Feed Your Truth

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What sort of “truths” do you tell yourself on a daily basis?  You know, that critical self-talk that plays in a loop that makes all your negative thoughts and fears much bigger than they really are? Nine out of ten of those things aren’t true at all.

But what if, like me, you learned very early that telling the truth could spell trouble? The truth was always flexible with everyone but parents, priests, and police. White lies or exaggeration was permissible if the intent was to spare feelings. Lies for the sake of covering my butt usually boomeranged back. If caught, they can mean deeper trouble because of the intention.

Here’s the truth. You can lie to anyone in your life about anything, often with little or no repercussions. But if you lie to yourself, you are inflicting as much damage as any disease.

I go through phases in my life when I take a good hard look at myself, and if I’m being honest, I’m not being all that I can be. If I would stop lying to myself about what I can or should do, I could get out of my own way. So I’m working on getting over and on with it.

How many times have you felt in your gut that you wanted to do something, then asked your friends and family their opinion, only to have them talk you out of it? Oh, most of them mean well, even think that they have your best interests at heart. But there is always one who will do their level best to sabotage any change you might want to make. Sometimes it is for the sole purpose of holding you back, keeping you in a stagnant space, and thereby making them look or feel better about themselves.

Or you make the mistake of comparing yourself to some highly successful celebrity who seems to have burst forth overnight. You have no idea how long and hard they worked to achieve their success or the team of behind-the-scenes connections they employed.

Your family might be especially skilled at activating unnecessary fear. They know what buttons to push. What they don’t realize is that their experience doesn’t have to be yours. Perhaps they failed miserably at achieving their goals, or never took a chance because their fears had been energized. You don’t have to be like them. You are unique, in a different time, space, and attitude than anyone who has “tried” in the past. There have been ideas that I haven’t shared with anyone close to me for these reasons. I can derail myself as fast as anyone. And I can be just as adept at staying the course and persevering if I would be honest with myself about what I needed to do.

Like the son of the attorney who was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, attend the same college, and rise to the same, if not higher, station when what he really wanted for himself was to make movies. Or the daughter who shouldered the burden of providing grandchildren when all she dreamt of was traveling the world with a camera.  If they follow the parent-pleasing path they might end up bitter having not fed their own truth.

You don’t owe anyone anything, except yourself. Ignoring your truth can spell big trouble if you continue to deny it.  Like the puppy who goes unnoticed in the other room and makes a big mess because they didn’t have your attention. Pay attention to your truth, and care for it properly. Because if you don’t, no one else will.



What Would You Need in the Afterlife?

Women buried with handspinning spindles 3000 years ago

I didn’t plan on following a funeral post with a burial post, but this really intrigued me. A friend posted an article on Facebook about ancient women being buried with their spindles. Men were buried with their weapons. Kings were buried with their riches. If they used animals in their lifetime, they would be buried with those too.

Spinning Yarn In the Grave

Got me thinking. If I hold a belief in the afterlife, what would I pack?

I suppose I always assumed that, since I would be entering a new world without a body, I wouldn’t require anything from this world. I wouldn’t have hands to wield a sword or a spindle. But at my brother-in-law’s funeral,  I did notice a man slipping something into his casket as he said his farewell. A note? A photo? A trinket? I’ll never know.

Humans seem to have a strange attachment to objects, assigning meaning based on emotions they conjure. Another friend posted that he’d just parted with a pair of boots that he knew he’d walked over seven thousand miles in and couldn’t bear to throw them in the trash for fear of being “disrespectful.” I had a similar attachment to my last car – the only thing that had survived my tumultuous past.

Given a choice, if you really could take something with you into “the next life” what would you chose?  A favorite book? Boots? Tool? Award? Jewelry? Sporting equipment?

I think I’d take pen and paper and/or camera to document my new journey.

You never know when you might run into a doorway back.(with proof of an afterlife!)



10 Life Lessons I Learned at a Funeral

  1. Make your own decisions, or someone else will. This doesn’t just apply to your last wishes, but your entire life.
  1. Dwelling on the past (regrets) is a waste of energy.  No matter what mistakes you’ve made, you can’t turn back time. Carrying them around like a pack mule benefits no one. Acknowledge them and resolve to do better.
  1. If you’re not living the life you really want, change it. That includes the relationships you engage in, the jobs you work, and the lifestyle you live.
  1. You can’t please everyone, especially parents. Parent-pleasing can breed resentment. Be yourself anyway. They are.
  1. Own your beliefs. If you are not a follower, don’t be one of the herd for just for appearances.
  1. You don’t know what you don’t know until you learn. There are questions you won’t know to ask until you have the answers.
  1. Everyone processes emotions in their own way. Denial, deflection, humor, suppression, pacing, compulsiveness, etc. Allow loved ones the space to do what they need to do.
  1. There are those who leave their hometown and those who stay. The “why” is personal. Some of us need to lay down roots. For the rest, only a touchstone is required.
  1. Family can love you and not always like you, and might never understand you. Be okay with that.
  1. Food brings everyone to the conversation. You can overhear a lot even at a long table. When people are face to face, it’s impossible not to engage, if only in body language.  A meal helps people feel normal, even if they aren’t hungry. The ritual of it can defuse or ignite emotions. Lean toward compassion first.




We all know we are going to die. We know this. Just as we know gravity makes a seesaw possible. But until death touches our lives, it’s only knowledge.

Balance exists. For everyone suffering from illness, circumstance, or loss, there is another rejoicing in good fortune and achievement. For every person who has lost their life to a horrific act of violence such as the shooting in Orlando and the truck rampage in Nice, there is one who must continue living. And more enter every minute.

My family both lost and gained a member in the last three days. Will the new member be as delightful as the lost one? As loved and valued?

No one can replace another. Each brings their own unique blend of personality and contribution to the table. No one life is more valued or important than another, although it may appear so. But that’s just ego.

I wonder so many things about the new baby. What kind of person might he become? His first photo taken in the hospital included a large red hazardous waste container looming from behind. Nothing says, “Welcome to the world” like a Hazmat bucket, eh?

Yet the lost brother was filled with toxins in an effort to ease his suffering. (How on earth did we come up with healing cancer with poison? Yet, it has for some.) Perhaps that is the balance.

As much as we will mourn the loss of a beloved core member of the family, we will celebrate the possibilities of the newest child. Hopefully, he can help restore balance.



Back to the Box

I love a great success story so I’m passing this juicy one along. After making my first blueberry pie of the season from our homegrown berries, I saw a piece on television about a woman who had shared my love of pie.

She’d lost her big job and broke the news to her partner with a half-hearted joke about ending up in the poorhouse. What to do?

They started baking pies in their home kitchen and quickly ran out of space. So they ditched the furniture, brought in more baking equipment and were all in. Then they put the finished product in a repurposed shed by the road. (Without anyone to man it!)  Customers pay by the old-fashioned honor system (dropping money into a metal box with a padlock) and selecting from a few varieties in a small fridge.

Poorhouse Pies in Underhill, VT proved that there was more than one way to make a living and sell their product. An unmanned shed by the road? Who would think that would work? I’ll bet a few folks told them that they were crazy.

Bored by the thinking “out of the box” reference? These ladies went back to the box and changed it completely  They transformed their home to a bakery, then set up an old tool shed as a store front.

Now, they’re doing far more than pie.

Hats off to a couple of Back-to-the-Boxers.


23 Park Street, Underhill, VT (802) 899-1346

I need to do some of this kind of thinking myself.


Monstrous Monday – Spiritual Responsibility

Zak Bagans’ latest television show Deadly Possessions brings up serious spiritual concerns. I’m not going to critique the show as much as what is not being broadcast.

After all, he’s not the first to open a museum stocked with paranormal objects. John Zaffis showed the world his museum on The Haunted Collector. But Zaffis also revealed some precautions he took to neutralize any spirit attachments after removing them from where they were found. Not all of the objects he acquired were placed in an open-to-the-public museum. Some were considered too dangerous to display.

Bagans doesn’t appear to have the same level of concern. In Deadly Possessions, he invites owners of possessed items to come to his museum to investigate the validity of the haunting, then interviews those who have suffered harm from having come in contact with the objects. A couple of objects had deadly stories attached to them as if even looking at the haunted object could kill a person.

He says “I” and “Mine” a lot about the collection of haunted items. In my mind, he doesn’t own anything. Those things own him. It’s a huge responsibility to be the caretaker of anything dangerous. It means being responsible for any harm that might befall anyone while displaying an item in your care.

Which brings me to an episode about an English doll that supposedly killed people who had merely gazed upon her face. Before revealing the doll’s face (covered with a black bag), a disclaimer was displayed on the screen that warned viewing the object could be dangerous. Look at your own risk. All right. After a few seconds, they revealed the face. I chose not to view it. I never cared for dolls when I was a child. I certainly had no curiosity about them now. But when the program resumed after the commercial break, there was no warning. Suddenly the face of the doll was the first image to flash in the recap. Thereby, exposing the audience whether they wished to view it or not. Highly irresponsible if the claims of death attached to this doll are to be believed. Exposing millions in the television audience with any level of belief in the possibility of harm makes everyone involved in the production responsible.

What other precautions are taken (or ignored) for the protection of visitors to the museum full of Deadly Possessions? I’m sure there are warning signs before entering the museum, but the only disclaimer for the television viewing audience at the opening of each episode is that the producers don’t share the views of the program.

Now you might be wondering, why watch such a show at all?  For me, the stories behind the items are the hook. Some might be nothing more than urban legends. But others provoke morbid curiosity.

I’m still alive.


Do Your Beliefs Define You?

No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and host of Ovation’s Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, brought up a new idea when she asked him, “What is belief?” He answered, “Identity.”

I’ve spent my life sifting through various religions and philosophies in search of what I truly believe. From the time I was introduced to the Catholic Church, I’ve been trying to determine what is real for me. It didn’t do me much good to sit through a mass delivered in Latin if I didn’t understand the language. My high school didn’t even teach Latin. I only knew a deity that demanded obedience or else. No matter how well behaved I was I didn’t experience enlightenment.

I was born on Native American soil while being of European lineage. I got in trouble if I asked the priests or nuns about the differences in belief systems. Who was right? Like most people, I was in search of “the truth.”

If belief is identity, I didn’t know who I was for most of my life. I know now (or think I do), but what if you don’t? Are you void of identity if you don’t know what you really believe? I don’t think so. You just don’t know how to define it with clarity. Doesn’t mean that you don’t know your own mind.

When you ask a Jewish person “who” or “what” they are, they will generally respond with their religion instead of a nationality. “I’m a Jew.” I’m not sure any other group of people does this with as much conviction. Ask an Irishman the same question and he will identify regionally. I’ve always been a blend of several varieties like table wine. I’m not comfortable with labeling my belief system as any one thing. If I had to, I’d call it Open. Open to all systems of belief, understanding that even through our differences we share common ground.

There’s the old “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” line. But being spiritual is not the same as believing in a deity. In my view, I am a spirit living in a human body. Being human is the perspective from which I view the world. As much as I can identify with other species, I am human and cannot view life from any other perspective. Just as the humans who penned all the religious texts on the planet. They identified their beliefs in human terminology, including their gods. Does this perspective define me? Of course it does. What I believe about everything defines me: business, politics, art, morality, etc. Stir all those things into a pot and you have a souffle as unique as the human who made it.

At last week’s RiverRun Film Festival, the film Heavenly Nomadic told the story of a dying culture of horse people who, when the leader of the clan died, killed his horse to go with him to the next life. Talk about a defining belief system. Indigenous people honor elements in nature, especially animals.

I adored this film by the way.

I envy Aslan’s ability to clearly articulate my own understanding. If you are as fascinated by belief systems and other world views as I am, check out his books as well as the series Oprah Winfrey produced last year called Belief, and Morgan Freeman’s current series running on the National Geographic channel, The Story of God.

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