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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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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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Going viral

Going viral

In social media terms, we describe something — whether it be an article, a photo, a video, a particular hashtag, or meme — as “going viral” when it spreads rapidly and in effect takes on a life of its own.  In common parlance, we say something spreads like wild fire. We use phrases such as “circles of influence,” and “ripple effects.”

Is it no surprise then that influence and influenza both stem from the same origins, etymologically? (These are the things I ponder as I prepare to craft a blog article for you all. Grin).

During this time of year, we talk of physical viruses spreading from person to person, and “sick buildings,” and diseases in the form of “contagions.”

What if, instead, however, we chose to focus on ease-ease, instead of dis-ease? Hashtag, ease-ease. Let’s see that go viral.  Kidding. Not kidding. Well; sort of.

Not unlike going viral in social media terms, we do also speak of someone having an infectious laugh, and we say things like “we got to giggling so much it hurt.”  That’s the kind of world I’d like to replicate and to see catching on with wild abandon.  Particularly during these times of seemingly widening rather than narrowing political divides, especially in the United States — and of course increasingly being amplified by way of social media – I’d say we would all benefit from an emotional recess. Maybe we each need to put ourselves, myself included, in a political time-out?  Sit in the corner, take deep breaths, and let the high fever simmer down.

Less hate, more love. Less ridicule, more understanding.  Less disdain, more compassion.  Less anger, more joy. Call me crazy. Crazy good. Crazy human. Going viral. Pass it on. Hand sanitizer not included.

For your consideration:

What is it that you’d like to pass along from one person to the next?

Remember when paying it forward was a thing? When it was an actual cultural phenomenon, not just a movie?  The idea was: You go out and positively impact three people, and they positively impact three people, and so on. And so on. That’s what we could focus on as the new, old way of going viral – not for the fame, but for the humanity of it. For you, for me, for us all.

Okay, your turn:

What are you willing to share that brings about comfort, solace, happiness, or pure joy in  someone else?

When’s the last time you got together with a friend and laughed so hard it hurt?

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

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Planting seeds now and for well into the future

Planting seeds and envisioning orchards

In elementary school, our teacher often told the folkloric tale of Johnny Appleseed (whom I researched recently to find out was a real person named John Chapman — an early American colonist and missionary —  who was a member of the New Church of Christianity).

While details of his life and legacy are the stuff of legend mixed in with documented history, John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) was known to travel throughout New England and into the Midwest, spreading apple seeds for others to grow apple trees on their land. It has been reported that he was quite the businessman and enterprising in that he followed the then law that prescribed that a person with 50 apple trees or more could stake claim to a plot of land as part of the early homesteading rules and regulations.

And his religious beliefs, stemming largely from the New Church’s forbidding doing harm to any of God’s creation, informed many of his day-to-day activities. He is believed to have built fences around apple trees to keep out livestock and other animals. It has been reported that he even helped heal an injured wolf and a hobbled horse.

Johnny Appleseed also was someone who made it his mission to spread apple seeds in a way that allowed apple trees to grow and the fruit to propagate naturally. He disfavored the intervention through the then and now common practice of “grafting” from one tree to another. Apples intrinsically have a wide variety of genetic variability. As such, not unlike a box of chocolates (an appreciative nod to the movie Forrest Gump), you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Without grafting, apple seeds are allowed to sprout into an array of unpredictable varieties.  That lends to them being hardier and more able to adapt to and incorporate their ever changing surroundings.  While less ‘standardized’ and less ‘consistent’ in their outcomes, non-grafted apples allow for the element of surprise and naturally occurring complexities to emerge from the mystery and manifest into form.

So, what’s the spiritual lesson in this, you may be asking?  I’d say it’s this:

Plant the seeds and let go.  Provide them water, soil and sunshine, sure; but otherwise, let them be.  Allow specific outcomes to remain uncertain. Resist the temptation to impose person-made alterations that prevent nature from enjoying its full expression and dare I say potentially quirky “imperfections.”  So, too, may it be with regard to your own dreams and aspirations.

With your desires, envision them coming into form.  And, then let them go.  Allow them to run their natural course. Don’t allow your over-thinking and over-manipulating to “graft” onto your dreams and drain the life out of them.  Don’t try artificially to “contain” the fruit of your dreams.  Allow them to adapt and blend into the naturally shifting conditions and environment.  That, to me, is what we mean when we say “to be in the flow.”

The analogies between personal development and spiritual growth, and growth in nature, are abundant. When I started to envision the topic for this particular edition of SOUL NOTES, I didn’t anticipate that it would lead me to the tale of Johnny Appleseed.  Alas, here we are.  There’s more to his story, as I know there is more to yours as well. Tales to be told, and shaped, reshaped, and retold.

The longterm impact and leaving a legacy

Johnny Appleseed also exemplifies that planting seeds in the short term can reap dividends in the long term. As each of us continues to grow in our own spiritual development, the world stands to gain from that growth.  As each of us plants our seeds of intentions, desires, and heartfelt aspirations now for the betterment of all, we help to provide for generations to come.  In doing so, we indeed stand to leave an important and loving legacy.

For your consideration:

Feel into your dream theme for this year, and determine what seeds you’re planting now so that they may continue to grow throughout the year into a strong and vibrant orchard, for you and for others to enjoy. You are the steward of that legacy. You are the gardener.

Okay, your turn:

What are you planting now, in the ground, in your life, in your relationships, and how you show up in the world?  Are there any seeds you’ve been keeping tucked away deep in your pocket so to speak, that it’s time to plant into the ground and to allow to grow out into the light? If so, what is it exactly that you are waiting for? The season is now.

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

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The honoring of union and unity: Are you in?

Oneness

Union and unity

or, at least the potential of it

exists

within ourselves

and with and among each other

and with the Divine.

We are more alike than we are different.

We are all made of the same ‘stuff,’ the same stuff as the stuff of the earth and the stars.

 

As we hear spoken at Mass on Ash Wednesday, from the Old Testament:

From dust we came and to dust we shall return.  (Genesis 3:19)

And, as set forth in the New Testament, we are reminded that:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mark 3:25)

 

Also, as Americans we’ve often heard repeated this pre-revolutionary war era rallying cry:

United we stand; divided we fall. (“The Liberty Song,” by John Dickinson (1768))

 

Each of us has this one life to live – staying true to ourselves and our convictions, and with our own sense of right and wrong – while also living as members of our increasingly globalized society.

So, why do we so often seem to be hell-bent on finding ways to emphasize our differences in such a way that, rather than uplifting each other, threatens to cut each other down, and keep us separated?  Why must we do so in ways that are disrespectful and even dare I say dehumanizing?

To do so, is to forget an important spiritual principle, as so eloquently set forth in Yogi Bhajan’s First Sutra of the Aquarian Age:

Recognize that the other person is you.

I have this sutra, included in the list of all five sutras, posted on a wall right next to my bathroom mirror.  It reminds me of the mirror, if you will, that each of us is of each other and for each other.  (For more on this First Sutra, go here.)

How We Express Ourselves To One Another

On social media, I find it challenging.  I may not always, and may not ever, truly get it ‘right.’  I do approach it with the intention, however, of striking some sort of proportionate distribution among: raising awareness and shining a light on issues that matter to me in this world, and doing so without inflicting harm, shame or blame on another – especially on anyone in the private sphere.  Elected and appointed officials, in my opinion, are subject to a bit more scrutiny, although there too I do my best to raise awareness, clarify facts, and share my point of view in a way that’s not focused on shaming the person on a purely personal level.

For the most part, I look for examples of what I’d like to “see more of” in the world.  By contrast, I suppose that in so doing, I’m also pointing out what I’d like to see “less of” in the world – and yet, why give extra mileage to those things, is my thinking?  Haven’t those negative things already gained more than enough traction?

Sometimes, by design, I take a moment to reflect, and refrain from posting anything at all. It’s not that I don’t care.  Sometimes, I feel maybe I care too much?  Is there such a thing as caring too much?  I don’t know, really.  I do know that often there is much more to be learned from listening than from telling, and certainly more to be gained by showing compassion rather than by “making a point” in a way that’s browbeating and berating to another.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the proverb: There but for the grace of God, go I.

We never fully know what another person’s experience or conditions may be.  We can only hope to heed even but the briefest moments and garner but the slightest glimpses of understanding.  What would we do if we were in their particular situation or living within their particular circumstances?  What if the roles were reversed?  I am not suggesting that I have it all figured out.  I do know, though, that at least I’m trying to be conscientious and expressing myself with a certain level of decency while also maintaining my sense of advocacy on behalf of those values and ideals I hold most dearly. It’s an ongoing, day-by-day, invocation.

For your consideration:

With friends, colleagues, and even strangers, can we aim to be more compassionate, and less quick to dehumanize?  Have social media “won” the game — in terms of reducing us to online bullies and to showing up as web-based wielding knife-throwers? Can we change the rules of the game?  I say we can.

Are we up for raising the level of discourse? I’m game! Are you in?

Okay, your turn:

Where do you feel we’ve gone astray with regard to how we treat one another, and why? How can we improve our discourse? From a loving place, and not from a place of vindictiveness, harshness, or shame or blame, are there any examples you’d like to share?

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

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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There are messages in the water

What about the water?

Varying to some degree only by age and gender, our human bodies are approximately 70 percent water. Water is the primary building block of human cells. And, water covers nearly 71 percent of the Earth’s surface.  It’s vitally important to our existence, as individuals and as a species. And yet, or perhaps precisely because of its prevalence in our world, we tend to take it for granted.  You’d think it would be difficult for us to ignore, but somehow we do?

What if we pay more close attention to the water?  What can we learn from the water?  And, what can the water learn from us?  What impact, if any, do we have on each other?  Is it unidirectional or bidirectional?   In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s dig a little deeper, and dive beneath the surface, if you will!

The truth is in the water

“There are messages in the water.”

During a quiet, self-reflective meditation session not too long ago, I distinctly heard these words:  “There are messages in the water.”  I didn’t know what that meant.  What I did know, however, is that I would be looking to the water, in all its many forms, for clues.

And, as I sat down to outline this blog post, I was reminded of the set of water crystal experiments conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto.  I decided to look up his written works, and smiled as I discovered that one of his volumes is entitled, “The Hidden Messages in Water.”  Not one to overlook a good cosmic coincidence, I quickly ordered a copy of the book and devoured it before sitting back down to finish writing this article.  The book is replete with high-speed photographic images of frozen water crystals, observed and amplified under a variety of conditions.

The Emoto experiments

By putting bottles of water on a table, and then freezing them while exposing them to a number of pre-set conditions, and then taking high-speed photographs of the resulting crystal formations, Dr. Emoto was able to test for certain variables such as: exposure to chlorine in the water (common in some communities’ tap water); exposure to music, including Beethoven and Mozart’s symphonies; and exposure to written words such as “Thank you” compared to “Fool”.   Each resulted in specific shapes and formations, some beautifully complete, and others blurred, ill-shapened, or even completely fragmented.

From these experiments, Dr. Emoto concluded that our thoughts can influence water and that words have spirit. Water definitely responds!  We can impact the very structure of water – to our betterment and to our detriment.  That goes for each of us, and for the planet as a whole.

So, what does that mean, if and when we hear the universe whispering to us that “there are messages in the water?” What if the opposite is also true?  Can the water influence our thoughts?  Can the water affect our mind, body, and soul?  What about its potential to impact our joie de vivre, our very experience of life?  Or, how about its effect on our next course of action?  Maybe it’s not only what we say, but what we hear? I would suggest that both propositions are possible.  It’s a magical, mystical dance in which we, with consciousness, shall benefit from being willing participants.

(For a refresher on the importance of listening, click here for the previous edition of Soul Notes, entitled, Trust what you hear when you listen. In the Jap Ji, the 8th stanza translates in part as: “All my pain departs listening to my heart.”  Your heart in the physical sense also benefits from water, as it is a major component of what flows through the blood in your veins and arteries.  Blood is 92 percent water by weight.  Water is our life blood.)

“I have no doubt that water crystals will become a common focal point for people all over the world who are trying to make sense of chaos.” 

— Dr. Masaru Emoto

The truth is in the water.  It is such a fundamental element of our existence, how can there not be wisdom in it? I say we pay attention to it.  Why?  Because as Dr. Emoto posits:  It, like many aspects of the natural world, is a way for us to make sense of the chaos in our human existence.

The self-organizing nature of nature

In its natural form, water when frozen forms into hexagonal (six-sided) shaped ice crystals.  The details within the outlying formation do vary (you may have heard the expression “no two snowflakes are exactly alike”) – but what remains constant in nature is the self-organizing pattern of six-sided frozen water crystals.  There’s lots to explore with regard to sacred geometry (beyond the scope of this blog post), many aspects of which have been observed and studied over the past many centuries. It’s not merely a coincidence that many parts of nature, left to their own (divine?) devices, fall into recurring patterns.   It’s the intervention of humankind that threatens to, and often does, however, disturb these naturally occurring patterns – as the Emoto experiments demonstrate.

So, the invitation is to observe the water, and to listen for its messages, as well as reflect on ways we can enhance the experience of those around us – by the ways we interact with one another.  As everyone is comprised mostly of water, think of the impact we have on each other, physically and spiritually?

What have I heard?  I’m still listening.  And, listening.  I listen in my morning and evening practices.  I listen in the ocean.  I listen in the shower.  I listen in the bath.  I listen in the rain.  I listen in the garden. One thing I heard clearly was this:  “Make water the next topic to be explored in Soul Notes.”  And, so it is.  Welcome to the conversation!

For your consideration:

We tend to bless our food.  How about we remember to bless our water, too?  We each have that choice, and we have good reasons for making that choice.

Okay, your turn:

What lessons are there for you in the water?  Is it time to start paying attention?  Is it time to start paying more attention?  To what end?

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

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Special moments in time

Now is all we have, and it’s a lot!

One oh so enchanting evening

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore what it means to capture those special moments in time. 

Sitting in front of my casita, from atop the cliffs high above the smooth sea, along the central coastline of Mexico:  I am joined by two other caring souls as we look out at the nearly black night sky snuggling the horizon and the calm ocean waters a few hundred feet below.  Directly centered in front of us, along with a canopy of stars above, we see the moon slowly setting over the water.

As the moon descends, its reflection of sunlight forming a crescent shape, it turns with solemn power from a bright white to a warm and welcoming golden hue.  After several magnificent minutes, without even a whisper, the moon’s silhouette slips behind the horizon line and out of view.

We gaze out at the ocean in awe as we humbly appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this moment. We are reverent witnesses to nature and the cosmos, and to all that is.

Okay, so I may wax poetically like this from time to time.  How can I not?  Moments such as these beg for quiet reflection and invited rapture.

As posed by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

To be human is to live with a certain level of consciousness, awareness and appreciation for all that our senses, well…sense.  Our human experience is indeed a sensual one.

In the film “City of Angels” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, there is a scene in which Seth (Cage’s character, who comes to Earth as an angel), yearns to know the taste of a pear. He asks Maggie (Ryan’s character) to describe it for him.  A bit perplexed by the question, Maggie takes a minute to find the words to convey how the pear tastes to her. Seth later in the movie experiences for the first time, the bodily sensations of hot water hitting his skin while taking a shower.

Simple moments perhaps.  Things we often take for granted.  And, yet they can be profoundly beautiful as well.   This is when our hearts and bodies serve our minds, and not the other way around.

“Where words fall short, experiences stand tall.” –Lori A. Noonan

As a writer, I’m quite fond of words.  Heck, right now you’re reading a blog article, I do realize (grin).

With words, we do our best to capture what our senses innately feel.  We have sensory-based phrases such as:

“In my mind’s eye”

“Touching moments”

“Hot blooded”

“Cold hearted”

“I hear you”

“I see you”

“I feel you”

“Tastes like freedom”

The senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and even a “sixth sense” of intuition and innate knowing -– all provide us an opportunity, in so many ways, to experience life in all its richness and supreme depth.  It’s up to us to tune in and be all that it means to be human.

Our lives are a string of special moments in time.  Let’s be aware of what makes them special; and: feel them, cherish them, and share them with others.  That is my wish for you today, and always.

Okay, your turn:

What examples come to mind or heart when you remember a beautiful moment in time?  Where were you?  What made it beautiful?  Did you take any pictures?  In what other ways did you memorialize that moment?

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

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does it mean to live and lead from the feminine?

Marching to the beat of a resurging drummer

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to the seemingly ever-emerging resurrection of feminine leadership.  By this, I mean not only the women (and men) who are stepping into leadership positions where they embody feminine principles (creation, co-creation, cooperation, and the like); by this I am also suggesting that each person has the opportunity to “lead with” and from a foundation of feminine principles in their own lives, in their families, and in their communities.

Allow me to clarify that this is not in any way intended to discredit the masculine.  It’s merely an observation that the time has arrived where we’re seeing an uprising toward “tipping the scales” back a bit more toward symbiosis.  The yin yang symbol itself, for example, represents this well, in my opinion.  It’s a swirl of two mirror image shapes of the same size, embracing each other within the one circle.  They complement rather than compete with one another.  They hold each other in balance and securely in place.

So this is what leading from the feminine looks and feels like

As I joined hundreds of thousands of other marchers in Los Angeles on January 21st, it struck me how much this experience represented for me what leading from the feminine looks and feels like.  I found myself coining my own phrase for it – what came to me was:  power humanified.

Power humanified

Although I anticipated that discord and perhaps even violence may erupt on the day of the March, especially in a large urban center, and during such a highly charged political climate right now – I was filled with a reassuring contrast, from start to finish throughout the day.

I found myself immersed in a completely peaceful, collaborative, supportive, and nonviolent expanse of humanity.  From the trains to the roadways to the downtown street crossings, to security officers to the marchers, to the weather even (!), all seemed to be cooperating.  Now, I wouldn’t say that this type of energy is at all limited to one particular gender.  And, I realize that this day may have been an isolated occurrence whose energy and peaceful activism may not last in the coming weeks and months.  Regardless, I can say that at least it is possible; I was there; I witnessed it; I experienced it.  It happened.

It was striking to notice, too, that the men who attended seemed to feel ‘free to let down their shield’ so to speak – the stereotype of men having to be forceful, stoic, and nonexpressive, truly seemed to fall to the wayside.  I watched as the men among us enjoyed being supportive and feeling supportive and supported themselves.  They were welcomed into the fold, and walked side by side, not charging ahead or showing dominance in any way.  This was equal footing.

And let me say a few words about American privilege, whether you are a man or a woman.  Yes, I am an American, born and raised.  I’ve traveled to other countries and other continents, and yet I do not presume to understand fully the experience of women (or men) who have been raised outside the United States.  I do recognize that I’ve been able to travel by way of means and access not readily available to women in many countries. What I find a bit difficult to accept, though, is the suggestion posited by some that because women in some non-American countries suffer unimaginable violence and abuse, that this somehow diminishes the need to increase awareness of the injustices and inequities in our own land.

While twenty-two countries from Argentina, to Chile, to Croatia, to Denmark, to Germany, to Jamaica, to Norway, for example, have had women leaders in recent years as their head of state (Presidents or Prime Ministers), America still has had none.  For a century and a half after the nation’s founding, the women in the United States had no legally recognized right to vote.

Is it about ensuring that any  woman attain the highest office in the land?  No.  Unequivocally, I say no.  I would suggest, though, that a woman who brings abundantly more experience and depth of knowledge than the other frontrunner (man or woman) running, then yes.  I say yes.

Words, and symbols hold power in them

In response to the proliferation of pink hats worn during the marches, a friend of mine posed the following question:  “Isn’t that merely perpetuating gender stereotyping?” My response to his question is this:  When you’re a member of the stereotyped group, there’s power in taking back the words or symbols that have been misappropriated by those who are not members of that group.  There’s strength in reclaiming those words or symbols that have for generations been used to demean, belittle, or make dismissible the members of that group.  So, to that end, I say yes, pink is ours…you can have it, too, thank you kindly, if you would please do so with honor and reverence, and not with arrogance, disgust, or power-over.

Many women, and some men, each have their examples of being “put down” for their gender.  I’ll share one here.  As a civil litigator working for a defense firm in Los Angeles, I was a young associate and member of a three-attorney trial team (myself, and two male partners).  We had just returned from a successful day in court.  I was pleased that we advocated well for our clients, and had emerged victorious.

As the three of us rode back up the elevator together from the underground parking lot to our firm’s office suite, after returning from our day in court, this transpired:  The managing partner, in front of the other male partner, turns to me and says:  “You did a nice job in there today…for…a girl.”  A few minutes later, the two partners then took off to have a celebratory dinner on their own, leaving me to stay at the office to continue working that evening.

Women are “girls.”  And, men are well, men (or ‘dudes’ when leaning toward the more casual).  And, they’re held to different standards of what’s acceptable.  [There’s a case in Northern California, for example, where the judge has issued sanctions against the male attorney who made accusations that the female opposing counsel had purportedly displayed “unlady-like” behaviors during a deposition.]

Even the word “guys” has been blurred to include men and women in ‘mixed company,’ because, well, its true counterpart “gals” doesn’t seem to stand on equal footing, either.

Often men are referred by their last names, while women are referred by their first names.  Women themselves often perpetuate this disparity in usage.  Many have come to accept it simply as commonplace.  A way too subtle, picky difference over which to make a fuss, you may say?  Maybe.  It’s the very subtlety of it, though, that makes it that much more able to escape scrutiny.  It’s not as blatant as “bitch” or “chick” (both of which are animal references, and as such are used as a way to dehumanize).   So, it’s sometimes easier to let slide.

Nonetheless, this pervasive belittling, whether overt or covert, brings with it a price.  That price is the ability of all people to embrace and exhibit all of who they are, with authenticity and dare I say even wild abandon.  Society as a whole suffers.  Repression costs us all.

Vibrating resonance

Despite what some may contend, I vote for the continuation of the conversations that have come to the forefront during this recent election cycle, and its aftermath.  I’m suggesting that the marches worldwide on January 21st were not an isolated moment in time.  Although a powerful day on its own, I’d say it started a “reverb” like no other, at least since perhaps the Civil Rights movement.  As with strumming a guitar, the sound continues its vibration well after the first chord or note is struck.  January 21st was a strong strum heard ‘round the world.

May we continue strumming.  And may we lead from the feminine.

Oh, and remind me to share the story sometime – the one about when I showed up on the lot at Paramount Studios to be an extra in a movie, and ended up playing a suffragette who marched in the streets during a President Wilson campaign rally.

Yep, that happened.  And, so did the marches this past weekend, millions of people strong, worldwide.

Power humanified.

Okay, your turn:

What, if anything, did you take away from the recent marches around the globe?  To what extent do you feel there’s a resurrection of the feminine?  Is this merely spiritual mumbo jumbo, or evidence of a real shift, rooted in practical reality?  What would you like to see more fully emerging in our world going forward?

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

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Forgive a little, forgo a lot

Forgiveness:  For the past, or for the now? 

Close on the heels of Thanksgiving in the United States, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of what it may mean to give thanks for forgiveness – giving forgiveness, that is.  (Although receiving it, too, has its advantages, I suppose. I’ll leave that for another blog post, another new moon.)

Give thanks for forgiveness, you say? Oh, that sounds kind of like the celebrating of giving in – giving in to another’s (perceived or actual) transgression upon us, you may be thinking. In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s take a closer look:

Forgiveness may mean letting go of something that occurred recently, or long ago.  Either way, however, it’s not about the past.  Not really, anyway.  It’s about the present. And the future.  Yours.

There’s healing to be gained. And, a lightness of being to be enjoyed.

There’s the removal of the sting, the dropping of the hurt that lingers until you let it go.

Giving up any corresponding resentment, too, sets you free.  It’s liberating as well as empowering.

To carry the burden of nonforgiveness is a heavy weight to bear indeed.  Working through the ‘transgression’ and out the other side allows you to move forward with greater facility and with a lighter spirit.

Make the choice.  Decide.  Honor the hurt feelings, feel them, and then allow them to dissolve as if dropping a capsule into a glass of water.  It’s not an abrupt excising.  Rather, it’s a settling of the sediment, so that it may be sifted down and removed away from the present moment, and from your ongoing experiences.

Hidden Opportunities

There are opportunities, too, hidden in forgiveness.  What possible opportunity could such transgressions afford us, you may be asking?  Through the act of forgiveness, a transgression or the so-called ‘offense’ no longer holds any power over us.  We retain our sovereignty.   Conversely, allowing the offense to remain in our system (our body, our psyche, our spirit) grants it permission to maintain control over us.   We in effect trade in our sovereignty for suffering.

Forgiveness, I would venture to say, is not a “one-and-done.” It’s an ongoing commitment that each of has the good fortune to invoke on a regular basis.  As with other scenarios we’ve explored here on the blog, we now have yet another opportunity to engage in a daily practice!  Try it out:  Start with the “little” offenses you wish to forgive, and work your way up to the “big” ones.  As with any practice, it gets easier through consistency and repetition.

As I’ve shared before in Soul Notes, I lost my dearest brother to suicide.  It’s been quite a few years now since he took his own life; and yet, of course, new reminders continue to pop up from time to time, even all these years later.  My brother’s suicide has afforded me lots of opportunities to  practice forgiveness.  I’ve forgiven him for leaving me and the rest of our family to continue on without him.  I’ve forgiven him for what sometimes has felt to me like his having “taken the easy way out” – of our dysfunctional family, of a morass of financial struggles, and of deep emotional pain and suffering.  I’ve forgiven myself for even feeling that way about him, about the one person I felt really close to within my immediate family.  I’ve forgiven myself for “survivor’s remorse,” and have allowed myself to feel joy again (that was a big one for me, and one that only within the past year or two have I truly come to terms with).

Whether it be the loss of a loved one through illness or death, or the loss of a current relationship, or of simply unmet expectations, there’s a time for grieving.  Truly grieving.  That, too, is a topic that could fill up several editions of Soul Notes.  For now, though, on this new moon, I invite you to welcome in all the ways in which you can also take those losses and transmute them into instances of forgiveness.   Allow yourself the opportunity to forgive the other person or persons, and yourself.

To forgive, forgo

To forgive is to forgo:

Forgo the lingering.

Forgo the suffering.

Forgo the entanglement.

Forgo and let go.

 

For your consideration:

What if instead of hanging onto hurts and resentments, we each made an ongoing commitment to hand them over to and for forgiveness?

Okay, your turn:

What are you ready to forgive and forgo?  For you, is forgiveness a one-time only event, or rather an ongoing state of being?  What is your commitment?  What stand are you taking, in this moment? I would love to hear what comes up for you around this topic.

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

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.