The Mission: Uncommon Skills

Jamie’s post today is so worth reading — make sure you click through to Sophia’s Children read the whole thing

Sophia's Children

Earth from space, 2013, NASA. Public domain image. Earth — our beautiful home — from space, 2013, NASA. Public domain image.

“As we accept what is, we become people who stand in contrast to what is, freed from the aggression, grasping, and confusion of this time.”

“With that clarity, we can contribute things of eternal importance no matter what’s going on around us — how to live exercising our best human qualities, and how to support others to discover these qualities in themselves.”

~ Margaret Wheatley, So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World

In So Far From Home, Wheatley speaks of calling upon “skills not common these days, such as (quality) thinking, sense-making, pattern recognition, and reflection.”

There are others as well that would qualify as contrasts to what passes for normal (albeit an insane ‘normal’) in these times.

As Jiddu Krishnamurti said,

“It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a…

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Marin Reflections: the up side 2

The biggest reason I love to be back where I used to live is the hardest to describe.  Soul fulfillment.

Part of it is the land there.  Mount Tamalpais has always seemed magical to me and I feel its magic permeates the area.  I often feel I’m being healed just by driving or walking around and gazing at the shimmering hills.

And then there’s the house my apartment used to be in.  Gay, the owner, is the founder of Nine Gates Mystery School.  For the 30 or so years she’s lived there the property has been the scene of frequent ceremonies, meditations, offerings to the devas, a Bhajans group (Sai Baba chanting), etc.  That particular piece of property has a powerful energy thanks to the deeply reverent activities regularly taking place there.

Add the magic of the area and the beauty and power of the house and grounds and the recipe for me adds up to feeling my soul has been nurtured.

And then there are the friends.  Most of my friends in the area are fellow Nine Gates graduates but I know a few folks from other spiritual workshops and one dear friend dates back to junior high school.  While we can swirl through light topics like anyone, we also speak of deep and personal things.  We tell of our spiritual trials and lessons.  And I feel connected and nourished.

My best friends here in KY like to see me go off on these trips because they can see how healed I am when I return.  It’s not that I don’t love the land here or that I don’t have good friends, there’s just something about Marin…

Nothing about the trials and tribulations around the edges of this journey interfered in any way with drinking in the energy and enjoying every moment.  Not so many years ago I’d have allowed the small irritations to rule but I’ve moved into such a different space, nothing could stop me from drinking in the energy and beauty and loving it.

Marin reflections: the up side 1

I realized this week that if you only read the few posts I made in Marin and since I got home (starting here), it sounds as if I had a bad vacation.  In fact, I had a lovely time and several things contributed.  I’ve struggled to write this as all one post and finally decided it will instead consist of two or more parts.

This first piece fits the Journey2Peace series and I think also Ra’s latest B4Peace challenge (scroll way down to reach challenge), which, in short is to write about a habit which doesn’t cultivate peace and what you do to step aside and work on peace instead.

I’ve had travel anxiety since childhood.  Mostly about flying.  My mother and I used to fly to Kentucky for a longer summer visit than my father could manage and as soon as I was old enough to hear about a plane crash, I was afraid.  My parents both tended toward stress and anxiety around travel, so any form of travel tended to be permeated with tension and unease.

In recent years, as air travel has become an increasingly troublesome process, from the long distances to airports to the need to arrive so early to the tedious and often annoying security process…   For me travel has become so fraught with difficulty and anxiety that I often question whether I really want to do it any more.

When I noticed this constant anxiety several years back, I started creating and repeating affirmations ahead of time along the lines of “whenever I travel my journey goes smoothly and easily.”  Oddly, it didn’t stop me from being anxious, but it DID quite clearly create much smoother sailing through airports and plane rides, etc.

As I prepared for the house sit in Marin from which I’ve just returned, I felt more anxious than usual.  As I considered this, I added to my list of “travel dislikes” that it seemed to me airline and airport personnel have become increasingly rude and unfriendly and part of what I dread is being snapped at all day long.  So I created another affirmation or two about kind and helpful people on my journeys.

I set off for the airport more anxious than usual– literally shaking from head to toe — but experienced an easy journey.  Including that all the security people here in Lexington — usually a cranky bunch who work hard at making it worse to get through security here than most airports I ever go through) — were smiling and lovely (possibly taken over by happy face aliens???).

Even the one who insisted on squeezing my clipped-back hair was quite gentle and apologetic.  [Someday I want someone to tell me what you could possibly hide in your hair or a silk neck scarf that couldn’t be picked up by those machines you pass through that can read your underwear???]

In spite of affirmations the return trip didn’t go so well and I spent an unscheduled night in the Chicago area and wound up switched to another airline.  Unlike American, which I usually fly, United had no one around to help me with the boarding pass phase of things and I bumbled my way through without really knowing what I was doing.

They didn’t have security streamlined as well as most of my recent flights, so it took nearly 40 minutes in line just to get up to the person who looks at your boarding pass and passport.  Who informed me the pile of print-out stuff I handed her didn’t include a boarding pass.

When I stammered, “do you mean I have to go back out and go through this line again?”, another security person stepped up and said, “no, I’ll take you.”  She walked me back to the front, got the pass, and walked me back to the head of the line, chatting amiably all the way.  Bless her kindly heart!

Even the guy in Lexington who made me come back to the airport to pick up my own delayed luggage was quite friendly.

Normally all these issues, from security through cancelled flights and bags not delivered would have left me foaming at the mouth, possibly stomping around, and locked in melodrama.  Years of meditation, emotional release work and spiritual practices have calmed that down.

And for once, what I remember the most is the good stuff.  The acts of kindness outweigh the problems in my memory of my journey.

And I have to say, even though my affirmations don’t seem — so far — to have ended the anxiety I feel, they have changed so much about the experience of travel; every trip has seemed to flow far more smoothly than my usual unhappy experiences.  My reactions to it all have changed so greatly as well, I’m beginning to “expect” good stuff to happen.

I think the practices, releasing and affirmations can all shift your experience of anything you tend to be anxious about, so I recommend working on both the exercises that calm your “self” in general and also on writing affirmations about smooth sailing in circumstances about which you  worry.

WPC: Faces

I keep trying to get a post written but it’s eluding me. Since you all have heard about me, my mother, my friend Gay, her cats for whom I “sit”, and my cat Salty, thought I’d reblog this one from my Scribblings blog so you can see our faces…

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Yeah, yeah… late again.  But here’s my selection of faces for the WPC, from my baby Salty to the babies I just “sat” for, Hermes and Pepe, to my mother and my great grandfather and more:

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The Technological Gods are Mad at Me!?! :-)

Corte Madera canal

Corte Madera canal

When last heard from, I’d experienced some internet and computer problems in Marin and all seemed to be straightened out … NOT.

A couple of days later, my hosts’ fancy jet tub started turning itself on and running the drying cycle every day at 5 p.m. or so.  They didn’t know what I could do to make it stop and the owner’s manual provides detailed info on how to install a tub but ZERO info on how to actually operate it. Not even a diagram of the control panel let alone instructions on how to use it. So that kept happening.

Another couple of days after that I had trouble getting ice from their ice maker and when I fiddled with the lever, it spewed ice all over that end of the kitchen.  Then went back to functioning normally.

When I got to Chicago, my final flight was cancelled and I had to get a hotel (which the airline didn’t pay for).  The TV and the hair dryer in my hotel room were both not working.  My bags are finally at the airport and they’re refusing to deliver them so I have to go back to the airport to collect them.

I arrived home and got on line while watching TV and a few hours later the TV and internet went down.  My phone line, on the same account, has had trouble since the day we got this new set up and I’ve spent the morning trying to get my phone fixed…

Okay, what did I do to piss off the gods of technology???  I’m so glad I’m the new me (see previous post) so instead of ranting and reveling in melodrama, I think it’s a hoot.  Really, what did I do???  Haven’t meditated on it yet to find out what I missed the last time I meditated on it…

And the turn around in Marin

SF Skyline 2016

The technological drama has, in fact, turned around, but I thought I’d first mention a couple of the aspects of my visit that have been quite fine all along.

(1) As I head through the county park that’s the last leg of my favorite walk, the above photo is one of the views I get to see (helped along here by zooming).  I worked pretty hard in Kentucky for about two months prior to this trip, getting back to walking.  There are such steep climbs here, if I haven’t already gotten my “walking legs” in pretty good shape, it takes most of my visit to work up to my favorite, 1-1/2 mile, walk.

There are a couple of shorter walks I also take which have the advantage of being entirely on pavement.  So today, for instance, when it’s been pouring like crazy and the county park segment will be a mud trail, I’ll probably take one of the other routes if it clears enough to walk.  The thing is, it’s so beautiful here, every walk in this neighborhood is stunning with breathtaking vistas, lovely scents wafting through the air, and a feeling of being in nature even while on streets lined with houses (many of which you can’t actually see from the road…).

(2) My friends here were just about all made at deep, spiritual workshops and our connections stem from sharing soul-baring experiences, so we relate at such deep levels, it feeds my soul to spend time with them and I’ve had such lovely visits with dear, dear friends.

***

Back on the weird series of internet/computer problems:

The day after getting wifi access from the neighbor, my hosts were able to get to a place with cell reception and turned the service back on.  Two days later I finally took a look at my laptop again and noticed the “on” light shining.  Hmm.  So I opened it up and tried one more time to start it.  This time, instead of coming on for a few seconds and shutting off before loading the OS, it announced that it needed to diagnose and fix itself.  Something like 45 minutes later and it had found and fixed a few things and voila, laptop back!

Meanwhile, Thursday evening my new friend/neighbor decided she wanted to do something for Cinqo de Mayo and came over to invite me along.  By the time we got to her restaurant pick, Celia’s in San Rafael there was a long wait, no place to sit and it was LOUD.  So she had the brilliant idea of going to the bowling alley across the street for a drink.

I had one of the best regular old Margaritas (i.e. not some top shelf version) I’ve had in years, in a quiet bar, where we chatted with the lovely young woman bartender and then meandered back to the restaurant where we were just in time to be the next ones seated.  The Mariachi Band came to our area almost immediately, played for about 10 minutes and stopped.  For me, just about the right amount of time to have Mariachi playing deafeningly close…  By the time our dinner came the place was beginning to wind down so it actually became quiet enough to speak to one another.  Kind of perfect.  And we noted, the evening would not have happened were it not for the internet snafu that led me to request wifi when she asked if I needed anything…

So the problems all resolved one by one and, besides lessons learned, benefits arose from the trauma and drama.  The nice thing for me as all this unfolded was observing myself staying, for the most part, calm.  Did I feel angry when I realized the internet was gone and wouldn’t be turned on for a few days?  Yes.  Did I cry for a few seconds when my laptop wouldn’t work?  Yes.

But years ago I’d have been caught up in the angst of those events and lived in the drama for days or weeks.  I’d have carped incessantly to anyone with whom I spoke and called for 5 or 10 more people to enroll them in the angst train ride.  This time I noted what was happening, started asking what the lesson was, settled into finding alternative things to do and mostly told people the story with a laugh as a funny example of the Universe handing out a lesson.

Even more fun is how easily it all became sorted when I just stayed calm and assumed all would be well…

Sideways in Marin

100_0212

I’m having a lovely time here, basking in the beauty and spending time with beloved friends as well as thoroughly enjoying the sweet kitties for whom I’m sitting.   But much has gone sideways here and I’m still sorting through the lessons.

I brought my phone, which has wifi internet access, but the screen is so small I only use it for certain apps.  I also brought a Kindle Fire, for reading and watching Netflix, as my hosts don’t have a TV connection of any sort.  Those were my main planned forms of entertainment when stuck up here alone (more on that later)…. and of course they require the internet.  And then I brought my ancient laptop, as I’ve never been able to successfully write anything of length on a screen keyboard nor have I had much luck getting blog posts to come out right from an android type device.  Intended to write posts as I contemplated and accomplish some other writing too…

Imagine my dismay last Saturday morning when I figured out the internet account of my hosts had been suspended as they forgot to pay the bill before leaving.  And they were in the busiest two days of teaching so didn’t want to clear up the issue.  Then, I got up on Sunday morning to find the kitties knocked my laptop to the floor and it’s dead.  What???  Hello, Universe…  what’s the deal?

So I practiced yoga and took lovely walks.  The reading plan had been to get library books, one at a time, downloaded onto the Kindle (which is new and has few things downloaded on it yet) and fortunately I’d gotten one nice long Louise Penny novel downloaded the day before losing the internet so I read and read.

Sunday evening a friend and I went to dinner at a restaurant with wifi and I took the Kindle to download another couple of books since I’d finished with Inspector Gamache.  Got on wifi, picked out books… and nothing would download.   What?   Universe?   Hello?  I can’t even have a book???

Time for a little inner work, clearly, so I meditated and called on my guides to clear up what this was about.  Need for a break from technology — not to hard to figure.  But also losing the laptop is about trusting that it just means something better is coming.

I’d been feeling drawn to use this time for being quiet and integrating the huge amount of shifts and changes I’ve been experiencing and apparently that meant being off line.  Later on Monday the next door neighbor dropped by to see if I needed anything and graciously helped me get on HER wifi.  We’d known one another when I lived here but didn’t really click.  All these years later we spent a lovely evening (had some trouble getting on her wifi) and I felt somehow that connection was another piece of the snafu-laden weekend.

My hosts don’t have a second car and take lots of stuff to these workshops so they have to take the one car.  This house is way more of a hike than I can manage from groceries, restaurants, shopping, etc. and not near public transportation, so the days when I don’t have things booked with friends — who are always lovely about hauling me to Trader Joe’s or wherever if I need it — I’m just up here on the hill alone.

I love to walk around here and the setting of their home is lovely for doing yoga so I enjoy spending some of my time doing both and I relish sitting and staring out at the amazing view.  But then I’m ready for blogging or reading or watching a movie….  Quite a lesson in realizing how dependent upon all these devices I’ve become in order to stay entertained.   And how much I feel the need to be entertained instead of sitting in the quiet and just being.

Anyway, all that’s a long way around saying I didn’t mean to be so absent from posting.  The internet is back on and my hosts have given me the password to get on one of their computers so I’m kind of back.  Don’t know how to upload photos on their Apple so you’ll have to see my Marin shots after I get home.

I’ll probably be a bit sporadic about responding to comments as the computer is in an unheated out-of-house office (i.e. no cold evenings in here) and that not-typing-on-screen-keyboards thing extends to commenting for me :-)  But I CAN read on the WP app on my other devices so now that I’m back on line I’m trying to catch up on reading all your lovely blogs.