Looking at the Man Behind the Curtain

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    I was saddened this afternoon to see the report of the death of actor,  Philip Seymour Hoffman. According to early reports,  his death was “another drug overdose.” That is not inaccurate according to the police  who report that he was found with the needle still stuck in his arm. I have seen the comments on Facebook. Just another druggie. ANOTHER DRUG OVERDOSE.

   And I wonder….is THAT going to be the thing he will be remembered for? Like John Belushi? Janis Joplin? Elvis Presley? Will his last “gift” to us be something that we will label a failure? Something we will label of minimal importance because “he was another addict?” Will we really just brush this off as a matter of drug abuse?

Can we not slow down a bit, and contemplate what might have put him in the position of being a drug user? What was he like as a man? What did he have to deal with? I mean besides the expectation that all of us put upon actors to be better than their last role; on athletes to be better than their last game; on each other to be what WE expect of each other. I think, for people in the public eye, that it is probably a very narrow ledge to walk between maintaining your sanity and shoving a needle in your arm, and I am fairly certain that those of us who live our lives watching others walk that ledge…..walk our own ledge.

It is time for us to WAKE up. To see the “man behind the curtain.” To know that those who die from self inflicted drug abuse, suicide, fast cars, whatever…are human beings. Who by their very inherent  HUMANITY…..deserve respect and some measure of understanding.  Everyday, people….famous or not….far away or next door…everyday there is suffering disguised as drug abuse, physical abuse, isolation, alcoholism, and on and on and on.

Maybe its time for each of us to take a good look at ourselves. Because one day….it could be you. (Or me.) And I promise….to grieve for you…and to remember you were HUMAN.

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Happy Awakening!

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     This time of year has always been difficult for me.  (Generally the holiday season is one where I make Ebenezer Scrooge look  “happy.”) For so many reasons, but the main things that break my heart at this time of year is losing my grandmother on Christmas eve almost 20 years ago, and my mother on New Years day 22 years ago. Last night was horrible. I just couldn’t get myself up out of that self pitying hole. 

    But God granted me some grace this morning. As I was lamenting in my journal about not having time to work our (moms and mine) relationship out, this thought came crawling through my consciousness: “Here’s the deal though, Jerene. In the eternal realm, it is already worked out. It was worked out before it even happened.” It was as if a lightening bolt had struck me. Of course! That is how the game of “life” is played.  The things of this world hurt, cause us grief,  damage our spirits….but we are only IN this world…we are not of the world. 

    My goal is to keep this thought. To hold it as the precious gift of grace that it is. And to face the New Year with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

Many blessings to you through this New  Year!

Learning Impermanence and Non-attachment

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    As part of my spiritual journey, I really wanted to learn the lessons of non-attachment and of impermanence. Things change. Life IS change, and in order for us to enjoy our lives, it is necessary to learn to let go of things. This is something that I have had a real difficult time learning. I am getting better, but I still wanted to do something that really demonstrated that I was learning to let go.  So, over the course of a couple of mornings, I created a piece of art. 

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This morning, I destroyed that piece of art and set fire to it.

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I burned some sage at the same time, to cleanse the energy of the room, because I thought it would be amazingly difficult to let go of something I had created, and it was. But I also experienced a sense of freedom….knowing that I would not be bound to this thing, even though it was something I had created. I may draw other things….and some of them may even be quite similar….but there will NEVER be this one piece again. And surprisingly….I am ok with that….

 

There is a time….

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There is a time….

At night…when I lay myself down…
  and burrow deep within my blankets….
when my legs stop moving restlessly…..
     and my entire body relaxes and becomes still,
When the burdens of my heart are lifted…
     and my mind goes to my “dream”….
That peace and contentment prevail…
     as I drift to sleep, cradled in the palm of Your hand…jd 12/04/13

What do you Want? (for Christmas???)

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So, lately I have had two questions on my mind. “What do you want?” and “What can I do to make the holidays more palpable to me?” The first question comes as I am trying to decide what it is exactly that I want to accomplish before I leave this mortal plane, and the second question comes because the holidays have come to mean NOTHING to me. I dread their appearance. I’m already sick of christmas music. How can I make this time of the year more enjoyable?

The answer came to me this morning…..in the form of a new question.  That small voice…(which I refer to as God in my head) asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” And I had an answer for Him. (I hope I can use words to express this, because it came to me in a series of images.)

“What do you WANT for Christmas?” He asked.

