My Ordinary Skills

Today’s WordPress prompt asks, “what ordinary skills are you bad at?” An interesting question. I guess we’re all “bad” at something although that’s such a subjective and judgmental word that I’m not sure “bad” is an effective way to describe anything.

So, okay. What ordinary, daily thing am I less than effective in doing? The first thing that comes to mind is remembering what day it is. In other words, I’m not so great at the skill of memory: ask my husband, my children, my friends, my students. If I don’t write it down, I probably won’t remember. And this isn’t an age thing, it’s a pretty much all my life thing.

So I got to thinking about that. Actually, I wonder about memory a lot, write about memory a lot, try to figure out why I remember some things and not other things a lot.

Now here’s the funny thing. My son just called and asked why he couldn’t get on a family website anymore and when he repeated the password, I realize I’d changed it and forgotten. Oh. Good thing I write things down. Especially passwords.

I’ve thought a lot about memory, and one of the things I’ve considered is how much I rely on what I call “messages.” In other words, much of what I rely on are the words that come into my head to tell me what to say. For example, most mornings when I wake, I ask myself, or my mind, “what day is it?” and wait for an answer. I find that odd. Not that it happens, but that I do it at all.  

In some circles that would be called schizophrenia and in others mysticism. I was somewhat startled, reading the book Muses, Madmen, and Prophets to learn that hearing my name called from somewhere outside me (i.e. not in my head) was a signal of schizophrenia. I’ve heard my name called most of my life. What? I ask. Sometimes I get an answer and sometimes the call simply turns me in another direction. I’ve considered those moments spirit’s promptings.

But then it’s also true that many mystics have been medicated out of their minds, so to speak. Seeing signs and wonders is not necessarily a valuable commodity in our world. At least, not since Freud. Carl Jung, on the other hand, was a little wiser and willing to be filled with wonder.

So there you are. A musing on musings. A wondering attached to what do I do least well. But then again, another question arises: perhaps our weaknesses are also our strengths if we recognize and accept them. Perhaps by allowing my hard drive memory, as it were, to remain empty of unnecessary verbage, I’ve allowed it to fill with space dedicated to spirit. I suppose the argument could be made that spirit resides in our hearts not our heads, our solar plexus not our amygdala, but perhaps spirit, in whichever way we follow it, resides wherever it wants to.

Right now it said, find an image of hands knitting. So I did. Hopefully that image means something to you.

Happy New Year! May your journey bring you peace of mind, peace of heart, and a healthy body. What more could you ask?




Today’s the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the official beginning of summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, this Solstice marks the beginning of winter; i.e. the Winter Solstice. A Solstice, and there’s two of them each year, one in June and another in December, mark endings and beginnings.

The Summer Solstice, for example, marks the entry into the summer season of play and light clothes and friends and picnics. But at the same time, it marks the end of the Earth’s tip toward the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, our days begin to get shorter, even if incrementally, and we’re falling into winter – although I can hear my friends who each winter long for summer moaning at this reminder.

We don’t always remember to hold our endings when we begin – anything… a life, a project, celebrations. We’d rather hold the longing for a beginning rather than recognize the end coming with it.

I’m trying to hold all that now and think about it – hold a beginning and an ending at the same time. Here’s a concrete example to grasp: the oak tree that shades my writing space rustles in glory. It’s a mature tree, tall, and the sun won’t hit the front window here until about noon – at which time it will pass over the house so this room stays cool. But in the winter, that same tree has lost its leaves and allows the same blessing of sun, only its opposite, to enter this room and warm it.

But those are only examples. The reality of holding endings and beginnings at the same time – well, there is no concrete reality. Holding them both is a concept, rather, a knowing, an “is” which is hardly more help. That’s sort of like knowing God is an “is” in the great “I Am.” Okay. And what’s the reality of that???

I’ve been thinking about the reality of is-ness a lot lately.   

The world IS in a stew, to say the least; the weather IS pretty chaotic; drought IS in Western Kansas while flood IS in Eastern Kansas. Oh, and by the way, the Sun IS a little nuts right now and today hurled a solar flare earthward – which will reach earth’s magnetic field about the 23rd. Thank you for the early fireworks.

I’ve given up making sense of just about anything – except my life IS okay. Right now. And right now IS what we have.

Perhaps that IS the way to hold the beginnings and the endings – staying in that place of is-ness.

So there’s my meandering wandering for today. Any insights would be welcome.


Laughing Loud

The other evening I was talking to my friend Kate in Montana. Kate and I have been friends for twenty-some years and adventures – and we’ve remained friends, with her in Montana and me in Missouri, because we laugh so well together. The other evening was no exception.

When I came down for dinner, Cliff said, “I heard you talking to Katie. I love the sound of your laugh! What were you laughing about?” I didn’t remember. I honestly didn’t remember. Some family story or some escapade story or just the tone of our voices. It didn’t matter. Kate and I have always laughed together.

The same is true with my sisters Judy, Jeanne, and Julia. And with my sons, and with Cliff. I like laughing. A lot. If laughter is the best medicine, I guess I’d rather take a couple of spoonfuls every day if given the choice. Or the opportunity.

I know there’s the saying cleanliness is next to godliness, but wouldn’t it be better said if  we substituted laughter? Think how our world, our economy, our interpersonal relationships could benefit from that kind of medicine!

Laughter is free. Cleanliness, on the other hand takes water, and the world, as we know, is short on water.

Quantum Realities

How much did you take with you when you last traveled? I have a tendency to take everything I might need: books, make-up, hair dryer, my special shampoo, Advil (I can’t buy Advil where I’m going??). I leave little to chance while at the same time, know I can buy whatever I forget. My consciousness is focused on want, on possibilities rather than on reality.

I’m reminded of the movie, “What The Bleep….Do We Know?” and of one scene where a young boy is playing basketball. When the lead character walks up, he tosses the ball to her and says, “take a shot.” She misses and he goes on to demonstrates how the frustration and tension she carries, along with the doubt of her ability, creates her inability to  make the shot. In a moment when the woman turns away, the scene shows a multitude of basketballs bouncing between her and the boy; but when she turns around, she sees only one. Her observation changed the possibility of many basketballs into one. The film is about quantum realities, biocentrism, and how the mind creates what we observe as our reality.

When you think about it, our bodies themselves are only representations of what we’ve created in our minds – the brain can’t “see” through the bone surrounding it. Our eyes and our senses tell the brain what to believe.

We assume everything that we observe is “out there.” But our task is to become conscious of what we don’t know, of possibilities rather than realities. We must be conscious and observe in order to make things in any way real.

Think about the last time you had an argument with someone. Wasn’t it because the two of you weren’t really understanding what the other meant? We assume we know rather than remain in our own place of peace and consider possibilities.

Look again at what Jesus says: don’t load yourself down, offer peace; if it’s received, your peace includes the other person; if not, you can still retain your own peace. It’s your consciousness that creates which reality you live.

We know what tension does to our bodies – it hunches our shoulders, makes our stomach hurt, our heads hurt, our emotions flare. Why do we choose others’ tensions to create our own realities?

None of this means we need to allow abuse. At the end of this teaching passage, Jesus goes on to say that if y0u aren’t welcomed, walk away, shake the dust off your feet and move on. Retain the reality of your own peace and allow others to find their own reality.

As humans, we can’t change the world “out there.” The only world we can change is in here. And that’s the difficult message time after time. To change the world, we must change ourselves. To find peace, we must become peaceful.

Saints and Birthdays

June 24th is my adopted Saint’s Day, St. John – adopted since I wasn’t born catholic and entered the culture late – only it’s the John whose head was cut off, and well, maybe I need to choose another.

I only learned it was my Saint’s Day when I was living in Mexico, and my mentor, Gloria, the curendera, said it was. John is, after all, the linguistic precursor for Janet, and John was my father’s name, and it’s on the day before my birthday. It seemed a reasonable sort of connection. Saint’s Days are very important in Mexico, it seemed more important than the actual birthday, so I said, Okay. John it would be.

But it seems that dashing into this new year of my life with the possibility of getting my head cut off might bear another look. Or another saint.

So in looking up St. John in the Book of Saints, I found there were thirteen pages of Johns who became saints. Along with the ones we might recognize, John of the Cross, John the Apostle, John of God, John Chrysostom, there’s also John Cassian 5th Century, who wrote on free will (condemned by St. Augustine); John Alvernia who had visions and could read people’s minds; John of Capistrano of the 15th Century who was a healer; John of Egypt, a prophet; and John the Silent 5th into 6th Centuries who was a hermit. He lived for 94 years and out of that, 75 was spent as a solitary, proffering spiritual advice.

Now there’s a thought. When Cliff read that one, he asked if I’d like him to board up my office door, and I suggested bricks with a little opening to pass food and advice. I have a bathroom next door. I could be a 21st Century Anchorite with a laptop.

And then I received an email message from another teacher, Lynn Jericho, and she wrote an entirely new view of St. John the Baptist, calling it St. John’s Tide. Ah. St. John’s Tide, it seems, was an evening to light bonfires and celebrate the fullness of life, just as John, before birth, leapt in his mother’s womb with joy when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Ergo, a celebration of new life rather than the end. (In Ireland, they also welcomed the fairies. That’s very Irish.)

Lynn goes on to write, “Imagine we can sit still and leap for joy at the same time and not feel insane but feel blessed with profound sanity. As beings of nature, our senses want us to be still and perceive all there is to delight us in the summery moment. As beings of spirit, our supersensible consciousness wants us to move, even dance, toward something more, to joyfully prepare (rather than contentedly delight) because we perceive the Divine Possibility.”

In other words, combining the Johns who serve and the ones who leap for joy and the ones who are silent and ones who prophesy and ones who give advice, makes this a pretty full day of celebration.

And so, with things ratcheting up again too fast and the highways clogged with cars and another to-do list suddenly erupting when I though I’d just watch and wait for my birthday, I will celebrate newness of life and the magic of Divine Possibilities.

I wish the same for you. My birthday wish, in fact, is that your summer is blest and delightful and filled with the fairy dust of miracles and new life. And a quick duck of the head when some sword starts swinging your way. When you think about it, if we collectively focus on the new birth happening in the world – as births are never simple – we might look back on this time of participating in a miracle.

Jumping for joy might just be the practice that will take us there.