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no money on my mind

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"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest  - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion  to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest
– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

i have had quite the week. it seems that the sludge that overran the rivers of virginia may have made its way into the culture in which my days are spent. i have conferred with far too many individuals who have lost their jobs or lost their housing within the last week or so.  it has been a little daunting and a little bit more heart wrenching witnessing others’ emotional self-sabotage patterns trample through their lives like an ever-ready bunny. it’s very much like the 1st half hour of “war of the worlds” or “independence day”- destruction and chaos is rampant. so crazy it seems beyond belief.

there are no easy fixes here. and although i want to feel helpless, it just isn’t so. being present is often the best gift i can offer. and serving up hope is my chopping wood and carrying water at my workplace.  i continue to try to spread it around and hope that it will be of use. then i have to let go of my expectations around that. in 12 step circles this is what may be called a “gold problem” – hard to deal with, but hardly a risk to life and limb.

i got a call from someone who was having difficulty breathing and in distress reporting a 10 day drinking binge. when asked how i could help, i was asked to listen which i tried to do. i did listen for a few minutes and then i brought up detox which was rebuffed as definitely not an option. the hospital came up next and i encouraged a 911 call. there was another couple of minutes of resistance, followed by some desperate sounding moans around statements like “i’m so scared” and “i don’t wanna die like this”. i revisited the 911 call which was received with more embrace. i agreed to remain where i was while the emergency help call was made bargaining for a return call after 911. i got the return call and waited until the paramedics arrived. the breathing pattern was frightening as was the self-judgement on the other end of the line.  it felt like a bracing arctic wind.

i also stood today in a pool of icy disbelief as i discussed a situation with another while they fabricated tales, lied, projected, redirected, and lied again to avoid personal responsibility. the sheer audacity caught me off guard. that and the complete science fiction quality of it all.  i was lied to- blatantly and without regret or concern- lied to (he fretted indignantly).  how very dare you….

of course that was a feeling and a thought that has not been allowed to linger. it does no good whatsoever to talk the talk about breathing in compassion for myself and breathing out compassion for others if i am unable to muster it when a small situation arises.  luckily, muster i have done.

truth be told- i am no different from the suffering and somewhat sedated individuals before me. i have been in those shoes. under the influence of substances and my own shame- enough to the point that untruthing was commonplace and done without care.

i am those suffering souls i see and hear. i experience myself. this angers me at first. but i hope i am drifting to compassion. and then hopefully love.

When the sun will set
Don’t you fret
No I have no money on my mind
No money on my mind
No money on my mind
No I have no money on my mind
No I have no money on my mind
Just love…… Sam Smith “Money on My Mind”

bleep

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it is martins day of remembrance today. his work has influenced my life in so many ways. miraculously though, his peaceful approach has left a more deafening impact on our world than a war may have done. when a man is able to contain his emotions and channel them to build people up in opposition of the usual tearing them down, it is nothing short of a miracle. remaining with love against adversity is something i have have not achieved. i hope some day i am able to do just that.



Integrated Bus Suggestions

This is a historic week because segregattion on buses now been declared unconstitu¬tional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach Montgomery and you will be re-boarding integrated buses. This places upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed it must not be our people who commit it.
For your help and convience the following suggestions are made. Will you read, study and memorize them so that our non-violent determination may not be endangered. First, some general suggestions:

1. Not all white people are opposed to integrated buses. Accept goodwill on the part of many.
2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat.
3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action as you enter the bus.
4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our Montgomery people in your actions.
5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all Montgom¬ery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag!
7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boistrous.
8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.

NOW FOR SOME SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS:

1. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to obey the law. Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any vacant seat.
2. Do not deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no other seat.
3. In sitting down by a person, white or colored, say “May I” or “Pardon me” as you sit. This is a common courtesy.
4. If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back. If struck, do not strike back, but evidence love and goodwill at all times.
5. In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, and always in a quiet tone. Do not get up from your seat! Report all serious incidents to the bus driver.

6. For the first few days try to get on the bus with a friend in whose non-violence you have confidence. You can uphold one another by a glance or a prayer.
7. If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense, but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry on the struggle for justice.
8. According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid to experi¬ment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation and social change.
9. If you feel you cannot take it, walk for another week or two. We have confidence in our people. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

THE MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 
THE REV. M. L. KING, JR., PRESIDENT
THE REV. W. J. POWELL, SECRETARY

preparation

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A Pile of Dry Shit

One day a famous government officer met a highly respected edlerly master. Being conceited, he wanted to prove that he was the superior person.As their conversation drew on, he asked the master, “Old monk, do you know what I think of you and the things you said?”
The master replied, “I don’t care what you think of me. You are entitled to have your own opinion.”The officer snorted, “Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dry shit!”The master simply smiled and stayed quiet.
Seeing that his insult had fallen into deaf ears, he asked curiously, “And what do you think of me?”
The master said, “In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha.”Hearing this remark, the officer left happily and bragged to his wife about the incident.His wife said to him, “You conceited fool! When a person has a heart like a pile of dry shit, he sees everyone in that light. The elderly master has a heart like that of the Buddha, and that is why in his eyes, everyone, including you, is like the Buddha!”
i find myself in the planning stage of change as the days once again begin the trek to get longer. i have been considering some options for the next project to dive into. part of me wonders whether i should just take a break, but i am not sure that is how i roll anymore. i can take a break when i’m dead. i would like to fuel and flame some passion in my life. and i would love the opportunity to continue to have conversations about recovery. not my recovery any more, but recovery in general- and why it is that the concept of recovery is not the first thing or even the 100th thing that people expect when the topic of addiction or illness comes up. it seems to me that our collective perspective on addiction and mental illness could be characterized as a pile of dry shit. but i hope to remind us that there is a something just like a buddha among us- recovery.
A New Recovery Advocacy Movement 
William L. White & Pat Taylor 
People in recovery from addiction, their families, friends and allies are on the 
move. Some are calling on mayors, governors and legislators to change policies to make 
it possible for people to get needed treatment and recovery support services. Others are 
joining National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month celebrations that draw 
tens of thousands of people and extensive media coverage. 
Local communities of recovery are organizing and sharing ideas, resources and 
experiences. A grass roots media campaign (see http://www.recoveryiseverywhere.org) is 
countering stigma and putting a positive face on recovery. A network of thousands of 
recovery homes is spreading rapidly to small towns and large cities. Recovery High 
Schools are flourishing, as are special programs for the growing number of recovering 
people entering or returning to college. Innovative peer-based recovery support services, 
ranging from Recovery Support Centers to growing networks of recovery coaches are 
testimony to new creative solutions to addiction. Something is happening in our 
communities — a renewed spirit of service and activism that has been christened the New 
Recovery Advocacy Movement. 
Faces & Voices of Recovery, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug 
Dependence, the Legal Action Center, the Johnson Institute, the Center for Substance 
Abuse Treatment’s Recovery Community Services Program grantees such as White 
Bison, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (APAA) and Connecticut 
Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) and hundreds of new grassroots recovery 
community organizations are all part of this exciting movement. Recovering people are 
collaborating with visionary professionals to communicate to the world that addiction 
recovery is a reality for millions of people and their families. This movement is calling 
for a vanguard of recovering people…. www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

holiday musing and darkside -live in paris

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Charles Dickens

i simply want to wish any and all of my readers a festive holiday season. i continue to receive the benefits of making change in my life through my moods and my experience. my self-respect grows, and my ability to care for others increases with the practice i put into it. 

wrecking ball

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effreide stegemeier circa 1935
“There was once a lady who was arrogant and proud. Determined to attain enlightenment, she asked all the authorities how to go about it. She was told, “Well, if you climb to the top of this very high mountain, you’ll find a cave there. Sitting inside that cave is a wise old woman. She will tell you.” Having endured great hardships, the lady finally found this cave. Sure enough, sitting there was a gentle spiritual-looking old woman in white clothing, who smiled beatifically. Overcome with awe and respect, the lady prostrated at the feet of this woman and said, “I want to attain enlightenment. Show me how.” This wise woman looked at her and asked sweetly, “Are you sure you want to attain enlightenment?” And the woman said, “Of course I’m sure.” Whereupon the smiling woman turned into a demon, stood up brandishing a great big stick, and started chasing her, saying, “Now! Now! Now!” For the rest of her life, that lady could never get away from the demon who was always saying, Now! Now–that’s the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now.” 

painting by kwangho shin
i believe i stand in the beginning of a fairly drastic change in my world. for the last 5 years i have been pushing my plough in a certain direction in order to nurture harvest. amidst this process, i have seen drought and flood, experienced both exhilaration and exhaustion, and even broken a blade once or twice. 
cumulatively though, my general sense has been comprised of success and gratitude. i have made structural changes in this process- in essence moving the fields i chose to cultivate. and i have been blessed with that choice. 
about 2 months ago, infused with inspiration, i suggested that i modify my schedule and increase my workload-accompanied by an increased compensation, so that i may give up my second job and concentrate growing our services into the black. surprisingly, i received a message which took away my wind. i walked away from that conversation feeling some shame and some frustration. i don’t have the education to move forward within my department and would need to spend 4 years cultivating that prior to any advancement for me. to make matters worse the next morning  i found place upon my desk, a book imparting the philosophy of getting things done by having a “yes” attitude. instantly i was drowning in a diminishing pond and dog-paddling seemed both a life sentence and a metaphor.
this is when my life complicated. my judgment has been clouded by the fog of emotions. i felt tricked and patronized. it was almost as if there had been a small earthquake and my foundation has shifted. i am groomed to utilize my insight and my talents, encourage to participate on equal footing, but then challenged to keep in my place until i accomplish more, but work harder and continue to say “yes” until then. i kinda felt like a hooker- and that’s not an unfamiliar feeling- nor is it pleasant (you know- we can have fun with the lights out when nobody else is around, but pretend like we don’t know each other the remainder of the time).  i have been trying to ascertain damage control since that time. sadly i cannot report that i have had a clear and concise pathway. quite the contrary- i have fretted and fussed in a circuitous fashion, listening too often to the inner child’s tantrum-mantras of the past and come to the point of picking up my toys and moving to another sandbox. this has all been set in motion and i am not clear where it will take me, nor which thoughts are mature and which are primal. most mornings and evenings it is the auditory quality of standing in an aviary.
the hypocrisy of the barriers laid out by institutions and their stewards are mind boggling.  health care organizations tout themselves so often as places to heal yet their actual practices include such exclusivity and denial of individuality that they often create as much trauma as they address (if not more). no wonder the bird-sanctuary-like cacophony in my mind has been dizzying. 
the wheels are in motion and i am preparing for a journey of some sort. i feel responsible (as is my way) to those whom i have brought along on my journey. i have touted the wonders of recovery and encouraged others to try to get their feet wet in it. and now i may need to allow them to bask in the beautiful waters of their recovery without me as the direct mentoring presence. but as i type this post, i realize that some of this is the natural order of change- we have to fly on our own at some point. so it is not a requirement for me to feel ownership of something i don’t really own. it is possible to remain a source of support without being on site.
in the interim, i was talking with a friend who is experiencing a not-so-different episode in her life. it was so damn easy for me to spout off a diatribe about trusting one’s own life and process. truthfully, i know that failure is not failure at all-it’s just the feels like it to our ego at the time. we learn so much more from failure than we learn from success. failing has a much more dramatic impact and leaves a more memorable flavor in our mouths. this week finds me asking myself -what are my fears here? what am i trying to control? why the drama? 
i only hope my head will try silence long enough for me to hear the answers to those questions. 

let the inspiration begin

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“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”

as i was carousing the various networking sites i travel among, i came across a remix of a cover version of rhythm of the night which rocked my world.  the cover was rendered by an english ensemble that call themselves bastille and the remix was done by an 18 year old dj/engineer with the moniker of mnek. i found it and i coveted it.

now i own a remix collection by bastille and will probably indulge further. please take a moment – take a sip of their sound- and let it soothe some of the savage of this life right out of your system. because today i have encountered a taste of  joy and a dash of sanity and i want to share it with as many folks as i can.

btw- don’t miss track 6- dreams….