Last week a colleague of mine was brutally murdered. I received the news in a group email- understanding exactly why and proceeded to want to reach out. Instead someone reached out to me and I was given the opportunity of service in this tragic situation. My act of service is still reverberating within me. Days later, I'm still ruminating over what happened. I'm okay with the fact that none of us are permanent fixtures on this planet. My dis-ease probably has more to do with the why's and how's of when my time will effectively be over. But in the meantime I am still trying to make sense of this awful thing that happened to a vital, dynamic, loving, and well-loved person. Someone, who like me, had decided to heed the call to service. I discussed these happenings with a person I respect who suggested I do things that are pretty external to the matter. She suggested that I stop wearing my earrings. That I should not adorn myself, I guess, to attract undue attention. I briefly thought about putting my crystal necklace away and my bracelets in the jewelry box and knew intuitively that doing that won't lessen the chances of being attacked. Yes, I think the underlying message was to be careful. I heard that loud and clear. But I don't think that is the way to care for myself. I don't think the problem is about working with mentally ill people- that is something I've read about in the newspaper. Violence has always been around and it's not going anywhere. An acquaintance of mine, who is an actor, was recently assaulted pretty badly on the train. He now feels terribly unsafe as millions of us do- probably to a greater extent. Random violence is possible. Targeted violence is also possible. Neither he or more friend did anything to warrant what happened to them. I've worked in mental health crisis situations for years. I don't talk about them much but accept what I've experienced more as 'part of the work that I do.' Again, it's the service my Higher Power has asked me to do. I can think of a million ways that I will cross. Instead, I will try to be careful each day I put my feet on the floor as I get out of bed. When I was growing up my Mom always said, "I love you, be careful," as we separated for the day. I still say that to my spouse except that I add, "and carefree." It's important to enjoy each day of life. I have no regrets, there may be some things I'm working through but nothing love and prayer can't fix. So, my prayers go out for my colleague, Ana Charle, and her daughters, her father, her brother, her friends and family and all of those whose lives were lit with love because she saw the possibilities of health, growth, and potential for change in each one. This is something I must continue to do for that is my calling. And I will. Just as she did. -Kadeeshday. May you walk in beauty.
Today is the start of a new week. There are lists to be made, projects to create, relationships and all the responsibilities that go with them to be tended. It is easy to get overwhelmed and wonder where to begin. Today, I begin with a general forecast of the week and choose to listen to the messages that are shared from a trusted source. As always, I smudge with sage, center and shuffle the cards. I lit and inhaled from a cigar as guided by spirit guide, Graciella, la Gitana. Together we pulled the West card.
Image: The image is that of a massive rock formation that lives in the great waters of the Mother. The sun is in the horizon.
Words: Ride the wave. Go forward in the warmness of the Great Feminine. Experience the ebbs and flows and shifting changes. Seek to look within and find the connection with that which seemingly stands apart. The majesty of this direction calls you to do great works. In service always to That which is higher than you.
Read: Simplify your life. That doesn’t mean that you neglect or deny the many responsibilities in your life. The message is an invitation to make simple all the things you do, are involved with and see them as gifts to which you’ve been entrusted. The rock brings to mind a sense of the stoic. At first glance it seems the waves should be playing against the formation. The second glance shows that the force of the waves can indeed be violent. Can you withstand the forces? This card was originally designed with the image of the sun in the horizon. Today the circular form is taken to be the moon. It is of the feminine. Go quiet. Go within. Look to the strength within you that enables you to withstand the outer forces that may at times seem unbearable. Trust that you are protected and given sustenance to proceed. The plant life and crustaceans hold onto the rock formation and don’t fall off, wither way or dissolve. This is a day of strength- of the inner kind.
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.
This morning I reminded my son about the flowers he gave me at the 2000 NYC Marathon. I was heaving up mile 23 or so and suddenly he emerged from the crowd and handed me the colorful and lush bouquet. According to him, it was only one rose. Wow, I had made something entirely else up in my mind. Suffice it to say- it felt like a bouquet. I felt loved, noticed and admired.
My mind plays so many tricks on me during these long runs. I’ve believed that the way I feel at mile 3 will be the same at mile 15. I’ve believed that if someone blows on me at mile 18 that I will fall over and not have the ability to get up. I’ve also believed that I should run as fast as the twenty year old who weighs about twenty pounds lighter than me. I’ve believed that the blond ponytail is a tease for me to prove my true abilities. Sadly, I’ve also believed that the thirty year old guy huffing and puffing next to me would never try to outrun me up the hill. All tricks of my mind.
The long hours on the course have become a meditation of sort. As St. Theresa, I allow my distracting thoughts to fall by the wayside as children at play fall to sleep individually at a gentle pace. When I look around me, I am enraptured by the beauty of the changing leaves. Colors of reds, golds and oranges tell me that change is afoot and I am one of those things that are changing.
I can appreciate some of the tricks- like the bouquet of roses- and let the others go. I may not finish in my intended time. I may walk a bit and enjoy the city, the sights and the sounds. I am not in a race against anyone else. Running is something I do because I usually like how I feel during it and most certainly afterwards. I’m someone who likes to use words but I find it difficult to describe the running experience. I’ll just say that “I’m a runner.”
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
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…
Writers lament about blocks, character names and whether or not to self publish. My worn out yearning is that of not having enough time to write as often as I’d like.
I tend to glance at my watch all day long. The clock hands turn whether I’m watching a ‘woman’s movie’ or my fingers are flying across my keyboard. Breakfast must be made, as well as lunch and dinner. My nine hour work day is shared with my run and dog walk. The hour or so I spend with friends a few nights a week compete with the time I reserve for food shopping and my commutes. Dare I add in shower time or that five minutes I use for plucking my eye brows?
I could create a mad lib exercise specifically for the outlandish and outrageous uses of time. I’d be remiss not to add the hours I use for praying and meditation- or for thinking about prayer and meditation.
Sitting at this airport awaiting to board, I realize now would be the one perfect opportunity to write. It will make up for a week of evenings on the porch with my octogenarian Dad, afternoons walking on the tiny sunny sidewalks of Aguada, PR and morning runs with my spouse and dogs on Playa Punta del Pico. Nothing, writing included, would fill my heart as listening to my father’s evening tales of the family not being able to buy rice during WW II because they didn’t have an ‘in’ at the grocers and other abject tales of poverty one generation ago.
I shiver when I think about my luxury problem of not having enough time to write because I count on a paycheck for a living. The blessing I forget is that I collect it after providing service for people living with various measures of mental illness. I’m aware that in itself is a luxury- treating depression instead of debilitating diseases of malnutrition.
I’m on the plane now with all sorts of plans. I will complete the next set of revisions for my current manuscript, add to the second novel I began a few months ago and call my Dad to let him know how much he is loved. I will return to that post vacation place of ‘not having enough time’ and forgetting that I’m just where I’m supposed to be and that time takes time.
Promised Land Park, in PA, does exactly what it says it will do- it keeps its promise. We love running, biking and we swim in its lake during the warmer days. We recently spent a morning there with a couple of friends. The temperature was frigid but there was no snow on the ground. We grabbed the opportunity to take a run- there were only a few other people there.
We relished the quiet, the cold, and yes, the solitude. Times that I can let my guard down, relax, take deep breaths and enjoy nature, when I am happy to be in my skin. Having friends and loved ones to share these times with makes it all the more pleasurable.
On our way out we spotted a few men and child ice fishing. This is totally out of my realm of experience. I thought about the biblical views of Walking on Water. The connotation of this, for me, brings forth the concepts of trust, belief in something higher than myself and the ability to give over- knowing that I will be taken care of. These personal struggles usually go on inside of me- indicative of the old saying, “it’s an inside job.” It’s nice to see the externals of what this means. I felt gratitude that I was able to see this process. Sometimes my fear will take me out of doing something that will be life changing. This is a simple reminder. One that I can refer to when I want to take a step in moving forward and my anxiety that I may fall short in an endeavor keeps me from trusting in that which I’ve placed my confidence. Thanks, ice fisher people!
Please welcome, Libby Clarke! Libby is an artist, designer and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in conceptual art pieces she calls “paper products to save the world.” Her skills include woodcut, silkscreen, letterpress, and anything to do with computerized graphic design. She currently works as an Assistant Professor at the New York CIty College of Technology.
After sharing my desire to share Spiritual Sightings whenever I came upon them, my friend, Libby Clarke, went a step further and took some pics and shared them with me. I am sharing them with you. Some of her art work can be found at http://monstressproductions.com
In the world of the mundane, we get to experience some pretty wonderful things. Walking down a street or two gives us the opportunity to use our senses in many different ways. Here is a series of photos that Libby calls carfaith. Interestingly, I got caught up in the reflection of each shot. It took me a minute to fully appreciate the intended focal point of each shot. I think ultimately that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. Reflect. Take another minute. Appreciate.
I had also glimpsed some of the spiritual doo-dads hanging from various rearview mirrors before I received Libby’s pictures. The point is that I didn’t take my camera out. I got a little shy doing that. The reflecting dashboards became another excuse. I wondered if there was going to be enough diversity in the relics. I didn’t want to offend anyone by having too many rosaries, not enough of anything else.
Our car, not in this series, holds several prayer bundles- ceremonially made. It holds a beaded little Chief and a cowrie shell bound in leather. All meaningful to us. There was a lot of thought that went into what we hung on our rearview mirror. I often wonder whether people say a prayer with what they hang there.
I’d gone on a spiritual quest called the Journey of the Waters once with my dear Oh Shinnah Fastwolf- a teacher I’m proud to have learned many things from. As a passenger in the rented SUV, riding the Ouray Mountain in Colorado, I was a bit terrified of the massive drop. The car skeletons that dotted the mountain didn’t help to assuage my fear. Prior to starting the drive early that day we smudged the car with sage, created a cornmeal path and rattled as we chanted. On our way back to the hotel that night, it was practically pitch black except for the magnificent stars that spread across the sky. Suddenly, a few us in the car heard rattling and the smell of burning sage from our seats. We knew we were safe. It was all about having a bit of carfaith. I’d practically forgotten that this magical day had actually happened. My friend, Libby, brought it back by using her senses on some New York City streets. For this I am grateful.
Thanks, Libby, for helping us to keep the faith!
The monstrous carriage rolls into the station. Its metal wheels screech to a halt. The doors open and the conductor yells out, “All aboard!” I stand at the edge of the platform, take a deep breath and just as I’m about to enter, I stall. Not again.
One thing about grief is that it just doesn’t do its thing alone. It dredges up every last death I’ve mourned. It surprises me in its depth. It shakes every bit of intellect I have and throws me into the dark waters of emotion.
Our dear friend crossed over to the spiritual world a few days ago. Because she wasn’t my sister or my mother, this time, I don’t have to tend to the particulars. Because she wasn’t my coworker, who died suddenly at the age of forty four, I don’t have to hold a support group for fifty clients whose mouths were gaping at the wrenching news that had come ten minutes before I was informed I’d be supporting them in their grief. This time I’m not ten and I don’t have certain responsibilities, like sitting quietly as I make sure that all of my family members are all right- pretending that I don’t mind that no one is asking me how I feel.
This time around, the train is here at the station, but it’s different. I have a spiritual family who is hugging me and I am hugging them. I am at the disposal of her children, who are all warriors in their own rights. I get to remember how she nicknamed our dog and how she was persistent and got the landlord to change that stupid countertop she hated. I get to remember how she calmed me down and told me not to worry because I hadn’t done something perfectly. I get to remember how she tended to me as I was initiated into my bountiful spiritual practice. I will remember how she wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, that she complained when she wasn’t happy about something and that she started exercising in her sixties-telling me we can always change and be open to new things.
This time I don’t think I’m going to get on that grief train. I am going to do my best to keep her love for life within me. I will miss her but she will always be with me. Sometimes the tritest sayings are actually the most healing. Today, I will easy does it. This is the day my HP has made- I will rejoice and be glad in it.