Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Relationship with Moss

I frequently listen to recorded books.  Last week I was browsing for a new book to “read” when Spirit lead me to Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  I had just listened to another book of hers called, Braiding Sweetgrass. This is an excellent book that I recommend. I particularly like the concept of the Honorable Harvest.  

I’ll admit that I was confused when Spirit dropped the Gathering Moss book in my lap and said, “This is next.”  Kimmerer’s first book was a no-brainer as I have a long and loving connection with sweetgrass which I use for prayer and ceremony, but moss?  Frankly, I’d never really thought about moss other than, “Don’t slip on it when you’re hiking.” Yep, that was the extent of my relationship with moss.  

Kimmmerer, who is a scientist, has an amazing way of bringing science and Spirit together. She reveals that nature is not the concept of a resource to be used (and abused) but rather, a Being with whom we can communicate and commune in balanced harmony.  In Gathering Moss, she uses the languages of science, indigenous environmental philosophies, and personal stories to show how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with countless other beings from salmon to humans.  It revealed to me a universe that I never knew existed.

And then came the moss meditation!  Every first Friday I participate in a monthly global water healing.  If you are paying attention, you will know that the water of this planet needs help.  I realize that we can feel overwhelmed and helpless in this endeavor. I know I do. But I also know that intention is everything.  And I intend to heal the waters. This beautiful group gathers Light Workers (which are all humans with good intentions!) to come together and focus our intention and love to clear the oceans and waters of toxicity, pollution, and radiation.  We intend to perfect balance in the waters so life can flourish there. All life depends on the ocean - it’s that important. Once a month we can call into a free meditation lead by a wide variety of capable healers. It is a meaningful experience and I recommend you check it out.  They have podcasted the last four and a half years of meditations.

So, yesterday I’m all settled at my alter with a candle burning and with focus on my breathing to shift my energy and prepare for the meditation.  This month’s facilitator begins by saying, “Today’s meditation is on moss.” WHAT?  Who does that?  I would have thought it was a joke, but of course I had been listening to the moss book.  What is going on here? All I can say is that the moss meditation was amazing.  If you want, you can experience it yourself at the link above.  Bliss out and be introduced to Moss. (January 4, 2019 podcast)

And by the way, if you want to listen to recorded books for free and you have a library card, you can do so with the phone app, OverDrive.  Hallelujah for libraries!


As words come tumbling out of my mouth with rote and certainty, I ask myself, “Whose words are those?”  Whose voice is in my head that demands absolute obedience to that statement? Horrified, I realized that sure enough, the voice is not my own.  Rather, it belongs to various authority figures of my past. “Horrified” because those people were abusers or those with belief systems I can no longer abide.  How to combat such a conundrum? I question and examine and investigate. What is truth? Who says so and why? If I’m listening to a voice (new or old) I scrutinize the speaker.  Are they kind? Are they knowledgeable on the subject on which they speak? Have they given me advice in the past, and how did that turn out? I look back and I look at outcome. It so clearly tells me who to listen to and who to trust.   

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

No Place Like Home - Authenticity

This is the card I drew during my morning meditation.  I was pondering last night and wondering, "What is the best thing about me?"  The first thought that came into my mind is that I always try to live authentically.  And now this.  Boom!

Colette Baron-Reid
Wisdom of the Oracle Divination Cards

When you act in an authentic way, you command the world to reflect back to you exactly what is in your highest good.  Your business choices, the investments you make, and the creative projects you immerse yourself in are powerfully on-point.  Why?  Because when you are fully yourself, radically accepting everything in your journey to date - both successes and failures - you will see the divinity in all things.  Abundance is a natural progression when you experience this kind of authenticity. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Dreaded Group Projects

 This is an assignment for my online Ethics 430 class this semester.  We were to comment on our group project we just turned in.

I have participated in many group projects both in school and professionally.  I know this process can be frustrating and I hear many students complain about it.  Sometimes I’m one of them. But honestly, these are skills we need in the workplace.  The biggest difficulty we had in our group was lack of communication. In a group project, communication is everything.  Especially when we are meeting online. Without the non verbal cues, it’s so easy to misunderstand something. That’s why I feel strongly that at least in the beginning, there needs to be real time voice interaction.  And preferably throughout the project as well. Voice interaction helps to cut down on the misunderstandings. And it’s much more time efficient when problem solving. Plus you get to know each other better which should be one of the perks.  Every time I do a group project I learn something. What I am learning lately is to step back and not “fix it.” Historically, I would jump in and take up the slack so the project has a better outcome. But especially in a class situation, that doesn’t give others a chance to learn.  Plus it can be irritating for others, and it’s not healthy for me. So in the future I will definitely hone those skills of stepping back. This gets more difficult in the workplace when more than a grade is on the line. So I will also improve skills on early problem detection to eliminate last minute rushes.  And I will always look at improving communication.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Humanistic Mediation: A Transformative Journey of Peacemaking

Quick paper I just wrote. Not my best writing by far, but a fabulous subject. If you haven't heard of Restorative Justice (Humanistic Mediation), give it a Google.

Susan Fullmer
DISP 495:
15 October 2018
Humanistic Mediation:  A Transformative Journey of Peacemaking
By Mark S. Umbreit, Ph.D.
Humanistic Mediation is an unique style of mediation that includes spirituality, compassionate strength and a focus on our basic human needs and connection.  Not only is it an effective model of conflict resolution, it can bring a greater sense of community and social harmony.
In all of the conflict resolution techniques that I have studied for my degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and a certificate in dispute resolution, I feel this style most fits my own.  It’s underlying values reflects many of my own beliefs such as connectedness of all things and our common humanity, belief in the desire of most people to live peacefully, and belief in the desire of most people to grow through life experiences.  I feel this format would not only help in a mediation setting, but it could also be applied to most life situations.
For over three decades I have had extensive experience as a healer:  Energy healer, shaman, massage therapist, and nurse. I have a deep feeling from these experiences that we as humans have an innate wisdom to know how to heal ourselves.  Many of us in our culture have not been exposed to this idea, nor the healing techniques that could be helpful in this process. I feel that Victim-Offender Mediation is one bridge that can span the gap between wanting to heal and knowing how to get there.  A good healer/humanistic mediator can set the stage of support and safety that is imperative for healing.
I also feel that some of the conflict resolution techniques I have learned in school can get in the way of healing, and are not my style of doing things.  For example, as the humanistic mediation article by Dr. Umbreit points out, reflective listening skills can be helpful, but they can also hinder genuine dialogue.  I think when we want to help the healing process, sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of the way. Genuine dialogue and silence as appropriate can do just that.  
Many of these practices are not found in Western thinking.  As Dr. Umbreit said, “Genuine dialogue in which people feel safe enough to speak and listen in a non defensive manner requires skills and a life perspective that many non-Western indigenous cultures are far more comfortable with than we in the West are.”

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Healer or Prostitute?

I am in Applied Ethics 430 this semester. We just read a letter Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote when he was a prisoner in the Birmingham Jail. He was arrested for purposely breaking what he felt to be an unethical law, very interesting if you haven't had a chance to read it.

Here is my first assignment: Suggest a current law you believe is unethical. Would you be willing to violate that law openly and willingly accept the punishment as Dr. King did, in order to change the law?

Rather than speaking of a current law, I am going to relate a story that happened to me in 1995.  I was a brand new graduate of the Utah College of Massage Therapy. As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I leased an office on Main Street in Provo Utah, printed business cards, and decorated my office.  It was a dream come true to own my own business. As a nurse and massage therapist I was set to work under doctor’s orders as I specialized in injury recovery from motor vehicle accidents and worker’s comp.  Just when I was about to open my doors for business, I found out a horrible realization. Provo had a law that stated you could not have a massage business in the downtown area. Needless to say, this was a throw back from an era when the medical benefits of massage was not widely understood.  Frankly, the law was to prevent prostitution. I was devastated. I couldn't relocate without breaking my lease, tossing my newly printed business cards, and saying good buy to an office I loved. What to do? What were the chances of me getting caught? And if I was caught what would happen? Would I have an arrest record?  Would I have to do jail time? Would they even care? Mind you, this was Utah in the 1990s. When I talked about being a massage therapist, most people did think I was a prostitute. So, maybe I would do jail time. Instead of it scaring me off, it made me mad. I thought the law was unjust and misinformed. I had no idea what kind of battle I would be up against, but I decided to get the law changed if I could.  Long story short, that’s what I did. Had I not been able to change the law, would I have been willing to do what Martin Luther King did? Maybe not then, but I sure would now. If I feel justified, I will stand up for what I believe and fight for it.

The problem as I see it, is what is just and what is unjust?  I like the examples Dr. King gave in his speech. He pointed out that the Boston Tea Party was a massive act of civil disobedience, yet we see it today as a brave act that helped win our freedom.  Likewise, he reminds us that much of what Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and sanctioned by many. I’m sure the fine folks of Provo would have been aghast if they knew I wanted to change a law that could promote prostitution in their city.  So, who is correct? And how do we decide which is which?

I especially like Dr. King’s example of healing the boil.  As a healer I have long used this example for emotional healing, it must be exposed despite its ugliness in order for it to be cleaned and exposed to the light of day - a tried and true method of any king of healing.  Martin Luther King states that like the boil, “Injustice must be exposed to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion”. I believe these conversations combined with critical thinking can lead us to know what is truly just.

And here is my response to someone else's post (Part of the assignment is that we keep the conversation going)

I appreciate what you said Courtney.  And I agree, Dr. King had a lot of important things to say about the poor that we so often miss.  It is such a shame that he died early. What more could he have accomplished had he been able to live?  Yet, thinking about Dr. King also brings up a consideration in my mind. Is the ethics of the messenger important or should we just focus on the message?  I do not consider Dr. King to be an ethical man. He states that a just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. And he says that an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.  He goes on to say that any law that uplifts human personality is just and any law that degrades human personality is unjust. Again and again he refers to his Christian beliefs and the law of God. And yet he goes against his own beliefs in having extramarital affairs.  Personally, I don’t care if he is faithful to his wife or not, it’s none of my business. Unless of course, he is asking me to believe his words and talks about laws of God. I can’t help but feel that his wife and lovers did not feel particularly uplifted by some of his actions and words.  So, do I skip the ethics of the messenger and go straight to the message? What messenger is perfect, and what will I miss if I get mired down with imperfections? Yet, I find the words tainted. I am at a loss.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The crook of his elbow

For some reason, I woke to this memory.

I’m snuggled in bed, wound in a comfortable knott with my lover.  As I open my eyes my face is inches away from the inside crook of his elbow.  I tip my head forward so my nose gently presses against the barely creased skin and inhale deeply.  What is it about the scent of a man to which I am attracted? His pheromones are like a dose of an illicit drug that floods my body and makes me feel blissfully unfocused from head to toe.  I take another hit.