Saturday, August 31, 2013

The long view

A life is just a life, no more than that, but no less either. This is one of the gifts age 60 has given me. It's a gift that is not possible before this age. The long view. The wider perspective.

It's a good thing it's not possible to know that life is just a life during the 20s, 30s, 40s. We're meant to strive and struggle, try to understand ourselves, expand our fiefdoms by partnering, marrying, having kids. We're meant to strive and struggle at work, too, during early adulthood. It's a rather significant chunk of a life.

Before age 50 (in general, I'm not talking about everyone of course) we have to wonder if we should have or could have, or if, going forward, we should or could _____________ (fill in the blank). At 50, in general, all the particulars that seemed crucial earlier in life become less important. OK, we aren't rocket scientists or brain surgeons or famous violinists, or we didn't live for a year in Paris as we had planned. We let go of ambitions that were never achieved, we begin to deeply appreciate the sweetness of our lives as they unfolded, not as we wished they had.

Life is so sweet at age 60, absolutely precious. I never, not ever, thought I would feel this way. The perspective is well worth the indignities of old age, including living in a society that is tragically ageist.

At least it is for me.

A friend said recently that earlier in life, we must be like a tree, we must grow tall and strong, produce beautiful foliage and delicious fruits. In old age it is our job to become the forest. I keep thinking about that idea, of becoming the forest. It resonates.

Today and tomorrow I'm gathering my wits about me prior to Monday morning when John, Manuel and I will pack our stuff in the Prius, drive through Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna river. After Corning, we'll be officially in the land of the finger lakes.

For years, I've wanted to go up there. I've heard the call, but never did anything about it. This year I am 60. What the hell am I waiting for?

The condo where we're staying at Lake Canandaigua has a dock on the water and a panoramic view of the lake. The moon will be dark so if there's a clear night, I'll get to see the Milky Way. You can't imagine what this means to me.

We are going for hikes on trails with waterfalls, we'll visit the wineries and Canandaigua's little downtown. In the evenings we'll cook, watch movies, drink wine. We've got books and a jigsaw puzzle and wi-fi. We are so excited!

I hope to tune in to the wisdom of Hiawatha, of the Iroquois nation especially the Seneca, a tribe I've had a heart connection with for many years. I love my book of Seneca folktales and mythology. Those are some crazy stories they told! For instance, the creator of the world as we know it, Sky Mother, was pushed by her husband through a hole in the sky. If not for her fall, we would not be. It's interesting to think about!

I believe mythology arises from the landscape. I wonder if I'll be able to feel that from the land, or if the spirits will speak to me. I'm going to try to find the right wavelength, perhaps not possible in five days. It's worth a try.

A trip to the finger lakes is about to become a folktale in the Reyaverse, one of the stories of my life. It's just a life, that's all. It's no more than a life, but no less either. I look forward to adding this story to my myth cycle. It feels epic.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spin Cycle

I haven't posted here in a few days, certainly not because I couldn't think of anything to write about. I have too much to write about. Several ideas have gotten tangled up inside my head. I need to sort through these ideas, detangle, defrizz. I need a deep mind conditioner! Is there such a thing?

What keeps coming up to the surface of my thoughts in recent days includes excitement about next week's trip to the Finger Lakes. I am SO EXCITED!

I'm also entertaining thoughts about the coming of fall which is right around the corner in Washington DC. Yay. I'm very grateful the earth spins on an axis, that our beautiful planet wobbles back and forth. If it didn't, there would be no seasons. If there were no seasons, there would be no spring flowers, the leaves would never turn colors. There would be no solstice. Life on earth would be very different, for sure. There would not be migrations most likely, and as for we humans, who would probably live on a narrow strip of the planet where conditions were hospitable, well, we humans would have never invented stories about resurrections and reincarnations because there would not be the season of spring, following on the heels of deep winter, from which to be inspired.

At least I imagine life would be very different. You see, these ideas are not yet fully formed.

I'm thinking about Jerusalem, how much I want to visit, and also Iceland, a place I have wanted to visit for many years. Do you know that the hot water that comes out of Icelandic faucets has been COOLED? Yes. The water comes out of the ground at 800 F. The land of fire and ice! It's on my bucket list.

I realized one reason I have problems when traveling is that I don't take good care of myself when I get outside my usual routines. I don't meditate or do any of my morning practice, I drink lots of coffee and eat everything including foods I know don't agree with me. I become cranky, can't sleep and my stomach gets extra dodgy - of course! There's a reason I take care of myself when I'm at home -- it really helps. I am resolved to take good care of myself when we're out of town next week and when I'm in Oregon for Thanksgiving. This may turn around the idea that I hate travelling. I hope so.

That's a whole other story, my decision to spend T-day with family this year. It's a departure from the old rules of Reya, i.e. Never Travel During the Holidays.

The cobwebs are being blown off many of my old rules, exposing them for what they are - just stories.

I hope I'll soon be in a place where I can develop some new stories and share them here. It might take awhile, you never know.

In the meantime, happy Thursday, y'all. Shalom.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I'm making my way, slowly but surely, through the book Zealot by Reza Asian. I am a very slow reader anyway, and when a book makes me think, well, the process slows even more because I'll read for awhile, then stop and think it through, sometimes re-read, let the ideas sink even deeper into the funky recesses of my mind.

I'm in the second half of the book, in which he talks about the rift between James and Paul, and the shift of the movement from a sub-culture of Judaism into a separate religion. It's all about the resurrection! I knew that, but it never sank in, how powerful this idea would be to first and second century people of the Roman Empire.

In Hinduism, resurrection is rather normal. Divine beings incarnate often as human presences in the world. There are a million tales of the avatars of the gods. They are fabulous stories, by the way, in case you've never read any of them. Confusing, yes, but very fun, dramatic, exciting and uplifting, too.

I had never made the connection between Hinduism and Christianity before. Jesus was an avatar of a divine being, according to Paul. That made the tradition decidedly not Jewish. There were other factors, too, of course.

I see resurrections often, don't you? Just the other day, I saw a dead cicada on the sidewalk. Instead of sweeping him up and putting him in the trash, I moved him out of the way (so I wouldn't step on him), then went on about my day. About an hour later when I came back to the chateau, he was gone.

Resurrected! Or ... something ate him, always a possibility with all the birds around here, not to mention hornets or other large, carnivorous insects. Maybe he wasn't quite dead yet and flew away. Who knows?

I remember Jake at the end of his life, so weak and sickly I thought he would expire at any moment, but when I took him to the vet to do the dirty deed, he was suddenly filled with vigor and actually tried to escape the room of death. It was a horrible moment, believe me! And - not exactly a resurrection, but something akin to it. Eventually he settled down and they injected him and then he was gone for real. Even remembering it makes me want to throw up.

The man, Jesus, was crucified like many others. The Romans were brutal! But then something happened. No one can say what it was for sure. Everyone has an idea about it, depending on their faith or lack thereof. But something happened! And the world has never been the same. It is so interesting to think about.

For now, all thoughts of resurrection must be put aside so I can attend to the living clients who are scheduled to come get some healing today. Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I remember the olden days

The weather here explains everything. Yesterday was thick and dank smelling, a non day of gloomy overcast with an occasional, spitting rain. It was not hot but so muggy I closed all the windows and used the A/C. Just like the weather (of course) I was dark and moody, only rising out of my malaise to work.

The weather gathered a bunch of crappy energy, then swept it away with the rain, leaving the landscape fresh and crisp this morning. The air was light. It was silver and gold, very unusual in August. My mind and heart were full of silver and gold light, tra-la. It was a glorious day that felt divine and ethereal, kind of perfect for the gathering to honor the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Every time there's a sizable demo, busses bring demonstrator/marchers to RFK stadium, on the eastern edge of Capitol Hill. The people walk from there to the mall, through Lincoln Park and down East Capitol street. The vibe, depending on the demo, can be sweet, inspiring, frightening or creepy. God bless America that we can express our opinions openly. We are very lucky.

Sadly I was unable to get down to the mall to check out the energy, but I chatted briefly with a few of the people who walked past the chateau on their way. Lovely people.

I only saw my mother cry three times. Once was the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. It was a very scary time. The president was assassinated and his brother, and then MLK. It felt like we were about to fall into the abyss. My parents were very brave to work openly for Civil Rights.

I'm thinking of them today, honoring their courage and integrity. And I marvel at all that has changed since that day. I know there's more work to do, but in my life so much has happened. It's kind of miraculous.


People on their way to the mall. That woman on the far left, facing away, arms akimbo - she was here 50 years ago. She was very spry.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home

It has been an odd few days since I returned from my friends' house on the river. Like me, they relate quite easily to the dead - a good thing since that landscape, the Whitings Neck of the Potomac river, is thick with ghosts. After they bought the house and began spending time there, the first layer of ghostly presence they perceived was the river of Civil War dead. It's not surprising since the Antietam/Sharpsburg battlefield is only a few miles away.

