As the World Turns

I think this speaks for itself.

Driving across the Arizona desert, I became aware of how immense our universe (outside of ourselves) really is. As I looked out across the immense open space, I saw all manner of mountains, and all colors of land rising up out of the earth. It was strange to imagine how one mountain arose from the earth, smooth and slowly rising, while one practically next to it seemed to have blown up right out of the earth, forming strange shapes and sometimes very sharp features. I can imagine the earth, as it was turning, bubbling and erupting and spinning wildly, but in such a way that various forms of life began to also come forth, or perhaps they came from somewhere else, finally finding a planet that was life friendly, and so cells of living creatures fell upon the earth like a form of rain, taking hold wherever they fell. Perhaps we will never really know the big story in this lifetime, but whatever it was, or however it was formed, was nothing short of a miracle.

In the same way, I think about us as human beings. Two cells, or a sperm and an egg, somehow come together and begin to form the most complex living creature. Not only does this creature have a mind that directs all the parts of what is inside of it, but every single part of this human body has a specific job, and despite the unique differences of each and every part, they all manage to function together to manage this “universe” within.

My brother once told me when he was talking about his TBI from Vietnam, that the brain is another universe all of its own. He told me that when any part of the body is injured, the brain gives the command for the troops (so to speak) to get to the part and help it. But when the brain itself gets injured (and again, it is what my brother’s doctor told him, so I cannot verify that it is true), the brain cannot help itself.

So I have been thinking about the human brain and how it functions regarding how it manages to take care of the whole universe within, but at the same time, can turn against this thing and that thing outside itself. It accepts the uniqueness and the importance and sacred aspect of the universe inside, but it raises up in defiance against that which is not like it in some manner, be it skin color, culture, religious or political beliefs. And yet, at the same time it can suddenly decide to relate to and even love, something that is decidedly different from itself in one or more of the ways previously mentioned.

I used to think I knew the answers. I used to think that life was relatively simple. Just do whatever you are intended to do and everything will be fine. And perhaps, as the world turns, it will be. Perhaps that universe outside and inside changes every instant in mysterious ways as the world turns.

A Universe in a Minute

And that is enough.

Moment after moment,

the winds of time blow steadily.

Whether the winds will be strong,

tearing away what has been built before,

or gentle winds that quietly

add grain upon grain of sand,

we cannot know.

But our inner universe

Records it all, building its own layers

Of all that ever has been, and all that can ever be.

Creating a Rainbow

Hiker in view Rare Rainbow Halo
Broken Specter, the real name for the rare weather phenomena in the U.K.

“A hiker captured these magnificent images of a rare weather phenomenon that looks like a “rainbow halo” on top of an English mountain. 39-year-old Adrian Conchie was walking on a fell in the Lake District when he looked down and clocked the spectacular display, known as the Brocken specter. The dad-of-one described the moment, which took place at 11:30AM on New Year’s Eve, as “magical” and “absolutely incredible”. According to the Met Office, the Brocken specter appears when a person stands above the upper surface of a cloud—on a mountain or high ground—with the sun behind them. “When they view their shadow, the light is reflected back in such a way that a spooky circular ‘glory’ appears around the point directly opposite the sun,” the Met Office said.

Conchie, who runs an engraving business in Knutsford, Cheshire, was on an 11-mile hike at Swirl How near Coniston when the Brocken specter appeared to him. “I had always wanted to see one after seeing pictures online and hearing about how amazing they are from friends,” said Conchie. “When we got to the summit I looked down and there it was—it was so vivid. “I thought it would disappear there and then but it stayed for a few minutes, it was a really magical experience.” Miraculously, Conchie and his friend Bryony stumbled upon another Brocken specter later that very same day up a nearby mountain called Wetherlam.”

As I read this account, I thought about how much we depend on our senses to connect us with everything we encounter in the world, and yet, the truth of it all is that our senses can and do lie to us. When we see any rainbow, if we were able to run up to it, we would find nothing there when we got where it appeared to be.

