Better and Better

In the 1800’s a physician named Emile Coue – my type doesn’t allow me to put the accent on the e – helped thousands of people in the town (city?) of Nancy, France. It was the era when those who were healers would hold group healings and/or see people one by one. Another worth looking at is Florence Scoville Shinn – same-ish era and modus operandi – writing and talking about auto-suggestion.

I have been delving into their work for some years now and marveling how far we have come from helping ourselves when we go to seek help from someone else. I remember once I asked my (very) country vet – no one here – about flea powder for my cats. He looked at me – I’m sure I was trying not to put it on my cats – “you might as well put it on your shoe and expect the fleas to go away.”

Reading Florence and Emile I notice how much they teach about how to apply the wisdom they espouse. No pills, no treatments other than developing the mind/body to align with the sought after result.

I believe that is my job too. For myself, yes, but also for those who come to me for guidance. And I know it best because, having done it, I see the result. Nothing is a straight shot, my misses are as fruitful as my hits.
I found this poem in my head while I was pondering these wonderful mentors, Florence and Emile, who I thank so much.

I am getting better and better every day.
Better at what? You might ask
Or, you might not. I’m getting better and better
No matter what I say. Or you say. That’s
The height of better.

I have ideas about myself that I no longer
Parade in front of me, take on for my
Impression of you. Or your impression of me.
Whichever comes first and stays longest.
I’m cozy on my own.

It’s not that resentments and dramatic fantasies
Of someone who was nasty to me don’t enter.
Perhaps I can roll around
Having a bit of a hard time. I might even participate
In that hard time but it’s brief.

And mental. That’s’ why I’m not so mental anymore.
Yes, I’m getting better and better every day. Did I
Neglect to say, “every way?” I did, didn’t I?
Well I have nothing to make up for because
I didn’t really do anything wrong, did I?

More heights, with sunny and light breezes.
There were some other things I wanted to say.
But I forgot or they slipped away. I
Don’t know which. Does it matter?
What matters is that the air is nice and
Spring is finally here.

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Enter This Life

“Just come back more as you are!”

Was what one of my teachers was told when she trekked to Japan to meet an abbess with a question about her own re-birth.

Startled and speechless she entered her three month retreat with the fulness of her being and continued just as she was – as she is.

Here is something for all of us. No matter what. It’s about belief, faith and acceptance.

Just be yourself. No matter what.

Need help? Ask your companion animal.

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Earth Day

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Earth Day: The History of A Movement

“Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.”

Today, call it Earth Day or anything you like, is a day just like any other. It is what we – each one of us – makes of it.

Morning Poem
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

 

The Language of Doubt

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This morning as the cats and dogs aligned themselves with my body in a way designed to prompt wakefulness, I was reminded that the only difference between aggravation and enjoyment is how I see it.
“It” can be anything. Does the above photo look ominous? Playful? Beautiful? If I remember correctly, (or if I don’t) it was windy in a playful way and I was stirred to participate with the earth and the wind, the clouds were my playmates and my feet were happy to be on the ground.
I have to say that I prefer those unchallenging times – but, it’s all in the way I see it, isn’t it?
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How to be Your Best Friend’s Best Friend

Last night a dear friend texted to get help with her brother’s dying dog who happened to be the sibling and litter mate of her own dog. She was worried about her dog as well as her brother’s and wanted to know how they were handling what was going on for them all.
When I went to speak to Sugar, the dog whose death from cancer was imminent, I got a huge wave of concern for my friend. I called her immediately and heard her confusion in what the focus of concern and help should be.
She had a lot going on, the death and possible pain of Sugar, the chance that this could happen to her own dog and her own concern for herself and her brother. A lot of emotional threads.
I think this is the thing I really do in animal communication. I listen for the threads and put them together in a way that soothes the humans involved. The vet had told them Sugar was not in pain, Sugar told me another story and said that this pain was not a big deal, she was ready to die and be away from the discomfort and, yes, pain that life was bringing her now. She was ready was her main theme.
Actually the most impacted was my friend’s dog who was apart from her, she is a nervous dog to begin with and her companion was emotionally torn and confused. Dogs can stand a lot. They have a resilience that boggles our minds and hearts. They are patient and forgiving beyond our wildest imaginations, but it is hard for them to have the people they look to as their chief focus be overwhelmed.
One of the best ways we can help our companions is to take a break, a breath, a walk. Do what they want for a few minutes a few times a day – walks, treats, a little panting never hurts. It could change us into being the humans they treat as if we already are.
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At bottom, the reason why we’re scared of rejection, failure, intimacy, embarrassment, abandonment, loss, the unknown, being judged, being alone, losing control, expressing our true feelings, and so many other things is that we’ve mistakenly identified ourselves with our limited ego self. When we know ourselves to be one with the ground of all existence, then nothing is separate or foreign to our nature and all of our unhealthy fears dissolve.

