Friday, August 27, 2010

The Source Of Courage Is Conviction

September 11th, 1988 was the day of my fiftieth birthday. Roy took me out to dinner and when we arrived back home the house was filled with friends all dressed in 1950’s costumes. Our house was filled with music and laughter and dancing. What a party it was! Wouldn’t you think I would have this recorded in my journal? You guessed it. Not a word about it. It appears to me now that events that were happening in my daily life, no matter how over-the-top they were, if they were not directly connected to my spiritual learning, they just disappeared from my brain. I find it interesting how one-track my brain was at the time, but then, this is exactly the reason that today I have the understanding of why this had to be. Training the mind to follow a different path, whether it be for a physical reason or a spiritual one, takes its toll on the physical body, both mentally and emotionally. To try and make a drastic change in lifestyle and be successful means something has to go.

I know I have let the cat out of the bag now and everyone knows how old I am, but what you do not know is that the next day I came to the conclusion that reaching the age of fifty was quite old enough and so I decided to celebrate un-birthdays every year instead. I would take a year off my age every year instead of adding one and I have done just that. Seriously, I have! That means that today I am younger than all of my children! How about that? As this memory flitted through my brain it came to me to figure out how old I am today using this formula. Twenty-eight years old! I may not look twenty-eight today, but I feel twenty-eight. However, neither do I look seventy-two either.

What year did I turn twenty-eight? 1966. Ding! Ding! The year my beloved ‘daddy’ died. Remember the psychic Dickie Motherwell’s reading (Wisdom In A Mystery post) and her comment that I went through a ‘shift in consciousness at the age of thirty-one’ and she thought I was a Walk-In? The memory of what was happening in my life at that time (when I divorced my first husband) did cross my mind when Dickie made this comment, but I was more interested in the Walk-In comment and it quickly was forgotten. It would seem I have come full circle and I am back to the moment when my soul first stepped in and took over my life.

In the channeled reading quoted in my post ‘What Can I Say’ Shanon had mentioned that my dad, who had passed on, was very much around me in 1988, but I am thinking he’s been with me a lot longer than that!

I touched briefly on the ending of my first marriage in my post ‘Change Your Mind Change Your Life’, but there is much more to this story. I spent the last week of my dad’s life with him in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As soon as I arrived back home my brother Ken called to say he had died the night I left, so back I went for his funeral. It was the month of March 1966. The first hint I had that I had changed was on Mother’s day that year. I wanted to learn how to play golf and my husband Dave agreed to buy me clubs for Mother’s day. It was an insignificant, little thing, but it hit me like a bolt of lightening. We went shopping for golf clubs for me and we came home with a set for him! Ding! Ding! The first wave had hit. I felt hurt and unappreciated by his actions, but as usual said or did nothing about it. I was a wimp in this marriage, completely controlled by this man since day one. I now wonder, where did I disappear to and how did I allow this to happen to me? He had given me permission to join Beta Sigma Phi, a woman’s sorority and there was a weekend conference coming up in June that meant a stay overnight in a hotel. He did not like this idea, but for the first time in our marriage I did not do as I was told. Ding! Ding! I attended and after the dinner on the Saturday night the husbands were to join us. Afterwards, one of my ‘sisters’ came up to me and said; ‘are you aware you are a different person when your husband is around?’ That one comment from another person was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and the deed was set in motion. From that day forward I began to take back my life.

Dave and I moved away from Winnipeg when he was transferred to Edmonton, Alta. He had been having an affair with a woman in his office and when the transfer came along I decided to stay in Winnipeg with the children. I was pretty sure the woman was going to move there too. However, after he left he missed the children so much he asked me to come with him. Did I make a mistake moving away from all my family and friends? It might appear so, but then, Caprice would most likely never have been born, so that pretty much answers that question. However, with no support system, alone and far away from home, I was in a very vulnerable position and he took advantage of this. I was miserably unhappy. The only reason I kept some semblance of sanity was the children. He refused to allow me to get a job even though we could have used the extra money. He was the man of the house and he had to be the sole provider. All that changed when I ‘woke’ up. I took a part-time job! My natural hair color was black - I dyed it red! I began to take an interest in how I looked and slowly my self-confidence grew and as all this was happening I went from looking like a frump to – what else can I say - I looked ‘hot’. I was a new person! There was no comparison to the woman I had been.

