Looking Through a New Lens

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I spent the first 18 years of my life in Shasta County before moving to Westwood to attend college at UCLA. My town of Cottonwood was small in numbers, but wide in space. Many houses came with spacious land and it was nearly impossible to rent. People owned their houses and were there to stay. Nothing new ever seemed to happen.

When I moved to Southern California, I stayed for 30 years. I loved the diversity and culture. Everything was always changing.  As a young person, renting was the norm as houses were too pricy to buy in the areas I wanted to live. People were in constant flux and I moved 28 times during those early years. When I married and we bought a house, we stayed there 15 years, cloistered away in a beach city gated community where there was less coming and going.  We needed to think about schools and stability of space. Finding a home base was key to surviving the swirl for our kids.

When we moved back to Northern California in 2008, I saw the area through new eyes. Physically, it looked mostly the same. Front Street was still lined with historic buildings that looked like they were about to fall over. The old barn on Gas Point, the town icon, was barely hanging on, tattered by decades of 110 degree summers and stormy winters. It was still hard to drive any place without passing an animal, often lazing near the side of the road. My favorite neighborhood watch alert was, “Hey. Anybody missing two horses? They’re in my yard.”

But at closer look, things had changed. There seemed to be a new appreciation for the arts. Schools had gone up to support the arts. There were art hops in various places through town. There were strong theater programs for kids outside of school. Everybody I talked to was either a writer, a painter, an actor, a performer, a poet–or wanted to be.  I wondered if it had been this way before and I just didn’t see it from my young perspective. After all, my mom was quite a painter when I was growing up. It never occurred to me that there were others out there.

But a weird thing happens when you have space around you filled with nature. When we moved to Cottonwood, my writing world opened up. I wrote a second novel and multiple shorter children’s books. I became more interested in painting and philosophy. I felt myself opening to the flow of the Creator creating through me. I could feel the flow more clearly. All art modalities were fair game.

Most recently, that flow has taken me to the world of the performing arts, an area I didn’t have much interest in 5 years ago. I’ve always loved to go to movies, and loved my early job working at the Gateway Cinema in Anderson. Still, I never felt a draw to make a film. But in staying open to the flow, and listening to the call of my intuition, I can say with certainty this is my next playground to creatively express what I believe wants to be created.

In my process of setting up a film company and entering pre-production on a documentary film, I have had the joy of discovering the Shasta County Arts Council and Performing Arts Society. On Friday night, I shadowed kind Mike Flanagan. I wasn’t even sure what we were filming until I showed up. It turned out to be a poetry reading with one of my past writing partners reading. I saw other writers there. Poems were read with passion covering diverse topics.

The Old City Hall, where the event took place, is a historic pleasure. Checkered tile floors and palatial curtains set the tone. Fifty years ago, drunk men were thrown in the black iron jail cells downstairs, one of which still remains as a storage unit. With no air, and 110 degree days, that was punishment at its best.

Setting up to film this event was full of the chaos of production. As people showed up early and milled about, frantic set up ensued. I learned from the film class I taught this seems to be the nature of the beast. We were shooting from two cameras and a gazillion wires weaving in and out of pathways and to a variety of laptops and screens. There’s so many things to consider. There wasn’t much time for tutorial, so I jumped in pushing buttons trying to figure out the camera. (Turns out, I have an uncanny skill for finding menus on the camera nobody has ever seen without leaving any clear breadcrumbs on how to get back.) Mike patiently signaled me (though I was not at all clear on the signals as this was my first day), so he would then need to come over and whisper what the signal meant.  He insisted I was helpful, but I’m pretty sure he was just being kind.

Standing for three hours in hypervigilance turns out to be a tough gig. Camera people have a tough job! That was the best lesson for me to learn. There were other takeaways as well. Things I’d learned in my beta film class, like turn the fans off, came up. What wasn’t covered was how you turn the fans off if they’re locked in plastic covers and you don’t have the keys? I learned that filming hazards are more a norm than an exception and how it’s important not to walk in front of your camera when it’s live. Yep. I did that.

As I reimagine my role as filmmaker, I realize it’s so much more collaborative than that of a writer. Writing can be collaborative to an extent as you move back and forth between editor (writing partner, writing group, your mother) incorporating changes.  However, it is not the simultaneous collaboration that making a film calls for. Not even close. That dynamic is more like a dance where all parties are moving together simultaneously. There are so many balls to juggle, boxes to check, personalities to play with all in a shared moment.film2

I looked through the Canon lens and felt I was looking at the place within myself where I was most comfortable. Writing poetry in the quiet of my own space. Maybe stepping out to read it to others. Then, returning to my own quiet space to write more. That is certainly my comfort zone.

But I have never been one to cling to my comfort zone too long, especially if I feel called to stretch. I just think it’s really interesting I had to return home to a place I felt I’d never grow in order to do it.

 

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Team Dream

dreamcircle2Do you ever have an experience that gives you so much hope and inspiration about what humanity could pull off if it only focused on what’s important? Three days ago I had just that experience.

Since I was very young, I’ve place high value on dreams and what they have to offer if you work with them. I had very clear, precognitive dreams where future scenarios would play out in my dreams before they happened in the daylight. I thought everybody did this. I quickly learned, by the way people would look at me when I said “I dreamed this,” that not only didn’t everybody do that, but they also look at you like you’re a freak if you say this.

In an effort to fit in, I stopped talking about dreams with most people. I quietly studied any books I could get my hands on about how dreams had played out through history. I learned that many, many cultures put high value on what happens in the dream state. I saw how others knew what I had come to know: the gift of dreaming is one of those treasure maps we’ve been given to not only prosper in our personal lives, but also thrive communally and globally.

The more you pay attention to them, the more they give you to pay attention to. I know this general universal law. What you appreciate, appreciates. I committed to paying attention. I started a dream journaling process. I keep one journal by my bed with a light and pen. I jot down my dreams, and then type them into my official dream journal during my morning routine. My dream journal now sits at 70,000 words and offers me a peek into my psyche, world events, the overall collective. It’s a fascinating glance.

My dreams seem to shift to new levels which I can tell by the landscapes. I never have recurring dreams. My theory is that because I pay attention to the story my dream is trying to tell, it can move on to new material without having to show reruns. I’ve learned my dream symbols which are more reliable than the dream dictionaries or other people’s ideas of my symbols. For example, I dream about being on campuses frequently. When I have a campus dream, I know that means I’m in a higher learning period spiritually and a series of that landscape will also be followed by a peaceful, snow landscape dream which means I have learned the spiritual lesson I needed to know.

