Monday, May 31, 2021

The Choice

I was recently there to support a love one through one of the most challenging decisions of her life. She had a very difficult choice to make. She had to decide if she was ready to become a mother. The answer to that question for her was a resounding NO. At 22 years old she had the understanding about herself and her present circumstances to know that brining another life into this world would present a hardship that neither she or the child were ready for.
My task was what to do and how to help. My family is full of women. Strong women. We all innately knew that she was not ready for that responsiblity so we all dealt with it in our own ways. I’m a woman of action, so I jumped in my car and drove out of state to pick her up. The state she lived in was a state with restrictive abortion laws. I knew that the governor had signed a bill that forced women to pay for burial costs of a fetus if they had an abortion or miscarriage, so we drove back home to Michigan (I later found out that a federal judge haulted that law but there are other restricts so we just kept it moving). We came together as a family to support her through this emotional journey that many women before her had taken. I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve only been to an aborition clinic to have a preganancy test many years ago and for an annual exam. I had no idea what this would be like for her, her mother or myself.

As a loved one there to support someone, I could only imagine the frustration she felt, she shared it with me but again I can only somewhat know since this experience was hers alone. First of all there was a 24 hour waiting period. This means that if you are from out of state, then you must take extra time off work because you have to visit the clinic to sign a consent the day before having the procedure. They send you home with a stack of papers to read through. I’m no medical profession but I have taken anatomy classes and some of the realisitic images that they gave of the fetus at the different stages of gestation were to  not accurate. Some of the pictures were too advanced for the stages of gestation. Especially early on like 6-9 weeks. When I was pregnant (many years ago) I used to get weekly emails of what the fetus looked like each week and it was a while until that alien phase passed to almost human, that was not refelcted in the state mandated paperwork that she was given. It honestly felt like a guilt trip with inaccuarte information to sway women into keeping a child that they may not be ready for for a multitude of reasons.
The day of the clinic visit, you’re expected to wait between 6 and 8 hours to complete the process and procedure. The strange thing is that the paperwork they give you to take home says that the abortion itself takes 15-20 minutes. So why the all day wait? I’m still not sure. In all honesty it feels like a deterrent. There are literally about 8 to 10 trips back and forth in the waiting room before you see the doctor. They call the patient back to sign papers and then back to the waiting room. You’re required to have counseling then they sit you back in the waiting room. You go get your vitals taken. Then back to the waiting room. You go watch a video, the back to the waiting room. You go have an ultrasound then back to the waiting room. In her case she had to have a second ultrasoudn then back to the waiting room. Then a confirmation of something and back to the waiting room. Then a different vital check and back to the waiting room. It’s like emotional torture really. Each time you go back you think it’s the time to finally lie on the table and begin the procedure (which in and of itself makes one who has never been through this terrified). Each time, there’s a build up like this day, this process, this stress, the pain, the morning sickness, the potential life long connection to this emotionally abusive person is almost over, and then it’s yanked away yet again. I wondered if this is state mandated or if the clinic themselves come up with this onerous process.

She was tearful. But she was resolute that this was the best decision for her. I wonder how many other women leave clinics because of the tedious process that plays on their emotions. I have to be honest. By the 8th trip I was frustrated, I went to the window and asked what was taking so long and why did the apointment begin at 9:20am only for us to all still be sitting there at 1:30pm. I was told that a lot of people decided to come in that day. And that there was only one doctor. But from the postings on the wall I could tell that this process was the every day normal process. I don’t know how women do it. It’s not easy as a bystander. I felt a bit of anxiety and often found myself getting out of my seat and walking the hallways. In the end she knew what she had to do, and so did we. As a loved one I just wanted to love and nurture and listen to her. That’s what I felt like I was able to do. My heart goes out to all women who are making The Choice. I am grateful that abortion is still safe and legal and relatively affordable. My concerns is that the emotional toll of the day with the process is more frustrating than it needs to be and as laws become more restrictive there will be more patients in need than medical health professionals there to help them. There is no training in medical school for abortion, doctors and nurses have to learn by training at clinics. This means that abortion care providers are few and far between and the cost can be prohibative to many women especially if you factor in the many women who don’t have access to a clinic and have to travel far, good luck if they have a job and or children. In Michigan 95% of abortion providers are located in the southeastern part of the state. That means that women who live in the state have to travel anywhere from 4 to 10 hours one way to get abortion services. This is what happens when we elect people to office who think that it is their right to curb ours based on thier ideology or religion. We are lucky at this point that doctors and women are not faced with criminal charges, though they keep trying to push for it. Abortion is not something that makes women happy to do. Not one woman was in that clinic yucking it up or celebrating. Us having the ability to determine when we are ready to take on the ultimate responsibilty of bringing life into the world is vital. Statistics show that many of us end up doing it on our own at some point so shouldn’t we alone have the right to determine if and when that time comes? I think so. No. I know so.

I’m Sorry Ms. Jackson


What has blown my mind about the whole Derrick Jackson situation is the willingness of conscious people to  ascribe any portion of blame to DaNaia Jackson for being cheated on. I have heard women and men clown her and denounce the way she dressed (in that Stand By Your Man hostage video). I have seen people say they would cheat too if their wife looked like that. People are equating her value or lack there of on her outward appearance. Never mind the fact that this man is a covert narcissist and is probably well aware that by his wife dressing that way it would garner him some modicum of sympathy from the black women he sells his books to. Mission accomplished.


People have been tying our value to perceived looks forever. The toxicity of visual valuation has long since sunken into our collective blood stream. I hope we can begin to wake up and relinquish this false method of valuation of human beings. People used (some still do) to tell women not to dress a certain way if we didn’t want to get raped. Today people are telling women to dress a certain way if we don’t want to get cheated on. Riddle me this, why did JayZ cheat on BeyoncĂ©? That woman was walking around looking like a whole goddess and that didn’t stop him from sticking his penis in other women. Maybe we should stop ascribing any portion of responsibility to the women who are cheated on. Maybe we should give the whole responsibility to the cheating spouse.
If you want to respect and protect black women, start by not making us responsible for the behaviors of others who abuse and mistreat us.

Appearances can be deceiving and I think that may have been the point. Mr. Jackson is master of deception, he is presently working his magic (in multiple ways) by getting a large portion of his audience to look away and focus on something other than his deceptive, predatory, and toxic behaviors. He is so good at it that everyone is overlooking his narcissistic abuse of his wife and other women. 


In the words of Derrick Jackson, Y’all let me know what you think in the comments. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Admit. Atone. Ask.

There have been several recent incidents in the media that have me thinking about sincere apologies and patterns of behavior that belie it. 

Public apologies by public figures should first be to the individual(s) that they’ve wronged. If they first apologize to the public, they need your money or your attention (or both) and chances are, the apology is NOT sincere. We have seen it too many times, with celebrities, politicians, media figures and so on. They are trying to save a livelihood, not heal a rift. 

I do not actually care about drama with public figures of any kind. What I observe are patterns of behavior. We as the public/consumers of various things should be more discerning. When we recognize these patterns we won’t be taken in easily by people who deceive us, nor will we be be complicit in toxic patterns of behavior. Once we recognize it in one it’s easier to recognize it going forward (with practice). 

The first key is (of course) to not put individuals on pedestals, they are bound to fall. The second is observe if the behavior, are they taking actions to atone for their mistakes or jumping right to forgiveness? The third and I’m sorry to say, we cannot take everything at face value. There are many people who are very good at being deceptive and we must use discernment to determine if certain people further warrant our time and energy. 

Real reconciliation starts with these basic three elements: 1. Admit the mistake, 2. Atone for it. Be accountable for ones actions. 3. Ask for forgiveness. Just like in math, there is an order of operation. You cannot skip steps. When one does not first admit they did something wrong it is not an apology, there is still pride involve and there is no way beyond the first step without admission. If a person asks for forgiveness without admitting the mistake, simply ask, what are you asking forgiveness for? Or what are you apologizing for.m? Wash rinse repeat if they keep trying to skip ahead to forgiveness. 

This is applicable not just with public figures but in daily life, relationships, and social situations.  This awareness comes from years of direct personal experiences with people with people narcissistic behavior and clinically diagnosed narcissists. It also comes from my observances of many people over the years, public and private. 

There are far more narcissists amongst us than we are aware of and it is clear that social media has nurtured narcissistic behavior. We don’t have to be on guard but we certainly should be aware. I hope this helps. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Narcissists and the Root Chakra (Muladhara)




Yesterday I realized after a meditation on love that my ex destroyed my root chakra (figuratively speaking. You cannot destroy a Chakra but you sure can fuck it up). The root is the foundation. She always had to recalibrate me. After every big fight or break up, she wanted to have sex.  She was solidifying the trauma bond at the very root of it all.  Stability, Security, and Sensuality are all at the wheelhouse of the Root Chakra. Narcissists use sex as a weapon against their prey. It’s exactly how every narcissist gets in and demolishes the self esteem of their prey. If you destroy the foundation you get to rebuild it into whatever you want. 

All narcissistic people unconsciously know to attack the root chakra. If they can destroy your foundation and trauma bond you with sex it’ll be extremely hard to walk away because they have become your new foundation unbeknownst to us.  Goddamn. I feel like I am cracking the code vibrationally.


The key to keeping people safe from Narcs in the first place is protecting the root chakra. 

Use any of the affirmations below for support of your foundation after or during a relationship with a Narcissist. In time it will help. 


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1N9vVKevAX-3PBhdANBBOYwY694gfJxZw

Leave it at the Door

When I was a massage therapist, I used to say that my work was a one our vacation from my troubles. Each massage I would leave any worries at the door and focus solely on my client. Meditation is that for me. I have been a meditator for more than 20 years and I always learn something new, or go a little deeper with the things that I have learned over the years. When you sit to meditate, consider dropping your problems at the door. Remember, they will be there when you finish, so there’s no need to let them distract you in meditation. I know, easier said than done. But if you make this a practice, each and every meditation it will become easier and easier to cultivate this habit. 

Start now by visualizing yourself at the door of your meditation room. Say to yourself when you reach the threshold “I will leave my problems here no need to take them with me into meditation.” If problems don’t assail you during meditation, try the word “thoughts”. If various thoughts carry you all over the place during meditation and you find it difficult to calm the “monkey mind” substitute that word “thoughts” in the affirmation. Whatever it is that is a challenge during your meditation remind yourself before you begin to leave it at the door. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1qK1zsGtN1tvdJAAPt0SX49bn_pX6lSMa

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bad Romance

So, all the hoopla of Valentines Day is over and we can get back to being normal (whatever that is).  I have never really cared for Valentines Day, not as a teenager nor as an adult. It feels like it's all so contrived.  Do we ever really consider where the tradition comes from anymore?  Or do we just celebrate it because it's a day on a calendar that the world says you must honor as a day for lovers or else?  I for one, would never be upset with a girlfriend if she never bought me a thing on Valentines Day.  I am a romantic at heart. Maybe not hopelessly so, but certainly a romantic.  But that is my normal mode of being (when in love of course).  I love writing emails, letters (I do sometimes still pick up a pen an paper) and text messages expressing  love, longing, and devotion, but it's never relegated to one day, least of all a fixed calendar date.   Hopefully, even if you do celebrate the contrived day for lovers, you continue to express your love to your beloved on many days throughout the year, just because. 



Ex-Girlfriend

Tears scorch flesh
Sobs rattle earth in volcanic eruptions
Emotional upheavals
Gather ocean's waves
to form tsunami's wrath
Lightening crashes like raindrops on a
barren field
Nothing remains unscathed


Friday, February 24, 2017

Slacker!

I admit it.  I am not always as diligent about meditating as I'd like to be. In fact, I can honestly admit that I have be a slacker of sorts lately.  But when I do go back to my regular daily practice I feel more at peace, less frustrated, and less easily annoyed by the little annoyances of life.

I've been practicing every day, but not nearly as long as I'd like to. With school being in full swing, having work and family life, it's quite easy to stumble off the path.  When I cannot meditate as long as I like, I make sure that I practice the presence of God more.  I make sure that I am practicing using affirmations more regularly.  I take a little time out to think of and pray for those that are in need or for the loved ones of those who have died.

So while my meditation practice isn't currently as lengthy as I want it to be I still make time for cultivating my relationship with God and praying for others.   I also remember that all of life is spiritual life.  Spiritual life is not relegated to a day or time or place, it is everyday existence.


What are some things that you do to maintain balance, peace and focus in your spiritual life?


Thursday, February 23, 2017

America got the President She Deserved

Let me first start by saying that I was not a fan of either party nominee for the election in my country. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter and consider myself a Progressive.  I don't think that the whole of the Democratic party is Progressive.  I think that the party figureheads are comfortable with the status quo and put corporations over people.  I don't think that these people are evil for it, I honestly think that they went to Washington hoping to make a difference and got snagged in the machinations of our political system.  If we the people truly want a system by and for the people we must first and foremost ensure that there is one vote per person and we the people must have a collective voice that is louder than that of the corporations.  Removing money from politics should be on the agenda of every American no matter what the party line.  This will keep our voices from being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests that don't have the people's best interest at heart.  All lobbyists aren't bad.  They just shouldn't be the loudest voices that our representatives here.

I think that the Democratic Party lost due to a myriad of reasons.  Hubris being one of them.  The Democrats ran the most establishment candidate possible at a time when the country was clamoring for something far different than what we have ever had.  The country was sick and tired of repeats and blasts from the past.  We certainly didn't want another legacy candidate, that's what Hillary Clinton represented.  People were wanting real change.  That's why populist candidates saw the biggest rallies and had throngs of supporters.

Hillary Clinton racked up a lot of pledged delegates against Bernie Sanders' insurgent campaign, the problem is that the Dems refused to take the blinders off.  Hillary Clinton won states that would NEVER go for a democrat.  Their biggest mistake was to not look at Michigan as an outlier.  She had my home state by a 40 point lead that she began with but Bernie won it anyway.  People like to say that she won more votes, while not taking into account all of the states that have caucuses instead of ballot voting.

Part of what won Trump the presidency was the sheer ignorance and lack of understanding of the Democratic party and the racist, sexist, xenophobic past of America coming back to haunt itself. It really never went anywhere, it was just hidden. By my estimation Trump won with 50% died in wool Republicans, 25% Independents/Democrats, and 25% Basket of deplorable.  The truth of the matter is that there are people in this country who voted for Trump who actually believe that slavery should never have ended.  While it is untenable for most Americans that others believe something as despicable as this, it's true.  There are those that voted for Obama but still voted for Trump because they wanted to see someone who was looking out for them.  He talked a good game, but unfortunately those people believed in all the talk instead of looking at the life he's lived for decades. Nothing in his background says that he supports the little guy.  In fact it says the opposite.  But in this day and age of reality shows and everyone wanting to live the lifestyles of the rich and famous this was to be expected.

How do we move forward though?
Make your suggestion in the comments section.  I think working together after this ill fated election could make a more positive impact than we could have ever imagined. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

It's been a long time

It's been a while since I have actively written here.  A quick update: I am in seminary right now, busy raising a teenager with ADHD, and looking for meaningful work that doesn't affect my sense of self and negatively impact my emotional wellbeing.  I am in the process of writing more and will be posting a blog within the next few days about the recent goings on.

Thank you for those of you who have checked out my blog over the years.  I'm coming back, hopefully what I post will be thought provoking and challenge you as life continues to challenge me to grow, expand, love, hurt, suffer, feel joy, feel frustrated experience a bit of bliss and do it all over again.


Shanti


                                                                                   Ellyn

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Help our Puppy Gizmo




Ahkiba and I got a new puppy almost three weeks ago.  Our hearts were broken when we got home from work and school today to find Gizmo barely moving and very sick.  Please visit the GoFundMe page to see how you may be able to help Gizmo.  Every little bit counts. Even $1 toward funding his surgery would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for helping our family!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Say hello to my little friend: Spirit Quartz Crystal

Say hello to my little friend: Spirit Quartz Crystal
Spirit Quartz
Spirit quartz is a lovely little amethyst, though it does come in other varieties, the one I gravitate to is of the amethyst kind.  It has a faint lavender hue.  To hold this stone in the hand is to feel jagged little rocky edges.  The crystals burst forth from this little gem jutting in all different directions.  Amethyst has been one of my favorite crystals since long before I became aware of energetic properties.  I remember going into the gift shop at Kings Island as a kid and picking up this stone.  It was certainly amongst my collection of things to bring home from the amusement park.  I digress.  I've been playing with this little stone for about two weeks or so and what I feel is instant energy that draws my attention to the spiritual eye (third eye) or that little place above and between your eyes.  Some ancient cultures call this is the seat of wisdom.  I find that tuning the consciousness there helps to do a couple of things.  First it brings your awareness to a feeling of tranquility that flows from within you and second it is where I tune into when I get an intuitive feeling about something.  It is where you can go to seek answers (from within).  If you are a meditator (but try this even if you are not), try holding this stone in your hand (I had it in my right hand) sit silently and just see what you feel.  Maybe your experience will be different from mine.  Maybe it won't but this stone just exudes spirituality. If that word doesn't suit you here's another, CLARITY.  If there is something in your life for which you are seeking answers to, this may be the stone for you.  Maybe it's the fact that I had a birthday and I always become more introspective around this time of year.  Maybe it's because Thanksgiving is near and I am seeing more ways to appreciate the people and things in my life.  Maybe its all of the above.  I can say that since I've begun "playing" with this stone regularly I have gained clarity and understanding about questions that I wasn't even seeking answers to.  Whatever the cause, I am grateful.  Say hello to this little friend and come back and share what experiences you have with it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Be Still and Know

How can we attain inner stillness? The bible says “be still and know that I am God.” That is the key. Right in that truth we have been given the keys to unlock the gate of heaven. But how do we find the correct door that matches the key? What stills the mind so that we can know God? Concentration and meditation. Stillness comes after we have practiced the first two. When we go to church or gather with others or read the scriptures we spend hours upon hours talking of God, reading of God. But how much time do we spend in deep concentration upon God? How much time do we spend in deep meditation upon God? How much time do we spend in that stillness letting God nourish our spirit. We cannot expect to truly be one with God or to truly know and love God and be able to follow God’s will without silence, without concentration, without deep meditation.
The first door is concentration. Through concentration we begin to calm the mind and thus calm the body and prepare it for meditation. Real concentration is that which focuses the mind on God. It can be through focusing on the breath or focusing on energy, bringing God’s cosmic energy into the body and by practicing concentration techniques. We bring the body and mind to calm center where by it is prepared to sit in silent meditation.
Silent meditation is the second door. In meditation we have brought he senses to a close. There is stillness in body and mind. The mind is brought from the outer senses to the inner. You begin to go up the spine and direct the mind to the higher spiritual centers. By using techniques of meditation, we slowly redirect the energy in body and mind inward and upward. We release attachment to sight by closing our eyes, sound through inwardly listening to the inner cosmic sound, touch vanishes through keeping the body still, our sense of smell is rerouted through pranayam (life force control). We focus on the breath. As we move the life force around the spine the sense of taste is vanquished by the bliss, joy, peace and love of God experienced during the correct practice of pranayam meditation. You are no longer a little body, an American, a man nor woman. You identify less and less with the outer world less and less with external and more and more with the light of God within that you experience in deep meditation.
The third door is Silence. Silence is achieved after the first two stages. In concentration we are stilling the physical functions of the mind and body. In meditation we are stilling all the faculties of the mind and body and take our selves through meditation techniques to a place of total stillness and silence. This is not an empty mind. This is awareness in stillness. You are not thinking or doing or being. The mind and body are calm like a crystal clear lake. No ripples no, waves, no movement. Just clear. This is the true reflection of you. This is the time where grace flows, this is where God can pour his bliss into you. We must be careful here. We must not judge ourselves or the experience while in this state. We must also have no expectations while in the stillness. This is the time to just be. Stillness is where God reveals himself to you. This is the most important part of your practice. You must not leave your meditation seat before you have come to the point of stillness. After sitting in that stillness for a while, it may become uncomfortable. We are not living in a world where stillness is valued or appreciated. Your mind, your ego, your body will fight against this intruder called stillness. This is okay. This is normal. It takes time, it takes patience, practice and determination. You will overcome with persistence as with all things. After the practicing of stillness, if restlessness begins to set in; that is the time for you to pour your heart out to the divine Mother (or Father, or whatever your concept of God is) with deep expressions of love and longing. The Divine cannot escape your heartfelt devotion, and neither can you escape her all embracing love.
Namaste

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What The Fuzz?

All of the classes that I have taught have had two things in common.  There have been people in it of all ages and there have been people with injuries or some form of arthritis.  I am guessing most yoga classes have had at least one of those elements in the studio and on the mat.  That being said, I'd like to focus on yoga as a healing modality or at least a way to ease the discomfort of arthritis.  

     As the old adage goes, move it or lose it!  Over time our bodies change and we don't feel quite the same as we did when we were 16 years old.  The fluid in the joint can become inflamed or sometimes seems to have evaporated with time.  But when we don't have an acute inflammation going on it is very important to get the joints moving.  The more we move, the more the interstitial fluid circulates between the joints and that is healthy for us.  Movement, especially stretching breaks up fascia and helps maintain proper range of motion in the extremities of the body.    Fascia is the stuff that binds the muscle fibers together 
    
     I am a massage therapist by trade and there's a great video that one of my teachers showed called FUZZ and it is basically showing how important it is to stretch daily to work out the FUZZ.  Fuzz is what happens when we sleep.  It's a build up of the fascial tissue.  It sticks together and becomes somewhat glued because our bodies have not been in motion for the 8 hours of sleep.  Yoga, or stretching would be a great way to start the day because it warms up the fascia and gets it moving and unglued.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Walking the Dog

Thursday's at my job is free yoga.  It is open to the community.  No matter what your practice is, newbie, intermediate, or longtime practitioner, yoga is here for you.   It started when the downturn began with the Michigan economy, as a way to give an hour of solace to those who had suffered job loss due to the auto industry cutbacks, and it has been here to stay ever since.  While our economy is bouncing back, yoga still remains an anchor in the eye of the storm of daily life.   I am a testament to this:  When I practice clarity comes.  Pattabhi Jois used to say, "Practice and all is coming!"  

Ain't nothing to it but to do it!  So let's workshop Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)!

If you you've ever gone to a yoga class, which I'm assuming you have if you're reading this blog, this is a posture that you may find yourself in over and over again.  Sometimes classes are large and it's difficult for a teacher to come around to each student to give corrections and make adjustments in every posture.  So lets talk about what things you may want to focus on doing and feeling in this posture. 

To get yourself into this posture you can start on your hands and knees in table posture, the knees should be directly under the hips and the wrists should be aligned directly under the shoulder.  With  hands that are planted firmly  into the mat, spread the fingers apart .   Make sure that the thumbs are not fully extended, bring them in halfway this will protect your, hands.  Push yourself up and back.

If you look at the picture below you will see that  directional arrows denote that the spine is being pulled in opposite directions.  This means, you want to lengthen the spine.  How do you do this?  Relax the neck and drop the head and press your hind parts up and back.  Keep a slight micro bend in the knees and try not to concern yourself with whether your feet are flat on the floor.  They may or may not touch, just make sure that you are not on your toes, but firmly and evenly on the balls of your feet if your heels don't reach the ground (most people's don't).  You'll want to have balanced weight between all points of contact on the ground, even pressure between the feet and hands so that one part is not taking the majority of the weight, even distribution is the key here.  

Your arms should be rotating outward from the shoulder joint, away from the spine. Relax your shoulder here, make sure they aren't up near your ears.  The movement causes an opening in the upper chest and the shoulder blades slide down the back slightly.  The hips should also be opening out and away from the spine.  By focusing on the above movements you create an opening of the chest and hips and a lengthening of the spine (when the head is released toward the floor and the neck is relaxed).  Engage your abdominal muscles while in this posture and continue to breathe.  Allow yourself to take three to five full breaths (inhalations and exhalations) while in downward dog before moving on to another posture.   


This is downward dog!

This image is the property of www.bandhayoga.com