Two Bears Collide With Alzheimers

IMG_1317The third essay in our series is not for the feint of heart. We will exit the world of theory and enter the world of humanity. We have learned about chaos theory via its descriptive terms and we will continue to do so. We have meandered through the woods of Jungian Shamanism and we will continue that endeavor also.

What we will attempt in this essay is to pull all of it together into a story, a real live tale of human connectedness, love, AND blessing or bane, depending on how one views it. The trickster of chaos takes us to the front of the class and invites us to start writing on the board even when we don’t know what the answer is. He’s that bold and innovative.

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Three Bears Collide: Essay #2

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The second essay of our triptych focuses on the thought forms of Jung, the intellectual shaman, who would delve, had he the inclination, helter-skelter into any aspect of many a myth, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, not withstanding. Let’s do that very same thing through the lens of his imaginative and evocative legacy.

Within chaos, creativity is found and within creativity we find answers to life’s mysteries even when those answers are not what was anticipated. Let’s combine chaos theory with Jung. Read more

Bears Collide with Chaos, Jung, and Alzheimer

The first of three essays, this article tells the myth of Goldilocks and the Three Bears through the lens of chaos theory. The first thing to discuss is the reason for using chaos as the structure to hang our myth on rather than the familiar use of myth as moral lesson.

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Myths have a tendency to be told with heavy emphasis on good versus evil, light versus dark, pure versus poison. To tell the tale through that myopic view would limit the potential it has in meaning and application for everyone. There are too many hues between black and white to settle in on two contrasts alone.

Myths have relevance as agents for change without forcing them to iterate themes bound with extremes and moral rightness and wrongness. A myth is universal and holds seeds of insight for anyone who reads the myth with an open heart and mind. So, let’s get right to the telling of the myth without weighing it down with undue finger pointing.

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Falling Into Grace

IMG_1286“I have to sign out in order to go anywhere, Jess. That’s the rules,” Mom dictated as she pointed to a clipboard on the countertop.

“Can I take my Mom for a drive? Who do I notify that we want to go somewhere for the morning?”

“Sure, you can take your Mom anywhere you’d like, ” Ann smiled as she looked up from the computer screen on the other side of the countertop.

Mom and I were standing in the foyer of the assisted living home where she was now living. We were ready to return her electric water pot that had mysteriously sprung a leak since she’d purchased it a month ago. I’d flown in that morning to spend a few days with her for the first time since she’d relocated here months ago.

The home was different than what I’d imagined it would look like. I’d walked in to see a foyer with a large fireplace thirty feet in front of the double glass entry doors. Chairs were pulled up to the fireplace and several people were dozing in front of the cozy fire.  Pictures of pastoral scenes in gilded frames graced the walls. A large, fat cat sat to one side of the green marble mantel obviously at ease, well known and well fed. The cat seemed to give a Cheshire smile each time someone reached over to slide his or her hand down its silky back.

There was no disinfectant odor. Before coming my most awful assumption had been that I would walk in and be accosted with the acrid smell of Pine Sol. Carpet with a filigree pattern covered the floor and extended down the hallways on either side of the fireplace. Chandeliers flooded the area with golden light. To the right and beyond the fireplace was a large dining hall, also carpeted and with tables set for the afternoon meal, a single flower in a bud vase adorning each table.

“Do you have the receipt, Mom?” I’d asked earlier when she told me the pot leaked. I’d noticed the crimped plastic where the pot should have been seamed together so I wasn’t surprised when she’d said, “Jess, my coffee pot is broken.”

“Yes, I have it here,” she was pleased to report even though we couldn’t find the receipt after rifling through her stack of correspondence and searching her purse inside and out. Read more

A Quilt Remembered

On the single bed in Mom’s sewing room were several clear plastic bags filled with fabric remnants. Each remnant had a small red tag stapled to it with its price and length marked in pen as though they’d been tagged and neatly folded for quilters to purchase for their next project.  The prices varied from a dime to two dollars.

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“Where’d you get these bags of fabric, Mom? Can I use some of it?” I asked, with a fair sense of certainty that she’d found them at a second hand store while shopping with my father and that I could use all that I wanted.

One of my parent’s retirement activities had been to hit all of their favorite stores once a week. In fact, they’d been perusing second hand stores for as long as I could remember. But Mom wasn’t doing a lot of second hand shopping since my father had died Read more

A Tough Day Turns Around

snow-countryToday was a tough day. I had no idea it would end up being a hard day because it began with a good deal of anticipation. I had the car to myself, my GPS was in the passenger seat, and I had all day to go anywhere within driving range of where I was currently living.

I stepped outside into the 0 degree weather and was pleased that snow wasn’t falling and the road didn’t look iced over. So far; so good. My plan was to drive to Mainz, Germany. Should take me under two hours, I’d have time to do a bit of sight seeing, shopping, and lunch “on the economy” as they say on the garrison.

But troubles started nagging me before pulling away from the hotel. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, the TomTom wasn’t talking to me. I’d used it to get home the day before, so why wasn’t it working now? Feeling somewhat confident in the general direction I was headed, I eased the rental car away from its parking spot with drifted snow piled in the shape of a rectangle and took off anyway.

Ten minutes and seven miles later, the TomTom still wasn’t voicing any directions and I began to wonder exactly what was wrong. As I looked down at the small device with the blue line heading off the top of the screen but with no voice to speak of, a primal fear began to surface. Primal for me, and from what I’d observed, for many people of my generation and older: how do I work this damn gismo?

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Heat and Healing

lodge_Picture 083A sweat lodge is a time-honored ceremony to cleanse yourself of nearly anything that plagues you. The purpose is to heal via the physical body. Except that I didn’t know that when I attended my first sweat lodge.

What I did know was that my new boss spoke in passionate terms about attending a Lakota sweat ceremony in the hills a few hours away from where we both lived and I immediately wanted to attend.

As the time approached for the event, my boss informed me that she wasn’t able to go due to a change in her schedule. Did I want to drive out to the location of the sweat and attend by myself? She would be happy to inform her friends that I would be coming. They’d look out for me and assist me during the ceremony.

Yes! I didn’t hesitate and the following Saturday, I was careful to follow the directions to the lodge (pre-GPS devices) scribbled on a piece of paper as I drove east into the hills towards Riverside, California.

What was I getting myself into? I was nervous as I made the two-hour drive. I knew little about the Lakota tradition of sweating inside an inipi or womb like structure heated with stones called “Grandfathers”. I was curious though. Read more

Favorite Books of 2014

It’s been a busy year for reading, at least in my home. While on contract in the California high desert, I read a dozen or more books on my off hours. This blog is about those books and their titles but first comes my theory on how books come into my life and the function they play. Perhaps it works the same way for you.

Books come my way in the same way that smokers attract each other around an area designated for their smoking enjoyment. That is to say, when I find myself anywhere or with anyone, it is the most natural thing in the world for books to come up in conversation and to, in effect, gather around me. I respond by partaking of the pleasure in spending time within their pages.

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The Vortex

Painted Background 312The Vortex

While wandering the library this week, I glanced at a title and picked the book up out of curiosity. The Vortex is a book channeled by a collection of entities named Abraham. The authors of the written material are Esther and Jerry Hicks. I won’t mention the full title because I haven’t, as they say in New Age vernacular, ‘embraced’ the belief in the remainder of the title even though the term “vortex” grabbed my immediate attention.

Years ago I entered a vortex. Physically, I mean. I was on the land where the sweat lodge was conducted. Someone had a plastic bucket, the kind of white bucket that paint comes in by the mega-gallon. Water filled three quarters of the bucket.

“Put your arm in up to your elbow,” the person instructed, “and swirl it. Do it slowly and then pick up speed.”

I lowered my arm and began to turn in a circular pattern. It felt natural to swirl it counterclockwise with my left hand and clockwise with my right hand. I turned and turned my arm as the motion picked up speed. I stood and bent over the bucket because it was just tall enough that I couldn’t be on my knees and continue to get an even swirling motion. I experimented with speed: too fast was exhausting and too slow prevented the volume of the water from climbing the sides of the bucket. But when I swirled “just right” the feeling was mystical-magical-odd.

As I circled my arm at just the right speed, I dove into that bucket. Metaphorically, I mean. As all of me energetically entered that swirling, circling, spinning vortex, it became my entire universe. My thoughts quieted, my eyes were glued to the center of the vortex where there was a wind tunnel of absolute peace, and the sensuous feel of the water helped to cool my body from the ninety-plus-degree heat in the canyon that housed the lodge.

“Stand there. Don’t quit. See what happens.” More enticing words could not have been voiced. I kept spinning. Slowly, like new wings of a butterfly unfurling outside its cocoon for the first time, I became captivated by the natural ease of the movement. The movement was the only thing that mattered even as people milled around me waiting their turn to spin the water in the bucket. I didn’t hear their words. I wasn’t to be distracted.

The even movement of the watery vortex held me in its power. I felt the tension in the liquid walls held up by movement and momentum. Everything seemed possible. The movement of an ant to the turning of a planet and everything in-between had potential. It was greater even than possibility.

Potential in its purest form was power untapped, waiting to be born.

Abraham says that our relationship with ourselves, with our world, and with what confronts us, (not in confrontation but in what directly faces us in the immediate moment) can be just like that vortex created by water in a bucket created by the centrifugal force of a moving arm.

Yes! I want that please.

As all good self-help authors do, Esther and Jerry provide a tool to get us into the vortex. The tool is easy to use. I’ll give you an example.

First, there is the statement of impossibility or negation, i.e. some belief you have that causes you uneasiness, discomfort, and even outright pain. When these emotions are present, the vortex is conversely not present. Write that statement at the top of an empty piece of paper.

Second, write the opposite of that statement in the center of the paper and circle it. This statement is where you want to be and is at the center of the vortex.

Picture a merry-go-round. The second sentence is the germ seed for getting into the midst of the vortex or in to the middle of the merry-go-round. It is a statement that fills you with potential, creation, and positive movement, a movement that feels magical and mysterious as though you’re standing over a paint bucket swirling your arm in water.

Now we’re going to fill in the spokes of the merry-go-round with statements that enlarge the central statement. Picture twelve smaller circles that go around the central statement much like twelve numerals that comprise the face of a clock.

As the author’s say, “I promise you” that by the time you move around the full circle filling in each position with a statement, you will be firmly inside the vortex of potentiality.

Here’s an example from my life this week. The sentence at the top of my paper reads: “Reflecting, writing or journaling, and psychological processing are overused ways to learn, to mature, and to grow.”

My center statement challenges the first sentence. Here it is: “Being attuned to my physical body, being aware of early morning gnosis (awareness before becoming fully awake), and looking directly in the eye of the moment at hand, or NOW, are excellent ways to­ BE.” There is no try here, no struggle, no figuring out—there is only the present moment to experience without judgment or comparison. No “woulda, coulda, shoulda”!

Now my supporting statements allow my perspective to move to an even greater awareness and into the center of my inner vortex.

  • These ephemeral ways of being are our birthright as human beings with awareness. (In the 12 o’clock position.)
  • Paying attention to them strengthens them in my life. (In the 1 o’clock position—now you get the idea.)
  • These ways of being are unerring in their clarity.
  • The above “tools” for living life are inclusive of reflecting, writing or journaling, and psychological processing; they don’t have to come at the expense of one another. (Inclusivity at its best rather than exclusivity.)
  • They have their own heartbeat that can be recognized. (They ARE who I am.)
  • I can trust that they operate without thought. (My mind doesn’t run the show.)
  • Learning, growing, and expanding takes place outside of words and psychological processing.
  • Combine all techniques. Yin and Yang fit beautifully together.
  • Honor their rhythm. (Remember in my example: the “just right” speed of my arm swirling the water helped to create the vortex.)
  • There is a perfect balance to be learned in “holding on tightly, letting go lightly”; in other words, use the tools when needed and let them lie in ready when not needed.
  • Nature, sound, and beauty aid in my Being just as the vortex aids in maximizing potential. External and internal unite and I am at the center of the vortex.

This focus-wheel process[1] is a tool just as the bucket with water in it was a tool. Both of them put me back into a natural state of being that enhances wellbeing.

[1] Hicks, Esther & Jerry, (2009), The Vortex Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.), 192.

Frisco and Fear

“You gonna try and ride Frisco again?” asked Tom. He was the contact person for the ranch and we had just finished mucking horse stalls for the morning.

“Hmm, at least the wind’s not blowing this morning,” I answered without really answering him. Instantly, last week’s fear returned.

“Didn’t you say the first time you rode him you were terrified?” Projecting my fear into the story Tom had shared with me last week, I glanced at him sideways as we walked together toward Frisco’s stall.

“Yeah, I rode him, but like I said, I was scared. That was months ago. What did Carlos say?

“I asked him. He told me I rode well enough to ride him,” I said in a voice that wouldn’t convince anyone of the truth of Carlos’ statement. I’d been riding the horses at the ranch once a week for several months but fear erased any confidence I had in my riding ability.

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