There are layers of ghosts that somehow got stuck on their way from point A to point B, including one Victorian ghost who shows up in dreams, saying she needs horsehair. I saw her over the weekend, but one of my friends had already dreamed about her. There are Indian ghosts, too, who come and go, depending on the situation. Things move around in their house, lights flicker or go off, or - as happened over the weekend - in the middle of the night while we were all fast asleep, a light turned itself on, waking up one of my friends. One time they were doing the dishes when a bell in the other room started ringing. Tom turned to Rod and said, "An angel has just gotten his wings." They laughed and kept washing dishes.

These are my people.

For these friends, as is true for me, this is completely normal, and for them as for me, quite entertaining. It is such a relief to spend time with other people who sense the dead. I don't feel as if I have to keep explaining myself as I do with many DC friends. I live in a city in which rationality is highly valued, where emotions, sensitivities and anything "woo-woo" is frowned upon or made fun of. Sometimes I chafe at the way people dismiss my world view, other times I don't care. But I surely love spending time with like minded folks, hence re-entry into cerebral DC can be kind of a shock.

Ah, am I whinging? I will stop right now. I love my beautiful, powerful, wounded city including my friends who value rationality over everything.

Life is good and I am grateful. And there's no place like home.


Monday, August 19, 2013

How brightly does your light shine?

Brother Sun dancing on the surface of the Potomac River. Charismatic!!

What is charisma? Is it the same as charm? Is it about being sexy? Perhaps it has something to do with looks - but not necessarily. I'm thinking about it while reading Zealot, by Reza Asian. The book is about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. Well - wow - is it interesting!

The two things about Jesus that interest me at the moment are his talents as a faith healer and his charisma.

About his skills in healing, there is no argument. Everyone who ever wrote about him - in the bible and elsewhere (for instance, Roman historians) - wrote extensively about how he healed the sick and exorcized demons from the possessed. Everyone agreed he was really good.

He healed for free. Now that is really something. Wow.

And he drew large crowds, not because his message was brand new or unique - there were a lot of self proclaimed messiahs at that moment in history, preaching more or less the same thing - but they didn't have "it." You know - IT. But Jesus did. It's interesting to think about.

In the Reyaverse, each of us hosts a nature soul. We have other souls, too, that come and go from our bodies and the bodies of others. But the nature soul is singular. It incarnates as a human only once. It's a personal soul. After incarnating once, it returns to an earthly form. It incarnates as a forest or mountain, a river or meadow, or a swamp. A desert. You know.

People who are charismatic have very powerful nature souls. Encountering these people causes reactions similar to what happens when we see mountain ranges or the sea. We can't help but say, "Oh wow." A powerful nature soul inspires and creates awe in a way that's almost separate from the personality of the person hosting that soul.

It isn't as rare as it would seem, actually. Public figures of every kind often have powerful nature souls. Michelle Obama is a good example. No matter how you feel about her as a person, surely you can see she radiates something very powerful, yes? I'm sure there are sports figures who have powerful nature souls. I'm not a sports person so wouldn't know the names. Of course there are many movie stars and musicians who have incredible nature souls. Something about them, even if you don't appreciate their personalities, makes you stop and take notice. Mick Jagger has a very powerful nature soul. Good lord he is eternal. So is the Dalai Lama. Elvis. Bill Clinton. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my meaning, yes?

Charisma also entails bringing through the body a particular energy, something people are passionate about, something they really really want. There is a form of divine energy that comes through any true charismatic. Sometimes it comes through in a very pure way. I think of Edgar Cayce for example, or Miles Davis, Martin Luther King, Princess Di. For others, it gets distorted and comes out all wrong. For instance: Alistair Crowley. Poor fellow. All the crazy cult leaders channel the divine in a very twisted way. They have IT, but things go terribly wrong. I wonder why.

JFK was charismatic, Reagan, too. But not every president is, nor is every rock star or spiritual leader. I wonder why?

Jesus brought good news and healing to the people of first century Palestine. Believe me, those people needed good news. What a time. Holy cow.

My new motto: It could be worse. This could be first century Jerusalem. Oh yeah. I am very lucky to be right here and right now, I surely am! Lucky, too, I think, that not only is my nature soul not so potent, but I do not channel anything in particular that people want. I am not charismatic, I'm invisible except to certain people at certain times. I can mediate between the worlds for those who seek to contact the powers of healing and light, but I do not personally channel it. Thank god.

