I Knew before I Knew.

wolf-sketch

I can remember being a teenager, maybe 13 or 14 years old. I started getting deeply in tune with my Native American heritage. At that time, all that I really knew was that we were Creek Indian, and that it was a southeastern tribe. I enjoyed buying books that were about various aspects of Indian history. I enjoyed looking at the faces of the old Indian warriors, and chiefs, and reading their words of wisdom and reflection. When I looked into those faces, I saw a story that I told myself, which included pain, sorrow, and pride. I also saw such beauty in those photos, long hair, beautiful dark skin and outfits that I wished I had. I enjoyed having jewelry that had turquoise in it, silver that shimmered. I wanted to own a pair of moccasins.

As I got older, that heritage and its importance in my life stayed with me. I felt curious at various times about all aspects of my family’s history, yet the Native American roots felt most deep and true to me. I have always loved nature; I have always felt close with animal beings as well as humans, and enjoy being by the water, walking through the woods, and having my bare feet on the earth. More recently in my life, I have also enjoyed gardening, being out in the world, and walking in silence in the beauty of nature. I cherish Mother Earth and all that She offers up to me on a daily basis.

Back in my teens, the importance of my Native heritage seemed to be mostly because I knew it was part of where I came from. But even then, the depth of the meaning that it held for me was somewhere within.

Today, when I describe myself as a spiritual being, or what it is that I believe in terms of a power greater than my own, I often relate it to my Native roots. Whether it is the power of drumming and how it elicits such strong feelings within, or being by the water and taking in the beauty of it all. Or, even the omnipotence of the world that goes to sleep every fall, and reawakens each spring. I know that I don’t have to go far from whence I came, to know what it is that I believe.

And, I know now that I even knew back then, at the age of 14, that it was more than my lineage. Before I knew how connected I am to the earth, sky, and living creatures around me, I knew that there was something significant, special and deeply meaningful waiting for me within it. As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, my connection to my roots, and my spiritual path, will always bring me back to my Native heritage.

photo-4

Passion.

ID-100100653

Ever since I wrote a career paper in high school, or maybe even junior high school, I have wanted to be a social worker. When I was fourteen, that meant helping other people that needed my help, because they couldn’t do it for themselves. When I was in my undergraduate classes, I learned that social work meant to assist others in learning how to help themselves, empowering them to do it on their own. Since that time, right up to now, I have believed on and off that I have the answers for someone else, and that I want them to be able to sustain themselves, without my assistance.

The one thing that was always present, however, has been passion. Passion for the work, and passion for the right for persons to be able to live a life that is happy, free and secure. My passion has taught me how to be a fierce advocate; an open spokesperson; and a person committed to justice and equity. It has meant many nights crying about what I was not able to do; about what didn’t turn out the way that I had hoped. It has also meant moments of tremendous joy, and promise, and above all, hope for a better life for persons that I was helping, and a better world for all of us.

Today, it was no exception. I arrived at my job, full of promise of a new day; ready to take on any situation that I might face whether it be a challenge or one that came with ease. Just as I was ready to leave for the day, I got a phone call, from a parent that was distraught over something that she had been told about her child. I listened. I explained. I empathized and offered encouragement, and assured her that I would get her the answers that she needed. And, when I hung up, I felt spent. Tired. Discouraged. I felt like no one was listening to this person in the “system” that she saw herself up against, and I was her voice.

I love being an advocate. I love being the voice for those that aren’t ready to speak for themselves. I desire truth and demand it of myself and others. Yet, I get tired. I get judgmental. Not too long ago, I would have been judging that parent for not taking “proper” care of her child, rather than today, judging the system that was giving her bad information. So, today I judged the system instead. I cried. I learned some valuable lessons about the persons that I serve, that I support, and that no one of them, whether they are in the system, or a family, or a co worker, are no different than myself. We are all trying to figure it out, asking the questions, getting the answers, fighting the good fight. Today, I understand yet again, how important it is for me to speak up, but also to remember that we are all in this. Whether we are representing the person who is oppressed, the oppressor, or a bystander, we are all learning. We are all trying. We are all only ever putting forth our best effort.

And tomorrow, I will wake up, ready for the day, and full of passion to go at it all again. And, if the day comes that the passion is gone, then I know it is time for me to go.

ID-10083306

We have the answers.

ID-100147561

Almost every day, at least when I feel inspired to do so, I draw a Native American medicine card. The cards have various animal or other creature beings on them, and each one represents a message or a reminder that I need to hear from the Universe. Sometimes, it is about letting go, or preparing for big change. Sometimes it is about letting go of arrogance, or the universality of us all.

Yesterday, I drew the Bear card. The card for Bear can mean many things, but there were two that struck me the most. One, is that I need to know my boundaries, and clearly say yes and no to things. The bigger lesson for me yesterday, is that it also represents introspection, and that in order to find the answers, we need to go into the Silence.

Just as the bear hibernates for the winter, so do we as human beings need to go into a type of silence in order to process what it is we need to do. This may sound simple to some of you, and impossible to others. There were two main revelations that came to me from drawing this card yesterday. Mind you, I have drawn this card several times before. Yet yesterday was the day that these particular lessons came to me.

First, it is not an easy thing to get our minds quiet, or better yet, to seek the quiet. At least not when we are not accustomed to it. My mind is often full of busy talk, lots of thoughts and worries that keep me so distracted, that I don’t have to deal with or feel ANYTHING. Yet, over time, I have been so excited to allow my mind to get quiet, and take advantage of times when I don’t have much going on in my life, and to actually create that kind of time. Every morning, before I leave for work, Brenda and I spend about an hour just reading, having coffee, and talking about various life circumstances and issues. And, we spend some of that time in quiet, just being with one another. It is one of the most powerful ways in which I start my day. We live in a noisy world, so to seek out quiet time intentionally can be quite a task; yet very freeing in so many ways.

The other revelation for me with my Bear card, is that even when we don’t believe it is true, EVERY answer for every issue lies within us. I know, I have sought counsel through various books, shows, speakers, and gurus of sorts. I have learned many good things, many things that have served me well over time. Yet the real story is, that even without my medicine cards, I know the answer to every life question within myself. Of course, I don’t believe that at times, and look outside of me. But, when I really get quiet, go within, and listen to what it is that I really want, need and desire, I find the answer waiting for me like a flower ready to bloom.

Isn’t is so much more comforting to know, that we need only give ourselves the time, and space, and quiet, to get to where it is we need to be? Please let this be a reminder, to each of us, that we all have within us the ability to answer every question, and to fulfill every dream and desire. We simply have to go the quiet, and deeply listen.

Intention

Looking with Eyes of Love.

momma and baby

Last night, we went to the grocery store to get supplies for our Mexican inspired dinner. As we waited in line, which seems to take longer than expected, we both were observing the people all around us, from cashiers to customers to baggers. At one point, Brenda asked me what I thought it would be like, to look upon every person, and to accept them just as they are?

As I thought about that, and started to be aware of how I was actually viewing others, I looked more lovingly at others around me. It really made a difference. I looked differently at the man in line in front of us who had a lot of coupons; I looked differently at the woman behind us who seemed annoyed and angry at the children who were with her; I looked differently at the person who was bagging the groceries at the end of the counter. I seemed to be looking upon them all with eyes of love.

Looking at the world, and the people and circumstances in it, with eyes of love, is a scary task. At first, I want to say how difficult it is, to look at others around us and to accept them as they are. Yet, as I have said here before, it isn’t necessarily that it is difficult to do. More accurately, to my way of thinking at least, we are afraid to look at the world with eyes of love, all the time. Actually, I don’t think it is possible to look at the world through eyes of love all of the time. I am too filled with fear. My fears have diminished over the years, and I feel more assured to live in the world as my authentic self more than ever before. However, I am still afraid.

The plain truth of it is, is that when I see someone in the world, that I want to cast a judgment upon, it is because that is a judgment that I hold toward myself. So, when I see a person in the grocery store and I judge them for taking a long time in line, or because I find them to be annoying, that is because I am afraid of the annoyance that I am putting upon the world. When I judge that person, it is a prime opportunity for me to declare war upon myself, for some shortcoming that I see in myself.

We make it about the people around us so many times, yet, it is really all about us, and how we view ourselves. We are universal beings, yet we tend to forget that in most moments of the day. Let me say that again: We are Universal beings. We are ALL connected.

There has been many times in my life, prior to a few short years ago, when I would say that I knew that we were universal, that we were all connected, yet in my mind, I would be judging others as being separate than me. My thoughts and my words did not match up AT ALL. I was being a hypocrite, while say all of the right things. It wasn’t out of malice, and there was definitely a desire to connect with others, and see how we are all one. It was that the thought of being connected to others was so frightening and overwhelming to think about. I mean, what if I say I am connected to or just like the person that murders? The person that hits their children? The person that uses drugs or abandons their families?

The beauty in all of that for me now, is that we are one another. We are all one. I deeply believe that now. However, there are many moments when I forget that it is the real truth. When I look upon those around me with eyes of judgment. When I find a reason that I believe is justified, to be separate from those around me.

So, there will always be someone around to remind me of how connected we really are. Whether it is my love in the grocery store, my cat being in the last stages of life, or me reminding myself of what I really believe. I don’t have to do it perfectly, I just have to remind myself as often as possible that we really are all connected.

And remember that looking upon the world with eyes of love means that I am also loving myself.

sun-energy

Only a Body.

1461542_10200988847869636_1060254563_n

I have been thinking so deeply over the last few months about death and dying. Between having a health issue that I was worrying about, thinking about my own aging process, and the deaths of a friend to suicide, and my beloved Felix, it has been a topic that feels closer than usual. And, besides the circumstances around me bringing it more to mind, I have found myself drawn to the subject of death and my feelings around it.

There is no doubt that my feelings around it have changed; changed in the sense that I am deepening my understanding of what death is, and what my fears are around it. There are a couple of specific parts of death, and all that is involved in the process, that are new and peaceful revelations for me.

First, I have deepened my understanding and acceptance of how close to death I am in every moment. We all are. We are literally one breath away from physical death, in every moment. As I consider that more deeply at this stage in my life, I appreciate the moments even more so, the moments that are here, on earth, among my loved ones and friends, doing work that I enjoy and playing fully and happily. There are times that I believe that this is all a dream, an illusion, and that the life that I am living is all in mind. However, even if that is the case, I enjoy living it. So, presence of moment is more important to me than ever.

The other way in which I have been considering death, is that I don’t have to live in fear anymore, at least not as much. I don’t have to complete countless diagnostic tests, just in case I am prone to some disorder that has come down through my family, yet I may never have it myself. I don’t have to worry that if I don’t eat precisely a certain way; go to the doctor and take medicines; or miss a day of exercise, that I will shorten my chances of a long life. I may, indeed, not live to be 90. Yet, I don’t worry on that so much anymore. I want to live a life that is full, rich and free of concern about what comes next.

Felix and her death has taught me a specific lesson regarding death, and the body. After she died, we brought her body home from the vet’s office, because we both felt as if we would want to bury her, rather than have her cremated. Both Jamie and I have had several pets over the years, that are buried on the property that I lived on with her. I wanted to have Felix buried there, with her friends. But, right now, in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there is still snow on the ground, and in most spots, is frozen solid. So, on Tuesday night, when we brought her home, we wrapped her lovingly in a scarf of Brenda’s; put her into a bag, and placed her on a bed of ice and snow in a large blue cooler. That cooler is on our porch until we can bury her.

It felt weird at first, to put her body in there, and now, to walk by it every day as I go to work and return home. I have even been opening the lid each day, to make sure that there is still plenty of snow left. Yet, she isn’t in that bag, in that cooler, out on the porch. She is not in that body.

After all, what is in that cooler, what I walk around in, it is only a body. When she left this place, just like when I do one day, what stays behind of me is not the physical body that I was appearing to be in. What is all around this house, in every room, and in the air and in my dreams, is her spirit, her light, her voice and bright eyes. Felix’ soul is every where here, and she surrounds me, as do all of the souls of my loved ones who have passed on. What we bring to this world is so much more than flesh.

When we remember where we come from, we remember that we are light, soul, and part of everything.

ID-10037009