Thursday, August 31, 2006

Soul mates

We all know the stories. Two strangers see each other across a crowded-- well doesn't matter where it is-- their eyes cross.. er meet and boom, true love is born and two soul mates are united-- or reunited if you believe in reincarnation. If one of them happens to be twelve and the other in her thirties, as were that teacher and her pupil, well we understand soul mate love. Except do we? Do we truly understand what a soul mate even is, whether it exists, and what kind of relationship it might lead to. The assumption usually seems to be that it's about romance leading to marriage, but is it?

Up until more recent times, and still true in some countries, marriage was a business arrangement often contracted between families to strengthen each politically or financially. The concept of romantic love was unrelated to permanent matings. Even where a couple didn't have parents pushing them into a marriage, more often considerations were can he provide a buggy to the family, does she know how to cook, and will they be good parents? Her being curvy or him having a washboard abdomen were not factors-- unless maybe for genetic.

Some of the idea that soul mate love and marriage go together has probably come via poetry, books and movies, but the dream for it is not recent and might be deeply imbedded. Jacob worked many years to marry the sister he most wanted (not that their marriage necessarily led to happiness) Then you have David. Was he smitten with Bathsheba for soul mate reasons or was it seeing her body nude in the moonlight as she conveniently bathed where he could see it? Was that soul mate love or lust?

Since I don't have answers for such questions, I will settle for simply explaining my understanding regarding soul mates and the ultimate (or potentially most disastrous) of such connections, twin flames/twin souls. There is quite a bit online and a lot of books out there to explain various author's understandings of the concepts, but I will settle for just giving the gist of what I have read and think personally is most likely to be true. And what I think might be wrong. Anyone who has experienced something different, please feel free to write extensively about it in comments. If your story is more lengthy than comments, put it in your own blog with a link here; or email me, and if it looks juicy enough, I'd be happy to post it here as another view.

If you don't believe in reincarnation, a soul mate is simply a person you feel a deep connection with and usually from the moment you meet them. They can be someone you work with and the two of you think so much alike. It can be romantic or friendship. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, soul mates are not primarily about romance, sex or marriage but they can be.

If you believe in reincarnation, then these soul mate groups come together again and again and most likely began with their own creation (some say there are twelve in these groups). These may be family, friends and yes, mates. The relationships and gender might shift between lifetimes.

For reincarnation thinkers, there is another group of soul mates who repeatedly come together. I don't know if from creation but they are those with similar gifts and they incarnate in groups for purposes of political or artistic work. So you have the Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Concord, Massachusetts free-thinkers, who may have incarnated as a group many times in different creative patterns-- perhaps formed a new writer group in Montana this lifetime.

Could you have Hitler and his minions who may have done the same thing for negative reasons again and again? Soul mate patterns can be looked for in history and are fascinating to consider. Are you currently in one that is either good or not so good for you in this lifetime?

When the soul mate connection is romantic and sexual it doesn't automatically last for a lifetime. I have heard people say, when it breaks up, guess he wasn't my soul mate after all. I don't believe lasting forever is an indicator. A soul mate could come in and go back out of your life after fulfilling a purpose. You might have been wrong about him/her being a soul mate, but the fact that it didn't last doesn't tell you.

There are soul mate relationships which are karmic and temporary. They are intended to make right something from the past, teach you lessons you have managed to avoid so far, maybe finish business between two people which in reincarnation you don't get to walk away from. Some of these are very negative and the lesson is learning to walk away before you kill each other. There are soul mates who are intended to have certain children to raise them up, and once it's finished, they might go their separate ways.

Finally there is the term twin flame or twin soul which not all reincarnationists believe is true. This is the Adam and Eve story. Two created out of one. Shirley MacLaine describes how that works in her book, 'The Camino.' Twin souls are two halves of the same whole and the draw between them is very strong. Are they always meant to be together sexually in each lifetime? I don't think so. If they are together is the relationship nirvana on earth? Again I don't believe so.

The same friend who told me the story of the hawks also told me that when twin souls come together who are not evenly matched for energy, instead of the most romantic, beautiful relationship you could imagine, it can be very destructive. Yes, when they are evenly matched, it'd be the best mated relationship two people could experience; but there's that 'if' and it's a big one.

If you had a soul mate relationship with someone which worked out disastrously, my advice would be to do all you can to become the person you believe you were born to be. Work on being personally stronger, and the next relationship will reflect it. This works, of course, even if you don't believe in reincarnation or soul mates.

On the one hand, what you believe about soul mates is pretty much irrelevant. You can obviously find good relationships and be happy without having them defined spiritually. But then there is that other hand where if you do believe in them and spend your life looking for that perfect soul mate romance, the belief could be destructive and cost you a lot of good relationships along the way. Not to mention your soul mate, if you do come together, isn't likely to be perfect either-- given that would take two perfect people to make happen. Ever seen that?

(The sculpture pictured here is mine, titled Soul Mates. It is fired clay, weighs about 75 lbs, is 29"L and 22" H. I did it about eight years ago and had thought I would put it on its own stand, but the living room doesn't have that kind of space; so it generally has ended up the piano-- except when it's carried outside for photographs.

I don't do sculpture currently for the very reason that Soul Mates demonstrates-- what do you do with that many little people? Unfortunately clay sculptures that look like bronzes didn't end up being in demand in galleries. The clientele wanted bronzes and I liked best working in clay-- not to mention the huge investment in doing a bronze that still might not sell.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

dance of the hawks

About five years ago, I met an interesting woman online. We lived across this continent from each other; so we never physically met, but for awhile we shared a friendship; then we lost touch. When I decided to write about the concept of soul mates, I wanted to start with the dance of the hawks which she had described to me in one of our conversations. Sometime after she and I no longer talked, I looked out across the creek and for myself watched two hawks perform the same spiralling dance. I already knew what it would look like as I had seen it in my soul.

The day she told me about the dance of the hawks and what she saw as its meaning (her words follow), I asked her permission to paint my interpretation of it. She said yes. The time was finally right. Thank you, my beautiful friend, for sharing your vision. I hope it drew to you that love for which you were searching.

