Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sense and Sense-Ability

Touch. Smell. Taste. Hear. See.

There's a corn plant to my left and as I touch one of the long, pointy leaves, my description is "plasticky."  Someone else might call it "soft."  We're allowed to have differences in opinions and those two are different enough that one would think the two observers couldn't possibly be touching the same thing.

Smell.  I remember smelling "sausage" outside somewhere and whoever I was with said they smelled "garbage."  Was there a garbage can nearby or did my olfactory senses pick up that I was hungry?

Our sense of taste likewise displays our differences in perceptions.  One of my favorite smells is that of laundry detergent, especially when I'm outside passing by a random house and the smell of the scented detergent is wafting around the perimeter of the home.  It conjures nostalgia of my mom and Gram hanging freshly washed laundry outside to dry.  A friend I was once walking with couldn't even perceive the smell that pleased my nasal sensors as soon as it hit me.  Couldn't even smell it!  How could they block out something so pleasant.

No two carnivorous appetites of my fellow humans are the same.  Occasionally, I'll dip fries into ketchup or eat something barbecued, but those are the extents of my taste for condiments.  I'm one of those picky eaters.  Don't even sneak that tablespoon of mustard into a recipe and if my BLT comes with mayonnaise, bring me a barf bag.  I know people who drool over a lobster tail or AYCE crab legs.  I like fried or breaded shrimp and grocery store fish sticks.  That's the sum total of seafood I enjoy.  No, I will not try your shrimp dip that is different from everyone else's.  It all tastes like gross seafood to me.  I'm a tea fiend who doesn't like the smell of coffee let alone the taste.  I will not like your specially flavored kind that "hardly tastes like coffee."  Yes it does.

Hearing is the sense I pay the least attention to and I know this because when I'm checking out at a store, I automatically say, "thank you."  The cashier may have thanked me first, but I say it without thinking and I thank them also.  Another automatic reply I give is, "you too."  That kind of habit proves me a fool when I pay for my groceries after chatting about my upcoming weekend plans with the clerk, and their parting words are something like, "Have fun at your party."  Yep.  It's automatic.  "You too."  I wonder if the clerk, who obviously heard me, felt like I wasn't really the pleasant person I pretended to be.  Clearly, I was not sincere with my amiability or I would have listened to what they said.

Regarding sight, why can't anyone else see the same image I see in the clouds?  Why can I only see an aura as a translucent blur when someone else can not only tell me what color my aura is at that moment, but how far away from my body it extends.  I appreciate that there is a difference between fuchsia, magenta and burgundy where all three might be insignificant purple to someone else.

Some fabulous things about perception have come before me, such as: “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats“What you see and what you hear depend a great deal on where you are standing.  It also depends on what sort of person you are.” 
― C.S. Lewis“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ― Aldous Huxley

I could go on and on with other thought and sense-provoking examples, but the point has been made.  Our perceptions are OUR perceptions, and that's okay.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Choosing to Be Here

Those who are mentally, physically or intellectually challenged are often viewed as inferior to the norm.  I think that can't be farther from the truth, and that they are much farther on their Light path than most.

'We're here to learn lessons' is the premise of our human existences, in a nutshell.  Many a human are used to viewing through an ego-based lens of having or lacking material possessions, our place on the financial rung of the wealth ladder, thinking we're better or worse than another by comparison.  So anyone who chooses to be here with what we label a disability (autism, physical handicap, mental retardation to name a few) must be far ahead of us in the bigger picture of soul growth.

I said "chooses to be here" because I believe we do choose, or help to choose, the lesson or lessons we incarnate into humankind to learn, and those choices are made on some soul level before we are conceived in a womb.

It's worthwhile to share my view on karma at this point with the best example I've ever come across.  It's an account I heard from James Van Praagh and this is how I remember it:  Three high school sports stars were killed after their car crashed and burned.  Grieving parents were in one of JVP's galleries.  They were devastated, of course, along with their entire families, the school, even the town.  It's one of those stories that pulls at anyone's heart strings who hears about it and leaves everyone wondering why.  One or all of those boys came through at the gallery reading and explained that their ending was payback for a karmic debt they owed.  My recollection is that all three of those boys had served together as soldiers in a previous life.  One day or night they were scouting, protecting an area, and they came across two people in a car.  They taunted the two, bullied them, stalked them around the outside of the car.  They harassed them more by shooting at the car, and then a bullet hit the gas tank and the car caught fire.  The soldiers did nothing but watch and incurred a huge karmic debt.

