Conciously Connected

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In my morning prayer time, I have tried to say a bunch of things to the Creator to make me feel better. To put a band aid on my fears or things in my life I wasn’t ready to deal with. I know my connection is more true and I find more peace when I lose my self centeredness,  “speech voice” and just ramble on.

I believe we are all connected to the Creator and I don’t know if I believe that that connectedness can really ever be broken. I think what can be broken is our consciousness of connectedness. That we don’t live and breathe as if the Creator is inside of us. For me it works best when I begin my day off acknowledging that I am eternally connected.

Most peoples of the land begin their day like this. Like my friend Walt Wilkins once wrote “I’ve tried my best to crawl out of Gods hands”, but you can’t, you can only be unaware of that presence. Most of us were taught that when we were “misbehaving” we were without God. When in fact we were just being selfish and our thoughts only on what we wanted. We were busy being human !

We have a choice to acknowledge or not. I don’t think the Creator is as worried about the little falls from grace that we incur daily, but if we are consciously connected. If so, everything else takes care of itself.

This is no high theology and I’m surely no deep well, but I think that’s the key anyway. That it really is pretty simple. Love for starters and being conscious in this world to all around us and within us, and that all of that is holy or sacred.

Morning Prayers

Listening to Learn

dream1If we took time, I wonder how much of what we pass every day of our lives,  would we find interesting. If we heard the stories of the people we pass and  the places we go. If we really tried to listen. Not just waiting to respond with our own version of the story that is being told to us. If we really took a deep breath and said to ourselves, “I’m just going to listen and try my best to put myself in the storytellers shoes”. I have a friend in Texas and  if you start telling him a story of one of your friends or relatives, he will politely interrupt you to ask the name of the person in the story. He is trying to place himself there to understand with heart and compassion as best he can. He is listening.

But we generally aren’t interested in or don’t have…oops that’s wrong, we don’t take the time to listen. The world is about us personally, socially, economically and geographically. Do we learn more by talking or listening? Do we open up and have more compassion and understanding when we re- realize that ours isn’t the only point of view. Oh and just how similar we all really are. We may have different customs and traditions, and some of those might startle people but it’s mostly because they don’t really understand them.

This is no new news, but it sure isn’t very well practiced. This art of listening. This way of being in the world, where you can appreciate others customs and realize many of the things you hold sacred are right there in theirs.

Pictured here is a dreamcatcher. We’ve all seen them and maybe we even know the general thought behind them. First Peoples also used stories to grow their children. They were no more practical than Jonah and the whale, but were used to tell a bigger story. This dreamcather that I’ve made tells many stories. It talks in ways that keep me grounded and connected to the Creator. To life and family.

The hoop is a circle. Everything in life is a circle. Seasons go in circles, one following another. Seasons of life. Circles like dreams and life cycles of a person can’t be broken. The buckskin used is to honor the 4 legged creatures that provide clothing and food. The hoop itself is partially dyed green for the earth and partially blue for the sky or heavens. A balance between the two. The shell in the middle represents the journey of life. The searching, examining, rejecting and accepting of your own way of understand this universe.  the 4 holes in the shell represent the 4 seasons, winds and directions. Finally, the feathers represent the winged ones. The ones that carry our thoughts, reflections and prayers high up to the Creator.

As I completed this dreamcatcher, I burned sage and cedar below it so the smoke also would carry the hope that whomever receives this will do so in good spirit. In the spirit of understanding our First Peoples culture more as well as a good road in finding balance and harmony in this life.

So this isn’t simply decoration. It is a tool for reflection and teaching. Of connecting and caring. Of family and tradition.

Personalized dreamcatchers are also available. This one is 40.00.

 

 

Story

Have you ever told your story? Did you realize that you even have one? Everyone does. They are all fascinating, full of uniqueness to the teller and enough strains for us all  to identify with each other. We are the family of man. I met a guy probably 11 years ago for coffee one day and one of the first questions he asked me was “what’s my story”? That threw me off a little. I had never talked about or of myself in that way. I never consciously thought about me even having a story. I managed to piece together some sort of guarded outline, careful not to be too transparent ! Even after I realized I had a story, I couldn’t think of any reason that it needed to be shared. After all I was just an average Gulf Coast guy. Not rich or particularly talented or gifted in any apparent way. “Just a fella” as Clint Eastwood famously said in “Unforgiven”.

