Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Healthy Spirit

Does spirituality truly affect our well-being?  How does it fit into our overall health?  Does our connection with spirit influence our body's ability to either heal or prolong an illness?  Helping our minds to gain a better understanding of these connections can potentially lead us towards optimal health.  Please enjoy this hour long exploration into the topic of how our mind, body and spirit can interact for our greater good.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Only Love

Have you ever noticed how birds can express their commitment to loving each other so rapturously?  My new engagement calendar, (I know, I'm a little old fashioned, in this technological new age,) has an image of two gannets.  Two among thousands.  Their bills are raised in a harmonious reaching for the sky above, a testament to their love and to the family life they are embarking on together.

A young crow will fluff his feathers and duck and bow to win the dedication of a hopeful potential mate.  If they succeed, their union is formed and the full extended family of crow aunts and uncles and future children and cousins is born.  There will be challenges, just like in any happy home.  Only one stick in three will be suitable for the nest.  The pile of rejects will grow on the ground below.  But once the task is done and the babies are hatched, the depth of devotion knows no bounds.

And anyone who has ever seen a family of swans knows the absolute beauty and grace of a mother swan gliding along the still waters, with the babies forming a line behind her, as her husband tends to them all, watchful and caring, right nearby.  Then the mother briefly dips her bill in the water, raises and opens the tips of her wings, just a little, and invites her new born cygnets to scramble on board to warm their feet and snuggle down on the downy soft boat of her back.  Seeing them peeking out from time to time, with the self assured confidence of one so newly alive and deeply cared for, one can't help but feel the value of life and of love.

I'll leave you with this Happy New Year gift, a favorite quote of mine, from the English poet Lord Byron.

There are only four questions of value in life.  
What is sacred?  
Of what is the spirit made?  
What is worth living for?  
And what is worth dying for?  
The answer to each is the same.  
Only love.

May this new decade increase and usher in for you an abundance of that which is truly meaningful and valuable in your life.  Only love.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Healing Insomnia Naturally

We can heal insomnia.  But often change requires change.  Sometimes we have habits that hold us in a pattern of sleeplessness.  There can also be some very practical and simple steps we can take.  Enjoy this six minute video to learn what you can do, by shifting your diet style and lifestyle, that can help you to relieve your insomnia and let you start regularly getting great nights of beautiful sleep.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Meeting Olaf

This year, in one of my women's circles we decided to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day, which is still widely known in the Americas as Columbus day.  Our hostess was inspired to have us think of our ancestors twenty generations back, in honor of our own indigenous roots.  So we did.

Standing in meditation, in a quiet corner by myself, instead of twenty generations, I suddenly imagined more like two hundred, all lined up behind me.  And not unlike in a dream, they all somehow managed to fit in a space less than ten feet long.  There at the end of the line stood a big tall man, one of my great, great, great, great, great... grandfathers.

I'm Danish on my mother's side.  I'm also English, Scottish and Irish on my father's side.  But mostly, I'm Danish.  My body type is very much aligned with the matrilineal side.  We are the big tall blondes.  Graced with smooth, fine, clear skin that tans easily, and bright blue eyes, my grandfather, my two uncles, my mother, one of my brothers and myself have moved through the world as the gentle giants that we are, the men being mostly six feet or taller.

And I'm glad to say, "gentle" because I feel that during WW11, the Danes truly earned that term.  I've heard that when Hitler invaded Denmark, the King and Queen publicly expressed the sovereign rights of their people, but said that they wanted not one drop of Danish blood to be spilled.

The Danes did not fight, they showed their protest in my many ways, but they did not engage in war.  As Hitler instructed the Danish Jews to wear yellow arm bands, the entire populace, following the lead of their monarchs, all donned those arm bands in solidarity.  And every one of the Danish Jews were secretly and safely escorted out of the country.

During the daytime, when the clocks would strike the hour, for just one minute, every Dane would freeze at their posts.  If crossing the streets, they'd halt.  If working in the laundry, they'd pause.  If standing at an assembly line for Hitler's war machine, they'd stop, and let the parts go moving on by.  It didn't last long enough for the soldiers to kill anyone for it, but it did interfere, and it regularly registered the message that the Danish people were being held to these tasks against their will.

Then at night, while the young German soldiers were patrolling at their posts, the Danish people would go down and offer them a cup of nice warm soup and invite them into their homes, asking only that they leave their gun belts at the door.  There, sitting at the tables, visiting with the Danish people, many of the soldiers had a change of heart.  They grew to love the Danish people and a significant number of them defected.

We don't know what happened to those soldiers, but what we do know is that Hitler had to keep replenishing his army in Denmark.  He had to keep sending in new troops of his finest Nazi youth, every couple of weeks to maintain the occupation.

So, there I was, in my women's circle, knowing this, and suddenly seeing this huge strapping man of a Dane, one of my very distant ancestors, standing there, not only looking at me, but looking into me, as I was looking into him.

Now, this man was a Viking.  He was from way, way back there, from another time entirely, from the land that we now know as Denmark.  Perhaps you are already aware that back then, the Vikings were among some of the most violent people our earth has known.  These were the father stabbers and mother rapers.  They would travel far and wide to plunder and demolish.  Their raids were unthinkably bloody with entire villages being brutally wiped out, all lives destroyed in a single afternoon of extreme carnage and utter disregard.

And here he was, right before me, looking into my face as I was looking into his.  It was like looking right into a mirror, only he was a man, but the same facial features, the same eyes, the same tousle to the hair.  It was like seeing my identical twin across the millennia, the same phenotype, exactly.

And as I saw him, knowing what I do about Vikings and my genetic past, he saw me and my not-at-all distant past as the little American blondie girlie.  He could see that I was happily raised in the middle class, born to well-meaning and fairly successful parents who loved each other and their children.  He could see that I had spent my childhood, learning how to engage good-heartedly with others, largely spending my time exploring the beauties of nature and becoming someone 'who wouldn't hurt a fly.'

He saw all this and took it in.  And together we both saw the many gradual steps of change that lay between us, in all of the generations of lives that had come and gone during these many hundreds of years.  We saw and acknowledged the gradual shift in values, from honoring personal property rights to respecting the preciousness and sanctity of life.  And I realized in that moment that I have spent my whole life trying to be as kind as I can, from the pets, animals, friends and family members of my youth to the people and places my life touches today, I do strive to be kind and fair and honoring.

With that I heard his name, my Viking ancestor, 'Olaf.'  And he sent me a message, through the layers of generations that lay between us.  And that message wasn't 'gratitude,' as I might have thought, it was 'evolve.'

The natural state of progression, the growth of consciousness, individually and universally is to evolve in increasingly greater understanding of the preciousness of life and of love, and of everything.  My prayer is that I may continue to do so for all of the days of my life.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Strategies for Working with Grief

We all experience grief and we need to feel our feelings around loss, but we can help ourselves to lessen the duration of our suffering by finding and using tools for easing our sadness.  This five minute video gives some options for working through grief.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

When Death Comes

I was recently asked to be the 'Master of Ceremonies' at a friend's 'Celebration of Life.  Few knew that her death was near and most in attendance had been surprised to learn that one so vital and full of life and love had gone.  

The request for my participation had come just the night before and I had dropped everything to get ready.  While preparing to leave for the gathering, I found myself in a crisis of confidence.  How could anyone even begin to encapsulate or sum-up or even speak to a life so large? 

I shared my trepidation with my friend Susan, asking for her help.  She said that she used to not like memorials at all until one day she realized that everyone who was in attendance had been deeply touched in some way by the person who had died and that they carried with them a part of that dear one in their souls.  In that way, the person lived on in the spirits of those who had loved them.  This turn of perspective gave me what I needed to proceed and I opened my talk with that thought.

My sweet darling little kitten died in my arms a few months ago.  Hit on the boulevard, internal injuries, she breathed her last puff of breath into mine.  My younger brother has also now passed, even more recently, end stage alcoholism.  My other brother's wife said her final goodbyes just a few weeks ago, brain cancer.

My mother died when I was just nineteen, my dad some fifteen years ago now, my grand parents, both sides, my husband's parents and his grandparents too.  Now, two siblings and a few best friends have all taken their turn crossing the great divide between life and death.

As it is sometimes said, "Not one of us gets out of here alive."  We all go at sometime.  And when we do, too often we shatter the lives of those we leave behind.  Nothing is the same, nothing feels right, because nothing is right.  It takes a long time for feelings of rightness and normalcy to return.

Sometimes in our despair we seek retribution.  The 'If only''s, swarm in and occupy our minds.  Our days turn gray.  We hate ourselves for what was or was not done, judging ourselves more harshly than we would anyone else, and all of this at a time when we need gentleness most of all.  If we are lucky, the tears come again and again, washing away our pain, little by little, drop by drop, one day at a time.

The story of the mustard seed comes to mind, a valued parable from India.  It tells of a young woman whose child died.  She goes railing and screaming to the holy man of the village, insisting that if he is so connected with Divinity then he must bring her little one back to life.  He tells her that he will, and that the only price for his service is a single mustard seed.  Mustard grows abundantly nearly everywhere round the world and everyone in her community always had mustard seeds on hand.  "But," he said, "This seed must come from a household that has not been adversely touched by death."  

So, she set out on her quest, with her lifeles child swaddled in her arms, to find this seed.  Going door to door, visiting home after home, those who answered her call, seeing the grief she was in, took her into their own hearts and homes and shared with her about the deaths they had known.  

Soon enough she realizes that none of us are untouched by death.  And that all of our hearts have been blown open by loss.  With this she is finally able to set her little one down and let go.

As one friend of mine has said, "Life lurches on."  And somehow, over time, we do generally manage to find peace again. 

The thoughts we choose to think, and we do choose, have a huge impact on our recovery.  If we stay in that place of brutal self-recrimination, or if we label ourselves with limiting thoughts like, "I'll never love again," or "I'm a bad person who doesn't deserve anything,"  then our emotional recovery may never fully come.  But if we let go of that and become a little kinder to ourselves and open up to the possibility of finding peace, or even joy again, we can make steady progress back toward lives of love.  

No, it will never be the same.  It will be different.  But we can still find a sense of wholeness.  And that is what our dearly departed loved ones would want for us anyway.  They would not want for us to be sad for the rest of our lives.  They would want us to be happy, living life to the fullest and celebrating our days, on this beautiful planet, in this love filled world of ours.

My blessings to you all.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Healing Rotator Cuff Injuries, Part 2

So often we can make tremendous strides in healing our bodies using natural methods.  Please enjoy this seven minute video with tips and exercises that can help to bring ease and speed the healing of minor rotator cuff injuries.