A Life Well-Lived

I knew him for a short time—perhaps a year.  Even upon meeting him, from the start I could see that he was near the end of his journey.  The years had accumulated around lesterfordobit.jpghim and were starting to weigh him down. His walk was hesitant; his navigation abilities less certain.

“You remind me of my sister when she was younger,” he once said to me. I smiled and said ‘thank you,’ having no idea what aspect of my appearance or demeanor was so similar. But I knew his sister was no longer in this world.

I complimented his always-dapper appearance at church. He would often wear the beautiful purple shirt and matching tie with his dark suit. His eyes would smile with delight. He was a compassionate but proud man, and he wore his humanity on his sleeve for all to see.

Yesterday, amidst the rain and snow flurries, he was buried.

During the funeral service, the most moving portions were the testimonials of three of his twelve grand-children—all were young adults—all claimed deep love for him and were clearly products of his careful nurturing. They told tales of grandpa’s many skills and helpful nature; of how he had pitched in during their home repairs and computer problems. Who knew, even in his advanced years, that he was such a computer technician besides being a woodworker and general handyman?

I smiled frequently during their choked-up speeches hearing of his many abilities and caring nature–and even of his earlier motorcycling escapades.  These were all aspects of Lester that I never knew—aspects that you didn’t see beyond his body’s more-current frailty during the short church services that I had attended with him.

After the service the large family all slowly filed past, following the casket as it was rolled out of the church and into the hearse to be taken to the burial area.  We sang “Amazing Grace” to their parting processional, and I thought—Wow, that is the true sign of a life well-lived—how deeply this gentle man had affected those around him, especially his loving, close-knit family members.

Other than peripherally, I may not have truly known and appreciated you, Lester, but your loving family certainly did.

Well done sir!

 

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You Are Not Alone

Quote from: Psychic Medium Savonn Champelle

“It is during the darkest moments in our lives that the light shines the brightest and it lets us know that it always was, always is and always will be there. All we needed to do is connect to it, tap into it and led it guide us. Many times during those ‘dark’ moments we can feel abandoned by Spirit or let down because we feel savonnangel.jpgsomething is happening to us, when in reality something is actually being ‘Birthed’ through us and a powerful healing and transformation is taking place ❤ When going through hard times, or ‘dark’ times in your life call out to the Light within you, Call out to your Angels and simply ask what is the healing and transformation that is wanting to happen through me? What is this situation here showing me? Ask them to surround you and lift you up, for you are never alone. Angels are the silent whisper that are often heard moments after asking them your question ❤ You are not alone ”

Seeing Savonn’s sentiments on Facebook this morning, it was an important reminder that this time in which we all are traversing is a tough one for many. Many are facing their own version of “dark night of the soul,” and that is not a pleasant place to visit or linger in for long.

Many have lost loved ones over the past year or two and are still stinging from the pain and emptiness in parts of their lives.

Many are feeling disconnected from life in general and feeling isolated from people that they were once close to and relied upon for support and friendship.

Others are feeling a gnawing in their gut that some part of their lives is dissolving away to nothing and the void left behind will be too overwhelming to accept.

All I can say to you who are feeling these very things is to repeat what Savonn said at the end of his comment. “You are not alone.”  Yes, the Angels are there for all of us, but more than that—we are there for each other as well.

You might feel like you are very alone, but you aren’t—we’re all here.  We’ve all been where you presently stand or sit or lie or wallow or crawl, or curl up into a ball in the corner of the room. We’ve been there also.

I know that I have been, and I know from the story Savonn has told in the past that he also has been there. I don’t know what worked for him, but for myself, I told myself all sorts of things to keep pushing through the darkness back toward the light—like trudging down the dark train tunnel  where you can lighttunnel35.jpgonly see a faint hint of daylight at the end and hope like hell it isn’t the train itself.

Well, it isn’t the train.  It truly is the light. And if you just keep holding on and hanging in there—no matter how trite that sounds—that is exactly what you have to do to get through the tough times in life.

The greatest gift I ever received was the knowledge that no matter what happened to me, I could handle it.  I could get though it—someway—somehow.  I could endure it—I WOULD endure it!   And I did.

I think that is often the purpose of many ‘dark nights of the soul’—to show us what we are really made of—to show us our resilience and our determination to rise after falling—to lift ourselves off the floor when others aren’t there to assist us.  We must learn to do it for ourselves.

And in the process of picking ourselves back up, we realize that we rise stronger than we were before and wiser in many respects because we’ve dropped our delusions about our self-importance and jettisoned our assumptions/expectations for others in our life.timesaretoughyoucan do it

We learn quickly that the only person you can ever truly rely on is yourself—and that is how it must be because no matter how much any other person wants to help you—they simply can’t.  It is something only you can do for yourself.