From Deepak Chopra’s “Awaken to Happiness Replace Fear with Love”

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I have loved you
Through fear and rainy days
Long summers of sunshine
And sometimes boredom caused
By anxiety from too much abundance.
Birds have flown in unison
As my heart’s involvement turns
On a dime. I am benevolent and unkind
Trained in no jurisprudence but the flat
Feet of the ego, mine, steps uncannily
On searching toes, on my heart as it (I)
Divide, not meiosis, but some momentary
Clamor in my brain that I believe.
The best I can do is know I am lost,
That I am found and, stunningly,
There is little difference between.

 

“My Heart is Green and Growing”   painting by Pam White

this must be shared – from Mary Oliver

Leda and the Swan

 

From Mary Oliver’s book, Winter Hours

The Swan

Years ago I set three “rules” for myself. Every poem I write, I said, must have a genuine body, it must have sincere energy, and it must have a spiritual purpose. If a poem to my mind failed any one of these categories it was rebuked and redone, or discarded. Over the forty or so years during which writing poems has been my primary activity, I have added other admonitions and consents. I want every poem to “rest” in intensity,. I want  it to be rich with pictures of the world. I want it to carry threads from the perceptually felt world to the intellectual world. I want each poem to indicate a life lived with intelligence, patience, passion, and whimsy (not my life – not necessarily! – but the life of my formal self, the writer).
I want the poem to ask something and, at its best moments, I want the question to remain unanswered. I want it to be clear that answering the question is the reader’s part in an implicit author-reader pact. Last but not least, I want the poem to have a pulse, a breathiness, some moment of earthly delight. (While one is luring the reader into the enclosure of serious subjects, pleasure is by no means an unimportant ingredient.)
“The Swan” has some of these qualities. It has as well a “secret” humor; I was watching geese not swans when I began the poem – that is, thought of the poem, felt it in concept, and wrote down a few lines. Since I had only recently written a poem about geese, I thought I would intensify the poem’s display, and make something even fancier than wild geese out of the beautiful bird shapes I was watching. I thought this fairly funny, and I remember it was therefore with a certain light-hearted pleasure that I proceeded with the description. Though unknown as a fact to the reader, I don’t wonder at all if my mood attuned me more finely than otherwise to my work – I am sure it did.
The form was no problem – long sentences and short lines, a little enjambment to keep things going (the swan is in motion) but not too much, so that the lines, like the swan’s movements are decisive, and keep their dignity. Take out some commas for smoothness and because almost every poem in the universe moves too slowly. Then, once the “actual” is in place (in words), begin to address the reason for taking the reader’s good and valuable time – invite the reader to want to do something beyond merely receiving beauty, and to configure in his or her own mind what that might be. Make sure there is nothing in the poem that would keep the reader from becoming the speaker of the poem. And, that’s all. The final phrase – “touch the shore” – is vital; it is a closure yet it is also a moment of arrival, and therefore a possible new beginning.
The poem in which the reader does not feel himself or herself a participant is a lecture, listened to from an uncomfortable chair, in a stuffy room, inside a building. My poems have all been written – if not finished at least started – somewhere out-of-doors: in the fields, on the shore, under the sky. They are not lectures. The point is not what the poet would make of the moment but what the reader would make of it. If the reader accepts and thinks about its question, “The Swan” accomplishes what it set out to do.

The Swan

Across the wide waters
something comes
floating – a slim
and delicate

ship, filled
with white flowers –
and it moves
on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn’t exist,
as though bringing such gifts
to the dry shore
was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.
And now it turns its dark eyes,
it rearranges
the clouds of its wings,

it trails
an elaborate webbed foot,
the color of charcoal.
Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do
when that poppy-colored beak
rests in my hand?
Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:

I miss my husband’s company –
he is so often
in paradise.
Of course! the path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
this world,

and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those
white wings
touch the shore?

painting, “Leda and The Swan”   Pam White

Galloping Along

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Everyone is writing and posting about the Year of the Horse – the Wood Horse. I am too, and I’m going to put a long essay at the end of this post all about what to expect this year.
What I personally want to write about is the habits we have that might get in the way of our thoroughly taking full advantage of these opportunities.
There is a story about awareness and the readiness to act that goes like this: A long time ago in a place not too far away from us here, there was a river running fast and cold. In the river were many rocks and it was well known that there was a rock that even in this cold river was hot. It’s heat could change your life for the better if you happened to find it. A young monk heard about this rock. He thought that if he could find the rock he would be able to change all of humanity for the better. He deeply wanted to do this. So he took himself to the river and knelt in its cold waters near where he felt the rock might be. He put his hands into the cold running water and began to feel the rocks as he picked each one up, he would say “cold rock.” He spent many hours in a day and many days. One day he was on his knees, “cold rock, cold rock, cold rock.” as he released them back to the stream. “Cold rock, cold rock, hot rock, cold rock, cold rock,” then he jumped up and cried out, “oh, I felt it, I felt it!” But nothing he could do, no amount of mindfulness or attention could bring the hot rock to his hands again.

This is what there is to be mindful about. We have all dropped the “hot rock” without responding in time. Chances missed are chances missed, it’s what we do after that defines us.
This young monk became clear on his wishes for himself and his dreams for the world. He redoubled his efforts – not at the stream, but in the world around him. He took his fine hands to the task of bettering all he found. His brave heart supported his efforts and his diligence made him into a fine man who many looked to and learned with. He never lost heart and he allowed whatever could happen to be.

Happy New Year!

 

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The Year of the Horse brings great promise. We mostly all love horses, even if we don’t relish the thought of being next to them, we love the promise of them.
This is the year of the Wood Horse, there are many Horse years and I think this is a good one. Here’s why from Wikipedia, “In Chinese Taoist thought, Wood attributes are considered to be strength and flexibility, as with bamboo. It is also associated with qualities of warmth, generosity, co-operation and idealism. The Wood person will be expansive, outgoing and socially conscious. The wood element is one that seeks ways to grow and expand. Wood heralds the beginning of life, springtime and buds, sensuality and fecundity. Wood needs moisture to thrive.”
That all sounds good to me, lets pray for rain!
Stallion with Orange Mane - nfs

The Road More Or Less Traveled

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There is a morality joke about walking down a street and falling into a hole. Walking down the same street and falling into the hole. Walking down that street and waiting to fall into the hole. Yep. Walking down the street and looking for the hole to fall in to.
We get used to our patterns. They are more than familiar. They are comfortable. We get good at breathing through the stranglehold they have over us. Of course it’s our stranglehold. My strangle, myself.
The teaching is to walk down another street. Or to get agile, unattached and aware.
Paying attention is helpful if it’s part of a willingness to change. My late and ex-husband, in an attempt to loose weight, used to count calories and write down everything he ate. He had small notebooks filled with copious amounts of food usually counting upwards of 5000 calories in a day. It may have made him aware, it never helped him lose weight. Knowing the enemy is not strategic.
Knowing yourself is.
It’s possible if those notebooks had contained how he felt before and when he ate, he might have been healthier. He would have to accept responsibility for the eating instead of choosing to feel helpless and doomed.
Above the temple at Delphi is written, “Know Thyself.” Still the best strategy for any move. With self knowledge it doesn’t matter if I trust you – if I trust me. It doesn’t matter so much where I walk, I can take the terrain or step away. Knowing myself can allow me to feel calm and slow time so I can give myself a choice that works for me.
My nephew David’s son David is a 17 year old whiz at slowing time. I watched this video of him and could feel the time span out so he was in complete control, making it look easy.
He does this because it’s all he’s doing at the time and he’s gained confidence and trust in himself. He’s in the moment, not zoned out doing the same thing. He’s not phoning it in, he’s right there, right now. Full disclosure is he’s been on a motorized vehicle since before his 3rd birthday. That gives him a good 10 + years of experience and an edge on most of us.