Why I’m creating a New Normal instead of using my ASS (Ancestral Survival Skills)

Today I feel “normal.”  I’m trying to do normal things – like paying the bills, cleaning the clutter and the floors, watering my thirsty garden, cleaning the kitchen, and yes, writing. Your list may be longer, but with a similar sense of urgency I’m guessing. This feels normal to me.

But there’s a longer view. A bigger picture that is pulling me in. It’s starting to come into focus for me. Seeing through the glass darkly all my life, I’m now beginning to see face to face.

High Coherence with HeartMath HRV

Here’s the bigger picture.  We are living in a time of rapid evolution.  A few visionaries know this and talk about it, but most of us just keep on living from the skills our species evolved thousands of years ago.

Those ASSes

And those skills – honed to live in a very different world – are killing us now.

Let’s examine our Ancestral Survival Skills (ASS for short).

Those ASS skills – the skills that gave our ancestors enough years of life to reproduce – include the famous Fight/Flight/Freeze response to danger.  That danger/stress response has become chronic in many of us.  Stress is now linked to the top 6 causes of death in the US, and 75% of all visits to doctors are stress-related.

Those Ancestral Survival Skills – that Darwin examined as he wrote of the survival of the fittest – include a Negativity Bias, an alertness to whatever “bad” thing there is that might threaten us. Our media knows this and sells issues or shows based on blood, conflict, trauma and especially, fear.

Those ASS skills include a strong preference for sweet, salt, carbohydrates, and fat, to keep our bodies healthy through famine times.  Foods with these flavors but without innate nutrients contribute to innumerable health issues.

Those ASS skills include a brute strength to take on any enemy. We live in a time of quick reactions to perceived aggression—which sometimes results in innocent lives lost.

Ancestral Survival Skills.  Fight/Flight/Freeze.  Negativity Bias.  Appetite for Sweets, Carbs, Salts and Fats. Reactive Aggression.

Those served our paleolithic, tribal, close-to-nature ancestors so well that they survived the large mammal attacks, the snakes in the grass, the brutal winters, the times of famine, the hostile neighbors. They thrived and built civilizations and had babies and kept learning.

They gave us life and the world we live in today.

But the world we live in is not the world they lived in.  And it’s changing so rapidly none of us can keep up, using our normal ASS skills.

Danger? or Opportunity? Depends on the Tools you Choose

Did you know that oxygen was once a toxin? Yep. For the anaerobic bacteria that were the dominant species on the planet oxygen was a poison and fortunately for them, there was very little of it. Then the blue-green algae began to flourish, throwing off oxygen as a by-product. Eventually there was so much oxygen there were massive die-offs.  Other life forms – tiny plants – developed which could use oxygen. The anaerobic bacteria were relegated to the bottom of the ocean.  Those other life forms began to flourish. Suddenly a whole new world opened up.   A world where oxygen was no longer a toxin.    (Read more here)

We are in the midst of another evolutionary leap. There are no guarantees. There are dozens of ways we could end human life on earth right now and create our own mass extinction.

But I believe we won’t. I believe we will instead evolve to the next level of humanity. I believe we will let go of the ASS, and will discover and use new tools that serve who we are now and where we are headed. And with enough of us using those new tools, we will make it.

Here are the tools  – the Connective Survival Tools (CST) – that we need to “breathe oxygen” and to make it into the future:

1) The ability to live in two worlds at once – the physical, and the mental/spiritual – and maintain sanity.

2) The ability to acknowledge the negative, the dangers, without focusing there and feeding that negativity with our creative energy.

3)  The ability to sort through the vast information swamps and choose what is actually helpful to our own peace and harmony and growth.

4) The ability to activate the Heart – to become aware of the ASS stress response and instead to train our bodies to live in Heart Coherence.

5) The ability to know our own Evolutionary Appetites, and to choose beneficial foods for our bodies instead of partaking from the vast buffet available to us without regard for consequences.

6) The ability to use intention, meditation, visualization, intuition, imagination and creativity from a place of peace, of mindfulness, to create the world we want to live in – to reinvent our selves and our world.

7) The ability to choose our Tribe based on the tools that Tribe is using and our desire to grow and thrive with them.

8) The ability to enjoy our Tribe while interacting with other Tribes in peaceful ways.

9)  The ability to practice – and identify with – Love as the Creative Connective Force which underlies all Life and all of these principles.

Each of these invites exploration and expansion and I’ll write more about each in the coming days.

Alma, Eva, and my New Normal

Today, my ASS( Ancestral Survival Skills) told me to clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, pay the bills.  My ASS self (we’ll call her Alma)

Dirty Dishes – kitchen needs cleaning

insisted that was the only responsible thing to do.  But today I’m learning to breathe that seemingly dangerous oxygen… I’m learning to cultivate Heart Coherence, and to make new choices. My Connective Angel (Eva we’ll call her) quietly but firmly nudged me to walk away from a messy kitchen (I never do that!) and to write instead.

I’m learning to retrain my body out of its habitual (feels normal to me!) stress state, which has resulted in hypertension, and into a state of heart coherence and peace – which is actually measurable by simple to use instruments.

My sister once told me that we overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do in five.

We are in an accelerated period of evolutionary change. Humans must begin to recognize and use their creative power wisely.  Humans must recognize that many of our Ancestral Survival Skills are now devastating our bodies, our communities and our planet.

I’m training myself to a New Normal. Teaching my body the Connective Survival Tools means putting Creativity ahead of house-cleaning. Peaceful Body ahead of washing dishes. Connecting ahead of negativity bias.

Just like it took me several months and intense training to learn to drive, so it now may take focus and intense training to teach my body new tools.  I must remember I overestimate what I can do in 5 days, and underestimate what I can do in 3 months.

I am part of the evolutionary process and I will do it with Love and Open Eyes.

I’m creating a New Normal. Will you join me?

 

Triage for the Soul: When Positive Thinking Fails

Kitty Love. Triage for the Soul

Yesterday I found myself in the shadows – again. Verging on despair, I saw lack and pain everywhere I looked. For a few hours, I was living on the Dark Side.

I kept trying to switch to positive thoughts. But it wasn’t working. I felt like someone had flash frozen my outsides, while my insides were spinning and agitated. Happy thoughts were failing me.

An old tub washer made of ice, set on heavy duty, working on a tub full of mud. That was me.

The issues were 1) two fractured neck vertebrae (4 weeks ago now) and the rigid neck brace I wear day and night; 2) poor sleeping because of the neck brace; 3) worsening sleep apnea because of the neck brace; 4) chronic borderline hypertension and possible medication coming up, and 5) ten days of our beautiful tomcat Mr. Kitty gone missing.

Kitty Love. Triage for the Soul
Kitty Love. Triage for the Soul

My efforts at meditation felt meaningless. My biofeedback practice gave me lackluster results (I can’t get this stuff to work!). Our posters for Mr. Kitty yielded no results. And my positive thinking efforts were met by my inner cynic. I won’t tell you what she said.

Worst of all, trying to go to sleep at night resulted in finally getting drowsy, then as eyes closed, my throat closed as well and I choked. And woke up of course, repeatedly. Until I didn’t even want to try to sleep anymore. My blood pressure was high in the morning because of the sleep apnea.

Yesterday was crappy.

Traumas and Sorrows, to Joy and Resources

I finally set up a phone appointment with my brother, a Somatic Experience Psychotherapist*, for evening.

By the end of the session with him I realized that I had been blocking the real sense of loss and grief I had over the fractures, my immobility, what “could have happened,” and then, the loss of our kitty as well. Lots of tears. But by the end of the tears and the end of the session, I felt thawed out and peaceful inside.

I also was reminded of the many resources I have, and that I don’t have to stay in that frozen mud place. I can move in and out. Even during the ambulance ride to the ER for the fractures, I knew I would be okay. I can go back to that knowing now.

My brother described an infinity sign, like a figure 8 laid on its side, with one of the loops containing the traumas and sorrows, and the other, all the resources I have in my life. We all want the happy side. But the pain and the shadows are also part of us and cannot be long ignored, or we become frozen and joyless.

I can acknowledge, feel, and cry over the traumas – which are real, but not the only thing in my life. Then I can move myself, thawed out, to the Resources. There I find my husband, my friends, my large and loving community, my children, my prayers, my books, my spiritual practice, my songs, nature, and more.

Maybe most important, my own sense of trust and empowerment.

Pain Wants to Change Me

I forget so readily this easy move back and forth, from pain to peace. Each time I try to avoid the pain and just think happy!  Sometimes that works.

But other times, the pain is deep enough it can’t be brushed off like a fly. It must be acknowledged and incorporated.  It wants to change me, and if I refuse to admit it’s there, it spins faster, freezes harder, and I grow more frantic. (Sounds like hypertension doesn’t it?)

Triage is the intake area in battle or disaster situations, where a quick evaluation is made of the wounded, and patients are then moved into areas based on their traumas and needs.

When things go sour for me, when I am wounded by something, I have to remember to do triage for my soul. How bad am I hurt? Will a little positive thinking lift my spirits?

Or do I need “surgery?”  Do I need the deep care that acknowledges and cleanses the hurt before the stitching back together and the TLC?

Gifts from the Dark Side

Kitty Love TLC
Kitty Love TLC

Both are important. But if you find yourself with a deepening sense of despair and hopelessness, or an inner anxiety that won’t let go unless you self-medicate, then I encourage you to take a Guide with you and visit that frozen mud, that monster inside.

Visit the Dark Side within and cry your tears. Feel your grief, your regrets. Bring the Light of your love into your own shadows.  It is Positively Okay to feel sadness now and then.

Then come out into the Sunshine, remind yourself of Light, and call upon your Resources.  Make a note not to be afraid to check out the Dark Side now and again. There may be gifts waiting for you there.

 

* Paul Chubbuck is a counselor in Fort Collins CO who also does online work.  You can find him at Releasing the Past  .

See Yourself as a Novice Buddha Sitting Surrounded……

Meditation

Conversations with Yeshua.  This is channeled material, edited minimally for clarity only. It is personal information given to me and my husband Stan, but relevant to many situations and this is one I am asked to share with the world. From a session with a client. 

Client:  I feel the biggest issue that I need help with right now is regarding how to make my living.  I need at least double what I’m doing now. I don’t know the best avenues if any to make that happen. I’d like guidance about how to find about the ways to do that if indeed that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Y.  The question has been received and we are giving Linda just a  little time to step to the side so that her thoughts do not intrude.

We see you as immensely rich, and at peace. We’re going to give you an image that you can meditate upon. We see you sitting upon your cushion, meditating, surrounded, literally in this order, by gold coins, by a ring of rich and beautiful foods, and by people listening to you, receiving what’s coming through you.  And you in the center, at peace, knowing all this is yours.

Meditation You have gifts that have come in with you, gifts that you have polished and refined, the gift of a soulful eye which you use with your art, the gift of kindness which you feel and practice towards the world at large and the gift of healing which you have honed by doing your own work.

Add to this the gift of your words, the ability to put all those things into words and you are —truly —gifted.

But we also know that you have old familiar shackles that you still carry with you that keep you from even remembering those gifts at times. They are heavy like a ball and chain despite all the work you’ve done, and you feel frustrated with this at times, is that correct?

C: Yes.  And more stubborn to change than I would like to admit. There’s something inside me I feel little control over that feels stuck and stubborn and unwilling to change. Fearful.

(silence)

We are going to ask you to —and we are going to ask you to repeat this practice —we are going to ask to to do something that dis-identifies with your name and personality.

This could be an astral journey, or this could be a meditative practice. But within this we’re going to ask you to pretend you’ve died.

Pretend you have died.

Imagine how you would want to come back?  How would you bless this soul that is you with your greatest love?  as if for your dearest friend or your nephew or anyone you felt love towards.

How would you want them to come back to the next lifetime?  What would you gift them with?

And you don’t have to answer that now but if you have an answer we’re willing to listen.  What would you bless them with?

C: Love. Belief in their own gifts.

