The Holidays…

While acknowledging that not everyone celebrates this end of year trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, I must say that I do. Every year it’s different but depending on my spiritual condition it can be great or devastating. I’m not talking about how often I went to church but of how I treated myself and those around me. It also depends on whether I’ve been connected to my Higher Power. 

I’m not one of those who wears my religion on the outside. That’s for no particular reason, it just is. It’s more of an inside job. When I get together with others in my spiritual community it sustains to a certain degree. The wholeness I seek comes in the forms of meditation, prayer, and walking the good road. It’s easy to forget but I try to engage in at least one of these on a daily basis.

My spiritual practice allows others to be who they are meant to be. That sounds awfully big of me as I write that down but the truth is that I often think I know everything and especially what’s best for others. Luckily, my HP usually gives me reminders when I’m a bit off and not keeping my side of the sidewalk clean while pointing out the litter across the street or down the block.

Personal reflection during the holiday season comes with the territory of my life. I look back, while not staring for too long and contemplate my future while not forgetting my feet are planted in today. Past holidays, for me, were filled with ‘is it good enough?’ That translated to ‘am I good enough?’ Not great thoughts to wrestle with while barraged with advertisements depicting ‘more, more, and more.’

I’ll be in the quiet for this holiday. I’ll gift a few people and know that I’m an okay person who has moved from the material closer toward the spiritual. I’m in a state of gratitude for the people I’ve come in contact with during 2015 and looking forward to forging new relationships in 2016. I know that if I tend to my spirit as I would my garden that beautiful flowers will grow. I will not be in a constant state of ‘want’ and know that my HP has provided me with everything I need. 

Happy Holidays!

Spirituality: ‘That gift!’

The other day I heard an acquaintance talk about how terrible God is at gift wrapping. Just as on a birthday or at Christmas we may receive a gift, begin to unwrap it, and exclaim, “What the heck is this?” Our faces turn red, our words are stammered as we feel compelled to give thanks, all the while thinking, “What did I do to deserve this and how quickly can I get rid of it?”

Some of the situations I am ‘gifted’ with may be the same as that white elephant that turns up at my door. I’ve known plenty of people who have the knack of hiding presents that are received and they remain out of sight and, presumably, out of mind. Giving presents to my now deceased mother was often a trial. She didn’t use so many of the things I gave her. These were things that were sometimes frivolous- like the book pocket that she could hang from her mattress. She read herself to sleep at night and I thought she’d love it rather than have to step over the book in the morning. The book pocket remained in its box and I don’t how she got rid of it. I never saw it again, even when I rummaged through her belongings after she crossed over.

Underlying all of this, I am thinking about gifts and how God may give us what we certainly don’t want and don’t know what to do with. These gifts usually come in the form of misfortune and sometimes loss. An old friend of mine use to say “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and sometimes we get what we get.” It’s up to us to decide how we will handle the cross we’ve come to bear. It’s up to us to be decisive in how we will respond to an uncomfortable interaction, event, or long term relationship.

During this past year there have been many changes for me. I’m happy to report that these changes came from a place of no longer allowing myself to tolerate hurtful situations. Did God give me these demeaning episodes that I had a hard time letting go of? I don’t think so. I think that, as my friend said, “I got what I got,” and it was up to me to decide what was enough and what no longer served me in the best light. I believe, not that God gave me a terribly wrapped gift, but that my Higher Power was close by, supported me, and gave me a big old hug when HP saw what I decided to do with it. The wind up, my acquaintance explained, is that depending on how we view and handle the awfully wrapped gift, we may find it is actually something of beauty in the long run that adds to our life experience in a beneficial way.

For today, I will try to be mindful of what no longer serves me and how to manage that in the beautiful light of my existence that my God has blessed me with, for I am thankful of the gifts of life and choice.

Palabras: Spiritual Oracle

Palabras: Spiritual Oracle
Palabras: Spiritual Oracle

The West

After a weekend of creating, sharing and relating with others, old friends and new, I am back to sitting with myself. I wake up, run, eat, play with my dogs and sit to write. First I prepare to pull a card from my Spiritual Oracle: Palabras with the thought of what I am I to share with my readers. I smudge, light a white candle, am called to light a cigar, center, set intention and connect with my spiritual guide, Graciella la Gitana. We pull The West.

Words: Go forward in the warmness of the Great Feminine. Life can be experienced as the ebbs and flows of the tide. Seek to look within and find the connection with that which stands seemingly apart. The majesty of this direction calls for you to do great works- always in service to That which is higher than you.

Image: The image for the West card is a monumental rock that sits in the middle of the vast ocean. The moon is seen rising in the horizon. 

Read: The dark waters of looking within… These words are part of a morning tobacco prayer that I say when I honor the four directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky. To be in prayer is a time of taking within and connecting with a Source greater than ourselves. I’ve come across people recently who talk about spiritual states and say that they are interested in an in-depth spiritual life. They then debate whether they actually trust the people who practice the spiritual paths they are interested in following. They stay in debate. Sometimes they go forward but stop themselves from fully going forward because of something that may have happened to them during childhood and say they can never trust again. They also sometimes debate about changing from a religion that isn’t quite what they feel but they feel guilty about embracing a new tradition. The words “the dark waters of looking within” is a clue here. We need to go within and trust ourselves. I, too, debate at times. When we’ve been in a place we no longer want to be, as adults, we no longer need to be there when someone else or something else, such as tradition or culture, keep us from fulfilling ourselves spiritually. We are not bound by cords any longer and if we are we should keep on moving. Our spiritual life is, firstly, between us and our Higher Powers, with people and life then thrown in. Sometimes, as I do, we practice more than one practice and it feels right. Do we never wear the blue shirt because the red shirt is good enough? Look within and stop making excuses. Follow your intuitive self. We are the only ones who can free ourselves.

Palabras: Spiritual Oracle

Palabras Oracle Backing

Palabras: Spiritual Oracle ©

Las Estrellas- The stars.

During my early morning run I looked above and spied the crescent shaped moon that was still showing herself in all of her glory. A hawk flew low above me. I felt I could reach up and touch her. I listened for her message. It was to observe. Take stock in all that is going on in my existence and not to get too caught up in the details. I was reminded to circle above myself and to view my life. I was encouraged to see how all is perfectly melding together. I was reminded to be grateful for the beauty often taken for granted. I returned home to take part in my morning activities and to pull a card to share. I smudged with sage, grounded and centered my energy. I invited the energy of my spirit guide, Graciella la Gitana to come and share in pulling this week’s card. Together, our energies pulled the card-Las Estrellas.

Image: The image is that of a young woman in evening dress running down a path away from a well-lit mansion. She holds a large quartz crystal in her hands and her wrap is gathered at her waist. Her shoulders are bare and her hair lies in waves over them. Above her, the dark sky is lit with brilliant stars. The trees that border the path are bare.

Words:  Sometimes we are not aware of the beauty we hold within. Our focus may be on one thing entirely and we are not aware of how large the Universes are in relation to the smallness of ourselves. Shifting our gazes allows us to sense how we fit perfectly into the constellation of the stars.

Read: Reminder to self! Look up at the stars morning, noon and night. All too often when something isn’t directly in front of us we forget they exist. The stars guide us. We come from them. In the image depicted on the card, the woman, representative of the feminine aspect of ourselves, the intuitive side, is running from the well- lit glory of the mansion. In this read, we are encouraged not to run from that side of ourselves. It is all too easy to do in the aggressive masculine nature of the world. We may forget during the daytime hours that the beauty and the guidance of the feminine are always within us. Tend to the well-lit mansion within. As written by St. Teresa of Avila in Interior Castle, the mansion of spirit is deep within us always in reach. In the city, the stars are often obscured by the lights around us. The lighting is illusory. We must tend to our quiet selves to remember that all that is seen is not all that exists.

 

Winter Solstice 2012

Morning StillStill here! That’s the sentiment I hear when I read Facebook updates and twitter comments on this lovely rainy and windy morning. The Mayans were wrong, what do they know anyway! That was one of the fb status updates I read. And what then? We snicker into our sleeves and keep doing the same things we’ve been doing expecting different results? Or do we consider the higher message that has been, by some, totally ignored.

This is the shortest day of the year. We are now looking forward to the sunny days to come. In this part of the world this is the beginning of the winter season and it will be a while before the balmy, sunny, and carefree days of summer are upon us. That means we still trudge forward making the best of what we’ve got. But what did it all mean? Was it something to pay attention to? The second part of the refrain that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012 was the oft not mentioned “as we know it.” That means something different for each of us.

Even if I didn’t subscribe to this type of thinking or to what the Mayans had to say, I could still sit and meditate on what this means to me. I am only one in a great Universe and a great Universe it is! What can I do to change my ways and bring forward peace and love into a world that has been hostage to fear and violence? I will sit in prayer, meditate and let the messages and vision of a more loving and accepting world take root in me. I will do what I can to channel that message outward, letting it flow like the waters, the wind, the fires and the many earth changes. Today, I commit to acknowledge, in clarity, that we as a whole we need change and do my best to effect it. It really doesn’t matter whether we believed in the Mayan prophecy. We heard the message, some of us laughed, some of us got scared and some of us yawned. What we do with our beings on this planet to become connected and loving beings is what counts the most. Think about your part and I will think about mine. I will reach out to you in my vision and I hope you reach back.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift

Holidays have come to mean gifting and receiving for many of us. The season becomes a whirlwind of activity. There’s tree trimming, candle lighting, cooking and shopping sprees. Some of us knock ourselves out with expectations. This bustle can lead to emotional exhaustion, a perfect medium for growing resentments. There is a solution. The ultimate in holiday gifts this year is forgiveness! I’ve decided to gift myself with it first.

I recently sat to listen to a talk given by Marianne Williamson based on her new book The Law of Divine Compensation. Suffice it to say I’m still sifting through the words I heard and the images I received through the prayer and meditation that we shared in during the talk.

Pushing tissue paper, ribbon and credit cards aside, I’ve taken some time for introspection. I believe that I can see within myself a bit more clearly. As I envisioned Higher Power holding me as I looked within, I came across some realizations. I have held resentments against people for actions I believed they took that ultimately harmed me. These are my perceptions alone and who is the one who is still smarting? I think it’s me. There’s an old saying that holding onto resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. My old angers can be defined as righteous that can be further defined as self-righteous. Yeah? So what? Blaming others for my misery gets tiring. I become depressed and glum. My higher self tells me to “Let it go, Theresa. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Holding onto resentment doesn’t allow us to grow and be the persons our coded DNA intended. This certainly does not mean that we should keep ourselves in unhealthy situations but the spaces between our ears can be such dark and lonely places.

During Marianne’s meditation I went deep. I saw the faces of people I believed had harmed me. My connection was that I loved those faces at one time or other and still do in in some cases. I sent their images breaths of love. Did they receive it? I don’t know. I do know that the old anger, hurt and resentments within me are dissipating. I can move forward in new relationship to them but mostly to myself. It feels good to be weightless- even after eating those holiday butter cookies. I love being my higher self. It feels good. I don’t have to make the choice between being right or happy. Forgiveness gives me both. Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s priceless.

Myopia

I woke up in the middle of the night with the word “myopic” swirling circles in my head. I know what myopic means in terms of vision- nearsighted. I looked it up in my big old dictionary and it read: lack of knowledge, tolerance or foresight. There’s a lot of that going on right now here in the North East. People are newly homeless, angry, hungry and exhausted. They are cold and need help- a lot of it and many people are giving it.

Myopia is a far cry from my idea of Utopia, which is damn near to perfection. I’d been struggling with my decision to run the NYC Marathon post Hurricane Sandy. In my utopic view of the world- the runners would bring much needed funds to the NY city area. My thinking was that the larger scope of millions brought in over several hours would offset the discomfort of NY. There was no outcry that Wall Street was fully functioning after two days on their generator power. Obviously, I was myopic. I knew that my choice was unpopular-just as many of my choices in my lifetime have been. When I make a decision it’s after lots of thought and spiritual exploration.  Sometimes I’m wrong.

I’m surprised I didn’t receive scathing comments from my friends. One brave soul did comment about the other side of my decision. I truly didn’t want to change my mind because of fear of being harmed by the self-righteous. But my thinking began to change. It took me time to “get it.” The Marathon was canceled and I didn’t have to make the personal choice after all, but I have been able to make choice in what to do to help in my way. There are so many ways to help. Quite a number of marathoners pooled their resources and brought much needed help to Staten Island, Coney Island and other hard hit areas.

I, like many other North Easterners saw media coverage of the Jersey Shore, Staten Island and Breezy Point during the early hurricane post hours. I know that there are many other places in NY that have been devastated that have had no media coverage. I’d seen Facebook comments about how some people are “just praying.” If that’s all you’ve got, give it. Prayer works. Being still in a time of utter chaos helps to balance the Universal Energies. If you’ve got other resources such as money, time, physical strength, tools and supplies- use those to help. Blood is another much needed donation- we are short in supply.

Ultimately, we don’t need to advertise what we have done or plan to do. It’s a case of knowing and accepting one’s reality at the time and doing the best that one can. We can always move forward.

They say it’s your birthday…

So what is it to me? It’s not the annual birthday event most of us have in mind when we celebrate with balloons, cake and candles. There will be no ‘Hokey Pokey’ or ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey.’ This weekend marks my initiation into the Orisha tradition six years ago. Just writing the number six down reminds me that I’m very young and still newly finding my way on this spiritual path. I breathe easier.
Six years ago, I was crowned a priestess of Yemaya. The knowledge I had of ‘Yemaya’ prior to the event was that she is the Great Goddess Mother celebrated in different forms in many different spiritual and religious traditions. She presides over all in this great big Universe! I first identified her during “The Journey of the Waters” many years ago. With the guidance of my Native teacher, Oh Shinnah Fastwolf I experienced water ceremonies in the Southwest that included pipe, sweat lodge and initiations in the various natural water springs, lakes and rivers. I took on the aspect of Changing Woman and have never looked back! It was there I heard the word “Yemaya” whispered into my ear at Pagosa Springs, Colorado.Years later, as I did my theoretical thing, I was steeped in literature regarding Yemaya, Orishas, Spiritism and Santeria while I researched the literature for my doctoral dissertation.
The visions that swirled in my head about Yemaya were that she is a nurturing, loving, and forgiving mother that treats her children with the utmost devotion and love. I wanted some of that and raised my hand asking for ‘more’. So when I consulted the oriate and he threw some cowry shells on the mat and declared, “Yemaya wants you!” and “She said don’t touch that dial!” I was smitten by this vision of loveliness wearing swirling blues and whites ready to cast her net over me and draw me under the ocean waves where she could feed me all the lobster and shrimp that I could eat.

That never happened. Instead, I found out after my initiation that yes, I am a child of Yemaya, but not the one I envisioned. I am the child of Yemaya Okute- one bad-assed mother who hauls butt making things happen. Yes, I tend to my flock but it’s not babies. I usually tend to a bunch of also bad-assed men who happen to need a little care and compassion in their daily existences. Listen to ‘em, talk to ‘em, give them a “you ok?’ and send them back onto the beach or actually, the streets of the lower east side of Manhattan- Loisaida to you natives of this rocky island.  Any traces of tears can be attributed to them being waterlogged while under my watchful Yemaya vision. The truth is that I do see beauty in everything based on my relationship with Her. We all need somebody, don’t we?

What I’m getting at is that I believe I’m only just beginning to figure out who I am in this spiritual life, what my gifts are and certainly my blessings. I gather that this is a basic feature of opening to a spiritual tradition during adulthood. I haven’t turned my back on the religious tradition that my Earth mother loving created for me beginning during babydom. The two traditions actually complement each other quite well, as shown by my ancestors who hid their African traditions while they went to Mass in order to avoid severe and corporal punishment from their plantation masters.

So, I’m still learning. I’m grateful. I’m in awe that Yemaya didn’t want me to channel surf Orishas. I’m open to whatever She brings me on this coming day of celebration and the years to come. My choice to be initiated into a most complicated, unlikely tradition is something I’m proud of! I find that as more is revealed that I am thrilled that I decided to give over to my Higher Power. I could never have thought some of my life up. I’m hanging onto my seat during this delicious ride. All I need to order is the cake. Aché

 

My Five Year Spiritual Plan

About four years ago I made a five year plan. I’d just left my post as a director of mental health for a program that hadn’t seriously considered the mental health of a population in dire need. After several years of growing that program, writing grants, engaging in administrative and clinical duties, I decided the time had come to hang up that particular nurse’s cape.

My plan was to read and write as much as I could. I began writing my first ‘real’ novel and some  short stories. I took some creative writing courses and began to develop the fiction side of my talents. I‘ve submitted manuscripts and short stories and have done all that writers do as they prepare to have their works published. My writing prior to this took the form of research papers and psychiatric evaluations. I also planned to read. Novels, fiction, blogs, yes, but I also wanted to do spiritual readings. I was deep into the spiritual oracle Palabras that I am still in the process of creating.

Proclaiming that I’m a spiritual medium does not roll easily off my tongue. I have done spiritual readings for many years by various means, including tarot and oracle reading. I’ve sat with teachers from different spiritual paths and was initiated into the Orisha tradition. My favorite readings are the ones where my guides whisper into my ears and show me visualizations of what the person I am reading for needs to hear. One of my spirit guides loves doing energy healings. She uses crystals, feathers, smudge, oils, whatever she believes is needed at the time. I do what she tells me to do. Her healing energy is quite gentle but effective.

At around the same time, I began a couple of consulting psychiatric positions and had to get used to the hectic management of mental health clinics with time limits. I continued to do both readings and writing but mostly my readings had been placed on the back burner. Somehow I’ve made it a point to continue writing.

My partner is in the process of building a private practice as a psychotherapist in NYC. When I shared this with one of my collaborating psychiatrists, she asked me whether I was interested in a private practice too. I said, yes, but it would be doing spiritual readings and energy healings. A few days later I was having coffee with two women who are busily and happily engaged in their own private businesses, one is a running coach and the other has a thriving yoga practice. They encouraged me to pursue my dream.

Today, I ordered business cards and researched the mechanics of on-line business transactions. I’ve decided that I can consult in person, by phone or Skype. I am only limited by my own vision, so I open it up to the Universes to help me see what I need to see. So far they’ve shown me that my gifts of speaking with persons who have crossed over will help the droves of people who are ready to hear their individual messages and who will benefit by healings for which I agree to be the vehicle. I am excited about coming back to my five year plan.

More to come…

Interview with Author Sandy Corcoran

It’s truly inspiring to have the opportunity to have Sandy speak about what the essence of writing is for her. Sharing about what has been given to her and how she’s chosen to give back to others is a motivating factor in not only writing, but in how we choose to walk in this world. Thank you, Sandy, it’s an honor!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

At the death of my daughter in 1983, my feet were put to an entirely different path. Through the Native American women that stepped into my world, and eventually other indigenous mentors, my world-view  was altered and a new and richer life began with the spiritual understanding that we are all connected and united, in ways great and small, and the only thing that prevents that is making a choice to awaken to our soul’s calling.

 What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Those interested in renewal, shamanism, mind-body-spirit and those who wish to delve into the incredibly rich landscape that lies within their dreamstate, the world of living energy, the luminal realms and the ability of all human beings to bring it into our physical knowing.

What are you currently writing?

I have recently completed Between the Dark and the Daylight: Awakening to Shamanism

Published in February 2012 through Balboa Press/ a division of Hay House

How do you make time to write?

Some days it comes easily, flowing freely and unannounced epiphanies, whereas other days I had to discipline myself to set aside time. I find, for me, I can write for long periods at a time when the words just tumble forth. I also discovered that when I forced the material, I always changed or discarded it.

What inspires you to write?

Finding the heart centered words to connect with others in the hopes of alleviating some of their pain by witnessing my own; and sharing the joy and rebirth of spirit which always follows those deep and very human struggles that we all have in common.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

Nothing. What I learned though was not to push my story until both my heart and mind were ready to join together to give it form.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Unfortunately I lack both the experience and where-with-all of where to even begin. But my hopes are that someone will come forward and assist me to organize the best methods of spreading the word, while also not wearing myself too thin in the process. There are many other things I wish to continue to do, like my shamanic practice with clients as that is where I feel I am offering the best of what I have been taught and what I have to share.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

Absolutely, without Spirit nothing exists for me, and nothing would have unfolded in my life the way it has without Spirit’s guidance and direction. For that, I am most grateful, as I know there are others who feel a lack of connection or a lack of direction in finding and trusting that “voice” within themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

My burning desire, in all seriousness…if we are 6 degrees of someone, I want this book to touch those who have lost their way or experienced deep loss, so they can find renewed faith in themselves or their dreams….and maybe, have this book make its way into Oprah Winfrey’s hands. For two reasons, I respect her honesty and drive, and I know she has a spiritual understanding and wide audience of people who trust her suggestions.

http://www.amazon.com/Between-The-Dark-Daylight-Awakening/dp/1452544018/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334926233&sr=1-2