Who am I on this Independence Day?

I am a white woman, born and raised in America. Some of my ancestors were Native Americans who, in their time, were not counted as real people. They were shamed, changed their names to try to fit in, and their birth records were destroyed. They were locked away in asylums because they protected their land, restricted to reservations, and many were massacred. I am female and have been raped and afraid to tell. I lived in a family with mental illness from PTSD, and became involved with drugs while trying to find acceptance and peace. I was a runaway, and was once left for dead in a ditch. Climbing out, I walked for miles (with no clothes) to safety. I was in an abusive marriage, kicked and spit on. I have suffered.

And I have had the opportunity to know joy and beauty, the privilege of parents who cared, and finances to live with shelter and safety.  I know a land filled with mountains, lakes, the Atlantic Ocean and sea breezes. Nature soothes and washes over me. I made it through college as a single Mom, lived in subsidized housing until I received my degrees and could make a living for myself and my children. I have wonderful work and much to share. I have a beautiful family, sweet dog Shanti, and kind partner with whom I raised amazing children, and who is now by my side. I have friends with whom I can laugh and cry. I am grateful for abundance and beauty. I’m able to watch my children grow. I watch the gentle deer in my yard. Well, they are eating all my plants, but that’s another story.

Today I choose to celebrate Independence Day!

I am grateful to be an American and to have the freedom, though not always easy, to pursue a better way, to shift and to change. I am sorry for those that have not fully shared in this. I am grateful for a Civil War that ended slavery in the US, for Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, for Rosa Parks who “sat” for what was right. I am grateful that Juneteenth is now honored, celebrating the freedoms and victories of black people in our country. I am grateful for the Women’s Right’s Movement, to all the women who spoke and marched bravely. I am grateful for so many freedoms and for the work and movement toward a greater way of living.  

I am grateful to my forefathers and mothers who had the courage to leave Britain, but it is hard to accept the ignorance they had of the Native Americans who were slaughtered and lied to. It is heart wrenching and unthinkable that humans could perpetuate slavery and that this was part of our country’s beginnings. 

I cannot erase history, cannot change it. Yet, as Mother Theresa said, I “can do small things with great love.”

So, I offer this prayer:
May humanity create freedom, a just society, food, shelter, medicine, compassion, education, and dignity for all.
May we eradicate racism, sexism, climate destruction, warfare, and violence.
May we hold our earth, all beings, animals and plants with respect, kindness, gentleness, and love.

And And I pray for:
the freedom to walk, dance, and move on this earth.
the ability to use my life and creativity to help aspire towards peace.
the strength and power to listen, question, be curious, offer something better, make changes.
the ability to open my heart to acceptance, tenderness, and forgiveness of past wrongs.
the voice to speak my truth and to speak up for myself and others in need.
the clarity of mind to live with integrity.
the gift of grace and the mystery of life to accompany me through this journey, to be part of creating a brighter future for our children and all generations to come.
the earth and its renewal.
the animals and their survival.
all people everywhere, no exceptions.

Remember what Ram Das was told by Neem Karoli Baba,
“Love Everyone!”

Integrity as Self Care

Ever have the experience of not being honest & true to yourself?

Maybe you put someone else first when it wasn’t warranted, or went along with another’s idea of right & wrong just to please them. Maybe you’re the “nice” gal or guy and always have been. Why should you stop now? How dare you not be the one to make everything right, smooth it over, pull it all together and make it look good! Weren’t you taught to be a good girl.

As my Mom’s cancer grew this year, and her body and mind grew weary, she became steady and focused in her choice to die as she pleased.

“Of course I don’t want to have cancer and die,” she said, “but I am dying, and I want to live each day I have free of drugs and interventions. I want to see the beauty of the flowers and the sun shining on the lake and be held by my husband and embraced and cared for by my family.”

She had been a caregiver all her life, and always put others first. This time she dropped into her heart, her love of life and self, and made the decision to die as she wished. She drew on all the strength and skills that she had in order to do what was best for her. And, she passed in integrity, courage and love. She amazed me.

Yesterday I made a choice to live in my integrity and to choose self care over pleasing another. It was a simple choice compared to Mom’s courage, but I have learned that I am worthy of self-love.

I don’t have to spend my time befriending and being polite to another when they drain my energy and when I truly do not have acceptance and forgiveness inside. Time does soften wounds so perhaps one day, when I am ready, I’ll be open to this person. For now, I choose an act of kindness for me, for self care for enjoying my day, and for setting a boundary.

How about you?

Will you allow an act of kindness and love for yourself today?
Perhaps even a revolutionary act of self love!

Send an e-mail & let me know if you do!

Namaste, Susan

Raindrops on Roses

The day was dark and I found my self alone on the path by the river. In fact I saw no one out during my hour and a half walk.  The raindrops felt like tears in my heart. Then I stopped to be present with this rose bush and its raindrops.

One of my favorite practices is to stop, look and listen, instead of rushing and passing by the miracles around me. I find that when I really get still, drop my agendas and lean into the present moment, I get clarity and ease. In the spaciousness that happens I open to something new and walk away with such gratitude, peace and profound joy.

I recognized the softness of the water, and the tender flow of rain. I felt this through my whole being and gave thanks for the reminder to soften and flow, and to release my desire for control. Just to be present here and now, and to respond with love to uncertainty and chaos.

One thing I know for sure…. Love is the answer!
And Trust, Faith & Surrender

“Nature’s Promise,” Kittery Point Maine, photo by Susan 3/21/2020

Ten years ago our daughter Cada was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to every life support possible. She had the rarest case of anthrax.

One night Cada was surrounded by nurses and doctors who were trying to get her extreme hypotension (crashing blood pressure) under control. We were told that she would not make it through the night. This was the second time that we had been told such a thing. The first was at our local hospital, when her doctor looked at us dejectedly and said that there was nothing they could do and that Cada would not make it through the night. Luckily, it was still early afternoon, and with a quick meeting of specialists and finally an open bed at Mass General, she was out of there!  We got her to MGH with hopes of a miracle. It was all quite surreal.

So there we were at MGH. The plaque as you enter the Medical Intensive Care Unit says that family is welcome here. More than welcomed, we were considered integral to the team of care and we all worked together to save our daughter’s life. Several weeks into Cada’s ICU stay came that night when we were told again, “We are so sorry but …..”

Holy shit! What? We are here at one of the best hospitals in the world and they are telling us again that our daughter would not make it through the night. Could this really be happening?

One nurse told me that there are times when you just have to let go. Yup, but this was no time for letting go!  However, it was a time for surrendering to the present moment. There is a big difference.  We surrendered, accepting, and feeling the crisis we were in. We prayed, asking for a greater force and power of love to be with us, guide us and nourish us. Our family, including me, our son and my husband, stood in the hall holding hands and embracing Cada’s spirit that emanated from her crowded hospital room. We surrendered to what was, to a higher power, universal love and the highest good. Then our son began drawing Cada’s organs clear & healthy. And we all began a list of how we envisioned Cada living in the future. I had posted a picture of her dancing, so that the medical professionals would know this woman as vibrant and alive. We called our loved ones and friends for support, and we hugged and held each other in spirit in her room that night. And with Grace a miracle happened. One of the doctors had gone home and much later called and said, “I’ve got an idea, I’m coming back in”.  She and the pulmonary specialist worked with Cada’s ventilator, figuring out how to get oxygen to her lungs. Through love, dedication, caring, and great skill and action a shift happened!

Days, weeks, months even a year later Cada continued to recover. She is now alive, vibrant, loving and living well. I thank God, our friends, our family and our daughter’s strong will and spirit. I thank the nurses, doctors, technicians and staff for their tremendous dedication. By the way, the nurse who suggested I let go, became one of our strongest allies. We are so appreciative of the medical providers’ vigilant watch, long hours of care, loving kindness, and the respect, dignity and worth given to us as a family.

Now, today, we are ALL in the new reality of Covid -19 together.

May we accept and surrender to the present moments.
May the lives of medical professionals, food workers, government leaders and all others working to help us, be held safely in love.
May their hands be blessed.
May we hold faith.
May we trust in a brighter future.
May we be kind and generous to one another.
May we treat each other with respect.

God bless us all, each and every one of us.
No exceptions!

With light, love and blessings,
Susan

 

Contemplate the Beauty of Spring

Find a comfortable place in nature to sit or stand. Take a moment to connect to the earth and feel the support beneath you. Let your awareness be with the space around you, the air and the expansive sky. Breathe in the fresh air.  Be present. Using all your senses, allow your awareness to focus on something in your environment: the flow of the river, the birds in migration, the sunlight glistening, whatever draws your attention. Let your attention rest in contemplation for 5-20 minutes. 

What reflections or revelations do you have?

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the Spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and Spring after the Winter.”

Rachel Carson