Miss Meads

August 28, 2015

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.” -Dan Rather


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

Miss Meads

The first time I remember feeling back to school anxiety was the August before starting fourth grade. No longer safely roaming Roosevelt’s first floor, I would soon have to ascend the ancient stairway to the second floor. That’s where the big kids were, including my older sister and brother, and my fourth grade teacher, the wicked Miss Meads. For years I held her accountable for my fear of writing. In vivid detail, I remember the day when she ordered me to the blackboard to diagram a sentence, in front of the whole class. I failed miserably. Was it performance anxiety? Stupidity? Or the fact that I disappointed her?

The Miss Meads I remember was tall and skinny. Her face was pinched in a permanent scowl made even more dramatic by the glasses that perched on her pointed nose. Even though she was bone thin, I recall the flapping of her upper arm flab when she wrote on the chalkboard.

Today, while pondering the millions of children who are going back to school, some entering the fourth grade, I thought about Miss Meads. Who was she, really?

From the 1962 archives of the Ames Tribune: “I like fourth grade the best, because by then the teaching tools are pretty well taught and the children are ready to branch out on their own.” The article, honoring her retirement, went on to say, “Miss Gladys Meads started teaching at Roosevelt Elementary School in 1940. She estimates that in her years of teaching more than 1,500 children have come under her jurisdiction.”

Intrigued, I looked up the definition of jurisdiction:  “the right, power, or authority to administer justice.” Yep, that sounds like Miss Meads. The ultimate task master, both judge and jury. Perhaps the humiliation I recall from her admonishment that I couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it, was really her way of telling me that she saw something in me. This McKern kid, one of four in my family and an estimated 1,500 students over time, was smart enough to get the importance of a well written sentence. Perhaps she was my champion, and not my nemesis. Miss Meads, I owe you an apology.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

It is my belief that as we heal in this moment, we also heal the passing forward of our limiting stories to future generations. And, sometimes even more importantly, we heal back in time. As I have had this revelation, I invite you to reflect on past teachers in your life. Is there someone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude? Someone to whom you owe an amends? Someone to whom you simply want to say, thank you? Then do it. Because We Are One, and we’re all in this together.

The Saboteur

August 13, 2015

“It’s a lot easier to sabotage your career than to have a career to sabotage.” Win Butler, Musician


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

The Saboteur

I’ve been in a secret relationship for many years. We come and go, in out and of each other’s lives. Sometimes it wants my attention, even demanding it. In those moments I don’t want to give it. I want to hide and pretend I’m not in this relationship. You see, I’m a minister, a wise woman, a seasoned mentor, compassionate listener, bold entrepreneur, she who is imagined as someone who is successful in all of her endeavors. Would you still think that of me if you knew about this relationship? If I revealed this dark and secret part of my life? Okay, if you’re reading this far, you must want to know. The name of this partner is The Saboteur.

The Saboteur gets around so I won’t be surprised to hear that you’re in the same relationship. It is my understanding, through study and experience, that we all carry the archetype of The Saboteur. Author and spiritual teacher, Carolyn Myss, says this:

The Saboteur archetype is the energy that undermines or sabotages your empowerment and is the guardian of all your choices. The Saboteur is about the ways, methods and means that you sabotage your relationship to Truth. This archetype is about developing an instinct for when you or someone else is undermining your self-esteem. As you come into your own Truth, you will have a rapport and intuitive sense for what is right for you and what will undermine you. This is the Saboteur that is centered in the light attributes of its energy.

Earlier today I had a moment of panic around a choice I needed to make. It had to do with a chunk of money, and the reality that I could risk losing it if I moved ahead with a project. With that thought, I literally stopped breathing. My body froze. I felt a punch in the gut. It was the voice in my head that got my attention: “Pssst, Kathleen, that’s a lot of money, you may lose it all, you may fail, people may think you let them down, then everyone will know how inept you are, how unworthy you are, how pathetic you are. Oh, Kathleen, I love you so. Let’s ignore the Truth and keep dancing. Remember, I’m Your Saboteur. I’m always with you, guarding your choices. I will never let you down. I promise to keep showing up as long as you need me.”

Dang, The Saboteur was back! Without knowing it, I had re-entered the dance floor of my mind, accompanied by limited thoughts, to the tune of low self-esteem. We hadn’t partnered in a long, long time. But the dance was so familiar, intoxicatingly so, that I found myself spinning and twirling under The Saboteur’s confident leadership. That is, until I reached out for prayer support. And that is the point of this message.

The Saboteur is a part of every person’s life. No one escapes it. We are the ones who give it power, especially when we are feeling powerless. This morning, for a brief window of time, I felt powerless in making a certain decision that involved money. I dropped the dance hold with The Saboteur and reached out for prayer support. The dance of Truth returned.

