Musings

Basic Principles – The Artist’s Way

Angel with grassEvery blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” – The Talmud

There are ten basic principles in The Artist’s Way. I won’t take up your time listing them. If you are interested, please check out the book, or just follow along over the next twelve weeks. We will explore them further.

A couple of them stand out for me. Perhaps it is a function of where I am in my life, or it is time for these particular lessons for me.

#5 – Creativity is Spirit’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to Spirit. I have struggled with this one a bit. For the last couple of years, I thought (and have been told by a family member), that by stepping into my love of painting and stained glass and spending whatever free time I can muster in practice, learning and perfecting my skills, that I was self-centered and selfish. I hesitated to show what I created with others, and still feel a bit wonky about posting my work on Facebook.  It is going to take some effort on my part to recognize that this is a gift, and it is meant to be given and shared with the rest of the world.

#8 – As we open our creative channel to the creative spirit, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected. I am discovering that if I spend just a few minutes in meditation before I begin, and my mind is clear of all the many “tasks” in life, I just KNOW what it is that I’m supposed to do. I also know that there have been significant changes in my life over the last couple of years since I started painting, and I am much happier now that I spend time each day making art or writing.

It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God. – Mary Daly

If you have decided to participate with us by reading and doing the Artist’s Way, along with following this blog, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Georgia Feiste

 

 

Creative Clusters – Working the Artist’s Way

This week is the first of a thirteen week program I am working with several other creative folks. We are walking through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. This book has been used by hundreds of people to walk a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I look at it, and I believe it is a twelve step program for artists wanting to step into their higher power. This is my second time through the program, and I know that each time participants walk away with another level of knowledge.

The first week on the agenda is to learn about Morning Pages – that awesome brain dump where you leave your lists, your fears, your ideas on paper, without edits or even much thought. It clears your head so you can be more productive and creative throughout the day.

We also begin making plans for a weekly Artist Date with ourselves, by ourselves. It doesn’t have to cost anything, and can be as simple as a walk in the park, a visit to an art gallery, a play, taking a class on writing..

American quilt stained glass panelMy artist date this week was a surprise message about a wonderful woman who was downsizing and wanted to sell her stash of stained glass and a variety of tools. I let her know that I would like to come see what she had, and considered that my “artist date”. Oh my goodness! Today marks the third day, third trip, to pick up the last of her stash. I am thrilled! I think I may have enough glass to keep me occupied with stained glass for the next five years! What a fantastic date with myself. The gift that keeps on giving.

If this is what I can expect, I can’t wait to start Week 2: Recovering A Sense of Safety.

Georgia

 

It’s Not Personal – Until We Make It So

Praying WomanAs I sat in meditation today, I thought back on my values and priorities in life, and reflected on the political environment we are living in today. I have difficulty fathoming any environment where the behavior of the leaders of our country should be tolerated. In my experience, some or all would be fired. It’s unfortunate we cannot do so with as much ease as within the private sector. But, this is not a rant post….

I also recognize that what is occurring is not personal. As I sit here, typing, I know that there is no one in Washington who knows me, or cares about me personally. I am one of 310 million people, and it’s just not possible for them to think of me personally. This fact also makes it almost impossible for them to have any empathy or compassion for the effects of their actions – on either side. It speaks to the level of their humanity, and their ability to really LISTEN to their constituents and take action based on the people they represent.

We are the people who are taking it personally. We have personalized all of it, even though it is not so. But for us, this is what personal looks like:

  • We are the families who work hard, but still live in poverty – and the programs that were available for us to get from meal to meal, paycheck to paycheck are shutting their doors.
  • We are the people in the tourist business who are being laid off because the parks are closed.
  • We are the senior citizens who have worked and saved to make sure we were financially secure, and that perhaps we could get by if Social Security were reduced – but are now fearful that our savings will be destroyed by politicians willing to bring our economy and our country to it’s knees.
  • We are the people who received the bodies of our loved ones, taken in combat as they fought for our country – and were told we would not receive any death benefits to ease the financial burdens we are sure to face without them.
  • I am the mother of a young man who is the benefactor of a state agency’s services that will cease on November 1, 2013, because they will lose their federal funding. The non-profit is the Nebraska Commission for the Visually Impaired and Blind, and they teach the low vision and unsighted citizens of this fine country to be self-sustaining and contributing members to society.

I can’t take the “leaders” of our government’s actions personally, because they are not. I know that I am the cause of my pain, because I create my own suffering – my anger, my disgust, and my sadness.

We have choices. All of us do. I can choose to take action, or I can choose to sit in my suffering and wallow. It is a waste of my time to suffer and wallow. I can work hard to create beauty in my piece of the Universe. I can help my child wherever I can. I can write and call my representatives and senators and share my thoughts and my expectations. But, what do I do when they blatantly tell me they don’t care – they will do what they feel called to do – even when it doesn’t represent what the people who elected them want them to do? I vote.

As a coach, I ask these questions of those leaders:

If the Representatives of the House, elected by their constituents to represent them, are not taking the action we are requesting of them, who are they representing?

What makes it so difficult to collaborate on improving a law that undoubtedly has flaws, but has withstood efforts to repeal it and declare it unconstitutional?

What gives them satisfaction about holding people and our country hostage by withholding jobs and money because they desperately want to destroy the Affordable Care Act?

If they are not willing to be leaders of character, why are they there?

What has become of their humanity?

I closed my meditation this morning with a prayer: “Divine Spirit, I pray that the “leaders” of this country look closely at their behavior and rhetoric, recognizing that both are not in our nation’s best interest. I ask that calmer minds be willing to sit down in collaborative conversation, speaking with kindness and respect, and resolve their differences in order to help us move forward as the country we profess to be. Amen”

 

The Goals of Your Soul

goals of the soulI’ve been reading a book lately – off and on – about the mind of the soul. I have to smile, because at one point I thought that was a contradiction. What I had been learning was that the ego and the authentic part of you – your soul – was separate. Then I learned that in ancient Hebrew times, our ancestors believed that the heart and the mind were one.

Your soul!

So, in today’s jargon, how do you know the goals of your soul so that you might be completely authentic to who you are?

The goals of your soul are harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. When those goals become your goals, your personality is aligned with your soul. That is authentic power.” – Gary Zukav

Ah. So the goals of every soul are harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for Life?  I’d like to know everyone with these goals, wouldn’t you? Life would be wonderful! Perhaps most of us have forgotten what these four words mean, and that these are our goals – our purpose in life.

And we are back to purpose – I saw a posting on Facebook the other day that read – “Put your hand over your heart. It is beating. That is your purpose.”

Anita Moorjani, in her book, Dying to Be Me, says that our purpose is to live our life fearlessly, centering ourselves in the Universe’s unconditional love.

I’ve spent the last week concentrating on that. With each of my daily accomplishments couched in harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for life. In addition, lest I forget, I have been frequently reminding myself that I am loveable, just because I live. With what results you ask?

  • I have laughed out loud in delight more frequently than I ever have.
  • People have remarked on the love they see in my eyes.
  • My sweet spouse and I have been taking are to say exactly what we mean so there is no misunderstanding – with much less assuming on both parts. This makes for a peaceful marriage.
  • I have been highly productive.
  • I have enjoyed sharing what I have, regardless of need or a feeling of “should”.
  • Unfortunately, I still smacked the fly that was buzzing me in the back yard. I have not yet reached the point where I pick up the bug I don’t want in my house and put it out the backdoor.
  • I’m taking risks with my blogs, my actions, and my love that I might not have taken several weeks ago. Living my life fearlessly.

The saying “Be the change you would like to see”, attributed to Ghandi, occurs to me as I write this blog. I’ve heard that people don’t want to hear about me, so I’ve tried to teach by sharing what I read and the theory of personal growth and leadership. I’m not convinced you want to hear that either.

So – I’ve decided to fearlessly share what I’m practicing as I dare to “be the change I would like to see.” I invite you to share as well. Let’s create community, shall we?

 

I Am Grateful! He Is Not My Pope

Source: Yahoo
Source: Yahoo

Yesterday, as I was conversing with friends on Facebook, I was seeing a variety of different posts about the new pope, Pope Francis. Many were encouraged. More were unhappy and disappointed with the lack of progress that is being made by the Catholic church.

 

I suppose it is much easier for me to look at this with an objective outlook, he is not my Pope. For some reason, ever since I was a young girl, I have questioned the “rules and laws” espoused by any church that smacked of injustice, inequality, judgment, and a lack of inclusion. I am not surprised that the new pope follows the doctrines of the Catholic church without question. He would never have made it to Cardinal status if he did not, and would never have been viewed as a viable candidate for Pope if he did not.

This outlook, of course, has helped my spirit resonate with the First Agreement of Toltec Wisdom as written about by don Miguel Ruiz in his book, The Four Agreements. The First Agreement states “Be Impeccable With Your Word”. Underneath that agreement is the concept of looking at the agreements you have made with your tribe (family, friends, church community, teachers) and your culture, both ancient and current. These are agreements you have made without reservation, without thought as to whether they are true for you. Without asking the question, “does my spirit resonate with this agreement”, and listening for the truth from deep inside.

As I think about the views held by Pope Francis with an intention of standing in non-judgment and staying assumption free, taking him at his word – I see that he strongly believes in helping the world’s poor, protecting women and children from abuse and exploitation, he opposes abortion and views choice as a “death movement” and he opposes same-sex marriage stating, as reported by L’Osservatore Romano:

“In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.

Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God… Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God. “

 

I can only bless Pope Francis, and know that these are his truths – that they may have come from his culture and/or his tribe. I cannot judge him, but my truths are not his in all cases. I recognize that I cannot change him, or his church. And, I am not responsible for him.

So, let me be impeccable with my word:

  • I agree with helping our fellow (wo)man. None should be abused or exploited. The ill deserve our love, compassion, and to be cared for. Humanity, not just women and children deserve our love, compassion, and to be cherished and not be abused. The elderly deserve our love, compassion, and our monetary support so that they might be able to share their wisdom without fear of destitution.
  • I believe a woman must be given the right to choose abortion under certain relatively narrow circumstances. This is my truth – based on my experiences in life and my belief in responsible choice.
  • And, as I watch the very elderly, and very sick people around me, I also believe they should be allowed the right to remove themselves from pain. This does not “make them disposable and worthless”, it honors them. This is my truth, and is based on my life experiences, and the stated desire of my parents.
  • I also honor the hundreds of LGBT people in my life. It has been a strong part of my life’s journey to embrace this wonderful community, and to be accepted by them as an ally and advocate. This is my truth, and I cannot believe that this is “a war of God” or that this is not “God’s plan”. Perhaps it is because I believe that being gay is part of God’s plan, to teach us that we are all unique, treasured and loved. And, that we should treat everyone with compassion and more than just tolerance or acceptance – but embrace them for who they are. My Grandma Violet used to say “God doesn’t make junk!” And those are words to live by.

I am grateful he is not my Pope, and I honor him for living his truth. I am free to listen to my heart, to act on my truth, and to love  and support without passing judgment, without taking away freedom and the right to choice, and to extend the hand of compassion and peace. I am free to change my world, one person at a time.

 

 

My Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage

I am constantly looking for ways to make things as simple as they can be, and I’ve been thinking about this very complicated issue for a long time. I know that many of you have strong emotions tied to the topic of same-sex marriage – on both sides of the issue, and I respect your feelings. All I am asking is for you to give consideration to my thoughts, and see if you can push the sides of your box out far enough to embrace a new idea.

Marriage licenses started in the early 1600’s in Massachusetts, and in the Middle Ages in Europe to permit a marriage which would have been considered illegal if the appropriate banns had not been posted. Banns are proclamations or public announcement that a marriage is about to take place. It was commonly used by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church (abolished in 1983).  The purpose was to give people enough notice to raise church or legal impediments to the marriage to prevent invalid marriages. These impediments would normally include a pre-existing marriage not annulled or dissolved, a vow of celibacy, forced marriage, or couples related too closely.

