Breathing In Spirit

"The word inspire comes from two Latin words: in (in) and spirare (to breathe).  Spirare, in turn, is related to the Latin spirit.  Thus, the word inspire was used in older times to indicate that someone was "breathing in spirit," or drawing in divine energy."

~Stephen Co

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Inspired works of a blooming illustrator, painter, and (sometimes) writer.


Circles and Cycles


“A lot of times we humans put the best cover up
in front of us. I mean we can look fantastic, we
can pretend that we feel great. But the reality is
animals know exactly how we feel inside.

And so we can’t ever, ever lie to an animal.”

~Cesar Milan

It’s been almost two months now since my pets have made the transition to the other side. While outwardly, getting back into the daily rhythms of life works to distract me from the grief of the loss, going inward I know that there is still much to process.

Without getting into all of the messy, snotty details of how I have been grieving, I will share that for me the process is no less painful when I lose a pet than it is when I’m faced with the death of a beloved friend or family member. When I work through something that is personal for me like grieving for a lost pet companion, I work through it on more than one level. I do get myself down and dirty with the personal details, but somehow, just beyond that, is usually a bigger picture that catches my attention, and pulls me out from under the potential weight of personalizing the situation, saving me from myself. That truly must be Divine intervention!

Like for instance, to me it seems as though in becoming a civilized nation, we have managed to make the process of living and dying a bit generic.

There has become a very unnatural tendency for us to avoid all of the many layers of mystical truths that can be found within the richness of the complete circle of life.
From birth to death, the circle is made complete when the two ends become one.
When we are in tune with the rhythm of creation,
with the essence that we come from and to which we return.
When we haven’t fully lived, or fully experienced death, we are breaking that circle.

Our culture today seems to have made the choice to shield us from the very natural face-to-face interaction with both birth and death. They have become overly sterile.

I recently read about a culture that upon the birth of a child, will place the placenta at the base of a tree. This symbolically anchors and roots the newborn child with Mother Earth. How very beautiful that is to me. While I have been present for many wondrous births, I have noticed that our hospital rooms with their sterile atmosphere have somehow managed to cut us off from the interconnectedness that we all share with the world around us, and certainly without meaning to, have replaced the sacred with rules and regulations –and medications (to avoid potential lawsuits, I’m sure).

When we begin living in the world from such a place of sterile detachment and separation, it is really no surprise that when it comes time to leave it –we again become shielded from the process. Emergency workers, hospitals, morgues, and morticians will all spend more time in the face-to-face interaction with our dying and deceased loved ones than we ourselves do. Some of us even prefer the closed casket where we completely preserve our memory of our beloved as they were while alive –choosing to disconnect from the process that death brings us face to face with.

We are more blessed (in an absurd sort of way) by the fact that our animal companions are considered ‘less evolved’ by our current culture, I’m guessing because most animals don’t have lawyers.

I was actually given four choices for the disposal of my pet’s remains. I could bury my pet in the yard, take it to a local shelter for them to dispose of or sell me the cremated ashes, or I could even use the local waste collection agency by bagging and throwing my pet away myself. As awful as those choices sound at any time, and especially during a time of intense feelings of loss, I have to admit that by having a choice I was able to further process the great depth of connectedness to the rhythm of the planet that we all share, human and animal alike. I came to see that the return to the earth through burial or by scattered ashes, and even in the landfill, can complete and close the circle.

I am also very grateful that I was able to embrace two of my pets for their final breath. While I felt their last gasp deep within my own core, and I felt like dying right along with them, I was able to exhale. In that instant where their breath ceased, and mine unwillingly continued, I knew that it was not I alone that truly did the breathing here. This body does breathe, but I can’t just think that I no longer wish it to do so and make it cease. There is a greater force at work here, calling the time. There is a cadence to that time.
A rhythm. A breath in. A breath out.

There are cycles that are ongoing. Cycles of birth and death within each moment, within each day, within each week, month, year, century, and millennium. Within each lifetime, family, and generation. Cycles of birth and death upon this planet, within this galaxy, universe, and beyond.

Had I chosen to preserve the memory of my pets as they were while alive and not spent the time with them facing the limitations of the physical form and the unlimited potential of the unseen, I would most certainly have missed this small glimpse into the very mystical magic that is life. And death.

With each breath in, I am reborn.
With each breath out, again I die.
How I live my life in that stillness between the two
is all that really matters.


Taking Time to Shine

2503213-1284939-thumbnail.jpgOnly a few short years ago, I would never have considered being so very public with my artistic and creative side.

In fact, a small part of me is still a bit reserved about exposing this side of me.

I think that is the pretentious artist in me, that tends to think that the art is a personal expression, and if it is created as a gift, that the art is for that person alone.

But I'm not really pretentious.  I'm just shy.  And probably a bit self diminishing.

Well, I was.  I'm not anymore.

I have the angels to thank for that.  My talents are truly a gift from God.  Which I am ever so grateful for.  And the angels have been working very hard on his(her) behalf over the past few years to get me to realize that my gift is worthy of sharing with the world.

Through many messages, along a path that has unfolded and opened up in delightful and awe inspiring ways, and with the encouragement of virtual friends of the earth angel persuasion, I came to unfurl, and spread my wings.  I came to embrace my gifts.  And I shed that pretentious coat of arms.

In my present frame of mind and change of heart, sharing and encouraging is more the style I wear.  And I'm liking the fit.

Who knew?!

~Well.  I know who knew. 

And I'm glad it didn't take a brick in the noggin to clue me in!


Signs and Songs

Saturday night, I attended an angel class that was simply divine . Of course..

Of the many wonderful things that came up during that class, a couple things I must share with you now is that just before drifting off to sleep and just before coming to wakefulness are the best times for communicating with the angels.. And as all of the Angel experts teach us, we can ask for the angels to play a specific song for us to let us know they are with us.

A couple days later, the most beautiful thing happened to me. Monday night, sleep brought a few unremembered dreams, except for one word that came through loud and clear.

In a sleepy haze, I figured that this would be the word for my written assignment in my next ‘words to ponder’ column.   Then, as my morning alarm began to take me into a meditation, I settled in and called the angels to join me in meditation.

It was at just that moment that it occurred to me to ask for a song to validate the angels’ presence to me. I wanted to hear 
"Wayward Son."
 Tall order, I know.  Well tall order or not, after the meditation timed out, I sleepily reached over and switched to my local radio station in anticipation.

Once I realized that the radio show was featuring local school bands, I thought for sure that there would be no music played at all this morning, as the local DJ (if they’re still called that) is a pretty big talker... I was beginning to think, Well, ..There’s always the car ride to work for a chance to hear my song request.

So, there I am, half asleep, and trying to recall if I had any dreams and trying even harder to remember just exactly what that word was. It was really only a few minutes later, after coming back from commercial break that the first few recognizable notes of my requested song began to play (I can name that tune in one note).

I hooted a big giant laugh, pumping my arms in the air over my head as if I just scored a goal in the big game. I certainly don't ever remember having awakened in such a complete state of joy before that very moment. I sang every word of that song, and laughed the whole way.

After the song ended, I was even more amazed to hear yet another Kansas favorite of mine. As the first few notes of "Dust in the Wind" began, It occurred to me that there was soo much more going on here than a simple compliance to my song request from the angels.

‘Wayward Son’ is a song that always brings to mind a dear friend of mine that died before he turned 21. The entire ‘Leftoverature’ album/cd has the ability to do that, actually.. But so does anything by Sting.  It’s okay though, because yes, I do miss him dearly, and would really prefer that he was still here to share this life with, but just knowing that he is with me in spirit can be the most comforting thing for me sometimes.  And this particular morning was no different.  I was so very tickled that that song came on and the Angels brought him back to me for a few glorious moments.

Once ‘Dust In The Wind’ got going, it occurred to me that it was Tuesday.  'Two for Tuesday' is the stations regular broadcasting format.  

Still.. Of all the bands, and all the songs. Wow.

‘Dust In The Wind’ has more significance for me than just the connection to my friend. I played that song with my high school band. Somewhere around my house, I have an actual album that was recorded from our performances. The band director was leaving that high school that year, and had the albums made for the entire band as a sort of going away gift. So each time I hear that song, I am instantly transported back through the many years of my lifetime.  And boy! What a ride that can be!

So there I lay, listening and singing along to the haunting ‘wind’, and now instead of laughing while I sing, my throat is a little tighter, and there are tears burning my early morning dry eyes.  I’m thinking, how can one person explain to the world what a song means to them?  The lyrics might be able to tell part of the story, but truthfully, there are so many layers, and different aspects of the experiences and memories that a song can evoke.  There is so much power in music, that’s for sure.  But for me that morning the real power lay in the miracle of the Divine inspiration and connections that can be made through that music.

And there is that word, acceptance . There remains the question of my actually switching the radio on in the first place.  Had I not accepted the possibility that the angels could and would use the radio to communicate with me if I only asked; I would not have even switched the radio on.  I would have missed the songs being played.  That connection to spirit, and that completely blissful moment of joy and exultation would not have occurred for me.  I would have awakened slowly, very grumpily, and would have trudged off to start my day as usual.  Do I accept this as a coincidence, or as a miracle?

When I actively pursue a spiritual connection that is what I experience. You may call it a coincidence, I'll call it miraculous.  And I am so very pleased that this experience included my dear friend Ron, the hauntingly beautiful music of Kansas, and the love and support of the Angels..


From 'A Course In Miracles'
Miracle: Instead of a divine intervention in the physical world which heals the body, a 'miracle' is a divine intervention in our minds which heals our thought patterns.

“Carry on, my wayward son. There'll be peace when you are done.”


Words to Ponder ~Detachment


“Who you are
Does not depend on others.
How you are
Is a reflection of your connection to your soul.
Keep yourself in a peaceful state of mind,
Unaltered by the influence  of external forces.
Return to Peace and all around you will follow”

~Noreen  (3/30/95)



There was a time a few years ago when I first began regularly practicing meditation.  I was learning from the amazing works of Thich Nhat Hanh and his book “
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.”  During that time, I was releasing many ways of coping that were no longer working for me. 

Among the many things going on in my life at that time, I was learning to let go of holding on to anger and blame, and I was learning forgiveness.  These were very big lessons for me.  I had a pretty rough childhood, and a very big part of who I was at the time was centered around me working through the role of victim.

I had made so much progress, too.  And had even tasted some of the ‘peace of mind’ that I so diligently pursued.  Then my heart got broken.  I had a break in a relationship that seemed to shatter the hold I thought I had on that peaceful state.  There I was again, going through that ‘victim’ role, and not really understanding how to get myself back to that peaceful state.

It took me a while (a bit of time had to come between me and the events) for me to learn about the beauty of detachment.  And the role that it plays in getting ourselves back to that peaceful state of mind.

-Emotional detachment, in psychology can mean two different things. In the first meaning, it refers to an inability to connect with others emotionally, as well as a means of dealing with anxiety by preventing certain situations that trigger it; it is often described as "emotional numbing" or dissociation. In the second sense, it is a type of mental assertiveness that allows people to maintain their boundaries and psychic integrity when faced with the emotional demands of another person or group of persons.- [from

Seeing that word the way that those in the field of psychology see it, I can understand why there were times that others would label me as ‘detached’ and what that implied..  Ouch.

There is another way to look at this concept of detachment that another teacher, Thubten Chodron speaks of:

'Detachment' isn't an accurate translation of the Buddhist concept. 'Non-attachment' may be better. Detachment implies being uninvolved, cold, and aloof. However, in the Buddhist sense, non-attachment means having a balanced attitude, free from clinging. When we are free from attachment, we won't have unrealistic expectations of others, nor will we cling to them out of fear of being miserable when they aren't there. Non-attachment is a calm, realistic, open, and accepting attitude. It isn't hostile, paranoid, or unsociable. Having a balanced attitude doesn't mean rejecting our friends and family. It means relating to them in a different way. When we aren't attached, our relationships with others are harmonious, and in fact, our affection for them increases."
Buddhism for Beginners

I came to learn from amazing teachers like these that holding on to the past, or worrying about the future is attaching my mind and energy to things that are keeping me from experiencing the present moment.  Which is really all that matters anyway.  That’s when I wrote the words you see above (which I still to this day have posted on my monitor at work as a gentle reminder).

Learning to let go of attachment is not the same as detachment.  But practicing detachment is the art of actively being in a state of non-attachment, of seeing all things for what they are, and for allowing them to be what they are. 

During your day, there are ways to work toward detachment. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests using those very situations that annoy you such as red lights, ringing phones etc. as signals to practice. He tells us to " breath in, smile out". 

This is not easy to do when you are faced with a person that has just brought to mind thoughts of betrayal and rejection.  But it can be done.  Breath in the pain of that breakup.  Breath out the freedom to begin anew.  Breath in the feeling of rejection.  Breath out the acceptance of yourself just the way you are.  Breath in the feeling of loss, and breath out the joy of that which you gained.  

“Breath in, smile out”.   Return to peace and all around you will follow.

And, as they say in A Course in Miracles, "there is another way to look at this"


Words to Ponder ~Discernment

ConJer.jpg“Keep me away from the
wisdom which does not cry,
The philosophy which does not laugh,
And the greatness which does not bow before children.”
~Kahil Gibran  (1883-1931)


We have before us on any given day the golden opportunity to make a choice.   Do I take the few extra minutes to fix up my hair, or do I wash and wear?  Do I choose paper or plastic?  Do I stay home and care for my sick pet, or leave him in the trusted care of someone else and take the long road trip to visit family?  Do I bring an umbrella, or just grab a hat?  The choices are endless.

And I’m not even touching on the more deep choices..  The spiritual choices.  The choices that seem to have an effect on everyone in my family, and my friends, and even on people that I don’t really know.

How do we make these choices, and know that we are choosing the path, the course, or the right action that stays in alignment with God’s will for us, and the highest good of all concerned?

With each choice we have the opportunity to explore our ability to use discernment.  Which is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.  Usually, discernment is used in line with spiritual choices.  Of being able to call on Holy spirit to help guide us. 

Unlike judgment, which comes from a place of the ego mind, discernment is more than just a thought process.  For choices that range from seemingly simple to extraordinarily difficult choices, with discernment, there is a deeper Spirit that we call upon.  A Spirit that is gently leading us, nudging us, or even kicking us in the behind..

In my own experience, I have found many tools, have spoken to many teachers, and I have listened to much guidance along the way.  And there are choices to make in even finding the information that will guide us to make yet another choice.

Many people look outside of themselves for that guidance.  There is a great amount of wisdom to come from the many esoteric tools available to us, like dowsing, astrology, tarot, pendulum, angel cards, runes, and seeing a gifted medium or intuitive person to name but a few.  From any of those sources we can pull out a hint, a guided message and some very profound information that is there for us to practice our own gifted ability to discern fact from fiction. But which most importantly is there to use as a pointer to go within for the truth. 

There is a flaw with all methods of choice, as many continue to believe that the answer is beyond them, that the source, or the tool, is the only place to find the answer.   The flaw is not in the tool, the teacher, or the intuitive, but is in the answer-seeker’s inability to practice discernment.

How do we know that we are being guided by Spirit to help us to process the information and discern rightly?   Discernment doesn’t come in an instant.  It is something that develops with hard work.  We must do the work.  We must trust our inner guidance.  We practice using our own instincts.  We trust our heart. 

Because when our choices are in line with judgment, or are coming from our ego mind, they are a choice made from fear.  We have been blessed with free will, and as beloved children of God, we are free to make those choices from that place of fear.  There are lessons in that fear-place for us to learn from. 

But when our choices are coming from our heart, and they are in alignment with the highest good, we are tuned in to the very presence of God within us.  We are making a choice from a place of love.  That is when we know we are using discernment.  When we have made the choice that is in alignment with Gods will for us, and the highest good of all.

So, what choice did I make? For the small choices, I chose to do that which made me laugh, and for the big one, I chose to spend time with distant family, celebrating the turning of the year with my now 5yr old nephew. 

I chose to bow before children.