Initiation

Flowers from the hospital, because I have friends committed to cheering me up.

Flowers from the hospital, because I have friends committed to cheering me up.

There are a lot of ways to look at initiation.   The Online Merriam-Webster defines:

ini·ti·a·tion

noun \i-ˌni-shē-ˈā-shən\

: the process of being formally accepted as a member of a group or organization : the process of being initiated

: a ceremony or series of actions that makes a person a member of a group or organization

: the act of starting something : the beginning of something

This doesn’t really cover the sense of the experience, or even the basis of an initiation ritual.  In most cases, an initiation provides a shared experience.  Members of the group have it, non-members don’t.  In that sense sex can be looked on as a form of initiation, or childbirth, or Harry Potter’s Thesteral which you can only see if you have seen death.   It is something that all the “information” about doesn’t come close to having the actual experience.

Experiences don't have to be identical to be shared.  I had quite the visitors in the hospital.

Experiences don’t have to be identical to be shared. I had quite the visitors in the hospital.

Another thing the dictionary doesn’t give us is that sense that once you’ve been through an initiation you can never go back.  Innocence is lost forever and a new perspective is gained.  This is why magicians are so unwilling (as a “club”) to share their secrets.  We all think we want to know how the trick is done, but once we know we no longer experience the same joy and awe as when we are being entertained.  It stops being fun, unless you are “the right sort” that is challenged by learning new and better tricks and performing them yourself.  Then you belong “in the club”.

That piece: Who “should” be initiated?  Who “belongs”?,  is another factor in the initiatory experience.  For most intentional initiations there is a training and testing period to see how badly you really want this.  It also allows the initiators to get a sense of “fit” for the group.  During this period there are often teasing hints about the initiation itself.   “We haven’t lost anyone yet.”  “Are you sure you’re not afraid of blood?”  “How much pain do you think you can tolerate?” These are the kinds of things commonly heard prior to an initiatory experience.

What is being hinted at is that initiation is meant to be transformational.  Rituals of initiation are designed to shift consciousness and point of view.  Initiatory experiences naturally do the same.  There is a reason that surrogate mothers, teens giving their children up for adoption, and people who experience trauma’s along with pregnancy change their minds after the child is born.  They no longer feel the way they thought they would because in a real way, having gone through the experience, they are no longer the same people.   You can argue that this is a small change in the drama of the moment, but I would suggest that there is still a real and permanent change in how the event is viewed, in perspective.

I truly feel like I have just been through an initiatory experience.  I was tested prior to my surgery, challenged with dietary restrictions and pre-surgery preparation.   I was given horror stories about the experiences other people have had and about what I was most likely to go through.  I was questioned, challenged, in pre-op, about how badly I really wanted this.  Was I willing to let whatever might happen happen?  I was reminded that this was an elective surgery and I could back out – even at that last-minute.  Now I find myself welcomed by others who’ve been through this process.  I am adjusting to the “new perspective” as I begin to heal from the surgery.

Bee balm from my garden.  I couldn't get close enough to the honey bee to get him in the photo.  Healing takes lots of forms.

Bee balm from my garden. I couldn’t get close enough to the honey bee to get him in the photo. Healing takes lots of forms.

It is, as the dictionary suggests, a new beginning.  As I am only at the beginning there is still much to learn and a long way to go.  But there is no going back, only forward on this journey.   I take my small steps filled with gratitude.  I’m grateful for the overwhelming support I have had.  I am grateful for the skill of my surgeon who against all odds managed to do this in the least invasive manner possible.  I am grateful for my own history and preparation which makes the first steps of this journey easier.  I am grateful for all those who’ve been here before me and who continue to light my way.

Potential

It's all about potential

It’s all about potential

I’ve always been attracted to potential.  It’s part of the reason I’m so bad at “partner relationships”.  Always looking at, and comparing to, potential takes me out of the moment.  But that doesn’t make potential a bad word.  In fact, this week it’s the word I will cling to.

I go in for my surgery Tuesday.  Doing this is banking on potential.   I am opening the door to possibilities that wouldn’t exist in my current situation.   The challenge is going to be living up to it.  Paying attention, learning new body cues, staying alert and in the moment will be the only way I will reach that potential.

These pumpkins are more likely to reach that potential if I get some weeding done!

These pumpkins are more likely to reach that potential if I get some weeding done!

I am enlisting the aid of my inner child.  I want to play again.  I want to not be afraid to try things that I may not yet be able to accomplish, and not give up until I can succeed.  I want to dance through the next part of my life, regardless of the music or the lack thereof.

