Monday, October 22, 2007

The Absence of Balance is Like Standing on the Outside but Thinking I am in

Do opposites really exist? Love and fear are called opposites, but isn't fear really the absence of love? As chaos is the absence of order. And darkness is the absence of light.

Black and white are sometimes referred to as opposites. But since black absorbs all color, and white reflects all color, at what point are they separated from each other?

It can be debated that all things deemed as
opposites are really only separated by fine blurry lines, volume or perception. Like the opposite of quiet is not loud; quiet is loud with the volume turned down. The fine line between love and hate varies depending on the root of the 'hate;" whether it is fear based or based on an emotional perception.

Balance is the key to understanding all of this. I have been struggling all my life to achieve balance. For my grandma who used to say to me, "everything in moderation," she understood balance, and applied it to the best of her ability, even despite to her difficult circumstances. I, on the other hand, have always been an 'all or nothing' kind of person. Feast or famine. Anything but balanced in yin yang harmony. But, as I come to see that opposites do not really exist, I also see that I have been creating the drama of the extremes in my life.

I have been made more aware of this as I have come to recognize one of my greatest character flaws; indulgence. I began to see myself indulging in everything from tears to fun to work to sleep to . . . ironically enough: the act of indulgence itself.

After sometime beating myself up over my greatest flaw and seeing that I was now indulging myself in self-reflection and self-awareness . . . I laughed. I could only laugh. But not too much.

Now, I think I have gained a better understanding about indulgence. Indulgence is the act of attempting to achieve Zen . . . the Zen state . . . but turning the volume up full blast; the act of absorbing something - as black absorbs all color but does not reflect or give back in an equal-balanced exchange of energies. Zen is becoming one with something - as white becomes one with all colors, reflects all colors, and becomes so balanced with all colors that it appears to be no color at all - nothing.

So, yesterday morning while I was having coffee at a friend's home on the lake, I sat quietly alone (she was sleeping) staring at the water with a heart-full of gratitude; gratitude for my friends and family, my health, for life, for the water. The brilliant morning sun sparkled radiantly on the soft wake of a sailboat. I sat. I sat. I sat. The water . . . water . . . water . . . until the transient bursts of light became too intense for my eyes. But even so, I did not want to look away. The sight was so amazing and hypnotizing. It was at that moment of my hesitation - my resistance - when I knew my state of Zen had passed. I got up and walked away.

Potions, lotions and magic charms: Take this exact moment, this very second, this breath and this heartbeat. . . to become completely and absolutely present in yourSelf.

This I now know:
Resistance is a sign that either the state of Zen has passed or it is just beyond the next breath.

He said / She said:
“Children are natural Zen masters; their world is brand new in each and every moment.” John Bradshaw

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Living, Breathing Walking the Labyrinth

I have always been a spiritual being for as long as I can remember - far back in my childhood years - always searching for the answers to life's (and death's) greatest mysteries, reading and learning about other religions and belief systems . . . always walking the spiritual Labyrinth - checking out the endless possibilities, sometimes getting lost or stranded along the way.
I wouldn't have done it any other way. I would have been bored stiff on the straight and narrow path . . . I would have been smothered on the well traveled roads. I loved the curves, the twists, the secret niches within the Labyrinth's ancient design. So many choices - all branching from and
to one singular point of origin.
But, wherever my curiosities, my hungers, my thirsts have taken me, and though I converted to Greek Orthodoxy years ago, a part of me always remained rooted in the soil of Catholicism. My mother planted that seed (more like a bulb) and nurtured it - so like a perennial flower, a rose, I kept coming back each year . . . and all the pruning back I did on myself - thinking I was cutting off old to start anew - aided in more and more roses budding and blooming the following spring.
I am still an open-hearted and thirsty spiritual soul . . . not as much of a devout religious woman as I was (while raising my children) nor am I a new ager . . . I am somewhere in between the two. I know what I know deep inside. I now know there are no right or wrong paths - no right or wrong religions or belief systems . . . and I know there is one and only one point of origin. One creator. One God . . . who goes by many different names; wears many different faces; speaks in many different tongues, and has a great sense of humor. There is no great race to reach the answers at the end. We can take as long as we want. We can take the most difficult of paths if we choose.
We can choose - and that's the most beautiful of our gifts.
But, getting back to my personal roots in Catholicism: I was named (my middle name) after Saint Therese of Lisieux - the "Little Flower." When I was a little girl, my mom gave me an icon of St. Therese; her image, superimposed on an old transverse piece of a tree trunk - the bark around it like a frame. I have had it with me through all of my moves and my travels. It is so very special to me not only because it is such an old family piece and it is the likeness of my Patron Saint . . . but also it once belonged to my mom.
Over the years I have had endless conversations with Saint Therese. We had shared many things in common - our youth (she died, a Carmelite Nun, at the young age of 24 so she will always be a "young" saint in the church), our religion, our love for Jesus, and writing (she was also a writer and poet).
I talk to her more like a sister, a friend, for I have never really felt I needed to "go through" another to talk to God. I talk to God directly. But, St. Therese gives me great advice and has helped me through much of the turmoil in my life.