I can remember when I was younger, after I would go to bed, and sometimes in the night I would fly. I am certain I could fly. I could take off straight from the ground, and quickly fly faster and higher than anyone could even get close to me. To this day I have been certain I was really flying, though I know in my everyday mind that flight is not something we could do. Yet when I landed in my other consciousness, I felt a bump as I touched ground each time as surely as if I had come down safely but a little less than smooth, perhaps as I might have with a parachute. But the thing is that I never had wings; I just flew with my arms out and I felt the air against my arms and my body extended gracefully.

Was my ego present when I was flying or seeing things that seem so rare and yet so real? I don’t think so. I don’t think it was dreaming any more than the man was dreaming who saw the Rainbow Halo.

Perhaps we limit our abilities when we stay stuck in our egos. When I am lost there, I can feel measures of negativity and lack of confidence in what I am doing, and I want to escape. But when I let go of ego, but still stay in control of the alchemy of all the parts that make me who I am, there is so much more waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I have the ability to create rainbows.

If all of this is a dream, I don’t want to awaken. There is so much to be discovered, and I must gift myself with time to go flying again.

As The Year’s End Comes Near

Angel Postcard by Anne Copeland

I want to take this time to express my appreciation for all of you whom I have come in contact with this year. You each bring beautiful gifts of your writing with poetry, stories of your inspirational lives as well as stories of the lives of others, and fantastic fiction and nonfiction books. And there are those of you who teach us and who share your travels with us and those of you who provide services for us without which none of this would be possible. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting to mention, but know that all of you have contributed so much to the lives of all of us in many ways. I think that you each bring a microcosmic world to us, something that we would not be able to have with the world spinning so fast and the days zipping by.

I am sure as each of us understands, we are in for some major worldwide changes in the coming year, and perhaps a lot of it will seem negative. Certainly the political arenas of the world are poised to make huge changes that may or may not benefit us and this is happening throughout the world. We can choose to be fearful of another potential war, or we can see the political upheavals as essential for people to awaken to the fact that we cannot just watch our cell phones and see only the things that please us.

Regardless of what may come in the future, live life fully and see what you can do to create positive change for all of us. One tiny candle in the dark can provide enough light for many. While it will be easy to focus on the negative, remember to understand that it is essential for all of us to wake up and not take our world for granted. No matter what holidays you celebrate or if you do not celebrate, I wish the very best for each and every one of you.

For the Children

pexels-Source 1photo-556669

I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.

I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.

I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.

But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.

Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.

One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!

I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.

In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.

It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.

I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.

A Unique Experiment . . .

Boobalala” breast print art by Anne Copeland

Before we talk about Halloween in another post, let’s look at how Boobalala came to be. I think it was my 65th birthday. I had seen this really fascinating and wonderful art exhibit at a gallery or museum somewhere. I think it was a museum because it was huge. This male artist whose name I unfortunately cannot remember was fascinated with things about his body, and also with taking everyday things and making them look very different in such a way that you could no longer recognize them for what they actually were. In one of his pieces, he laid in a bathtub while a friend slowly poured colored water over him, taking photos of each addition and what was still exposed. He cut up the photos into many parts and rearranged them in fascinating ways that made us wonder what we were looking at even though we had been told. I was fascinated with the exhibit because I have often thought of many natural things and wondered what they looked like from a different perspective. I remember specifically as a child how I used to lie flat in the grass and look through the blades of grass to try to understand what the ants and other bugs’ lives looked like from their perspective. It was almost like being Alice in Wonderland, for it was a truly different world, and I could absolutely lose myself in it.

At any rate, when my 65th birthday came about, I was wondering about such different ways of viewing things we encounter every day. Somehow this is the sequence of things and what happened on that day. I decided to put on some African music from a primitive tribe and I got naked. I began to dance to the music to try to get my mind in the minds of those peoples and what they were experiencing. And then suddenly my mind turned to art, and I decided to find out what my breasts looked like from another angle. So I got out a length of black cotton, painted my breasts with white paint, and made breast prints with these things. I was really surprised that if most people would never know what it was if I didn’t tell them.

