Saturday, November 4, 2017

I Have Something in Common with Trump

I have something in common with DJT.  We both want to be zen. I heard a news report that he wanted to project zen after the two indictments and the guilty plea on Monday.  I was incredulous that this was the word used.  I have longed to be "zen" for a number of years and have wanted to write a blog for a few weeks now about the fact that I am not zen.  And bam, there it was, that word used in connection with Trump?!!

I am not zen by nature, and I really, really want to be calm, focused and not have my feathers ruffled. (i.e.. no anxiety!!)   But I'm just not.  Donald wants to project this as well, or at least he did three days ago.  Mr. twitter "every thought and feeling with no filter" wants to appear calm.  Maybe somewhere deep in his consciousness, he wants to rise above but it seems in this instance it is more about brand management. I'm not sure with his obvious Narcissistic Personality disorder(s) that he could rise above.  He would have to acknowledge and have awareness to begin.

It just hit me, what is zen?  What does it really mean, what is the definition?  My Google search definition said this:

  1. zen: a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.

    Wait, I am all about intuition!!! (Intuition is listening to the most undervalued part of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit) 

    Another definition from Zen meditation, is a way of vigilance and self-discovery which is practiced while sitting on a meditation cushion. It is the experience of living from moment to moment, in the here and now. 

    Are you kidding me??  

    Oh my gosh, I do practice zen!! The key word being practice.  Years ago, the first book that I read of this nature at church was Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth."  Tolle's premise is about living in the here and now. I had no idea what he was talking about when I started, but it was about being in the present moment: not dwelling in the past, nor the fear of the future.  In Psalms, it says "Be still and know that I am God."  What this means, is to stop fighting, surrender and be quiet in God's presence and to the Divine's ways.  Basically the all knowing, who is present everywhere, has got your back. (It may not look like what you want though) 

    The difficulty in that is learning to let go.  Ha ha!  That infamous letting go.  Why can't we let go?  When we sit still, what comes to us?   Big thoughts that don't stop, and scary feelings or energy as I have learned to call it. I have been diligently plunging into this notion in terms of addictions and compulsions.  This is why we are the most compulsed nation in the world.  The list is endless, we all know them:  Alcohol, drugs, food,  gambling, shopping, exercising, electronics, etc. etc.  Any behavior that helps us avoid our life right in front of us and numb out. Some of them are healthy actions but when it is taken to the extreme, that is avoidance and can interfere with relationships, and career, etc.

    And this work to be "in the moment" is the hardest of anything that I've embarked on.  For example, I am about to get on a plane by myself and fly to a large city and meet a few friends that I know intimately but yet, I've never met in person. (I've met a few of them)  I am claustrophobic as all get out.  Planes, elevators, and now root canal DO ME IN. The last time I flew in late July, I woke up to a panic attack about flying DAYS BEFORE we left.  My hands are shaking as I type because I have great fear of enclosed spaces.   And fear of going it alone.  But I'm doing it anyway.  

    Another example is when a study group of mine decided to meditate for 5 minutes after we listened to an audio.  I have not practiced meditation.  I have practiced mindfulness which is focusing on my thought patterns but not actually sitting still cross legged. My intuition told me to get up from where I was sitting because I was too close to the person whom I adore next to me.  I didn't listen it though and as soon as I closed my eyes, and we started, I felt panic.   I was claustrophobic and needed my own space. My anxiety rose but I stayed with it and the panic slowly dissipated.   And this is how I practice meditation.  Ha ha, it starts with anxiety about having anxiety. LOL!!  Good times!

    I am learning to be with these energy and I have learned that it is okay, to take medication to fly, but I want to embrace new practices to calm myself.   

    I have to trust the Divine One and let go.  I have to practice staying in my body. Breath is the key to staying with the body.  Breathing and using all of my lung capacity.  Focus my wayward thoughts on something else not scary.  I have downloaded...guided meditations to listen to.  The Hamilton soundtrack takes me away too! 

    Zen is the value of meditation and intuition.  

    Why I misunderstood what Zen was, is because I want SERENITY NOW especially right now!!!  But it's a practice and not a state of being.  I want it now, now, now.    

    It's not about being zen, it's about practicing zen.

    I have thought many times about the reason why DJT gets under my skin so very much and it's not just about his political ideology.  And I can learn from this.   I can clearly see what his personality is and what his motivation is and it is all about his ego.  He has very poor ego structure.  There is an AA saying, "If you spot it, you got it" and this applies here.   What I recognize in others so readily is actually one of my own issues.  It touches a nerve.  I don't believe Trump sits with his thoughts and feelings at all.  He acts on them when he shouldn't ALL THE TIME.  He says he can do everything and do it better than everybody. He is soothing his ego when he does this.  How I'm different in responding and soothing my ego, is that I have told myself I can't do anything.  We both have poor egos, we just project it differently. 

    Yet, I have been slowly and methodically proving myself wrong on this.

    I can do many things that I thought I couldn't or wouldn't ever try.

    Yet I have to sit and be still with the most uncomfortable energy to do so.  In this present moment of fear, I am having a hard time knowing what it will feel like after this wave passes, but there will be calm on the other side and the awareness of the Divine presence within.  This is what awareness and going within is all about.  When you catch that Divine flow, you never want to go back but it is the glimpse that keeps you coming back over and over.   


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spiritual Poetry From Joyce Rupp

This is from Joyce Rupp's book, Dear Heart Come Home: The Path of Midlife Spirituality.  I am leading a study of one of her books and I came across this and used it in class as a lectio divina. I could tell it resonated with some members as much as it did with me.    I find that my soul is soothed lately by beautiful poetic writing that speaks of God's love.  A friend introduced me to Dr. James Finley, a contemplative teacher (and Merton scholar) in video form a few months ago and he speaks in much the same way.

Hope you enjoy.  I will comment with what called out to me.


the persistent voice of midlife
wooed and wailed, wept and whined,
nagged like an endless toothache,
seduced like an insistent lover, 
promised a guide to protect me
as I turned intently toward my soul.

as I stood at the door of "Go Deeper"
I heard the ego's howl of resistance,
felt the shivers of my false security
but knew there could be no other way.
inward I traveled, down, down,
drawn further into the truth
than I ever intended to go.

as I moved far and deep and long
eerie things long lain hidden 
jeered at me with shadowy voices,
while love I'd never envisioned
wrapped compassionate ribbons
'round my fearful, anxious heart.

further in I sank, to the depths,
past all my arrogance and confusion,
through all my questions and doubts, 
beyond all I held to be fact.

finally I stood before a new door:
the Hall of Oneness and Freedom.
uncertain and wary, I slowly opened,
discovering a space of welcoming light.

I entered the sacred inner room
where everything sings of Mystery.
no longer could I deny or resist
the decay of clenching control 
and the silent gasps of surrender.

there in that sacred place of my Self
Love of a lasting kind came forth, 
embracing me like a long beloved one
come home for the first time.

much that I thought to be "me"
crept to the corners and died.
in its place a Being named Peace
slipped beside and softly spoke my name:
"Welcome home, True Self,
I've been waiting for you."

---Joyce Rupp

Sunday, September 24, 2017

But Really Who Should Be Fired?

Trumps latest tirade while at an Alabama campaign rally*, is aimed at NFL athletes, the sons of bitches*, who take a knee and should be fired.

But really who should be fired?

I guess NFL players with their peaceful knee protests are not nice people, whereas neo-nazis and white supremacists marching under the cover of night, with KKK like torches, chanting "blood and soil", and "Jews will not replace us" and inciting incredible fear in Charlottesville are nice people.

One group wants to exterminate persons not like them and harken back to a time where millions were murdered, while the other is exercising a first amendment right to shine a light on injustice.  Wars were fought, soldiers have died for this right, and for our democratic values.  They are risking their livelihoods for the arc of justice.  Martin Luther King and many others died for equality and  did so by peaceful protesting.  Kaepernick lost his job, so if you side with Trump that can make you happy.

This is the main issue: what is more important, the flag/anthem, or the people and the constitution whom it represents?  The flesh and blood of humans who die because of the color of their skin or are incarcerated at an alarmingly disproportionate rate?  Protesting has been what has brought needed change and justice and there is more work to do.

"For the land of the free and the home of the brave."  Or does that mean, just those with white skin.

These are not black and white issues. One can be for police and for Black Lives Matter at the same time.  This is called both/and. It is an evolved way of thinking. You can Back the Blue and want to weed out those who don't follow the very laws they are enforcing.  There is systematic institutional racism that needs to be addressed and there are no easy answers.  Evidently peaceful protesting and 45's discomfort with free speech has gotten our attention.

But really who should be fired?

Forty-five's comments show what he is really worried about as he does in his tweets. His poor self-image and ego comes out against other people when it is really about himself and his weaknesses. The Russian chokehold is getting closer and closer to him and those around him.    Trump is going to be more aggressively acting out to divert attention.  If there is nothing to hide, then let the Russian investigation move forward without any more obstruction.  Mueller has been lauded on both sides of the aisle as the straightest of shooters with impeccable integrity and credentials.

You can't say that about Trump, but I digress.

So far the actions, allegedly, of 45 and/or his team are:  his campaign team did meet with a Kremlin linked Russian lawyer with the enticement of getting dirt on an opponent (collusion), 45 helped draft the statement to lie about said meeting(obstruction),  Manafort offered campaign information to a Russian oligarch in Putin's inner circle (collusion, treason?),  Trump fired the FBI director because he was investigating him (obstruction of justice),  Flynn was working for other countries best interest's and didn't report it (treason?), the multitude of lies and lack of transparency such as lying a about revealing the Trump/ Russia business overtures during the campaign and then there is the emoluments clause. That is so far on the back burner but one area that needs attention. These are the incredible damning issues that Trump has created, right off the top of my head.  And that is not touching business deals of Trump and Russian oligarchs, the Steele Dossier, how to handle nuclear threats, and just plain moral deficits. Thank goodness for the free press.

Who really should be fired? 

It is very telling that 45 can forcefully and passionately admonish NFL peaceful protestors, but has never had one, not one harsh word for a hostile foreign power who tried in various ways to undermine our democratic election. It is an act of war and he doesn't care.  He does nothing about it but deny it and degrade our Intelligence agencies, because his ego can't handle that the legitimacy of the election is in question and/or was he colluding?  The truth will come out eventually.

He's so worried about himself that our democracy is left hanging because he doesn't want to get to the bottom of it, to work to prevent it again or stop it as it is ongoing.

And he is our President.

Who really should be fired?

Not speaking out is not an option any more.

 *(and can we talk about the constant need for  campaign rallies in the first year of office to stroke his ego) (and that a President is using this language)

(And I didn't even address the issue of him wanting more violence in a game that is already deadly to it's players and their brains.)

With a very deep breath, I end with my customary 
(the divine in me bows to the divine in you)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Story of Tonight

The family ventured to Chicago the very last week of summer before school started.  I didn't plan out this trip other than vague notions of places we wanted to go.  Mallory had heard the Museum of Science and Technology was great. (It was!)  Riley wanted to explore her roots at the Polish museum and eat at a Polish restaurant.  George rolls with us ladies, bless him. I had looked into theater.   The only musical I found was "An American in Paris" and no one was thrilled about seeing it, including me so I let it go.  And then, about seven days before we left, I randomly looked online again.  And this search discovered... Hamilton.  


I didn't know it has been in residence in Chicago since September 2016.  My heart started beating quickly.  Were there tickets?  The excitement began building.  I had given up and felt helpless trying to see Hamilton at all.  We had gone to NY last summer but tickets were rare and extremely expensive. So I just let the idea of seeing the wildly phenomenal musical go.  I also let the touring version go, because it seemed too hard to do. 

I let the desire die.

I was throwing away my shot.

(I didn't even know the music...and I didn't know that was a line)  But not for long.

I just knew many, many people loved the show, and it was about American history which my family is into and it won Tonys. 

So now, this discovery that it is in Chicago!  And... there were a few tickets in the very back still available!! Boom! I knew I just wanted to be in the room where it happens.  So I brought it with the girls.  Mallory was interested but she was more interested in Aladdin.  Riley did not care although she had been the one that led to my search for NYC tickets the year before.  I texted George, and bless him, he left it up to me. He was my George (Washington) on my side.

I percolated on it during the day while on errands. Do I say no to this? Is it too much $$?  But was it worth it to blow us all away?  Do I drag the girls (well, Riley because I knew Mallory would be satisfied)  The irony is that we were originally only going to stay two nights in Chicago before we headed to Wisconsin to visit relatives.  My intuition made me push it to three nights thinking there would be things to do in the big city.  And that third night ending up being the night of the availability of tickets. (And the day before my birthday!!) 

So, we did go, and it was freaking fabulous!  But in all honesty, getting there wasn't pretty.  I have claustrophobia and it kicked in just thinking about getting on a plane before this trip.  I also have a fear of crowded spaces and this was a packed small venue with two balconies.  And in the end, my excitement over this very special opportunity helped ease my fear of flying.  Riley is not as enthralled with theater as Mallory and I are, and she would have stayed at the hotel if allowed.  She wanted to take a break after being on a Mission Trip the previous week.

But we dragged her. 

I don't really know what my expectations were but it went beyond them even knowing how popular it was. I was verklempt when sat down in our last row seats of the first balcony.  Mallory was my right hand man.  The energy in the place was palpable and I was thrilled to have seats next to the exit door!! To save money, George and Riley were on the same row but the opposite side of the theater.

The week before we went, Mallory listened to the soundtrack on YouTube and already had her favorites.  I borrowed the CD from my neighbor and listened in the car as George and I drove to Florida to pick Mal up from a trip.  The three of us listened to the second act (each act has 23 songs!) on our way back to Baton Rouge and I was moved to goosebumps and tears listening to the very last song.  "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?"  I wasn't alone being moved by the last song.

What comes next?

This musical was simply and utterly beyond.  I was transfixed in my seat and knew I needed to soak it all in as much as possible.  The story, the choreography, the talent blew me away. It was such a combination of history, hip hop, Broadway ballads and pop. Mallory and I were thrilled and chatted back and forth quietly. When King George walked out to the stage and before he said anything, people clapped. The same for the actor who played Hamilton.  The excitement of the crowd was thrilling.

And when it was over, wait for it...George said Riley laughed and smiled. And Riley told on George and said he cried at the last song. Seriously, I have only see him cry at Seabiscuit and Secretariat.

He knew it was something special.

Since we have been back in Baton Rouge, I have found a few people who have seen it or those who know every line to every song and want to see it.  And we gush non stop about how good it is and it's hard to find words to describe it.  That's when you know it's something extraordinary. 

So very glad I did not throw away my shot.

Your obedient scribe.

C. Gol

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dad And Trees and Speaking Up

Dad died three years ago today.  I wrote a piece right after dad died about how I wished I could have connected more with him.  I longed for personal interaction.  I don't remember any conversations or activities that we did together just the two of us.  It felt like a huge void in my life.  I was boy crazy from an early age.  I was that girl that had to have a boyfriend and as I look back, I wish I would have had more respect for myself.  I cringe but am learning to laugh when I watch a sitcom that makes fun of a young woman with "daddy issues." That was me. It is a thing.  I am aware of it now.

I am also aware that I tend to freeze in place and not act even when I know what to do. I don't speak up. I didn't have the confidence. I'm learning.

Months ago at a teenage values seminar at our church that broached sexuality, one of our youth pastors advised dads of girls: pay attention to your girls and hug them.  They need it and it reduces sexual promiscuity.

When George and I were dating, and we talked about having a family,  I remember telling him that if we had girls he had to pay attention to them, talk to them and do things with them.  I said it once and he has obliged my request since they were born.  I now can see (after George pointed it out!) that it came out as a forceful demand on my part.  I don't regret it.  I spoke up.  I am thrilled that the girls connect with him.  It is necessary and needed.

Yet it also brings up sadness as I type.  There will always be the little girl in me that needs her daddy's attention. It took me many years to accept Dad as he was and it wasn't an easy process. I was angry for a long while and then I grieved.  I grieved him before he died and eventually came to a place of acceptance.  I then could appreciate what he did give me.  I know that he loved me but he could not say it out loud.  I admit I have trouble with this myself.  It was much easier to express love with my children when they were younger than it is with grown people.  I have work to do, to practice vulnerability, to speak up.  It's new territory. Dad's form of love was to provide a roof over my head, clothe, feed and educate me.  Education was really important. And I'm grateful for that.  I really see that now.

Dad loved the outdoors.  I remember his very tanned arms.  On the other hand, I'm an A/C girl who likes to write and talk about thoughts and feelings and spirituality and go to yoga.  He was a gardener, hunter and fisher.   Years before he died, he built a cabin on family property that goes back several generations.  He built it for his family to use. He didn't talk about it or tell me, he just did it. Thanks to him, I'm a tree farmer and I enjoy walking with my brother and surveying the land. My kids love to ride the four-wheelers and get their feet wet in the creek and the girls love to kid me about my country roots, but I know they like it too.

My connection to him now is in land and trees.

And as I walk the dogs in my neighborhood on my street,  I found the most ironic display as a reminder.

Do you see it?

The tree is speaking to me.


Saturday, June 24, 2017


A month or two ago, I met with my small group as part of the Spiritual Formation certification process.  We do so every other month or so. At the end of the meeting, our wonderful leader had a display that included these seashells.  But they were turned over.  We each picked one.

As I picked it up and turned it over.  I gasped.
And my reaction was exactly what a leader hopes for.  On that day, or that particular week,  I needed to read that I am enough.

It was such a fantastic Divine moment.  Meant to be.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Moving On

On Wednesday, our middle school will have a special eighth grade chapel to send them off to high school.  Most everyone of them will be continuing on to high school at Dunham, but this will be Riley's last chapel there.  It is a big goodbye for her but done so, in her very quiet way and I'm the one feeling it.  (Of course I am because I'm a thinker and a feeler!)

After attending an eighth grade event last week, I checked in with her about how she felt about the ending of the school year.  She loves the school but has not found a fit within her small class of girls and she is really ready to move on. I have to remember that it is very brave to acknowledge that you need to make a change and follow through and do it.   This is a big life lesson and we have worked through it step by step together as mom and daughter and as a family.

I know a thousand percent that she needs to try another school and she's ready.

But my heart is ripping up ever so slightly. 

For seven months from the very beginning of school, we have talked about this endlessly.  When difficulties arose over the last few years, I would broach the subject of changing schools for  high school. I said this never thinking she would ever move.  After much disheartenment over the summer and at the beginning of the school year, I brought it up again.  She said yes.   We diligently looked at other schools, weighed every pro and con and she is moving on.  She even has uniforms from a graduating St. Joseph's senior.  Thank you to that mom and daughter for thinking of us!

I've thought this situation out every way possible. I talked to so many people to get every angle on this specific issue.  We did our homework.  But now there is nothing more to think or decide, only to finish and feel. My stomach turns when there is a reminder that she won't be at the same school we have known for ten years and she won't be with her sister.  These feelings are all mine, not hers. I have to own my stuff and not project, but I am allowed these mixed feelings.   I am so excited for her new future, she deserves it.  Owning my feelings will allow them to pass through more easily.   I think mixed in with these emotions, is, could we have done something differently? And much deeper is do I fit in? Yeah, it goes deep.  It always does.

And then I logically think it through and know that not every school works for every student.   And my appreciation for my uniqueness is growing.  And she is ready to go.

So here we go, the end of this school year is here.   There are always mixed feelings about things ending and new beginnings.  This is a special year.  No more Lower School Moving Up ceremony.  Riley is moving on to a new high school.  Mallory is moving up to 6th grade.  All is well. (Well, there are other things going on in the world...)

Today is the Honors ceremony.  It's a good run through before tomorrow's send off chapel.

I will bring tissues.

All will be well.