I am a child of God. My dream is big. It’s doable, because I am worthy, smart, clever, and experienced. My partner is The Divine. All things are possible when the Truth is remembered. I remember now. I have returned to Love. I now prosper and grow. The decision has been made. Thank you God.

And so it is….


July 15, 2015

“No single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now.” Deepak Chopra


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin


Don’t you sometimes just want someone to make a decision for you? Not only does it free up inner turmoil, it also allows us to blame that someone if the outcome of the decision isn’t to our liking. Trust me. I’ve thought this through too many times to count. But what it all comes down to is choice. We have been given the gift of free will. The ability to make choices. To decide. Let’s get literal here for a moment. According to the dictionary:

Decide:  to choose something after thinking about it
De:  removal or separation
Cide:  to cut or kill (think homicide, pesticide, matricide, etc.)

So to DE-CIDE, then I must separate from that which is killing. To cut off from uncertainty, to remove myself from that which is draining my life force. For me, it’s how I can easily slip into over-thinking something. To listen only to my head. No wonder I have been feeling off kilter!

The Anam Cara Journey follows the triple spiral as a blueprint for life in general, and also the specifics of life like making a decision. If, like me, you are in decision making mode, ask yourself these questions:

Spiral One: What does my physical body say about this decision?
Spiral Two:  What does my mental body say about this decision?
Spiral Three:  What does my emotional body say about this decision?

Then invite your inner guidance to weave a thread through all three spirals. That thread is Spirit, God, Creator, Higher Power, All That Is. For me, it is my highest good, reminding me that the waters of possibility are not gunky at all. They are deliciously clear and comforting.

Today is the New Moon. It’s a time to plant a seed, to set something into motion. With this in mind, and my body and heart engaged, I am restored to fluid balance. It is from that place that I joyfully move forward with the decision I get to make.

Email info@anamcaraconnections.com to receive for your own use a free copy of the triple spiral.


June 30, 2015

I hear a little firecracker go off when you come up with a good rhyme. – Garrison Keillor


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin


A funny thing happened on a recent drive home from the swimming pool. I was at a stop light in a left turn lane. Both front windows were down. Suddenly a truck pulls up to my right, driven by a man about my age whom I would guess to be an aging hippy and/or vet. This because of the icons hanging from his rear view mirror. He said hello first. I said hello back. Then the funny thing happened:

He:  I’m on my way to school
Me:  I just came from the pool.
He:  That’s cool.
Me: Yep, we’re no fools.
Aware that we were conversing in rhyme, we both let out a hearty laugh. And then the rhyming continued.
He:  I think we’re poets.
Me:  I know it.
He: Let’s show it.
Me: So we don’t blow it.

With that his light turned green. Before hitting the gas he announced:  “I’m going to keep rhyming all day!” He then peeled out, his left arm giving a big wave as I continued to wait for my green light.
That brief encounter, lasting only seconds, gave me tremendous joy. I laughed all the way home and continued to do so while I shared the rhyme story with my husband. What is it about a corny rhyme that feels so good?

Psychologists say that children process words by sound while adults process by meaning. We’re all familiar with nursery rhymes, many of us able to quote some with perfect accuracy. Might rhyming be the antidote to the fading memory that plagues most of us from middle age on? Maybe we need to let our Inner Child out to play more often by occasionally conversing in rhyme. So…

Farewell for now
As I make a vow
To continue to wow
With rhymes that go pow

Be nice to me. I wrote that in about 15 seconds. No edits. Just pure fun.  Monday, while driving home from the pool, I was again stopped at the same light preparing to turn left. I was aware of a car pulling up to my right. We both had our windows up. No eye contact was made. But I smiled remembering my rhyming buddy on his way to school. Our encounter was cool.


June 16, 2015

“Your friend is your needs answered.” Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin


A friend posted on Facebook an image of a porch swing made out of odd shapes of driftwood. The caption said, “Your yard needs one of these.” My mind jumbled the words and interpreted it this way: “You and your needs are one.” It was an interesting moment of reflection. Exactly what are my needs today?

In a college Psychology of Education Class, I remember studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Originating in the 1940s, it was a five stage model of needs that humans are motivated to achieve. It’s a “bottom up” pyramid, so start with Number 1.

5. Self-Actualization
4. Esteem
3. Love & Belongingness
2. Safety Needs
1. Biological & Physiological Needs

Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on.

I wonder, what if Maslow’s pyramid was reversed. That our first need is self-actualization? In my knowing, we are all born self-actualized, even though it takes years of maturation to recognize and express. It’s about seeing the Truth of the newborn, the toddler or the child. Each one is absolute perfection, made in the likeness and image of our Creator. Remembering this is my highest need fulfilled.

Just for fun, check out Maslow’s characteristics of self-actualizers. How do you measure up?

