My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Monday, October 29, 2012

Epiphany Me-More on Spiritual Awakenning

In the process of personal growth or development or even 'getting well' many of us have looked beyond traditional religions for guidance. Last time I shared my thoughts on the spiritual climate of our times I tossed around some of the pros and cons, as I see them, of the larger group of seekers collectively referred to as New Age (although many do reject the term) Much of what is labeled New Age Spirituality is blend of psychological techniques and a patchwork of spiritual practices, often those that are borrowed from a non-white culture but adapted to fit western culture. These combinations of practice and wisdom can, in many cases, provide fertile earth for true enlightenment. The messages and teachings in their westernized formula often to overlook one crucial detail, that is that within our culture there exists myriad sub-cultures whose lives don't fit the tidy portrait of the American Ideal.

Historically, our American culture of Pragmatic Pull-Yourself-Up-By-Your-Bootstraps has done little to encourage self exploration and understanding, much less self forgiveness. The offering of spiritual comfort within our culture has consisted of organized religions with relatively simple solutions. These answers emanated from an external source which was translated by a usually male representative. It is only relatively recently that individuals have been encouraged to seek within to find answers to deep philosophical and spiritual questions. Women in recovery and on the path to healing are often shrouded in years of guilt over the mistakes we've made. If we reach out to an alternative source of spiritual guidance we need a welcoming hand that understands the role that feelings like Guilt and Shame have played in our perception of redemption. We can be told over and over that we deserve happiness, love or prosperity, but until we forgive ourselves that tiny voice inside will continue to whisper that maybe we don't.

The journey to understand ones self is different for each seeker and the path one follows is not linear but rather tends to cycle back on itself as we revisit old issues within the context of a different terrain and strengthened by new skills and understanding. Many of life's problems don't disappear we just learn how to navigate the territory in a way that is more adaptive and safe than in previous attempts.

As a counselor I always felt that my work was more an art than a science although certainly a mix of the two. The same applies to the path of the spiritual seeker. We evolve safely by respecting our own timing and unique quirks. It hardly seems possible to find comfort with one's place in the Universe if we haven't even become comfortable in our own bodies. It can be cruel to ask of someone to part with their Ego when we have only just barely begun to know her. Those of us who surrendered our Selves to a drug, a relationship or any lifestyle that restrained our true expression of self, are fully aware that the journey back to the self is a long road. We also know the path some frightening twists and turns and that the temptation to avoid raw, authentic self discovery is as seductive as it always had been.

Probably the most potentially frightening bend in the road is that we will actually like ourselves. And once we like someone we expect nothing but the best for them so that's a pretty scary notion.

On a more mundane level the same could be said for letting go of our ideas about prosperity...welcoming prosperity in our lives. Are you freaking kidding me? Do you know what kind of a relationship most of us have had with money in the past? We have spent our rent money on other things than rent, risking (and sometimes falling into) homelessness. Chances are good we've been stolen from, taken advantage of, had our belongings broken by an angry or jealous partner, we've had to sell personal belongings to pay the rent (or worse). Money hasn't exactly been associated with consistency or comfort. Along with liking ourselves, now we are expected to accept the frightening prospect of admitting we deserve something nice, or that it will last.

Last week I wrote a mini blog called "Redefining Prosperity" This was a sort of self imposed homework assignment. I have decided that prosperity and abundance are not bad words, it was my definition and perception of the words that was twisted.

My perception is always developing, hopefully toward a place that is more clear, forgiving and comfortable with Me. For me that is the Big Spiritual Awakening.

"And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without."~from The Charge of The Goddess, by Doreen Valiente
Retrieved from Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Defining Prosperity

Prosperity is not a bad word. Nor is it what we are told to believe it is, regardless of our ethical or moral beliefs about prosperity.
Prosperity can be a thriving environment, a healthy physical body, a clear mind. It can be the wealth of friendships, loved ones, family, pets. Prosperity can be good food and nutrition, access to a lifestyle that maintains a healthy mind and body. A prosperous lifestyle heals the earth, nurtures relationships and practices respect for living beings. Prosperity can be the joy that is born of the company of another. Prosperity is the sense of satisfaction and pride in knowing you have contributed something to the well being of the planet or another person.
Prosperity is Joy, and it is Love and Respect and Well Being.
It is not a plastic card, or a green piece of paper or a material item that was purchased in order to boost one's status. It is not external thing that will fill a void, but rahter it is the courage to look within the void and to find your own Truth beyond the darkness.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Awareness Months?

Domestic Violence awareness month shares it's month with Breast Cancer and Disability awareness. Naturally for Domestic Violence, it has to fight to be heard.
Nothing against Breast Cancer Awareness mind you, but do you find it interesting as I do, that the most popular cancer, much like the most popular girl in school, is associated with that All American favorite: breasts?
And isn't it natural in the high school pecking order of things that seems to endure throughout our lifetimes, that Disability rights is probably the least observed awareness topic in the already overcrowded month?
Aside from February which is relegated to Black History Month and April which is Sexual Assault and Child Abuse prevention month (another shared month) there are 8 additional months in which to ask that people "be aware" of a disturbing and/or tragic social problem.
I know that here are other less well known awareness campaigns out there. In fact Hepatitis C may, depending upon who you ask, have 2 months of its own. One of them might be November  and the other might be May. But who really knows? I am a Hepatitis survivor and I'm not even sure.
Who gets to decide these things anyway? Did December come awfully close to becoming Jesus awareness month? Or would they have chosen April instead, choosing sacrificial death as commercially preferential to virgin birth?
I don't suppose one could convince football players to wear black and blue gloves in honor of domestic violence awareness. Or to roll out on the field in wheelchairs to promote sensitivity to individuals with disabilities.
Just sayin'
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Moon Musings

There is one thing I'd like to be clear about, for all my readers of either blog, the opinions in my blogs are my opinions they present themselves in various stages of transformation and as such they are influenced by my thoughts, feelings, intuition, reactions to my environment and unique personal history. My thoughts are subjective and I do not claim them to be Facts. I do not believe that My Way is the Right way or the only way, except as it applies to Me. My thoughts are My Truth and my interpretation of reality, or at least a reasonable attempt to interpret reality. We all have our own unique perception of reality and that is a beautiful truth.
I am in many ways probably one of the most open minded people you will read. That does not mean I do not form very strong opinions about certain things. For the most part I also know when to keep my opinions to myself.
I have immense respect for people who are not afraid to be and admit who they really are inside. Honesty is one of the most significant virtues of humankind. It is quite simple really once you get the hang of it and yet there are so many people who are terrified to show their true selves. I feel sad for these people.
I realize I may sound as though I'm holding myself up as some pillar of morality. I am not. Honesty is one trait I have managed to cultivate over many years of practice and therapy. There are many other admirable traits I have not yet mastered, mostly because I am lazy.
I just felt the need to put this out there to my friends and readers. Today is New Moon and I like to start each new moon out on a good foot.
Happy New Moon everyone!

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Straddling the Grid

Living off the gird. It's a phrase we hear these days usually used by those of us who disaffected by our loss of privacy, increased dependence upon a system that threatens to consume itself it it's hunger for resources and the overwhelming imbalance of power in the hands of those few who control, and abuse those resources. It is called a Utopian Ideal by some critics, a aging hippie pipe dream, pretty but unrealistic.
The motivations for life off the grid are as varied as the individuals who envision the dream. Some are based in political ideology mostly of the libertarian or anarchist sort. Some are motivated by a spiritual drive to create a way of life that is in Harmony with Source. Some are the dreams of environmentalists who, understanding that our current way of life portends certain disaster, strive to preserve and heal what is left of the abundance and beauty of this planet, our home. And then there are simply eccentric, die hard non-conformists who refuse to live by another man's rules. The roots of my dreams tap into each of these foundations with stronger hold on the spiritual and environmental source along with a healthy dose of eccentric non-conformity. I am still grounded enough in pragmatic reality to acknowledge that there are elements of the current system that I need or want at least for now.
That is why I straddle the grid, one foot grounded in the resources that keep me alive, healthy and in contact with community and the other in a world that lives by my own rules, creates resource out of surplus and strives to give back to the planet that has sustained and nurtured me and my kin.
This is the birth of a project and soon to be video series that is the brainchild of my children and myself. We have decided to create a "family documentary", maybe to be kept within the family as a kind of scrapbook, or maybe we will decide to share it with others, we haven't decided yet. Either way it will be a journal of our experience as we navigate life on our terms and perhaps we will learn something about ourselves and our priorities as we review the process. Maybe we will discover even more efficient and productive strategies for moving even further away from the grid, or maybe we will realize we are just fine the way we are.
We have learned that it is possible to live happily while forgoing many of the conveniences that many Americans take for granted. We have discovered that time well spent as a family is far more valuable than the toys and luxuries that can be bought only by sacrificing the majority of one's waking hours to an job separated from home and family. My children don't remember what presents they got for most holidays, what they do remember is the fun they had with each other and their parents. They don't remember that when they were toddlers we struggled to pay the bills, but they do remember the other children they played, fought and bonded with as I provided home day care so I could make ends meet while staying home with my family. When their father took a job as an apartment manager so they could afford rent, they don't remember feeling poor, they remember how fun it was to help Dad vacuum the hallways. As adults they have chosen careers not for prestige and wealth but for the fulfillment of their own passions and talents, as did their father and I.
And every one of us has the common sense and kindness to help others in need, whether it means sharing what we have materially or offering emotional support and care. We appreciate what we do have and we don't expect more. We are not off the grid, we pay rent, utilities and we work. We have medical needs that require insurance, which we can't afford so we do use state insurance ..which we pay for in sales tax. If not for two preexisting conditions which require daily medication we would probably take our chances with natural remedies and sensible health care, but it is what it is. For the little we do avail ourselves of there is so much more that we do not take. None of us owns a car, none of us uses microwave ovens or for that matter most appliances found in most modern homes. We recycle our trash, we donate the clothes we outgrow and we repair the ones that tear. When we need new clothes we usually shop at Goodwill or other resale stores. We take less in resources from the planet than the average American and yet we hear people complain about the small amount of "entitlements" we use in order to meet basic life saving needs. I think it's a pretty fair trade when you consider the respect we give to the greatest life sustainer of all, the Earth and her resources. If my children were to be paid a fair wage for the work they do, one that increased in proportion to the rising costs of necessities like food and housing, and if the cost of health care was not wildly out of proportion we wouldn't need the "entitlements".
So our life, not so different or special, is a life just left of the grid where so many cling in comfort and or desperation to the illusion of safety and normalcy. I am so incredibly grateful that I don't feel the need to have designer clothes a new car every year or a home in the suburbs to feel complete, or 'safe'. I'm glad that I don't own a single credit card or have a mortgage. I am grateful that I can find joy in quite simple pleasures that can be found while taking a walk in the park or playing with my grandchildren. If I am considered eccentric or odd by a culture that is literally dying to maintain a standard of living that is an insult to the majority of the rest of the world, then I will wear those labels with pride.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On a Foggy Halloween in Another Century

October. Halloween preparations. Ghosts. Spooky things. This is hands down, one of my favorite times of year. I thrive in the cool crisp air, tempered by the mid sky sun. My senses unearth memories of childhood; the smell of  jumping into piles of leaves, the crunching sound of the leaves as they clung in my hair. The sight of a pale horizon falling beneath a darkening sky, an early star in the non-time of twilight. Darkness arrived early teasing us with the promise of excitement and danger while we clung to the final frenzied moments of play before The Moms called us inside.
These are the Friendly Ghosts, like Fairy Godmothers whispering sweet stories of a time when the world was ours and freedom was palpable.
We were a tightly knit little group of Wild Children assembled by chance, by geography and parental friendships. We were bonded by the subculture we created within the shared spaces of each others homes, backyards, alleyways and other favored meeting places. We had backyard fort, a garage fort, a lookout point (the garage roof) and numerous trees whose limbs held us like strong arms lifting us high into another world where we were certain we were undetected by adult eyes. We rode our bikes for hours on end and if someones bike broke or had a flat we rode two or three to a bike. The sting ray, a classic mark of coolness at the time, could seat two on the banana seat while a smaller kid perched on the handlebars.
Trick or treating took place at night, in the dark on Halloween  We used pillowcases for candy bags. Our costumes were homemade, a collection of dress up clothes, someones castoffs, thrift store finds and sometimes my Moms art supplies.
One year, perhaps my favorite memory, we dressed as the Peanuts gang. We all rather fit a Peanuts archetype in our own way and my best friend even had a white dog with a brown splotch on her back making her a passable Snoopy. Our Moms helped us make paper mache masks, big round Peanuts heads, by layering the paper mache over inflated balloons  One the paper mache dried, you pop the baloon and adjust eye holes and breathing/candy eating holes. After drying they were painted to look like whatever character we had chosen. My little brother, being a rather philosophical child who was also permanently attached to a security blanket was a natural Linus I, being the oldest and with an interest in psychiatry was Lucy (I'm petty sure there was also a bossiness factor involved)
That particular Halloween night was enveloped in a fog so thick it gathered on our masks while our breath condensed inside threatening to transform us into the incredible melting zombie gang...or in our case, Peanut Butter. It was difficult to see through the tiny eye holes and  if you were lucky enough to keep the dome of a mask balanced in a position that kept the eye holes in place, the dense fog blanketed most landmarks.
We knew the neighborhood like the back of our hand and we found our way by following well traveled routes, occasionally helping one another adjust our paper mache globe and guided by some innate  kid survival sixth sense.The younger kids whined occasionally and were afraid of certain houses, the ones that most fascinated us older kids, but there was no problem another dose of chocolate or caramel concoction couldn't pacify and we ran, stumbled, laughed and shrieked long into the night.
By the time we returned home we were sticky with candy and paper mache and our pillowcases were fully weighted with enough treats to last for weeks. We triumphantly retreated to the biggest bedroom, dumped out our treasures and began the negotiation and trade process.We bargained and bickered as we watched classic monster movies on the tiny, snowy screened black and white t.v. our all American alter egos now cast aside, eyes blank, melting, bits of frayed newspaper peeking out from under peeling paint, the Wild Children conducted business, over indulged in candy and finally fell asleep in a heap bathed in the dim flickering light of the Mummy Returns.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard