Falling behind

Even with our reduced/easier schedule for NaBloPoMo this year I’m struggling.

Deepak Chopra chose this month to start one of his 21 day meditation events and I signed up. I’m only a day behind at this point, which is highly unusual for me.

Then a friend recommended a free on line video course called Time of the Sixth Sun.  The videos are around an hour and-a-half each and stay up for only 24 hours, so it’s been a bit of a dash to keep up.  Watched the final one today then found out they’re going to make them available again this weekend and, as I found out too late to see the first two, I now have more to watch.

Another friend passed along yet another free online video course exploring Eastern medicine and cancer.  It started while the “Sixth Sun” was still going so for a couple of days I juggled watching two long videos and doing the meditation while also, you know, having a life. And I’m about to juggle both a couple more days.

An abundance of good stuff, but sorry, it has sidetracked my attention from blogging challenges.

Pioneering women

Not long ago I suddenly thought of my grandmother’s friend, Sunshine Sweeny.  I only knew her in passing, but I loved her name and she lived down the street from the home on Third Street to which my grandmother and aunt moved when I was 12.  I wondered whether the house there had been passed down in the family or whether she purchased it later.

A couple of months later my friend Cecy came to town.  I met her when she had just turned 13 and I was still 12 because my aunt knew her mother and they lived down the street  We decided to take a nostalgic tour of Third Street (pictures of each of us in front of “our” houses are going up on the Scribblings blog), so I took the above shot of the house I recall as Sunshine’s — across the alley from Cecy’s old house–while we were there.

Then I started doing some poking around.  I didn’t find out a lot about Sunshine but one main item was that she took over the family farm, which I thought answered the question about the house.  Her sister, Mary, however, was well enough known there’s quite a bit of info and Sunshine is mentioned here and there.

Neither sister ever married and both had levels of education and held positions that were very unusual for women at the time.  Their father was a doctor and I’m thinking both parents get a lot of credit for raising such independent and aspiring girls.

Sunshine shows up in the 1907 University of Kentucky yearbook as being on the “classical course”.  Somewhere after she began to run the farm and I found her in a KY gov publication as being on the executive committee of the Kentucky Sheep Breeder’s Association in 1917.

In 1914, she directed a group of women conducting a campaign against illiteracy in Lexington. It was part of a movement across the state.

Also in 1917 Sunshine and Mary went to Europe to serve food in canteens for troops in WWI under the auspices of the YMCA.

MARY SWEENY

 

Mary graduated from Transylvania University in 1899 (Transy for folks elsewhere, is a highly regarded little liberal arts school here in Lexington, founded in 1780, the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), received a Masters from University of Kentucky and then another Masters from Columbia in 1912.

She taught physics and chemistry at Campbell-Hagerman College, during which time she introduced hot school lunches to western Kentucky. Then she taught Home Economics at University of Kentucky, becoming head of the department in 1913.  In 1917 she was appointed chair of the U.S. Food Administration in D.C., where she trained citizens on rationing food in wartime.

Next she became dean of Human Ecology at Michigan Agricultural College and then the Merrill Palmer School in Detroit, where she worked with the American Red Cross on nutrition in the inner city, creating a program that later became Head Start.

She also spent time in India, starting in 1939, won a citation for bravery in WWII and was a consultant in China on child welfare.  In 1965 she was named to the hall of Distinguished Alumni at University of Kentucky.  The citations in her Wikipedia article lead to some pretty interesting pieces about her.

Since neither of the sisters had children and I’m not sure if there were siblings, I don’t know if there’s anyone to remember their contributions so I wanted to produce this little reminiscence in honor of their pioneering lives.

Another fun aspect of the research for me was running into SO many prominent Lexington names.  People who were friends with my grandparents, whose children my mom and her sister knew, whose grandchildren I met.  People who owned stores downtown.  Louis Hillenmeyer was in the Horticulture Society in 1917 and a couple of generations later Hillenmeyer’s is still a major name in the nursery business here.  So cool to see the history.

Anger in the air

Screaming it out

In a recent post I alluded to experiencing some irritability lately and the first couple of days of this week had me at such high levels of feisty and cranky I’ve been doing some contemplating.

The orange man held a rally here in town on Monday and I’m pretty sure some of it was me picking up on the great numbers of angry people who converged here to attend and the angst of those who opposed and gathered outside in protest.  Now that the election is over, I’m much calmer so I’d say that was a lot of it.

But since anger was a big issue in my early inner explorations and a lot of the processing work I did during the Fischer-Hoffman Process* involved releasing huge amounts, I try to stay aware if I think another issue seems to be surfacing.  I did the Fischer Hoffman 1992-93 and for I’d say 10 years after, every time I unearthed an issue with angst attached I used “the process”, identifying the source and pounding pillows, etc.

Without intending to, I drifted away from doing it and most of the release in the last 15 years or so has been at the agency of body work therapists and/or me using the triggers of release work and opening something up.  When I first encountered Ellen, the F-H facilitator, at Nine Gates during third chakra work, we used some techniques Gay Luce added, which she called “emotional hygiene”.

I used to do those off and on as well, my favorite being one where you take a somewhat wide stance, clasp your hands, inhale and hold your breath, and then raise and lower your hands while bending forward as if you were chopping big logs with an axe.  You keep swinging for as long as you can possibly hold your breath.  Then exhale and repeat as necessary. It’s a great way to shake some of the daily irritants of life and, if something is bubbling up, it is also really effective at getting it to the surface.

Remembering the work has me thinking it would be good to incorporate the chopping on some regular basis and also exploring whether I feel a round of the process is in order.  I know that besides picking up on community energies, the current round of muscle releases in my head is off-loading some old and/or ancestral and/or past life issues locked in for most of my life.

Most of the time I try to look at this long healing road as a good thing, both (1) from the standpoint of being freed of physical pain and problems and (2) especially for healing the emotional issues lurking beneath.  But I’m realizing there’s a level on which I’m pretty angry about the huge disruption in my life this has caused for YEARS, especially the precarious financial situation in which it has left me.

So I’m thinking it’s time to dust off the process tools — as best I can remember them now 🙂 — and plan a session.  And some chopping.  Definitely some chopping.

The return to lovingkindness chanting is definitely also helping but since these bouts of temper keep arising in between rounds of chanting I’m feeling the anger needs to be addressed.  Disappointing to be back to this, yet I also know every bit of clearing any one of us does contributes to lifting the anger out of the Oneness, so I feel committed.

*Ellen, having been a facilitator for many years had devised a deeper and longer version.  The original process, now called the Quadrinity Method, is still around but not the same as her work.  Since her death, as far as I know there is no one doing her variation.

The Ah in God

Contemplating the divisiveness these days on many issues, especially religious, I’ve been thinking a lot about some teachings I received long ago.  Late 80’s into mid-90’s I had several different teachers who talked about vowel sounds in ancient times and how they relate to chakras, meanings and to modern language.  There was a gem about the sound and meaning of “ah” that has always stuck with me.

The two teachers I can recall most specifically are David Patten, who is a Druid descendant and teaches about ancient Celtic practices at Nine Gates, including the alphabet– the “oghams”– and Paul Ray, who taught Sufi at Nine Gates (long ago, when I went through…).  I lived in an apartment connected to the home of my friend Gay and David, so I also got to hear about oghams at the dinner table while he worked on a book.  This many years later I don’t remember which other teachers and much of what I learned is a bit of a jumble.

For all these years, though, a teaching on “ah” as the sound of God has always stuck.  Many of these ancient concepts provided layers of meaning to each letter — things like, a type of tree, a mineral, a bird, a divination interpretation, etc. — and those ideas were often incorporated in later alphabets and languages though the underlying layers are no longer known in general.*  So it turns out that the “ah” sound, if you look carefully, is in every name for God.  Krishna.  Allah.  Yeshua (Jesus). etc.  And of course the way we pronounce “God” there’s an ah in it…

As I studied with teachers from different traditions and increasingly realized every major religion has the same principles at the core, I would come back to the sound of “ah” and realize the name is not only there in each place, but the sound that conveys all those principles and shows up in each one is a unifying piece.

The name may look different in each language, but the spirit of love in the “ah” is always present.  The same principles of the Eightfold Path — right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — are within all of them, they just use different words to express them.

So I look at all the division and discord about this religion versus that or this denomination versus another and I wish everyone could take a breath and feel the “ah”.  For many, if the words are different for some reason they can’t see the heart is the same.  I just feel the love at the core and keep wishing we could all find our way back to the heart and the love and compassion.

This is my first post for this year’s Nano Poblano — a version of National Blog Post Writing Month.  The group decided to change it up, so this year participants are committing to 30 days of blog activities–  10 days of posts, 10 days of reading/commenting, and 10 days of sharing posts through any other platform. You can see posts for the event here.

*David has been able to translate some obscure modern languages without having ever studied or spoken them just by applying his knowledge of the meaning of letters.

Disruption

When I launched my plan to shift my schedule I knew the muscles in my face might prove to be a hindrance, but hoped it might not get that bad again.  The last few weeks have been back to high levels of activity, interfering with sleep, etc.

The good news is I’m still getting up and going to sleep quite a bit earlier than before, but instead of progressing further toward the goal, it’s instead moved a little in the other direction.  And I’ve just been stupefied with fatigue a lot of the time.

This spell has coincided with a time when those who observe energy patterns have been saying we’re undergoing a big shift and a lot of releasing.  Yup.  I think I could vouch for that.

Along with the yanking, sleep problems and energy shifting there’s irritability, particularly around politics.  Some of that is probably part of the general energy, some to do with the energy shift, and, frankly, when I’m constantly badly sleep deprived I’m just cranky.

But I’m also noticing. Wondering if there’s a deeper issue unfolding with the muscles.  I know in general the muscle patterns in my face have been connected to anger, whether mine or ancestral or past life and sometimes I just don’t know exactly what the underlying story was.  Or maybe there’s something to explore.

The other thing I began to note as irritability grew, is how long it’s been since I did the lovingkindness chant, singing chants for heart, love, etc. I instituted long ago.  It wasn’t really purposeful, I just got into doing Steve Nobel’s meditations after about a year of chanting and gradually shifted to doing those exclusively.

As soon as I noted it, it was also clear those practices helped keep me centered and calm in the midst of the chaos swirling around me.  And the longing to do them again arose with those thoughts.  Did the lovingkindness chant yesterday and felt the shift.

All in all, these recent weeks have felt like a disruption of the path to a new and better schedule but I remind myself every day I’ve managed to hold onto most of the shift already made.  Weeks like these last few had much to do with the crazy late sleeping and waking times I’d become accustomed to keeping and it seems like a victory just to have held it at bay.

Of course the price of holding to it has meant even less sleep, so life feels pretty disrupted anyway.  The other cool piece is the muscles squeezing my left eye have loosened enough that vision is noticeably improved.  Quite a journey.

 

Making that one cup of coffee

Having posted about my “sacred” coffee time in my last post, I thought I’d include this Scribblings post about how I make it here

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Morning Coffee

Over on the Not Just Sassy blog, I recently posted about  coffee and how the one cup I fix every day is a special moment.  Thought I’d describe here how I make the one cup — along with some rambling about my history with coffee.

In a sense my coffee adventures began as a small child when tasting my parents’ coffee left me in love.  Continued when summer visits with my grandmother developed a ritual of her, my friend Cecy and I hanging out in the kitchen savoring coffee ice cream on hot afternoons.

The real development that changed my coffee world arrived early in college, when coffee stores with whole beans and varieties from around the world entered and my friends and I dipped into the land of Melitta cups and French Roast.

A summer studying in Paris and sipping “cafe creme” all over town honed my…

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The one cup of coffee

 

Coffee Love

I’ve loved the taste of coffee since I was something like 4 and used to jump over to my parents’ cups before the table was cleared to take a sip off the last remaining drops.

In early adulthood I was introduced to fresh roasted coffee and beans and blends from many places.  Melitta pots then espresso machine and then stove-top espresso pots worked their way through my repertoire.  And I drank coffee all day, not knowing at the time that I was using it to ward off the growing fatigue born of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Around the same time diagnoses and treatments began, I switched for some years to decaf.  Back when decaffeinating and reducing stress were in instead of trying to prove how hyped up and busy you can be…

Eventually I slid back to caffeinated but reducing the amount of coffee.  I refuse to give it up and I believe in the anti-oxidant boost of a freshly brewed cup but I also accept the down sides so I have been holding to a one perfect cup plan for some years.

On the Scribblings blog I’m going to put up a post that goes into more detail about the kind of coffee (La Coppa) and the preparation, but here I’m just contemplating that one cup each day and its sacred place in my day.

Some years back a post on the old Bardo group blog suggesting people find a “check-in partner” to text each day and say what you’re feeling and what you intend, led me to post about it.  A long-time friend immediately got in touch to say she’d like to do it.  Since I hate texting I said yes, if we could change it to e-mail.

We soon added “three gratitudes” to the daily check-in.  After a few years, in the midst of lots of suggestions about joy, I asked to add that, differentiating it from gratitude as a more vibrant emotion and one I have trouble accessing.  She felt the same, so we added an unspecified number of “joys” noted each day.  (I highly recommend this check-in practice, btw)

My daily cup of java almost instantly made the list and, contemplating it, I soon informed her to expect that one every day.  Having just the one cup of this beverage I LOVE means I look forward to it.  When I wash all the components of the pot and cup, etc. each evening I smile as they hit the drying rack, knowing they’ll be ready to go for that so-loved mug in the morning.

I wait until breakfast is over to fix it so I can sit and sip it as its own separate moment.  Each drink is savored and I’m never mingling in bites of toast or other flavors to sully the exquisite taste of the coffee.  It’s a moment in my day set aside from others.

To me that one cup each day is a sacred moment.  I really feel the joy and gratitude and mark the moment.  Simple, special, just one cup.