It's a good life. I'm grateful. Shalom.

They look like discarded pie charts.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The livin' is easy

Rose hips. Fall is coming.

Last summer was hot, difficult, onerous. In word: yuck! Because it was awful, I became determined to plan ahead, to make sure I would get outta Dodge this summer. For once, I made solid plans to get out. I made reservations, I made sure.

In two weeks my ex housemates and I are going to Lake Canandaigua, one of the finger lakes of New York state. I chose the location because I found a really nice condo on YRBO, with a dock on the water and a panoramic view of the lake. We will rent kayaks, we will take wine tours, we will cook and watch movies and drink wine and oh - we are so excited!

My goals for the finger lakes trip include learning how to pronounce the name of the lake, and learning all I can about the region - of course. I am such a nerd. I've been reading about the geology which is really cool. The finger lakes were under water for a long time, then the ground rose. The original finger lakes were riverbeds. Then the ice came down and gouged out the riverbeds. Later the ice melted and filled the lakes. What a dramatic history.

The Indian lore about the area is wonderful, too. It was said that when the Great Spirit touched the earth to bless her, his fingerprints remained on the land. This is the mythical understanding of the region's history, also dramatic and beautiful. In the Reyaverse, both versions are true.

I'm re-reading Seneca Indian myths and folktales, and thinking a lot about the nations that inhabited that land. They were so democratic - and matriarchal! - wow. I hope to talk to some of the ghosts and spirits of those people, if I can locate the right frequency, that is. I'll only be there for five days.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to the mountains to stay with friends in their house tucked into the Little White Neck of the Potomac River. I love the land up there, but far more than that I look forward to spending a weekend with these friends who are so dear to me, it's kind of ridiculous.

Ironic that I planned these getaways assuming this summer would be punishing like the season usually is. Instead, summer has been wonderful. I've felt good, slept well and been unencumbered by drama. The weather has been great. We've had an abundance of Colorado summer days, plentiful rain, some heat but not too much. In the midatlantic swamp, a summer like this is a miracle!

The journeys out of DC are not about surviving the summer, as I thought they would be. They are blessings, the cream at the top of the bottle.

Life is good and I am grateful. Lucky, too. Shalom.

I'm outta here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I miss Jake

Every now and then I get sentimental. It doesn't happen often, but it does come up on occasion. I'm ordinarily someone who looks to what's about to happen rather than what already happened, so when I get sentimental, it's a rather odd feeling.

Yesterday I thought about my old dog Jake. I looked at a bunch of old pictures, especially the photos of his reflection in cars. I have hundreds of these pictures. Sometimes, even now, more than four years since he died, I miss him. I really loved that dog.

It looks like he's wearing sunglasses, though he definitely was not. That's Maury Elementary School behind him, and me reflected in the door handle.

What brought up the sentimental feelings? A part of it is that in DC, summer is waning. The energy is beginning to pull itself inwards and downwards. It's subtle at this point, but noticeable. We are no longer in the opening, blossoming, expansive part of summer. Brother Sun has passed his peak. The days are definitely shorter and the shadows in the front of the chateau are creeping northwards.

I'm seeing pods, seeds and berries forming in the green world. The leaf canopy is looking a little bit haggard, just a little, but it is starting to sag. The cicadas and crickets are singing their sad songs. At night their serenades are really loud, as is appropriate in August. And the mosquitoes are getting aggressive in ways they aren't earlier in the season. I'm seeing lots of wasps, too, a sure sign that fall is just around the corner.

I'm out there every day, looking for signs of the shifting season because I depend on the shifting seasons. The turning wheel of the solar year helps me feel grounded and oriented. It helps me make sense of my moods, sleep patterns, appetite, dreams and patterns of thought. I may not enjoy the hottest summer days or the coldest winter days, but I believe these conditions are important, that they set me straight in space/time.

Melancholy and sentimentality are - in the Reyaverse - a part of autumn. It's appropriate to get all misty about Jake right now, even though it isn't characteristic. It means I'm prepared to dance in shamanic alignment with the season ahead.

Ironic as it is, thinking ahead in August involves thinking back to what once was. Yes it is paradoxical. August is paradoxical, it surely is. Or maybe it's me that's paradoxical.