I want…

….to be mortally afraid of the angel coming to me and bringing me the news that I am going to go through something that will sunder my soul….

….to be so afraid when he does come that I cannot bear to look at him, and I hang my head in fear and disbelief. Why would I, a poor, ignorant teenage girl be chosen to do something so grand?

….to feel my iron will kick in and acquiesce to the things the angel told me would happen, knowing that it will take every bit of strength I have…

….to have my heart ripped apart when my betrothed screams at me and asks me how I could be so unfaithful….and then to have my heart soothed when he tells me that he, too was visited by the angel and knows that I am true…

I want

….every person in my family and community to doubt me and make fun of me. Angels? visiting a poor ignorant girl? Stupider than what we thought if she thinks we will believe God did that…

….to have to travel many miles in my last month of pregnancy on the back of a mule to pay taxes to those who would oppress us…

…to rest…anywhere….even that stable…to have my baby amidst the very animals that my religion has deemed unclean…

I want

…my body to be battered and bruised and torn to bring forth my son…my baby…so beautiful…

…him to suckle at my breast as I gaze down at him in wonder….

…my heart to break as I nurse him in the shadow of a cross…

I want to feel this awe again. ..this knowledge that it isn’t about pretty colored lights, and great deals. That the ONLY “Black Friday” in this season will be the one that happens when that baby becomes a man…and dies between two thieves.

I want to fall on my knees in tears…and awe…and wonder…that such a thing could happen to US ALL.

That’s what I want for Christmas….

I am Free

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     I am participating in the latest 21 Day Meditation Challenge from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey called “Desire and Destiny.”  This is not the first time I have participated in one of these, but as of this morning (Day 7) I may call this one the most life changing. 

     This morning, Deepak was guiding the meditation and gently getting us to examine the things that stand in our way of achieving our dreams.  Ah-ha! moment number 1 came when he asked “What are you really afraid of?” In my meditative state, the phrase “failure” entered my mind, and tears began to leak from my eyes, because I also realized it was just so much more than that. I put aside that thought process though, and brought myself back to my breath with the day’s mantra and continued on with the meditation.

     Afterwards, I got out my journal to do my morning pages and went back to the thought I had put aside. What I fear, failure, is only symptomatic of the real problem, which is a general feeling of inadequacy and worthlessness. My fear is that I will fail and THEY will be right. THEY being defined not just as my parents, but everyone who ever told me I wasn’t good enough…everyone who made me feel worthless….everyone who told me that I would never succeed…everyone who offered any kind of negative evaluation instead of words of encouragement….everyone who DIDN’T say…you can do it!

   And that is when I had my 2nd “AH-HA!” moment. What I was feeling…is not new…not unique…but I think  that we all experience in our lives a general lack of acceptance of who we really are. All of us, myself included, have expectations of the people around us. We constantly make judgements even when we outwardly proclaim that we are non-judgemental. What if we just dropped all that bullshit?

    What if we acknowledge that each of us…..in our most genuine authentic form….are all divinely innocent and created from a God who created us in HIS perfect image? Our inner-core of “godness” is our most authentic form, and shouldn’t we look for that in those around us? Accept them for that? Those things that we judge as “wrong” or “bad” or perhaps just “different” are really just those things of us that are human choices that we made as humans? That doesn’t change our inner core…who we are at our most authentic selves. 

   What if we started offering to each other words of kindness and encouragement? You can do it! You will make it through this. You are deeply loved and accepted.

   That just gave me goosebumps…because we each hold…within ourselves…the power to change things….

  We can do it!

Early morning thoughts…

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     I have been participating in the current 21 day meditation challenge by Deepak Chopra w/Oprah Winfrey. (More info about that here.) I find that the stillness of meditation opens the floodgates of my creative energy. Today’s meditation is entitled “Confident Me”, and in the space before the actual meditation, Dr. Chopra talks about how “..it is the nature of the sun to shine…it is the nature of stars to sparkle…” to encourage us to consider what  is the nature of humans. Is it our nature to believe that we are limited in the manner of our personal growth, or is it our nature to grow beyond our belief of ourselves? And how do we come to hold these beliefs about ourselves?

     This morning, after I completed the meditation, and did my morning pages, I listened to the meditation for a second time during my artwork time.  Somewhere within that 20 minute period, I came to a subtle knowing. I became an artist the day that my desire to create grew stronger than my belief that I was incapable of it. That “knowing” is no small thing for me. Without my ego even realizing it, I transcended the strong belief that I was not creative.( And,I have even said….that when God created Adam and breathed his own breath into him, that He (God) breathed creativity into all of us.  Today, within my own psyche, I have proof of that.)

    I believe that we have the power within us (God-power) to be whatever it is that we desire to be, but we have to BELIEVE it. 

 

Poems, Prayers, and Promises….(A very personal take)

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One Day….
     She Realized….
That she had been standing….
    Facing her Biggest fear
and had found
     Her greatest GIFT.–jd 11/08/13

      It happens like that sometimes. The changing of perspective. As a very young girl, I remember being alone. (I spent a LOT of time alone.) And as I grew up and became a woman, the being alone became my biggest fear. I didn’t want to live alone. I didn’t want to sleep alone.  I didn’t (don’t) want to DIE alone (still working on that one.) But here is the thing….

Being alone is a GIFT. 

     As I was journaling this morning, I realized that all of my life I have longed for love, and what I didn’t understand until today, is that….that longing for love outside of myself was never going to be satisfying.  Within me there is a well of love that is so deep, and so giving and so nurturing, yet I built a wall between it and myself hoping against hope that someone would come along who could tear that wall down and bring that love to me. I have looked at that love and thought that it was totally inaccessible to me.  

    Subconsciously, I have been removing pieces of that wall. Healing my sore places. Letting go of anger, guilt, and shame. (Which I don’t mind telling you is a CRUSHING burden to carry.) Moving aside those things that have kept me on the “outside” of that love. 

     But today…..today I tasted that love….

Observation on Affirmations….

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     For quite sometime now, I have been listing some daily affirmations in my morning pages. These are generally traits or abilities that I  wish to see in myself, or already see and want to continue to take note of.  I have to say, that this has become one of the biggest blessings in my life.

And here is the reason why….

    Once I began to see these traits in myself, it was easier to recognize them in others.  Just as it is when we judge others negatively because we recognize that negative thing in ourselves FIRST, it is the same when we judge others positively. Example: One of my affirmations is, “I am a divine innocent.” This means that at my very core, I recognize that my holiness is perfection and comes from God.  When I “see” this in myself…I recognize that we are ALL divinely innocent at our cores. That part of us that is not, comes from our humanity. This realization opens the door to tolerance and forgiveness, not just for ourselves, but to everyone you encounter.

    I believe that the world truly is a mirror. That the things we see in others we know in ourselves FIRST….be it good or bad. Being able to cultivate an attitude of tolerance and forgiveness, is one way to effect change in our world. For me…it has changed my world in a big way. I am not as angry as I have been in my life…I can let go of things easier…and I can BE happy.

 

Clarity

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     There are times, when I swear the older I have gotten, the more I  am bewildered by the things. Quite often during my prayer and meditation time, I will ask God “why???” and it seems like He ignores me.  Then…out of the blue….comes a moment of utter clarity.

   On my way home from work today, I was singing a song of worship, and feeling so close to God. The words of the song were touching that tender place in my heart and a couple of tears had slipped down my cheeks. My thoughts were drawn to my father, and how he often told me that I needed to “Stop wearing my heart on my sleeve,” and how that was just totally beyond my capabilities. I recalled a time that I was sitting with my mom and dad at their dining room table, and Dad was trying to relate an incident that he had heard  about of a woman who had changed her life from one of addiction to an intensely spiritual life. In the middle of telling us the story, Dad was overcome by tears and had to stop for a moment to collect himself. That scene always sort of puzzled me because Dad did not know the lady who changed her life. I chalked it up as him being half hungover, which he was most days.

     But I know now. I know why he wept. He wept because he was touched by the intensely beautiful, and holy story of a woman who at rock bottom reached for God and He helped her up.  And that is when my own moment of clarity struck me. When my father was telling me not to “wear my heart on my sleeve,” he wasn’t being mean or embarrassed by my emotions, he was trying to toughen me up, because HE knew intimately what it was like to wear  your heart on your sleeve. Knowing the things that I know now about his family when he was a child, I can see how “toughening up” would be the thing to do to keep  yourself from being hurt.

     I don’t think we recognize traits in others, that we haven’t experienced in ourselves. I wish I had understood this sooner. I have always felt deeply, and I am proud of that. I am not a shallow person. I have hurt for myself and for others MUCHLY during my life, yet along with that hurt, I have known great joy and love. Balanced.

    There is a darkness in me…in all of us, I believe. Only some of us are willing to shove that darkness out and put it in the light. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light….and for THAT I am extremely grateful….