Would you bless them with a loving family, or a challenging family?  And if you don’t know that’s alright. Doesn’t matter.

C: I don’t know. I want to say a loving family.

Yes.

C: It’s been hard without that. Hard to find a place to stand in my life. Hard to believe in myself.

Play with that. Meditate on that. And then, go through a ceremony for yourself. Die.

"Hello Darkness" tall bearded Iris
“Hello Darkness” Iris

Then come back with all these gifts that you already have refined and honed. But you don’t have to live them as You, The Wounded One anymore. You can let him die and you can have a beautiful ceremony, for all the good he’s done and all the hard work that he’s done.

You are a soul. You are not only what Your Self experiences. Do you believe that?

C: Yeah, I believe that, I just can’t quite comprehend it.

Well, let’s imagine for a moment. (We’re taking you out to the edge.) Let’s imagine for a moment that you had received a dire diagnosis last week, and this was perhaps the last expectation of a week with your family.

Everything would be sweet and rich. Even all the pain you’ve suffered in your life, yes?

C: Yes, probably.

And the people that have loved you, and the love you’ve experienced, and the teachers that you’ve had and the joys you’ve had with your cats.

And then, somewhere along in the next few months, you die.

And what happens then? What do you take with you and what do you leave behind?

C: I don’t know how that works. I think I take the love that I have cultivated.

Uh-Hmmm..

C: I fear I also take the challenges and the stuck-ness. And the fears.

Do you believe you have to?

C: I’ve been told that’s the way it works.

You’ve been told you have to take that with you?

C: Well, that that’s the way the cosmos works. We carry with ourselves both the freedom and the stuck-ness.

Well we’re going to tell you that we don’t agree with that. And that you don’t have to take the stuck-ness with you. We’re not saying it’s not real, we’re saying you don’t have to take it with you.

And you don’t have to die to do what we’re describing to you. But you have to go through some sort of death.

C: Yeah. I understand.

Different traditions will give it different names. The tradition that we are in, as Yeshua, we would call it forgiveness, compassion, and complete surrender.  In other traditions it might be called the Emptiness. There may be other words for it. What we are suggesting is a complete Death.  to everything tangible and everything that feels stuck to you.

Wrestle with, if you need to, wrestle with the part of you that says “You have to take all this with you.”

We say to you that part is the unforgiveness. Unforgiving of yourself, unforgiving of certain others, and we know its there, we get that, but you do not have to take it with you. But you have to use more keys to unlock that since it is part of your belief system.

Death is actually a freedom, a release when a person gets too tired of the patterns, and a chance to start over with compassion, with love. Some people do bring more than others with them. But that’s not the rule. There is no requirement for that.

If you can go through a deep and radical forgiveness you can do it all and keep this same body.  It is possible and others have done it before you. If you start watching for those who have left behind a life of stuck-ness, a life of unforgiveness, you will see them. and we say to you, “You can do that.”

And when the voice comes up that says, “No, you’ve been too wounded, this will never work, it doesn’t work for me,” you respond, “When I die, I want to leave behind the stuck-ness. I want to leave with only Love, only Compassion, and hey, while I’m at it, I’m gonna do it before I die.”

Do you believe that’s possible?

C: I believe it, like, I hear the words, and it makes sense and I could see somebody else doing it, I don’t believe it in that I don’t know HOW, I don’t know Step 1 to take that I haven’t already tried a hundred times before. And with discouragement I say that.

Uh-hmmm.

Then the other suggestion we are going to make is this: we say to you this is possible. We say to you, you may want to make that decision in advance of your physical death to burden yourself less in your next lifetime, and we’re saying to you you can do it in this lifetime.

If you don’t believe it, call upon your favorite teachers and say, “Help Me Believe This!”

Any one of them, all of them.  And we’re sure you know this, you’ve told others this —you don’t have to know HOW to do it. You just have to have a sincere and deep intention.  And then kind of… go have fun.

C: Yeah, I know that. One of the most reliable ways I can get in touch with my open heartedness is I think of the many people who have honored me with their surrender to my wisdom.  And have asked me for help.

And most of them received help yes?

C: Yes.

You are no less worthy

C: I can almost get in touch with willingness to change just in order that I might be more available to more people.

YES.

C: I know there are limitations when I am more stuck.

The use of the word STUCK is not entirely accurate. We would describe to you that you, over the years, have certainly changed, you have certainly made progress. But this is a way you describe yourself, and to you it feels as if the soul progress, the soul unfolding, the awakening process is very slow.

So we would invite you to stop using the word stuck, and just say, “I would like to release more, faster, and if that means I need to forgive my mother, if that means I need to forgive Trump, if that means I need to forgive… I’m willing to do anything that’s real and loving in order to get unstuck.”

You may not be able to say that today. But that’s what we invite you to say. And of course, we won’t even try to describe to you what could happen in your life and in your work as you do these things.

We started you out with a vivid image. Instead of seeing you the way you see yourself now, as a stuck curmudgeon, see yourself as a novice buddha sitting surrounded by everything you could have ever wanted.  With people listening to your words and benefitting from them.

You are that. And it’s right there for you.

The answer to your question about your work is that the way you see yourself and the way you hold that stuck-ness as a default setting is the first thing that has to change.

You could market and market and market and as long as you hold that stuck energy feeling, you won’t have much more success than you have now. This is the answer that is relevant today.

If you were really facing Death how much do you want to take with you?  How much do you think God or the Universe or Karma requires you to take with you? Think about those things.   And then, if you choose, do it now, instead of at whatever time you choose to lay your body down.

 

Out of the Rut, Leaving a Trail of Light

Conversations with Yeshua.  This is channeled material, edited minimally for clarity only.  It is personal information given to me and my husband Stan, but relevant to many situations and this is one I am asked to share with the world. From a conversation with a client.  

Client:  I have experienced a great deal of sense of separation and I’ve come to understand that it is separation not only from God but separation from my Self. I’ve had glimpses of not feeling that so much, but I still don’t know how to progress in the right direction of my Self or God. I’m asking for direction or teachings or practices that would help me to feel more connected with my Self and with God.

A very beautiful question. We hear the depth and clarity in the question.

C. There’s a lot of pain in that experience.

Yes, we understand that.

So we are willing to talk around this for a little bit, but the simplest answer is one that you already know and that you find difficult to live. Nevertheless we’ll start there and perhaps we’ll find additional guidance that will help.

The experiences you have had are real, in the human sense, and the pain is real… to the extent that the experiences have been real. But all experiences arrive in this present moment. If you don’t retell or rewind and replay the stories, you are safe and connected.

It’s as if the channel is stuck in a groove, a rut of going back to these stories of isolation and separation and aloneness. And injustice. When the channel keeps going back there you replay the pain, renew the pain. But the You that is now in this moment is not so disconnected as those stories are. For a variety of reasons.

You are sharing with others in your work numerous ways you know to be with yourself to experience life. The moments of sitting at a campfire and watching it are a connection with Self and a connection with both the non-physical world and the physical world. In that moment you are present. In that moment you don’t experience aloneness.

The groove of isolation was worn deep through many lifetimes of this. You have brought those experiences into this lifetime deliberately to bring them into consciousness, and heal them.

And in your healing you have gifts for others. Because many people experience it. Many people may not have gone as deep into the aloneness as you did, but they know what it is and they fear it. Your poems are like nuggets of pain wrapped in beauty that you can give to the world, that loosens the grip of that pain for others.

You are reasonably compassionate with yourself. But what is needed is if you can pull yourself into the Light, pull yourself into your own consciousness. Just like an addict who has struggled repeatedly, or a slave who has gone through many lifetimes as a slave, or someone who was brutally put to death – you have a deep groove, you have experienced many lifetimes of isolation and loneliness.

Now you are here, in this lifetime with tools, education, awareness and circles of comfort — resources to find your way out and in so doing leave a trail of light for others to follow.

Heart of Light by Adam C Johnson

So as you talk to yourself about all of this — if you say “there’s something wrong with the world, there’s something wrong with me that I had to experience so much desperate loneliness” then that’s part of continuing to make that groove deep. But if you say, “there are mysteries about being human on this planet and somehow I experience a lot of aloneness. But here I am, in a lifetime of healing and empowerment from that, and the more that I remind myself of that, the more that grip loosens, and the more nuggets and tools I have to help others as well.”

If you say that, it’s a different story, it doesn’t deny your pain. But it gives you a different story and a different meaning to it.

C. Well, your image of leaving a trail of light moves me…I feel so humbled that I do see myself doing that. And so grateful that I’m well enough to do that. But I still haven’t found a whole lot of relief in my own consciousness. There’s still just a lot of pain, a lot of loneliness, not very much companionship, not very much love and I’m just in a lot of fear. And I don’t .. I’m not very good at comforting all that.

What we would say to that specifically is that there are many physical circumstances for humans on this planet that seem to create suffering, and the suffering seems inevitable. When the pain comes and you say “I’m so alone, I don’t have companions, I don’t have a woman that I want,” and you want to say that to yourself because it seems true. And what we will tell you is that as difficult as it sounds, that the answer is… you can speak back to That Voice – and say “I do have friends. I do have people who love me. I don’t have so many friends or I don’t have someone to live with, but I do have people.”

It’s almost as if That Voice is a bully in your psyche, in your Self. And it’s up to you, the Conscious One, to respond with whatever measure of truth you can generate and believe. We know there’s a voice in you that’s screaming “But that won’t help!” and we’re saying that after you do that — respond — for awhile, you’ll realize that you do have more of what your bully was trying to tell you you had none of. And we say — That’s Not Nothing.

That is a way to improve (as Abraham says), to improve your vibration. With yourself you must be sensitive to the fact that you will fail if you say to yourself “I do have the ideal woman. She’s in my life and I’m married to her…” you will fail at that. Because you are not ready to believe it.

But if you instead speak back to That Bullying, Intimidating Voice that says, “You’re always alone. You don’t have anybody. You’re a loser,” and if you say, “No I do have friends. I have my buddy that I can call most anytime. I have G. I have T. I have my Circle.”

Declare the truth about what you do have, as a shield against the accusations, and your energy of being loved will expand. Your energy of being Loved and being part of a community, however small, is ready to grow. But you have to help it grow.

The voices from the pain of the past, the Pain Body, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, wants you to hurt more and forever. And the You that is YOU has to talk back to that voice and to notice what you have, and act on what you have. And what you have will flourish. We won’t try to tell you what could happen or under what timing, but anything that you lovingly tend… flourishes.

C I hear that.

We understand how diabolically tempting these stories of pain are. But we also know that you have a great deal of wisdom. It’s almost like you have to see those stories as the Pain Body, you have to see that Voice as the Devil that Sits on the Shoulder. You have to find your own way that makes sense to you to respond back.

Lest you feel too challenged by that, know that anyone wanting a physical healing has to do the same thing. Anyone who may be imprisoned has to do the same thing. Anyone who may be desperately poor has to do the same thing.

There are many conditions of lack or limitation to which this is the core answer. Sometimes there are people who are successful in saying “yes, I have the woman of my dreams, she’s here,” and in 2-3 weeks she appears.

But for most people the “all or nothing leap of faith” doesn’t work in chronic situations, and instead there’s this gentle slope: first, “I can believe I’m safe. I can believe there are people who love me. I can believe that there are people I can call when I need to.” Then, “I can believe that I have a whole set of activities, which I can write down, to do, to comfort myself when I feel this aloneness.”

You have to believe it until you’ve created this Swirl of Love and Light and Stardust and Connection around you and then it can begin to grow.

We’re showing an image of you, literally in your living room, swirling, twirling with sparkles around you, of the Light and Joy, of Energy, of Intention.

This Swirl is made up both of people who love you, but also of your own sense that you have tools, you have connections.

We hope you hear that not as an indictment of any sort but as a description.

One more image… you have a garden. To some degree you just leave it alone and it does what it does. Think of your favorite plants, perhaps a couple of heirloom tomatoes. One of them you go out and you love. You tell it how beautiful it is and how much you enjoy it and you lapse into paroxysms of delight when it gives you a tomato. The other one you go out and cry to, and tell it how sad you are that it’s not growing very well.

You can say “But I want More, and I want it bigger!” And we understand that, that’s legitimate. But anything will flourish more under gratitude than it will under lack.

Channeling from 6-17-17

The End of the World. And Beyond

Course in Miracles quote

I know there are many elated with the election results.  But most in my circles are despairing.  Or fearful.  Or both.

There’s an End of the World feeling.   We – naively – thought the world was slowly becoming a better place.   And suddenly we wake up to the fact that roughly half of our population defines “better” in a stunningly different way:  more angry, defensive. More reactionary.  More hostile and racist.  More anti-minority of every sort.

In my mind I try to grasp… how can this be better?   How can this be “great”?

In the middle of the night on election night, I had seen the direction things were going as I went to bed.  I was trying to sleep anyway, pray and think positive.   No success.

In my semi-awake state, the thought shot through me… “I’ll hear fireworks.  And it will mean Trump has won.”    NO!  I screamed inwardly and rolled over once again.   Sure enough, about 90 wakeful minutes later, I heard the loud boom of fireworks in our suburban neighborhood.  With fear in the pit of my stomach I climbed out of my dark bed (still no sleep) to check my iPhone for the results. Yes, he had passed 270 electoral votes.

Back in bed I sorted through my options… we could move to Canada.  We could move to the country – somehow, somewhere.  I began to sort through friends who might let us move there and build on a piece of their land.   I considered whether I might prefer to die, than to watch the next few months and years unfold.  Maybe the arc of history bends ever toward justice but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to wait for it.

Course in Miracles quoteThe end of the world. My mind was racing with end of the world thoughts and terrors.

But a couple of nights later, with the end-of-the-world cycle still spinning, I remembered I had been here before.   I had experienced events as a personal – or even global – end of the world.    Still, here I was, alive, and up until now, pretty happy.

To be honest, there were several over the course of my lifetime.  Someone close to me had died, and other losses and barriers.

Here is one of my most painful end-of-the-world stories.  After being single almost 10 years, I had married a man I had known only a couple of months.  My children thought he was great, and my friends were happy for me.  He was brilliant, talented, funny, colorful and really loved me.

Two days before the wedding he unexpectedly raged at me and threatened to call it off.  I was a wreck, consulted with a friend, decided to apologize and beg forgiveness.  We married.   That cycle became a pattern.  Within 6 months, under pressure from him, I had sold my home of 18 years and was living in temporary housing with him. I had closed my business and had no income because my customers were farmers, primarily men, and he considered that inappropriate.   By the end of 12 months I was living with emotional violence constantly and was afraid of physical violence.

We were living in a used RV on my business property, on a road travelled by my community daily.  My circumstances were very public for my neighbors to witness.  After weeks of prayer, tears, and a very public exposure – – I left.

I was homeless.  Jobless.  Emotionally devastated and physically sick.  Completely defeated without a clue to my future.

Humiliation was my word.  I was humiliated.  Privately.  Publicly. I took refuge in my mother’s home while she was away for the winter, left lights on 24 hours a day, and cried.

For me, it was an end-of-the-world experience.

I won’t detail the path from there to here, but I will tell you that 15 years later, I owe my joy, my spirituality, my community, my life and my wonderful (current) husband to that end-of-the-world experience.

Without that profound loss I would not have left that rural area.  I would not have met my husband Stan a few years later.  I would not be singing harmony with Stan and my dear friend Judy.  I would not know or be part of Unity and my community here in Kansas City.  Most of what I cherish now is a result of that loss and my moving out and up from there.

On my refrigerator is a faded scrap of paper that I posted in1994.  From A Course in Miracles, it reads:  The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into heaven.  

As I lay in bed fearing the end of the world the first nights after the election, I remembered all my own personal end-of-the-world stories, and how they played out over time.  Then that quote came back to me as well.

The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into heaven. 

As the winner’s victory sunk in, I imagined the next few days, weeks, months, years, and was terrified.  I read news accounts of hate crimes and hate slogans boldly splashed on walls and streets in these few days since the election results.   End-of-the-world.

But then, as my tears continued to fall, I saw other things.  I saw many friends hugging each other through tears in public places.   I saw a woman speak of her mixed race 12 year old grandson waking up terrified of what will happen to him – through her own tears.  I heard another woman speak of her child with cerebral palsy and that in her mind the video of the pres-elect’s ridicule of a handicapped person keeps playing like a bad movie.  More tears.  I heard women encouraging each of us to be where we are emotionally – to feel the despair and the fear and the anger.  I witnessed people wearing safety pins everywhere, before I even understood what they represented.  I heard of one young woman university student wearing a hijab who was verbally accosted and went back to her room fearful.  At that same university, following this incident, an administrative request for volunteers to walk students who felt afraid to class and work was answered by a hundred volunteers.

I read stories of a young man, Derek Black, heir to the white supremacy/white nationalist groups, who publicly left his father’s group and teachings, in favor of diversity and connection.

And so much more.

I woke this morning with joy in my heart.  Not joy that I was pushing myself into, or doing as a conscious spiritual practice.  This joy is the loop based on what I’m seeing in the world and feeling in myself.

I’m going out on a limb here.  If you are, like me, on a conscious spiritual path, and you have been working for, praying for, the world to wake up, to become more loving… if you are on the progressive spiritual side of the spectrum – I offer that (though I could not see this a few days ago), the progressives had to lose to answer this prayer.

The progressives had to lose for the prayer for an awakening world to be answered.

Why?

Because many of the progressives – like me and my friends – are committed to spiritual practices of consciousness, much needed-shadow work, forgiveness, meditation.  In the face of a tremendous loss, we will turn to these tools and hopefully merge them with activism.  For the most part, those of us who “lost” will not take guns or bombs and blow someone or something away.

For humanity to progress, the progressives had to lose, to recommit to the practices that will raise consciousness on the planet.  To do the work that Love must do to make the changes needed.

Perhaps even to give the hard-right the reins and see what they do with them.

My eyes must be changed to see this, but it’s really there.

The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into heaven. 

The Journey from Shame to Accountability

We are just home from a trip to England, where for various reasons, we rented a car and drove across the southern counties.  Yep, on the left side!  I was the navigator, Stan was the driver, but we were both involved in safety, directions, etc.

One thing we noticed is that – except for the time when we had a tire blowout and needed help – we never saw a police car.  None.

As Americans, we are used to the quick braking when we spot a radar trap or cop car on the overpass, or just over the hill.  Where are the cops – or bobbies – in Britain?

Instead we saw road signs with speeds posted just above a camera image.  And “HUMP” signs followed by a very large bump in the road – all over, especially around dangerous areas.

After several days we asked a British friend about the no-traffic-police thing.

He told us that in Britain, the belief is that society is best served when police are building relationships with the community, not “policing” the people – rather assisting the people.   As to traffic and safety, country-wide speed limits apply everywhere except when marked lower speeds.  To enforce the speed limits – rather than radar traps – are a mix of speed “humps” (which absolutely require a driver to slow down or destroy the vehicle), well-marked camera zones, and occasional one lane narrowing where only one driver can pass through at a time.  The opposite driver must wait.

Then there are the famous roundabouts, which, after 30 or 40 of these, actually made sense to us and worked well.  With only one exception, drivers were polite and safe passing through these.

The license plates are twice the size of US plates, yellow with very large black letters and numbers, and placed on front and back.  Easy to read (or photograph) from a distance, when needed.  Tickets are mailed to violators, who are held accountable.

How well do these systems work?  We cannot say for sure, but we experienced courtesy amid fast-moving but not aggressive traffic.  The British traffic system and signage are accountability focused  – not shame-based, with an authority figure watching for us to make mistakes.

Shame researcher and author Brené Brown describes the shame cycle this way:  the incident, then the loop which encompasses denial, rage, punishment, revenge, resentment, numbing, then repeat behaviors.

Nowhere is there accountability in this.

Stan and I have had many discussions the past year or two about the journey from shame to accountability.

Here’s an example:  a 10 year old takes a chunk out of a cake sitting in the kitchen prepared for an event.   If shame is the prevailing family dynamic, there is an accusation by Mom or Dad, denial on his part, more accusations and threats, perhaps eventual punishment for him.  Shame can settle in with thoughts such as “I’m a bad person, a sneak, a cheat.”  With the shame comes resentment and an impulse to alleviate the shame by doing something that “feels good.”   Eat cake?   Other addictive behaviors?   It’s a vicious loop.   Acting out, confrontation, denial, punishment, shame, remorse, resentment, followed by another shame-based acting out.

What’s the way out?

The courage to confront behaviors – within ourselves and others – that are wrong or out of integrity, with courage, backbone, and Light.   Then to hold ourselves and/or others accountable, rather than shaming.

Here’s how the Cake-Theft incident might go with parents committed to accountability:  child takes chunk of cake.  Parent discovers and calls him in.  Did you take the corner of the cake off?  Child denies.

Parent applies pressure with reminder of values – integrity, honesty are more important than lies and escape.  Did you eat the cake?   Parent may also apply Love and Connection with the child.  Child crumbles and admits to doing it.  Parent maintains calm and explains what the purpose of the cake was, and presents problem now – for child to find solution.   Or at least to be part of solution.  There may be consequences as well, but first priority is to solve the issue of what to do about the event the cake was destined for.

Child is left with perhaps a feeling of responsibility, accountability, partnership, and maybe a little appropriate guilt – “I shouldn’t have done that” – that can help resist next temptation.

No shame is applied.  Nothing is said that makes the child feel like a bad person, but merely a person who has made a mistake.

Much of what is destructive in our world is locked in the shame-based loop. Unconscious behaviors and acting out.  Revenge.  Dishonesty.  Denial.  Rage.  Resentment.  Punitive behaviors.  Numbing (so we don’t have to see this loop).  Self-righteousness.

Accountability on the other hand fosters honesty, partnership, integrity, solutions, compassion.   Where needed, protection.

The journey in each of us and our world from Shame to Accountability involves maturity, courage, and clear-seeing.  We must resist the temptation to shame ourselves, and others, and yet, at the same time, hold each other accountable.  Like Britain’s HUMPS and traffic cameras hold drivers accountable.

In ourselves, we must remember to face the consequences of our choices without going into shame.  Then we have all the resources of Love and Light to assist us in finding healing solutions that create peace and harmony within ourselves, and the world.

 

Killing Off the Good Guys – Radical Harmony Food

Antibiotics and Veggies

When I was a child, penicillin was discovered.  Soon it became commonplace.   The words “wonder drug” were used almost interchangeably with antibiotic.

I took my fair share of that pink liquid, mostly for earaches, sometimes for strep throat. It truly seemed wondrous.

I also lived through the DDT era, where DDT was a commonplace insecticide applied all around me, to the fields and crops near my home.  Until Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, and enough people woke up to realize that wonder-chemicals sometimes have a dark side.

Sometimes it’s said, “It ain’t what we don’t know that’s the problem… it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”   So here’s what I’ve been learning about what I thought I knew for sure.

Antibiotics and VeggiesA week ago, I was attacked by a cat which sent me to the ER where I was prescribed a double course of antibiotics to prevent infection. I was grateful for the medication and took it as directed.  But here’s what I know now that I didn’t know a few weeks ago. Because of my recent studies (about food and the microbiome), I was intensely aware of what I was doing to my GOOD bacteria, while I was knocking out the (potential) bad ones.

Talk about collateral damage – that euphemism for “ooops… sorry ‘bout that…”

First – according to a number of sources (verified by Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact) – 80% of the antibiotics created for humans and food animals are fed to food animals.  Most of these are the same drugs.  Some of that 80% may be used for treating illness, but the majority of it is used – get this – to fatten them up.  To cause them to gain weight.

Whoa!   There’s a lot of stuff wrong there… it’s known that resistant super-bugs are developing in response to overuse and misuse of antibiotics.  That’s one issue.   Another is that we are eating meat from animals that were using antibiotics.  A third one is – did you notice? – the animals are fed “preventive doses” of the same medicines we are taking for illnesses – “to fatten them up.”

