Monday, March 19, 2018


The Oracle at Delphi

As I have been navigating this Dark Night of the Soul these last few years, I’ve tried whatever I’ve needed to remain positive. Well, whatever that was legal and safe. Lately, I’ve turned to oracles to help reframe my thoughts and attitude.

No, I have not traveled to consult the Oracle at Delphi. Is she even still in business after all these centuries?

I have turned to something a bit more convenient and quite less expensive; oracle cards. Well, these aren’t exactly oracle cards in the typical sense in that they don’t foretell the future, but offer affirmations to focus on, or positive thoughts to reframe one’s thinking.

I have two decks that I have begun using; I’ve had Power Animal Oracle Cards by Stephen Farmer, Ph.D., as an app on my phone for many years (See, I said it was much less expensive than flying to Greece!). Over the years, through meditation and other experiences, I’ve met several animal spirit guides. I’ve researched their meanings and lessons and have found them to resonate very deeply with me. When I feel stuck, I often consult this app for an idea, a direction, or simply a thought for the day to focus on. Most of the time, it’s right on the money, other times I need to dig a bit, but find it is still useful advice.

I also believe in synchronicities. After my recent post, Take it or Leave It, I turned to the app for a card, and up came Moose, a card I can’t recall ever seeing before. The lesson behind Moose is “You know what is best for you. You are the authority of your own life.”  Wasn’t that the theme of that particular post? So, was this a confirmation? A few days later in the same week, I had an appointment to see my therapist where I had planned on sharing this card as it was a recent theme we’d been discussing, which in turn, had led to that post. While waiting, I pulled out the app again, and tapped on the "simple reading" icon. Moose randomly came up again, strengthening the earlier message and confirmation! And how synchronistic that I was about to share that particular card with my therapist! It all came full circle! 

(To be honest, I don’t know how the individual lessons came to be associated with that particular animal, but the message from Moose was certainly apropos and timely as I’d just written about it!)

The other deck I came across more recently is The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein which I’d cited in my other recent post, Obstacles. I originally stumbled on a video of a talk Ms. Bernstein was giving which resonated with me. Unfortunately, I can’t locate that video even with all this technology at my fingertips. I saw this deck of cards in yet a different video, which raised my interest in the cards, and then subsequently in her book by the same name-which is now on my nightstand, and eventually led me to her website.

As I sense I am repeating topics lately, I may pull a card from one of the decks for my own affirmation and reframing, work with it, possibly write about it, and see where this leads me.

Blinderman Trail, Franklin Canyon Park

Both decks of cards are available on

For more information on Gabrielle Bernstein, click here.

For more information on Stephen Farmer, click here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I received a lovely gift this past Christmas. It was a gratitude journal published by Timber Hawkeye of Buddhist Boot Camp, an organization I sometimes check in with and have referenced here a few times. The pages are pre-printed to facilitate a quick daily fill-in-the-blank entry without overtaxing the brain. I think I take less than ten minutes each day in filling it out and I do so nearly every morning before getting out of bed. There is a page after each Sunday entry for a weekly recap. One of the points on Sunday’s recap is to write down a favorite piece of advice or word of wisdom that you heard that week, or that still resonates with you.

One piece I recently came across was “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.”

Let’s think about that. How many times have we driven down a road to find some kind of a detour? It might be a detour around an accident, construction or some other activity. Recently, many streets in Hollywood were blocked off for the Academy Awards. The other day, there was police activity on a neighboring street and people were being detoured around it due to the active investigation. Aside from the Academy Awards hoopla, most detours are for our own safety.

We pay attention to the road when we drive. After all, our well-being is at stake, as well as the well-being of other motorists and pedestrians. Physical property is also a concern, whether it is our own vehicle or the property of others. (Well, we should pay attention to the road, but people are still distracted with texting and phoning others. But, that's another issue.) Yet, how much attention do we pay to that other road we travel on through this journey called life? I don’t think we pay as much attention as we should.

And if we did, what obstacles would we encounter there?

