Monday, February 26, 2018

Sometimes There May be a Right Way

I have been trying to pay attention more to how I sit, stand and move. I spend too much time sitting in my chair at my desk and on the computer. I find myself, at times, noticing that I am hunched over whether at my desk or over the kitchen sink. I then "stack" my bones on top of one another to stand or sit straighter.

I heard part of a piece on National Public Radio about what's called the hip hinge. This picture illustrates bending from your hips rather than from the waist as we do here in America. Bending from the waist apparently causes damage to the discs in your spine. (This is the link to the piece and a picture of a hip hinge - here.) I don't think, however, that I could do this pose.


I like too think that there are multiple acceptable ways of doing things. Looking at things from a new perspective can help us solve a problem if the usual way doesn't work. But, interacting with people is most likely an area where there is a right way. The right way, in my view, being that of compassion, kindness, caring, and help if I'm not being too preachy. I have trouble conceiving of being mean and bullying as the right way to treat someone. 


I know that I deeply regret it when I have, unfortunately, allowed myself to speak or act out of fear or anger. I mentally chew over it - sometimes for days. It can be hard to apologize if it is something I feel I ought to do. Sometimes, to be honest, if I feel it is not up to me to apologize if I was reacting to someone rather than the initiator of the situation. Relationships can end up in a tangled mess.  

I don't think that the right way, however, is rigid and set. It seems, in some way, to be almost situational. Compassion, kindness, caring, and help can mean different things in different situations. I hope I can make a good call at all times, but in the meantime maybe I'll just practice doing a good hip hinge and "stacking" my bones. Mindfulness about myself may lead to more mindfulness towards others.

The first photograph is by Pana Vasquez. The third photograph is by Matthew Henry. Both were found on unsplash.com. The second image is from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be (here). If you would like to know more about me and my services, you can go to my website for more information.

Monday, February 19, 2018

There is No Edge Between You and the Universe

The Universe Flows Through

Here is a spooky thought: 
the Universe flows through
each of us, connects each 
of us to everyone, everything else.
Nothing keeps the Universe out. It lives
and breathes in us and with us. 
at every second of existence. 

©2018 Kathryn L. Samuelson



What a thought, eh. That all that is seemingly infinite (some say there is an outer boundary to the universe) and all that is within that infinity is connected to us. That it flows through us. Quantum physics says that, while we and every object appear to be solid (and in fact, feel solid), we are actually mostly empty space. This is because, as I understand it, the atoms that make up our physical beings are mostly empty space. We are also, apparently, made up of packets of vibrating energy. 

We are, thus, connected to everyone and everything since we are at the microcosmic level energy. Everything in the universe is energetically created according to some quantum physicists. 

I suppose what I am trying to say here is that what I do to others (and what others do to me and everything around us) affects me, affects all of us. If that isn't a too convoluted way to say this. I suppose another way to state this is: if I act with love and compassion towards others, it comes back to me as love and compassion. If I act angrily and lash out, it comes back to me in the same way. 

We create ripples in the universe which can create a backwash that we get caught in. I believe that I have this correctly: Wiccans believe that what you do comes back to you threefold. 

And, if we are all connected in the great energetic web of the universe, how can we not treat the earth and all that exist on her the best that we can? Because it seems to me that everyone and everything is family in the best, most hopeful sense of the word. 

The first image is from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. The second image is a photograph taken by Sam Windsor and found on unsplash.com

Monday, February 12, 2018

Am I Lost?

What makes me feel lost? What makes a group of people or a culture lost? I suppose it can be various things, although I know that I have been spending far too much time indoors with the weather we've been having in Vermont. Well, plus doing something odd to the outside of my left knee - which is slowly but surely healing. I have not been feeling like talking really long walks between the two. I have felt somewhat disconnected from nature, from the earth because of this. Does this make me lost? What if, despite this, I still know where and who I am? 

David Wagoner wrote one of my favorite poems called Lost. This is it: 

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Where you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, 
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you. 

It strikes me that I can find Here even if I am not in a forest. I can find here by standing still and breathing. If I just look around and inside myself, I can surely find Here. I can know what a tree and bush do even sitting here at my desk typing this post. 

The photograph is by Jamie Street and was found on unsplash.com

Monday, February 5, 2018

Reflections on Ancestry

The US Census Bureau is planning on adding a second question to the Census for white people. Rather, than just checking off that you are white you are now also going to be asked to fill in your family origins. My first thoughts were why, and what is the purpose of this? It felt, frankly a bit creepy and intrusive, although those who are Hispanic have been asked to identify themselves as such for sometime. 

I had the thought to fill out the blank by saying both my parents were born in America as a kind of f__ you statement. Then I thought, if I do answer the question seriously, how far back in my origins do I go? Just to my grandparents? Or great grandparents? Maybe all the way back to Colonial days and beyond. 

My mother was all Swedish. Her mother was the only one of her immediate family born here. Her father's family came to the US when he was 2. So, obviously I would put down Swedish. My MorMor (Swedish for mother's mother) told us that somewhere back in her family was a Russian horse thief. Should I put down Russian? 

Part of my father's family came from England in the 1600's. I am descended from King Malcom III of Scotland, King Brian of Ireland (also known as Brian Boru) and Charlemagne through my 8th and 9th great grandparents that came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony at that time. 

My father's grandfather also came from Sweden. His wife came from England, possibly Liverpool. Her family apparently came to Massachusetts first - just like the ancestors I talked about above. 

I do know that my other great grandmother was from a famliy that was originally from Germany, but I don't know when they came to the US.  When I was much younger, the family said we were part Pennsylvania Dutch, people having mistaken the word Deutsch for Dutch when the Germans first settled in Colonial Pennsylvania. 

I have no clue about where a lot of my ancestors came from.

So, I know that I should put down Swedish, English and German. Do I put down Scots, Irish and medieval French? Well, and as for being English, am I descended from Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Danes from the Danelaw section of England or other groups the may have been in England? Pict maybe??? 

How about Norman French from the Normans who invaded England under William the Conqueror in 1066? Truthfully, Normandy came into being when the French King gifted the province of Normandy to some Vikings so they wouldn't invade the rest of France. The word Norman was derived from the word Norseman. That is if I remember my history correctly.

So, just how far back do I go? France was known as Gaul before it became France. Rome conquered it and England, so Roman? Do I list the various Germanic tribes? There was so much movement around Europe it's probably really hard to know what all my ancestors were.

And, the really interesting thing about anyone who is at least part European or Asian in origin is that we have about 2% Neanderthal DNA.  Does this go on the list?  

As for DNA, I participated in the National Geographic Human Genome project. The purpose of the project was to obtain DNA from as many people as possible to prove to people just how related we all are. And, to hopefully start breaking down the distrust and divisions between people once we learn how related we are. 

I don't remember what I did with my genome map, i.e. the map that shows my origins. I no longer remember my haplogroup. Wikipedia says that: "haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patriline or the matriline."

What I do remember is that my oldest maternal ancestor came, wait for it, from Africa. Do I put that down? 

The photograph is by Ghost Presenter and was found on unsplash.com.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sometimes I Just Need to Take a Step Back

I read a few blogs. One of the ones that I read regularly has created what he calls the Army of Good. They support him by sending donations for the work he is doing at a local senior home and with an area refugee group. He also promotes other causes. I know that he did not intend to make others feel inadequate or that they are not doing enough. He is just encouraging people to do what they can while letting the Army of Good know what he is doing with the money. I let myself feel somewhat badly that I'm not doing more. Then, I took a step back, so to speak, and realized that I am doing what I can. I just don't have an Army of Good to assist me.

I also realized that I had to take a deep breath and take a step back from a situation a friend has created in her life. I allowed myself to get sucked into the belief that she has about this situation. But, the more I thought about the ongoing situation, the more I realized that much of what I was being told makes no sense. I have had to wish my friend well in this situation but step back and try to disengage from it. I no longer want to communicate about this situation. I've said my piece, and now my friend and I now need to move onto other topics as she refuses to see things from a different point of view. 

Another instance of stepping back for me came just this past day or so. I saw a video on youtube.com which claimed something contrary to what I thought about history. I did some research and discovered that, yes, the video maker was incorrect. I thought about commenting on the video but decided to take a step back. It just didn't seem my place to try to correct to the video maker as my assessment was that the video maker seems to be what might be termed a true believer. I decided that I was probably not going to convince the maker or any of those commenting otherwise.

Stepping back can be an act of compassion for myself as it stops me from regret, from giving myself a hard time about something. Stepping back can keep me from becoming embroiled in other people's drama or from being subject to potential vitriol for trying correct other people's beliefs. There are just times when it's not my place and/or not worth the emotional toll. Other times it is important to step up rather than back. I just think in these 3 instances that stepping back is what I needed to do.

The photograph is by Bryan Rodriguez and was found on unsplash.com.