Sunday, January 29, 2012

Note to Self: A Gentle Reminder

A few weeks ago I was given this link by a former student who is very aware of the ache of our times. And, who is a gentle reminder of the beauty that can be discovered in our world of suffering. Some people just have this effect and his sensitivity and concern continues to touch my heart. It is so easy to become lost in despair as we turn on the news, read the paper or listen to the chaotic ring of many of our environments. The temptation of giving-up or selling-out to what is vogue is consistent. So often I find myself opting for the choice, of making no choice, when faced with the challenge of denying my own connection to various forms of materialism. This can be a drag and lead me away from my commitment toward healing myself and the world (of course I usually do not word it like that because it's overwhelming...yet that is the reality). In this moment the quest for hope is needed  in a big way. Every time I deny that reality and allow myself to be persuaded otherwise through my little compulsions and avoidances I am move farther away from liberation, for myself and others. We live our lives for all beings, and yet it is easy to forget this simple reality. The world aches for our compassion and love in numerous ways and listening to this plea from Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest clowns of the 20th C., speaks to me. How did I live my life today to accommodate a better world? This is the question I am left with tonight.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I just returned from an Ayurvedic treatment and am feeling refreshed. Over the past two years I have been combining Alternative Medicine with Western Medicine and today was reflecting on the results. During this time my life has been cold-free and I only have gotten one sinus infection and my seasonal allergies are less. Ultimately this feels really good. I write about this tonight for two reasons.

First, I had time tonight to reflect on the gift this is for me and wonder what it would be like if more people could receive these benefits. Two of the sisters in my local community (the group I gather with for prayer and faith sharing on a regular basis) are leaders at CORE/El Centro ( and work hard to serve the Milwaukee area through  healing and natural life skills. The thing that I admire about CORE/El Centro is that it is an organic community of people trying to help one another on the journey toward better health. The services provided are for people with financial means and those who lack economic opportunity. My hope is that this grows toward helping more people throughout the Milwaukee areas and beyond. We need it!

The second reason I am writing is because it seems that these past weeks I have been really challenged by my own frustrated attitudes and realize that this semester has been a complete shift in rhythm. I am going to say this again...and believe I have alluded to it before...finding and keeping balance is a huge challenge for me.  Last semester was sweet because I could study in the evenings and did not have to set an alarm. The gift was I did not have to teach until 9:50 a.m. and love that time. Well, this semester I need to be at school by 7:30 a.m. and it is leaving me tired. Going to bed at an earlier time is not happening and that is needing to be adjusted. So, my hope is that if this week I attempt to get to bed earlier things may flow more smoothly. Well, Tuesday night is class so sleep is a bust but tonight and the others should have possibilities. The things that have been going better are prayer, meditation and exercise. My hope is that adding sleep to the mix will not cause another thing to drop-out...which is what usually occurs. So, now that I am at the end of this little rant I do not know why this second point was pertinent to tonights blog. I was going to erase it, yet somehow sharing with you does offer an assist with my tenacity. Oh, was a point a gratitude that I have the opportunity not only to have my health taken care of, I also have a ministry (and I absolutely adore the students that I teach) and am a student and in my crankiness need to remember that these are both things that some people will never have and in reality I cherish in what grounds me. Maybe this is smarmy, I think it is, yet true.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Happened to the 70s?

Oh my....I am spending the night with my Mom and she is playing Music Choice and we now are into "Love Hurts" on the 1970s channel...we already lived through "The Night Chicago Died" and "Carwash." Funny thing is this Al Green song just flipped on and she thought it was Tina Turner (one of my favorites). The woman makes me laugh (not Tina, my Mom). I think the 70s have a place in the scheme of things, and some of the stuff is guess is that much of what I remember are the One Hit Wonders of the era and some greats like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Eagles. As we are sitting around talking I keep remembering singing into brushes and playing air guitar on brooms with my cousin Tracy while jamming out to KISS. Thanks for the laughs tonight Mom!!!!

Today the meditation group I belong to met and as we gathered it was so nice to be with them again. Last time I missed our meeting and recognize that this was a loss. As we talked one of the members brought up the "Hopi Elders Prayer." It is a challenge to be a spiritual seeker and observe how we hold ourselves back when unable to let go. This can be something from the past, an idea, fantasy or even blocking a passage for change. My guess is I am not the only one that wants to hold on at times and must listen to the wisdom of the elders, while pushing off from the shore. Two things that arise for me are the need to be willing to follow possibilities, and know the task at hand cannot be done alone. Rather than ramble-on I am attaching the video...the prayer begins about two minutes into it.

Well, I am going to get back to the 70s with my Mom as she hums along to a song I never heard (She just said she hasn't heard it since the 70s. Listening to it now I can understand why). Good night and thanks for being here with me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The new year has been totally kicking my butt this past week. Can you believe we are already through the first week? I can't. And the thing I remember about today is that it is Elvis' birthday, don't ask me why that sticks with me (I haven't been a fan since Kindergarten).

I am delighted that I did not set a New Year's resolution as I would have blown it by Tuesday for sure. So, this is a point of success that would be a great talking point if I were a motivational speaker. Imagine it! Standing in front of a room full of people. They are all filled with expectant hope that they will leave the workshop with a morsel of information that could change their habits and move them toward success. And I come walking out on to the stage and just tell it straight, "I have found the cure to broken resolutions. Just don't make them!" I wonder if people would applaud or possibly ask for their money back. I used to sell cemetery property (this is pre-Sister days) and we had access to any motivational speaker you can imagine. Of course, the reality is that if you can sell cemetery property you can sell anything. The other reality is that although I loved the job it was not a great fit. Basically, I was broke and recognized after a few years that selling was not my business. The most gratifying part of this endeavor was walking with the families as they walked through their grief. I learned during this period that their is nothing more resilient than the human spirit.

Wednesday, I attended a funeral for the mother of a student and that was a difficult day. The service was filled with love and tenderness shared by people who love her. These past days I continue to wonder about this student's well-being and the impact this loss will have on his life. Yesterday, I attended a prayer service and funeral for one of the members of my community. It was a beautiful tribute and the stories shared by her family and the sisters were lovely. And, right now I am emotionally spent and feel sad. Tonight my prayers reach-out to all who are grieving the loss of a loved one and ask that as we walk together we see the light of God's love in the inspiration of those we have loved and the new journey they are now walking before us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wintery Mix, Finally!

Happy New Year! Well, Milwaukee has finally found our way into some wintery weather. It has been a long time since we experienced real snow (at least two seasons have passed) and tonight it looks like the grass is beginning to have its white, fluffy coat again. I hope it stays for a while!!!

Director: Kay Pollak
Last week was a time of catching-up and preparing for 2012...if you can really prepare for the new year. After Christmas I headed down to East Chicago, IN for a three day retreat. On the way down I called two of my Sisters from the community to meet for lunch. It was a great send-off for the days ahead. I was not thinking I wanted the silence as much as I did when the reservations were made for this retreat. Wow, did I find out that I was wrong about that. As I entered into the space the tiredness of the last semester became apparent. It was time for much rest, prayer and shared reflection. On the first night I spent time watching the Swedish film As it is in Heaven and it set the tone for the days. It is all about a man's journey through love while discovering who he is in the process. It is a great film and the acting is superb. It helped me to reflect on some of the ways love has materialized in my life, particularly through teaching and community. Both of these things bring me to greater authenticity and joy. And, also challenge me to open my heart more to the presence of others. There are days when my ego blows up all over the place and my life becomes vicki-centric (likely more days than not) and these last few years the awareness of that reality has become more apparent (yech). When my relationships are only about me  it creates a barrier that is beginning to cause me discomfort...I guess because it lacks authenticity. In the film the main character, Daniel, only begins to experience love as he peals away the layers of restraint that confine his life. While working through his own challenges he is invited to help a Church choir organize and grow in their singing ministry. Ultimately he the choir through liberated expressions of the creative life through his gifts as a musical composer and director. The life within himself is unexpected and rich with surprises. Tonight as this reflection occurs it seems like my aspirations are shifting as, like Daniel, my measure of success changes toward love rather than approval. And, according to the strength of the vicki-centric self this will offer me plenty of work to touch back on over time.