I have interesting encounters in the most unexpected places. The one I am about to describe took place in Ithaca, New York on Sunday. My friend Ondreah Johnson and I were visting with my friends Jody Kessler and Doug Shire who live in Eco-Village en route to a retreat at Grail Springs in Canada. Rising bright and early, we packed up the Jeep and headed to fill its tank to the brim to get us to our destination another six or so hours northward. Pulling into a gas station, a man in front of us was getting out of his silver pick up truck to do the same. Had he moved up a few inches, I would have easily been able to reach the hose to my gas tank. Ondreah motioned silently for him to pull up a wee bit further. He made a somewhat disgruntled looking face and waved us off and said that his tank was farther forward and that “Everyone is always in such a hurry to go nowhere.” I stepped out of my car and said that we hadn’t known about the location of his tank and that I wasn’t in a huge hurry, but indeed had a long journey ahead of me. He asked where I was going and when I told him I was going to be teaching about ways people can make positive life changes, his eyes lit up and as we pumped our gas we got to know more about each other. Turns out, he is retired and had been in the mental health field and had actually worked on an inpatient unit as had I. Before we parted company, we shook hands and wished each other well. He responded that it was nice to make a new friend on a Sunday. I interjected that it was good to meet someone anyday. Truth is, that coulda gone a whole ‘nother way had either of us been feeling like they needed to defend their position.
After leaving the filling station, we followed the guidance of the GPS whose name I still haven’t discerned but she has a no-nonesense voice that is certain about which way I should go. She had us winding through the streets of Ithaca (a small town feel in the midst of a city that hosts Cornell University and Ihaca College) and then finally on to a main highway. We laughed at some of the signs that informed us that we were passing through hamlets, villages and towns and wondered what the size designation was. About mid-way on our trip, we ran into some snow squalls that slowed us from 65 mph to 38 mph as cars skidded off the road that was rapidly being coated with the white fluffy stuff. I spoke to the highway angels and asked that they have us safely arrive at our destination on time. I breathed, trusted that indeed we would, and in a sense ‘left the driving to the Divine’. In less than 30 minutes, the weather cleared and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
We arrived at our destination, being greeted by the warmth and glow of a fireplace that melted away the road weariness and I sat back and watched from the comfort of a soft, snuggly chair as the tiny flakes dance with delight, as did my heart.
The best definition I know of the word miracle is ‘a shift in perception’ (From A Course In Miracles). This week so far, has brought with it several opportunities to do just that. In a meditation class yesterday, I had a feeling that I was leaning back into the arms of God/Goddess/All That Is. I asked myself, why then wouldn’t I want to do that everyday. I am still a work in progress, an old soul in a 54 year young body, chafing against anything that tells me I can’t have things ‘my way’ all the time. It definitely taks a change in the specs that I put on each day with which to view my day.
(Iconic eatery in Ithaca, NY-Moosewood Cafe)
Do you remember being a little kid, wanting to tie your shoes, button your shirt, brush your teeth or comb your hair on your own, as if that proved your independence and showed your mastery of those skills? If someone attempted to assist you, what were you likely to pronounce? “Do it myself!” If you were like me, that is. Fiercely independent at times, I wouldn’t ask for help, for fear of appearing inept or not particularly bright. Most of the adults in my life referred to me as ‘precocious,’ which was a clarion call that told me I needed to maintain that facade. At 54, not much has changed. I still am likely to do something on my own rather than seek support unless I REALLLLLLYYYY needed to. And even then, there is reluctance. Instead, I have reveled in being the ‘go to person’ for others, since it carries with it a of accomplishment and as a friend of mine says “I need to feel essential.” The downside to that is physical and emotional exhaustion at times ,being on call 24/7, sometimes to those in body as well as those in Spirit. Yes, I get messages from the other side when awake or in dreamland.
I was on a roadtrip today with my friend Ondreah, headed to Ithaca, New York to visit my friends Jody Kessler and Doug Shire who live in Eco-Village. We had been talking about life challenges and changes and she made a comment about my being ‘solitary’. I was puzzled at that description of myself since I am a social butterfly by inclination and practice and not shy or a loner in the slightest. I asked, “Do you mean that I am self sufficient?” She responded that I generally am a get it done kind of person, moving through emotions with little time to stop and evaluate, being in solution mode. At that moment, something occurred that clearly illustrated her point. I ripped a fingernail and asked her to reach behind me to extract my purse from the pile of stuff we had packed for the trip and then get my emery board for me. At the same time I was asking for her assistance, I was reaching back for it. She playfully swatted at my hand and then gave me the emery board. After polishing off the edges, I attempted to put it back in and again, laughing, she waved my hand away. How silly was that when I had asked her to help? I still wasn’t able to let go enough.
In the past several years, I have travelled alone to New Mexico, Texas, California and Canada, feeling little hesitation or trepidition. I saw it as an exciting adventure. I am equally fine with travelling companions. I have eaten in fancy restaurants solo and taken myself to the movies. And still, I don’t see myself as solitary. In recent months, I have spent more solo time; needing to decompress from work and general life stressors as well as healing after my mother’s death two years ago. I enjoy being in the company of friends and lovers.
What it may come down to is a need to be more expressive with the feelings that I hold pretty close to the vest, rather than erroneously believing that no one could hold space for the sometimes overwhelming tidal wave of grief over many losses throughout the years. How arrogant I feel at times.