Still, all this dream exploration was happening in the isolation of my space. The only person who I really shared occasional dreams with was my husband and he’s not really into dreams. Intuitively, I knew this material was meant to be shared. Three years ago, I set out to decipher what that looked like. I spoke out my intention in a philosophy class. One person slipped me a note and told me she was interested and had done some advanced work in the area. We started to meet. Another joined. In this small laboratory, my intuitions were confirmed. Dreams are meant to be shared and examined as a collective. They are a treasure map for possibility.

I continued to study, read, watch documentaries, attend a 4 day Dream Tending workshop at Pacifica in Southern California. I joined an online dream group and followed the World Dream Initiative, meant to show the collective flow of dreams across the world. Still, something was missing. In the online dream group, many of the dreamers were Pacifica students meeting live. I knew the live element was somehow key. Something about the indigenous influence of tribes pouring out of their villages each morning and sharing space needed to flow into the circle somehow.

Lingering in the back of my mind was that if I just kept paying attention to the dreams, and how they wanted to work with humans, a circle would come. I started laying the intention. I would stay open and wait until the timing was perfect. Three days ago, that time came.

I set a time and place to have the dream circle. I knew at least a few people were interested and that would be enough to start seeing the possibilities. We went through some very basic dream recording tips and programmed a dream for this circle with this prompt: Show me exactly what I need to know right now for my dream group, myself, and my world? 

As the nature of a dream circle is centered on confidentiality of that sacred circle, I won’t share specifics. Suffice it to say, twelve people showed up to this special, sacred space, and the connections were pure magic. The synchronicities throughout dreams confirmed what my intuition has always known: there are very different types of dreamers who bring unique gifts that are meant to be shared together for the benefit of the individual growth, the tribe and the world.

I think the reason it has taken over 50 years for me to find this circle is because the timing is now perfect. This is a group committed to expanding their consciousness (and that of others) in a way that feels clear of hidden agenda. In the unlikely venue of conservative Nor-Nor Cal, I couldn’t have predicted it.  It just goes to show–all in perfect time and geography is, so often, only a perceived barrier.

I’m grateful, inspired, and enthusiastic about sharing space and time with these amazing beings, their pure intentions, and their dreams.

 

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Standardized Tests as Birth Control?

act2Last week, my 17-year-0ld, Jordan, headed east to stay with my oldest son, Abe (28) and Kelly, my oldest son’s partner. Both Kelly and Abe are professors at University of Arizona. Both are highly capable, intelligent, and organized doctoral prodigies.

The task at hand for this reality show: help Jordan launch the Common App, the application many universities use for admittance. Also on their plate: begin the ACT Prep Course (live online) and AP Spanish summer work. They had 8 days to complete their mission. It was a tall order. The most challenging part for everybody, hands down, was starting the ACT course.

The reason we need ACT Prep is this. Times are not like they were when I took the SAT. My prep was walking into the room and sitting at the desk. Because I’m an overachiever, I brought FOUR No. 2 pencils. That got me into UCLA somehow. I don’t remember my scores, but I don’t think they were particularly impressive. Today, universities won’t even look at scores under a certain level. UCLA had the highest number of applications last year (206,000 applicants) battling for 6,000 positions. Despite top grades and well-rounded activities which show perseverance, low scores can block a student from the four year school they hope to attend.

Furthermore, we live in a small, rural area that doesn’t hold high expectations for students to go to a four year university. Because of that, the SAT/ACT gets little attention at the school or in the area. There are no good live prep classes. There are no “test taking skills” classes. This is a huge disadvantage to rural students and many get discouraged. They give up on school and college altogether. The most commonly taught strategy for college entrance exams is showing students how to avoid them by starting out at a junior college. The problem there is that many students fall into a black hole and never make it to the next step.

There are online “free” courses in some cases for standardized tests, but they aren’t user friendly and further frustrate many learners. After extensive research, and asking everybody I know, we finally landed a live online prep course that seemed good. Jordan would start the August sessions in Arizona and take the ACT in September.

Despite the task in front of him, and the future of his brother’s dreams in his hand, Abe managed to balance work and fun with precision. I remembered sitting down on Abe’s bedroom floor when he was in third grade, teaching him time management for 4 hours against his protests that this was not school work. (Side rant: in the education reform effort, can we please make this schoolwork and teach kids this life skill so they can be successful?) I felt so proud that Abe had learned his lessons so well over the years and was now able to help his brother learn this skill by modeling it. By the time Jordan came home, Abe handed over a detailed report of all that had been completed, along with an Excel spreadsheet of deadlines and dates. Computer folders were all set up for applications and scholarships. Jordan’s personal statement, which was so clearly all Jordan, had undergone several drafts. Just to reiterate: hands down, the hardest part of the week was the ACT prep.

After the arduous online weekend classes, homework was assigned. “ACT homework is hard!” was Abe’s text response. Luckily, Kelly had retained early math and was able to help act1navigate there. In the end, they decided prepping for standardized tests is exhausting. It’s not because Jordan doesn’t know the material because he does. The problem is figuring out what the standardized test maker is asking, and how said writer is construing the question. It’ not about intelligence, but rather about being able to get into the head of the question writer. The only place this skill is really relevant is on standardized tests, and one takes those probably less than five times in life. Is this clearinghouse really the best we can do?

When I was getting my Masters in Teaching the mantra was this: don’t teach to the test. That, they said, is very bad. Yet, when I was teaching second grade, and it was testing time, the school made a big deal about calling homes and telling the kids to eat breakfast (as if that’s not important the rest of the year.) They set the stress level up so high around standardized testing that 7 year olds would cry and throw up from parent/teacher pressure to perform. I did everything I could to lessen that pressure for the kids. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. The experience throws the kids on the anxiety spectrum over the line. The whole swirl is counter to authentic learning.

After the tests are taken comes the next wave of dysfunction. If the student does poorly, she starts to think she’s dumb (and often so does her parents if they are not educated about the tests.) They lower expectations. In reality, the clearer measure of a student’s ability to succeed is so much wider in scope. It rests solidly in consistent classroom performance and ability to balance activities with schoolwork independently. Whether or not students get high standardized test scores should simply not be the gate that allows them to pass through to higher education.

