Tag Archive: Psychology


We have had some special Dogs in our family, and while it has been a long time since I have had a dog in my life, the delight and tradition of live-in furry companions has been a vibrant part in the lives of my adult children and all of our family stories.

About a month ago, we said goodbye to Grandoggie Magnus who was part of my NYC daughter’s family. He was a sturdy French Bulldog…a breed that always elicits enthusiastic and admiring conversations on the street with other lovers of pug-nosed breeds.

My daughter L, son-in-law B and grandaughter G loved Magnus beyond compare and indeed there are many tender and humorous memories over the almost 15 years he was with them. I love this picture of baby Magnus when he first came into their family:

My daughter L said recently of the  special place Magnus had in their family life:  “Some people just have dogs but don’t pay too much attention to them..they just have a dog. But we talk to our dogs all the time and interact with them constantly” and so there is a magical communication and relationship going on at all times that is a delight to witness and to experience with both animal and people.

Magnus was very old when he crossed over… no teeth, blind, frail and not able to bend over to eat his food, which he still enjoyed to the full. I was so filled with emotion when I saw my daughter sitting on the floor feeding him with a spoon for his meals, which..being a snub-nosed Frenchie, he lapped up with great noisy gusto. I teased my daughter that I hoped that when I got that old, I would be taken care of that well too.

My son-law B has a quirky sense of humor..actually our whole family does…and he had a unique loving and playful relationship with Magnus,  referring to him as “My Buddy”, taking him to meetings and play dates in the park with the informal French Bulldog people who loved to gather and share their love of  and life with this breed.

Magnus had several girlfriends there with whom he stayed when his family had to travel without him, as dog owners will often exchange and reciprocate babysitting hospitality amongst them when necessary.

Magnus  here with three of his doggie park girlfriends, Dixie, Dari and Pixie. It’s easy to see why a harem collected around him wherever he went.

Magnus girlfriends

I believe there were often events at the dog park like Halloween parties for the pups, but even then,  Magnus loved Halloween and often dressed up to accompany my grandaughter for trick or treating.

Here when Magnus was a pumpkin and G a princess of  some sort one Halloween (he got treats too!) :

My grandaughter dances with a ballet company in the big city and Magnus, though he could not attend class, practiced ballet with her at home. He even had his own tutu (which he only wore in the Apartment).

Magnus though a terror to cardboard boxes and vaccum cleaners when he was younger learned the art of deep relaxation in his later years after play dates and walks in the park with his family and various Frenchie girlfriends.

Magnus dressed up for his 13th Birthday party, with special treats from his family. (Oh how he loved parties. With treats…who can believe he also loved frozen brussels sprouts too…)

Our pets are wonders in our lives whether we live live with them or enjoy them during family visits. There is much more to the story of Magnus and to the special family he lived with. Much love to my daughter L, son-law B, and grandaugher G who shared so magnificently their own love and home with Magnus for so many years.

He will always be a special part of our family history.

***PHOTO CREDITS: Bill Bragger

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

A toast to Magnus!

 

 

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MoonCircle Three

Ah! The Dark Moon/New Moon in Libra. Libra: one-on-one commited relationships ie business partners? Professional and client? MARRIAGE? (also ­art, harmony, beauty, balance/imbalance, dependency/co-dependency, negotiation vs autonomy, gracefulness, diplomacy, and nice-nice for the sake of peace at all costs).

Journaling:

I have spent a good part of my adult life in partnerships and a bigger part of it as a single. In each of those two states I have been fully “in” it as it unfolded.  And I have learned important things in each……relationship with other and relationship with self.

The experience of being single and “in charge of myself and decision-making” without having to negotiate with another has afforded me the deep silence and extended times of chosen solitude necessary for the creative expressive part of my life’s calling. This freedom is an intense personal need that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

The single life allows me the quiet and mental space in which to hear the inner promptings of inspiration and creativity. Just like the woman in the mandala alone in the greenhoouse planting beautiful flowers or the the woman taking time out to sit back and just be, without guilt or having to follow another’s schedule, I have  treasured the autonomy of being “single” and have somewhat chosen this in spirit if not in reality. I think. Because..

I also know that the warmth and sharing of devoted partnership or one-on-one intimacy is equally precious …when it is working at its best….in shared commitment and loyalty,  hugs, family time, conversations, brain-storming, task-sharing in the household, private games and shared jokes and humour, the history of trials and steadfastness…gifts, all.

Perhaps it is possible to have both, but I have yet to solve the challenge of that and though I am grateful to have experienced both, I am not sure exactly what it is the path that is truly the right one for me as I get older… now.

In this Dark Moon/New Moon in LIBRA mandala, my feelings gravitate towards the two images of the solo moments. Perhaps it is that as I have gotten older, have been partnered/married I am not now willing to give up large portions of my soul just for the sake of “peace” within relationship that threatens that. The partnership images are enticing…but it would definitely have to be the right person who would allow me to take periodic sanctuary into my own private personal soul-space.

Maybe it is a lifetime exercise in all relationships to work with the balancing of “self and other”.

Dark Moon Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Eyes See You

                                                          Eyes See You

Yesterday while finishing up the transaction in line at the grocery store, the young clerk handed me my change and the receipt. As I took it, I did something shocking. Smiling,  I caught his eye  as I said “thank you” and for the briefest second or two a flash of human connection happened which startled him before he shyly smiled back his eyes locked with mine.  Not just a clerk and a customer and a quick  “have a good one”  but an actual rich moment of recognition, appreciation, acknowledgement and respect between two strangers.

How rare that is these days, as we mindlessly look away from people,  and out or down into distractions…hand-held phones, I-pads,  lists, or the never-ending agendas and self-talk in our mind  blinding us from really seeing and “being-HERE- now” in the present situation. How equally rare it is to  “wake up” amd turn away from those many other things crowding awareness of who is right in front of us…to consciously break away  from distraction for a moment to actually turn and LOOK at another directly eye-to eye to SEE and be SEEN.

It’s a tricky thing,  this eye-contact because we are stepping into the area of intimacy, vulnerability and the momentary revelation of our deeply personal tender human-ness. As it is said “The eyes are the doorway to the Soul”.   To not look at all into the eyes of others is to dismiss them and be only partially present. But to turn and look directly for even a second too long breaches necessary personal boundaries and is rude and even worse, invasive.

But when we can, to turn and let our eyes truly see whom we are talking to, or to risk the exposure in letting ourselves be seen fully for even the briefest moment can be the healing balm of connection in the often fast, soul-less pace of modern life. A “sparkle” in the ordinariness of the day.

For the briefest moment, the precious gift or blessing of “Eyes See You”  between people…and SMILES… can, I believe, change the world within oneself, within the other and  in the World.

**** An Art installation: “The Artist is Present”…sitting silently gazing eye-to-eye with strangers…until… “a (familiar)stranger” from the past emerges…. exquisitely beautiful and moving…another Eyes See You……

 

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_oFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship, but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

Yarden mow (2)

Every front has a back and every life has a public and a private reality. In the practice of “dreamwork” we use the terms “The Conscious” and “The Unconscious” to understand the parts of us that we ordinary identify with and know about ourselves in some sort of orderly fashion and predictability vs the part of us that is more hidden behind the scenes(or underground to use a green metaphor) and often surprises us with unexpected behaviours or bursts of unplanned genius and creativity. In truth, in a balanced life, we need to allow for the activities of both territories.

Ancient writers, philosophers and poets have often used the garden as a metaphor for the soul and I find that it is so, as an expression of the way we live our lives. Thoughtful awareness, intention, focus, purpose, conscious planning and follow-through often (but not always!) produce the results we intended. The garden, tamed and contained, has a pleasing order, and is its own delight. In my world it is on the front lawn……what I can see from the open front door of my living room and what others can see as they pass by. Well tended,  watched over for the expected daily bursts of growth, what’s been consciously and deliberately planted appears (mostly) as planned.

Garden June 25

What is NOT seen from the well-planned front lawn of the Conscious mind is that back yarden that is always there and active altho un-tended with deliberate mindfulness and attention. No human “control” issues back there. That does not mean it is not FULL of life and things not ordinarily thought about. It TEEMS with wildness and creativity, this un-mowed territory, and it teems with the encoded genetic and experiential memory of weeds and herbs and vines, and roots and ferns and mosses and all manner of ancient life still blossoming all around us. Stepping around the house from the front to the back yarden there is a kind of shock entering this world of seeming chaos. Isn’t that an appropriate and understandable response or reaction when the wildness of the Unconscious bursts through into our well-ordered lives?

Yarden mow (2)

I  faux-lamented to a friend about this behind the scenes chaos, that in the  abandonment of control behind the house, my “lawn” had turned into an un-mowed field. Being an Englishman of proper language, he informed me that over there, it is called a “meadow“.

How lovely to think of this overgrown and untended area with the word “meadow”… a place to run through, investigate and play in discovering a wildness, as we should when immersed in living with “soul”. I much prefer now to think of that un-mowed part of my life as a meadow rather than a chaotic mess to tame and subdue with my imposed willfulness and intention, letting it reveal wonders and surprises to me if I just let it be.

Yarden mow   back

Later today, I will be stepping into that green chaos and see what’s out there and will report what I find in the next chapter here of  the My Garden, My Soul series…

Flower Child      Veriditas! from Christine,  the Greening Spirit

All my writing does seem to be a mix of order and wildness of thought! Check that out in my other blogs:

http://wordmagicandthelawof attraction.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

DREAMING Your Life Alive!

For over 20 years I have been leading ,and participating in, retreats, workshops and circles of Dreamers…people who live authentically from the “Inside-Out”  by honoring, collecting, sharing, and working with their dreams.  Implementing the inate guidance and wisdom that comes up from the depths of the personal and collective Uncomscious through the mists of night, the Dreamers have been blessed with a freshness of Inspiration and personal practical and spiritual direction that has added magic, delight, humour,perspective ,wisdom, and instruction to their unfolding lives.

We do not live in a culture that makes a point of valuing  our dreams in this way. For the mainstream, the  question “what’s your dream?”  often evokes a response as to vacationing somewhere exotic, having a certain kind of car, more money, or in general having more of some kind of “stuff”. These are dreams that are fed from the “Outside-In”, often from advertising and programming of the media.

To Soul-Seekers and to  certain indigenous cultures,  that  same question has more to do with LISTENING to the images and promptings that emerge from the Dream as personal guidance to live a more balanced, uniquely authentic,healthy, creative  and generous life…in otherwords,  “DREAMING your Life ALIVE”.

In these times of economic and cultural challange and upheaval,  many people have found that the “outside ” Dream they have been pursuing has fallen apart or turned to dust in unprecedented cultural chaos. Often that “outside”  Dream  has been packaged and fed to us by advertising, and the images generated by a consumerist-driven mentality and society.

Perhaps, then, we might now re-assess which images we pay attention to for which direction we follow.Perhaps we can now turn inward to pay attention to the “Inner Dreams” that have always been there within us, and which are trying very ardently to speak to us in  this time of change, if only we will stop to listen and honor that deep and compassionate voice.

Perhaps, then a  most precious gift of the night is to DREAM our Lives ALIVE!!   (more on Dreams  in upcoming posts)

For personal help in working with your dreams in one-on-one Dream or Spiritual Direction appointments, please refer to INSIGHT GUIDANCE Services on this site. In person or by phone. Christine, the greeningspirit

I am listening to two beautiful and powerful audio programs, THE POWER OF SLOW, by  Carl Honore and SABBATH by Wayne Muller (www.soundstrue.com).  Both of these programs address the frantic pace of this culture we live in that is addicted to speed, multi-tasking, busy-ness, consumerism and mindless pop culture. We are all in it, and many of us are exhausted and “moving forward” so fast, or spinning right where we are but “getting” nowhere truly satisfying . We often feel on automatic pilot having lost touch with our Center,  yet  longing to STOP,PAUSE, LISTEN, and REST  long enough to re-define  and savour what is true  and treasured in out lives.

I mention this in connection with DREAMS, having directed our monthly Dreams and Inner Healing  Retreat Day this past Sunday (a small and intimate group this time around) which incorporated  silence, a meditation by Celtic poet John’ODonohue, reflective sharing and personal updating, followed by an afternoon of  listening to and working on a dream of each participant. The day was slow, deep and transformational…a time apart from anything experienced during the ordinary work week. 

It required all of us to commit to taking this time away as a kind of Sabbath (on the Sabbath too!) for refreshment, renewal, prayer and pondering. It called upon us to to take seriously the communication that comes through our nightly dreams from our Deep and Authentic Self and the exquisite promptings of Soul and the Divine. Within this monthly Dream Circle,  as we deeply share these marvelous, intriguing, sometimes funny, sometimes un-nerving nightly stories that seem to write themselves on their own right  out of our psyches, we are amazed and delighted always, and always we are changed, transformed, guided into the next chapter of our lives that bring a new aliveness and authenticity.

It requires a commitment to yourself to pay attention to your dreams, whether or not you have a Circle or Spiritual Advisor with whom to work.  That commitment requires the awareness to implement the practice of SLOW when waking up in order to capture the dream, which WILL evaporate faster than the morning mists as you pop out of bed to get going, check your e-mail, listen to the morning news and enter the whirlwind pace of the dominant culture.

It is handy to have a notebook or an index card and pen next to your bed to at least jot down a few words that will act like anchors to ground the dream in your consciousness, and around which the dream will fill out later when you have a chance to be still. For those of you who have the luxury to emerge from sleep slowly and languidly, writing the dream while you are still emerging from the mists of the night will gift you with a treasure of immeasurable wisdom and guidance.

It must be noted however, that aside from living in a FAST culture and consciousness, that there are people who ARE  Dreamers, and there are people for whom the dream is not an ongoing part of their experience. The invitation is two-fold…if you ARE a Dreamer, do honour the dreams that come through you…they WANT to be captured and of service to you! If  you are a person who does not remember your dreams, but might like to…please know that many times dreams are not remembered because the Culture does not provide a space, a time or attention to them as a source of wisdom….often, just talking about dreams or reading a post on them, such as this, will invite your awareness to be alert to the possibility that a special Dream is just waiting and longing to pop through your consciousness to talk with you! 

Slow Down! Capture the Dreams of your Heart! Savour and live with Veriditas!    You will be blessed! Christine, greeningspirit

 **This Sunday, the ongoing all day Dreamcircle Retreat will be held at the Greening Spirit’s place from 11-4:30. Please bring your dream,written out in the present tense…and food to share for lunch! “Dreamer’s Tea” will be served, from the garden  (mugwort, scullcap,lemon balm and spearmint)**

THE POWER AND WISDOM OF YOUR DREAMS

On the Journey in a life that incorporates  wisdom gathered from both the Outer and the Inner Worlds,  paying attention to the inate guidance provided in the “Dreamtime” is one of the most valuable personal blessings which we may draw upon for direction in our lives.

The dominant everyday and materialistic culture we are presently living in,  is not known for drawing guidance from the depths of Soul, and is not particularly enamoured of the slow, or contemplative way of gathering information for wise direction and guidance. Being addicted to speed,  technology and the mass consciousness of consumerism, we are often pulled away from a unique, authentic, creative and spiritually vibrant life.

However, in other cultures, especially indigenous ones, the power of THE DREAM  was very much a part of the wisdom system, consciousness and CONSCIENCE of the people, guiding them and re-balancing them into a way of life that was good for all concerned ( the Community) , and therefore, for the individual. 

 In the stunning audio program Becoming an Oracle: Connecting to the Divine Source for Information and Healingby Shamanic teacher, Nicki Scully (check the audio programs on Soundstrue.com), there is an amazing guided meditation to Australia and the sacred “Dreaming Time” experiences of the Aboriginal peoples, who “go” where their dreams lead them, both physically and culturally. The Iroquois People (especially the Mohawk) of North America also had/have a strong reverence for the Dream as a powerful gift of the Creator to communicate with and guide the community into right and balanced living. 

As  part of my work,  I accompany/teach people in the practice of gathering and working with their nightly dreams through:

  • one-on-one spiritual direction/guidance sessions
  •  in our ongoing once-a-month all day Dream Circle  retreats  inviting in interested newcomers on ocassion  (we have been working together for over 16 years!)  
  • in periodic Dreams  and Inner Healing Workshops/Retreats  for training in the sacred skills of paying attention to, gathering , working with, and creatively manifesting the guidance of your dreams in your life and personal unfolding, through dreamtasks involving art, writing, creative pursuits and new behaviours. (check upcoming events schedule page)
  • In certain situations, when 4-6 interested people have expressed the desire to learn more in such a retreat, we also make it happen for you and a group of your comapnions who wish to learn together!

In the next week, there will  be several parts to The Power and Wisdom of your Dreams  post.  Please check back!

To contact me for more information/appoinments please e-mail me at cphoenixrising@earthlink.net with the header “Dreams!” Thank you, Christine, thegreeningspirit

(Please click on the “INSIGHT GUIDANCE SERVICES-click HERE first ” page and check ”Dreams and Inner Healing” under the Retreats and Workshops   page for more information.  Thank you!)

 

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