It seems that the loud and clear message is about balance and allowing for the vulnerability that comes from asking for and being willing to receive support from a Universe all too willing to offer it in abundance.
The morning after Thanksgiving, fingers tapping out a flowing rhythm on the keyboard, I am basking in the glow of a clean house that continues to reverberate with the laughter and love that filled it yesterday. Family of choice crossed the threshold, bearing goodies to savor and their open hearts to share….quite a pot luck feast on all counts. I made sure I got to the gym in the morning to pre-emptively burn off calories and it felt really good to say thank you to my healthy, strong and vibrant body for doing its job every day. On the way back, I listened to what has come to be a holiday classic: Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Coming home to find Adam and his girlfriend Rochelle in the kitchen, doing food prep. Adam is a self taught cook, who relishes creatively putting together amazingly delicious and colorful dishes, including his signature key lime pie for dessert. Like the Russian great grandmother he never met since she died when I was 14, he ‘cooks by ear’ much of the time, only occasionally relying on written recipes. In the meantime, Rochelle’s adorable 2 year old son Collin is dancing around the living room watching a show called Bubble Guppies. His laughter is contagious. A few hours later, table set, components of dinner in various stages of readiness, guests begin to arrive. Collin runs to the door each time, curious to see who is coming to play with him. Coloring with me and with our friend Janet, he delights in scribble scrabbling designs and then telling us what colors he is using.
Around the table are 12 of us, including Phil and Janet (Phil has been my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother and surrogate father since Adam was 14, a few year after my husband died in 1998), Ruth and Jason (I have known Ruth since she herself was 14 and when she and Jason got married, I had the honor of officiating), Ondreah who is one of a group of women I call ‘Goddess Sistahs’, new friend Monica and her son Ryan. After Phil offered a prayer taught to him through his spiritual teacher Yogananda, we went around the table and shared what it was for which we felt gratitude. To a person, there was expression of appreciation for our connection like so many woven threads in a beautiful tapestry. I sometimes forget about the awesomeness of my life and throw myself the occasional pity party and yet I am acutely aware how blessed I am to attract kindred souls into my circles. One of my extreme blessings is that Adam is stepping into his maturity, really holding space as a supportive partner to Rochelle in the brief time they have been together and surrogate father to this little one as Phil has been for him.
Afrer dinner, we sprawled on the floor and furniture and watched Avatar which I hadn’t seen since it came out a few years ago. On the big screen, the images were overwhelming and I had experienced motion sickness and had to look away during some of the fast paced action scenes. On the considerably smaller tv screen, I was able to watch with no side effects…grateful for THAT! The theme wrapped around my experience with my friends…how interconnected is all of life and what impacts on one, touches us all. We are part of the Tree Of Souls that is our link to the Divine. We are all at shared purpose with healing our world; since everyone around the table is devoted to making a difference. We cheered as the forces of destruction found themselves inevitably succumbing to the forces of love.
When it was time to leave, Collin climbed onto my lap and said goodbye to this (oh my goodness, hard to imagine) woman delighted to be called Mom Mom.
I am truly blessed bigtime.
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DRHuKI7L47L8 Thank You For Being A Friend-Andrew Gold
Sitting here in a quiet house, save the sound of the dryer tossing around damp clothes and towels. Two candles are brightly burning on the pass-through between the kitchen and the dining room that tomorrow will be the portal through which full dishes will come and empty ones will go. Scents of Warm Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie wax waft through the air at the moment. No fat or calories in those babies, that’s for sure. Can’t say the same about tomorrow’s offerings, although I can wave my magic wand and offer the food reiki in the hopes that it could zap them away.
Tonight I will start the first few dishes in prep for the gathering of the tribe for Thanksgiving. Interestingly, none are blood relatives. My sister will be with her kids, my cousins with theirs. My 25 year old son came to our family when he was nearly 5. This self taught chef who loves cooking shows and making his own concoctions, will be doing most the cooking. The other folks around the table will include his girlfriend and her 2 year old son, as well as dear ones who have become family of choice over the past 30 years. As I anticipate my full house, I gaze into a cornucopia of emotions which include effervescent joy and deep sadness. The first part is recognizing how blessed I am to have such good souls in my life. They have been there come what may in the face of the joys and sorrows, the celebrations and the chasms. Some I know hug to hug and others heart to heart if not in person. Many are cyber connections, but no less treasured. Others are no longer in body and their love surrounds me as if a warm fleece blanket. As I am typing these words, I happen to have a raspberry hued fleece lap robe around my shoulders that had been my mother’s shortly before her death nearly 2 years ago (11/26). In that year, it fell the day after Thanksgiving, so the holiday will forever have that connection for me.
In spite of that, I know I have a great deal to appreciate. My list is ever expanding and I recognize them every day. As we go around the table, sharing what it is we are thankful for, I will share some of these.
Connection to Spirit
Vibrant good health.
My awesome sauce family and friends.
Creative flow that is never impeded.
Lots of do-overs when things don’t go according to plan.
Opportunities to stretch my receiving muscles.
Melodious sounds (a.k.a. music)
Words words words!
Writing and reading them.
New revelations and aha moments.
Overlapping soul circles.
My beautiful home.
Works of he(art).
Being a life-long learner.
My reliable Jeep.
My trusty lap top that is the doorway to the world.
This column and all of the good souls whose lives touch mine as a result.
Wishing you glorious graditudinosity!
http://youtu.be/LhXSbLbE6_c Good Souls-Starsailor