All One?

This gallery contains 9 photos.

All One     Have you ever had the sneaky suspicion that there is no actual separation between us or any thing? “All is One” is a teaching offered by all the masters it seems. Even Dr. Bronner is on board!   “All is One” is only a spiritual concept until it is experienced. The […]

Life on the other side…

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?
There are things you can’t reach.
But you can reach out to them, and all day long. The wind, the bird flying away.
The idea of God. And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree –
they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hollywood Blvd attracts all kinds from all walks. My eyes get a bit wider and wilder from the world in front of me.

The closest green on the map from Los Angeles pointed east to Joshua Tree National Park. I did not know the tension my nervous was carrying from the city bustle until landing here. To listen to the silence and see the stars was like a warm breeze to my spirit. Shoulders dropping, a deep sigh…

I inherited my mother’s oatmeal pot. Her 5 daughters sifted through her household belonging on a very long Friday night after she had passed. She would think it silly I would be sentimental over her oatmeal pot. It made its way here with me. It felt right to bring it. I found it comforting. I bet she was amused to see it here getting christened on a Malibu camping trip~ long way from her kitchen wood stove in Mexico, Maine.

LL Bean Ash pack basket meets surf board at Mar Vista Farmer’s Market, a Sunday ritual of fresh organic avocados, lemons, juicing greens, salad greens and coconut water. Walking or biking to farmer’s markets 6 days a wk is beyond my wildest foodie dreams!

My favorite way to travel place to place is by canoe, floating on water, silent, gliding. And rolling in this way wouldn’t be bad either!

Surf boards are everywhere, sticking out of arms and cars. If you want to be a chick or dude magnet, have either your yoga mat or your surf board in tote. Its a way of life out here.

How about some mat-to-mat yoga?

Designer drinks are the way of it. Raw, sprouted and alive is the trend. Found myself sprouting my own chia and hemp seeds just to keep up 🙂

Don’t let just anyone cut your hair!

I am the natural world, an outgrowth, as is every human, every speck, every life form. Sustainability wreaks of balance, a solid foundation supporting the parts above it. Rooted feet holding up the merciful heart, the truth~loving mind. A hollow bone transmitting and transporting the Infinite through and to, unless there is a closed door along the way, blocking the natural flow of giving and receiving.

Where does the temple begin? End? I live through this body temple and walk upon this earth temple. Maybe there is no beginning nor end to the temple, the sacred.

I met a woman today at the Santa Monica Pier. She from Brazil, me from Maine, a synchronistic convergence. She was beginning her chosen sabbatical as I am finishing mine. She was looking for some guidance towards lasting change and a fulfilling life adjustment. At the end of our session, I felt like I was handing her the baton and she would then do the same as the circle continues. I bowed to her and walked away. I could not have felt more supported, grateful or more in alignment with the symbiotic meeting of minds and hearts. Its a magical ride we are on. So this one will return to the familiar and see about sustainability, moment to moment, choice by choice, following the voice, the wind, the flow filled with ease. Unless it does not. And it has a sustained reference for balance now.            See you on the other side.                                      Hugs, Jen

Sometimes I forget…

Thank you for the rememberingIt was mid-morning, mid-week. I was feeling antsy. The voice said,  “take the bike to the ocean.”  Sometimes I listen to the inner tug. Sometimes other thoughts drown it out. This time, I knew to listen.

The antsy, at first glance, was from feeling like this precious sabbatical is winding down…weaning out of the time-out from having to do anything in particular.

I had just gotten off the machine (aka laptop) and felt rather satisfied with some tasks accomplished. I sat on the bed savoring completion. That feeling lasted 78 seconds. Then the old familiar came in…”there is more to do…always more to do…you’ll never get it all done…you are no where near what you could complete”…on and on…heavyheavyheavy. Angst mixed in with the antsy.

Then a pearl from the teachings of Abraham came in….RIGHT JEN, you never will get it done, there is always more to do and there always will be because you are a creation machine living out the expansion of this universe. I won’t even be done creating when I am pushing up daisies. There is even flowers from my passing.  It never ends. I love creating, designing, bringing to fruition, testing, trying, adventuring, confirmations, cancellations,  turning about face, whatever, wherever, show me what is next inspiration. How could that ever be done??

Oh….I forgot.

Remembering the voice, something greater than me moved me to the bike….off I went under the robin’s egg blue sky to the Pacific, as a creature new to this wilderness, familiar more with freshwater, eastern, inland woods.

I looked up…It looked up… and there it was…hawk circling. It was so incredibly distinct in how it was totally supported in its movement, it’s traveling, effortlessly gliding through the airwaves. It was very apparent it was in sync with the flow, the drafts, catching the wave. Every so often it fluttered, as if to hover over one moment to take a better look, to shift and observe. And then it adjusted back into the current, the way of it.

Standing beneath the symbol of long vision and messages, humbled, I remembered that there is a flow and a way and a timing. There is never anything that I have to do, only that which I want to do. There is an ease that exists in support of creation and expansion, in alignment with the orchestra that exists perpetually. I feel at my highest when I am congruent with that orchestra that I am in the flow with.

 

My Soul’s Passion

The children of Uganda sharing their light at Agape last evening!

A number of years ago, I was taken by the Reverend Michael Beckwith. Rev Michael was featured in the first version of the wildly popular movie, The Secret.  At least it was wildly popular with me. He is the founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational spiritual community that has become a destination for many seekers.

I knew he was in Cali somewhere so I googled him. Surprisingly, we share the same city and his center maps out to be a mere 3.3 miles from my little studio appt in Culver City. Wednesday night they had a service and I was excited to get my little self there.

I plugged the address into “Janet“, a  handy navigational device of whom I have come to know and love. Without Janet, I would be a lost fool in Los Angeles.  Janet is my friend and I love her deeply. This was my first time sporting her on my bicycle–at night.  I maxed out her lovely voice volume to out pace the traffic sounds with her clear and precise directions. I felt fearless and was ready to roll.

I gave myself an hour to get there, since there were countless traffic lights between here and there.  I used to play with edges by running red lights after looking both ways 6 times. That is until someone I met in yoga class got a $500 ticket for running a red light on his bike.  No more running red lights for me. I am learning.

(I have discovered the California police love ticketing. Perhaps I will share sometime how we have spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars learning the system and the methods I have discovered to outsmart it.)

I wear 2 headlamps at night when riding my bike,  (a really hot look) with a white light on my forehead and a  flashing red  light on the back of my head. The intention is to be seen long enough for me to say, “Please don’t hit me. You see me, right?” Riding at night here is not like avoiding salamanders or frogs crossing the gravel road I live on  back home. This is a different game altogether, one of Olympic style agility. I welcome the challenge.

Ok, back to Agape and Rev Michael.

But first, parking…parking the bicycle is the best thing…right at the door, every time. This place was so busy, a shuttle service was warranted. Parking in LA is second in intensity only to the traffic. But not on my little comfort bike.

Janet led me to the right address and I pulled right up to the front door and locked my bike, stuffing her and my dual head lamps into my pockets. There was a lot of hub bub, like I was coming upon a very happening place. People streamed into the main meeting room, a church-like sanctuary that held thousands. We were greeted by soft candle light and relaxing piano music. I worked my way towards the front to take in the whole experience.

Arriving in time for the guided meditation, I softened and settled into my seat. I started to feel  held by this community, the light, the music, the lovely woman leading the meditation. I felt at home. I knew it was the real deal when even the music stopped and we were left in silence  to find our own way before it was broken in some time by soft piano and voice leading us back.

Rev Michael came in shortly after, a very charismatic dude. He is well loved by this community. He was dressed in a very snazzy black suit long, tight braids in his hair and toe shoes on his feet.  He is not afraid to be himself. I appreciate that.

                                                                                                          

His message was strong, clear and very enthusiastic…listen to your soul’s passion and follow that. Don’t find yourself at the end of your life without having expressed your creative, passionate, amazing self to the Universe. People were on their feet, wildly repeating  after him, call and response style,  how incredible they are and they are on it, this soul passion thing.

I left feeling confused and a bit lost. Since 8th grade science class, I have been doing that, following my passion. To the nth degree. Perhaps it is how I went about it that was amiss. Was it my drive? My compulsion to work? To get it done and get it right?

Hence the sabbatical I find myself on.

I am good with passion, soul, listening to the calling. And there is something else here. If I, we, go after something with all that we have, what is it that we want in attaining that soul passion? Happiness? Peace? Is that what we are really wanting on the other side of living our passion? Do I have to identify and fulfill my soul’s passion like some kind of life’s mission in order to be happy?

How about happiness from here? What if this is it, this moment in all of its rawness and fullness, here, now?

I am not saying give up dreaming. Dreams are amazing visions to behold and work towards. I have spent most of my adult life doing that…And without keen awareness, my eyes only lie on the prize, running towards the dangling carrot that is always just around the corner.

My old friend Ray Reitze told me once, “Being is doing.” I thought sitting in solitude on a mountain was not productive enough at the time. I had too much to do to take that time out. From his perspective, there could be nothing more productive than stillness. From that place comes great action, grounded in beingness.

I am open to your thoughts on this…the balance between inspiration, inspired action and the power of being and the desire for action.

Do you know of your soul’s passion? Is fulfilling it required for happiness?

PS
The Children of Uganda are orphaned due to aids and are part of a non-profit to raise money for the children back home. I felt so fortunate to have seen such an energetic display of sheer joy and vibration. (Check out their Facebook page 🙂

Who Am I?

I am Jen, female, 46.7 years old, white. I am a partner, sister, daughter, aunt, God mother, niece, cousin. I am an ex. I am the last of nine children. I am a friend, community member, teacher, guide, facilitator, retreat leader, business owner. I am one who dabbles in writing. I am Lithuanian and French. I am an environmental leader, a democrat. I am the owner of a cabin, land, a retreat center, a truck, a yoga studio, a dog and a cat. I am I am I am I am IamIamIamIamIam…………….really? Is this who I am?

What a good question.

These roles and identities are just a flavor of what “I” attempt to hold up, live up to, secure,  and care for.  No wonder I got tired and insecure. That is some pressure cooker. And who claimed it all?  Me. I did.

According to Byron Katie, the mind has to identify as a ‘something’ in order to exist. It has to live out its life proving it~identifying with  ~what~   it~    is~    not—–a body, a me.

I am Jen.       Is it true? Yes (of course, silly, ask anyone who knows you.)

I am Jen.       Can I absolutely know that it’s true? No. (I cannot know that is absolutely who or what I am.)

                         How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought, that “I am Jen?”

I begin to separate, believing ‘I am Jen’ distinguishes me, I look for you to remember my name, to notice me, I begin to hold up a reputation and want you to see me in a good light. When I believe “I am Jen”, I am a separate body on a separate planet from you, there is a distance between us. I hold a position in my family when I believe this thought and I feel limited and boxed.

 I am Jen. Who would I be without that thought?

When I sit and contemplate who I would be without this belief, I feel free, ordinary, equal to all, having nothing to prove, I blend with the human race. I feel more present, spontaneous, spacious. I experience namelessness which feels expansive, connected and beyond structure or form.

Turn the thought around:

I am not Jen.

Give 3 genuine, specific examples of how this turnaround could be as true or truer than the original belief.

  1. I cannot remember being born, being brought home to a family, being named.
  2. I have never seen an original birth certificate.
  3. I could have been switched in the hospital or adopted under another, original name.
  4. Being a Jen feels limiting and limited. Naming “me” feels like the big me has been put in a box. I feel like more than a Jen when something inside connects with strangers, nature, the sea, the nameless, like today on my bike ride to the ocean when a woman was dancing with herself, with Life, twirling and spinning down the boardwalk smiling and when I watched the nanny let the little girl run free without holding her hand even though she was wobbly and new to running and could have fallen on the pavement. “I”had no name in those moments. Whatever remained of Jen evaporated into Oneness.

    Said aunt with niece on said retreat land in said business identified tshirts enjoying the connection anyway.

This piece is inspired by Byron Katie and the No Body Intensive  “I” just returned from.The piece shares an example of The Work, a powerful tool of self-discovery that found Katie in 1986 and found me in 2006.

Even squirrels get still…

I don’t know why I was so stunned to see a very large gray squirrel out of my Los Angeles studio apartment window. It was such a mystery to me how that happened. I only had TV news images of the LA riots or OJ Simpson evading police on the freeway in his white blazer and glove. The story of urban life to me must have been of no life at all except human. I have been mistaken.

I went for a morning walk in a nearby swanky neighborhood. It’s like a designer street with  winding turns, manicured gardens in front of stuccoed homes carefully cared for. I saw trees with flowers. Yes. Trees with flowers. Of course trees have flowers at home in Maine. I can see the white apple blossoms in my mind now. But this. This was different. Purples, yellows, reds….flowers everywhere— in the trees, mind you.  And there were limes and lemons hanging from some, heavy with juice, tempting  me to take just one. Like Eve, I considered and most likely will.

Along the sidewalk are very tall palm trees lining the way. Something caught my eye on one of those palms…another squirrel. I paused. It paused. It lay flat, splayed against the trunk, legs spread, nails gripping,  facing  downward.  Its neck  extended back,  brown eyes looking at me.  Our eyes met. I crept closer. Our eyes locked in.  For 5, 10, 15 minutes, we stayed connected. I listened carefully. That friend of mine looked deeply into my soul. I felt unnerved.

I heard a command. It was not a request. It was like a ransom note for this hostage to weigh in on. It said, “get still”. Not, “be still”. It was more of a directive, an order–Get Still.

However the squirrel race circles and circles, however the movement occurs,  here, there, on a mountain, in a desert, in this jungle, the instructions are given….Get Still. Simple enough? Yes. Got it.

Leave everything you know behind…

Lay yourself on the slab of openness
and wait for the knife of my beauty
to gash you so deep with the Beloved’s radiance
that you can never recover.
—Rumi

TILICHO LAKE

In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow
the true shape of your own face.

David Whyte

I feel like am on a hybrid vision quest, a wanderer in a strange land. I have been given some time away from everything I know. Namely, my mom passed, left me enough of a gift to take two months off. I proceeded to rent out my cabin and headed west.

I live and breathe green living in Maine and feel aligned well with that lifestyle. Being off the grid for over 8 years now, there is a right timing for most of what I do on a daily basis. A certain consciousness begins to sequence the daily life events.  There is not much willie nillie with a small solar array. Showers, vacuuming, laundry wait. They wait until its right; right looks like the batteries are pretty charged, clear skies are anticipated and the morning sun finally finds its way to the south enough to shine brightly on the panels. When that harmonic convergence reins, it’s a free flow of power and whatever requires an outlet gets involved, be it charging the cell phone, the toothbrush, the drill, the weed wacker, the IPod, the radios, run the wash, vacuum…it’s a furry of electrical happenings on the mountain!

I vacuumed after dark here. AFTER dark! I couldn’t put my finger on what felt so weird until I realized it was because the sun had sunk into the Pacific and here I was using an appliance with a huge electrical draw. Had I lost my mind? Wait a minute…where am I and how did this happen? It became very surreal, as if I was an alien on another planet. I am no longer required to be tied to the patterns, moods and rhythms of the sun as it relates to daily chores. I felt a vague sense of freedom and yet I felt like something was missing. Where are the solar panels here in sunny southern California?

I went on a Sunday adventure on my bicycle. I followed the signs to a bike park made just for those on 2 wheels. It led to a river.  Like all rivers, it led to the sea. Only the banks were not lined with alders, swamp maple or enormous white pine. These river banks were lined with cement and people from all walks of life. When I came upon the cement-lined river, I named it ugly. Then, I became ugly and even cried. “Do these people think this is beauty??” With one belief in one instant I went from peaceful warrior to hardened, ugly  individual, separated from everything and everyone. I longed for home. I despaired. I became like the cement that I judged, hard and cold.

Flowers do not labor nor toil, whether growing up through a crack in the concrete or in a pristine meadow. Flowers do not seem to mind where they are at all. They do not shout out, react, nor complain. This flower wanted to see if she could bloom regardless of circumstance. It’s easy to bloom on the side of a mountain in Maine with perfect growing conditions. Can this flower grow here in the wilds of one of the largest cities in America??

I continued biking, following the river west to the ocean. I passed every shade of color in the passers-by and every shade of gray under the sky as if it were carrying in the tide. I was taken by all the eyes that met mine, all the smiles that greeted me. I was moved by humanity’s face looking back at me whispering, “I belong here, too.”

Water from the Santa Monica mountains on its way to the sea.