Tag: humanity

The Flowering of Love

The Flowering of Love

DSC_1223“When a woman awakens to the beauty/power within her she will bloom as a flower she has always been and always will be.” Sharon McErlane wrote this quote as a message to women across our planet. Her words touch my heart and resonate with intuitive nudges I’ve been receiving.

We currently see discourses that are gridlocked. The US Congress shows us what no longer works. Trying to push and shove our way, shout our way or use anger to influence decisions is an outdated way to interact. We absolutely must find a new way–not just in our government but worldwide…beginning with ourselves.

hibiscus2During the past several months my journey has made me see my use of angry, aggressive out-of-balance masculine or yang energy. Wanting to heal and move forward in my life’s work, I found myself acting aggressively in my healing process. In anger I attempted to close my heart and mind with ‘pull and jerk’ moves. I actually thought I could force myself to heal by ignoring my heart, ignoring unconditional love patting me on my granite head…tapping at my heart.

A strange series of events knocked me out of my usual mode of operation and I tired of ricocheting against my self-imposed walls. I finally became conscious and saw how totally ineffective the old way was. It was the exact opposite of how I want to live.

DSC_3894Attempting to heal in an aggressive manner goes against the very idea of healing (shaking head, rolling eyes, laughing).

When my heart was given the space to open, I recognized the gentle yet consistent pushes I’ve been getting–focus on beauty; allow my heart to open, to flower; cultivate compassion, gentleness and softness. I couldn’t move forward with my work in the world until my inflexible, ineffective patterns were broken and released…then healed.

DSC_0226
I believe people across our planet are awakening to yin energy. We are in dire need of it. Yin energy is receptive, strong, balanced, compassionate and is a container for love, a holding vessel.

Using balanced feminine energy doesn’t make a person weak and it isn’t manipulative like unbalanced feminine energy can be. And it’s not only about women. We all contain both masculine and feminine energy within us. We simply need to balance our fast-paced, active, aggressive lives with this softer energy. We need time to reflect and enter into a friendlier relationship with ourselves and others.

DSCN1424Flowers reflect the essence of feminine or yin energy in their blooming and unfolding. They are strong and have an amazing capacity to bring healing energy to any situation. Flowers make us feel better. So I’m focusing on one of  nature’s expressions of the feminine to remind me to stay open, stay soft yet strong.

DSC_0229Balanced feminine energy holds the earth and cradles all life. This is what I wish to strengthen on the planet and within my own life.

Really Right Stuff

Really Right Stuff

My manfrotto tripod has allowed me to capture images in low light situations as well as images of myself when there's nobody around to squeeze the shutter
My manfrotto tripod has allowed me to capture images in low light situations as well as images of myself when there’s nobody around to squeeze the shutter and I want to remember that I WAS HERE! In Cornwall, Great Britain

My old Manfrotto tripod has been with me in mountain streams, in the Gulf of Mexico, to Bonaire, the Pacific Northwest, Mexico, in Mobile Bay, Cornwall, Glastonbury….and places in between. During my travels it has supported my camera in low light situations and thus supported the work I do.

Sunset at Gulf of Mexico
Sunset at Gulf of Mexico…the salt water and quartz sand just about finished my poor Manfrotto off….(sigh)

Last summer nearly destroyed my work-horse tripod. I was using it in the Gulf taking photographs of the sunset. Sand and salt water got into every crevice until the legs sounded like a pepper grinder with glass in it when I attempted to adjust them. I took it apart after rinsing it and cleaned it but it has given notice that its days are numbered. Too much irritation from those pesky granules of white quartz sand. One too many trips in checked luggage handled by gorillas who work in the baggage handling black hole of airports (remember those commercials?).

So after much gnashing of teeth I have invested in a Really Right Stuff ball head carbon fiber tripod. Or I have ordered it. New support system on the way! The thing about these tripods is they are the best support you can purchase for cameras….or so they claim. Strong, durable, made in the USA! And with their support, the Nikon D 800 can almost turn flips panning to get those shots I’ve never been able to get before…just because of the incredible support provided.

A good support system allows a photographer to capture images that she can be in...where she doesn't want to forget the place or company
A good support system allows a photographer to capture images that she can be in…where she doesn’t want to forget the company or the place. This was taken at Observatory Beach on the western peninsula of Washington

Support. Isn’t it amazing to receive. The definition of support includes words like sustain, hold up, bear, serve as foundation for, maintain by supplying necessities. Throughout my life there have been definite supporters–believers in my work, my path. Yes…they have even believed in me when I haven’t. When I doubted.