Damn. Sometimes I really miss my dog.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Relational Reya

The internet is an ongoing gathering space, a community center that exists outside of time/space. Everyone who has access to a device is invited. Like a community center, each of us can engage at whatever level we want. It is a frontier of interaction that spans the globe. It surely is.

The internet can be a party where it's possible to catch up with people we don't see often because of the limits of time/space. We meet people from all over the world. We chat with individuals, hear about their trip to Greece or see pics of their kids. We listen and sympathize when they're going through hard times, even though there's nothing else we can do. We send love, prayers and dreams out into the world after these interactions, including to/for people we have never met in "real" life. We are generous in these connections. Or - we can be.

A lot of people use the internet to vent - me, too, sometimes. I try not to, because I believe even though what I put out there is only a speck compared to all the information available, it still has impact. When I'm being mindful, what I post here and on FB is meant to provoke curiosity, inspire, hearten. That's the ideal, anyway. I do not always live up to it.

I'm on about this after someone posted a meme about how horrible it is that we can connect through devices. I find it ironic and hilarious that these memes are posted on the internet. They always have a caption about sharing the meme widely - ummm ... over our devices, right? No other way to share unless someone prints a bunch of them, stands at a street corner and passes them out.

Save a tree and distribute more widely than ever possible in the history of humankind by posting on the internet, yes? Yes!

After the Boston Marathon bombings, the police advised people to use their social networks - FB and Twitter - to let people know they were ok. Incredible that the citizens of Boston could post once or twice, not have to answer or make dozens of phone calls, or email everyone on their list. All they had to do was use the public broadcast system of the internet. Brilliant.

The internet is still free space in the U.S. Anthony Weiner posted pictures of his schlong, for heaven's sake. (I do not think this is a wise use of the free space, by the way, and no I haven't seen them and I do not want to.) One of the great things about the internet is that you can experience it in any way you want. Don't care to see Weiner's dick? You don't have to! Someone posting things that offend you? Hide them, or limit posts from them or unfriend them. It's all optional. I love that.

Anyone can post anything they like. This fact provides the opportunity to learn the art of discernment. We no longer have the luxury of accepting whatever is out there, like we did with Walter Cronkite, for instance. We have to question, we have to be skeptical, we have to think when we see something out there. We have to ask, is this for real? Fact checker companies are booming, for good reason.

Welcome to the internet

Swallowing what is handed to you without questioning is a really bad pattern. We can break that passive behavior by questioning, by researching. Oh the hoaxes! Oh the misattributed quotes! Oh my. They are artful reminders that our ability to wonder and question is one of our greatest gifts. We don't have to be so gullible.

Yes it can be boring, trivial, of course it can. It is not edited or manipulated to make it more interesting. It's the raw feed of contemporary culture in my society and many others as well.

I could go on but you probably get my point. The internet invites us to connect on a scale never before imagined or possible. There are so many of us now. Making these connections is a part of how we will take our next evolutionary jump, which we'd better get ready to do. The climate is changing and we must respond somehow. Or else.

I respect everyone and anyone who does not want to take part. You don't have to.

Me? I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love the connections and interconnections, I am in awe of the world wide neural net of connection we are establishing. It's crazy, unprecedented. I feel lucky to put in my 2 cents. Hell yeah.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My magic cloak

Nothing makes me happier than when my mind does a 180 degree turn. When I can sincerely open my mind to a new perspective, it reminds me to re-examine my assumptions about all kinds of things. Like many people, it's easy for me to settle into my grid of values, to become so at home in one point of view that I begin to believe alternatives to what I believe must be wrong. I settle into my assumptions that then congeal around me, slowly becoming as hard as concrete. Before you know it, I've decided my point of view is correct. At that point, my grid of values begins to rust and corrode. Barnacles begin to develop. I'm locked down and rusted shut, and may I say I'm not the only person to whom this happens.

Many problems arise from the idea that there is some kind of objective reality that exists external to our ever nimble minds and hearts, a reality we somehow have accessed while many others remain clueless. That idea, that there's ONE way - to live, to worship, to create, to love - and that those who don't believe in the same way are wrong, well, that idea has caused problems for our species all the way back to our beginnings.

