Linda’s Blog

“For Strong Women” – How I Got Here

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Empowerment, History | 0 comments

When I was coming of age as a feminist thinker, I was part of an enormous wave of women moving into higher consciousness. One of my greatest discoveries during this time — the nineteen seventies and eighties — was the poetry of Marge Piercy. I was recently reminded of this when I was searching for material to use in a workshop I was leading for women about spirituality.

One of Marge Piercy’s most powerful and timeless poems is “For Strong Women.” It speaks volumes about how it is for us as women. It’s still deeply inspiring. You’ll find it in her book called The Moon is Always Female.

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.– Marge Piercy

Stay strong everyone!

Mother Moon Supermoon

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in Empowerment, Healing, Nature, Psychology, Spirituality | 1 comment

Mother Moon is drifting high

Silent in the starry sky

Feel the shadow of her eye

Moon is on the rise.

— Mother Moon chant*

The full moon tonight is called a supermoon. Evidently, there will be two of them in this first month of our very new year. It’s heartening because it feels like the heralding of a turn for the better. 2017 has been tough for a lot of us and we could use some relief from the chaos and destructiveness of our world.

Mother Moon’s power is subtle yet strong. It’s beautiful. She lights the night sky like a giant lamp, pulls on the oceans to create tides, and calls to us to awaken to ourselves. She influences the healthy growth of plants according to many gardeners.

I have a personal relationship with the moon. I love her and look to her to help me through difficult times. She reassures me and reminds me that everything will be alright and to stay present with the way things are. She sits up there in the heavens looking beautiful and wise, and sometimes that’s enough. Many of my interactions with her have been spontaneous and surprising. They are always uplifting and empowering.

There was the day I was feeling sorry for myself and feeling like no one understood where I was coming from no matter how much I explained myself. I strolled along feeling a little sad and lonely. It was morning in the wilderness a number of years ago, and the moon was on her way to setting in the day bright sky. It can be a little startling to see the moon in daylight, and I hadn’t realized she was there. I  just happened to glance upwards.

Moon shrugged her lunar shoulders and communicated gently and matter of factly. “I’m the only moon,” she said, “and it’s okay.” Oh. My God. Thank you, I responded, breathlessly. Thank you so much. So obviously right on. I certainly wouldn’t dream of wanting the moon to be different from the way she is. I adore her uniqueness, so perhaps I could appreciate my own as well. No reason to feel bad because you’re the only one like you. In other words, it’s okay to be just me and not necessarily understood by anyone else. My loneliness and sadness faded.

Mother Moon’s message to me that morning was visceral. It bypassed my mind and went straight to my heart. It instilled the kind of knowing that resides in the tissues of the body and floats along in a sea of humility. It feels so true and right that all you can do is relax into the truth of it. There’s nothing intellectual about it and so it requires hardly any thinking. It is experienced as a gift.

Tonight we will be treated to a full moon, a supermoon. May you be graced by the power and promise of Mother Moon. I wish you good tidings and a Happy New Year full of love and peace.

*an arrangement of my Mother Moon chant was recorded by Sound Circle and can be purchased here.

 

Not A Matter of Belief

Posted by on Dec 28, 2017 in Psychology, Spirituality | 0 comments

Spirituality is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of experience. It’s experience that lights the way, guided by intuition and the forces of the universe. A compelling urge carries us along and points us in one direction or another. It’s not about what we think, although thoughts play a role in the delivery of information.

If anything, belief seems to get in the way of spirituality. Belief creates disbelief, which can block receptivity, which is the key to full experience.

Staying open to my experience allows my perceptions to form around what is actually happening rather than what I believe could or should be happening. It gives me the freedom to directly encounter the mysteries of life. It allows me to not know and not understand, which is ultimately liberating because it lets me simply be with whatever is happening.

Staying open creates opportunities for profound humility to enter the picture. This is turn fosters the ability to continue to open to what might want to be revealed. Truth feeds on more truth, just as peace creates more peace. Joy shows up, too, and though it is merely a byproduct of the process, it pervades the field and seductively creates more openness.

This morning is a perfect example. I started out in an utterly foul mood, having had my sleep repeatedly interrupted by my old cat. Yet, I lit the candles, sat down in my chair, and was taken over immediately by openness, connectivity, and a flow of information. Yes, I’m making myself available, but that’s the extent of any doing on my part. And, even the making myself available part doesn’t feel like me doing anything, but rather like life experiencing itself.

It really does feel like life experiencing itself. The practices have established themselves. There’s a flow and I’m in it. The craziness with the cat is in it, too, it’s just not the most pleasurable part. Being disruptive, annoying, exasperating, frustrating, and infuriating doesn’t make it any less a part of the flow.

Staying open to the flow of experience makes life far more interesting and enjoyable. Staying open reduces suffering to more appropriate proportions. It allows for more accurate perspectives and possibilities for healing. It creates peace even in the midst of chaos.

What we call spirituality is actually the complex flow of life through all levels of reality. Whatever names and labels we put on it are attempts to capture the uncapturable. There’s nothing wrong with all the words and concepts, but it’s important to remember that that’s what they are. The deep knowing that comes from experiencing different levels is a felt sense you can feel in your bones and also in your heart, the center of your chest.

Breathe into the center of the chest, relax, and let reality reveal itself. It’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed.

Morning Practice

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 in Empowerment, Spirituality | 4 comments

IMG_0160Every morning heart and habit take me to a chair in my study where I can relax and simply be with whatever is arising in the moment. It’s a time of peace and opening, even or maybe especially when my mind is roiled by problems it thinks it needs to solve. Once the candles on my altar have been lit and I’ve taken a few slow easy deep breaths, I am usually able to sink into just being there. A large cup of nettle leaf tea, a string of prayer beads, and my journal are my only companions.

Sometimes my body hurts with one or another of its myriad stresses and strains. I’ve learned that if I move a little and stretch before sitting down, I can find relief and balance. Sitting becomes easier then. It’s my very own morning yoga, a series of movements from my dance training, physical therapy exercises, and a bit of study of yogic asanas. I do what feels right in the moment and what I have learned works well for my muscles and joints. Added to this is the awareness that the sun is rising into a new day.

A central practice for me is what I’ve come to call meditative writing. It’s a form of journal writing and is always a part of my morning practice. I write in a medium sized notebook with blank pages (no lines). It’s a well-made bound book, the kind ostensibly used by Ernest Hemingway and other famous writers. I love the feel of it, and the unlined pages give me the freedom to record whatever comes to me in whatever way I like.

I note the day, date, and time. If it happens to be the birthday of someone close to me, I note that and send them a silent wish for happiness. If I’m engaged with a formal mantra sadhana, I note the number of the day of that. There’s a flow to it all and to any writing that follows. Any subject, thought, or feeling is eligible for the page. I’ve learned not to edit or censor what comes, but simply to write it down. Even if it’s upsetting. Even if I’m not sure what it means. Even if it seems like it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Meditative writing gives voice to an intuitive stream of consciousness, a heart stream if you will. It isn’t served by the rational, analytic side of my brain. It comes from more of a whole body brain, the place that occasionally produces songs and poems. The intuitive stream of consciousness is in touch with timeless realms of existence. It is actively receptive and open, which allows it to form questions and receive answers that might not otherwise be accessible. It advises gently and wisely and occasionally firmly. It opens to a deep joy of being, even when it makes me cry.

Pauses occur where I am dropped more deeply into meditation. Breath slows or asserts itself boldly; there are fewer thoughts. I’ve learned to go with the flow of this, letting go into nothingness, relaxing and resting, letting the natural rhythm of the stream guide my mind. Eventually I “come back” to the sitting and the writing. Or, I sense that I’m done for that time and I get up and go on with my day.

In these challenging times, it’s easy to feel scattered, ungrounded, disconnected, and overwhelmed. A morning practice strengthens and aligns you from within and can have a powerful corrective impact on your state of mind and ability to function. It can empower you in surprising ways and increase your effectiveness in the world. Some of how that happens is a little mysterious, but that makes it all the more intriguing and even fun. I heartily recommend you give it a try.

The Love That Binds

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Empowerment, Healing, History, Politics | 2 comments

 

If We Die
You shall know, my sons, shall know
why we leave the song unsung,
the book unread, the work undone
to rest beneath the sod.
Mourn no more, my sons, no more
why the lies and smears were framed,
the tears we shed, the hurt we bore
to all shall be proclaimed.
Earth shall smile, my sons, shall smile
and green above our resting place,
the killing end, the world rejoice
in brotherhood and peace.
Work and build, my sons, and build
a monument to love and joy,
to humor, worth, to faith we kept
for you, my sons, for you.
  —Ethel Rosenberg
Ossining, N.Y
January 24, 1953

I was eight and a half years old when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by the U.S. government on June 19, 1953. I remember being at a hootenanny fundraiser sometime around that time. The visual memory is shrouded, but my emotional memory is clear, almost too clear. It was the moment my child consciousness took in that Michael and Robert, the two young Rosenberg sons had become orphans (adopted later by the Meeropol family), and that everyone in the room that day was living through a terrifying time. I felt shockingly sadder in my young self than I’d ever felt before or knew was possible.

I got an email the other day from Jennifer Meeropol, granddaughter of Ethel Rosenberg, for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. She asked for support for her father and uncle who are petitioning President Obama to exonerate their mother. I froze, couldn’t move, and couldn’t sign the petition. The sadness and horror, now over sixty years old rose up to block me. I felt incapacitated and unsafe, and too scared to put my name on their appeal to Obama.

I did sign a couple of days later, the delay no doubt caused by the nauseating undercurrent of threat that we’re living with now that triggered my traumatic reaction. More and more, the current times seem to parallel the anti-communist hysteria of the nineteen fifties, albeit with different personnel, formats and prejudices. The thugs and bullies coming into power seem a lot like the ones from prior days, as does the mean-spiritedness. It’s discouraging to say the least, but it’s also a wake up call.

How am I going to be in these new times? What can I do that will help to turn the tide in the direction of peace? I don’t have money to give, so my actions, which include signing all kinds of petitions, have to be more creative. I want to make myself available more than ever to help build “a monument to love and joy,” as Ethel Rosenberg so exquisitely and poignantly put it. I will do everything I can to strengthen and fortify my heart so that I can withstand whatever is in store for us. I pledge now to spend the rest of my life in this service, and to do it with the love that binds me to this world.

Sadness Has Its Place

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in Empowerment, Healing, Politics, Psychology | 10 comments

There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

I read Leonard Pitts Jr. this morning, which I do whenever the Daily Camera reprints his column. I’m usually inspired by his beautifully crafted essays, and this one was no exception. But… it is incredibly and powerfully sad. Synchronistically, what he wrote matched my mood, particularly the feeling of overwhelm about how much not good stuff is happening in this country. How really is it that the white cop who shot the black man in the back eight times was not convicted?

I find daunting the prospect of having to be more activist than I’m prepared to be. Are we really going to have Trump for president? People are writing to the electors who are set to meet in a week to decide our fate as a nation. Can I do it? Do I have the stamina to write all those letters? Is signing all the petitions I’m signing doing any good? Can I find the strength to be active and effective while burdened by a pervasive fog of sadness about the world situation?

I don’t know. I really don’t. Part of me wants to escape and stay hidden in the hillsides of my beautiful Boulder. However, the old but still young activist in me wants to get going and do the right thing, start moving mountains like we did in the sixties. Get loud and proud and relentless. Channel righteousness into social change. Stand for good. Etc. etc. and like that.

I have to honor the sadness first. That’s the only way I’ll be able to do anything. I’ve learned over this longish lifetime that emotions rule. I ignore them at my peril. They are the electrical signals that eventually show me the correct action to take, and the correct timing. If I’m deeply sad, which I am, I need to inquire within, ask myself what is going on and listen carefully to the answers I’m getting from inside. If I’m tired like Pitts, and I definitely am, I need to face into that and look for ways to contribute that don’t endanger my own wellbeing. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to be sad.

I do have every confidence that we will get through this dark period. Why? Because I have lived through numerous dark periods before, and because no matter what’s happening, life keeps going. I’m learning to accept what I have been taught, namely that whatever happens happens. Understanding this deceptively simple phrase includes knowing that I can’t know most of what’s going on most of the time, and that being too attached to what I think is going on is always unhelpful. I need to cultivate discernment. I’m not going to find my way in these strange times by being judgmental.

Love is the basis for the deep disappointment and sadness I feel, just like the quotation from MLK says. I thank Leonard Pitts for putting it at the top of his column. When I sit with my sad feelings, breathe and wait, maybe sing and write, what always shows up is the deep love I feel for the world and for people, the earth and all living beings. I look to that love to show me the way.

Bibliotherapy for Your Life Journey

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Empowerment | 0 comments

Books can be a lifeline. They certainly have been for me. Here are a few that inspire the heart and mind:IMG_0486

Linda Hogan, DWELLINGS: A Spiritual History of the Living World.

Lorraine Anderson (ed.), SISTERS OF THE EARTH: WOMEN’S PROSE AND POETRY ABOUT NATURE.

Steven Foster and Meredith Little, THE ROARING OF THE SACRED RIVER: The Wilderness Quest for Vision and Self-Healing.

Hal Zina Bennett, THE LENS OF PERCEPTION: A User’s Guide to Higher Consciousness.

David LaChapelle, NAVIGATING THE TIDES OF CHANGE: Stories from Science, the Sacred, and a Wise Planet.

Adyashanti, THE WAY OF LIBERATION: A Practical Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment.

Hermann Hesse, SIDDHARTHA

Those are some of the many hundreds of books that have crossed my path. Also, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention my own book, Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion. That one you can find here.

Blessings and love to you. Happy reading!

The Quest Work

Posted by on Aug 16, 2015 in Healing, Nature | 2 comments

Open to the Spirit… open to your heart… take time to listen… take time to be in the Heart of the Mother…

“Joyful medicine.” That’s what I said to a friend who asked me how the Day Quest went yesterday. Joyful medicine is the essence of IMG_0432what I call “the Quest work.

I go to the mountains to seek solitude, rest, and renewal. I consult with the land about life’s conundrums and difficulties. I have done this for thirty years, ever since my first vision quest with David LaChapelle.

During the summer months, I escort others to do the same. We sit in circles on the ground. We sing. We sit quietly. We pray. We engage in reflective exchanges called mirroring. We sit in the lap of the Earth Mother and come back to our true nature. The painful splits in our being are given a chance to heal.

You can talk to the trees, I say to my people. You can ask them to help you. You can welcome the more than human life forms into the circle of your heart. If you walk and sit quietly without thinking, you become open to the love and communication that is always present in and amongst the hillsides. If you listen patiently, you can receive the bounty that is available there.

It feels like magic, but really it isn’t. It’s reality. The gifts that flower from this practice enrich the lives of the participants. They also hold the promise of a better, more peaceful world, as the people bring back stronger, clearer versions of themselves and apply themselves to what life is asking of them.

My Quest season is almost over for this year. It will renew itself next summer as long as I am still blessed with good health and there are people who heed the call to come home to the Heart of the Mother.

A bow of gratitude to The-Spirit-That-Moves-In-All-Beings-And-Things.

Being With Earth & Sky

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

IMG_0173I’m now blogging from my Earth & Sky website. The Life Choices website has been merged into this one. All my online offerings are now in one place.

This post is kind of a test to see if all is working properly. You can help by letting me know if 1. you received it, and 2. it looks okay to you. I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions.

Being with Earth and Sky is about embodied experience, multiple levels of reality, and conscious awareness of how we move through our lives. I will write with all that in mind.

My plan is to write more broadly about a variety of topics that interest and fascinate me. I want to expand upon some of the issues raised in my book with an eye on delving deeply into ways for us to move forward with a higher awareness of how we want our lives to be.

I’ll approach things personally as well as professionally, maybe include some poetry and song, and come from the deep heart. I’ll aim for my thinking mind to be in service to that.

I hope you will stay with me as I make this shift. I wish you well in all that you are and do.

 

Why I Wrote Life Choices

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in About the Book, Empowerment | 2 comments

ImageI wrote Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion to support the next evolutionary step towards a global consciousness of love and peace. I wanted to bring the conversation to a broader, deeper, spirit centered perspective about the impact of  legal abortion. I wanted to show how  abortion is helping to bring in a collective consciousness centered in love and caring. But not love and caring in the abstract. Love and caring in the context of life and relationships and the life and future of the planet. Love and caring in the context of the lives of real people.

I wrote the book to bring abortion out of the shadows where patriarchy has kept it for centuries. I wrote it to help women know that their personal experiences happen in a historical context and that they are not alone.

I wrote the book to reclaim the word life. Because, there is no such thing as abstract life. Any life form on our planet exists only in relation to other life forms, and in an intimate relationship with death. Life must be nurtured, and the health and wellbeing of the nurturer given the highest priority whether that is an individual woman or the earth as a whole. Nurturing the nurturer naturally includes recognizing her power to choose how and when she goes about doing the nurturing.

Without question, abortion is liberating and empowering for women. I wrote the book to illustrate this by including the stories of women I’ve known who have lived out the complicated pressures of deciding whether to bring life through their bodies at a particular time. I wrote it to normalize the experiences of unexpected and unwanted  pregnancies, and to show that these pregnancies are for the most part unexceptional and common in women’s lives. I wrote it to show how brave and creative women are when faced with the judgments of a hostile world.

Anything that liberates women also liberates children and men. That’s also in the book.

Life on earth is part of the oneness of all beings and things. There is a Greater Consciousness of Being that is always present in our lives. Awareness of this is accessed in new and surprising ways by some women and men in their quest for healing around their abortion experiences. I wrote about that also.

I wrote Life Choices to show that the survival of humanity on the earth requires legal abortion.

  • That pregnancy choice is tied to the movement for environmental stewardship and the care of the earth.
  • That it is tied to economic equality and the movement from a property-over-people society towards a way of life centered in people and their intrinsic creativity.
  • That it is part of the historic return of the powerful, non-patriarchal feminine principle that seats itself in a fierce guardianship of life and death.

Is there room for a deeper perspective? I hope so. Abortion is still legal in the U.S., but in some places impossible to obtain because providers have been driven out of business! This is outrageous and very scary, and I would imagine many people feel like we’re going backwards. I don’t think so though. Yes, it’s pretty intense out there, and occasionally morbidly absurd. However, we’re managing the daily insults and threats that rain down like sharp icy particles. The provider leadership knows how to navigate the territory and is doing a great job. There is a lot to learn and a lot to teach.

The political struggle is an aspect of the teachings of abortion. It is one of the avenues through which people sit up and pay attention to the importance of respecting and protecting the lives of women. It’s an incredible challenge, but in the end as with all big social movements, I believe peace and progress will prevail. We just need to stay as open, focused, and connected as we want everyone else to be. The political part is also in the book.

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I’d love to hear from you. Please comment on this post if you are so inclined, and/or contact me through the book’s website or my counseling website.

I have an offer I hope you can’t refuse. Life Choices is now available directly from me for $5 a copy plus shipping. You need to contact me directly to get the low discounted price. It’s also available as an e-book on Amazon.