REFLECTIONS

Before we jump headfirst into the New Year, perhaps we may take some precious time to reflect upon the year we have just experienced. I honor the wisdom and teachings of those Ancient Civilizations that existed in history. Perhaps you , like I, are considering taking some of the areas of past history into your own evolutionary and revolutionary lives. Many of the great civilizations utilized technologies and techniques equal and surpassing our own. The incredible structures of pyramids, temples, and geometric designs tapped into knowledge of quantum physics that we are really just at a core beginning to integrate within our routine systems.

Even with the advanced systems and information in place ancient civilizations fell apart. There clearly were reasons for the crumbling and demise of magnificent cultures and civilizations. Primarily, greed-the obsessive need to exert Power over others-out of control egos- and divisions of the populations including sacred feminine and sacred masculine aspects, ethnicities, gender, race, and other aspects.

Perhaps, you may want to reflect upon the year and your personal experiences . In what specific ways have you demonstrated greed, obsessions to exert personal power, listening and following your ego’s suggestions, and areas you have aligned with separating yourself from other groups of people? Where did you practice more effective ways of living your life? Did you embrace nature more? Did you welcome the opportunity of stillness and quietude when changes of the world continued? How have your interpersonal relationships changed and evolved? Did you willingly or begrudgingly allow those relationships no longer aligning with your Highest Good drop ? How have your communications with yourself and with others been altered? In what ways did you express your creativity or did you resist creative activities ? Did you accomplish your set intentions or did you put various things on hold? How has your life changed ?

I personally carry an opinion for myself that if I am willing to reflect upon where I have been in my life journey and choose to learn from it without beating myself with a proverbial 2×4 , but honoring each step along the way , I can become a better version of myself.

Leonardo da Vinci said : “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” When we can choose to reflect upon what worked, what did not work, and how we can creatively design a flexible (not rigid) intention of prosperity of all areas in our lives, I do believe the outcome can be brighter and more fulfilling. I welcome with hope the best me and the best you we can be so our collective vision of the best new world, not a return to the way it was, can manifest right before our very wide, curious eyes!!

The Transformational Possibilities of Awareness

Awareness is the ability of tuning into our thoughts for the purpose of recognizing and acknowledging the ego (easing good out) and it’s crucial effect on our routine lives. It is strongly related to how satisfied/dissatisfied we are in our interpersonal connections and in life situations. Once we are able and willing to practice awareness we open the portal to becoming awake and seeing truth, and we have the internal power to know what is allusion and what is truth.

The ego I speak of is the collection of subconscious thoughts of our beliefs about our opinions about various areas of life, ideas about who we think other humans are, our self image of who we think we are and who we believe others think we are, and the ongoing assessment of where we excel and where we fall short.

The problem comes when the majority of folks are not aware of the never ending thoughts that are bombarding each of us , and our feelings or emotions are piercing arrows flying from our thoughts( that are usually unconscious) motivating our every action and behavior!

Once we awaken or become conscious of the power of our ego, we have the opportunity to rise above thought, especially subconscious thoughts, and can choose to align with becoming the best version of ourselves

Where do we begin to become aware and wake up to our truth? One of the best places to start is through the practice of mindful meditation. Now since Rome was not built in a day, I suggest if you have never been successful or never tried meditation , you start slowly. Focus on your breath and one word such as peace or love. There are thousands of books and videos on learning to meditate . Finding one technique that appeals to you, that you will actually use daily is probably the best plan. Then…start.

After you have experienced the benefits of a quieter mind and are practicing daily for a while, you may see your awarenesses shift and open. Your observations about what you view when looking at nature, noticing the items you have seen every day in your home, and even your own behaviors may surprise you!

You may even become aware of the behaviors and actions of others that you previously believed were one way only to discover your perceptions have been skewed for some time! Awareness opens us to transformation of mind, body, and spirit. Once we are more aware, we can become acutely in-tune with our own motivations for doing what we do or don’t do. Awareness can be a catalyst for making different choices…thus, opening to different relationships and situations. It may even push us to walk away from certain situations without any emotional attachment to our decisions. Waking up to our truth can be life altering , and you may ask yourself “How did I not know this about them or myself?”

I hold the vision and belief that we , and I, are exactly where we are on our pathway. I cannot force another to awaken faster or even to wake up… and I can only awaken within myself for the level of comfort I am ready to experience.

Get Out Of Your Head and Back Into Your Body

How do you know when you are in your head? If any of these fit, you are most likely in your head, not in your body…you spend continuous and much of your time taking in excessive amounts of information without pausing to allow yourself the time to absorb that which you have read or heard. You have a need to analyze every decision before acting upon anything. In other words, you rarely if ever do anything spontaneously , Mr. or Ms. Over-thinker! You have set and firm ideas or beliefs of the way things are or ought to be (I.E. You have a strong need to be in control of your environment and others). You believe if you “go with the flow” as free spirited people do, that something is bound to go wrong for planning every step with its detailed descriptions of your long to do lists in your mind is imperative.

What is wrong with being a person with a brilliant mind zooming on high speed? *Ahem* It just doesn’t work. We who are stuck in our heads believe logic is the only way to live life. Obsessive thinking and not listening to our bodies has the result of serious consequences which are hardly ever the outcome we want. Research validates overthinking people of all ages are challenged with anxiety and depression. These are people who only think they are coming up with solutions when in fact they are only recycling old patterns , using up valuable time and energy , resulting in fatigue and frustration. Being stuck in one’s head is a clear blockage to living in the present moment…the place where life is really happening.

Now there is nothing wrong with thinking. However, when we are the proverbial hamster on the non-stopping wheel of returning again and again to the same problem or issue searching frantically for illuminated clarity and solutions, we are stuck in a layer of quicksand that only pulls us down deeper into hopelessness . What to do?

First, get grounded . When you are stuck in your head , you are not in your body. Try doing something creative and with some form of movement (drawing, painting, jumping up and down, dancing, walking, exercise , petting your dog or cat, doing a puzzle). Practice mindful meditation. Practice radical self forgiveness with compassion. Get in touch with things that are definitely out of your control and feel that in your body (yes in YOUR body) how freeing that feels when you accept there is nothing you can do to change others or the situation. Be in the present by acknowledging you cannot change the you of the past or any other situation. Breathe and embrace your exhale with a loud ahhhhhhhhh.

Getting out of our heads and into our bodies realigns and empowers us to be the best version of ourselves for ourselves and for all our relationships. As always, practice makes progress. The key here is to begin.

Cultivating Gratitude In Midst Of Change

I have experienced multitudes of transitions in my life. Over time I began to view these unique changes as opportunities. That does not necessarily mean I jump for joy when a new one is revealed. The good news is when I am willing to reflect upon my own past history of experiences , remembering I have not so far imploded from the inside spewing myself onto the world ,I can trudge my road of unfolding destiny more easily.

I do try to live by an attitude of gratitude even when the very old “What If Syndrome” creeps back into my thoughts. You know…What if I run out of time to get accomplished what I have intentions to do? What if I am the last standing of my blood relatives? What if …….. Looking back none of my “What ifs” stopped me from evolving into a better version of myself!

Cultivating gratitude and continuing my ongoing reprogramming of my subconscious truths has been a major solution. When I am willing to allow gratitude to infiltrate my mind, emotions, and heart my little world becomes abundantly filled with the connection of inner strength, contentment, and mystical experiences that I must be co-creating with a Divine Source even when I have not consciously asked to do so!

Long ago hearing that energy flows where attention goes encouraged me to believe every crazy occurrence really does have a silver lining, and it is my responsibility to my well being to never give up before miracles happen. Maybe you have not noticed but hundreds of miracles really do happen daily IF we get out of the way of blocking our inner eyesight from seeing them.

Here are a few things that have worked lately in the midst of my current and what seems a pretty big internal transformation…

*Bringing up in my mental memory bank in graphic details the unbelievable experiences I have been blessed to receive such as the appearance of a copper butterfly in the winter on the day of the funeral of a loved one, and recently within a week three different hawks in three different locations flew across my car as I was driving.

*Smiling to my inner heart as I send sacred love to my inner self. When I tell myself loudly that I am amazing it gives me warm fuzzies that light up my whole being. I can even tell my tear stained face I am amazing and the alchemical change turns my shadows into golden light.

*Focusing on my exhaling as I breathe deeply down to my belly and align with the breath of life that is a vital part of my body and life force I was born with! This truly helps me remember my physical existence in this world is not by accident and contains value and worth in the world.

*Using the “pause” to stop my overthinking and appreciate the standing people (aka trees), the glorious sky above me, the winged ones (birds) who come flutteringly close , and the nurturing grounding of Mother Earth beneath my feet.

*Thinking about the incredible friends that have entered my life whom I call my tribe. I am blessed with this array of like hearted people who support my vision of love and light , who stand with me through the conglomeration of the awesome, gut-wrenching, and confusions that can appear without warning. As I resonate with each of my tribe, they resonate back to me equal vibrational energy of love and respect.

Walking through changes, transitions, and transformations has taught me to be a walking example of miraculous truth even when I did not ask to be one! I am just a puzzle piece in this thing called life living among the rest of you puzzle pieces, and somehow adding gratitude to the cooking kettle of my experiences seems to lift me up to a place of knowing I can do this, but do not have to do it alone. Ahhh, I just felt that exhale of gratitude all the way down to my toes.

The Solution Is Connection

We humans since birth have carried a need to feel appreciated, feel connected, to be heard, and to be validated. In addition, animals and all living things carry the seed of needing connection. Connection is the thread that binds us, the invisible thread we each crave that confirms we are not separate entities because we are really One. Oneness cannot be faked. Connection with the living world is the solution. Disconnection is the problem.

I believe the majority of people think real authentic connections can only exist if we are good enough, kind enough, and giving enough. Isn’t that what religions taught from Day 1….instilling fear of being forever punished if we do not meet those criteria?

I propose that if we are willing to be vulnerable, to show up in community and for each other, to extend our hand and hugs , to not give up because we have been hurt, but to open ourselves again and repeatedly as active participants in living life as it unfolds instead of trying to be in control of how we and others are supposed to behave as if we had a copy of a script to live by.

Not only did we become disconnected from each other, many of us also have been disconnected from ourselves! Then we carried that disconnect to being disconnected with the one facet we need so much: a connection with Nature!

How did we become disconnected? We may have been children who expressed the curious wonder of life only to be told by a parent , teacher, or others that we were being silly, not focused on what is important, and as a result not valued. We tried to live our lives molded from values or ideas taught by our caregivers but are no longer sure we actually believe those ideas anymore…but we continue to live out of taught ideas that compromise our core present values! We have bought into the fears that someone else has a better way of living life fully and we try to copy what we perceive they are doing only to subconsciously know this is not who we really are! We grew up in a culture or family being told how we were supposed to act in multi areas and when we were rewarded with approval through love and acceptance by others for doing these things we were still discontent because inwardly we knew we were living the life of someone who was not the person we were! We created a series of mantras and stored them in our subconscious brain and used them as a whipping post of self punishment ( I should be…. If I were worthy I would be doing…….. If I were more like …… I would be successful, etc.) The result :DISCONNECTION from self and relatiionships.

How do we re-connect now and find inner peace and happiness ? Begin by setting the intention to listen to our body and our thoughts without judgement. Watch our feelings just float by as if on puffy clouds in the sky. No need to do anything with feelings and thoughts…just observe and notice. Connect back with ourself by participating in calming activities such as walking in nature, doing creative little things such as coloring-drawing-writing; Listen to music that feels great; Notice how you feel during these times. Create a self love and self compassion practice. Ask: what can I do right now that gives me evidence I am loving myself more? Once we have reconnected with ourself, we can extend this feeling to connecting with others.

Reconnect with others by communicating wants and needs with vulnerability. Present your true self not your false self who has thought you knew what someone else expected of you. Allow your radiant self to shine and accentuate your true personality. Life is not a test! Embrace the joy and pleasure of being who you are! Assess if you keep connecting with others who truly are not resonating with you or you with them. Let them go. This is the best use of disconnecting. Once we are living our true selves, other like hearted souls will show up!

Lastly, reconnect with nature. It is well researched and documented that the effects of nature upon human beings cause deep flourishing aspects to us each socially, psychologically, and emotionally. It will help each of us to cultivate and expand our creativity, resilience, and calm our anxious nervous systems! We need nature . Nature connections will create new neural pathways in our brains, release years of stress, and awaken our sense of belonging . Remember we are One!

Connections are the great solution and disconnections are the blocks.

Embracing Change In Midst of Internal Resistance

Change is so much easier when it is a situation or attitude we are choosing. However when a change is the only option, and usually one of which we have not control over , it is not so easy to embrace. There we are happily skipping through our lives with grace and comfort as we jump over the cracks in the sidewalks of life in front of us, feeling accomplished and adaptable. Out of the blue our grounded roots are torn right out of the Earth we are walking upon, and the Universe is insisting we do one or more things differently. We don’t like it. We do not want to align with it. We resist the disruption it is causing. We become a Terrible Two-Toddler having a pity party and temper tantrum, often throwing ourselves into sleepless nights, scowling at the world, and sinking deeper into the quicksand of our fearful rebellion. We may act out our frustrations to our community of people, re-telling the awfulness of the experience to anyone who will listen, and attempting to gather comrades to join us in our uncomfortable demise. Change comes in many forms in various facets of our lives. We lose a dear friendship. Our partner deserts us . An illness forces us to put our passions on hold. Items we have been accustomed to freely purchasing in local stores are just no longer available, and there is no guarantee they will ever return. We are forced to re-locate to a new residence. Our body no longer tolerates the foods we have loved our whole lives. Our beloved medical practitioner we have trusted for years retires or dies. We are asked to change our role or position at work. We are told in order to keep our job we must do something with which we absolutely disagree. Life as we know it completely changes seemingly overnight without warning.

What are we to do? We can refuse to comply with the demands being forced upon us. We can bitch and moan, arguing and avoiding the inevitable, trying desperately to hold onto the old ways and relationships we had become used to hoping we can avoid what will eventually come to fruition. Depending on the level of attachment we have hooked into and how strongly we feel our changes have disturbed our lives we may experience negative thoughts, stress, anxiety, feelings of sadness and anger, and difficulty enjoying anything.

Even after the change has become our reality, we may continue to focus our thoughts on what was, and now isn’t in our lives. We are unable to move forward effectively and peacefully.

Perhaps we now ask ourselves: Is it really the change that has caused being uncomfortable in our skin or perhaps it is only the resistance to change and our refusal to adapt ? We may discover the truth…things are not going to return to what we called “normal”.

After much fighting with extreme resistance we finally see the only way out is to go through the change. The answer is found in radical acceptance. It may comfort you to know that our ancestors who adapted in order to survive still live in our bones, our cellular memories, our DNA. We have always had access to their strength and power.

Once we reach the place of radical acceptance an incredible gift is revealed: we are given an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We are given the gift of embracing our evolutionary beginning of the adaptable and mutable self. We may even look back and claim that what seemed so intolerable, so surreal, such a crisis… was really the best thing that ever happened for we can meet the best version of ourselves …the strong Survivor who is a modern day Warrior….and when a tribe of single Warriors meet like hearted others who also have embraced change , the Vision of a new world can be our way of life as we present the solution to others purely by example.

The Practice of Quietude

I am sure I came into this world with the heart knowledge that Nature teaches each of us a better way to live life. I have voiced many times Ancient civilizations taught how sacred the beauty of living based on changing moon cycles, seasons of the year, solstices, and equinoxes can inspire and motivate us to exist authentically.

I grew up in the fifties in a house where our evening meal was accompanied by the television blaring the nightly news. The television was on until way past my bedtime. If it wasn’t the tv, it was the radio. I loved when I was outside and the only noise were chirping crickets, flowing water of the nearby creek, birds singing, and the language of pines , oaks, and mimosas creaking their presence.

Gradually I succumbed to joining in with loud school cafeteria noise as each kid tried to talk simultaneously, recesses of screaming games and sports events. My compromised actions that went against my inner value of quietude continued as I aged into adulthood. I turned up loud rock ‘n roll music at home and in my car. I had joined the masses in trying to drown out inner thoughts and subconscious ideas of parents, teachers, and numerous other voices…and most of all I drowned out the inner wise person within .

I cannot state exactly when I stopped turning on the radio the minute I got in my car or the tv as soon as I got home. I do know when I made the choice of sacred silence over constant noise is the day I experienced peaceful solitude and I began changing.

The year of 2020 when the world changed was a wake up call for many . As the world slowed to a halt, noise also slowed. Those who had not listened to nature and silence very often before received a magnificent gift …sacred quietude. Some who had practiced meditation knew the benefits of silent inner reflection but even they only tuned in for brief segments of time.

One day during the time the world changed, in my own meditation ,my inner voice requested I begin a Stillness Practice. It is normal for my true rebellious self to question new ideas, but this time I immediately put into action Quietude of Stillness. The result was one ,if not the greatest ,gifts of my lifetime. Now I wish to share with you I have been meditating since my late twenties but this Quietude Stillness was different.

I was born with strong gifts of intuition and psychic skills but this new practice opened a new world to me which I now call Inner Sound and Light. My life has transformed in new ways and my connection with Nature has expanded, as a result. I have surrendered people, situations, old goals and traded those releases for a new, better version of myself. Colors are brighter. Light follows me wherever I go. Silence has become part of me.

I am not saying this Quietude Practice will work for you, but you just may want to check it out. As I see it, all we each have to lose is bombardment of Noise. It does take a bit of willingness and courage to try things we are sure will not work for us, but maybe you are a Rebel of Revolutionary Change too!

How Vulnerability Became My SuperPower

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When I was younger and even in adulthood I was an aggressive doormat. I either adamantly verbalized I was not going to go along with what was demanded of me by those I put in authoritarian roles or I cowered and became a person who did not stand up for herself and voice what she wanted and needed.

I looked at vulnerability as a weakness and a scary personality trait. I was afraid if I owned my inner power and actually said aloud what I was thinking and feeling people would have power over me. The irony of this was by not being vulnerable and not speaking up with inner strength and fortitude I was wrapped in a sandwich of misplaced kindness and sweetness… I was being wimpy . I would smile a fake happy face when inside I wanted to speak my truth which was just the opposite of the person I was presenting to another. Through a series of experiences I slowly began to realize if I was going to be the best version of myself it was necessary I went out on the edge of proverbial cliffs again and again with people in all settings…my family of origin, teachers, friends, clients, co-workers, partners, and strangers. To become vulnerable was to come from a place deep inside of me..from my very bones that were my foundational core. I have long believed practice makes progress so I began to practice . I took the risk to ask for what I needed . It is so much easier many of us believe that when we are carrying around layers of emotional pain that can get triggered by some unrelated situation it is better to pretend we are not afraid , to put a cushion of protection around us by shutting down and not even speaking. This only creates a new layer of pain on top of what we have not resolved maybe since childhood. Once I was willing to be transparent I could expose my feelings and voice what I wanted. My throat seemed to have been given a key to unlock the silence and actually communicate what I was really thinking. This key was created from the Power of Intention! Once I started being vulnerable although at first it felt creepy inside, I felt alive! I became vulnerable with the people I grew up with: my family of origin. I became vulnerable with co-workers and supervisors. I became vulnerable with friends. I became vulnerable with strangers. I became vulnerable in the bedroom with my partner.

I learned that being vulnerable in all relationships was not only being fair to myself. It was being fair to the other person too! Showing especially my partner who I really am not withholding my truth …sharing my thoughts, feelings, challenges, and what I considered to be weaknesses without sugarcoating them enabled my partner to know who I really am. Once I could do that, I expanded this to friends, and even to strangers. After practicing vulnerability for a while I made a big decision. I wanted to be the same with all people. I no longer chose to play a different role with different people in various settings. The magical element in all this was I became INTEGRATED , whole, and demonstrated a large degree of real intimacy. I had become willing to walk into the emotional risks that happen when a person becomes willing through vulnerable transparency to love unconditionally and to receive love.

If we each desire to find a way to cradle our authenticity, connections with others , and to truly love, being vulnerable is the path. As a result of allowing Vulnerability to be my SuperPower I have more confidence to walk through challenges that show up. I am able to embrace and live out of true intimacy ; thus, having stronger and healthier relationships. I enjoy a greater acceptance of all parts of myself: the good, the dark, the crazy, the wild woman.

My old fear of being rejected and abandoned still lives deep within me but because I wear a Heart of Vulnerability daily I no longer have to hide from myself . If I do get triggered, I know what to do. I can be present and free to be the amazing person I always wanted to be . If I can do this, I have no doubt that you can choose too to learn to love and accept your complete authentic self. When we get to know who we really are and embrace the wonder of that knowledge, it will be much easier to walk away from anyone incapable of respecting us and we will see a new tribe of like hearted people showing up who only want to treat us with genuine love and support.

Life Is Not A Test

I keep reading in various places and hearing some say life is a test. I can only gather, and I am guessing, these are people spouting a concept foreign to me, that the changes brought about since 2020 are testing the world; and, probably most of their lifetime many felt tested by life’s challenges.

I, the eternal realistic optimist and visionary , see the origin of their illusions most likely was created and perpetuated from the old paradigm that persuaded many to believe in order to show evidence of being successful a person each had to state a specific intended accomplishment laced with goals and work like a dog to see the accomplishment manifest. Then the person could stand on their laurels of their pumped up podium believing success had been demonstrated!

Instead of seeing life as a test, why not view our experiences presented in our respective lives as opportunities to embrace each occurrence as part of our journey? So much of not just the culture of the USA , but also of other countries , have the collective mindset that winning the race to a destination is evidence of successful performance.

Many of my most significant awakenings have been through experiences that did not turn out as my preconceived ideas thought they would! It was these situations as I often trudged up the rungs of the ladder of my life that enabled me to receive courage, perseverance, and dare I say, stability , as life transformed what seemed failures into character building opportunities! Changes and endings in relationships, detours in career, and even times I gained weight …all were portals to new avenues and adventures of consciousness I would never have chosen!

Embracing failed attempts of hopeful successes as a pathway of transition is my evidence life is not a pass/fail test, but a journey of never ending possibilities! I am glad I did not give up during those times a curve ball I did not even see coming hit me between my eyes! I may have been briefly knocked down but was never knocked out. The times I viewed situations as failures were only building blocks for future experiences that were creating my life as a proverbial cliff jumper, often not knowing if I would survive the fall following each jump, but fueled by my internal adrenaline rushes that I had to jump one more time….and jump I did and will continue.

Creational Birthing

As we adjust to our world beginning to crack open to a wider abyss, I have been reflecting on my life prior to March, 2020. I was into my busier life including working, meditating, visiting art galleries and museums, freely traveling, meeting up with friends and family. I am sure there was more I was running hither and fro, believing I could do pretty much as I pleased. I was functioning on the premise I loved my busy times as much as the stillness ones. I have come to embrace the idea that I cannot see the negative without experiencing the positive, the shadows without seeing the light, and the busy-ness without the coming to a rapid halting.

As I sit in the seventh month of 2021 I have asked myself a few pertinent questions. Was the portal of change that out of seemingly no where opened into a global twilight zone really a bad thing? Do I really choose to return to that busy manner of living or will my relationships with myself, nature, and others prosper to a higher vibrational level if I seek a quieter structure in most of my activities?

Do I really need the fast paced way of flowing to manifest my creative visions? If I find , and I think I have, a new paradigm that aligns deeper with who I have become to achieve my desires;and, how do I respond differently when so many are already returning to the world of go-go filling every minute with distractingly busy routines? What is now feeding my motivations and how do I flow like a quiet brook instead of like the rushing river I had become part of?
I really feel I have stepped into Creational Birthing of a revised ME , a me with altered perspectives and organic harmony. If all this is valid and the direction I like , how do I live this way without being triggered by those who want to return to the prior hurry up and get it done life? Can I co-exist with them and not get caught up in conformity even though I don’t want to! It seems it is quite easy to glide back to our past , backsliding into the old ways.

My solution has come once again been reinforced in learning from nature as I awaken just a bit more! I was beginning over time to comprehend this ancient teaching, but it took for me when the world shut down and stopped to totally unite with Nature. Becoming One with Nature showed me how to mirror the changes of each passing season, and the more I have allowed myself to blossom into a calmer , still person, the easier it has become to accept those who continue struggling with resistance and their continued need to do life as close to the way it was before the world changed.

Yes, I choose the slower pace, and if you do not, I am sure I can co-exist with you…and not have a need to convince you to like or even live differently. My Creational Birthing is taking me down a smooth canal of regeneration; and, I can only give credit to a pandemic that changed the whole planet. What is most amazing to me is though I thought for many years I was a go with the flow person only to discover I still was falling into a shallow ditch of conformity at times. The best awareness that has grabbed my attention is the elimination of wanting anyone to conform to my chosen way to believe or live. Freedom, I tell you, can still hide from us until we can wake up from the illusion. It takes what it takes.