Second – that antibiotic we take – to treat or prevent infection or illness – kills all our good guys too.  Yep.  It kills off the wonderful bacteria that are digesting our food for us, breaking it down so when it goes into our intestine it’s ready for the next steps, separating the nutrients from the fiber and waste, and creating a healthy nourishment for the body we want.   But wait.  We just killed many of these good guys…ooops?!  Now what?

When it’s necessary to take antibiotics – and I felt it was for me with this cat attack – we deal with it.   So all through the course of the antibiotic I kept eating my probiotics and prebiotics both.  By the end of the 7 days, however, I’d gained 3 pounds, when my weight been very stable before.  And my vision had deteriorated quickly as well.

Evidence?  Or all in my head?  I’m not sure, but I’m eating everything I know to rebuild my microbiome.

Here’s what Dr. Raphael Kellman (MD) says:  “I know it’s challenging to wrap your mind around the idea that there is a whole other ecology within your body, an ecology that is not human but nevertheless an essential part of you as well as a crucial aspect of your health.  

“And yet, it’s true. The health of your microbiome determines the quality of YOUR health, and without your microbiome you couldn’t survive.  In fact, without your microbiome you would no longer be you, just as you would no longer be you without your brain or your heart.” 

(From The Microbiome Diet, by Dr. Raphael Kellman MD)

So what to do?   Double – no, quadruple – your vegetable intake.   Eliminate all processed/packaged/pre-made foods (make your own).  Get rid of sugars (except in fruit) and, for the most part, get rid of grains.  (Study it – then conduct your own lab experiments with your body – you’ll see why.)  Then add a lot of fermented vegetables and other foods.

Oh, and avoid antibiotics as much as possible. Educate yourself.

It’s worth it to work with, instead of against, this amazing organ/organism that is part of who you are.   The microbiome.

Radical Harmony – Gut Garden

I have a friend who is nursing her wounds, today, from taking her positive living, inspirational blog into the realm of politics-with-humor, yesterday.   Her feel-good readers didn’t all feel good about what she wrote and let her know with a barrage of criticism.   She has written a warm and candid response and will go on to write another day.  Read Pam Grout’s Blog here

But, in her actions, she has inspired me to do what Spirit has been nudging me to do for quite some time now – to use my platform, Radical Harmony, to write about food.

Yes.  Food.  Believe me, it’s every bit as controversial as politics and a lot more up close and personal.

But with Pam as Chief Role Model and Inspirer, here I go.

I’ve had a health issue – double vision –  that was originally infrequent, but the last 3-4 years has become nearly constant, with brief remissions.  I have long felt it had to do with my eating, and with stress – as well as the metaphysical side:  “What are you not willing to look at?”  Or more accurately, “Are you seeing two worlds, instead of One?”   or something….

My desire to heal completely from this is passionate.  Yes, I’ve had the MRI (nothing), the blood tests (nothing of consequence) and regular doctors shaking their heads.

Fast forward.  About 6 weeks ago, I declared that I was going to follow my intuition and learn all I could learn about my gut and what is going on down there.  I ordered books from Amazon and from my library and began to read, and slowly, implement what I’m learning.

My eyes got better, fast.  And other symptoms too – like small painful cracks in my fingertip skin.     And then, they got worse.  But, this time, more predictable.  I’m keeping records of what I’m experiencing and of the way I’m eating.

The story is too long for here, but here’s the nugget:  in your gut – intestine – live trillions of microscopic bacteria which digest your food, govern your appetite, influence your mood, and so much more.

It’s called the MicroBiome.  By numbers and by influence, it is way more powerful than “you.”   And yet, we don’t even know it’s there, much less learn how to manage it well so that we can live happy healthy lives.

Author and MD Dr. Raphael Kellman likens it to Dr. Seuss’s “Who-ville,” and himself to Horton, who can “hear” this tiny world (Remember Horton Hears a Who?).  My husband Stan (Slaughter) is a long-time compost/soil educator and he knows very well the secret microscopic world of the soil – from which our plants – our food – get their nutrients, or not.   So he and I have lively discussions about what will best benefit our personal Gut Gardens.

Know what else?  This huge-tiny world of bacteria can change entirely within hours – depending on what you are feeding them.  Each little guy (bacteria) may have a life-span of only 20 minutes.  So when you feed the “good guys” you get more of them reproducing more buddies like themselves.  When you feed the “bad guys” – the ones who produce inflammation and allergic responses – they also multiply, and then demand more of the foods they want you to eat.   Yes, they influence our appetites.

So to those who say “I can eat anything!” I say, “Fine! You and your microbiome are doing well – at the moment.  Enjoy.”   But to anyone listening, I say… omg.  This is an astonishing and powerful world within… a world that can produce healing – or disease.

Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut.”  He must have known something about the microbiome.

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

We are, as a culture, so caught up in a myth that we cannot see it, and here it is again, this week, following the Paris massacres.

That myth is the Myth of Redemptive Violence* – that somehow, by offering violence back in the face of violence, everything turns out well – that goodness triumphs and everything is safe.

Our movies are filled with this myth, our sci-fi books, and certainly our news media and many video games.

The myth goes like this:  in the face of violence, or hatred, or aggression, we respond with GREATER violence, hatred and aggression – and we win.

Blindfold Muslim Hug ParisBut this is not football or even hockey. This is our world.  And any public school classroom teacher with an ounce of wisdom has learned this:  in the face of violence and provocation, a violent response (even if it wins for the moment) is almost sure to provoke greater violence in the future.

In fact, basic psychology can predict that the original perpetrator of the violence is actually HOPING for a serious push-back.

Any parent or teacher who’s ever tried to use wisdom in being with young people knows this.

So why are our international leaders so full-throttle-ahead to do what any smart junior high teacher would resist doing?