On a soul level, while they were still what we consider "dead," the three soldiers chose to pay back that karmic debt together through reincarnation into the same time space.  Did they choose to excel at sports and to be driving at a certain time of a certain day so that a crash and explosion would end their lives?  I doubt that every detail of that was prepared in advance, but I believe that once the intention to resolve that karmic debt was set, God and the Universe allowed their perfect storm to come to fruition at precisely the time when it had to happen.

Where does that leave those left in mourning?  It must have been necessary for them to experience loss, regret, appreciation, and get their thoughts, words and deeds in alignment.  We all learn something about ourselves after a tragedy.  It's such a very big story.

Back to the soul growth of the disabled . . . Again believing that we choose our lifetime lessons, imagine the greatness of one who can leave their ego behind to live a human life of what the average Joe's see as disturbing, troublesome, even bothersome, a struggle and basically, a bad lot in life.  Meanwhile, what's really going on are circumstances calling us to practice unconditional love, a chance for love to grow and expand.  What higher calling can one have?  The person in the wheelchair with deformed limbs, unable to speak with words - they didn't pick the short straw before being born.  Although unaware in their human form, they are here with what I consider a high calling - to bring out the best in those who are with them in this lifetime.  They are here serving up the opportunity for our own expansion in compassion, patience, acceptance and tolerance.  And the one who laughs at, makes fun, or takes advantage of these beautiful people?  Human - 0, Karmic Debt - 1.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Be the Daffodil

This year, the daffodils in the garden were ready for action ahead of schedule.  We had that mild and rather warm winter and they just couldn't wait to re-emerge.  Then Old Man Winter let us know he was only on hiatus, not gone for the season, and he dumped 18 inches of snow on us.  My elbow still hurts from how heavy that was to shovel.  It warmed up pretty quickly and those daffodils were undeterred.  When the snow melted, the flowers that had already bloomed were still in their yellow glory and new flowers were playing peekaboo before opening into their own brilliance.

'There's a lesson here,' I thought:  Be the daffodil.

An acquaintance, who we'll call Charlie, is being the daffodil in the Intensive Care Unit as I write this.  Bullets seared through his gut like the snow had pummeled the daffodils, yet each day he gets better.  You might say he's showing off being an overachiever, reaching levels with the respiratory blow tube beyond where the doctors want him to reach.  In physical therapy, he does more reps than he's asked.  He IS the daffodil.

He's expected to have a longer than normal "growing season" that may extend into summer, but at the end of it, he'll be that bloom that stands out among all the rest, the one that is so magnificent and resplendent that it makes one wonder why can't they all be like that.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dolphins and Diamonds

"Reiki (pronounced Ray-Kee) is a gentle, holistic, hands-on energy healing technique for stress management and deep relaxation" - Reiki by Rickie

This year I have a standing monthly appointment for a one-hour session.  No two Reiki treatments are ever the same.  I might feel tingling inside my body, or an extra third hand on my body.  The time might be spent in a blissful nap, or it might seem that the hour could not possibly have been more than 30 minutes.

Last night, the background music included sounds of dolphins calling.  My limbs jerked a few times, as if I had been slightly startled out of a sleep, as I settled into that space of peace.  In a short time, I became one with those dolphins.

I laid flat as I was on the table and floated under water.  The blingy rhinestones on my shirt were the same navy color as the shirt, and they sparkled under the water as if they were diamonds that the sun shined on.

My thought drifted to the fireman who died tragically, hit by an impaired driver as he was leaving a funeral and en route to assist at another fire, where a child died.  The tragedy fills my eyes with tears and I can only imagine the devastation for his wife, children, family and his fire brethren.  And I think that he was a diamond in life, living and giving selflessly.  His will surely be a funeral where the masses will come to pay their respects in lines that wrap around the building.  He sparkled like a diamond, like my underwater rhinestones, throughout his life and then his life as we know it ended, and his body lay in wait at the morgue, and he will be buried or kept atop a mantle, and his sparkle will remain.  His Soul, everlasting, maintains its shimmer and brilliance and it doesn't matter about his human body.  His Light will never go out.

A human-like dolphin-faced creature makes itself known as a Spirit Guide of mine.  I ask for its name and that was humorous to it - the human need for labels and names.  "I am Grolfin," he telepathically messages to me, enjoying the play on the word "fin."

He shows me that the sparkly blue rhinestones are like the Soul.  If I sunk to the bottom of the water, the sun's rays would still reach down and reflect light on the many jeweled Souls, and their reflections would illuminate up to the air.  Our Light, our Soul, never diminishes, Grolfin tells me.

After the calming Reiki session, I wait at the side of the road as a fireman's procession transports the expired body from the hospital to the funeral home where it will be prepared for its final resting place.  Ladders are crossed over intersections and non-military fire personnel salute him.  They still see his Light.

In perfect timing, I watched the sun set for ten minutes as I drove alongside the river.  Then the sky turned darker and darker, waiting to unleash millions of snowflakes upon us.  And I could feel the sun's Light was still there, waiting for reemergence in twelve hours.  The Light may have been unseen, but it was still there for someone.  As it set in the west, it was rising in the east and those who witnessed it, were seeing its glimmer like a diamond.

And the snowflakes began falling.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Chosen One

I always knew I was adopted.  When I was old enough to understand (6 maybe?), my parents read me a book called "The Chosen One." I remember it was about the size of a Goldenbook with a teal color and a baby on the front.  They read it and then explained what it meant and asked if I understood.

So I grew up with it being no big deal and I never felt like I was missing anything.  The only people I'll ever call Mom and Dad are wonderful parents.  Then one day in the mail I got a letter that I thought was from one of my Mary Kay customers who had gotten married.  The return address label showed a different last name than I knew, and the same town.  The letter started out stating the intention that it was written for "the girl I gave birth to in 1966. . ."  Wow!

Now as I stated, I never felt like I was missing anything, and I would not have looked for my biological parents.  I watch those shows about people finding their adopted children and siblings and I think it's very cool and beautiful how much healing that provides.  I could never relate to the ones who have always felt like they were missing something though.  Most of the people on those shows are close to my age if not older and it's pretty dreadful that they've lived their entire lives with that hole in their heart.  All I knew was that I had been one of six children in a family and that was explanation enough!

So further on in the letter, I found out that not only was I the oldest of three in MY family, but I was also the youngest of six in this "new" family.  There was a tie to this new mother and people who lived in the neighborhood I grew up in.  The letter ended with the ball in my court to get in touch if I wanted to.  She was living in the next town over.

First I told two of my friends who have always been intrigued about my adoption and they were pretty excited.  I waited two days to let it sink in and to think about what this new mother's in-person reaction would be.  What I didn't want were tearful sobs and such because I didn't feel that way back. I thought that she must have been a nervous wreck writing and sending that letter, and it would surely give her relief and maybe closure to see that I turned out okay.  I determined that the right thing to do was to meet this new family and I said I would visit in a couple days.

I've never had the experience of looking like one of my parents, so when the door opened for me after I rang the bell, it was odd seeing the familiar facial features of my birth mother, like looking into a futuristic mirror of me at age 80.

I felt like a gift was in order, so I took along some flowers.  We remarked about how each other looked and she informed me that I had the birth father's hair, certainly not hers!  There were no blubbering tears, thank God, because like I said, that kind of feeling wasn't inside me, just more of a curiosity and appreciation.

She explained how I came to be after the other siblings' father passed and she had "a thing" with another man who split as soon as he heard she was pregnant.  I'll note here that since our first meeting, I've had a vague memory resurface about my dad talking to a uniformed man in the street, calling me over to their conversation, and asking me if I knew who the guy was.  I think I was about 10 years old.  I said I didn't, and he casually let me know that's all he wanted to ask so off I went back to playing.  I asked Dad who the guy was later and he said "nobody," which meant I shouldn't ask again.  I forgot all about it.

Knowing what I now know about how the sperm donor ditched my birth mother, what a dick he still was 10 years later!  To have the gall to approach the best dad in the world as if he now had some interest or some contribution to make shows nothing but dick-itude.  It must have pissed my dad off, but he never showed it.

The sperm donor died in 1996.  Apparently, he had an epiphany on his deathbed and attempted to contact the woman he callously dismissed 30 years earlier. She told me that she remembered coming home from a vacation and seeing the name of a local hospital on her Caller ID.  There was no message and she didn't know anyone who worked at the hospital, so she thought nothing of it.  Not until 3 days later when she saw his obituary in the newspaper.  He died at that hospital.

So about the siblings - the oldest is a brother who is a minister in Missouri.  Next is a sister who is a lunch lady in Kentucky, and then another who is a restaurant manager locally.  The next oldest is a sister who is sweet as pie.  She has some medical and developmental challenges and is the only sibling that's not a parent or grandparent.  She's not doing so well as I write this, but the family ties are strong there and I believe that has kept her going.

The last sister does administrative work in a nursing home, where the sister with the challenges goes to adult day care.  My birth mother and two of my half-sisters live in my same town now.  I've attempted to do a couple things with my local siblings like go to a concert or out for ice cream, but the truth is, we've all already got our own lives and none of those ideas ever came to fruition.  I don't see my own mom very much, and I see my new family even less.  That's not to say I feel shunned.  They have all welcomed me with open arms.  I think I've met all of their children and grandchildren.  They all make the trek to town at Christmas.

Most of us keep in touch on social media.  The minister sends an electronic church newsletter.  I cross paths with my half-nephew at a convenience store where we both stop sometimes on our way to work.  I appreciate them all and am glad to be another cube in their sugar bowl.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Favorite East Shore/West Shore Book Stuff

2nd & Charles store in the Harrisburg Mall should not be missed if you like to buy used CDs, DVDs comics and books.  I easily spend an hour there.  They have T-shirts, incense, and cool stuff like pillows, puzzles and footstools.  You never know what you'll see next in there.  Plus there's an Auntie Anne's pretzel stand next to it, and the Great Escape Movie Theatre in the mall.

In New Cumberland on the West Shore (about 20 minutes away from 2nd & Charles), check out The Inner-Connection Spiritual Center at 3rd & Bridge Streets.  Metaphysical books, candles, gemstones, oils, pendulums, jewelry, drums.  I've know the practitioners for 6 years.  They offer tarot, rune readings, angel readings, regular old mediumistic readings and a variety of classes in all things metaphysical.  Strike up a conversation with anyone.  It feels good there.

In the event you need more books than you've already purchased at these places, hop on Front Street in Wormleysburg and cruise a couple miles down to Cupboard Maker Books in Enola.  Like cats?  Good because that's really who runs the store.  I find Frances Parkinson Keyes books in there, and history books on WWII or another era.  This is where the second "Strange Magic" book launch is taking place.  They frequently have book signings and events.  It has an old feel to it with wooden floors and tables.  Another cool and comfortable place.

My Biggest Loser challenge - Weigh-in #1

My employer is challenging the company to a Biggest Loser program that goes until May.  Down 3.2 lbs. from the initial weigh-in.  Good start considering that girls night in over the weekend with the booze and junk food, and that spaghetti dinner I had last night.

I think my coworkers may be looking to me as an example since I had success with that last thing.  I'm on one team and the guy who lost 65 lbs. is on the other.  Weigh-ins are Fridays, so I started a Friday morning routine:  I take a 1.2 mile walk around some warehouse buildings before work, getting that little extra in before the weigh-in.

There was a time when walking 2 miles got boring, no challenge.  Not so much any more.  There was a time when I could do 45 minutes on the Nordic Track.  Those were the days I long to get back to.  It's probably over-goaling to say I want to lose 80 lbs. because truthfully, I can't say with certainty that I'm willing to work that hard.  I can say I want to lose 50.

And then there's Jesus.  I'm not a practicing Catholic, but Lent begins next week so my penance will be giving up some breads; specifically, sandwich breads and buns, dinner rolls, breadsticks and biscuits.  It's win-win:  I practice self-discipline and I keep those calories off my ass.  Amen!