So know now that no matter how difficult your present situation is, you are gaining great personal knowledge from it. You are testing your own metal in unimaginable ways that will make you stronger, wiser, more compassionate toward others, and far more humble than you ever believed that you could become.

The worth of a life is not measured by the quantity of the days it holds, or the material items it accumulates.  True soul-worth is gauged by the self-knowledge and wisdom gained during the process of living. That’s what you are doing at present—you are gaining hard-won knowledge and higher wisdom on your life journey.

Live with courage, my friends—live with the integrity to be who you truly are as loving individuals—and live with the determination to be the very best YOU that it is possible to be, because that is the ONLY way you can live.  notalone78.jpg

 

The Pretender

Sure, I could SO go there!

The obvious reference to this title would be the brooding hulk occupying the oval-office desk chair; when he’s not on the golf course, that is.anatomymiraclebookcov.jpg

But I was actually referring to a Jonathan Miles book I had just completed called Anatomy of a Miracle: A Novel*—The True* Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace (with TRUE being the questionable descriptor in this story because it is, after all, a novel—meaning a work of fiction).

So my biggest question at the end of the story was is the book actually based on verified facts or is it simply fabrication pretending to be based on actual accounts?  I still can’t determine that, but I’m guessing it is fiction that reads like fact because we want it to do so.

jonmilesauthor.jpgAs the NY Times review suggested:  “…the genre that Miles is aping applies fiction’s methods to real-life stories, “Anatomy of a Miracle” offers the Victor-Victoria frisson of watching a novel impersonate a work of journalism impersonating a novel. It’s a difficult balancing act that Miles for the most part pulls off, and his book is best appreciated as a highly entertaining literary performance.”

Personally, I thought it was an astounding character study exploring the ulterior motives of everyone involved in the telling of a paralyzed vet’s miracle of suddenly rising from parkinglotstorefronthis wheelchair after four years of confinement to it–and doing so in the parking lot of the Biz-E-Bee convenience store in Biloxi, Mississippi while he waited for his helicoptering sister, Tanya, to purchase their daily smokes, beer, and Cap’n Crunch.

I’m always in awe of a skilled writer, and Miles is so gifted: intellectually, philosophically, and linguistically. He makes me want to study his techniques for topic exposition and subject exploration—how he carefully weaves the plotline into the unraveling research directions of the phenomenon; not to mention what an amazing perceiver/recorder of human nature that he is.

Then I went to the Amazon reviews of his book and was astounded by the depth or more appropriately, lack thereof, in the reviewer’s comments on it, and thought can people really be that shallow that they missed the point entirely?

biloximisscar.jpgA novel is far more than plotline. This was social comment all the way. Anatomy of a Miracle was an astute observation on what makes an unexplainable, sudden change in the human condition considered a miracle—with the word “miracle” implying an intervention by a force greater than ourselves.  Even the Vatican gets involved in considering the incident as such primarily because of reasons far too shadow-dependent to call it a holy vindication of God’s possible hand in the healing process.

But what does this sudden life change mean to the protagonist who has supposedly received this amazing proof of God’s Divine grace now bestowed upon him? And how vetchairflag.jpgdoes it likewise affect all those closest to him? As the camera pans out from the now-standing vet with the twitching legs, to how everyone around him interprets what has happened to him, and most importantly—how each proximal character determines in their own way what this supposed miracle means to each of them—how others try to use this strange phenomenon for their own personal motives—use it as their own vehicles to a personal lifestyle change for themselves also—use it to substantiate their own faith or belief in the possibility of miracles existing; and how this phenomenal  situation benefits/affects individuals, institutions, and cultural trends in general as it becomes simply the commercializing of miraculousness.

money god miracles.jpgOne of those key questions seems to be:  “What’s the quantity of dollars you can make from a miracle, directly or peripherally?

The other key question seems to be “How can I personally cash in on that guy’s ‘miracle’?”

I called this post “The Pretender” not because the protagonist faked the miraculous regrowth of his spinal cord that allowed him to stand up out of that wheelchair in the Biz-E-Bee parking lot, but because during the process of all those people so closely scrutinizing his life, he finally stood up for the person that he was pretending NOT to be all those years prior.

He simply stopped pretending to be something other than who and what he was. That was a miracle in itself.

 

The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.

On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

gagmeface6

 

(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.

Yearning for Normalcy

 

I think we’ve reached a point in our personal/group evolution where we are nearly overwhelmed at the constant chaos in every aspect of our lives and yearn for something more stable and calming.choasmess

That calming influence could mean shutting off media sources or isolating ourselves from the masses; or it could mean simply saying “No,” to attempts to constantly disrupt us. I personally am thankful for the mute button on my TV control.

If you are sick of listening to lies, then stop listening. Meditate, sit in nature, exercise, listen to music, watch inspirational channels or videos that help you reach a deeper part of who you really are.

We always have a choice in what we do and what (or whom) we allow into our lives.

I often talk about how environmental energies are always affecting us, like the energy ocean we swim in daily—the unseen effects of rampant emotions and deliberately sown discord, not to mention the cosmic or solar energies that bombard us 24/7.  Those energies are still strong at present—powerfully disruptive, and they can take a toll on us if we rainbow fractalswirl.jpglet them.

It is documented that full moon energies affect people in strange ways, as do solar flares flood us with higher potency frequencies that disrupt more than radio transmissions. We are all tiny wavelets in a massive ocean of electromagnetic frequencies that ripple about our own little centers while affecting all others nearest to us. When the solar winds whip up, that energy ocean can get pretty choppy.

And yes, in truth we are tired of being so disharmoniously affected by everything we experience. We yearn for homeostasis—a state of equilibrium—a more soothing sense of normalcy.mlkquote normalcy.jpg

However, and there is always a however, what we are daily experiencing is NOT genuine normalcy unless you consider chaos to be the NEW normal, which I refuse to allow as my state of normalcy.

So if you likewise refuse to accept constant chaos in your life, then make the necessary changes in your environment and in your relationships to create for yourself a more stable sense of normalcy. Create a routine that nourishes you, that calms you, that satisfies your need for greater stability. Strategize a plan to provide the creativity from chaosvery feelings and more enjoyable specifics that are presently missing in your life.

Don’t be so acceptant of how chaotic things are at present. Instead, CREATE your life the way you wish it to be.

You have the potential and the ability to do that very thing. You are the main creator here in your life. Those powers are up to you to use or to ignore, but don’t blame others for your lack of something when YOU have the creative juices to produce it for yourself.

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Be that person who creates the life she desires.creatorofyourlife

Be the force for good—the force for sanity—the force for peaceful coexistence with your neighbors.

BE the NEW NORMAL!

And others will follow you.

On Being Unprovokable

Awhile back I was listening to some “Shift Vision 2020” segments and Shelly Covert bluemeditation.jpg(https://www.shellycovert.net/ ), Native American liaison and activist, was speaking on the state of the world in general. She said that she is usually unprovokable, but lately she was having trouble not reacting to everything she was seeing and hearing happening in her world—meaning in OUR world.

She said, “Trump is the reality check for our time period. You think you are an evolved, compassionate and loving human being?  Then how do you handle the daily insanity coming from the White House when it seems to be destroying every good aspect of our lives?

“Can you witness this without judgment? Can you evoke good intentions toward him and those around him when what you are actually feeling is rage and more homicidal tendencies? How can you stay centered in such a chaotic, daily environment?”

To me her simple statement and those following questions were uncannily accurate because I had felt that very thing that same morning after hearing the latest news show. I also was battling with myself NOT to react to what I had been witnessing on the news, when it filled me with such instant furor.

With some audible frustration in her voice, she said that for our own personal sanity and our sense of inner peace, we have to connect back into the larger energy matrix and get back into alliance with it to smooth out the ragged surface connections we are experiencing at present. We need to re-harmonize those disharmonious vibrations threatening our sense of inner peace and compassion for images.jpgothers.

To do this we have to extend our energetic connections beyond the dissonant surface matrix—to reach outward toward the true Source of ALL where Divine Love and Compassion reside—to go beyond the lunacy of this superficial existence to where Source itself, in all Its Divine Peacefulness, originates.

When we can connect back into our true energetic Source of life itself, then all personal disharmony vanishes, because Divine Source is far too powerful to be innerpeace6.jpgdisrupted by any minor surface static.

She said to be at peace, we must reach for the essence of peace itself and realign ourselves with that. I agree completely.

But I think it’s safe to say that being unprovokable is hard for even the most dedicated pacifists and meditators.

During the 1930’s-40’s, the Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated what it really takes to shift power from governing oppressors back to the people of the land: It takes non-violent civil disobedience. Martin Luther King Jr. and many in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960’s and 70’s (through the present) lived Gandhi’s example on bridges and in indomitablewill4.jpglunchrooms, on buses and in public gatherings around the nation—all with the intention of using the ability to remain unprovokable as an indelible mark in justice for all, and to revive incorruptibility in the American system of government.

I doubt that I personally will ever be unprovokable. I try. I do pull myself back when I feel like throwing things at the television, and simply remember that I’m the only one who controls ME, …so do it.

A little unsolicited advice for those who DO react to every daily, televised horror: Don’t let yourself be provoked or angered. Do something positive instead. Make a difference in some way—but make a positive difference. Shift the energy around you higher, not lower.

In battles with provokers, you only lose when you can be goaded into reacting to them.

So don’t be. Get smart—get organized—and get going. bethechange.jpgIf you want positive change—then make positive change happen.

And please start today!