Such a long, strange, and incredible journey

Twenty seven years ago, in the early morning hours before dawn, I gave birth to my eldest daughter. From the moment I first saw and held her, I knew my life was changed forever. Suddenly, I became “Momma” instead of just a young woman living a somewhat freewheeling, spontaneous life. Motherhood stamps the concept of family upon the soul in ways that are difficult to define, yet nearly every woman who becomes one can relate. Suddenly here is this tiny, fierce being, newly sprung from your own womb, who is simultaneously part of you and also their own self, loudly demanding that you cradle, nurse, care for and love them incessantly for the foreseeable future. Oh my.

As many mothers will tell you, the work of mothering is probably the most difficult and rewarding work that a woman can do, and in society’s eyes, the most undervalued. What a shame this is, since the future of the human race depends on mothers doing the very best job of child raising possible. But that argument can wait for another day. This blog post is for musing and sharing my personal journey over the past twenty seven years, from the moment my life changed until today.

What a long, strange trip it’s been, sang the band The Grateful Dead back in the early 1970s. Surely their words have proved truer than any of us could’ve known back in the days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Sometimes memory is a trickster—we tend to idealize the past, bury the uglier or more painful moments, and only recall what was most joyful and beautiful. And yet, we also must admit that, ironically, the most painful moments of our lives tend to be our greatest teachers.

When I take the long view of the last almost three decades of my life, it’s hard to believe so much time has passed. Now that scientists are explaining to everyone more about quantum time, it makes more sense that something that happened decades ago still feels almost as incredible and life changing as it did then. After the first daughter arrived, two more followed over the next seven years. As difficult as they were, the years that I spent raising my three girls were also golden. Golden and magnificent rainbows, with periods of rain and sometimes howling hurricanes—even wildfires and drought.

With so many humans leaving the planet due to the pandemic this year, I wonder if many people aren’t naturally thinking more about their own death, and consequently, their life. The two are inseparable, yet many in modern society are terrified of death and seem to do almost anything to avoid the subject or really peering into their own mortality. I imagine that being born must be at least as traumatic as dying. There you are, all snug and cozy in your mother’s womb where it’s safe, warm, and encompassing you in constant, liquid love, and the next thing you know you are pushed out into a completely other world that is intensely bright, harsh, noisy and you’re suddenly on your own—no more umbilical cord connection to the source of your life and nourishment. What an adjustment period newborns must endure!

Many people see death and dying as a great tragedy, something to be avoided for as long as possible. They espouse the doctrine of staying alive at all costs, using all the tools that modern medicine and science makes possible. Yet, indigenous wisdom teaches something else. The wisdom keepers of our species understand that death isn’t the end, only the shedding of this current costume we are wearing, our personhood. Our ego wants to tenaciously hold on until the very last possible second, only letting go when it absolutely must. But wisdom teachings say that we should work while we are alive, towards a “good death.” To have a good death, one needs to have lived a good life, one filled with as much joy, love, beauty, truth, compassion, and service to others as possible. They teach that when a person has lived well, they will die well, at peace. When death arrives at their door, they won’t be so afraid and hollow inside. The person will simply let go of their physical body as their soul, the eternal part of each of us, continues its journey in the spiritual realms. From what I’ve studied and researched, the journey after physical earth life is complete is quite marvelous. Rather than something to fear and dread, it is a time of great homecoming and joyful reunion with beloveds on the other side of the veil. I can well imagine wonderful celebrations and parties, as we reunite with souls we haven’t seen for a long time and missed. Imagine that!

The Three of Cups in traditional Tarot decks exemplify the concept of homecoming for the newly arrived soul.

There is much wisdom built into our system of birth and death. It’s a blessing that none of us quite know when we will lay down our body and return to the spiritual realms. Some say that all along the trajectory of our life, there are exit doors, so to speak. I think that means that the human is given opportunities to use the escape hatch if the soul, for whatever reason, no longer wishes to complete their entire contract for that particular lifetime. This could explain why sometimes very young people check out of their lives early, or someone is suddenly taken through tragedies like car accidents and the like. We don’t all come to the earth plane with a contract to live to be very old. I believe it’s time to move past our societal fear of death and dying, and instead to celebrate all that the soul accomplished while they were here, and, as cultures worldwide have always done, to throw a party when their beloveds pass on to the next journey. The goodbyes seem to be the hardest part for us humans to say. But they are so critically important, both to the one leaving, and to the ones who stay behind. Both with being born and dying, the most important thing is to surround the incoming or outgoing soul with tender loving care My middle daughter, when a young girl, used to beg for “TLC” which she pronounced “tilk” when she was craving comfort and reassurance. Absolutely, “tilk” is what we need to give each other in the times we are living through now, and all the challenging days and decades to come. Many more souls will be leaving the earth in the near future, and many incoming souls will arrive. Earth is a busy place with souls constantly arriving and departing. I imagine it like this: when a person dies, they board an etheric version of a train or bus, which takes them to the cosmic airport. From there, they will catch a ride in some kind of transport vehicle to their next destination. Ever since I began to envision the afterlife this way, the familiar words that we all hear as our earthly airplanes are preparing to touch down took on a whole new meaning—if this is your final destination, please make sure you have all your baggage with you when departing the plane.  Final destination indeed!!
Dear Readers, if you read this whole post, I thank you for taking the journey with me. I send you love and blessings of peace and joy. No worries, and remember to enjoy every single precious day you have to be alive. What a gift life is!

The Value of Small Gestures

 

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This is how many kids are doing online learning during Covid days.

The end of this most unusual school year is finally upon us. Today was my last day of online tutoring . For the past five weeks I worked with students who bravely engaged with me through computer screens   Navigating through all this involved both huge challenges and delights. Along with hundreds of thousands of teachers and students, I learned two basic facts this spring: 1) we can teach and learn virtually–even with young children it is possible; and 2) it’s not nearly as much fun or satisfying to do school through computer screens (although it is nice to wear pajamas to school every day).

Society en masse experiencing shelter-at-home and safer-at-home orders has forced us to reconcile the lifestyle we all took for granted with a new way of living—apart physically, yet finding the most creative and innovative ways to still be together and connect human to human. We’ve had to be flexible and adaptable on the fly, and on all levels—mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. In my case, the emotional level has felt most extreme. Days and nights have been wide emotional pendulums, from feeling steady, happy, and even joyful at moments, to later in the day dipping down into anxiety, fear, and loneliness. We’re undergoing a grand human experiment of learning resilience in the face of adversity, and of experiencing grace under unprecedented pressure.

Through online tutoring, I observed that the kids adapted to the lockdown situation with surprising agility and often much less drama than many adults in the room. The biggest hardship for children, I’d guess, is their highly restricted social time with friends and limited opportunities for physical exercise. Teaching academic subjects is challenging enough through a screen; how PE teachers manage it is nearly incomprehensible.

Saying goodbye to my students, who are all between 7 and 9 years old, was an internal process that took many days. I realized anew how hard it is to say goodbye to people I grew fond of, and all the more so because of their innocence and vulnerability. The biggest learning for me during the past six months is that a caring adult can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Small gestures matter greatly—the few minutes that you give to really listen to a child so they can express what’s in their mind and heart will give them self confidence and trust in you.

This spring has shown many of us the value of small gestures. It has shone a spotlight on people that many of us casually take for granted—now deemed essential to the running of society. I believe that teachers, tutors, paraprofessionals, and school staff members are included in the group of essential workers for society. Although some parents and family members may disagree, I would argue that a child’s school community is a critically important part of their life, and what they experience within their school will either enhance their self-worth, intellectual, emotional, and social capacities, or do the opposite. Society as a whole must continue to support their local public education system, and not let corporate money interests dictate how the system is run.

As a last gift, I shared this music video with my students today. It’s an old song, and still sounds so good. I hope it brings a smile and few dance steps to your body, mind, heart, and soul.

 

 

Pandemic Diaries, part 4; and Resources to Help

 

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Photo credit: Questions from a 9-year-old in Chicago who hosts “The Show about Science.”Credit…Bianca Giaever/The New York Times

In the week that has passed since my last update, life has become increasingly paradoxical—on the one hand, personal reality has become strangely quiet and predictable, while on the other, we collectively continue climbing up the roller coaster in anticipation of the moment when we all begin screaming in earnest. Perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, and yet, I’m sure many are feeling similarly about now.

Being a news/prose junkie, I have read/listened to a lot of information and intel over the past week about Covid 19, New York’s crisis, the drama which unfolded on Capital Hill surrounding the unprecedented, 2 trillion dollar aid package by the US government, and yet more news stories. This weekend, I am at saturation level with mainstream news and am taking a break (as I hope are many of you also). I have consciously worked to turn off the news, put down the phone, refrain from checking the New York Times and NPR every couple hours. Instead, I’ve slept a lot, stared out my windows into the wide open sky, taken daily evening walks around my neighborhood, and noticed the stirring of spring all around. Crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, windflowers, and the first tulips are blooming in neighbor’s yards. Trees are getting ready to begin blooming soon. In a couple of weeks it will be Easter, a holiday that is near and dear to my heart as it ushers in full-on Spring. Renewal, rebirth, and reset—these are as real and important as the current crisis humanity is facing, and important to notice–perhaps more important than the latest body counts and infection rates of Covid 19.

I’d like to share a few resources with you, Dear Readers, that I have found comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Perhaps one or more of these wise people’s words will also help you in some way as you each navigate the current pandemic and its surrounding emotional roller coaster energies. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some articles, websites and YouTube videos. If you have found any resources you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section of my blog!

https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

Charles Eisenstein is a brilliant thinker, author, and maverick for a growing audience of people around the world. His essay on Coronavirus and its implications, just published on his website, will give you lots of food for thought. Reading it pushed several of my buttons, and I had to read it in sections. He never fails to make me think, and, ultimately, give me hope for our future.

https://www.shareable.net/series/coronavirus/

Shareable.net is a website devoted to highlighting ways that humans help one another in communities around the world. They have created a series of articles to show how people are helping each other (and ways that you can help your neighbors and community) during the coronavirus days.

https://bioneers.org/what-bioneers-are-saying-about-covid-19-zmaz2003/

Bioneers.org is a wonderful group of thoughtful, brilliant people who are dedicated to the work of creating a healthy, equitable, sustainable world for all of us humans and nature upon Earth. I highly recommend reading their articles, watching their videos, and listening to their podcasts regularly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/podcasts/the-daily/

The Daily podcast by the New York Times. This one is devoted to kids questions about the Coronavirus. Great information, plus sweet kid voices asking the questions.

https://www.youtube.com/

For those of you who can benefit from listening to a spiritual master, I’ve been watching this man, named Mooji, the past few weeks and find his teachings and advice very soothing and helpful. This link is to his latest message to humanity, and is highly recommended.

As we continue along the pandemic situation, with all of its challenges and frustrations, I wish each of you the courage, strength, and knowledge that you are here on Earth at this time because you are needed now. Continue to ground the light and love, and shine it out to all you meet, whether in person or virtually. Love, light and blessings to all.