I took this photograph a couple of years ago when I visited a botanical garden in Sarasota, Florida. I thought I might paint it one day. I haven’t done that yet, but these beauties are certainly worthy of capturing in oils on canvas, aren’t they?
I am writing today to thank the Minister, Doug Long, and Congregation of the Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was blown away by your thoughtful and loving reception of me, and of my recent book: What Is Consciousness. The quality of your listening, questions, and comments during the Forum was inspiring. Thank you also for bringing a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies to pass around. I loved it!
I say “yes” to more of that!
I also enjoyed the service. I was able to go twice–once at Christmas, and again just last week when I spoke. Both times I came away uplifted, renewed, and centered in compassion.
My older sister asked me to come to Florida to take care of her duplex for the month of January this year. She was accepted into a program at the Hague in the Netherlands for a month-long course of study in international law. She is a retired attorney and 72 years old. She also started taking piano lessons after she retired and practices for 2 hours each day, to challenge herself and to play for her own pleasure. I travelled to Florida to be there a few days before she left, and stayed for another few days after she returned, so I got to hear her practice. She’s working on some of my favorites: Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata.” I have seven siblings and she inspires all of us to continue learning, continue living fully, brightly, expressively, enjoyably.
I went to help her, to be there just in case the air conditioner went on the fritz again, or her tenants needed any assistance. I had no real idea that I would benefit. I’m a person who enjoys getting out to walk in any and all weather—I just need the right equipment for the job. (My absolute favorite time of year when I lived in south Florida was the summer. I passionately loved the afternoon downpours, when the sky opened up and rain came down in buckets. That was my favorite time to swim. I realize that’s not the usual reason people travel to Florida.)
I did benefit.
She lives just a block from the beach. I walked meditatively for a couple of hours every day. Gradually, the thoughts that had filled my heart and mind prior to this brief respite from my everyday life fell away. When you’ve been a powerfully dedicated worker, as I have been, work sort of sneaks back up and begins to fill the cavities of life once again. As I walked, an intention began to form in me, and it sounded like this: “I wonder what it would be like to have the freedom in my mind to think about what I’d enjoy doing.” Just having that thought made me realize that I crave more time spent in epic nature. I have since signed up for a week-long class with Jean Houston at Esalen, on the Big Sur coast of California. I will also be looking into teaching classes on Consciousness there.
I would like to spark a global conversation about consciousness and I’m devoting 2020 to doing whatever I can to help that to happen. It is critical that we human beings understand our own consciousness–where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are developing into. If we can do this, we just might be able to save ourselves. If you would like to join me in this endeavor (and I hope you do), there are several ways in which you can participate.
Invite me to speak/spark a conversation about consciousness at your church, book club, or gathering.
In January, I will be in the Fort Myers area of Florida. If you live in that area, and would like to participate in the conversation spark, please connect with me through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the first part of February, I will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, and am scheduled to speak on the 9th at Umstead Park UCC.
During the last half of February and all of March, I will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, devoting my time to sparking this conversation with these interesting women: Condra Ridley, Emily Guerrero, Kimberly Kozan Flory, and Kathi Weiss. The event will take place on March 29, 2020, from 1:30 to 3:30 in the downtown Allen County Public Library Theatre. The title is “Consciousness & Women in History.” This event is sponsored by Sophia’s Portico and will be opened with a song sung by Beth Murphy Beams.
I will be adding a class or two to March, 2020, that will happen in Fort Wayne, IN. I’ll post them on my website calendar when they’re firm—stay tuned.
From April, 2020 on, I am open. I am willing to travel far
and wide to meet with groups of any size. I will bring the book What Is Consciousness? with me, which
is a good, easy-to-read, basic primer about consciousness, to give as a gift to
those who would like to read it. If you don’t already have a copy and would
like to read it, you can get it on Amazon.com, (paperback, kindle, or audible—the
audible version is free!), or simply connect with me through email or my
website, and I will be happy to send you a copy.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey! Let’s help ourselves and others gain a better understanding of who we are.
