THE WAY/This is the WAY…

“We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy. Counselors will be on hand at the church tomorrow,” the church wrote. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.”

~from the First Baptist Church of New Braunfuls Texas regarding an accident where several of their members were killed

Saying he did not want the film to appeal to only one demographic, Emilio Estevez called the film “pro-people, pro-life, not anti-anything”

Emilio Estevez, Director of THE WAY

osho

A few days ago, I started to write something about one of my very favorite movies. THE WAY stars Martin Sheen and is written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez.

“Beautifully and elegantly shot, The Way is a straightforward and moving tale of the bond between father and son, a reconciliation between the generations. In this case, it doesn’t occur on the mortal plane – the bereaved father, closed off emotionally, experiences a gentle conversion to his late son’s free-spirited approach to life”

I wanted to write about THE WAY because there’s something about it–  hard for me to put into words but watching it, always makes life make sense and brings everything together for me even in these very dark times. I feel happy, hopeful, inspired. I have probably watched it at least 15 times and I’ll watch it again and again.

THE WAY is spiritual but not religious though El Camino de Santiago/The Way of St. James Basílica_de_Santiago_02originally began as a Catholic pilgrimage during the 9th century. The story goes beyond separation and the characters are real, people you would love to know. There is no pretense, no phoniness, no sex or violence, martin sheenand no Hollywood influence in spite of Martin Sheen playing the lead role.

So I was going to write a story about it but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to say and then yesterday, not far from where I used to live in Texas, there was an accident, a church bus was hit head on by a pickup and 13 people were killed. I saw the video of the destroyed bus, the bodies on the ground and the hearses, fire trucks and ambulances and I immediately thought of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her research on near death experience. Elisabeth had collected the stories from many who had had a near death experience and some told her that they were aware of people who prayed for them as they passed by the scene of the accident. I’ve always remembered that when I pass the scene of an accident or a dead animal on the side of the road.

Just the day before, a friend of a friend had been killed in a head-on collision and so all of this was on my mind: Are they at peace, do they feel our thoughts, our sorrow?

And then I happened to read this statement from The First Baptist Church of New Braunfuls: “We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy. Counselors will be on hand at the church tomorrow,” the church wrote. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.”

If you’re a Christian you can pray for them??? otherwise not???? How arrogant and worse. What about the rest of us who aren’t Christian? What if you’re Native American, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. Does whoever wrote this statement actually believe that non Christians don’t pray..or that their prayers don’t count?

And then I thought about THE WAY and why I feel so hopeful watching it. Because there is no separation, no righteousness, no pretense, no attempt to convert. The-Way-MovieThe characters are not even on a religious pilgrimage: a Canadian woman is trying to quit smoking, a Dutch man is trying to lose weight, an Irish man has writers block and Tom Avery, Martin Sheen’s character describes himself as a lapsed Catholic.

And yet on their journey, these 4 people who initially don’t even like each other, come together almost as one, with an appreciation for each other and an understanding about life..and death, that can only be experienced, not taught.

‘The whole journey is about showing our brokenness,’ he says. ‘It’s about opening up and being human. And that’s what spirituality really is. It’s humanity.’

~Martin Sheen speaking about THE WAY

Separation is everywhere and it will eventually poison everything and everyone.  Many years ago when I lived in Houston, Texas, I went to an Episcopal church there. It was an upscale church and I went as many did, for social reasons. I went until one day I got a call from someone on a church committee raising money to… in a sense make this particular church better than the other Episcopal churches in Houston. I can’t remember exactly what that person said but it was about competition, money, being better than. I left the Church and organized religion then and never went back.

At about this same time, I used to go to AA Meetings. My beloved counselor, John Bradshaw wanted me to go and I did for a while but I could not relate. The AA members referred to the people who did not belong as ‘civilians’..the message: we in AA are superior. One day a homeless man came in from off the street. He had brought a six pack of beer with him and he sat down hoping [it seemed to me] to just be part of something. But no one ever looked at him or spoke to him. They had forgotten where they had come from. They had become superior and the homeless man…..homeless_man_on_street left more alone than he had come.

[When I next saw John Bradshaw, I told him that ‘the only time I had a desire to drink’ was after an AA meeting. ‘Then don’t go.” he said . “It’s not right for you.”]

So what’s the point. The point is Separation..Separation caused by religions, countries, borders. Being better than, being superior to, our religion is the only one, our country is the best [“We’re making America great!] The comment from the church “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.” went out on the national news….separation…we’re different….your not a Christian…you don’t belong.

Put this way in the teachings of the Anishnabe People of Canada:

“To understand the spirit of humility is to understand that no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.

To be humble is to see us equally in the eyes of the Great Spirit through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit. His love is expressed to all of us in the same way that the sun will shine on us. The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.”

~Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene

*Please visit our online store, LA CASA DE ROSAS which doesn’t exactly have anything to do with THE WAY but then again, maybe it does

Hearts and Roses/DARK TO LIGHT

2 HEARTS:FLOWERS

HEARTS AND ROSES  Jody Armjo

I put my heart next to my bed to remind me of the love GOD has for all of us.”

~Connie, Houston,Texas

The heart is hanging over the top of the urn with Milagro’s ashes. It’s placed on my altar…..I want to take my time when & where his ashes will be buried. I usually buy a solar powered garden angel  & I will hang the heart from the angel & Milagro’s ashes will be buried below.

~Stephanie/Wanagi Wolf Rescue Albuquerque, NM

“Art is a reflection of humanity, and humanity’s greatest virtue is its ability to overcome adversity.” ~Christopher Zara

Whenever I’ve bought art in the past, if possible, I like to know where the art came from: who the artist was and what caused  him or her to create the art. It makes it so much more meaningful to me and then if someone is in my home, looking at an art piece, I can pass on the story of how and why it came to be. The stories are as important as the art.

As an example: I have a Native American friend in Taos who had some very serious alcohol problems when he was young. He tried several times to get into a Detox facility but never could. “One day” he said, “I closed the door to my house and started painting.. and the need to drink left.” Forty years later he’s still painting and not drinking.

when-the-moon-came-out

When the Moon Came Out  Jonathan Warm Day Coming

I have several of Jonathan’s paintings and when I tell his story, it inspires others and maybe they pass it on to a friend or family member. Maybe someone else finds an end to drugs or drinking through art.

I have another friend, a legendary painter who spent 11 years of his childhood in a hospital for children with bone diseases. It was there that he learned to draw and paint and there that he learned compassion. His painting was born out of that painful, lonely and difficult time.

apricot_david leffel

Apricot and Dragonfly  David Leffel

Those years in the hospital also left him with a desire to help and into his 80s, he has taught painting to lifers in San Quentin Prison…

David_SanQuentin GROUP3 2

Legendary painter , David Leffel teaching painting to inmates at San Quentin Prison

gold barb wire:prisonJody Armijo  [the Brown Piglet in this blog] spent several years of his younger life in prison or jail.JODY-close-pastI’ve written his story in previous posts so I won’t write anymore here except to say that is where his art began…in prison.

handkerchief pen:ink:closer #6

Rose Handkerchief   Jody Armijo

I  never know who is reading this blog unless someone posts a comment or becomes a follower. Lately a lot more people have been reading the posts though I don’t know why. It’s a strange feeling writing a blog…it’s as if the words you write just go out into space and is anyone catching them? You don’t know.

*What I’m asking in this particular post is to Please share it, in particular Please Share our online Etsy store, LA CASA DE ROSAS. This is the place where you can buy the unique and  beautiful personal altars that Jody makes as well as his hearts and crosses.

pink-crosspillow-case

Coral Cross/Red Rose  Jody Armujo

We, Jody and I, live a very simple off the grid lifestyle in the mountains of northeastern New Mexico. Norte_mountainsWe have rescued several animals: horses, wolf dogs and cats. We have learned to use barter a lot- for hay, for meat for the wolfdogs. The sun provides electricity, the forest which must be thinned, wood for heat.

Our special contribution in this life time comes through our art: Jody’s altars, hearts and crosses and my documentary films. Whatever we create, is created with a lot of love and care and whatever we create we hope, will carry this love as well as inspiration and sometimes even transformation, to those who purchase it.

Thank you then for passing this on and thereby helping us continue our life’s work and our way of life. jody:redman:tipipuck-leg-upredmansakina-leads-packphantom stareselenaosa-2                                                      WE ARE ALL APPRECIATIVE!!!

TURNING INTO SOMEONE WHO HAS SOMETHING TO GIVE/The Healing Power of Art

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong….. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
~Tupac Shakur The Rose that Grew from Concrete

*I wasn’t really planning to make this story into a post but a friend of mine who is a chaplain in Little Rock, Arkansas asked me to write it for her. She is opening up a home for women who have experienced abuse, addictions and incarceration and she thought she might want to use this story in some way. And I realized just how much it has to do with the miraculous healing power of Art.

Jody Armijo came into my life about 7 years ago when I moved into a very small Hispanic community in northern New Mexico.

He came to my gate, wanting to visit and I didn’t let him in. I had heard that he had been in prison though I didn’t know for what and I was afraid of him. jody-don't come here copyHe was wearing a do-rag, had a lot of tattoos and was pretty rough looking. Very different from the men I had grown up around who were usually blond, light skinned and clean cut. I called my neighbor as soon as he left and told him I was scared.

A year later Jody came to work at my place as part of a small construction crew that my neighbor had put togetherdeck framed:jody:willy. willy:jody vigasI no longer felt afraid but I had a very difficult time communicating with him. He was extremely shy and when I tried to talk to him, he usually walked away. Later I realized that besides being very shy, there was a language barrier: his first language is Spanish, I don’t speak Spanish and he probably didn’t know what I was talking about a lot of the time.

But he started bringing me some art that he had done and that was how we first began to communicate. What he brought originally was the beautiful handkerchief art called Panos usually made by Hispanic inmates.handkerchief pen:ink:closer #6

I saw that he had talent but no money to buy art supplies so I started buying him some colored markers and paints. And in appreciation, he began making things for me: handkerchiefs,pooh hanky #8

tv tables painted with crosses and roses, and a large painted piece of the Virgin of Guadalupe to go over my bed.virgin close up

It was probably another year before he talked about prison-I think he felt ashamed and didn’t know how I would react. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t want anymore to do with him.

He had been in prison twice, once in Colorado-5 years for dealing drugs and once in New Mexico for 18 months.prison interior He’s never wanted to talk about why he was sent back the second time. I think it was for fighting-I think he beat someone up pretty badly but I never pushed him to share any more than he wanted to.

He told me that every time he got out of prison or jail, he went back to ‘the same playground’ and so the cycle continued. Then one night he got stabbed pretty badly and almost died and it was then that he made a decision to change his life. jody:eli springHe came back to the small rural community where he was born and he went back to living close to the land early morning brandas he had been taught by his grandparents.

His feeling was just to stay out of trouble, work as a carpenter but only within the community and to make enough money to buy beer and cigarettes. He didn’t hope for or ask for anything more.

But he became a caretaker for my place and I kept buying him art supplies and his art evolved in a way like I have never seen before. He went from the handkerchiefspiglet f hanky to woodcarving,run wild:wicker

TURTLE PLAQUE 1 copybuffalo carving

to making tables and doors and gatesjody's tree gate he did some beautiful stoneworknicho:gate 3:13 and eventually he started making handmade, hand painted altars for people.mother-of-roses-altarPURPLE:90+ ROSES ALTARSvalentine altar-candles

And as people began to praise his work and he began to sell things, his self-esteem grew and grew. He had once referred to himself as a gofer and now he was an artist.dove:robin cross:drum

GOLD CROSS-TREE copy He had some pieces in local art exhibits, shops and church gift shops and his pieces sold.jody treasures 2

He is not a saint. He still deals with anger that comes from a very abusive childhood but while he once seemed unable to control it, he is now able, most of the time to see it and stop it from over powering him. As he puts it “I watch myself a lot better now.”

He will probably always drink a fair amount of beer though it is much less than what it was when I met him, when alcohol was his only companion. He has extreme PTSD that started in childhood and then got much worse in prison. jody:his big plantHe takes natural medication for this and knows what his limitations are…mostly that he cannot go into the city and be around a lot of people because he becomes very nervous, fearful and then angry.

But I believe that he will continue to grow and change because he has found his path. He has gone from someone who was once kicked out of 2 New Mexico towns for fighting and who along with his cousins, was known as a monstruo [monster] JODY-close-pastto a kind and gentle man

JODY:SHILOH:LAP2

Jody Armijo and Shiloh

who wants to give back and to help in whatever way he can. More and more I see him as the softhearted little boy that he was,child jody before his violent and abusive father demanded that he become a fighter.

When I asked him recently, to give me a statement for an art exhibit he was participating in, he wrote:

“I WANT TO GIVE BACK AND TO THANK THE CREATOR FOR MY ART THAT TAKES ME TO THE SECRET PLACE OF LIFE.”

*Jody’s altars are now available at our new etsy store, LA CASA DE ROSAS

The Light In The Shadow – Preview from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.

Raising Money to Save Brown Piglets from Texas Wildfires

Are you lost in the world like me?

If the systems have failed?

Are you free?

All the things, all the loss

Can you see?

Are you lost in the world like me?

Like me?

A few days ago I went to my gofundme page to edit it and make some changes. But alas, a message popped up! The message said that the gofundme team had noticed I was trying to raise money for wildfires, that their main goal is to protect against fraud and I needed to let them know who I was and what I was doing etc., etc.gofund wildfires

Now I’ve had the gofundme campaign for 8 months and my page is and has always been about my work over the past 30 years, with terminally ill people, parents who have lost a child,File_01 jim and jason First Nations People….grandmother-turtle-lodge and a little about prison reform.Taos News Article Prison Documentary_June 25 2015

People I have worked with: parents, chaplains, artists etc wrote letters about the work and I combined these with film clips and photos making it a beautiful and inspiring story.

I have NEVER tried to raise money for wildfires.

So I contacted the gofundme customer service and after several emails back and forth, they explained that they had reviewed my campaign and though it was exactly as I had said it was they could not remove the message about raising money for wildfires unless I took out the words “Texas” and “The 8th Fire.” I explained that most of my work with AIDSFile_01 mimi quilt and Hospice had taken place in Texas and that The 8th Fire is one of our most important documentary films on First Nations wisdom and teachings. So NO, I’m not removing these words.

And so they will not remove the message.

But the point of all this is this strange robotic, non human thing I’ve noticed lately where people are not able to go beyond a few words that they have been programed to say such as “I do apologize” or “I’m here for you”. In this case they cannot explain to me why they cannot remove this message about wildfires even though they have seen that my campaign has not one thing to do with them.

All they can say is something like “It’s our policy.” What does that mean???

Something similar happened recently when Century Link cut off my long distance service for no apparent reason. The customer service woman was human [I think] but all she could say was “I do apologize” and  “It takes 7-14 business days to reconnect it” WHY?  “It takes 7-14 business days to reconnect it.” She could not reach beyond these 2 phrases…it was like trying to communicate with a robot.

*I wonder now if the gofundme team might notice that my blog is titled “Poohandthebrownpiglet” and accuse me next of raising money for brown piglets?       Because “there seems to be no sign of intelligent life here.”

eli:tillyOut here where I live, the people live close to the land, close to nature. Their lives revolve around caring for their animals and their gardens, of cutting wood to heat their little houses. And there is often an elderly grandma or grandpa that they are caring for. Life remains much as it has for hundreds of years and though many now have cell phones and computers, they are used mostly for necessary communication.

I feel very fortunate to live in this way as I think most people are beginning to realize that we are fast approaching, if not already living in the times written about in George Orwell’s book 1984…..and that the human race cannot continue as it is. It has been said:  ” Now the caterpillar can crawl no farther. It must turn into a butterfly.”

Nineteen Eighty-Four….is a novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell. The novel is set in Airstrip One… in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak, the government’s invented language. The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime”, which is enforced by the “Thought Police”.

The tyranny is ostensibly overseen by Big Brother, the Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power..”

  Now it’s time, it’s  the time for people to wake up..

~Anisnabe Elder, Dave Courchene from The 8th Fire

It is a VERY frightening time to be alive on this Earth but I believe there is hope though our survival is by no means guaranteed. I’m writing this post for HOPE …. there are many people who are devoting their lives to helping people ‘wake up’..before it’s too late. Eckhart Tolle and David Icke are two of the people I personally have the most respect for.

And from my point of view, I think the greatest chance for our survival lies in Reconnecting-Reconnecting with Nature, with Animals, with People especially those in need of help, in Disconnecting from ‘the news/propaganda’, from excess technology [texting, video games, SELFIES etc]….and in  Remembering “Who We Really Are”

“What we call society is the sum total of human thinking and feeling. It is a reflection of our attitudes. When we change them, we change society. We are only a change of mind away from real freedom, the freedom to express our God-given uniqueness and celebrate the diversity of gifts, perceptions and inspiration that exist within the collective human psyche. The creative force is within us all and desperate to express itself.”
  ~David Icke, The Biggest Secret: The book that will change the World



Eating Twinkies in the Park..with GOD

When you make your transition, you are asked two things basically: how much love you have been able to give and receive and how much service you have rendered. And you will know every consequence of every deed, every thought, every word you’ve ever uttered and that is symbolically going through hell when you see how many chances you have missed.

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross MD  from Graceful Passages

The quickest way to change the world is to be of service to others. Show that your love can make a difference in the lives of people and thereby someone else’s love can make a difference in your life. By each of us doing that and working together we change the world one inner person at a time.

~Dannion Brinkley, author of Saved by the Light

This morning I was taking a quick look at Facebook and I came upon this little video, Eating Twinkies in the Park with GOD which I will post it below. There is a feeling about it, a reminder of how very simple it is to bring happiness into this world…..

I wrote a post a few days ago which I called I’m a Self Promoter TODAY/Tell it like it is but Tell it from the Heart.

It was an especially difficult post for me to write because it was a plea for help and I’ve been having to make a lot of pleas for help lately…actually I felt humiliated writing it but I also felt I had no choice. I reminded myself that people ask for help all the time-people who rescue animals as I do, people who need help with medical expenses, with daily living expenses etc. and I reminded myself that I have given a lot to others… Still I felt ashamed when I published the post.

But even though I felt ashamed, still I did think that there would be some response, even just some words of encouragement. I had written honestly and from the heart and I thought that a few  people at least, would identify with what I was facing: the looming, fearful prospect of having no electricity and thus no water. But there was nothing.

Then a friend made a comment on my Facebook page saying “Cindy, I am so proud to call you friend” and with these words, I felt happy…like the sun was starting to shine again and maybe I wasn’t as stupid and pathetic as I had thought.

There was nothing more until last night when I got an email telling me that I had gotten a donation on my gofundme page. Checking it out, I saw that it from someone I didn’t know, a woman from Iran now living in London and a pretty well known poet. She had written me a message too which said in part “Your consideration for others (people, animals, nature) speaks volumes. I hope you are never discouraged and continue to shine your bright light.” Someone who didn’t know me at all had taken the time to send a contribution and a message of encouragement.

Like the verse from this poem, Drop a Pebble in the Water by James Foley:

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort
on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume
of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
in a minute you forget; 
But there’s gladness still a-swelling,   
and there’s joy circling yet,     
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort       
whose sweet music can be heard         
Over miles and miles of water            
just by dropping one kind word.

So when I watched Eating Twinkies in the Park with GOD, I had the same feeling.  How simple it is to share Twinkies, a few words and a smile and change someone’s life….. and it goes both ways too.

THE HOUSE OF ROSES

EQUADOR ROSE 2Several months ago, I had a dream about a beautiful store and I wrote this about it:

“A few nights ago I had a dream about a beautiful, magical, mystical store. I was walking on a sort of runway below it, looking up at this store and it seemed to be shimmering. I could see so many beautiful things in the window, just the kind of things I like and I wanted to get in but the store seemed to be closed. And then it opened and people were going in and I was in the store too.”

When I had this dream, I was working on creating an online store which I called POOH’S STORE. It was on a website called Big Cartel and I worked hard photographing various art pieces, Native American designed t-shirts and hoodies, prayer flags, pillows etc. The result was the store, the products looked beautiful but I just wasn’t into doing anything with it.

Every week, I would make a resolution to read all the email tips I get from Shopify and Etsy but I could not make myself do anything.

It wasn’t the right time.

About a year ago my partner Jody Armijo, started making altars at my request.

2 altars nightI’ve been fascinated by altars for a long time, really ever since  I used to do home health in Texas, traveling to see home bound patients in Austin and the surrounding areas. Many of these patients were Hispanic and very poor but what I remember most about these visits  were the altars in their homes, always with the with candles burning. Every time I visited one of these patient’s homes, I felt a feeling of warmth, of life, of every day reverence that was missing in other homes I visited.day_dead altar

Since Jody began making altars a year ago, he has sold several and so this past week I started creating a store on Etsy for the altars. I named the store LA CASA DE ROSAS/THE HOUSE OF ROSES. because he incorporates roses, lots of them into everything he does.PURPLE:90+ ROSES ALTARSvalentine altar-candles

I’ve written about Jody a lot, his life, where his art comes from etc, so I’m not going to write more here except to say this quote describes him and probably why he always includes roses in whatever he creates.

.“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong….. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
~Tupac Shakur The Rose that Grew from Concrete

In my vision, LA CASA DE ROSAS also represents a place: a place of beauty, of peace, of hope. Just now as I was writing this, I remembered back to when I was 7 years old and my dad, brother and I moved to Dallas Texas [I think none of us wanted to move except my dad who hoped to play golf all year around]. The house my parents bought had a rose garden but everything in that rose garden was dead and dried up, there were no roses, just the thorns. The roses had not been cared for and all the dead bushes affected life inside of our house which never became a home as my mother was dying during that year we moved. That rose garden symbolized that time in the life of our family.

Years later when my dad remarried, my stepmother spent a huge amount of money making the house and gardens beautiful. And though it was a beautiful house, it was only a superficial beauty. It was never a home.

LA CASA DE ROSAS is a place, a store but it’s also a feeling. It’s a place where it’s always Spring, and around the old adobe house with the turquoise door grow roses…It’s a little like that song, I Know Where Love Lives

You can buy Jody’s Altars here. They are meant to be for personal use, they are meant to bring hope and beauty and transcendence in this time when so many of us feel hopeless, depressed and discouraged. They are meant to bring in the angels.

There are also some other sacred art pieces: hearts and crossesBLUE HEART:FLOWERSBLUE CROSS:FLOWERS

Maybe La Casa de Rosas is the store, the place I dreamed about several months ago..now coming to life. I hope so.neo:la casa

*Photos of the Roses by Andy Pickard

 

I’m a Self Promoter TODAY/Tell it like it is but speak from the Heart!

If you’re lucky, you can convince an introvert to go to a concert or a movie. They’ll enjoy it, but what they won’t enjoy are the crowds. Standing next to a stranger at a concert who doesn’t understand personal space is somewhat of a nightmare come true for an introvert.

~by Gostica

“You want help? Ask for help. You want love? Ask for love. If you want anything from the universe, anything from yourself, you must first ask.”
~Kamand Kojouri

Several months ago when everyone was so angry and continuously expressing their opinions about the ‘presidential candidates’ on Facebook, I responded to a comment and a woman wrote back, telling me I had no compassion.

So thinking of a way to explain that I actually was very compassionate-a stupid game I realize- I sent a link to my gofundme page which tells of some of the work I’ve done over the past 30 years with terminally ill people, parents who have lost a child, Native American People and Elders. I wasn’t asking her to contribute, I just thought after she read about my work, she would understand.

But she became even angrier and accused me of being a self promoter.

This was funny because being a self promoter has always been very hard for me [funny too because the politician she was defending was and is a self promoter extraordinaire…they all are]

Anyway I’ve never liked being in the spotlight, I hate public speaking…I would always rather be in the background..behind the scenes, behind the camera rather than in front of it. I don’t mind promoting someone else though..that’s fun for me.

me 1rst gradeThe first time I remember being consciously aware of this was when I was in the second grade at the Hockaday School in Dallas. We had to play Bingo and I was so shy and so afraid I might win that I didn’t put my chips on the numbers when they were called..I didn’t want my name called out.

And that’s really never changed.

Many years ago I was in British Columbia, participating in one of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s Life Death and Transition workshops. There were usually about 70 people in these workshops and anyone who wanted to, worked with Elisabeth individually but in front of the group.

This seemed pretty terrifying but I was there to finish ‘unfinished business’ so when my turn came I made myself go up to the front to work with Elisabeth. ekr at workshop copyElisabeth never used a textbook approach. She worked with each person individually and her intuitive understanding of each person’s needs seemed to come from a much higher source……which was why she could never train people to take over her work.

So… when my turn came…she gave me something that she wanted me to do which was to go up to each person in the room and ask for a hug. And she told everyone that I had to ask first, otherwise they were not to give me a hug. She would leave the room while I was doing this.

“No, I don’t want to do this!” I thought..but I had to.

When Elisabeth came back, I had finished and she said “Did you learn your lesson, did you learn that you have to ask for what you need?”

But I didn’t really learn. Several years later I had a small grant to give presentations on AIDS to church and community groups. I was doing this through RITES OF PASSAGE, the non profit I had founded to provide care for people with AIDS.

cathedral-me-ttm1 copyOne Sunday I gave a presentation for an adult Sunday school class at an Episcopal church in Austin Tx. After my presentation [which went pretty well because I showed a video] a woman came up to me and offered to help with fundraising ideas. She was a professional fundraiser and when we met a few weeks later, she first asked me about any connections I might have. So I told her about my background and she said “You have connections I would give anything for. Why don’t you use them?” “I can’t” I said “I’ve always felt like Cinderella.”cinderella

“Well” she said “Maybe it’s time to get to the end of that story.”

So why am I a self promoter today? Because I need help. I’m asking for help. For me.

I’m asking for help because I’m about to lose all my electricity. I’m asking for help in raising money so I can replace the batteries for my solar system. The batteries are old and if I don’t replace them very soon, we will have NO electricity here. I live off the grid and the solar system provides all of the electricity for my home. No electricity means NO WATER because the batteries also run the pump for the well. I live very, very simply but I do not think I can live without water. chloe:redman happy

shiloh-with-roadieI have animals ….they need water. It’s a very frightening feeling if you can imagine.

And why should anyone help me? I don’t know..why does anyone help anyone else? Why are some people so quick to offer help and others prefer to sit in judgement. Do I deserve help, does anyone…does all the help I gave to others qualify me for help? I don’t know.

The story most of it-of how and why I lost everything is on my gofundme page so I’m not going to write anymore about it here. These past 2 years have been incredibly hard. Trying to pay off a lot of debt because I lost my salary and my savings, trying to live on $600 a  month [if you think it’s easy, do an experiment and try it for a couple months], trying to feel happy and to have faith when I feel terrified so much of the time…wondering if I’ll be sued, wondering if I’ll be homeless.

Several friends have helped me as I climb out of this very dark hole…they have made contributions, they have listened when I was at my lowest point..they have not judged me and I am thankful.

I started writing this blog for a few reasons but probably the main one was as a way to share some of what I learned from my close relationship with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, with Native American Elders and other spiritual teachers as well as what I learned from hospice patients, from parents who have lost a child, from living in a multi cultural community.

This blog has been a way of continuing the work I did..in another way. Though I still try to offer emotional support to people in need, I cannot do what I used to do with no money. Our last film, THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW on the US Prison System will not be finished because our funding was lost but I can continue to share what I’ve learned and I will for as long as I’m here.

I updated my gofundme page yesterday. If you want to help. I need to raise $4000. I don’t know what else to say other than I appreciate..so much..whatever is given and though these last years have been very hard, maybe this was the only way I could learn certain things, things I came to learn.

Where Intuition Leads..a short story

“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
These past 2 years, I have been reconnecting with friends that I’ve been out of touch with for a long, long time. And I’ve totally disconnected from some people who I once thought of as very close friends. And then I’ve made new friends. It’s been a confusing time where so often I followed my intuition only to feel that nothing was making any sense……it’s been a time of struggle, of challenges, of praying for a sign.
And I know that I write about pain and suffering a lot because death, loss, grief..they have been my teachers in this lifetime. I’ve never been a pretender-I have to write and speak what is true for me…but maybe this time of suffering is ending… and I’ve learned a lot.
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THE SIXTIES/THE DOCTORS’ WIVES

In 1967, I married a medical student, following my parents’ dreams and expectations. My husband Larry and I lived in Galveston while he completed medical school at The University of Texas Medical Branch. We lived on the top floor of a very old Victorian house,

victorian house_galves

This was not our house but one that looks very similar and on the same street

paying $55.00 a month rent and though the feeling didn’t last, it was maybe the only time in my life when I felt safe, protected from the world that had brought me so much pain. I remember a large and sunny front room where I painted and restored antique furniture that I bought at the salvation Army …it was a short lived time of peace: “Wake up in the morning with the sunshine in your eyes and the smell of flowers blooming fills the air” ~Mercy

Larry was in a medical fraternity ….phi kiand only a few of his friends were married but those who were, naturally gravitated toward each other.
Our first friends back then were Doug and Irene Rutherford. Many of the medical students were struggling financially and if they were married, their wives had to work. Not long before I got married, I  inherited some money from my grandparents so I didn’t have to work. Irene did..she was a nurse.Irene
 In July of Larry’s  junior year, our son Andy was born and Doug and Irene’s daughter, Teresa was born just a few months later.

