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The Grandness of Being – Part Two

Speaking of definitions… (as I was in Part One of this blog post) One of the reasons I enjoy acting is that it affords an opportunity to step outside our normal self-definitions, wipe the slate clean, as it were, and create our character description from scratch.  (Or, in the case of a scripted play, from the playwright’s notes!) But on the stage of Real Life, what a process, to look at our own character descriptions and realize that we really are the author of our self-defining “rules to live by!”  We constantly tell ourselves who we are, what we can and can’t do, what our history (or in acting terms, our “back-story”) is. All true, on one level.  All total illusion, on another. As the Bard (Wm Shakespeare) infamously put it, “All the world’s a stage…”   Indeed. And we are merely players. So why not choose roles, and self-definitions that bring us a sense of joy, fulfillment and expansiveness of Being?  For perhaps those outdated character descriptions we’ve been allowing to determine our lives – all those “this is just the way I am”  or “just who I am” thoughts and behaviors – are not etched in stone, but rather penned with erasable ink. Perhaps it’s time to take stock of what self-definitions are conducive to our highest good, and which are not.  I’ll bet any of us, if we were to reflect for but a moment, could come up with at least one or two things we repeatedly tell ourselves about ourselves that are ridiculously outdated and needlessly limiting.   (Care to reflect on that for a moment? I’ll wait…!) In...

The Grandness of Being – Part One

I was in the foyer of our local credit union one day a number of years ago, when a woman stopped me to say she’d enjoyed my performances in several shows over the years.  She then said, “But I haven’t seen you onstage in awhile – how come?”   I replied that I also work in the healing arts and that that work had been keeping me very busy, etc.  She put her hand on my arm, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Theater is healing, too.  Get back on the boards. We need you.” We seldom know how deeply our words may have touched someone.  Hers certainly did me.  So, lovely woman, whoever and wherever you are, my heartfelt thanks. For much of my adult life up to that point, I had struggled to come to terms with the considerable amount of time and energy I’d been putting into the performing arts realms. Performing – especially acting – sometimes seemed…..self-indulgent, a less than altruistic use of time and energy.   A little family-of-origin background is called for here: I deeply love and respect my late father. He was an incredible man, and a very loving, giving father.  And, as a research engineer, he considered the human intellect the end-all and be-all. Thus, he derived great satisfaction – and a sense of safety – from measuring everything against the gold standard of Rational Thought. As absolute as Descartes’ “I think therefore I am,” in our family the edict by which the worth and validity of everything (and everyone) was judged was “It is rational or it is not.” Thus, actors were judged, consistently if not overtly, to be at best narcissistic,...

The Language of the Heart

I’ve been in a very active cycle of life, as is evidenced by my lack of written communication – I’ve been too busy doing it to write about it! It’s been a wonderful time of self expression – bringing into being, in the outer world, things that deeply matter to me – both in the healing arts and the performing arts realms. And, most delightedly, experiencing the overlap and interconnectedness of the two! In the past year or two, I’ve had many wonderful opportunities for artistic expression, growth, and just plain fun in the theatrical world. Most recently, I assistant-directed and played a role in Julio Cho’s The Language Archive. One of its central themes is that, despite our facility with languages, ultimately we can only express what is truly in our heart.  The character I played, Alta, is from a fictitious country whose language, Elloway, is described as “the language of the heart.” She and her husband, Resten, explain that when they are angry with each other, they argue in English, because their language is too sacred for this kind of angry talk. Later, Alta explains that… “...If you say something in Elloway, you can never take it back. But say something in English, and everyone knows you don’t really mean it – say it in English, and you can always take it back.” (The laughter these lines elicited every night is a sure indicator that it struck a note of truth in most audience members!) Each character in this well-crafted play is very well written, and has a great deal of wisdom to share. Here’s a segment from...

On Marriage…and the Google God of Translation!