Next I decided to try multi-color paint (these were acrylics that could wash off easily) so I got out some white cotton, and painted my breasts with several colors, once again pressing them against the cotton to make breast prints. Amazing! Though they still did not look at all like breasts, they made truly interesting prints.

One ended up a part of a quilt I made called “My Garden of Earthly Delights” and it was donated to the Autism organization since I worked with special needs children for many years and to this day I am a strong advocate for them. This picture is shown below.

“My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne Copeland.

Now I really wonder if any of you who didn’t know this story would honestly recognize these as breast prints, or perhaps think them as disgusting. The quilt went to a good cause and I was thrilled to donate it because I imagine that someone somewhere is enjoying this happy quilt with no clue as to its history.

Both these quilts had the same beginnings, with no thoughts of being a disgusting person trying to shock others. It was curiosity about what I am made of, and what it looks like. I have not yet done other parts of my body, but the day may come when I do. These same body parts heralded my change into a young woman, and later on they gave milk for my children at a time when few women were still feeding their babies in this most natural of ways. It is part of what I am made of as a human being, and it is an important and natural part of every woman. It is a good and healthy thing to re-examine things we take for granted every single day. I am glad I celebrated this fact in such an enjoyable and artful way. I actually made “My Garden of Earthly Delights” first, followed by “Boobalala.”

Perhaps this bit of experiment into another aspect of my world is not earth-shaking, but I am glad I did it. Our lives are made of many things we take for granted every single day. I think that studying these things can enhance our ability to see better the universe that we also take so much for granted. Perhaps in seeing things differently, we will somehow be able to re-examine our beliefs about everything that we encounter each and every day. Thank you and Happy Autumn.

Cycle of Life II

Milkweed plants one week after being devoured by Monarch Caterpillars

I could not believe my eyes when a week after the Monarch Caterpillars totally ate every single leave of the two plants that have also propagated themselves in several other places in the yard, and within one week, they have all come back, bigger and fatter leaves than before.

Sometimes we just need to believe that this old world will continue as it has been doing for thousands of years. Yes, I am not so naive as to believe that we do not have things like climate and environmental changes that are affecting the world. I am sure that some of the things have been happening since the beginning. I believe most sincerely that many changes in cultures have taken place because of the inability of human beings to adjust to the changes successfully. Some of the changes I am not certain humans could have adapted to very successfully such as the ice ages that took place, or perhaps the plagues. But at the same time, mankind DID in fact exist before AND after those things, so perhaps it was an accident that they survived, and perhaps they adapted more than we think they did.

Today a lot of psychology is used to convince us of this potential thing or the other thing, much as the whole world was set to collapse with the coming of the year 2000, is about to happen to us and there are more books and talks, etc. by all kinds of people telling us what we need to do to survive. And of course it IS fully possible that this thing or that thing could cause total destruction of our world at any given time, but the truth is if that happens, I don’t think we need to worry about it anymore.

If, like the cycle of life that I witnessed in my Milkweed plants, this old world goes on, why not just continue to do what makes sense and stop worrying about destruction or the rest of the “what if’s”. When and if they happen, we will deal with them as we need to then, and we will hopefully learn from our mistakes. There is really no guarantee either way.

Enjoy the moment. Appreciate the air we breathe. Look for the beauty all around us. Find miracles in the everyday events. Remember not to always worry about tomorrow because the reality is that when tomorrow comes, it will also be today. Tomorrow is just a way to avoid being fully alive today. Trust, because trust really is something that can benefit us all. I am glad I trusted those caterpillars eating the Milkweed plants and gave the world a chance to do what it does best. Someday I know those Monarch butterflies will show up, and when they do I will be glad that I gave the world and myself this gift.