Friday, October 25, 2013

I Might As Well Face It I'm Addicted to Mum(s) - A Word from The Dolly Bob and Dawn

The Dolly Bob (Bob for short) became my gardening go-to guy late in the growing season of 2009, the first year of my foray into raised beds. We found one another in mid-August just after he had moved into a local store. There he sat on a shelf awaiting the holidays. Now he sits in my garden awaiting the next task. He's been spared the holiday tunes that play endlessly and I've a gardening partner.

People often complain about not being able to find "good" help.  Bob's in the garden 24/7. Always wearing the same content expression; he's reliable, steadfast and wise. When bugs ate two of my three broccoli plants, Bob reminded me this opened space for green beans. When the cauliflower succumbed to the same bugs, he reminded me that cauliflower is my least favorite vegetable and that space is good, just space, the empty rich void of garden soil.  Bob feels deeply but is never reactive. His motto? Don't just do something. Be here.

His Buddhist stance, unadvertised on the box in which he and his tractor came, are the reason for the Dolly in his name.  (I may need to make amends to the Dali Llama for that although it's intended with respect.)

Why Bob? Bob's derived from many musical Bob's.  There's Robert Plant initially of Led Zeppelin fame acclaimed for his Grammy with Nashville's Alison Krauss for "Raising Sand." Bob and I still think it should have been "Raising Crops." This Robert also co-wrote "Dirt in a Hole" which we thought might be "our" song, until we discovered it's more about a funeral than a garden. Then there's Blue's musician Robert Cray. I love this Robert's song "Playing in the Dirt."  The Dolly Bob being a man of morals refuses to play the way the song suggests yet we still dig the song.

I should probably be embarrassed by the last Bob who was actually the first musical Robert who came to mind as Bob's namesake. This Robert made famous the 80's "Addicted to Love" - Robert Palmer, that is. Remember "You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love." I know you may be thinking, 'Dawn, you're gonna have to face it this is a really bad song from a musically lack luster era.'

Think what you must, Bob and I are proudly claiming "Addicted to Love" as our personal anthem, addicted to loving the Earth, that is.

Love, in our case, manifests in nature with plants and animals. I love nature except when an occasional hawk swoops down and grabs one of my birds. With Bob's help, most days I can eventually love the hawk. It's tougher loving people. I've a hard time with some hunters who in my opinion terrorize rather than hunt as evidenced in the prior story as well as those who treat Mother Earth as their dumping ground, cash cow or scapegoat.  I can be in the foulest of moods yet put me in the yard and my spirit rebounds even regarding these folks.

My addiction to loving life, including people, intensifies when I synchronistically come upon real life go-to gardening guys.  (This may call for amends to Bob.)  While taking a different route to the country one weekend, I passed a nursery advertising mums.  Buying mums was not on my list yet I couldn't resist seeing what kind of mum one could buy when the sign read:  Ten for $30.  These mums would surely be Bob-sized. (Gonna have to make amends to Bob for that too.)

I turned around and pulled into Burgess Falls Nursery where moments later Jay, the owner, was loading my trunk with mums about to bloom into the gentlest of colors. These were not the intense purples and yellows for sale everywhere in Fall that eventually die and end up in the trash or compost if they're lucky. These mums were on the verge of blossoming into soothing pastels. To make it even better, they spread if their feet (aka roots) are kept dry with proper drainage.

I left Burgess Falls Nursery with a mum-filled trunk. Most importantly I felt joy.  Spontaneous moments and meetings like those with Jay and Phil heighten my loving life and help me return to the flow when I don't even know I'm out of it.

Damp from the downpour that passed over during the mum spree, I wiped myself off with a towel from the floorboard. As I did, dirt from my shoes somehow peppered my face. Normally I would have complained.  Bob says we're here to learn from the plants. They don't complain when wet and dirty. On the contrary, they thrive. So should I. I laughed for a change and felt what Bob meant.

At times I wonder how long my new found love for gardening will last until I realize that's the whisper of fear in my ear.  Fear says I'm fickle and will grow tired of playing in the dirt. Bob reminds me as long as I'm having fun, sowing and growing will never grow tiring. 

Bob and I rose early the next day, moving in day for the mums.  We welcomed twenty-six new souls to their home in our garden. Yes, I made a second mum-run.  Bob sang, "Dawn, you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to mums."

That was four years ago.  The Dolly Bob and I are happy to report that most of the mums have continued to return each Fall.  My love for gardening only dims when I grow weary of what's done to Mother Earth in the name of  progress, lack of really thinking things through and greed. 

Still my weariness diminishes when I take time to get my hands in the earth or at least my butt in a chair under a tree or literally on the ground.  When I make time to get outside each day, I always know, "I am truly addicted to (thx to the Brits) Mum."

I so love Mother Earth and She so loves us.  lt is simple yet precious time and energy are spent arguing politics, being fed corporate-sponsored media sound-and-sight bites, debating whether global warming is or isn't happening and using research to support sides. 

Meanwhile Mother Earth goes on loving us and Bob and I love Her.  We believe Mother Earth most of all desires our loving gratitude for the home, nourishment and care she provides. She wants to feel our grateful vibes about the goodness and joy of being alive. 

As for amends, Bob says, "The only things that need amending are the soil at times and the soul."  He suspects the Dali Llama agrees.

We love mums and all flowering things and we love Mum.  What about you? 

Bob and I delighted to find the mums survived Fall's first cold blast last night.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 25 October 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Service Agreements" -With Whom Do You Have Them?

Where do you find your angels?  Mine often show up in the unlikeliest of places.  Two months ago in the mail, I received a notice from AT&T stating my service agreement with them would expire mid-October.  I was to contact them by a specific date otherwise I risked rising rates.

I didn't realize we even had a service agreement so I waited dreading talking with someone who would, as part of their job, try to sell me something, something I didn't need that would benefit AT&T.

Finally I quit postponing the dreaded call and got Michael on the 2nd ring.  Not wanting to be engaged I responded with a short "fine" to his obligatory-in-the-service-industry "How is your day?"  This was followed by "What do you do?"

I replied, "I'm a therapist and writer" to which Michael said, "I'm a good listener."

In that moment, I didn't consciously want a good listener.  Yet as the Rolling Stones' song goes: "You can't always get what you want but ..... you get what you need."   

I got what I needed.

Michael being the good listener asked "What have you written?"

I told him I started with two screenplays that didn't go anywhere and that now I write about life.  I should have realized in that moment a story was unfolding.

Michael told me he was a performance poet and was considering returning to school to get a degree in theater.   I sensed this was not part of the AT&T script.  Michael had just met a publisher at a recent performance who was interested in his work and possibly his writing a book.  Michael was excited and I found myself excited for him.

This is when it dawned on me or as I think at times I dawned on myself, 'I am a storyteller.'

With an energy not present at the beginning of the dreaded call, I told Michael, "Actually I'm a storyteller too."  I shared that years prior I put together a cd of my stories and sold several hundred.  I shared the story of Judy Mae a woman I met Starbucks in '06 buying 50 of them as I was on the cusp of despair.  Judy Mae was my angel at that time. 

Michael proceeded to tell me storytelling was becoming popular. He attributed this to Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion.  Then we got into books as he told me his girlfriend usually bought books for herself that he actually wanted to read. He had recently been wanting the collection of William Blake's works when his girlfriend walked in with the illuminated collection of Blake's works.

This gave me big goosebumps.  I'm straight, but for a moment I wanted Michael's girlfriend at least to buy me books.

Then Michael was either prompted to get back on-script by a superior or another call came in.  We went from storytelling, college, publishers and Blake back to my options for the coming year. Within a minute, I had a new service agreement for actually a few dollars less and I was wishing Michael the best as he was me.

I felt such appreciation for this soul who went off-script allowing me to get out of my funky, forget-about-me script.  He boosted my spirit and helped me remember I am a storyteller.  I hope I encouraged him.

I had a new service agreement with AT&T yet it felt like I had a service agreement of the soul this with young man I will never meet in the flesh.  He was my encourager, my angel-in-disguise. 

This unexpected interaction got me to thinking about service agreements on many levels.  We as souls have "service agreements" with one another, don't we?  These agreements aren't always pleasant. Those who antagonize might not be seen as angels yet when we allow them to refine us not define us, they are angels of a sort.  I experienced this the day prior with the man I unintentionally made uncomfortable.  His defensive response, helped remind me of who I am, just as Micheal's interaction did as well.*

Our ongoing political debates can be seen as a service agreement on a bigger plane. Souls with similar opinions and beliefs have throughout time tended to gather and take sides.  I wonder what it would look like if we could find a way to hold the tension that comes with differing views.  Rather than allowing these views to create polarization, what might happen if we somehow allowed them to stretch us and prompt reflection on how we arrived at our own positions?

Closer to home, family presents opportunities to consider service agreements. Times of challenge with those to whom we are suppose to be closest when differences arise allow the opportunity to evaluate personal roles, rules and relationships.

This summer I have personally wrestled with offering care to my mother from a place of joy versus obligation.  As a daughter, my mother devoted herself to her parents especially late in their lives.  She called her mother every morning at 6am to ensure she was okay and took meals to her daily.

Although we've our differences, my mother is energetic, has a heart of gold and is fun.  If there were multiple Me's, one of me would be equally devoted as she was. There is only one Me. This summer I have realized I want my care to come from a place of joy and not obligation.  This has required my talking with my mother as to my limits.

If we allow them "service agreements" help refine, define, clarify, discern and determine who we are and consider why we are here.  Our interactions with others when seen through a lens of service help us discern boundaries, attachments, expectations and possibly shared longings and goals. 

My interaction with this soul at AT&T who I will never face-to-face meet has left me with much to ponder. For now I imagine the Shift in our world if we became more aware of being here to serve others and more open to others serving us even when that means discomfort is stirred.

* The Musing about the man, my other angel of sorts is at this link: "Help Ever. Hurt Never."
-Dawn, The Good News Muse 18 October 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Help Ever. Hurt Never." - A Parking Encounter Stirs Thoughts on Fear, Threat and Power

I'm accustomed to backing into parking spaces when I parallel park, yet recently on a busy street at my local farmer's market, I saw a space and pulled in front end first.  My car was now at an angle to which I was unaccustomed and I felt awkward trying to park in what seemed like reverse.

The couple in front of me stood at the rear of their car.  Their moving would open two spaces and increase my chances of parking correctly or at least with more peace.  I waited.  I smiled at her as she made eye contact and semi-smiled in return. 

The man arranged and rearranged things in the trunk.  I wasn't in a hurry though I was concerned the rear of my car would eventually block traffic.  I inched forward toward him then stopped.  I didn't feel comfortable.  Unbeknownst to me, I wasn't the only one feeling discomfort.

The man appeared to be putting away produce bags so I assumed they were departing rather than arriving.   I finally called out, "Are you leaving?" as he continued to rearrange things in the trunk. My intent was to gather information so I could assess my next move or non-move.   The young woman appeared to tell the  the man what I said then she gave me a semi-smile (again) that I thought suggested yes.

Being someone of mostly great patience, I wasn't prepared for what followed.  As the man continued to rummage through the trunk, he held a sign up specifically for me to see, a sign that read:  "District Attorney."  The second line as best as I recall read: "on official business." (My) Truth be told I was stunned or as I told my friend at the market moments later I felt slime-ed and violated. 

As quickly as he had taken the sign from the trunk, he put it away, got in the car and drove away.  I parked and sat there thinking, 'What just happened?'  This stranger, whoever he was, assumed I was up to something negative and he needed to remind me of who he was or for whom he worked.

An hour later as I sat with an Angel Radiance candle (purchased at the market) glowing by my side and a sliver of moon growing overhead, I got it.  This man flashing his sign, using what he perceived as power, felt threatened by me.  By me?  I feel so nonthreatening yet in that moment as I pondered what occurred I realized he didn't know me and thus he must have truly feared I was about to hit him physically as he stood at his car's trunk. 

This stranger held up a sign whereas someone else could have spoken a few choice words, given me a middle finger (Is it still called the 'bird' and why do we pin that on birds?) or held up a gun (like the young woman in the car on West End as I held a sign reading "Stop Violence" last V-day. I don't think I ever wrote about that it was so perplexing to me.) 

Sign, finger, gun or words - they're really all the same.  When threatened, it seems the first response of many folks is to attack whether by sign, word, gesture or weapon.  When some soul's feel threatened they need to remind the other, in this case me the perceived threatener, of who they are and to back off.

(I sense this feeling threatened or fear of having one's way of life threatened underlies many if not all of the larger  political, religious, societal brawls of yesterday and today.  When a dominate group/paradigm/ model/way of living is threatened by a growing group or just a different way, attacks are launched and the spin begins.  This seems of late to be a 24/7 phenomenon.)

I told myself this man's response really wasn't about me - and yet it was about me - what my being in that space at that moment provoked in him.  While waiting to park, I was an unintentional provoker, who for this person connected to power stirred fear.

Intellectually I know things such as this aren't about me.  I've read this in books.  I tell this to clients when they're in similar predicaments.  If it's not really about me, what is it about?  In what seemed like an instant under the moon with "Divine Illumination" (the candle I chose at the market) at my side I got it not just in my head, but in my body, soul and heart in a way I need.

Until I got deep down inside this last piece that it really wasn't about me, I harbored angry energy toward this stranger because I felt my integrity was attacked.  Yes, I too felt threatened.  This little, big epiphany suddenly allowed me to hold compassion for this man who truly feared me.  I was filled with peace.
Moments later, I temporarily left my corner of our deck and walked inside.  I don't recall why I did, yet as I got to the sink, my right knee had a pain.  I grimaced then looked down.

My gaze fell on a yogurt container specifically on the lid where I read the phrase:  Hurt never.

In my sink was a message for me and it was not in reference to my knee.  We have used this container daily for a year to collect coffee grounds yet not once have I, a noticer, noticed the words on the lid.

Then I saw the words on the left of the container.
I read:  Help ever. 

I knew immediately the message meant for me.  I am here to always help and in turn to never hurt another, not just through my actions, but with my thoughts and energy.    

This slogan a reference to how Seven Stars Farm treats their cows was the very message of which I needed to be reminded.

"Help ever.  Hurt never."

Just as I had been sitting in a position not good for my knee, I had been holding a position that isn't good for me. Holding compassion and understanding for the man whose fear I stirred felt like help as opposed to harboring anger which hurt each of us.  

This simple directive wasn't just the answer to how to be in relation to the stranger.  It is the answer to my earthly dilemma.  There are periods when I wonder how I will continue to live on beautiful Earth amidst so many things that bring sorrow to my sensitive soul.  I wrestle with how to live awake and engaged and not consumed with fury when animals are mistreated, tortured and killed, when dogs are used for fighting, when the land, women, men, and children are raped, and those who make obscene (my opinion) amounts of money seem to have no care as to what's enough or how their money's made.

Yet when I am aligned internally with who I really am I can joyfully hold with deep compassion and a desire to understand those who harm, hurt and kill the things I love.  Sourced in joy, I feel what a gift it is to get to show up and live on beautiful Mother Earth.  I can mindfully ask what helps in a particular situation and listen for whether there something I need to say or do that can help bring about understanding or bridge building rather than perpetuate hurt and fear.   

"Help ever. Hurt never" helps me live in my place of power.  It reminds me of who I am and from this place, all is well.  There is no need for fear.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse  17 October 2013