Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Christmas House...

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye."                                                                                                                                                                    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

My eight year old (just turned) grandson found out there is no Santa Claus this past week. The news arrived by text. His father wrote,

"He pinned us down about Santa today. We couldn't get out of it without blatantly lying. We told him there isn't one. He is sad. Loss of innocence. We told him not to tell his sister. He's becoming a man. Well, becoming eight years old, anyway."

I text back. "Oh honey, such a big loss for him. He so loved it. Makes me sad.
My son responds, "Yeah, and for us. We are fortunate it lasted this long."
"How true."

I still feel the sadness as I begin this writing. He did love it so and the anticipation began in July. Any wonder his Grandma had a tear. Santa died and with him the wonder, hope, magic, the red suit, the laugh like a bowl full of jelly and those eight tiny reindeer flying through the starlit night sky guided by a little reindeer with a red nose.

In fact, the other day (before he got the news) he decided to call his house "The Christmas House." We gather there on Christmas Eve to celebrate two Christmas stories: one from an old Bible my Grandmother invested in over a hundred years ago and the other,  a story about "The night before Christmas when all through the house...."  After carols, we listen to the  2000-year-old story about shepherds, sages and kings following a magic star to find a Babe in a manger. The second story is about who the cookies and milk are waiting for by the fireplace. A most magical, mythical figure dressed in a red suit. And as his sister announced, last year, "I love that guy."

Several years ago, I wrote, "The one foot Santa was unwrapped next. As the red suit and beard emerged -- an intake of breath. Eyes widened and mouths formed a perfect "O." A high octane sound of pure glee, innocence and deafening aliveness filled the room. Two children bursting their skin with an ecstasy welling up in an instant from a deep, deep land of joy, love and aliveness." And then there is the magic of the night ride over the roof-tops -- oh, the wonder to fill little souls.

Santa certainly is a Saintly tale. Even though the "guy" does get vandalized by our logic and materialism, he did start out as a Saint, called Nickolas.  Acts of service, giving to others and working 365 days to do it, seems to be his life. His wife and their elves work to serve joy, excitement, ecstasy to every child who has a chimney and every child that doesn't.

Both stories are spirit-real, both belong to the invisible and both release so much mystical-magic that even our scrub-spruce here in the living room gets transformed into, "It's awesome, Grandma." These are the stories that live in our imagination, in our hopes for a better world. Even Einstein tells us, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

And so, how exciting to live in a Christmas house filled with love, joy, magic and twinkling stars. Hopefully, it won't take my grandson a lifetime to move again into the joyous abandonment and ecstasy found in such a place. Besides, all is not lost, saints also come in human form and I even know some called Moms, Dads, sisters, aunties, uncles, neighbors best friends and possibly a Grandma or two.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Freeing meditation from labels -- religious or otherwise...

Within you there is a
stillness and a sanctuary
to which you can retreat
at anytime...
                ~Hermann Hesse

Meditation comes in many forms and many positions, depending often on cultural definitions.  Yet at center, meditation is a feeling, a heart feeling when the breath catches a new awareness of Presence and love touches love. No name, no religion, no science is needed, one just knows one is seeing deeper, feeling more.  Then the heart begins to dance, in there, behind the rib cage.

However, too often meditation and our ability to identify it is lost by being labeled religious, "churchie" or spiritual. Through the ages this act has also been associated with monks, nuns, "holy men" (rarely women), gurus and priests -- almost exclusively. A common thought when thinking of meditation, has been lighting a candle, saying a prayer, bowing one's head, closing one's eyes or positioning one's hands.  And, indeed, these all can hold a sacredness.

However, maybe meditation needs a freedom from labels. A friend came to visit for a few days. Early in the visit and knowing meditation is a companion of mine, she tells me she doesn't meditate but wishes she did.  I sense she feels a deficit as she looks at my "spot" with candle and sacred reminders -- a rock, flower and small book. Sensing a deflated-ness and resignation in her, she points out, "I've tried but nothing came of it."

Yet, I notice every evening before bed she goes to her computer to view pictures of sunsets, sunrises, beautiful shorelines and trees: whatever nature offers. Momentarily, she seems lost in the beauty I see over her shoulder. In asking her why take the time before bed, she responds, "It settles me down, makes me feel peaceful."

Her energy feels different -- as if she has been beyond or deeper than the busyness of the day with its noise of thinking. Maybe she did enter that sanctuary Hesse refers to above. Here she is thinking she can't meditate and feels she is missing out. Plus, I wondered how many other ways she has been touched similarly during the day, which has been written off because her deeper experience does not fit a label.

Next day I share these thoughts about her nightly "habit." Mentioning that, too often our definitions of what meditation is "suppose to be" leaves us divorced from the fact we may already be meditating! If I identify the act as "just another habit" it remains such and I am left feeling like my friend, down on myself or it's just not for me. Yet, who does not want a deeper peace, an awareness of presence and a splash of beauty running through their mind, heart, breath, lungs and toes? Most of us, I expect.

Thus, I have discovered, meditation is not necessarily a physical structure but happens within one's being as that essence which knows no boundaries. I can find myself meditating when the wind blows.  A friend luxuriates at the pool lost in the beauty and sacredness of bird-song and a sunset's magenta. Thich Nhat Hanh walks. In fact, he has written a book solely on "walking-meditation."* Not only our beings know no boundaries, meditation does not either. Some people need a cave, some need a church and some need only their breath. And some sit quietly at night and lose themselves in the beauty of images on a computer...

*The Long Road Turns to Joy. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

joy for no reason...

I needed to take time for my meditations ... I wanted to have joy from within me and not [depend on the] outside of me... I worked for months to change myself... That's when I began to feel joyful for no reason... I became happier and happier...
                                                                                                                                  ~Joe Dispenza

Joy sticks, isn't it wonderful we can build them. We are not born with them, at least not the ones we have to build. These new habits, new aspects of ourselves are not necessarily automatic or instant. Yet I want energy bodies to interrupt my head trip in favor of my soul trip. Then I can see the iridescence redness of fall leaves in this early morning sunlight and hear the loon's haunting echo from across the lake. I want the good stuff feelings, to feel who beats my heart and be thankful I even have legs. I want to build energy bodies/fields that have me walk a little slower, breath a little deeper and as the old hymn says, "glow with the fire divine.." --  in my cells, in my breathing and in my living. Then, once built this joy can be waved around like magic wands that will delight the soul.

The first time I recognized that an energy field/body could be built was years ago when the children were small. After dinner four children had four chores to do. I had space. Knowing there must be something to meditation, I decide to see what. To the background noise of pots, pans, dishes and children's chatter, I went upstairs to the bedroom and sat. After a long winter I didn't feel much different. Where was the light, love, joy one was supposed to feel?  This could hardly be called meditation.  Yet, I had the idea that with focus and intention eventually something would have to come to life in there.

In the summers my husband and I were after-supper sailors. The first sail of the summer that year, I ran up stairs to grab an extra sweater but was stopped at the top of the stairs by a need to go back into the bedroom to explain to something that during the sailing season I would not be able to meet at this time. Buddhist masters in some traditions, after a student has sat for periods of time, strike him or her on the back which shifts the students awareness into a deeper level of meditation. My urge to stop, go back and explain why I couldn't meet, woke me into an intimacy,  a joyous hush, I cared. All that unfeeling and mindless sitting through the winter must have counted.  The rest of the summer, when I passed my "sitting-spot" to get an extra sweater I found myself bowing. And, it was always waiting.

In another house, in a later period of my life that I couldn't describe as happy, I needed more light, new eyes, heart and a larger, loving self. I also knew from experience that it waited for me to wear the path, build the body of energy that would break through my own density. Yet where would I start for such magic? In this house, the back stairs down to the kitchen, became my "lode stone", my reminder to practice gratitude, go slower, breath differently and feel out that larger Presence, mine and other. Now years later, that energy body still resonates, often, when I come to stairs.

Of course, I didn't know anything about energy fields then, as much of today's leading-edge science was not main-streamed. There was no web. Now research witnesses to our ability to "rewire our own mental and emotional circuitry." Such knowledge is literally at our finger tips. As researcher, Lynne McTaggart points out, "Human thoughts and intentions are an actual physical 'something' with astonishing power to change our world. Every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform." Be it joy or sorrow, anger or fear, each of these emotions release their own peptides -- chemicals. Thus, when people consciously practice gratitude, they become what they practice, a grateful and joyous human. 

A light switch goes on in a darker room. Then it happens. Again, I am different. Another joy stick has been built. Its paths lead to love and meaning and power: the personal kind, the loving kind. the insightful kind. the heart-intelligent kind.

Photo source:
Joe Dispenza is the best-selling author of Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. He combines the fields of quantum physic and neuroscience to show how transformation is physically possible.
Lynne McTaggart is a researcher and an award winning author of The Field and The Intention Experiment. Her work, as does Dispenza's creates, "a bridge between science and spirituality."

Friday, September 30, 2016

Turning old feelings into joy-sticks...

My Grands have just started school last week which has me asking again, what lessons/homework will I choose to explore this season.  What mind-set, spirit-set, what kind of house, inner and outer do I want to build or add to by Christmas.

My six and eight year-olds will become more mature in these next months, if the last year is any example. They will understand more, learn more about the subtleties of life and more about themselves. This learning has no end, just a continuous expanding out of Being and Presence. And age has nothing to do with this school-room. Like the old monk said, what he wants to bring to his great re-birthing into the invisible is his abundance -- inner, I suspect.

What will I set my mind to this coming season? What House of happiness,  House of meditation, House of understanding and joy do I need to add. Houses are built, one nail at a time, one board at a time and one door at a time -- be they inner or outer.  What will be my new thought-forms, new habits, new feelings and where will I come alive rather than merely exist. What is my vision for this season? What energy bodies need to be develop/grow that will hold better my joy-days and my sand- days?"

Again, I look over at this piano and I might as well call it my "joy-stick." I am not gifted musically but that doesn't seem to bother my joy, my fun or my love of it. Four years ago this piano only held "stay away from it" feelings. Then a very different body of energy seemed to get built one day at a time, one chord at a time, one note at a time. 

And alas, there are definitely some other parts of me that need attention! Inside and out. An edge or two needs a little sand paper, an inner wound requires some healing-work.  I need to be more caring in some situations and less sensitive in others -- come in from the cold with my meditation, turn its thermostat up and release its energy of warmth.  I also want more intelligent hands to run over those 88 ivories and more discipline to get up at five to write another book. Like my Grands, I want to keep expanding.

Plus, the bonus of building new light-filled energy bodies is that the act itself is erasing-shrinking a gamete of other feelings: unhappiness, disconnectedness and dis-ease. They just don't have the room they had before! Negativity cannot stand the light of essence whatever one may call it.

What hinders or even defeats me?  "I don't want to, I don't like it, it's hopeless..." is often the enemy to building new aliveness. Remember Pogo, "I discovered the enemy. It's me!" However, I need to forget how I feel, now, what I believe, now. These literally have to be built, over-time, till new awareness, new feeling, new beliefs take over. Then my "I can't, I am fearful..." is simply that, I have not arrived yet, but I am on my way. One's learning cannot expect to wear tux when it is still in diapers.

How do I build this new house, these new bodies of energy? By changing: one thought at a time, one feeling at a time, one belief at a time. Setting my mind, I start: to imagine it, intend it, journal it, see it, walk with it, sleep with it  and even play it. Again, I do not wait for feeling or belief to motivate me. They are arrival points. I need to keep the fresh energy running through it like music or a river of newness. I cannot let it get stagnant, be blocked with the old re-runs of habit, routine or a life-taking sameness.

Yet, why sign up for these new lessons, bother with one nail at a time, one feeling at a time? Because, I want to go different than I have done. I want to see different, feel different and think different. The other night I was standing for a time before some trees in the park next door, looking through them to the lake, then, looking at them. It was almost dusk. I felt their stillness and my own. Then a swirl of wind ruffled my hair and blouse. The trees leaned together, the leaves' swishing, went through me like a wave of love -- as if I was standing suspended with a Beloved, connected, intimate; standing in another worldliness and yet not. (What words for the wordless?)  Later, walking back from the park, I remember an ancient writer observing, "The scales fell from my eyes." And for this ancient, momentarily, at least, they did. Is it worth the effort? Not a question.

Thus, when I get on that plane to Tucson at the end of December, look out into that vast divinity called sky with its possibility of sunrise and sunset will I have learned as much as my Grands? Probably not. Yet, maybe I will fly a little differently and have built a few more joy-sticks.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Keeping my eyes on the hawk...

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – "WOW – What a Ride!" 
                                                                                                                        ~Author unknown                     
The grim woman at the vehicle department states: "No, you can't license your scooter until you have a motorcycle license".
"What? I don't want a motorcycle license." Back home in Nova Scotia the only motorcycle people I hear about are the "Hell's Angels." And several of them are on trial for murder. Besides, I'm sixty-two years old.
"Well, you won't be riding your scooter in Arizona then." Her set lips end the argument.

In the early years, spending the winter months in the southwest, I only had a bicycle with which to get groceries. After several years of growing leg muscles, plus wanting to be more mobile, I decided to buy a scooter. The adventure was turning out to be more than I first thought. 

Now I have to take this motorcycle course I don't want. Two weeks later and twenty miles out in the desert, I wait before the gate titled, "Stock Car Racing." It's desert cold and six-thirty a.m. The sun is just coming up, back-lighting the saguaro cactus. Instructors and students are beginning to arrive. Soon eleven throbbing motorcycles line the track. My heart thumps like those cold machines missing a beat and needing the throttle.

The instructor introduces himself as "Dan, the Man." Really! He asks, "Who has not ridden before?"  Mine is the lone hand. Yet seeing several women, although decades younger in the group, comforts me. One of them leans over and whispers, "They say he was once an instructor in the Marines." She looks thirty years younger yet appears as vulnerable as I feel. 

The instructor points me to a Kawasaki 350. Then the command, "Mount". I swing my leg from right to left. "Hey you, mount from the other side." I try again. He continues pointing out what seems to be obvious to the others: starter, safety starter, foot brake, hand brake, throttle, gas, foot clutch and hand clutch. "Now," he announces, "You are ready to ride." Does he think I’m going to remember all that in two minutes time while balancing this thing five times above my weight? He does.

Being in the middle of the pack, the sounds of eleven revving motorcycle engines assault me. I timidly attempt a "rev" or two. It works! I creep with considerable wobble out of my stall. One foot up, kick it into first, whoops, it jumps ahead. Brake, where is that brake? The guy in line in front of me is coming up fast.

After a day of riding and two hours of classroom work, I am exhausted, defeated, knowing I am going to fail -- no matter how much I need that scooter for groceries. Besides it's dangerous! One rider hit the hand brake before the foot break sending her half over the handle bars this morning. The motorcycle twisted somehow landing on top of her. A bad spill. She could not move for awhile and then had to be helped off the track. I am glad my kids can't see this. Another went down doing the figure-eight. Now, surviving the course without physical injury is my goal, not passing!

During the first day Dan kept telling us, "Don't look down at the track or you will follow your eyes and land on it." To this beginner not looking down at where the wheels are going is next to taking my hands off the handle bars. Then I spot a hawk hovering eye-level at the end of the track. OK, I am not taking my eyes off that hawk.

Three days later, grading day. I have survived the machine, the clutches, brakes, the two-by-fours and figure-eights on the obstacle course. Numerous red cones dot the grading track ahead. Dan informs us, "If you go down once you fail the course." His arm goes up, the snap of his timer makes me jump. First two riders make it through, some cones topple. The third person, an experienced rider, is down in the figure-eight. "You're out." yells Dan pointing to the side of the track. Throughout the course it was this rider's confidence I wished I had.

My turn. Rivulets of sweat tickle my cheek. Several hawks swoop and hover just beyond the track. My hands are glove-clammy. If only I can keep my eye on those hawks. The instructor's hand goes up. I gun the machine. No time for wobbling. In and out of the red cones.  Dead ahead is the tight figure-eight, seemingly the size of a postage stamp. Can I wrap this machine around it without falling?

The exam is over. The motorcycles, minus riders, are lined colorfully on the sand. Mine is red. Seven of us stand next to them waiting in anticipation, the other four have not made it. Dan checks his clipboard. The first two guys pass. Another fails. I am next. With a little (possible) smirk he ask, "Augusta, how do you think you made out." The question surprises me. He didn't ask anyone else that. 
After a pause, I answer, "I don't know." Several (possible) snickers from the others.
"Why don't you?" He shoots back.
"Because you told us never to look down." Pointing to the desert I tell him, "I kept my eyes on the hawks. So I have no idea how many cones I knocked down or how many lines I crossed."
He laughs, "Congratulations Augusta, you not only passed you came in the upper half of the class." 
And, this news I am sure, not only shocks me!

The course is over. Thank goodness. Yet, as I am leaving the track I feel disappointed. Why am I going home to a scooter? I want a red motorcycle.

photo source:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tickling the universe...

"If you are in joy, the universe is in joy."
                                                            ~ Eckhart Tolle

My friend was telling me this morning she had what one could call an enlightenment. She understood in a totally new way that she is here for a purpose. Of course, I assume everyone is and so does she. Yet when thinking of my life's purpose my mind imagines achievements and projects slightly tinged with grandiose design. Continuing she stated, "My purpose is to expand the universe." I laughed. Having never been sure of what my purpose was in the "big scheme of things," I knew mine never could be that.

The idea itself feels self-defeating. However, I do refer to myself as becoming larger, increasing my experiences, raising my vibrations and expanding inner/outer space to where I love more, laugh more with that quiet knowing of being One, in and with this universe.

The question is, does the universe expand, experience a simple joy when I do? Scientists are beginning to understand that the cosmos works on the "tiniest of scales." When one particle is "tickled," then the other particle, separated by miles, responds instantly -- "even from the opposite sides of the universe."

We are all made up of particles and so is the universe.  Thus, every piece of joy I experience, every insight, every glimpse of the bird on the branch that I pause to acknowledge, that tickles me, affects it all. As Tolle reminds us, "If you are in joy, the universe is in joy." I think of last night's sky, of holding a "small" gratitude up to a star, feeling its expanding power, its beaded love. Presence in whatever mysterious form, expands. How do I know? I can feel it -- no matter what the Putins and Trumps are doing.

Last night, my daughter, son and myself visited my brave ex who has had Alzheimer's for a decade and within the last month has survived several strokes. On arriving, the Senior's common room was full of wheel chairs. They were having a music night and only one musician had shown up. We pitched in with fiddle, piano and guitar. Although my ex is numbish on his left side, he still plays the bones with his right hand.

It was a slow start not only for the audience but for us, too. We didn't know most songs the harmonic guy played but in spite of missing notes and muffing chords those bones kept the beat. I'd look over and catch his eye. Merriment and caring zipped between us. We stumbled on.  Requests started coming from the audience. Someone, not in a wheel chair, got up to dance. Before long we were rocking, laughing with a little foot stomping.  The audience seemed to come to life. It was like, how could I miss so many chords, make so many mistakes and still have such fun? But it was happening.

Life was expanding with every note. Feeble and shaky hands were clapping, faces once somber were
smiling. Memories were awakened, old songs requested. Bill Bailey rocked, Johnny Cash wanted to get out of that Folsom Prison and, of course, those Old Saints came rolling in. Amazing Grace certainly arrived. I played it with my eyes closed -- hearing voices that hadn't sung for a while.

No, we were not good, far from it, in fact sometimes we were pretty bad but who cared or who bothered to notice. We were alive with memories, music and the sheer joy of it. Even the universe may have felt a little tickle.  Later, a staffer came up with smiles telling us it was the best singsong they have had there in sixteen years. And I smiled, thinking, "Probably the least perfect, too."

I think my purpose will be to tickle the universe on "the smallest of scales." Go for that expansion -- in the little things, the little hearts, where we come alive rather than merely exist. And, as my friend concluded, "You see, if I meet you and we share an insight or our souls meet in a kindness or an understanding, the universe does expand."

Friday, July 22, 2016

"How old are you Grandma?"

My Grands ask, "How old are you Grandma?" (No doubt, I seem ancient.)
I reply, "I don't really know but I must be a hundred and fifty or maybe even two hundred." They nod in agreement.

I have a birthday coming up. I look in the mirror and down at these wrinkled hands typing:  yes, seasons have passed so I must be "old". Yet, the sense, feel and image I have of myself is essentially and shockingly timeless -- love doesn't get mil-dewy, wisdom keeps flowing, be it uphill at times and this lake and I are in relationship.

Being a day younger, would not hold today's passion and these I wouldn't miss.The ideas that filtered through my mind yesterday wouldn't have a chance ten years ago or even three days ago. Swimming this morning, I chatted with four ducks, not two feet from me, coming out of the morning mist trailing their rippled V's  past my shoulders. Would I have even been aware of our energetic connected-ness a few years ago? Just walking by the piano, I feel excitement. My fingers want to dance those 88's. Four years ago, I felt nothing but avoidance. Being younger again, even by a day, holds little appeal.

In spirit there is no age. In fact, I am in a spirit growth-spurt right now and love it. I am not my wrinkles anymore than a pregnant woman is her stretched marks. There is no physical organ called person-hood, nor one called joy, sadness, love, excitement, enthusiasm or grief.  They just can't be found. Yet they are who I am -- not the body but the spirit. Thinking of myself as a face, grey hair or a hand is not realistic. They could be ash tomorrow.

I have discovered a secret, the most wonderful secret. I am not my body. My mother was near bent to the side walk when she made her transition in her nineties. Yet, courage, integrity and a back bone of steel belied that image. I must not let my eyes fool me. They can so easily. Yet I have another far more important form -- Me, We, Us and Oneness.

Age is only one part of the weave as my aliveness waits daily to be played with a fresh heart and new eyes. However, I need to be careful and source from the natural self -- from inside out rather than outside in. The deeper level begs the question, "Has the grace and beauty of aging been lost in this consensus reality that only sees bodies?" And unfortunately, I too, have looked to the wise and only seen obsolesce. Yet, I feel like the ninety-year-old taxi driver who in his wisdom stated to the younger man in the back seat, "Listen to me, I know a lot."

Yes, I have a birthday coming up. What is this life force inside that has nothing to do with my skin, the color of my eyes or my heart rate? I am not my "aches and pains", in fact they are not even mine: they are this body's I've been given to walk around in, to love with, to experience this exquisite aliveness that moves the wind on the water or swirls the cloud in a flawless sky.

This age I am entering in a few days will be a great new house to build and live in.  A billion things have been missed, yet a billion timeless things wait to be experienced before I pass into the invisible.

Photo source:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Taking one conscious breath...

One conscious breath in and one conscious breath out is a meditation.
                                                                                                       ~ E. Tolle

Imagine, only one conscious breath. Now, I can hardly say I don't have time to meditate, or "I can't fit it in, I am booked." For years I have tried to be aware of my breathing as I often mentioned in my writings. Initially, the challenge was even to remember to notice I was breathing. And my first observation of air lifting my chest was merely a physical sensation -- cooler air coming in, warmer air leaving.

It stayed merely physical for a surprisingly long time.  Yet, practice and persistence works. If love crossed my path in a particularly conscious way I would take a deep, slow breath and associate it with its feeling. It  seemed to be more fun to play with my breath, a bit of felt joy got breathed in, as did any feeling of gratitude I had at the end of the day. Sadness got breath in without judging it as bad until it penetrated its own velvet depth.

The mystic Simone Weil wrote in her classic, Waiting on God, that if we want to come alive, to become conscious of the beauty and truth that saturates our moments and discover one's presence as love and lover she states, it will all happen "According to the attention."

Like a bird sitting on her egg, my breath needed consistent attending. Then at some point, its life hatched on its own. This breath, I discover, is alive, has a resounding stillness, a resonance that renders me present to lovely Presence. Two little girls have just come in to Starbucks, I would guess maybe four or five-years-old. I over hear their mother is taking a holiday and is dropping them off with their grand parents for the day. They are excited. Watching the exchange, without 'manually' becoming aware of my breath, there it is, a warm faceless essence, a gentle expansive caring seems to be its substance.

The great Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has written numerous book, given countless presentations world-wide about conscious breathing. Like Einstein, who changed how we look at the Universe, with his Theory of Relativity which he summed up in three letters, E=MC (square), Hanh distills several thousand year of practicing the art and science of meditation and encourages, "One conscious breath...Be with your breath."

Surely I can take one breath of awareness, then hopefully it will lead to two. And, after many suns, I do feel its aliveness, its deep stillness, its resonance; then, breath (dare I say) begins to feel like a lover, loving me back. Visiting the shore this afternoon, I breathed in the salty tang of the waves splashing against the wharf. Looking up, the sea gulls, without a movement of wing, are on their own invisible highways in the sky. I draw the feeling in slow and deep.

I am here for my breath, as if breath itself is the lover and now I am not sure if it isn't.

Photo source:

Friday, June 10, 2016

we are life, laughing...

If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how different our ideals of beauty would be.
                                                                                                                    ~  Author unknown

I wake from a dream it's 4:20 am. I know I've just been looking with my other eyes, the one's that see better than my physical ones.

About 10 ft away is my lovely ex.  He is to the left, looking straight ahead.  I don't think he knows I am here; maybe, more like I have come in from another dimension. I am struck by the stark realness of his unsmiling presence. Not unhappy, honest.

In the dream, his head and upper body are formed but the lower part fades off into a series of lines.
Beyond him, to the right of his head, is a beautifully drawn violin/fiddle as if created by a master artist -- flowing in a freedom of swirls and lines in space. (He is a 'Down East' fiddler.) Just beyond, him creating a circular pattern is also drawn what I interpret to be the other 'special stuff' of his life.
I keep catching glimpses but the view feels ephemeral like the smoke curls which form beautiful, graceful, mysterious 'in and out' patterns in space after one blows out a candle.

I wake in a poignancy, a sweet sadness -- experiencing loss that mingles with an intense joy. Yet, this is not a loss of his presence as I have that.  He is in his spirit/human self: dines here, plays fiddle here, opens presents here. Nor is it a loss from divorcing the institution of marriage or that he has Alzheimer's. This dream is generic. I am being shown how beautifully drawn we are -- living the most ordinary 'things' of our lives, be it, stubbing a toe, not remembering or catching the wind rocking a leaf.

I also wake thinking how shockingly non-physical we are and can be. I better understand (possibly) the Dalai Lama's divine humor (he chuckles) in harsh circumstance. A sage told me a year or two ago, "When I see a person who exist in love, I am able to see through them." Was that not what I was seeing in the dream? No clunking there in denser energies, just pure essential being.

When I was fourteen my parents took me to Florida for the winter. Not going to school, I could roam Clearwater, Tampa and Tarpon Springs. In those days, the latter was known for its deep sea-divers who harvested sponges. The divers clunked the wharf in heavy gear and iron boots.

This physical suit called a body that I have to wear to be a human, shows me, in comparison, how much I clunk around like those divers, in bone, skin and mental 'stories'. Yet I want to be more see through, I want to float. What swirls and wispy curls of dream like spirit-fragrance and divine humor emit from my struggles, my 'problems'?  How beautifully drawn are my energies, vibrations, frequencies? Where am I hopefully half drawn?

After all, I am - we are the music, wind, and the sound of the sun, We are life, laughing -- or can be.

photo source:
quote source:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Never a written understanding...

"Spiritual knowing will never have a written understanding."*
                                                                                              author unknown

There is a place here in Tucson where I go to stand several times a day under a palo verdi tree. This is a great shade tree with lots of feathery hanging branches. It also gives me a closer look at the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Pantano Wash.

This year, standing under that palo verdi, just after I arrived for the winter, a flash of ruby-red bobbing up and down on a branch caught my attention. A little humming bird was resting there not four feet from me.  I thought the breeze moving my large, floppy, sun hat would disturb the bird and initially it did. After a week or two, it began to stay longer. I generally stood about ten to fifteen minutes in stillness. Sometimes, I would do some editing which would extend the time.

I started to play a game of who could be in stillness the longest. Off it would go, yet strangely, every time it returned to the exact same branch, five inches up from the tip of the lower branch, to sit at the top of the V.

We stood there daily and sometimes twice a day if I was home. One morning, I wondered if this bird was ignoring me or just didn't see me. Seemingly, as soon as I had the thought, it zoomed like a projectile past my left ear and in a flash landed back on its spot. Had it miscalculated its flight pattern? But not so, for this past month I have felt the movement of air close to my ear, repeatedly.

One day, standing in stillness, looking at the cloudless blue sky, I was trying not to think, not to label, not even to judge this beauty as 'sky'. I also did not want to notice this little creature keeping me company as a 'bird' -- thus reducing beauty, aliveness and intelligence to mere object.

 In a few days I fly back to Nova Scotia, I am almost packed.  Standing under the palo verdi tree this morning, a thought, "I am going to miss this little bird but will you even notice my absence?"  Ruby-red lifted off its branch and before I could blink it was a foot from the middle of my forehead, hair level, hovering in one spot, then back to the branch.

Two days before leaving: I take my place again, the bird is here. I watch it a little differently, thinking, yesterdays flight has 'gotta be' coincidence. Again, it darts toward me, same hairline positioning but this time it makes a perfect 180 degree semi circle around my head. A premeditated  flight plan? I don't believe it. Yet, it is so fun to hear the vibration of wings, to think maybe it is responding and to get a close look at its under-feathers.

I check Google. How long do humming birds live? Ruby-throated humming birds live five to nine years and apparently, he is male. They are seasonal, solitary and not necessarily social. Plus, they can travel nine hundred miles over water without landing.

Back in Nova Scotia: This morning, I miss his four months of daily presence. Spiritual knowing indeed "will never have a written understanding." Yet, maybe, he will be back next year  How will I know him? Oh yes, he will be 'five inches up from the tip of the lower branch, above the V' in the palo verdi tree.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Don't take anything personally...

Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the  opinions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.  Don Miguel Ruiz

I have had several 'big-bangs' of awareness in my life.  One of the most freeing and caring things I discovered over the years is what Ruiz says is wonderfully true. "Don't take anything personally." Others' expectations, opinions and judgments I have discovered with great relief are not about me. Every human being is relating from their own sense of self or lack of it, their level of consciousness and how they see the world. Yet, when such statements are delivered they can feel very personal and very hurtful. Worse still they can rob us of our own sense of worthiness as they are, too often, offered as truth.

When I was young and discovering an identity in the world independent of parents and others, I needed society to mirror a nurturing value and identity back to me. I needed all the things we need until we don't need them. Thus, peoples' opinions mattered, most everything anyone said about my value pro or con, mattered.

Another season in life where opinion and judgement ruled was my divorce.  Everyone seemed to know what it was about but me. I experienced it as a 'good wife' waking up to the fact that marriage itself was a social institution and not a holy writ. Love and relationship are sacred but the institution, at times, does not necessarily serve that end.  Thus, I left the institution but my husband did not come. I was asking too much. Nowadays, people can "live together" wonderfully in relationship, but not then.

Adult parents of adult children also need a good dose of, 'It isn't you and it isn't personal.'  This is a great training ground. When we wonder: why don't they call, why don't they visit more often, it merely is another opportunity to learn this most freeing of soul-lessons, 'It isn't about you.' Parents are loved, no matter if they are 'axe murders.' So most of us have made the grade. Maybe they don't call because they are engaged with growing careers, family, etc -- or -- yes, maybe their actions are neglectful, careless and thoughtless.  Thinking back, I know mine were, at times.

We are all growing, shrinking and achieving more insights daily. I still catch myself judging others, will half-know a situation and then pontificate as if I know the complexity of others' lives, what their soul-lessons are -- their wounds and heart aches. Yet indeed, there are places for opinions and assessments as long as we know whose they are and don't accept them as gospel.

Thankfully, over time, a freeing immunization from others' opinions has developed. "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."* I love the freedom of knowing "It's not personal." I love others' 'light-being-ness' as well as my own. Thus, my litmus test is when hurt or my value gets a dent, I ask, "Would a 'light-being' which we each essentially are, be careless, neglectful, put me down or make damaging remarks? I don't think so. Plus, my guess is, if I lived with the angels and in my own sense of Presence, I'd feel wonderfully helped and alive after most encounters.

photo source: fotolia. com
* Anais Nin

Friday, April 8, 2016

My name is day...

"Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moon beams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?"
                              lyrics by Johnny Burke

Waking I hear a knock. Opening the door, a voice dressed in beautiful colors, says, "My name is Day.  Do you want to live with me today?"
"Oh, I'd love too but I can't. I have this, this and that to do." I sigh.
"I'll wait, you might come out." (I probably won't.)

I close the door, a niggle thought. Maybe Day doesn't want me filling it with stuff or rushing to a fire that wasn't lit. Maybe it just wants a little quiet, hum and some relating-time. I know it loves to swing on stars and carry sunshine in a jar?

However, regrettably we share a long history of 'no's.' Some times when Day knocks, if it's not busyness, I might be feeling sad or even lonely.  I don't want to swing on anything and my moon jar has vanished. Then 'she' will whisper gently, "Oh Augusta, I can comfort you in countless ways. My joy flows deep." Another time it might be pain, then Day responds, (and 'she' always responds) "I offer you healing balm." I close the door and tend my stuff.

Taking Day for granted, invitations are ignored. What if Day didn't exist and days don't in space? Ah, but they are faithful, always giving me second, third and endless chances to come out of stuff and be alive -- which is quite different than existing.

Another knock, and there Day stands in rainbow colors of hope and trust. 'She' smiles so wisely, so knowingly. "I will accompany you in your loneliness, your pain and your sadness. Just come out. You see I love you. You are as beautiful as the sunsets, the bird song and your own breath. Breathe me in and Breath me out. You will see..."

Yes, days are groovy. They like to be appreciated and love to carry magic in a jar.
And so I wake, the sun peeks over the Rincons. There's that knock, Day sings, "Hi, do you want to come out to play? Do you want to think about who I am before you close the door, today?"
I smile, "Indeed."
Day bows and says, "I am your Gift, you will see."

Photo source:
Excerpts taken from a fun dialogue with a wise friend...

Friday, March 18, 2016

a step into joy...

T'is so much joy. T'is so much joy!
                                                      Emily Dickinson

Sometimes one has to go small to go large. What small act can I practice that will add to my aliveness, expand my consciousness, leaving me different, next year? I just want one little thing, one simple thing to do. Nothing complicated. The other morning I was reading a little book by Thich Nhat Hanh titled, The Long Road Turns To Joy. It's one of my "go to" books but this time I read it differently. The author is talking about discovering joy in one little step. I look down at my foot and think, "Imagine, joy is that available!"

This feeling is no stranger to me or any of us. I know it to be essence, presence and when present it can feel like an ocean of love and laughter emerging from some hidden artesian well deep with-in. So this year, I will attempt to build a place where joy will be more present and more consistently
independent, whether it is a sand-day or a laughing moment.

Zero though seems to be my starting point. I just walked to the kitchen to get tea. Hurrying to return to this writing a few minutes ago, any feeling of joy, presence or steps were lost to "fast forward, next!" And, needless to say, that is not what my book friend is talking about. He suggests each step be a "bell of mindfulness."

A bell of mindfulness. Last year I wanted to feel presence when taking a breath. Initially, I merely felt air in my nostrils. If it was cold enough, I could feel the matter-of fact-physical breath moving down to my lungs. So I wedded myself to observing one little breath as often as I could.  (It truly is amazing how much I ignore breathing in any form!)  After months of practice, my breath is no longer merely a physical thing. Quite frankly, it is beginning to feel like "God" has coated my lungs with what, a velvet caring -- rather like a deep friendship one attends over time.

However, initially in any practice, I often meet boredom, non-feeling and discouragement. Rich feelings cannot be depended upon to propel me forward; they seem to develop along the way.

Thus, in these next months, I want to trigger a feeling of joy, at least in one step en route to the tea pot. I want to instill that small act with a word-feeling, be it a "thank you" as I walk on a beach, catch a sweetness in the face of my grandchild or hear the sound of the sun when it peaks the mountain out my window here. This year I want my step to be a "bell of mindfulness" when I fly down the stairs on my way to nowhere.

photo source:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

the train to Florence...

"The shore is safer but I love to buffet the sea -- I can count the bitter wrecks in these pleasant waters and hear the murmuring winds, but oh, I love the danger!
                                                                                              --Emily Dickinson

Life offers many opportunities to "buffet the sea". Several years ago, I wanted to get back to traveling again in Europe. I had done some with my former husband several decades ago. This time I would do it alone. Venice and Florence were my first destinations. History, architecture and art where the draw. Arriving at the Rialto Bridge (built 450 AD), I spent an enchanted week in Venice.

Florence, next. A day earlier, I scout-out the train station, buy a ticket and check which of the twenty-one tracks my train leaves from. Next day, with ticket and luggage I head for the station.

One imperative, I must arrive in Florence while it is still light as spotting the Basilica dome (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) against the skyline is to be the beacon. My hotel is on a little street, one block away.  Good walking shoes are required as the city center only has a few taxis.

Travelling alone, details are important. There is no one to call within an ocean's distance. I arrive a hour and half early and retrace my practice-run the day before. My train pulls in. Yes, track 19. The crowd rushes forward and me with it. Seated and relieved I enjoy the country-side at it flashes by. The gauge at the head of the car says 275 to 290 km's an hour.

Forty-five minutes later the conductor arrives to punch my ticket. He pauses, scowls, I hear, "Out, out," the rest is in Italian. What does he mean, "Out, out"? We are in the country-side. Then he points to a little box of a station that may have been open during WWII but certainly not now! Windows are boarded.  Looming, he commands, "Back, back," then, "Venice". He points to my luggage and reaches for the chord.

Within five minutes, my luggage and I watch the back of the train, shrink. I am so lost.  Should I cry or start walking? The latter holds more hope. Crossing five or six tracks, passing the little station, I head down a dirt road which is tough on luggage wheels and praying to see a human who speaks English. I spot an old man and show him my ticket. He points to a building down the road. Again, no English yet the clerk sells tickets but not to Florence.  I buy one for Venice. What else to do?

Finally, arriving back to my starting point, I find a ticket agent who speaks English. I had to restrain myself from jumping over the counter and hugging her. My third ticket of the day and I am still in Venice. Now, it is mid afternoon instead of early morning. Again, I find the train and settle in. As it begins to move, another passenger arrives and ask to see my ticket. Wrong seat, wrong compartment, wrong car but at least the right train, I think. He looks at my luggage, nods and smiles. I thank him for his generosity. I have a seat.

An hour later the train stops. Country-side again and the light is fading.  Some passer tells me the train just hit and killed a man. We are waiting for the police. People pile out. I keep my "nice-guy" seat. A couple of hours and we are on our way again. I won't make Florence in the light.

Finally, Florence, the train slows for a stop. I show my ticket to the woman next to me. She knows a little English. This ticket is not for Florence but a station outside the city. The ticket agent has sold me short. Now, I have to get off, find out where to buy a bus ticket, etc. Not an easy task.

An hour later, I finally arrive at my beacon point, the Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Florence's main train station. The sky is indeed dark and has been for hours. Yet there against the sky line is the Basilica. Old Florence has many little streets without much lighting. Now, just one foot in front of the other. Entering the lobby of my little four-star hotel, I raise my arms and announce to all, "I have arrived."

The clerk, looking uncomfortable, informs me I cannot stay as they have had an emergency and have booked a room for me "not far and an easy walk". Experience tells me, the latter statement rarely proves true. A half hour later, the buildings through the dark little streets are looking seedier. Finally I see it. The glass is broken on the sign. No, choice, I have to go in. The lobby is three flights up. (My hotel must have been desperate.) The clerk shows me to my room. "Do not touch anything," goes a voice in my head. With clothes on, I fall on top of the covers and am instantly asleep.

Next morning and the sun is shining. I make my way back to my hotel. Instead of the assigned room on the second floor, I ask for one on the top floor as was recommended by the web site, Trip Advisor. Entering the room, one wall is open to the roof gardens, tea-tables and chairs. Yet, what surprises me is the bed spread of red roses. Instantly, it shouts my mother's favorite of all flowers. I don't believe in coincidence. A breeze freshens the room.

Two hours and a shower later, I am standing among the Renaissance masters, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, etc.-- surrounded by magnificent paintings and sculptures in the great Uffizi Gallery. I breathe in a thrill of thrills.

As Dickinson muses, "The shore is safer but I love to buffet the sea..." The train to Florence, indeed, buffeted me and I didn't like it: wrong train, wrong ticket, wrong seat, wrong compartment, wrong car, wrong ticket again, wrong station again and wrong hotel. Plus, the night walk through those little, dark streets at mid-night, I suspect, held their dangers.

Yet, thankfully, storms do not go on forever, seas calm and the sun returns. The travel to Florence held a bitter taste. Yet it got me there. That week, I explored the heart of Florence, ate looking over the Tuscany hills and met interesting people. Each morning, I woke to the bells of the Basilica tolling and then calling me to presence periodically through out the day.

I suspect, we each can count the bitter wrecks, be they travel or other. Yet, there are always those murmuring winds to hear which keep one praying, recognizing 'coincidences' and feeling that seemingly invisible help that is always, always there.

Photo resource:
Note: A week later I had a seamless trip back to Venice (to catch my flight home).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

An invitation is out...

Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality -- your soul, if you will -- is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Gandhi's, bright as Mother Teresa''s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.  
                                                                                                                         George Saunders

What sacredness will I continue to discover, explore and stake my claim to -- this year? What "bright and shining" part does exist beyond/underneath this personality called, "me"? What extra passion, aliveness and consciousness can I "free up", today? 

I had a teacher in grade two and her name was Mrs Smith. She was ancient and even at seven,  I concluded, she was mean. She loomed over us, constantly pointing out our deficiencies and often accusing us of only using "a tenth of your heads". Ten is not even close to the best mark on a test. As defeating as the fact was meant to be, it "took my fancy". And here, I thought I was using every bit of me. Plus, I had everything, a dog, a Mum, Dad and a Gram." Yet, Mrs Smith apparently knew something I did not.

Did she know what Mr Saunders points out, that our larger stories, the luminous parts of us are as bright and shining as the greats he mentions? Whether she did or not, this is the place of arrival at my growing edge. What intuitively do I need to change today? The morning is early, where in this day will I get out of my way, my habitual comfort-zones and reclaim my luminosity?

Yet, resistance lurks. What stops me are the "same old, same 'olds'." I don't want to wrestle with my "I don't want to's...", nor pull the plug on familiar habits. Procrastination also waits, "I don't feel like it, right now." Yet, what if I did pick something, practice it every day for a week or month?

Years ago, an ancient friend instructed, "Nature increases one's frequency, one's inner space, one's light. Outdoors is a good place for you." So, last year I decided: several times a day, I would stop/interrupt whatever I was doing, go outdoors, set my iPhone timer for a few minutes and stand where I could see sky, trees, ocean, mountains and/or desert. I would try it for a week -- on the ground (no veranda or deck) and breathe. Initially, fidgeting seemed to rule and clunk-thoughts had a pixie-playground. The timer would never ding!

A year later, and this morning the song of the yellow finches and the Santa Catalina's are waiting for me to interrupt this writing. The iPhone timer will go off quicker than a blink. Some thoughts can now float through my head without sticking. I have discovered, again, light does pour from stars and mountains do dance. This fresh aliveness, this deepening awareness makes love to me, inside and out.

Decades have passed. I don't know what percentage Mrs. Smith might rate me at now. Yet, I do know she was right. There truly is more than a dog, a Mum, Dad, Gram and a ten percent.  Mr Saunders is right, too. We each are "bright and shining as any great that has ever been." And, as he encourages, "Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, (and) share its fruits tirelessly." The invitation is out...

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 - the answer always waits in the question

2016 and a New Year to begin -- life anew. Where will be my growing edges? What will enlarge my story, my being, my sacred space, my happiness? What, in the coming months, will turn sadness into joy, fear into freedom and love. What ancient or present wounded-ness, that has been hiding out in some protective corner, do I want to extend my heart and understanding to? What larger-self will I continue to discover, explore and stake my claim to -- this year?

As a young monk* was leaving his teacher's sacred space, the old man called him back saying, "My son, you can do it better." The student instantly realized he had approached the door without awareness. And that awareness, that sense of larger presence does make love: as it waits for each of us in every "god-smacking" question we dare to ask. Thus, my 2016 question (or at least one of them) will be, "Augusta, how can you do it better?"

photo source:
* Thich Nhat Hanh