Monday, September 30, 2013

Blessing of the Animals in San Clemente

Blessing of the Animals San Clemente

On Saturday I brought my dog to the Blessing of the Animals hosted by our Animal Ministry at the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley. The ceremony was held at Pines Park, a stunning location overlooking the Pacific under a canopy of pine trees. We opened with a beautiful group prayer delivered by Kathy Storey.
We pray to God, our Creator, to bless our pets with your radiant light and love.
May our animal friends have good health, happy lives and always be protected and safe.
We ask for better understanding as we learn from our animal friends' wisdom, their innocence, their loyalty and particularly their seeming ability to not judge human beings unkindly.
Thank you for the pleasures, playfulness and sometimes the surprising humor our pets display.
Thank you for their companionship and friendship, especially for those lonely hours we may have experienced.
Thank you for our companion's natural ability to teach us to be aware of the present moment.
Thank you for the pure beauty of every animal they are all works of art, and may we appreciate your creation of this masterpiece.
Bless all animals in harms way, heal the sick, protect those who are lost and guide them to safety.
Thank you for the gift of love.
blessing dog in Pines Park San Clemente


Next each individual pet was blessed.

My little Jack Russell was very excited about being part of the ceremony.

Here you can see Toni Sparks giving a wonderful blessing to my little dog. (She may have been expecting a cookie).




releasing ceremony to honor pets who have passed

A special spot was set up to honor the beloved pets who have made their transition.

We wrote their names with loving messages and attached them to our tree.

Candles, pictures, even urns were brought. We gathered and shared our pet stories of love.

As I listened to everyone's stories I couldn't help but keep marvel at how much happiness and love our critters bring us and I was so thankful to our Animal Ministry for creating this special time and place.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Something Brewing Sunday Service


I am the creator of my life now and always;
The dreamer who sets in motion all the power of the Universe to create a grander reality.
With clarity and conviction, I speak my word and allow the Law to make it so.
Faithfully, I follow the urgings of intuition down the perfect path of possibilities.
And So It Is. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Gift of Death

I speak to dead people... 

...and so can you if you don't yet. 

Gramps with my dad (right), me (left), and my two boys
(top left)
This morning I spoke to my grandfather, Gramps, who passed away in the early morning hours. 

Only hours after he passed, you'd think his soul would be busy in "soul orientation" figuring out where he goes and what he does as a soul. 

I have to admit, though, before this amazing experience I'm about to share with you, I did have thoughts of grief and sadness about his death. 

He passed? So soon? He just drove cross-country from Pennsylvania to LA six months ago to visit my dad!   He was just diagnosed with cancer a short time after that....how'd he die so quickly? 

I was filled with sadness. 

Sadness that I hadn't lived in the same town, or state for that matter, as gramps in over 20 years and I had only seen him a couple of times in those 20 years. 

Sadness that I wasn't there for my family who took care of him during his last few days. 

Grief that I didn't express my love for him when I saw him a few weeks ago when he was still
This was the sun shining on the
beach the day Gramps passed.
"Gramps" in my book...laughing with us as we ate lunch, raving over Gram's homemade relish, and giggling as Gram had to yell in Gramp's ear 13 times because he couldn't hear a word she said...

...then wondering if he really did hear her, but chose not to. 

 As I sat quietly in my living room with a cup of tea, the house quiet now that my boys were in school, I cried, and then remembered the spiritual tools I have to turn to in order to come to peace with Gramp's passing. 

I said a prayer for my family who I know are in their own grieving process. 

Then, in a silent, grounded moment, I remembered that, although, Gramps in his physical body, was in Morgantown, Pennsylvania before he passed, he is now an infinite soul capable of  being anywhere, at anytime, with anyone. 

He could be with me, and Gram, and my aunt Polly, and my dad and all the rest of us who are grieving all at the same time. 

So, I decided to reach out to his soul. 

I simply said, Gramps, I love you.  I know you are experiencing the peace of being free. Your soul is available to do more work than you were able to do here on Earth and I have no doubts you are laughing with joy.  That said, I want to know you're with me in Spirit...I ask for a sign. 

Before I get to the juicy part, let me preface it by saying that, in my family, we each have a special symbol that represents a sign that we are getting a hug from the Universe.  

Mine is a rainbow, so when we see a rainbow in the sky, or on a t-shirt, or in a magazine, etc., we say, "Oh, look! I'm getting a hug!" 

 It's an awareness practice for my family to periodically be reminded that we are always loved.  It's a great little game and ALWAYS exciting when we see our different symbols in the forms we see them. 

Now, on to the good stuff... I went about my morning, and then had to leave the house a short time later for a meeting. I got into my car and, being a creature of habit, put on the Donovan Frankenreiter station on Pandora.  

It's one of my favorites. 

If you know anything about Pandora, when you listen to a station for any period of time, the songs repeat themselves and you hear many of the songs over time. 

But as I put the car in drive, the melody of a song came on that I did not recognize.  Mind you, this was the FIRST song I heard when I got into the car. 

I thought, Huh, that's a nice melody, but I don't recognize it.   

I looked at the screen on my car and guess what the name of the song was?!?!!? RAINBOW!

Holy, sh*t!  I thought, thanks, Gramps!   

But then the words started and I couldn't help but feel so peaceful because he not only chose a song named after my special symbol, but with a message that went much deeper:

Well, I woke up this morning, a rainbow filled the sky.
Yes, I woke up this morning, rainbow filled the sky.
That was God telling me, everything's gonna be alright.
Well, so long good friends, when will we meet again?
Said, so long good friends, when will we meet again?
Well, I don't know, I don't know, but I guess I'll see you then...
(here's a quick video of the artist, G Love singing it with Jack Johnson and Donovan Frankenreiter...)


There couldn't have been a better song to be blessed with.

I felt my grief lift, a big smile spread across my face and iTunes got my $1.29 because I purchased the song right away to remember this sacred moment forever.

Some will read this and think, "She's crazy....that's just a coincidence."

Is it?

We are allowed our own perceptions of what happens after death, but I believe that Gramps heard my request for a sign.

I believe his soul was giving me a hug with the rainbow, and telling me he was alright and he'd see me when it's my time to do my work as a soul.
What I realized as I drove was how awesome death can be when we choose to see it that way.

You see, physically living 3,000 miles away from Gramps made it hard for me to see him and speak to him.

But in death, he's closer to me than I could ever imagine.  He's right here with me as I write this post, he was there with me laughing as I realized his sign and yelled, "Thank you, Gramps!!!"

And, he'll be with me in times I need guidance or comfort and ask for his assistance.

It's my belief that souls are just as pivotal to our human existence as those who are alive and well.

They have abilities we don't have as humans and can deliver to us what we need that humans can't.  

Things like a sense of peace or love when we are in our darkest hours, or guidance on which way to turn if we are lost, or  simply someone to send us the perfect song at the perfect time.

When we ask for the assistance of those who have passed, and are open to how that assistance will come, we can "speak" to our loved ones long after their physical body dies.

I wanted to honor Gramps with my boys today.

So, after my experience, I knew what we'd do.

I picked my boys up from school, we painted six rocks, each with a color of the rainbow and wrote on
Our rainbow rocks marked with the
qualities of God that Gramps was in
his physical life and that he is
now as our soul angel.
them the qualities of God that Gramps embodied in his human life and now as our soulful angel:

Peace, Love, Joy, Beauty, Wisdom and Power.

It's a reminder of the infinite nature that is all of us in physical form and in our spirit form.

We took the rocks to the beach and mindfully and peacefully thought a happy thought and threw our rocks into the ocean.

I chose the ocean because it's the most infinite thing

Rainbow Rocks
I could think of in physical form....think of how many droplets make up our oceans, and that's about as close as I could get to infinite.

Knowing that Gramps is now infinite in his own power, we gave our honorary rocks to the infinite ocean in remembrance of Gramps.

If they are taken out to sea by the movement of the ocean, then they, too will live an infinite life like Gramps.

If they wash ashore for someone to find and receive a reminder of their own quality of God that they,
Each of us honored Gramps in our own way before
throwing our rocks. 
too, are imbued with, then Gramp's is still blessing someone with his presence in the rainbow rocks.

What started out as a sad day, turned into an amazing experience of what death is really all about.

It's about someone moving on to their next "assignment" from a soul level.  If today is any indication of Gramp's abilities as a soul on his first day of "work," then I think we are all blessed by his passing because he is teaching us what he can from where he is.

Gramps, you are SO loved, you will be missed, and I ask that you bless all your family with the blessing you gave to me today.  

You will always be a rainbow of joy in my mind.

Namaste.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Planting Seeds




Happy happy happy are we
Happy happy happy are we
I love you, and you love me
Together we make a happy family!!

When my children were young and in the "Barney" stage of life we often sang this little ditty! We sang it to express our love, to feel better when we were down and we sang it because we were "in love" and we were happy! I loved this time of parenthood, my kids were so receptive to songs and, books with messages of character, kindness and creativity. I was keenly aware of the seeds that were being planted in my childrens mind and like a good gardener I was mindful of the crops, the seasons and the patient nurturing that was required.

Fast forward to this year when my children are now young adults and we see each other when they have time, and can fit their dad and I in to their busy schedules. We no longer sing silly songs or use the plates with the affirmations on them at dinner. They are truly the head gardeners of their lives. To prove my point I received a text from my daughter a few nights ago. All the text included was a link to a Huffington Post article. I followed the link and saw a title that made me stop. "How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps" I think 'she's been hacked' - can you hack a text? Surely this is not something my sweet daughter would send to me. And yet I continued on to read the article and was fascinated and excited! This was great stuff! This was really good and powerful and, and, and -- my daughter had sent it to me!  About the time I finished reading the article I received another text from my daughter. This one said "read it - you'll like it. And it mentions one of your favorite books!" And I thought, oh my god! My daughter is sharing her seeds with me -- the seeds she is planting in her mind, in her life as the gardener of her own life - and not only that she knows one of my favorite books --but wait which one was she referring to? I had to go back to the article (all of this on my phone) and read through it quickly to realize that she was referring to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Yes it is one of my favorite books and yes, my 24 year old daughter is harvesting and experiencing the seeds we planted all those years ago. And, so am I!

The stage of this gardeners life has changed too. I no longer make up silly little songs - well not often. Everyday I plant the seeds in my mind for what I want to grow in my life. Today, I am planting seeds of acceptance and trust. And, like a good gardener I am planting them confidently in prayer, watering them with affirmations and trust, surrounding myself with other spiritual seekers who remind me that we are all gardening together.

Here is the link to that article that my daughter shared.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

KGOD: What station are you listening to?



Tune into the Love of God
 
Imagine listening to a radio station, we select the content we like to hear based on the push of a button.  Take that image and instead of radio waves, place your thoughts in those call letters, station numbers.  When we are tuned into the Love and Light of Spirit, we hear a wonderful stream of good thoughts.  From those thoughts we experience life with eyes of ease. 

Sometimes we catch ourselves on a different station and wonder who changed the channel. Remember, we are the ones who select our station.  We are the ones who can change it.  When we do get around changing the channel, the world has a different meaning.

Once we tune into KGOD, events that seem miraculous will begin to appear.  It is not uncommon to have circumstances that seem to be "coincidental" happen.  In our line of thinking, there is no such thing as coincidence.  Events that occur in one's life are in direct alignment with the thoughts which one is tuned into.

If we find ourselves out of sorts, it is time to pray and meditate.  Being still, and allowing the flow of the self to fall away, to expose the True Self is a conversation in Spirit.  If there is a longing in our heart, there is a longing in our Soul.  Quench Soul's thirst with the taste of meditation.  The connection experienced in meditation is far beyond a verbal conversation we have as humans.  The conversation in Consciousness with Self is a transcending moment, which puts us exactly in the space where "coincidental" events become the norm.

To experience meditation join Center for Spiritual Living, Capistrano Valley every Sunday morning at 10:00am. Meditation occurs just before the service at 10:30am.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tools For Transformation Learned Intuition


Learned Intuition: A Tool For Transformation

How is it possible for a soldier to look down an urban street in Iraq and somehow know there’s a bomb on it? How can a tennis coach predict a double fault before the player even hits the ball? Or closer to home, how can a parent know within an instant what their child is thinking? How can you predict that a car is about to change lanes before the blinker flashes? 
To those unfamiliar with these situations, it looks like magic, but it’s not. Intuition makes you superhuman. It taps into the subconscious mind to effortlessly evaluate situations faster than a mainframe. Once developed, it allows you to be the best without even trying. It gives you an unfair advantage.  
Even better, it can be learned. Intuition is a function of experience and expertise. So regardless of your goals and aspirations, learned intuition can help you become superhuman!  ~ Patrick Schwerdtfeger
Learned Intuition Tools For Transformation
And So It Is! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Space Between


In the sweet moment between thoughts, intuition lives. That precious whisper calling me forward to express my highest good, my grandest potential. In the space between thoughts I allow myself to simply be and believe in the reality of my dreams.

The Space Between Sunday Service
And So It Is 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Impeccable Timing of Divine Mind



How Spirit works always amazes me.

Today I was on my way to the Center to attend Michael Fennelly and Megan Weston's concert, when the San Diego radio station I listen to gave a traffic report, which included these words, "Traffic is slow southbound on the I5 right down to the border, it starts backing up at Camp Pendleton.  If you are coming from San Clemente or Laguna Niguel, take an alternative route!"

I have never heard them mention any cities in Orange County before in the daily traffic report. For San Diegans, Camp Pendleton is the furthest north that affects them. I guess he was making a joke, but I felt as if I had just had an intervention from Something Greater Than Myself. The fact that I live in Laguna Niguel and was in my car, fully intending to take the freeway to the Center was also amazing! But that is how our Intuition works. When we are open to it, it uses all resources to direct and guide.

Today I read a couple of articles I wrote a dozen years ago or so. I had been published in the local paper and my mom was so proud, she kept the articles.They were pretty good! I read the content to see if I still believed what I had written so earnestly over a decade ago. I do. I guess when it is spiritual truth, it is timeless.

But there are some ways I am very different than I was ten or twenty years ago. One of those things is my appreciation for classical music. When I was a child I took compulsory music lessons (compulsory by my parents) I took six years of Royal Conservatory of Music lessons. That means I was studying classical piano from people  who also could not play. I liked being at the piano but I didn't like what the music I was making. (Music is being used very loosely here.) I practiced as much as I could stand, but even my best rendition of Claire de Lune was terrible, never mind any of the more difficult pieces.

Last night I attended Michael Fennelly and Megan Weston's concert! It was exquisite -- filled with poignancy, beauty, and depth. If I had heard someone like Michael play the piano, I would have been a better student. If I had heard someone like Megan sing, her pure unaccompanied voice, crystal clear as she trilled up or down the scales, I would have learned to like Opera.

Now, I can't change my past, but I can change my perception of it. Maybe the same guidance that had me listening to the San Diego traffic report has always been with me. Maybe now, right now, is the time to expand my cultural horizons.

Is there something in your life that you should re-examine? Is there a decision you made, based on the perceptions of a small town culture, or a small-minded mentality, that you could change.

The Universe is immaculate in its precision. There is only Divine Timing and nothing else.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How Michael Myers (the serial killer in the infamous Halloween movies) Almost Kept Me From Meditating

One of 108 individual prayer wheels
surrounding the 12 massive prayer
wheels. 
Last week I returned from a trip to Northern California.

I was visiting my mom and stepdad's new home in the mountains....DEEP in the mountains!

One hour from Redding, 12 miles from the nearest town, I found myself experiencing the most profound spiritual experience being in nature and completely disconnected from technology.

My mom picked up every tourist magazine in the area and I saw an ad for the Chugdud Buddhist Retreat Center about 45 minutes away...again, DEEP in the mountains!

They offered a 5:30 a.m. meditation and I had a silent whisper from my intuition, what I call my inner Soul Mama, that I needed to go and experience it.

So, I set my alarm for 4 a.m., got ready, and then panicked at the thought of having to walk from the house to my car in the PITCH BLACK.

I mean, living in cities for most of my adult life, I forgot how black it got outside.

I kept thinking, what are you so afraid of, Vidette?

Michael Myers!! I'd answer.

I watched the Halloween movies WAY younger than I should have when my older cousins locked me in my grandparents' living room and wouldn't let me leave until I watched the whole horror movie...the music still makes me want to hide under a pillow to think about it.

My irrational thinking was getting the best of me and I was CONVINCED he was waiting in the woods ready to cut me into pieces when I left the house.

Yes, a git gorey for a spiritual blog, but stick with me here.

After running faster than Usain Bolt running the 100 m sprint, I made it to my car and surprisingly, outwitting Michael Myers himself!

As I tried to keep my racing heart from jumping out of my chest, I drove up and down the long driveway, where, when I got to the road, sh*t, I thought! Why the hell is the gate closed?

The gate that I never noticed because it was always open, is now shut, and I have two options:

 1.  Get out and open the gate and risk giving Michael Myers a second opportunity to get me, or

2.  Back the hell up and go back to bed; However, with the steepness and windiness of the driveway, that option seemed worse. 

So, I got out ran like hell to the gate, pushed that gate open so fast, and ran to my car with a deep breath. 
  Phew! Ha-ha, Michael Myers!  You didn't get ME!! 

 On the 45 minute drive to the retreat center, every thought that could go through my mind did go through my mind.... 

What if these people aren't Buddhist at all? What if they put the front on like they are to attract naiive people like me who drive out there at 5:30 a.m. and then behead their guests never to be found again?

What if I break down? My phone doesn't work here.  No one knows where I am.  I'll be stranded in the middle of no where and will only hope to remember nuggets of information learned from watching Bear Grylls traipse around in mountains, forests, and deserts on TV. 

Oh, shit....what was I thinking?  

All to meditate?  

I can do that at home and not be risking my life! I can't turn back now!  That would be crazy! ...or would it? 

After all this, I arrive at the retreat center.  

It's pitch black. Not a light on except the blazingly obvious headlights of my car making it VERY obvious that a stranger has arrived onto the retreat center. 

DEFINITELY turn back!  

But, I didn't. 

There was this super silent whisper within.  Just trust, it kept saying. 

Finally, a glimmer of hope. I saw a light come on, then another, and another. I saw some movement. 

My heart started racing again. 

Am I REALLY going to go in there? 

One of 12, 3-ton Prayer Wheels with over 147 BILLION prayers embedded on them.
One of 12, 3-ton Prayer
Wheels with over
147 BILLION prayers
embedded on them.
I finally couldn't stand the anticipation anymore.  

I walked into the vestibule outside of the meditation room and peeked inside. 
  
They LOOK normal. 

Well, sh*t, so did Michael Myers underneath the hockey mask! 
  
Oh, stop. Just go in. 

Behind me, the door opened it. 

I jumped so high with the sound of the door only to notice this totally normal-looking woman and she said, "Hi!" Woah....she's so....normal! 

"Hi," I responded, and then "I have NO idea what I am doing, I don't have a robe or anything, but I came for the meditation" spilled out of my mouth before I knew it.

"Well, come in and sit right here," Prema (I later found out her name was) said. 

I spent the next hour and 1/2 observing the most beautiful meditation ritual.  I was greeted with chanting, praying, and instruments and was enveloped with the soothing scent of incense. Most of the prayers I didn't understand, yet, I felt their power. 

Afterwards, many of the practitioners came up and introduced themselves and asked how I had gotten there. I told them the quick story, strategically leaving out the thoughts that they could be serial murderers. 

Prema invited me to have tea with them and I got to know more of THEIR stories and how they ended up living on a Buddhist retreat in the middle of nowhere as practitioners. 

My son, Rijken spinning all 108 prayer wheels releasing prayers to eliminate war and famine and opening up more compassion, love and trust in the world.
My son, Rijken spinning
all 108 prayer wheels
releasing prayers to eliminate
war and famine and opening
up more compassion,
love and trust in the world.
As I sat there listening to their stories and sharing a beautiful early morning with them, my heart expanded inside. I had been led, once again, to another Soul Mama moment by that super-silent whisper that morning. 

It was almost drowned out by my ego trying to keep me safe, on the couch where I slept while visiting my mom. 

What if I hadn't gone? What if I had chosen to sleep in? What if I had chosen to make the attempt of backing up the long driveway and protecting myself from the "what-ifs" that were exploding in my head?

I would have missed a beautiful life experience.

As I turned around, I saw Rijken giving thanks to the prayers released. PMM (proud mom moment) - I didn't ask him to do it...he simply felt led to give a bow of thanks!
As I turned around,
I saw Rijken giving thanks to the
prayers released.
PMM (proud mom moment) -
I didn't ask him to do it...
he simply felt led to give a bow of thanks
!
I would have missed meeting these beautiful people who were so heart-warming, so compassionate, so inviting.

I would have missed the opportunity to experience something I had NEVER experienced before in my life for what? To stay safe? To stay in my comfort zone?

Where would that have gotten me?

It did get me out of my comfort zone....and VERY far out, I might add!

It got me new friends. It led me to a beautiful experience that had my heart brimming over with joy for the rest of the day.

It led me to SUCH a beautiful experience, I took my son back there the next day to experience the peace and calm of the place that I had been SO terrified to go to. What did I learn?

Fear will always appear...even when we think we have evolved beyond it, or have taken risks before and walked through fear with the misconception that we have conquered it forever.

Still, though, beyond the car alarm, the closed gate, the scary-ass drive through the California back-country, through all the what-if's, through all the fear of Michael Myers, there was this one constant in my life....whispering.... My inner Soul Mama, my intuition, nudging me on.

Not pushing. Gently encouraging.

Not trying to outwit my egoic thoughts.

Just whispering....just trust....just trust....just trust.

What more could we experience if we just trusted the infinite guidance of that Infinite Intelligence who only has our highest and best good in mind?

The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is the Call to Serve the Answer to Your Prayers?


What do you believe about volunteering?

Do you believe you don't have enough time? Do you believe it's a good thing to do when you can? Do you think you don't have anything of value to contribute?

Or do you believe it could be the answer to your prayers?

In December, during a visioning session at our Center, I got the clear message to volunteer my time and public relations skills in support of our Center. Knowing the amount of work and attention required, I immediately questioned Spirit's guidance, "What about my photography business?"

Spirit replied, "You can and will do both."

With faith, I took our Center's marketing on like I would a paying PR client. I jumped in with both feet. At times I felt like Evan in Evan Almighty. Do you remember that movie? God tells Evan, a modern-day Noah, to build an arc.



There were a few times when I was really busy and spending a lot of time at my computer writing and my husband asked, "What are you doing?" And, I simply replied, "I don't really know."

Over the past 9 months, I've discovered that my photography skills offer the perfect compliment to my public relations efforts. Because I can submit professional photos with my news releases, they appear in the local newspaper with a photo credit. My photos accompany my blog posts, our Center's advertisements and direct mail marketing, and my photos have gone viral on social media.

Spirit knew that the perfect way to bring me closer to living my dream as a photographer was to serve our Center's marketing needs. My photos and photography business have received more exposure than I ever could have imagined. Volunteering for our Center brought me into perfect alignment with my good.

On the Sundays I volunteer in the youth Center, I remind the kids during the offering to, "Look for what you put in the basket to show up for you in your experience."

So I ask you, what are you putting into the Center and are you ready to see it show up in your experience, pressed down, multiplied and spilling over? Where are you being called to serve? It just might be the answer to your prayers.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The force is strong with this one: Come to the dark side.


Is it possible that each one of us has a dark side?


Bringing balance to the forces of dark and Light.
In Star Wars, bringing balance to the force is something sought.  Conversations are discussed by fans of the movie regarding this very subject on the balance between dark and light.  Can we really know Light without experiencing the dark?
 
Look at artists, many of them are revered because of their dark side.  Imagine a poet in a dark, smoke-filled basement with a low ceiling, their brooding takes on a life of its own. It is the dark that brings out the performance and we snap our fingers in approval for the artists' "coolness."  We see paintings that are haunting and feel drawn to them.  Strong emotions arise when viewing the piece; it may have the feeling of being forbidden.  Is the dark side something we ought to shun?  Is it something that we should steer clear of?
 
Bringing balance to the light and dark is the key to understanding a dark side.  If a life is lived constantly in the dark, as if pulled, allured, drawn, then an unbalanced energy will be the outcome.  Listening to sad songs over and over again, during times of sadness, is ok if it doesn't extend over days, weeks, months & years.  There has got to be a time to come up for air, a time to see the Light.
 
We do not have to steer clear of our dark side, for in time of great darkness, may come great revelations.  Just as in times of great Light, transformation happens.  It is learning how to balance between the two forces is where strength is developed.
 
Creativity may come out of a dark side, take a look at Monty Python movies.  It is said the British have a wicked sense of humor.  If Monty Python is any indication then I believe the rumors.  Also see the Gary Larson, The Far Side comic above. Most of his comics are about animals taking on human traits, but he does have dark themes in some of them.  Can one learn to appreciate and love oneself, even with your dark side?
 
At the end of the battle sequence of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker removes Darth Vader's mask.  He discovers the man behind the dark force for the first time.  Luke sees a frail man, who is powerless without his hard, dark exterior. Luke tenderly speaks to man who he now knows is his father.  A tone of love is expressed.
 
If we have chosen a life hidden behind a hard, dark exterior, it is time to remove the armor, the shield, the mask, and all the defenses.  It is time to understand that there can be a dark side and a light side to one's life and it is possible to balance between the two. Prayer and meditation are the tools needed to move into balance.  Love yourself, even with your dark side.


 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Following Your Intuition Into The World


Following Your Intuition Into The World
Following Our Intuition Into The World

Last month a few of us gathered together to do a "visioning" for the month of October. We were instructed to sit quietly and listen to our intuition. What came through loud and clear, and one of the things that keeps coming back to me over and over again.


Get outside of your comfort zone, get outside and meet your neighbors, get outside and interact with your friends, get outside and sing, get outside and love, get outside and learn, get outside and share, get outside and teach, get outside and practice, get outside and capture the moment, get outside and play, get outside and change your world.

Take the time to listen to your intuition today, where should you be going?



"I would argue that immersion is primarily a quality of consciousness that has to do with the capture and control of attention, a necessary condition for any interpersonal persuasion, education, or entertainment to occur." Diana Slattery.

"We are talking about directly engaging the technical material of subjectivity itself" Erik Davis. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Up To Know Good Sunday Service


Rev. Dr. Heather Dawn Clark with her Sunday Service talk, "Up to Know Good" As streamed live from the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley located in San Clemente California.

Up To Know Good Sunday Service
Up To Know Good In San Clemente 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Up to Know Good

Up to Know Good
Mom, Heather (with a far-off look in her eyes), sister Cheryl 

Intuition is your inner architect. What if you heard someone declare loudly, "You are up to know good, aren't you?" Audibly you could not distinguish the homonyms "no" and "know." Depending upon the speakers inflection or feeling tone, you would probably think you were being scolded.

When I taught junior high school, if the class was too quiet, I knew that something was afoot, someone was up to no good. Of course I understood life in terms of rules, right and wrong behavior, choices, etc. But since coming to this teaching the lines are blurred. Because I know that God or Good is everywhere present, the best thing someone could say to me is that I am "Up to Know Good." I am living on purpose and living following the stirrings of my soul.

Just like the junior high students would get quiet, you and I need to get quiet, to still our busy minds and our bodies, this is required to Know Good. When I began meditating, I had the erroneous thought that there was a "right" way to do it. I would try so hard not to think about anything. I would be so intent on doing it right my body was filled with tension. Of course, nothing can happen in that atmosphere. All I was able to do was to know God as struggle. But since God could not possibly struggle, I was using the holiness of the I AM unwisely. When I remembered the quiet expectancy of the evening of my spiritual awakening, I realized that I had begun my spiritual journey by getting still to "know Good."

Some of you know my spiritual awakening story, and if you know it, skip to the end of this blog. When I was a young woman, in my early thirties, I was quite cynical. I believed that "religion was the opiate of the people" and was not for me. I was too smart. (Haha!) I had just started teaching again after a two year interruption to prove myself in the real world. I was living in a huge old house, built in the early 1900's. I was newly married for the second time. My sister and her boyfriend were living with us.

One Saturday evening, in early September,in addition to the four of us, my girlfriend from Calgary and a new neighbor, recently moved from London,had a dinner party. We barbequed steaks,with all the fixings -- baked potatoes,corn on the cob and ceasar salad. The wine flowed freely. None of us had to drive anywhere that night. After dinner while we were sitting around sharing stories, our new neighbor Hayley, asked if we were interested in the supernatural. We all had some curiosity. None of us had any religious convictions that this was bad or wrong. She had a Ouija Board which she brought over. We started playing.

We relaxed and put our hands lightly on the board. Then as if powered by something unseen,the cursor flew around that board. We all looked at each other suspiciously. Who was making this happen? It was delivering a message to me, the great skeptic. It answered some questions. The big question I had was, "Did I know the man who recently shocked me with an obscene phone call? Did I know this person? What reason would he have for doing such a thing?"

The Board told me that the call was from my first boyfriend, one that I had throughout highschool and first year college. When asked why would he do it? the Ouija Board answered with a group of letters, that we determined was a French word. It was still a mystery but was going to get cleared up in a few days. My sister was studying at a French immersion college and she didn't know the word and asked her professor who also didn't know but later found the word in a French dictionary. It is obsolete and hasn't been used in common usage since the 1100's! What does it mean? It means to reclaim what was once yours, as in claiming an indentured servant. I didn't find that out until later that week, but after the revelation of why we decided to ask, to whom are we communicating. The answer was God! Now, nothing could have shocked this smart-aleck, know-it-all agnostic more than the word, "God."
Ouija Board

For the next few weeks all I could do was to attempt to recapture the feeling of playing that game, to get back to the consciousness that allowed the Divine to speak to me, and me to listen. My greatest desire was to Know God. I was often "Up To Know Good!" and have been most of the time since then.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Healing Power of Serving Others

I just read September Warren’s poignant post about 9/11. I, too, watched it unfold on television all those years ago, and somehow, even though I was on the other side of the country, and mercifully lost no close friends or family that fateful day; just seeing the images of the towers engulfed in flames brings the feelings of horror and helplessness flooding right back… I suspect that I am not alone... It was truly a sad day for our nation, and one that will take a long time to heal.

Perhaps that is why the Centers for Spiritual Living selected September 14 as the World Day of Service. As we look to heal from the tragedy of 9/11, we know that one of the very best things we can do is to serve others.

World Day of Service has been organized as a day to come together in service to our communities. This Saturday, dozens of Centers for Spiritual Living across the country will participate in various community-service activities, designed to remind ourselves that it’s all about connection. We really are all one: one people, one planet, one God.

So what are we doing? I thought you’d never ask! That’s the best part!


We are hosting a BEACH CLEAN UP 3:30-5PM at North Beach in San Clemente.
Followed by a no-host BONFIRE at 5:30pm!

(No-Host means that you bring whatever food you want to cook, but we will have plenty of wood and fixin’s for s’mores!)

If you’ve never done a beach clean-up, they are really fun. Not only are you helping the environment, but you get to be outside, enjoying the sun and beach. It is a win-win. One tip though: they provide those thin latex gloves. I recommend bringing your own rubber gloves (not leather or fabric). You’ll also want a hat and sunscreen, because even the late-afternoon sun can burn.

Finally, plan to bring a friend or two. Serving others is much more fun when it is shared. If there is someone you’ve wanted to invite to church, this is a great way to introduce them to us.

Dr. Kenn Gordon, spiritual leader for Centers for Spiritual Living, says, “We believe that prayer changes lives. We also believe that the only way God can accomplish anything is through us–God works in us, through us, and as us. We can pray that the hungry are fed, and we do, but we also need to take action to feed the hungry. We envision a world that is free of homelessness, violence, war, and hunger. World Day of Service is about taking action in our communities around the world so together we can create that world, a world that works for everyone.”

This Saturday, September 14, at 3:30pm we are coming together at North Beach to help clean up our little corner of the world, but in so doing, we recognize that we are part of a global effort. There is so much power in that – plus, we’re gonna have a really good time! I hope to see you there.


For more information, please contact Diane at the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley 949-240-6463 or media@cslcv.org

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Honoring 9/11: The first day of middle school homework

Teaching our children to honor September 11, 2001

On September 9th my 8th grader came home from the first day of school with an assignment: Ask your parents where they were on the day of September 11, 2001, and how did that day affect our country?  For these past 2 years in middle school she has been reading novels with increasingly tougher subjects.  Some of the subjects caused her some anxiety and concern.  Now that she has become exposed to some of these subjects, as an 8th grader, it's time that some really tough subjects are discussed at home.  This is something we, as her parents, have tried to shield her from, because, knowing our child, we didn't feel she could digest the subjects.

The answer to her assigned question began with my husband.  He told her he was at home with her (she was 1 year old at the time).  He spoke of viewing the towers on television when the second plane hit. He explained terrorism, hijacking and heroism.  He spoke of the heightened airport security, as this was at a time where he, personally, was air traveling quite a bit for work.  He showed her a video of the towers at the time of collapse.  What he was not prepared for was her reaction of nonchalance.  My husband's reaction was disappointment, frustration, and he decided to walk away from her in disbelief of her lack of understanding.  His reaction smacked her right in the heart as she began to well up with tears.  At that point she knew he was upset with her reaction, and that the day of September 11th was a painful day to recollect.

From this moment I began to speak of the impact tragedy has on people.  I spoke of people who lost their love ones, of children that would never see their parents again.  I spoke of stories I heard from friends who personally knew others who lost a friend or relative.  I even told her that one of her best friends had a relative who died on one of the hijacked planes.  Of course, she was surprised to hear that she knew someone who was personally affected.  I told her of my personal fear, as a mother of a 1 year old child, and the feeling that war would come to Los Angeles.  I told her that our lives are not to be taken for granted and we should be grateful every day.

Though we are on the entire opposite end of the country, this event effected every one of us in a most profound and deeply, hurtful way.  I spoke that, as we are in the proximity of Hollywood, the capital of make believe, it's easy to see something on film and think the violence is something that isn't real, isn't true.  By watching it on YouTube, on a screen, it doesn't appear to be something real.  However, this was very real; this hurt the nation to the core.  I then brought it out globally, speaking of, how the world currently has children who fear for their lives every day from war, hunger and diseases.

I know my daughter, I know she is a child who is sensitive, and I know her empathy can sometimes cause her anxious pain.  As a sister, with a special needs little brother, her empathy is cellular.  So, it was not a surprise that she was in tears while I was explaining the events of September 11, 2001.  Of course I know it was a mixture of personal hurt, from her dad's reaction, and the deep, painful understanding upon discussing such a tragic day.  Shielding her from discussing these subjects is no longer an option, nurturing her continued growth into an understanding of honor is of utmost importance.

Her school has asked the students to wear patriotic colors to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.  Now, when she wears these colors, she will understand the hurt of a country, and what it means to honor another.

Today, I honor those who transitioned into a new form of the energetic on September 11, 2001.
I hold a space of Peace for those, still living on this dimension, who are without the physical presence of their loved ones.
I hold a place of Peace for those who strongly believe terrorism is the action toward freedom.
I honor those who, unselfishly, acted in the space of heroism on that fateful day.
 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is Life An Existential Bummer?



Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas


Monday, September 9, 2013

Intuition Tapping Writing Meditation

Intuition  - the ability to acquire representation or knowledge about things, apparently without reasoning or usage of reason in general. ~ Wikipedia

Sometimes I feel quite intuitive and at other times it feels like that part of the eye examination when the doctor is asking you to choose between lenses.

A tool for transformation that I've been working with lately has been writing meditation. I journal or free write for 30 minutes straight, perferably uninterupted.

My Writing Meditation Guidelines (as I have prescribed for myself)
  • Frequency - Everyday. There's a power to doing things everyday. 
  • Tool of Choice - I freewrite with a pen in hand. I still have never gotten used to doing my thinking or processing work at the computer. Maybe someday I will devote some time to spending these free writes at a computer or even go old school with a typewriter, preferably electric.
  • Timer or Page Count - Time your free writes instead of measuring it by the pages. Set your timer and turn it out of view. 30 minutes. Being conscious of how much time you have remaining is an obstacle to being in the moment.
  • Optimal Speed - It's fast enough that you aren't thinking too far ahead of yourself but you aren't fumbling with your pen. You're out of your head and out of the way.  
Sometimes I pose questions and sometimes I just write. There is always a discovery at the end of the 30 minutes. It's a way of tapping in that always works for me. I receive answers and sort out ideas on a regular basis. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

You're a Know it All


All I need to know lives within me. 
It is the source of grand ideas, perfect paths and beautiful creations. 
I am one with Infinite Mind and open to it's wisdom.

You're a Know it All
And So It Is!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Where is Home?

Where do you call home?

I was born in  a tiny prairie village. I was raised in another tiny village. For my early years this was my home. I spent my young adult life on the prairies. Recently I returned to Saskatchewan to visit my mother. Especially in the summer, there is a great beauty and feeling of vastness there. I had forgotten how far one can see in the open prairies, the beautiful ever-changing skies and the constantly blowing wind.  I no longer call it home or even have a twinge of nostalgia about it. I love living in southern California. However, I also saw reflected old-fashioned values of kindness, compassion, courage and consideration.

There have been many places that have been home to my mother. Of course, the one I most strongly resonate with is a house that my dad designed and built (with lots of help) in the village of Conquest, Saskatchewan. From there, Mom and Dad moved to Saskatoon to a bungalow which had lots of memories for me. It was there that  I hosted my first large family dinner. I was 22 years old and with not much sense, invited my in-laws for Christmas. My parents, who were vacationing in California, loaned me their home. I cooked for 26 people that Christmas day...two meals dinner and supper.  The first turkey dinner was scheduled for noon. I think I finally served it at 1:30 PM. (I really missed my mother who would have been able to coach me through that ordeal.) Many years later my parents moved to a modest apartment and bought  a travel trailer in Mesa; they spent many years as snow-birds.  their home in Arizona was filled with friends, playing cards and talking about their most recent shuffleboard. games. Their home in Canada was a place the family gathered.  Even after my dad made his transition in 1993, Mom still lived six months in each place. It worked well for her while her friends were still in the trailer park and worked well for me because I could see her more often. Then Mom moved into a senior living apartment. Now she is living in a personal care home.

My mother's room overlooks a beautiful flower and vegetable garden in which she likes to walk and sit. Because people were raiding the garden, the home but a lock on the gates. They gave the code to the residents but my mother's eyesight is rapidly deteriorating so she was concerned that she couldn't see the numbers and letters on the lock. I suggested that she could memorize the placement of the numbers and letters. She did. Almost immediately she had it mastered.  Although one of her faculties is dimming, she used her memory to compensate. She felt great. I am reminded how important freedom and autonomy are to all of us.

In her new home, Mom is surrounded by 29 other seniors and provided for by care givers. She has three meals a day with her new friends. Sometimes they gather for conversation, sometimes they just sit quietly with one another. One morning when I returned to visit Mom she was excited to tell me that the previous night, her care giver, Anna, had danced for them. I didn't know what to imagine. Mom explained that Anna had just recently returned to work after knee and hip surgery. She brought some music with her and danced with joy, first by herself and then with  another resident. She simply was filled with joy of being alive. By dancing by herself, she gave permission to all the residents to fully be themselves. It was a beautiful gift she gave.

Mom was very sad to see me leave because I don't know when I will be able to return. Still she sees me on Skype almost daily. I am glad I got to see her new home, and meet her new friends.  I am very happy to be home, here in southern California where the palm trees remind me I am living my dream now!

Saskatoon in winter


Friday, September 6, 2013

Undeserving of God's Love? Agree or Disagree?


"Let me ask you, if someone asked you if you are rich, what would you say?" my mom asked me.

"Yes, I am!" I answered.

My mom and stepdad just moved to the small mountain town of Lewiston, CA.

Having a d├ęsire to revisit her spiritual life, my mom went and checked out a church down the road that is the same religion as her upbringing, and my own.

She was telling me that the topic for that day were words that we must avoid in our lives…greed, lust, selfishness, etc.  

In my mind, I thought, huh, why concentrate on the words that we must avoid rather than the thoughts that we should seek out like joy, love, abundance.

I kept listening as my mom related to me the messages she received from the talk and how she felt herself connecting to God again.

Many of the messages she talked about were fear-based, yet she found the message behind them.

The newsletter she brought home (pictured above)  said on the front, "God's abundant generosity? We're underserving of God's extraordinary goodness, yet he showers us with grace."


Good God, I thought, I don't believe I am undeserving of God's love!

Nothing my mom talked about seemed inspiring, uplifting or motivational…to me.

…to her, she was feeling all of that.

How could I argue that or ruin that for her by saying I didn't agree with most of it?


Because, I understand that our path here on Earth is to find the path that leads us to God.  

Not every religion is for everyone.

There are different views, different opinions, and different perspectives.

We know this because wars have been started for centuries over the differing perspectives, yet…

…both sides of every war fight because they believe they have the right way to God.

What if, we all accepted each individual's path to God, no matter what their beliefs or opinions are?

At the beginning of our services at CSLCV, we light the candles for all major religions "honoring the path to God."

I truly understood this as I sat in the kitchen at my mom's and watched her glow with the experience she just had that brought her closer to God.

I realized, that because it's not my path of choice, that she was experiencing what I experience in prayer, meditation, classes and services at the Center for Spiritual Living - Capistrano Valley.

How can I argue with that?

How can I burst her bubble with MY perspective?

I couldn't.

So instead, I accepted that her experience gave her an experience of God.

"Mom," I said, "I am so glad you got out of it what you did.  That's what it's all about."

And so it is.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Listening to the Voice of God, I Know.


Have you ever found yourself not knowing what to do so you do nothing? I have and I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling powerless, at effect, limited by my conditions. I don’t like it because there really is nothing for me to do and we live in a world of doing. It’s true, when I am stuck I cannot ‘do’.  But something in me knows – I can be. Just be. I sit in the silence and listen to It. It is my intuition, the voice of God within.

Sometimes I listen for a minute, or five, or thirty. I just listen. Yes, I get interrupted, yes, I start over and yes, I listen every day.

Learning to listen to my intuition was a journey. You see, I was a doubter. I was a young person who thought answers came from what I could see, touch and know around me out in the “real world”. I did not yet trust that a valid answer to any real question could come from my gut, a hunch or simply because I felt it. It wasn't even that I belittled the idea of intuition I simply didn't acknowledge it as an adult experience. To me, knowing not feeling, proving not trusting and listening to my head not my heart was a sign of behaving like an adult.  If you know me, well you know I got over that old idea! I still appreciate wisdom and knowledge. If anything, today I sway on the side of my intuition. I might say to my husband “I think there’s something up with the car” and he will ask "what?" And I really cannot give him an answer that means anything to him or the mechanic. I respond, “I don’t know, it just doesn't feel right.”   And, in a few days he will say something like hm, I have to take the car in for “name the mechanical diagnosis”. I didn't know what was wrong but I sure sensed it. I love this example because I know that there is not a part of my life where my intuition does not “work”.  Often, I am inspired
with intuition in my work creating or presenting a lesson, listening or teaching.  I love living by my intuition and I love knowing that my hunches, my gut, my intuition are all part of my spiritual maturity.

So, when I find myself stuck with a question, a decision, a dilemma big or small I know I really can just stop. Stop in my tracks not because I can’t do, but because I can just be. Almost anytime and anywhere I can pause and listen. There are very few, if any exceptions.  I find there are many opinions, ideas and answers available to me out in the world and what I know is my best answers come from within. I would suggest that is true for all of us. The answer, words, direction is always known within each of us if we just listen. Listen to the voice within, listen to our heart, listen to It, our intuition.

This month our spiritual inquiry at our center is to connect to our intuition.  Wherever you are on your spiritual journey you are welcome to join us in this powerful inquiry. I’m excited to see where it takes me and to share it with you!