There’s a part of me that’s afraid of being that open and out there.  There’s a part of me that is afraid of what I will give up to achieve those goals.  There’s a part of me that’s afraid I won’t be able to succeed.  There’s a part of me that’s afraid I will.

The coven I work with gave me an anklet filled with healing energy.  There's always room for more.

The coven I work with gave me an anklet filled with healing energy. There’s always room for more.

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Life is an adventure in becoming.  Thank you all for staying with me on this journey and for your well wishes and support.

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UPDATE:  Surgery went well.  All the magic, prayers and well wishes worked and they were able to do a laproscopic procedure.  Thank you for the support!

 

UPDATE UPDATE: Surgery was Tuesday and I got to come home on Thursday evening.  That seems so quick, but it would be what someone who expected to go in for a laproscopic procedure would have been told was normal.  Again, despite the complications, I seem to be doing remarkably well.  Thank you again for all the good thoughts and support!

Liquidation

My lifeline!

My lifeline!

Preparing for this surgery I’m maintaining a low-calorie, high protein, liquid diet.  My mind dreams of salty crunchy, but that’s not on the menu.  Whoever would have guessed I’d get hungry for a protein supplement?  But my diet is not the only thing I find myself needing to “liquidate.”

As I prepare myself for this new adventure I’m inclined to shift a few things around in my environment as well.  I got this computer desk years ago.  It was the center of household expenses, school records, medical reports and any project I or any member of my family might take on.  I don’t need all that anymore.  Orion’s day program doesn’t generate the same level of paperwork that school did.  Karina is on her own.  I have a whole room devoted to my writing.  Really I just need a clean space to pay the bills.

You can't even see the hutch which is also over flowing with piles stacked on top!

You can’t even see the hutch which is also over flowing with piles stacked on top!

You can see, the clean space was hard to come by on the old desk.  That is one thing gone and something else to take its place.   In the kitchen the 40-year-old blender and the coffee pot have been replaced with the Vita-mix.   In my bedroom I’m looking at my clothes differently.  I don’t really need to keep every t-shirt  as it ages “for gardening”.  If a sweater has a little hole in it, it probably won’t fit me anymore next winter anyway.   Those stretched out sweat pants with holes in the knees are going to fall off and should probably land in the garbage.  I find myself rearranging my life as I prepare to make room for more living.

Much tidier!

Much tidier!

I much prefer cooking to cleaning.  I find cleaning easier than this sorting and removing.  On the bright side, I have noticed that not cooking makes it a lot easier to keep the kitchen clean.   I’m hoping that making things less cluttered will open up more than space.  I’m hoping it will help open me up to the possibilities that await on the other side of this endeavor.

Everyone I’ve talked to has assured me that what I’m doing is life-changing.  I can see that already, in the small things.  Even with the few pounds of weight I’ve dropped in the past 6 months I find myself more able to do things.  It’s easier to get up and get out.

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This week my women’s group is celebrating Vishnu.  The invitation says “Bring something to burn in Vishnu’s fire”.

They're all still wearable, just a little stained and over washed……..

They’re all still wearable, just a little stained and over washed……..

The idea is to make room for Vishnu to bring abundance into our lives.  Cotton t-shirts will burn, won’t they?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To-Do

"photo booth" at Gilda's Club "You Rock!" event

“photo booth” at Gilda’s Club “You Rock!” event

It feels like my “to-do” list is miles long.  The garden is a mess.  (I still haven’t thinned those radishes.)  It seems like when it’s raining I have time to weed, but can’t get out.  When it’s a beautiful day for gardening I have errands to run and places to be.

Last weekend Orion and I went to Gilda’s Club to celebrate Gilda Radner’s birthday and we had a great time.  I got to introduce him to all the people I know from volunteering there.  He’s still talking about it!  We got home minutes before the rain started.  Life is just like that sometimes, but it doesn’t get things done!

Tomorrow I officially start my pre-surgery diet regiment.  I went to a class to learn what to expect and got a shopping list of things I might need in the next few weeks and for a few weeks after the surgery.  I anticipated a few of those items, but there are still several that have been added to my “t0-do” list.  It seems like every time I turn around it gets longer!

I went to make toast this morning and the toaster didn’t work.  No electricity.  No electricity in the entire bar that is the primary electrical source for my kitchen.  It’s not the circuit breakers, it’s the uncanny old wires.   Add hire an electrician (which may become an electrical contractor) to the list of things “to-do”.