On a school level, the administration used to use those scores to evaluate the teachers’ performances–a travesty. (I do hope this dinosaur has moved out, but somehow I doubt it.) Even people in the highest ranks of educational policy don’t seem to understand the problem with using these tests as accountability measures, probably because they don’t understand pinks and blues (so binary!) and how classrooms are set up.

The Ps & Bs process goes like this. At the end of each year, there is great discussion of how classes will be stacked the following year. A teacher’s strengths are looked at, as well as their weaknesses. If the teacher is more patient, they will get more special needs children. If the teacher is better with teaching advanced, outside-the-box thinking, they’ll get more “gifted” students. Everybody gets even boys and girls for the most part, and everybody gets a child with a reputation for being “challenging.”  This was, at least, how it worked at the elementary school I taught at, which was one of the top 100 schools in the US.

Come spring, when the kids are tested, their scores reflect the general demographics of the class, and that’s really the luck of the draw despite the best efforts on pink and blue day. Every good teacher I’ve ever met dreads testing. It’s stressful for everybody. Because of the high stakes put on tests results, I’ve even known teachers who have erased student scores to make them higher so that their class totals would look better. That’s how much pressure the teachers feel because of the system structure. That pressure is in direct ratio to great teachers leaving the profession. You can see under this model that high scores DO NOT reflect better teaching, but only a ridiculous system that culminates later on in undergraduate/graduate exams, and professional entry exams.

Which brings us back to college entrance exams. Between my husband and I, and my son and his partner, we have over ten undergrad/grad degrees. Still, the ACT is hard! I find my stomach clenching over complicated percentage questions. As a team, we might be able to address every section on the test, but even for a very educated adult, it’s hard. The very good prep instructor (an Ivy League Mechanical Engineer) also found himself stumped on a science problem he was helping students navigate through. The specifics, like calculating a small arc on a circle, or exploring all archaic uses of the semicolon, are confusingly irrelevant and feel a lot like hazing to me.

And what about the more global concern? What happens to the kids that would be great college students, but don’t have a support team in their home? What about kids whose parents speak another language and haven’t gone through this gatekeeper? Should they be eliminated because we can’t figure out any other way to assess our students’ readiness?

I kept trying to look for the positive aspects of standardized testing, and other than the business side for the testing people or the ease for the universities in the admissions process to deal with high application pools, I couldn’t find the sunny side. Then, with the help of my oldest son/teacher, I saw it. In the thick of the ACT Prep, Abe texted, “I have a new respect for you as a parent and have solidified my desire to never do it!”

Standardized exams as birth control! I knew they were good for something.

 

 

 

 

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The Space Between Stories

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We will abide for a time in the space between stories. …

Charles Eisenstein, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

Lissa Rankin is one of my spiritual mentors, but I have yet to meet her in person. (I will this Fall and I can’t wait!)  I resonate with so much of what she says. She skims off the collective in a way I know is real and true, and I listen with that ear behind the ear when she speaks through her work. I also listen to works she refers and Charles Eisenstein’s body of work is an example of that.

One idea Lissa has talked about in the past few months is Eisenstein’s space between stories so many of us find ourselves in right now. It’s that feeling you get when you finish a book and you haven’t found another that captures your heart. Or you finish a Netflix series and haven’t found another to take its place and panic sets in. (It’s possible this is just happening at our house.)

On a more intense level, it’s that uncomfortable span of space where your life as you knew it is no more and something new is unfolding. This is true both globally and individually. Globally, all systems are shifting. Individually, this space can be brought on by the end of a career and start of retirement, the end of a relationship, losing a job, a death, a birth, the flying of children from the nest, inspiration, desperation, confusion, infusion. Many triggers catapult us into this between-space and quite often, heave us into a disorienting murky pond upside down. Sometimes it takes awhile to see clearly.

And it happens at every age. I see my youngest son in his space, finishing up the education phase he was forced into and moving into the education phase he gets to mold however he chooses. I watch my oldest son and his partner, both college professors, preparing to figure out their next steps in their approaching 30, Saturn return futures. Two years they all will be living a much different story than they are now. Two years from now, with the upcoming fall elections in the USA, so will the rest of the world.

It’s tempting to fill the space. I see myself doing this. Knowing my youngest son will be leaving to go to college next Fall, I have two big projects lined up. Having parenting as a top priority for the past 30 years, I feel like that story is taking on a new, less demanding theme. One of those projects is to get my Spiritual Practitioner license that I’ve been working towards the past four years and dedicate some service time to my local spiritual center. Another is to make a documentary film on shifting the landscape of how we view and treat children’s mental health. These are parts of the new story. The question is how much time I will be willing to grant the in-between part.

My guess is just a little. I think it’s because the in between space is so unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I struggle with non-productivity. When I finish writing a book, and have rewritten it until my eyes bug out, I put it away for a period of time. I don’t start another one physically in the name of the space, but start “pre-writing” different stories in my mind. I tell my story maker inside to chill, but she doesn’t listen. She just starts scribbling on the whiteboard of my brain with all her color-coded markers and wants to get out of the bug soup phase as quickly as she possibly can…in the name of efficiency. She really won’t let me be until I use the physical white board and markers and storyboard a plan.

Still, the older I get, the more I value this space between stories. I like to listen to and witness other people’s space between stories. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s celebratory and exciting. Always, it’s to be greatly valued as the birth canal of infinite possibility.

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Beyond the Classroom

j2Yesterday my youngest son returned from his first trip outside the United States. He went to Europe with his AP History teacher and 25 classmates. He stood in the concentration camps in Germany, a deeply powerful experience he wasn’t sure he wanted to repeat. He stood above the clouds in the Swiss Alps, closer to the edge than “I would have approved.” He took waltzing lessons in Vienna, of which I definitely approved. He walked through castles, soaked up ancient architecture unlike what we have here on the baby West Coast of California, and bonded with new friends from his high school he may have never gotten to know on domestic soil.

During the period of time he was gone, 85 people were blown up in France (where his group had a plane change) and a coup went down in Turkey which left nearly 200 people dead. Now I know Europe is a big place, but when your baby is abroad for the first time and you really sucked in geography and aren’t sure what’s where, these turn of events can make a momma’s stomach turn. On the day before he was set to fly home, an axe-wielding man attacked and killed train passengers in a nearby town in Germany near where he was staying. It’s enough to make a parent never let their babies out of their room again.

Nevertheless, when my children are in new lands, I work very hard to keep my thoughts filled with a knowing that they are having a tremendous education and experience they could never get in the safety and security of their own backyard. I chat with their guardian angels–a lot. I hold a space of love and protection around them, and strong gratitude that they have adventurous spirits that lead them to explore a world that really, really needs their gifts.

While my son was traveling, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who has been a friend since our early high school days. He mentioned his son (12) was on Safari in Africa with a friend and his oldest daughter (19) had just returned from Panama where she worked a stint as a translator in a group called Floating doctors, a nonprofit that delivers healthcare to remote areas. We talked about how when we were in high school we barely saw the back end of a plane. Our kids, on the other hand, are the world’s children. They are adventurous, collaborative, heart-centered beings who I believe, given the right opportunities and encouragement, can evolve our world as it needs to be evolved.

It’s tempting to hold them close, to “small town” the hell out of them and encourage them to stay close to home and never leave. I understand this cycle and this temptation, as I grew up in a small town and now have moved back to that small town. There are many family compounds here built over generations of folks who have never left. There is much fear of the big, bad unknown. For example, my son was driving with his friend’s mom and told her of his plans to attend a university following high school. To this she said, “You need to be really careful in college because it’s really dangerous. 85% of the people there have venereal disease.”

Yah. That happened.

But the vision that comes from seeing lands, people, and places different than you is huge. If we let fear make that world too small, coddled in the arms of familiarity and perceived safety, we will not let our children heal the world to the extent they have come here to do. They have come, not just to tour humanity, but to immerse in it–to promote collaboration and defy ignorance. They have eyes that see the common-love through line that pulls through diverse people, cultures, and places.

My son made the comment, “It seems like people are more sophisticated here in Europe.” Then he added, “And they eat too much coffee and cake.” From the mouths of teens.

The insights gained in a few weeks touring new lands, far from the safety of his family and domestic protection, will continue to unfold. The moments that came from standing in and on new lands will mean so much more as facts pour forth from textbooks. The fact that he was with his classmates made this world curriculum so much more poignant than had he traveled with us.

This is true for each of us. We don’t have to board a plane to Vienna to step into the unfamiliar and open our eyes to a new way of thinking. Try something new that might jack up our anxiety. In doing this, we really live and start to see what an incredibly rich world lies before us waiting to be explored.

 

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There Are No Others: Thoughts on Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the Dallas Police Officers

lovehateWhat will it take to believe it?

On weeks like this one that just passed, I feel emotionally raw. The killing. All of it. Being against being. It fills me with pain. For Alton’s family. For Philando’s family. For all the Dallas officers’ families. For their communities. For all of us, as we are all connected.

“JR, you’ve always been color blind and you always will be,” my white, Texan-rooted rancher Dad used to say. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. But when my Berkeley-in-the-60s educated civil rights lawyer stepdad moved in, this poster went up. It read the blind are also color blind. That resonated with me, even at 6 years old. I didn’t know why exactly, but I like the picture. One human loving another.colorblind

This was not the thinking of the collective in the town I grew up in. It was a white, conservative, Bible-beltish town where my Sunday school teacher (doubling as the town seamstress) used to call my mom and tell her I was going to hell when I missed Sunday school. Tolerance wasn’t a huge value. I watched my friends buy into it, but I never did. It just didn’t sit right.

When I moved to Westwood to attend UCLA, and there were many different types of cultures and races, all I wanted to do was talk to every last person and hear their stories–where they were from, how they grew up, what they believed. Those stories were so interesting to me. During my senior year as a Bruin, I married my college sweetheart, a black man from Long Island, NY. Nothing like an interracial marriage to uncover racist tendencies.

Discrimination came from all directions and all races. People had a hard time conceiving of how two people from different races could come together and fall in love. Hell, at that time it was still illegal in some states. Walking down the street, people would roll down their windows and yell racial slurs (at best) and provoke a physical fight (at worse.) Even family members who I thought would have been happy for me were not pleased at all let alone happy. It cost me long time relationships.

Two years later, when I gave birth to my first child, my awareness of underlying racism and stereotypes awakened even more as I watched how people looked at me and my child, trying to reconcile our skin differences. Adopted? From Africa? What gives? The things people say are mind boggling and it really showed me how pervasive this force is in our culture. The protective momma bear wanted to pound them any time they looked sideways at my baby. It was my job to protect and protect I would.

My child is now a 28-year-old college professor who shops at Whole Foods. He is educated, the most polite 20-something I know, funny, and has the most giving heart for service on the planet. People are constantly telling me how much they love him. Still, because his skin is brown, he is consistently followed by the Whole Foods secret police as if he’s going to steal some sea salt when no one is looking. Two months ago, on the same day a nice white police officer helped me turn my car around in Ashland (I was going the wrong way down a one way street) and sent me on my way with a smile and no ticket, my son was followed by a police officer for no apparent reason after leaving the market. He was tracked 15 minutes to his home.

The thing is, this is not unusual. I have never been pulled over and asked to sit on a curb and handcuffed in my life. This happened to my son while he was attending an undergraduate university in Southern California before he was 19. This was not the only incident.

As his mom, this hurts so much. I have a hard time reconciling the behavior. I have a hard time feeling I can convincingly say to him law enforcement is here to serve and protect you when FOR HIM this has been untrue so many times. For him, police are scary and could do serious harm if they chose. The scene in the movie “Crash” where Terrence Howard is pulled over after winning an award and his wife felt up by Matt Dillon’s character (a racist cop) is sadly a very real scene for many people of “other”.

Having said that, there are many wonderful police officers. And we can go ahead and replace those words police officers with “black people, white people, asian people, mentally ill people, gay people, straight people, transgender people, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhists–you name it.” We run the gamut.  There are people operating from hate and those operating from love–it all depends on how evolved the person is…how conscious. If the person is not entirely asleep, that person will understand we are all connected and what happens to one affects us all.  That’s why this eye for an eye shit is so ridiculously stupid. It’s like little kids on the playground whining: But he started it!

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My only thinking is if everyone is blind, then won’t we be color blind? That’s a thought.

We got the first splattering of drama porn on Instagram when my youngest son spotted it unfolding. Though white, he sees the injustice in the way people of “other” are treated. When something like this saturates the news, I can only dip my toe in, or it becomes too consuming emotionally. I feel the feelings of all the players on every side of the issue. The loss of the people they love. The injustice. The pain which they now must tread in the aftermath, struggling to keep their heads above it all and not drown in hate.

As for me, I’m going to continue to love. Even when it’s hard. Even when people are ridiculous. Even when I want to take my boots and stomp somebody. Won’t you join me?

Love just makes so much more freaking sense.

 

 

 

 

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Jordan Weil Goes to Boys State 2016

jordan2015libraryWhen Jordan was invited by his high school to apply for the 2016 Boys State, we had never heard of this program. We soon learned it is put on by The American Legion. After sitting through the Inaugural Ceremony Awards last Friday night at Cal State Sacramento, we are now ambassadors.

We learned Boys State has been going on for many years, since 1935 to be exact. Everyone, old and young, is excited to be there. The energy in the room pushed mania at closing ceremonies. It really is a state that belongs to these young men.  This is clear when they cheer for each other’s success and their individual cities and counties on the last evening with earth-shattering hoots and hollers, fists flying high in the air.

During the ending Ceremony we had the honor of hearing Dick Tarble, now 96 years old, talk about his attendance at the first ever California Boys State. That’s how enthusiastic alum are to be in what they often referred to as a prestigious fraternity. We also met a sophomore from UCLA who missed the experience so much he returned to volunteer. Here’s Mr. Tarble who received a standing ovation from all 1,000 boys (and the few parents who were able to make it in the back two rows.)oldguy

If you’re like us, and don’t know what Boys State is, this from their website:

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. A participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government… 

Some famous Boys Staters include: Garth Brooks, Bill Clinton, Neil Armstrong, Phil Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Jordan, Dick Cheney, Michael Dukakis, Roger Ebert, Jon Bon Jovie, Tom Brokaw and a bunch of others.

Each junior boy is sponsored by the local American Legion chapter and selected by his high school to represent that area at the state meeting. Boys are transported from all over the state, some traveling all night by bus to show up at Sacramento State. They are assigned cities and counties for the week. Jordan’s city just happened to be Redding and his county was Chambers.redding

In the opening ceremony, the announcer told the boys to look around at each other because they just very well may sitting next to the next astronaut or President of the United States. Indeed, Jordan said he had never been around a group of such smart, funny, together kinda guys. All 1,000 of them. He met Anthony (from his home town of Torrance) who we will definitely see again. He met Dominic, who sat next to him during Awards and looked at him with huge eyes when he won the Samsung Scholarship Award which he didn’t anticipate getting. He met this team of three that were hard to leave. Jordan’s room apparently became the gathering room according to this group (and a group of others who had already loaded on the bus).friends

During the week, the boys were all supposed to work in their cities and counties to achieve certain tasks. As in any city, they needed officials, judges, lawyers (who had to pass a bar), negotiators–you name it. They had meetings long into the night to work out certain logistics. Group work at its finest. During the Awards Ceremony, model cities and counters were awarded places. Chambers won third top County so I guess they completed their tasks. What a great time to understand the political system since many of these boys, including Jordan, will vote in this whacked out election as their first ever election. The American Legion coordinators emphasized the importance of voting, of using your voice whatever that is, whenever you have an opportunity to do that at the polling place.

With work, comes play. During the late afternoons, boys were allowed to choose from a huge array of sport offerings: football, basketball, softball, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball. The City of Redding won first place in the Volleyball competition. The best part of sports it seemed to me was the way it broke up the mental tasks with 1,000 friends to hit the balls around and just plain brah out.

We talked to some other parents. It was clear to me some had known about Boys State and had strived to be included in the honor. We, on the other hand, we’re just trying to figure the whole thing out as we went. Still, I’m so thankful it happened for us the way it did and that Jordan was honored in this way to have such an unforgettable experience. The highlight for him are the relationships he’s built. He said this was one of the best experiences he ever had and he’ll never forget it.

The moments that take your breath away…

 

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Sneak Preview: I’m Going to Make the Movie “Thrive!”

moviesI’m smack dab in the middle of a project that has got my creative juices gushing. I know the signs. Right now, I sit at my laptop with 8 screens open alternating between a business plan, notes, my project journal, a poem, whatever. My OmHarmonics play in the background on the creativity track. I love this energetic space.

Physically, I’m in this amazing retreat condo at the base of Mt. Shasta where it is clear so many seekers have sat before and will sit after. I’m in the area attending a retreat that starts tonight. Though it’s mid-June, rain patters on the beautiful organic patio garden filled with greens, herbs, and flowers. (That’s the only kind they have in Mt. Shasta.) I decided to pass on the pre-retreat hike. Hiking in pouring rain…just not my thing. For this state of mind, jammies and listening to the rain fill the need. The vibe is perfect for receiving my next steps in this venture. I imagine how I will receive the information for this calling. I feel it rushing in faster than I can get it down on the page. I don’t just notice synchronicity–I become it.

Then there’s the second part. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. All I can do is open up, listen, and repeat from a slightly disoriented space.

What’s the project? What am I even talking about?

I’m going to make a documentary on children’s mental health called Thrive. Here’s my mission statement of sorts I added to the top of my business plan:

I feel a calling to make “Thrive.” I want to give hope and vision to kids (teens, TAY) and parents looking at a disease kids did nothing to get but be born yet get stigmatized because they have it. That’s just wrong. I truly believe kids can activate the gifts of their condition to change the world (and their lives) in a positive way by learning to manage the challenging parts. 

In this way, we all win. There are no others.

Parts of me are terrified about this project because of the “I have no idea what I’m doing part.” Parts of me think I should keep my project hidden in the closet in case it doesn’t pan out in a way that is acceptable to the rest of the world. That’s my ego talking, which after a read of Lissa Rankin’s Anatomy of a Calling, I have dubbed René Bordeaux. (That accent on the “e” is SO my ego.)

The bigger part, though, is that Adventure Whisper I choose to embrace says, “Hell, yes, you’re going to accept this assignment.” That part also is dedicated to letting go of attachment, a gift I received from the monks at Shasta Abbey last month. Instead, I’m really about letting the God who goes by many names play on the planet through me in such fun ways I get giddy thinking about it. My job is to remain open and not let René drive the bus, try as she might.

The way this whole thing started was weird. Here’s the story. My son and his buddy went to Nike Swim Camp at UC Santa Cruz back about 5 years ago. My husband and I stayed in Santa Cruz at a rental with our lab and combined camp drop off and pick up with a trip to Dog Beach and a business visit to the Dean of the Social Documentary Filmmaking Program at UCSC, an internationally acclaimed program–and I believe in the top ten world programs in its niche. The Dean showed us around the school and I heard the Whisper loud and clear: you are to do this program and make a film.

Hunh? I go to movies. And not documentaries. AND I definitely don’t make them. Until then, it had never even crossed my mind to make a film. I could barely work those early video cameras back in the day. I have hours of footage of me walking around with the video camera on when I thought it was off.(Riveting footage we find hysterical, but it’s for a select crowd.)

However, as it does, the Whisper was persistent. Finally, I started looking into the SocDoc program. The problem is UCSC is 5 hours away and going back to school after already having lots under my belt (and not having ANY film background) felt like daunting hurdles I wasn’t ready to jump. Maybe after my youngest left for college the timing would be right. I would reevaluate then.

Meanwhile, I would educate myself in the world of documentaries. I would determine what I like and what I don’t like. I would listen for the film that is my film to make itself known. For the last three years, I have watched about 3 documentaries a week and taken notes to see what works and what doesn’t. I have watched hundreds of documentaries at this point–maybe thousands. I taught a film class at my local spiritual center and was tempted to show all documentaries, but resisted in the name of balance. Turns out, documentaries were the favorites. Through all this viewing, much of which takes place on my daily StairMaster time, I’ve come across many, many different styles and different strategies for both making and marketing films.

One strategy I really liked: offering the film for free for a period of time. Filmmakers like Nick Polizzi (Sacred Science), Pedram Shojai (Origins), and Jeff Hayes (Bought) were all doing this. I was watching as they came out, wondering how they were able to do this without going broke. I didn’t expect to get rich off a documentary, but I definitely didn’t want to go in the hole and do feel like I should be compensated a fair wage for the year (or ten) it takes to make the film. (And so does my husband, right Honey?!)

Then about a month ago these three filmmakers put together this joint venture: Movie Maker Academy. I watched the pitch (and made a few close confidants watch it, too) and decided I liked what they were doing.  Best, I could do it online from my own home. The course would be 10 modules over ten weeks which fit perfectly in my summer off time from my practitioner program. There was an application process to join the first Movie Maker Academy and I went through that process to see what happened.

About two weeks later, I was notified that I was accepted. After Module 1 was distributed, I was so excited. This is exactly what I needed to brown up my green. The one thing I’m seeing is that film is such a collaborative process, and this opportunity lets me be in collaboration with others who have done this and who are doing this…to see the way each person’s unique stories play out in film. I wanted to be open and share what I am doing, struggling with, succeeding in–and see that in other’s journeys.

Movie Maker Academy has with it a FB forum and live chats with the Three Movieteers–Nick, Pedram, and Jeff. In that, I have both magical mentors and littermates all across the globe. How awesome is that? The synchronicities are already firing rapidly. Mostly, I love this canvas on which we’ll all collectively paint movies that make movements and lift up the planet in so doing.

That’s a wrap.

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Team Tolerant

intoleranceI sit here brokenhearted. Just after last call this morning, the most deadly shooting in US history…50 killed, 53 hospitalized (so far) at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub.

My husband saw the news on his feed as he waited in the car with our pup while I got fresh bagels in the bagel store for the pack of teen boys back at the house. He told me when I returned to the car. I thought about our pack of boys sleeping soundly. I thought about the other parents who would never see their children again. We flipped through channels, listening to the different filters the media had already started to use.

The media was quick to say the nightclub was a gay club. (I wondered if they would point it out if it was a “straight” club.) They were also quick to point out it was a Latin event. (I questioned that as well.) Differences are treated differently–unless they’re not. We listened.

There was the channel that went straight to terrorism. There was the note from the shooter’s father that said this wasn’t about religion or politics, but rather that his son had seen two men kissing a while back and had been angry ever since unable to get the thought out of his head. There was the channel that reported the bodies were still in the night club (dead) and that the parents (some having received terrifying texts in the night from their children who were being held hostage in the club for hours after initial shootings) still had no idea if their children were alive or dead.

The channel that struck me the most was the one reporting texts back and forth between parent and child.  One note the newscaster read was from a son texting his mom he’s holding us hostage in the bathroom and he’s going to kill us. I’m going to die. I sat listening, tears welling up in my eyes, as I thought about all the players involved and how this pain would play out in the media. Causes would jump on board (guns, anti-terrorism, terrorism, mental health, religions, LGBTQ, anti-LGBTQ–the political contenders, media ratings) and as all these factions showed their various viewpoints, one faction that rests at the heart of all this shit may possibly get ignored: intolerance.

Princess Diana said it best: The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other.                                                                                

Bingo.

Just those words, by some, would be considered hate words. While they sound like love words to me, in that linear left side of my brain, I get that we are all just results of the beliefs, thoughts, and ideas we’ve inherited from our family lines. Sure, there are a few segments of the population who really examine those–the seekers, willing to expand knowledge beyond familial and cultural legacy. But often those legacies forbid it. They say learning about other cultures, religions, ways of thinking, political standpoints–fill in the blank–is evil and not acceptable according to the framework they’ve been given.

However, the cost of settling in there is too high and will eventually come back to bite us. We must sift through our own blockages, each of us. We didn’t come in hating. We didn’t come in threatened by beings different than us. We came in with enthusiasm. We came in with love.  We came in reaching out. It’s our experiences, education, families, and cultures that form our filters.

babiesIn truth, if each being on this planet could responsibly examine their own beliefs and prejudices outside what they’ve inherited, I believe we would be living in a completely different world. This would be a world not driven by fear that wells up as intolerance, first cousin to hate. This would be a world driven by heart and love–an understanding that we are all connected and we must take responsibility for looking at our own limiting beliefs that keep us from kindness.
It’s easy to point outside ourselves and see who did what, then retaliate. Our prisons are overflowing with that vibe. But to what end? More prisons, more cemeteries, more hate. The neverending story.

The cost is too high. Albert Einstein said “The most important decision we have to make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” I always believe it’s the first, but this morning, as my heart ached for all involved in Orlando, the pain stopped me. It’s still so numbing. I get how people end up in the frameworks they cling to. But after a moment, I went back to my default place…

Love first. Be kind. Show compassion. Embrace differences, understanding if we were all the same this would be a very boring place. Join me on Team Tolerant? Our world can’t afford for us to let it down.

 

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Memorial Weekend with the Monks: Days I’ll Never Forget

bestmthastaThings pull at me. Intuition will grab a cushion, sit on my shoulder, and whisper in my ear until I listen. Not in a stalkerish kind of way, but more like that fun friend who calls you to adventure. (I’m blessed to have friends like that! You know who you are.)

I’ve named this fun friend voice Adventure. For the past three months, Adventure had been calling me to Shasta Abbey, a Soto-Zen Monastery in Mt. Shasta. shastaabbeysign

When I first heard the call, I was puzzled. Really? An Abbey? I clicked on the site: http://www.shastaabbey.org. There was an application process. I filled it out. (Adventure gets bossy sometimes.) As a spiritual practitioner student studying different types of religions, I wanted to learn more about Buddhism so it made logical sense that way. As a long time meditator, I wanted to see how monks meditated. It seemed to me they’d cornered the market there. And, God knows, mindfulness is trending as our culture grows more and more distracted from what truly matters.

I was also up for the challenge of three days of silence. I love people and I love to talk, but I hate surface chit chat, and the idea of being with new people without having to do that was strongly appealing. When the application came back and I was in, I made a decision: rather than getting more background on the Abbey or Soto-Zen Buddhism, I’d go in cold and soak it all up: the philosophy, the lifestyle, the sacred space.

When I arrived at the Abbey on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I was struck by the beauty of the space. I can’t imagine a more perfect place to put an Abbey. Shasta Abbey sits in a forested plot forestso close to the base of Black Butte and Mt. Shasta, I felt like I could reach out (if I had a really long arm) and touch it. Everywhere I went in the Abbey I saw majestic Mt. Shasta smiling back at me. From my room. From the dining room. Along the pinecone-speckled walkway to The Buddha Hall. From the gardens lush with orange spring poppies and purple iris. poppiesEverywhere.

Shasta Abbey was started by one of the first woman Zen Masters who studied Soto-Zen for 8 years in Japan. Her name was Houn Jiyu-Kennett (1/1/24 – 11/6/96) and she is quite a respected Reverend Master. After studying in Japan, she returned to England where it became apparent that they were not quite ready for a female Zen Master. That didn’t get in her way. She set off for California (originally the Bay Area) and then landed as the first Abbess of Shasta Abbey. Her presence is still felt, and there is an equality feeling between genders, perhaps from this history. At the Abbey, there are only monks (not monks and nuns) and they all shave their heads and wear the same brown robes. The only difference is the color overlays which designates their seniority in the monastery. Throughout the weekend I heard many a monk refer to a Reverend Master Jiyu story with a nostalgic glisten in their eye. I wished I’d met her.iris

As I walked into the visitor’s office, friendly monks greeted me, and a fellow Bruin came and escorted me to my room. She and her husband live at the monastery, but are “lay” people–not monks. There are a number of these people at different parts of their journey that live on the grounds and participate in the monastery. My greeter set me up with a weekend schedule (jam packed with multiple meditations, meals, Dharma talks, services, etc.) and oriented me to the space. My room was simple and clean: a twin bed, a desk and a chair with a window opening up to mountains and forest. My docent showed me the bathroom down the hall, all the common areas and rules about using them, and all the books the monastery generously provides (for free) for those who want to learn about Buddhism.buddhistbooks

One thing struck me right away: this monastery was very tidy, organized, peaceful, and welcoming. I felt like people had read my application, were happy I was there, and were invested in me just because I was another living being. Throughout the weekend I learned this is really key to Buddhist philosophy. It is perhaps the kindest, most compassionate path as a whole I have seen. There is a clear respect for ALL living things and an understanding of how we all fit together in a symbiotic nature. Kindness, compassion, love, and an embracing spirit make the whole area feel like a big hug from a really good hugger. (On a side note: in a Dharma talk, a retreat participant asked the monks if they hug. The response was all monks are different, but usually if we see one coming, we bow as our default greeting. After all, celibacy is a vow monks take at Shasta Abbey.)

Dharma talks are teaching talks and we had several of those. I was confused by the word dharma and I wasn’t sure why. I asked the question and the answer was cut and dry: it’s the teaching and it’s capitalized. But if you remember Dharma and Greg like I do, or you listen to Deepak, you might think of dharma as that something that upholds the positive cosmic order. Many people came up to me after the talk, all with their own suggestions of the various meanings of dharma. When I checked with Merriam W. the overall gist is it’s one of those words that varies from belief system. Just know that in Soto-Zen Buddhism, Dharma is The Teaching and is sacred.

In fact, keeping the Sacred at the fore is a key concept along this path. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and statues of Avalokiteshvara (the Buddhist name for Kwan Yin, Goddess of buddhastatueCompassion) are along the paths. The tradition is to stop, bow, and take a moment for mindful awareness each time you pass in front of one. The gesture is one of respect, but also it was explained that in a world where our faces are glued down at our screens or the ground, mindfulness and gratitude is important to remember for ourselves and for our world. I found this to be so true. I found myself bowing to everything: the statues, the trees, the mountains, the people, the morning. What this did was keep me in a reverential, thankful place and that felt like such a peaceful place to be.buddha

That sacred sauce is poured on everything, including meal time. As not killing (animals or people) is a key precept of the faith, all meals were vegetarian and DELICIOUS. The monastery depends on alms (donations) from those in the community who donate money, food, or items the monks need from the alms list on their website. The list tells what is appropriate and not appropriate to bring. And because they are at the mercy of what others give, the kitchen crew impressed me to no end with the creative ways they put balanced meals together.

The first night we had beet and potato soup with cottage cheese and bread from local bakeries. Everything I ate there, I loved, and was so impressed by the creativity, love, and ceremony that went into each meal. I’m pretty sure there needs to be a new reality cooking show where monasteries go on and have to use only the ingredients that have been donated to feed a hundred people tasty, well-balanced meals.

Meals are a special and unique time. For example, when you enter into the dining hall, you sit two feet across from another person with a person on each side of you. There were 30 people at this introductory retreat plus the senior monk leading the meal. The leading monk clanks together two wood sticks, leads some bowing, says some ceremonial verses, and starts the dishes down the line. The lay people enter silently, eat silently, and clean up silently in a very orderly fashion, placing cutlery, compost, cups, and plates in their respective gray bins. The monks are extremely aware of their environmental imprint on the earth (and have been well before it was trendy to do so). Each person is encouraged to take only what they can positively eat and half way through the meal second serving is announced with an option for more. As each dish is passed to the next person there is a mutual bowing that occurs over and over again. I’m going to estimate there are about 30 bows per meal. Lots and lots of bowing. Nods of respect from one being to another, a mindful acknowledgement of another being’s light. As I sat quietly eating, gazing out at the face of my favorite mountain in the world, and thinking about how unusual this experience was–but also how AWESOME–I understood why they named it The Medicine Meal. This was a time to nourish both body and soul as a community without egoic distraction.

This level of mindfulness was a theme retreaters were asked to maintain throughout, but especially during meditation proper. We were lead in an hour long meditation instruction with form, theory, props, chairs, cushions for sitting meditation. We were shown how to hold our hands (mudras)  in both sitting and walking meditation to maintain mindfulness. We were even given a period for working meditation which was actually super enlightening to me. My job initially was to brush down spider webs and guard Liam who was really high up on a ladder. I’m really not quite sure how helpful I would have  been had the ladder fallen over, but I was ready to run and get help. It occurred to me as I was brushing down spider webs that I might kill a spider and what with the no killing rule, I wondered how they reconciled that issue. I verified with a monk. “Oh, no. We take them down. They put them up. It’s a game we play.” Okay, then. The awareness was interesting, though. Because of a shoulder tear that quickly got aggravated, I was kindly shifted to dusting the altar which was actually magical and felt more congruous with the Buddhist Way. Here’s the altar in The Buddha hall. It’s breathtaking.altarwithmonk

During the several long periods of meditation morning (6:00 a.m.) and night (7:00 p.m.), between which time you are asked to keep The Noble Silence we sat in The Buddha Hall, eyes open to stay alert and stared at either a white wall or a white screen two feet away. We were taught to notice if we had an itch, but not to scratch it. Instead, just notice. Watch it come, watch it leave. Oh my goodness! What a revelation this simple practice showed me. Change is constant. It doesn’t need to be responded with panic and reaction because no sooner does it appear in an uncomfortable way than it vanishes. Here’s my new mantra for life: Feel the itch. Don’t suppress it, feel it. Notice it. Don’t scratch it. Then watch it be on its way. I challenge all you LA drivers to practice that one on the 405! Just remember: eyes open. The idea of eyes open is so you can transfer this idea into all your waking activities and stay Zen. I was resistant, but I kept my vow to keep an open mind, and it actually is pretty amazing how it works.

Back to the Buddha Hall. It’s larger than this picture shows. In addition to the main hall, there are two rooms with huge big wooden doors that open during the ceremony and the monks enter into the main area in their formal robes with silk mats they use both on the floor (for more bowing) and on the chairs when they sit. The feel of the space is sacred. There are gongs, and chimes, and bells, and a drum–and just because Reverend Master Jihou wanted to make the hymns “Western friendly,” an organ.altar The organ makes chants about consciousness sound very similar to the ones I used to belt out when Grandma Opal took me with her to the Methodist Church during the summers I spent with her in Poway, California.

Buddhist services hold similarities with Catholicism and Judaism when it comes to ceremony. Uniquely, though, there isn’t as much a message as ritual. The service is filled with song, bowing, incense offering, monks entering and leaving, chants, candle lighting and so forth. However, as this was Memorial Day, there was a special community ceremony to honor ALL those hurt in war (not just “our” side, but everybody and all things. I had never seen this done in any religious institution and was so touched by the respect for all life, not just a selected group.) The group that gathered, and groups of people who follow the Buddhist teachings in general, are called the sangha. The sangha is a key component to the Buddhist way. (Homage to the Buddha. Homage to the Dharma. Homage to the Sangha.)

We met many monks during Dharma talks and meals and instructions, but I must admit my favorite became Reverend Margaret. There is an option to sign up for “spiritual counseling” during the weekend and I was assigned to her. I wanted some one-on-one time just to make certain I was being respectful by taking pictures. Retreat rules request nobody use cell phones and take a tech vacay so I was very careful not to go against that, which included picture taking. I sat and talked with Reverend Margaret about how best to handle that, if it would be considered an act of dana or it would be disrespectful. We talked about her personal path to senior monk and how long she’d been at the Abbey. We marveled at the beauty of the gardens around us while we sat under this fruitless plum.

Reverend Margaret spoke with such candor and gentleness. It was clear to me we were equal beings and she did not hold herself levels above me as you may feel with leaders in some religions trapped in their ego. There was a fun, peaceful, grounded, humor about her, and just sitting with her in the garden fed my soul. I will look for her again. This is her standing next to her great Master’s stupa. Here is what the stupa says on one side. jiyoustupabestpicofmargsmilingIt has a unique saying on all four.

As I was talking with Reverend Margaret, I asked her about dream yoga. I’m quite the dreamer and have many synchronicities during the day that tie into my night life. She informed me that was Tibetan Buddhism and that’s the moment I realized there was actually more than one flavor of Buddhism. It’s seem so obvious now, but you don’t know what you don’t know. In one of the Dharma talks, a monk said the Dalai Lama (a Tibetan Buddhist) said that Buddhism is the cake and all the various types of Buddhism are the icing. There is no “icing bashing” that goes on here. Instead, there is an embracing of other ways and a solid focus on describing Soto-Zen. My dream yoga will have to wait.

One of the great things about completing an introductory retreat is that after you learn the program, you are welcome back any time. The monastery works on the idea of dana. There is no set fee or even a “suggested donation.” This is by design. And dana comes in many forms, not just money. There is an understanding that when beings are generous with other beings, those beings will be generous back. And let me tell you, these beings are generous. There is an exchange of energy so strong it creates a swirling vortex of kindness, compassion, and giving.

Gassho, Shasta Abbey. You have shown great kindness and I will remember you.

Please consider Shasta Abbey when you give. They are truly grateful for your donations and say so every meal time. Here is their website again. On that site is a list of what they need: www.shastabbey.com

Posted in awakening, belief systems, beliefs, conscious living, Inspiration, meditation, spiritual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments