Tell Me Who You Are

September 20, 2019

“When you put labels on someone, it’s like sticking them in a box
with no air holes until they slowly suffocate.
People aren’t just one thing. They’re many things.”
― Sadie Allen, American author

Years ago, I participated in a weekend workshop titled “On Course.” The co-facilitators took us through a variety of exercises meant to open our hearts and our minds. Boy, did they! I swear each of we 30 participants had at least one melt down with tears. But what made it all worth it were the exercises designed to get us in touch with our spirits, our essence, the seats of our soul. In particular, I have a vivid memory of a dyad where there was one who questioned me and, each time, I had to give a different and deeper answer. The question was “Tell me who you are.” Sounds simple, but after several minutes of back and forth, the Q&A broke down barriers rooted in my ego. Knowing that my true self is love, that my true nature is love, my life’s path opened in ways I had not imagined. It seems like in an instant I knew that I was loving, loved and loveable. All three were, up until that moment, previously lacking in my life. The exercise stuck! My exchange might have been something like this:

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a woman
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am Kate.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a daughter, sister, and aunt.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am a work in progress.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am funny and witty and smart.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a spirit having a human experience.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am a child of The Divine
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am enough.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am love.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: (silence)
Q: Thank you.

Q: Welcome home, to yourself.

Do you see the pattern? We are not our names. We are not our roles in our families, at work and in society. We are not our ages, genders or a race. We are not our religions or belief systems. We are not the number on the bathroom scales. We are all of those things and more. Knowing this, the bundle of self-identifications can burst through the labels to a new and improved you.

Say aloud right now: I…am…love. Say it upon waking in the morning and again before sleep. Catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and say it aloud. Stretch yourself and say it to someone else. Did you know that you are love?

Sadness

July 15, 2019

“Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.”  ― Maggie Nelson, American author

There are many threads weaving through the tapestry of my life. Some are vibrant and bold, representing the highs. Some are dark and drab, representing the lows in my life. I see beauty in every thread, but there’s one thread that haunts me. The thread of sadness over not having children in this lifetime. I’ve been sitting with that reality since Mother’s Day when I again drifted into the dark pool of sadness. If I shared with you the many reasons as to why this day is always hard for me, you would understand. But I know my sorrow isn’t in the story. It’s in me. It’s my thread of sadness. Doesn’t it too deserve to be in my beautiful tapestry?

So, after yet another gloomy Mother’s Day last May, I asked myself: What if I take this thread of sadness to the grave with me? Would it be okay? Would you let me just be sad and not try to explain, praise or cheer me up?

My beloved niece, Tammy, comes to mind. She is very much a daughter of my soul. Her son, my godson, was killed ten years ago at age 18. The case is still unsolved. Tammy will carry that monumental thread of grief in her tapestry for the rest of her life. No one can or should take that away from her. But she’s learned to live with the sorrow, every moment of every day. That’s the nature of grief. No one will put her down for that.
But sadness? Why is it bad to simply be sad?

“You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.”  ― Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

Once I admitted to myself that this mother thread of sadness will hold a prominent place in the tapestry of my life, the sadness started to lift. I found beauty in the sadness. By not talking about it or admitting it, the nest had gotten bigger and bigger. Is that why Mother’s Day has gotten harder and harder over the years, and not easier? My guess is yes. Speaking my truth set me free. Thank you for being my witness. This bird is soaring once again. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Anam Cara Journey Circles

Four new women circles, looking at life through the lens of archetypes, are coming to the Portland area this Fall. Details soon!

Rev. Beth Astarte – Sacred Sensuality & Sexuality
Rev. Angelica (Anut) Martinez – The Fool’s Journey (tarot inspired)
Rev. Krystal Ashling – Tools for Awakening the Unconscious
Jamie Cedar Rogers, M.A. – Archetypes in Nature

Wildness

May 4, 2019

“The early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit ‘the wild goose.’ And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him.” John Eldredge, author Wild at Heart

Today, the gusty winds in the west of Ireland remind me of what is untamed in me. Having recently completed leading two tours – Ireland and Scotland – I’m now on the third leg of my journey with my husband, Doug. It’s included two days in Dublin and two days in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We are now snuggled into one of my favorite accommodations in the beloved village of Ballyvaughan, County Clare – Oceanville B&B. Check out the views from our room. I’ve soaked in these images and reflections on many occasions, always reminding me of the wildness of place. A rugged wildness I do not experience at home in Oregon, both in my witnessing and acting. What will bring the two together? I turn to Mother Nature.

What I am reminded of today is the natural trinity in The Burren’s landscape. I pause to witness where the sky, meets the water, meets the land. It’s a brilliant and windy sunny day in the rockiest part of Ireland. The expanse of sky reminds me of the guidance from above, Heavenly Father energy. It’s vastness, with blue skies and a smattering of clouds. The earth reminds me of support from below, Earthly Mother energy. Her garments are brilliant greens with startling floral designs. What unites the two? The brilliant azure waters of Galway Bay, playfully igniting a wild goose chase. I wish I had had this memory and vision yesterday while negotiating how to take the train from Belfast, to Dublin, and then onto Galway City where we picked up our rental car. Talk about a wild goose chase!

With tickets in hand, and reserved seats, we successfully took the train from Belfast back to Dublin. Here’s where the goose chase began. Our tickets said 12:45 Connolly, one of several train/bus stations in Dublin. Suddenly, I remembered that we could not travel from Connolly to Galway, so we took a taxi to Heuston Station, our initial starting point a few days earlier. We enjoyed breakfast and some leisure time, when I saw on the posted schedule that the train to Galway was at 1:30pm. Our ticket was for 12:45 at Connolly, so we flagged another taxi and returned to Connolly station, several bags in tow. There we soon learned that the 12:45 ticket was for Luas (Dublin’s light rail) taking us to Heuston for the 1:30pm train to Galway. Are you with me? See why this was a wild goose chase? Since I booked the travel, I took full responsibility for the confusion. But, come on. The tickets, time and stations were confusing.

When I’m in the midst of a wild goose chase, I really strive to stay calm and go with the flow, even looking for the humor in the hunt. But under stress I can get a wee bit cranky, focusing only on what I perceive as wrong. (I was also not feeling well.) When I’m cranky, it becomes easy to complain and blame. When I’m in that dynamic duo of negative thought, I have the power to call upon a third aspect. Call to mind the metaphor I mentioned above. Remembering the trinity of the landscape where I am in this moment. I can look up and complain about the weather, or I can look down and see the uncertainty of the path. But where will that get me? It eventually it got be to the right train at the right time, and all was/is well. Including today’s constant gusty winds having her way with the waters of Galway Bay. The goose has been chased. I wonder what lies ahead with one more week in the wild and untamed west of Ireland?

ANAM CARA TOURS

April 2020

I’m brewing duo tours again for next year. You can travel to either Ireland or Scotland, or both as six people did this year. There’s a discount if you do both tours, or are a returning traveler. Dates and costs will come in June. For now, I’m thinking of Ireland first, early April 2020. For Scotland, in mid-April, I’m specifically looking at a journey to the Outer Hebrides islands of Lewis & Skye, starting an closing in Inverness. That tour may have the exciting opportunity to travel with a very talented and wise young musician, Aaron Alderson. Look him up on Facebook.

Interested, or know someone who might be? Then send me an email to get on the interested list. I do not sell or share that list. It is specifically for my for-profit tour business, Anam Cara Tours LLC. kathleenverigin333@gmail.com

TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC SESSION

We enjoyed a lovely and lively traditional Irish music session Friday night at O’Loclainn’s Irish Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan. Entertaining and fun, while Doug sipped a Green Spot whiskey and I a hot toddy for my aching sinuses and throat.

Celtic Commandments

April 18, 2019

Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland! 

My 15th Ireland tour – Land of Spirits, Saints & Scholars – unfolded beautifully with 14 fabulous travelers and my trusted driver and brother from another mother, Paddy Downes. We visited holy wells for Saints Patrick, Brighid and Columba, with various rituals and sacred sites between. The weather was mostly dry but constantly COLD. Brrrr.  The “knock you over” kind of winds. After 3 days of rest between tours Scotland begins on Friday – Castles, Cathedrals & Clans. All travelers have arrived, safely and on time. YAY!  I intend to continue to post daily updates with photos on Facebook. Remember, if it’s in ye to travel to Celtic lands, zip me an email and get on my interested list. kathleenverigin333@gmail.com You’ll know details before the general public. And, yes, I’m already brewing an Ireland tour for April 2020. Blessings to you!!!

Celtic Commandments

From the Carmina Gadelica, Ancient Celtic oral tradition, Pagan Carmina Gadelica by Mike Nichols

Give thou thine heart to the wild magic,
To the Lord and the Lady of Nature,
Beyond any consideration of this world.
Do not covet large or small,
Do not despise weakling or poor,
Semblance of evil allow not near thee,
Never give nor earn thou shame.
The Ancient Harmonies are given thee,
Understand them early and prove,
Be one with the power of the elements,
Put behind thee dishonour and lies.
Be loyal to the Lord of the Wild Wood,
Be true to the Lady of the Stars,
Be true to thine own self besides,
True to the magic of Nature above all else.
Do not thou curse anyone,
Lest thou threefold cursed shouldst be,
And shouldst thou travel ocean and earth,
Follow the very step of the ancient trackways.

  
A Wee Taste of Scottish Humor

When God had finished creating Scotland, He looked down on it with great satisfaction. Finally he called the Archangel Gabriel to have a look.

“Just see,” said God. “This is the best yet. Splendid mountains, beautiful scenery, brave men, fine women, nice cool weather. And I’ve given them beautiful music and a special drink called whisky. Try some.”

Gabriel took an appreciative sip. “Excellent,” he said. “But haven’t you perhaps been too kind to them? Won’t they be spoiled by all these 
things? Should there not be some drawback?”  

“Just wait till you see the neighbours they’re getting,” said God.

Aliveness

December 6, 2018

“The amazing feeling of being alive beautifully conquers the fear of death” ― Munia Khan

“Do you want to live?” was the first question I asked my friend Walt. It was 20 years ago that he came to me for spiritual guidance when he was on the transplant list. His health had been rapidly declining, and a new liver is what would save him, medically speaking. We both knew that a spiritual conversation needed to happen first. What that conversation was, neither of us had a clue. As an anam cara, a soul friend, I was prepared to listen deeply, and mirror back to him what I perceived as the greater truth.

After a centering prayer, we both opened our eyes and just stared at one another. Neither of us knew how to begin. After a period of silence, I heard myself ask, “Do you want to live?” Walt’s candid reply, “I don’t know.” Thus began a profound dialogue that would last for several months, and even years. A man of faith and compassion, Walt felt uncomfortable knowing that his chance of survival rested on the fate of another. Someone would have to die in order for Walt to live. Was he worthy of this?

During one particular session, I offered a meditation to help Walt connect with the present moment. After several minutes, Walt interrupted with a provocative question, “What does it mean to be present?”

I realized that I often used words like “in the present moment,” or “let us all be present.” What did I mean by that? So began a lesson for both of us.

To be present, to me, means to have awareness of all that is around and within. If someone took a photograph of this very moment, what would it show? As I write this, I am aware of the waning daylight. I see that the walls of my office are green. I notice that my hands are cold, and that my neck is warm. Artificial light makes the room bright on this dark December day. I sit up straighter, I smile. I am fully present.

What percentage of you is present in this moment?

When I am not present, which is a challenge all humans face, I am disconnected from myself, from others, and from life itself. How could Walt know what he really wanted if he was cursing the past (because of liver failure) or projecting out into the future (when am I going to die)? We can easily get paralyzed between past and future. What lies between is the present moment, a notion saints and sages have preached since the beginning of time: Be Here Now!

For months Walt and I would meet and explore his inner thoughts and feelings about the nature of life and death, and the many moments in between. I marveled at his stories of experiencing exquisite present moments, most often in nature. He discovered that trees are alive, squirrels are lively, and the laughter this brings him makes him feel totally alive.

Walt’s health continued a rocky path, as he held his breath in anticipation of receiving a new liver. When a year passed, and another, we both marveled that a donor liver had not presented itself, nor had his health declined in a life-threatening way. He was holding steady. Surprisingly, a third year passed. Walt had a few more health complications that called for surgery and hospital stays. Through it all, he remained present and engaged, embracing his aliveness.

At one point, ten years later, Walt was then too healthy to be on the transplant list. He cherished his aliveness for ten more years. His doctors were stunned, noting how many close calls he had. Walt and I knew the best medicine of all—being true to one’s self by claiming our aliveness. He stepped into the river of his life. He embraced living in the soul. He gave thanks for being alive.

I last saw Walt on November 8th to go over his wishes for an eventual celebration of life ceremony. Last weekend, on December 2nd, early in the morning, Walt finally made his transition. Because I was away over the weekend, the day before his partner held the phone up to Walt’s ear so I could say farewell. I’m told it was a peaceful passing, yet when I heard the news I burst into tears. Even through my tears, I chuckled, because, with Walt as my guide on the other side of the veils, I felt very alive in that moment. Thank you, Walt, for showing me what life is really about. Being alive and knowing it. Every day. With every thought and every breath, as best we can.
RIP my anam cara.

Take a moment and treat yourself to this viral video of a Baby’s Reaction to seeing holiday lights. Now that’s being present!!!!
https://www.romper.com/p/this-viral-video-of-a-babys-reaction-to-seeing-holiday-lights-will-even-warm-a-grinchs-heart-3902780

Assurance

May 11, 2017

It’s more fun to experience things when you don’t know what’s going to happen. Louis C. K.

If Life came with a spiritual assurance policy, which plan would you choose?  The Fun Plan or the No Fun Plan? We all know people who are living life on the No Fun Plan. Always frowning. Constantly complaining. Finding fault with everything and everyone. A genuine Debbie Downer. Remember her? Check out one of the all-time best Saturday Night Live skits from 2004. I hope you find it as fun and funny as I do!

SNL Debbie Downer: Birthday Party (Dress Rehearsal)
https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/debbie-downer/n11842?snl=1

Imagine how low Ms. Downer would be living in 2017? It doesn’t take much effort to spot the gloom and doom swirling around us. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to stay on the bright side. For me, it’s all about choice. If I am not vigilant, No Fun slips backwards into my pre-paid assurance plan. I start to see the world through grey colored glasses. Stop!  It doesn’t have to be that way. For example, take this fun moment.

My Ireland tour had concluded and I was now resting and recovering in my favorite place in Ireland: Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. It’s a tiny village perched on Galway Bay in the west of Ireland. Some there think of me as the US Ambassador to Ballyvaughan. How fun is that?

After breakfast one morning, I took myself on a walk along the water front. I hadn’t slept well the night before. My arthritic feet hurt from days of walking on all sorts of uneven surfaces. Again, pain in my left hip kept me awake in the night. Emotionally I was recovering from the news of the death of a man I had gotten to know during my yearly travels to Ireland, plus news from home of the death of one of my husband’s longest friends. Shall I add that I also learned my beloved Ishka cat got out and went missing? Feeling “out of sorts” barely described how I was feeling.

This was a walk I’ve taken dozens of times but, this time something was different. A gigantic grey stone house, likely 200 years old, had been purchased. This after being derelict for over twenty years. It was an eye sore right smack in the center of the village. This particular morning I noticed scaffolding on one side and the front door wide open. Curiosity got the best of me so I crossed the street for a better look. That’s when two workmen, each in bright yellow vests and hardhats, stepped out of the front door.

Launching the conversation, I said, “I come here once a year and have always been intrigued by this building. Will it be a private home or a business of some sort? The first fellow responded, “Seems it’s a family with 5 kids or so. Might be their home, or a vacation home. Hard to tell.”  What was hard for me to tell was what exactly he said. When you get out into the hinterlands of Ireland, accents can be very thick. I asked if I could look inside the door, something I’ve wanted to do for years. The inside was nearly gutted for the remodel, but I still got a sense history there.

“We should call one of those ghost hunter shows and have them bring a crew here,” I joked.

“Oh, aye, ‘tis haunted this place, some folk say,” he said through thick accent and missing teeth. “Some say they’ve heard voices in there.”

“Male or female?” I asked.

“Hard to say,” he replied. “Some have even heard a wee baby crying.”

I gasped, “Really?” We both stood frozen in silence when suddenly, from the back of the house, came a faint sound. “Waa, Whaa…” It was a baby’s cry!  The man and I suddenly turned towards each other in complete shock. That’s when I saw the glint in his eye.

“Hey, you. Where’s your fellow workman?” That’s when the second guy emerged from the back of the house. They had totally set me up. I was glad they did because it completely changed my attitude towards the day. We three stood together as we laughed, and laughed, and laughed. It still makes me laugh just remembering the encounter. It is one of the most fun moments of all my journeys to Ireland.

I’m not advocating that we put on masks and play Pollyanna. But I will say–enough the Debbie Downer-isms. Choose to see the best in others. Choose to be open to unplanned encounters that remind us to lighten up. Choose. It’s really that simple.

I Get It

May 1, 2015

“I don’t get it.” ~ Homer Simpson

 

STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

I Get It

Recently I noticed how often I mutter, “I don’t get it.” It was my first response when I learned about the unnecessary death in Baltimore of Freddie Gray. Then I whispered it when I heard of the violence that erupted that night in the “city that works.” I said it again when a friend shared with me an odd behavior of someone we both know. “I don’t get it,” I said aloud, while shaking my head. I recall frustration while negotiating a congested concourse at Newark airport. A man on a cell phone stopped dead in his tracks, leaving myself and others stumbling in his wake. “I don’t get why people do that,” I whispered to my husband. What is it I’m really saying with those four words?

I…don’t…get…it…

What I get, upon reflection, is the awareness that I’m making a judgment. “I wouldn’t do that, or do it that way.” It’s a thought of separation versus unity. I cringe thinking about a world where everyone lives up to my expectations. How boring would that be? What would I have to complain about? I am reminded that unity doesn’t mean identical. It means that We Are One while honoring our diversity. That’s the world I strive to live in.

I also get that I can mutter “I don’t get it” as a way to step back from a situation. To give myself pause as I re-frame the thought. Maybe that fellow on the phone just got devastating news. My judgmental thought might have contributed to his shock. Instead, I could become a neutral witness, say a silent prayer, or simply wish him well.

I get, too, that we are mirrors to one another. I cannot see in you what doesn’t live in me. So when I mutter “I don’t get it” in response to a situation, it’s an invitation to reflect on what I do get. An opportunity to step out of duality and back into Oneness.

The next time I catch myself thinking or saying “I don’t get it,” I’m going to immediately remove the negative and turn it into a positive, “I get it.” That I’m human. That I’m not perfect, nor is anyone else. And, that we’re all in this together.

Do you get what I’m saying?

Enjoy this short clip from “The Simpsons”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjfkynJ4hbI