Empty Mind

Today, Becca wrote a haiku mentioning “empty mind” among other things here. Her haiku got me to thinking about “empty mind.” So many spiritual traditions teach you to empty your mind so that you might “receive.” I can remember years ago, most likely in my late twenties or early thirties being told to “let go and let God.” It is interesting to look back and see things through the vernacular of the day. Years ago I studied and practiced shamanism with Michael Harner. More accurately; I studied with him and practiced on my own. He published the Shaman’s Drum magazine. As a shaman one “goes into the void” to seek knowledge, wisdom, truth and healing. At that time I was very interested in healing. The “void” is another manner of emptying one’s mind. I remember my void perfectly. I would travel by car to Lake Carlisle, dive deeply into the ground via this body of water and enter the void. My void was the dark blue night sky filled with stars. It was a very rich and dark, almost velvet sky. I used to travel across it with lightening speed acquiring what it was that I needed, healing, wisdom, spirituality. Have you ever had long periods of time when you felt spiritually void? I am just now coming out of one. I used to criticize myself when I had these periods as if I was sub human. Today I realize that these periods are restful and rejuvenating.

I had an experience with The Christ long ago, an experience of deep and all encompassing love. Among other things this opened me up to the understanding that all religions were simply languages, given by God to the different cultures so that God and the culture could communicate. Thus, bringing more goodness into ones life. So why is it that we constantly war over religion. Perhaps we are too interested in the study of our religion and not in emptying the mind. Empting the mind is fairly egoless. This experience also introduced me to many Christians, first in person and then on line. Forgive me if I offend any of you but for the most part they were not particularly nice people. Not everyone mind you, but many. So, what is it about this “empty mind thing” anyway? I know that it does bring me a calmness.

I have a spectacular view from my bedroom window. It is entirely man made, no greenery and nothing particularly natural. Seven floors up, I look out upon the whole north side of St Louis. Within my vision are several steeples and church spires. But most glorious of all is my view of the Stan Musial Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. I just love it! It is my bridge. I took possession of it the day we moved in here. There is also space where I can watch the traffic. I like to say that I can see the movement of the city. This calms and pleases me. It makes me wish for a wonderful and interesting view for all who are homebound. My mind empties with ease when watching, looking and seeing all that is behind our building. Following is a photo of my bridge taken this morning. At first I had decided to take a photo of it daily for the new year. However, I have decided that I shall only take photos of it randomly when it exhibits extraordinary beauty to me.

I have to tell you that I just looked at a comment from my friend Becca. It is odd how we humans interpret the words of others. She never said empty mind. No, she spoke of empty bedlam, something entirely different. None the less she did inspire me regarding empty mind.

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Anger

It is January second here in the midwestern USA. I truly hope that for those whom I have come to know through blogging, those whom I call friend have a wonderful 2014. May it be peaceful and bountiful. That said, let me state that I am not a peaceful person. I suspect that those words will come as a disappointment and a bit of a shock to those who have come to know me here on the Internet. My husband calls me his little warrior or combatant. He says that I am at war with everyone. I will have to state here in my own defense – that is a bit of an exaggeration. But there is also a good bit of truth to what he says. Some of that is a good thing for it is what has often propelled me to stand up to injustices committed upon others. It has also served me when needing to make my way in the world at a time that women did not stand upon the same ground as men. Of course it does not always make for a peaceful marriage (do not worry – we have firmly rooted marriage). It also at times makes me look at things from a skewed perspective, one that is not necessarily correct. Oh, I know precisely where this comes from and have worked over the years on many of those childhood issues as we all do. The anger is an off shoot or a product of a) the fear of being taken advantage of, b) not feeling good enough because I was raised to believe that I wasn’t and c) understanding that there are not just 2 places in life: first and last. I was made to do competitive sports when young, both on horseback and upon the ski slope. And it was always with the understanding that if I did not come in first I was garbage. Hell I used to race against Susie Chaffee our own 1968 Olympic Ski Champion. However, I did this at about 11 years of age. As soon as I was sent to prep school all that unpleasant competition gratefully ended. Funny, I spoke with my sister about 10 years ago about this issue. I discovered that she was angry about having to end competitive skiing and riding when she was sent away to school. I needless to say had never viewed those things from her perspective. I have pretty much dealt with all of those childhood issues. Anger, like anything else can become just a habit. Unhelpful or unhealthy habits simply need to be changed. If the things that made us angry in the first place have been resolved, then getting rid of the anger is much easier. So, in this New Year I am going to do several things to eliminate any unfounded anger. I have placed here within the text two photos that represent serene peacefulness to me.

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1) I am going to look at life and at others from a more peaceful perspective (knowing full well that people are not considering taking advantage of me).

2) Within my state of peacefulness I am going to return to cooking my sweet husband good meals. By the way, I have spoiled him over the years with nothing but fresh, high quality, innovative and superb food. Recently I have said screw this, I am going to eat pre-made, pre-packaged, processed food, something never done here in my home.

3) The third thing that I shall do is become un-angry about being ill, an anger that is surely justified but rather useless. I shall do everything in my power to do volunteer work again. Volunteering has been a lifelong passion for me even when I worked for a living. My job will be to teach English to a group of Nepalese immigrants. This is unlike anything that I have ever done and shall be very challenging. I look forward to this endeavor.

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So … I am interested. How do you look at the new year and what do you wish to do differently? What do you wish to achieve? Please tell me. And … Happy New Year.

Little Bits Of Humor In Life (very little)

Haibun

Conrad Dobler

My question is this, should this very short piece be marked as sexually explicit or tagged as humor? I am going with the latter, with the sincere hope that I don’t offend anyone.

For no apparent rhyme or reason the strangest things come out of my mouth … we are speaking words not creatures. One summer afternoon many years ago immediately after my husband and I had made wondrous love, I sat straight up, opened my mouth and shouted: “Conrad Dobler.” After such warm and intimate moments one might expect sweet nothings for that matter sweet something’s to come out of one’s wife’s mouth. I at that time had no idea who Conrad Dobler was. I learned that he was a professional football player Needless to say my husband was shocked and then went into immediate fits of extreme laughter. This morning many years later I awoke with this man’s name on my mind again after dreaming about him. Why, I ask? That’s rhetorical by the way – please don’t answer.

one layered kimono – good for summer love making

Served up at dVerse Poetry Pub.

Not A Poem

Memoir Through Verse and Prose

I realize today that not all memoir can be written though verse. I did so after reading two posts this morning that made me think about the importance of love. One post was not even that, it was simply an invitation to write. But it was unique because it was filled with love. I believe love to be the most important place upon earth, yes place. I say place for it is and can be a place to dwell. When love comes though us to another it can change lives. I read a second post today that moved me. This post was filled with wisdom written through metaphor about becoming the best that we can be. It was beautifully written and the comments were marvelous.

I realized that when we are at a point in our lives when we are becoming “the best that we can be,” we are often still young, striving and less fully formed than those who are further along on the path. We may not yet know the power of love, a love called Agape. Once we have become the best that we can be, once we are done, formed, that love will just come out of us. I had an extraordinary experience once that demonstrates this love. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that this story is about Liz. It has almost nothing to do with me – I was a conduit.

When we bought our home thirty years ago, where we lived was more important than the home we selected. Due to this thinking I chose a building that I for many years termed the second ugliest house in St Louis. In fact it was (in my opinion). However, we were living in the neighborhood that we wished to be in. This is a three story building built in 1898, a four square. In the 1960s someone tore it up and made nasty little apartments out of it. When we moved in we had a tenant. She was with us for twenty years. She was the very best tenant anyone could ever of had. She was an African American woman who was my age and single. Like myself she worked in healthcare. She had a very loving and caring nature.

Several years later after she had moved, I knew that she had suffered a stroke and that she was recuperating in a nursing facility. I decided to visit her. I have been in many nursing homes for professional reasons. This home was state owned. Without a doubt I can tell you that it was the most disgusting place that I have ever been. She died there. When I visited, I was greeted by the most outrageous stench of urine and feces. It was grotesquely pervasive.

I sat down we talked for a while. She expressed a need to use the bathroom, for which she needed nursing assistance. I knew that she would wait all afternoon before anyone would bother to answer her bell. She was a larger woman that I. I sensibly could say “goodbye” at this point and inform the staff that she needed attention. But I also knew that she would receive none. She would be made to lie in her own feces and urine until another shift had come to work.

She was a little embarrassed, but I knew that there was nothing like having “to go” and not being able to do so. She was unable to walk and needed a wheel chair. I will never know how we managed, but I got her into the chair, into the bathroom, onto the toilet, up, wiped and back into the wheelchair, then back into bed … all in this wreaking, filthy place. Somehow God just decided to use me that day and I am glad that he/she did. I am not sure that I could do it again. But I will say that allowing love to stream through me was rewarding and good. Again know that this story is not about me.

Posted at Poetry Pantry in Poets United with the hope I don’t get kicked out for no poetry.

Your Life Path Number is 7

I have been alone much of my life. I am a natural loner. Perhaps that is why I never dated. I always blamed my “not dating” on my parent’s behavior. But maybe it was just me, and their behavior assisted me in becoming who I was meant to be. Surely my first marriage one of extraordinary abuse left me terribly alone. Then after my divorce I chose to be celibate for 5 years, a spiritual decision. At 28 as a woman of the 60s that was not only unusual it was damned near insane. I was very lucky throughout this period for guys actually took no for an answer and befriended me. Then I met a man to whom I was NOT attracted! And I might add he was definitely NOT attracted to me at all. We became the very best of friends over a period of two years, eventually seeing each other every day and every night just as friends. He too was a bit of a loner. We have now been married nearly 31 years after a two year friendship and a 3 month dating period and living together for 2 years.

neath the waterfall
a lone wet moth surviving
one’s lifes path fulfilled

Loving placed at dVerse

The Inn

Haibun
I loved the Inn At Weston where I grew up. This small country inn was the center of our small Vermont town. There was a pool, no land, just a colonial white clapboard building. As Weston’s history began in the late 1700s I believe that this building was quite old. Today it is gone. Another place has been named The Inn At Weston. I learned that it had burned to the ground sometime in the 70s or 80s. For me it was devastating. It felt as if a part of my life had been destroyed, eliminated. I had worked there from the time that I was 13 until I was nearly 19 during the summer months. One summer when I was 16 and it was about 10 AM, I ran up to Jack’s bedroom that doubled as the office very excited about my flight with Bruce. I burst into the bedroom so excited, for I had just flown a plane in between the Green Mountains and over the Inn. Jack and Hugh were in bed together. I knew Jack was gay, although I am not sure that this was a term of parlance in 1962. I was not embarrassed – I just shared my story and excitement then I left. We were family. Jack was like a dad to me. I truly loved him. Because of that love my reaction was simply one of happiness for him.

fireworks danger and excitement – festival time

Shared with gratitude with the wonderful poets at dVerse OpenLinkNight

A New Day

Initially I closed my comments a couple of months ago to have the time to write new poetry and have time to read the poetry of others. However, the best laid plans of men etc, etc. I have written nothing. I can say that I have had the pleasure of reading the poetry of others leaving a comment or not. This period of time was nonetheless very productive. I finally nudged myself with the assistance of several autobiographies and biographies to that place where a decision had to be made, write or not to write? For a long time I have wanted to write about my mother’s WWII scrapbooks. They tell a story – but what story? Sometime after reaching that conclusion I knew that I had to incorporate my own story into my writing. There has been no movement except for a niggling little voice saying, “who do you think that you are, who would wish to read about you?” I know, I know, childhood stuff of which I should let go. Then I started reading an autobiography of Ivana Lowell (Lowell as in the poet Robert). My library is filled with biographies and poetry. There is not much fiction. Ivan Lowell is a member of the famous Guinness family as in “dark stout,” something that my grandmother used to give me with a steak when I came into New York for a weekend from prep school at fourteen. I clicked with Ivana! I felt a real identification. I have also been reading about the Bouvier sisters and was fascinated to find that our childhoods had similarities that made me identify with them too. Please understand that for me to be able to identify with anyone at all is a real coup. This identification process comes at the age of 66 years. Not feeling good about oneself is always the result of numerous accidents of fate and planned developments in ones history. I think that the most difficult thing in my life has been the fact that I have never identified with a soul. When I say identify, I am speaking of that feeling of having something in common with another so that you get to say hmm, there are other people in this world like me. It is the process of being able to look at another’s life and feel “wow, she is just like me.”

Reading the autobiography of Ivana Lowell has given me the permission that I have needed to begin the story of my own life. I have lead a strange life not however as unique as the lives of my sister or my brother. I was the normal one in the family, something each of my siblings shied away from. Does this mean that when writing I will have to “change the names and places” of everything and everyone about whom I write? Being a very literal person to whom authenticity is exceptionally important, the idea of changing names and places does not appeal to me at all. The other aspect of that is that I plan on using a lot of photos including those of my sister and brother. Can you see I am already worried about a lawsuit from them? And yes, they have attempted to sue me in the past. The result of that legal debacle was that they lost money they didn’t have and I lost money that I did have. Just one more thing, I stated that I am the normal one in the family, in the entire family including my parents. I knew that when I left home at eighteen I was escaping. I had no skills. I had no training and I had just been kicked out of college. I headed for Greenwich Village. I believed that I was escaping a long history of mental illness. And so I did. But you can’t really escape mental illness can you? No you cannot. I spent the next twenty years in physical pain. There was nothing organically wrong with me, I simply placed the family mental illness into my physical body.

So, my comments are open again and I shall begin to write. I don’t yet know where to begin but I shall figure that out.