Over the years, marriage licenses have been used by states to prohibit marriages to those who were deemed inappropriate. Stephanie Coontz, in a NYTimes article entitled “Taking Marriage Private”, states that “by the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, ‘mulattos,’ Japanese, Chinese, Indians, ‘Mongolians’ ‘Malays’ or Filipinos”. Several states refused licenses to addicts, drunks, mentally deficient or those who had been previously married. Most of these laws were repealed by the mid-1900s.

Most licenses/documents now (2012) serve two purposes:

  1. Legal and contractual
  2. A record of the ceremony of marriage itself, if signed by the couple and witnessed.

Every state within the United States requires a marriage license (marriage certificate), in order to legalize their marriage. This provides proof of legal obligations that have been entered into, as well as who receives Social Security, insurance, medical and survivor benefits.

A partial list of rights/benefits and legal obligations under Federal Law[1] include:

  • Right to spousal benefits while married
  • Joint tax filing; Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption and estimates
  • Disability benefits
  • Medicaid
  • Property tax exemptions for totally disabled veterans
  • Joint and family-related rights
  • Tax-free transfer of property between spouses
  • Special immigration consideration to spouses of citizens and resident aliens
  • Domestic violence protection orders
  • Funeral and bereavement leave
  • Joint adoption and foster care
  • Spousal medicat decisions
  • Permission to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse
  • Right to inheritance of property
  • Spousal privilege in court cases
  • For those who are divorced or widowed, the right of many of ex- or late spouse’s benefits
  • Spousal income and assets are counted in determining need in many forms of government assistance
  • Ineligible for National Affordable Housing program if spouse ever purchased a home
  • Ineligible to receive varius survivor benefits upon remarriage
  • Providing financial support for raising children born within a marriage

That’s the history, current usage, rights and benefits associated with “marriage”. Now, let’s make it simple.

The way our marriage license laws are being used today, they restrict marriage for same-sex individuals because it is considered inappropriate by a variety of religions, but not all. And, by mixing religion and law, not only are we moving back to the Middle Ages, we are depriving people of the legal rights, benefits and responsibilities given to those who commit to long-term relationships based on love, respect and dignity. We had moved away from this perspective when we repealed the discriminatory laws in the mid-1900’s, and it hasn’t taken long for us to find another group of people to legally discriminate against.

Our country was founded upon the separation of church and state, as laid out in the 1st amendment to the constitution.[2] And, to keep things simple for all of us, we should go back to what was intended by paying attention to our Constitution. Belief systems, and religious practices are too unique, and too widely disparate, for us to bring them into the laws governing our nation.

For me, because marriage licenses are used primarily to determine legal rights, benefits and responsibilities, and can only be dissolved through legal dissolution, it has become a contract – pure and simple. In my mind, this is ALL that either the federal government or state governments have a right to enforce. And, last I heard, any citizen can enter into a contract unless they are a minor, or have been declared incompetent to do so due to mental incapacity (which also requires legal action).

Any divine blessing can be conferred by a religious body according to it’s beliefs, and should be kept separate from legal determination. This allows those entering into a “Blessed Union” to choose the religious body reflecting their own beliefs and values to confer the blessing, and removes religious discrimination from our laws.

Because I hold each person’s rights to their religion to be sacred, I cannot and will not argue with them over verses or belief systems. I simply believe that everyone deserves the same legal rights as every other citizen of the United States, and the state of Nebraska.



[1] Per Wikipedia, prior to the enactment of DOMA, the General Accounting Office (as the GAO was then called) identified 1,049[2] federal statutory provisions in which benefits, rights, and privileges are contingent on marital status or in which marital status is a factor. An update was published in 2004 by the GAO covering the period between September 21, 1996 (when DOMA was signed into law) and December 31, 2003. The update identified 120 new statutory provisions involving marital status, and 31 statutory provisions involving marital status repealed or amended in such a way as to eliminate marital status as a factor.

[2] The establishment clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Furthermore, the Supreme Court has interpreted the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments.