Swimming with the Fishes

After insisting to anyone within earshot that “I wouldn’t ever in this lifetime,” I signed up for a triathlon sprint. While standing on the sidelines for a few of them, I realized that I didn’t have to be buff or a goddess. My running is at a good place. All I had to do was practice my almost non-existent biking skills and jump back into the pool after a very long dry hiatus.

Returning to the swimming pool at the Y, I engaged in the appearance of lap swimming. Practicing my breast stroke I found myself in the slow lane next to, how can I put this nicely? Slow people.  I fancy myself going into the medium lane where I’m sure not to gain on the person in front of me in two strokes. I knew that if I had the nerve to move lanes I probably wouldn’t see dangling legs going at a snail’s pace smack right in front of my goggles. But I don’t have the daring. Instead, sad to say, I sulked a bit, was impatient and more annoying to myself than the person in front of me. Glub, glub!

Keeping at my plan I’ve returned to the pool a few times a week. I know that occasionally some capped stranger will jump into the slow lane and suddenly it turns into a medium lane. Everyone is quite nice and we let each other go ahead if they’re a tad(pole) faster. The only person that didn’t smile at me was the lady who walks her dog each morning when I do. My yorkie-poo barks whenever her larger dog comes near. The lady crosses over a block in advance when she sees us coming. I’m still not sure how we recognized each other in the pool with our goggles and caps on but we still keep coming back.

Then my partner suggested we go to the free evening lap swim at the neighborhood city pool. The first night was wonderful. We met a friend there just by chance. The sunset was in full swing and it was magical. But last night was a struggle. Because it was a sweltering evening  everyone came out to swim. About five percent of the people in the slow lane were lap swimmers. The rest, well, again, what can I say? One guy swam almost underneath me. This evoked memories of being twelve years old but luckily he was a gentleman and kept his hands to himself. A very pregnant woman swam in the middle of the pool with her Styrofoam thingy keeping her afloat. The lane is divided in two, comers and goers. But what can you say when the Madonna goes for a swim? Then there was the leaping lady who insisted on going ahead of me. Every time I got near she leapt ahead. I kind of respected her frog-like action. The last I’ll mention was the woman who decided to jog in the water and pinned me between the mama-to-be and herself. Glub. Glub.

I stood at the end of the pool between two men who were also patiently awaiting their turns. I contemplated going to the medium lane but saw the people there were actually walking at that moment. There were so many of them that it looked as though they were standing in line at the bank. Taking a deep breath, I began speaking to the guy next to me. He told me that he’s actually a fencer healing up from a stress fracture of his thigh bone. Such an interesting guy! I loved that he noticed I was breathing on alternate sides during each of my timed third strokes- Great guy that he is! When I explained I’m training for the tri, another well-defined muscular gent on my right told me he, too, is training for the one I’ll be doing. He suggested I become a member of the Brooklyn Tri-Club. We shared thoughts and tips and I got happy! I’d become just one of many in this crazy school of fish!

I’m sure that in the ocean fish bump into each other, they stare at one another without blinking, and share anecdotes about what to do when the current goes the wrong way! I’m just a regular fish going about swimmingly with the other little fishes. I don’t have to be a shark ready to strike but I can be a dolphin, friendly, and living in a community. I hear dolphin skins are delicate. My skin is also thin and easily bruised, I must admit, too much of the time. Taking a lesson from them, I’ll learn how to live and thrive in a community. Jumping and diving, I’ll make happy sounds and make people smile. I’ll swim with all the others as we try to survive the challenging stuff. We can all live blissfully in the sea!

Triathloning

Triathloning (is that a word?) isn’t something that I ever really heard of until I hit my, ahem, forties. Tomorrow my partner and a dear friend will be taking part in the Olympic distance. This means swimming 0.9 miles, biking 24 miles and, last but not least, running 6.2 miles. You can catch Pat’s blog at http://journeytopoconoshalfironman.blogspot.com where you can read about her experiences in this athletic madness. I’ve been inspired by her determination, active participation in life and, mostly, ability to share when the training has been toothgnashing disappointing.