What's true? There are many truths. When my mind opens - for whatever reason - I am liberated. It shakes things up, creates some mental chaos (nothing new for me) and the necessity of examining core beliefs closely, even if I'm sure about them. The rust drops away, the barnacles vanish. Sometimes after a shake up, there are huge holes left in the grid of my beliefs. Depending on how much my mind shifted, a lot of restructuring becomes necessary. I must restring the warp and woof of my opinions with new strands of thought. It can take awhile to figure out how to integrate the new bits with the old grid. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I have changed my opinion of my invisibility, after a lifetime of being huffy about it. How can I blame the individuals who fail to remember me? This has happened everywhere I've lived, through most of my life. It can't be their fault! It has to be something I'm doing. Right? How is it I've never looked at this before?

Today what I'm thinking is, how cool that I can cloak myself in invisibility. Invisibility is one of my shamanic powers. Cool!

I have never consciously worked with this power. I've been too busy getting miffed because people didn't remember me. Forehead slap. Who knows what I can do with this talent once I actually practice? I'm experimenting with it now, remembering experiences in which it has come in handy. It's interesting to think about.

I really should have been a spy! Except I'm not brave enough. Same goes for being a detective. What else can a person do with the power to be invisible and easily forgettable? I'm thinking about it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I should have been a spy

There's a thing about me I don't understand. Actually there are many more than this particular one, my lifelong invisibility. Maybe a better way to say it is that people don't recognize or remember me when we meet a second, third, fourth or even fifth time. An encounter with me does not stick in people's memories. I have a friend in San Francisco who had to be introduced to me every time we met. It went on for years and even became a joke. That was an extreme case of something I experience often. I don't get it. I think I'm rather vivid.

Also should mention that this isn't a recent development. It isn't a case of how old ladies become invisible. No. Even when I was juicy as hell, with purple eggplant hennaed hair and super red lipstick and a young body, even then, when I ran into people I'd seen several times and remembered well, I had to reintroduce myself because they couldn't place me.

So weird!

I ran into a couple of people I haven't seen in awhile at a funeral a couple of weeks ago. One of them introduced himself as if we'd never met, another kind of recognized me but couldn't figure out why. At the cemetery the other day I saw my massage therapist's husband, someone I often see on my way out after a session. We say hello and talk for a second about the weather or whatever. But at the cemetery, though he was friendly, he seemed astounded I knew his name and I could see him trying to put me into context. On the way home I ran into somebody I see at a mutual friend's parties. We always have a great conversation. She didn't know me.

It's embarrassing and awkward to reintroduce myself. It is humbling but not in a good way. I used to help people by reminding them of the circumstances under which we met. These days, I just let 'em squirm. Is that wrong?

In my dream last night, the Nazis were coming to a house where I was, along with many other people. One of the dream people suggested I hide. The rest of the dream I went from place to place, trying to decide where I could best be hidden. Stand behind a door? They might close the door and see. Hide under the bed? That's so cliche! Of course they would look. I went from room to room on the second floor, then climbed the grand staircase to the third floor where I at last decided to hide behind the coats in a large walk-in closet. There were shoes and boots beneath the coats. I figured they wouldn't see my legs. I hid behind a grey trench coat and pair of tall wellies.

It was a beautiful house. The closet was full of beautiful clothes. If not for the Nazis, it would have been a very nice dream.

When I heard the Nazis breaking down the front door of the house, I woke up frightened. But I didn't stay scared long. Maybe I'm invisible because I'm still - even in the golden years of this lifetime - hiding from the Nazis. Because if so, that would explain my perpetual invisibility.

After this helpful dream what I'm thinking is maybe being invisible is not something I should take personally. What I mean is maybe I shouldn't blame the people who don't remember me. My invisibility is an adaptive behavior developed long ago in this life or before this life. It's not their fault!

Would I want to suddenly be very visible? Maybe not! It's interesting to think about.

Red shirt, coral shorts, big hat, lots of lipstick, taking pics in a car bumper. If I ran into this woman, I would remember her. Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eco Goats!

If you doubt for a second that Capitol Hill - I mean my neighborhood, NOT Congress - is wonderful, then get a load of this. Congressional Cemetery, a beautiful place for so many reasons, decided to bring in a herd of 60 goats to clear the underbrush on the periphery, close to the Anacostia River. Someone there today said they paid a pretty penny to use the goats, as opposed to the hideous machinery that would normally be used, which would cost half that amount. I salute them!

Here's a link to the Washington Post story about it. Flock of goats? Who wrote that headline?

It was a big story on the news, a barometric reading that indicates just how inert DC is in August. Nothing is happening. Nothing. Hence a story about eco goats gets top billing. What is not to love about that? No news is good news!

As much as I enjoy it, I don't go to the cemetery often because it's not good for me to spend too much time with the dead. A little while is great and respectful, but too much time is not healthy.

The goats brought a ribald life force to the perimeter of the space. There were people and kids there, and a lot of reporters. It was rather fun.

Even so, as I walked away from the cemetery, I took special care to brush the dead away. As usual they were hanging on, grasping my ankles and wrists, wishing to be dragged along. To what end? Oh those dead. I shook my arms and legs, brushed out my energy. I raked through my hair, using my fingers like a comb.

Something about my energy is attractive to ghosts.

When I think back to the days, not that many years ago, when I spent much of my time with the dead, I feel sad. The spirits that stick around after death are either here to provide guidance to the living, or are lost or wandering, and very clingy.

It's the clingy dead I was brushing out of my energy field today. My sense has always been that they think I can help them in some way. I tried. Even after many years of ritual on Civil War battlefields and in cemeteries, I'm not clear I helped even a small increment of the lost and wandering ghosts. The work was grueling and unhealthy. After those rituals, food tasted moldy, I felt weary for days, even weeks after the magic. My dreams were insane. What was I doing?

These days, I wish the dead well. I remind them that any time they want, they can go into the light. Their ancestors are waiting to help them. Ah, but the clingy, wandering dead are like stoners. They can not get it, that liberation is immediate if they want it. They wander. What's it to me?

Fall is still a twinkle in the eye of the weather gods, but already the dead are more apparent.

I love the dead, but for now, I am alive. I choose life, thank you. I choose life. L'chaim.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The sweet spot

If DC summers were like this summer, I would never complain. We've had plentiful rain, but also lots of sunshine and dry air. There have been beastly days, but not too many of them. It's kind of a miracle.

As usual, the weather predicts me. My "work" this summer is to enjoy, savor, delight in the great weather. I surely am!

Likewise, I'm trying to remember to appreciate my good health and the fact that my wits are more or less intact, and to marvel at how lucky I am to live in a beautiful apartment on a grand street in a wonderful village. I'm a little unused to this approach since, historically, my life has been overfull of drama. Last summer was a perfect example of the sturm und drang I became accustomed to long ago. Stalkers, mildewed clothing, mild traumas such as visiting the Holocaust Museum and getting a tattoo, and such, are situations I am better acquainted with than lovely, peaceful, healthy environments like this summer. I know that my life's adventures have helped me become wiser, kinder and more compassionate, but facing character building challenges such as last summer's is not fun.

Pema Chodron says that when she mentions neuroses as she's teaching, she'll see heads nodding yes, yes among her students. Everyone knows about being neurotic, and in fact, according to Pema, we practice being neurotic. It's interesting to think about.

When she mentions compassion, she says many of her students become incredulous or look confused. They are not used to practicing compassion, hence it feels inaccessible. They believe they don't really have it in them.

In my work I must practice compassion. The metta prayer is also a part of my daily routine, has been for many years. I agree with Pema and other teachers that it's not as hard as it seems like it should be.

My habit is crisis mode - or maybe I should say that used to be my habit. This summer I am able to practice being calm. I have plenty of energy to extend to my clients. It's not hard to be generous and compassionate because nothing hideous is demanding my energy and attention. It's a great opportunity to practice that which is both harder and easier than I would have imagined. This summer has been graceful.

It could all change tomorrow or even later today. For now, right now, life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Life and Death

I had lunch yesterday with a friend and sometimes client who is going to have a baby. I may or may not attend the birth, we're not sure yet, but we're working together to get her ready for the labor and birth, with some massage but also with a lot of talking. I realized yesterday I've accumulated a lot of knowledge about the birthing of babes, even though I never had one myself. I felt rather proud. The experience of attending births and working with pregnant women has yielded some wisdom I can now pass along. It was satisfying and strange.

After that I went to a memorial for one of my clients who died of cancer. Everyone loved Laurie, hence the church where the Hill Havurah meets was jammed with people. People spoke, we sang songs, there were a few tears, but mostly sweet stories about a very pure spirit. One of Laurie's daughters works for an interfaith organization based in Jerusalem where she lived for a couple of years. It was interesting to hear the stories of Laurie's trip to Israel, how eye opening it was for her, how she at last came to understand her daughter's passion for the place.

At lunch, both a bartender I only know slightly, and the person who brought the food, noticed and remarked on my tattoo. They said it was beautiful which is really weird because my tattoo is powerful, it is in your face, but beautiful? It is not beautiful.