 Sometimes  Irene and I took our babies to the beach….galveston beach and then Doug and Larry graduated. Overnight they went from Mr. to Dr…. Both of them had chosen to do their internships in Houston. Doug was going into Radiology, Larry into Surgery.

 
HOUSTON/THE DOCTORS’ WIVES GET DIVORCED
Houston was a big change in every way. The time of peace ended for me replaced by a time of abject misery. [You can’t ever escape your unfinished business by using marriage or relationships, money or anything else as a distraction..it will come back and demand to be dealt with]
I didn’t see Irene during those first years in Houston though we lived not far from each other. I think she was playing bridge with other doctor’s wives and I was a lost soul. File_01 hippie family copy I was VERY unhappy, drifting, drinking A LOT…I had no purpose, no goals. I felt ashamed of who I was [don’t ever try to live someone else’s dream] and my only reason for continuing to live was my son but I was too young and emotionally unstable to be a good mother.little andy:bear
The  years passed. I got divorced and Irene did also.
I was taking photography at Rice University and we had an assignment to take a meaningful portrait of someone. I took a photo of Irene sitting in her bentwood rocker with a look of grim determination on her face. A look that said she would make it through these very difficult times where life had not turned out the way she hoped it would. She would raise her 2 girls by herself and she was going back to nursing which was really her calling anyway….. and my photography professor really liked that photo!
Irene and I began spending time with another divorced friend who had also been married to a doctor and I think at some point, all of us were in counseling with the much loved addictions/codependency counselor, John Bradshaw… as we tried to find our way.
Then Irene remarried….Jack Townsend, a really nice guy and a tax attorneyjack and irene And I moved with my son to Austin, worked for hospice, and then started my own hospice type organization. I was not often in touch with her during those years though she helped me at times and  I knew she was supportive of the work I was doing.
Years and years passed…15 probably and one day I saw she was on Facebook. We briefly reconnected and sent each other Christmas cards. She was still happily married and moving to Virginia. I was living in a small, very humble Hispanic community in northeastern New Mexico. My partner is Hispanic, is uneducated by most people’s standards and has spent time in prison. [he’s also an angel most of the time, a very talented artist and he knows how to survive and live off the land–way more important than any college degree..out here where we live!]jody:gate 2:prison photos How would she or almost anyone I grew up with understand my lifestyle. The family I grew up with would judge me harshly, disown me [actually they already have]. Horrors! I can hear my stepmother say.

Though Irene and I were back in touch, it seemed to me that our lives, our lifestyles were now way too far apart to be able to communicate at all. [I was forgetting that Irene was brought up in a Hispanic family and also that she had spent years in Peru, providing medical care and holistic aid to the indigent and under-served people of Peru.]

CHRISTMAS 2016

christmas treeChristmas is often kind of a sad time for me and this past year was sadder than usual because for the first time ever, I didn’t have money to buy gifts for my grandchildren.

But I had a little altar that Jody, my partner had made and I thought I would like to send it to Irene. I had no idea whether she would like it and even thought she might be offended by it….I think people sometimes connect altars with Catholicism and Irene is not Catholic though she was raised that way.

Nevertheless I had a feeling to send it and so Jody and I carefully wrapped it up and I took it to the post office and sent it off. It was very fragile with lots of clay roses and I kept tracking it but it wasn’t getting to its destination. Back and forth it went from Albuquerque to Denver. Well I thought to myself, this just shows how stupid and wrong I was to send it. So much for my intuition.

Finally after 3 weeks, after I had totally given up on it, it arrived..not broken in pieces but in perfect shape and Irene loved it. She called me and even ordered one for a friend and later she wrote: “ I meditate at it daily. The altar is in a place where I walk by and stop numerous times a day and send positive thoughts.”

I liked this thought and resolved to make more of an effort to do the same with my own altar.

mother-of-roses-altar

MOTHER OF ROSES ALTAR   Artist: Jody Armijo

And with my faith and  trust coming back, I decided to make a slideshow showing the creation of the altar that Irene had ordered. I had only made a slideshow once before but it came back to me and people seemed to love it.

And then this past week, a particularly difficult and frightening week for both me and Jody, I wrote to Irene and asked if she would please keep us in her thoughts.

She wrote back: “You and Jody stay in the altar along w the girls & their families, mom, dad, Bobby. I also have immigrants of all stripes and the White Helmets, a group in Syria that rescue people/children after bombings there. The list grows”

irene's fab altar

IRENE’S ALTAR     Artist: Jody Armijo

HOW AMAZING!  Almost 50 years have passed since the medical school days and we reconnected through this little altar, this little altar that I almost didn’t send.

And I got the sign I was looking for, some of my dwindling faith has been restored, Jody and I felt cared for and appreciated and Irene was showing us how an altar is really meant to be used: for connecting with friends, family, those who have gone before us.

Just as in this quote from Taos Artist, Anita Rodriguez :

The altar….brings out the stories, the memories, the history, the continuity of life and the family. It unites”

I am in the process of starting a store on Etsy for Jody’s altars and I will be adding more all the time as well as other sacred art pieces that he creates. I named the store LA CASA DE ROSAS because of a vision and because almost everything Jody creates has roses..lots of them usually.

Below is Love Can Make You Happy, a song from the 60s, the song that takes me back to those early days when I was first married and lived in Galveston…. And as always:

I write these blog posts from my heart..about my work with the First Nations People, about my teachers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, about my time spent with terminally ill patients, about life off the grid in northern New Mexico. Though in some ways, I write for myself, I try always to share information and experiences that may be helpful to others, that are universal.

 If you would like to contribute to to the continuation of these posts, there are 2 ways: the donate button on the side of this post or my gofund me page

*Thank you to all my friends who have contributed and donated, kept me in their thoughts and meditations and made it possible for me to get through these past couple of years

BUENO!

Asking for A Sign, A Miracle and La Casa de Rosas

 A normal person prays to God, ‘Don’t give me problems.’ but a great person prays to God, ‘Give me the power to face my problems.’

~unknown

This is a very short post. It’s a plea for help of some kind and yes, I understand that people hate pleas for help especially when everything is going well for them. I probably felt that way too when things were going well for me and they were until a few years ago. I never had to ask for anything. Things were great and I thought they would continue to be but life is not like that and I had forgotten this:

Nothing that you plan is going to work out. Everything is going to be totally different than the way you expected. And things will constantly challenge you. Wherever you look the world is not as solid as it seems to be.

~Eckhart Tolle

I’m not going into my story or how things suddenly went from great to a disaster..if you want to, you can read about it on my gofundme page. People I have worked with over the last 30 years wrote stories and letters and these are combined with photos and video clips. I tried to make it an interesting webpage.

For a year now,  I have been climbing out of a very dark hole and many people have helped me to do this. Especially around Christmas many people came forth to help. I felt very grateful and I felt hopeful again. I thought I was starting to catch up.

But it is often 2 steps forward and 1 step back.

I live in northeastern New Mexico and I live off the grid. I do not thankfully, have the expenses most people have: no mortgage, no car payment, a greenhouse grows vegetables and my only utility is a little bit of propane. But there are still sometimes things that need to be repaired-some are not important, some are vital.

DCFN0003.JPG

These are not my batteries but this is what they look like

The batteries for my solar system are vital and after 7 years, they are going out quickly-The electricity has already gone out 3 times today and it is a frightening feeling. These batteries run all the electricity for my home. I might be able to live without electricity but the solar system runs the well and I cannot live without water nor can my animals. I have several that I have rescued: 2 horses, 2 wolfdogs, 2 cats and they have to have water as we all do….. “El agua es vidachloe:redman happymaggiemorning-light-816

sakina-leads-packI do not understand why this is happening to me..people say to me all the time “God will bless you..you have done so much for others” They tell me things like “The best is yet to come” or “You will come out of this much stronger” But I don’t feel stronger..just very, very tired. Someone said to me “You forgot to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” Yes that’s true though I thought throughout my life that I was doing the right thing.

I need about $4000 to replace the batteries [there are 16] and pay the installer for labor, travel time, mileage etc.

I f you feel that you can help, please go to my gofundme page..I will be forever grateful. If you feel the need to judge me, please read the letters and stories on my gundfundme page before you do. I have spent most of my life helping in some way or another, mostly providing care and services to terminally ill people and I am continuing to do this in a smaller way on a volunteer basis. But I am nearly 70 years old, very tired and I cannot start over. I believe I would prefer to die than try to begin again. If you read my story, I think you will understand why.

*I just happened to read the following in an email and thought I would post it..it’s comforting and so if I am able to really climb out of my dark hole, maybe the phoenix will rise from the ashes and begin to live and create gain but only after I put my oxygen mask on First.

You will be delighted to know that you have learned as much as you ever need to know about pain and suffering. No matter what the challenge is that you are going through, it is time for the pain to stop. It is time for you to complete your lessons and your healing process so you can spend your time creating the Life you want.

Even though the challenges you are going through may seem random, they are not. It may seem as though you are just a victim of circumstance, but that is not true either. Everything that you are experiencing at this time is something that you, at some level, have agreed to go through. I know that is hard to believe, but you did not agree to do this just because you wanted to see how miserable you could be. You agreed to experience these things because you were shown by your Higher Self, which is your I AM Presence, how much you would grow and the lessons you would learn by going through your particular challenges.”

la-casa-neo-again*My partner, Jody Armijo makes beautiful altars and other forms of sacred art and I am in the process of opening a store on Etsy to sell his unique and beautiful art pieces. In the meantime, above is the cover image. I have named the shop La Casa de Rosas because nearly everything Jody makes, has a rose on it. I hope my next post will be about La Casa de Rosas.

BUENO