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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Richmond, VA


Merry meet friends

Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light

“The cities, the roads, the countryside, the people I meet - they all begin to blur. I tell myself I am searching for something. But more and more, it feels like I am wandering, waiting for something to happen to me, something that will change everything, something that my whole life has been leading up to.” ― Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

I’m glad that I happened upon this quote.  Last week I wrote about being restless, and indeed I still am.  I even included two poems about my searching but as I pondered this quote, I realized that this is where I am now.  It was an “aha” moment.  I, too, feel as if  “I am wandering, waiting for something  to happen to me, something that will change everything, something that my whole life has been leading up to.”  Of course, like the writer I have no idea what it is.  Searching for something and waiting for something to happen are entirely different aspects of perhaps the same coin.  I didn’t know for what I was searching and I don’t know for what I’m waiting. 

The last time that I felt as if I were waiting for something to happen was in October, 2012.  I was feeling both anxious and restless and also feeling that a life changing event was about to happen to me.  It did.  In November, 2012, I discovered the lump in my breast and in December, 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was and is a life changing experience.  I was never sick with the cancer and I knew that I would be fine.  I was fine and I had the faith to prove it, by golly!  I had very little pain after surgery.  Other than being extraordinarily tired during radiation, I had no conscious side effects.  There are some minor side effects from the daily pill that I have to take for five years.  The circumstances (losing job, apartment, storage) that occurred during that time had nothing to do with the cancer, however they altered my life as well.

How has this changed me?  How has my life changed?  Am I a better person because of it?  Am I more compassionate, loving, kind?   Has it made me selfish, wanting to live as I choose and not as I’m expected?  How has this changed me?  I can’t say that I’ve had a life changing experience and not be aware of or acknowledge the change.  One would think that answers would pour forth but I really had to stop and think about this.  I would like to think that I am more loving, compassionate, kind and better but am I?  I do think that I selfishly want to live my life for me and not the expectations of others.  I may have been that way already but it’s more apparent now. 

The definition of life-changing is, altering a person’s life or circumstances in a substantial way.  Alter means to change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.  Given the definition, I can say ok, yes, my life has been altered.  I am more aware of life and living than ever before.  Conversely, I am more aware of death and dying than ever before.  Cancer survivors live with the threat of the cancer cells reconstituting in other parts of the body.  It’s not worn on our sleeves but it is there in the recesses of our minds.  I’m told it could return in the lungs, liver or bones, in addition to the breasts again.  My faith is that it will not return, so it will not! 

Even though cancer came to teach me something, I am not looking for that type of lesson again.  So this time I am waiting for the thing “that my whole life has been leading up to.”   What could that be, I wonder?  We all have an idea of who we’d like to be in the world; who we’d like to show up as.  We see ourselves in a certain way.  Diane von Furstenberg has a reality TV show due out this fall.  On the trailer, she says that she never knew what she wanted to do, but she knew the kind of woman she wanted to be.  I agree with that but I would add that in knowing who we want to be, I think it helps us to know what we want to be. 

We are always becoming who we are, even when we are not aware of whom that is just yet.  I wrote a poem in 1997 about becoming.

I AM BECOMING

I AM Becoming

All He wants me to be

I AM Becoming

More than I ever thought I could

More than I dared to hope I would

Coming into the me

Created before the earth was formed

The me that’s been forgotten

But is now

RE-MEMBERING HERSELF

DIS-COVERING HERSELF

EN-VISIONING HERSELF

The self-that’s wholly God

And wholly me

In awe of the mystery that’s within

The mystery that is God in me

          The Hope of Glory

I AM BECOMING

I AM COMING TO BE

COMING TO BE

I AM

          I AM

                   BECOMING

                                      I AM

Michelle LaForest-Roberts

©April 17, 1997

As I looked over my poems, I saw that a great many of them, at various times, had to do with waiting, waiting for something to happen, as well as searching.  I believe that the answers are always within, and also at various times I’ve received the answers to questions that I didn’t know I had.  I wrote this in my journal on January 22, 1997:

-“It seems as if I’ve been waiting all my life or searching.  Waiting for someone or something.  I wish I knew what the thing was, it always seems to be just beyond my grasp-I guess because I don’t know what it is.  When a person is looking for car keys, she may not know where they are, but she knows they are in the house (if they’re on the same ring) because she let herself in the house.  She just doesn’t know where they are.  But when you don’t even know what you’re looking for, it’s always out of your reach-yet it could be right there and you wouldn’t know.”

I wrote this in 2002 but I think it expresses how I feel today as well.

The Woman in the Mirror

I see so many women when I look in the mirror

I see the women I have been, who I am, who I’m becoming.

Sometimes I don’t recognize the woman I see

She’s a complete stranger to me; physically, emotionally, spiritually

Sometimes I don’t like her

Sometimes I don’t want to know her

Then, at other times I’m delighted to meet this woman

She’s confident, exuberant, witty and beautiful on all levels

I like where I think she’s headed;

The things to overcome, the hills to climb,

Wondering what she’ll find wherever she’s going

I see pain sometimes behind the eyes

But nothing that lingers

Just glimpses of another time, another life.

But…what I really do see more than anything-----

Is a woman who is getting stronger every day-one who is becoming content with herself- not trying to please or appease

Perhaps tease (just a little)

Defining boundaries,

Expressing herself---

Myself, the way I choose

However that may be

Whatever that may be

And that’s real!

© April 9, 2002

My friend Linda sent me this Gypsy proverb: “We are all wanderers on this earth.  Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams”

I don’t know who or what is waiting to happen to or for me.  But I can say this…….watch out world, I’m coming through!  People get ready, there’s a Michelle coming!

Until next Sunday…

Merry part and merry meet again,

Blessed be

Gypsi Mama Michelle

 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Richmond, VA


Merry meet Friends

Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light

 

My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same.  Everything interests me, but nothing holds me.”….Fernando Pessoa

“I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.”….Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train.  Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle-it is in you.”…..Meindert DeJong, The Little Cow and the Turtle

“From that first moment of doubt, there was no peace for her; from the time she first imagined leaving her forest, she could not stand in one place without wanting to be somewhere else.  She trotted up and down beside her pool, restless and unhappy.  Unicorns are not meant to make choices.  She said no, and yes, and no again, day and night, and for the first time she began to feel the minutes crawling over her like worms.”…..Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

“I am a restlessness inside a stillness inside a restlessness.”….Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

 

Jennie Allen, author of Restless, explains restlessness in this way: “Restless explores the fact that God has called each of us to do great things in his name, and then helps us discover what that might mean for each of us individually.”   Jennie says, “We are called to dream but we’re afraid to.  But because we are called, when we don’t act on it we become restless-restless to find purpose, to make a difference in the world, to matter.”  Most dictionaries define restlessness as an uneasy state, bored, not being calm or at ease.  I don’t think that’s too far off of Jennie Allen’s explanation.  If we are not living our purpose, we do become bored and uneasy.  We are looking for (we don’t always know what but we know it’s) something.  I think it is something significant, something that matters or makes a difference.

I get restless on more occasions than I care to admit but this week it has been almost unbearable.   One reason that I may be more restless than usual is the approaching of Mabon or the Autumn Equinox.   Mabon marks the middle of harvest.  It’s a time for reaping what’s been sown, finishing up old projects and plans and planting the seeds for new enterprises or a change in lifestyle.  It is also a time of looking back not just on the past year but on your life and to plan for the future.  It’s a time of rest and celebration.  (Thank you White Goddess for the information).  Maybe my restlessness will turn into rest on the actual day of Mabon.

I always liken my restlessness to a tiger in a cage.  The tiger prances from one end to the other, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  "I know why the caged tiger prances."...ME.  It knows it doesn’t belong in a cage.  It knows it’s supposed to be free, wild and spontaneous.  It was born to be that way; it is its nature.  I feel like that sometimes.  I feel as if I am in a cage and I must break free.  I feel that the reality of who I am is locked away in this cage and I am not being the person that I was born to be.  In the spiritual world, we call it “divine discontentment” because we feel it is Spirit causing the restlessness.  That’s what Jennie Allen is saying.

I know that my traveling plans have had to change temporarily and I have accepted that but this is not about that.  This is an inward feeling like an itch that can’t be scratched.  This is akin to wanting to jump out of one’s skin.  I believe that I have always been this way.  Probably the proverbial “monkey on my back” that my cousin Debbie said her mom, my aunt, said about me.  Maybe I have never felt as if I were living the life that Spirit intended for me to live.  The problem is that I’m not sure what that life is and so I go back and forth, prancing in my self- imposed cage.  In this lifetime, I have had many interests, taken several classes, and read many books.  I seem to always be looking for something. 

Another thing that’s said in New Thought is that what you’re looking for is looking for you as well.  I do believe that, I just wish that we would hurry and meet.  I’m reminded of an episode of “All in the Family”, a TV show in the 70’s.  Edith was going through menopause or “the change”.  When she began to act differently, Archie inquired as to what was happening.  Edith or her daughter explained that it was the change.  Archie stopped Edith and said, “If you’re going to change, then hurry up and change.  He was tired of waiting for it to happen and I do understand.  Find me already, new life!  I must be closer, however, because this time the restlessness is worse than it has ever been. 

I write poetry.  Most of them are about self-discovery and the restlessness I feel and have felt.  I’d like to share one written in 1998 and another written in 1996.

The Forever Me

Peeping, searching, trying to find
The person I’m meant to be
The one created before time began
The one that’s simply “me”
The one I see beyond my eyes
When in the mirror I peer
The one that’s free from hurt and pain
Having love instead of fear
The one who laughs and sings and dances
Uninhibited and carefree
Amazed by the gift we’ve been given
And what we were created to be
Abundantly filled with love and joy
A spirit free and wild
Possessing the wisdom of sages
But having the heart of a child

Michelle LaForest-Roberts,
©5/20/98 through 10/24/98

 

The Search

What are you searching?
I hear my soul say
You search so earnestly
Each and every day.

What are you seeking?
What do you hope to find?
Those are the questions
That stay on my mind

If I knew what I was searching
Said I to my soul
There would be no further searching
For therein is my goal

To know what I am looking for-
That haunts me like a ghost
Shroud in dark, dense mystery
Sometimes I hear it boast

Moving along the corridors
Of my troubled spirit
Whispering and taunting me
You’re no closer to it.”

When will the answer be unveiled?
My probing heart must know,
For it is weeping silently
And singing songs of woe…

Me thinks that I am looking for
The “me” that no one sees
Who’s buried under childhood hopes
And long forgotten dreams

Who’s trying to rise above
So many discarded visions
To pick them up, dust them off
And then make some decisions

Will you continue to play dead
And hide yourself from you?
Or will you dare to be alive
And be seen in full view?

“What are you searching?”
I hear my soul say.
I now know the answer
And I’ll find me someday.

Michelle LaForest-Roberts
©1996

The 90’s were a turning point for me.  Yes, I’ve changed and am more aware of self and purpose than I was then but I’m still restless and the search still continues.

Until next Sunday….

Merry part and merry meet again,
Blessed be

Gypsi Mama Michelle

 

 

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Greensboro/Charlotte, NC

Merry meet friends,
Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light!

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.".....Augustine of Hippo

I am reading pages but I seem to be stuck in the same chapter. The name of this chapter appears to be VA, NC, and NY.  I thought that I would be in other states and/or on other coasts but alas, Spirit knows better than I.  So for now, I will enjoy wherever I find myself.  This weekend I found myself in NC again.

On Saturday morning, as I came downstairs, the aromas of breakfast assailed my senses.  Laurie, whom I've mentioned before, had prepared scrambled eggs with mushrooms and peppers, fried potatoes, French toast sticks, bacon and (knowing that I don't eat red meat or pork), baked salmon and a fruit salad.  She also had coffee, tea and assorted juices.  In addition, because we were attending a wine tasting festival in Colfax and later a music fest in Charlotte, she prepared dinners for 8 people.  Dinner consisted of BBQ ribs, chicken, greens, yams, roasted vegetables, deviled eggs, ambrosia and coconut pie.  Yum!  She is so thoughtful and we were so grateful.


There were to have been several thunderstorms on Saturday in Greensboro and Charlotte.  Both of the events were outside and would be held rain or shine. We, of course, didn't want that! We carried rain gear just in case.  It was a beautiful day, warm and a little overcast.  We arrived at the wine tasting festival and received our wrist bands which were green if one was over 21.  Of course I had to convince the usher that I was over 21. (a little humor).  Once inside the gate, names were checked and wine glasses were given.  I didn't purchase a groupon for the event because they were sold out by the time that I decided to go. 


The only way that I could attend at a decent price was to buy an eventbrite ticket for a designated driver.  That meant that my wrist band was a different color and I didn't receive a wine glass.  The young lady tore off my green band and replaced it with red.  I actually could have continued in with the green band because the eventbrite tickets were located in another tent but that would have been disingenuous. I resigned myself to my fate of not being able to drink, (will wonders ever cease?) and continued to the music area.