In the next few weeks I have several doctor appointments, including a pre-op.  I have questions that I need to ask the surgeon that came up during the “what to expect in surgery” class.  I have to get Orion ready for the changes coming up in his schedule.  (Helping with transfers will be a BIG no-no for me for awhile.  I’ll even have to work up to tossing the wheelchair into the back of the car, and that doesn’t weigh nearly as much as he does!)

And then there is coordinating support.  I can’t tell you all how much I’ve appreciated the kind words, thoughts, and prayers from my readers.  The comments cheering me on are invaluable.  They mean the world to me and brighten my days.  They just don’t get the grocery shopping done.  Yet another thing to add to the “to-do” list.

Sacrifice

0622141521bThe Oxford dictionary of American English indicates that the word Sacrifice comes from the latin root sacer meaning ‘holy’.  It’s the same root as the word sacred.

Merriam-Webster  says a sacrifice is “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone”

But SACRIFICE is a word that holds meaning beyond its simple definition.  It carries an emotional response.  It begs the question, “why?”.  It needs a context in order to be fully understood in its usage.  Therefore it needs all context to be fully understood.

As a teacher of spiritual practices my students are often surprised when they get a question they feel they’ve already answered.  In my experience, spiritual growth depends on asking the same questions over and over.  We hope to find a new perspective and new insight each time.  One of those questions is “What is Sacrifice?”.

If the flowers aren't pruned the basil will get stringy.

If the flowers aren’t pruned the basil will get stringy.

I’ve touched on this topic before in the blog.  I’ve talked about harvest and about corn but I’ve never written about it here directly.  I do talk about sacrifice in my book, Manifest Divinity.  There’s a whole chapter on “The Hart of Sacrifice” in When Gods Come Knocking:An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deist Perspective.   The idea of sacrifice and how I feel about it pops up pretty regularly for me.  It’s one of those markers that says “time to take another stab, or acknowledge the success, at spiritual growth”.

I find myself exploring this question again as I prepare for my upcoming surgery (see last week’s blog).  I am definitely “giving up something in order to get or do something else.”   I want to get healthier.  I want to be able to do more things.  I want to have more energy. I want control of my relationship with food.   It’s the giving up part that’s ambiguous.  I feel like I’m writing a blank check to the universe.  This surgery is my “whatever it takes”.

If the mint isn't contained it will take over everything else.

If the mint isn’t contained it will take over everything else.

In order to justify that act of giving up I need to have faith that I will see positive results.  In order to be 100% behind the “whatever it takes” I need to recognize the sacrifice.  I need to acknowledge that this is a sacred act.  I believe I’ve got a talented surgeon.  I believe I’m capable of following the protocols and going through the motions.  That’s not enough for me.  I need this to be a ritual of sacrifice, a holy undertaking, a sacred act.

Small sacrifices can have large results.  Large sacrifices often set us free to follow a new course.  They mark a new beginning, a different way of being in the world.  That is my adventure.   And apparently the sacrifice that is called for is the willingness to write that blank check.  I don’t know what I will be giving up in the long-term.  I do know that whatever it is, invoking the sacred helps to ensure it will be worth it.

 

 

 

Both of my books are available in paperback or as e-books from Amazon.

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book_when_gods_come_knocking_small-1

Change

My pansy are happier

My pansy are happier

I’ve been delighted by the signs of change, of the turning seasons, in my neighborhood.  I’m trying to notice more, to be more present with the small things.  After all, the only thing that’s certain is change.

In my second book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity Based Perspective, I talk about Deities tapping on shoulders and making demands.   I say that generally when that happens the Divine wants something done for them.  I maintain that the attitude of “I’m the only one who can do this” is hubris.  We can say no.  Sometimes we know we shouldn’t, but we always can.

In my first book, Manifest Divinity, I talk about building relationship with the Divine.  When we work on developing and maintaining relationship sometimes that tap on the shoulder becomes very personal.  The “tap” that I’ve been getting for the past year, louder and louder, has been “Change or Die.”  Now that can certainly be commentary on the political situation, on climate change, on conservation and resource use.  But for me it seems very personal.  The action items are directly about my health.

I wish my peony looked as good as my neighbor's.

I wish my peony looked as good as my neighbor’s.

I have made many changes in my health related patterns over the years.  I’ve studied nutritional theories and taken on dietary changes that make a difference.  I’ve looked at exercise and movement, and physical therapy and had limited success.  I’ve addressed mental health taking a hard look at my self sabotage, getting out of a bad marriage and examining my unhealthy communication patterns.  But at this point the change being demanded is dramatic and fast, a line in the sand.

A friend of mine died unexpectedly last week.  We’ve been out of touch for several years.  We had a falling out because I wasn’t kind in speaking my mind and she wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say.  Essential my message to her was, “Get help to change or die”.   Now she’s gone.  I don’t have any details, but I know she struggled with significant health issues for many years.  Some of those issues are the same one’s I’m facing.

Pansy isn't the only edible flower I have blooming!

Pansy isn’t the only edible flower I have blooming!

In my experience, when the Divine puts something into action there are usually multiple things being impacted.  Often times we can only see one, especially at the beginning, but the Divine has a broader vision.  Along the journey of carrying out the task we tend to touch many people, interact in many different ways in the world.  We are often not aware of the impact that we have, but it can be profound.

Being friends with this woman, even for a short time out of the scope of our lives, had a profound impact.  She was one of my inspirations to write.  She was incredibly helpful, demanding clarity in my use of language when discussing spirituality.  She gave me Ireland.  We traveled together, because she needed a companion and I wanted to go.  If I pronounce any Gaelic word correctly, it’s because of her.  I am changed, simply because I knew her, and I will always be grateful for that.

Kinvara, Ireland

Kinvara, Ireland

But the time has clearly come for me to change as well.  I have spent much of the last year exploring options to address my own multiple health issues.  Although I recognize I have the choice to say no, I have chosen change.  I have decided that I want to live and that I want to live more fully and actively than I have been able to do for some time.  That definitely requires a dramatic change.

Sometime in July I am going to go through bariatric surgery.  I’ll keep you posted where I can, and write more about my perspective and process.  But if, in the next few months, I miss posting please hang in there with me.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed looking at such big changes and trying to plan for all possible outcomes.

May the road rise up to meet you May the wind always be at your back May the sun shine warm upon your face May the rain fall soft upon your fields And until we meet again May the Gods hold you in the palm of their hands

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May the Gods hold you in the palm of their hands

Both of my books are available in paperback or as e-books from Amazon.

Karina Karina

Happy Birthday Karina!

Happy Birthday Karina!

My little girl turned 21 years old this weekend.

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Coming Home

Coming Home

She continues to be such a delight.

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I’m so proud of her and all she’s doing with her life. But it’s also a little sad.

 

 

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She's always wanted a dog

She’s always wanted a dog

Seems like yesterday she was crawling into my lap.

 

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She tried her hand at music.

She tried her hand at music.

And happy to jump in with both feet!

And happy to jump in with both feet!

So I took a little stroll

And found choir and friends

And found choir and friends

down memory lane.

She's always been a take charge kind of girl

She’s always been a take charge kind of girl

She know's what she wants and she'll see that she gets it!  (Buddy's "the Cake Boss" signature.

She knows what she wants and she’ll see that she gets it! (Buddy’s “the Cake Boss” signature.)

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Now she's a Baker and moving her career forward

Now she’s a Baker and moving her career forward

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Happy Birthday Karina!0425142114c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phones

Thank you Wikapedia

Thank you Wikapedia

When was the last time you got a busy signal calling someone on the phone?  I know people who’ve never heard one.   I recall one time my daughter handing me the phone asking, “What’s  wrong?”

“It’s just busy.”

Voice mail has made the busy signal obsolete.  Most business will give you the voice message “all of our lines are busy” rather than a busy signal and some cell phone providers do the same.My parents are hold-outs.  They refuse to put in call waiting.  If they are talking to someone they are busy and don’t want to be interrupted (especially not by solicitors).  They find it rude to put someone on hold to check another call.  I often get a busy signal.

I expect that at particular times.  My Mother makes weekly phone calls to some of her friends and relatives.   I know I won’t reach her during those times.  I also know that a birthday or special occasion (like Mother’s Day) will make it nearly impossible to get though.  “Just calling to say Happy Birthday.” takes most folks at least 20 minutes where my Mother is concerned.

Maybe that’s where I get it from.  As a teenager the phone was regularly attached to my ear.  I often ran the cord under the basement door and sat on the top step for some privacy.  Just the idea of a phone I could carry with me wherever I went made me giddy.  You’d think I would be at the top of the line for the next, newest, best.

You would  be wrong.  I went into Best Buy in the late 1990′s looking for a new “portable phone”.  Not a cell phone, but one that didn’t have a cord attached.  I said I was replacing an old phone and really needed to be able to take this one with me out into the garden.  The very young salesperson immediately assumed that the reason I needed to replace the phone was because I was gardening and not cleaning the phone properly.  He tried to up-sell me a wipe for the phone.  I said no, the phone I was replacing was a dial phone.  He looked at me like I’d stopped speaking English.

“Dial doesn’t make a phone.”

Senior Picture

Senior Picture

“No a phone with a dial.”

“You mean you press the buttons to dial?”

“No a rotary dial phone.”   I made the motion in the air.  Apparently I’d stepped out of a time machine.  His recovery?

“Yes, you really do need a new phone.”

I’ve learned to not jump up every time the phone rings.  I’ve learned to let it go to voice mail when I’m busy.  I’ve learned to send texts – although after an exchange of 3 or 4 I’m ready to just call you to complete the conversation.   I’ll even use the bluetooth built into the car.

None of that changes my capacity for a good conversation.   There are a few people, long distance relationships, that are bound to be a long call.  My Mother and I sometimes will get into a long conversation, especially if there is drama in the family.   Apparently I come by it honestly, but I can have that 5 hour conversation.  I don’t do it very often, but sometimes I just get to talking.

That’s why the blog is late.  I took a Monday morning phone call and , well, got to talking……….

In Memoriam

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of the blood

The line back beyond my knowing that made my life possible

There are problems carried in this lineage but there are also blessings

I remember my ancestors of the blood

 

I remember the farmers in my line, who worked the soil and fed their neighbors

I remember the teachers in my line, who believed in learning and literacy

I remember the policemen in my line, who served community and protected the innocent

I remember the entrepreneurs in my line, who risked everything for their families

I remember the travelers in my line, who explored and brought my family here

I remember the children in my line, who died early and brought joy and love

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of the heart

The members of my family of choice who supported me in my life

We shared good times and bad, and I miss the sharing

I remember my ancestors of the heart

 

I remember the times you challenged me, asking me to be better

I remember the times you comforted me, asking me to stay strong

I remember the times you showed me new things

I remember our laughter

I remember our meals

I remember talking long into the night, sharing dreams

 

I remember too the non-human ancestors of the heart

Gandalf

Gandalf

The pets who were my stalwart companions

The plants and trees which were my comfort and refuge

The places in the past which can no longer be found that I called home

These too are ancestors of the heart

For they have shaped me and supported me as my chosen family

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of spirit

The heroes and role models who have walked before me

I never knew you, but what you did made my life richer

I remember my ancestors of spirit

 

I remember the firefighters and the freedom fighters

I remember the actors and the artists

I remember the athletes and the explorers

I remember the cooks and the teachers

I remember the scientists and the philosophers

You showed me to go places I’d never been and what kind of person I wanted to be

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I am grateful for all my relations.

I am grateful for their love and guidance.

I am grateful for their strength and resilience.

I am grateful for their courage and generosity.

May you be remembered

May you live on

 

 

Greening

dandelions in the park

dandelions in the park

April showers didn’t bring us much of anything except grey day after grey day.  May showers on the other hand have finally brought spring to the north!  Even on a rainy day, there is enough green to combat the grey.  The world around me is blossoming and I’m making an effort to spend time outside to enjoy it.

Johnny Jump-ups voluntarily spot my lawn

Johnny Jump-ups voluntarily spot my lawn

I like the cooler (but not cold) days and the frequent rains have kept the pollen count to a tolerable level.  I’m trying to reclaim some of my gardens.  It’s still a challenge.  My up and down can get a little unsteady.  My back is limiting both my carrying capacity and how much time I can spend at any one task.  My shoulder makes reaching and pulling a challenge.  Even so I’m making progress and enjoying every minute of it.

Pansy goes in each year for my Mother's Mother an avid gardener with simple tastes.

Pansy goes in each year for my Mother’s Mother an avid gardener with simple tastes.

As I get to dig again in my ancestor garden I call up bittersweet memories of love and loss.  There are people  I honor here who I would love to be able to share this season with, and I suppose in a way I do.  I have mixed feelings as well as I dig through the strawberry bed.  This was my ex-husband’s project.  There’s very little about it that went with my suggestions and so it’s not designed to be easy for me to maintain.  It’s a garden in the front yard and I knew if I didn’t at least make some effort the neighbors would start fussing.  It’s amazing to me how well the strawberries have managed in spite of total neglect for several years.  There’s a resilience in this garden that asks me to be resilient as well.

strawberry blossom

strawberry blossom

With all the fresh new growth and warmth I feel for my friends who are being challenged with the deaths of their loved ones.  This time of year is so contrary to anyone trying to grieve.  I know the feeling where you want the world to stop right along with you, and it doesn’t.  But I also know that there is a gentle consolation inherent in the obvious manifestation of the cycle of life.

Love and blessing to all my friends who are challenged with loss in this season.

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