Friday, June 25, 2021
Y’all are invited to the grand opening of the Galen Pearl website at galenpearl.com. Please come check it out. Yes, I resisted at first, but now I’m so excited to share this big step with you.
My excitement is due in large part to the creative genius of Bryn Kristi, web designer extraordinaire. With only the vaguest guidance from a reluctant client, she was able to craft a website that surprised and delighted me, reflecting the welcoming beauty I knew I wanted but didn’t know how to ask for, and certainly did not know how to create. And that is just the appearance. She did all sorts of tech stuff that I don’t even know about and could never understand. Like magic...only real.
As I mentioned in the last post, the No Way Café blog is moving to the website. This will be the last post on Blogger.
If you are currently an email subscriber, then you should continue to receive new blog posts from the website via email without interruption, although it will look a bit different. However, in the unlikely event that there is a problem, then please accept my apology and go to the website to subscribe again.
If you typically come directly to this site to read the blog, you will need to go to the website from here on out. If you decide you would like to get future posts via email, please sign up on the new website.
If you link to the blog via Facebook, that will not change. After this post, Facebook will link to the blog on the website.
The new website will also have links for social media so let’s get connected! Another thanks goes to Beth Wilson for bringing me into the world of things I never used before like Instagram (galen.pearl) and Twitter (@galen_pearl), and for expanding the use of the Facebook page.
There may be a few bumps as I figure out a lot of new things, so please bear with me. I do hope that you enjoy the website and I look forward to engaging with you there. If there are any problems, please let me know. There is a contact page on the website where you can email me.
I also mentioned before that I’m working on a new book. Hopefully I will be able to share some news about that in the coming weeks.
This verse has always made me smile. Yep, I get it. This is how I feel.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? ~Isaiah 43:18-19
Saturday, June 19, 2021
I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that changes are coming to my cyberworld. When I wrote that post, I admitted that I had resisted these changes, but was coming to accept and even to embrace them. Since then I have moved ahead with the help of some wonderful people who have held my hand and guided me into the realm of technology beyond my very small comfort zone.
One of the primary motivations to move ahead is Blogger's plan to discontinue the email subscription service through Feedburner. For those of you who receive the blog posts via email (thank you), this means that I am moving the email subscription list to a different company. The intention is for this to be a seamless transition so that y’all will not even notice.
If you have ever done any home remodeling, you know that once you start updating the kitchen, the bathroom is not far behind. And then you might as well redecorate the bedrooms and add a family room in the basement, and on it goes.
Similarly, once I started down the path of transferring the email subscription list, one thing led to another. So now a Galen Pearl website is in the works, and the blog will move to the website. This means that for those of you who come directly to this blog to see new posts (rather than via email), you will be welcomed to the new website to see the posts there. And for those of you using Facebook, the post links will take you to the new site and there will be other social media options as well.
What began as an unwelcome intrusion into my familiar blog routine has become something that I am now excited about and eagerly moving towards. Amazing what happens when we release our struggle against what is, and move in harmony and alignment with the natural flow of energy in the world. And, as I’m also learning, in the cyberworld.
I will share more specific information soon when the new website is ready to go. In the meantime, please forgive the interruption in my usual rhythm of more typical blog posts.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan Watts
Friday, June 11, 2021
Saturday, June 5, 2021
We practice releasing. We practice allowing. We practice accepting. We sometimes overlook the practice of receiving. How is it different from these others and why is it important?
Is it different? In some ways all these practices are related. In one way they are all the same. But each does have a slightly different flavor. Releasing is letting go of something we hold onto. Allowing is letting energy move naturally without interfering. Accepting is seeing things as they are, without judgment. Receiving is taking what is offered with gratitude.
In the No Way Café contemplation group, for example, we practice receiving what others say – listening with our whole selves, without commenting or questioning, honoring what is offered as a gift.
Receiving can sometimes be a challenge. It is hard for some of us to receive a compliment, deflecting kind words rather than soaking in a positive reflection of ourselves. We sometimes resist offers of assistance, even when we are much in need of support. Many of us get defensive when confronted with what we perceive as criticism, instead of considering whether the observation might highlight something we could do better or differently. (Here, criticism means observations offered from love, not mean-spirited or abusive.)
We often are too busy and distracted to receive the gift of the present moment. In this moment, I am alive. I can hear birds singing. A pleasant breeze whispers through an open window.
Why is receiving important? To me, it opens my heart and fills my spirit with gratitude. Each moment is a gift from the universe, an opportunity to be aware, to connect, to experience. It is the natural partner of giving. It replenishes me and immerses me in the cycle of universal exchange, recognizing that giving and receiving are oneness in movement.
Our bodies teach us this. My heart can only pump out the blood that is received as it circulates throughout my body. Our breath keeps us alive by receiving oxygen from the plant world and releasing carbon dioxide needed by the plants.
So maybe we can practice receiving today. Enjoy a compliment. Feel the warmth of the sun. Listen to someone. Take a breath with awareness. Let someone do something nice for you.
A simple way to practice receiving is to use just two little words. Thank you.
Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. ~Brene Brown
Friday, May 28, 2021
The universe has been giving me plenty of writing material in the joke’s-on-me category. This time it’s about developing a website and working on a new book project.
For years I have quietly cruised along on my little blog, happy to use Blogger, grateful for all those who have subscribed by email. Then recently Blogger announced that after July they would no longer support the email subscribers on Feedburner. I don’t even know what all that means, but I knew I needed tech help. That led to deciding to have my own website and some other changes, all of which will be happening in the next month or two. (I will give everyone plenty of notice and we will figure out how to ease the transition for all you beloved email subscribers.)
Meanwhile, I have been preparing to publish a new book (more on that later as well), which involves various tasks to appeal (hopefully) to a publisher.
All of this has taken me way out of my comfort zone, and while I’m excited about these new developments, I have also been resistant and grumpy about having to, no, choosing to, change the way I’ve been doing things, including taking some steps to promote myself and my writing. This definitely does not feel like “the way of no way.” On the contrary, it feels like an unwelcome distraction from my “practice.” Which is what, exactly? Yes, I meditate, and practice martial arts, and write, and facilitate a contemplation group, but what is the point of any of that? (Yes, I know some folks will say there is no point to any of that, and that that is the point.)
We spent a lot of time in recent months talking in the contemplation group about expanding our “sphere” to include everything that arises within our experience and awareness. Everything. Exclude nothing. And to recognize that when we are struggling, we are out of alignment, we are fighting against reality, we are in conflict with ourselves. We talk about softening the struggle by touching everything with compassion, and releasing our attachment and rejection so that we can live in harmony with the universe. That includes the universe of our choices.
Busted, right? What is the point of any practice that I engage in or write about if not to integrate body, mind, and soul into the rhythm of creation, to open the heart of compassion to embrace everything, to notice and ease any struggle with reality, to lean into fear rather than try to escape it, to awaken to our true nature and live fully in each precious moment? And if a few of those precious moments involve a little discomfort over learning some new technology and changing the way I do some things, then my practice is to expand my sphere to include this too. This too.
So I’m having a pretty good laugh at myself. Again. Here I am with my knickers in a knot, struggling over the very things I’ve chosen to do in order to share with others the practice that has so enriched my life by teaching me how not to struggle. Yeah, people are complicated. And funny.
You are welcome to share a laugh with me. And I hope you will be patient as I wade through these coming transitions.
It takes more than just awareness for us to change. It takes courage and humility and the willingness to occasionally feel like fools and laugh at ourselves. ~Bud Harris
Saturday, May 22, 2021
The price of staying awake is giving up every reason you have to stop loving. ~Adyashanti
Do you know anyone who is a hoarder? I do. When I walk into her apartment, there are piles of newspapers and magazines everywhere. Boxes of unknown contents are stacked along the walls. Every surface is crowded with deals too good to pass up. There is little room to move, no space to cook or eat, and only one little corner of the couch available where she can sit and watch TV. Visitors are not allowed beyond the front room, so I don’t know where she sleeps. The apartment is impossible to clean. She acknowledges the negative impact on her life and even worries that there is so much weight in the apartment that the floor might collapse. She is miserable.
And yet she cannot let any of it go, even though she knows that her life would be so much better if she could. What is the nature of such an attachment that is so strong that the price of giving it up in order to have a healthier, more balanced, happier life is just too high?*
Some of us might think that such an attachment is beyond our understanding. But what if we are told, as Adyashanti said, that the price of living an awakened life is giving up every reason we have to stop loving? Every judgment, every resentment, every hurt feeling, every unforgiving thought, every irritation, every criticism, every “othering”? What if we are told that all of these reasons, no matter how justified, keep us locked in an emotional state of suffering? And that giving them up, all of them, without exception, will free us to live a more integrated, harmonious, healthier, happier, awakened life?
Can we understand attachment a little better now? I know I can.
Most of us, if we’re honest, can discover, if not an emotional apartment full of clutter, at least an emotional junk drawer we haven’t cleaned out in time beyond memory. We might not even know what is in it anymore. When we look, we might be able to toss some things, but there will be that one little thing that we hold in our hand with hesitation. “You never know when I might need that,” we think.
Or there might be the emotional treasure that is displayed a place of honor on the mantel. Such a spot is often reserved for the big unforgiveness attachments we never forget – parents who let us down, lovers who left us, friends who betrayed us. Who can argue with those reasons to stop loving? No one.
That’s the point, isn’t it? I can justify every reason I have to stop loving. I can hold onto it in perfect righteousness. And I can wear my resultant suffering like a cloak of justice. A heavy cloak that drags with the weight of accumulated wrongs I can’t let go of.
So why can’t we just unfasten that cloak and leave it in the dirt? Do we hold on because of some fear of what will happen if we let it go? Would we feel grief or vulnerability? Or perhaps, if we look closely, we might admit there is some pleasure in sitting in judgment, in fantasizing revenge, in attracting sympathy for our injury.
Whatever our reason, we will hold onto it until we want freedom more than we want to suffer. Because until we are willing to forego the secret delight of withholding love, we will be as trapped by our emotional hoarding as my friend is in her apartment.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~Matthew 6:21
*I understand that hoarding can be a mental health issue that isn’t as simple as just making a choice. I use the example of hoarding here only as a metaphor for holding onto emotional attachments that do not serve our well being.
Monday, May 17, 2021
Western culture, at least in the United States, is very goal oriented. We make new year resolutions. We have five year business and personal plans. My sons, who both have autism, have a meeting every year to set goals for the year with measurable checkpoints during the year. In fact, for many of us, our lives are structured that way, with large and small identified goals and measurable steps. We set goals, work towards our goals, achieve our goals, and bask in the success of having met our goals. At least for a moment until we set new goals and start the process again.
Goals are associated with progress, accomplishment, hard work, even good character. They are encouraged, and those who set them and achieve them are admired. I doubt that Olympic athletes, for example, would ever get a medal without some single minded focus and dedication.
There is nothing wrong with that. Goals serve a purpose. But when we have blinders on that allow us to see only the goal oriented path ahead, I wonder what opportunities we miss. Some of the best things that have happened in my life were not on my goal trajectory. In fact, more often than not, they completely derailed my goal progress.
For example, when I moved to Portland, I had a very specific job goal in mind. I began to search out the leads that would take me in that direction. When someone mentioned a temporary job opportunity that was not goal related, I almost dismissed it. Then I decided I would take that job to provide some income while I looked for the job I really wanted. The first day of the temporary job, I went home amazed that someone was paying me to have so much fun. When the time was up, I figuratively chained myself to the gate until they decided to keep me. Twenty years later, I retired from a job that continued to be fun and deeply rewarding.
On the personal front, I was living a full and busy life as a single parent with two kids. I had all I could handle, or so I thought. My goals targeted balancing home and work while meeting the needs of my autistic son and making sure that my daughter had her needs met as well. My goals definitely did not include more kids. And yet, suddenly there was my son’s classmate, also autistic, who, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, was in crisis and needed a family to care for him. So, for reasons beyond the scope of any rational explanation, I took him. And his presence has now blessed our family for more than twenty years in ways I never could have planned or anticipated.
Those are “big” life examples, but similar things happen to us all the time in big and small ways. At some point I realized that when I was not focused on goals, things that needed to get done still did, in a more natural, organic way rather than forced. I began to trust that life would lead me, and that when I was aligned in harmony with an open, receptive attitude, my path forward would become clear. And if it didn’t, then I knew to wait until it did.
When people ask me these days what my goals are, I have a hard time coming up with any. It seems to me that they get in the way more than provide helpful direction. Sure, I make plans. I go to the store with a list in hand, and my calendar has appointments to attend. I am respectful of people’s time and do my best to honor the promises I make. The difference, perhaps, is that my life is not driven by personally selected goals as much as carried by the current of divine energy that flows through all creation. (That actually is a lot more practical than it sounds!) The first sometimes has a quality of anxiety on some level that seeks to control. The second often has a quality of trust that rests in faith. Life is more enjoyable, relaxed, responsive. And when challenges come, as they surely will, they can be met with resilience rather than struggle.
It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to plan and control every step forward in my life. That was exhausting!
Perhaps you might examine the role that goals play in your life. What is the nature of your goals? What is your emotional relationship to them? You might not abandon all your goals, but maybe you might discover one or two that you could hold more flexibly. What would that be like? Maybe try it and see what happens.
Acquiring wisdom is great but it is not the goal, applying it is. ~Idowu Koyenikan