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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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The wisdom of the sages

There’s sage and then there’s sage !

Sage, as we know, is a type of herb. The sage plant has been used by a number of cultures for thousands of years.  It has been used in Chinese medicine.  It has been used by Native Americans in various ceremonies and for medicinal purposes. Some have even suggested that it leads to immortality!

In China, sage tea has been called the “thinker’s tea.” Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, it has been known to help improve memory and overall brain function.  Perhaps that is why the word “sage” also is used to describe a person who is wise.  It can also be used as an adjective (as in “sage advice”).

The title of this article is a deliberate play on words.  Sages and ages. They both connote a harkening back to ancient times as well as serve as a current example of ancient traditions put to good use in the so-called modern age.  Has there been a resurgence, or have these practices been put to good use all along?  Are we perhaps simply more aware of them now, due to the internet, globalization, and social media?

Sage has even become a somewhat trendy baby name, at least in the United States.  I wonder if it’s part of the ‘Apple’ craze?  (Referring to the celebrity’s baby’s name, not the computer company.)

We all remember being asked the question when we were young: What do you want to be when you grow up?  Me:  a philosopher.  I didn’t hear anyone around me saying that they wanted to be that.  It wasn’t exactly listed anywhere as a possible career track.  That didn’t matter to me.  If it was needed, and served a purpose, why couldn’t it be an occupation?

I wasn’t even exactly sure what all a job as a philosopher would entail. I knew in my heart, though, that it was a role that would be important and one that would be of service to others.  In my imagination, philosophers were the wisest people in their communities.  And, as such, they had a responsibility to answer seekers’ questions and provide helpful suggestions, recommendations, and solutions.

Sometimes we picture “wise ones” sitting on a mountain top, or living in caves in the Himalayas.  In my mind’s eye, I pictured them more along the lines of a wise man or wise woman in Ancient Greece sitting quietly in a town square, as the local villagers would stop by whenever they were seeking an answer to an inquiry or when wrestling with a concern that was weighing heavily on their soul, or when struggling with a conflict they couldn’t quite resolve.

I pictured philosophers dispensing wisdom not unlike a modern day pharmacist dispensing medicine.  And, I did truly envision “philosopher” as an actual vocation, and a paid position, for sure.  I even had a specific annual salary in mind.  I thought that a philosopher should make $300,000 a year.  Here was my reasoning:  At the time, the President of the United States’ annual salary was set at $200,000. Knowing that, accordingly, I figured that philosophers should be paid at least 50% more than the President, as they would be at least that much more wise and valuable to the country and citizenry!  Apparently, I really had put a lot of thought into this (grin).

While Philosopher or Sage may not be a job title, certainly there are modern day professions where others seek their guidance and advice.   Lawyers fall into that category (hence, the term “counselor at law”).  As with some other professions, within law, there are rules of professional responsibility.  It is part of the licensing process, and continuing legal education requirements as well.  And, as covered in this week’s Six-Minute Saturdays episode, many lawyers including myself were drawn to the law as a career because of a deep desire to be of service.

Admittedly, not all legal advice is the sagest or the wisest. I would suggest, though, that the profession is at least designed to serve that purpose, and with that intention.  And, ultimately, the client retains control over whether to heed that advice, ignore it, or even to seek additional opinions.

For your consideration:

So, with that in mind then, allow me to pose this question: Upon whom, ultimately, do we need to rely, for the sagest advice of all?

Are we not, each of us, deep down, our own best philosopher?  We simply need to access that inner wise sage.  That’s why meditation is important.  That’s why getting quiet and still is wise. By listening to our own inner guidance and messages, we each hold the power and divinity to reach the most appropriate conclusions and answers for ourselves.  And, that is valuable beyond compare.

Okay, your turn:

What’s been the sagest advice that you’ve ever received?  What’s the sagest advice that you’ve ever given? What’s the best advice that your inner-sage has revealed to you?  What made it so?  Did you act on it?

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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Total Solar Eclipse Edition: Lessons from the Dark Side

The Great American Eclipse, Oh My!

It’s a particularly energetically charged time in the United States, as evidenced by recent politically volatile and even at times highly venomous and violence-infused protests, and counterprotests, resulting in understandable public outcries and feelings of despair and disbelief.

Perhaps then not-so-coincidentally, with this rare total solar eclipse, in the U.S. we are also witnesses to:

The sun’s shadow being cast upon the Earth, traversing along in a large swath forming an arc from West to East, across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.

In this edition of Soul Notes, we explore the need to rise above the fracas of duality and instead embrace a renewed commitment to bringing forth a new dawn – one of universality.  We truly are all in this together.  Our survival as a society and as a nation may depend on it.

Lessons from the dark side

“We have an opportunity to rebuild, from a strengthened foundation, together, rather than as separate and apart.”

Perhaps one of the most well-known among Pink Floyd’s albums, The Dark Side of the Moon contains a song with that phrase within the lyrics of the album’s final song entitled “Eclipse.”

That song describes a descent into madness. While symbolic and figurative, the song is also based in part on what actually does happen in the natural world.  Due to tidal locking, the moon rotates on its axis in nearly exact correlation with its revolving around the Earth. (This is known in the science world as synchronous rotation.) Accordingly, from Earth we always see only the same, one side of the moon.  The opposite side remains dark to us, hidden from view.

So, too, is the case with our own sensibilities, upbringings, cultural orientations, and pre-judgments of ourselves and others.  What is our part to play in all this?  As citizens? As voters?  As participants in our political system and in our legal system?

Unless we challenge the “usual orbit” of love and hate, we will always be seeing only the one side or viewpoint – as it’s the only one we’re willing to see.  What if could do an “about-face” and take a long not so easy look at the dark side of our own beliefs?  What if we were to shed light on the shady undertones of our prejudices? I dare say that’s the golden opportunity afforded to each of us as we experience these seemingly insurmountable (perceived) differences among us.

If each of us chooses to be driven by love and not by fear, and not by unbridled anxiety and distrust, then we can take conscious action and effectuate positive change. We can choose to evolve rather than devolve.  As a society, we have an opportunity to rebuild, from a strengthened foundation, together, rather than as separate and apart.

Scientifically, we know that the universe is expanding.  This time of tumult affords us all the opportunity to expand with it, rather than contract or constrict.

It’s Time to Invoke Our Collective Imagination Over Mind

As with a solar eclipse, when the light appears blocked out, we can then better feel into what’s been lying in wait — what’s been hidden in the shadows.

As the divine feminine reemerges, and ethnic equity and gender equity gain more ground, the apparent  threat to the outdated patriarchy becomes all the more real.  Are we reaching a cosmic collision point?  As a nation, are we going to come out the other side of this stronger, more unified?  Or, will we end up even further divided?  Are we moving forward, or regressing?

The conditions are ripe for creative, imaginative solutions to emerge.  Not unlike the financial downfall of the Great Depression serving as a great catalyst and driver for an unprecedented influx of innovation -–the time is now for the collective imagination to become the order of the day.

What if duality were no longer how we positioned things?  What if we were to approach these political divides from a place of universality, instead?  As humans, after all:  We share the same air, bleed the same blood, shed the same tears.

Dualities keep us in a power struggle.  It’s as if we’re each sitting on opposite ends of a teeter totter, competing with each other to fling the other one up and down off the same, single fulcrum.  What if both sides were to step off the teeter totter altogether, and join together on common ground?

Polarities, Dualities and the Opportunity for Growth:  “A Justice of Wholeness”

As Celtic mystic John O’Donohue suggests:  As humans, having a mind “means we’re always confronted by dualities.”

During an interview with Krista Tippett, he went on to say:

“And, I think this is where the beauty of the imagination works.  I think the imagination is committed to what I’d call a ‘justice of wholeness’ and bringing these [polarizing sides] together.”

“The mind separates. And when the mind separates and draws barriers in the heart of these dualities, and the barrier becomes a real barrier as there are [sic] no longer space for breathing, then you have dualism.”

Prophetically, O’Donohue concluded:

“And then you have things cut off that should belong together.  And that’s the heart of all fundamentalisms and fascisms.”

His solution?  He offered this:

“I think that keeping one’s imagination alive always keeps you in vital conversation with the ‘othernesses’ that you tend to avoid or neglect.” (Emphasis added.)

Vital Conversations

Now is the time to reflect on how we treat each other — not only face to face, but on social media as well.  As we covered in last moon’s edition of Soul Notes, Dr. Emoto’s water experiments demonstrated that water’s exposure to written words such as “Thank You” resulted in dramatically different results than when exposed to the word, “Fool.”

So, what is it that we’d like to amplify?  The hatred or the love?  How far apart we are, or how closely we can come together?

It’s time for us to have those vital conversations.  Try having the first one or two with someone who is more likely to lean into the conversation with you from a place of respect and willingness to listen, rather than the urge to berate or cajole.  It’s time to be consciously selective, and with the intention of healing hearts.

It’s going to take all of us: Meaning all of me; all of you.  Are you in?

For your consideration:

We need to adjust our eyesight to examine what we have been conveniently avoiding, or simply keeping in the dark altogether.  And, from that place, we can take compassionate action.  This is the true power of love.

Okay, your turn:

In what ways have recent events brought out into the light for you new insights?  Are you ready to have a vital conversation or two?

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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What does it mean to have a strong constitution?

A Strong Constitution

When someone refers to someone else as having a “strong constitution,” they usually mean that the person is of strong mind and body.  They see that person as having a grounded, centeredness about them – a hardy, stable core and foundation, from which all else stems.

The same can be said with regard to a country’s Constitution.  The United States (U.S.) Constitution dates back to 1787 and is the oldest formal national Constitution.

Presidential Oath

In Article VI, Section 1, Clause 8,  the U.S. Constitution sets forth (and the one and only place where it does so) a word for word Oath to be taken by a member of the federal government.  It is the Presidential oath, and it states, as written in the Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” 

Many constitutional scholars contend that this oath was explicitly spelled out in the Constitution precisely so that the Office of the President and the person holding that Office would be different from a King – in both power and structure.  This was by design.  The oath was memorialized in the Constitution to remind future presidents that they are not royalty. Presidents are not to “rule over,” but rather to act as servants of, the people.  This oath was written into the Constitution as a safeguard to ensure Presidential restraint.

All of this, of course, is to be done in service of (not denying), the Constitution and its tenets.  Those tenets include:  “Separation of Powers” and a predetermined set of “Checks and Balances.”

As designed, the Constitution established a separation of powers among the three branches of government:  the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  The triangular form of government was built upon the foundational belief that no one branch should have authority over another.  And specifically with regard to the Executive: The Presidential Oath was designed to serve as a reminder and explicit “internal check” on what would otherwise be unbridled power in the hands of a singular person at the helm of the Executive branch.  It is important to note that the Presidential oath is the only  oath that is spelled out in the Constitution itself.   Having left behind a monarchy, our country’s founders felt strongly about limiting the powers of the President.

Cooperation and Collaboration

The framers of the Constitution also captured their thoughts and intentions in a series of essays known as The Federalist Papers. As made clear by James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 51 (entitled, The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances between the Different Departments):

“[T]he separation of powers frustrates designs for power and at the same time creates an incentive to collaborate and cooperate, lessening conflict and concretizing a practical community of interest among political leaders.”(Emphasis added).

The nation’s founders desired that the members of our government work together on behalf of the greater good.  Collaboration rather than conflict was the message of the day.

So, what is one to make of it, when we now see such divisiveness within the federal government, and in particular with regard to what many contend is an irreverent, cavalier attitude and stark semblances of “king-like” behavior being displayed by our current President?

Some examples:

-Signing more than 30 Executive Orders within the first 100 days of the presidency, including two international travel bans that were quickly challenged on Constitutional grounds;

-Removing several mainstream media outlets from White House press briefings; and

-Resisting any limits on business dealings that raise potential conflicts of interests, as proscribed by the Constitution’s Emoluments clause (which prohibits public office holders from accepting gifts or monetary remuneration from a foreign state).

While not the first or likely the last Presidential administration to invoke executive orders, the sheer number of them being signed so quickly at the start of a President’s Administration is nearly unprecedented.

And, limiting and even excluding certain members of the press corps at the White House press briefings smacks of blatant disregard for the First Amendment.  Traditionally, journalists and the news media have been considered to be a “fourth estate,” and as such are often considered to be another “check” on any otherwise untethered governmental power.

Also, the current President has demonstrated complete disdain for members of the Judiciary.  He openly criticized and scoffed at federal judges who, on Constitutional grounds, ruled against him on two of his so-called Muslim Bans.

Reflections

The past few months have been rather disheartening for me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. In particular, I have been feeling as if the fabric of our Constitution, over and over, was being sliced to shreds. For me, the impact of recent news events and what’s being revealed about members of our federal government, extends well beyond political party lines and affiliations.  It hits at the very core of our nation’s, and by extension the world’s, stability.

The ultimate outcome of this Presidency, and of any federal investigations and the like, remain beyond the purview of this blog article.  My focus and intention here, however, remains this:  to shed some light on why all this matters.  It matters to us here in the United States; and, it has worldwide implications, because:  Put simply, unexamined and unchecked abuses of power are a threat to everyone.  Carefully examined (ab)uses of power, however, are critical to the ongoing survival of our nation and the planet.

Accordingly, it brings me great solace to see that recently:

The ever flowing tide of executive orders has noticeably ebbed.

Journalists at the White House press briefings are literally and figuratively standing up to apparent obfuscations and inconsistencies in statements made by the Press Secretary on behalf of the Administration.

Members of both parties less and less seem willing to simply “look the other way” with regard to potential or actual conflicts of interest, and other strains on our Constitutional safeguards.

And, most recently, the appointment of a Special Counsel to oversee an investigation into the role, if any, that the Russian government may have played in the 2016 presidential election — and potential collusion by members of the Administration — sends a strong signal that unbridled uses of Executive power and influence will not go forever unexamined or unchecked.

While the Constitution may have suffered a few incisions during the past several months, I’m comforted to see signs that they may ultimately have been only flesh wounds.  The Constitutional net formed by the threads woven together by the framers more than two centuries ago remains strong.  Throughout the various attempts to unravel it, the Constitution continues to hold it all!

We do have a strong Constitution.  It rests, as can we, on a solid foundation.  And, its well-crafted weave keeps the bottom from falling out.  That is, indeed, good news.

Okay, your turn:

What does a “strong constitution” mean to you?  As citizens and constituents, what should we expect or even demand of our elected representatives?

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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In support of support!

Let’s hear it for support!

All hail, support!  Let’s look at support:  Lending it, and receiving it.  Are there different types of support?  If so, do they provide different functions?  Does it matter?

In this edition of Soul Notes, we examine what support means, how it may show up in our lives, and to what desired end or ends.

In Support Of Support

We’ve all heard the phrases:  Supportive family; supportive friend; supportive spouse.  There’s spousal support and child support.  Many businesses offer customer support.  Slogans and strong sentiments abound, such as:  Support Our Troops.  In hospitals, we have life support.  My grandmother wore something called support hose (grin).

No matter how self-sufficient, self-sustaining, or self-supportive each of us may be, I’d venture to say that no one is without the need for support.  To paraphrase John Donne: No man or woman is an island.

Support may take the form of: financial, emotional, spiritual, inspirational, motivational, or by way of role modeling.  It may even be literal, physical support.  Ever have someone hold and steady a ladder for you, as you teeter on the top rung?  It’s pretty darn helpful to have a second person there!

Similarly, we may welcome another’s offer to lend a compassionate ear, or to provide earnest witnessing, or simple reflection.  Often we simply cannot see what someone else may see, figuratively and literally.  In a glass mirror, we see in effect the opposite of what someone else sees when they look at us.  It’s an illusion of sorts. (Take a moment and you’ll see what I mean.  When you look into a mirror – does your left eye appear to be on the left?  Look at your face as if you were looking at another person standing in front of you. Your left eye actually appears to be where the ‘other’ person’s right eye would be.)

Just as with reinforced siding on a house, support from other human beings may also help you to “weather the storm.”  It lightens the load.  It helps distribute the weight.  It provides stability and sustainability.

As with a physical house or building, structural supports serve as reinforcements.  Ever watch any of those home remodeling shows?  Ever notice how often they talk about whether the renovation would require altering or removing a “load-bearing wall”?  It’s actually pretty darn important.

While structural supports help sustain the weight of what’s above them, and make the overall structure stronger and more sustainable, these supports fit together by design with other parts of the building.  It’s an integrated system, working together.

The support does not stand on its own, so to speak.  It provides a foundation, nothing more, nothing less.  It still requires something on top of it to provide its own function and strength.  The supports do not overtake, nor replace what they’re holding up. They do, however, allow what’s being held to “last longer.”

As another example, let’s say that you’re holding a pitcher of water.  Water is heavy and quickly feels even heavier the longer you hold the pitcher of water.  Let’s say, now, though, that you rest your elbow on the side of a table, and continue holding the pitcher of water.  Now that table serves as your support, and you are able to hold the pitcher much longer, more steadily, and with less exertion of brute strength, energy, and effort.

Okay, so enough with the physics.  The point is this:  It’s okay to seek out support.  In fact, it’s just plain smart and awfully wise to do so. It’s as equally grand to serve as the source of support as it is to seek out support when needed.  Sometimes you’re the water bearer; sometimes you’re the table!

Be on the look-out for both types of opportunities.  They abound for each of us, in our daily lives, and throughout our lives.

Back Support

Okay, we’re not talking here about supporting your lumbar with an ergonomic chair, although I suppose we could! We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’ve got your back.” Or: “The universe has your back.”

To provide a little historical perspective:  One explanation for this phrase is that it dates back to the army in ancient Greece, where soldiers would pair up on the battle field, and sit literally back-to-back.  The idea was that each soldier that way would be able to cover what the other could not see.  It was the ultimate buddy system.

What this allowed them to do, and that which symbolically holds true today, is this:

Having support helps you stay focused on the challenges in front of you.  It facilitates your ability to attain results in a more effective way than you may ever attain purely on your own.  It provides reassurance and comfort when you feel wobbly, or you tend to waver, or you feel like completely giving up.  As on the literal battle field, of course, as with our figurative battles, you want that person who has your back, who’s got you covered, to be someone upon whom you can place your deep trust.  Someone who’s cool under pressure helps, too.

One of the best compliments I remember receiving came during my early days as a sales rep, after leaving a million dollar pricing negotiation with a CFO at a major law firm.  My sales manager came with me to the appointment.  I knew we were prepared (she provided strong support to me beforehand, as we worked together in reviewing the account, the pricing history, and our goals going into the meeting), and that my years as a litigator would serve us well when we entered the conference room.

The CFO was tough and to the point.  He surely wasn’t open to small talk.  I could tell he made my boss a little uneasy. Straight away, he challenged us on some of the pricing numbers, and I uncovered a (most likely inadvertent, yet nonetheless) miscalculation in one of his spreadsheets.  In that moment, I saw that I had earned his respect, and we proceeded to reach an amicable resolution, and walked out of the meeting with a solid, satisfying deal for both sides.

As we got back to the office, my boss smiled and shared with the sales team:  “In case you ever need someone, Lori is a really good person to have with you in a foxhole.”   We worked well together on that account. I had her back; she had mine.  Ultimately, we were supporting our sales department and our company, too, in securing that deal and in not losing a big account.

The benefits and ways to get started:

So, what are some ways to offer and to show support?

One-on-One:

I remember learning, as a budding young reporter, about the importance of asking the right questions during an interview with a news source – the cardinal “five Ws and an H.”  Anyone else remember those?  Or, in consultative sales, we were taught to ask open ended questions, designed to allow people to open up and share issues or concerns, or to clear up any potential misunderstanding.

Such approaches also facilitate the building of trust.

Accordingly, to offer support, it may be as simple as starting with: “What, if anything, do you need?”  And then allowing the other person to answer as fully as they feel comfortable with in that moment.

Group support:

Out socializing, a friend recently shared with me the benefits of a group fitness program, where she participates daily on her own at her own pace, combined with what she said was the big benefit of group support by way of daily participant check-ins, social media posts for inspiration, and the like.  Knowing that others are going through the same exercises and sharing their wins as well as their challenges, has been hugely beneficial, she said.  It has been what has kept her moving forward and seeing greater results than she would have reached otherwise.

For your consideration:

So, support – seeking it and providing it.  Is it worth it?  Is it necessary?  As we draw this line of inquiry to a close, I leave you with this:

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

– Charles Dickens

Okay, your turn:

What does support mean to you?  In what ways or situations do you seek it?  When do you offer it?  How well is it received?

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.

 

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Trust what you hear when you listen

“Trust what you hear when you listen.”

— This is a line repeated in the Japji (Song of the Soul), as translated from the original Sanskrit.

What does it mean to truly listen? And, to trust what you hear? In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we dig into this spiritual concept and practice.

Truly Listening

Truly listening — to the sounds of your soul, and to the souls of others – is what allows trust to develop.  It cuts through the egoic, often times camouflaged or staged fronts that come from the mind.  It’s a matter instead of tuning into the heart.

“Trust what you hear when you listen.” – Japji

Trusting what you hear when you listen means listening for and trusting your intuition:  Your inner truth will sound beautiful, satisfying, and fulfilling – you know, “the nodding your head, ‘uh-huh’ ” kind of truth.  It will ring true – it will be harmonic and resonant.  With practice, you’ll notice and KNOW the difference.

When you’re truly listening, your truth will be recognizable by its purity. It will sound and feel loving and expansive.  In contrast, your inner untruth will sound false, faulty, and anything but resonant.  You’ll feel yourself contracting or worse yet fleeing from your peaceful, respite place.  It will seem as if someone suddenly changed the serenity channel to something that grates on your nerves, throws you off-balance, and disrupts your inner harmony.  That, dear one, is the critical mind calling – don’t pick up that call!  Let it go to your spiritual trash bin to be discarded and composted away.  There’s no space for it in your inner sacred harmonic energy field.  Say to it, “No Thank You — There’s no room for you at THIS inn”!

Or, it may not sound critical per se – yet, it may nonetheless still sound or feel “off,” meaning that it’s not the sound of your own voice calling, but that of someone else.  What you’re hearing may be their truth, but not what’s true for YOU.  This takes discernment.  With practice also comes discernment.

As with most things worth your devotion and attention, trusting what you hear when you listen takes consistent, ongoing practice.  Fine tuning your listening skills and hearing what your intuition has to say — to reveal, and to divulge to you from your innermost being – that wisest part of you —  gets stronger and stronger over time and with frequent repetition.  Accordingly, leaving it alone too long between sessions, without engagement, results in it becoming out of tune just like a piano, guitar or violin. So, keep at it!  It’s worth it.

The benefits and ways to get started:

To be able to trust fully in what you hear when you listen, it helps to get quiet, still, and free from distractions if at all possible.  Dedicating even a few minutes a day to this practice will engender worthy results.  Bring your full presence to the moment at hand.  Engage your mind, body (your heart) and soul.  Tune into the silence, and be open to hear what comes through the quiet solitude.  Treat this as your own soul session, your own meditation, just for you! Listen for the voice of the DIVINE WITHIN yourself!

Allow words, images, symbols, or even just a ‘hunch’ or a ‘gut feeling’ to come through.  Some messages will gain further meaning afterwards, maybe even hours or days later.  What’s important is setting the scene so that you truly hear the messages.  You can decipher them over time.  There’s no rush, only devotion, dedication, to spirit, and the messages and meanings that are intended for you.

Feel free to journal what comes through – or draw, or compose a poem or sing a song…whatever feels best for you to express what you heard.

Listening this way is what truly allows divine messages to come through.  Deep understanding results.  Then, you can take action from THAT place, and not from a place of disruptive self-flagellation, and nasty untruths.  Inspired action feels enlivening, and uplifting, and not disheartening.  Heart engaged?  Check!  All soul systems go!  Use THAT as your energetic and spiritual launching pad.  That is: Divine Lift-Off.

Your soul and the divine are available to you “24-7” – you just need to connect via the proverbial wi-fi.  It’s one of the special, beautiful technologies uniquely available to us as human, spiritual beings.  It’s already encoded within you.  Embrace it.  Enjoy it.  Welcome it in all its glory.

Given any situation you may be contemplating, or for which you seek clarity: Surrender yourself to the experience.  And, be prepared to and do, take inspired action based on your new, finely tuned, receptivity. As from a stone skipping across a pond, circles of understanding will continue to ripple outward from within.

For your consideration:

I leave with you these words, from the Japji:

 “Trust what you hear

When you listen,

And bring all your loved ones

Along.

Trust what you hear

When you listen,

You will swim across

All difficulties

And your very presence

Will carry others

Across as well.”

Okay, your turn:

In what ways have you been tuning in and listening for your own truth?  What do you notice when you get still, quiet, and really listen?

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

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Ready to VOICE it?

“What’s the matter, the cat got your tongue?”

“Don’t you have something to say?”

These questions may sound familiar.  Do you recall a time when you were asked to speak up, and you didn’t?  Or, perhaps you felt the urge to voice your opinion, and you refrained from doing so?  Or, how about those times when you started to speak, and then you held yourself back in some way? Often, we may have lots to say, but we withdraw, for fear of being misunderstood, disrespected, or not even truly heard at all.

Have you been feeling stuck in one or more areas of your life?  Shutting down your self-expression may be a big reason why. In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s dive into the need to express ourselves, and the consequences for not doing so.  We’ll explore some ways to open up the channels, too, so that you are feeling free to express yourself, open, balanced, and unencumbered.

The body and our energy centers give clues

Within the chakra system, the fifth chakra (“vishuddha”) is the throat chakra, and represents the embodiment of communication.  It’s the Messenger, the Grand Communicator of the chakras.  Up the chakra “ladder,” it is considered the first of the three higher or spiritual chakras.  What’s the significance, you may be asking?  The higher the messages, the higher the creativity, and the higher the impact! Strength of our personal will — this also comes from the throat chakra.

It’s important to note that the throat chakra serves as a transmitter and as a receiver.  The messages may be internal as well as external. When out of balance, this chakra shows up in such tell-tale signs as a sore throat, a pinched nerve in your shoulders, or yes even as a real “pain in the neck”!  Alternatively, a balanced throat chakra opens you up to psychic insights, and higher guidance and wisdom.  When we are listening to “that voice of reason,” our throat chakra is clear, and receptive to what our intuition is telling us.  Correspondingly, it is the throat chakra that is most associated with our dream state.   A balanced throat chakra sets the stage for powerful and informative dreams.

Authentic expression

The throat chakra is also the truth center.  Speak your truth! Say what needs to be said, without harsh judgment, without malice.  Speak up for yourself and what you desire to express.

Say you what you mean, and mean what you say.  The more you invoke this process, the more your fifth chakra will open.  You’ll notice the tension in your neck, if any, will lessen, and your body (and overall demeanor) will feel more free, clear, fluid, and in the flow.

Conversely, deceit violates our body and our spirit.  Insincere communication thwarts our divinity.  Equally as damaging as keeping quiet and suppressing our truth is being overly critical, bitingly caustic, or engaging in gossip or idle chit-chat. It is important to speak our choices with our authentic voices! Expressing from our spiritual essence means exuding kindness, understanding, and compassion.

Listening and being heard

Accordingly, as mentioned above, listening (receiving) can be as important as expressing (transmitting). Like breathing, it’s an exchange of going inward as well as expressing outward.

Effective communication often begins with hearing, with listening – in the physical sense as well as the metaphysical. As with speaking from a place of compassion and understanding, so, too, it is with hearing and listening – to ourselves and to others.  We all have a basic need to be heard.  (For more on this topic, go here).  To fully listen means to devote your undivided attention.  If you’re not 100% focused on listening, then you’re not truly hearing the messages.  Accordingly, you’re not in alignment: you’re off-centered, off-track, and likely leaning toward that place of  being “stuck” and “blocked”.  Plain and simple!

Ways to open up the communication channels

When feeling blocked, or unable to express yourself, here are a few effective, tried and true ways to open up your fifth chakra:  Engage in reading aloud, singing, chanting, and humming (in fact, not-so-coincidentally, the mantra sound for this chakra is ‘hum’!)  For a particularly restorative experience, you may wish to try sound healing.  At yoga centers and other gathering places in your area, for example, you may check their calendars for upcoming sessions where gongs, drums or singing bowls are used.

Listen to what your intuition has to say, open up to receiving divine messages, and speak your mind (and from your heart and soul) with compassion and understanding.  From a loving place, express yourself and share your truth and wisdom with others throughout your day, your week, your lifetime.  Now, I’d say that’s effective communication!

For your consideration:

Take the bold inspired step to ask yourself this soul searching question:  How honest am I being in my communication – with myself, and with others?

Okay, your turn:

In what situations do you find yourself holding back from fully expressing yourself?  What are you open to doing differently next time?

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.
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It’s the journey, not the destination. Or, is it?

I’ve joined a writer’s circle that meets on Monday nights in Santa Monica, California. At the end of the evening, we break into small groups. Last week, we were given the following question to answer and to share. We went around the table, and each of us spoke. The question posed was this: Would you rather drive or fly to Las Vegas? Santa Monica is approximately 280 miles from Las Vegas. It typically takes several hours by car and about 45 minutes in the air by commercial airline.

Among the eight of us seated around the table in our small group, there really wasn’t a consensus. A few were able to say, “it depends” (on whom I am traveling with, mostly!) Even among the definitely drive or definitely fly “camps,” there were nonetheless differences of opinion as to why one mode surpasses another.

As with most topics on the blog, with this edition of Soul Notes, let’s explore the literal as well as the figurative–this time, with regard to journeys and destinations.

Often times, we hear this adage, or some derivation thereof: “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.” In other words, it’s the path taken, and not the end state, that holds the real value or “merit.” If that were always true, however, then why select any particular destination?

What may be equally as beneficial is this: getting yourself as efficiently as possible to a particular destination, precisely because it IS the destination that provides what you’re most desiring. In the example above, the person may wish to fly directly to Las Vegas to get right to the business at hand – that is, soaking up the full Vegas experience. “Viva Las Vegas,” as Elvis would say! Sometimes, you simply want to get there.

Do you enjoy car rides? How about air travel? Either way, for children, for example, it’s often what seems like a never-ending journey from one location to another. Incessant pleas include: “How much farther?” and “How much longer?” Or, simply, again it’s all about this: “When are we going to get there?” Once you get there, that’s when you can enjoy all that the location has to offer. (I realize that, as an intended destination, Las Vegas may not even be on your wish list. If so, of course, feel free to insert your own destination of choice!) For you, it may be any number of places. And, for children, it may include Disneyland or Magic Mountain, or some other world of wonderment.

So, what’s the common thread here? The EXPERIENCE.

Sometimes it’s the destination itself that holds the key to your best experience.  What you’re seeking is “housed” in the location, to be enjoyed once you arrive. Other times, it’s the “getting there” — the journey itself – that provides all the good juice.

Road trip! Getting our kicks on Route 66

Several years back, a friend of mine and I headed out from the Santa Monica pier, and along Route 66 (or what’s left of it), driving my convertible, often with the top down on the car.   For us, it was definitely the journey rather than the destination which mattered most. We agreed that we would cover about 850 miles of the Route’s 2300 miles (the full length of Route 66 runs between Los Angeles and Chicago) – and traveled out to Santa Fe, New Mexico and back.

We selected a destination based on the number of days we desired to set aside for the trip, and to have a place to aim the car. For this trip, though, for us, the genesis and primary focus and intention was to experience Route 66 itself – the “Mother Road” – “America’s Highway.”

We took our time and made many stops along the way. Part of the adventure was seeing which sections of Route 66 remained. There really isn’t any clear “route” per se anymore. There are road signs in various places, indicating that you’re on Route 66; but, the route starts and stops, and veers off and back again in no particular pattern or with any discernible logic.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller

As a kid, on my bedroom wall I had a poster with this saying on it. It served as a wonderful visual reminder and provided me many an inspiration!

As with many road trips, it was the dappling of tiny towns, and roadside attractions, and people we met along the route that provided the real essence of the journey. We stopped for coffee at the Bagdad Café (where they filmed the movie of the same name), chatting at length with the waitress there. And we toured the location where a giant meteor created a huge hole in the desert. There are many other experiences from that trip, too, of course, perhaps to be shared at another time. Here’s one more:

In Oatman, Arizona, we slowed the car down to a crawl. As we pulled up to this two-block town, we were greeted by a band of burros. History has it that these animals are part of a long lineage of pack mules dating back to the town’s gold mining days. And, yes, giant tumble weeds did come tumbling through as our car kicked up puffs of desert dust. I couldn’t get the theme song from that Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” out of my head. A man in a leather vest and cowboy hat tossed open the swinging wooden doors from the local saloon on our right as we drove past. He stopped short of the street, looked out at us, and maintained his gaze from left to right, as we continued driving on through the town and off on the next leg of our journey.

As with our own spiritual journeys as well, it helps to slow down. The experiences and the lessons come from the journey. Indeed. Take time to savor the moments, partake in the experiences, and cherish the making of memories. It’s the “roadside attractions” that provide some of life’s richest moments. Let’s not miss them by flying through!

With that, I’ll close with these words from a great master:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

Okay, your turn:

What matters most to you, the destination or the journey? Upon what factors do your choices depend?

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.