WOMEN DON’T GO TO HEAVEN

no girls allowedDoing research for a writing project, I am reading a book called Salem Witch Judge by Eva LaPlante about her ancestor, Samuel Sewall. Years after the trials and executions of innocent people he became the one repentant judge.

In this scene, Samuel is trying to entertain his dying daughter by reading from a book called The British Apollo, a supposedly entertaining tome in which learned men and scientists of London’s Royal Society expound upon pithy questions like: “Is there now, or will there be at the resurrection, any females in Heaven?”

The answer Samuel gleans is No—since there is no need of them there.

I drop my Kindle in my lap, stunned. Golly. I knew it was bad for women in early America—that they banished them from the ministry, clubs, voting, government, and any position of power, but not to allow women in Heaven? That’s a little extreme.

How could men believe such craziness and yet love their wives and daughters?

Hmmm. Well, many religious people today love their pets but do not believe they will go to Heaven either. Maybe those men loved women as kind of talking pets who had no soul, but were handy to wash their clothes, cook, have their children, and take care of them when they were ill.

Right. Men wouldn’t need those services in heaven.

Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. The same kind of sense that allowed men to love their families yet massacre  and enslave other people—because, of course, those other people had no souls. The ability to rationalize and justify crazy beliefs and behavior is not one of mankind’s best features.

I shake my head. Pity those poor old guys hanging out in their womanless Heaven wondering why they’re not having any fun. I read on.

Wisely, Samuel does not read this particular passage to his dying daughter. In fact, he’s a bit perturbed by the thought that his womenfolk would not be joining him in Heaven. So much so that he scours the Bible and finds some references to prove that females might indeed go to heaven. Excitedly, he writes and self-publishes his missive with this proof, but nobody buys it—literally or otherwise.

Well, bless him. I’ll thank him when I see him in Heaven at that special place Goddess has reserved for men who champion women—where there are feasts, games, sex, pets, and lots of laughter.

Ah, how far we have come on earth. Women can own property. Vote. Who knows? Now that we can get into heaven, maybe one of us will even get into the White House.

This blog applies to the Principle of Relaxation which is based in thought.

 

THE BLACK DOG

BLACK DOGYesterday, I slipped into an old kind of exhaustion and crawled into bed. It felt so physical that I didn’t know it was depression. What’s wrong with me?! Am I sick? No! I’m just a mess. I hate myself! In a self-punishing mood I made no attempt to consciously go into my feelings. It didn’t even occur to me to Get Present or phone a friend for help. I even read a book about world history that was so disturbing it plunged me deeper into darkness. Pulling the covers over my head, I tried to hide from what Winston Churchill called The Black Dog.

I had fallen into an old childhood pattern of dealing harshly with my feelings. In the years after my father died when I was 5 1/2 years old (and had mistakenly decided that I had somehow caused his death) I often suffered from depression. My mother didn’t know what to do with me or it, so she would get mad, shake me by the shoulders and yell, “Oh, snap out of it! What’s wrong with you?” So I learned that sadness and depression meant I was severely flawed. Even more upsetting she once said, “Despair is the one unforgivable sin!” Well, that clearly meant that I was doomed to hell.

Years later, Mother confessed that she always hated it when her own mother got the “blues.” Perhaps it scared her as a child. At any rate, she had little tolerance for depression.

This morning, however, I managed to call my “Action Partner” at our appointed time. We connect daily to help one another stay focused on our goals. Ashamed, I said that I had done nothing productive yesterday and had spent the day in bed. “Oh, that’s okay,” she responded. “So you spent a day in bed reading. Big deal.” Her lack of judgment opened me up. I began to cry. I had not shed a tear yesterday. I had shut down without knowing why.

Now I knew why. Yesterday morning I had met with my realtor, lowered the price of my house, and set the date for another open house. After pursuing every possible way to keep my home, I had to accept that it wasn’t financially possible. I must sell it. I thought I was peacefully resigned, but not long after the realtor left, I found myself in bed. I hadn’t even seen the connection.

“Oh, no wonder you’re sad,” my friend said. “You’ve been there for almost 35 years. Your home has been a genuine sanctuary: a place for the Creative Explosion workshops and acting classes.”

She was right. This house has been a shelter for beloved stray animals and people. I have healed so much of myself and written books and plays here. I designed and helped renovate the house itself, carrying wallboard, learning to spackle holes, and paint. I have sewn curtains and furniture covers and loved and cared for my home all these years. Of course I’m sad. Who wouldn’t be?

Then, I remembered years ago going back to Indianapolis to help my 90 year-old mother pack up to move to her lovely retirement home. She sat in her room and didn’t participate. When I asked her about this thing or that, she would wave her hand dismissively, “Pack whatever you want.”

When we left her home of 25 years for the final time, she walked out to the car rigid, erect, silent, and did not look back. She never expressed a word or a feeling about leaving her home. Two weeks later she died suddenly.

It has taken me years to be able to allow myself to be sad. Sometimes, like yesterday, I slip into that old shut-down mode and need someone else to give me the permission to feel. Thanks to my friend’s non-judgment, it took only a moment for me to come back to life and have, as they say, a good cry. The depression caused by judgment and suppression was relieved, and I felt so much better. It is true that to feel is to heal. I was alive again. “Thanks,” I said to my friend. “I’m feelin’ a lot better about feelin’ bad.”

She said, “Hey, that’s a good title for a country western song.” I laughed through my tears. Then, I was able to get up, get dressed, and start stripping the house of even more of my personality and history. The crystals got packed away. Pictures of my animals, the Dalai Lama, and Hathor got take off the walls. Power shields, magic wands, and dream catchers landed in a closet.

Later I Got Present on the phone with a friend. I was okay. I felt many subtle and different kinds of sensations all over. “It’s like a symphony in my body,” I commented. And then I saw myself sitting in an auditorium watching and listening to an orchestra playing a kind of adagio movement. It was beautiful and sad—very nostalgic. Tears came to my eyes. My Higher Power appeared in the seat on my right. He took my hand and held it in his. There was such love and compassion radiating from it. “You see,” he whispered. “Sadness is nothing to condemn or try to get rid of. It is connected to the heart and to love, and can be very beautiful. It is part of the Symphony of Life.”

Ah yes, a much better way to look at grief. That poor Black Dog needs a lot of love and compassion.

WORRY WART

have a problem? Dont worry

have a problem? Dont worry

I wake at 3 am in the pitch dark to the sound of a torrential downpour. The vision of two lovely couches sitting in a driveway 10 miles away makes me pull the covers over my head. Oh, shit. Those poor couches are going to be soaked. They were covered with tarps, but were sitting on gravel.

My dear friend, Gabi, had brought them down from her sold New Hampshire house along with other furniture. Because her garage became filled, the two small couches had to be left outside. I had arranged for a couple of guys with a truck to bring them here, but they couldn’t do it until Sunday—four days from now.

The sound of the rain through my open window becomes Monsoonish. I fumble for my phone and look at the weather forecast. Days more rain expected.

Oh, god, they’re going to be totally ruined!! I toss in bed, fretting as the clouds piss on the couches unfeelingly.

I complain to The Big Whatever, Why this Niagara of water tonight after days and days of sunshine! I’m becoming more upset and worried. Will I just end up having to take them to a dump? What dump? Will Gabi be mad at me?

Some wiser part of my brain speaks up. Katherine. Take a breath. There will ALWAYS be something to worry about. ALWAYS. Get that?!

 It seems obvious, but I do get it. I could stay awake nights worrying about something: the house, friends with cancer, money, refugees, crazy people with guns, what to do with the fucking couches—there are an infinite number of things to worry about in this world. Always. No matter what degree of seriousness of the problem, one can come up with something to lose sleep over—from cancer to couches.

So, was there anything I could do about the problem at the moment? No. Nothing. I turn over and go back to sleep.

I drive to her house the next day. The couches are wet. I can’t get them to my house before the next three days of rain, so they get left at the end of the driveway sporting a FREE sign. I take Gabi out for Quesadillas and Margueritas. The couches are gone by the time she gets back. Hopefully, they found loving homes and dried out nicely.

I didn’t really need them anyway.

This blog definitely applies to the Principle of RELAXATION!

A SIMPLE JOY

breathe-cartoon-for-facebook1“My mind is all over the place,” I notice as I sit in my back jack, eyes closed in front of votive candles and tiny symbols of spirituality: a dolphin, a Buddha, Kuan Yin and a wee little cat. I had been lost in worries. All about the future. I bring my attention back to here. My body is relaxed. Nothing needs attention there. I am present and cozily wrapped in my blankey. “Where do I focus my mind today, then?” I ask, hoping to get a response from the Wise Voice that sometimes comes to me.

It does. “Focus on your breath like many meditators do.”

“Why do they do that?” I ask.

“Well, think about it. Breath connects you to the world. You are taking in oxygen molecules all around you.  They give you life and energy. If air were to be removed, you would be dead quickly. Perhaps that is reason enough to focus on breathing—with gratitude.”

So I notice the air going in my nose and feel my chest and my abdomen expand to receive it in my lungs. Not a big movement at all. Actually noticing it makes my breathing a little self-conscious.

“Yes, because breathing is so automatic. You don’t have to think about this life-giving energy from the world around you feeding you every moment of every day. It is just there. Notice also how the air absorbs the carbon dioxide you breathe out. Simple and miraculous, isn’t it? The world giving you life.”

I focus on my very small breaths in and out. My body knows just how much to breathe. I become acutely aware of this amazing synergy between my body and air. I feel it surrounding every inch of my body. My appreciation extends to water and food. My meditation has gone from my problems to being joyful at the wonder of life.

The timer plays its little harp music. Twenty minutes has sped by.

I set it for another ten. I want more time to breathe in the magic of life before I get absorbed in dealing with the material world again.

This blog applies to the Principle of RELAXATION

CRAZY COMMITMENTS

9390288-Cartoon-astronaout-on-the-moon-with-an-American-flag-Stock-VectorThose Put-a-Man-on-the-Moon commitments sound insane at first. On a lesser scale I’ve launched myself into what seemed like Crazy Commitments, but given enough planning and support they have worked miraculously. I have noticed that the ones that are connected to my heart and are in my best interest seem to pull me along on their own momentum once I make the commitment—once I step up to the plate and start the process.

Committing to a life as a professional actress in my mid twenties with no connections and little experience was one of those. “Insane,” my mind said. But what a wonderful career I have had.

Buying a Roadtrek camper van and going around the US by myself at 73 years old was another one—especially as I knew nothing about camping or camper vans when I began. “Insane,” my mind said. But it was a healing, reviving, memorable three month adventure.

Going to Sarasota by myself last winter knowing no one and ending up buying a small villa was another. “Insane,” my mind said. But, I made fabulous friends and found a perfect place for me.

Now, it seems I may be launching into another CC. I came back to CT with every intention to sell the house. I was convinced that my life was over here. But as I went through a massive clean out and “staged” my house, something startling happened. It was as if some mysterious energy began replenishing the house and my life here. My friendships deepened and my workshops in August filled up. Strangely, the house has not sold, so as the months have passed, my heart gets louder. “Find a way to keep the house!” it whispers insistently in my ear.

So, to my utter astonishment, that is what I am doing! I’m researching reverse mortgages to buy out my ex-husband’s half. I am looking into refurnishing the large, private downstairs area to make it suitable for someone to share the house and my expenses.

“Wait a minute,” my mind says rudely awakening me at 3 am. “At your age and with your limited income, you’re going to buy another house having just bought one just months ago?!!!!!” I wake up sweating. “Truly insane,” my fear declares firmly and convincingly.

So in the morning I reread a quote from W. H. Murray that I often use in my workshops: There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

And as I look back, that has been clearly true. There were many miracles once I took steps and kept moving forward. And, like getting the man to the moon, it took intense and careful planning. One doesn’t just launch oneself at the moon without a plan. Still, the paths to completion have been zig zaggy which required me to always be both committed and flexible by keeping my options open until the way was clear.

Nevertheless, each one brought up a lot of fear and stress. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action on something that you can have control over. I find as soon as I can identify it, and make the first phone call, or send off the first email, it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”

Steve Jobs recommended meditation to handle stress. Here’s how I combine the two:

  1. I meditate and get present in the morning. That helps me to get clear about what little steps I can take that day (and I try to break it down into very little steps).
  2. I make some of those scary phone calls and write some of those scary emails.
  3. When I have done what I can do, I let go, turn it over to the Big Whatever and do something fun or relaxing. Sometimes I meditate again to clear my head.

That seems to work to keep me afloat in the river of energy that sweeps me along these CC’s. I’m scared a lot, and this may strike people as odd, but what brings up the wildest fear/excitement are the amazing miracles that show up to support my crazy commitments. And W. H. Murray is right. They have shown up.

So. Yeehaw! Here I go! That river current is sweeping me along. We’ll see what happens.

P.S. Because of all the upheaval, the next CREATIVE EXPLOSION workshop has been postponed until Saturday and Sunday October 3 & 4…go to www.TheFourPrinciples.com for more information.

CREATIVE EXPLOSION JUNE 11 & 12 2016

5. CE widgetEverything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have.—John Patrick Shanley

Learn to:

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

 Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering. —Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday June 11 & 12

1 to 6 pm in Wilton , CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or more information email EKatherineKerr@aol.com

ADDITIONAL CREATIVE EXPLOSION

Because the Aug 1 & 2 Workshop filled up and there were several other people who wanted to take it, I have opened up another one the following weekend Aug 8 & 9. So, here’s another opportunity to do the Creative Explosion!

5. CE widgetEverything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have.—John Patrick Shanley

Learn to:

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

 Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering. —Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday August 8 & 9

1 to 6 pm in Wilton , CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or more information email EKatherineKerr@aol.com

ADDITIONAL CREATIVE EXPLOSION WORKSHOP

5. CE widgetBecause the Aug 1 & 2 Workshop filled up and there were several other people who wanted to take it, I have opened up another one the following weekend Aug 8 & 9. So, here’s another opportunity to do the Creative Explosion!

Everything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have. —John Patrick Shanley

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering.—Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday August 1 & 2

1 to 6 pm in Wilton, CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or for more information EKatherineKerr@aol.com or call 203 563 0363

 

 

 

Mike Nichols and E = mc2

Mike Nichols gave Meryl Streep and me the start to our film careers in Silkwood. That I was 46 years old at the time may have something to do with the fact that mine has been somewhat less spectacular than hers. At least I like to think that is the only reason.

Frankly, I was an asteroid to the sun of Mike Nichols, but his light shone as brightly on me as on any of the planets who were closer to him.

I still feel his light. Maybe when we pass on, what happens is something akin to the formula Mike’s cousin Albert devised: E = mc2, Our matter turns into energy–an energy of love that can continue to touch and support all who loved us. No limits. I have had so many losses of loved ones in the past, and been surprised by such connections and actual help that I developed this unique theory of The Beyond.

The fact that I have felt Mike’s presence and guidance during the time I came to Sarasota, therefore, is not totally surprising to me. Of course, the skeptical part of me continues to doubt. But it does seem as if the angels have been working overtime introducing me to wonderful people, leading me to and helping me buy this lovely little villa in Nokomis–all in a very short time. I have had such truly miraculous help along the way that it would take a long time to relate, so let me get to the story that illustrates my theory.

I moved into my new home on March 9th and unpacked for the umpteenth time in this wild winter of moving around. Late that afternoon I drove to the beach to relax and watch the sunset. I sat there knowing that sudden and scary as it is, this life change is perfect for me. The villa is nearly new and upgraded. I don’t have to do a thing. As I sat there, I began thinking about Mike Nichols. If he did have something to do with all these new, wonderful things in my life, I was grateful. I wrote, “Thank you, Mike Nichols” in the sand as the sun disappeared below the horizon and surrounded the words with a heart.

Leaving the beach, I went to a little out-of-the-way sea food restaurant. As I was waiting for my order, an older gentleman came up to my table. “Would you like to join us?” he asked.

“Oh, thank you,” I said. “But I just moved today and I’m exhausted. I don’t think I could keep up a conversation, but thank you.”

He went back to his table. I ate my meal and felt much better. I stopped at their table  as I was leaving to thank him again for his kind invitation. We introduced ourselves. Amazingly, the man who came to my table is David Shepherd. He gave Mike Nichols his first job at The Compass Theater which was the precursor to Second City.

I’m still stunned. What are the odds of David Shepherd being there at that little restaurant sitting at the table next to mine in Nokomis, FL? And what compelled him to get up and invite me to sit with them?

Was this mere coincidence? Or was it Mike Nichols with a nudge and a wink from The Beyond saying, “Yes, I’m still around. And look at what I can direct from here!”

Me and David Shepher

 

P.S. Here I am with David Shepherd, taken the next day when we all met for dinner. He’s 91, bright, and eager meet new people it seems.

 

 

ONE LITTLE STEP

CarThis morning I’m packing up my car yet again to leave another rental in Florida. I have moved around five times this winter. It wasn’t my plan. My plan was to be in one place for a month and another place for three months. For reasons beyond my control, those plans changed. So, I hopped around staying with several, gracious, welcoming friends in Florida until I landed a last minute rental in Sarasota.

Although I had never been in Sarasota before, I came to like it so much I started cruising around looking around at real estate. I surprised myself by finding something that I really liked, bid on it, and managed to get through the insanely detailed machinations now required to get a mortgage. Unfortunately, the closing could not be scheduled until March 6. My rental ends today.

A new friend kindly offered to put me up til the closing. But, yesterday, as I was packing up yet again for my fifth move, I got a phone call that because of a problem with the appraisal, the deal may fall through. It’s up in the air. It was a little shocking, to say the least. So what will happen at the end of the week? Will I be packing up yet again to move into my villa or packing up to drive back home up north? I don’t know.

The sudden uncertainty threw me. I lit a candle to meditate/get present. After a while I calmed down and heard from some wise place: Whether things are certain or uncertain, up in the air or not, life is still only one step at a time.

Of course. Today. Tomorrow. For the rest of my life. All I can do is take one little step at a time. I can do that. Get up. Pick up that thing. Put it in the bag. Take it to the car. Leave the key under the mat. One step at a time.

 This post deals with the principles of Getting Present and Relaxation.