I look back at the last few years of my teaching career. Students were becoming more unruly, even downright disrespectful and it was getting worse every year. These were definitely obstacles telling me I was headed in the wrong direction. I decided to make a change and take that leap of faith and retire earlier than I had financially planned on. But, I am much happier as I have no pressures on me in regards to things I must do by a certain time. I am responsible to no one but myself. How liberating!

As I reflect on those years, the obstacles were there earlier than I acknowledged.

What were those obstacles?
  • Malaise
  • Unhappiness
  • Stress
  • Apathy
  • Fatigue
  • Fear
We usually think of obstacles as being something physical; a detour sign, traffic cones, police tape. But, couldn't our emotions serve as a type of obstacle, a sign that something isn't right? 

Yes, I was caught up in my fear of the unknown of what would happen if I did retire sooner than I had anticipated.

One other piece of advice I’d heard before was “Leap and the net will appear.” I needed that faith that all would be okay. But, I leapt anyway, I trusted it would be okay. And the net has appeared.

We all doubt. It’s normal; it’s human. And that’s what we are, normal human beings.

Yet, how many times have we made faith-testing/gut-wrenching decisions and it’s turned out okay?
  • Starting or leaving a relationship?
  • Changing careers?
  • Moving across the state, country or planet? 

Fear is one of our strongest emotions. Fear that it won’t be okay. Fear that I won’t know what I’m doing. Fear of "what if..." Fear leads to doubt; of self, of others, of change. Doubt also leads to "I’d better stay here where I’m comfortable, because I know where I am. I’m safe."

This is the ego talking, “I’m safe, in spite of the pain.” “I’m comfortable, in spite of being unhappy.” This isn’t the inflated ego of self-importance or self-aggrandizement; this is the ego of Freud. The ego that analyzes, that can over-intellectualize, that protects us from harm, that often keeps us from taking risks-those risks needed for our own growth.

This ego is one of our biggest obstacles, if not the biggest obstacle we must get around.

And if we can, I believe we can be back on the road again to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Image of "Obstacles are Detours in the Right Direction" is from "The Universe Has Your Back, a 52 card deck" (c) 2017 Gabrielle Bernstein, Hay House Pubs.
Artwork by Micaela Ezra,

The Mahalo Daily Gratitude Journal is available on 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Take It or Leave It

I grew up somewhat sheltered. Well, very sheltered.

I’ll never get over the first time I was offered some weed. I was 14 or 15. It was Halloween night 1971 or ‘72, and I had gone out with two female friends from my Bible Study group. Being good Christian kids we weren’t out to cause problems, just hang out. We headed over to a park where we just sat and talked with only a few lights from the street and neighboring houses illuminating the area. A few minutes later, a boy from our school came by, said “Hey” and walked a little away. A few moments later, he pulled a plastic bag from his jacket pocket, and from what I could tell by the scant light and my naïveté, began rolling a joint. I was in shock, as I had heard of weed but never expected to encounter it way out in the middle-class suburbs where we were living. And from someone my own age! My face must have registered my shock, but he did what any gracious host would do and offered me a hit. I politely declined and my friends and I left shortly after.

My second exposure to weed was a few years later during my first year at college. I had been assigned to a co-ed dorm at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. These new living arrangements had already elevated my anxiety due to my Christian upbringing. But, I knew right from wrong and vowed not to yield to sin. The dorms at Occidental were co-ed by section; most dorms designated certain floors for one gender only, or in my dorm’s case, the north half was all women and the men lived in the south half. The lobby separated the halves on the ground floor, while a door separated the halves upstairs. My room was next to this door. It seemed the two rooms across from mine, both single rooms, were occupied by stoners. They would close their room doors and smoke all night with the lovely pungent aroma drifting into the hallway. The women would close the hallway door effectively trapping the smoke in that corner in front of my door. Many nights I would come up the stairs and walk to my room through a haze of pot smoke and end up with a major headache, and a possible contact high. 

Fast forward to a few years later after I’ve met my first partner and his friends. They were heavier into pot as well as cocaine. My first instincts were to flee, but as I pointed out in another post, I finally had a boyfriend and was happy. I was seeing a therapist at the time who kept telling me I couldn’t save the world in spite of my Christian obligation to do so, but I could only save myself. She directed me to Al-Anon as a supplement to our regular sessions.

(For those unfamiliar with Al-Anon, it is not the same as Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly referred to as AA. Al-Anon is for family members and friends of substance abusers to aid us in identifying our enabling character traits in order to empower us to take what steps we need for our own sanity and control of our own lives.)

I found a somewhat local gay group (we didn’t use the term LGBTQ… in the olden days) and went to my first meeting. I attended frequently for approximately six months and learned much about myself. One piece of advice, or wisdom, that stuck with me is “Take what you like and leave the rest.” In other words, take only what advice, help or other pearls of wisdom that resonate with you and ignore what doesn’t. It’s kind of like shopping, you should only buy what you need. 

I’m learning to apply that advice to all of life.

When I scroll through social media, I’ll look only at what pertains to me at that time. Otherwise, I might end up spending too much time or becoming severely depressed over the news items.

As I read articles on spirituality, and specifically the paths I’m trying to blend, some of the information can be contradictory, which makes my path even harder to navigate. So, I’ll stick to what resonates with me and file that away, leaving the rest. After all, am I not finding my own inner truth? Am I not the only one who knows what I need?

I realize we are all different with different approaches to life, politics, religion/spirituality, etc. I understand and accept that we all believe our own truths. I know we all want to share and help, some of us a little more enthusiastically than others.

But, what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. Buddhism teaches that the opposite of what I know to be true is also true, meaning what the other person believes is also true, but for them, from their background, their upbringing. 

I wish we all could live only with what we need and leave the rest behind. And be content with that.

This “taking what I need” philosophy has become somewhat difficult when I interact with people. For example, when I hear a certain pair of words I get quite upset.

And not just a simple little upset either, but full on rage. Now, before you picture me as a raging bull in a china shop, I do control my potential outburst. At least, physically. Well, outwardly physically. Inwardly, my heart is racing and I’m breathing slowly and deeply to bring my blood pressure back down from near stroke range.

And I wonder what is it about those two seemingly innocuous words that simply sets me off?

The last time someone uttered those two words, I heard nothing else past that point. Okay, I did. But, what followed was still lost on me.

Through it all I was able to grasp the positive intention behind those words, yet the meaning itself overtook the intention and ran right over it like a locomotive over a Volkswagen.

So, what are those two words? “You should...” or their more demanding sibling, “You need to…” Or even the evil twins, “You should not…” and “You don’t need to…” raise some sort of anger in me. Even the less demanding “You can’t…” riles me up a bit.

I am trying to work through some long held negative energies and beliefs I hold about myself.

No one knows my past, nor my present. No one knows my journey at the moment. There are times I don’t even know where I am for all the bumps and curves that come my way.

When I hear any of those words, in spite of the positive intention, they come off like someone telling me how to walk my path according to what works, or worked, for them. But, I’m not them and they are not me. I am me whoever I am becoming at that particular moment in time.

I’m working on separating the intention from the meaning, on taking what I need (the intention) and leaving the rest (the meaning).

“Thank you for your suggestion.”

“I’ll take your idea into consideration.”

Maybe I can (should?) offer a simple explanation that I view those words as an unsolicited attempt to tell me how to live my life; how to force their opinion on me. And to kindly refrain from doing so in the future.

If they can, we can move forward. 

If they can’t, I hope they have a very nice life.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


They say age is a number. 

That’s true.

They say age is all in your head.

That’s also true.

Until your body says something different.

Like when the arthritis shows up-in your knee, in your neck, and in the big toe on your right foot.

Plus, the tendonitis, the bursitis and the plantar fasciitis.

Some of these maladies have external causes. I have tendonitis in both elbows and both wrists, though oddly enough it affects mostly my left elbow and right wrist, both of which could come from overuse-too much time writing on a keyboard and using a mouse or other device.

The arthritis in my neck may be genetic or may have been triggered by two car accidents in my younger days. My mother has severe neck problems, too. But she also was in a couple of car accidents in her younger days too. Maybe the predisposition for being in car accidents is genetic. The arthritis in my knee may be due to folk dancing without proper training and warming up. I was in a Mexican Folklórico dance group in college. We had no professional training, and my body took a pounding. As did the stages we performed on, as well as the patios, asphalt and any other hard surface. As for the big toe, my foot resembles my grandmother’s so I believe that one is genetic.

As for the bursitis in both shoulders, and occasional plantar fasciitis, I have no idea where they came from. I’ll attribute them to age.

Aging brings on other changes as well. Certain foods seem to disagree a lot more. Peppers and I have a mutual agreement. I will leave them alone, and they will not cause me gastric distress. Anyway, I had lost my taste for them many years ago, so our agreement is kind of moot, but I definitely abide by it. I am a man of my word, even to a pepper. 

While age is "just a number" and "all in your head", these physical changes, as well as others, colliding with my recent birthday where both digits changed suggest it isn’t all just a mental number. And flipping that first digit can have real mental consequences like reminding you of your eventual mortality.

Plus, aging while gay brings on a whole additional layer of issues in a community rife with ageism, perfectionism, youthism.

But, aging is a reality we must accept. The key lies in how we accept it.

We can refuse and therefore fight it or simply accept it gracefully.

Fighting it can become expensive with all the hair dye, plastic surgeries, etc. I don’t have that kind of money. I’m not a Beverly Hills Househusband. Nor do I want to be, in more ways than one.

Because time marches on, I have no choice but to accept it as gracefully as I can, making modifications as I go. How gracefully I accept it is up to me, though. I might complain when the pain in my elbow is a bit much to sit and write. Or when opening a jar or lifting something causes the pain in my wrist to flare up. Or the pain in my toe or foot strongly suggests I cut my walk short, go home and ice it.

This birthday was hard because of it all, especially that first digit thing.

But, I’m grateful and blessed that I had one more.

Some of us don’t always get this many.
In memoriam...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Brainwashed 3

I seem to be on a rant lately, or maybe it’s a theme. I’ll go with ‘theme’ as it’s more positive.

I’m trying to find a social group to hang out with and find new friends to create a semblance of a social life.

But, all the groups I’ve looked at seem to have a ‘meet that special someone’ feel to them. Yes, I understand it’s human nature to want to pair off and board Cupid’s Ark. I’m just not there for a myriad of reasons. 

The main reason I have for not getting on board this paring off stuff is that I’m discovering and becoming my true authentic self and should I encounter someone intriguing, I fear I would slow down my progress. I would concentrate on figuring him out rather than continuing my work. Right now, I am my own priority.

One social group I looked at even had a “What’s your status?” question in their application; single or taken? I think I blogged about it, once or twice.

Another group was promoting a ‘stop light’ party for V-Day. Come dressed in the color of the stop light that represents your availability:
  • green-Go ahead, I’m available; 
  • yellow-Caution, I’m dating someone;
  • red-STOP! Don’t think about it.
I thought about going dressed in black though that might invite questions I might not be willing or prepared to answer right now. But, as I’m not in that space, I’m not sure why I was investigating this event. It wasn’t until I realized the date of the event and the words “V-Day” were connected. Why was Victory Day being celebrated in February? Oh wait, I get it now.

But, I have to ask myself, why is there this need to pair off? It’s part of our being brainwashed, I know. Plus, we have this need for social interaction. I get enough of that shopping. And yeah, I’ve heard all about the psychological need for human touch. I can get a massage for that. Plus, in this age of hooking up and unwanted sexual advances, where do we draw the line? Where does one feel safe, especially in a sexually oriented community?

Sometimes, just the thought of sitting around talking to a group of people I don’t know is intimidating and exhausting at the same time. Sometimes, the thought of sitting around talking to a group of people I do know is intimidating and exhausting. But, this is one of life’s challenges I’ve been given and I must learn from it. And, I will.

Plus, until I’m comfortable with my new Self, how comfortable can I be in a group of total strangers? Some would think that being around the strangers would be easier as I have nothing to lose. But, all that initial small talk can be mind numbing. At some point, I will have to get out there and just go for it.

But, the group has to meet me halfway.

Right now, I’m looking at an LGBTQ social group and their upcoming events. They have three planned that don’t conflict with longstanding appointments. I’m sorry to say I don’t qualify for these events as they are for women only. Other non-conflicting events they have planned either don’t seem to interest me or fall within my budget. I mean, I don't see myself performing karaoke musical numbers in a gay bar with a two drink minimum.

Oh, well. Something will come along. Or I’ll check out other LGBTQ groups.

It’s just hard trying to find a place to fit in when you don’t.

Perhaps, the point isn’t about trying to fit in, but about being comfortable where I am. 

Both with my Self and around others.
I'm working on it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Brainwashed 2

I recently posted my thoughts on our being brainwashed by those oh-so-lovely fairy tales most of us grew up with.

But, Hollywood has done its part, too.

All those very romantic movies where someone-meets-someone, they have an instant connection and they live happily ever after. Or maybe they’re star-crossed, or overcome some enormous obstacles to be together or get back together. Once they finally do get together, it’s all so hunky dory. It’s perfect. Beautiful, blissful.

Yeah, right.

I’m not saying we don’t have a soulmate somewhere out there underneath that pale moonlight.

I’m saying we might have many.


Let me explain.

I believe we are spiritual beings on this planet having very human experiences. Our soul incarnated into this life from some other plane where we hung out with other souls. Maybe we grabbed a mocha or a chai at the SoulStarbucks and chilled a bit. We made soul friends. We became Best Soul Friends Forever, or BSFFs. We, or our souls did, decided what lessons we needed to continue our spiritual growth.

We made agreements with our BSFFs, “Will you help me with learning to let go of what no longer serves me?” 

“Yes, If you’ll help me with speaking my truth?”

“Agreed.” We then shook our soul hands on that. Kind of like a contract. With a termination date. Sort of. Just like the Magical Contract signed by the Little Mermaid and the Sea Witch, it can’t be broken.

We then made arrangements with other BSFFs for other lessons and established other contracts.

Then we incarnated. At different times, in different places.

As humans we don’t recall those contracts, but our souls do. When the time is right to fulfill our part of the deal, our souls arrange for it to happen. We can show up in any capacity; lover, friend, family member, neighbor, etc., all depending on the type of lesson to be learned. The cast can be varied and is often diverse. And once the contract has been fulfilled by both parties, the soulmates depart. Usually. Sometimes they might stick around, in case residual or remedial help is needed. But, once the lesson has been mastered or the terms of the contract have been met, it’s hasta la vista, baby.

Let’s also explore this deeper by now looking at the word structure. 'Soulmate' is a compound word made up of 'Soul' + ‘Mate'.  The word 'mate' has two meanings; 1) to procreate, and 2) a friend or companion. As souls are believed to be genderless that would leave them unable to procreate thereby eliminating the first definition. Therefore, a ‘soulmate’ is a ‘friend or companion’ for your soul. 

So, it appears we may have been misconstruing the terms ‘soulmate’ and ‘life partner.’  

A soulmate relationship can be intense, almost from the get go. It can be filled with pain and a lot of emotion as the lessons are usually deep. If the soulmate relationship is romantic, it usually ends with a very broken heart.

Life partners have shared interests, and share a larger amount of trust. The relationship is less intense, often very emotional but very dynamic. I’m not suggesting we don’t learn from life partners, but we learn on a more gradual, long term scale. It’s slow to grow. And we grow together.

Soulmates seem to recognize each other, there is a sense of ‘knowing you before’ or you may hit it off instantly. This is because the soul is remembering and triggering the human’s memory. Soulmates connect on deeper levels and may even tap into each other’s consciousness. Things between soulmates can be intuitive. That’s the soul connection, again.

Life partners are more like a cheerleader and supportive, having less egotistical notions. Life partners arrive at that moment in your life when there is self-love and self-acceptance. They do not arrive to fulfill any void in you as you have already filled that void with your own self-love.

Soulmates may come from a similar background but shake you up and show you where you need to heal, what changes you need to make in your life, possibly to prepare you for meeting your life partner.

Life partners may bring different experiences to the relationship which serve to enhance the connection. There is an ease to the relationship and a desire to learn more about each other. 

It is indeed possible that a soulmate can become a life partner. Plus, it is possible a relationship with a life partner may develop a spiritual connection over time. (I know, it’s confusing.)

Soulmates are established prior to incarnation; some believe we choose our life partner, while others believe that, too, is pre-ordained.

So, a soulmate is not necessarily our “other half.”

That is believed to be our Twin Flame, which is a whole different type of connection altogether.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Charles Perrault

I believe we’ve all been brainwashed. And it’s been going on since our childhood. It’s not our parents’ fault because they were victims, too. 

It’s Charles Perrault’s fault. And the Brothers Grimm. And the fairy tales they wrote.

In many of their stories, the prince must rescue the princess. The princess must sit, or lie, idly locked in a tower, or a glass coffin-waiting, waiting, hoping, praying. The widower must find another wife to be mother to his daughter because he can’t be bothered or is incapable and once he’s found the woman, he then either dies or vanishes into the Netherstoryworld never to be heard from again. And at the end of the story everyone lives happily ever after. Except the villain, of course.

There are some important lessons in those tales. After all, isn’t that what good, solid literature is about? In them, we learn that:
  1. Good will always win in the end no matter how long or what it takes.
  2. Karma is a bitch.
  3. We simply can’t be happy on our own. By ourselves. Solo.

The Brothers Grimm
And if we claim to be happy on our own, no one believes us. Because they’re brainwashed too. Well, in actuality there are some who allow us to simply be. But, behind closed doors, tongues sometimes wag, because it goes against nature. I mean Cinderella, Snow White, et al. got their princes and lived happily ever after. The Real Little Mermaid didn’t get her prince and was turned into sea foam. How can one possibly be happy as sea foam?

Did you ever notice the original writers never wrote a sequel?

I bet Cindy farts in bed. I’d be willing to bet Snow White turned a little Gray in chapter three of her sequel when the prince came home late once too often after doing whatever it is princes do. Or whoever they do.

And for LGBTQ kids growing up we simply switch the code when coming out. “Now, am I supposed to rescue a prince or be rescued by one?” I was a bit confused as to which direction to take.

So, the object of our happily-ever-after simply switches gender when we come out.

But, the brainwashing doesn’t go away. We still feel the compulsion to find someone because we are supposed to even if society and our families disapprove. "I’m going to find my happy ever after, damn it, even if I have to sleep with everyone to do so."

Even the Greeks had a creation myth around our search for completion:

Plato writes in his Symposium that initially humans were created with two heads, four arms, four legs and were both male and female so we self-reproduced. Evidently, we got a bit uppity and began storming Mount Olympus and Zeus was none too pleased. He wiggled his magic finger splitting us in half, forever condemning us to an eternal search for ‘our other half’ because we need that other half to feel complete, to feel whole, to be reunited and it feels so good!

But, hold your chariots!

Hear me out.

When Zeus wiggled his magic finger, staff, or whatever, and split us, he made us complete physically, meaning our minds and hearts are already complete as they are.

Okay, maybe emotionally we miss that other half-of-us who wanted to turn left when we wanted to go right. Or, who wanted Athenean food when we wanted Spartan. Maybe we miss those late night talks bonding over a glass of ouzo. (This is a Greek myth after all.)

He may have split the body into two complete entities, but he split the original soul in half. And it’s the soul that is searching for reunification.

(Yes, I recognize I’m hinting at a soulmate but we’ve been brainwashed there, too, by Hollywood’s ideals. That’s another post for another day, Brainwashing 2, coming soon! Stay tuned!)

The brainwashing is in the brain where we do our thinking. It’s our brain that is conditioned to think we need someone else to be whole. It’s our brain that gets us into trouble by thinking that the other half is just around the corner. Or the next one. And we start following a trail of bread crumbs to hopefully lead us out of the Dark Forest of Loneliness into the Kingdom of Wholeness.

The stories that we read or listened to over and over and over programmed us into believing we need someone to be whole. Kind of like a cult.

The answer here, I believe, is to deprogram ourselves, to remove the mask of this illusion of necessity. It’s time we listen to our soul. We already have all our pieces, we just need to put them together ourselves. We need no one else to complete us. By the way, is there a guarantee that the other person will have the pieces we think we are missing?

But, to find someone who complements us would be a whole different story.