As I think any married couple would agree, marriage is a Life’s Work. It is a constantly growing and changing spiritual art-form. Your beloved serves as a perfect mirror for you And, like any mirror, sometimes the reflection you see is a lot more pleasing to look at than other times! And yet, if we gaze with loving intention, and a desire to see the Truth about ourselves and our partner, this “marriage mirror” provides an unparalleled opportunity for spiritual growth and unfoldment. The ability to maintain a sense of perspective, and a sense of humor, becomes essential! Thankfully, the Divine Spirit has quite a sense of humor. A perfect example occurred recently as I was working on the ceremony for a young couple, Christina and Lazzaro, who are very dear to me. I was to officiate their wedding in a few days, and Christina had sent me the words – in Spanish – of the beautiful prayer that she and Lazzaro were to speak in the bi-lingual ceremony. Given that my understanding of Spanish is minimal, I did what we all do these days if we need to know something: I googled it. Well, the Google God of Translation definitely has a sense of humor, because the last line of their beautiful prayer was translated thusly: “Help us to see and learn about laundry divine…. and keep alive this truth today and forever.” I laughed. A lot. And I thought, “How perfect – to pray that you may forever recognize and learn about “Divine Laundry.”  Here is an excerpt from the marriage address I delivered: “Because this is...

Of Time, Tweets and Souls Flying Free

With all the Facebook posts, tweets and other social media stuff going on, I sometimes feel like it’s all too much. Just give me a real live human being with whom to converse while sitting in the shade of the redwood tree in my own front yard. No computers, no cell phones, nothing that needs rebooting or recharging! (Except me!) Especially this week, I feel deep appreciation for the simple things in life….and for life itself. ***************** Earlier this week, I spent nearly 72 hours with a dear woman named Jean, a former client. I had the honor of playing the role of spiritual midwife as she transitioned from her body. She’d been valiantly dealing with cancer for several years, and at age 74, it was now time to let go and move on. After many long hours, during which her mindbodyspirit prepared for this transition, I was gifted to be at her side at the moment of release. I was able to witness the look of indescribable joy and awe that shone through her barely opened eyelids in the instant before she left her body. She’d been unconscious for the better part of three days, so for her to return to awareness just enough to reveal that beauty to us – her daughter, Sherrie,  was on her other side – was an unspeakably precious gift. I don’t know precisely what Jean experienced in that moment, but I do know she wanted us to know it was beautiful beyond imagining. A single tear rolled down her parched cheek, and then she was gone. Sherrie and I sat wide-eyed, feeling an indescribable awe and...

What Might You Be Missing?

This thought-provoking story made its way into my email inbox for the sixth or seventh time the other day.  I re-read it, and it really struck a chord (‘scuse the pun!) with me. In fact, I wanted to learn a little more about the background of the story, so I googled it. The time I’d allotted for a quick blog entry turned into a fascinating hour and a half of reading, writing and reflecting. I highly encourage you to check out the original Washington Post article. Fascinating stuff.  I offer the condensed story here, as a teaser: *** Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six classical pieces for about forty-five minutes. During that time, over a thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. At 3 minutes, after sixty-three people had already passed obliviously by, a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on. At 4 minutes: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in his open case without stopping, as she walked past. At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and continued on his way. At 10 minutes: A three-year-old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as he stood there looking at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them...

Remembering Who You Really Are

Does anyone else feel like things are really “heating up”? And while, yes, the days are indeed getting sunnier and warmer here in the Pacific Northwest, I’m of course speaking more in a metaphorical sense. This is really quite a time we’re living through. I’m finding it necessary to spend more time alone, just to be with the immense amount of energy that’s brewing these days. Days like today, digging in the garden, experiencing the beauty of Nature, and the grounding of Mother Earth, are, for me, hugely important to maintain balance and centeredness in the midst of some pretty crazy stuff. Individually and collectively, it seems that whatever has been unresolved is now presenting itself, one way or another, for healing. In my personal experience, the entire gamut of the emotional spectrum is getting more intense, as the Divine Presence orchestrates the deep healing work I continue to invite. When “clear me, heal me, use me” becomes a daily prayer/mantra, it gets to be quite a ride sometimes! (Know what I mean? I’ll bet many of you do!) Yet, as I say in several of my more recent CDs, in order to experience true healing, we must “become large enough to embrace it all.” We must have the courage to go to those darkest, scariest, loneliest places; we must also have the courage to recognize, own, and act from the tremendous power of Love that is the true essence of who we are. Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  -Marianne Williamson So why is opening to Love,...