We set up our chairs and the others immediately went to sample the various wines.  I sat and enjoyed the music.  It became increasingly warm and the sun was beaming.  My friends seemed to be concerned that I wasn't drinking but I honestly didn't mind not doing so.  One of them purchased a bottle of wine in order for me not to feel left out of the festivities.  I used another friend's glass because she doesn't like wine.  I drank a half glass and then after seeing the gyros my friends were eating, decided to get one as well. I had another half glass of wine, although Penny doesn't understand the word, "stop", so it might have been slightly more. LOL


We wanted to leave Colfax no later than 4 in order to get to Charlotte by 5:30 to freshen up for the 7pm concert.  It was getting close to 4pm and I began to feel ill.  I had to get out of the sun and so I started walking to the car.  I had no key, mind you, so I would still be in the sun.  I stopped beside a tree offering shade until the rest of the gang came along.  On the way to the hotel, my stomach did somersaults.  We had to pull over at a service station.  Thank God/Goddess/ and All That Is!  It would not have been pretty in the hotel.  I think I was ill because I had not had any water and it was extremely warm.  I don't like using public bathrooms but living in Earthaven with an outhouse and 12 people using it, taught me that when you have to go, you have to go!


We arrived at the hotel in Charlotte. The air had not been turned on in the room and so we had to wait for it to cool.  In the mean time we took showers and relaxed a bit.  Octavia spotted a bug in the bathroom and killed it.  We later saw another and determined it was a roach.  LAWD!  I felt as if I wanted to have the hotel fumigate the room and put up a sign like my grandfather did once for rats.  The sign read, "Don't come in here ere you is a rat!"  I was "in it" again.  Finally we were all prettied up and ready to depart for the Bounce TV Music Fest.


We had to park in the parking lot across the street from the venue which was a long walk on gravel.  We heard someone singing but didn't know who it was.  We were all sitting in different places because if tickets weren't purchased together, seats weren't together.  I was on the lawn and so I left my friends to find their seats.  I had a feeling that I should have gone with them because I felt there would be empty seats.  I sat in the center facing the stage and within minutes Ms. Patti LaBelle came out.  She looks amazing!  She is 70 and still wearing 6" stilettos.  I couldn't do that at 20!  I enjoyed her show.  She said she wanted ribs and asked where could she find some, because her favorite place there was closed.  She was serious but people were wasting her time and ours with, I'll cook them for you, etc.  She ended her segment in traditional Patti style by kicking off her shoes.


Frankie Beverly and Maze were the headliners.  I had never seen them or Patti before so that was exciting.  Frankie looks great as well.  He is 67.  His voice is not the same but people young and old seem to know his music even though he has not recorded in awhile.  He said, " You're shouting, go Frankie, go Frankie.  If I go I might fallout up here, I'm 67."    I was told by my friends before Frankie came out that there were seats down front but it was dark and I felt comfortable so I stayed where I was.  Frankie was perhaps on his 4th song when I felt a rain drop.  I took out my poncho just in case. After a few more drops, I put it on and folded my chair.  I went to the bathroom and when I came out, it was pouring.  I texted that I was going to the car.


As I walked to the parking lot I realized that I didn't necessarily remember where we parked nor did I know the license plate.  It was a rental and I knew it had out of town plates but I couldn't remember what state.  "In it", again!  I looked at all of the white cars in the general vicinity of where I thought we were.  I saw a car with Illinois plates and thought that was it but I wasn't sure.  I looked in the window to see if I saw the can of cashews I left but I didn't.  Eventually, I heard and saw Octavia and Penny.  Penny thought the car was in one spot and went to the left.  Octavia mentioned the license plate and I told her that I had seen that.  We found it and waited for Avis.  Avis arrived at the entrance and we drove to her as opposed to having her find us.  Laurie and her crew remained.  We drove back to the hotel and ate the delicious meals that Laurie prepared. 


The next morning we went to the Cajun Queen because we had Groupons for that.  Brunch was delicious and only cost us $5 because of the discount.  For you foodies:  four people had the omelet with Andouille sausage and peppers, home fries and fruit, one had shrimp and grits, and the remainder had crab cakes eggs benedict with fruit.  Two of us had home fries and Octavia had grits.  The place has a New Orleans flavor and is worth visiting if in Charlotte.  We said our goodbyes to those traveling to Greensboro and we went on our way.  We dropped Avis off at an exit and her son picked her up to head back to Greensboro. 