I’m excited about a couple of things this morning, and want to share them with you.
First, I’ve hired a producer for the audiobook of “What Is Consciousness?” and it is now being produced! It should be available on Audible by two weeks from now. I just listened to the first fifteen minutes and love it. The woman who is reading it has a richly resonant voice–one that I found compelling enough for the also richly resonant material being read.
One reader of this blog wrote to tell me that she was losing her eyesight. She said this blog is something she always looked forward to reading and asked if I would consider putting an audio version up on the website so she could continue to enjoy it. I am working on that, and am making progress, but am having trouble, so it isn’t live yet.
Which brings me to the second exciting thing I have to share with you. Because of the skill and generosity of my son-in-law, I do have a ten minute meditation that is now live! The daily practice of meditation I’ve had for just over 40 years now is something that I can share with you.
Meditation has been an evolving and alive practice. I’ve learned many methods over the years, and my practice has developed and changed accordingly. At first, I thought about the newly learned method and deliberately incorporated it in to my practice. What has changed is that I now simply relax, close my eyes, and bring my focus into an internal quiet, and the meditation begins inside of me. It seems to give itself to me in it’s own creative way.
As I said, there is a ten-minute meditation live now, and I am working on a twenty minute version which should be live within a week. So check back if that interests you.
The third thing I’m excited about is the TED talk I’m developing…
Let’s take a step back and away from fear, shall we?
Let’s make room for wonder and curiosity. Let’s make room for love. Let’s make some space in our minds for applying some deep thought to life. Let’s ask ourselves some harder questions like: How can I resist this fear? What can I do to help? What can I do to take my mind back from the fear and hatred that is tearing our country apart?
Let’s not add to the fear-mongering that is going on in the world by ratcheting up fear in posts on social media.
Instead…in our posts, let’s talk about what we’re doing to make the situation better. Let’s tell each other about the actions of resistance we’re taking. Let’s share with each other about kindnesses we receive and about how we’re loving better, more expansively, more exquisitely.
I don’t mean to diminish the horrific things that are going on right now in the United States and elsewhere. But let’s do wake up to the fact that allowing hatred to set up camp in our own minds is not an act of resistance; it is surrender.
Let’s step back from the “ain’t it awful” club.
It is. All of us already know that.
The other day, I got to thinking about the triangle shaped pattern in psychology called the Codependent Triangle. At the apex is the person who sees themselves as a Victim. The person in relationship with the Victim has two choices–they can either be the Rescuer or the Persecutor. They don’t choose their own role, the Victim chooses it for them. This feels relevant to the situation in our country today. If the Victim is incapable of seeing themselves in a new way, the only choice we have is to walk away from that relationship.
The other triangle we can create for ourselves is called the Empowerment Triangle. It carries with it a growth mindset, is passion based and outcome focused. The three points represent the Creator, the Challenger, and the Coach. The Challenger asks pointed questions and the Creator is open to them. The Coach gives good ideas and healthy boundaries. The roles here are interchangeable–sometimes I am the Creator and I call upon friends to serve in the roles of Challenger and Coach. And I always step up to be the Challenger or Coach when I’m asked.
Let’s take our minds back from whomever has taken up residence there!
Let’s own our world and the space in our minds by thinking about what we can do, and then let’s do it. Let’s find friends who will enter into this Empowerment Triangle with us so we can deliberately reclaim the space in our own minds and hearts.
I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the birth of my newest book!
I’ve spent the last 40 years thinking about the material for this book, and the last three years writing in earnest. Commemorate the long-awaited arrival of “What Is Consciousness?” with me on Tuesday, August 20 from 6-8pm at the Cinema Center. It’s going to be a book birthday party!
The first 200 party-goers who would like to read it will get a copy of the book as a present from me.
My intention is to create an exploration in consciousness. In my experience, books written about consciousness are written in academic language making them inaccessible to anyone who isn’t primarily a student of psychology or neuroscience. The topic is important enough that every person should have access to this body of knowledge. It’s something we all experience—every single one of us. For that reason, we should all get a good idea about where we’ve come from, where we’re headed, and where we are right now. This book is an invitation to enter into the conversation about consciousness with your own interior, with others who are close to you, and with me.
Consciousness is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond. Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react in fear? Come explore and learn with me!
I invite you to join me in this exploration of, and conversation
about consciousness. Together we will reach understanding, and a helpful assist
in building our ability to respond from love rather than from fear. In doing
so, the world will become a better place for all of us.
This Consciousness Focus Group has two options:
Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 3, 6:30-8:30PM
Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 4, 1:30-3:30PM
The book, What Is Consciousness? comes with this
course and you will receive your copy at the first meeting.
We’ll meet for 10 weeks at the St. Mary Magdala Center, 2800 Rolston
St, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. Makeup classes can be scheduled directly with me at email@example.com.
All proceeds go to fund Sophia’s Portico. The cost is $10 per class.
Love = Feelings of empowerment,
creativity, and the willingness to risk.
Fear = I might lose whatever it is
that’s important to me because I’m stepping away from what is acceptable to my
Keep in mind that…
is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all
of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to
different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond.
Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react
If we move into this Re-individuate & Risk facet of consciousness in any area of life, it means that living by a culturally accepted rule now feels so constricting that we must stop living by it. We feel discomfort because the rule doesn’t align with our core self and because of that, feels irrelevant and possibly even obstructive to our lives. This can happen in any area of life. As I said in the last chapter, moving out of a role that is socially acceptable to align with inner truth from our core self can feel as painful as a divorce. After we’ve taken this step often enough, the fear we feel in the Comply facet of consciousness is no longer able to control us. We begin to live more areas of life in alignment with our core self.
this facet of consciousness describes all of the following:
It is a facet of human
development that we continuously go through, in every aspect of life,
throughout our lives; and because of that, it also is
A facet in which an
aspect of ourselves can either participate or be stuck, while the dominant part
of us lives from within a different facet of consciousness;
And can be the
dominant facet of consciousness expressed by a group, while individual members
may be primarily functioning from within another facet.
Think of this
move into the Re-individuate & Risk
facet of consciousness as an uptick in independent, critical, and creative
thinking. What does it look like in life when we stop following a rule or stop
trying to live a version of ourselves that no longer fits? Have you ever stood
up to a friend when he or she has said something racist, and risked losing that
friend? Have you stopped someone who is objectifying or catcalling a woman or
girl, and risked being maligned yourself? Have you come out to your family and
friends as gay, lesbian, or transgender, and risked losing them? Have you ever
left a church because it no longer supported your spiritual growth, and risked
losing family and friends who still belong to that church? Have you ever had to
stand up to a bully at work and risked losing your job? Have you decided to eat
vegetarian food even though you’re immersed in a family culture that is all
about meat, and risked being ridiculed? These are all examples of personal Re-individuation & Risk. It takes
courage to be true to ourselves when who we have become goes against the grain
of the family/group/culture in which we are immersed.
One of the
ways this shift from Comply into Re-individuate & Risk occurred in my
personal life is that I’ve stopped trying to create the structure of an
idealized marriage. We begin learning about it in the fairy tales of early
childhood and that story had a very strong hold on me. I have been married and
divorced four times. In our society, that is viewed as failure on a fairly
I used to feel
that way about myself too. I thought something was lacking in me—“if I were a
better person, maybe one of those marriages would have lasted.” Now I view it
both as an education and a personal journey, one that has been filled with the
risk of losing family and friends with each divorce. My family of origin was
Catholic, a religion in which divorce is forbidden. But even without that
background, our culture views 50th wedding anniversaries as a huge
cause for celebration, and more than one divorce as cause for ridicule and
I want to tell
you about this part of my life because we can have the idea that moving from
one facet of consciousness into another is clean and happens all at once. It
can be that way. But most of the time, it’s messy and the process is slow and
I left the
last marriage when the risk of staying became much greater than the risk of
leaving, and when leaving became the only answer to the question: “What would
Love do if the answer includes me?”
The fairy tale
story of love was yet to be rewritten in me. During my last marriage, I painted
two oil paintings of my husband and myself, setting the intention with every
brushstroke that the love we shared would be large enough to sustain us. When I
left him, I brought the paintings with me, along with a mixed media artwork
that friends Cheryl and Ellen had created for my fourth husband and I for our
wedding. When I settled into my apartment and unpacked the paintings, they
simply made me feel sad.
about burning them—making it a ceremony by doing it with friends. When I told
my friend Ellen what I was thinking about doing, she suggested that it might be
more useful to create something new with it instead of just letting the artwork
go up in smoke. I cut the two portraits into strips and my friend Cheryl helped
me weave one into the other.
“Reweaving the Patriarchal Story of Love.”
30”x30” Mixed Media
Contributing Artists: Ellen Sauer,
Cheryl Spieth Gardner, and Regina Leffers
I stitched the
weaving together, and stitched the little portrait of Kwan Yin onto the
weaving. Then I appliqued pieces of Cheryl and Ellen’s mixed media artwork onto
the weaving. That’s Ellen’s river and palm tree and Cheryl’s poppies and little
handmade ceramic fish, shells, and stars that are sprinkled throughout. Now
this piece, “Reweaving the Patriarchal Story of Love,” hangs in my living room,
and when I look at it, instead of sadness, I feel joy. I actually feel joy. The
fairy tale story of love has been rewoven inside of me, and I am released from
I have always
felt differently at my core with my friends than I have with a partner. I
didn’t always know that—it lived beneath the surface of my own consciousness.
With a partner, I felt ultimately unlovable, unworthy, and unwanted. Because of
that, I felt the need to continually prove to my partner that I deserved to be
loved, wanted, and treated as worthy. With my friends, I have always felt the
opposite. I know that I am loved and accepted exactly as I am.
treated me as I treated myself within the partnership. My friends treat me as I
treat myself within the friendship.
Recognizing that difference and the
mirrored quality—from/in my brain, to/in my world—allowed me to get to the
underlying subconscious material and unpack it.
My friend John
Beams, who is also a member of this book’s Focus Group, brought the following
quote from Thomas Keating to me. I love it because it does a good job of
explaining why one area of life may be stuck within one facet of consciousness,
while we live predominantly within another facet. Father Keating says:
have a mystical experience at any stage of development. But if we have…no
practice to heal our early emotional wounds, that energy is not digested. If
you have high graces and mystical unions, but other lines of development are
incomplete, then the shadow will appear, even as you move forward spiritually.”
into the language of consciousness, Keating is saying that even as we explore
multiple facets of consciousness, and live predominantly within a more expanded
facet, unhealed material in any area of life can keep us stuck within a less
we leave a marriage or church, or do anything to align with our own truth, our
own core self, but that goes against the grain of our dominant
family/group/culture, we can take those actions from love or from fear. If we
take the action from fear, we will likely feel victimized and find ourselves
bashing the person/church/etc. If on the other hand, we take the action from
love, we will find ourselves looking for lessons learned and being grateful for
the experience. It is always possible to stop bashing and look for lessons
is a transformative tool.
One Action to Take Today to Explore Consciousness:
what love is in Re-individuate & Risk—feelings of empowerment, creativity, and
the willingness to risk. Ask yourself to feel what that love feels like in the body.
Now think about what fear is in Re-individuate & Risk—I might lose
whatever it is that’s important to me because I’m stepping away from what is
acceptable to my family/group/culture. What does that fear feel like in the body?
Notice any areas of life where these thoughts or feelings are present. Ask
yourself to inhale the feeling, and exhale peace into that feeling. Repeat
several times. Repeat whenever you feel fear of any kind.
Kwan Yin is the Buddhist Bodhisattva of
 From an interview: www.conniezweig.com. “A Spiritual Life
Review with Father Thomas Keating.” Dr. Connie Zweig. The Reinvention of
Age. March 27, 2018.
My Focus Group
for the book, What Is Consciousness?,
has been meeting weekly for half a year. Those conversations have been the most
satisfying and fulfilling of my life so far, and they have also stimulated an
exponential inner growth in me. The other members have assured me that the same
is true for them.
We took a
couple of weeks off while I did the final edits on What Is Consciousness? and then decided that we all missed
those conversations enough that we wanted to continue. While I was working on
the book, different chapters provided the “meat” for dialogue. This time, a
different person is picking a few pages of material from a favorite book to
provide the topic.
I started with
a chapter from Brian Swimme’s book: The
Hidden Heart of the Cosmos. I read it on a flight from Fort Wayne,
Indiana to San Francisco, California twenty years ago, and loved it. The
chapter I picked out for our conversation was one about Einstein—I picked that
chapter specifically because as I read it, I could feel the words of the
chapter in my body. If you haven’t
experienced that yet, pick up a copy from the library and read it—chapter 14—to
find out if it happens in you too. Everyone in the Focus Group could feel it in
their body as I read it aloud to them. If you ever wondered what the word
“resonance” or even, “resonate” means, this experience provides the felt-sense definition.
chapter to a couple of sentences, an interviewer wanted to know how Einstein thought in order to arrive
at his theories and equations. The interviewer was expecting one of two
possible answers, because everyone else had given one or the other, but never
anything else. Einstein’s answer was extraordinarily different—he said he
thought with his imagination. He said he wanted to know how the Old One thinks. So he would sit in his rented chair,
smoking his pipe, and imagine, for example, what it would be like to travel at
the speed of light.
What I want to
do here is to tell you about each Focus Group member’s “take away” from our
said she realized why we need Abstract art. That is, we need space with no
boundaries—no definitions about how something must be done. Nothing that says
there is only one (or two) right ways to do something, or to feel, or to think,
and etc. She realized that the abstract bestows freedom and grants permission
to create life and art from an authentic internal perspective.
said that her biggest take away was to realize that there is no floor in the
Universe, and because of that, there is no floor in her either.
A third person
concluded from the material in the chapter and our discussion about it, that
forgiveness will be much easier for him to achieve from now on.
A fourth said
her biggest take away is the sentence: “How does the Old One think?” It’s that
word “how.” Einstein didn’t want to know What,
he wanted to know How.
My take away
comes from thinking about each one of us, living on this earth, which is part
of a system that is part of a galaxy in the Milky Way. That somehow, it is
Creativity Itself, that is at the center of, and is supported by the Universe,
whether that Creativity is expressed in the bursting-forth birth of a new star,
a new book, or a new bloom.
It would take
a page for each to explain how each one of us came to a specific take away, so
I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll leave it to you to imagine “no one-right-way, so
permission granted,” “no floor in the Universe/in you,” “easier to achieve
forgiveness,” “How instead of What,” and “you as a creative expression
of the Milky Way.”
I am so
excited to begin the conversation with all who are interested, both friends and
future friends! I hope you’ll join me in thinking about this material. One way
to do that, if you live in or around Fort Wayne, Indiana, is to join me for
this class I’ll be facilitating beginning on September 3, 2019.
consciousness as a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that
permeates all of the space and material of existence. We are born as, into, and
with that potentiality. In this class, we’ll explore each facet of
consciousness that we grow into and through in each area of life. We’ll be
using the book, What Is Consciousness? Each class will include facilitated discussion
and a guided meditation. The book comes with this course and you will receive
your copy at the first class.
Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, beginning September 3rd, for 10 weeks at the St. Mary Magdala Center, 2800 Rolston St, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. If you have to miss a class, makeup classes can be scheduled directly with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost is
$100 (installments are possible), with all proceeds going to benefit Sophia’s