Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Conscious Holiday!

Tis the season, they say, for good will and peace on earth. Though it doesn’t always appear those
sentiments are carried out in some corners of the world, you and I can be the ones who follow through. We can wish each other “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!” and really mean it. We can sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and BE the peace we wish to see. It’s easy. That is if we vow to remain conscious during the holidays and all the rest of the year.

How do you remain conscious? At the holiday dinner, maybe a family member says something that sets the hair on the back of your neck to prickling. Maybe a friend forgets an important date. Maybe, just maybe, things don’t go the way you’d hoped and your holiday doesn’t look Norman Rockwell perfect, not even close. Your family members and friends begin, in your estimation, to resemble Jacob Marley or the Abominable Snow Monster. When those touchy, ticklish moments show up and you’re tempted to react to someone in a not-so jolly way, recognize the source of your discomfort which is usually very old, unresolved hurts from your childhood.

The source of your prickling, your sudden Grinchy mood, is most often a sensitive spot that settled into place in your psyche a very long time ago. Perhaps your cousin has just pushed your hot button asking you to lower your voice and that makes you feel embarrassed. Your embarrassment originated when a clumsy parent yelled at you for your three-year-old exuberant loudness in a restaurant. You were just being like most three-year-old children, innocent and joyful mirth cut short by an embarrassed adult. Here in the present you overreact and are suddenly spitting out venom toward your cousin. Not the warm, fuzzy atmosphere you hoped to feel at the end of your sleigh ride to Grandma’s house.

There is another way to handle it. Recognize the feeling when it comes up. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that your cousin probably had good reason for her request – the baby is sleeping, she has a headache, she is rattled and can’t focus when too many people are talking at once. Whatever the reason, you can maintain your inner peace by becoming aware of the things that upset you. Here are a couple of examples of UN-conscious scenes from my long-ago holidays…

Once upon a time I traveled seven hours with my, then, husband to visit family in Buffalo, NY for a week between each Christmas and New Year’s. From the time we married we always left the day after Christmas reserving Christmas Day for our own exchange of gifts and a relaxing afternoon before the tiring drive. Our tenth year together we broke tradition last minute and surprised our families by calling to say we had decided to drive up on Christmas Eve. We arrived at my mother’s house after midnight, flopped into bed, and visions of sugar plums dissolved quickly into blissful sleep.

The plan had been laid out over the phone the day before: Christmas morning and lunch at my mom’s. Christmas late afternoon and dinner at his parents. Bright and early Christmas morning, my mother was already pushing the start of “lunch” into the latter hours and speaking as though we would be there all day. When I reiterated the plan she turned on the guilt and soon tears were flying around her living room. She tried to manipulate with suggestions that I stay and he go on to his parent’s house without me.

“Mom, I’m married now. I need to divide my time. We’re here for a week and we’ll see each other a lot,” I soothed.

“BUT IT’S CHRISTMAS!” she whined, wiping away the flood gushing from her wide-open ducts.

“Mom, the WHOLE WEEK is Christmas!” I pleaded, “Until yesterday you weren’t expecting us until tomorrow.” Things degenerated from there faster than Dasher racing Dancer across the Milky Way. Before you know it, we were opening gifts with red eyes, fake smiles, and an atmosphere far from holly jolly. It all could have been avoided if my mother had been able to pull herself out of her emotional stupor. In her mind I’m sure she dreamed of the postcard holiday she never had as a child, but I couldn’t fill that void or change her past. The gaping hole of her want was so huge that it negated logic and any sense of how her tantrum affected me and my husband. There was no room, in the midst of her troubled need, to think how his family would feel if I neglected them or to consider that I wanted to be with my husband’s family too. It wasn’t enough that we had divided the day into equal halves down to the minute in hopes that she would enjoy the time we did have with peace and grace. It wasn’t enough for her to know I’d be back to sleep there and eat breakfast there and have several excursions with her and my stepfather during the week. She’d gone into an emotional trance and our holiday time was tense for the rest of our stay.

On another occasion I poured out my heart in a letter to my hometown girlfriend. The trips back home were exhausting I said, not only from the long drive, but everyone we knew planned lunches and dinners and gift exchanges and activities that my husband and I wanted to attend. Every day we ran from activity to activity with no time to just relax and chill out on our “vacation.”

I shared in my letter that for several years I tried to keep up the pace. I had usually set aside an afternoon or two to do something with this girlfriend, just the two of us, and consequently added to my hectic schedule, but also missed time with other people I loved. I wrote my letter with a loving plea for understanding that something had to change so I could enjoy my time in Buffalo instead of dreading all the running around. I said how much I wanted to see her and how much I valued our friendship. I asked if she would consider coming to the place where we were staying, at either my mom’s or his parent’s. She could visit and stay as long as she wanted. Other people might be there too and we could steal some time in a quiet room if she wanted to. This would save me the strain of trying to coordinate with my husband’s schedule to see who needed the car when, and it allowed me to stay in one place to catch my breath. My mother even agreed to attend a few meals at my in-laws during the visits when it was their turn to host us.

My girlfriend flat-out refused the compromise. “I miss you. I want you all to myself.” If our time together couldn’t be us alone at her place, then it wouldn’t happen. Then she too tried to manipulate, her voice colored with gloom, “Well, maybe you can come to my family party this summer.” So, in reality it wasn’t that she wanted me there with no other people around, but rather that she wanted things her way to ease some long ago emptiness. I knew the family history: her siblings were favored over her. I had given her my undivided attention for many years and she didn’t want to give that up. Again, I could no longer fill that void and stay sane. In spite of my sincere explanation of how torn in pieces I felt having to divide myself among so many loved ones, she wanted things to be the way they once were. It became more about the picture in her mind of how she envisioned us together and much less about the fact that we could still see each other on slightly different terms. I could no longer trust that she cared about my physical and mental well-being.

My mother and my friend could not access enough consciousness to realize we had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate together albeit in a different form. Instead emotions got in the way and what could have been a chance to make more beautiful memories together turned into a hurtful stain on our history. Though my mom was my mom and we managed to limp through our trials, my husband and I never risked Christmas Day in Buffalo again. My friend and I drifted apart. If she couldn’t have me the way she wanted me, she wouldn’t have me at all and a twenty-year relationship turned to dust, a very sad and unnecessary ending.  

This holiday and anytime for that matter, when you feel that certain annoyance that sometimes comes with relationships, please take a deep breath, step back, and hold your reaction in check. When you can be alone see if you can trace the annoyed feelings to an earlier time where you felt abandoned, humiliated, ignored, unloved, or any other negative feeling. Chances are you have felt those feelings again and again throughout your life depending on who you feel annoyed with at the moment.

Now realize that most people don’t stay up nights thinking of ways to hurt you. Your friends and family may have really good reasons for doing and saying what they do and say. Also, you have no idea how someone may be struggling inside and most are doing the best they can. Maybe they are in their own trance of unconsciousness. Whatever is going on is not worth ruining a relationship over at holiday time or ever. Always keep in mind that the person you love and are tempted to aim your anger at could be at any moment swept from this life forever. If you can genuinely identify that the person is deliberately choosing to say hurtful things or disrespect you, then, by all means, ask to speak to them about it in private when you are both calm and in a mindset where you can really hear what the other is saying. Remember that hearts are tender. Speak with love and not with intention to manipulate, seek revenge, or punish.

From the bottom of my heart I wish you the gifts of conscious living; love without unreasonable conditions, charitable conversations, open-minded compromise, lots of hugs, smiles, and all the warmth that gathering with family and friends can bring this holiday season and the whole year through.

Much Love,

(Photo by Pixabay)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

For the Love of Santa

My mother had her share of lucid moments here and there during the thirteen years of her illness. While the rest of the year she remained confined to bed, at holiday time she did her best to rally for a day or two to show me the beautiful woman beneath all the surface strife.

One of her shining moments was the day she told me the truth about Santa Claus. We were in the
living room at 16 Wilbury Place in Buffalo, New York. The stockings still hung over the brick fireplace and a Douglas Fir tree glistened in the front alcove with too many strands of silver tinsel tossed in random fashion by my own ambitious hands. The tree proudly displayed our old handed down glass ornaments that glowed in the light of an old-fashioned string of screw-in colored light bulbs. Douglas Firs were the cheapest tree at that time, but boy did they smell good!

A handful of my friends considered themselves on the cusp of adulthood, too grown up to deal in childish ways of years past while I still maintained a relationship with my dear conspirator in the occupation of love, Santa Claus. I’d captured him in my heart and he would have to be wrangled away or remain there forever.

Several of those so-called friends elevated themselves by making fun of the fact that I had written to the Man in Red, asked for and received yet another doll from the Jolly Old Elf at the vulnerable age of thirteen. Well aimed hits on my personhood, such as “Only babies ask Santa for dolls,” plagued my sense of self-esteem and I did not appreciate the accusations. Peyton Place had nothing over the scandal on Wilbury Place.

Wise woman to her core, Mom felt my rising angst on the topic of Santa and she knew I would no sooner give up dolls than say goodbye to the benevolent elf of the North Pole. Dolls were my family, my only siblings, and my practice children and I loved them dearly. Looking forward to my correspondence with Santa each year got me through the long days of my mother’s illness. In spite of her condition, Mom desperately wanted to relieve the pain of my transition from child to pre-adult, no easy task and she wasn't about to take Santa away from me.

I imagine she intuited that I was dealing with Santa’s existence in my own way, that I already knew in my heart of hearts that our chimney would never see one black boot or red velvet suit or beard white as snow. Mom prevailed. She sat down in the rocker nearest the tree where I sat on the floor studying the disarray of unwrapped gifts displayed at its base a few days after Christmas.

“Robin, you know what your friend’s say about babies being the only ones to ask Santa for dolls?” she asked.

“Yes.” I answered, half expecting her to say the day had come for me to grow up.

“Well, first of all if they’re referring to YOU, they’re wrong. You are NOT a baby!”

My ears were open.

“You are my beautiful daughter and I’m so proud of you and everything you do.  And…I know how much you love your dolls.”

Her words pricked holes in my tear ducts with the knowledge that she felt guilty for not having produced a sibling for me to grow up with.

“You know who Santa is don’t you?”

I sat frozen in silence, staring down at the new Penny Brite doll among Christmas boxes of shirts, slippers, and games, my gaze blurred with tears.

“Santa isn’t a person,” she said. “Santa is the Spirit of Christmas. He represents generosity. He is everything good and kind and loving that lives inside of you and all who open their hearts to know him. Santa is something you can believe in for the rest of your life and I hope you do.”

A couple of tears escaped and I scrambled up to wrap my arms around her, my sensitive, thoughtful Santa Mom.

“One more thing,” she said. Mom got up and disappeared around the corner to my Dad’s study for a few seconds. She returned with a shoebox-sized box wrapped in candy-stripe paper topped with a big red bow and handed it to me. “I know Christmas was a few days ago but this is special from me to you.”

True to the little perfectionist I was fast becoming, I unwrapped the package as if lightening would strike if I tore one tiny corner of the paper. My chest swelled with sunshine when I saw the sweet baby doll swaddled in a white lacy “Christening” dress, matching bonnet, and booties.

“I picked this one because she’s soft and looks like a real baby. I wish I could give you a brother or sister but it’s not happening. For now, she can be your baby sister.”

The doll was more than special. Yes, she had the soft look of a just born infant and she smelled delicious like all new dolls just out of the box, but much more astonishing was the fact that my mother had gotten out of bed and had gone to a store to pick out the doll herself. Mom hadn’t done trips to stores for anything in years.

“I love her Mom. I’ll take good care of her.  And I love you!”

The baby doll wore the proper sacramental attire, but I’d been the one baptized into a new phase of life by someone whose wisdom was never fully recognized. Mom’s Santa bore little resemblance to the Santa of magazine advertisements and department stores. Her adaptation might have held a vague shadow of similarity to the early St. Nicholas or Thomas Nast’s Santa, the saint’s namesake, but in truth this spirit was my mother’s construct born out of her love for me.

As a rookie teen I could have been angry about the whole charade; the milk and cookies for the big guy and carrots for Rudolph, the trips to department store Santas, the letters “To Santa,” the elves, flying reindeer, and presents “From Santa,” the collusion with other Santa espousing parents. But I wasn’t angry. It was impossible. I loved the ritual that began every year with an advent calendar on December first.

By telling me her version of Santa, Mom trusted I would sort through the whole thing and sort I did. What would I do without a long string that stretches back in time and connects me to my childhood wonder - wonder that is palpable in the children’s stories I write and the fascination I have with Nature? Where would I be without a jolly “Ho, ho, ho” once in a while far beyond the season of Santa? Where would any of us be without Santa’s good humor? Imagination. No one can tap into imagination if you don’t carry an image in your mind of reindeer that can fly and elves that build millions of toys by hand, on request, in less than a year. Imagination will fail you if men in red suits with bellies like bowls of jelly can’t slip easily down slender chimneys or drive a sleigh through the starlit sky and deliver those millions of elf-built toys to children around the world in one night in all kinds of weather.

Mom knew I would need all of what I gained from the childhood fantasy that is Santa Claus as I entered the oftentimes too serious journey toward what we call adult. She knew I would need the hope and the laughter that Santa provides so I could endure the days when things don’t go the way I want them to. She knew the importance of embodying wonder, the miracles, and suspension of disbelief that Santa’s spirit offers. For all Mom’s wisdom and the beauty she rendered by asking me to BELIEVE as a tiny tot and a budding adult, I am grateful.

From a heart that still holds tight to the magic of Santa, may you capture your own Spirit of Christmas and never ever let it go. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,
It’s not your birthday or mine, no special anniversary to remember you by. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry tears of joy at the light bulb that just came on today.
There were things I was afraid to see. I didn’t get it then, but I get it now. Why you, my peace-loving, gentle mother, in later years started saying, “The next person who crosses me, I’m gonna hit ‘em with my purse!” – a bit of wisdom borrowed from Ruth Buzzy of the Laugh-In TV show. I know you wouldn’t have really hit anyone, but you were fed up even though you laughed at the prospect. Tired of being taken advantage of for who you were, far too many times.
With Jessica Fletcher style (Murder She Wrote) you chased down the UPS man and met him at his next delivery stop to yell at him for cutting you off in a near- miss that could have ended badly for you both (but especially for you). You told off your boss, a married man who solicited you, and quit your job. “It was a joke” he said, but you knew better. You also confronted your minister in a private meeting when he told his congregation “The Bible says you must submit to a husband no matter how you are treated.” You told him exactly how that was not true and he apologized to the whole congregation from the pulpit. You single-handedly ran after thieves who pilfered things from your section of Sibley’s Department Store and helped security head them off outside.
At the time, I worried for your safety as an older middle-aged woman, donning your cape, grabbing your mighty purse, and rushing out the door to fight a never-ending battle for love, justice, and kindness. But now I see how you turned yourself into a fiercer version of the Wonder Woman you always were and never dared show. You had held back your Lioness spirit in hopes that others would meet you halfway. From your gentle place you tried to speak your #MeToo in a subtler manner until that voice got stuffed under the weight of oppression and your broken heart…but only for a while.
Then suddenly, there you were R-O-A-R-I-N-G back - for all your stolen dreams, your exploited generosity and loyalty, for all the Jokers who weren’t joking, and the Riddlers who riddled your heart with pain.
Now I get it Mom. Thank you, a million times over. Now where is that cape of mine? The next person who crosses me, I’m gonna hit ‘em with my purse!  View Ruth Buzzy and Artie Johnson in that famous skit here:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Worldwide Day of Giving

Today is "Worldwide Day of Giving" and I want to give you something.
  On the occasion of my wedding, a very long time ago, my Dad gave me the greatest wisdom that still holds true. To add emphasis to the sincerity and sacredness of our last one-on-one meeting before my life transition, he drove 45 minutes to join me on my work lunch break one week before the big day. Even before he uttered a word I remember feeling so touched and I sensed something coming that I knew I’d cherish for a lifetime.
  As was his style, he wanted to provide the most beautiful setting to deliver the message he wanted to get across to my still maturing spirit. He drove me to the town park and there on a park bench, surrounded by tall oak sentinels and the bright hues of annual and perennial plantings, he talked about the importance of communication and how to do it effectively. A light breeze whispered around us, enfolding us in a magical bubble, and Dad concluded with, “Always communicate. Good communication is the key to a good life. Good relationship.” We stood to face each other. He kissed me on the forehead, hugged me in such a way that I can still feel it. He stood back with his hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes, my soul. “See you next Saturday.”
  The following week I sat wearing a long white dress clinging to a bouquet of silk flowers that quivered with my nervousness. My Dad walked into the room full to the brim with stoic emotion that might have spilled over into tears if he said too much. In silence, he sat down and removed the white ballet slipper from my foot, dropped a penny inside. “For good fortune,” he managed to push out between his trembling lips. In Cinderella-like fashion, he tucked my foot back into the slipper.
  He stared into my eyes with such love I felt it rush through my body and travel to the farthest reaches of my being. He took my hands in his, cradling them and holding the gaze. A tear stood ready to fall in the corner of each of both his and my eyes and once more he urged “Communicate.”
  Sixteen years later that marriage broke into irreparable pieces due to dysfunctional, often non-existent communication. A few shards still stick here and there in the scars that formed in my heart from that loss. I imagine that your heart bears similar scars. Scars that resulted from communication that missed its mark or silence that kept you or a loved one from fully expressing a hurt or a need or a question left simmering in your mind. Scars that formed as a result of being misunderstood with no door left open, no recourse for a conversation that might have healed the rift.
  The only thing that stands between you and me and a healing is fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of emoting. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being in the wrong. Fear of further misunderstanding. Fear – a senseless wall and an illusion.
  Here on the internet we try and sometimes manage to hit the bulls-eye. Other times we try and miss, try and fail every day via social media, email, and whatever other means keeps us from looking each other in the eyes and feeling the presence of each other. We want that communication with the desperation of a desert wanderer in search of water. We are parched, longing to be understood and loved and not quite getting there.
  So, on this "Worldwide Day of Giving" I give you communication and my vulnerability. But I can only give it to you if you receive it and give it back. If you have ever or will ever feel misunderstood by me, please let me know. If you think I have hurt you in some way, tell me and let’s talk about it in person over a cup of something warm and soothing. Even in face to face conversation two people can misunderstand each other. We make up stories and judgments in our heads about others hundreds of times a week, much based on our own personal history.
  The secret is in leaving fear behind and dropping down into your vulnerable heart and saying, “I didn’t quite get that. Could you explain further?” or “I really want to understand you. Please tell me more.” Realize that I may have misspoken because I’m a fumbling human and leave room for apology and forgiveness. Or you may have projected onto me the hurt you still unconsciously feel from an old childhood wound. I’ve been there and understand and will do my very best to listen.
  Most of our misunderstandings are big huge ginormous mistakes that can be made right. Stick with me through the dark night and I’ll stick with you. May we come to a completion where we can give each other a hug in the light of day, having moved toward an even deeper, more intimate relationship.

Much Love,

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Road to Sacred Activism

We're All in This Together
  Over the course of the past two years as tensions rose during the Presidential campaign, election, and subsequent results, I’ve been in a place of observation and meditation to figure where I want to be in all this as a woman and as a concerned citizen. I’ve watched rising movements to save the planet and an upsurge of feminism. Something needs to be done on many counts and I’m feeling that the approach of these movements could benefit from some shifts in attitude. 
  Subsequent marches on Washington appear to have been peaceful overall. People standing up for what they believe in. At the same time I read comments displayed beneath pertinent articles on social media and there is clearly a lot of anger, often aimed at either the author or other commenters. The mindset of “Us vs. Them” prevails in those comments and on social media when in truth there is no either/or, black or white, clear-cut way to divide anything or anyone. Goodness and evil reside in every single human being. There are good women and conniving women, upstanding men and twisted men, believers in God who judge and condemn and atheists who practice humanitarianism like a religion, Republicans with Liberal leanings, Democrats with a touch of Green Party, and Conservatives who would rather go fishing and forget it all.  
Divine Feminine Masculine
I understand anger. I healed my anger and you can too. I’ve been there, especially when I see my beautiful country road strewn with trash or when it’s too obvious I’m being taken advantage of because I’m a woman or because I’m kind – defined as “nice,” “patient,” “peaceful.” I learned, in 14 years of introspective therapy, that underneath the fiery mantel of anger is sadness. I processed a fair amount of anger over time until I could see the offending aspects of my transgressors in my shadow self – the parts of me that I deny or hide. Only then could I transform anger and sadness into forgiveness. I also learned it is possible to have compassion for my oppressors and opponents - to feel relief from the angst inside myself, yes, and to find better, more effective, balanced ways of dealing with those whose actions tweak my sensibilities. At that point I was introduced to the ways of the Divine Feminine and Masculine.
  We hold people like Malala Yousafzai, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in high esteem for their non-violent methods of inspiring change. These women and their male counterparts were successful in creating societal and world advancement because they each tuned in to their Divine Feminine/Masculine traits. Collectively these renowned individuals endured extremes of racism, bigotry, war, violence, oppression, poverty, and insurmountable odds, yet they maintained non-violence, inner balance, and unerring focus on their goals. Could I do the same? I was sure going to give it a go.
  Malala who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 and lived to share her views with the world says she had no desire for revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me,” Malala said. “Even if there was a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him…The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens; the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women, the power of the voice of women frightens them and that is why they killed 14 innocent students in Quetta [Pakistan]." I imagine the "Me Too" phenomenon stimulated quite a bit of fear as it raced through media channels. 
After years of working toward understanding how to attain the Divine balance within myself and applying what I learned to personal situations, I realized something. When I meet a person or situation with the same unbridled anger, aggression, sarcasm, and bitterness as my opponent uses on me, nothing is accomplished but more of the same. Female or male, these means are what we resort to when we react without taking a breath, without knowing we have great power that goes beyond emotional outburst, without knowing the balanced Divine Feminine/Masculine aspects of ourselves.
Every time women meet men or groups meet opposing groups with the same attitudes and methods that have been used by patriarchal societies to oppress, those attitudes and methods are reinforced as the one and only way of doing things. In other words, if a woman confronts anger, aggression, sarcasm, and domination with more of the same, instead of resurrecting and accessing the innate feminine powers within her, she is telling her oppressors that there is more power in the way it has always been done. The abused becomes the abuser. Overarching patriarchy - unbalanced masculine without so much as a bow to the feminine - not only remains but grows stronger. The patriarchal ways of war, “us against them,” winners and losers, oppression, force, and aggression are therefore validated and strengthened. An interesting irony isn’t it?

Who We Are Really
 I see too many people asking why things don’t change, why they – “the other” – don’t change when it is each of US that needs to change. If we continue to do things the way they’ve always been done, ongoing issues that plague society have little chance of transforming. As a society we have long forgotten what it is to integrate the Divine Feminine with the Masculine. Many women have lost their sense of true femininity in the quest to become man-like in a man’s world. Many men wander through life with no sense of the Divine Feminine qualities that lay buried within their own being. Though we might say we are all for women’s rights or protecting the environment, we continue to “fight for or against” rushing here and there with fists clenched, arms swinging in search of a target. How many of us even know what the power of the Divine Feminine is or how to access it? What would society look like if we transformed what we have into something that accommodates a balance of feminine and masculine?
The Cure
We must start by taking a good hard look at ourselves and be brutally honest. Remove the stigma attached to therapy and accept it as a necessary life tool. Stop labeling and categorizing each other according to preference, belief, size, shape, color, and all the other diminishments we toss around with abandon. If we are against war, have we as individuals learned non-violent communication and have we delved into the sources of the things that trigger anger and war within us? Where in our lives do we support the things we say we are against? If we say we want a clean environment, do we do everything in our power to keep the environment of our own bodies healthy, make our earthly footprint green, and let our dollars speak for us? If we say we support women in being whole, healthy, and equal do we simultaneously support things that degrade, cheapen, and weaken women? As women and men, where do we degrade, cheapen, and weaken ourselves? If we say we want equality for all humans and an end to bigotry (defined as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself”) where do we still draw lines of separation? If we want our leaders to be trustworthy, emotionally stable, and have integrity and loyalty to us, have we ourselves attained an unyielding strength of character, fidelity in our relationships, and emotional maturity? If we expect “them” to be honest and open, to stop keeping secrets and scheming behind closed doors, we must make sure we are doing the same down to the smallest measure of our lives. We are simply this: a microcosm of the things we see going on around us in the macrocosm.  
  No form of activism is effective if we only look outside ourselves at the things that are wrong out there. Activism is not supported by finger pointing and blaming. Equality is not women turning into men and men becoming wimps. It’s not about one person or group giving something up and the other gaining unreasonable influence. True equality is about discovering the best qualities of feminine and masculine that are possible, honing them and integrating them into ourselves. In quiet meditation we can familiarize ourselves and cultivate what is innate in us and work toward attainment of the qualities we were not born with until we reach a peaceful balance. We can start now.
Sacred Activism
Sacred potent Activism is not about fighting and waving fists and crushing our (perceived) opponents with cruel words, or worse, the subtle put downs and mockery of the “other” that tear at the fabric of our one and only human race. These are the tactics of unseasoned male teens battling throes of testosterone flush. Though our beliefs may be different we must remember we are dealing with fellow humans who have hearts and their own history that has brought them to their personal beliefs.  All humans experience the same universal feelings as you do – love, joy, sadness, despair, fear. Sacred Activism is about activating the power that can only be accessed by finding a peaceful balance within. Once the balance is set in place, nothing can destroy it and everything good and rightful and positive CAN be achieved both personally and globally. We must learn to listen to and understand each other. Every time we forget to pass our thoughts and words through our hearts before speaking or acting, we have stepped backwards. We either choose to evolve together or destroy ourselves and each other together.

Horses Can Show Us the Way
  Understanding horses offers great insight into how Divine Feminine/Masculine balance works. Horses are tuned in to their surroundings with a razor’s edge, on constant alert to sights, scents, sounds, movement, and the slightest sensations of physical and energetic nuance. “Under her Alastar pawed the ground. He’d pursue (a wolf they’d encountered on the path), she realized—longed to. To calm him, she had to calm herself (from Dark Witch by Nora Roberts).”
  I’ve experienced empathic horse behavior on many occasions. Once I walked to a horse paddock with a heart full of sadness. I walked up to the fence with tears running down my face staring at the horse I’d visited numerous times who had never given me the time of day. On this day however, the horse sauntered over and pressed his nose to my heart. Boom! A healing took place and I felt heard, understood.
  On another occasion, I was at a retreat working with horses who were total strangers. I was told to offer no physical or verbal cues as to what I wanted the horse to do. “Just THINK about him doing what you want.” You can imagine my confusion. How would a horse know what I wanted just by my thinking it? I mounted the creature and settled onto the gray speckled back, the quivering muscle and alive nerves beneath me – a horse still filled with the sensitivity born in him. My mind gently formed the thought “Go!” The horse stepped forward and stopped as he felt my disbelief. I thought “Go!” and this time trusted the feeling of it to work. The horse moved forward again and I thought “Turn left.” As I turned my head the tiniest bit to the left the horse turned left in sync; the magic of fine-tuned senses and the perfect demonstration of the blending of feminine (non-violent request) and masculine (action). Here was rider and mount operating as a unit in total trust and cooperation. No tugging. No force. No coercion.
  Later that day I had my first lunging lesson. Lunging is where you stand in the center of a ring or open area holding one end of a rope that is attached at the other end to the bridle of a horse about ten feet away. You encourage the horse to run circles around you for exercise and as a way to further ensure alliance and cooperation with each other. Again, I was told to think my request of the horse with one added component, “Feel your power!” My body no longer physically touched the horse so I had to make the connection another way. I knew what the teacher meant but because I wasn’t feeling it, the horse stood still. “FEEL your POWER!” the teacher urged me again and she patted her own solar plexus down to her lower abdomen, the center of our being where power lives. This time I took a deep breath, asked the power to grow inside me, and felt my gentle request. The horse started to move and then trot. Magic again. But not magic, just an attunement of feminine and masculine in perfect alignment. 
  Somewhere in our busy lives we forgot what we learned in grade school: we ARE animals! Just as horses do, we have valuable senses and feelings at our disposal when we don’t let our supercharged brains override the subtleties. We need to understand that we can't hide, can't find peace or justice anywhere unless we find it inside ourselves. We need to calm ourselves, refine ourselves, in order to reach the entities that seek to do harm to us and the greater whole. How we behave physically, mentally, and energetically makes all the difference. It takes practice to exercise those unused muscles but we CAN do it. "It's a lot like nuts and bolts – if the rider's nuts, the horse bolts!"– Nicholas Evans
When we identify and heal old patterned ways of response we connect more intimately with our inner world where real power and strength reside. We can then access compassion, unconditional love, forgiveness, and benevolence over animosity, hatred, and cruelty. Gentleness, kindness, patience, and composure can have great influence on those ruled by anxiety, anger, and intolerance. Empathy, seasoned wisdom, and understanding overshadow fear, suspicion, and discrimination. When we are steadfast in reverence and respect for ALL life we begin to listen more, talk less, and allow our intuition to guide us toward right interventions. And I must add, if you or anyone you know is being physically abused, all bets are whatever you can to find help!
  We are all cells in the larger body of all life and the Earth. Only when we cultivate within us what we want to see in the world, do we earn the right to disapprove of others in their transgressions. Let’s continue opening our arms and hearts together.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Memories Conclusion

  It was around this time of year when I first expressed my teen ideal to become an artist, to write and illustrate children’s books. When the school guidance counselor poked discouraging jabs at my dream, the wife of my father’s boss stepped in and said, “If that’s what you want to do, you can do it!” The summer of 1972 she came to look at my portfolio and said she had a friend who might be able to help patch up the holes in my dream. Her friend happened to be a dean at the University of Arizona. An interview secured my acceptance into their art program. Though life’s twists and turns took me in a different direction I eventually got around to writing and illustrating my first children’s book “Feather Gifts for All Ages" and I’ve never forgotten the support of those kind women.
  Upon my return from the past to the present, along the tiny spirit road of that small rock I held in my hand, I realized there have been so many more supportive people along this life journey who said, “You can do it.” Mrs. Blatchford gave me sewing lessons after school when my sewing teacher ignored my abilities. Mrs. English pointed me toward my first fulfilling work in a fabric store; sewing being second only to art on my love-to-do list. Members of my beloved storytelling guild who continue to nurture my storytelling and stage presence. Friends, teachers, ministers, lawyers, team mates, co-workers, therapists, and strangers all appeared at just the right time to encircle me with love and encouraging words, to shepherd me onward when I felt lost. Each in their own way let me know I didn’t have to hide behind masks, costumes, or a stage persona. I could step into my own character and feel alive and confident, comfortable in my own skin.
  It’s those extra I love yous I still receive that help me relax when my head is exploding with adult details and confusion. It is a loved one sitting in silence and holding my hand when I’m blinded to the road ahead that helps me know the clouds will clear soon enough. It is a friend pointing to the stars and reminding me they are not so far away that I can’t reach for them that keeps me looking up and toward my dreams. I hope these Summer Memories stories have reawakened some of your dreams and stirred some good memories. Have a great start to your summer, the time of growth and ripening creativity! Breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!
Love, Robin

Friday, June 2, 2017

  This throwback to my summer memories has turned out to be more than just a stroll through the past. It’s a reminder of everyone who has supported my life and growth. Who supported you as you grew?
  The year I turned seven I received a two-wheel bicycle for my birthday, one I could grow into, lovingly refurbished with light blue paint and fresh grease by my parents. Sometime around the last days of spring my Dad spent hours running alongside me promising “You can do it pumpkin!” Soon enough I pedaled through the hot afternoons of summer and away, flying into new worlds.
  As I grew older, summers sparked bursts of creativity. I recalled the thrill of being on stage during that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer performance in kindergarten. I hadn’t stepped in front of my classmates as shy Robin that day. I’d become Rudolph and experienced a flying lesson while wearing his skin. 
  I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be as long as the element of stage supported my wings. So, the summer I turned ten I gathered neighborhood friends and wrote, directed, and starred in a series of skits, complete with singing, dancing, and joke telling. In the basement of our church (free access being one of the benefits of having a minister for a father) we held practice, designed tickets and play bills, and eventually set up chairs for the audience we hoped to attract. 
  My dad and two of my friends’ moms filled half of the front row while the rest of the seats ran cold. But my friends and I glowed with the pride that reflected in the eyes of our parents and the sound of their applause for our accomplishment. I never forgot the good feeling of that day. Though I tended to still feel shy in day to day interaction and my creativity developed in more private settings, I knew that somewhere inside a more confident me stood anxious to come out. I’ll tell you more in the next edition. Until then let your creativity soar, even if it must be in the privacy of home for now. Breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!
Love, Robin

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Summer Memories

Mr. Judson Shea was short on words but long on wisdom and teaching all those little things one might ordinarily miss. He liked to grow things; vegetables, flowers, trees, children. I remember him plucking a flower from a bush at the side of his house. He held the bloom one way and showed me a Bleeding Heart. He turned it upside down, gently pulled at the petals with his overworked fingers, and made Dutchman’s breeches dance in my outstretched hand. Before dinner one night he called me to watch as he cut up broccoli. He chopped off the “trunk” of the tree and said, “Most people throw this part away but here’s what you do,” and proceeded to peel the woody bark and expose the tender middle. “This is the best part!” he assured me and I’ve enjoyed my favorite heart of broccoli trees every since.
  The summer I was six our two families shared a day at Loon Lake. The Sheas had a little row boat and Mr. Shea wanted to take all the kids for a ride. Judilee, David, and young Jud piled into the boat like pros but I balked. I’d never been in a boat. The way it rocked and swayed as the other children settled made my stomach roll. Older Jud held out his weathered hand and in the calmest voice said, “Come on. Nothin’s gonna happen to you.” Tears ran down my face. I shook my head “No” with vigor from my stubborn stance on stable earth. Dad held my hand and urged me toward the end of the dock reminding me how he’d taught me to swim the year before. We must have stood there for twenty minutes with Mr. Shea holding out his steady hand and repeating “Come on now. You can do it. You’ll be fine,” as I envisioned sharks and piranha and sea dragons tearing me limb from limb should I happen to fall in the lake.
  Finally, grounded by the steadiest of unflappable adult voices and hands and conviction, I hopped down into the boat to meet my destiny. The ride wasn’t so bad after all and from that day forward I jumped at every chance to be on a boat; row boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, party boats, motor boats I could ski behind, lobster fishing boats that toured around harbors teeming with wildlife, boats that sailed me out to greet whales and dolphins and more sea birds that I could count. I was hooked on a newfound source of joy and all because Judson Shea (accompanied by my Dad) never lost faith that I could do something, even if it scared me silly, and he gave me the time and space to make the decision on my own.
  I faced many more decisions and choices after that one but more on that another day. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!
xo Robin

Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer Memories Part 3

If you’ve been following this thread of “Summer Memories,” you know that I started out finding a
“spirit rock” and had followed the spirit line it contained like a road to the past. As I stood holding the rock at creeks edge, my mind part way between now and the then, a frog jumped into the water leaving ripples in his wake. I recollected a frog making the same plop sound way back when as he jumped into the shadows and hid himself from perceived danger when my friend Judilee and me appeared to catch tiny fish and pollywogs swimming in the warmer sunlit pools. Later my little friend and I bugged her brothers to let us join them in the treehouse her dad built the summer before. They claimed “boys only” and went about their manly impersonations. We girls were oblivious to any danger in our quest to gain entry to that treehouse. If the boys could scale the makeshift ladder, so could we. The boys heard us coming and reiterated “No girls allowed!” from their lofty perch. Our victorious giggles rang out across the cow pasture after Mr. Shea stopped his tinkering long enough to call to the boys “Let the girls come up there now, ya hear?”

We scrambled up the ladder, climbed hand over hand, and when I reached for the next handhold near the completion of my goal, a broken branch stabbed my palm. I struggled back down with one bum hand held protectively at my side and ran through the back door wailing a pained cry. I held out my injury to Mrs. Shea who turned to a nearby cupboard and grabbed a tissue for my tears and a clear unlabeled jar filled with who knows what. She dabbed the mysterious, mustardy yellow, foul-smelling salve onto the wound, bandaged it with gauze and tape, kissed my cheek, and hugged me. “There. It’ll be fine.” She smiled down at me and I trusted her faith that it would indeed be fine and when she said I could tackle that ladder again, I believed her.

In later years I referred to Mrs. Shea as my second mom for all that she brought to my life. She remains at the top of the list of many loving adults who cheered me on as I grew. Her husband remains in my heart for similar reasons but I’ll save that for next time. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!

What are some of your summer memories? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


As I mentioned in my last entry, my parents early championing of my abilities fortified me with courage and the assumption that all adults – that they approved of, of course – would back me with equal sincerity. But not all adults were so easily swayed. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mahoney, and I started off on the wrong foot. A few weeks into a very rough beginning, she knew I was still missing my mother. One day I felt sick and stood before her holding my stomach. “I need to go home. I’m sick.” Mrs. Mahoney would have none of it, sure in her conviction this was a ruse to get me home to my mother’s comforting arms. Unfortunately for my teacher, the only proof I could offer that I had come down with the flu, was to decorate her shoes with that mornings breakfast. Mrs. Mahoney never doubted me again. After she got to know me better and saw that I could manage time away from my mom quite well she came to believe that as shy as I was I could handle a leading role in the Christmas play. My mother nearly fell off her chair when I belted out my solo in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Though she wore a gruff expression most of the time, I’m grateful for Mrs. Mahoney’s encouraging gesture that planted the seeds for future stage aspirations. I'll say more about that next time... Until then, I encourage you to breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!😀


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Summer Memories

I gave myself some extra time to explore while out on my walk on a recent day that hinted of coming summer. I meandered along the edges of the creek and found a rock containing a “spirit line” as my Native American friends would call it. Spirit lines are typically placed in artwork to allow the spirit of the artist to exit the work when it is finished. The line in this rock invited me to wander past some of the sharp edges of now and into gentle thoughts and memories of people and experiences I am grateful for.

The line on the rock that has now taken up residence on my hearth is light gray with a narrow black line dividing it down the middle, like a road. When I hold it my finger traces this spirit road until I find myself in warm past summer places, remembering all who helped me along my path to the person I am now.

My mother started me out right with bright white walking shoes and “You can do it honey!” It was the summer of my second year when I finally took my first steps unassisted. Her applause urged me on, though after waiting fifteen months she may also have been secretly cheering for herself and her aching back that had hefted a rapidly growing me since birth.

When I was off and running she and my father took me out on summer nights to see the stars that floated down to glimmer about our yard. They each cupped their two hands like clamshells and urged “You can do it sweetheart!” as they caught blinking stars one by one and placed them in a jar for us to admire. 

Their love of being outdoors showed me a love for and connection to nature that sustains me still. That early championing of my abilities fortified me with courage and the assumption that all adults – that they approved of, of course – would back me with equal sincerity. But not all adults were so easily swayed as you will see in my next edition. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sacred Space

When I wrote down the stories for my book Earth Divine – Adventures of an Everyday Mystic I wanted to get across the idea that if we pay close attention to the incredible world that surrounds us and form true relationship with it, it responds in miraculous ways. Focused communication with people and pets as well as trees, birds, our wild four-legged friends, even rocks hold messages of wisdom and guidance. They offer us a sense of comfort and belonging, but only when we learn to be present and listen deeply. By staying present I found out it is possible to connect on levels I would never have believed until I knew the moment of NOW and realized the impermanence of things. I discovered the sacredness of direct contact and communion with all my relations.

Technology offers contact with humans. It is now possible to send messages to almost every part of the world. It also isolates us unless we have a dedicated intention to get out there and be with it all. What’s often missing is communion.

There are many advantages to technological access. I understand there are times when we want to connect with what the internet offers. At the same time if technology takes away from real-time connection with other humans and the world we are one with, where are we headed? Without down time how can we expect our imaginations to soar and dream and create? Without going outdoors for extended periods how can we have any hope of receiving essential messages from our non-human friends – messages that enhance our time here on earth? We are not using technology wisely. Before you tune me out, please listen to this five minute TEDx talk:

I’ve been thinking a lot about cell phones – the kind that do everything but get you dressed in the morning. Cell phones are my biggest pet peeve. Why? Because they usually go everywhere with their owners and get in the way of live human interaction. I love the scent and sensuality of people – the little plastic attention robbers that take people away from where they are in present time, not so much. I want to know who you are today and who you hope to be tomorrow, what you care about, and what motivates or stirs you. I want to hear it with my ears and see it in your eyes.

I refuse to have anything but a simple phone. Friends and acquaintances snicker at my antique, my dinosaur of the techy age. If my phone, which does no more than connect me with (hopefully) a live voice or the occasional text message, is a simple dinosaur then so am I. I am happy to compare myself to those ancient creatures who lived as peaceable giants, who fed on plants and small fish, in families, herds, packs, and in strong social communities.

An article from Scientific American, written by Helen Lee Lin, social psychologist, says that the mere visual presence of a cell phone reduces the intimacy, trust, and empathy of a relationship. This is based on studies rather than biased opinion. You may read more here:

I’ve felt the punch of being in the same space with someone on cell phone Wi-Fi just as I imagine many other dinosaurs have. We may as well be by ourselves if the other person is more interested in what’s happening on the phone than they are in the person they’re sitting next to.

When two or more people sit in the same close space using their devices, MIT professor and author Sherry Turkle calls it being “alone together.” She says, “Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends, and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But this relentless connection leads to a deep solitude…as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down…we’re lonely but we’re afraid of intimacy.” Listen to her TED talk here:

I’ve observed people having lunch together, engaged with their phones so much as to not know what else is going on around them let alone with the person they arrived with. Would they notice if someone nearby was choking? I’ve witnessed those in attendance at a concert in glazed-over obsession with a tiny lit screen instead of paying attention to the people on stage. As a performer myself, I know this has got to be hard for any performer who feeds off the energy of the crowd. What we don’t realize is how much we need tangible meaningful connection in any interaction. Phones are not only a distraction but an adverse step in the direction of forgetting how great and healthful real eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart communication and connection can be.

It can be too tempting to hide behind your little black box and not have to deal with the feelings and musings of another living, breathing, vulnerable person. A lack of face to face contact leads to complacency, anti-social behavior, loneliness, and erosion of emotional health. In Psychology today, Christopher Bergland wrote, “Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression." These days people have fewer close friendships, decreasing social skills (especially children), reduced language skills, and increased social media bullying (both adult and youth), and technology addiction. As a society, we are forgetting HOW to talk to each other.

Communication via technology tends to be quick, short, and impersonal. Years of research proves that ninety-three percent of communication is non-verbal. In online conversation, you have no way of knowing for sure how your recipient will receive and interpret your message. If you “talk” via the “waves” it’s too easy to react and say something you will later regret. You may be present with your own response but fail to be present with that of the other person. There is no voice inflection or tone. No body language or facial expression and little chance of coming to an understanding if a comment is misconstrued.

Growing up, I remember the mailman stopping by for coffee at the homes of his friends. He lingered and joyful chatter filled the rafters. My family had dinner with friends and nothing interfered with the flow of catching up, who did what when, and how it all went. The smiling faces caused by intimate conversation imprinted on my mind: Mom and Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Shea, Myrtle Stone, The Halls, my high school pals, and so many more. Most are gone but they live on in my heart because I paid attention when they were with me. They told jokes, shared concerns, offered praises, sympathy, and congratulations. When we were together it was rude to answer a ringing phone, turn on a television, or play the radio unless it was turned way down. Two or four or ten people engaged with each other full on, telling stories, listening - hearts buzzing in tune with each other. It didn’t matter if the story was new or had been told a thousand times. What mattered was connection and I always came away with a sense of being supported and necessary to the whole. The place where two or more gathered became sacred space. The same for solo moments. Alone time was a sacred time without distraction for inner contemplation, soul-searching, rejuvenation, and much needed quiet and rest from the cares of the world.

In yoga, I learned the ancient Sanskrit greeting Namaste – a term that means, “the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you.” Yoga philosophy urges to do no harm. With these yoga teachings in mind I dream of a world where we care enough about each other and ourselves to enliven the sacred in our relationships and nurture them by making room in our scheduled lives for at least half an hour a day of intentional, meaningful conversation where we put aside all technology in favor of bonding with those we love. I envision when two or more are gathered we revere that time and space as sacred. Light a candle, hold hands, link arms, share a sunset. Even the non-verbal can be intimate and meaningful when technology doesn’t stand between us. When we are outdoors, alone or with others, we take time to quiet our thoughts and listen to the wisdom that waits in the hollows, the mountains, the creeks, the birdsong, and the serenity of stillness.

May peace and wonderful conversations be part of your every day!