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.

Press Play

March 4, 2015

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”

― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

Press Play
My mom had a playful spirit. She knew how to press play on the boom box of life. This is because she could find something fun in just about anything. Some of her most playful moments were when she’d launch into song, often when we were on a road trip. Consider that she couldn’t carry a tune. She knew it, Dad knew it, and we four kids knew it. But it didn’t stop her. One of her favorites to sing was “Playmate,” a big hit in 1894 and still loved today. She would half sing and half laugh her way through it.

Hey, hey, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me.
You’ll bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree.
Cry down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door.
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more.

It occurred to me recently that I am blessed with many soul friends and noble friends. But who are my jolly friends? They are the ones with whom I want to do silly things. To get into mischief. To play make believe. To laugh until we nearly pee in our pants.

I spent some time yesterday with a jolly friend. She had me howling with laughter as she described some of the crazy fun things she did when her sons were little. Imagine pretend ice skating in pudding, on the kitchen floor. Or making mud pies in the backyard with mom until all were covered in mud. Or covering the Christmas tree with as many candy canes as possible just to surprise one of the brothers.

We both wondered when we stopped pushing the play button for ourselves. Yes, we can be playful and have fun. But when do we really play like little children do?

Thus began a dialogue around what it would be like to have adult play dates. This kind of fun is not reliant on alcohol, food or money. This kind of play is reliant on imagination and action. The body must be engaged. The senses titillated. The mind and heart open. Adult play dates rely on people who long for the rush of endorphins that comes with play. For those who would like to transform constant frowning into an hour or two of smiling.

“Wouldn’t it be fun to…,” said aloud, launched some outrageously fun ideas. Out of my mouth came, “Let’s learn how to twerk!” We hit the cosmic play button and enjoyed moments of outrageous laughter at the very idea. Not sure what twerking is? Check out this short video.

Golden Sisters Twerk like Miley (1:48)

These women know how to play! Would you agree?

Research undertaken at The Strong® suggests that there are six basic elements involved when we play—anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength, and poise. (The Strong® is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play, located in Rochester, New York.)
If we use learning to twerk as an example, here’s how it might play out for me:

Anticipation: The idea of it triggers a naughty grin.
Surprise: It might be easier than I thought.
Pleasure: Laughter will permeate the experience.
Understanding: Learning something that is totally new to me.
Strength: Must be good for core muscles.
Poise: Delicious mixture of adult and child like fun.

All six elements of play become activated if, and only if, I push the play button. That means I open my mind. I engage my imagination. I enroll my body. Why wait for a twerking class? What if, once a day, I push play on the cosmic boom box of life? I wonder how many jolly new friends I will make.

50 Shades

February 18, 2015

“When I learned about the grey existing between the black and white of absolute terms, I began to experience more peace. The more I expanded my gray areas (more than 50 shades), the more peace I experienced in my life.” ― David W. Earle, author & counselor


STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen McKern Verigin

50 Shades

With Saturday Night Live’s recent 40th anniversary celebration, I wondered what Gilda Radner’s infamous character Emily Litella might say about the recent hoopla around “50 Shades of Grey.” She was the elderly news commentator on who was also hard of hearing. (See video link below.)

Jane:  Weekend Update realizes it’s obligation to present different views of current events. Here to tell us about “50 Shades of Grey” is Emily Litella.

Emily:  “What’s all this fuss about 50 Shades of Grey? I don’t know what the big deal is about. I’m told it’s a love story about a Dr. Grey who happens to be a Christian. He meets a woman named Miss Steele who is just gone under anaesthesia. Before he operates, he has to tie her hands down so she won’t move. What doctor doesn’t do that? Then he has to cover her eyes so she when she wakes up she won’t be scared. What a nice man, that Dr. Grey. Then to make sure there’s no dust around, he takes a great big feather and….

Jane:  Stop!  50 Shades of Grey is about BDSM

Emily: Oh, so she had a BM and not surgery?

Jane:  No, Emily, it’s a book that some people think is pornography.

Emily:  Oh…I hear young people are using old fashioned cameras.

Jane:  No, Emily, that’s not photography, it’s pornography.

Emily:  Oh, that’s different. Never mind.  (Cue applause, slow slide off screen)

Whether you’ve read the books, or have seen the film, “50 Shades of Grey” holds a powerful place in mass consciousness. My interest is not in the details—the fact that it’s poorly written, the plot line ridiculously absurd and the sexual practices shocking—it’s more about the conversations and dialogues it’s launching. Perhaps it’s here not to destroy our youth and rot the minds of millions of women around the world, but to bring into the light aspects of human dynamics and sexuality that have been kept hidden and secret. I believe it’s our collective Light that is bringing forward that which is ready for healing. I wonder, what is it that’s up for healing?

Emily Litella, Violence on Television

Name It, Claim It

January 2, 2015

“The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.” –Edward Payson Powell, Welsh Theologian (1478 – 1540)

STUFF I KNOW BY ME © Kathleen Verigin

Name It, Claim It
The month of January is a “unified field” in which we all dwell. When we name something, we claim it. January was named after the Roman god Janus. He was depicted with two identical faces; one on the front of his head looking forward, the other on the back of his head gazing into the past. Janus stood in the precarious place of “time in between time.”  What would it be like if you allowed all of January to be a time of preparation for taking the high road into 2015?

History shows us that New Year Rites of Renewal continued throughout the thirty-one days of January. Rather than distilling the Old and New Year into a one night, one-time event, as we modern humans tend to do, what if we used the entire month of January to do so? To acknowledge the past, release what no longer serves us, experience the stillness in the void, and then set an intention for the New Year ahead? And, what if you could distill that into one succinct Word of Intention?

That has been my practice since 2001, and shared with others every year since. Here’s my list of words:

2001         Aliveness
2002        Visibility
2003        Allowing
2004        Co-arising
2005        Liberation
2006        Vision
2007        Presence
2008        Trust
2009        Connection
2010        Focus
2011        Grace
2012        Confidence
2013        Action
2014        Courage
2015        ?

The Word then becomes a part of my daily spiritual practice. For example, throughout 2014 I have concluded my daily prayers with “I am the Courage of the Living Christ in me.” It’s always enlightening to reflect back on the past year and notice how Courage has shown up—or not—in my life. Trust me, it has!

I have a few Words of Intention for 2015 already bubbling up. As before, I will give myself time and space for the perfect Word to emerge. I’ll try on a few, like I might do when shopping for a new pair of shoes. I’ll remember to reflect on the shadow aspect of the word, because it will surely show up. What I know for sure is that by January 31st, four weeks from now, I will know my next Word of Intention.

What word will you use to Name & Claim your highest good for 2015?

You can learn more about New Year Rites of Renewal when I speak of “Taking the High Road into 2015” this Sunday, January 4, at the 9:00 and 11:00am services at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego, Oregon. http://www.newthoughtcsl.org/  Services are always uplifting and life affirming, with spectacular music. Guest musician this Sunday is Laura Berman. http://www.laurabermanmusic.com/

If you’d like help with claiming your Word of Intention for 2015, consider taking my Anam Cara Connections workshop this Sunday afternoon—“Aiming Your Arrow for 2015”—1:30-4:30pm, downstairs at NTCSL. It is open to women, men and teens. Investment is $33. It promises to be experiential, reflective, clarifying, deeply profound and FUN!

Interested in private mentoring for accessing your Word of Intention? Contact me directly and we’ll make it happen:  info@anamcaraconnections.com


Poor January! It’s presence in the calendar has been toyed with since the beginning of measured time. Thanks to Numa Pompilius, around 700 BCE, January was added to the previous ten-month calendar. The start of the New Year, however, was still in March. Then, in 46 BCE, Julius Caesar introduced the solar-based calendar that was considered a big improvement on the ancient Roman calendar. (It was a lunar system and considered wildly inaccurate over the years.) January took another hit in medieval Europe. The January New Year celebrations were considered pagan and un-Christian. So, in 567 BCE, the Council of Tours abolished January 1st at the beginning of the New Year. But wait! There’s yet another plot twist. January was restored to its place as the first month of the calendar year when today’s Gregorian calendar was established in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.  But there’s still one more little morsel of info about January. Prior to 1752, the British Empire and American colonies continued to observe the New Year in March.