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Forced oneness

Forced Oneness

COVID-19 doesn’t care where you’re from

It doesn’t check for your passport

Or your citizenship

Or your next of kin

 

It doesn’t ask whether you have the new state-issued “Real ID”

With the special star symbol on it

 

COVID-19 doesn’t care how great you were

Or claim to be

Or whether you will be great again

 

From everything we know so far

It doesn’t attack plants

Or rocks

Or dogs

Or cats

 

It doesn’t go after

The winged ones

Or the finned ones

Or the creepy crawlers

 

COVID-19 attacks us as a species

It seeps into us as a human

It takes over our respiration

(Maybe it’s time for a re-SPIR-ration).

 

It forces each of us to come to terms with the fact

that

we are truly all in this one together.

 

So, to whom do you turn as your trusted news source?

Yourself

Your mind

Your discernment

Your wise judgment

Your body

Your heart

Your spirit

Your inner knowing

 

If it sounds like a duck

Walks like a duck

It is well, you know,

A duck

 

And so it is.

We’re all in this together.

Don’t lose heart

Or common sense

Which seemingly is not so common

Right now

After all

 

For your consideration:

Despite the challenges, and even because of them, this pandemic provides an opportunity for each of us to take a humility break.  Let us be sensitive to what unites us rather than divides us. It’s what first responders do. Take heed. Let’s all be first responders. As humans. Let’s reSPIRate.

During this time of the stay-at-home directive in California, I’ve found myself giving the flowers and plants in my garden a little extra attention and tender loving care. And, the rainbow this morning appearing as a semicircle of rays of light above the roofline during the early mist reminds me that not all things beyond our control are unwelcomed.  Even in the most trying of situations, there can be much beauty to behold.

Okay, your turn:

What does the phrase “forced oneness” mean to you? Is it an opportunity, or a curse?  Or, is it something else altogether?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Diving into the uncertainty

Diving into the uncertainty

Diving into the uncertainty

certainly is

uncertain.

 

Would we really desire

for it to be any other way,

really?

 

How boring

if everything

we set out to achieve

or receive

Came to us

with 100 percent

Certainty

and in the exact timing

we think we wish for it

to materialize.

 

It’s the human condition.

Whatever that is

exactly.

It’s also the human ill condition

to expect it to be otherwise.

 

Why are we

so at odds

with

what is?

 

I know I’m not the first one

I know I’ll not be the last

to make this observation

about the human condition

and how ill it is

and how ill we can be

made

by willing it

to be otherwise.

 

Otherwise, we wouldn’t

be

human

Would

we?

For your consideration:

Perhaps each of us gets in our own way, sitting and waiting for something to change by our sheer will. It’s not as simple as merely changing our thoughts, as so many may suggest. That’s a mind trick in the worst way. It’s more a matter of shifting our entire body and mind and energy systems and devoting them to changing course.  Even, though, of course, there are no 100 percent guarantees. Many things can and still do happen along the way.

To use traversing by sea in a sailboat as a metaphor:  You can’t simply “will” the boat to move in a certain direction. You can’t change your thoughts from “let’s go over here, instead of over there” and expect the boat to change directions solely based on your thoughts. You need to make the necessary adjustments to move the boat in the intended direction, taking into account all the elements including wind, water currents, and the seaworthiness of the craft. So, too, with your own vessel, in your own life.

Even then, there’s always uncertainty.  That’s the thrill of the ride.

Okay, your turn:

Where and when have you spent undue amounts of focus and energy “willing” something into being?  Would you say that it helped?  If so, in what way?  If not, what was it that kept you from letting it go and redirecting your life force in a way that was a more fully embodied commitment and ultimate shift?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Home and a sense of place

What it means to be home

“Home is where the heart is.”

“Everywhere you go, there you are.”

Now, before you start thinking I’m about to list out several more adages you may likely find embroidered on a pillow, let me say that these two sayings often resonate because they’re true.

The past few months I’ve been traveling out of state and noticing how much I love to travel to other places, and yet how much I also cherish returning home. The common denominator of course is me. My spirit, my body, my heart. This is the same for all of us, right?

As I have visited with friends at their homes, I have felt deeply nourished not only by our human connection, but also by the beauty of receiving a deeper glimpse into who they are by and through what they bring to their environs.  There’s a deep sense of place, and of making it your own.

Celtic history abounds with lyrical devotion to the concept of place. This heritage reveals itself in modern day, too. When I traveled by bicycle for several weeks throughout County Cork (where the Noonans are from) awhile back, I was struck by how truly welcoming the Irish were to me and to all of us traveling through their towns.  Several Irish locals told me that they love helping Irish Americans find out more about their ancestry. Many took out time in earnest to help me learn that the Noonans come from the nearby town of Fermoy. Their desire to help me find my roots was loving and strong.

When we were there, each of the townships was vying for the coveted “Tidy Town Award.” We smiled big smiles whenever we’d see a local shop owner delicately sprucing up a flower box, or hand polishing a brass railing, or sweeping up with pride the sidewalk in front of their shop.

When traveling a lot on business years ago, I used to always travel with a particular candle in a small travel container. I liked the idea of making an unfamiliar place feel and be more familiar. I found the warm glow and the inviting scent wafting throughout the space to be calming and grounding. Now that I am traveling again, perhaps I will bring something new with me this next time.

For me, it’s returning to a view of sunsets along the Pacific ocean that tells me I’m home.  Although, it’s not as if I have ever truly left. Home is where my heart is. And it’s all okay. Very much okay.

For your consideration:

Meditate on the word “home.”

Make “home” your mantra for this moon cycle.

Allow all the possibilities, all the meanings, to come to the surface. Allow yourself to be surprised!

Jot down the words, the phrases, the messages. Draw or paint the incoming images.

Notice what’s around you when you open your eyes.

Be inspired and take action on what is revealed.

Okay, your turn:

What part of home do you take with you everywhere you go? What’s your favorite part about coming back home? What makes it so?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2020 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Wholly holy night and day, into the light

All that is holy

With this season of holy nights and holy lights illuminating the darkness and lighting our path, we await each new dawn. We emerge into the day’s light, having risen from our moments of respite and retreat.  I write this symbolically and yet from the physical realm, too.  The deeper the well, the deeper the water; the deeper the reach down fully into the source.

At this, the final new moon of 2019 and among the few remaining nights and days of the 2010s, we are each about to step across a threshold from one decade into the next.  It’s a time of high energy and high holiness.

All are sacred

All are holy

Are we wholly holy?

Yes

Does our wholly holiness show up wholly?

Not always

 

We focus on the season

We can focus on a lifetime

Well spent

Well enjoyed

Well served

Well shared

Deep from within

our own well

 

Our whole selves…

 

Sacred

Sacral

Sacrificial

Sacrum

Consecrated

Chamber

Heart

Night

Day

and

Light

again

For your consideration:

As we leave behind 2019 and cross into 2020, I wonder this: What’s on the horizon?

What is it that you hold most high? Most holy? Will you express it? Wholly?

I invite you to set a timer for 11 minutes, take three long deep breaths, close your eyes and allow an image, a word, a phrase, a feeling of what the next decade will represent for you and how you will move through this new decade as we approach that door, our front foot resting serenely and confidently upon the threshold.

Okay, your turn:

When you hear, read, or contemplate the word “holy,” what comes up for you? Is it tied to a particular holy-day, or a certain season?  It is something to which you aspire? Do you bring it into your interactions at work or other communities, with your family, with your friends?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Thankful for the bounty

Thankful for the bounty and all the riches

Stemming from the Latin bonitas, meaning “good,” bounty refers to all the goodness that one harvests. This week is an ideal time to consider the bountiful riches in our lives.  Take a moment to reflect on the abundance all around. There’s richness in all the planet provides, naturally.  There’s richness in personal connections, and love. There’s richness in faith, spirit, and confidence in the greater good, and in everlasting beauty. Even in those moments when we may feel less than bountiful, consider the pearl that emerges honed, smooth, and polished by enduring the repeated friction against it.

Let us give thanks for all that mother gaia provides us, and all that sustains us.  Let us give thanks for our daily practices AND our daily bread. Let us give thanks for each other, and our resolve to see the light shine against every darkness.

And, let us trust that more is yet to come. That’s faith: Faith in the unseen. Faith in the seeds planted below ground that they will reach the surface. Faith in the sun and the moon rising and setting and rising again. Faith in yourself rising, experiencing setbacks, and rising again.

For your consideration:

In what ways have you incorporated thankfulness in your life?

I still send in the mail handwritten Thank You cards, in business and personally. I suppose they stand out even more in this digital age. I hope so. I like envisioning that, even if but for a brief moment, the recipient stops to read the handwritten message and knows that I send along kindness and my gratefulness to them.

So whether it’s this Thursday, or at some other time during the next few weeks, I invite you to:

Say grace

Offer grace

Receive grace

Be grace.

Be heartfelt

Be genuine

Be sincere

Be thankful

Be true.

Count your blessings.

Make them count.

 

Okay, your turn:

What traditions, if any, resonate most with you during this time of year?  Is giving thanks a regular part of your daily life, or do you tend to focus on it only on certain occasions?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Inner, outer, and back again

Inner, outer, and back again

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, as we approach the thinning of the veils and autumn turns more and more toward winter, it’s a good time to go into our inner world, reflect upon the year so far, and survey what is ready to bring in from our fields, both physically and spiritually.

An ongoing cycle

Taking care of the insides tends to take care of the outsides. Conversely, of course, neglecting the insides can mean adversely affecting what materializes on the outside.

It’s an ongoing cycle of bringing in, nourishing, replenishing, renewing, and out and back again.

This is true in nature and even with person-made machines like bicycles, automobiles, and lawnmowers, for example. The list could go on; you get the picture.

It’s about taking care, having an awareness, and taking stock so to speak, so as to ensure everything is running smoothly. I was thinking about this when I took my car in for an oil change. The mechanic and I discussed synthetic oils, nonsynthetic oils, and synthetic blends. We discussed the longevity of the vehicle (mine is 24 years young, and still going!), and what we put in it helps the engine run at peak performance and what’s best for the short term versus the longterm.

I like to take care of things. I like things to last. In case you’re wondering, I know, too, when it’s time to let go. This is true of people, and animals, too. I don’t keep things just to keep them, and prolong the suffering, so to speak, just so I can live with it a little longer.

That is, as long as I remember to pay attention.  And, I do. Mostly (smile). Meditation helps. It’s in those quiet moments that I hear what I need to hear. It’s in those quiet moments that I hear what my chatterbox mind has been drowning out. Sometimes it’s what my inner knowing is intending to tell me. Sometimes I hear what the ancestors, and loved ones who have passed on from this lifetime, have to say.

The end of October into early November is an ideal time to access that clear channel with those who have passed onto the other side. It’s a great time of year to watch (or for me, re-watch as I’ve seen it several times), the movie City of Angels. For you film purists out there, yes, it’s a Hollywood stylized and more mainstream remake of the 1980s black and white film Wings of Desire. I like both versions of the movie, and Wings of Desire is a hauntingly beautiful film. The Meg Ryan/Nicolas Cage version is more relatable to me personally because it takes place in California and the Meg Ryan over-achiever character is relatable to me as well. I hope you enjoy either version of the film you decide to watch, and be on the look-out for the spiritual themes.

For your consideration:

The next few days, like nature, go inward. Take careful stock of what you’re “putting into” things you care about: like your relationships, your body, your creativity, your work, your schedule. What you put in the inside makes a difference on the outside.

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life have you been taking care of what you’ve been putting into it? Where could you make improvements? What are you committed to doing differently, and why?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What about the human element?

Where are we headed?

As much as I appreciate the benefits that advances in technology have brought us, I ponder whether those advances will ever fully and in any way meaningfully replace the human element.  Would we even desire to have such a world, ultimately? In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, I offer a poem.

Humanly elemental

Industrial revolution

Internet

Cloud computing

Electronic mail

Socket layers

Virtual fire walls

Machine learning

Pattern recognition

Human recognition

Human evolution

Human revolution

Artificial intelligence

Emotional intelligence

Intelligence quotient

Self-serve check-out stands

Vending machines

ATMs

Scanners

Swipe and go

Robots

Robot dolls

Human interaction removed

Elemental

Detrimental

What happens to connection

Hand to hand

Heart to heart

Human pulse

Life force

Life source

Life blood

Batteries already included

Artificial anything not needed

What’s needed

is

the

human

element

 

For your consideration:

Have we gone too far with technology? Or, have we not gone far enough? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life have you found advances in technology to be your saving grace? When at times have you simply stepped away from technology and turned instead toward other life enhancing alternatives?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The loftiness of law and public discourse

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we take a look at public discourse and what it means to be a good citizen.

Why so lofty?

With our President scoffing at current climate crises, and declining to attend a climate discussion meeting at this year’s recent G7 summit (this within two years of having pulled the United States from the multilateral Paris Climate Accord) – and, in lieu of holding frequent press conferences, resorting instead to a constant flow of shall we say disrespectfully taunting tweets online (lessons in how not to play well with others), and with the overall rise in documented hate speech and hate crimes in our society, I ponder this:

Have we reached a low point in our collective public discourse? And where do we as citizens – and the legal system and the government as well – play a role in elevating the discussion?

Shall we be aiming higher? Not unlike having a set of golf clubs, we have at our disposal a range of “lofts” to choose from. By that I mean, depending on the degree of upward spiral we select, we aim by design to reach an intended end state. A golfer may select a high loft club (such as a sand wedge) to pop up the ball from the sand trap and onto the green, gently landing and running a short distance without the ball making a bee line well beyond the hole and off the green altogether and maybe even into a water hazard.

Sometimes we speak of “lofty ideals” and “lofty goals” as if they are far-off, unreachable, untenable, and unattainable. I’d say that when they are grounded in tolerance and compassion, they stand a good chance of longterm success, not only for us as individuals but as a collective. (For more on this, see the previous edition of Soul Notes, From Idealist to Lost in the Practice of Law, here.)

In Ancient Greece, the “agora” (translated as market square or gathering place), as captured by Christopher Phillips in his book entitled, Six Questions of Socrates:

“Those who converged centuries ago in this center of commercial and civic life didn’t just come to barter and sell a wide range of merchandise, but also to exchange and examine ideas and ideals.” (p.10).

In Ancient Athens, considered the center of polis (think politics) and the birthplace of democracy, towns people would come together to create coalitions and build upon a shared sense of morals and high conduct. There was an emphasis placed on being a good citizen. Public discourse was encouraged and carried the day. History tells us that Ancient Athens eventually unraveled due to increasing corruption and resulting cynicism. So, what can we learn from Athens’ later societal crumbling and decline?

Recently, I attended a town hall hosted by a Southern California member of Congress. The Congressional representative spoke for about twenty minutes from the stage and then opened up the forum for an hour of questions from the audience. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of the questions and the candor and specificity of the responses. There was an exchange of ideas and while passionate at times, all the while respectful in tone and temperament. I felt the genuine need for citizens to be heard was being honored. I felt the appreciation from the audience that they had an opportunity to share their admiration, ideas, as well as their pleas for improvements in Congress and what we can expect from our representatives on the national stage. There was a discussion of enacted and pending legislation. The rule of law and how we are governed was a running thread.

For your consideration:

In our own lives — in how we communicate in person and online — we have an opportunity to elevate rather than debase one another and the sharing of ideas.  It makes for a more tolerant and dare I say more learned society. And with that comes greater understanding and an increased ability to sustain our planet and each other.  Let’s commit to being good citizens, good friends, and good stewards.

Okay, your turn:

Where have you witnessed a rise in the sharing of ideals, wisdom, and collective calls to action that are a way of building up rather than tearing down?  Have you taken part in a public forum, such as a town hall?  If so, what did you notice?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does independence really mean?

The value of independence and the dangers

As we are about to observe Independence Day here in the United States, I got to thinking about what independence truly means. For the early colonialists, it meant freedom from tyranny and winning a fight for independence from an aristocracy. It meant that the 13 newly formed colonies would be sovereign in and among themselves and independent from England.

Sovereignty as a person and as a nation state has its own value, indeed. I’ll explore that further in this blog article.

Does that independence also mean, however, total independence from one another and the planet, in a manner that absolves each of us and all of us from a shared responsibility for our present and our future?

Untethered from royal rule, as our founders acknowledged, need not mean untethered from a moral compass. Hence, along with the Declaration of Independence soon thereafter came the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Not unlike a piece of cloth, the tighter the societal weave, the stronger the fabric. Conversely, the more threadbare, the weaker the cloth. Single threads, while separate, 100% independent, if you will, as strong as they may be individually, become that much stronger as they are woven together.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my independence. I’ve built a life fueled in large part by a no one is the boss of me attitude. I came into my own as a young adult during the heyday of Ronald Reagan’s rugged individualism of the 1980s. With bravado, I would stand up to anyone or any institution that tried to fence me in. I started my first ‘real job’ as a W2 employee at age 14. By age 18, I had moved out and away to an entirely new environment to attend college at U.C. Berkeley.  I resented having to rely on anyone.  I enjoyed great success and many adventures along the way as I graduated from Berkeley with a double major with honors, gave the student commencement address, traveled the country and the world on my own, and went on to law school and into a career practicing law as a litigator.  My family didn’t really ‘get it,’ and they would have been happier if I went to a school that had a top-ranked football team.

All that pulling myself up by my own boot straps, however, did take its toll. It took me years of life living and deep spiritual growth to excavate and repair the broken threads of mistrust and to allow others to support me in healthy ways. It took me awhile to get out of survival mode and into thriving mode in a way that invited others in to help shoulder the load. Even now, sometimes the heaviness of ‘decision fatigue’ threatens to pull me down into the depths of metaphoric quick sand.

While I enjoy the freedom to chart my own course, I also realize how much more effective and enjoyable it can be to have a crew with me on deck. Sometimes, it truly is easier and more rejuvenating to share the load. For more on this, see previous editions of Soul Notes: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats article here, and In Support of Support, here.

For your consideration

So, as you sit down with your friends and family to watch the fireworks this year, consider this:

While we honor and revere our freedoms, what can we do in this moment, to honor and revere the fact that we don’t need to do it all alone?  Not unlike the early colonists, we can decide to band together to hold each other up — not from a place of fighting against outside forces of domination, but from a place of shared sovereignty and collaboration.

I know for me, the fireworks this year will be taking on the shape of a renewed vision of a shared responsibility and contributions toward a better future for all.

Okay, your turn:

What does independence mean to you? We’ve come to learn that being ‘codependent,’ in the psychological sense, is unhealthy. What about interdependence? Does it take a village?  Where in your life are you instead a steadfast fan of rugged individualism?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Leaving something better than you found it

Restoring a place to its original habitat

On a recent Saturday morning, I joined a group of about 50 volunteers to help restore the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey, California.  Our mission was to clear an area about the size of a football field of overgrown foliage and remove the nonnative plants.  This in turn, as our group leaders advised us, would serve to restore the area to its original ecological balance and to retain ecosystemic harmony in the region.

During the introductory talk, the representatives from the Reserve explained to us that the thousands of bird species who migrate from North to South each year have lost many of their natural water and food sources, due to humankind’s disruption of the native plants and the injection of nonnative plants from lands far and wide.  This has also adversely affected the living patterns of butterflies, caterpillars, snails, lizards, and a range of insects who would otherwise be contributing their ecological benefits in a more thriving way to this area.

Making an impact: visible and lasting results

By thinning out the overcrowding of plants, and removing stem by stem the nonnative ones, we created breathing room for the native plants to catch some air. Throughout the course of a few short hours, it became more and more readily apparent that we were truly making an impact. I could see as well as feel the difference we were making, moment by moment. As I looked out across the patch of wetlands we were assigned to help restore to its natural beauty, the plants seemed to look happier and it was if I could hear them saying: Thank You.

I was also struck by how much the same could be said about us as humans, too. We seem to be a species rarely content to enjoy the breathing room, with the ever increasing “crowding” of our days filled with back to back scheduling and activities.  We don’t seem to have a switch that tells us automatically to “leave well enough alone.”  If humans over the centuries hadn’t disrupted the natural ecosystem, there would be nothing to restore in the first place.  Yes, we volunteers that day were leaving this area “better than we found it,” but that was only because the humans years before us had left it worse than they found it, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It takes a certain level of conscious awareness to be good stewards of our land and surroundings.

For your consideration:

Each of us, individually and in groups, can make a positive impact by volunteering even a few hours of our time to improving the land and space near and around us.  Take a few moments to write down a list of volunteer organizations or events in your area – select something between now and Solstice.  Maybe you will visit someone in a hospital or other care facility?  How about volunteering at an animal rescue organization?  One time I felt the urge to clean up a local public park, and called up a friend to come with me – it was rather impromptu – all we needed to bring were a few garbage bags and away we went!

Let me know what you select to do.  I look forward to hearing all about it and witnessing the impact you’re making.

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life or community have you left your mark in a tangible way, that has created viable improvements?  Would you like to make more of an impact?  Are you committed to doing so?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.