The other night, I dreamed that a messenger came to tell me that a single rose had been delivered to me. This has great meaning to me, as St. Therese's 'signature' is the rose. She has said, "I will spend my heaven doing good on Earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."
I actually forgot about the dream until I was journaling before bed last night. Then the light bulb went on in my heart . . . things - more signs - became apparently clearer.
With the upheaval of my life that exploded in my face on (Monday) October 1 . . . it had slipped my conscious mind that October 1 is the Feast Day / Memorial of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Her life is remembered and celebrated - my life was suddenly remembered . . . the life I had not been living.
I packed up my icon of St. Therese yesterday. I put it in a box labeled, "special." The icon now serves to remind me that I need to love mySelf, above all else. I need never put mySelf in a situation where love is absent or distorted. My icon now has a stain of wax across it - an accident, perhaps, when 'he' slammed my lit candle down to extinguish it in his 'not so gentle' ways. I left some of the wax alone - again, a reminder - and how appropriate that St. Therese will now and forever be the image of Self-love for me. October is the month she is remembered in more ways than one. October is the month I begin my new LIFE. And October is also the month for domestic violence awareness.

Potions, Lotions and Magic Charms: Standing meditation - some Tai Chi breathing exercises - stand with feet shoulder width apart - with knees slightly bent - spine straight (as if suspended from a string in the sky) - shoulders down and relaxed - relax into your feet (feeling 'rooted') - arms in front of thighs (out about an inch) - eyes focussed on an object straight ahead -
mouth slightly open - tongue pressed up against the roof of your mouth - focus energy on the area around the navel - find your balance using that point as your center - slowly and deeply breathe in through your nose - as you breath and fill the bottom of your lungs up to the top, allow your arms to be raised effortlessly until they are directly in front of you (shoulder height, perpendicular to your body) - hold for a moment or two (without actually 'holding' your breath) - exhale slowly and completely through your nose from the bottom of your lungs up - allowing your arms to be lowered back down to the position in front of your thighs (but not touching your legs) - let your wrists and elbows lead - let your finger tips be the last to rise and the last to fall as they follow your wrist. Do this three times - feeling grounded - 'rooted' - into your feet while feeling your spine is suspended by a string from the sky - center yourself over your navel area - your center - your dantien. Remain centered, rooted, up-right, relaxed, empty... smooth, flowing movements that become ONE movement rather than many movements. Relaxed awareness.

This is what I now know: Plant a seed too deeply in the ground and it will not be able to reference the sun for upward growth . . . In other words; when I go too deeply within myself, I get lost and can't always find my way out. Sometimes things are what they are. And sometimes trying too to hard to "self-reflect" in a well
that has run dry causes one to fall in . . . i.e. indulging oneself in the "what ifs" of the long ago, far away events of the past.

He said / She said:
The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that ... women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves. Louise Otto

Note: The painting of the rose called: FAITH by artist: Linda Paul

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Dragons . . . My Pets

Name your dragons . . . then slay them.

Kill them?

But I've put names to their faces. They have grown on me. They are a part of me . . . of my life. They have been with me for so long and I don't know how to live without them. They never
leave me alone . . . abandon me.

Over the years, I have learned each of their needs. I feed them. I pay them attention. I keep them safe.

My dragons are my pets.

But, I must move on now. I am packing up my boxes. They have grown too large for boxes, and I can't afford the cost of keeping them any longer. No dragons allowed where I am going. No dragons allowed.

I feel a sadness. I feel an emptiness. I feel afraid to go on without them.

What will become of me without them?
What will I become without them?
How will I recognize myself anymore?
Who will keep me company when all else fails?

Like a baby must leave her blanket . . . a child must leave her teddy bear . . . a girl must leave her dolls . . .

A woman is leaving her past . . . all she has come to know . . . all she has believed as truth . . .

All she has lived as real . . .

This woman must leave all of those things . . . it is time.

Potions, Lotions and Magic Charms: Rock and Roll, a couple of beers and lots of packing tape! Call it a kinky spa treatment - anything for beauty!

This is what I now know: Sometimes starvation hurts deeper and kills quicker than a sword.

He said / She said:
Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not been able to answer... the great question that has never been answered: what does a woman want? Sigmund Freud

Monday, October 08, 2007

Warrior Spirit Descending

I am LEARNING how to fight for my life.
I am learning HOW to fight for my life.
I am learning how to FIGHT for my life.
I am learning how to fight for MY life.
I am learning how to fight for my LIFE.

I am learning I am worth it.

Potions, Lotions and Magic Charms: MUSIC: Music is music for the SOUL and from the soul.
This is what I now know: Air heals better than bandages.
He said / She said: "
I am a woman above everything else." Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spiritual Surgery

My heart hurts from behind. It crept up on me, the pain. It began between my shoulder blades and my ribs seesawing through my chest like a jagged blade with every breath. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. I thought I had slept funny. I applied warmth with a heating pad. Nothing. I slept clutching extra pillows. Nothing. It'll go away in a few days, I was told. It has to run it's course. You must have pulled something. You must have slept funny.
After a few days I could finally take a deep breath again. I could move a with a little more ease. The pain was still noticeable, but not as debilitating.

It moves around in there now. From right to left, but mostly left. And it began to hurt in the front of my chest now. Yep, my heart hurts all over now - front, back, sides. Today, it feels more like the workings of a surgeon's scalpel between my ribs as my anesthesia wears off.
God gave me this rib and no one is going to take it from me.
Ah, I think I just got it . . . he's not cutting away at my rib or my heart . . . whatever or whoever is doing this is cutting away the damage; my injury.
I've heard some say that our shoulder blades are like wing bones. Maybe what I'm experiencing is more like growing pains. Maybe I'm growing my wings. Ok God, I can deal with that pain.

Lotions, Potions and Magic Charms:
A simple meditation, as learned by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love," while on her personal spiritual journey through Italy, India and Indonesia . . . A simple meditation: SIT and SMILE :) even smile in your liver . . . simple and powerful.

This is what I now know
: I know that today, I do not know, and that is a good thing.

He said / She said:
In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on woman. ~Nancy Astor, My Two Countries

A special note of importance: For anyone out there who wears rose-colored glasses through a field of land mines - I heard this said on Oprah yesterday: STOP wearing your wishbone where your backbone should be.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Of Mice and Men

Last night I dreamed of a mouse. But it was not a usual mouse - it was much bigger, and it had a very cute, harmless, Disneyesque face . . . like a child's stuffed animal.
Yet, it still scared me. It kept staring at me as if it were going to move closer to me.
"I don't know why it scares me . . . " I said
(really hoping to convince myself not to be afraid of a mouse) to my sister Judi - who was next to me.
"... it's just a mouse." I continued, never taking my eyes off of it in case it were to move closer to me.
She laughed a silly, sisterly laugh. "That's a rat." She told me, still laughing.
I think I may have already known that. I think I may have been trying to deny that fact to ease my fears. But I was still not at ease - even with telling myself that it was just a cute, harmless mouse, and I am much bigger than a mouse.
I wanted to run. I felt it wanted to come with me. There was a sad look of longing in its eyes which, of course, pulled at my save-the-world heart strings.
in the end, I did run away from it. (I'm still running.)
I ran to my car and quickly drove away.
I somehow knew I had to . . .
even though I was the bigger of the two of us - and still am.

Potions, lotions and Magic Charms: A walking meditation - a walk in the park with my Emmy Lou on this warm and
absolutely gorgeous fall afternoon.

This is what I now know: With the passing of each new day I am moving that much closer to Love and my soul's desire.

He said / She said: "Womanhood is a beautiful thing. We are beautiful but also intelligent, graceful yet strong, underestimated and overlooked but unforgettable. We may be hurt or subjugated, but we are never broken." Jennifer Reed

A note about the artist
: (The following is all I could obtain about this artist: Jennifer L. Reed. I am not sure how old this information is, so if anyone has any new information, i.e. current contact info, please let me know. Her e-mail address is incorrect.)
Jennifer Reed
is a recent graduate of Daemen College. When she was at Westmoreland High School, where she graduated Saolutatorian, she took advantage of electic art classes. At Daemen College, Jennifer studies painting--her greatest love in the art world, as well as art history, drawing, and some graphic design. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Art painting specialization and a minor in business administration. She feels that artists should be diverse and lifelong learners, as all forms of information can be used in one's artwork. She is currently making plans to attend graduate school to earn an MFA in studio painting. Jennifer hopes to one day be a professor of painting and to influence the artists of generations to come.

* The painting above is called: "Lost In Dreams." With the artist's permission, I would love to use some of her artwork as a compliment to my postings, as her paintings and her philosophy as a woman and an artist harmonizes beautifully with the values and purpose of
Sacred Footing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dead Man's Float...and other rabbits in my hat

When all else fails . . . dead man's float. Warning: you may get so good at it that you will forget how to swim.

When my skin had wrinkled beyond human recognition and there were still no planes or boats in sight, I realized I was not going to be rescued . . . at least not by any outside force. So I began to flail my arms around in a feeble attempt to swim and save myself. That was when I began seeing the light at the surface fade into a slow black as I faded into a deep blue.

Rock bottom . . . I felt the sharp edges pierce my skin so I knew I must still be alive. But, what to do next?

All these years I thought the dead man's float was the best and the worst I could do. Now I see that my ingenuity and quick thinking kept me a prisoner. Had I surrendered to those feelings of the fear of the unknown . . . the fact that I did not have all the answers . . . I may have learned a thing or two . . . like how to temporarily live like a fish while I heal myself and grow new legs.

Because, that's the thing with us humans, we are like the starfish; we have an amazing, mostly untapped, ability to regenerate. In fact, some starfish can regenerate new from only one ray (of hope) left.

So, I am at the bottom. I am without reference. I am left with one ray. I will soon find out if I am one of those starfish.

Potions, Lotions and Magic Charms: cold cucumber slices placed over my eyes to decrease the puffiness; a glass of wine to decrease the pain.

This is what I now know: I have been trying to embrace what I have come to find out is the holographic image of myself . . . out there, not the real me . . . in here.

He said/she said:
A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction. ~Oscar Wilde