1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;
3. Spontaneous in thought and action;
4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
5. Unusual sense of humor;
6. Able to look at life objectively;
7. Highly creative;
8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
12. Peak experiences;
13. Need for privacy;
14. Democratic attitudes;
15. Strong moral/ethical standards.

After a bit of time on the downward spiral (meaning I’ve been in a funk, as me mum used to say), I am enjoying a new sense of self-awareness. I’m remembering my essence while being kind to the part of me that hasn’t lived up to my own expectations.

New levels of self-love are pulsating through my body.
New possibilities are emerging through my mind.
New connections are being made through my heart.

And, most importantly, I am remembering the words of Kahlil Gibran: “Your friend is your needs answered.”

Thank you for being my anam cara, my soul friend. Just knowing that fulfills my need to connect while remembering that I am Whole, Healthy & Complete just as I am. What is your need today? Might you seek out an anam cara and together share the joy of self-actualization?

It is important to note that Maslow’s five stage model has been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs and later transcendence needs.

Source:  http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Add, Subtract

June 1, 2015

The Tao Te Ching says, “To gain knowledge, add something every day.
To gain wisdom, remove something every day.”


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

Add, Subtract

I excelled at addition in elementary school math, but not so much subtraction. It didn’t seem fair. I just learned how to add something and now I have to learn to take away something? It’s a puzzle that has bugged me my whole life—add or subtract? It feels good to add something, and feels bad when something is taken away. Unless, of course, when I’m losing extra pounds. I love seeing the numbers subtract themselves from the scales, but what will happen if I add back those pounds? Add or subtract? Feel good or feel bad? The wisdom to know the difference is by honoring the space between.

One of the tenets of Celtic Spirituality is the respect for the marginal, the space between two things, that which dwells neither here nor there. Doorways should be walked over, not walked on. Dawn and dusk are the between times of day, therefore filled with the potential for magic and mischief. The cross-quarter days are more important that the solstices and equinoxes. Their ceremonies honor the delicate times of transition. How might this idea, practiced by my Celtic ancestors, help me when I am in thought modes of add or subtract, this or that, yes or no? I again borrow from the Tao Te Ching:

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.
As I read this–and I invite you to do the same–I pause, sit back and focus on the lines between the paragraphs, the space between the words, even the hollow parts of the o’s. I am restored to a new sense of fluid balance. I can add and subtract, but not at the same time. First, I must bless the space between. A reminder to breathe, deeply and often. Will you join me?


May 16, 2015

When push comes to shove, it ain’t the science that’s going to lift you up – it’s the belief, the spiritual side of life, that’s going to lift you up, no matter what religion you are. -Kirstie Alley


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin


People watching is one of my favorite things to do. That’s the activity I was engaged in while sipping a beverage at a street corner café in Edinburgh, Scotland. Or so I thought. To my husband I said, “See that man over there, kind of swaggering in his metro-sexual clothes, cigarette in hand, sunglasses on the back of his head? I want to push him and say—Who do you think you are?”  We both chuckled, knowing that I would never do such a thing. But the impulse was real. I really did want to push him, in the kind of way we four McKern kids would push each other while sharing the cramped backseat of our dad’s car. You know what I’m talking about.

I noticed the thought impulse to push several times during our journey through the Highlands of Scotland. The next week the urge to push became a joke among my Ireland travelers. “Watch out,” I’d say, “I’m feeling a need to push coming on.”  Sometimes it was a playful, “get outta here,” kind of push I wanted to put into motion. Other times I felt motivated to actually shove someone or something. It didn’t matter if it was alive or inanimate. I simply wanted to push it.

The fascination with people watching extends into observing my own thoughts and behaviors. “What’s this sudden urge to push really about?” I pondered.

Child psychologists say that pushing is an aggressive behavior innate in almost all toddlers. Little ones don’t have the experience or vocabulary to express certain feelings. So they push, or shove, or bite. (Rest assured, I have never bitten nor have I ever wanted to bite anyone.) According to a website titled Everyday Life, a pediatrician says there are three explanations for pushy toddlers. See if you can identify with any of them.

Proving Independence

Toddlers, age 18 months to 3 years, are learning that they are individuals. Pushing another child gets them out of the way and establishes turf. Perhaps my desire to push someone is really a desire to push myself, to get my attention. To push away my momentary sense of separation that arrived through judgment. An invitation to connect rather than divide. To choose interdependence over independence.

Communicating Feelings

Toddlers have limited vocabularies, therefore they resort to physical actions over words. I have an extensive vocabulary, tempered by the parental voice that taught me to be nice. More specifically, to be ladylike. Perhaps physically shoving someone would be more socially acceptable than lashing out with a string of unladylike profanities. What was I feeling at that street corner café? I recall feeling kind of old. Like I no longer had the right to dress provocatively. To call attention to myself. That I needed to act my age. Overall, I think I was feeling sad and striving to make light of it.

Poor Impulse Control

Toddlers will react versus respond. It takes time and maturity to know the difference. I continue to work on this one, even now in my supposed mature years. To react means to re-act. To repeat something over and over again—hahaha—and expect different results. To respond puts the responsibility in my hands to behave in a way that’s going to lift me up, and therefore lift up the perceived other.

Since reflecting on the impulse to push, I notice that the urge has waned. Perhaps push finally came to shove, and shove said give it up. We are one, and we’re all in this together.

Fascinating view of aging to the tune of “Pushing On”
Oliver $& Jimi Jules – Pushing On (Official Video) (2:47)

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?


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”


"I Don't Know"

April 3, 2015

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance  to those of us who do.”   ~ Isaac Asimov


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

“I Don’t Know”

When I was in ministry school, 20+ years ago, our group had a lengthy dialogue about what to say when called into people’s lives at critical moments. This could be the loss of a job, a severe injury, death of a pet, or the sudden or lingering dying process of a child, or parent, or partner. What do we say when the one suffering turns to us, asking, “Why is this happening?”

One faction in our group said we must explain that God is a part of this, so therefore we must put our trust in God. The other faction disagreed, saying the best response is, “I don’t know.” Because, in truth, we don’t know why this is happening–if we stay in the mental realms of thinking. Once we soften and move to the heart, the respectful response is, “I don’t know, but I will walk with you as more is revealed.” In other words, assuring the one undergoing great stress, “I’ve got your back.”

The term originated in military combat. The ones who stay behind in the foxhole shoot to distract the enemy while one soldier dashes out of hiding. Through The Anam Cara Journey, it has been revealed to me that the declaration, “I’ve got your back,” is also metaphysical. An affirmation to remind us that we are never alone. Learning to value the heart as much as the head is my life’s journey. And, I’m not talking about just the front of the heart.

The heart chakra radiates through the entire upper chest. That includes the front, solar body, and the back, lunar body. Both are integral for whole-heart thinking. I can tell you to your face that I’m here for you. But, better yet, I can show you that I’m here for you in ways you cannot see. That is, by honoring the back of the heart that is invisible to the one suffering. A gentle touch and soft whisper can help us remember that there are many sources of healing at work, always seeking our good. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So when I whisper to an anam cara, my soul friend, “I’ve got your back,” I’m reminding them that they are never alone. There’s a council of ancestors right behind them. All they have to do is remember, lean back a little, and allow the mantel of Infinite Love to embrace them.

When we embrace this as Truth, then the words “I don’t know” can bring comfort rather than strife. And, a reminder that we’re all in this together.

A Sense of Place

March 20, 2015

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Yogi Berra

STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

A Sense of Place

My mom used to drive me crazy when she’d identify a place by what it used to be. Not what it is now, but what it was in the past. “You know, where the old Penney’s used to be.” It was helpful information once I no longer lived in Ames, Iowa. But, still, the way she identified places annoyed me. I mentally accused her of living in the past. What was underlying that irritation? A new thought came to me yesterday.

I had to drive from our home in SW Portland to a dentist appointment in NW Portland. Before merging onto I-5, I was struck by the sight of a new gas station. It seemed to have emerged over night. Rather than seeing it for what it is, my thoughts identified it by the various venues it used to be. On the other side of the street, I noticed a gas station that had recently been leveled. What will it become, I wondered?

Soon I was on the freeway, skirting the edge of downtown. I marveled over all the high rises on the water front. Suddenly my mind was flooded with memories of what those areas used to be like. I missed the shorelines of the river, plus the clear views of the downtown high rises and Mt. St. Helens far in the distance. All are now obscured. I wondered, with a wee bit of judgement, who lives in those tall narrow sky scrapers that are interfering with my sense of contentment?

Once off the freeway, I meandered through the bustling streets of NW Portland. That’s where I first lived when I migrated to Oregon forty years ago. Then the thoughts came again. That used to be my pharmacy. That used to be the vacant lot where I sun tanned. That used to be a tacky pub that I would scoot by because of the sketchy clientele.

Suddenly, with a chuckle, I was aware that I was, like my mom, recognizing places from what they used to be rather than what they are now. That’s when the new thought came. It’s the good old Irish sense of “place,” a major tenet of Celtic Spirituality. A strong connection to the land and its history, both recent and ancient. Mix in my human tendency to want a place to stay the same. And that’s not how Life works. It’s always in motion. Fluid, like the ebbing and flowing of the oceans, and the changing seasons. A reminder to be aware of the past and open to the future, while living in the present moment.

The next time my mind wants to identify a place by what it used to be, I plan to take a deep breath, put on a pleasant smile, and say hello to what it is now.