My mother is such a support…a “tripod” in my life that has witnessed my first breath and lived through my cave diving, solo travel abroad and other exploits that have pushed her fear buttons. I really appreciate her. (And no mom, I don’t think of you as the old Manfrotto…smile).

There have been many others as well. And maybe there are taboos on writing about a former husband but I’ve never been one to follow rules. The support that Ray gave me throughout our time together was solid. He was a foundation for helping me gather myself up from a time, many years ago, when I had lost nearly everything. From the beginning he believed in what I came to the planet to do, even when I felt smothered in self-doubt. When my first book was published he gave me a framed copy with the words Dreams Do Come True printed beneath the book. I keep it hanging over my desk as a reminder.

Without support, this image wouldn't have been possible. Ray gazing into the night sky on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Without support, this image wouldn’t have been possible. Ray gazing into the night sky on the Blue Ridge Parkway

While the winds of change blew us apart physically, I know without a doubt that his support over a decade ago, and throughout our relationship, is what made the difference in my life. That is truly the really right stuff. And I remain deeply grateful.

My Life is a River

My Life is a River

Over a week ago coastal Alabama had 8 inches of rain in a short period of time. This created a great amount of water than ran into our creeks and rivers. The Magnolia River, where I live, was no exception.

Beach across the river
Beach across the river

After the high water subsided I wheeled my SUP board down to the little beach near the headwaters of the river and noticed quite a change. Brilliant white sand had built up on the beach across the river and on our little beach.

This might not seem like such a big deal but since Hurricane Isaac last summer, high tides from the storm had deposited large amounts of very dark, sticky mud on the beach so every step left feet or sandals caked with mud. It stained feet, gummed up flip-flops and was a nasty mess. That’s the thing about this tidal river–it is affected by whatever is pushed into Week’s Bay or Mobile Bay.

The beach where I put in used to be a muddy mess...now white sand graces the shore
The beach where I put in used to be a muddy mess…now white sand graces the shore

It was exciting to see that the old snag by the rocks had been flushed away. There had been too many close calls with that bit of debris and my SUP board narrowly escaped slices and gouges from the old, dead wood laying just beneath the surface.

Taking a moment to contemplate life
Taking a moment to contemplate life

As I paddled along today I thought how my life is like this river. There has been a lot of dark, sticky yuck that has lurked just beneath the surface for many years. Finally, a series of events brought these unpleasant, dysfunctional behaviors to my attention and I’ve been working to clear them.

A big gully-washer of tears from grief and sadness over what I have lost throughout my life flushed out of my unconscious in bits and pieces. The darkness was loosened and freed and the beautiful light within was brought up. I call it love…unconditional love. Like the white sand on the beaches, new ground has formed for my life. The old inner snags that hooked me have been flushed away and I’m left with clarity and peace.

Clowning around for the camera
Clowning around for the camera in Crystal River, Florida

There will continue to be tides that bring change and heavy rains that clear away the old but one thing is certain to me–my life is a river of love and light. I finally understand that. And so is yours. And someday, maybe we can have ‘inner rivers’ that are crystal clear and filled constantly from the Source of Life.

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Awakening from the Dream

Awakening from the Dream

View from Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC
View from Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC

It was a dark and cloudy night. I was riding my bicycle in the mountains and had followed a friend to a turning point. After he made it to his driveway, I turned to go but mistakenly took a wrong turn and ended up behind a fence and at the bottom of a very steep, winding road. I knew the road would take me home but the danger involved was too great in the darkness.

So I turned around and headed back beside the fence to the main road. But along the way saw huge, fresh bear tracks or scratches where a bear had claimed his territory. I got very frightened and as I pedaled faster, I passed a large, dark shape. I became even more frightened. Then something started chasing me and as I glanced down I saw it was a large coyote. I pedaled faster. Another large coyote appeared and both were attempting to drag me off my bicycle. I tried kicking them and launched my cat off the bed. He wasn’t impressed.

Coyote
Coyote

My legs actually ached and I was so shaken that I sat up and wrote notes on the dream and attempted to decipher it. What the heck had I eaten for dinner? 

When I went back to sleep I dreamed I helped people speak to large gatherings. In fact, I even helped Bill Moyers speak to a group of students. His chair, for the gathering, was beautifully colored in white with red and purple flowers.

Maybe the answer to my nightmare came in my final dream of the night–Bill Moyers. He worked with Joseph Campbell in a series entitled The Power of Myth. As I started researching on the internet I found an interview Moyers did with Campbell on the journey of the Hero archetype. Within this 51 minute recording I found answers.

Entrance to underwater cave in Akumal, Mexico
Entrance to underwater cave in Akumal, Mexico

Campbell  spoke of this journey we undertake–that of slaying the ego–to find our true nature. In this journey there must be courage as we face our darkest, deepest fears. The journey includes a theme of death and resurrection…a dying to a part of us that no longer serves us and being born into a greater version of ourselves.

The journey always begins by going into darkness, our unconscious.This triggered an experience I had in meditation last week where I journeyed into dark water, through a vortex and ended up connecting with a huge whale. Campbell spoke of the whale as being a symbol where all that is unconscious within us is held. He says the unconscious is the edge or interface between what can be known and what can never be discovered. We must learn to live life with knowledge of its Mystery and our own Mystery.

Pre-dawn Gulf of Mexico
Pre-dawn Gulf of Mexico

Life is an adventure of being alive. We journey into our own unknown in order to slay the ego so that we can follow the soul’s path. He said the journey to save the self actually saves the world. We bring the world to life by bringing life to the self.

“Follow your bliss,” he reminded as I listened intently. The ego tells us why we can’t follow our bliss, the path of the soul. It’s what keeps us small. The adventure of the Hero is having the courage to do it anyway.

There is within each of us a quiet center and from this center is where all action comes. Unless the center is found, we’re torn apart because we act from outside ourselves. This always leads to ruin in some form, he reminded.

Magnolia blossom
Magnolia blossom

The dream was a reminder for me that I am on a journey into my own life, my own unconscious. I choose this journey willingly and admit it is scary as hell at times. We all have darkness or unknown dragons or coyotes nipping at our heels. And it may indeed feel as if they want to slay us.

Campbell said that as the Hero leaves the realm of light and moves toward the threshold of the unconscious, the monster comes. The Hero is either resurrected after being torn to bits by the animal or kills the animal, tastes the blood and transcends.

I suppose we each have the choice of continuing our slumber or taking the journey of the Hero and risking everything to find our true nature. Ultimately it is a journey we do alone but made sweeter by those who have the courage to shine a light for us as we emerge from the dark waters to welcome us back home.

Sunrise in Akumal, Mexico
Sunrise in Akumal, Mexico
The Conscious Act of Letting Go

The Conscious Act of Letting Go

Hot air ballon at Foley Festival
Hot air ballon at Foley Festival

Attachment: “A feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal, or the like; devotion; regard: a fond attachment to his cousin; a profound attachment to the cause of peace” (dictionary.com).

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned is to let go of expectations. It started with my work as a state park naturalist many years ago. With deep love and passion for nature, it was difficult to watch as politics won over nature so many times. Environmental education was barely funded while other programs–the money-makers–were funded. I struggled with the question: How can you place a monetary value on environmental stewardship?

Then as a practicing psychotherapist I struggled with my attachment to clients understanding their issues and working to resolve them instead of expecting me to use a magic wand to make them feel better. (Draw circle on wall, bang head….).

Armondo, an artist in Akumal, Mexico, creates beauty on his property
Armondo, an artist in Akumal, Mexico, creates beauty on his property

And again, as a massage therapist and energy work practitioner, my attachment to clients taking responsibility for their health–physical, mental, emotional and spiritual–caused such turmoil that I invented a new kind of therapy. I called it Slap Therapy. And of course it was a joke that I shared with students and colleagues but in reality I was trying to work out my frustration through humor.

But it doesn’t stop there…no, this pattern continued. I want people to love the planet. I want them to feel their own value and worth. I want them to treasure themselves and the planet and place self-care and planetary care at the top of their to-do list. And so forth…until finally I realized that the only way to find peace within myself (and therefore model that which I am wanting to help create) was to end my attachment to anyone ever gaining understanding or waking up to their own beauty. If I base personal joy and contentment on other’s actions I’ve got some long, frustrating years ahead of me.

Mantee interacting with woman at Three Sister's Springs
Mantee interacting with woman at Three Sister’s Springs

Can I be detached and still have passion, feel love and continue on the path? Can I let go of ego and surrender to simply loving for the sake of loving?

Sunset at Gulf Shores, Alabama
Sunset at Gulf Shores, Alabama

Can I continue the work, the love, the expression of beauty I experience without knowing if it is received?

I recently discovered that all I have ever wanted (since childhood) was for the love I feel for others, animals and the planet to be received. And truly, the only way I know to experience that wish coming true is simply to keep loving, regardless. I will always love but I am no longer attached to knowing this love is received. (deep breath….heavy sigh). Perhaps the biggest magical transformation in life is to let go of all attachments to what we want the most and simply keep practicing, keep loving.

Orchid...their faces amaze me
Orchid…their faces amaze me

It is the flow of love itself that is my focus. It is not conditional. It is not a faucet that can be turned on and off. It is a state of being that I choose each day, every moment. No matter what. That’s all I’ve really ever wanted.