Thoughts on Being

Living alone on Beech Mountain is certainly a process of living in the now. One of the important practices in meditation is learning to just be present to the moment. Thoughts on being are prevalent in all religious traditions. NPR even has a great radio show called On Being with Krista Tippett. She interviews great speakers from around the world to talk about being.

In my experience, being can be challenging if it means I must sit still. Sitting still is a type of challenge for me since I am a wiggly person. Since getting older, I also move to try and deal with the pain that is constantly

Grayson – He was a very good cat!

present in my body. For the best example of what I mean by merely being, think of a cat.  I no longer have a cat, but our cat, Grayson was great at being. I often called him my Buddha cat. It always seemed that when I was having problems paying attention to “being” instead of “doing”, Grayson was sitting at the window merely observing the world as it passed by.

My wife was better at being still than I was. But, learning to be present to the moment, as meant here, is more than being still. Just as Grayson was able to be all cat in his “being”, our being means to be all you and for me, all me without trying to be someone else. It means being present to all that makes up the person you are (not who you want to be). The only person who can know if one is good at that type of being is the individual.

A new part of my “being” has been very hard for me to accept. It is accepting my physical limitations as I accept my physical illness and challenge. Yet, as I continued to push and try to be who I was in the past, those actions only caused more harm to my body, peace of mind, and relationships with others.

Being a spiritual person has meant that in my life, I paid more attention to the interior process than the body. Constantly working to train the mind, heart, and soul to be godly was my vocation. That vocation played out in music and church work. I also enjoyed softball, biking, and hiking. Though competitive, there was no interest in harming myself to win.

Because of being attuned to my body, I thought that meant I took care of my body. Though I did in many ways, one of the most acceptable ways to destroy one’s health is also one of the most rewarded ways of destroying health. Many call it work and for me, it turned into workaholism.

Growing up, I knew at an early age I was a lesbian, though I didn’t know the word for it yet. I only knew that my crushes were on girls and I dreamed of growing up to marry a woman. I did have crushes on a few boys and those were the ones I spoke of aloud. But in my childhood dreams, I was the boy and I always had a girlfriend. That wasn’t happening as a child, but it was a dream. I learned quickly that I had to find ways to divert attention from myself. Luckily for me, work did the trick. It was also a good thing that I had a good singing voice. As I began to sing at school and at church, it seemed to be a good cover.

Many will ask what this has to do with “being” and I’m getting there. During this same time, I had always been a religious kid too. I was merely interested in God and the Bible without understanding the religious condemnation at the time. All these years later, it’s become clear that some of my natural gifts combined with my physical and intellectual capacity for work empowered me to become my own wizard of oz. The only thing is it caused me harm.

Busy all the time means that someone is ignored. Always on the go means several things: not eating right, missing quality time with friends and family, waste of natural resources. Sometimes a body has to stop. Rest. Rest is the part that we Americans want to leave out of the equation for happiness. I don’t mean vacations that require more money, time, or travel. I mean sleeping. Unwinding. Reading. Being quiet. What many call unplugging. Yet, many of us are afraid of unplugging because in that place of solitude and stillness we come face to face with who we really ARE.

There are some things that can be changed about who I am. I can cut my hair, wear different clothes or makeup, ink my skin. Yet those are all exterior changes to the body. The body is a temple for the source of our being. The changes we can make to our body are merely adornments. Not taking time to rest or listen to our heart and mind can cause physiological changes. Those are not the ones we want or need. What does it mean to be you? What makes you afraid to be you? How are you creating smokescreens to divert YOUR attention away from who you really are?

 

One of the things this place on Beech Mountain is not a thing, but a place. I have a place where I can be quiet and simply BE. Even the little town below us has a sticker with the word on it.  This sacred place allows me to let the dust of the world settle and see what remains. Every time I can be patient with myself and have courage, these things remain: G_d, spirit, music. Another way of saying that for me is faith, hope, and love. I must also admit to myself in those moments that there is an essence of life that is uniquely Robin. G_d does not want that essence to change for Robin was created for a divine purpose whether others recognize it or not.

 

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Robin will be giving a talk about her book and the power of community on May 5th in Albemarle, NC. Please join the conversation at Second Street Sundries at 1:00 p.m.

PayPal.Me/RobinsRadio

 

 

 

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Random Thoughts on a February Morning

Tree at Beech Moutain’s Bark Park

Random Thoughts 2/2/2018

Just because a person misspeaks once, doesn’t mean the person is all-bad or all-wrong. As humans, we are prone to error. What makes us think another is in the wrong because of a mistake? What makes us think we are totally in the right because the mistake is obvious to us?

 

As I was washing dishes this morning, I rinsed out the small tub I use in my kitchen sink. There’s no dishwasher here but me. When I was drying it off, its white plastic not one I would choose, I thought of my Grandma Whitley. She always had a white plastic container she would put in her old porcelain sink to wash dishes. When the huge Whitley family gathered for meals, I always volunteered to do dishes. It’s something I never minded. It was also a way I could be around the women of my Southern family in a way that didn’t make me so nervous. I could listen and look out the window. They could talk.

We think we humans know how to love. It seems we only know how to create illusions of love. Then, when life gets tough, we take a pin to pop the bubble or the balloon of the illusion and think love is over when in fact, it may only have just begun.

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Sometimes the audio picked up the sound of Birdie swallowing or making a sound in her sleep. The sound is NOT my stomach growling. LOL

 

“The soul often speaks through longing.” ~Sue Monk Kidd

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Practice in a Time of Fear

“To practice the dharma is not about overcoming fear altogether or pretending that we are fearless; instead, it is to change the way we react to moments when we’re afraid.”

~By Dharmavidya David Brazier

Camp Séance Diorama by Grace Downer Gurley
©2017 All Rights Reserved, Used with permission

As we prepare for Halloween, it seems there are a lot of scary faces and pumpkins around.  I mostly chose fun characters on Halloween. Once I remember having a scary costume. Being a teen was hard. When it was time to stop trick or treating, I stood in the front yard. Trick or treating was never something I enjoyed. Going up to strangers’ homes and knocking on doors was the scariest part of Halloween then. That one Halloween,  I dressed as a ghoul or as death. I never quite knew what it was myself. I stood and waited in the dark for cars to pass then posed as a statue.

Who knows why I chose to do that. Perhaps I was trying to deal with my inner fears of being discovered as a lesbian. It could have been my dealing with a death wish I had because of my first bout of real depression. I didn’t get along with my parents. Living in a closet is hard as an adult and one’s teenage years are their own kind of hell. I was afraid of being found out for who I was. That was the real fear. It was a reasonable fear too because in the 70’s of the South, and sadly even now, the threat of being shot was and is very real.

We learn early in life to be afraid of anything that has caused us pain. In its healthiest form, this is a good way to ensure our survival and create the conditions necessary for safety and well-being.”

~by Pilar Jennings

 

It took years of prayer, journaling, and counseling to accept that my biggest nemesis is fear. When there is nothing to fear, my mind tends to make up things. In Pilar Jennings’ article, Fear, she discusses how hard it can be in this day and time to discern something causing an illusionary fear and what is a real fear. Her article offers some important points for all of us to consider in this volatile world.

©2017 Day of the Dead, Art by Kay Larch  Used with Permission

All feelings come and go, and are by their nature ephemeral. But if we don’t train our minds to see that, we end up riding life like the old roller coaster at Coney Island that threatened to hurl people from their seats every now and again. 

~by Pilar Jennings

 

In the practice of prayer and meditation, it is oftentimes fear that distracts. One of my favorite Bible verses comes from John where Jesus encourages disciples to take courage because he has overcome the world. That is a good prayer for centering oneself when fears get out of hand. Yet, it is also important to face the reality of our personal fears so that we may lead a more full life.

There are many ways we can face our fear. Creating a journal has been a vital way to deal with life for many people. Sometimes you can talk to a friend, a priest, a lama, or counselor and that helps. Being honest about our fears is the hardest thing in the world to do. Why? Because it makes us vulnerable. When we are vulnerable many think we become weak. Instead, being vulnerable gives us to the strength to move through the fear or overcome the fear. Sometimes, we see that we had no reason to fear at all.

During this Halloween, I encourage you to think about what fears are in your life. Because I am still transitioning from living in Sylva to living in Beech Mountain, my fears are in my face. I live in a new place. My church is new, my community is new, and I don’t have snow tires yet. That doesn’t mean that my life is over. It doesn’t mean that I won’t have friends. All this means is that facing my fears means I can stop seeing the changes as scary and begin to see them as what they are. Merely changes. There will be new friends, new joys here in this place of solitude. All I have to do is look for the light.

 

2017 Used with Permission

 

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Please check out the Tricycle Magazine articles referenced:

The Gift of Fear  By Dharmavidya David Brazier

Fear by Pilar Jennings

Day of the Dead Coloring Book can by ordered by contacting Kay Larch in a private message.

Samhain Fun is carved by the same artist who designed my book! Jennifer Lynn

 

 

 

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Lightning Strike – on the loss of a relationship

Lightning Strike

©Kandis Glasgow 2017

 

Strike Me
​Lightning,
Strike me,
burn me to the ground.
I hear you rumble
and grumble behind the cloud –
over the mountain.

Show your face.
I am not afraid
of you or death.

Death would free me
from heartache.

A lightning strike
show the tragedy
playing out in my soul.

What is love?
I thought I knew,
but my love is lost again.

Strike me.
Lightning Strike me.

 

©2017 J. Robin Whitley

Please check out Robin’s poetry in her book, More Than Knowing.

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Missing Links

Missing links is not a blog post about evolution. Um…nor is it a political post (though many of us might wonder at the missing links in the politician’s evolutionary chain). As I update my website I know that there may be some missing links here. As I was making changes, it reminds me of how easy it is to disconnect accidentally from the ones we love too.

We forget to phone as often to our loved one. Or we spend too much time on the laptop, iPad, or other gadgets that can draw us away from the beloved. Perhaps we are trying to protect one another from hard things. It could be we are just tired. Perhaps we are afraid to make the other person angry or perhaps the other person is often angry. Sometimes we merely don’t know how to talk to each other or where to begin.

The truth is, communication is hard. Being human is hard. Trying to maintain connections when one’s life feels frazzled seems impossible. Humans were not meant to exist in a vacuum…or on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the ability to see long-lost friends on Facebook. I appreciate vacuums…especially when someone else vacuums regularly (though I don’t mind really). Even more so however, I appreciate my loved ones. My wife is a treasure. My church community vital. Family and friends make the circle whole.

One of the things I hope to do as I go through this website redesign is remember to check all my links. Is there a link in my life that I have neglected, or overlooked. I am going to check in with some friends and family to make sure there’s no oversight there either. It’s a process. Building a website is a continual process of checking to make things work. Why would we not do the same with the valued relationships in our lives?

 

Need guidance? Check out Life is Messy, Life is Marvelous

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