Inauguration Day…Be the Change

On this auspicious Inauguration Day, this day of renewed hope and Vision in our country and in our world, I feel moved to share with you a link to a simple movement to help bring it home… a way to bring these inspired ideals into action in our own lives, right now…to do our part to help keep this inspired Energy moving! I encourage you to take just a moment to check it out. https://www.bethechangeaction.org/pledge/sign (2014 Update: This link no longer works.) Here’s the pledge I typed in: To hold the HIgher Vision steadfastly; to take responsibility (even when it’s easier not to) to do whatever it takes to raise my individual consciousness level, so that I might best help manifest this collective Vision of peace, harmony and abundance for all… in short, to BE the change I seek. Signed, Nancy Hopps I also pledged their suggested commitment of: At least 50 hours annually as a volunteer with local service organizations, non-profits, hospitals, schools, faith-based institutions or other places of need or through an enterprise or initiative I create. Won’t you take a moment, breathe in the pervasive sense of Possibility, and commit to what role you are willing to play? As important as it is to Relax into Healing, we also must take action for the healing so sorely needed on the planet at this time. We are, indeed, all in this together. Thank-you, and blessings to all. Namaste....

Yielding to Yes

This holiday season, I have been given a most profound gift. In these past few weeks, I’ve had the unspeakable privilege of acting as a spiritual midwife for a beloved friend, Lisa, as she made her transition from this plane. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty, the Grace, the joy and the sorrow of these past weeks. So I turn to Lisa’s own words to most elegantly convey the essence of her beautiful Being. Lisa was, among other things, an accomplished poet. The following poem is read by Lisa herself on a compilation CD she’d recorded a few years ago. I played it as I was preparing dinner tonight.This particular poem stopped me in my tracks. I had to listen again. And again. Then I offered a prayer of thanks, and came into my office to share these incredible words with you. May they touch your soul as deeply as they did mine. (NOTE: Having only a verbal version, the line breaks, punctuation, etc., are mine. I will amend, if I’m able to, at a later date…) When I Lie Down and When I Rise Hold me tight, like a chrysalis. Something with wings is preparing to wake inside. When I close my eyes, I can feel everything changing, Yielding to yes, Uncovering an old intimacy with Light. More than rose leaves ready to be green And buds holding what we forgot in the cold, It’s a ripening of words my ancestors gave me. And any minute now, I’m going to rise, Remembering I’m part of a whole – One cell among billions that people God’s heart. By Lisa Rosen, (Copyright 2008)...

A Random Act of Kindness

I am in awe of Divine Synchronicity. This morning, I had the joy of singing a couple of duets – both beautiful, inspiring songs – at our local Unity Church. My daughter, Mieka, and Peggy, a dear friend of mine, were both at the service, and afterward, the three of us left the church sort of floating….high on the feeling of Love generated by the heart-opening music, the minister’s powerful message, and the magic that happens “where two or more are gathered.” We went out to lunch at a nearby Thai restaurant, where we ran into a couple of old friends we’d not seen in years, so there were hugs all around, much lively conversation, and general merriment going on.  Besides our two parties, the only other customer in the restaurant was a single man, probably sixty or so, who happened to be seated so he was looking directly at our two back-to-back booths. He couldn’t help but watch all the shenanigans, which seemed to be genuinely amusing him. Our friends were leaving soon for Japan for her son’s wedding, so she wanted to take photos of us to show to him, since we’d not seen him, either, for a number of years. At one point in the photo shoot, as we were laughing and shuffling around into different configurations, I looked over at the solo gentleman, and said, “You didn’t know you were gonna get live entertainment this morning, did you?” He smiled and said he was thoroughly enjoying it. to which I replied, “You know, you’re welcome to join us if you like, if you’re here alone.”...

And the Phoenix Shall Rise From the Ashes

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” FDR’s infamous words, spoken during the Great Depression, are ringing loud and clear today. It’s really pretty amazing to be living in these times of such accelerated change. Our political and economic arenas are exploding with unprecedented happenings, with what may appear to be chaos and doom. But viewed through another lens, this “chaos” is incredibly exciting and, potentially, earthshakingly transformative. I believe we are living in a time in which we are creating a shift of such magnitude that it’s nearly incomprehensible. Sometimes, tuning into the outer drama that’s unfolding, my human self feels more than a bit shaken. (”Omigod, half my retirement account just went up in smoke.”). And yet, something deeper…much deeper….knows it’s all okay. In fact, it feels electrifyingly necessary and good. As Einstein said, “A problem cannot be solved from the same consciousness level in which it was created.” What a great example of this principle we’re seeing all around us:  the contentious war in Iraq, the grand-scale economic melt-down, the flailing health-care system…to name but a few…ALL of these outer circumstances were created from a mass consciousness level that no longer exists!! And so the outer form MUST break down to make way for the new. The phoenix will rise from its ashes. What a historic moment we witnessed yesterday in Congress: both parties uniting to vote down the 700 billion dollar bail-out bill (a desperate attempt to keep the rapidly crumbling economic structures in place. Our representatives in Congress just said “NO!”. *(see P.S., below) They…..we!!……..drew a line in the sand, and said, “Thus...

Nautilus Book Awards Winner!!

Spring represents a time of fertility, growth, blossoming…. and boy, is that apro pos for me these days!  Semi-dormant seeds of creativity from my subconscious mind have begun wriggling their way up into the light of conscious awareness. Ideas and projects that have been on the middle burner for months and years now seem to be demanding to be placed front and center. I’ve been curtailing outer activity levels, to afford time for writing, reflecting, researching, as well as for clearing the decks for the next chapter. It’s an exciting time. And speaking of exciting…..I was recently informed that my Relax Into Healing Series collection, comprised of my six most recent titles (Healing Affirmations & Harp; Pain: Softening the Sensations; Surgery: Mindful Mending; Cancer: Embracing the Healing Journey; Chemotherapy: A Healing Solution; and Radiation: Removing the Dross), was named a Silver Award Winner in the prestigious Nautilus Book Awards. Nautilus’ slogan is “Changing the world, one book at a time.”  The category my titles placed in is World-Changing Audio Books.  Wow. This is a big deal on many levels. To begin with, it is very gratifying to be in the esteemed company of the other award winners, who include the likes of Deepak Chopra, Krishna Das, Lynn McTaggart, Julia Cameron, Barbara Kingsolver, Norman Shealy, Dawson Church, Gregg Braden, Gary Zukav, Thich Nhat Hanh…to name but a few. (Pardon me for name dropping, but to be in this kind of company is pretty humbling, and pretty darn cool…!) Also, from a marketing standpoint, it is very helpful to be able to use the coveted award-winning adjective to describe my work. This kind of commendation will help tremendously...

“I Take the Step That’s Before Me to Take.”

I recently achieved something I thought I’d never do – I completed not one, but two half-marathons within four weeks! It’s something I’m pretty proud of. And speaking of proud… The first race, I ran with my amazing daughter, Annamieka. “Mieka,”diagnosed in March 2005 with Hodgkins Lymphoma, was responsible for getting me into all this in the first place. She was asked to be the “honored teammate” for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society Team-in-Training. They were training for the Race for the Roses Half Marathon, to be held in Portland, OR on April 6th, 2008. Basically, the “honored teammate” is the team members’ inspiration to keep going. (“If she can make it through the rigors of cancer, I can run another mile.”) But Mieka being Mieka, her response was, “Well, sure, I’d be happy to be your honored teammate, but why don’t I just run it with you?” She then called me, explained the situation and said, “So, mama, you wanna run a half-marathon with me?”  I heard myself say, “Of course!” It was one of those “what did I just say?” moments. But I told her, as long as my 53-year-old body seemed to be holding up okay, I’d be happy to train with her. So, two months before the race, we began logging the miles. I’ve been doing pretty regular 2-3 mile runs for years, with a few 10k races thrown in, but never have I attempted running non-stop for over two hours! But, amazingly enough, one step led to another, muscles strengthened, toned…and ached…in places that were brand new to my awareness! I literally ran through rain, hail,...

The Power of Paradox

In one of my favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye, a poor Russian milkman, is listening to an argument between his old villager friend and Perchik, a young revolutionary student. They’re discussing the merits of keeping abreast of political and social changes happening in the world outside their little village. The villager presents his reasoning, and Tevye comments, “You’re right!”  Then Perchik presents his case, and Tevye again concludes, “You’re right!” Another friend who’s been listening replies, “He’s right and he’s right? They can’t both be right.”   At this point Tevye scratches his head, and in his best Yiddish accent says, “You know, you are also right.” Therein lies the nature of paradox.  This little scene is a beautiful example of how sometimes we must adopt a higher perspective in order to see the big picture, to allow seeming opposites to be true at the same time. Tevye is being asked, throughout the course of this well-known story, to embrace a whole series of changes…….to give up many of his long-held beliefs, his “Tradition!”,  in the face of the rapidly changing times.  Out of deep love for his children, Tevye ultimately chooses to surrender many of his entrenched ideas and dogmas.  He learns to open to new ways of looking at things. As Hodel, his middle daughter says, “The world is changing, Papa!” and we watch with great compassion as Tevye learns to change with it. The world is always changing, and it is always our choice to view those changes as threats, or as opportunities.  The former creates fear, pain and suffering; the latter brings joy, growth...

Like Ripples in a Pond…

I had a rather frustrating day yesterday, full of computer snafus that culminated in wiping out many hours of work I’d spent all afternoon doing. It took a number of deep breaths, and reminders to myself about the relative importance of life’s little challenges, in order to retain my sense of inner harmony. By the time I got to the store, laptop in hand, to drop off the digital photo files I’d been working on, I was feeling a little brain-numbed. I was happy to see the name tag on the young man behind the counter – Eric was the one I’d spoken to earlier on the phone, and his calm, patient manner had already made a positive difference in my day. Now, here I was, a week before Christmas in the photo department at Rite-Aid, amidst all sorts of harried customers who were demanding assistance with their last minute photo projects.Eric managed to remain calm and focused as he attended to my needs, despite being interrupted about every ten seconds by another customer with “just a quick question”. And, true to the stereotype of an under-thirty male, he was able to solve my current technical dilemma with a few dozen lightning-speed clicks on my laptop keyboard. I needed a CD to copy files for transfer. He could’ve just pointed me to the proper aisle. Instead, he walked me to aisle 7B, where he helped me choose the best and least expensive option. Back at the counter, he continued to walk me through the process of copying the files (including the little surprise techno-glitches that occurred in that process), then...

Twiddling Thumbs, Grateful Heart

The only thing constant is change. My commitment to keep up with my “blog” entries was superseded by my commitment to care for myself, which in this case meant stepping back for awhile from many of my professional obligations – resting, re-balancing and recovering from a couple of pretty intense, non-stop years. So (almost) without apology, I now return to this writing. Because I want to, not because I “should!” *** While writing my Fall Newsletter, recently, I spoke of my choice to honor my body/mind/Spirit’s need to just “STOP!” for awhile, and hence, I reported, I had no upcoming public appearances planned in the near future. I hastened to add, though, that I was certainly not just sitting here “twiddling my thumbs”. Writing that phrase led me to pause and actually twiddle my thumbs. Surprisingly, I found it to be quite amusing, and enlightening! In fact, I’d highly recommend you take a twiddling break right now. Done with mindfulness, a nice slow, rhythmic twiddle can be a very meditative,  calming experience. Perhaps I understand now why my father, who was a brilliant research engineer, an inventor, would spend hours twiddling his thumbs…much to my embarrassment as a teenager! He would be off in his own little world, with a vacant stare or even closed eyes, his revery accompanied by the gentle, repetitive rhythm of his thumbs slowly going round and round, while perched on the shelf of his modest little paunch. It is with fondness (and forgiveness of those judgmental teen moments), that I now recall the form of meditation employed by my highly intellectual father, whose world...

The Value of Simply Being

How can it possibly be the last day of April already??  Upon completion of my new website, I committed to myself to make a monthly entry in these blog pages, and…..well….obviously, I’m one of those people who work well with deadlines. Today’s the last day. So here I am. I will tell you honestly I had to wrestle with a bit of resistance to get my overtired body up from lying on the couch, where I’d been watching the birds circle and land on top of the giant redwood tree in the front yard, and come back into my office and open my laptop.  (OK, full transparency, I had to wrestle with a LOT of resistance to get up and make this entry!) But because I believe there is great value in keeping one’s commitments, I am now tapping away on the keyboard. And because there is also great value in lying on the couch watching the birds circle at sunset, (which I rarely take time to do) I will now return to that very lack-of-activity, and leave you with these wise words: Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.  I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better...