Erica Joy Olsen: Life Musings WiseWomanArtistMomPisces

A quote from an old friend, John Faithful Hamer (who incidentally has a podcast called Likeville which you should check out):
Just as the health of an immune system can be measured by its ability to resist microbial challenge, the health of a mind can be measured by its ability to live with doubt and uncertainty. Weak minds are attracted to conspiracy theories for the same reason that the immuno-compromised are attracted to sterile rooms.

John and I both grew up in cults. He had been out of his longer than I was out of mine and meeting him was critical to my detoxing from my upbringing in a high control brainwashing fear based self righteous childhood. He gave me a book: If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. Author Sheldon B. Kopp. It was about not following along as anyone’s disciple. They walked this life as examples of what we were capable of doing for ourselves.
From an early age, as soon as my logical part of the brain began to develop, I began questioning what I and everyone around me was being told. I was quickly shut down at every turn, and dismissed with my lack of faith being put to question. But all my friends and most of my family were in there. I had to choose between ostracism and shunning or social acceptance and security. So I chose the latter, until a car accident at age 17 smashed my frontal lobe into the windshield. We didn’t have health insurance so no further tests were done to see about permanent damage.
Years later I read Temple Grandin’s book: Animals In Translation, where she talks about frontal lobe damage mimicking autism. That really struck me! It gave me a sense of peace to know that there were different ways of seeing and processing the world and it allowed me to accept mine. I got straight A’s in school, with little to no effort. I could have gotten a full free ride to college. But that accident did a number on me. I got way more introverted, introspective, and impetuous. But I also became way more of a critical thinker. I had the brains but almost no common sense as a kid, because critical thinking was discouraged. We had our beliefs spoon fed to us, sprinkled with shame that kept us from delving deeper into what they were actually saying, or reading any literature that was written about our organization that wasn’t BY the organization.
That sent me off into the world with a deep skepticism, combined with a deep longing for acceptance and a fear that I would never get it….unless I didn’t argue. Most of the time I had no education about the subjects being discussed. For years I just sat and listened to not only their arguments, but HOW they argued. I studied body language, tone of voice, tactics….Actually, I had been doing this since I was raised standing next to grown ups at peoples’ front doors while we were proselytizing, making note of the peoples’ reactions to the tactics we’d all been trained to use. I saw how speaking in a lullaby voice made people more likely to not object. I saw what worked and what didn’t work. Most of the “worldly” people who actually let us “witness” to them were ones who were too nice to argue, or ones in a desperate situation and longed for the support and kindness of a community (that was how my mother got involved). The promise of the erasure of sickness and abuse and a return of the earth to paradisaical conditions.
We were raised with black and white logic. Good vs bad, good vs evil, truth vs lies, right vs wrong…..either or… no room for nuances. I wouldn’t even know what that word meant for decades.
I didn’t find very many answers out in the world, the one I’d been warned about. I found too many perspectives to count. As a Pisces (same birthday as the scientist who created the Theory of Relativity) I thoroughly enjoyed stepping into other peoples’ shoes. I would wear them around long enough to see how my self responded to them, to see how it made people respond to me, before trading them out for another pair. I relished my time alone, barefoot. It was critical to my health and safety. I could see and understand how and why folks felt the way they did, which made it difficult for me to form my own opinion. If someone asked me how I felt about a topic all I could do was express all the varied perspectives I’d encountered. My opinion was the collective opinion, which is why I spent so much time collecting the collective opinion. I kept switching my associates so that I would always maintain a fresh, varied outlook on life and the issues therein. I was a total sponge.
I couldn’t argue with people because I couldn’t remember dates, times, specific facts and my research mostly consisted of talking to people and hearing their take on the facts as they were presented. My own reading was primarily focused on alternative medicines. My first job “in the world” was at a chain bookstore. My first book was on aromatherapy. As the years progressed I would become more Earthy, which translated to stinky, dirty, crunchy, anti-anti, smoked a lot of pot, obsessed about the weeds, didn’t like how city water made me feel, stopped all pharmaceuticals (anti-depressants, birth control, over the counter pain killers) and I gravitated to people on the fringes of society. I’d seen enough of how the mainstream operated to have it remind me of the cult I grew up in. People unquestioningly following along with the official statements, accepting a life full of toxins, buying products without questioning them instead of looking for natural alternatives, too busy and stressed to question much, and any debates that did happen usually got placed on the back burner by whatever was on the television, placating them. I watched a lot of screen as well, checking out almost every film in almost every genre at the university video store, especially the ones that weren’t made in Hollywood (I already knew better).
I met a lot of amazing people over the years. My twenties were spent in University towns and my early thirties were spent traveling, oftentimes living outside(aka homeless), so I met a lot of professors, artists, doctors, naturopaths, veterans, musicians, vagrants, primitivists, questioners, and people who had “been done wrong” by society. These were my people. If they could tell a story that opened my mind and made me laugh they were friends for life. Often these people (especially the older ones who came from mainstream) had a bitter cynical quality. Yeah, they knew what was going on, but they didn’t think they could do anything about it. And they were elated to have someone listen to their story. These stories prompted me to delve deeper into some subjects. In addition to my love of alternative medicine I delved deeply into the world of words, language, etymology, poetry… I saw early on how words were used to control the narrative and peoples’ emotions. When I learned how a lot of these conceptual words had been developed, where they originated, how they’d evolved in different societies, I was floored! There were many times I would be reading the etymology of a word and a geyser of tears would start gushing out of my head…. I read and wrote a lot. I started doing performance poetry. I would soak up the sentiments of the collective and then use that to create my own pieces of art.
I have always felt like more of an observer than a participant of this world. I can relate to just about anyone. I can blend in most places (it’s gotten more challenging over the years, as my own personality emerges). I often consider how my blood type falls into play here. I’m an O negative. Anyone can receive my blood. But I can only receive my own. I have an ability to adapt to my surroundings and I have used that gift in order to survive some pretty horrendous situations. I’m like a chameleon, usually coming out relatively unscathed, but emotional damage did inevitably happen.
I have had to learn over the years how to not be swayed. I’ve never held so tight onto an opinion as to not be moved, aside from knowing that my upbringing was wrong. But I associated unfaltering beliefs as a surefire way to lose people I cared about. (I’ve also had to question how much I actually cared about certain people vs how much I cared about what they thought of me). I recently watched a video (Teal Swan, to be transparent) claiming that people who need a lot of alone time, who are always asking for space and feel that their space is being violated, actually just have really poor personal boundaries. Ouch! It hurt but I needed to hear that. She went on to explain that personal boundaries are simply meant to delineate, define, who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re willing to accept, what you aren’t. Boundaries are what keep us in our own skin. With the advent of the New Age, unity consciousness, mind expanding philosophies we are being challenged to think outside of our boxes, which is necessary for our evolution. But we still need boundaries (and alone time). They keep us safe, responsible, dare I say ALIVE. There needs to be things that I stand for, stand against, stand up, stand down, sit with, avoid, block, protect against, defend, challenge, serve, stay open to, allow, accept. For the safety and well-being of myself and anyone dependent on me.
There has to be a balance of acceptance and defense. Allowance and offense. Otherwise I’m just “going with the flow”, letting life simply happen to me, serving as a conduit for others. It’s a practice I think everyone should incorporate because it can keep you out of harm’s way and is sometimes necessary for survival. But the opposite is also equally true (shout out to Einstein) that “only a dead fish goes with the flow”. Gotta love the paradox of life. I do love it. What’s true and necessary for me (and you) is to notice where you stand (or don’t stand) as compared to where else I/we could stand on the spectrum. To use the example: I always went with the flow, so in order to come to a healthy balance, I need to get more firmly planted on some things. How else can I protect myself from being taken advantage of? How can WE The People protect ourselves from being taken advantage of? Here’s just a few quotes illustrating this (ironically, I’m not taking the time to fact check the source of these quotes because they stand on their own regardless):
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. (Albert Einstein)
All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent (Thomas Jefferson)
Softest on the people who need discipline, hardest on people who need compassion (Unknown)
He who does not oppose evil, commands it to be done (Leonardo Da Vinci)
What you allow, you encourage (Carrie Heinze-Musgrove)
Your silence is consent (Plato)
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. (Desmond Tutu)…….

I was raised to be neutral. Our community/organization opted out of everything we could, reserving our faith for Jehovah, giving Ceasar’s things to Ceasar, but God’s things to God. So I avoided politics. I never voted. I saw the system presented to me as inherently self-serving to those in government and damaging to the ones being served. I questioned if something so corrupt could actually be utilized and was worth standing up against. I still question, but I know that there’s people within the system who are there to help keep things in check, who are just trying to serve the citizens. I know some people started out with good intentions but were corrupted by greed and power. I know there are people who are moved up the ladder, are given access to their dark desires and them bribed into secrecy. I saw that within the very organization that I was raised.
I have always been a truth seeker. I read the book Zen and the Art of Guitar. It really impacted me. I even got the character for “truth seeker” or “traveling monk” tattooed on my arm. I remember reading that one must learn all the theory and practice all the exercises. But when it came time to play, you needed to be able to forget everything you’d been learning and practicing and JUST PLAY.
All of this is to say: When I read these multi-sourced articles, videos, reports, from special interest groups, from official statements, from front liners, from actors, from conspiracy theorists….I soak it all up, put on the shoes, see how it feels, sit with it…but I can’t let it define me, or my belief system. Choosing to believe anything automatically means that I’m choosing to NOT believe the things that contradict it. And it can keep me from seeing what’s right in front of me (thanks Satya Vayu). But this still gives me trouble because we can’t see what’s going on behind the scene. I do not doubt the gravity of this current situation. I don’t doubt that too many people are dying. I’ve seen and heard things that don’t fit into the narrative we’re being given. They only seem to fit into the alternative narratives, but wholly swallowing a narrative that seems on the surface to make sense can be just as dangerous of a pill. There are nuggets of truth found everywhere and there is too much to filter through! I know; I’ve tried.
Here’s what I DO know:
There are forces at play that are beyond any human’s control, and some that aren’t beyond us…. When I work and play in the dirt I feel a stronger connection to all of life and a deep sense of faith and trust washes over me….. It helps to remember to focus on doing the next “right” thing, placing one foot in front of the other and taking that step, then waiting for the next step to reveal itself. (A journey of a thousand miles starts beneath your feet)….. I’ve heard enough from the outside and now I must trust my gut, that whisper of a voice that has never done me wrong (as long as I listen to it). A dear friend told me that angels only speak in whispers. They will not yell to get your attention. You have to still your mind to hear them. (you don’t have to call them angels) I have made decisions that outwardly make no sense. When asked to explain myself, all I can say is that I have a feeling, which oftentimes doesn’t go over well. I’m often pressured to conform to another’s logical choice on the matter. I’ve lost dear ones because of this, sadly, because I often attempted to give in to their pressure, only to take it back because I couldn’t continue in good conscience, and that was hurtful. My insecurity in myself has hurt many dear ones and for that I’m sorry.
Looking outside of myself for approval, for validation, for who I can trust, has only led to more separation. I have been focusing on strengthening my core, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. They all need strengthening. So when I stand, I trust my stance. When I yield, I know why. When I say NO, I mean it. And I can say the same about my YES.
I’ll leave you with a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

yours in solidarity….

Silence

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, **not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. 

The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment , a strength on which to build a life. 

Silence is a place of great power and healing ..


~ Rachel Naomi Remen ~


Art by Pascal Campion

The Man who walks with the Healer

THE MAN WHO WALKS WITH THE HEALER
When a man chooses a woman who follows her calling, his only chance to maintain the connection is in following her… and above all in creating space for her to follow her own path.
It may happen that he needs to abandon his own neediness, or that he finds a means of healing through their common path – but not in the gentlest manner.
When a man chooses a woman who heals the collective wounds of the women by following her calling, his Yes for her equals a Yes to a bigger purpose far beyond building a house or raising children. Their connection goes beyond fulfilling the classical gender role models.
For this man accepts the job of having the back of this woman, of catching her when she cannot transform the pain of the world anymore. It means for him to welcome a different form of sexuality, since healing on the level of sexuality is one of the most profound issues of the woman who needs to become a healer.For him this, again, is about welcoming slowness, softness and healing – about holding back or redirecting his own drive… about being present for the whole.
Because when a man chooses a woman who aims for freedom, they can only achieve this together… and by him leaving his narcissistic aspects behind and recognizing the path of the woman as his own path towards freedom.
When a man chooses a woman who is bigger, he cannot dwell in the places of energies of oppression or of playing small. He – if he chooses to take on this mission with her – accepts a task serving the well-being of all men, even though it happens in the background. Within this background he creates space of security, of keeping her safe from an ambush bred by his own old wounds, driving her into submission.
When a man chooses a woman out of his fascination with her radiance and wisdom, it must be obvious to him that he cannot be stuck within his own deficits in a way that makes him want to diminish her radiance… purely out of fear of having to share her with others.
When a man chooses a woman who follows her calling, he cannot fear these words: respect, humility and surrender. He will rather walk the path of divinity – alongside his woman, the healer – with gratitude and an overflowing heart.
For such a woman will choose – if she ever needs to choose – in favour of the well-being of all women …and she will choose walking her path alone instead of leaving it for him. Nevertheless, she is aware of the power that lies in the presence of a man who is beating the drums… for her.
Author ~Moksha Devi Sunshine
🌀Nicole Sacred Wild Woman Medicine 
Artist~Autumn Skye Art

Oh Sweet Soul by Matt Kahn

Source: Matt KahnTo round out today’s day of poetry, I’m sharing one I wrote years’ ago as my open letter to the spiritual ego. Both the one I faced in myself and in others. Its incredible how relevant it is in today’s current landscape. May we all learn to lead with love. Connecting instead of correcting. Please enjoy:  

Oh Sweet Soul  Oh sweet soul, who’s learned so muchYour triggers ignited through the words you clutchRehearsals are done, your performance is setTo overemphasize what you’re meant to forgetHow much you’ve survived, you’ve come so farBut correcting others is not who you areYou’re desperate to feed a world with no bowlPlease open your eyes – oh sweet soul Oh sweet soul, who can’t see pastEach aha moment that cannot lastYou’re not in charge of what needs to be knownBut here to inspire throughout actions shownInsight was gathered, you’ve become well-equippedTo notice new patterns, while control still grippedYou’ll encounter so many throughout fate’s playAnd fight for the chance to have your sayIs projecting your ideas a part of the goal?Please think again – oh sweet soul Oh sweet soul, why do you suggestYour concepts to those who act as your testYou’ve looked within and found the DivineClarity kindled, but you’re calling it “Mine”And now you debate to correct who you seeNot seeing your shadow – a spiritual “me”It’s not liberation till you’re free of the thoughtThat forces you to speak just to see where you’re caughtYou say ‘all is one’ like a truth no one knewAnd if there’s only one – who are you speaking to?Intentions are so pure, while blinded by a roleCorrecting all your critics – oh sweet soul Oh sweet soul, it’s time to open upAnd bring forth the love that overflows your cupThere’s much to consider and many to embraceBut no one to correct – no matter who you faceI welcome every judgment, regardless how unclearTo see the one I’m facing and know that God is hereSilence makes one humble and humble helps you seeSince there’s only one, we’re free to disagreeI welcome each projection, as if you know my pathYou need it more than I do to validate your wrathYou’re free to misperceive me and have the final wordI thank you for the practice to let your voice be heardWhy hide from your freedom, just let it takes its tollAnd break apart your certainty – oh sweet soul Oh sweet soul, may you come to realizeYou need not affirm what another one deniesIn a world of so much wisdom, there’s no end to what is trueYou’re free to do your dance and watch what captures youRepeating every concept, as if it meant a thingPerformance never-ending for those who pull your stringAnd even as I say this, you’ll turn it back on meAs if the truth is hidden and only you can seeI love the light within you, thank God it can’t preventA chance to love you deeper despite the package sentPoint out every fragment and misperceive the wholeYour innocence respected – oh sweet soul  Matt Kahn

Watch “The Next 8 Days Change our Planet Forever” on YouTube

The knowing, not knowing began with my awakening

from the density and oppression of induced mental

illness , that much of what this man discusses is reality

for me .

Therefore it is with great pleasure and strengthened

faith that I now have a lovely home in the mountains

as has been my dream , my soul for decades …in this

life . All that’s connected with this house divinity are

bringing Heaven to earth , which is the foundation

peace of a stable home life .. a gated community reduces

drop ins and drive by as the beauty blesses me each day.

Life is not perfection , as the mountains rest , the

stark baren trees , certainly shadow, but do allow the

Sun shine and light abounds which i am grateful for .

I have been here since Dec 1st , and a few days ago I

felt a variance in my body that was improvement .

I am working hard, very slowly unpacking, packing up

things to give away and settling in…The bulk of my

things are not here , and so its been nice having the

time to be slow ..

This is rather therapeutic, and grounding as I do chores

and get my home in alignment.

Letting go , all but business to conclude , I look towards

Spring and growing , as I create my new life, using the

discernment that with my heart and head have held

me through many life lessons , many adverse that I may

know better and do better . With these experiences

research and education , I can aide in the process of

families , in particular the child ..

Blessings & Peace

Kindness

Kindness
Before you know what kindness really isyou must lose things,feel the future dissolve in a momentlike salt in a weakened broth.What you held in your hand,what you counted and carefully saved,all this must go so you knowhow desolate the landscape can bebetween the regions of kindness.How you ride and ridethinking the bus will never stop,the passengers eating maize and chickenwill stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.You must see how this could be you,how he too was someonewho journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.  You must wake up with sorrow.You must speak to it till your voicecatches the thread of all sorrowsand you see the size of the cloth. 
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,only kindness that ties your shoesand sends you out into the day to mail letters and      purchase bread,only kindness that raises its headfrom the crowd of the world to sayit is I you have been looking for,and then goes with you every wherelike a shadow or a friend. –

Naomi Shihab Nyefrom The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems