A Crisis of Napoleon and an Aging Coffee Pot

butter-and-syrup

What do Napoleon, maple syrup, and an aging coffee pot have in common? According to my tangled dendrites, they have crises!

Some years ago, I read a book pondering the “what-ifs” of history. Among them was the odd occurrence of early winter falling upon Napoleon’s naval fleet. The author claimed that–had the frozen waters of the French port not immobilized his ships–America would be French instead of English. Crisis! (Understandably, Europeans probably have a much different version of this tale.)

And then there was our aging coffee pot staring weakly at me this morning, daring me to make one last cup of lukewarm coffee. Crisis! Instead, I opted for black tea with honey and lime–something I was first served on a houseboat off the coast of Kerala. Accompanied by a toaster waffle with real syrup and butter, it made for a happy breakfast. (My husband and I have decided that life is too short not to enjoy real food.)

The Greeks coined the term crisis to describe moments of decision, while just yesterday I had quoted President Kennedy’s observation that the Chinese character for crisis juxtaposed danger with opportunity. Today, I’m going to try embracing my crises in hopes of discovering what wonders might lie ahead.

What wonders have crises created for you?

Love, ❤

Mira

 

 

Gracefully weathering the tides of change

Graceful
ocean

Fact checking: real, or not?

With so many sources of information available these days, how do we determine what we allow into our lives? Who is to say what is real? Reality is a different experience for each of us. When do we walk on by, allowing tidal forces to wash and renew?

Despite the voices proclaiming fear and ruin, cities are reinventing themselves. Industrial towns like Pittsburgh and Detroit are reawakening and allowing the tides of natural decay to take their course, choosing to learn how to stay in the present, learning to live in individual realities. Churches are re-centering: the third largest denomination in the United States (per the 2010 Census) is NON-denominational. They seem to be focusing on helping us deal with our individual realities. (You can tap on the link for details.)

Enlightenment: real, or not? Nearly every self-help source, religion, healer, and wizened person recommends the practice of meditation. This is a world-wide trend, friends. It is finding our higher selves, becoming part of something much bigger: enlightenment. And it is growing. We are allowing it because “it” works.  “It” weathers all tides.

Meditation, like our very existence, can put us into a tailspin if we try to make sense of it. Some people know it as understanding grace. If we can just stop and learn how to live from a foundation of mediation (learning how to be), the puzzle of life solves itself. We, ourselves, can’t do it. Our energy, our peace, our meaning, flows from a source we can’t define. When we can accept our “nothing-ness” alongside our “something-ness” we connect with ourselves, with creation, with our Creator–even if we have no concept of what that means. We just accept.

Allowing the tides…

I love the metaphor of Jesus words (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV):

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

My father rode the changing tide of farming. By the time he retired, he was harvesting with huge machines that did all the work he remembered once doing by hand. Fortunately, he had taken time to tell me stories of farming with horses: how he and his father and brothers took care to choose compatible teams, how one horse became a leader and would nip encouragement to the other when it wasn’t pulling its own share, and how, if a horse strained to go ahead, the result could become painful and destructive.

Meditation allows us to settle into our yoke and harness for the day. If we strain beyond, our futile efforts become painful. If we ignore the gentle tug of the reins, we antagonize our driver and our team.  Jesus told his disciples to go into privacy and close the door to pray. He said words were unnecessary. When we stop and open ourselves to possibility– when we cease trying to be, we learn to be as we were intended.

As always, your views, experiences an comments are always welcome and encouraged!

Mira

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Be That Peace

Unfinished

Until we are able to complete our mission of being that peace, our work on this planet remains unfinished.

*Our local community chorus is privileged to have been granted permission to perform Mark Hayes’ beautiful message in song, as part of our upcoming concert, Peace. (This is the YouTube version.)

Words and music by Mark Hayes

Based on a quote by LAO-TZU (6th c. BC)

©2017 Mark Hayes Music

Alexithymia: the bewildering dilemma of emotional void

Dilemma

One of my teaching colleagues had a poster taped to the front of her desk. It ranks as one of my favorites.

RATE SCHEDULE

………

Answers $1

Thoughtful answers  $2

Correct answers $4

Dumb looks: Still for free

To most of us, this kind of poster seems hilarious. For some, simply a bewildering dilemma. For some, facial expressions are impossible to read–and perhaps impossible to produce. The reasons for this are still being investigated and are thought to range from genetic to environmental to perhaps a single traumatic experience. On the edge of the spectrum, there is even a name: alexithymia.

How to paint emotions when the scenery is deep space

Circling back to my theme of equipping children with self-knowledge, assertiveness, and kindness, I wanted to share that app developers are starting to provide child-friendly tools. These apps can help parents and teachers teach the words and concepts of emotions to children. Time and again, developing emotional intelligence is being seen as key to developing mentally healthy children who can form their own networks of supportive relationships. This also builds the inter-personal skills that help them become productive and financially independent adults.

Here is the list of children’s apps for building emotional intelligence.

Mira

Unless you become like little children…

Pretend

childlike

Pretend: the wonder of a child…

Embracing moments of joy and living with the eager anticipation and assurance of more joyful moments to come…

Until I had experienced enough living to equal about 120 childhoods, I hadn’t been able to understand Jesus’ famous words:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)

The word pretend originated from the Latin word meaning to stretch forth and claim. Personally, I would like to reclaim my childhood wonder. How about you?

I should probably attribute this next concept to someone, but I have now seen it in so many places and credited to so many philosophically-minded folks, that it has created my own confetti-like words in the wind:

For every enlightened soul who has shared what seems like plausible meaning-of-life wisdom, followers have convened to claim ownership and to construct their own air-tight rules. The result is always the same: destruction of the real grains of wisdom. (I am speaking of religions, political beliefs, cultures, traditions, work ethics…all of it.) In fact, just by writing this, I am restricting your understanding. And that is why Jesus’ parables were so brilliant: we can’t know exactly. We can only hope and trust in something that is similar to what Jesus described during his short life.

Here is my personal little childlike box of confetti that, tonight, is what my picture of the kingdom is like. I can assure you that if you asked me tomorrow, it will have even more confetti. (Apparently kingdom boxes work like that!) Furthermore, I am quite certain that we all gather our confetti differently.

The beautiful confetti of children:

(Job speaking to the Lord) Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Job 42:3 

When I try to make sense of something or prove to myself that I have made the best decision, I tend to go a little crazy. The kingdom of heaven is like my world-within-my world. It’s the one I cannot hold onto firmly, because if I try, it disappears. It’s a little like staring at a star: if you look directly at it, you can’t quite see it anymore. When I can just pretend…when I can just accept that what is happening in each moment is simply my next opportunity to find love and goodness, each moment becomes an opportunity to learn. Without the baggage of prejudice (prejudging), outdated information, and yesterday’s advice, we live in gratitude for each other and the resources we have.

Does this mean that learning is pointless? Of course not. But learning anything is never static. Learning creates opportunity and invites childlike awe. If we grab it and wield it like a sword, it just gets old and crotchety. Relationships? New, full of wonder, looking for the next opportunity to find more love. Work? New, full of wonder, looking for more ways to care for, serve, and love each other. Backstabbing competition? Back to old, crotchety, and stinky.

What does your kingdom-box of childlike-confetti look like? It is certainly a challenge to keep it in focus, but when we can find others who are humbling themselves to the point of discovering their own gossamer confetti-threads of childlike wonder, finding the laser-like focus doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

As always, your views, experiences, and comments make us all richer. Please share!

Mira

 

 

 

 

A day without writing…

Jump

bubble-bath
This may be the shallowest, most nonsensical thing I have attempted to shake out of my laptop.

Today was a day without writing. I’m missing my high-board jump into my bubble-bath of words.

For the past ten weeks or so, I have poured out things I thought I knew, things I thought I understood, things I have tried to see through others eyes. Today, nothing. Today, I think I didn’t think. And that was the thought that sparked my comfort-zone of consciousness off the couch.

When even my simplest words haven’t been extruded and examined, I feel as though I haven’t really been here. My eyes, searching up and left (as they always do when I’m trying to get the synapses firing) snatched the day’s random images: the golf shot that I should have been practicing mentally, the synchronicity of fellow bloggers working out why we feel compelled to validate and adopt each other’s view–valiantly attempting to cobble together our own little soul-groups of security. And stranger still–in our  state of nonsensical conundrum–mystified as to why our soul-group is so different from theirs.

At the end of the day, I may not know any more than the morning, but through my struggle to feel alive through the demolition and reconstruction of my elementary words, I’m feeling worthy of taking up space again. It’s the old, familiar brain-muscle-burn, feeling satisfied that I have tried.

How about you? Do you experience a free-falling existential angst when deprived of your me-time bubble-bath of words?

Mira

Loving patiently while they learn…

baretrees
Waiting patiently in silence for the returning spring of life-giving love…

Judging vs. discerning; rejecting the person vs. employing wisdom for daily-living

There seems to be a common theme here in the blog-o-sphere, around which humanity has obstacles of communication for developing a unifying understanding. And yet, perhaps we are growing closer.

I found article on the website TheOverwhelmedBrain.com that beautifully illustrates how a form of judgment can destroy relationships. (Click or tap the link above for access to the article. The website itself is linked here, inside the “Daily Balance” of my Starfish Mission.)

A teacher with whom I once worked seemed to have struck this beautiful balance. She often remarked that her mother, also a teacher, had repeatedly instructed her to “remember to always be kind”. Continue reading “Loving patiently while they learn…”

Judgment ≠ Discernment

Hike

 

scoldingpenguin
Take a hike, chump! You’re not worth my time!!! (judgement or discernment?)

Judgment vs. Discernment (Psychology Today)

Wait–don’t we need to make good decisions?

Sometimes my forays into cautionary tales about being judgmental are met with vehement cries of derision–especially when one’s work hinges upon the ability to make informed and wise decisions. As a teacher, I remember frequent reminders that teachers make upwards of 1,500 critical decisions each day affecting students, parents, schools, communities—well, you get the picture. Teachers are hardly alone in their circles of influence.

My new growth mindset of possibility:

I have come to the place where my most solid assurance is that there is no end: that the conversations go on between all the souls who love each other, living and dead. I have no certifiable proof of this–only that this understanding gives me peace and allows me to maintain open conversations with basically anyone. From a mindset of no end,  nothing seems catastrophic anymore; we just continue learning how to love better. That also allows me to allow others’ their own interpretations of end vs. no end. And yet, when I see others in pain, knowing that there can be life here on the terra firma without emotional pain, I suppose that I cannot, in good conscience, stop myself from putting these thoughts out there.  (Most solid assurance, after all, is not without doubt.)

Each person comes to their working core truth in their own way and at their own time. When you get to that place, I don’t think that you never want to leave that solid foundation. You just build from there. I would love to know what you think: have you reached a meaning-of-life that works for you? If so, how has it affected your interpretation of judgement?  

Decisions, words-meanings, and relationships

So, the building: we humans have our gargantuan task of working out the fabric of meanings that fashion our relationships. Our life-raft relationships that we build despite the raging oceans of our many languages, cultures, contexts, values–all of it, might be secured or destroyed upon the interpretation of a single word: judgement. To me, judgement can mean allowing a relationship or dismissing it.

In my opinion, our interpretation and application of the difference between judgment and discernment is worth mindful consideration.

Value of souls vs. value of physical matters

Claim: Judgment addresses the value of a person. If we can accept that we are all differently-gifted for our own unique life’s purpose, every individual would have equal value. We each contribute to the whole in our own way. I see it as the value of one’s soul and worthiness to take up space, to be heard, and to be loved.

Claim: Discernment, according to conventional interpretation, is based upon what can be observed: objective matters. (Granted, there is also a  Biblical application of the word discernment, which may or may not integrate well. This would probably also make for a good discussion!)  I discovered an article published a few years ago (2011) in Psychology Today. It was written by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, who explains it much more eloquently than I. Here it is again:

Judgment vs. Discernment (Psychology Today)

What do you think? What determines the difference between judgment and discernment for you?  How does that kind of distinction play out in your daily living?

Love, ❤ ❤ ❤

Mira

 

The Spring of Spirituality

Passionate

spring

21 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening – LauraMarie

This year, autumn is reminding me of spring.

In my hemisphere, days are growing cooler and shorter, but there is a new part of me that feels like spring has arrived.

Wrenching oneself away from the world of the concrete, absolute, and scientifically proven can be a little unsettling at first–like flying solo for the first time.

Whether you have caught a glimpse of this dramatically different life through a church, your personal research, a coach–it doesn’t matter. Once here, you don’t want to leave. And, there is an unspeakable joy in the immersion and connection with others who have allowed themselves access to authenticity. In authenticity, we are daring to live greatly in a community of higher consciousness. Here, together, we begin to sense the vibrations of the universe itself. Here, we begin to grasp the personification of passion.

Even though I was raised in a traditional church, thinking this openly is new for me, too. As long as I am able, I will continue to join with others–maybe even you–as we connect deeper and more richly than ever. Jesus did his level-best to help us understand his Kingdom. Let us never attempt to limit our openness to the wonder of creation.

Extricating oneself from a negative past of bullying, abuse, neglect, and/or trauma is cause for celebrating every moment that feels like spring. If you’re still trying to find a reason to celebrate, I’m doing my best to help you start on StarfishMission

The website from above ( 21 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening – LauraMarie ) is the result of a simple Internet search of “what happens when you open your mind to possibility”. I’d love to hear if you have or are experiencing any of the “21”.

FYI – the linked page is in English, most of the rest of the WordPress website for its 5 million followers is French. 🙂

-Mira