A Course in Miracles

“There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.”

nova scotiaNova Scotia, 2010

I began this practice of Smile Lines as something like a tweet, or a flash of a smile at a stranger… a way to cultivate ‘thin space’ moments of connection.

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Holy Triangle

 

“Take the work seriously, and your self not seriously at all.”
– Judy Dench as quoted by Alan Rickman

holy-triangleMy “Holy Triangle”

I decided to study The Course in Miracles for 2017. Actually, I’ve been studying it for a few months already, on the heels of reading The Universe Has Your Back. Now I’ll begin anew, in the New Year.

To be honest, the all-positive, Secret/Law of Attraction ‘motivational coach voice’ of some materials leading to this place has been a slight stumbling block for me, but ACIM itself doesn’t add that. Also please don’t get me wrong. The ‘coach voice’ can help so much at the right times, however, it can also feel packaged for the masses, too distant to be intimate toward in some especially vulnerable moments (coming back to the ‘teacher vs. coach’ theme again).

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Peaceful Revolution

Finished a book today, titled Peaceful Revolution.

This is a book I’ve had on my Kindle for well over a year, purchased in a thrill of finding Paul K. Chappell on social media after years of lightly asking around, something like, “Well, he’s a soldier with an interesting multiracial background, had a talk on Book TV after the Iraq War, focusing on peace, but not in a hippy dippy way?” I’d done a few searches and couldn’t remember his full name, instead coming up with someone else. So I’d, once in a while, remember to send out a searchlight again. I’ve been surprised that more in my circle aren’t familiar with him, when his voice on matters of peace, in the world and in ourselves, seems so unique and needed.

It was a YouTube shared on Facebook, from a friend from Hungary, living in South Africa, who I met in a virtual world, that finally gave me the missing piece. All I had needed was the K!

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Healing

cropped-sunset-in-st-petersburg.png

There are matters one whittles away at for such long periods of time that the process moves into the background, taking new shape in a sort of ongoing half trance. It is a natural process of giving over complexities to a deeper than calculated way, I think, but can sap energy if it continues too long, if missing a next or deeper step within that process … an even deeper surrender. Without that, there can be stagnation, paralysis.

This was the case for me since separating from a partner of over 20 years… reliving the whys and wherefores, the what-ifs and where-we-went-wrongs, answering for the relationship’s seeming failure to crowds of imaginary people in my mind. I found it hard to give the two of us as characters much tenderness, categorizing our mistakes as careless, stupid, short-sighted, and preventable, with an underlying subtext of blame that leaned slightly more his way than mine.

We all want to do better going forward, and to help others with situations we’ve come to see so nakedly, so it is tempting to try to come up with a script about it all. It is also highly misguided.

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Teacher vs. Coach

On the way to school, bored by the current list of updated podcasts on my i-Pad, my son opened Kindle to read aloud from whatever happened to appear. In this case, it was Gabrielle Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back. Gabrielle is pretty new to me and at first struck me as overly perky — as though she was me 15 or so years before big challenges to positive manifestation and faith teachings.

This initial impression reflected underlying cynicism way more my issue to work with than hers. Gabby is indeed energetic and fast-talking in a way that I am when off-kilter, but that doesn’t mean that she is off-kilter too. 🙂

My son began to read a portion of the book that describes Gabby’s friend Lance’s story of coming to terms with feelings of (in this case intellectual) inadequacy, but it was hard for him to take seriously. The writing is written in an “On my summer vacation we went to the beach…” type of formula that has frustrated him in school. His take was funny and not exactly untrue, but I heard myself make an important distinction.

There are differences between teachers and coaches (which doesn’t mean there is no overlap). With a teacher, the idea is to be taught something you don’t know, to be shown something you haven’t seen, to gain a new way of doing something. With a coach, you already know what they are telling you, but they stir you to bring what is known and needed to the forefront of your ‘mind palace’ (a la Sherlock) , so that you can embody and enact it. They help you bring forth. They midwife what is ready to be born. This is a very powerful role.

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10 Day Actors Challenge

This turned out to be a productive and therapeutic process, although it took me about 17 days instead of 10 or 11, and although I’m not an Actor by profession. Indeed, I’m always hard pressed to answer when asked what my profession is, since career has always appeared for me embedded within ever-changing contexts of opportunities and interests that arise, often in contrast to whatever it is I am seeking. In the last decade, career has centered around research and writing, but even then, not in a straight forward way.

I took the Actor’s Challenge as an ‘artistic activity’ challenge, and found the format of the program – which includes a central question (this time about ‘power’) every day, meditation, timed and un-timed writings, creative expression, physical activity, and giving – deeply satisfying. I’ve participated in and facilitated online retreat type programs before, and this measured against those very well in terms of inspiring long term habit formation.

Plus, it came at just the right time.

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Here is What I Know, for today

What has happened in my country is complex. Many are facing the reality that blind spots and complacency are sometimes not just shocking, but dangerous. The truly tender-hearted, who may have voted or not voted, who may have stood on one side or another but not taken seriously the threat of latent bigotry that is coming to the surface in the wake of (this) change, will now either close their eyes and pray or open their eyes and pray, and act.

“There are no enlightened persons, only enlightened activity” said Suzuki Roshi.

This is my mantra, for today.

elegant rags

The feeling of brush, paint, paper… stirs comfort, ease.

Then Prisma makes the image shareable, muting colors that were too bright or didn’t mix as well, highlighting stroke detail… even imposing a few things I might have added with greater skill, or if I’d be using my preferred medium of oil. Acrylics dry so fast!

I never know what I am thinking until I see it out in the world. My mind is full of trees, dancers, angels, women in elegant rags…

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