"I went to the back field to smoke my pipe.
When I had just loaded it,
a hawk flew over my shoulder
swooped right down.
It was so close I felt the wind of its wings brush my cheek.
It flew up in a spruce tree that was about 20 feet in front of me.
There it joined another hawk.

And I prayed.
Creator, show me what a good relationship is for me...
that is what I was praying for...
I was so hurt and the time.
Well the hawks ascended up in to the air
spiraling around each other and singing and dancing.

What that said to me was
a good relationship is one where
if they had flown too close together
their wings would have clipped each other,
and they would have crashed to the ground.
If they had flown too far apart
they would not have created the vortex
which helped them both soar.

They were singing and dancing
and each doing their own dance
and singing their own song--
together they created a vortex."

The pipe I painted here is my own from Pipestone, Minnesota, which is where red pipestone is found and pipes are still carved. The place has a good feeling to it because it is sacred space dedicated to peace. Since all of the tribes needed the stone, they would go there and not fight-- even if they were enemies away from there. To walk along the little creek, to see the red stone still on the walls, I could feel its good energy-- as I still do in the pipe I bought that day.

I have yet to smoke my pipe. A person should not use sacred symbols without understanding their meaning and doing it properly. In this case one of those understandings is that once you have smoked a pipe, you encase it in leather-- maybe for the same reasons I generally wrap my Tarot cards in black silk when I am not using them. I haven't yet made a case, but that time is coming.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Healing Dreams

As anyone knows who has read my blog for awhile, I am a believer in the power of dreams. If you think about how many hours we spend sleeping, isn't it to our benefit to use that time to improve our daytime hours if we can? At this point I am just learning how to use mine. I know dream work is no magic panacea, just another tool to reach within ourselves to improve our lives.

If someone wants to do such nighttime work, before falling asleep ask your subconscious, angels or spirit guides to help have dreams that will be beneficial. If you have a particular problem, asking for a dream to help you understand it can be effective. Just before you wake, lie there for a few moments and try to retrieve whatever you last saw or thought.

The ideal approach to remembering and utilizing is to write all the elements from the dream as best you recall-- whether it seemed to relate to anything or not. Sometimes what didn't seem relevant upon first waking takes on meaning with time.

Remembering dreams is like any skill. It is developed through practice. From my experience, I believe you will receive the benefit of such dreaming though whether you consciously remember the dreams or not.

Sometimes the relationships that need healing are with those who have died. Dreams can help emotionally heal, recognize mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and make a relationship into something life never let it be. Lucid dreaming allows remaking a relationship in your sleep that would never have been possible while awake.

If you are interested in learning more about lucid dreaming (taking control of your dreams) there are books on it, also quite a bit online. An example of how it can work is a simple dream of mine from quite a few years ago.

I was walking with a group of people and suddenly realized they had gone on and I had walked up a pole-- way, way up a pole. Nobody seemed to be aware I was teetering on the top of this pole. Nobody was even around. I knew I would never be able to get down. Instead of putting off the inevitable, I just let myself fall. As I hit the ground, I knew I had to be dead. Nobody could survive a fall from that height-- except I then thought this is ridiculous. Nobody can walk up a pole. I stood up and walked off.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Sometimes instead of a story dream or something with a lot of action to it, in the morning I wake with one word. This week it was crossroads; and it didn't immediately fit into anything I could think of for my life.

When I think what the word crossroads means, my first thought is about highways. Where I live, there are many ways to get to town, but unlike city driving, once I have passed a particular crossroads, the only way to fix it-- if I took the wrong road-- is turn around.

In the country, the wrong road not only takes me out of my way; but it if it was a dead-end, it won't get me anywhere. Some crossroads are obvious with well-marked, 4-way stop signs, but others go unmarked. It's easy to go right past those without ever knowing. Some crossroads become dangerous when they have two high speed roads intersecting with only one marked. On roads we have not previously traveled, signs are critical.

I am pretty sure the dream wasn't telling me all that about highways but instead wanted me to be aware of crossroads in my own life. For us personally crossroads can mean decisions lie ahead-- perhaps life changing ones. Does my single word mean such a change is approaching for me? Maybe or maybe it's just I'm going past too many crossroads personally without consciously considering my choices. Perhaps it was trying to make me more aware of the little ones like what I am eating, did I exercise, am I treating other people right? Am I really heading down the road I want to be? Or did I get started down one and haven't paid enough attention to the signs along the way?

The important thing with our crossroads is to make sure when we make a turn (or deliberately don't), we know what we did. If it was a mistake, we need to turn around-- unless we realize the error was serendipity and where we are now going was a better choice.

Looking for photographs of crossroads to illustrate for this was unsuccessful . Not only are most of the crossroads near me not picturesque but they also have narrow shoulders with no place to stop for picture taking which gave me an excuse to do a small llustration as part of painting my dreams. This one had the added challenge of no images that went with the dream.

So, I imagined a woman sitting on a bluff. She had beauty and love around her but she is staring at a crossroads in the distance. Is she trying to decide whether to take one of those roads? Does she wonder where they go? Or is she expecting someone to come driving back one of them?

So when you first wake up, is the last thing you get from the dream world sometimes a word?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Wild Ones

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read. --The Talmud

Because I am into dream work and have been trying to paint some of mine for my own artistic and healing reasons, I thought I'd share one which I have yet to interpret-- maybe never will. It came only once and maybe as long as seven years ago. I have no clue what it meant, if anything; but it was full of imagery.

The setting was a sea coast somewhere before civilization was deep or wide. The woman was of mixed ancestry. She was wild, beautiful, with long black hair and traveled with a band of rapscallions who were all misfits in various ways.

The little band loved and looked out for one another, were dirty most of the time, and had barely enough to eat. They lived free and happy for all their lack of security. Some of them might have raised her, but whatever their relationships, they stayed together to survive in world harsh to those who don't fit the mold of others. I didn't see her as their leader but rather one of the bunch where all were equals. She was their beauty.

Sometimes she would travel up the coast with a red-haired sea captain who let her ride on his boat when it took cargo between small ports.The captain asked her to marry him. She knew she didn't love him, but she liked him and he seemed to be a good man. She would be giving up her freedom to roam but security mattered, and so she said yes.

Here is where the dream turned brutal as he virtually raped her on their wedding night. She had been a virgin, and her shock was as great as her pain as it seemed he might have also beaten her. He forced her into a big box. Her friends, the misfits, found her and were trying to figure how to get her out when the dream ended.

There were no answers for me about why I had that dream. I don't know if she escaped or died there in that box. Did the captain come back to hurt the others? Was I the woman? When I have dreams like this, I am often not sure who I am. Was it a past life? That seems unlikely to me as it wouldn't fit in my regressions; so who knows. I really felt it was more allegorical given the box he put her into.

I decided to paint the time with the captain before the dream turned into a nightmare. If someday I get ideas for what that wild ones with her looked like, I will definitely do another painting as the secondary characters fascinated me more than her tragic relationship with the sea captain, who looked like a hero until he became a villain.

If anyone has an idea of the message from the dream, I'd be pleased to hear it. The images aren't ones I could find in any dream dictionary and maybe it only was a story, but when the images are so strong, I always think they are trying to tell me something. As this dream illustrates, I don't always see what. It would be nice to open this letter even if it's years late in its delivery.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Last burst of summer

Words don't really do justice to the colors of late summer. I am savoring them all as soon enough fall will be here with a different set of colors which, though I appreciate autumn's beauty, nothing is like summer for me. Yes, the equinox is a month away, but it always seems as though with Labor Day summer is over.

I've been watching the birds to see if they are beginning to gather for the migration, but so far they seem oblivious to any change coming. I am seeing less of the grosbeaks at the feeders and more of the smaller birds, not that I know that has significance.

The nights have cooled off to around 40 F which means, whatever it may look like outside, the first frost is lurking to nip the flowers and garden. Right now with the french doors open, the cooler night air is making for great sleeping-- except on the nights I lie awake thinking of the things I need to get done before fall. Roses need trimming again, the garden is getting overgrown with weeds, and if the greenhouse isn't readied soon, the plants on the deck will have to find another shelter. With grocery stores selling food year round, I don't have to make jam, can, or freeze unless I want to; but the feeling inside me still says prepare, prepare, prepare-- winter is just around the bend. Instincts go deep.

This is the first year I have planted sunflowers, and I am loving their richness. Their colors and size vary as the light seems to turn them almost transluscent. They have grown as high as ten feet which makes them the most impressive thing around, but also makes photographing them a challenge. I don't like to cut them as they last longer in the garden.

I did cut those lavender gladiolas for the dining room table, but only because I planted them to be cutflowers... but usually forget I did. The canna lilies next to them have put on a showy display most of the summer. Heat agrees with them.

A new bull calf was born last week and looks like he's going to make it despite his mother initially rejecting him. Those heifers have the baby; then look around as though what was that? It's not mine.

Thanks to some time in the barn with a headgate (metal bars that hold the cow so she cannot escape, but can lie down), she was persuaded to stand still long enough for the calf to feed and for her to realize that little critter was kind of cute. Shucks, maybe she wanted it after all.

The first day they were out with the herd, the calf ran alongside her, almost skipping he was so full of energy. At the back, where the herd was, the first thing the mother did was bring him to her own mother as though seeking her benediction. Once approval was given, I watched the other cattle come to sniff of the newcomer. From a rejected little heap, he is now a proud member of a herd. Instincts go deep.

(All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The poet in me

Although my own ability to create poetry is best described as a struggle, I love to read good poets, and there is nothing like sitting by a lit fireplace, candles on the mantle and listening to someone with a marvelous voice reading poetry aloud. You close your eyes and just float away to other worlds and experiences.

To me, poetry is the ultimate distillation of words in a manner that paints a picture, moves the soul, brings to life an emotion, event, or love. I admire those who can seemingly flow the words out-- maybe they don't flow as easily as it looks but a good poem never a
ppears tortured into being. It always looks as though-- of course, that's the only way it could possibly have been written. Poetry brings writing to its knees.

Most especially when it comes to rhyming, properly formed poetry, I am no poet. For me to rhyme anything ends up with some word at the end of a line wrestled into place with no meaning for the rest of the poem. I have written stream of consciousness poetry for years but only recently have attempted to refine it into a finished work. Mostly that inspiration comes after reading some gifted blogger poet's work and once again wondering if magically the ability transformed itself to me... Not yet.

I am always uneasy when I put any of my poetry out. I usually have preferred to not embarrass myself and say instead, uhm those are just words there, not actually a poem, as I cast a sideways glance to see if anybody thought they might be poetry. If they do, I'll smile and be pleased but have not wanted
to take the risk of having anybody think I might have meant it to be-- in case it isn't.

My history with poetry is a bit checkered. When I was in seventh grade, I was a little geek of
a girl who wanted to fit in but coming from the country, wearing glasses, not much money for clothes and having stringy unstyled hair, it wasn't easy. I was the girl you remember from when you were in school, the one who got picked first for spelling bees and last for any competition involving sports, and then the captain wished they hadn't had to pick that last one at all. PE was my bane and I wasn't all that thrilled to be valued only for my spelling.

So there
I was in the junior high literature class and the young male teacher was making some very serious comments about poetry. I made a joke which wasn't really like me, but hey, I wanted to be thought cool and everybody knows poetry isn't cool. Of course, they know no such thing. Anyway he looked over at me with all the wrath only a teacher of that time could produce and said-- Shut up! I did, of course. I doubt I told my parents as they'd have agreed with him. He succeeded in embarrassing me totally and finished my entire career of making jokes at the expense of poets. I survived the red face and decided I'd have to find other ways to fit in.

The irony was I did and do like poetry. There are poems that bring tears to my eyes-- great poems of epic tales as well of love lost or gained. I savor poems that tell of nature's beauty and the meaning of life. When I was in high school, I compiled, in a type-written booklet, all of my favorite love poetry bringing to the project all the angst only a teen-age girl can conjure up.

I am not knowledgeable about all of the modern poets. I know a few. I am not fond of poetry with words strung together with seemingly no meaning. I like poems to move me, make me think. Generally my favorite poets have been from times gone past. The emotions they write about don't go out of date.

Why write on poetry if I can't put in one of my favorite passages! It wasn't easy to decide which, but when I think of my goals for my art, when I consider the kind of person I want to be, how I see life, it's said well by four lines in William Blake's Auguries of Innocence--

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And hold heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Old Age Problems

Recently I have been listening to a friend whose family is engaged in arranging end of life care for their parents. It has been hard on them all, and I have empathized with the problems they face. It is then not difficult to see why last week I would dream about my in-laws' end of life (which for them came in their 90s). The events in the dream had no reality from their actual last years. I think the dream was intended to focus me on the subject.

On a practical level, concerns about how to help parents at the end of their lives are in my past as all my older ones have passed on. What I am left to think about is what I want for myself when and if that time comes.

What I am going to write about is not just old. I am old. It's the really old. Maybe the word elderly would suit best. They are the ones no longer able to get around as they once did. Inside that woman over there, the one hunched over with osteoporosis and arthritis, is still the girl she once was-- bet she was a beauty. That proud old man, walking slowly with the lean body, he knew days where he was as strong as any man, and he still has a tough look in his eyes. And where they are today, soon enough I will be.

I have read that some elderly feel they are ignored when they are out, that people don't see them anymore, that they are as though invisible. I wonder if it happens because people don't want to think they are heading down the same path. There has been a lot of emphasis in this country on face lifts and hair dye to hide aging signs. Is that being done to make younger people more comfortable with the fact we all get old?

For the fun of it, and to illustrate this blog, I aged myself to see what I might look like as an elderly woman. I pulled down jowls-- yes, I know, not all old women have them, but I wanted to age my existing face as I think it might actually do. So I drooped the skin around my eyes, whitened my hair and when I was finished, thought-- oh my. Harder yet was when I showed it to a friend and said, I think it's how I'll look somewhere in my 80s-- late 80s preferrably. He looked at it critically and said more like 70... Whoa! So soon, am I ready for that??? That's not that far away!

However, what we look like in the mirror is not the problem of aging. The real concerns are loss of strength and mental accuity. If we are lucky, we will live, love hard, and the end for us will come quickly after many good years. It isn't always that way.

What does our country do as more and more of us are old and need help? Pension plans have mostly folded, except for those in government. Many people stay in debt their whole lives. Some younger people begrudge even the small amount Social Security provides. Certain nations have thought they'd solve the problem of elder care by encouraging immigration of younger people; but from what I can tell, that only delays the problem. There will come a reckoning-- too many old and not enough working young.

In my opinion, euthanasia is not a moral option unless it is one made by an individual for themselves when facing diagnosed terminal illness. Old age fraility isn't like that. If you get to that age where you cannot remember to take your pills, where cooking a dinner might lead to burning down the house, where you may need to be reminded to take a shower, you could still have years ahead. Assisted living apartments solve the problem for some and for others they move in with family. Not everyone has family who can do that. Some hope against hope government will provide a panacea.

In older, more primitive cultures, where survival of the whole tribe was not a given, the people sometimes were forced to leave the elderly to die along the trail. I used to think that was what I would do. When I got really old, and saw my strength waning, I'd go for a walk in the woods and just keep walking until I couldn't go any farther, sit by a tree, and wait. I thought that right up until I saw vultures and crows pecking at a sheep of ours that had gotten down and we hadn't seen until the carrion eaters had. The sheep was still alive. We could put it out of its misery; but if I was out in the woods like I had imagined, who would put me out of mine? I scratched that idea and am now aiming to be chopping wood or pulling blackberries until I fall over one day. But you know the best laid plans and all that.

It's hard for any of us to know how it'll be, what we will feel, if we are among those who reach the age where independence is a problem. It isn't fun to think about, but I think it's an important part of life to plan for the end-- not dwell on it but just know what we want and make sure others know also; so we don't leave the problem for family to work out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Up to Date?

Life comes with no guarantees for how long it will last and each of us should live as though today is the only one we have. Sure we must make plans for the future, but truly we never know at any age that there will be one.

The lesson was taught me early on. I had a cousin, Sharon, who was especially close during my growing up years. She is the blonde with long hair in the picture of all us cousins. I am the dirty blonde in the plaid dress squinting into the sun.

Sharon, as we both grew up, was the one I would take walks with when we were at family gatherings (which were pretty much every holiday) and tell each other stories, each taking a part of the action. She's the one where we once played in a Salem park and told the other kids we were the children of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. They believed us too-- maybe. She's the one we would all play Mousketeers, a popular program when we were young, and we'd swing off the tall stack of hay bales with the rope bar yelling who we each were and she'd always let me be Annette-- or was that a case of let since I was the older!

Sharon lost her beautiful mother when she was a child and that might have made us even closer. She is the one I had sleepovers with, and we'd talk into the night about boyfriends. She was my best friend through high school and then college. When I got married, she was the one I wanted for my maid of honor. But after marriage, I moved to Tucson for awhile, I came back pregnant, then there were babies. She got married. We drifted apart and rarely spoke except at family gatherings and then it wasn't the same. I couldn't go for walks with toddlers to look after. Maybe I could have and just didn't make time.

We were both busy. We didn't live close. I assumed we'd have time to get closer someday again. When I heard she had the flu and had been hospitalized, I had no idea how serious it was. It seemed almost instantly she was dead. What she had had was a staph infection that dissolved her heart. The shock was one I still feel today. She was young, strong, beautiful, a new teacher, not married long, how could she be dead? Why had I put off spending time with her? She still comes to my mind every so often.

Time runs out so quickly. I heard another of those stories from a friend last week when her niece, 25 years old, died suddenly-- again from an illness that came to her with no warning and little time to realize this was it.

The lesson from what Ronni wrote is the same one I believe in totally and often forget just as quickly-- live up to date. Don't put off anything you don't have to delay. With my children and my brother, whenever I talk to them, we say we love each other when we end the conversation. It's not out of insecurity that one of us will be dead before the next chance to talk but more out of knowing that it strengthens living to be up to date, to not put off such words for a more opportune time.

We can't live in fear of someone else dying because it would incapacitate our living. There will always be times we put off getting together with someone because we are busy. That's human life, but if we live up to date, as best we know it, we don't have to live with fear. We will know we did the best we could. That's all anybody can do.

