Finding forgiveness….

Photo by Ymani Simmons

Photo by Ymani Simmons

I continue to search for my own honest answers about myself, and work to change the things I can as they become visible to me. I arrived on this planet under the Native American astrological sign of the Salmon (known as Leo to others), and have an intimate experience of seeking the courage and strength needed to leap into the current that is my life.

I recall accepting full responsibility for making all of the choices that positioned me in joyously fulfilling situations. I was not as willing to claim an awareness of choosing the challenging ones.

Clinging to a mindset of desperation, loneliness, and a general feeling of being out of control, it seemed like the world, and everything in it, was against me. Nothing seemed simple. Struggle, hardship, pain, disappointment, and despair were my reality. Something outside of myself seemed to be writing my dramatic script, and was creating endless obstacles that kept me swirling in chaos. I was convinced I was a victim of life’s cruelty. It was not the truth.

As we experience these bumps in the road of life, we often embrace the emotion that accompanies the event, becoming that emotion. What we don’t recognize is our ability to define the truth of the event, and, therefore, feed our higher purpose.

It is up to us to identify what and who we choose to be, every moment of every day. I remember when I decided to take an honest look at my life. Was I truly showing up and being seen as my potential? Was I seeing the potential in myself, or had I settled for the mask that appeared with the old patterns and belief systems from my original imprinting?

The answers resided in the old saying, “When you point a finger of blame at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” It always gets back to us. We are the only ones that we can truly change in any way. We may influence the opinion, choice, or response of another, but the ultimate decision to make a personal change is up to the individual.

My decisions will influence others by the choice of my words or actions, and I must accept responsibility for that influence. But it remains the responsibility of others to make their own choices when responding.

A stone thrown into a still pond is responsible for the splash. It is also responsible for the ripples that occur because of that action. So, the way we behave – the stone – becomes part of the reality of others. The effect of that behavior – the ripples – collide with the shoreline of those with whom we are in relationship. That collision creates an opportunity for a response, or a reaction, and we remain accountable for our action that influenced it.

It is important to accept responsibility in all life situations. We are surrounded by relationships, it’s what life is. As we dance this dance with others we are well served to gain proficiency in our challenge to respond instead of react in moments of conflict.

As human actors in this universal play, we define what our roles are. We are one part of the whole. We each hold a unique piece of this colossal puzzle; each voice is needed to ensure complete harmony. Now that I live with this understanding, I acknowledge my responsibility for maintaining my conscious awareness. To do so, I must constantly pay attention to my role in all relationships. I must determine to respond in a good way with a heart that holds no grudges, an ego that isn’t vindictive, and a soul that sees the fallibility and vulnerability of the individual aspects of humanity. We are all learning. Life is a ‘work in progress’.

I remember bumping into the walls of my life maze, only able to visualize the view my selfish perspective allowed me to see. I was doomed – cursed, to be sure. My prophecy was being self-fulfilled in every moment, and I remained totally clueless about the process.

When I first stepped onto the healing portion of my road, the challenges appeared endless, dark, and ominous. I felt a sense of loneliness and isolation. I persevered and continued my dedication to healing these slivers of my past that promised to stunt my spiritual evolution, and stifle my capabilities. I faced the power of the current rushing toward me and persisted on my destined journey, always swimming upstream. Continued recognition of old patterns and working practically to create change within was my only way to shift from who I had grown to believe I was, into the woman I longed to uncover and release.

Now, I no longer need to know why, about anything. Whatever reason I gave myself to bury and repress fear is of very little consequence. This moment, right now, is all that I have. The events that caused me pain are my past, my graveyard. They cannot feed me the nourishment my soul requires for its evolution, and I must leave them behind to move towards the feast that now feeds my life.

It is my belief that everyone comes from a dysfunctional family. There are varying degrees of intensity, but we are all surrounded by the learned patterns and behaviors of our personal environments. We experience the combined strengths and weaknesses of our ancestral pool and meet opportunities to choose the healthiest attributes to cultivate. When we are aware, we are able to access these handed-down contributions by building on legacies, strengths, and weaknesses. The negative behaviors learned in childhood do not need to accompany us any longer. It is a choice, whether we are cognizant of that choice, or not.

Willingness to Identify harmful patterns is the first step in this process. Learning how to have forgiveness is the second. As I delved deeper and deeper into my childhood memories I could clearly see the patterns I was repeating. I learned how I had become a mass of knots and stress.

None of those memories lead to major trauma in any way. They simply illustrated the affect that ripples had upon the shorelines of my life. I looked around one day and realized I had been blaming others for all of my problems, unfulfilled relationships, and numerous, chaotic life patterns. Although the memories were paramount in the formation of harmful attributes, I had no concept of choosing a different path for myself. My experience was precisely what I remembered, but the events were no longer happening in my present. I discovered how to make wise choices about where to place my feet next on my path. I could make a different choice. I was not a victim.

When I recognized that relationships in my life were comprised of individuals who were responding in the best way they knew how, it became easier to develop understanding and forgiveness for their choices. They were only repeating patterns they had been taught, and were allowing themselves to still be affected by their own unhealed wounds. I began to embrace forgiveness for them. I gave them my favor, my acceptance – and everything began to shift in my daily life.

Once in a place of forgiveness you notice your walls of self-inflicted imprisonment disappear, and you see they were only an illusion anyway. Now you stand in a place of calm understanding and are able to realize compassion. Life takes on new meaning, a new perspective.

Isn’t it easier to understand the outlook of another when we can imagine their reality, their experience, their pain? Isn’t it easier to forgive someone when we recognize their limitations, confusion, and mountains of emotional wounds left untreated?

When we pardon someone for a mistake, or a wrongdoing, we are listening to the truth of our heart and forgiveness reigns supreme. When we pardon ourselves, we are giving permission to step more directly in line with compassion, and love.

Now, I am able to view myself as an awake and aware human being. I observe my appearance in life by the truthful costumes and masks I wear on my stage.

I have learned to view all relationships as potential for great wisdom. It is up to me to pay attention, and listen, to the knowledge that avails itself to me. I stand at another crossroads, and await another choice. The same is true for you.

If we are all connected and we each carry a spark of Divine Creation within, then you and I are a reflection of one another. You are another one of me, and I am another one of you. I believe it’s the Mayans who say, “You are another myself.”

Am I showing up focused and centered within myself? Am I showing up as my true self? Am I ready to listen with no predetermined agenda, or am I still cloaked in my old aggression? Am I embracing the light I carry within? Am I in a place of forgiveness for my old choices?

If you say something unkind to me and I feel hurt, it is my responsibility to own any truth hidden in your statement and, to focus on understanding why I felt hurt. Why you wanted to be unkind is a question that becomes yours to investigate, or not. Look closely at what objects dwell along your shoreline, and at the stone or the ripples created.

How we show up in the world is directly related to how well we are able to listen, observe, and then respond to ourselves and others. Once we are able to fully recognize and discern our true Self, we own the ability to heal those aspects that allow us to participate in the drama of the macrocosm. By accepting our responsibility and accountability for our seat in the Sacred Circle, we set a powerful example as we walk. As we move forward within the spotlight of our own illumination, we reclaim glimpses of our peaceful origin. We remember a peaceful state of being and continue to inch towards that source as we quest for inner peace.

There are as many paths to the top of the mountain as there are individuals who seek the journey. They are all valid, they are all sacred. We are one human family living with many relations. Our walk must reflect the sacred path that we follow as we ascend our mountain of life, and prepare ourselves for further evolution.

Forgiveness is a life-changing stepping stone on that path.

Creating a Culture of Peace

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Photo by Ymani Simmons

Everything comes from the same Original Source, therefore it’s all connected in the deepest and most fundamental way. When we remember some of the basic companions of love – gratitude, respect, compassion, service, integrity, impeccability, forgiveness, and truth – and begin to use them, we immediately notice balance and harmony emanating from within. Then, we begin to see it reflected in the world around us. In order to create a culture of peace, we must walk a path of peace as individuals.

The Elders of many nations have spoken about the times we are living in. They have prophesied much that has happened thus far, and speak of a life out of balance, out of control. They highlight aspects of the patriarchal domination system – greed, separation, and violence – that keep us isolated from one another, and fearful.

They also continue to whisper a reminder of another way of living, another choice, another way of being in right relations with all members of Mother Earth’s family. These old ways  offer a tried and true way of living with honor and respect for all living beings. It is a circular path, with a circular perspective of time and life through seasons and cycles. They offer reverence for our inter-connectedness with all of Creation, and the harmony that springs from that understanding. It is a way to listen and hear that opens the heart to a universal language of love.

This physical existence has spun its web intertwining life forms and providing an opportunity to grow and ripen to our highest and fullest capabilities. We have everything we need to transform violence, injustice, devastation and ruin. We have everything we need to heal ourselves and our communities. We have everything we need to create a path of peace and live it.

We walk our spiritual path alone, so it is ours to identify. We must walk the path that speaks the language of our heart. Each path that is based in love provides a way of walking that honors the most basic and universal Teachings of peace. When each of us discards our own contribution to violence, we are able to listen and hear that innate wisdom that surfaces from within. Once we access that wisdom, we are able to embrace a deeper love of self, and a deeper understanding and compassion for ‘the other’.

We all have a role to play in this unfolding event we call life. Each individual holds an interlocking piece of this grand, global puzzle. We see the crossroads ahead and  remember, that by choosing love over fear this can be a new beginning on our collective journey of being peace.

Will you use this day to begin facing your own fears? Will you forgive yourself for the violence that continues to dwell within you? Will you make a new choice and truly hear the pain and suffering coming from those you consider ‘the enemy’? Will you greet the new day with love in your heart and say no to judgment?

Together, we can heal the wounds. Together, we can rebuild our broken system. Together, we can plant new gardens of hope and prosperity. Together, we can create a culture of peace.

An Attitude of Gratitude

IMG_0017Developing the choice of gratitude…….

One of the most powerful tools you can acquire on your journey, is an attitude of gratitude. This simple lesson can begin transforming your life in the very moment you pick it up and begin to use it. Being able to focus on what you are grateful for is a potent exercise in breaking down the barriers of separation and isolation. It generates a concentration away from the negativity and lack that pervade an unhealed existence.

Once we become aware of our focus on gratitude, we quickly benefit from the depth of that feeling. We recognize the inner change that occurs when we shift our attention from our lack, to our blessings. The transformative power of this asset is like no other, and can alter your mood and outlook immediately, if you only allow it.

When we pause to distinguish what we are grateful for, we begin to drift away from the negative feelings experienced in the previous instant. We are no longer focused on what we don’t have, but on what we do have. Lack cannot exist in the same moment with gratitude. It is similar to light in that respect. When we concentrate on our blessings of life, we become aware that they represent the rising sun across our dark valley of lack, now suddenly illuminated. Like a candle introduced to a dark room, the light may not permeate every crevice, but it allows a new perspective on the illusions that darkness seemed to foretell.

We are able to travel without it, but if it’s inner peace you seek, gratitude must become your companion.

Meandering through the maze of life, we discover the impact our ability to make choices has on our reality. It’s the recognition of that ability that often eludes us. Our focus on this recognition shows how these choices have become our reality.

Look around you. The life you are experiencing is the culmination of all the choices you have made leading up to this moment. These selections from the menu of your life have brought you to the spot where you stand. Are you pleased with what you see? Is it fulfilling, peaceful and satisfying? Or, are you filled with frustration, fear, and anxiety as a consequence of the drama and chaos that have shown up, again?

If you take a moment to make a list of everything in your life for which you are grateful, you will be amazed at the immediate shift in your perspective. Include everything, no matter how small, insignificant, or unimportant they may seem at the moment. They all add up and represent a light in your illusion of darkness.

The first time I did this practice, by the time I got to the end of my list, I had forgotten what I was complaining about! Go ahead, try it. You have the opportunity to begin in this moment, right now, and make a change in how you view your world, your life, your self. When your list is completed, put it in a prominent location in your living space for a while. Study it daily. Add to it, focus on it, remember it, and before you realize what has taken place, this becomes the new way of looking at your life. Now you focus on what you have, not on what is lacking. You have successfully chosen your attitude of gratitude, and now you can begin to incorporate it into your daily routine.

When you feel yourself swirling with confusion, just stop spinning. You always have the power to face your choices, accept responsibility for them, and determine that the rest of your life begins at this moment. The noteworthy goal of this exercise is your acceptance of the role you play in this drama we call life, and your resolution to make the necessary changes for the better.

Once this begins to show up as a habit, you will experience life from a joyful perspective. Your focus shifts to the endless possibilities that exist. You turn away from lack and don’t allow it to assume a role of importance any longer.

There is a certain simplicity involved in this unfolding. Life is a succession of choices. We have the ability at every crossroad to establish a new direction, attitude, goal, method, or belief. If the old ones no longer ‘grow corn’ for you, if you aren’t receiving anything positive from these actions, pivot from this tired site in your life. Hold the thought of a fresh, positive approach to your next step, and begin to change the course of your life by changing your awareness of your active participation and responsibility in the choice presented in this moment.

Pivoting from negativity and lack provides an opportunity to re-create the reality we face. Once we become sensitive to the active role we’re taking, the realization of constructing our new reality develops into a grand creation of limitless proportion. The architect of our existence is suddenly no longer outside of us. We remember when we point a finger of blame at another, there are three fingers pointing back at us. We identify our responsibility easily and actively engage in responsible creation, henceforth.

The ways we respond to life are learned behaviors. We are mostly products of our upbringing and environment. We do not arrive on this earth with predetermined feelings of violence, lack, fear, isolation, or separation. We learn it. Much of whom we have become is directly related to what we have experienced from the people and physical environment that surrounds us. If we have learned this conduct, we can unlearn it. I like to call it reprogramming.

Once we become aware, we have a remarkable opportunity to seize control of our Sacred vehicle, and begin to retrain our minds, and hearts, to respond in a good way, a way that truly serves our higher purpose and, All My Relations. By doing so, we have made an impact on everyone around us, because we are all connected and, therefore, everything we do affects everything in the universe.

When we approach these opportunities, how will we view them? Are we victims of some unexplainable universal plot out of our control? Are we focused on the negative aspects of current situations? Do we view the cup that represents our life as half-empty, or half-full? All these aspects of who we are, have enormous influence on where we stand on our life path at this moment and what posture we assume.

Before answering these questions, take a moment to probe a little deeper. When facing a moment of crisis or trauma, do you respond from a place of fear? Do you immediately begin the downward spiral into drama, confusion and chaos? Are you in defense mode? Do you revisit the haunts of low self-worth, low self-esteem and never having enough? Is your immediate response to life’s challenges, “I can’t.”?

Utilize the awareness in this moment to pivot your focus and reinvent your outlook. All it truly takes is removing the old prototype and replacing it with one which will support you in your fulfillment of making necessary change. Again, this isn’t something we decide in one moment and then are finished with forever. Spiritual practice is exactly that – practice. To become proficient at anything we must do it over, and over, and over again. It takes as long as it takes, and the only judgment involved will be the judgment you bring along, and attach to the exercise and its outcome.

To view this challenge as a moment of empowerment, choose the path of “I can”. Focus on your gratitude and redirect your stance. Take a moment to examine your emotional footing, and then move forward from this place with a fresh outlook of positive alignment with your true self. Know that the way you view these uncertainties will help determine the outcome. Life is teeming with opportunities to help us feed our souls. Starving is only one option.

We tend to spend an inordinate amount of time ‘telling our story’ and rehashing the traumas of the past. If we continuously look behind us for the nourishment we need, aren’t we trying to feed from our own graveyard of past experience? When your soul craves the food it needs to nurture and maintain its healthy growth, why seek out the emaciated and lifeless sustenance of your dysfunctional past? Instead, turn and walk towards the feast that is supplied by the promise of endless possibilities. Use this incredibly powerful visualization when you feel yourself sliding into your old patterns of wounded victimization. See the graveyard, then see the feast. Which one do you choose?

Walking hand-in-hand with gratitude ignites the Universal Law of Attraction. This law upholds the belief that whatever we concentrate on is what we ultimately draw into our reality. With this possibility in position, we begin to alter what we actually accumulate. Our awareness shifts to the understanding that everything that exists in our present moment is here because we have drawn it to us – we have created it.

The soul calls to itself what it needs for its healing and growth. It has a deep understanding of what is required to move forward from the place of pain, abuse, fear, and violence, and return to the place of peace and solace that it seeks. With this in mind, we can begin to understand how the situations and people we attract into our lives are not for punishment or torment, but are the teachings and situations necessary for our healing and growth.

An Elder once shared that these teachings can all be viewed as beautiful Medicine blankets richly woven with the fibers of intensity represented by their colors. When we finally determine there is no longer a need to struggle with the situations in our lives, we can consciously recognize and remove these blankets, being careful to give gratitude for their presence by treating them with respect. Fold them neatly, give thanks for the potential wisdom they carry, and place them carefully with all the others that have come and graced your life.

The perspective we take on any event has a direct effect on how we ultimately experience that event. Therefore, claiming a positive outlook and probing for the deepest understanding will assist you in your alignment with your true self.

The impact these simple practices can have on your life experience is remarkable and astounding. Once your practice becomes your life, you will begin to witness the budding and blossoming of the incredible flower that is truly you. As you open each perfect petal, you have the capacity to experience beauty and joy as you may never have experienced them before. We are beautiful, intelligent, powerful, creative beings that hold the capacity for creating great love, compassion, and kindness. We all have the ability to express our journey as a mission of love, or a mission of fear. There is no judgment regarding the one we choose. We are free to use this gift in any way we determine for ourselves. I tried the fear package far too long and now embrace the vast potentiality that accompanies the love I create in my life.

Life is an incredible reflection of itself. Like a spider web, if there is movement on one thread it ripples throughout. This applies from the microcosm to the macrocosm, because we are connected to everything. If we feel something here it is also felt there. Every thought, word or deed is in universal relationship. Every personal wound healed helps heal the wounded collective.

The next time you begin to succumb to mood swings, alert yourself to the peril that lies ahead and recognize your feelings. Remember to pivot, reflect on your gratitude and understand that what you focus on is what you will call to you. It’s your choice – make it the one you truly want to experience.

Once you have determined that there is a Teaching facing you, this awareness can lead you to clear examination of the attributes it carries. Do you recognize the wisdom within the situation, or are you only focused on what you are feeling because of it? We have a tendency to stir up so much dust with our drama of victimization that we are blind to the rich blessings of the food of spiritual evolution placed before us.

Someone once shared a unique concept with me. The universe is made up of energy and there are many levels of existence throughout this vast expanse. If one were to view this earthly plane from a higher perspective the energy of ‘Teachings’ might all look the same. It appears different to us as it is happening, because we see this energy as the emotion that we attach to the event. We control whatever that emotion is. We make the choice of joy or sorrow, love or fear, pain or bliss. We choose how we respond. When we consciously realize we are making a choice, we’re able to change the old pattern, make a new choice, and move forward on our path as a newly empowered being.

These old patterns hold us back. They keep us from becoming who we came to be, and from doing what we came to do. It’s all in the perception we have of ourselves. It becomes the way we view our lives and the decisions made within those lives.

I recall the day of a powerful revelation in my life. I had discovered a veil of illusion wrapped tightly around me, like a cocoon. I had done a very good job of disguising my latent anger and debilitating rage. I knew something wasn’t right. I felt like I couldn’t breathe because this fear grasped me so tight. It felt all-encompassing. I felt constricted by it, but the harder I struggled to free myself from its grip, the tighter it seemed to hold on to me. I finally realized there was no exterior force tying me in knots. I was the one entombing myself. The more I lied to myself about the origin of the woes and trials that were before me, the more intensely I felt their manifestation within my body. I began to develop physical symptoms of illness. I could literally feel my body beginning to give out and give up under the weight and destructive abilities of my past burdens. Something wasn’t right and I knew it.

That’s when I began to scrutinize everything that showed up on my path. Everyone and everything around me was my Teacher. No matter what spiritual path we follow, we all receive signs and signals from helpers along the way. Surrender your ego and ask for guidance and assistance. That assistance will come from your own wisdom.

Your life is a blank canvas and you hold the palette and brushes. Isn’t it time to end the struggle and start surrendering by listening to the numerous voices of wisdom that surround you? Isn’t it time to begin scrutinizing the choices that are always available?

Once we begin to break out of our old patterns of self-defeat, the new practice of awareness becomes easier. As with anything new in life, we may not reach a level of comfort, or develop a new habit until we refer to it on a regular basis. Give yourself permission in challenging moments to stop, remove your focus from the emotion you’re feeling, and look for something within the present situation to be grateful for. It’s hiding in there somewhere camouflaged by your emotional charge. Don’t give up! If it doesn’t surface right away, keep digging. Leave no stone unturned. As the spotlight spans to the gift of gratitude that lies within your teaching, you are then able to release the shackles of old, imprinted patterns and reemerge as the butterfly awaiting its first flight of freedom.

Keep listening for the truth that lies beneath your old patterns and don’t stop flapping your wings. As we fly, we gain momentum for the rest of our journey, and strengthen our capabilities. Your journey to unimaginable heights of insight continues from this moment and you are now aware that you guide the course taken.

Have gratitude for your ability to listen and soar to new heights!

New Day Resolutions for 2015 and Beyond

P3170179Well, here we are again. Time for ringing out the old, and ringing in the new. I hear many talking about 2014 and sounding eager to push it to the curb so that the ‘new’ can be welcomed, that clean slate feeling. You know the one. We hand off the torch, once again, and look to the future for the change we feel is needed so desperately in our lives and in the world today.

Setting new intentions for this next revolution around the sun without making necessary internal changes allows for the opportunity to convince ourselves that we’re actually leaving those old patterns and habits behind. We’re starting over. We’re getting things settled and making way for those new plans, projects, relationships, and actions we feel are missing from our lives. We’re going to do things in a different way next year. Hmmm. Really??

Maybe we are fooling ourselves. Fooling ourselves into believing that our past can be ignored so easily and effortlessly, like stepping through a portal and immediately seeing the fresh beginning that hasn’t been available before.

Because, the thing is, it’s always available. It’s available in every moment of our lives. Each new instant provides the opportunity to shift an attitude, remove a judgment, and begin to see the ways our old habits are holding us back and keeping us in the past. Every second holds a spark of potentiality for a new beginning. A beginning that leads us out of the place of despair, unworthiness, doubt, or fear and into a place of harmony, peace, contentment, community, and hope.

On this day, I propose something fresh, something truly life-changing that can help bring about the tranquility we seek. Instead of keeping the true change ‘out there, somewhere in the future’, let’s make a pledge this year to set New Day Resolutions. With the dawning of every day we have a chance to forgive, love, have gratitude, walk softly on the earth, be gentle with ourselves and others, live with integrity and impeccability, tell the truth, and be of service.

Every day we have the opportunity to hold ourselves to a higher standard, the same higher standard we are so quick to ask others to lift themselves to. Every day we have the option of using kind, well-chosen words, instead of spewing belittling, condescending, abusive remarks at or about the ‘other’. Every day we are given the option of responding with a loving heart, or reacting with the same violence we say we oppose.

Every day provides an opportunity to heal our own inner wounds that harbor anger, fear, abuse, violence, judgment, separation, and self-degradation. Every day we stand at a crossroads and make a choice. We either remain in that place that feels so familiar and comfortable, or we step outside our safety zone and learn something new about ourselves and our latent potential.

Will your choice be to continue to perpetuate your old patterns that no longer serve? Or will it be to embrace that past that simply holds your teachings, and make the necessary adjustments within your own heart that allow you to step into that Circle of ‘the ones we have been waiting for’?

It’s up to us.

“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years.” ~ Henry Moore

 

 

Winter Prayer

WinterMay we utilize the serenity of this blessed winter season to journey deep within our own hearts.

May we search our souls for the perfected reflection of our true being.

May we release our differences into the chill of the evening air, watching the bias, prejudice and fear dissolve as effortlessly as breath.

May we each lay down our insecurities, our selfishness and our hostility.

May we discover a way to look into the eyes of those we admire least and recognize a cowering glimpse of ourselves hiding there.

May we lay down our weapons, whether they be guns or the violent words of anger and abuse.

May we feed the starving and frightened children of the world, changing their reality and future from despair into hope.

May women everywhere know safety, respect, equality and walk confidently without fear.

May the Elders be kept warm, well-fed and nurtured as we honor the vital wisdom they carry.

May the peace we long for within our own hearts be the beacon we follow into the darkness of chaos and confusion.

May that light guide us back to ourselves where the peace we seek waits patiently to be revealed.

Follow the source of the light and you’ll find that it comes from within you.

May peace, love, joy, perfect health and prosperity be your gifts.

May 2015 be the year that humanity emerges from our complacent slumber and stand united with all of Creation in the Sacred Wheel of Life.

Happy, blessed Winter Solstice!

Just Let Go

391087_10200553021141801_1148239917_nIt feels so empowering to witness magic as it manifests within and around you. That has been my experience recently because, I just let go.

I let go of all preconceived notions of who I had allowed myself to believe I needed to be, and gave myself permission to become the person I truly am.

I let go of self-doubt, feelings of lack, and old patterns of unworthiness that continued to plague me. Though they were not the formidable force they once were, I still gave them power to hold me back from stepping fully into my capabilities.

I let go of trying to balance my hopeful ideals with the negative activities of those who promote and participate in violence.

I let go of who I thought I needed to be because I was comparing myself to others who are doing what I think I want or need to be doing or being!! Acckk! What suffocating, limiting and self-imposed beliefs of the person I once was.

I let go because the ways I was trying to help in the world were twisting me up inside and creating a feeling of despair and failure. I was not being fed. I was being depleted and it felt like the life-force was being sucked out of me.

 …

When I took a step back and focused on the direction of my life as an activist these past few years, I realized I needed to let go of  following an agenda that other like-minded folks follow.

So, I let go of internalizing the global violence I have come to know about. It’s a painful process to witness the inhumanity of man and experience the frustration and helplessness that accompanies it. The inevitable question always surfaced – “But what can I do that makes a difference?”. There was never a viable answer that brought change to the daily lives of those oppressed.

I needed to open my heart and spirit to the creative process of redefining myself, how I relate to the world, and how I can be of most service to those voices that need to be heard and acknowledged.

I needed to begin to listen for my own rhythm.

I needed to dance to the beat of my own drum.

I needed to allow the true me to surface and shine, and then see what doors appear before me and actually begin to open.

So I did, I just let go.

I always talk about the magic in synchronicity, and now it’s time to give rise to the synchronicity that appears on my path and walk my talk.

I make a new choice to stand strong in love and gratitude.

I make a new choice to highlight and support the nurturing and loving aspects of the human spirit.

I make a new choice to remind others of what we are capable of, instead of what we are conditioned to accept as inevitable truth.

I make a choice to promote healing, and beauty, and kindness, and hope, and support, and compassion, and building community, and respect.

I make a choice to fly high, like the graceful hawk, and view life from the perspective that sees the endless possibilities of productive change, not only the twisted, fearful mess that our culture perpetuates and continues to impose on us.

I make a choice to let go of negativity, drama, and fear to make more room for life’s treasures of love, friendship, assistance, guidance, support, inner personal growth, and the healing and growth of my extended human family.

Like the leaves falling from their lofty perches and making their way to the waiting breast of the Earth Mother, I just let go and allow myself the life-changing opportunity to be embraced by the new path and new life of beauty that await the new me.

 

The first day of the rest of my life….

IMG_1170Have you ever had something happen in your life that turned everything upside down? Of course you have. I have too, but somehow this time is different. Maybe because I’m older and feel like time is running out? Or maybe, because it’s just time to stop and decide what’s really important, to me, right now.

That’s where I keep getting stuck. There is an enormous list of all of the things that hold importance to me. Peace, human rights, social justice, protection of the earth, to name a few. But where do I fit in now? What can I contribute to the whole? How can I best serve myself and humanity?

Peace activism, nonviolence training, mentoring women, support of veterans rights and voices, women’s ritual and ceremony all hold a special place in my heart and have for several years now. Enormous energy has been expended for the cause and we still face increasing global violence and war. Have I made any difference at all? Am I focused on what is really important to me? Do I even know what is really important to me? Something is missing. I am missing.

So, I ask myself, “What is it that I want to do for the rest of my life?” That sounds pretty huge! Maybe I should begin with, what is it that I want to do for the next chapter in my life? So, I made a list of all of the projects/activities that I have thought about getting more involved in. I grabbed my trusty yellow highlighter and decided to highlight the things that made my heart sing just from seeing the words. Guess what?

Travel. I want to travel and journal and take photographs to document my journeys. Not exactly a novel idea, but one that grabs my heart and says, “Let’s go!”. And I believe I shall.

Now, I get to decide where to go first and what to do when I get there.

Another Soldier’s Heart too broken to continue…….

Untitled 0 00 03-09I received some sad and startling news today. One of my adopted ‘nephews’, a three-tour veteran of Afghanistan, Jacob David George, took his own life yesterday.

He took his own life because he couldn’t face the pain and torment of life seen through the eyes of one who has faced the hell of war and brought the accompanying demons home with him. Like so many of our youth who have returned from the killing fields, the effects of PTSD reached farther and deeper into his soul than he was able to heal.

Jacob spent the years after he served in Afghanistan riding the country on his bicycle, sharing the ugly truth that he was told to live and experience, in the supposed name of democracy and freedom. He protested, sang, shared his story, assisted others having a hard time and fought hard for peace and justice.

One more soldier who bought the whole ticket about serving God and country and making the world a better place to live in.

One more soldier who was lied to and ordered to kill first and question later.

One more soldier who returned home wounded, broken, torn apart on the inside and left to deal with this new stranger within by prescribed drugs that didn’t help, and ineffective ‘counseling’ practices of a VA too strapped by its own inadequacies to actually provide effective treatment, assistance, guidance, healing, or authentic help.

We have allowed our country to become consumed with a permanent state of war. A state that serves the bellies of the few and plows through the lives of the many who are destined to fight these senseless atrocities. We have been lied to, we have been taught to believe that we are exceptional and that our way of life far surpasses any other known to the modern world.

We are not told about the thousands of lives that have been abruptly halted because of our obscene warring. We are not told about the destruction and devastation that is left behind our wake of death as we sweep through areas as if we were mowing grass, instead of mowing down innocents and poisoning the earth.

We are lead to believe that war is inevitable and necessary in order to find peace. We are fools because we either believe the lies, or worse, turn our eyes to view the nonsense we are fed through the silliness of mainstream media.

How many soldier’s hearts have to bleed out before we end the madness, stop the wars, stop the violence at home, stop the devastation to the earth and her inhabitants, and begin the process of healing what must be healed?

I lost a friend today and the world lost another voice crying out in the wilderness, begging for peace, love, compassion, and forgiveness. My world seems a little bit darker today because a bright and shining light was too injured and broken to go on.

In the Name of the Mother

I am grateful to have been one of the fortunate women to be in Ceremony with the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers at their first women’s gathering in Arizona recently.

I was asked to write about my experience for the blog at the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Here is my reflection:

 

Beaver Creek  Beaver Creek ambles through the arid Arizona land revealing a spreading community of stone-beings that make the waters dance and sing as they roll and tumble on their endless journey. Thursday, March 20, 2014 was Spring Equinox, and I was blessed to be stepping into Ceremony, the first Women’s Gathering, with the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and sisters from all parts of this beautiful world. The Grandmothers are an international alliance of indigenous female Elders that focuses on issues such as the environment, internationalism, and human rights.

As women continued to arrive that day, our tent community began to grow and spread until we were a sea of dwellings nestled beneath the ancient Sycamores that lined the clear creek and welcomed us to our temporary home in the desert. An air of excitement and shared anticipation began to waft through camp as we edged closer and closer to the Opening Ceremony that would provide a doorway for us to step through, together.

Women around the planet heard the call and 400 were able to take the action required to make the pilgrimage to Soda Springs Ranch, near Sedona, Arizona. This life-changing opportunity, organized by Indigena and Mystic Momma, enabled us to receive the wisdom and Teachings of these remarkable Elders who ask us to connect through prayer and Ceremony for our Mother Earth.

Many Elders from many Nations have been speaking of this time, a time when women would rise together to ignite the Feminine Spirit on the planet. Our Mother is calling us to restore balance, and to awaken our remembrance, and we are listening.

The gathering was hosted by Grandmother Mona Polacca, a spiritual elder of Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa descent. The intention was to come together for World Water Day at Montezuma Well, a sacred site serving as refuge and inspiration to many over the centuries. Ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs mark it as a unique historic site and its constant flow of 1.4 million gallons of water each day uphold a sense of mystery as the source of the water is still an unknown. Local tribes, such as the Yavapai-Apache, Hopi, and Navajo still gather for sacred ceremony at this most blessed site.

“It is said that a great plumed snake has one of his numerous homes here, and that in those deep mysterious waters that flow from deep inside the heart of the mother, the feathered snake dwells.”

1835 So, on Thursday evening the observance began with a Welcoming Ceremony led by the women from the local Yavapai-Apache Nation. Prayer, song, drums, and a sense of sisterhood that knows no boundaries or restrictions were the foundation laid to hold us close in our Medicine blanket for the next few days.  We gathered as many and began to feel the surge of energy that swirled around us as we felt our hearts unite and we became One.

Women from all walks of life, all ages, backgrounds, levels of life experience and beliefs had heard a call from beyond that touched our hearts and would not let go. Some answered knowing what was being asked of us, others simply responded through a strong sense of faith. A faith seeded in deep understanding and awareness that things are terribly wrong in our world today, and a firm conviction that it is the bringers of life, the women, who hold the key to the change that must begin to happen to make a safe and healthy home for the next seven generations.

We had already been told that some of the Grandmothers might not be able to join us because of travel distances, health issues, etc., but we were blessed to be in Ceremony with:

  • Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Confederated Tribes of Siletz
  • Grandmother Rita Blumenstein, Yup’ik
  • Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota
  • Grandmother Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota
  • Grandmother Bernadette Rebienot, Omyene linguistic community
  • Grandmother Maria Alice Campos Freire, Amazonia
  • Grandmother Clara Shinobu Iura, Amazonia
  • Grandmother Flordemayo, Mayan
  • Grandmother Mona Polacca, Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa

The days were warm and sunny, and were shared with the Great Blue Herons who flew the path of the creek and the pair of Red-Tailed Hawks who nested in one of the stately Sycamores above us. We watched the hawks circle overhead as they seemed to play in the wind currents, at times appearing to be sharing private messages with each of us. Nighttime brought a sharp drop in temperature as we settled in to the high desert chill with several communal fires to warm us and an endless canopy of stars that served as a reminder of the paradox of our existence. We are such a small piece of the whole, and yet have our significant roles to play.

Grandmother Teachings by the Fire on Friday continued to touch our hearts with a sense of remembering who we are as women, as sisters, as care-givers and nurturers. A strong sense of promise and recognition that we are not alone in this struggle to protect and defend our beautiful Mother Earth seemed to envelop our camp as if we had been covered in a loving shawl.

We were not strangers; there was a strong sense of familiarity as we moved through the days and nights, paying close attention and caring for one another as individual needs arose. Our space was shared with Turtle Women Rising, a ceremonial drum collective founded and led by Indigenous women who continued to hold us within the heartbeat of the Mother throughout the weekend. We also were blessed with the enchanting music of the duo, MaMuse, and the powerful poetry of Climbing Poetree.

We gathered in the meadow on Saturday morning, World Water Day and walked the one-half mile on a gravel road in pairs, in silence, to Montezuma Well. The Park Service worked in cooperation with us to assure a private ceremony at the well. As I walked, I felt a strong feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a sacred event and felt tears of joy moisten my cheeks as I entered a space that knew no time, a moment that knew no restrictions, an opportunity that knew no boundaries.

Four hundred women lined the walkway that borders two-thirds of the Well, and the Grandmothers settled in to their respective places in the four directions along the rim above us. Their voices could be heard floating down as blessings and prayers were offered to the water and then we all began to join them in one moment of timeless, sacred unity. We opened our hearts wider and deeper to the prayers, intentions and healing for the waters of our planet everywhere and for the animals, birds and fishes that are affected. Such a powerful moment to be alive, awake and fully engaged in affecting change for people around the world also gathered at water sources in their communities to speak to the water, to bless it and offer prayers of gratitude.

Life is always complete with its teachings and there is never an indication as to when and how these Teachings will surface. Grandmother Bernadette was informed on Saturday morning that her son had been killed in Gabon and plans were being made for her emergency trip home. She faced a long, sad journey home to help make the preparations for his funeral and to be with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren who were left behind. Once again, our collective heart space opened as tears of sadness were shed as we mourned with her, prayers offered for his soul and for those left behind and a combined outpouring of love as we offered donations to assist her with what lay ahead.

The final ceremonies were held on Sunday with gifting to us from the Grandmothers  and an opportunity to gift them a token of our appreciation in return. So much joy and laughter could be heard as we came together one more time In the Name of the Mother.

As we broke camp, said our tearful goodbyes and began to move back towards that break in time where we first stepped into this Ceremony, we realized that something significant, life-changing and monumental had happened within each of us. We had answered the call. We had shown up with open hearts and minds for ourselves, our families, our communities, our ancestors, the next seven generations and for our beloved Mother Earth and all of her children. We signed up for this work and choose to move forward together as we join hands and hearts and circle this planet with the love and nurturing spirit of the Sacred Feminine.

“We are who we’ve been waiting for.” ~ Grandmother Mona Polacca

Ymani Simmons (Chickasaw/Celt) is a peacemaker, writer, mentor, and facilitator of women’s circles and retreats. She participated in a March 2007 Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation to the Islamic Republic of Iran and is an advisor/co-founder of the Kashmir Center for Peace and Reconciliation, a youth initiative. Regarding her usage of capital letters throughout her reflection, Ymani writes, “The Red Road of spirituality is my path and certain words are capitalized as a way to honor and respect the entity. The Fire and Well are sacred beings to us.”

[Photos: (1) Beaver Creek. Photo: Ymani Simmons. (2) A ceremonial place. Photo: Heidi Partlowe.]