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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Richmond, VA

Merry meet Friends!
Michelle here,
Bringing lots of love and light!

"There are times when life sharpens, things come into focus and, gradually, you become aware that you are standing before a threshold.  There is no way back to where you were before, and there is no way out but through." ~ John O'Donohue, "Foreword," in Angeles Arrien, The Second Half of Life

"Everything is laid out for you.  Your path is straight ahead of you.  Sometimes it's invisible, but it's there.  You may not know where it's going, But you have to follow that path.  It's the path to the Creator.  It's the only path there is.  ~ Chief Leon Shenandoah, in Andrew Harvey, The Direct Path

"Say yes to being alive.  Yes to life.  Yes to your own life.  Yes to each year, each day.  Yes to each minute.
Imagine that life is whispering yes.  Yes to all beings, and yes to you. Everything you've said yes to is saying yes to you.  Even the things you've said no to are saying yes to you!
Each breath, each heartbeat, each surge across a synapse: each one says yes.  Yes, all yes, all saying yes.

Yes.            ~ Rick Hanson, Just One Thing

Thanks to One Spirit Interfaith Seminary for the postings

Happy Resurrection Sunday to all!  Whether one celebrates Easter or not, the act of resurrecting ourselves can be celebrated by each and every one of us.  Fellow OSIS graduate, Paul Dodenhoff, wrote a post on Facebook this morning eloquently stating, regardless of his personal beliefs, why he celebrates Easter.  I commented to him that his words reminded me of words that I spoke in a service back in the 90's.  I spoke about the death, burial and resurrection all taking place within we die to the things of the world/ego, bury them and allow the Christ consciousness to become alive in us.  It does not matter to what spiritual tradition one ascribes; the Christ, consciousness, the Buddha consciousness or whatever name one uses, is what we all seek.  It is the consciousness in which Jesus walked.  

When I consciously began my spiritual transformation (I say consciously because we are always transforming whether we are aware or not) I would be in a turmoil around holidays.  Turmoil because I knew that most Christian holidays had that origins in the pagan celebrations.  Many of the holidays were blended with the pagan celebrations in order for both sides to participate.  I was not in turmoil because of paganism, it was because I felt that everything I had been taught in my Christian upbringing and by the church was a falsehood.  Gradually, with time and understanding, I could see the spiritual meaning underlying the physical and no longer felt hypocritical in giving the traditional holiday greetings.  Being an Interfaith/Interspiritual minister has helped in that regard.  I honor all paths as I follow my own.

It has taken me many years to "become" who I am....many books, many classes, many thoughts, many questions, few answers (or so it seemed) and the beauty is, I am still becoming!  I have stood at the "threshold" wondering whether to go through or not; knowing I couldn't go back to who I had been and not knowing what lay before me.  Truly there was "no way out but through" as stated above.  Our paths are always before us.  I believe we know them as children but we get sidetracked by "others"; parents, families, teachers, friends, and we forget ourselves.  But the path is always calling us home, back to ourselves and what the Creator intended for us.  Do we always listen, do we always answer?  When we don't, we are filled with a longing, a restlessness that is inescapable until we do answer and become who we are.  

Even as we do become, we are asked to "come up higher" at each level.  Each time I begin to relax, thinking that I have arrived at "me", I get that old familiar feeling.  Who am I?  What am I here to offer?  What is my place in this world?  I find myself in this place; right here, right now.  I am always on a quest it seems.  I hear the call to grow and grow I must. I stand before the threshold again.  No longer who I was but not yet who I am.  I see the destination but the path isn't always clear.  It's as if a mist is covering it.  Sometimes it dissipates and I'm able to see and move a little further but then the mist appears again...I stand still because I'm not sure of the way.  I wonder if it's because I'm not saying "yes" to what appears before me.  Am I letting fear stop me from reaching my destination?  We can know where we are headed but because it's an unknown, there can be fear and trepidation to proceed.  