Here we come to the Myth of Redemptive Violence.  Somehow, by offering violence back in the face of violence, everything turns out well. The problem is, it doesn’t work.  Ever.  Even in the case of the “good guys” winning, the hatred simply goes underground and pops back up a few years later, with more resentment, more recruits (easy to recruit after the violent push-back), and more sophisticated tactics.

The worst part is that much of this Revenge-Politics-Warfare is justified in the name of Christianity.

Are you kidding me?

Jesus taught the opposite of Redemptive Violence.  His very death was a demonstration of non-resistance, of love and forgiveness overcoming violence.

The redemption Jesus taught was love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Even surrender in some circumstances.

I’m not a foreign policy expert and I don’t know the right response.  But I wonder – how would things play out if there were no declarations of “war to end all wars,” no battle cries?  What if there were prayer circles everywhere for those lost and their loved ones?  What if those in power gave up the rhetoric, but quietly used all channels available to them to track down the actual persons – the individuals and the group – responsible for the killings to bring them to justice?  What if there were no bombing of nations to cause civilians to cower and eventually hate the bombers – and then join the terrorists?  What if there were think tanks of the most brilliant and loving people on the planet called together to break the hold that terrorism has on the planet?  What if startling and outrageous loving actions were put into place to shake the grip of the terrorists?  What if multi-cultural and multi-faith groups stepped up with plans to work locally on reducing the power of terrorism?

A little film came across my Facebook feed today.   A Muslim man stood blindfolded in the Place de la Republique in Paris.   At his feet are two signs, saying:  “I’m a Muslim, but I’m told that I’m a terrorist.”  The second sign reads, “I trust you, do you trust me?  If YES, HUG ME.”  Many Parisians did, often with tears. He stayed until dusk, when he spoke, saying “A terrorist is … someone willing to kill another human being over nothing.  A Muslim would never do that.  Our religion forbids it.”    (Search for BLINDFOLD MUSLIM HUG if you want to see it)

We live in a time when people of many religions are using the mask of religion to justify murder.  It’s time to recognize this dynamic for what it is.  It’s time to call the terrorists “murderers” and nothing more. It’s time to slow down our reactive fury and grief.  It’s time to consider wisdom in our response.

Here is a young man who did just that – Antoine Leiris’, who lost his wife and mother of his son that night in Paris.   This is what greater wisdom looks like.   Here’s a reading of the letter he posted on Facebook just a day or two after the massacre:  http://on.aol.ca/video/i-won-t-give-you-the-gift-of-hating-you-519258337    This is one way to break the cycle of never-ending violence.

*Thanks to the Reverend Sallye Taylor for speaking on the topic of the Myth of Redemptive Violence.

What do you need to do to take care of yourself? #1

“What do you need to do to take care of yourself?”

This powerful and lovely question was asked of me so many times by my favorite therapist ever, Norma.  It always hit me like a warm and bracing hug.   Hug“Oh!”  My mind would reset from the panic state I was in to a calming one of self-care. “Uhmmm…. maybe I could write in my journal..”     

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a selfish question, but rather, a reflection of self-love.  Which by the way, is absolutely essential as a prerequisite to loving others.

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking on the phone with a woman friend who is suffering severe heartbreak at the moment.  Once I was there (twice actually if I’m honest), the first time for a number of years.   Wow… you’d think I would have known better, but… !

I listened, she talked, then she listened, I talked.  I tried to give her a map through the heartache, while still being compassionate with her grief.

It seems to me that, in the case of love lost (a relationship), ended due to one party’s declaration that it’s not right for them, there are often two dynamics at work to create intense pain.

Grief – the honest, authentic feeling of missing the person, the activities shared, the hugs, the laughter.  While you can certainly numb the pain of grief (alcohol, brownies, pizza, pot… another quick relationship/sex), the only way to clear it from your life is to go through it, tears and all.

At one time in my life I had avoided feeling the pain of rejection for so long that when I finally determined to stand in the fire and feel it I was afraid I would die from crying.  No kidding.  (You’re thinking I was in my teens? .. nope – in my mid-40’s if you’re wondering.)

I had done enough 12 step work, some therapy, and lots of reading about co-dependency to realize I had to stop and let the grief catch up to me.  To NOT numb myself.  To allow all the past rejections and hurts to catch up as well, roll them all into one to grieve.

I cried off and on for weeks. I wrote in my journal, I cried to God.  I called a couple of friends.  But I didn’t start a new relationship, distract myself with food or sex, or start drinking.

And I noticed something. I didn’t die from it.

I grew stronger.  Through standing in the pain and the grief, I grew stronger.

That gave me courage.  And the courage lessened my fear. Maybe it was just tears and pain, maybe it wouldn’t kill me.

I realized I could hold my own Irish wake – let myself keen and wail for what I’d lost.

But I had to pay attention to the second dynamic as well:  Story.

I like stories. Stories can be healing, inspirational, connective. But they can also be deadly and limiting if you are caught up in a Disempowering Storyline.

For example, in the case of love lost, here’s a common storyline:  I drove him away!  I’ll never have anyone love me like he did.  I’ll be alone the rest of my life.  He was the perfect man and I screwed it up.   I’m a complete loser and I can never get this right. 

These stories and similar ones create the second, truly paralyzing dynamic that operates in a love-lost situation.

Unlike grief, which should be allowed to express fully in safe and supportive environments, these stories need to be outed and confronted.

Author Byron Katie’s line of questions are one of many powerful ways to confront the statements your mind is making: “I drove him away!”    Is that true?  Where would you be without that statement?  

Journaling the untruths, the stories you are telling yourself, then praying your way to a different perception, or talking back to that voice of despair, all are empowering ways to confront this Disempowering Storyline.

Try this on.  What if you said to yourself:  “I really really miss him.  But it’s true we weren’t a totally great fit in some areas.  I’m going to practice loving myself so well I will be ready for the right partner to come along before long.  I’m going to do my work and strengthen myself, find ways to love my self and my life. I refuse to tell myself stories of scarcity about partners.  The right person and I will find each other!”   

A cornerstone of self-care and self-love is knowing yourself and what you need.  In the case of love-lost, it might be mourning, and it might be telling yourself a new story.

What do you need to do to take care of yourself?