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Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Years Resolutions


"I am empowered to move forward or make space and my gift is letting go," reads my horoscope.

I could look back and see where I came from and see all what is "wrong" with my world — or I can look forward and create something new and wonderful for myself.

I choose to be true to myself and will only regret the opportunities I don't take to seek my heart's desire. The air is alive with wonderment and magic. There is a pervading feeling of the anticipation of something magnificent. I trust that changes within me are occurring on subtle levels rather than in dramatic shifts into a whole new reality. Awareness comes continually at the pace that I am able to process comfortably.

I am contentedly aware of the ebbs and flows of progression as they happen. I calmly listen to my inner being during these times and follow its promptings. I surrender to the quietness within to allow integration to occur with relative ease.

I am a cocoon. I am learning to follow the inner guidance of my heart. I observe the thoughts that are coming forth and understand that my experiences from the past are now history, yet are being reviewed, one by one. Out of that observation I realize that these experiences helped me to get to the present time-space reality. It is at this point that I am truly learning who I am. I discern that which I truly am from all that I am not. The result is a greater harmony within. My soul acknowledges all that no longer works for me and creates a new pattern that will take me in the new direction I desire.

I am open to allow growth without judgment or question, knowing my experiences were a necessary part of my growth during this lifetime. I love myself unconditionally, regardless of what others think. I allow myself to be free of the past, yet accept my "gifts" which the past provides.

Interestingly, dancing was a doorway into my new life — my door to a joyful time. I now give energy to my new life. The present manifests in the most wonderful and surprising manner! It is time to focus on a pleasant life. After all, what I focus upon provides the energy to create it.

I am grateful!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What is a Normal Desire Anyway?


As a young girl I was taught to feel ashamed of my desires. For example, when I was about four my Grandma asked me if I would like to dance like Ginger (as in Fred and Ginger). Oh, how I adored watching them dance. I looked up from her grainy black and white TV long enough to beam and nod my head, while Grandma and Mom roared with laughter at my “foolish, childish whim.”

“You’d have to practice so hard it would make your toes bleed!” Mom declared, followed by another peal of laughter.

“I could do that,” I heard a small voice come out of me. No one heard.

Mom raged about my “useless” desire to draw, too. I submitted some drawings to an art school when I was about twelve. Mom happened to answer the phone when the art school invited me for classes. “Esther will not be attending your art classes — and don’t call this number again!” was her curt reply to the befuddled salesman. She promptly turned to yell at me. “Don’t you know there is no money to be made by drawing pictures? Besides, art is for the idle-rich — and we ain’t idle or rich!”

My father yelled about my desire to hum. “Shut up, Esther! You sound like a tractor in da field, ploughing!” He had a thick Ukrainian accent and experienced difficulty with his English pronunciation. He rolled his “r” and his “th” came out sounding like a “d” followed by a “short a” sound. My humming sounded good inside my head, but I learned to keep quiet when he was anywhere near. Life was safer that way.

Shame, embarrassment and guilt were heaped on me, forcing me to shut off my creative outlets, one by one.

As an adult with a mind of my own, I asked what seemed like the logical question, “Aren’t dancing, singing and drawing normal human desires? — And I am human, right? So, why the suppression tactics?”

Suppression of desires is about how the family religion distorted normal human activities until they appeared nothing short of perverse — if said desires did not quite fit into their religious boxes of “right” and “wrong.”

So, why am I bringing this issue to the fore now? one might ask. What’s past is past.

Good point, if the past didn’t still rear its ugly head from time to time.

My partner and I have enjoyed many years of dancing together, until recently when Stan* began suffering from knee pain and elected to put dancing on hold while attending physiotherapy. His dance hiatus caused a struggle within me, as I have a soul urge to dance. So, naturally an interruption in my dance plans caused me some grief. “Oh, you selfish little girl. Don't you know you must stop dancing, too?” the voice inside my head started berating me again.

Fortunately, my dance teacher had some wise words of comfort. “Just because your partner chose to stop dancing does not mean you have to stop,” she encouraged.

Stan’s decision is temporary, after all. It’s not like he never wants to dance again — he just needs to attend to his knees.

So, I carried on by myself. I resumed dance lessons on my own. Thankfully, a great group of supportive people took up the slack at the lessons, the practices and even the Milongas. I am truly grateful that someone is usually available to dance with me — so that I can keep progressing. But, even if I had no one to dance with, I could still practice my technique.

My dance teacher knows of my passion to dance. She recognizes that I must continue to dance — I desire to excel to a level that pleases me! I have left the shame, embarrassment and the guilt of my dance desires in my dust! After all, it is impossible to suppress my soul’s desire!

When Stan chooses to resume dancing, I shall continue to be a supportive partner. After all, it never hurts to go back and refine earlier steps and technique, as these are foundational.

* Stan is not his real name


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Belief in Separation or Belief in Love?


Is it possible to feel a strong, loving connection to my children who don't speak to me because of a shunning order? Yes, I reply. I received some photos from family members, which I wrote about in a previous post. You may recall, the first run of photos only included my grand-daughter. In a second set, the family members provided photos of my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. They selected photos of my children with their backs turned toward me. Not so with my grand-daughter, however. I looked into her sweet eyes and saw love and innocence. I knew that she was too young to believe — on her own — that she must shun me. Her soul would never shun me unless she was first taught to believe those harsh religious rules.

Nevertheless, in faith I keep a box in which I am storing gifts for my beloved grand-daughter. I feel a strong love bond for her, even though I have never met her, in spite of her being three years old at the time of this writing. Who knows? One day she may come looking for her missing grandma. In other words, on some etheric level, it seems we have this beautiful loving bond keeping us connected in a most magical, mystical union. I am ecstatic! I know now what the scripture at Romans 8:39 really means when it says, "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of [my own Divine nature]," — not even belief in shunning! I am truly in awe!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fond Memories of Saskatoon


My cousin just blogged about her trip to Saskatoon and it made me reminisce — I once lived in Saskatoon, from 1978 – 2002. But, I must clarify that I really started LIVING after my divorce in ’97.

The Saskatoon summers were awesome when the heat waves hit. For me, a heat wave was ideal weather. Heat waves made the winters bearable. Saskatoon was so hot I would dip a large overshirt in water and then wring it out to wear on the bus in order to keep cool while getting downtown (laugh if you must!). A half an hour later, walking around the street events, the shirt was bone dry. I never left home without a bottle of water during those heat waves. I loved the Fringe Festival, usually held in the Broadway District, or I’d take in the sidewalk sales downtown. I also loved to dance at the Blues Festivals and the Jazz Fests. Great music for those slow, sensuous West Coast Swings or the lively East Coast Swings!

During the heat waves, even the nights were hot. I liked to sleep outside on my balcony, where the air was moving. True, I had an air-conditioner, but I didn’t appreciate the roaring sound or the blasting cold air. Besides, I could never get used to the heat if I used air-conditioning — temperatures were too extreme! Oh, and the thunderstorms that erupted after a heat wave were something else! I so loved the thunderstorms. What impressive light shows they were!

Winters, on the other hand, were bitterly cold, with wind chills running to minus 40 and 50 degrees below zero. The steam from the traffic froze when it left the tailpipes and literally hung in the air — ice fog. These frigid dips of temperature lasted three weeks at a stretch some winters.

The Bessborough (“The Bezz” by locals) is one of the nicest hotels in the city, with one of the finest city views along the river. From that vantage point, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) can be viewed across the bridge and to the Northeast. The trees are lush, with a differing panoramic view with the coming of each new season.

The U of S Dance Club held an annual dance event and sometimes it was held in the Bessborough’s grand ballroom. Our dance group watched a great Latin dance show one year, and then spent the rest of the night doing waltzes, foxtrots, cha-chas and rumbas. The event included dinner — and the food, too, was exquisite (first time I ever reveled in a dessert of Key Lime Pie).

I’ll always remember my dance adventures in Saskatoon. They were some of my happiest memories up till then. Those dancing days gave me the momentum to move ever forward in my life. Those days gave me courage to live my dreams to write and publish my book (which I just got back from the editor). I have a little more polishing, but it’s shaping up nicely. My editor assured me it’s a great story that needs to be told.

I celebrate Saskatoon!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beliefs about Equality


I have been staying more positive lately, not sliding into great holes of anger and despair. What am I doing differently? I'm actively feeding my mind in a more positively-focused direction. For example, I watched several videos recently on Wayne Dyer's book, The Power of Intention. I read the book years ago and found it easy to believe, as it aligned with the many new things I was learning, during my theological purge of the family religion. I was filling my mind and heart with wonderful new ideas!

I believe it is imperative to replace the negative beliefs with positive ones. I'm not sure how it all works, but I do believe staying positive is important for one's emotional well-being. I believe in love and peace. I surrender to the Divinity within myself and in all that is.

The simple act of believing in these simple truths has a calming effect on my entire being. Along with believing comes a knowing.


One of my greatest realizations is understanding that religions basically believe all the same things. The divisions occur when people separate themselves from their fellow humans by believing their religion is right and all others are wrong. If humans want religion to heal humanity, then they may wish to look at all the similarities, rather than the differences. I believe in simplicity!

If we are all one with the Divinity within us, the divisions can no longer exist. Instead, love, peace and harmony shall most naturally prevail.


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Religiously Conditioned Women

Religiously-conditioned women think differently than secular women about their lot in life. Especially about roles. In patriarchal religions, many young girls grow up being told their best life could only be in service to a husband and a bunch of children. A woman is not in control of her own body, her husband is, in what the Bible calls "husbandly ownership." — Jeremiah 31:32. Secular women often think beyond such a limited scope of baby-making by choosing a career.

As long as the religiously-conditioned woman tows the line they will fit into a patriarchal family. Provide sex on demand for her husband — fake it if necessary — raise those kids, go to church and pretend everything is perfect. Then, do even more to hold everything together. In my family, whatever I did was never enough for those patriarchal elders, until I finally burned out. Only after getting into therapy, did I discover my family religion was filled with delusional thinking.

The version of truth I was taught: the imminent coming of Armageddon followed by the thousand year reign of Christ where earthly conditions would be perfect. Other religions have still other versions of the Truth. Religions all teach they are each the only "true" religion. That in itself sounds delusional.

Looking back, it all sounds delusional. I didn't know it back then, since I was religiously conditioned, at the time. It took decades of therapy to heal those delusional beliefs.

Religious life is still patriarchal in nature, meaning the man is the head of the family and everything he says goes. The wife must support him, no matter how delusional the thoughts and beliefs.

It would be awesome for women to try some independent thinking, apart from delusional religion. First, they would have to see a need for such independent thinking, which might break down the conditioning and mind control of religion.

(revised September 3, 2012)


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Monkey-Mind


I don't know about you, but I have a very busy mind. "Monkey-mind" it is often called. Oh, it's bad: unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, uncontrollable---all that and more, just what the great gurus of the world absolutely dread.

My friend suggested to me, "Why don't you meditate?"

"Sure, okay." I'll try anything once.

image from thewondrous.com

"Make up a mantra about the stillness of your mind," she continued, after my interruption.

"I could do that," I affirmed, mostly in an attempt to convince myself of the far-fetched possibility of taming the wild beast, all the while doubting what I heard come out of my own mouth. "I'll do a walking meditation."

So tonight is the night. A warm summer evening when I don't even have to wear a jacket. This is my kind of weather. I step out into the darkness and look into the night sky. I could see Mars to the west. Apparently there is some powerful alignment with Saturn going on right now, of which I need to be aware. Hey, I'm open.

Okay, a mantra.

"My mind is still
and I'm in my heart.
My mind is still
and I'm in my heart."

I wonder which star is Saturn. Just like that --- I catch my mind wandering. Sheesh, that was fast. Didn't even get through the mantra three times!

I repeat the mantra again, then I find myself pondering how the street lights interfere with how many stars are visible in the night sky because of the artificial lights.

Hey, back to the mantra, girl!

I'm a half a block from home and I start to feel vulnerable. It's dark and car lights appear down the block. Okay, I can factor my safety into the mantra, no problem.

"My mind is still
and I'm in my heart
and I am safe."

I stumble through that one a few times, impressed with my adaptive ingenuity.

"My mind is safe and my heart is still." Hey, that's not how it goes! Doggedly, I start over. As I approach the end of the block, I grapple again with the mantra then conclude, "Hey, I never was any good at this memorizing stuff. So why think I could 'get it' now at this late date?" Nevertheless, I plough through it again...and again.

I mow through the mantra: three lines multiply by three times. That's nine lines. Some kind of record, I'm sure.

A car zooms by, then another one. I carry my smartphone with me. I'm one button away from help, if I need it. I cross the street. I'll walk a bit further. Getting my confidence now!

"My mind is still
and I'm in my heart
and I am safe."

It occurs to me that if I am feeling fearful, I can't possibly be in my heart. Oh sheesh, I'm going home. This mantra stuff is for the birds and they're all asleep by now!

But hey, I bet my friend will be proud how I attempted a walking meditation. I observed my mind as it wandered all over the place. My mind isn't so much a monkey-mind as an acrobatic mind!

It's a wonder I get any sleep! I suppose my busy brain collapses from sheer exhaustion at the end of a day.

Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

About Esther Harrison

After walking away from an antiquated patriarchal belief system, "Phoenix of Faith" author has discovered she has created a healthy new reality. How did that come about?

Beyond farm life, religious activity with the family and attending school as an "outcast" she was isolated from social contact. She grew up feeling like she did not "belong" — anywhere. While in her 40's, Esther had reached a point in her life where she didn't like who she saw in the mirror. She wasn't happy in her marriage and she had serious doubts about life which the family religion was unable to address.

Esther looks back and wishes she had left her marriage after three miserable years where she had a safe exit point. Instead, she let herself be assimilated by the religion that she had once tried to leave at age sixteen. It was a religion that openly enabled — and even encouraged — all the dysfunction in a marriage like hers. Sadly, the teachings of the family religion were all she had ever known.

Could she change her beliefs enough to change her reality? "Phoenix of Faith" is the result after becoming aware of the religious and social forces influencing her life.

Follow on Twitter: @_Phoenixoffaith

Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Migraine!

The other day I watched a bright flickering light near my computer at work. I was reminded how a flickering light, or the flash of a photocopier, or even a camera at one time could bring on a migraine headache. I paused for a moment and thought about the last time I had endured a migraine. It must have been 2005.

My first migraine came on quite suddenly when I was age 12. I was walking the short path that ran from the edge of our yard through some trees to the garden on my parents’ farm in the Interlake area of Manitoba. My vision went brown, but I dared not stop walking the footpath. My father had just finished yelling at me to get out to the garden and hoe those weeds. Any hesitation in my gait would certainly be read by my father as a rebellion against his god-given authority. Surely I would have received a beating for such insubordination. So, I stumbled forward as my vision faded.

Once I got to the garden, I found my way to a nearby tree and slumped to the ground, out of my father’s range of vision. I prayed that he would not come looking for me, as I wondered what was wrong with my eyes. My vision went darker, and then I began to see bright lights flashing. I was terrified that I was going blind.

“I’m feeling sick,” I informed my younger brother assigned to work with me.

He ignored what to him must have sounded like a lame excuse to get out of gardening. “Here’s a hoe.” I held out my hand to receive the hoe, but could not see where to reach. My brother noticed the “miss” and realized I wasn’t kidding — I wasn’t a kidder.

“Wow, something really is wrong with you,” he exclaimed. Clearly, I wasn’t presenting a pathetic attempt to get out of an afternoon of hoeing weeds.

My head began to pound with searing throbs of pain which began in one eye, and then shot into the side of my head. I lay down in the dirt, feeling the rhythmic throbbing. Then came the nausea. I threw up my freshly eaten lunch: my mom’s home-made bread and purple bits of beets from her borsch.

That business being done, my brother had returned to my side. “Here,” he said. “Have some water.”

In the few minutes it took him to go to the house for some water, I could see again — between the flashing lights — and I reached for a sip of water to cool my raw burning throat. We dared not tell our father about the incident. We knew he would not take me to the doctor. Even when my brother had ripped the entire length of his shin wide open on a jagged rock while running in the ditch, my mom nursed the wound daily, morning and night without ever breathing a word to our father. The silence kept my brother safe from a beating.

After that, a migraine usually announced itself upon awakening in the morning. I was visited by the flashing lights; the brown-out vision; tingling in my tongue and arm; and the searing pain periodically from that time until 1980, when I was involved in a rear-end collision. I didn’t know until then what the diagnosis might be. After the accident, the frequency of headaches increased to about once a week. As an adult, I did have a family doctor who declared I was getting migraines. He prescribed a strong painkiller. I forgot the name of it, but it was stronger than over-the-counter painkillers. I started off by taking one or two. At first, it provided some relief. But, after a few weeks, two pills no longer worked, so I upped my dosage to three pills. Soon, the pills I was taking didn’t even phase the migraine. Before long, I was taking up to eight pills and got no relief. I would go to bed with an icepack and just try to numb the pain.

My friend Joyce told me about a reflexologist and suggested I might want to try this “natural” form of treatment. “Anything — I’ll try anything!” I moaned, dreading my next attack.

The next time I felt the onset of a migraine I called the reflexologist. Amazingly, before the treatment was over, the migraine had subsided. The reflexologist sent me home to bed to “sleep it off,” and I didn’t argue. I slept for a long time and woke up with the usual “migraine hangover” — but I knew I had found the solution, a way to cope with the pain. After that I continued my weekly reflexology treatments. I still got migraines, but less frequently, and they were less intense, pain-wise.

I was so impressed with the reflexology treatments that I decided to take the course and become a certified reflexologist — a goal I had accomplished by 1982.

Many years later I noticed another change in the patterns of the migraines. I began seeing the warning signs — the onset — of a migraine: the flashing lights, the feeling of talking into a tunnel. What I was trying to say was often dis-joined from the words that actually came out of my mouth. But the pain never came. I went from “flashing lights” to “migraine hangover” within fifteen minutes.

Many changes occurred before that day arrived; however, it became obvious to me that I was healing. I attributed the progress to the care I was learning to provide for myself. Rather than serving everyone else first, I began looking after me. As a child, I had been taught that self-care was an act of selfishness. But, as a result of finding a good therapist who was helping me get my life back on track, I was learning a new way to live. I was off painkillers and learning to eat healthy. Thanks to my therapist, I chose to divorce my husband; I left a punishing, fear-based religion; and I moved to a new province, away from the prying eyes of my past friends and family members who chose to shun me.

The flickering light at my computer passed. I did not have a “migraine hangover” either. Today, I am migraine-free! I am free in other ways, also. My life has changed radically for the better. I am regaining my health naturally, and I am grateful for this path I have chosen, even if it does have some rough spots. I know the worst is over!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Misconceptions about Non-Religious Folks

I have noticed that some religious people have misconceptions about non-religious folk, which I would like to address. One truth about me, for example, is that even though I left the family religion, I did not check my "morality" at the Kingdom Hall door. Just because I no longer adhere to religion does not mean I have no morals. Morality is inherent in each person. The Bible says so:

"the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.~Romans 2:14-16 (New International Version)

When I left the religion, my family demonized me. One announcement later and they sincerely believed I was suddenly a different person. One meeting ago, they were hugging me, and by the next meeting they were shunning me. I wasn't one of them anymore. Like I was instantly going to run out and light a cigarette *gasp* or steal or do drugs or seduce a man, because I was disfellowshipped.

p>
Well, seriously, this is what the religion teaches. Members don't question the church leaders about what comes out of their mouth. They just believe it, automatically. They have to! No critical thinking or questions allowed! Just blind obedience.

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Have you noticed strange ideas of religionists? I'd love to hear from you.


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Being Authentic

I hurried home from work yesterday so that I could spend quality time with my cousin who I'm just now getting to know. I also met her husband for the very first time, even though they have been together for many years. Why, after all this time are we---not until this moment---getting to really know each other? Could it be we are just now emerging from all of our inherited masks to reveal our authentic selves? It seems that the current energies on our beloved planet will allow nothing less than genuineness anymore.

Let me explain.

Upon moving into our current property, the flowers on one of our Azalea plants used to be fuchsia-colored and extravagantly ruffled. Yes, they were truly beautiful to see. Nevertheless, during the past two or three years, there appears a second set of blooms that are becoming more and more prolific with each season, throughout this particular plant. These are salmon-colored blooms and the ruffles have disappeared. Of course, these new flower heads possess inherent, unsurpassed, natural beauty.

As with the evolving Azalea blossoms, so with my beautiful cousin. Her true self is shining forth, as she sheds old beliefs placed upon her by antiquated patriarchal traditions which no longer serve her highest well-being. What remains is a beautiful being, without a facade of superficiality. An authentic human soul remains, shining brightly, leaving a lasting impression on me! I wonder if nature is teaching humanity that all things hidden or distorted (via propaganda) shall be revealed. Indeed, I believe the current energies on our beloved planet will allow nothing less than authenticity any longer!

I'll bet I'm not the only person experiencing strange phenomena in the garden. I'd love to hear some of your gardening anecdotes!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In a Christian Land

Cartoon Christian Bear, Christians believe in human sacrifice. Do animals? If the animals eat humans?

Copyright © 2012. Cartoon by satinka 

Strange things have been happening in our so-called Christian land. But I don't have to tell you. I'll let the cartoon speak, since a picture is worth a thousand words.

So many rules and contradictions it boggles the mind!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2012.