The path of life that we walk may have casualties along the way.  We lose people, places and things.  It is not intentional and not always what we wish to see happen but it is inevitable.  When we no longer fit our former lives we need to discard it, in the same way we do clothes, shoes and worn out furniture.  Holding on in the hope that it can be used creates clutter and leaves no room for the new that's waiting to appear.  Things can be altered but left in its current state, it is of no further use, to you anyway.  The new is waiting to unfold in our lives.  This is the season of renewal.  It is time to bury the old.  It is time to let new life arise.  It is time to resurrect!

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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

New York, NY/ Richmond, VA

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

"There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't sit still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, 
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest; 
Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest." ~ Robert W. Service

"To belong nowhere is a blessing and a curse, like any kind of freedom." Leah Stewart, The Myth of You and Me

"The Wanderlust has got the belly-aching fire" ~ Robert W. Service, Rhymes of  a Rolling Stone

"Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring" ~ Vladimir Nabokov, Mary

HAPPY SPRING EQUINOX!  This is the first day of Spring 2016 for the Northern Hemisphere.  The day and the night are equally as long.  Flowers will begin to bloom and the weather will become increasingly warmer, even if we do see snow flakes before March makes its exit.  Today is also Psalm Sunday and many will sport psalms on their coats.

Last Sunday morning, while still in NY, I met my friend, Rev. Sonya Brown.  Sonya is a graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, as am I.  We met at the Unity Church on West 58th Street.  Normally when I am in NY on a Sunday, I attend The Church of Christ of Harlem with my son Jason.  I know how to get around in NY.  I'm not always sure which subway to take to reach my destination but once I know, I'm fine.  Jason always tells me to "keep your phone on, Mom and text when you get there".  The children indeed become the parents.  But as my oldest daughter Zakiya said, "You should have raised crappy children if you don't want us concerned."  I am grateful for them.  LOL

I always enjoy Unity services at any location; this was no exception. The minister is a young man and full of life.  His message was about love and recognizing the fears that can keep us from loving.  At one point he referenced Guru Satchidananda of Yogaville.  I have visited Yogaville on more than one occasion.  I received Mantra Initiation there in the 90's and received the name "Nitya (one devoted to truth or the eternal) from Satchidananda.  The pastor and I spoke briefly after service.  I asked if he had ever visited Yogaville.  Not only had he visited, he had participated in some of the building.  His mom lived there for awhile.  His family is originally from Norfolk and moved to Richmond later.  I enjoyed sharing with him and will visit again when I return to NY.

Sonya and I walked over to the shops in Columbus Circle and had lunch at Whole Foods.  I absolutely love Columbus Circle!  I love the energy of the area.  Sonya and I sat and talked about doing some workshops together in the very near future.  I eagerly await that! After lunch we took the train back uptown to 116th Street.  We walked to the African Harlem Outdoor Market.  I try to visit there each time I'm in NY.  Neither Sonya or myself saw any earrings of note.  We did see some colorful scarfs for $5, which can be worn as head wraps.  Sonya and I parted ways at the corner she needed for her train and I continued on to the train I needed.  A man walked up behind me and said he liked my outfit.  I thanked him and we talked until he reached his destination.  He gave me his card and asked me to call.  The card has his picture on it and his eyes are very intense in that picture...almost a little scary.

When I returned to Jason's apartment, his friend was there as well. I sat down to eat the remainder of my food as they tried to decide where to eat.  Jason said that in his head (a trait inherited from his dad), he had planned to take us to the Haitian restaurant Grandchamps, in Brooklyn. I told him that he should have said something earlier but I would ride and get take out for later.  I ordered the Turkey Tasso plate; bone on turkey with Djon Djon (Haitian Black Rice), plantains and vegetables.  I had Pain Patate (sweet potato bread pudding) for dessert.  The meal, which I had later, was good but I must say that the Djon Djon I had at Gina Desire's house was tastier.  I decided to watch a little "Poirot" on Netflix and went to bed.

Jason booked my return to Richmond, Monday on the 2pm train.  I so enjoy the train and with the exception of one stop had the seats to myself.  The ride was uneventful but comfy.  I was picked up at the station and taken to my car at the bus parking lot.  I retired early as I had to work the next day.  On Thursday, my friend Celeste and I went on a day trip to Maryland Live.  We left at 7am and returned by 7pm.  It was a beautiful day. I enjoy watching people play and hearing the slot machines.  We had lunch in the mall at Chili's. These trips will usually give a better portion of the ticket money back.  One can use it to play or cash it in.  It makes it worthwhile.

Friday was a day of rest.  I worked on Saturday and will work today.  I will be off this weekend.  Hopefully I will return to NY this week and spend Easter with Jason at his church.  The traveling bug has bitten and I am not satisfied with remaining in one place for too long. causes one to dream of distant places and new adventures.  My heart and spirit hear the call and I will answer.

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

Sunday, March 13, 2016

New York, NY

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

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”―  Anais Nin

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” ― Dalai Lama 

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” ― Isabelle Eberhardt

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ―  Helen Keller

Well wanderlust has hit me again or I should say it is knocking louder, for it is always there never giving me much peace until I do something.  Wanderlust is defined as: a strong desire to travel.   That's exactly the feeling that I have and keep. It's one of the reasons My Gypsi Journey began. I know that wandering seems flaky or irresponsible to some but alas, it's in my blood. So color me irresponsible if you must, I will not argue with you, nay, I will surrender to your assessment and cheer. 

On impulse I decided to travel to New York. I left Friday night after work. The bus (Chinese bus) left at 12:30am and I arrived at 6:30am.  My son, Jason picked me up in Chinatown. After having breakfast and resting a few hours Jason and I went to 125th Street. He went to the barber shop and I meandered around.  I love sitting and watching the people. I enjoy the vendors and seeing their wares. It was a beautiful sunny day and many people were out and about.  Jason and I met up, took a taxi back to his apartment to get the car and drove to the upper east side.  We visited the Whole Foods on Third Avenue which wasn't there when Jason lived there.  We then went back to his place and had dinner. 

I've decided that traveling once a month to new places. If I purchase Megabus tickets a month in advance, I can get them from $5-$10. Staying in hostels with a minimum rate of $20 makes lodging affordable.  Hostels  are dorm style and some have private rooms. I stayed in one when I attended the workshop in Asheville last year.  It was a dorm room but no one was in the room with my friend and me. Baths are shared along with common areas and the kitchen. Most offer breakfast of some sort.  I think I had forgotten about hostels. 

In April I plan to visit Memphis, TN.  I have to get the bus in Atlanta so I will travel there, stay overnight in a hostel and continue to Memphis the next day. Charleston SC, San Francisco and New Mexico are all future Megabus trips. I will let Spirit decide when and which one first. So instead of driving and listening to hear which direction to travel, I'm now allowing Spirit to tell me which destination by bus.  It all sounds so simple now that it's become clear and a plan.  Waiting to hear Spirit will do that.  I pla
n to be back in NY the week before Easter.  At that time I plan to visit with Thamara Theophile, a Haitian FB friend and sister.  She's plans to cook some delicious food for me to enjoy. Yummy!!  

Wandering is in my soul.  Seeing and learning about different cultures is a growing experience. I want to learn as much as I can about other people and places. If not
now, when?  I don't want to put off things any longer.  If it's to be, it's up to me or so the saying goes. "Other places, other lives, other souls" ...A nomad for life!

Until next Sunday, 

Merry part and merry meet again, 
Blessed be, 
Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Richmond, VA

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

"Every decision you make stems from what you think you are, and represents the value that you put upon yourself." ~ A Course in Miracles; Foundation For Inner Peace

"Opening to the reality of what is can shift us out of insisting that we need ideal circumstances to make us happy, and into an appreciation of the growth that is called out of us by life's trials." ~ Barbara Cecil, Coming Into Your Own

"Nothing happens in life by accident.  Nothing.  Nothing occurs in your life by chance.  Nothing.  Nothing takes place without producing the opportunity for real and lasting benefit to you. Nothing at all.  The perfection of every moment may not be apparent to you, yet that will make the moment no less perfect.  It will be no less a gift." ~ Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God

"Nothing real can be threatened.  Nothing unreal exists,  Herein lies the peace of God."  These are the opening lines to A Course in Miracles.  I started reading ACIM in the late 90's.  The first lesson is "Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) means anything."  One can not discriminate, everything that your eyes light upon has to be included.  As I practiced the first lesson, my eyes landed on my youngest daughter Tiffany sitting on the steps,  I made the statement but didn't include her; my emotions wouldn't let me.  I knew then, as I do now, that we are not our bodies, but I couldn't include her, I just couldn't.  

I now understand better than I did then.  I believe it has something to do with the losses that have occurred in my life.  I can honestly look at anything and make that statement; including the bodies of my children and my own.  (I do need to remind myself of that on occasions) Things are just that, and bodies are the shells in which our spirits reside.  The second lesson says "that we have given everything that we see, all the meaning it has".  That statement is so true.  We attach meanings and values to everything in our lives. I am not saying that we aren't to take care of our bodies and the things we accumulate.  We do live in these bodies and we appreciate items we have and care for them, for everything is energy. However, the value and meaning is what we have given it.  It may or may not mean the same to someone else.

These first lines of ACIM can take some getting used to and requires some thought.  If someone points a gun at one with the intent to rob, one may feel very threatened and that threat feels real.  But, if we understand that the reality of who we are is spirit, then the real can  not be threatened.  This idea would take much practice because in the moment that one faces death, one wants to cling dearly to life. This is understood for it is all our conscious mind knows.  We don't know death and what that brings.  We do know, all of us, whether consciously or not, that we aren't our bodies.  When someone transitions through death, the body we see is void of life.  Life-less. This lets us know that the body is not the person.  These statements aren't only about death; it's everything.

My oldest son, Donnie, is a recovering addict.  Last July, he purchased a car.  After working the day after the purchase, he came home took a shower, and decided to get an oil change.  In less than an hour I received a call from him that he was being arrested.  The charge was possession.  The car was sold as is and was dirty.  It even had things belonging to someone else in the trunk.  This is the one time that I believe in his innocence.  We went to court on Thursday.  The lawyer was a public defender and lousy, the policeman even lied about what he said to me after the arrest.  He also said that my son made a statement about drugs that a seasoned addict would never make.  The judge found him guilty and said had it not been for the statement, would have found him not guilty.  He will return in May for sentencing.  He is looking to appeal.

I realize that it is not me facing charges or jail time, so for me to adhere to the above quotes about "growth that is called to us out of life's trials" and every moment being a gift, may seem insensitive. It's not.  I believe we choose paths in life, sometimes consciously and sometimes not so much.  We make decisions based on "who we think we are" as the first quote states.  None of us have understood why Donnie continues to hang outside the store where he was arrested, yet we do know.  Whether using or not, those are his "people".  His decisions have seemingly cost him his freedom.  I say, seemingly, because we don't know what will happen.  What I do know is that we all have several paths, several futures and it is up to us to choose.  Decisions today make our tomorrows. "It's a little hard to tell what's a failure and what's just shifting your life in a whole new direction." ~ Pema Chodron, Fail Fail Again Fail Better. 

Donnie thought he would be found guilty because the lawyer didn't believe him.  He put his faith in her ignorance and not in the wisdom of God/Goddess/All That Is.  Our thoughts do matter.  There are lessons in all things whether we pay attention or not.  Maybe we could learn to ask ourselves what is the lesson in this situation and really listen for and to the answer.  Maybe if we learn that life holds gifts for us even in the trials, we could better understand our lives and help someone else to "see".  We could then possibly learn and understand,  "Nothing real can be threatened.  Nothing unreal exists.  Herein lies the peace of God."  and we would have the peace that passes all understanding.

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