It was a good weekend even though I felt ill at one point.  Probably because I was wearing a red wrist band and should not have had wine.  I wasn't the driver by the way, so no worries there.  In three weeks I have to decide between the Southeast Women's conference in Black Mountain, NC or my friend Iliana's 65th birthday celebration in NY.  I desperately wish to see my friends from the Immersion again but I also want to celebrate with my dear friend, fellow OSIS graduate and spiritual coach, Iliana.  Decisions, decisions!  Conference is every year but I'd like to keep the connection alive.  It would be a mini reunion. Iliana will only turn 65 once and I'd get to see other friends as well.  Spirit, HELP!  What to do will unfold when I need to know.


Until next Sunday...
Merry part and merry meet again..,
Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Richmond, VA


Merry meet Friends!

Michelle here, bringing lots of love

 

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”…..Lao Tzu

 

This week I’ve been focused and meditating on the word, natural.  It’s been in my thoughts as just the word itself or in song.  Natural as a noun means, existing in nature and not made or caused by people; a person regarded as having an innate gift or talent for a particular task or activity.    Some synonyms for natural are authentic, earthy, intuitive, spontaneous and uninhibited.  These words resonate with me.  Perhaps because some of them were used to describe me in the Sam Christensen’s workshop I took in October, 2009.

On the first day of Sam’s workshop we were split into groups.  Each person in the group was given a sheet with an extensive list of words.  Each person in the group took a turn sitting in a chair facing the rest of the group.  The persons not facing the group had to, in silence; check off each word that they felt represented the person facing them.  Some of us had never met before so this was entirely done on the energy exuded from the person.  It was a little unnerving to say the least!  We had to listen to our intuition or inner selves.  All of the sheets were done anonymously, unless we chose to give our names.  They were collected and given to each person.  There were a series of questions we had to answer pertaining to the words.  It was an extensive four day weekend and a lot was accomplished in order to find our “myths”. 

The words, authentic and earthy, were checked off on most of my sheets.  At another time I will share some of the others.  We had to find synonyms for these words and based on that and other exercises, our myths were given by Sam on the last day.  It is a very insightful workshop and I would recommend it to anyone who likes doing inner work.  It is a workshop for actors but he has expanded it to allow others to participate.  Sometimes the myth resonated with people and sometimes it wasn’t received immediately, but when we did get it, tears usually flowed.   

Authentic and earthy both have as synonyms, the word natural.  As the word natural permeated my thoughts, I also thought about women.  Of course, that made Aretha Franklin’s song, “You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman”, pop into my thoughts.  The song is talking about the way her lover makes her feel but as I looked at the lyrics, I realized that some of the verses could actually be about Spirit.  That’s ok because we can definitely have a love relationship with Spirit and of course it would feel natural.

I don’t find it strange that I thought about women in relation to natural.  From ancient times women have been natural healers, teachers and nurturers.  This then led to the word wise.  Wise as an adjective means: having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  As a verb: become alert to or aware of something.  It’s funny how things can relate back to each other.  All of this made me think about “flowing”.  I don’t know why, it just did.  Maybe because flowing is natural; we “go with the flow” or we “flow through life”.  Sometimes flowing through life can appear to be a negative, as if the person has no direction.  Synonyms for flowing are:  loose, free, unconfined, fluent, free-flowing, effortless, easy, fluid, smooth, and natural.   Wow, I think I like the idea of flowing.  It’s natural to flow and flowing is natural.  Right on Lao Tzu!

Of course if one thinks of flowing, one thinks of water.  This takes me back to one of Sam’s essences for me: “the intelligence of water”, which I shared before in an earlier post.  My daughter is consistently telling me to “be like water” Mom.  Flow, flow, flow.  Water takes the shape of whatever contains it.  That means adapting to circumstances that happen along the journey.  As Lao Tzu said, resistance creates sorrow.  When I pray for myself or others, I usually say at the end of the prayer that the “thing”, whatever the thing is, be done easily and effortlessly.  I see now that I’m asking for natural flow, the way things are meant to be. 

When we were children, my Grandfather, as did many people, would leave the water running a little at night in winter, to keep the pipes from freezing.  I guess someone must have cut the water off one night because he placed a sign on the kitchen sink.  The sign said to “Leave everything has you find it.”  No, that’s not a typo.  Has is the word he used.  He didn’t have much of an education but what he did have was wisdom.  He was asking us to let things be as they were, as (or has) we found them; to let the water flow so that we could have some in the morning.  The flow would stop if the pipes froze and then they would burst.  Water just like us, needs to flow freely, easily and effortlessly.  It’s the authentic, earthy, natural thing to do and be.

Until next Sunday,

Merry part and merry meet again!

Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle