Monthly Archives: September 2008

In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Footprints on the heart

I have met so many people in my life.  Although that has happened since I was a child, the majority of those that I recall easily has been in the time of my college years and beyond, my time as an adult.  In those thirty something years, I have met and become close with people that I went to college with, worked with, socialized with, or served my community with.  All different aspects of necessity for my life.

I have also gone through very specific stages about these persons and friendships in my life.  I started to use the word, “phases”, but a phase would seem more fleeting and passing than what this has come to be for me.  Stages of development, growth, understanding…. that is what I describe here.  For every person that has entered, and since left, in some cases, my life, there is a lesson and a message that I will take with me for the rest of my life.  Until recently, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know what those lessons were.  Otherwise, I would have to come to some type of acceptance about a person having been in my life, and then, well, sort of fading away out of my life.  I wasn’t sure, even as recently as a few months ago, if I wanted to try to have understanding about why that person, or persons, was no longer an active participant in my daily living.  What could be any valid reason that a person would leave my life, without being told to do so?  What explanation would make any sense whatsoever of why a person was unable to answer a telephone call, an email, just to say hi?  What would keep someone that I had known in the past from staying in touch?

I am no longer haunted by these questions when it comes to those who have entered my life over the span of time, and then left it again.  I have come to a peace with it, a peace that has been much time in coming.  I recently had a person seek me out, and find me, yet will not tell me who they are from my past.  At first, that concerned and upset me, because I could not recall who this person is, from the vague clues being given.  Now, I realize that it does not really matter if the identity is ever revealed to me by this person; what matters, is that they were a part of my life, a meaningful part, in the past, and that there were lessons in that.  I am not sure why the lesson of the lessons of others has picked now to show itself to me and have full meaning.  It isn’t like I didn’t want to understand before; I guess I really was not ready to fully understand.

Now, for me it has become so simple.  A person crosses my path, comes into my life, walks with me along the path for a day, a month, or ten years.  Or, maybe they are always walking the same path with me, sometimes a bit ahead, sometimes behind, sometimes right beside me.  Whoever it is, whatever face is on that person, and for however long that they are with me, the lessons are clear to me now, for each one.  Some of the lessons that have been brought to me by these angels on earth are self-love, kindness, sobriety, resilience, intelligence, giving, integrity, fun, and humour.  Even with those persons who left my life under very negative, hurtful circumstances, the lessons are still there, and they are not lessons of bitterness, resentment, and negativity, which I anticipated being so.  I think that they are not so tainted because I have embraced forgiveness, compassion, and understanding for what they did, and why they needed to do it. 

Those that have come to my life with a purpose, left their footprints forever on my heart.  For some, that trail of footprints is long; others are there only briefly, but the mark is unmistakable.  In my memory, those footprints have been formed as one tread softly along, not stomping on my heart.  Even if we had struggles, now they do not feel painful, but rather, as two people just doing the best that they knew how to do with and for one another.  Footprints in the sand, like on a beach that has no tide, so they never wash away…. those are the footprints that I imagine to be on my heart left by such visitors to my life.

I believe that over the course of time, I have left my own size 8 1/2 D width footprints on the hearts of others as well.  Maybe one of those persons is the one who is seeking me out, maybe others will over time as well.  I cannot know for sure.  All I can know, is that the impact that they have had on me is forever and signficant, and I can only hope that my own on their lives, my footprints, will be there with them for all eternity.

Do you leave footprints, or have footprints left in the sandy beaches of your heart?  Do you forgive, and let go, so that you can gain understanding for another, and for the lessons learned?  For me, understanding brings freedom, freedom to walk the beaches of our hearts and souls and to know that when we live our lives in true love, so will we be given, and so will we be able to continue to journey and love and understand one another.

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In the spirit of Ubuntu: One World, One Soul

I have always felt a strong connection to others, to their experiences, to what it is that they go through, whether it be joys or sorrows.  That seems like a natural, flowing part of me.  But, recently, I have had an experience that steps even this part of me up even a bit more.

Two bodies, one soul.  One world, one soul on espresso.

I have never encountered this before.  Now, what I am talking about is not sexual, or romantic.  It is two persons who have never knowingly been in each other’s lives, but seem to have known one another throughout a hundred lifetimes.  To have another person not know every detail of my life, but rather, be able to read my soul.  To know what it contains as clearly as only I do. 

I have never encountered that before this point in my life.

Ubuntu, one world, one soul on overdrive. 

I mean, think about it.  Think about what it would be like to encounter yourself, outside of yourself.

That is what this experience is.

Ubuntu makes that possible.  Our extension and commitment to Ubuntu makes that possible, because it opens up the entire world to us.  If we really believe that the whole world is at our hands, before us ready to connect, then really, ANYTHING is possible.  That gives us hope, love, possibility, togetherness, and interdependence.

Have you found your twin, the other person that holds your soul in another body?

It is just about indescribable, yet I wish that for you, for you to have that experience.  It will change your life.

Ubuntu, one world, one soul on steroids.

I highly recommend it.

In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Healthy body, healthy soul

I have come to have a new, deeply profound appreciation for the need to maintain a healthy body.  I have always struggled with my weight, meaning that I have been overweight the majority of it.  I decided, about six months ago, that enough was enough.  I was ready to take off the weight that I need to once and for all.  So, I lost twenty pounds, am at an ideal weight for my frame, and one that is reasonable and that I will be able to maintain, and I feel so much better.  I am exercising almost every day by walking, have lots more energy, and sleep better than ever before. But, besides feeling more healthy in my body, my soul feels so much healthier as well.  And, I don’t think that is any coincidence.  I think that when we take care of our physical health needs, it enforces in us that if one part of our human system is not being cared for, it interacts with all other aspects of the system, which throws it out of whack.  I feel like I have that in hand now, and that I will never want to let go of this good feeling again.

I have always been a pretty healthy person, even with my being overweight.  Except in one area; I have always had issues with my breasts.  Issues, meaning, medical issues, not cosmetic issues.  About sixteen years ago, I quit my job and moved to Massachusetts, needing a change in my life and the scenery.  I had no health insurance.  That is when I found my first lump.  I knew it didn’t belong there, I have always had lumpy breasts, but this one felt very different.  I was scared, but felt powerless and afraid because what could I do?  How would I afford to have it taken care of?

I moved back to Pennsylvania a short time later, and got a job that provided health insurance once again.  I went to the doctor, was sent to a specialist, and was told that the lump had to come out.  I was thirty years old.  They took it out, and I was told that it was not cancer, but it was “borderline”.  For the next fifteen years, I had mammograms every six months instead of every year.  I got nauseous whenever I tried to do a self exam of my breasts.  I was convinced that the “C” word would eventually touch my life.  It hasn’t.  I thank God for that frequently.

But, six years ago, I decided to express my gratitude and my commitment to myself and others that go through this in a different way.  I decided to go for a walk, and not just any walk, but more like a walk that my friend DM took over at hearttoheart.  I trained for six months, and walked 60 miles in three days in Boston, Massachusetts for breast cancer.  60 miles in three days.  And, it felt literally like a walk around the block.  I don’t believe that it was because I trained for it; it was because of the energy involved in this endeavor.

Ubuntu was ever present. 

Thousands of men and women walked, walked and walked some more around the small town areas surrounding Boston. The walk was sponsored by Avon, called the Avon Breast cancer Three Day.  It was an amazing experience, to see all of the others walking along side of me, ahead of me, and behind me.  To have a stranger help me on the side of the road when I turned my ankle.  When we had citizens in every town lining the streets to cheer us on, to help us to keep stepping and never give up.  To walk with women who were just coming off chemo, had no hair, and maybe needed some help to step some of the time.  To walk on Saturday, in May of 2002, and for it to snow in Boston, so hard that they had to stop the walk for the day.  To finish walking at the end of the first day, and walk through the Tent City where we were staying for the night.  And, the ultimate, was entering the center of the city of Boston, and having thousands of other walkers cheering us on, clapping and crying and sharing the moment.

Ubuntu.  Sharing meals, tents, showers, and dreams for a cancer free world.  I will never, ever forget the impact of those days.  It helped me to understand how much more difficult life is for others rather than me.  It helped me to realize how connected we all really are, having some of the same struggles, same fears, and sharing the same joys and tears. 

I was at that spot again not long ago; I had another lump that had to be removed.  It was removed, it was not the “C” word, and this week, I got my all clear from my surgeon, and we hoped that the next time that we would run into one another, it would be at the Mall. 

I feel so blessed, so lucky, so compelled to write about so many parts of my life here.  I cannot explain it, it just flows.  Just as my commitment to others feels so right, true, and flows freely from my soul.

Ubuntu.  It has gotten me through all of my life’s moments.  Not just obvious ones like this.  Healthy body, healthy soul, healthy lives and futures for all of us.  For, if I am healthy, my connection to my Ubuntu remains strong, remains open. 

The energy feeds me, so that I may feed others….

In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Signs, Symbols, and Seasons

I was initially not very sure how I was to put this post together.  But, all of these concepts and ideas came together at once, I got a bit technical with the help of my sister Aud, and here I am…. so let’s see where it takes us, shall we?

I believe that many of us have things, values, ideas, and foundations that are the core of our being, and that are most important to us.  It is that foundation that guides us with our lives, with who we meet, and how we interact with the world.  I have instructed the students in the class which I teach at my local University, that I want them to each make a presentation to the class, about what they believe makes up their cultural identity, and to express that in any fashion to the class.  They asked me for a demonstration, which is part of what this is.

I believe that our cultural identity is everything; everything that we bring to the here and now, to the person that we are right now, today.  Our experiences, beliefs, persons, ideas, values, mantras that through which, we view the world, and experience.  It makes up our perception.  My identity is represented by many signs, and symbols.  They are representative of some of the core of who I am. 

Signs that represent beliefs or ideas, like a peace symbol, tattoo, statues or stickers on our cars, serve two purposes.  They let the world know what is important to us, and they also connect us with others.  Some others are not like us, and our symbols may strike fear or intimidation in them.  However, our signs and symbols also connect us strongly with those that think, feel and believe in much of the same way.

To me, that is part of the spirit of Ubuntu.  I am myself, but I am because you are, in part because of the common cause or belief that we share.

The above photos are just part of my beliefs system.  My Native American heritage, specifically, Poarch band Creek Indians from Atmore, Alabama, is at the root of all that I feel in my soul.  Although I did not grow up actively engaged in tribal activity, I feel within me the deep commitment and reverence that I have for that part of my identity. The wolf is my self-ascribed totem animal, one that I most closely identify with, and I believe protects and guides me. It pervades my soul, the belief in taking care of others, taking care of the earth, respect for our elders, and remembering the lessons that have been taught to us.

I also believe that describes Ubuntu for me.

In addition, I firmly believe in the importance of family, whether we are talking family of origin, by biology, family of choice, which could be our partners, spouses and children.  Then, there is the family, the human family, that we share our hopes, dreams and help with.  I am because you are, that feeling of connectedness.

Ubuntu.

I also encompass so much else within my being, the need for a peaceful center; the need to feel strong as a woman; connection to the earth and sky; and pride in the lesbian part of my identity.   This really is me to my core…..

How do the seasons fit in? A couple of ways; it was officially deemed Autumn here in my part of the world yesterday, September 22, at 11:44 AM.  Autumn, as many of you know, is my favorite time of year.  It is reflective, it is preparatory for the cold season to come, it is represented to me by life ending, and resting until it is time for new life to begin.  It is about gathering up warmth and bringing it close to you.  It is about giving I believe more than any other time of the year, of your time, your talent, your gifts and your service.  It just feels like the most peaceful time of the year for me.

Ubuntu. 

Although a symbol, a sign, or a season, cannot describe or represent all of who I am, it is a way to peek in, and get a glimpse at what I am all about…….

Ubuntu really is the only way for me.

In the Spirit of Ubuntu: The Bounce.

I have considered a concept that I can only best describe as The Bounce.  It is when we sense that there is something going on with another person that we care about, by the feeling that we have inside.  Maybe it is a sudden draining of our energy.  Maybe it is a feeling of nervousness, or calm, or other emotion intensified. 

Ubuntu; I am because you are.

Ubuntu helps to explain for me when I have a feeling, or someone that I care about does, that we are connected to each other somehow, in a way that is not about being in one another’s company at that moment.  It is just a sense of something going on, somewhere in our circuit of friends and family, and maybe we cannot even identify where it is coming from.  It might feel like we are bothered by something that we cannot identify, when actually it is about someone else in our life.

Has this ever happened to you, when you felt uptight or nervous on any given day, with no real reason or explanation, only to later find out from someone close to you that they had something going on that day?  The Bounce.  That is my take, anyway.

Something else that occurs with this that I would also call The Bounce.  It is when a person close to us, senses something going on with us, when actually, it is their own stuff, that they really cannot identify, but they have it, and its signal is being sent out, and bouncing off of us and back to them.  So, that person thinks it is our stuff, when really, it is theirs, just bouncing around out there in the Universe.  Sound weird?

Lately, I seem to be more in tune with this aspect of myself.  I believe that it has always been here, but it is like I have been fine tuning the craft lately.  Maybe it is because of this new emergence to my awareness of Ubuntu.  Maybe it is because of this whole community of like minded people that I seem to be finding here.  Maybe it is because I am finally listening to my soul as it chatters away; I actually stop long enough in my busyness to pay attention to its message.

I have felt the bounce; I have encountered it with some of you here, and it has helped me to understand what may be going on with any one of a number of people in my life.  On the one hand, when I think about it too long, I feel a little bit uncomfortable, almost edgy, about the fact that I could sense when something good, or bad, is going on with someone that I love.

Then, I think about Ubuntu, and realize, it is supposed to be that way.  I am because you are, we are connected, we are one on so many levels, your pain is my own, your joys are cause for my celebration. 

I have fallen in love with The Bounce.