Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Peace

Yesterday was an incredibly chaotic day in my world.  Despite the tragedy in Connecticut, I found the chaos in my own world a more immediate thing to be able of effect.  One of my co-workers has been having a difficult time within the past few months finding her equilibrium in her changing work environment.  She is a lady in her 50's and she's been with the company for close to two decades and, though she won't admit it, she loves drama above all else.

So, she and I were sitting in the break room at lunch, just the two of us and she was fussing about the other people in the office. This is a normal thing for her.  She uses her lunch break to decompress from the morning drama.  However, yesterday, she was especially agitated.  So, I opened myself up and began grounding her and asked her what was wrong.  At this, she began a full on play-by-play of how there was a conspiracy to get her fired or moved from our office.  It was everyone else's fault and they were all out to get her.  The usual stuff.  Then, I asked her, what had her so agitated.  Once again, she started talking about everyone else.

At this point, I stopped her.  With a gentle smile, I said, "You aren't answering my question.  What's got YOU so upset?"  This caused her to pause for a moment before she went on projecting her feelings on to everyone else again.  I let her get these things out for a few more moments and I stopped her again.

We talked about perception and how we can see the exact same thing and take away from it something completely different because of our unique perception of this world.  We talked about how our patients, sometimes, report that we aren't nice to them because we don't cave to their demands.  We talked about not putting stock in others opinions of us.  We talked about how to disengage ourselves from the negativity (or perceived negativity) of our environment.

Then, we began talking about peace, inner peace manifesting in our outward world.  I asked her, "Do you know why everyone around here loves me and thinks I'm the most wonderful thing to walk into this office?" (This opinion seems to be the general consensus at the office and in administration and I find it quite silly, honestly.)  She had no answer and was puzzled, I think, by my question.  I smiled at this, because even she is among the people who think this. 

I told her that people thought this of me, not because I work so hard and not because I am so wonderful.  I said, "They think this because I come to work and put my chin on my chest and I do my job.  I'm not here to impress anyone.  I'm not here to make friends.  I'm not here to engage in politics and take sides.  I'm here to do a job for which I was hired.  Others opinions of me don't matter, unless it is directly related to the job I'm doing and the job I'm doing is less than expected of me and then I need to be told, so that I can correct the mistakes.  I come in and simply do what I do."

Her surprise was quite evident.  She asked a few questions and I answered her as best I could.  She wanted to know HOW I could simply disengage as I do.  That is the moment we began speaking of finding inner peace.

I explained to her that I don't put stock in many people's opinion of me.  I know that I have friends who are in my life forever.  Their opinions matter.  It's not my co-workers opinions because I may or may not be around them for years and years to come.  They may or may not cement a place in my circle and become people who truly matter to me.  I take them as they are, flaws and all.  I don't make it my personal quest to change them because no one can change you but yourself.  I take nothing personally.  If I screw up, take acknowledge it and take my ass chewing like a champ and then make the appropriate changes and move forward.

I told her that I know who I am and I am, mostly, at peace with that.  I confessed to her that I have more days than I'm willing to admit that I'd rather stay in bed and cry than be around people.  I have to make myself smile because we all have days where it's either laugh or cry and laughing is so much better for us.  She understood that statement.  I also said that finding that inner peace and that equilibrium wasn't about a specific religion or practice, and that I'd found it to be more about what works best for the individual person, so what works for me, might not work for everyone else.

I also let her know that it had taken me years, literally, to find my own peace and ability to disengage.  And, when we find and practice that inner peace and disengaging, sometimes we find our compassion.  When we aren't personally invested in another person's problems, we can see more sides of the issue than simply their own.  We can be compassionate toward their plight, their feelings, and their perspective without feeling their own feelings of injustice and negativity.

So much of this world is about putting other people down to raise our own self esteem.  It is about using their problems against them instead of being compassionate toward their perspective on things.  It's about shunning those who are different, grouchy, or who appear unlovable.  Often we forget that there are times we are all unlovable.  We forget that we all get grouchy.  Because of this trend toward the negative, toward kicking someone when they are down, we live in a world that is intimately connected and yet vastly lonely.  We hear without listening.  We speak without compassion.  We feel without truly feeling.

Change begins on the inside.  It begins by accepting ourselves for who we are, seeing our own flaws and being okay with them, but acknowledging we have to work toward changing them.  When we are compassionate with ourselves, when we love ourselves, that caring overflows and manifests outwardly.  When we find peace within our own being, we find peace outside and in our world.  How will you begin manifesting change within your own world?  Will you begin today?

May the light of a thousand suns shine in your soul and may a thousand years of peace fall upon your heart.  Brightest blessings my friends!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Challenge Accepted!

As some of you know, I am currently studying Wicca and working toward my Second degree initiation.  My lesson and homework this week has been a challenge to me, as well as reigniting my enthusiasm for learning, teaching, and the Craft.  I have been given the task of writing my own seeker course or Wicca 101 class.

For me, the challenge has been to wade through all of the years of general Craft/Wicca knowledge I have gathered and determine what of it is basic enough to be taught in a 101 setting.  I know that may sound strange to some, but I'm one of those weird people who didn't grow up in the Craft, but still managed to grow up with it.  (If that makes sense...)

When I first stepped upon this Wiccan path consciously, I discovered that I already knew many of the basic elements that so many new people are ignorant of.  I had a firm grasp on the elements, mythology, and color correspondence, as well as, basic energy work, ancient history, and even a very basic understanding of the human condition.  I instinctively understood that what works for me might not work for anyone else.  I understood that Deity is greater than anything our finite minds could possibly comprehend, unless we compartmentalize it and break it in to small, finite pieces.  I understood the feeling of the ebb and flow of the energies of this life and that everything has a soul.

The challenge of creating this class has come from the fact that I don't know what it's like to be truly 101.  I firmly and readily admit that I am ignorant to many, many things in this world and to even more things within the Craft, and likely will be for many years to come.  All that said, it's the basics, the foundation, which challenge me so.

How am I supposed to teach something I have simply always known?  (Always isn't exactly the right word, however, many things I'll be teaching I discovered when I was no older than 9 and other things I discovered around 14, so I've still known these things for more than half of my life.)  How do I teach the basics of something which I have layered with more knowledge and experience through the years?  How do I strip away all of the complications, the meat of my knowledge, back down to the bare-bones structure?

These are my challenges.  Don't overwhelm the new students!  Don't scare them.  Don't freak them out to the point they do not want to continue with their craft knowledge.  Make.  It.  Fun.  Of course, then all of the other questions and self doubt creep in.  Then, I laugh nervously and tell myself I can do this.  There is a part of me, a part somewhere deep within my chest, that knows I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and when that doubt creeps in, this part of me glows blue-white and chases those shadows away.

That part, deep within me, is also the part of me that whispers I'll be learning from my students.  It reminds me that I will make mistakes, but I'm only human.  It reminds me that even teachers never stop learning.  It reminds me to let go and simply let my gods.  It is this part of me that is excited and enthusiastic about this possibility.  It is this part of me that also reminds me to tread slowly and deliberately.  It wants to be as The Fool, but knows that it's not quite the appropriate time.

I have accepted this challenge and I have resolved to muddle through it and take any direction I may get from my own teachers.  I realize, now, that this is the direction I have been needing to go for months.  I can only thank the Gods for being patient with me as I have figured this out.  I can only thank my Elders for setting such good examples for me to emulate.  I am thankful for this challenge, despite the scary implications for me (more personal challenges and such that I really don't want to accept) and I am thankful to have all of this coming just as I am emerging from my own darkness and getting ready to plant the seeds for growth within this new year.

Brightest of Blessings my friends!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 21, 2012: It's the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine)

Today's date hit me this morning over coffee.  In 20 days the Mayan long count calendar ends, heralding the end of the fourth age.  Do I believe that the world is going to end in 20 days?  No.  I believe that the end of the world as we know it is going to begin, though.

Somewhere long about 1988 or 1989, in the summer, I discovered this prophecy.  Imagine the excitement of  an 8 or 9 year old child discovering a thousands of years old prophecy, especially one that no one was talking about.  I remember that day.  I was at the library doing research (as much as an 8 or 9 year old child can, anyway), and that particular day I was reading about ancient Central America.  I'd devoured what I could from the old encyclopedias (there were 3 different sets, none newer than about 1975) on the Incas and Aztecs and had begun reading about the Mayans.  I was fascinated by these cultures advanced mathematics and astronomy, their art, and their mythology.  Then there was a tiny paragraph about the long count calendar ending on the winter solstice of 2012 with nothing after.

My imagination ran wild.  I had to go and tell my best friend Michael.  He had to know this because I knew that it would excite him, too.  It did.  For days we looked into our own futures.  We could not fathom being in our 30's.  We wondered where we would be, what we would be doing.

The truth is stranger than any fiction we could come up with, just as this 'Mayan Apocalypse' has taken on a much bigger life of its own that, I'm sure, the Mayan culture ever realized.  I don't believe that this is going to be the doomsday.  I believe that it is going to be the beginning of a kind of doomsday, though.  I believe that those who see our mother as disposable are going to find themselves in a shrinking minority.  The slash-and-burners are going to find themselves hitting walls, not just finding pockets of resistance.  The wastefulness of our rampant consumerism and big business is going to fade.  Climate change is going to be recognized as actually happening.

This things have already begun.  They have begun all over, small pockets of local people refusing big business, refusing consumerism and wastefulness.  This refusal is going to spread in the coming years and decades.  More people are going to turn toward sustainability and growing their own crops for food.  Things are going to start going back to the way they were in our grandparents time.  There will be things which are kept, like the internet, but we understand that working toward a goal of a healthier planet doesn't necessarily mean giving up all of our modern amenities.  How better to be able to come up with new and more efficient ideas for conserving what we have than by being connected to the greater community?

So, there's no reason to hoard away food, water, fuel, and ammunition.  We are simply cycling back toward a simpler time.  We will make of the 'end of the world' what we choose.  What do YOU choose?