Saturday, October 31, 2009
The silence is deafening. I just came in from feeding the horses and cleaning out the stalls. My wife, Deb, has gone to do some errands. This would have been the first day in six months that we could have gone out together for a simple thing like getting groceries, but we figured someone needed to be here to take the phone calls.
Normally, Deb would be gone early Saturday mornings. It was the only time she could get out of the house for a break. At least I got to go to work every day, but Deb works at home. When I came in this morning, gone was the drone of the oxygen console and the blaring sound of the Today Show. The morning coffee and breakfast with Ma is gone. The making fun of the stupidity of people in the news is gone. Only silence.
Silence can be your friend, but it can also be unnerving. Memories come flooding back to fill the void left by the absence of noise; horses whose gallop will never be heard again; dogs whose tails no longer knock over curios, and tongues that no longer lick the face; goats, pigs, cows and chickens who no longer add to the morning symphony at sunrise. And, of course, family and friends whose presence no longer grace your life and who have moved on to that unknown netherland. Then there are the should’ves, wish I dids, if only’s, that surface from the depths of some dormant cells in the cerebrum.
Irene McCollett, age 78, transitioned on October 30th, at 10:42 a.m. She passed in her bed at home with Deb holding her hand. The transition went as both Irene and Deb had discussed on several occasions. It was peaceful, no pain, and full of grace and dignity. I had written a previous story on this topic where I provided some of the details of the situation but let me quickly recap. Irene had COPD. Two and half years ago she moved in with us as she was not taking care of herself. She was on 02 24/7 and she was not taking her medications. Her diet was atrocious. Since Deb was the only one who worked from home, we gladly took her in. Last May, she had a bout with pneumonia and we almost lost her. However, they discovered she had mesothelioma and she only had about one quarter of lung capacity. They gave her six months and she was put on home hospice care. Irene was still functioning. While she often lost her short term memory, she was still able to go to use her portable pot, she ate fine on her own and was still capable of enjoyable conversation. Basically, she was still fun to have around. For a home care giver, however, it meant that one of us had to be home at all times. Over time, this does take its toll. Offers to give us break were non-existent. Family can be funny that way. The few two times we had someone stay with her, she basically had panic attacks. To Irene, Phil and Deb were the only ones who could care for her. So, even though Hospice does provide a relief service, we were unable to use it. There was a nurse, Maria, that Ma and both of us came to love and Ma did let her stay with her so we could go out for breakfast. That was about a month ago.
About ten days ago, Ma came down with early signs of a cold, a deadly virus to someone in her condition. She was on anti-virals immediately. It made her cranky and irritable. After the course, however, she did seem better. She began to eat like a pig and was her old-self. Then, on Thursday morning, the 29th, Ma would not wake up in the morning. Nothing we tried worked. Her 02 levels were all over the board. Maria came out and spent a better part of the day with us. We love her dearly. Irene was stabilized, although still sleeping. She would react to conversation by twitching or shaking her head, but seemed unable to open her eyes. Maria told us that she may, or may not come out of it. It was not a coma, just a deep sleep. Later in the day, Don, her deceased husband of over 20 years, told me to put on some 40’s music. Be as skeptical as you want, but that is what happened.
The house seemed to be filled with people dancing. It was as if Don was simply going to dance her into the light. As some family members came over, ones that did not have ‘time’ when she was functioning to come and visit, several actually said they felt “presences” of other people. Deb said that her Dad grabbed her hand and spun her around in dance. Way cool. With company gone and the music off, Irene was resting comfortably. Deb slept beside her that night. She hoped that she would still come around. Truthfully, I felt she was essentially gone; most of her spirit went with the last dance. It was not a restful night for Deb. She spent lots of time just watching her mother. She did not want to break the pact, that Deb would be holding her hand at the end. Come morning, Irene’s breathing was very shallow. Maria came out, and the four of us sat with her and waited. Deb then saw her father and mother walk off into the light, hand-in-hand. Skeptics will say this was the imagination at work. But you know what? Life is just the imagination at work. Several moments later, without a twitch or a spasm, Irene had left.
Yes, there was crying. But there was also laughter and joy. Deb saw what she saw and was happy. Ma left the way they talked about. Gone were the struggles to catch a breath. Irene’s face was glowing, worry lines were gone; she seemed angelic, at peace and happy. Deb and Maria bathed Irene and put her in a dress. It was comical. Irene was not very cooperative. And so, the phones calls have been made, arrangements with the funeral home were done months ago, and on Tuesday, the 3rd, Irene’s physical body will be placed beside her husband’s. I look at her room and see her ‘stuff.’ And you know folks, it is just stuff. Some will be given, some will be tossed, it’s just stuff. ‘Stuff’ has caused wars and terrible misery for billions. When it is all said and done, the fight for stuff, the greed, the avarice, the economy, Wall Street, the stimulus, the Middle East, it’s only about stuff. When the generals, politicians and Wall Street executives’ die, some will ask, “What should we do with the stuff?”
Home hospice can be tough. Even with the help, little of which one should expect from family, it tries the patience. But, when it is all said and done, we would not have done it any other way. It will teach you not to fear death. It will teach you what is important in life. And so, Goodnight Irene, we’ll see you in our dreams! Thank you for being a part of our lives. We love you and will not forget you.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Does ‘spirituality’ bridge the gap between religious dogma and atheism? Is it the golden mean between an all powerful dictatorial super being that creates good and evil, demands sacrifice and unquestioning obedience and the totally mechanistic belief of the atheist? Can the two even be reconciled?
We are all familiar with religious dogma. The Judeo-Christian, Islamic traditions have dominated religious thought for thousands of years. At the core of all three is a super deity that demands worship, punishes the unfaithful, and has no problem with each declaring the other as inferior and even evil. One has savior who died for their sins; one has a savior yet to come; and the other says live a life by the rules and you will be rewarded later. There is a basic assumption in these religions that people are sinners and are doomed to eternal punishment by an all loving god. All rather silly. It would be easy to extol the absurdity of most religions. And, it is easy to see how a rational, thinking person would have issues with religious hypocrisy and their history of blood and violence.
On the other side of the coin, we have atheism. Basically, atheists do not believe in a god or gods, shun any notion of the supernatural and place their faith in reason, science, humanism and rationality. Essentially, atheism means, ‘without god.’ But, are the options only god (s) and no gods?
The answer is that there is another option; spirituality. Yes, there is a difference between being religious and spiritual. It is important to state that spirituality has been around longer than any religion; it is as old as humanity. Rooted in ancient mysticism from Chaldea, Egypt and found in every civilization, spirituality was based in the concept of gnosis, knowing. For spirituality, there is no set doctrine, no dogma and no institution striving for self-perpetuation. Spirituality is a concept, a belief based upon personal enlightenment. What is interesting is that even though spirituality is based upon individual epiphany, it contains a common thread that can be found in the mystical teachings of all cultures; it has a universal commonality (perhaps Jung is at work here).
In analyzing the literature of mystical teachings, which all too often became perverted into religions, “some” of the common threads include: a belief in an all pervasive universal intelligence; all things are alive; all things are connected, literally; universal intelligence thinks the manifest world into existence and all higher levels of consciousness play an ongoing part in this creation; reality is an illusion and is different from actuality; we are what we think; there is no such thing as good and evil warring for humanity’s soul; there is no death; life constantly seeks to express itself and evolves into higher levels of awareness; there is no deity demanding servitude and no deity that condemns, tortures or punishes; all that ever was, is and will be, is here, now; while there are balancing forces in the universes, these forces are nether good or bad; knowledge is attainable through intuition and meditation; the universe is basically objective; all things move in cycles that spiral ever upward; and all things are possible. Despite these and other shared ideas, there is no church based upon these principles. There are groups, orders, brotherhoods and societies that have formed to teach these concepts, but none seek to dominate, condemn, proselytize, or war with others over ideology.
Much of what is believed, or rather known, by those who have embarked upon a spiritual path is, oddly enough, based in science and reasoning. Is this the bridge between dogma and atheism? It can be. Many scientists have expounded mystical/spiritual ideas. Galileo, Newton, Descartes, and Einstein had clear spiritual views on the nature of the universe. And today, the breakthroughs and discoveries in quantum physics are heading directly down the spiritual path. The circle is closing. From direct knowledge, to skepticism, to discovery and back; scientific thought is revealing as true, what mystics taught in ancient times.
So what did people like Heisenberg and Bohr and others say about the universe. The first tenet is that the material-objective universe is not real, it is an illusion. The mind brings reality into existence through observation. In actuality, the universe is an interconnected sea of energy that only takes on substance when it is observed. The subjective mind brings the objective mind into what we call reality, and yet, it has no independent existence; the observer and the observed are one. Quantum physics tells us that electrons can be in two places at once and that they are waves of energy that only take on physical existence when we look for them. Essentially, the material world has no fundamental existence. Unless we discount quantum physics as ‘hum bug,’ we have science telling us that those who base their reality on the senses are gravely in error. There is significant research and studies on this topic and if would behoove a seeker to Google the topic, ‘mysticism and quantum physics.’ This is not meant to be an in depth study of the topic, but rather a piece that raises the question for others to ponder.
If the mind brings reality into existence, the question that must be answered is what mind brought the first matter, electrons, atoms, molecules, planets, suns and galaxies into existence? Does quantum physics ascribe this to deity? I believe that the answer is, “not yet”, but it is the logical conclusion. Quantum physics dismisses the notion that our reality is the result of chance; that life was a lark that emerged from some kind of chemical soup; and, that we are the whim of natural forces that are beyond our control. The power of thought as ‘the’ force that shapes our world is growing if efficacy. We have seen the power of the mind to heal, and that thoughts do, indeed, create our lives and the way we live it. We know now that all things are energy. Thoughts are also energy that shapes the observable world. Energy cannot be destroyed. The underlying energy that forms the foundation of the universe is neutral; meaning, it is neither good nor bad, it just is. Time is also an illusion and that it may even be possible to travel into the past or observe the future. Does this not sound like, ‘all that ever was, is and will be’ is here now?
While it is easy to understand the trend in the denial of a super being in a white robe and beard calling the shots in the universe, it should also be easy to understand that science is bringing us closer to the notion that there is something, some form of higher consciousness, that is creating and exploring the infinite potential of life. It should also be clear that since we, as humans, have the power to alter reality, there is probably something that transcends our consciousness, something that, perhaps, we express in our ever day lives. The mystics are fond of the phrase, ‘as above, so below and as below, so above.’ Simply, the microcosm, the small, is merely an expression of the macrocosm, the big. The atom and the galaxy are one, and what is true of one, is true of the other.
Perhaps atheists who truly follow the emerging knowledge in science will find solace that their rational thinking has actually verified the idea that consciousness is the guiding force of the manifest universe. They are right, in my mind, that there is no single deity making day- to-day decisions about salvation, or what it will do next to alter the material world. There is no deity(ies) to be worshipped or that demand sacrifice. The question is, are they ready to understand that deity is the All and that here truly is no place where deity begins or ends. It is the sea of potential wave energy, of which we are all a part, waiting to co-create the next chapter in evolution.
I love synchronicity. When I completed this article I received an interesting email. In it, it talked of the works of Hawking, Bekenstein, Susskind and Maldacena. It’s premise was that,“The materialistic paradigm is dead and buried.” It went on to discuss the Holographic Principle as described in Michael Talbot’s book and in the introduction to the book it says, “Put another way, there is evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it -- from snowflakes to maple trees to falling stars and spinning electrons -- are also only ghostly images, projections from a level of reality so beyond our own it is literally beyond both space and time.” Again, the question is begged, who or what projects the Universe? As we move to a new 2012 paradigm, it is clear that the foundation of the ‘old world’ is collapsing. We are familiar with the movies that put forth the notion that magic died in ancient days because people stopped believing in it. Now we are seeing that consumer economics, old religious dogma and the materialistic concept of society are passing because, no one believes it any more. The power of the Universal mind and all of its expressions, us included, is creating a new reality; one that finds the ‘golden mean’ between the extremes. This process may seem chaotic. Witness global climate change, political disruptions, religious strife, diseases and what some are erroneously labeling the ‘end times.’ Ye of little faith! From this chaos will emerge a new reality, a new balance and a new harmony and new reconciliation.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
We often feel that we are at the mercy of 'bigness.' Big government, big problems, big bookstores, big publishers, etc seem to control every aspect of our lives. But you know what, they are all 'memes,' things we believe that are not really true. It is time to overcome our feelings of helplessness and discover that WE are in control of our lives. Read OVERCOMERS, INC and find out how!
Book Introduction from publisher, Lynne Klippel
At one point in my life it seemed like everywhere I looked, I saw tragedy. My brother, both of my parents, and a dear friend were all battling cancer at the same time. Other friends were losing jobs and fearful about the prospects of finding new work. The evening news was full of financial scandals, plant closings, kidnappings, and war.
As I sat in the sun on my front porch in March 2009, I wished I had a book to send to my brother to read during his chemotherapy treatments - something to remind him that he was not alone and to encourage him to fight for his life. I wanted a book that could give him hope, inspiration, and encouragement on every page.
Due to a series of miracles, the book you are now reading is my wish come true. In a very short time a team of wonderful people came together to create this book with just one purpose: to encourage you, the reader, to overcome whatever obstacles are lying in your path to happiness.
As you read the stories in this book, you will find real life tales of remarkable courage, strength, and perseverance. You will be inspired, entertained, and uplifted. Some of the stories will make you laugh. Some of them will make you cry. All of them will make you proud of the power of the human spirit.
