Bringing the Invisible into the Visible World:  Healing the Divine Feminine and Becoming a Womb Keeper

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Earlier this week, I began the journey to become a Womb Keeper after participating in a Munay-Ki Shamanic Rite.  This powerful rite for women allows for generations of misaligned energy stored in the womb to be released and cleared, benefiting her personally and the collective of women.  If you are a woman interested in healing the divine feminine energies, you can most likely find a practitioner in your area at this link.

Ceremony and Rituals: Personally, I love ceremony and rituals.  Though I was raised in evangelical churches, I enjoyed attending mass with my grandmother.  I loved kneeling, chanting, and playing with her rosaries.  I loved reading about all the different saints, and I especially loved Mother Mary.  I was born a feminist and hungered for a deity or saint who resembled me as a female.  I longed for holiness and sacredness to be seen in women, not simply because women could be wives and of service to their husbands and sacrifice themselves for their children.  I longed to see women’s power, strength, and intuitive abilities celebrated openly.

Feminism: I hoped to see women’s ideas and creativity openly greeted and supported by men in loving, affirming ways.  I didn’t want to experience a relationship as a basic exchange of “I work long hours to pay for this house so you can stay home with the kids.”  That idea bored the crap out of me the first time I heard it, and I felt lucky to be born in the 70’s and to come of age during the third wave of feminism.  I was born to work, and equal pay for equal work made complete sense to me.  I didn’t want a traditional life, and when I was teenager I thought the world outside of my small town would soon be my oyster.

I entered college as an agnostic, mainly because I was disgusted by the political and judgmental views of churches.  My life as an agnostic only lasted a few years because a near-death experience my senior year of college profoundly changed my spiritual set-point. Soon after my NDE, I incorporated prayer rituals, meditation rituals, shamanic rituals, lucid dreaming rituals, and drumming rituals into my life.  Though I went to some church events and gatherings, largely I was buoyed by my own private sense of worship which incorporated various traditions.

By the time I turned thirty, I had several battle scars from being a woman in my culture.  I encountered sexist professors, sexist customers, sexist bosses, sexist police officers, sexist therapists, sexist social workers, and sexist co-workers.  I dealt with a stalker, a harasser,   a rapist, and an abusive ex-husband.  With experiences like this, I fit in perfectly in the world of third wave feminism.  I am by no means male bashing.  I am telling the truth of my life.  These are men I encountered in society.  I also experienced a range of guy friends from cool work buddies to very dear friends who were deep thinkers, sensitive, supportive, and dependable.  I had bosses who treated me with respect, and one boss from California who was incredibly fair and treated me with the same respect he treated male employees.  However, by the end of my twenties, I viewed feminism differently than I viewed it as a teenager, and I felt exhausted by what I’d encountered in the world.

Teaching:  I’m grateful for experiences I’ve had as a teacher and as a professor.  As soon as the classroom door closes, I am in control of the flow of information and the focus of our time together.  Though teachers and professors might complain about the lack of respect students have for authority figures, there is still a great deal of respect that students give teachers and professors.  For the most part, students listen politely and ask questions.  Most students want good grades, and many are more than willing to open their minds and hearts to new ideas simply for the joy of learning.  Some students may disagree with a professor’s views, but even these students must learn how to find valid sources and learn the etiquette of creating rational appeals and grounded arguments free of logical fallacies and hateful rhetoric.

A few older, non-traditional male college students let me know at the end of certain semesters that I turned them into feminists.  I wanted to chuckle because these students were far from becoming feminists.  However, I congratulated them for opening their minds to new perspectives and becoming better at potentially leading a diverse work-force made up of a lot of women.  For a while, I’ve lived in a bubble of academia, and I didn’t realize until this election how much hatred for women still flows through society.  This hatred is found in both men and women, and the election showed us how much work we must do as a society to heal the divide between masculine and feminine power and how each energy should be viewed as equal and important.  Certainly, the toxic elements of masculinity need to be reeducated in society and taught tolerance, connection to others, and equanimity.   Otherwise, jails will continue to grow, and I would rather see college campuses expand.

However, traditional academia is losing some of its luster for me.  I am longing for more ritual and more of a connection to nature.  Some tie to the ancient past always seemed to flow through me and nature solidifies this bond.  I would love to teach classes in open fields without technology.  Any time I bring students to nature, their faces light up and the learning experience becomes more of a memorable experience.  I have always needed the beauty, wisdom, strength, and common sense of nature as a teacher.  I still need nature as my teacher, and many others do as well.  Even if they do not know this about themselves, they might be over-medicated, bored, angry, sad, and deeply unaware that time in nature is a better prescription than many actual prescriptions.

The Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine:  It is now more important than ever that women and men no longer look at each other as less than or more than the other.  The energies of the divine masculine and divine feminine are within each of us, and we must learn how to balance these energies within ourselves with love, respect, and honor. The Munay-Ki Shamanic Rite is not the only way for women to honor their creativity and power and come together in solidarity, but it a beautiful, healing way to release negativity and reside in a beautiful world of your creation.

I hope that all women might heal and find healing in ways that make sense to them personally.  I hope that all men might heal in ways that make sense to them.  May we all, male and female, create more grounded ways for the divine masculine and divine feminine energies to balance within us and in the world.  May our expressions be ones of balance, love, and honor.

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Three Simple Steps for Bringing Your Gifts into the World

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Step One:  Rest

I often tell my Creative Writing students that they should be well-rested in order to be their most creative.  Certainly, we can all preform under pressure when we are highly caffeinated, sleep deprived, and tense.  Stressed out states of being, however, do not allow for the miracles of divinely inspired communication to flow through us effortlessly.  Meditation and connecting with the love that is available for each of us is a much better way to open to great ideas.  In peaceful states of being, we might receive messages from higher states of consciousness and our creativity might be more inspired.  If you have ever noticed how some of your greatest ideas show up just before you fall asleep, you can understand that when the worried mind lets go of its grip on us, the great, inspired thoughts begin to flow through us.  Problems naturally work themselves out.

Keep a journal and pen on your nightstand and return to these ideas later in the day.  The ideas in your dreams or just before you fall asleep might become poems, stories, novels or a simple answer to a question.   Be receptive and open to great ideas, and more of these ideas will be sent your way.

Step Two:  Play

Go where your joy resides.  Adults do not enjoy life as much as children because we often forget how to play.  Play can mean many different things to different people.  Most of the time, exercise and time in nature can put us in a positive state of mind.  However, if you have a problem to work out, try addressing this problem from many different directions.  Don’t censor wild ideas, and try following unexpected thoughts to see where they lead you.

During graduate school, I worked full time teaching seniors in high school.  The long hours at work didn’t leave me much time to be creative on one of my twenty-page essays.  Mid-way through a particular essay, I decided that I needed to have more fun with the research and wrote something that entertained me.  I stopped thinking about writing for my professor and followed my own joy.  This turned out to be one of my better essays.  Even if playing around doesn’t lead to a great product, it is important to notice what ideas and activities bring more joy into our lives.

Step Three:  Plan

If you are an organized, detail oriented person, this should not be a difficult step for you.  Write out a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan for a certain goal.  Simply writing down a plan increases the odds of accomplishing this goal.  If you have a book idea, write an outline.  Even if you amend the outline and completely change the book later, a plan can still be an important step and a great step during the revision stages.

If you are not a detail oriented person, take a deep breath and do what you can each day toward your goal.  Imagine the repressed side of yourself taking control and dealing with the details.  Make the details more interesting or fun in some way.  Offer yourself a reward for accomplishing things you usually put off for later.  Ask your angels for help and call on God to help you.  There is no need to stress over the details.  Jump in and enjoy the journey.  The sooner you jump in and work on the things you are putting off, the quicker you will realize that the process isn’t as difficult as you imagined it to be.

Good luck!  May your best dreams make it into the world soon.

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Don’t Say Purgatory, Call it Universe School: After-Death Communications

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A few people have contacted me to connect with their deceased loved ones, and the experience has been beautiful.  It is a joy to feel the love pouring in from the other side from these family members.  My hope is that I might give others a way to feel this connection themselves.  I am not certain if I will offer this as a service, but I believe in following one’s bliss and joy.  For me, communicating with the other side is heavenly (smile) and a reminder of how much love is available to us all any time we wish to connect with it.  If we choose, we can remain connected to this source.

If you are interested in my other posts about opening to communication from the other side, here is the first and second post.  I realized I can talk to my father on the other side when I met someone who gave me messages from him.  These messages felt inaccurate didn’t capture my father’s essence at all.  The reading was more about the reader’s ego, and I could feel my father waving his arms and shouting at me to listen to him, even going so far as to say, “The only purpose of meeting this person is so that you will begin to listen to me and realize how clearly you can hear these messages.”

I’m stubborn and rational.  It took a near-death experience to knock me out of my agnostic ways.   I’m a reluctant participator in spiritual events and an even more reluctant medium.

Last night, I thought about what I wanted to communicate from my father.  I thought about the initial months after his death, and how it felt like he was participating in an extended life review and then a review of the workings of the universe.  I wanted to call this part of his experience purgatory, but he snapped back, “Don’t tell people that.  That doesn’t have a nice connotation. Tell them they might have to go to Universe School for a while.”

The idea of Universe School made me chuckle and sounded like a loving way to describe the experience.  NDEs are most likely only glimpses into the afterlife, and the extended stay offers much more to learn.  Universe School sounds more pleasant—a classroom full of stars with benches and couches made of galaxies, a perfect place for one’s understanding to expand.  If you have ever seen a baby’s eyes and realized that the eyes of this child seem to contain all the mysteries of the universe, you are probably right.  You are most likely encountering a recent graduate of Universe School.

Archetypes and Manifestations of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine

Determining Your Archetype:  If you would like to read about many different archetypes, I suggest you check out the websites and books of Caroline Myss.  She covers various archetypes from the addict, advocate, alchemist, angel, artist, and athlete to the trickster, vampire, victim, virgin, visionary, and warrior. Even archetypes with negative associations have something to teach us about humanity and ourselves and are worth exploring. Archetypes are a creative way to classify characters and analyze literature, film, the world around us, and ourselves.  If you want to take a quick quiz to determine some of your inner motivations and possible archetypes, Myss provides a short quiz.

Certainly, I didn’t have to take this quiz to know that I am driven to create (artist) and driven by a desire to learn more (intellectual).  However, taking the quiz a few times might allow you to see how parts of yourself might be in competition.  For instance, I have a deep longing for adventure (explorer), and a deep longing to help others (caregiver).  Certainly, on some days, I don’t know whether climbing Mt. Everest or helping others seems more appealing.  If I could combine a day of great adventure and helping others, then that would probably be my ideal day.  Understanding yourself in a deeper way allows you to make better life decisions, and archetypes are just one tool of many available tools.

Joseph Campbell:  Another writer who discusses archetypes in great detail is Joseph Campbell.  In The Hero of a Thousand Faces, Campbell shows us that the most popular stories and films, even throughout history and various cultures, share the same specific formula of the hero’s journey and are full of characters/archetypes we immediately recognize like the hero, mentor, ally, shapeshifter , shadow, etc.  Any fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings will certainly recognize the archetypes Campbell discusses. Campbell’s work is influenced by Jung, and his writings are memorable and beautiful.  I highly recommend him for more in-depth analysis of archetypes.

Creative writers, both poets and fiction writers, can benefit from considering certain myths and interesting archetypes.  If a character needs more development, you might give these character more traits of a particular archetype or have this character evolve out of certain stereotypes.  As a poet, I have been inspired by descriptions of goddesses, and incorporate many of these descriptions into my poems.

Manifestations of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine:  Many spiritual teachers talk about the need for healing the planet through healing the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energies.  Certainly, there has been much suppression and subjugation of female power in spirituality and in other roles.  Additionally, some roles for men have been overused and abused, and men’s spirituality is sometimes considered more of a weakness in society than the strength that it truly is.

According to Jung, everyone has masculine and feminine energies though one might be more dominant than the other. Society and individuals function better when these energies are balanced.  For instance, to be creative, receptive, and intuitive (more feminine traits) is wonderful, but without some level of action, power, and abstract thinking (more masculine traits) not as much will get accomplished.  If either energy (masculine or feminine) is out of balance in a person or in society, life will become less fulfilling and destructive in many cases.

Manifestations:  I made a video about six different archetypes and how these archetypes might be viewed through the lens of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.  These archetypes include the Goddess/God, Queen/King, Priestess/Priest, Lover, Warioress/Warrior, and Wise Woman/Sage. If you watch my video, realize that we change from moment to moment and throughout our lives.  You might have certain motivations that see you through your life in its entirety, but everything is subject to change.  Gravitate toward the archetypes that bring you joy and the ones you want to enhance or heal in some way.  Have fun with the journey, and as Joseph Campbell says, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

Don’t be afraid to learn more about yourself and your motivations.  Without a struggle to learn and change, you won’t have progress.  If you make the learning process joyful, your life will always be open to amazing, magical possibilities.

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Narcissists at Work, in Love, and as Parents:  How Empaths Fail to Recognize Them

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There are many degrees and shades of narcissists.  I highly suggest you check out the work of Breakthrough Life Coach Lisa A. Romano and other sources like Psychology Today to better understand narcissists.  Narcissists can be introverted, passive aggressive, and display traits we don’t initially associate with narcissism.

It is my belief that many near-death experiencers come back with greater empathy.  Most of us are born with sensitivity and love as our inherent nature and near-death experiences simply remind us of this love. Anyone who broadcasts love and innocence can attract souls in great pain who might be narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths.   Our journey might simply be to learn to protect ourselves from narcissistic abuse and help others heal from relationships with narcissists and shine their lights.  Many narcissists can be handled easily in small doses, but in larger, more intimate relationships or projects they can cause considerable pain.

The Narcissist at Work:  If  you start a creative project or business with a narcissist, everything will seem spectacular in the beginning.  Their exuberance and confidence will give you confidence. They will speak passionately about their efforts, and you might live in their dream world for a while where everything is easy and all effort equals instant, brilliant success.  Eventually, you will notice that they don’t like hard work.  You find yourself taking care of more of the details, but you tell yourself that they offer inspiration and bring charisma to the project/business/plan.  Eventually, you see that their egos are fragile, and you try to hide how much work is needed because you don’t want to lose everything you have worked to create. Conversations become more difficult, and the narcissist fights to hang on to his or her original ideas without considering revision.  Chances are good that they will sabotage everything, and you might never get a straight answer about why they gave up.  Narcissists will simply move on to another scenario that fulfills their ego to a greater degree, a dream that looks brighter, a path that seems easier, and you will be left falling through empty space.

You will wonder if you did something wrong, but the only thing you did wrong is miss the warning signs that you were dealing with a narcissist.  Perhaps, this person despises all authority figures, even the nurturing ones.  Perhaps this person brags in a way that is off-putting to some, but you thought this person was simply spunky or confident. Perhaps they always make themselves the hero or the amazing one in their stories and never admit to having a flaw.

There are always warning signs that a narcissist is in the office.  An avoidance of hard work is generally the best clue. Narcissists might even brag about how they get out of work yet still believe they should be offered promotions and given awards.  If you are starting a business with a narcissist, they may be absent large parts of the time and blame you for the problems. If you are co-authoring a book, they may fail to see that great books are often rewritten eight or nine times, yet they expect to become a millionaire with a first draft full of typos a fifth grader might make.  They want to call themselves a great writer/singer/dancer but not put in the hard work to become one.

Whatever the scenario, the narcissist will be full of energy, dreams, and braggadocio in the beginning and will slink away sullenly, secretively, or angrily in the end of your relationship, often blaming you for the pain they caused. You might even believe the situation is your fault, but all you tried to do is do the hard work for yourself and someone else.  Beware of narcissists in other areas besides work. You can find them in churches, spiritual gatherings, and political organizations.

The Narcissist in Love: No one is more skillful than the narcissist at promising the world, mirroring your desires back to you, and focusing on you with an intensity that you have rarely if ever encountered in your life. Many women are hungry for deep emotional intimacy, and we can mistake a predatory gaze for intense connection.  Narcissists, whether male or female, speak a language primarily made up of phrases like soulmate/twin soul/love of my life and usually say these phrases after a short amount of time. If these types of words don’t turn you on, the narcissist promises anything that will make you feel secure, happy, and safe. They want to bask in your adoration of them.

Narcissists know how to make you feel addicted to them. They take their time in the bedroom, and make you feel treasured. When I think of narcissists, I think of the poem by Sharon Olds “Sex Without Love” and how narcissists know they are never honestly going to connect with another human being. Everything is a great big show. They come to the bedroom like great runners, and “they know they are alone/ with the road surface, the cold, the wind, / the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-/vascular health–just factors, like the partner/ in the bed, and not the truth, which is the single body alone in the universe/ against its own best time.” With a narcissist, you might initially feel like the God or Goddess, the light, the eternal love of the universe with this person because of the effort they put in, but the narcissist is only showing off his or her skills, hoping to get you hooked. Exercise is an apt metaphor for how narcissists function in the bedroom.

After a while, you might realize that the narcissist is unable to truly connect with you because he can’t swim through the sea of millions of bodies he has observed through the lens of pornography to clearly see you.  Maybe he is a calloused type, especially if he has a lot of money and is full of his own image. Men in this category might make women work to get their attention and make them feel insecure with little digs. Women who pay a lot of attention to their looks might be critical of their mate and make this person not feel good enough for them. There are many different scenarios for narcissists, but the outcome is the same. Eventually, you will feel that the connection is not genuine or uplifting.

Promises from narcissists evaporate, and you are only left with words. You might fight to make these words turn into the promised reality, but if you are dealing with a narcissist, no such luck. The minute you have doubts, they know that your adoration will be tinged with doubt and this won’t feel good enough for them.  Their focus will shift. Often, their focus was never fully on you anyway, though their words proclaimed otherwise.  They are masters at triangulation.

The narcissist might make passive aggressive jokes about how he or she would not miss you that much if you broke up. This person is only testing how much you are hurt by that statement to gauge how much to pretend to invest in you. Communication feels more like a sick game than an honest dialogue.  Passive aggressive behavior will escalate over time with deliberate procrastination, the silent treatment, and withholding praise.

Work is another interesting factor that plays into this relationship.  Narcissists come in many varieties.  You might find the dependent narcissist who believes in a ridiculous form of law of attraction that will “someday” make this person wildly successful without any effort on their part.  Alternately, you might find someone who is tied to his or her work and sees their job as a reflection of his or her image.  Everything will be sacrificed for his or her image.

Narcissists in a relationship, however, are not excited to do the hard work to make a relationship work. They don’t want to learn new communication skills or be forced to a new level of honesty.  They will avoid counseling or criticize and demean therapists outside the office.  Most likely, they will start building a new dream with someone else instead of working on themselves.  When the narcissist leaves, he or she leaves you with a blank space inside. They were never really 100% there in your life. They leave you with the loneliness that they must feel as they walk through this life never being completely real and honest with another human being.

Narcissists as Parents:  The obvious type of narcissist, usually a father but sometimes a mother, is the type of parent who is absent. Maybe they are absent due to drugs and alcohol or maybe they are too self-centered to be bothered by the mundane, annoying details of raising a kid. They might be more loving or upbeat than the parent who is around more often. Children might long for a deeper relationship with that parent, but as they get older they usually see that this parent isn’t giving financially or otherwise. This type of parent is charming and good at building you up, but if you ask for the money or assistance they may not be able to deliver reliably. Their own needs and desires will be more important than the needs of dependents.

If this type of narcissist gets sober, these types focus on how much they missed their kids when they were out living the lives they lived. The narcissist will overly focus on his or her accomplishments in sobriety but won’t find the time to heal the harm they caused in their kid’s lives. Often, narcissists are not willing to address their psychological issues. They won’t actively  teach their kids about co-dependency and how to break these patterns. They won’t warn their children that alcoholism has a genetic link. They can’t be bothered to have difficult conversations that might benefit others.  However, they will brag about their kids and take more credit than they deserve for their accomplishments. Maybe they passed on a few of their good-looking genes. That’s about all they can take credit for when it comes to your accomplishments.

The abusive, narcissistic parent is on a continuum like all narcissists. They might be religious and use a Bible verse to justify spanking their very young kids who don’t understand why they are being hit. Their love might be contaminated by belief systems that tell them it is o.k. to take their stress and anger out on a child. Maybe they are emotionally manipulative and want to prove to the world or their family what a giving, loving, fantastic parent they are while paying very little attention to your actual needs. Maybe they are verbally abusive and fly off the handle in a rage at the smallest of irritations.  Maybe they are emotionally abusive and keep their children away from one side of the family out of spite.

Maybe they are more toxic than these examples and physically and sexually harm their children. Whatever the level of abuse, reconciling with an abusive, narcissistic parent is difficult. Maybe you tried to get along with this person for years, only to be thrown off guard by the hateful things they say in conversation. If you go no contact, the narcissistic parent will probably blame you for this when they talk to others. They will blame you for not being a good/respectful son/daughter and for pulling away from them even though they will never honestly care about what you are going through. They will only be concerned with themselves and how your behavior affects them.

Maybe they believe they reached forgiveness with their own abusive parents, but you find it hard to believe since they didn’t transcend the pattern. They can’t be loving or consistently decent to you in conversation, so how could they truly have forgiven their own parents? Whatever the case, the abusive, narcissistic parent leaves children with a wound that is hard to heal. Healing is possible and usually found through breaking patterns and filling one’s life with people who know how to honestly care about you. Healing takes a lot of work which is something narcissists shy away from even as parents.  Narcissistic parents will tell you how their life was much harder than yours to prove a certain superiority and avoid acknowledging your pain and their role in that dynamic of pain.

My greatest hope is that empaths might find larger groups of caring people.  My hope is that narcissists might heal the wounds that keep them from addressing their problems holistically.

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Published Poetry: A Post Mostly for My Students

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My Creative Writing students sometimes ask to see my published poetry, and I usually wait until the end of the semester to show them any of my work.  I only sent out my poetry between the years of 2006-2008.  As soon as I started a new job at Tarrant County College, I put my own writing aside to focus on the building of a new, beautiful community college by the Trinity River and to work for the success of my students.  Here are a few of those poems.  These poems aren’t representative of some of my larger themes in my writing, but they are the ones that were chosen for publication.

COCKROACH BESIDE MY TOOTHBRUSH

There is meekness in the bow of your head

beneath your curved back,

but even humility and sensitivity

will not save you now.

Do you remember when you

raised your folded wings at right angles

from your abdomen, showing off

the white edgings of your thorax and wing pads?

You trembled for the mate you wanted,

and she looked back at you

as if the moon glowed from inside you.

You believed passion could last forever,

denying that all we have are flashes.

 

Still, you never imagined this ending—

an abandoned condo by a pond,

shadows extending like frail, human arms,

no food or even cereal crumbs in the kitchen,

and only my mint-flavored, disappointing toothbrush

hanging precariously near the edge of the sink.

 

How could you know that surveys

list you as the most despised creature on earth?

How could you possibly deduce

that the angry fall of a boot

he left behind would become

your last moment on earth?

@ 2002 by Tricia Barker

Published in Paterson Literary Review in 2008

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THE MAGIC OF CROWS

As the city lights begin to salt the hilltops,

a woman becomes restless; her head is full of the wit

of crows, and her fate is tangled in the act of finding

one of their feathers by her doorstep.  The feather feels light

in her hands, and she wonders which direction it might blow.

From her kitchen window, she observes how the crows

look like pieces of a ragged night scattered

across the final moments of the day.

 

They are the antithesis of stars, with a mystical sheen

of their own and wholly delighted to be crows as they

squawk into each other’s faces, slowly lift one foot into the air,

or dunk their ruffled heads into the dog’s bucket of water.

The woman wonders why her soup does not taste better,

why her skin does not greedily soak up the air around her,

and why these final days of summer do not burst

with the bruised pleasure of black lights, drumbeats,

and a new lover, smelling slightly of tobacco and amber,

a lover who might dip a small, velvety sumi brush

in honey, paint it on her body and then gently lick

it off while black wings flutter in the corner of her eye,

the shimmering, happy bodies of crows.

@ 2006 by Tricia Barker

Published in The Midwest Quarterly (Pittsburgh State University) in 2009

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NARCISSUS IN A RELATIONSHIP

When Narcissus left for work,

I would put on the sandals he wore

to feel closer to him.  My feet would soak up the remnants of the love

he had for his feet, his body,

and after a while, I realized

that in his mind

I was less important

than the ground he walked on.

@ 2006 by Tricia Barker

Published in Iodine Poetry Journal in 2008

The theme in this last poem is an important one for empaths.  Recently, I have discovered the work of breakthrough life coach Lisa A. Romano.  Empaths are often drawn to narcissists in many different capacities.  They can also be the target of sociopaths, so it is important for empaths to learn to protect themselves.  If you are interested in this topic, I highly suggest checking out some of Lisa A. Romano’s YouTube videos.

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Images:  The painting of the pond can be found at this link.   I found the beautiful crows on Pinterest at this link.

More Reflections on the Experience of God

I make my Creative Writing students create videos of their poems and add images.  A few days ago, I gave making a video with images a shot and used my blog piece Love Letter from God.  The English major inside of me is critical when I write straightforward messages like this, but my heart and soul smiles.

Poetry:  For most of my adult life, even after my NDE, I haven’t cared much for “spiritual” poetry.  Sure, I liked the occasional Rumi or Rilke poem, but I preferred poets who dug deep for their imagery, symbolism, and word play.  Poets like Adam Zagajewski, Wislawa Szymborska, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Marie Howe, Carolyn Forche, Jane Hirshfield, and Mary Oliver have been some of my inspirations.

I don’t call what I’ve written a poem—more of a love letter inspired by God and meant to give comfort to anyone hurting.  We’ve all been hurt or disappointed in life, and it is important to remember that there is much love and healing possible if we only ask.  We can pull in this love from God/our source and feel better at any time.

The Experience of God:  One of my favorite parts of my NDE was being in the presence of God.  Truly, the experience is difficult to translate into words, but I find that the more I think about that experience and wish for that communion in my life, the more often I feel divine love and protection.  The book God and the Afterlife has a section dedicated to NDErs talking about God and the experience of being in this presence.  Most NDErs state that God’s love for us is complete and deep.  This love is a love without reservation and extends itself to everyone.

When I talk about God–the most loving, divine light I have encountered– I know how I sound to agnostics because I was agnostic before my experience.  I was highly critical of religious folks and just as critical of those in spiritual/new age communities.  If I listed some of my thoughts before that accident and NDE, I would offend a lot of people and make others laugh.  My point is that NDEs change us immediately and for the rest of our lives.

If there was one book I read in college that opened my mind up ever so slightly to the possibility of God, it was The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Quotes like the one below one helped ease some of my judgmental nature.

 “It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.”

― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

I also dropped my prejudices for an hour or two when discussing this book and opened my mind to ideas like,

 “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”

― William James

As an undergraduate, I imagined how this type of connection might be possible, though at the time I didn’t feel it.  I wondered if I might have a spontaneous awakening at some point in my life.  How was I to know that I would have a life-changing NDE a year after reading that book?

When I left this body and flatlined, I awakened to the spiritual realm and knew that my physical life would also be a spiritual journey.  Once grounded in my material life and professional life, I quickly realized that I would hang on to certain fears about seeming “too out there,” but I also knew there would be a time when I no longer cared and became more open about my journey.  These journeys connect us and need to be expressed.

“There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.”

―William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

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My Heart Has Been With Standing Rock

native-american

A few years after my NDE, I traveled through Virginia teaching SAT skills at various boarding schools.  One weekend I stopped to meditate in a beautiful forest and felt the presence of a Native American ancestor come to me and say, “Do not forget us.”  I promised him that I would never forget him or his people.  In every American Literature class, I teach the works of Black Elk, Zitkala-sa, and Sherman Alexie.  This doesn’t feel like enough, but it is something.  Watching films about Wounded Knee is a chilling reminder of how innocence was too often slaughtered, and I do not want my students to forget these moments.

Mid-summer I felt the stirrings of something that would be happening involving Native Americans in the U.S.  When I heard about Standing Rock, a part of me didn’t want to start this semester of teaching.  I wanted to go there and do what I could to help.  I longed to join with those working to protect our waterways, our sacred lands, our Mother Earth.  I knew there would be police brutality.  I knew there would be the same hatred directed at Native Americans historically.  I didn’t choose to leave everything to go there, but my heart was at Standing Rock every morning.

I feared history might repeat itself at Standing Rock.  As NPR put it succinctly, we have never seen anything like this before and it has been happening for hundreds of years. Both statements are true, and the thought that the pipeline might not be diverted was a difficult possibility to accept.

For months, I’ve sent prayers of protection and prayers of hope to the many people protesting the pipeline at Standing Rock.  At times, I felt angry and afraid that I might never live to see a world where mother earth is not degraded and soiled for the almighty dollar.  When the veterans showed up to help protect the protesters, I felt encouraged.   Bless you warriors. Bless every one of your lovely souls.  Bless everyone who did something to help.

For anyone not aware of this situation, please do research and stay in the loop.  The media did a horrible job by not covering this historic struggle.  Don’t let this moment in time slip away unnoticed.  Feathers, not guns, were held to the sky, and these protesters were hit with rubber bullets, freezing water, and tear gas.  They were strip searched and beaten up, but by God and Goddess they stood in the freezing weather for Mother Earth.  Songs and chants were given to heavens, and they were met with hatred day after day.  I hope my love and the love of so many others also reached them in spirit.

Last night, I felt the pain of those at Standing Rock so completely that I feared I would cry myself dry.  I thought about books like The Lies my History Teacher Told Me.  I thought about how Native Americans have been the most lied-about subset of our population. I thought about how peaceful the hunters and gathers were, how attractive their societies were, and how many white settlers and slaves joined with the Native Americans.  I thought about how many of us have Native American ancestry in our bloodline and must have felt some biological stirring, some remnant of connection to this moment in time.

Thank God that finally the U.S Army has decided not to allow the oil pipeline to cross under the reservoir in North Dakota.  Please don’t let this decision be reversed in the future.  Protect the waterways.  Protect the sacred land.  Never forget the true history of Native Americans.  Never forget their struggle and their deep, earth-centered wisdom.

 

Dying to Wake Up by Dr. Rajiv Parti: Book Review and Personal Response

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“I have learned my true religion.  It is very simple.  My religion is kindness and love.  It welcomes all religions by looking for the sameness in them, not the differences.”  Dr. Rajiv Parti in Dying to Wake Up

The book Dying to Wake Up is a fascinating book not only for Dr. Parti’s exceptional NDE but also for his journey through life after his NDE.  Dr. Parti must first convince his wife that his experience will be a guiding force in their lives.  Next, he is called to scale down his materialism and change his profession.  Overall, Parti’s life changes dramatically and switches from one focused on materialism and personal achievements to one of deeper interpersonal relationships and work that focuses on helping others heal from what he calls diseases of the soul.

Dr. Parti’s NDE:  I connected with several aspects of Dr. Rajiv Parti’s near-death experience.  For one, we both woke up outside of our bodies during surgery and remembered our surgeries, but when we tried to talk about our experience with medical professionals these medical professionals hurried away from us.  Dr. Parti’s experience is particularly interesting because he was the type of doctor who treated patients the same way before his near death experience.  After his NDE, Dr. Parti realizes how he could have treated patients with more respect and listened to their experiences.

During his NDE, Dr. Parti initially found himself on the brink of hell.  An unlikely savior came for him—his father.  In life, his father had been harsh and abusive at times, but in the afterlife Parti’s father demonstrates great love and helps Parti better understand how generations of pain are passed from person to person without intentional malice.  Forgiveness is a theme Dr. Parti links to healing and discusses in greater detail in his book.  Although I didn’t experience a hellish landscape in my NDE, I have realized how forgiveness is an essential part of the healing process in our lives.

Angelic Healing:  Shortly after meeting with his father in the afterlife, Dr. Parti encounters angels and receives beautiful transmissions of love and knowledge.  The writing in this section of the book is lovely, and I completely relate to this part of his experience. I know that angels can use us and work through us in the ways that we are already gifted.  It makes perfect sense that Dr. Parti would return to medicine but use his knowledge in a radically different way with a focus on true healing.  After his NDE, Parti works on healing his own wounds with divine assistance, and then he looks for ways to be a source of light for others.  He sums up his new mission with the statement,

“I have discovered my true calling:  to endow others with a knowledge that encourages the body, mind, and spirit’s natural ability to heal addiction and depression without following a pill-based approach.”

Dr. Parti hopes to cure diseases of the soul which can manifest as addiction.  He also writes about the importance of service and states,

“I have learned that materialism is an addiction that takes our focus away from selfless service to others, seva, the most rewarding thing we can do for ourselves.  Seva is not just any kind of service, but service performed with a sense of gratitude.  In India, it is called ‘work offered to God.’  This type of work will change the world and can even be a way of connecting deeply with others while in relationship or in the bedroom.”

Connection to others and caring about their experiences in life is certainly a beautiful trait in all areas of life. To do this well, we must be fully present for each life experience.

During Parti’s recovery after surgery, he does not abuse pain pills though this was a struggle for him before his NDE.  I can relate to this as well as I chose not to take any pain medicine after the nine days in the hospital and the several months I stayed in a body cast.  I didn’t want to risk becoming addicted to pain pills and inherently knew to stay away from them.  The first few nights without pain medicine were excruciating, but I practiced meditation and mind control to disconnect from the pain.  I wanted to keep my mind clear to be in direct connection with the other side I had experienced.

Dr. Parti clearly understands the spiritual component to healing addiction.  Though he doesn’t mention twelve step programs, which I believe are essential for many people who need a group of people for support, he shows how a spiritual change is one of the most parts of a healing journey.

After Death Communications and SDEs:  In Dying to Wake Up, Dr. Parti describes a shared death experience with his close friend who passes away.  This is an important part of the book as many NDErs can communicate with those who have passed on or they simply have a heightened awareness of the dying process.  Parti is in touch with angels, the spirit of Jesus, and holds some traditional Hindu beliefs about reincarnation.  I can relate to his mix of ideologies and beliefs.

In talking with my father in the afterlife, I know that my father wishes to return to form again, so I have opened my mind more to the possibility of reincarnation.  As a child, I had distinct memories and recurring dreams about the end of my last life on earth, so I cannot say that I was closed to the idea of reincarnation. My NDE didn’t focus on past lives, but it did guide me to many of the same conclusions as Dr. Parti.

I especially liked Dr. Parti’s Manifesto and typed this out.  Here is his list of seven basic principles he learned.

Manifesto

  1. Consciousness can exist outside the body.
  2. There is life after death.
  3. We have past lives, and our experiences therein can shape our current realities.
  4. We are all connected to each other because we are all made of the one and same energy that manifests as differentiated matter.
  5. Divine beings exist to help and guide us.
  6. There are different levels of consciousness.
  7. There is one, all-pervading supreme love an intelligence that is the source of the entire universe, and that love is the supreme source of creation.

In one lovely section of the book, Dr. Parti talks about loving deeply, forgiving easily, and healing quickly.  This idea of love, forgiveness, and healing is a beautiful part of this book and certainly inspired me.  I hope this section of the book might inspire other readers to bring more forgiveness, love and healing into their lives.

Though forgiveness can be difficult at times, it is important to work on becoming more of an observer of your life and allowing for the heavens, the divine beings, and God to help you begin the healing process even when you feel you personally cannot forgive.  Disconnection from all stories, roles, and misunderstandings is a wonderful place to begin.  NDErs know that as soon as we step out of form, forgiveness is easy.   May we all feel more of that ability to move beyond our pain and into healing.

This is a wonderful book, and I hope you enjoy reading about Dr. Parti’s journey as much as I enjoyed it.