I confess, I still have a shyness in thinking my story could touch, move or be of any value to anyone else. But I think, not from an egotistical point, that is where we are all mistaken. Just someone else coming to the understanding that they are not the only ones that think a certain way. It can be a lonely world if turn our attention away from the things that really matter. If we get caught up in the shininess of the world and forget about the beauty that surrounds us. The feel of the wind on our faces, the sunshine on our shoulders and the touch of a strangers hand. Our children, parents, family and friends all bring beauty into our lives if we let them. The four and three legged animals in my world bring so much centeredness that it amazes me. Other friends words in songs and blogs sharing the moments that stir their lives. IT’s rich stuff ya’ll, I’m telling ya, it’s rich stuff.

A few years ago I was asked to participate in an interview setting to share my story as it related to my faith. My church was trying to let folks know that the person sitting right next to you has a story and it just might not be what you were thinking ! I cringe still as I see myself on a video, but maybe there will be one word or phrase that you will connect to. Use the password ” story “

I encourage you to think about your story. Share it. Own it, it’s yours. Encourage others to share theirs with you. It brings us all closer to understand. It helps break down the walls and we all know we are way too divided today.

Water oh sweet water

 

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We all know without water we couldn’t survive. That it covers roughly 70% of the earths surface. We swim in it, drink it, bathe and some are baptized in it. We surf on its majic waves leaving us with a feeling unmatched anywhere. We cook with water and mix our drinks with it. Water is the ultimate feeling of rejuvenation and freshness. Those of us born near a good river, lake or ocean know how it is simply part of your soul, making it not only vital for ultimate existence, but a happiness and connectedness with Mother Earth.

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Water is unpredictable, dangerous and thrilling. It can bring despair and euphoria. It can calm the deepest of nerves. Just being in it’s presence makes us feel like the Creator is washing over us. Water babies, beach bums, river rats, lake lovers all know this feeling. Even land locked, mountain lovers are many times left speechless at the site of my Gulf of Mexico, with its gentle waves rolling and out. Reminding us that life comes and goes, seasons too and love.

 

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I wonder how you feel about water. Is it just a means to an end? A way to get clean or to not dehydrate? Or does it have a deeper meaning, a spiritual connection? Does it center you? For me, water is medicine. It is healing and helps me make sense of a dry and sometimes cold, cruel world. So, sometimes I ride the waves, like I ride all the other waves in my life. Knowing good is always on the way and the best wave is only a set away ! Take a slash, take a sip, baptize yourself and become reborn into a world of deeper connections though one of our greatest natural gifts !

Southern Accent

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I like traditions. I like old ways. I think there is value in them. I like the style and accents of good storytellers. Phrases that have long ago fallen out of fashion. While much in every tradition should be let go of, I don’t see any sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Our country has become so homogenized that sometimes you can’t tell if someone is from Vermont or Georgia. There’s a damn Cracker Barrel, Lowes, TJ Maxx, and Toys R Us in every strip mall, in every town you go to. They have thrown a big sheet of blandness over the lower 48 ! Gone is most of the uniqueness that sets places apart. That makes them authentic. I don’t wanna get grits in New Hampshire anymore than I wanna get deep dish Chicago pizza in Gainesville Florida. Isn’t that what makes it interesting to travel, to see, while we are really deep down all the same, just how different our cultures are?

There’s a southern accent, where I come from
The young ‘uns call it country, the yankees call it dumb
I got my own way of talking, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

While my ancestry is split, I am a Southerner, plain and simple. I understand the good and the bad of it. The depth and the breath of it. I also understand how outsiders see it and just what they think they know. Threaded through this post is a lyric to one of my favorite Tom Petty songs called “Southern Accent”.

There’s a dream I keep having, where my momma comes to me
And kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me
Got my own way of praying, but everything one’s begun
With a southern accent, where I come from

Perhaps I am a person that grew up in a regional world and now I’m living in a global world. I am happy to be here, and while my travels are not nearly as far n wide as some, I’ve been a few places. I’m not saying we should stick to our little patch of ground. I’m just saying hearing someone with a regional accent makes me smile ! To listen to the Billy Bob Thornton’s, Levon Helm’s, Lucas Black’s and Dolly Parton’s of the world is a good thing. And let me tell you all of those people are and or were as sharp as they come.

Got my own way of living, but everything is done
With a southern accent, where I come from

I’m not sure I’ve fleshed this out very well. I just like the feeling of being connected to those that came before me and some of that is in phrases and accents that for a time were all I knew. Before everyone sounded like the man on the six o’clock news !

In writing this post I was listening to Southern Accents by Tom Petty, Good Ole Boys Like Me by Don Williams, Going to Montgomery by Davis Raines, Just like Hank by Walt Wilkins and Down South by Kings of Leon.I was also watching “I ain’t in for my health” a documentary on the great, wonderful and deeply missed Levon Helm. Hope ya’ll enjoyed this and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Local Tourist

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With a few stops along the way, I have lived in three places in my life. All tourist towns. I grew up in and my home is Pensacola Florida. I lived for a few years during high school in Saratoga Springs, NY and for the past 16 years I’ve lived in Nashville TN. So I have always hoped to never be a tourist and still don’t. I’ve always been drawn to being a traveler but never a tourist.
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Recently my wife and I went out to eat and decided to ride downtown just to see first hand the explosion of Nashville. We see the growth in other ways and my job reminds me often how many folks are moving to Nashville, but to see downtown was amazing. A friend is a pedi cab driver and he toured us around to places we’d heard of but hadn’t seen. The new Hatch show building, the mega huge convention center, the cool vibe of the Pinewood Social Club, where you can drink, eat and yes bowl a few games in a very hip atmosphere.
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This town has so much energy and cool things going for it, no wonder it’s projected to double in size in twenty years. I really think it is the jewel of the South as far as major cities. I say all of this to simply say this; if you don’t get out wherever you live, you should. You have no idea what is going on out there while your home watching Game of Thrones! This generation of young minds is doing some pretty cool stuff and designing and shaping a life totally unique.
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So if you find yourself in a rut like we have been, then take it from me, sometimes the best entertainment is to just get out of the house. There’s more to this story but the main thing is,cruise around your town, stop in someplace new, see your world from a little different angle. It feels good !

Same Theme Different Thought

A relative of mine recently visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles California. Without question it is an amazing space created to tell a horrible story. A story that was genocidal then and has had lingering affect on the generations that followed. It’s truly an amazing what we can do to our fellow man. This relative was so moved by her experience there, and spoke with such genuine emotion about her experience that it was hard to not feel a small part of that pain and injustice.

As she spoke about these atrocities I couldn’t help but think of how most of our culture doesn’t even realize that much of this same thing happened to our own First Peoples of this land. It seems like Indian people are just thought of as Hollywood stereotypes or museum artifacts. There is such an out cry for the Holocaust people and rightly so but also so imbalanced by the same massacring and stripping of culture to the ones here before us. It just doesn’t even register in the minds of most Americans.

I read a piece by a Native elder one time that said with respects to our culture that ” We could somewhat make it right with African Americans, because we could give them back what we stole from them; their freedom, but we can give back what we took from the Indian people; their land and culture. We’re not giving back the Black Hills, Vermont, Oregon, Alabama or any of the land. So is that where the guilt remains? That there seems to be no way to make the wrong right. I might also add that we took way more than just freedom from black people. They also lost identity and culture among many other things. Do we unconsciously feel that if we don’t acknowledge it that it doesn’t exist. And it does seem like a wrong that can’t be fixed. Although we could do much to keep the continued oppression and hunger for what’s under their land now.

I guess it also feels like the Holocaust wasn’t something we had a hand in, so does that make it easier to shine the light? Just wondering out loud. Many of us that are mixed races also have a Native heritage, so there is even more spiritual conflict going on. But right is right. Wrong is wrong and human beings are human beings. And it’s never too late to stand up and be a human being !