You will find this a book of diversity. There are many authors, from many walks of life. However, they all share a common bond. They triumphed over tragedy and gleaned wisdom in this process. While this is not a religious book, there are stories full of faith, of many kinds and flavors. It is funny how in your darkest times, faith often becomes your brightest light.
All of the contributors to this book want to encourage you to hold tight to your belief that a better day will come. It is their sincere desire to pass along what they’ve learned through their own trials, to make your journey easier.
I hope that you wear this book out by highlighting meaningful passages and bending down the corners of the pages you want to read over and over again. There is true wisdom in these pages that can help you feel strong, brave, and hopeful.
May you be blessed by this book and inspired to overcome!
St. Peters, Missouri
To get your own copy and receive dozens of bonus gifts go to http://www.overcomersbook.com/booklaunch
Dreams Come True
It has been an amazing journey. Stepping out from this place of belief has resulted in success for me – and for so many college students – with much more to come. The feedback I receive from students, parents, and deans is abundantly gratifying. I am a guest speaker, a mentor and a coach. I belong to mastermind groups that help keep me inspired and in top form. And I am living well with my muscle disorder, which is pretty much undetectable to those around me at this point.
To top it off, I came home one day to a message from an editor who wanted to know whether my book was still available to be published! (It’s coming out in 2010!)
Had I not experienced my challenging medical year, I never would have allowed myself to realize my dream. Misfortune can actually lead us to a place of joy we wouldn’t otherwise know. Whatever challenge you face, I hope you will allow yourself to recognize a meaningful opportunity that may arise as a result. Play soothing music, light a candle, mentally exhale, and listen to your heart. You will be delighted by what you hear.
Create a Magical Life: Tap into Your Soul’s Intention of Abundance
Holding Onto That Rock Solid Faith
As I felt my marriage falling apart I knew I needed my magic wand more than ever. In my mind I would picture the fairy dust pouring onto me, protecting and guiding me. I held on to a rock solid faith that everything would be okay. I felt fully supported by the Universe and I knew everything was happening for a greater reason.
But have you ever tried hanging on to that trust when your castle is being crumbled? Boy, it’s challenging, to say the least, but hang on I did! There was a voice inside me that kept telling me all would be well. My job was simply to trust and let my destiny and Universe do their job.
With my marriage over and my dignity intact, I knew that every minute of trusting had been worth it. But just how worth it only Tinker Bell could have guessed! My life was about to unfold in the most miraculous way...
Table of Contents
Overcomers, Inc., Inspiring Stories of Hope, Courage and Inspiration
Section 1- Hope
•When Tough Times Hit, There Is Always HOPE!- Mary Hayes-Bridges
•Coincidence is God's Way of Remaining Anonymous- Martha Lee Bohn
•One Size Does Not Fit All- Nancie Benson
•Second Chances- Kathleen Gage
•Listen to What Your Heart Already Knows- Lauren Salamone
•When All Else Fails, There is Magic- Steven Rotz
•When Grace Comes to Get You- Barbara McCollough
•My Crazy, Beautiful Life Makeover- Karen Keeney
•Finding My Purpose Through Adversity and Practical Experience- Nachhi Randhawa
•The Weed That Broke Through the Sidewalk- Marifran Korb
•Decide and Go Seek: Overcoming Life’s Chronic Little Challenges to Let Your Purpose Shine Through- Julio Blanco
•I Am Experiencing "N.O.W." – (New Omnipotent Ways) Susan Hampton
•Getting Older (and Over!) The "Not Enough" Syndrome- Marlene Oulton
•Create A Magical Life: Tap Into Your Soul's Intention of Abundance – Catherine Newton
Section 2- Courage
•The Awesome Power of Optimism: A Personal Journey to HOPE- Frances Thomas
•Saying Good-bye to a Business I Loved -Christine Kloser
•Surrender To The Moment- Holly Eburne
•How Big Is Your Tent? One Man's Quest to Find the Answer for More, More, More- Joshua Aragon
•Calling of the Heart -Nelie Johnson
•Remember to Stop and Just Breathe- Colleen Bain
•The Call to Trust and Believe in Healing Love- Lalei E. Gutierrez
•How the Airline Safety Speech Saved My Life- Amelie Chance
•When Your Intuition Calls, Answer the Phone!- Rev. Rita “MeKila” Herring
•The Waiting Room Miracle- Lynne Klippel
•Willy Loman, I Am Not!- Kimberly Martin
•The Dance of The Sacred Sensual Me- Leela Francis
•140 Boxes…. More Than a Ton of Ancient History -Virginia Fischer
•Are You Credit Worthy?- Nancy Cotter
Section 3- Inspiration
•When the Rain Falls- Paula Morand
•Growing Up After Fifty: It's Never Too Late to Bloom- Tomar Levine
•How Do I Get Out Of Here?- Scott Cunningham
•A Time of Grief - A Time of Peace –Catherine Van Wetter
•Transformative Power of Intimacy- Philip Belzunce
•Forgiveness - The Key to Unlocking Your Prison- Corrine Ropp
•Starting Over: A Journey of Loss and Recovery- Margaret Sarkissian
•Awakening to Her True Self- Colleen Russell
•From Trauma To Triumph: One Woman's Empowering Journey From Fragmented Child to Conscious Entrepreneur- Charlon Bobo
•Let God Do the Driving- Jan Janzen
To get your own copy and receive dozens of bonus gifts go to http://www.overcomersbook.com/booklaunch
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I WROTE THE FOLLOWING BLOG A YEAR OR SO AGO. Needless to say, we have added more reasons to apologize to the planet and the Universe. We have raped and pillaged the environment; destroyed countless species; and, put the future of humanity at risk by our failure to act to reduce the effects of climate change. Shame on us all for putting greed before creating a planet that is is in balance and harmony with all life. As stewards, we fail. As despoilers, we have succeeded. Has the tipping point been reached? My guess is yes. The need for action now is not to stop climate change, but to ensure that as a species, we survive-or perhaps the Universe has other plans. Time runs short. Maybe through acts of contrition, our children may yet at least have a place to call home-EARTH!
On behalf of humanity I apologize to the Universe! I am not sure this will do any good. I know that we are responsible for our own reality and I know that no one will come to save us, regardless of what the religious die-hard may say. I know that we have free will and that is why the Universe will not interfere in our evolution. WE are responsible for whatever happens to us-as it should be.
I know that the Universe listens to the extent that we listen. We and the Universe are one. It is my hope that someone will listen to this apology and perhaps take appropriate action to end this insanity. So, here goes.
I apologize for the fact that human history is a trail of lies, bloodshed, deceit and greed. I am sorry for all the wars that never solved a single thing but which were fought for the many for the benefit of the few. We really are ignorant. I am sorry the millions that we wasted-the women, the children and young men.
I apologize for all of the murders that we committed in the name of righteousness and some perverted concept of god, (small ‘g’ on purpose). I am sorry that we destroyed ancient information, old religions, and that we killed those who followed a different path. I am sorry for wisdom lost and nothing gained. I am sorry we brutally murdered pagans, Jews, Muslims and Christians and those that followed the Great Spirit.
I apologize for the genocides and ethnic cleansings. Where does one begin with this list? We have wantonly destroyed cities and civilizations to further our own power: Native Americans, Slavs, Poles, Croats, Serbs, Jews, Africans, and on and on and on. How can there be any excuse for these actions? Power and greed-ah yes-the answer to all.
I apologize that we perverted the messages of all who have come to set us straight. I am sorry for the Christian church, the Mosque, the temple and all of the self-serving institutions that promote the erroneous concept of good versus evil. Me good-you evil-how stupid!
I apologize for the fact that we rape, torture and destroy people’s minds for no good reason. Like there would be a good reason. I am sorry that we have dropped napalm on women and children. That we have used bombs, rockets, swords, guns, atomic bombs and literally any means at our disposal to rid ourselves of so-called enemies-you know-those evil people.
I apologize for loneliness, sadness, broken hearts, sorrow, despair, alienation, desperation, apathy and all of those emotions that have no place in a loving Universe.
I apologize for our greed and corruption, thievery, and all of the crimes that we perpetuate upon one another.
I apologize for all of the children that we have killed, molested, starved and betrayed.
I apologize for destroying this beautiful planet. For the animals that we have relentlessly slaughtered, those we have made extinct, for the cruelty. I am sorry for the pollution that will soon end our existence-for global warming and for poisoning our rivers, lakes, oceans and lands. For the sadness we have caused our cousins in all of the kingdoms I am so sorry.
I could spend all night writing this list. I apologize for dreams lost, promises not kept.
I apologize that we will not stop this insanity, this all consuming madness that is sending us down the path of total self-destruction.
I do not know if there was a plan. But I apologize for totally screwing it up. I am sorry for our blindness and deafness.
I used to think that ignorance was the greatest deterrence to human evolution. Now I wonder if that is true. We listen must do not want to hear. Maybe we are stupid-maybe we will never get IT! How much more can we endure before it all falls apart? The tears blur my vision so I must end this tirade. Maybe someone else can continue.
But know this, dear Universe, I truly do apologize and can have know complaints regarding our final disposition. We reap what we sow. I am afraid that our garden may be beyond tending.