Monday, May 21, 2018

A Conversation I Wanted to Have

I saw two videos on YouTube and listened to Krista Tippet's On Being this past weekend. They were about listening to the "other" and having conversations with people we don't agree with. These are about what we can learn from the "other" yet clearly saying I don't agree while giving the other person the space to think and change his/her mind. These are the links: 

Being under cover in the alt-right: here
Making friends with a Klan member: here
On Being: here The title of this episode is "How Friendship and Quiet Conversations Transformed a White Nationalist"

Often people fear the other because they don't know the "other." I am surprised when someone I know makes statements about the "other" that, thinking about the statement makes no sense or has no basis in fact. Unfortunately, according to some research my sister told me about, providing facts to a "true believer" contrary to his or her belief system can, ironically, make that person more of a true believer.

Watching the videos and listening to the On Being program reminded me of a conversation I had with someone I've known for sometime. In fact, I don't really know how long I've known her. I've also known for sometime that we are rather diametrically opposed politically/philosophically. I can't figure out how, as a woman she can be a Trump supporter. From my point of view the white supremacist movement is also a patriarchal movement. 

I haven't tried to have a conversation with her let alone the probably multiple conversations that it would take to get to the heart of where her belief system is coming from. Most likely fear is what is at the heart of her beliefs is my guess, but I don't know. I did try to start a conversation with her on Facebook one time about something she said to me at an event we were both working. It was in relation to a venue that someone we know would have events. It's a Unitarian Universalist Church and had a sign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. She, apparently, wasn't happy that the events were there because she didn't support gangs.


I was stunned, probably said something like "oh" and walked away. I didn't think it was an appropriate time to try to talk to her about this. I did send her a Facebook message saying that it was good to see her, that I was curious where she got her information about BLM as everything I had read said that it was about protesting violence against black people and not about supporting gangs. She responded that it was good to see me, but did not respond to my question. I didn't follow up on the question.

Could I have continued this conversation through Facebook? Should I have? I have not seen her since as we only see each other at events. But, I do feel that I've missed an opportunity to listen to her to see what drives her beliefs in this direction, and maybe if I was lucky, help to open her up to a different point of view. 




The photographs are by Alexis Brown, Joshua K. Joshua and Gradika. I found all of them on unsplash.com.

I can help you on your journey through either Channeled Angel Readings or Life Coaching sessions. My book can help you as well. For more information, please click here.







Monday, May 14, 2018

Practicing Radical Ambiguity and Radical Persistence, Part 2

This is the second part of the post that I wrote some time ago for the now defunct blog for which I was a guest blogger. Again, it was written while I lived in Massachusetts. 

I still think that this pertinent. Please note that this was written before my book was published. And, my daily practices have evolved to other practices than the ones that I wrote about then. That said, I think that they can be useful for anyone who wants to try them. And, as I wrote at the end of this post, I would like to hear about your techniques.

Here it is: 


The question, then, is what are the ways that we can live with radical ambiguity and be able to continue radical persistence? How can we work through the fear, anxiety or stress that keeps us from being able to live with ambiguity and to persevere?

I would like to repeat a technique from my previous blog post on the subject of practicing radical ambiguity and radical persistence. I said in that post:

I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm. On page 87 he says:

There are several simple methods for taking care of our strong emotions. One is “belly breathing,” breathing in the abdomen. When we are caught in a strong emotion like fear or anger, our practice is to bring our attention down to the abdomen. To stay on the level of the intellect is not safe. Strong emotions are like a storm, and to stand in the middle of a storm is very dangerous. Yet that’s what most of us do when we get upset; we stay out in the storm of our feelings, and they overwhelm us. Instead, we have to ground ourselves by bringing our attention downward. We focus on our abdomen and practice mindful breathing, just giving all our attention to the rise and fall of the belly.

Bringing our attention downwards can, I think, help us move into that space of being at peace with ambiguity and away from the fear and anxiety that ambiguity can create in us. And, coming into that place of serenity can allow us to continue our practice of radical persistence in moving to a place of healing and living our purpose.”

Thich Nhat Hanh then asks us to notice a tree in a storm and how that tree may sway but does not break. He then asks us to be like a tree when the storm of emotions passes over or through us and to breathe into our trunks, i.e., into our navels. We should follow the rise and fall of our abdomens, breathing in this way for 10 to 15 minutes until the storm has passed. He suggests that we make sure that we do this in a stable position, such as sitting.

Meditation can help us move through the storm of emotions somewhat surprisingly by helping us to face them while at the same time bringing calmness to us. I also find that walking helps me during those times that I am stressed or worried. Another practice could be combining practices. I took a long walk early this morning and made it a walking meditation for at least half the walk. It was interesting concentrating on where I was, the meditation, my breathing, and feeling solidly in my body. I felt very calm afterward.

Naming our emotions helps us to face them and to move through them. Naming them can also help us avoid masking them with depression or another emotional state.

One of the meditation texts that came through to me for Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be (the book that a friend and I are working towards self-publishing) is: “Dance your body through life.” I think that putting on music and dancing, twirling, spinning, in other words moving, can help us through those storms and lead us to be able to cope with ambiguity and to persevere. Dancing or some other form of movement such as yoga, Pilates or whatever form of exercise calls to you would be helpful, I think. I went to You Tube before sitting down to write this post. A search popped up yoga videos to help you deal with anxiety, fear and stress. There were videos to help you create fearlessness through yoga.

I think that singing, chanting or toning might be a technique that would be successful for some people; after all we are bundles of energy, with each of us having an electromagnetic field. I believe each of has a unique frequency of our own. By becoming aware of or “in tune” with our frequency we can, I believe, ameliorate the effect of worry and stress, to open ourselves up to peace and trust.

A personal practice of mine has been to say the following during many meditation periods:

I love myself, my work and my life. I love what I, my life and my work are becoming.

I trust in myself. I trust in the process. I trust that I am healing and will be healed. I trust that I have more than enough money and will always have more than enough money.

I act with love, compassion, kindness, and wisdom towards myself and others.

Thank you.

I repeat these statements a number of times—whatever feels “right” for a particular meditation session. Then I reduce it down to I love. I trust. I act. Thank you.

I also say the following when I want to bring more solidity and trust into my life:

Great Mother:

I place myself in your hands and I trust that you are providing me with everything that I need and want at the right time.

I place myself in your hands and I trust that you are providing me with everything that I need and want at the right time.

I place myself in your hands and I trust that you are providing me with everything that I need and want at the right time.

I place myself in your hands and I trust that you are providing me with everything that I need and want at the right time.

I try to repeat this several times during the day when I am feeling a bit rocky and unsure. You can, of course, change it to whatever name that you call the Divine.

Just sitting with nature is a technique that some use to bring peace. I recently heard about what its practitioners call earthing. Earthing is placing your bare feet on the ground and letting yourself become grounded by the earth.

I read this quote this morning on the White Feather Farm blog: To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard. It occurred to me when I read this that sometimes just taking the leap with faith, to dare is what is called for to practice radical ambiguity and radical persistence. The challenge is to breathe deeply and trust through the risk.
I have begun to notice a shift in myself through the various practices I have personally done over time. What practices have worked for you? I am interested to know.


Both images are from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be (here). I can help you on your journey through either Channeled Angel Readings or Life Coaching sessions. For more information, click here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Radical Ambiguity and Radical Persistence, Part 1

I wrote this post some time ago for another, now defunct blog when I was living in Massachusetts prior to moving to Vermont in 2014. Please excuse the present tense in this post because I decided I'd rather tell you that it was written some time ago rather than going through and change all the tenses. 

I believe, however, that it still speaks to me. I hope that it still speaks to you. So, here it is: 

My local community has four or five ponds, one of which is located in the downtown area. A pair of nesting swans has made this pond their home for a number of years now. Do they nest in a quieter area of the pond? No. They nest at the side of the pond closest to Main Street near the outflow of the pond and close to a sidewalk. Once they show up for the summer, many people come by, talk, laugh, and look at the swans. Traffic goes by creating its own din. 

I was thinking about this recently. My first thought was that it is surprising

that the pair would nest in a busier area of the pond rather than a quieter area. Yet, they seem to be calm and not bothered by the noise of cars, trucks and people. Then I began to think about what could be learned by this.

The swans show up every year, no matter whether all the cygnets survive or none survive. They nest in the same spot, no matter whether there is a lot trash in the area or not. They generally ignore what goes on around them, including a pair of Mallards this year that frequent the area near their nest. A couple of years ago, one of the cygnets died and remained on the edge of the nesting area. It appeared that it did not bother the nesting pair, although it greatly bothered one of the visitors to the swans one day.

I go to a group in Northboro, Massachusetts called the Wellness Roundtable. I heard Michael Corthell who was leading the group at a recent meeting use the phrase practicing radical ambiguity. It made me think of a similar phrase—radical persistence. I know that anthropomorphizing animals is not helpful in relating to them as it can lead us astray deciding what animals think or feel, but it seems to me that, in a way, the nesting pair is practicing both radical ambiguity and radical persistence. They show up, they breed, they raise the cygnets who survive, and then they migrate for the winter. This happens, seemingly, without any assurance that either they or the cygnets will have enough to eat or survive. They appear to humans to do it with calm and grace, things that many of us strive to be able to do, act with poise and serenity. They seem to be self-assured and confident. They seem to know their purpose and live it.

Unfortunately, for many of us knowing our purpose is difficult. We often go to places of fear and worry rather than, in the phrase I heard recently, practicing radical ambiguity. It can also be easy to give up and stop trying to reach a goal rather than practicing radical persistence. Rather than trusting in ourselves and the process, we give up trying to attain our dreams; we give up pieces of ourselves. I suppose that one of the things to be learned is to know when to continue with radical ambiguity and radical persistence and when to understand that it is time to change course, so to speak.

One of my own issues for quite a long time has been learning to trust through times of seeming insecurity, i.e., learning to live with ambiguity—without assurance of the outcome that I hope for, meanwhile persisting in the goals that I have set for myself. One of the things that my angels and guides have told me is: “Breathe deeply. Breathe slowly. You can breathe through anything.” It is a way to move through the fear to be able to practice radical ambiguity and, yes, radical persistence. It strikes me that breathing in this way is a means to be mindful, heartful.

I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm. On page 87 he says:

"There are several simple methods for taking care of our strong emotions. One is 'belly breathing,' breathing in the abdomen. When we are caught in a strong emotion like fear or anger, our practice is to bring our attention down to the abdomen. To stay on the level of the intellect is not safe. Strong emotions are like a storm, and to stand in the middle of a storm is very dangerous. Yet that’s what most of us do when we get upset; we stay out in the storm of our feelings, and they overwhelm us. Instead, we have to ground ourselves by bringing our attention downward. We focus on our abdomen and practice mindful breathing, just giving all our attention to the rise and fall of the belly." 

Bringing our attention downwards can, I think, help us move into that space of being at peace with ambiguity and away from the fear and anxiety that ambiguity can create in us. And, coming into that place of serenity can allow us to continue our practice of radical persistence in moving to a place of healing and living our purpose. Thich Nhat Hahn relates a story on page 71 about the Buddha:

"When the Buddha was very old, just before he died, he said, 'My dear friends, my dear disciples, don’t take refuge in anything outside of you. In every one of us there is a very safe island we can go to. Every time you go home to that island with mindful breathing, you create a space of relaxation, concentration, and insight. If you dwell on that island in yourself with your mindful breathing, you are safe. That is a place where you can take refuge whenever you feel fearful, uncertain, or confused.' ”

This is the place from which we can be like the swans—practicing radical ambiguity and radical persistence. May we all find that inner island of calm and grace, poise and serenity.



I took these photographs; however, they are not the swans I wrote about in this post. I can help you on your journey either through Life Coaching sessions or Channeled Angel Readings. My book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be can help you as well. For more information, click here.