3.12.2010

My Heart Echoed His Heart

If You Really Pay Attention
by Paula Underwood

When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, "You remember what he said, honey girl?” I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.

And he did this all the time.

Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street. And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.

Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl. He’s pretty interesting.” And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.

Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim. I knew them all by heart.

And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that. But did you hear his heart?" And I thought, what? So I went around for days with my ear to people's chest trying to hear their hearts.

Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper. He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines."

I thought, "Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words."

So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words. My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, "Yes. He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories."

It just came out of me. In other words, my heart echoed his heart.

And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.

--Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation

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posted by ashley

5.09.2009

This Little Seed of Mine, I'm Gonna Let it Shine

Tick tock, fingers locked.
What to write?
How to talk?

a rhythm, a voice, a harmonizing force
fluency, disruption and curiosity, of course!

Ever since some point in my young life, I’ve identified with trees. Mom, dad, do you know when that started? They are my teachers when I need wisdom, friends when I long to experience belonging, mirrors when in a search for validation and reflection, support to rest upon and give my weight, and elders willing to make contact with me, hold me close, and shelter me from the rest of the world. The trees, they help me let go, they allow me to release from the habits and contractions, the mind looping and obsessing, the wondering and searching. They hold me still and steady and provide space for me to open -- expanding, releasing into the essential beauty and oneness of this sacred moment, feeling connection with all of life, and grounding in the solid wonderment of me, of life. Thank you dear beings of wood, earth, soil, sun, water, rain, breath, fun.

A brief pause for an update on my life:
Change, change, everywhere

asking questions
listening to what’s here
recognizing aliveness
centeredness that’s clear…
and crumble, crumble, crashing it goes
breaking up perceptions
of clarity and form
scattering ideas and concepts
building a foundation for a future that’s near

following my heart
pause, pause, pause

listening for guidance
pause, pause, pause

thinking, scanning, action planning
pause
pause
pause

repeat

In March of 2002 this image peeked out of my subconscious and invited me home. While the drawing didn’t quite capture the beauty of the tree and the alive posturing of the young girl, I heard its song and my bodybeing felt the familiarity of that existence. At home and at peace I feel when tucked away in the base of a big solid tree. Protected. Free. Spirited. A pulsing life force emerging through grounded essence, connected to a web of existence, alive, as is, of service, here.

Right now there are many elements about what is next in my life that I don’t know. Where will I live? What will I do? As I listen and look for these answers, I continuously invite myself into deeper inquiry and discovery around the aspects of my being that I do know… or think I know!!

I am called to become rooted in purpose and place.

Which means… much inquiry (writing, drawing, visioning, thinking, dancing, talking, looping, dreaming) about what is the purpose I feel called to, what kind of place (what all is included in my idea of place) do I want to root and roost in?

And so this illustration by Terry Widener captured my attention with a bit of longing. Instead of actually rooting, could I just hang out in the roots? I know that I am being called from the place of hanging out inside the trees for respite and security, into the realm of being a tree… big, bold, beautifully being, breathing, bending in the breeze, beckoning others to believe. . . (believe in ourselves, believe in what's possible, be with what-is)

There are two guiding questions that arrived for me a couple of nights ago… that are steering my listening right now and igniting much energy and excitement:
  1. What invitations would I love to receive? What could someone or someones invite me into that would be so evocative and affirming that my being would readily leap and say YES!, recognizing a soul’s calling, a place to step, a direction that might root what’s next?
  2. If I am a seed right now, what is in my seed? (am I a seed to become a strawberry plant, oak tree, lilac blossom, dandelion?) What is in my seed?

seeding at Rialto beach last month

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posted by ashley

3.22.2009

Children Keeping it Simple, Teaching Simplicity


A few inspiring comments from my teachers in simplicity, children.
  • I was participating in Seattle’s Martin Luther King, Jr., March and Rally this year with some of the faculty, students and parents from the school I work at. During the march one of our first graders looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”

    (fyi: I host Friendship Groups, a class that all the students in the class participate in just like math or reading. The aim is to help students deepen their ability to connect with and understand themselves and others. It's all about friendship... with ourselves, others and the world around us!)

  • During Obama's presidential inauguration Rev. Joseph Lowery was talking about love,
    "And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance."

    I looked in front of me as a Kindergartner was staring down at his little hands, shaping them into a heart. That image summed up where my hope for our future lies... in love.

  • After the inauguration we hosted an Open Space with the 3rd graders. One child's closing remarks, "I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference."

  • Words of wisdom that a 2nd grader told me over lunch one day that I am practicing and trying to better embody, "Just listen until your mind gets deeper and then you'll understand."
I am so grateful for all the gifts that are bestowed upon me by these wise humans who are so willing to share their world.

heart photo by samantha celera

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posted by ashley

11.23.2008

Friday, November 28th - National Day of Listening

This is fabulous... I'm looking forward to participating.
StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.

StoryCorps is asking the whole country to set aside one hour on Friday, November 28th, to record a conversation with a friend or loved one, and I wanted to encourage you to participate. You can read more at http://www.nationaldayoflistening.org


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posted by ashley

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