I sing in the church, in the annual processions honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, Maria and Jose and Jesus, Candelaria, los Magos. The devotion, living spirituality and connection with these deities and the community touches me so deeply. Who would’ve thought that I, a jewish girl from Chicago would develop a real, palpable relationship with Jesus and Mary, not to mention my dear Virgin of Guadalupe? I feel profound gratitude to be permitted to sing with the ritual leader and several others who support the call and response chanting and prayers.
It is courageous of me and natural, feeling moved to sing and support the ancient processions as devotion for and with love and gratitude. And aliveness. I never had a strong singing voice and not the greatest tone, while my ear is hyper sensitive and on-key. Such am I and is my life: I can be acutely critical of other and self, with limitations in my ability to change these perceived deficits. This clash and crash often leading to frustration, disappointment, sadness and toward myself: self-flagellation.
Last night, while singing in the wee hours, one of the magi told me he doesn’t hear my voice. “Nada”.
This triggered my childhood doubt that I’m not good enough to belong. Whatever his message was, (he simply didn’t hear my voice and wanted to, to, ”If you’re going to sing and be useful you should be heard," the message I took in was, “You’re not good enough to belong, you shouldn’t be here.”
Oh, wahhhh. So I felt that. Knowing my propensity to go around and around in my head repeating and staying stuck on the same thoughts and feelings of doom and not good enough-ness, I did what I could to infiltrate the belief in my failure as a Being, with other possibilities about what he meant, to offer other perspectives with more equanimity and encouragement and honoring, while accepting “reality” as part of the formulation. It helped a little. Enough to sleep by the time I got home and lay my head to rest. It was 3 a.m. though, so that was helpful.
Round and round thinking can wake me and keep me up at night.
As I’m simultaneously working to improve my digestion, this all seems parallel and part of the same issue: digesting life. Believing I can digest life. Believing it’s okay to let “errors” go and move on. “Really?” I say, incredulous. But that’s my desire and aim.
In the morning when I awoke all I wanted to do was take a walk in nature. I needed her. “That would help,” I thought. But time was short and all of a sudden there were five minutes until the Mass. Should I even go? I didn’t feel like it. I felt too bad and incapable to face the criticicism I knew this Magi held for me. I didn’t even want to show up to sing. I could just quit.
But I pushed myself to go, somehow, remembering how every time I haven’t gone to a ritual tradition here for timidity, I have regretted it later.
So I went. I arrived a bit late. All seats were taken. That’s okay, gives me freedom to move around, I surmised. While the sacerdote gave his sermon, I stood watching the tropical leaf fronds being blown by the cool and gentle wind. I removed my sombrero as the men do, for respect, and let the sunshine warm and penétrate my face. I observed all the community members with their baby Jesus’s in their baskets, there to be blessed, being held and cuddled with such love, gentleness, respect, by women and even young and old men. It surprised me to see such tenderness from rlder campesinos, their Dios Niño carried well and consciously in their dry and wrinkled, much used hands. They love their baby Jesus’s and I shouldn’t be surprised at the tenderness, as men here commonly display loving participation with physicality as affection and protection of their children. Of course, the Baby Jesus is different. This is Jesus. And no matter what happens in the course of the year, the people hold this love and adoration in their hearts.
Errors and opportunities for repair
The sacerdote spoke of errors and how as humans we make them, but that it’s important to repair them, indicating to me our humanity and our freedom and choice and the gift of time giving us this possibility.
I stood there watching the large leaf fronds waving in the breeze, obscuring the view of the sacerdote and the altar, hearing his words. I energetically prostrated myself before the Lord (God, Supreme Being, Creator,) and lay my “worst” foibles on the low stone altar table in my mind’s eye and presenting myself before “Him”, said, “Can I be aceptable? With my crooked eyes and voice that isn’t loud? Can I be aceptable?” Forgiven? And there laid before the Divine Being who created All including me, I felt love toward me. Unconditional. Absolute acceptance. This is being Saved. And so I was saved, loved, accepted by That which created all, “even though.”
At the end of the service, I went up to Maria, the ritual leader and asked if they were going to sing now. She told me when and which, and I joined her and the Magi on the “stage” (where the altar was.)
We sang. I sang. I did my best to belt it out and be a heard and supportive voice. So the people would hear me and know and recognize that I, the gringa, was up there singing too. I dismantled myself from any thoughts of wondering what they thought of me up there, which I somehow easily do, during these acts of devotion. Still, the push and feedback from the Magi impacted me. I found myself trying to be present, part of the group more, a voice that was part of the din and, yes, part of it.
Another of the three Magi commented that I had learned the songs well. Maria added that I sing well and strongly.
Later, in the church as we bade farewell to the Pilgrims and Baby Jesus, desiring that he is happy with his human birth (these were some of the lyrics,) I found myself next to the Magi who had told me he couldn’t hear me. I did all I could to sing and have my voice reach the microphone, too. I did my best to hear myself, my own voice amongst the others, including his, which was loud and off key. I strove to raise my voice to be heard in the mix of keys being projected and to maintain and be a model to all, of the key we were actually in.
I pushed myself to have my voice heard by myself, the congregation, and the other singers, including the off key loud singing Magi who couldn’t hear me the night before.
At the end, I thought to ask him, “Did you hear me this time?” and imagined that if he replied he still didn’t, I would ask, “But were you listening?” Thinking, “to hear me, you have to listen.” Not all do, can or resonate with what I say or sing with my voice. My spirit and soul through my voice.
I spend my life taking care of myself, while feeling shame and anger that I have to work so hard to feel safe, balanced and well. I continuously humble myself before various aspects of Divinity, doing my very best to come to peace with being human and being mortal and with the ephemeral nature of life on the physical realm.
Recently someone asked me if I thought Minimalism is a fad.
First of all, I live simply, consciously, because it matches my values, one of which is living in integrity with my values! To me, the term “Minimalism” smells like embarking on actions that will be prohibitive and draining of life’s colors. That said, as someone who has chosen to live simply for decades, I do feel authorized to respond to the spirit of the question.
At this stage of my life, as a maturing adult woman, as a Scorpio, as one who is constantly transforming, I have arrived at that wonderful time of letting go of past ways: living for myself, my way, more fully and deeply than ever.
It has been a lot of work to get here.
At the same time, it has been no work at all, for I am merely on the slide, the river, the roller coaster of life; I am taking the ride. I am riding it. Life is riding me. It’s happening. I can´t stop this progression and although scary and sobering, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Newly 60 years of age, I have waited to arrive at this moment of freedom and release, of falling forward into the soft wide blossom of my life and Myself.
There is no going back. That’s over. Now, to live to the best of my ability and truly, my imagination, guided by heart and spirit.
My life is my dream. As I dream my life, so it is.
And you, yours.
So, in the language of dreams,
But applied to life during waking hours,
Here is my story.
A month ago I decided to hike up to my special place. It had been several weeks since I’d visited it, since I’d fallen in a hole on another solo hike and torqued my hip. That is another story.
I headed up and the ground was wet with last night's rain, but not slippery. Overgrown, but passible. Then after one turn and climb I looked up and - where was the path? Had I been daydreaming and took the wrong way? I stood still looking all around me for a good while.
I have realized I am a saver. Frugality gone haywire.
Sometimes I have dreams in which I want to go somewhere but I don’t believe I have, or am not willing to invest what is required in order to get there.
The other night I had one of those dreams again. I woke up with inner disturbance.
In the dream, I was ready to go back to school, only it was a journey to get there. I didn’t have my own transportation. I was trying to figure out how I would get there. I remembered the school bus from when I was in high school, but I didn’t know if that was feasible. Riding my bike was doable but would be a lot of energy and time. School was a distance away; in order to arrive in time, I’d have to leave very early and I might arrive late or not even make it. I was asking some people if they’d drive me – I was depending on others to get me to where it was time for me to go, and they weren’t offering.
I think everyone is different, so I don’t feel I can generalize that one can or cannot live an unstructured life and be successful.
That said, I can speak from my experience:
First, know that Freedom is a primary value of mine.
I'm finally accepting my inner HSC.
I’m doing a lot of inner child work these days, and it’s great. Finally, I’m able to give space to all there is “in there,” – my wounded, scared, angry, little me, still in the emotional torment and confusion of the deep past.
Inner work is not new to me, and I’ve tried to “deal with her” for decades, but honestly, I haven’t known how. I’ve swerved from resenting her neediness to letting her take over my life. I’ve felt resentful at how her restrictions get in my way of a “normal” life – that is – my unconscious mission to prove myself “normal” to others.
I was recently asked this question: How do you live a simple and secure life? The question startled me as the two "S" words bumped into one another uncomfortably. My first response was:
With more time in our bodies (some call this "aging"), on the earth, and particularly during these strange times of restriction, our need to establish sound habits and safe outlets for our health and well-being are amplified.
Here is my list of seven daily steps you can take to stay healthy.
It sounds trite, right? Yet another article about finding joy in simple things.
We all know that slowing down to smell the roses is sage advice. We know it's true and that we "should" and that we really want to. But....meanwhile, how to really do what's required in order to live that way. I mean really.
Wouldn't it be great to read a short and easy article with a short list of truly simple things that are feasible and that could get you to experience living in tune with your heart's deepest longings and knowing?
Wish granted! Here's the list, followed by the how to's:
I find joy in simple things by
The other day I walked into the frutería (the fruit store which also sells vegetables) to buy a baking potato and some sweet potatoes, as Germán, the owner, has the best in town.
As I climbed the several stairs up into the shop I noticed a mid age woman at the checkout counter, smiling away. She seemed to be so happy. I was kind of judgmental and semi-constructed a story that there was something wrong with her, that she suffered from extreme emotions and was off-balance right now. This created a sense of compassion for the woman.
I don’t feel like myself.
Last week I spontaneously did a liver/gallbladder flush.
The jury’s still out for me as to how it went. I saw less gallstones than in the past but it's been and four days, my back hurts and I’m constipated. I'm a highly sensitive woman and whatever is causing it, I feel…not like myself.
I might be scared if I didn’t feel so calm.
About six months ago I bought a sweet potato, called “camote,” where I live in Mexico. Before I used it, it started to sprout a little. I’d heard of growing vegetables from scraps and the idea had inspired me immensely. So simple it made me chuckle with glee.
When I saw my camote getting a head start, I researched how to grow sweet potatoes from scraps. The instructions seemed doable and so I began the process.
27 Creative Ideas for Keeping a Journal: Supporting Your Out of the Box Midlife & Beyond Healing Adventure
Someone recently asked, “Do you journal? What do you write in it?”
I began journaling when I was 15. Journaling is how I developed into the writer that I am. It is also how I got to know, express and process my life.
There are many ways to journal and I have experience with a number of them.
1. Prepare and eat unrefined whole food
2. Walk or ride a bike as transportation
3. Design your life to have time for these things.
It was during the filming of my short documentary “The Curandera of Teotitlan del Valle” in 2006, that I first heard of the importance of faith in healing, in Mexico.
The curandera (traditional medicine woman who heals with plants) said it’s faith that matters in healing. She offered that If you have faith, your ailments will go quickly so that other good things can come in. Without, they won’t.
Everything has its time, but when? Sometimes endings simply happen and we have no control over them.
But sometimes the time to accept, permit, let go and surrender is up to us. The challenge is how to know when and then how to release as gracefully as possible.
Of course, many times we let go because we must. For the sanity or health of ourselves or another, or because there literally is no other choice.
I was recently asked, “Do people use minimalism as an escape mechanism?”
My response was as follows:
I’m sure some do - as life is full of everything.
What I fear, more, is that many use minimalism as a way to shame themselves and curl away from the delicious, abundant juiciness of life.
My parents were both artists. I loved my dad’s bronze, emotive sculptures. My mom’s artwork, however I didn’t appreciate.
Oh, I appreciated that my mom was a passionate, creative woman who welded, sculpted, designed one of a kind jewelry and painted into the wee hours.
I loved having a studio in the house with access to all sorts of materials, learning and creative expression.
What I didn’t appreciate was my mom’s outrageous concepts, compositions and color combinations.
When I was diagnosed with low thyroid function, I began to entertain the idea that I was now a flower wilting into middle age, that maybe I justcouldn’t do and sustain everything anymore. I considered that maybe at this point in my life I actually needed to slow down and do less in order to feel clear and connected. I considered that I was being carried along toward my own death, that this was part of the natural cycle and winding down of life. e notion of living a life in connection with myself and the Divine was relieving and calming.
Something that I noticed soon after arriving to Mexico in 2006 was the (to me) strange and inefficient way things were done here.
Example: At a little stand that is offering something novel like hamburgers. That’s all they make. You get a hamburger on a bun with ketchup and mustard if you want it.
Suppose you go up to the stand with three of your friends and each one of you place an order for a hamburger, all the same. The lady or man will start with the first hamburger, cooking it, heating the bun, making the sandwich, adding the condiments, and serve it. Then they will start cooking the second hamburger. It proceeds like this, with all the attention on the entire process of making each hamburger, one after the other.
I used to be afraid of winter. I dreaded the going within, the darkness I was sure to be confronted with there.
Then, one winter I made a project out of working through my attitude about winter.
That winter I read through "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers," by Debbie Ford.
I learned that the Universe is all one thing, with light and dark, duality, contrast.
I learned that everything is a mirror and that whatever triggers me is evidence of some aspect of me that I'm not at peace with.
This is a tool and truth that has stayed with me over the decades.
The wake-up and get-ready music from the iglesia, the religious hub of the village, started at 4:30 a.m.
I put on my warmest clothes and took my candle with me, leaving home a little after 5:00
The procession was scheduled to begin at 5:00 arriving at the church for Mass at 6:30. From previous years’ experience, I didn't rush to arrive at 5:00 sharp.
I walked down the quiet road to the meeting place just past the town square: the altar for the Virgin of Guadalupe (La Guadalupana). It’s one of my favorite spots. Many nights I walk from my house down to the glassed in space built into the wall of someone’s house, taking a few minutes to view the various statues, images, flowers and usually, unlit candles. I send love and appreciation for Her, my divine mother who accompanies and rescues me many a dark moment.
Upon arriving, I approached the altar, candles glowing as they do only at this time of year. I observed that everyone else did the same – paid homage to this beloved representation of the earth, feminine, divine. She is our caretaker, a mother, still recognized as Tonantzin a primordial deity that has nothing to do with Catholicism, although it is through that vehicle that she is largely acknowledged and honored by the masses.
Home Decoration, Altars & Magic: 8 Steps to beautifying your home while attracting what you value, appreciate and desire
Did you ever consider that you could beautify your home while attracting what you value, appreciate and desire?
Our homes, the spaces we inhabit and which hold and protect us, have the capacity to also be sacred energy portals for our dreams and intentions.
Altars are one place where practicality and "woo" meet.
Altars and Home Decoration
For me, altars are part of how I decorate my home.
At the same time, altars honor, proclaim, and remind me of who I am and what I love.
My altars also serve to organize and categorize my various interests and values.
Practical yet powerful and yes, magical. Doesn't that sound easy and fun?
How exactly do altars make your living environment a personalized projection of and magnet for what you appreciate, value and desire?
What is selfishness?
Paying attention to yourself at the exclusion of others?
Others may balk, argue with or judge your new behavior, if they’re accustomed to being the focus of your loving attention and care.
It may feel to them and to you cruel and drastic – but is it? Or is it just a shift in how you use and direct your precious life force energy?
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow, conscious living
Ready to live Your True Life?