Currently wars, terrorist attacks, diseases seem to be growing in strength, and tthen there is global climate changes. We can't live fearful of such, but we can live for today and make the most of what we do have. It's a good way to live in any time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How do you live your life?

I like those fluffy, quick personality tests, which can be surprisingly accurate for how few questions they have on them. Although I do have to wonder (as I always do with anything)-- are any of them ever going to say something extremely negative? Do we like them because they are flattering? If one of these quick tests came back-- you are a cowardly rat, would we still go-- yeah, that's me! Maybe we would.

I think, to a point, our dark side is important for us to be aware of, but perhaps most of us are too aware of our own negatives and need to be more aware of our positives; so we can grow them stronger. What we dwell on can be where we end up.

How You Live Your Life

You are honest and direct. You tell it like it is.
You tend to avoid confrontation and stay away from sticky situations.
You tend to have one best friend you hang with, as opposed to many aquaintences.
You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Clearing the Deck

Basically my month of August has been and will be about clearing debris out of my life-- both emotional and physical. I got started by redoing where I paint. I had been working in one end of the living room but decided if I cleared out and used instead the room I call the solarium (which had mostly become a storage area), it would leave the living room more open.

As it turned out, the solarium got more of a remake than that and these pictures show what it looks like now. The computer, an old one, recently upgraded, will be handy when working from digital photos or even when using it to experiment with an idea before bringing it to canvas.

Wherever I paint, I like to have a few things to look at that inspire me (the paintings at the end of the room will be changed) and have room to step back from my own work. In the case of the solarium, bamboo blinds still have to be installed at the windows to block afternoon sun. This south facing room isn't ideal for art but you work with what you've got in life.

The door is also one way into the vegetable garden, and this much-treasured basket, which had been my mother-in-law's, is for gathering produce.

A 30 cubic yard dumpster is already about 1/3 full and part of the August plan which has been about clearing excess from around the house, the harness shed, and if the dumpster isn't full by then, the barns. Last time a dumpster came, the barns went first and the rest lost out. I do learn my lessons-- eventually.

My goal is to get rid of everything that wouldn't be taken if we left here. It's not that selling this farm is planned, but one of the advantages of moving regularly is you don't accumulate so much of what can only be called junk.

Just beyond the solarium was a deteriorating deck and fence. I've been helping remove them by dragging the cut-apart remains to the dumpster. I also managed to get a long sliver in my arm from the rotting wood. Go Rain! I do have a knack for those kinds of moments in any outdoor project . This was with leather gloves and a long sleeved shirt, but I have to get at least one sliver to know I was working.

You'd think August would be for hanging out at the beach or maybe a mountain lake, but on a farm, it rarely is. I see the clearing outside as a metaphor for what I am trying to also do inside me-- get rid of what isn't working. Outside is usually easier.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Media Morass

How do you get your news and what do you trust? The latest snafu for the news media was doctored photos from Lebanon where the photos were so poorly photo-shopped that even an amateur could see the repeated images. It is amazing that a photo journalist, trying to show the world a war in Lebanon, would believe distorting the pictures to dramatize them was acceptable. Have we entered a time where truth has no meaning? Clearly that person had lost touch with the purpose of his job. For the rest of us, if we can't trust a photograph... scratch that question. Clearly we can't. And actually never have been able to as darkroom techniques have always allowed for fudging with this or that. Only now 'anybody' can do it.

So we have photos we can't believe. Then there are the words to describe actual events. Since the Bush administration was discovered to be paying journalists and commentators to get the viewpoint out that suited them best, since they send out fact sheets written up as stories for the newspapers to use directly, what is news and what is propaganda? How do you personally decide?

It's not like one news network or another is going to have the pure facts. They all have some kind of agenda. Some say that the entire media is liberal or was before Fox came along with its right wing slant. Since the media is generally owned by those on the right and the journalists typically lean to the left, where does that leave the viewer? In a mud-dle in the middle? Actually it probably seems to be biased to both sides at this point. They showed some stories on the current war in Lebanon and Israel to Arabs and Israelis. Both sides felt it was biased-- against their side.

Is it even possible to have stories that are pure facts without an agenda being pushed? I have heard that if we were to watch CNN in Europe, the feed would be totally different than here which is why they have seen the situation so differently. Each is aimed at their target audience-- telling them what they want to hear. Is that what news is-- entertain us and make us comfortable?

Some believe the best idea now is read blogs from war torn areas like Iraq, Lebanon and Israel and there is some merit in that. At least then the people with an agenda are upfront about it. There is no pretense that it's unbiased because these are people living on the frontlines of a human disaster and writing about what they see and feel. If they are prejudiced toward what allows them to survive or their own country to continue to exist-- we can understand.

It's been a very confusing, disillusioning time which is the main reason I haven't written about the situation between Israel, Lebanon and the Hezbollah. I read about it. I feel bad for it. One time I almost put something up until a good friend and I hashed it out up one side and down the other. When we had gotten through, I thought I don't really know what is true, and I don't want to write about it. I just want it to go away. But it won't.

None of this time of terrorism and wars is going away soon-- unless we blow each other up. We have entered a very ugly time and it is impacting the entire world. It's not (in my opinion) the fault of Israel for existing or even the US for attacking Iraq. Bin Laden began his vendetta against the West before we went into Iraq. Israel only provides an enemy for them to use to concentrate their power and gain followers.

Yes, the United States has made mistakes, and only history will determine the significance of those, but whatever brought us to here, I think we could all agree, we are in a mess, and part of that mess is being unable to trust the government or news to tell us the true situation.

If we can't know what is going on, how can we wisely vote, send money, or even pray? Possibly that suits some just fine to keep citizens in the dark. Some criticize the media if they give bad news. Or they want more coverage of this or less of that. Others want to only hear things that reaffirm their bias. But if the news media has any purpose at all, it should be to tell us what is happening period-- not what it means. Analysis should be labeled analysis. We should demand we get basic, honest coverage of events-- no hype. Is that asking too much? Apparently it is.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Alchemist

"To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation."
from The Alchemist

Now and then I thought I'd write about books that have inspired me or taught me something that I carry with me. Sometimes a book illustrates a way to live that makes me think-- hey I could do that. Sometimes it shows me how to get from here to there.

