one of the most psychic people I know, mentioned her concern last night. Then this morning, my neighbor (who is a chemist with the EPA) told me to "keep healthy." He was smiling, but still! I admit I'm a little bit scared.

Maybe I need to revise my opinion of the Mayan predicted doomsday in 2012. Do you think?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seasonal Profusions

Spring in DC is not stingy; it doesn't hold back. If Spring was some guy in a bar, it would be one of those friendly and ebullient people who talks loudly - and too much - and wears Hawaiian shirts. If spring was a guy in a bar it would buy drinks for the house. Yep, spring in DC is generous, almost to a fault.

It isn't in any hurry either. Unlike spring seasons in other places I've lived, right here Spring strolls slowly across the American midatlantic, adorning every square inch with color, shape and fragrance. Spring in DC is an outrageous piece of performance art.

Though not entranced by the green dust, I do love the bravado of spring. Even the weather is showy and in-your-face. Last night, for instance, after a super hot and breezy day, the twins Lightning and Thunder rolled through town, along with just enough rain to settle the green dust from yesterday's tree orgy. We had it all yesterday: heat, blinding sunlight, a few puffy clouds, plenty of pollen, then a sound and light show and a nice cool drink. Wow.

One great thing about Jake's advanced age is that thunderstorms no longer frighten him. I think he must be mostly deaf because although he was slightly concerned by the flashes of lightning, he did not feel compelled to wedge himself behind the toilet as he used to. There are some benefits to old age. Indeed!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life is Short - Go Ahead and Oscillate!

We are beings of oscillation. Off/On, Off/On. In fact, everything alive oscillates - from the subatomic level to the galactic. Oscillation is the essence of the rhythm of life. Sleep/wakefulness, happy/sad, inhale/exhale, work/rest. We need it all - the extremes, the mid-point, and especially the movement back and forth.

Sleep deprived people are groggy while "awake." Those who work all the time are stressed out and cranky, those who rest all the time are vague and blurry. People who live at one extreme or another are deprived of the spectrum of oscillation. The denial of the spectrum of oscillation sucks the life essence out of people. It does.

I am so uninterested in the idea of remaining fixed on a perfect point between the extremes. That's not oscillation, that's petrification. It's every bit as deadening, in my opinion, as staying fixed at the edges of the spectrum. Those who travel too far either this way or that way get disconnected from the idea of being centered, they become lost. Those who sacrifice the extremes in order to stay right in the center deny themselves the textures and colors of a life fully lived. Moderation in everything, say the great sages of Chinese medicine, including moderation!

Mastery of the dance includes the capacity to know when you've reached the edge of your oscillatory solar system, along with the ability to turn on a dime and move back in the opposite direction when you've gone about as far as you can go. It's a life-long art to learn, the dance of oscillation.

As you can see, I am in love with the pendulum, the turning wheel, the meandering path of the fully lived life. According to the cosmology of Reya: Work hard, rest "hard." Sleep well and then wake all the way up. Let yourself get really hungry, then eat a delicious meal, enjoy the hunger, then enjoy every bite. Don't forget to laugh, cry, love beyond all reason.

Life is short. That's what I've been thinking about this week as I rested "hard" and then launched into a serious work week. Vibro diem, ya'll. Oh yeah!

From the American Heritage dictionary:
Word History: The rather dry word oscillate may become a bit less dry when we learn its story. In a passage in the Georgics, Virgil applies the word to a small mask of Bacchus hung from trees to move back and forth in the breeze. From this word scillum may have come another word meaning "something, such as a swing, that moves up and down or back and forth." And this scillum was the source of the verb scillre, "to ride in a swing," and the noun (from the verb) scillti, "the action of swinging or oscillating." These words have given us, respectively, our verb oscillate, first recorded in 1726, and our noun oscillation, first recorded in 1658. The next time one sees something oscillating, one might think of that small mask of Bacchus swinging from a pine tree in the Roman countryside.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Get Back to Work, You

One great thing about a "real" weekend; i.e. sitting around doing nothing for a few days, is that at the end of the respite, work is again appealing. I'm headed out in a few minutes for a big weekend of work, ready to get to it.

I see this sort of thing all the time with my retired friends. When they first retire, they believe they'll be happy to play golf for the rest of their lives. And, for six months, they really are happy. After that they go back to work at Starbucks or the hardware store. Some retirees don't even wait for six months, but launch immediately back into volunteer work or go back to school straightaway. A life of complete, full-time leisure turns out to be boring, even depressing.

We humans are working animals. Sitting around with nothing to do isn't good for anyone. BUT - taking a break, resting in between bouts of work? A Very Good Thing. The Sabbath was - and still is - such a great idea.

Shabbat Shalom ya'll. Have a good weekend. Try taking a whole day off from all work, you'll be amazed at how refreshing it can be. Me? I'm rolling up my sleeves, ready for my work week. Oh yeah!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


One of my brilliant, Type-A clients admitted recently that he has realized a paradoxical truth. If he doesn't rest and take care of himself, he doesn't have enough energy to live the Type-A life. So he comes for regular bodywork, does yoga, gets enough sleep. Only through self care is he able to go from zero to sixty in two seconds flat. My client finds instant acceleration absolutely thrilling. In his opinion, Type-A is the only way to live. I should say that this guy is not hostile, aggressive or insecure at all (qualities often ascribed to Type-A's). But he definitely lives his life at full throttle, well, except on the massage table and yoga mat.

I love seeing the world through his eyes since I am so NOT a Type-A person. But - what am I? Wikipedia describes Type-B as "patient, relaxed, and easy-going." I'm not that either, except right after a massage or after seeing the Sufi acupuncturist. Wikipedia says, "There is also a Type-AB mixed profile for people who cannot be clearly categorized." I don't think I'm Type-AB either. I'm passionate but don't tilt full speed at life. What type is that?

The only reason I'm thinking about it is because this week, for a change, I didn't try to do everything during my days off. I've been listening to music, just sitting on my couch and zoning out. Ordinarily I never do that unless I'm sick. We Washingtonians, even me, the non-Type-A, move too fast, do too much. We try to never stop for anything, not ever, until we're frazzled and anxious, or ill.

Sometimes I wonder what we're thinking. Why the big rush? Why is everything so urgent? What does our frenzied behavior do for us? Any thoughts?

Crazy weather day yesterday. When I took this pic (that's my purple umbrella in the lower right corner) the sky was mostly clear with some big puffy clouds, but it was pouring rain. Huh?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Green Dust

When the trees begin to pollinate, my body rebels. I am extremely, terribly, awfully, horribly allergic to tree pollen. I used to be so angry about this particular reality, and justifiably so when you consider that, from late April through May, DC is at its most beautiful. It's warm but not hot, the air is soft but not muggy, and there are no bugs yet except butterflies and bees. All the trees have the freshest green leaves, every plant is tender and colorful. It's breathtaking. For me, it's literally breathtaking.

During the last couple of years, I've become far more philosophical about it. This morning I was thinking that my allergic reaction to the mating dance of the trees and grasses is a perfect constitutional description of whatever it is that made me so bad at Paganism. I was better at the high priestess thing, i.e. standing in the center of the circle being high and mighty, than I ever was at the regular Pagan thing - like dancing around the campfire naked. I never did that, not ever. Frolicking in the woods at Beltaine? No way. "Polyamory" as Pagans call it? NO! I liked the metaphorical sexuality of the Maypole for instance, but the free and open literal sexuality of Paganism was too free and too open for me.

So is it any wonder that, right now as the trees and grasses begin pouring the green dust all over the landscape, I'm about to become hypersensitive? It all makes sense, it does.

Happy Earth Day to all. Hey you trees and grasses - have a wild and unfettered orgy, by all means! But could you leave me out of it? Inter-species sex is always gross! Thanks, ya'll!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Tuesdays are my Saturdays; the first day of my "weekend." I love Tuesdays. Today I'll clean my room, run errands, cook a nice dinner. But before I do any of that, my plan is to sit right here on my couch, drink tea and read blogs. After that, Jake and I will take our stroll around the neighborhood. After that, the cleaning, the errands. Doesn't it sound like a perfect day? To me, yes.

A couple of updates for those who are interested: ever since I began seriously contemplating Jake's demise, he has perked up considerably. He barked when I went to work yesterday, something he hasn't done in awhile, then this morning when he saw the last dog still living with whom he used to fight, his tail rose up into a curl, his ears and head lifted high and he made a few moves, growled a little. He couldn't quite muster up any real aggression, but he gave it his best shot, bless his heart.

Also wanted to say that the client I visited in Critical Care is home and well on the road to recovery. It seems that the stroke was not as serious as was first thought and that he'll regain complete use of his body and mind. Thank God for that.

Are you ready to give up on something? My advice this morning? Wait awhile, maybe it will turn around. That's my motto today at least. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

I just joined an internet dating site. This is something I would never, not EVER, have considered doing in the past. Recently, though, it came to me that because I love the internet, blogging, Facebook and the ways in which, through these social networks, I've befriended people all over the world, maybe the internet dating idea could work for me. Who knows? I'm not counting on it, not bearing down on the idea, but why not give it a whirl?

The hardest part was writing a few paragraphs about who I am and what I'm looking for. What am I looking for? I couldn't figure out a polite way to say I have no frickin idea! Even harder was trying to describe myself. I settled on adjectives like "active" and "curious" and named some of the things I'm interested in. It was an excruciating exercise somewhat akin to the way I feel when trying on clothes at Macy's. But I kept my good humor as I wrote it.

Before she found true love (not through the internet, btw), my friend Velvet of the great blog Velvet in Dupont wrote the most hilarious stories about her internet dating experiences. I can't imagine having as much fun as she did, but maybe there will be stories to tell, funny stories - or, more fitting with the way I greet the world - poignant stories of human nature. Or maybe nothing will come of it, who knows?

Wish me luck? Thanks ya'll.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


One of my favorite spring in DC phenomena is the birdsong. In addition to all the birds who come back to the District to hang out for the summer, we are visited, from March through May, by a whole bunch of migrating birds on their way from somewhere south of here to somewhere north of here.

I read that one hundred years ago there was almost twice as much birdsong in the midatlantic during spring as there is now. The idea boggles the mind because really there are so many birds doing so much singing at this time of year, it's hard to imagine twice as much sound. It's really loud - a bird chorus, a bird opera, a bird rock concert ongoing every day from before dawn until about 10 in the morning. The only human equivalent that comes to mind is Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 ("the Inextinguishable"). There are so many instruments playing, and yet it's incredibly beautiful.

There's one migrating bird in particular whose song is simple and - to me at least - heart opening in the most elegant way imaginable. When I hear that song each spring, it makes me want to cry (in a good way) or transcend my body and float up to the clouds, or write a poem (something I am genetically incapable of). One time on a piano I figured out that this bird's song is one extended E followed by a pause and then three F sharps. Sometimes there are four or five F sharps. Then a pause, back to E. It sounds more like a bell than the whistle sound some birds make. It isn't a chirp, it's a tone. It is so beautiful.

No one I know can name this bird, including a client who is a bird specialist for the Smithsonian. The bird is in town now, accompanying, as it always does, the blooming dogwoods, tulips, and "chubby" clump cherries, singing its heart wrenching song in the midst of a hundred other songs. That bird's song is good for my soul, it is.

Sing on, modern day dinosaurs! Wake me up before it gets light, it's OK by me. Sing on, I am listening! And thank you so much!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Fading Jake

I've been thinking about Jake's death. Because he's my dog, I have the terrible responsibility of deciding whether to allow him to linger until he's so miserable he can't walk, or taking him for a drug overdose at some point before then.

Philosophically it makes sense to let nature take its course, but one of the other dogs in our household, who is the same age as Jake, is suffering terribly, yet my roommate cannot bring himself to have her euthanized. Watching her struggle every day, and knowing how much pain she's in, has set in my mind the resolve that I will not wait until Jake is that miserable. I won't. A part of nature taking its course includes my ability to feel compassion for my dog. They shoot horses, don't they?

Endings are always hard for me in so many ways. I am not great a choosing the right time to quit anything - projects, jobs, relationships - either I end them prematurely just as they're about to turn a corner towards the better, or I wait until they are long past their expiration date.

How in the world will I decide when it's the right time for Jake? People say I'll "know," but will I? It's a daunting responsibility, so well worth contemplating. Hope this isn't too grim! I know I'll be very sad when the time comes, but as my roommate says, what could be better for a rescue dog than to die of old age? Jake has outlived all the vets' predictions, so all the time he has left is gravy.

I'm watching him fade, and asking in my heart of hearts to know, for sure, when the time is right. It will be my last act of love and devotion for my old dog. But that day is not today. Right now we're on our way out the door on this absolutely gorgeous spring day in DC for the slow stroll that he's capable of.

Happy weekend, ya'll. Carpe diem!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I did a quick search but did not find the literal English translation of the title of Milan Kundera's book ("Nesnesiteln√° lehkost byt"). Anybody out there speak Czech? I just wondered since sometimes a lot gets changed in translation. One of my favorite movies, called "Wings of Desire" in English, is named "Angels over Berlin" in German. I definitely prefer the German name to the translation. Even hearing the German words spoken aloud seems more fitting than "Wings of Desire."

Though - it's hard to imagine any phrase more beautiful, more perfect, than the unbearable lightness of being. It explains everything. The phrase kept looping through my mind as I sat on a bench in Lafayette Square yesterday. The park was awash with light, color, a whole lot of chirping, even some early season buzzing. Waves of sound from the Iranian protest in the distance came and went with the breeze. Every now and then about a dozen pigeons, for reasons I'm not likely to ever understand, would leave their perches, fly figure eights around the square and then return to the same tree where they'd been in the first place. For all I know, they returned to the same branches.

All the zillions of bright red tulips were impossible to ignore (who would want to?), children were whining and trudging alongside their parents, field trip guides were shouting to the groups of restless kids in front of them about the history of the White House. Of course there were also dozens of suited people talking on the cel phones, rushing by. How do those women walk so fast in those high heels?

There was so much BEING, so much LIFE going on in the square, it was almost overwhelming, almost unbearable.

Spring in DC is not shy. It comes on full blast. I was feeling a happy variety of awe yesterday, but some days all that action makes me so moody. I surrender to the power of Spring. Yowza.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trying Not to Complain

Rain is a good thing, I know that. Without it this luscious swamp where I live would shrivel up. The flowers would wilt, the trees would die, the birds would beat a hasty retreat to wetter landscapes.

In fact, there are many times when I actually enjoy the rain. After a super hot series of summer days, there's nothing so refreshing to mind and body as a big thunderstorm rolling through. It cleans the air and clears away the heat. Everything perks up after a summer storm.

Cold winter rains can be nice, too, if I have a good book to read, lots of tea, and no reason to be out and about.

However, a cold rain with a driving wind and winterish temperatures on April 15th? That I did not enjoy, even though I knew we needed the rain.

But, it's over now. The sky is brilliant blue and the sunshine is making everything sparkle. Though still inclined to winge a bit, I'll stop right now. The rain wasn't some personal assault intended to annoy me. For heaven's sake. Onwards & upwards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I'm a mystic, a psychic, so why don't I have an opinion about what's going to happen on winter solstice in 2012? Imagine me shrugging my shoulders. Who knows what's going to happen? Probably a whole lot of nothing exceptional.

Maybe I'm wrong, and the world is going to end, or "Christ consciousness" is going to arise, or suddenly we're going to understand that peace is the path and change our ways ... or ... maybe it'll just be one of the final shopping days before Christmas, just like it always is.

I'm not being cynical here, really I'm not. I don't blame anyone who hopes and prays for a big dramatic shift that takes place overnight. People all over the world have wondered about doomsday. There are myths from almost every culture from the north pole to the south pole, throughout history, about the end of time.

Nothing lasts forever, that's for sure, but the idea of a sudden and dramatic end of the world is not a belief I can buy into. You see I remember the Harmonic Convergence. That day was supposed to mark a dramatic shift in human consciousness. Hey I got out there in the morning with my crystal and Ohmmmed along with the crowd. I was quite hopeful. What I remember is that my scooter developed a flat tire that day. Does that seem harmonic to you? Me neither. As for the big shift in human consciousness? I saw no evidence of it. Pfffft.

As a species we are so impatient. We want the fireworks, the instant gratification of dramatic change. Who could blame us? It sounds so interesting. But the way the world works is slow compared to our quicksilver lifetimes. Hence our hopes that maybe something really big will change everything all at once are a little self-centered. Things change, just not on our human timelines.

I do think Something Is Happening; I think through blogging, Skype, Facebook and Twitter (etc.) people all over the world are interconnecting in ways that have never before been possible. I think 'multi-tasking,' (for instance, talking on the phone while simultaneously driving and listening to music) is forging new neural pathways in our brains. Some of the fallout from all that extra brain activity includes Alzheimers, ADD, OCD and Autism. Speeding up the human brain the way we have during the last one hundred years inevitably leads to big problems. But we have to evolve, we have to, because we can no longer follow the evolutionary path of our past - which was to increase cranial size. Our heads are so big we can barely be born as it is.

Yes, I think we're on the edge of Something Very Big. Even the sheer volume of humans on the planet at this time seems, to me, to be part of building a critical mass to take us through an evolutionary doorway. But the idea that it's all going to happen during a particular twenty-four hour period just because the Mayans said so? I remain skeptical. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bloggers in Dreams

Sometimes when I'm really tired, I don't dream or don't remember my dreams. I call this "survival sleep." I was so whacked last night I expected a night of survival sleep, but I was wrong. Last night, my dreamscape was full. As is often true, bloggers were hanging out in my dreams.

Some of the dreams were stupid. In one I was telling a blogger she should update her "vestigial" link list. I even used that word in the dream. That, if you ask me, is a waste of dream time since in "real" life I have no opinion or agenda around anyone's link list. In fact, I believe the blog link list is an expression of something quite core about the blogger so it should be exactly what the blogger wants. Ah, but not in my dream, apparently. Maybe this came up since I just changed my banner and page colors.

There were other silly dreams, for instance in a quick dream snip I discovered that Tom of Half Moose with a Twist was only twenty years old.

The most interesting dream involved a dark cave with a foot of water on the bottom, full of Very Scary Things like a creepy dead snake in the process of being devoured by maggots. I had two wallets in the dream, one of which I had left in the cave. Steve of Shadows and Light bravely accompanied me when I went back into the cave to get the wallet. It was there with all the money and cards intact. Thanks, Steve!

Two out of the three bloggers I dreamed about last night are people I have never met, but still they loom large in my subconscious, obviously. Steve is also a friend in "real" life, definitely brave enough and kind enough to help me retrieve my wallet.

Obviously blogging is a big thing for me. I make no apologies for that fact. But I am curious. Does anyone else dream about bloggers or is it just me?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Happy Fatigue

There are so many different varieties of fatigue, have you noticed? There's the great, satisfying tired that follows lots of exercise or hard work well done. That kind of fatigue always leads to a blissful night of sleep.

Unfortunately, there any many brands of tired that aren't nearly so nice. There's the bone weariness that comes from an extended bout of anxiety, there's stress-fatigue that keeps me from sleeping and therefore worsens over time. There's a soul level tired that attends worry over people I love when they are struggling. No amount of sleep will cure that one. When my immune system is battling a virus, I'm tired, too, but that resolves itself with time, sleep, and chicken soup.

Today I'm dog tired because I worked hard all weekend including all the cooking for Saturday night. It's a really good kind of fatigue I'm experiencing today; the party was a total success, my clients benefited from their sessions and I feel I did well by them.

Am I whipped? Yes. Knackered? Oh yeah. But satisfied. Really looking forward to my Tuesday-Wednesday weekend, uh-huh!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Life is Sweet

Easter and Passover were pre-empted this year in the house on Tennessee Avenue so we could devote all our energy to celebrating my roommate's fiftieth birthday.

I spent all day yesterday in the kitchen cooking. I was like a mad scientist, measuring and stirring and adding this and that to my various concoctions. Meanwhile the rain poured down outside. Just before the guests arrived, the sky cleared and the house filled up with sparkling sunshine.

The conversation was wonderful, the food was good. A feeling of love and good will circled around the table. And even though we shared a bottle of Dom Perignon afterwards, I have no trace of a hangover. I love champagne but rarely touch it these days because the price I pay afterwards is way too steep. I guess it's true about really fine wine, that it is gentler on the body. Or maybe it was the feeling of love and celebration that made the difference.

There is really nothing quite as special as breaking bread with people you care about, whether that takes the form of a Seder, Easter dinner, or a birthday party.

L'Chaim, ya'll. Cheers!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Warm Chill

It was a perfect spring day yesterday. Jake, who is as old as Croesus, sometimes just isn't up for any kind of walk. But I was able to persuade him to cross Lincoln Park, a distance of two blocks, so we could hang out in one of Capitol Hill's funny little triangle parks. Some are fancy with trees and benches, some not so much. Yesterday we settled down at the narrow end of the grassy triangle on Kentucky SE between Independence and Lincoln Park. I bet we sat there for an hour. I wasn't wearing a watch so I can't be sure.

Even in ancient old age, life has its pleasures. Jake's nose twitched as he sniffed the air, his eyes lit up as he watched squirrels and cats dashing around in the yards across the street. He lay out in full sunlight, soaking up the warmth into his old bones.

Actually, I did the same thing - well except for getting excited to see squirrels and cats. The blessings of just sitting, just being with a beautiful day like yesterday are many, they really are.

To all who celebrate it, many kind thoughts as you go through the ritual of Good Friday. For my fellow Jews, hunker down, ya'll. It's a long trek through the desert. To everyone else, happy weekend.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Questions of Faith

I am a person of faith, I am. Is it a perfect faith? Oh. My. God. Far from it. My faith is full of gaping holes. It is a landscape of tall mountains and sharp ravines. There are pure clear lakes, raging rivers and skanky swamps in the landscape of my faith. There are forest fires, volcanic eruptions. There are also peaceful meadows buzzing with chirping crickets, and clear skies spangled with stars.

Is my faith perfect? Hell no! But it is complete, it is whole. I wonder if I can explain this. As often as I believe wholeheartedly, I doubt wholeheartedly. As devout as I am, I speculate, wonder and dismiss. I shift my faith around all the time, reshape it to fit whatever state of mind I'm in. Some days I struggle with all my might to believe in anything. But there is never a day when I disbelieve. Does that make sense?

One thing I don't understand (probably because I've never achieved it) is perfect faith, something that never falters, not ever. I know there are people who have this kind of faith and I salute them even though I don't get it. There are even people whose atheism is flawless and perfect. That anti-faith faith blows my mind.

It occurs to me, though, that if my faith was perfect, I would not be so engaged in the dance of the spirit. There would be no need for the proverbial leaps of faith nor would I ever have to put my critical mind to the task of wondering. My faith is a worthy adversary that keeps me on my toes, makes me think and work every single day. I am so grateful for my imperfect faith. Thanks, God! I mean it, thank you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Then What?

Buddha statue in Ten Penh, a fabulous DC restaurant. I'd had a couple of glasses of wine when I took the pic. It does evoke spirit guidance, though ... doesn't it?

You've figured out what you need help with, and you've contacted a spirit guide or two. What are you supposed to do then? Well, just as with any relationship, the next steps involve developing a rapport that works for you, finding a way of receiving guidance that doesn't creep you out and isn't too confusing, developing trust, etc. It's just like any other relationship. You have to work with it, you have to relate.

Some spirit guides stay with you forever. But sometimes relationships with spirit guides must end. During the time when I was doing so much shamanic work on the American Civil War battlefields, I was guided by "Bill" - an excessively polite spirit guide with a serious Southern drawl. He was sweet. When I stopped doing that work, Bill and I parted ways amicably. Another time I picked up a trickster spirit who had me convinced that because I could never trust his guidance, I would become very wise. What a load of crap, eh? When I finally shook myself out of that delusion, he was gone so fast that I believe the door did not hit his butt on the way out.

Spirit guides are not the end all and be all. They can not do everything and are not the answer for everything. I have three spirit guides who assist me in my healing work. But to do the work, I also had to go to massage school, pass the National Certification test, find a place to practice, and build my client base. If you've suffered some trauma and would like to heal, a guide can help you find the right psychotherapist or acupuncturist, or can help you figure out a way that you can pay for the therapy you need. As you can see I believe that working with spirit guides is a partnership. It doesn't work to sit around and wait for them to fix our problems.

I also want to say that you can lead a long, happy and successful life without ever contacting your guides. They will guide you whether you talk to them or not - ego is not a factor for these beings. They have guided you your whole life; they have guided you to read this post in fact. But they need not be acknowledged. All will be well.

Thanks for the wealth of wisdom via the amazing comments yesterday and the day before. If Grandpa passes along any more "recipes" I'll certainly share them. Be well, ya'll. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Buddha statue in a window, facing the street. Interesting that the residents of this house look at the back of the statue. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spirit Guide Do's 'n Don'ts

This post is not about trying to convince anyone that spirit guides are "real." I've worked with guides for many many years and yet I still have my doubts about whether or not they "truly" exist. If you're curious to hear how I avail myself of what I think of as a human birthright to access a wisdom that's greater and more pervasive than rational function, read on. If not, that's great, too. I have no agenda.

My first guide came to me long ago, during my 20's, in the form of sudden flashes of insight that arrived fully formed and were confirmed to be "true" by external sources. For instance, I used to read newspaper horoscopes but I always thought they were total crap. One day while I was taking a long walk, the "story" of astrology came to me from out of the nowhere. As a result, I decided to take a class. When I told the "story" of astrology during my turn in the first class (when everyone says why they're taking the class), the teacher's jaw dropped. She said, "Where did you learn that?" I was so taken aback that I lied, said I'd read it somewhere, but she shook her head NO. She told me it was an arcane astrological theory that was kept secret, only passed to astrological adepts at a certain point in their training. On the spot, I lied again - I said I had learned it from an old lady who grew herbs and was a healer, who had learned astrology from her grandmother. As it turned out, I wasn't really lying, I was describing my oldest spirit guide. That was thirty years ago. She has been guiding me ever since.

Sometimes they come to you the way my first one did. Sometimes, though, you have to ask for help.

If you want to contact your spirit guides, first of all think about what you'd like some help with. There are many presences or beings or intelligences or whatever you want to call them who will only waste your time, and of course there are some Really Not Very Nice intelligences that cause people all kinds of trouble - you do NOT want to get involved with a being who tells you to go shoot everyone at the mall. No. Do not go there, people!

Maybe you're chronically anxious and would love to avail yourself of some wisdom and comfort to help you learn a different way of walking through the world. Or you've moved from one job to the next but nothing satisfies and you'd really like to know your soul's purpose. If you've suffered losses or endured trauma, spirit guides can help you figure out how to heal from these experiences, and gather all the possible wisdom from them that you can. Got a problem that defies solution through the rational process? Ask. It'll happen.

I've never yet "met" a guide who can help you win the lottery; money just isn't a driving force in the astral plane. What a shame, yes? (Just kidding.) But for core human situations and dilemmas, they can be a great help.

Once you have in mind what you'd like to work on, then open your heart, ask silently, from your heart of hearts, for some help. You might have to do this a number of times - please be patient. It will happen if you're sincere and persistent. After you ask, you have to make space to "listen." You have to open your mind and heart, you have to become "empty" and curious. If you don't, then the tyrannical rational function will never shut up long enough to allow the great wisdom in.

Guidance comes in many ways, for instance as a daydream or a sudden flash. Some people "see" - in the mind's eye - a figure of some kind. Others "hear" voices. For some it is more a sensate experience of presence. For some people, guides come to them in regular dreams. It varies from individual to individual. Be open to however it comes.

The best and most universal place of contact with guides is in the shower. Neurologists have noticed that when the brain relaxes, insights come more frequently. Many people get their best ideas while in the shower, or put things together, solve problems, etc. I call it The Voice in the Shower. It is a very powerful guide. Here's an article from the Telegraph about the phenomenon. Or you could read about it here in the New Yorker article. I think what happens when the brain relaxes is that a channel opens so the greater wisdom can enter.

There are probably thousands of guided meditations out there on the internet that will take you to a place in the imaginal realm where you can meet your guides. Use your skeptical mind when investigating these possibilities, please! The internet is full of bulls**t as we all know.

When you do make contact with a presence, it's always a great idea to ask his/her/its name. Open your mind and wait. The first name that comes to you is usually the right one. But if your intuition sends up a red flag, ask again. Be demanding - this process is like a job interview. You need the right guide, believe me. Watch out for trickster guides who can not help you and will just confuse you.

Here are some things spirit guides should never do:

They may not command you, tell you what to do. Guidance is about suggestions that often come in the form of riddles or puzzles that you have to work out.

If they suggest acts of violence or ill will, send them away. Guides must always suggest acts of compassion and peace.

If they invoke in you a sense of paranoia - by telling you, for instance, that someone is "against" you, get rid of them.

If they want to be your lover, then this is not a spirit guide but some other kind of intelligence that wants to syphon your life force for their own purposes. You are human - if you want a lover, find a human lover, please! Cross species sex is always gross!

To send a spirit guide packing, be polite but firm. In your mind or out loud say, "Thank you for coming, but I will not work with you. GO!" Say it like you mean it, they'll leave.

This post is way too long. I'm sure I forgot certain bits I meant to put in here - when they come to me I'll add them into the comments section. Questions? Thoughts? Judgments?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grandpa's Spring Tonics

I have spirit guides. I do. I used to be embarrassed to admit this, and even now, decades after the first one of my gang contacted me, I still have my doubts about whether or not they are "real."

The skeptical mind is a good thing, a necessary thing, I think anyway. True believers who never have a doubt about their faith are the kind of people who can be convinced to fly airplanes into buildings, to kill themselves "for God."

Nope, mine is not a pure faith. However, after "listening" to, and working with these spirit guides over time, I have gained access to a lot of wisdom, creativity, healing techniques, comfort and life guidance that is not available from more conventional sources (like classes, books, friends, family - all of which I also learn from every day).

One of my spirit guides, an old dude who calls himself "Grandpa," recently passed along a couple of great recipes for tonics that address springtime malaise. I offer them here for you, too. Take 'em or leave 'em.


In the following order, bring these things into your mind one by one. As they come to you, let yourself actually feel, in your heart, the gratitude, love, and happiness.

20 things you are grateful for
10 people you love
5 things that make you happy
1 place or landscape where you feel completely at home

For that last one, imagine yourself there. Bring every detail into your mind and heart.

Say AMEN out loud. Grandpa says you can laugh if you want.


For at least a week eat/drink twice as much of these things as you usually do:

Apples, pears, berries
Bitter greens (arugula, etc.)
Olive oil

At the same time, eat/drink half as much of the following as you usually do:

Dairy Products


Some people think I'm a few chips short of a fish dinner because I claim to have spirit guides. I don't know, maybe it's true. But I'm so grateful to the gang for all their help and all their wisdom. What would I do without them?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Micro Seasons

Springtime is beginning to mature. It has definitely left the newborn phase and is moving now into infancy. Spring, right now, is like the little chick when its fuzz falls out to make room for feathers, or like a human baby when the umbilical stub falls out, the eyes open fully and develop a definite color. Yep. Springtime is moving through its developmental cycle.

Even the birdsong is developing, changing from the newborn spring sound of cooing doves and an occasional robin to the massive chorus it will be in a few weeks when the migrating birds move through. That morning sound is so like the moment when the half-assed bleating of a newborn human becomes that full throated infant shriek that sends new parents into a panic.

Just now I was about to make the mistake of saying that we humans are more like nature than not like nature. Ummmm ... we ARE completely, 100% natural, even if we like to think of ourselves as distinct. Hello! Yes yes yes we worry and fret and think and pray. We shape for ourselves very fancy environments with our opposable thumbs, but how is that any different than the magnificent creations of ants, bees, beavers, birds (and so many other species)? When I see a perfect robin's nest I am always in awe that they can create such perfection without instructional DVD's or Crazy Glue, without thumbs - without hands of any kind for heaven's sake.

The cherry bloom has passed its peak. Brand new green leaves are appearing alongside the blossoms. I saw the first tulips just yesterday. Spring is maturing. And the circle of the seasons continues. "Onwards & upwards" is a universal phenomenon, oh yeah!

Inadvertently I caught my brother, the Capitol, in this pic. I was holding the camera almost at ground level so it was impossible to see all I was capturing. Very cool.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Waiting Room

Purgatory is the condition or process of purification in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.

That's what the Critical Care Unit I visited this past week felt like: a processing center, a waiting room, a place beyond time and outside of "normal reality" where patients teeter between this world and the next. The patients themselves are utterly fragile, strapped in to their high tech beds, hooked up to monitors and intravenous tubes. There's so much machinery around them, so much stuff dripping into their arms, down their throats, that I couldn't help but immediately think about the Borg. That wasn't very compassionate of me, was it?

The electric hums, ticking, beeping and other rhythmic noise would drive me crazy over time. The patients are so out of it that it probably doesn't annoy them. I felt for the nurses, though, who are healthy, caring people. I can't for the life of me figure out how they do their jobs, day after day. Wow.

As it turned out the nurses seemed relieved to see me - don't know why. I didn't ask and they didn't offer any reasons why it was OK to break hospital rules. Maybe they do it all the time, I don't know. They left me with my client for about a half hour, watching, from the other side of the room. Who knows what his family told them. They seemed curious.

My client was already on the mend by the time I got there, breathing without the respirator, thank God, but he wasn't alert enough for normal interaction. I sat next to him for a few minutes, let my hand rest on one small square of his arm that wasn't hooked up to anything. I talked to him for awhile, the same way I talk to ghosts, I noticed. I can't remember what I said, but my tone of voice was congenial, I think. The whole time I sat there I could not locate his energy field, something that ordinarily is quite palpable and robust. Where was his energy? Maybe I'll never know.

When it felt right to do so, I stood up, traced the schematic pattern of soul retrieval over his body (three times just to make sure), after which I did some of my shamanic "dancing" - slow motion movements that I believe have an impact on energy flow, though - who knows? The nurses were very entertained and maybe that was the most positive effect of my visit. Cheerful nurses give better care, I bet.

My client will recover fully, they say. He's out of critical care now, in a regular hospital room. He is conscious, eating, speaking. It was a close call, but he's going to make it. Thank God.

Be well, ya'all. Stay out of critical care, you hear me? I mean it! OK.