Israel/Jerusalem is calling me. OK. But I don't want to go alone. And I also really really really want to go to Paris. And I really really really want to visit my friend in London. I'm getting a travel bug in my bonnet, it seems. Hmmm.

Meanwhile DC is truly SPLENDID. I can't believe it's so nice in August. This is Colorado weather. I love it!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My mind: not unlike Jerusalem

A friend just returned from herding a bunch of 20-something Jewish Americans on a tour to Israel. My friend is not Jewish, Christian or Muslim, but is a very spiritual person. She describes her spirituality by way of an image in her mind's eye: The hand of an old person holding the hand of a baby. That is her religion.

Isn't that awesome?

Also awesome is what she said about Jerusalem, a city she did not enjoy and would not want to re-visit. The wall, in particular, pissed her off. The separation of men and women really bothered her. As a young American woman, this ancient taboo made no sense. Oh we American women are lucky!

But she also saw incredible sights, and had conversations with every kind of resident of that crazy, mixed up, powerful city. She described her melt down at the Dome of The Rock. It was a beautiful desert morning, the Dome was beautiful, Mt. Olive was behind her, stately and powerful. There was trash in the street, children playing, soldiers with machine guns. She said the extremes of beauty and ugliness were all around.

Because it was Ramadan, their Israeli guide said there could be no contact between men and women, not even conversation. When she burst into tears, her boss, a man, came to her and gave her a hug. People began shouting (including the Israeli guide) and the tension increased palpably. It felt like something terrible was about to happen, but - nothing happened. Everyone noticed the hug, no one reacted except for the momentary shouting.

She said she knows it hasn't always been peaceful there, but right now, that day - even when her boss gave her a hug as she sobbed - she could feel the people around them restraining themselves. This includes the Muslims coming to pray, the Jews, the soldiers. I guess the kids probably didn't mind.

What a scene!

She described the atmosphere of Jerusalem as 'an unbearable peace.' I'll be thinking about that for awhile. Jerusalem: like a volcano that tries not to erupt. Oh yeah.

If an opportunity arose, yes I would love to go to Israel. I don't want to go alone and I definitely would not want to tour the whole country. I would go to Haifa or another beach town, spend 2 or 3 days just settling into the landscape and weather. Once I got my footing, I would dip in to Jerusalem for a couple of days at most, after which I would fly directly home to process and integrate the experience.

In terms of every kind of experience, less is more for me. When my ex and I were in Varanasi, I spent some of the time hiding in our hotel room, most of my time on the street with a scarf pulled over my head and face. Yes I walked around veiled. No one seemed to care and it helped me feel more grounded. Oh the energy of Shiva's city! My guess is in terms of intensity, it is in the same category as Jerusalem. I'm grateful to have been there and would not want to return. Once was enough.

An unbearable peace is what I often experience in my head. That's one of the compelling reasons to continue my meditation practice, because in my head, there is no hotel room, and not any ideal way to be veiled. Wine helps veil the unbearable peace, but I try not to let it become a habit, you know. Better to learn to tolerate what's inside my head, yes?

Life is rich beyond belief. So precious to me now that I'm sixty.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Not exactly dog days

Even Dupont Circle is peaceful in August.

It's August, but ... really? Because it rained and stayed in the lower 80s today, and is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous tomorrow. I can't remember such a gentle summer here. (Hope I didn't just jinx it.)

Except for the usual summer beastliness, August is a wonderful month in DC. The citizens of the District take off for Maine or upstate New York, or they go visit family out west. It's a pressure cooker of a city; hence we must escape, we simply must -- or else. In August, nothing much goes down in DC; it's the perfect time to get the hell out of Dodge.

In August even the tourists seem to disappear for a few weeks. It's easy to visit the museums. The metro isn't jammed with people, the traffic is lighter, the streets clearer and calmer. I welcome August, especially this year.

Last summer I did not get away all summer. But this summer is different. In a couple of weeks I'll spend a weekend with dear ones at their cabin in W. Virginia, gazing at the Potomac River and partaking of their incredible hospitality. Two weeks after that, my ex housemates and I will go up to the finger lakes region of New York to stay in a condo on a lake whose name I still am unable to spell without looking it up. We're staying for five glorious days. There's a deck on the water, and a panoramic view of the lake. The moon will be dark, so if it's clear, there will be stars. Stars! Oh man, do I ever need to see some stars.

Who doesn't?

I look forward to the getaways and in the meantime I'm luxuriating in this gentle summer, I surely am!