I will never forget the look of sadness on my dad’s face the night I came home with an engagement ring on my finger. I was eighteen years old. He knew what I did not. That I was, in part at least, marrying to get away from the constant bickering going on between him and my mother. He was correct of course, but I didn’t know that then. In the 1950’s young woman did not go out and live the single life. They got married and had babies. Well, daddy! You saved me eventually. I just wish we could have talked about these things before you died. No matter. The day came when I knew I wanted out of the marriage and I went to a lawyer. Dave was served the divorce papers at his office while we were still living together, albeit in separate bedrooms by this time, and he had no idea this was coming. I still cannot believe I did that! Where did this newly found defiance in me come from? I do remember asking Dave if he would go to a marriage counselor with me because we needed help before any of this happened. His answer? ‘There’s nothing wrong with me; you’re the one with the problem.’ That pretty much sums up why he was so surprised at my actions. Meanwhile, I was having the time of my life. Elizabeth was back and I made a promise to myself that I would never let another man rule me like that again!

“Life and reality are only what we perceive them to be. Life doesn’t happen to us. We make it happen. Reality isn’t separate from us. We are creating our own reality every moment of every day. Whether we like it or not, we are a participant in our own life, we are a co-creator. We cannot separate ourselves from our life.”- Dancing In The Light, Shirley Maclaine

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Play It Again Sam

September l, 1988 and Caprice was looking forward to grade ten and high school. The school was in a two-story building and for two years prior to this I had been having meetings with the school to install a lift for her. It was promised it would be there. This, however, did not turn out to be the case. She arrived for her first day only to discover she would have to be carried up and down a very long flight of stairs to get to her classes on the top floor. This meant waiting at the bottom of the stairs until the principal arranged for someone to do this and she was always arriving late for her class. I was furious at their lack of concern for this dilemma, but Caprice felt humiliated and more disabled than ever. As if she wasn’t dealing with enough already! She came home in tears every day. After a week of seeing her so sad I made the suggestion that she consider transferring to the high school with an elevator in the city where our stores were located (we lived eleven kilometers away in a small town). Either Roy or myself could drop her off and pick her up. To do this would mean leaving all she had ever known, but as scary a thought as this was, she decided to take the plunge and do it. Best thing she ever did! From the first day she was welcomed as just another student, not Caprice, the girl in a wheelchair. All of the people she grew up with had seen her grow weaker and weaker throughout the years and this colored the way she was treated, but more than that – this fact colored the way she saw herself. She had been feeling so isolated and alone, unable as she was to be a ‘part of the crowd’ and just be a normal teenager like all her friends. In this new school she was no different than any of the other students. By this time she and I were deeply committed to following the spiritual way and we were working very diligently every day with meditations, reading, and affirmations. She made a conscious decision to not be seen as weak and disabled and ‘walked’ into that school a different person from the one she left behind. The change in her persona was dramatic. She remembers having a moment on the first day as she sat all alone at the lunch table wondering if she had made the right decision, but this was quickly gone when a girl walked up to her and asked her if she could join her and a new friendship began that still exists today. The rest, as they say, is history and she hasn’t looked back since. One might even say she was transformed and the sick little girl was gone. Shortly thereafter she had a dream that she got up and walked and the next morning she said to me, ‘my disease is gone mom’.

I wrote the above paragraph immediately after finishing ‘Think, Think, Think’ and then began to relate how Rod Campbell came back for another weekend visit. I had been reading my journals to try and pinpoint the sequence of events that followed and put them into some kind of order. Caprice wasn’t the only one who went through a transformation even if neither one of us knew it at the time. Meeting Rod Campbell and having the opportunity to work side by side with him transformed me into a believer! I went from being good-old-save-the day-logical- rational-analytical-practical Elizabeth to good-old-save-the-day-have faith, trust, all is well, do not doubt, save-the-day Elizabeth. Ah yes! I began to have faith, but it was a blind faith. Ding! Ding! I can feel some of the pieces falling into place in my mind. Rod had complete trust and faith in God. He followed his heart – and in it comes – the reason his name has set my brain on fire; the reason why I am remembering the warnings planted in my brain that I did not understand at the time; the reason why he had to be a part of our journey. Message received. Once you give your ‘word’ to God you had better know the ‘rules’ because it’s a jungle down here.

"Don’t make love by the garden gate, Love is blind, but the neighbors ain’t."  (Cousin Betty, as written in my childhood autograph book)

When I begin write a blog entry, I check my journal entries to get a mental picture of what I had written at that time, but for some reason I just kept on reading to the years ahead ……and the triggers in my brain began to flash and I haven’t been able to write until now three weeks later! As I read, I did not recognize the person I had become. How could I have said that! What happened to me? I began to feel nervous about relating the rest of this story to anyone. “I can’t write about this”, I thought to myself. Now what am I going to do? I could feel the anxiety beginning to build and build and for over a week my body and my mind was reeling. I went through a process that I can only describe as some kind of spiritual enema. The door to that hidden compartment in my brain flew open and something hidden in the far recesses of my mind was trying to get through the fog all this remembering was creating. Every thought, every memory, not just of the years from l986 on, but back, back I went all the way to my childhood - and then - add to all these memories the words of the wisdom teachings I have gathered over the years that have sat tucked away in this secret compartment in my brain from all my years of studying waiting, waiting for this day. With every memory that surfaced I also was ‘hearing’ the not-so-easy-to-accept messages from the sages of old, gleaned from the many books I had read over the years that spoke of the extreme sacrifice required once you give your word to the All. Better mean it or do not do it. Not fair I cry!! I gave my word, but I didn’t know, just like Rod didn’t know. Now I know, thanks to Rod and all who followed who came to teach me some of life’s tough lessons.

“Two things are infinite. Human stupidity and the Universe and I’m not so sure about the Universe.” - Albert Einstein

My brain was on overload and I couldn’t stop the tidal wave of images and words no matter how hard I tried. All these memories of the past surfaced all at once and the present ceased to exist. I walked around in a dream-like state, or maybe I should say, a nightmare state. Nothing I did to stem the flow worked. My nerves were on fire, my body hurt and I became very cranky. I kept looking at my bookshelves longingly remembering all the years I used to get up at three a.m. every morning anxious to read and then write. I was consumed then by a need to learn, but there was so much I didn’t know and I wanted to know. It was all so exhilarating and I kept thinking how much I miss feeling that way - and then I felt sad - and then another memory – and the sadness in me escalated - and then another - and that one made me angry - and then another and that one made me happy. What a mess I was! “What triggered this?” I knew it had come from something I had just written, but what? Because Caprice and I are so connected, as I vocalized what was going on in my head, she too began to remember certain events and between the two of us we were both spinning. I have to find the answer and until I do – no more writing (as if anything I wrote would make any sense anyway). This changes everything.

Now I have a problem continuing on in a manner that makes any sense to anyone but my own self. I have heard it said that in the moment before we die our entire life passes before our eyes and we see what we still have left to learn. Well! If this is true, after the space I have been in these past three weeks, I must be dead! The mystics call this place the bardo. I have been here many times before and always the experience is very uncomfortable, but this time was a doozy.

“The word ‘bardo’ is commonly used to denote the intermediate state between death and rebirth, but in reality bardos are occurring continuously throughout both life and death.”- The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

While all this was happening we were getting reminders from this world that would send our minds going in yet another direction. We watched a movie titled ‘One Week’ about a man diagnosed with a terminal illness who decides to use the remainder of his life to travel across Canada on a motorcycle. In the process of doing this he finds himself. Ding! Ding! Someone who is visiting mentions Sedona, Arizona, known for its spiritual energy. Roy and I went there twice. When? Ding! Ding! We turn on the television and there on the screen is the story of a disciple of Chogyam Trungpa, one of the foremost contemporary teachers of Buddhism and founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Ding! Ding! Back in 1990, I was reading his book ‘Shambhala, The Sacred Path Of The Warrior’ and later Caprice saw a documentary on television about the Naropa Institute and she began to consider going there when she finished high school. At the end of grade twelve in 1991, Caprice and I were invited to Boulder, Colorado by Rod Campbell!! Ding! Ding! While she and I were there she even picked up a catalogue on the courses they offered. Everything happening in the present reminded us of something from the past whether it be an actual physical experience or something we read. I keep ‘hearing’ words and phrases I had read echoing in my mind, but as soon as one surfaced, in came another and another. I wanted to check my journals, but there was just too many to search through. This went on for over a week and finally, I was so frustrated I made myself reach for a book, any book, from my bookshelf. I had always found answers this way before, so even though I had serious doubts about this time, I picked one up. Lo and behold, the first thing I read sparks a flame of recognition!

"Love, not learning finds the way,
Opens the eyes to the Doors of the Day,
Uncovers the wonders of undreamed sights,
And leads the way to the Wisdom Lights."
Gooberz  by Linda Goodman

There it is. Breakthrough! Rod Campbell and the words – love, not learning. It all began when I reached the part of our journey when he re-entered our lives. That’s when I hit a roadblock. He had a childlike innocence about him that was infectious. He was a quiet, gentle, kind, loving man who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He did not talk a lot, nor did he read books or watch television. He wasn’t at all interested in trying to understand where this power he had came from because, as far as he was concerned, he already knew the reason. It came from God and that’s all he needed to know. All I ever heard him say was; “Love, Kindness and Prayer can perform miracles”.

I’ve been writing down our story as it happened in a nice, orderly, linear sequence as per my journal entries. Now? Every thought, every experience, every person, place or thing I have experienced have all become connected to one another into one big picture and there is nothing orderly about it. I knew when I began this trip into the past something like this would happen - that hidden between the lines written in my journals I would find a way to connect every experience to the mind-space I find myself in right now. I had written in my post ‘Deep Waters’ that I had it all figured out didn’t I? Guess my soul took me at my word and now, here I am, in deep waters.

Now that I think I have found the answer to what this was all about why continue? Because, I gave my word to myself - and when I give my word to anyone I keep it to the best of my ability. I made the decision to go public and now I have to stay true to my word even if I do not want to. Besides, now there are those of you who have taken an interest, for whatever reason, in our little drama and I feel, no matter what the reaction, for my own sake I must continue. Something is telling me if I stop now everything Caprice and I have worked for will be for nothing. I have to give it all away and let the chips fall where they may.

Daath-the gate of the abyss (the Tree if Life): “There comes a point at which the magician must turn his or her attention away from the mind-clutter in order to listen for the presence of something else. In doing the latter, awareness needs to be emptied, not merely organized, and among the things that need to go out with the trash are the symbols and principles of organization themselves.” Paths of Wisdom by John Michael Greer

So be it! I feel so liberated at the moment but I sure don’t know how I am going to explain it. I will say this - what I have discovered is that not one moment of my life was wasted. Every moment had a purpose - the good, the bad and the ugly. Gives new meaning to the words, have no regrets.

“Time spent in regret is time wasted.” Edgar Cayce

My dad was born in Glasgow, Scotland and he used to sing a little song - “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.” Thanks daddy. I took the ‘low road’ and I am glad I did. Slow and steady leads the way just like the story of the tortoise and the hare. There is a lot to unlearn about what it means to be human. I am very grateful I took the time to get to know myself before I made the mistake of thinking I can ever know – God. As I wrote in my journal later on – ‘you have to use the mind to lose the mind’ (the mortal mind, that is) in order to even begin to grasp how truly magical and marvelous these bodies we walk around in are and what a privilege it is to be alive.