The first book from my shelves is the latter type. It's a mystical story of the adventures of an Andalusian shepherd boy. In 'The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho each of the events in the boy's life illustrate how we can follow our own dreams.

The story begi
ns as all good ones do with Santiago living his life in the hills and tending his sheep. He knows why he is where he is, but he has simple dreams and understands the importance of dreams that come true.

In great stories, there is usually a gatekeeper or an initiating event that thrusts the hero or heroine from their safe niche and into another world. In this case, Santiago's adventure begins with dreams he cannot interpret, and he uneasily visits a gypsy for help. She says something so great: "And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul, it is only you who can understand."

Through what she tells him, he begins his quest . It seems what he is searching for is a treasure but in reality it's his own personal destiny. Each person and event along the way teaches him more about himself and how life works.

The Alchemist is a simple story, not very long and despite the fact it has many mystical truths (not to mention great quotes) imbedded within, it also is a story that stands on its own as an adventure that keeps you turning the pages to see what he will learn next, what will happen to him, and will he find a treasure? The story vividly illustrates how omens can help us as we learn to recognize and interpret them

How many of us have events occur, see omens that we know are beyond the norm but we talk ourselves out of looking for their meaning? We convince ourselves they were nothing. Secretly inside, we know that was not so, but because we fear the cost of venturing off the beaten path, we ignore any sign that might make us question. After all, what if the price is too high? What if following our destiny disrupts our lives and it was all for a lie?

I think such concerns are pretty universal as there is no doubt that to look for omens can lead to a hard time as it did for the shepherd boy (can lead others to think you are crazy also). The boy's experiences were dangerous, costly, but also beautiful and gave him a sense of purpose. He had to learn to trust not only in himself but in the greater meaning to life.

If we believe our life has no special purpose, we will not look for meaning in the events that come our way. We could be hit over the head with destiny and we will ignore it. On the other hand, if we see all of life as aimed at leading us to our own unique purpose, we will watch what occurs with an awareness that might lead us to our own treasure.

There are many worthy quotes to share from the book but this is a small sample of the writing and the key to the thinking of the story:

"The old man had spoken about signs and omens, and, as the boy was crossing the strait, he had thought about omens. Yes, the old man had known what he was talking about: during the time the boy had spent in the fields of Andalusia, he had become used to learning which path he should take by observing the ground and the sky. He had discovered that the presence of a certain bird meant that a snake was nearby, and that a certain shrub was a sign that there was water in the area. The sheep had taught him that.

"If God leads the sheep so well, he will also lead a man, he thought, and that made him feel better."

(Tonight is the full moon. If you have dreams, this is considered by some to be a time to initiate them.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Daytime Dreams

This piece is not about nighttime dreams but another kind-- the waking ones where we wish for things we are not able to have or do, the dreams where we visualize a world we would like to be living in but have not yet found the path. I have such dreams and sometimes seem to move closer to them and other times lose track of what they even were until something comes along to remind me.

Some say that it's wrong to have big dreams. We should be satisfied with where we are, and a dream is like the grass on the other side of the fence. They add with a knowing look-- "It won't be what you think when you get there."

I think of how it is when cows break free of their fences and head to other pastures. Maybe it's not better over there, but oh the adventure of it. They remember they are cows in a herd and they feel their power as they thunder down hills, the dust flying, their eyes wild with excitement. As much as cows can ever know such a thing, they realize the world has surprises yet to be revealed. There are adventures and, yes, also risks that the pasture didn't let them experience.

Most cows are brought back to their own pasture eventually, but a few never come home. They run wild in the hills and you see their hoofprints once in awhile along a dirt road, but they disappear into the forest to live free like the elk and deer. Yes, that life is less settled, no guaranteed food, risks from cougar and bear; but if they didn't like it better, they'd be back leaning over the fence.

Some cows never desire to leave the field. They know it's secure, and security is what they most desire. They look with dismay and moo loudly about the ones who broke the rules.

And for the ones caught and brought home, do they reminisce to each other? Remember how it was over there? Did you try that grass down along the creek. Wasn't it better than anything you ever tasted?

Was the grass really better?
the ones who stayed home might ask.

Perhaps it was. Perhaps it was not. The ones who stayed home will never know.

A few years back, a good friend sent a bookmark which I keep by my computer. It is a quote by Anais Nin. "Dreams are necessary to life." A year or so later, she sent me a print, which illustrates this blog and hangs above my desk, because when she saw it at an art show, she said it looked like me. She knew I had a dream, and the picture shows a woman living the life I have dreamed I would. My friend's gift was an encouragement to not forget my dream and to move toward it. It would take risks for me to do so, but my friend is right.

Are we ever too old to dream? I think as we age, we may have to adjust the dreams for what is physically possible; but there can, and I believe, should be dreams at any age. To follow a dream sometimes does have risk attached. Some would say forgetting your dreams will make you happier, but for me, I will hold onto mine and take my chance to make them real if the chance comes.

Some of my dreams have come true, others have been broken along the way, some I have had to reconsider if I really want enough to pay the price, but I always try to find new ones, maybe of a different sort, because when my dreams are finished-- both kinds-- so am I.

(The print is by the artist, Glen Powell.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006


As long as I'm writing about things some would consider over the edge, why not one more? Okay, I can't think of any reason, so here it comes.

This week a friend sent me the following link to a meeting that was held in May of 2001 where a group of seemingly reliable people in various positions, as part of Disclosure Project, stated their experiences with UFOs at the National Press Club Conference-- Google Link. The main point from the group was their desire to testify before Congress on the fact that UFOs exist and each of them has personal testimony and some evidence of this fact. I don't know that any such hearings ever happened, but if they did, they got as little media coverage as this meeting.

I found the part of the video I watched (no, I didn't stick with it for the full two hours but did see quite a bit of it) to be very convincing, but I already pretty well believed UFOs, as in visitors from other planets, were real. The question has always been in my mind what do they intend toward us? Why do they visit here?

For me, there were two disturbing aspects to the video, unrelated to whether there are such visitors from outer space. One was the disturbing thought that once again our government, over many years, is covering up important information-- not just our government but clearly those throughout the world. And then why did the media, some of whom must have attended this session, never report anything about it? Of course, not long after the meeting came 9/11 and a major distraction with a clear human enemy on the planet where the purposes visitors from other planets would have toward us is uncertain. Did the media not write about any of this because they don't want to be thought crazy or was it because, as the video suggests, a shadowy, secret and powerful group block any information being taken seriously that doesn't suit their agenda?

After seeing this, I looked online for the 'other' side and got a link which presented some concerns regarding the goals of Disclosure Project-- Alien Resistance
. Certainly one of the things said on the Google video is not what I have read-- that there have been no reports of harm done to earth citizens by otherworldly visitors. Proven harm maybe not but what about those who claim they were kidnapped, studied, had eggs or sperm harvested, and were otherwise tortured? Has anyone explained the unusual cattle killings that seem to go in spells with animals having organs mysteriously removed? It could be some kind of occult group, but so far I have never heard proof of any being caught or definitive proof as to how it was done.

There are a lot of scary stories circulating regarding alien intentions toward us but what good does it do to panic about it? They certainly haven't attacked us in any major way. It seems wise to study what is going on but not to get in a dither since who is sure if there is any danger. There are enough world issues going on to take care of any needed panic attacks; however, I would like to think our governments, around the world, were on top of it and at least honest with us.... Well, I would.

My own thoughts are there is no reason to imagine there are not others in the many galaxies that are ahead of us in technology, and I hope they won't end up being like those in the film 'Independence Day' (one of my favorite films but not something any of us would want to see happening for real).

Some of my friends, as well as things I have read, have related past life experiences that were on other planets. So maybe 'they' are 'us.' We could hope, but we seem to have a hard time with that concept even here on earth.

Have you ever seen an Unidentified Flying Object? And if so, what did you decide it was?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So why do regressions?

There are a few main reasons someone sets out to retrieve past life memories: phobias unexplained by anything in their lifetime; a relationship that has proven destructive which they don't seem able to leave; unexplained health problems; a driving impulse that leads them to follow it; or a strong curiosity about what dying really means.

Regressions take a lot of work and are not fun whether they actually tap into the past or are simply the subconscious giving allegories to illustrate problems. I can see how they would probably be a mistake for someone whose personal world is working well. Why look into past lifetimes to find problems you don't currently have? Why stir a pot that isn't boiling?

One of the first books I read on the subject of reincarnation and regressions was by Dr. Brian Weiss, a psychiatrist, who was using hypnotism to help a patient recover the events that led to her current problems except she went farther back than he intended and into past life memories. The experience, as well as those that followed with future patients, led to a turn around in his belief about reincarnation. He came to believe not only that reincarnation was real but that understanding past lives could lead to solutions for current problems. He wrote a series of books on his experiences. He said 'coming out' was not an easy choice as he felt he'd be regarded as a wacko-- something no doctor wants to be thought.

Where regressions seem to be most helpful (with an experienced therapist), is where a person has problems that other methods haven't touched. For instance it's been found people with severe obesity (that doesn't mean need to lose some weight to fit societal norms) have sometimes found the reasons lie in past lifetimes of starvation. Some current health problems have been helped by going back to a lifetime where something explains it and the person can then release it. Some in very detrimental relationships realize it's a pattern repeating again and again and give up trying to fix the connection and instead concentrate on safely getting out. Perhaps regressions could be thought of as a last resort, not a first, and certainly no magic panacea.

As some mentioned in comments (which for me were particularly interesting this time), I have read that there are old and new souls. Why would we assume creation, even if reincarnation is part of it, had to end with the original event? Some of my friends have been told this would be their last incarnation.

And yes, there do seem to be souls living more than one life at the same time. One of the books on regressions by Dick Sutphen dealt with his wife finding another lifetime her soul was leading now-- one totally different from what she herself was living. She hadn't, at the time the book came out, tried to meet that woman. (Sutphen is one who has written a lot of books, produced of the tapes I used, as well as does seminars where he has regressed groups at the same time.)

To add to the mix in comments, parallel universes were mentioned and some do claim they have traveled between them. There are things in this world that are hard to explain. So much about the energy of life we barely understand or have touched on.

While I mostly did my regressions solo, I was later told by regressionists and psychics that working by myself was risky but basically those kinds of tapes simply won't take you to a level to do true work in areas that might need the help of a therapist. They touch on areas, don't delve deeply into them. Although even mine which didn't go deep had some tears and upset attached to them during the meditative sessions. One, as an unfaithful wife, had my nose tingling when it came time for the consequences (Apaches had the option of cutting of the noses of unfaithful wives), but I saw no nose cutting-- fortunately.

In my one session with a hypnotherapist, she told me a story about one of her own experiences that can explain how this process can help if used properly. Her daughter was very clingy and constantly didn't want her going out of her sight. The woman eventually found the past life that led to that when she and her daughter were twins and she died young leaving her twin feeling deserted and leading to the fear in this lifetime of a repeat. It gave her understanding to deal with it this time.

There are a lot of interesting stories if you begin to read the books or even talk to people about the experiences they might hesitate to tell for fear of being thought crazy or not believed. Some people retrieve a memory and have confirmed it by traveling to where the events happened.

One of my questions about reincarnation has been-- if we are all coming back, why isn't the world getting better? And my brother said-- maybe we are the ones who just goofed it up, didn't get it right, and this planet is full of losers. He was joking, but sometimes it'd be easy to believe that.

Another problem with past life memories is how do you account for so many people being say Mary Magdalene? One explanation I read suggested perhaps those, who were nearby when these things happened, confused what they saw with who they were. Another possibility would be group reincarnation where you'd have parts of memories of many people. I can't explain it but definitely too many people were Thomas Jefferson and nobody admitting to Hitler... yet. (Coincidentally, relating to this very topic, I came across this article in the LA Times-- Marilyn Monroe is reincarnated as this woman?

