Friday, September 29, 2006


Inner shifts are not always easy. To move from one way of being to another, to advance the quality of one's Soul, one must often endure chaos and sadness and paralyzing doubt. One must often be purified in the fires of uncertainty. Nerves and tears and the desire to remain curled in a fetal position are part and parcel of great inner shifts. So are unexpected events that reveal our hidden fears. Fears of loss, fears of inadequacy, fears of love being flushed away.

My current inner shift has involved the unexpected illness of both of my cats. First Raindance, seemingly on the road to recovery, and now Romance. Sudden and swift in her descent. It remains to be seen if her aging soul has agreed to pass with me through this current shift. I'm holding vigil. I'm holding out hope. But what I'm truly holding out for is a state of surrender.

For any inner shift to happen, for any positive, lasting forward movement to occur, one must let go of the illusion of control. One must let go of the safety of the known. One must let go of the toe-hold on the edge of the cliff, surrender to the invisible thermals and fall forward into the void.

In that state of brave surrender, wings will emerge. Strength will emerge. Acceptance of the ebb and flow of life will emerge. And most profoundly, a deeper awareness of God will emerge. In that awareness, one remembers inadequacy is impossible. Loss is an illusion. And love is the blood and the breath of one's Soul.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dalai Days #2

The winds of change were blowing strong on the 2nd day of the Dalai Lama Experience. It began for me at 8am as I slipped into a seat in a small auditorium, just in time for a community meditation. The audience and me were introduced to the man who would "hold the space", from center stage, during the 1/2 hour meditation. That man was Lama Surya Das. I had only recently heard his name. I knew nothing about him. That didn't stop him from changing my life.

Lama Surya Das is a nice white boy from Long Island, NY, who graduated from the University of Buffalo. He is an ordained Dzogchen Lama trained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He has studied extensively for 30 years with great teachers of the major Tibetan schools, including the 14th Dalai Lama. He even spent 8 years in secluded retreat. He has written numerous books, including Awakening the Buddha Within. His great gift is the ablility to convey the ethics of Buddhism in a manner that the Western mind can understand and apply to daily living. To put it simply, he is a bridge.

The American Lama began the meditation with a deep-throated chant. Tears immediately leaked out of my eyes. I'm pretty sure he jarred the door to my heart open a tad wider. After the meditation, Lama Surya Das gave a 1 hour lecture about simple concepts of Buddhism and the virtues of the Dalai Lama.

He told the audience that Buddhism is about harmony, tolerance and non-violence. That he proclaims "loving kindness" is his religion. That the practice of Buddhism honors beings seen and unseen. The American Lama went on to tell us to contribute to others, but don't try to convert others to our way of thinking. He said we needed "beginner's mind" throughout our lives, the mind that is fresh, open and willing to learn. He explained that transforming oneself tranforms the world. Healing oneself heals the world. Disarming one's heart, disarms the world. That life is a journey of awakening, and we need to look for the Light in everyone and everything. He said we need to root out the inner anger and become living examples of peace. Become the yeast that helps humanity to rise up. I agreed with every word he said.

Lama Surya Das told us that the 14th Dalai Lama visits 50 countries a year promoting peace. That he is a "person of peace" and a lover of science. That his highest gift is humility. He told us the Dalai Lama lives the Bodhisattva Code: to effect the greatest good for the greatest number.

Lama Surya Das spoke my language. He made me understand there is a host of people who think like I do. A host of people who strive for tolerance and the simple act of extending kindness. I felt less alone after he finished his lecture.

The stadium speech of the Dalai Lama at 3pm, was less clear, as he is not as fluent in English as the American Lama. However, his personality came across, which I would describe as funny, humble and down-right adorable. His message was concise: be warm-hearted. Be kind. Be compassionate. To everyone and everything, including animals and the environment.

What more do we need to know?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dalai Days, #1

My karma was good. Doors opened. Seas parted. Seats were available. The Universe ushered me through 3 days of learning with precision and exactitude. My Dalai Days were important. Needful. Wonderful. Inwardly bountiful. My days of the Dalai Lama Experience are embedded in my cells, changing me and moving me swiftly in the direction of greater compassion and greater peace within.

It began on Monday with the inter-faith service. The 14th Dalai Lama was revealed as a great Unifier, in contrast to the great religious Dividers that are currently in circulation. Music was played, prayers from every faith were recited and a slender, golden thread was tied around each wrist in attendance to symbolize peace among all people. The Dalai Lama spoke briefly about peace and kindness, 3 minutes of silence were observed and the responsive reading ended with the audience reciting aloud:

"We offer the merits of our presence here today
to the health and well-being of everything;
our planet, its people and creatures.
May their ills be healed and their life upheld
throughout space and time."

Promptly following the service, I snuck into the exhibit room before the crowds converged. Inside the exhibit room was a masterpeice. A momentary breath of exquisite beauty. A Tibetan Monk-created sand mandala. The mandala, Sanskrit for circle, symbolizes the pure, perfected Universe. The mandala is a visual aid for establishing feelings of peace, well-being and wholeness during a ritual or ceremony. Millions of grains of sand are poured through metal funnels into an intricate 5 foot circle, filled with sacred geometry. 14 colors are used. Deities are invoked and continuous blessings are requested. It is a map for enlightenment with ancient, secret symbols hiding in plain sight. It is believed that a sand mandala has a positive effect on all who see it. (Lucky me.) Above all, the most important element of a sand mandala is the collaboration of the monks in its creation. Working together is the value of Tibetan ritual art, not the element of originality, as it is in the West.

This was a sublime introduction to the 14th Buddha of Compassion and his severely threatened culture. My first Dalai Day was a study in unification and collaboration, and the calm beauty those 2 practices invoke.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Pope Innocent the 3rd is losing patience with me. His arms are crossed and his Papal shoe is tap, tap, tapping away. His eyes are squinty, and he is bursting at the seams. Bursting with excitement to divulge to the world the glories of having been in the presence of his Homey Lama 2 days in a row. If I hear him hum "Hello, Dolly" one more time, I may have no choice but to smother him with a prayer flag. However, that would not be compassionate or an expression of loving kindness. So the humming and the tapping and the beady-eyed squinting will have to go on while I digest and process and integrate the whole 3 day Dalai Lama experience.

For now, I will say that my life has indeed changed. I laughed and cried and was confirmed in things I already knew. I learned my personal spiritual practices are more Buddhist than I was aware. I encountered kindred souls and I gained more self acceptance. My heart has opened wider. I am now in a state of surrender, welcoming and awake to the goodness that is flowing towards me in all areas of my life.


Monday, September 18, 2006


As a shining spark of God, it is my calling to live in a state of Elysium. It is your calling as well. Elysium, sounding like the essence of romance to my ear, has evolved to mean paradise or heaven. I wish to paint the word in flowing script above the lintel of my door to remind myself, in my comings and goings, that heaven on earth is my responsibility to invoke. That heaven on earth is a deliberate choice, a deliberate attitude, a deliberate way of life. I wish to remind myself that heaven on earth is more than a dream.

Elysium is possible on our mortal plane and in our mortal minds when the decision is made for peace and love to be a priority. When peace and love are the only priority. Then we will cease to be fascinated by tales of violence and war and instead be enamored with lives of compassion and goodwill towards ourselves and others.

Elysium requires a monumental shift, one person, one mind, one soul at a time. This shift requires my soul and yours to relinquish our daily need to be right. To be in control. To never appear weak. To win.

This shift requires liberal compassion and liberal forgiveness. Towards ourselves. Towards others. For everything.

This shift requires the end of self-imposed perfection and the beginning of self-acceptance. Acceptance that we have lived our lives to the best of our abilities, up to this very moment. Acceptance that there is no one to blame for the choices we have made, the actions we have taken, and the unloving things we have said.

Elysium is the natural result of a mind and soul at peace with itself. A mind and soul aware of the beauty within itself. A mind and soul focused on love. Heaven on earth will come to pass one shining spark of God at a time. Until one divine moment the sparks converge and our mortal plane outshines the sun.

{Today, at the 4pm inter-faith service with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the dais was covered with representatives of most major religions. It was a living, breathing example of peace and tolerance and respect for all people. It was compassion in action. It was Elysium.}

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Word From The Wise

"Compassion is not religious business,
it is human business.
It is not a luxury.
It is essential for our peace
and our mental stability.
It is essential for human survival."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Broken Glass

This evening, while doing research online, I heard a clunk in the kitchen. I got up to investigate. I found my cat, Raindance, hovering over the prized 1970's drinking glass I had left on the kitchen table. The one with the groovy yellow and orange flowers in semi-3D. The one that was part of a set of 6 I found one serendipitous Sunday at Our Lady Of Fleas. The glass was now in 3 pieces. Raindance was happily lapping up its former contents.

Even though I'm terribly fond of the groovy glass and even more fond of the idea of having 6 matching ones, I celebrated its destruction. And I thanked Raindance for breaking it. No, I'm not mildly insane. I am aware. Aware of the significance of broken glass.

Anytime glass shatters or breaks in my vicinity, it directly reflects a piece of my past that has been shattered and let go of. It reflects a breaking open of new opportunities. It reflects a significant, positive change about to enter my life. The Universe, knowing how much I love signs and omens, always sends me timely notices just before a shift. Broken glass means a definitive shift is on its way.

If I'm paying attention, which I usually am, I can read the signs within the signs. I can read the fullness of the Universal notice. This evening's example included the element of water, as it was the liquid inside the groovy glass. Water was spilled. Water represents the emotions. I will likely have my emotions at the surface, perhaps spilling out, during this forthcoming shift.

This evening's example also included the timing of the groovy glass destruction. At the exact moment of the clunk in the kitchen, I was researching options and activities online for the arrival in Buffalo, New York of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I will be viewing the monk-created sand mandala Sunday, attending an inter-faith service with His Holiness on Monday and having a full-blown day of all things Buddhist on Tuesday, culminating in the Dalai Lama's keynote speech at 3pm.

Thanks to Raindance following Universal instructions to the letter, I now know the days of the Dalai Lama will shift me and break me open wider than I previously dared to guess.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Horse Power

Each time I drive in or out of Akron, I pass an Arabian horse farm. With 3 new babies in the ranks this year, there has been plenty of activity in the pastures. Lately, the whole herd appears to be turned out each afternoon as I drive by. As with any animal sighting I have, there is a Universal message calling my attention. The message, lately, is horse power.

In many cultures, horses represent power. Not power over others, but power over the self. Power of the self. Power within the self. This power, as symbolized by the horse, involves moving into greater personal freedom through releasing internal constraints. Through releasing prejudices, judgments and misguided beliefs. Through releasing narrow parameters that narrow my field of possibilities.

When horse shows up in force, it's time for me to stop limiting my own power. It's time for me to stop allowing my brain to overrule my heart. It's time for me to stop objecting to the timing and the packaging of opportunities that the Universe clearly drops in my path. It's time to stop the careful weighing and over-analyzing and jump in boldly with both feet. Up to my neck and beyond. It's time to stop complaining and start embracing. Embracing life and love and limitlessness.

Anything is possible when I take my own power. Anything is possible when I open my heart wide and let the unexpected in. Anything is possible when I unbridle myself of fear and allow the power of love free reign.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Letting Go

My middle name is Polly Anna. Sometimes I hold out hope for the highest good to emerge when it is clear the ship has sunk. Sometimes I hold on to things beyond their designated usefulness. Sometimes I'm still looking for signs of life at the funeral. Sometimes I have a challenge letting go.

Whether I'm holding on to people or emotions or things, the holding on has the illusion of somehow serving me. Of somehow benefiting me. Of somehow supporting me. Or I wouldn't be holding on or holding out hope when they're already salvaging wreckage.

Sometimes being unable to easily let go of people or emotions or things, when they have clearly passed their expiration date in my life, comes from the misinformed notion that I am not complete or safe or supported without that entity. That all on my own, naked before God, I am inherently lacking. That I am vulnerable. That I cannot support myself physically or emotionally or spiritually.

Luckily, the Universe knows precisely when to pull Polly Anna from the stage. It knows, in Its infinite wisdom, when it's time for me to let go and move on. When it's time for me to reaquaint myself with my own inner strength. It first gives me the option to let go easily. If I resist and insist that my ideas and illusions about the person or emotion or thing are still protecting and supporting me, life gets difficult. In the end, resistance is futile. Because the Universe is on a schedule. And my physical, emotional and spiritual growth is part of that schedule. Change is growth and letting go is the only way to change.

The amazing thing is, when I have made the decision to let go of the person or emotion or thing, my life catapults forward. My life becomes more and less. More open. More joyful. More filled with possibilities. And less burdened. When my Polly Anna can let the ship sink and cry at the funeral, I return to knowing my connection to God is my inner strength. My connection to God is all I need to be complete and safe and supported.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Transformation In The Air

Monarch butterflies are on the move. Here in the western region of New York state, orange and black wings can be seen fluttering in meadows, fluttering in yards and fluttering in rush hour traffic. Autumn migration is underway. The perilous, miraculous journey on 4" wingspans from southern Ontario to Mexico marks a time and a season for great transformation. Not only for the monarchs, all born in the north, making the 1,800 mile or so flight for the 1st time, but for us on the ground as well.

If monarchs cross our path and come to our attention, they signal internal and external transformation. They signal inevitable change coming our way. Whether we want it or not. Monarch sightings put us on notice to begin accepting new opportunities, new ways of thinking, and new, more positive ways of existing in the world. They herald joy. They herald ripeness. They herald bounty.

As is always the case, we have the choice to embrace or reject the announcement. We have the choice to remain the same or migrate to our fuller selves. We have the choice to stand on the perilous brink of the unknown, arms flung wide, shouting "bring it on, Universe!" or remain locked in our safe and stagnant cocoon.

If monarchs cross our path and come to our attention, we must be brave enough to make that phone call. We must be brave enough to establish boundaries. We must be brave enough to apologize. Brave enough to open our hearts, and open our minds to the beauty of other people and cultures.

Like the monarchs, we must be brave enough to set off on our own miraculous journey. And trust in our instincts to see us through the inevitable changes to warmer climates within.

{I saw 21 monarchs today. Despite my anticipatory nerves, there ain't no use fighting this transformation...}

p.s. The beautiful monarch photo is from Misty in Erie, PA.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ode to Joy

Joy is a full-body experience. It cannot be experienced with the mind alone. Joy is not the snicker. Joy is the belly laugh. Joy is the sensation that pleasures your brain, your heart and your gut simultaneously. When joy is in full-swing, it pleasures your Soul.

When you commit to welcoming joy into your life, it can show up in a moments notice. It can arrive in your mailbox. It can walk through your door. Last Thursday, it marched up my street.

I had been home for 5 minutes when I heard them. The drums. The whistles. The trumpets and tubas. I knew instantly it was the Akron Highschool Marching Band. One of the very best highschool marching bands in all of New York State. I heard them draw closer. Suddenly, I realized they were turning up my street. My full-bodied joy began to take hold.

I started darting from room to room, searching for my digital camera, jamming shoes on feet, scaring the cats with my excited "oh, oh, oh!". I ran out the door just as the band came into view.

Even without their starch white uniforms trimmed in orange and black, this band is outstanding. Focused. Tight. I was the only one on my street to show up for the personal parade. But my enthusiasm and joy filled the neighborhood to the same extent as the drums. At least it felt like that to me. The crisp, marching rhythm and rhyme of those talented teenagers engaged my brain, my heart and my gut. On a moments notice, those talented teenagers became my ode to joy.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I've set up a little virtual Art Shop on a lovely site called "Etsy". The site only handles handmade goods. Unlike ebay, it is not auction-style selling. So there are more chances to view and review before making a purchase decision. With no one bidding against you. For anyone with an artistic calling, I would recommend this site.

To access my little virtual Art Shop, click on the link in the right hand margin: "View my artwork 4 sale".

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Owl Omens

Owls are showing up again. For 20 years, they have crossed my path, bringing messages and wisdom. Bringing sharp focus to lessons and ideas I need to embrace. Owls are symbols of the feminine, the moon and the power of inner vision. When owls show up, rapid change is in the air.

My first owl encounter was with Bubo Virginianus, the great horned variety. The owl was lying on its back near a waterfall, freshly expired. It's beauty left me breathless. I stretched out its wings and fingered its talons. I wanted to take it home with me. My hiking companion would hear nothing of it. As a compromise, I clipped one wing feather to honor its energy and its life. That one feather is still with me. As a tool to cleanse one's aura, its power is palpable.

Last week, while walking through a park in the Village of Mayberry, I came upon my 2nd wing feather of a great horned owl. A smaller version of my 20 year old one. Powerful, nonetheless. The great horned owl, CEO of the Order of Owl, brings the message and omen of non-hesitation. Of grabbing, with assertiveness, all positive opportunities that cross one's path. Of living life with fervor.

Three nights ago, at 10:09pm, I heard the soft whinny outside my window of 2 dueting Otis Asios, commonly known as screech owls. In late summer, as fledglings disperse, the whinny-calls are heard to mark territories. The screech owl, looking like a great horned in miniature, brings the message and omen of cooperation with others while maintaining one's individuality.

Today, Tyto Alba, the ghost-like barn owl arrived in Mayberry. All the way from Southern California. The barn owl, titled "Spirit Guide", arrived painted on a gallery canvas, with a human face and a full-moon halo. A glorious and generous gift from an artist friend. The barn owl, master auditory hunter of the Order of Owl, brings the message and omen of adaptability, invention, hearing and heeding the inner voice, as well as clairaudience. It is the guardian at the gateway to the Faerie Realm. And because of its heart-shaped face, the barn owl brings the omen of building a bridge between the heart and the mind.


Update: autumn 2010/ winter 2012~

This is bar-none the most visited post on my blog. It comes up on search engines for "owl omens" all over the globe. Every single day people are inquiring about owl sightings and find their way here hoping for answers. Most think an owl sighting has negative connotations. I believe it does not. Nature is constantly sending us signals to better our lives. As I said in the comments section of this post, nothing is ominous, but perhaps caution is advised.

Owls, being masters of the dark (nocturnal), are usually recommending we listen for what is not being said in a situation, and seeing what has previously been hidden to us. They ask us to find and face what we may have chosen to be deaf and blind to in order to keep the peace, not make waves or continue playing small to make others comfortable. Owls want us to bring forth our best selves, to shine a light in this sometimes dark world. We can only do this if we are true to ourselves. And being true to who we are, true to what we know is right for us as an individual, takes courage.

Think of the owl as truth serum. Whatever situation pops into your mind as you contemplate the owl sighting you've had, know a greater truth must be revealed and lived regarding that situation. Follow your gut. Take action if that feels appropriate. Perhaps the owl's mantra, the owl's omen should be~"the truth will set you free."

It's all good, if you allow it to be.


Click HERE to read my 2012 post on snowy owls.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Soulmates Revealed

A few of the soulmates who have stretched me, supported me and forced me to grow...

My cousin Lisa, pictured above on the left with me on the right. My favorite activity in life is laughing with Lisa.

My Great Onkel Franz, pictured above at 90 years old, with me, in his home in northern Germany. Onkle Franz sits in his living room chair in full view of a picture of me. He has placed 2 ceramic birds with my picture. He told me this spring, during my visit, he looks at my picture and the 2 birds and thinks of an old German song that says, "If I had wings, I would fly to you".

My 13 year old cat, Raindance Little Shoes, pictured above in her favorite walnut box. A more self-centered, demanding and love-giving cat does not exist.

Woody and Lisa. They have been with me for 22 years. Loving me and supporting me through unpopular choices I have made and traumas I have endured.

Ranaiah and Kat. My 2 spiritual sisters who have seen me through the bitter darkness and shared with me the joyful light.

My Dad. He has given me birds and stars and my philosopher's mind.

My cousin, Heidi. She is 7 years younger than me. When I first saw her as a newborn, in a cradle in a yellow room, my heart knew I had been waiting for her.

My childhood friend who reappeared in my life as an adult. She brought with her a beautiful lavender aura. She also brought her fundamentalist Christian mindset. She ended up thinking I was the devil.

Ben. He was the example in my life that even deeply loved best friends must sometimes be let go.

My co-worker, Don. He has helped to bring my comedic side out of the closet by sharing his great gift for physical comedy.

My co-worker, Janet. She is a walking prayer of grace and kindness.

The night nurse at the Erie County Medical Center who, 4 years ago, helped me through 16 days of hell and transition. She woke me up at 3am on Christmas morning to give me a present. A snowman statue holding the word "joy".

Susan. She is a bastion of encouragement and the greatst supporter of my creativity.

Rico. He was the one to face me down with my insane past habit of hearing 99 compliments and 1 criticism and focusing soley on the criticism.