Today, I’ll try not to be annoying by asking her details repeatedly. I will pray that the clouds disperse for a sunny light blue sky. I will also watch every move she makes because her wild enjoyment in this has caught me by surprise and I plan to follow in her steps. A couple of weeks ago I began swimming after years of not jumping in the pool for serious laps. I’ve also taken my road bike out for a tune up. The store owner told me my bike was very nice and suggested I not leave it in the garage anymore. I continue to run my runs, one of my most favorite things in the world.

It’s nice to be witness to others’ happiness and I’m glad I’m conscious enough to share in it! To be continued…

Mortality Muse

 Lately I’ve tooled around with the idea of death-my own. There are many reasons why I would. Turning on the news brings images of horrendous devastation, in a month or so it will be the anniversary of my sister’s death and so on. I’ve also been a nurse for the last many, many years and have been at death’s bedside in some shape or form in what seems like always. I’ve had close one’s die, the earliest being my slightly older sister when I was eleven. The last was my mother’s, a little over a decade ago. I loved them dearly. With all the deaths I’ve encountered, I’ve leant myself to them in some way, physical, mental, emotional and, especially, spiritual.

I recently completed the Brooklyn Half-Marathon (13.1 miles of all of you non-runners). I finished exhausted. I’d over trained and didn’t enjoy it as I usually do. I told my partner that if I were ever to die running and she overheard someone mention that’s just how I would want it, that she should deny it for me. I told her that I’d much prefer to die propped on pillows autographing my published books for my fans. If by some chance I hadn’t been published and any one said that I hadn’t realized my dream, that she should argue that point too. One of the last editors that I sent my manuscript to may not have taken my book, but she took me under her wing. That was enough, I realized. Yes, I still want to be published the old-fashioned way, but I have received more with my rejections than I could ever have thought possible. As my brain streamed along the points I want clarified after my death, I decided I wanted my children to know that there is no third sibling, half or otherwise lurking about waiting to cash in on their meager inheritance. They could feel free to fight over paying my debts as much as they want to, together!

I realize that my death anxiety comes from a lack of control and powerlessness of how things will be. Not, I see, in the future, but in my past. I’m not so worried about whether I have to hang out at St. Peter’s gate until I come up with a good joke. If I’m in pain, I trust that some good doctor or nurse will load me with analgesics until I float. Whether my death is sudden or slow, I believe that with the support I have, that somehow I will persevere until I cross to the other side. I’ve decided not to worry about meeting my mother at the pearly gates and that she will complain that I spent too much money I things I didn’t need. Or that my sister might say, “You shouldn’t have done that when you were fifteen, thank the heavens I was your guardian angel and got you out of that scrape.”

Since I have no idea what my last day will be like, I am choosing to live until I die. I say that with the humor and love and deep appreciation for all those who have gone before me, in fear, in grace and acceptance. I have faith that I will be taken care of and the petty thoughts that consume me will be put to rest. I keep all of those who are in the pain of experiencing the death of their loved ones, anticipated or otherwise, in my heart. I pray for all of those who are in the process of crossing over and are in the pain of leaving the ones they love behind. This topic is so much bigger than a thought, a phrase, or a paragraph. For some reason I’ve been moved to address it and I have. For me, living means taking action an sharing what is important to me. I have so much love for so many people, that I want them to know that I am happy, have no regrets and wish them as full and as useful a life as I’ve had up until now. I hope I can read this blog in thirty or forty years and remember how I felt and what I was thinking today. If not, today is enough.

Talking animals?

“He thinks that animals give him direction, you know, tell him right from wrong,” she said as she rolled her eyes.

This was a typical water cooler conversation. I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought – ‘Hey, I believe that animals give messages too.’ I’m the psych and he’s the client and we are apparently on the same page with this one. 

A spiritual tool I cut my teeth on was Jamie Sams’ Medicine Cards.  These cards act as an oracle rather than as a tarot. They can be used in different type of spreads and they were the first cards that I used as a divination instrument.  Each animal depicted in the deck may describe a characteristic or way of being. I used them all the time, learning what animals were actually my allies. I read about the ones that were hanging around to help me out and what characteristics of myself that I needed to be wary of and which to value. Living in the city when I was getting acquainted with the ways of animals, from birds, to mammals, to fish, to insects, you name it, I realized that I could communicate with a moose despite the fact I was sitting in a kitchen in New York City.

When I heard that the client believed that he can communicate with animals, I thought, the first thing these folks need is to broaden their horizons; the second is to find out about the spiritual and cultural belief systems that frame his life. There are so many different systems that it’s virtually impossible to know the details of all of them. We may have expertise in some things but not everything. This gentleman’s thinking may be distorted in a psychiatric context or quite canny in a spiritual one. The situation needs more exploration, education and acceptance. I’d be happy to chat about it with him and others who are excited about the idea of communicating with animals.

I know for myself that when I drive and a certain bird careens near my car that I need to be on the alert. Deer may be crossing at dusk; an SUV may be throttling for all its worth at me or someone may be too buzzed to pay attention to that stop sign. It’s all happened. I know when I see a blue jay fly near me that it’s a time to honor that fierceness that’s within me. I only know this because of the years I’ve spent sitting with the Medicine Cards or Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak , meditating and by developing relationships with the real animals that come my way. I’ve dealt with buck, bears, buzzards, snakes and skunks in the woods behind our house. Each one has brought a special message to me that I’ve had to examine myself about in terms of its meaning. The dream world brings me close to other animals that I am not in contact with during the day- yet are other important communicators.

There is so much to share about and learn and I am open to what you think about this! Tell me who you listen to and who warns you of danger coming down the road, I’d love to know!

Got Fish?

Most mornings when I arrive at work I drop my bag in a drawer, turn on the computer and take a clear empty bowl to a nearby sink. After I fill it with clear water I bring it back to my office and set it on the short file cabinet. Every once in a while a client will ask me, “Hey, Doc, got fish?”

I’m a water woman. I’m made of about 60 percent of water, love to drink it, play in it and clear my energy with it. Not only do I deal with others’ watery emotions all day long, I also do my best to manage mine.  The bowl of water that sits on the cabinet does a lot for me and for anyone who sits in the room with me. Some would say it’s a feng shui thing. I’ve read that water can bring prosperity and wealth. The reason I use it is because it helps keep the energy in my room clear, picking up anything that really doesn’t belong in there, that will bring imbalance. One of my spiritual teachers told me that it brings negative ions into the room and that’s exactly what we want. Just think of the feeling in a room when a window is open and there is a gentle rain coming down outside. There is much spiritual activity that goes on during those times. We receive spiritual messages easily as the rain conducts and facilitates the exchange of energy.

Many times when I’m sitting with clients it’s important for me to determine whether they’re dealing with more of a spiritual issue than a mental health or emotional one. They are very similar in some ways. I take a glance at my water and allow my vision to soften and read the water and take in what it has to say. That’s called scrying. Sometimes I see images in the water and at other times the presence of tiny bubbles throughout the bowl tells me that I am dealing with a spiritual issue. I guess I can say that water helps with the diagnosing and treatment of the problem.

In any event, on the days I haven’t filled my small bowl with water I feel a distinct heaviness in the room. There’s a stagnant feel to the atmosphere and I just feel absolutely wiggly until I can leave and smudge myself properly. I owe the people who sit with me a clean and clear environment. They come for peace of mind and balance of spirit. There are many small ways that can help to make that happen and water just happens to be one of them. Whenever someone asks me whether there’s a fish somewhere in the bowl, I just smile and tell them that the bowl of water is to keep the energy in the room clear. That usually suffices.

Oh, and by the way, I am planning to add fish to my family of pets but these will be kept in their very own aquarium.

Meditate, Don’t Vegetate

Sitting with Oh Shinnah Fastwolf, during the earlier years of my spiritual awakeness, I’d laugh when she’d say “you have to meditate, honey, not vegetate.”  Oh Shinnah, my beloved Mohawk-Apache-Scot teacher said many things that I’ve come to repeat over the years. A couple of my favorite sayings were “You have to shoot your arrow and follow it, no matter where it goes” and, “When you get to the edge of a cliff you might have to jump because you might die anyway.” These words come from an elder who is filled with wisdom and humor and are the ones I remember whenever there is something I may be shivering in fear about-usually change.

On Sunday, in my PALABRAS spiritual reading, I wrote about meditating. Today I kept thinking about just that-listening to one’s inner voice. Meditating comes in many different forms. I tend to meditate using my quiet morning run, the Emerald Tablets or another form of ceremony. Meditating can seem simple or complex. It may take the form of sitting in front of a lit white candle, in the solitude of a chosen sacred space or sharing the sacred pipe with the two legged and four legged who are in my spiritual circle. I can sit in the white foam as the waves ebb and flow, rhythmically, and listen for the voice of the Great Goddess Mother wash over me.  It all sounds very mystical but my favorite meditation was as I sat in front of the vast ocean and heard, “Don’t wear a red swim suit.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought it was hilarious but I got rid of the red and now only wear shades and patterns of blue to my Mother’s shore now.

By meditating one receives the messages meant for them. I love to do readings for everyone who asks but I also encourage learning to purposely listen for messages from Spirit. Praying is talking to your Higher Power-whoever or whatever that might be. Meditating is listening to that same Being. There is joy in sitting in the tranquility of quiet. There is illumination in drawing in knowledge with all of our senses. Opening to communication with that which gives comfort, support and love just can’t be beat.

I have a built-in forgetter, if something’s good for me I promptly forget to do it. That could be eating right, exercising and even going to bed at a reasonable time. So for whatever reason, for the second time this week, I’m moved to write about meditating. We need quiet time. Sometimes when my dog, Chutney, barks just once too often in her shrill high-pitched way, I give her quiet time. She sits in the kitchen for a few moments, gets her bearings and comes out again. The quiet time does her good. It does me good too.  This message may be a reminder to myself of the feeling of wholeness and serenity I receive during the act of meditation. So I will try to remember those words “Meditate don’t vegetate.” Hope you will too.

May you walk in Beauty!

Paranormal Levels the Mundane

My problem with the paranormal is that it’s become the mundane. Blogging about something that’s about as typical as tooth brushing makes for a challenge. I could ask you what you dreamt last night, whether your thoughts became clearer in the shower this morning or what the homeless man yelled out to you when you passed him on the corner. But recognizing various means of communication is an essential part of living comfortably with the paranormal. 

We receive messages via all sorts of media. Some of us see with our two eyes and many of us with the third in the middle of our foreheads. Some of us listen to our iPods and others sit in meditation and listen to their inner voices. Imagine how long our lists would be if we charted down each time we received a message? 

Defining the paranormal is simply complex. The definition depends on who is asking and who is doing the defining. Look up the term and you’ll see paranormal is described as being from something ‘out of the range of normal’ to UFOs. That’s pretty vast in itself. I’ve sat with many entities, theoreticians, my own spiritual guides and a bunch of others to discuss what the paranormal means. We all love to give our opinions.

I started writing this on the train to work this morning with the plan to finish it on the way home. As I was walking along Second Avenue, passing another worker, someone I see but have never been introduced to, I heard ‘check your blood pressure.’ The message was as loud as could be. Immediately, I thought, oh no, I can’t tell her this! She’s going to be frightened. My common sense kicked in, fortunately, and I knew that I had to share the message with her. My thinking told me that I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to her and I hadn’t shared the message. So I did. I felt a bit quirky when I turned back around and introduced myself. After about two minutes of small talk I delivered the message. She did look a little fearful but simply said, I understand this, and vowed to get it checked. She also promised to let me know what the result was.

I feel pretty good because I listened and took a decisive action on something that I could have chalked up to my imagination. The larger issue is that I can be of service to another by listening to the voices that tell me some things. There are areas of this that I may not be certain of, but helping another is something I am always sure is taking right action. Pretty mundane isn’t it?