I don't have answers about these things, but have found it interesting to explore and my personal experiences did explain some things for me. But as I said from the beginning, I am still not sure as not only are my dreams often in story form, but I write fiction as well as create art. I could have created anything I got-- although my creating a story doesn't have me in tears as the regressions did-- not to say they couldn't. The only way I could probably 'know' would be to go where the stories happened and see if I felt I had been there before or if a friend had gotten the same memories of some past life event but from a different perspective. And even that can be explained away if a person doubts.

One more thing, before I leave this topic for awhile, is astrology can pick up on past lifetimes without the trauma of actual memory retrieval. If you are curious but don't want to put the time into the regressions, find a 'good' astrologer who does this kind of work to look at your chart. And some astrologers can also find the geographic location of those lives.

If you are willing to work for the information yourself, a useful book is 'The Elements of Astrology' by A.T. Mann (good on explaining reincarnation also). Through his graph and your natal (birth) chart, you can look at when you might have had previous lives that are impacting your current life (not all lives, just those that relate to who you are this time).

Other books dealing with karmic relationships can show you (if you have another person's chart) what kind of relationships you might have had with them in past lives. Yeah, I know-- might-- but if you don't take it too seriously and have fun with it, it can be interesting. I came up with an interesting story (unwritten as yet) through my own chart and that of some friends where we all may have had a lifetime in Mongolia long before the time of Genghis Khan (according only to astrology, as other than some possible... er personality traits, I have never retrieved memories from that time).

I have never had a fear of death (dying process worries me some having seen old age up close with our families). Dying itself might be a bit scary but also interesting. To me death of the body is a transition and the mystery is to what do we go? When my mother died at 85, she was in her own bed, didn't know she was seriously ill. One of the things I thought afterward was-- now she 'knows.' Someday I will too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


When you begin a regression experience, you go into a fairly deep meditative state. If you work with a hypnotherapist, they take you there and can do all of this in a deeper way. If you use a tape, it is preprogrammed and you will not go as deep but are taken through steps to get you into a past life where you will be asked where you are, what you see, the time period, how you are dressed, sometimes how you died. It varies with the tape.

A good tape will give you cues to use if you feel threatened by what you are seeing, but basically you are told to observe, not reenact. You might see pictures as though it was right in front of you or more like remembering something you had forgotten. Sometimes you find a story--

I saw myself as a young woman living in Iberia in a small town. My home was with an unmarried uncle, who appeared to be a surrogate parent. I worked in his cantina by serving as well as dancing in the evenings. He was a popular man in the community. The life was comfortable and I was protected.

A stranger came into the town, someone very different from anyone I had known. He and I fell in love and began a secret love affair. I can see the small room where we made love. It was above the street with a little window and narrow bed. We were happy together which led to our decision that the only way possible to be married was to run away. One night we did just that. My uncle followed. In the darkness, he and my lover fought and my uncle was killed. It was not a deliberate killing but an accident in the fighting.

My lover was unhappy at what had happened, but I felt terrible guilt and decided the only thing I could
do was go back to what had been my home. I went alone. The people there blamed me for my uncle's death. I was estranged from everyone.

Despondent, I felt I could not make any of it right. I went to the cliffs outside of town which were high above the ocean with rocks below and I jumped. Interestingly enough, I remember realizing this was another mistake part way down. There is definitely no turning back from that kind of error.

Do I know for sure this story ever happened historically and to me? No. It would explain some of my fear when I get near cliffs but who hasn't experienced the urge to jump if they get too close to an edge? I could have created the whole story as like a dream. Then again...

I learned more about Iberia after the regression. It was ancient Spain; and at the time it probably happened, there would have been many cultural groups who didn't get along well-- Moors, Ca
tholics and Jews which would explain the impossiblity of the couple marrying.

A few months after I had concluded doing regressions, I took a belly dancing class with a friend, who was always coming up with fun ideas like that. When in the class and dancing one evening, I saw what seemed like a flashback, a bit of a moment out of time. There was a man in front of me, sitting on the floor, with a beard and a big smile as he watched me dance. The man was no one I knew then, but I still remember what he looked like as he sat cross-legged and watched me. That evening I had to work to stop the tears running down my cheeks.

Was I influenced by the regression to have the fleeting vision? I don't know, but it did lead to the little painting I put here to illustrate this story.

When you do a regression with the methods I used, you get the events and very few details. Tapes don't let you go too deep and the hypnotherapist I went to later was more oriented to finding an overall karmic patterns through multiple lives.

I have looked back on the one I related above from more distance and perspective and recently saw things I hadn't originally. The woman's life was secure before insecurity walked in, but was she looking for an escape from what was possibly too limiting? The man could have represented not only love but a chance also for a different life, perhaps even an adventure.

Then, was it totally wrong-headed for her to take her uncle's body back to where he had lived? I thought it was a pointless gesture at the time I did the regression. Now I think how could a caring woman have done otherwise given the tragic event and the feeling of how awful it would have been to bury her uncle, who had apparently done his best, in an unmarked grave especially so if her uncle had been a man of religion? What kind of happiness could she have had at that price? The cost of going back however, was high. But if her lover had gone with her, he'd have been killed. Her choices might not have been as silly as I thought immediately after doing the regression. She had lost two men she loved, but her suicide was still totally wrong as with that she eliminated any chance to improve her life, to grow past the mistakes. She ran twice when she should have tried to work things out where she was.

If regressions help us see things about our current lives, my main lesson from that one would be-- don't run from your problems. Don't give up when the going gets tough. I see how important it is to be open to your true self. If the woman had told her uncle what she wanted, would he have blocked her or been understanding. Since she ran, she never found out, and her suicide completed her pattern of trying to escape rather than face things.

Although, no matter what she had done, it could be that love affair was doomed given the cultural times. Star-crossed lovers don't usually get happy endings. What would be interesting to me would have been to find out how the man felt about the whole thing? Did he never love her and was running away with no real caring for what it did to her life? Did he love her and had his life and even faith in himself been damaged by her leaving him? Those are questions I likely will never have answered. Sometimes couples or a group of friends do regressions together, and then they do get various views of the same event. That can be healing to a relationship or very difficult, depending on whether the past wounds are still there.