I saw his eye, in the squinty squinty sun
I thought it might be dead
The cicadas and spiders are changing their guards
Even the mosquitos have become fat and slow
But not that eye, in the squnity squinty sun
I saw it grow.
Here’s the thing: tell someone you believe in UFOs and that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s out there, it’s controversial, it’s vague, it’s elusive, it’s relative, it has hard evidential proof, it has changed some people’s lives forever, it’s got a slew of groupies…. and it’s perfectly acceptable to most if this is what your floats your boat and what you want to devote your personal time to.
But mention you’re having a “spiritual awakening” and people may give you the side-eye and back away slowly. Because that’s crazy — or I’m crazy because I am starting to see and feel some results (wow that’s a lousy word to use in the context of spiritual awakening!) of all the personal work I have been doing. The meditation. The yoga. The breathing. The walking. The reading. The energy experiments. The changing of my diet. The re-routing of my normal thinking patterns (Lordy this is HAAAAARD). And the silence. Ohhh the loads of silence I have come to adore and require now, just as I require air to breath.
Why is it that an actual spiritual awakening is somewhat mistrusted? I’ve seen eyebrows go up and felt the proverbial, “ah boy, we lost her.” sentiment because I’ve mentioned, in my joyous exaltation, that my beginner’s mind is starting to see and feel some magical new ways of thinking — and I could NOT be more thrilled about this. These ways of existing in the world have always been available to me, just as they are to you, but I am discovering for the first time because I am practicing new principles. And I became ready. But it’s not perfect nor pain-free! Ahh but it IS perfect for right now.
This reaction… well it’s ironic if you ask me, because many people strive for a more spiritual way of being; in their personal relationships, in their careers, in their every level of life — because it’s cool, and I completley agree. Twitter is rampant with quotes and retweets of our spiritual leaders and beyond — because it IS COOL to talk about being spiritual. It’s not cool to be religious; but spiritual is awesome — because religious is crazy, right? And don’t even think about getting crazy about being spiritual, because that’s just nuts!!
Although when it arrives — if it arrives, it may perhaps change the way you tweet, change the way you participate in the world, rock the very core of your foundation, make you burst out in tears for no other reason except that the love thumping in your veins can’t be contained; it may force you to spontaneously hug people and trees, walk around on your hands at the beach and then blow your head up right off your shoulders.
This is what I have been experiencing lately. And I like it. Except the bit about my head blowing up. That has not happened. Yet.
I spent my late twenties and early thirties searching for a spiritual awakening and never found it, much to my chagrin. I worked with shamans, I became a diligent student of religious science, I participated in drumming circles, had soul retrievals, spent countless hours on a therapist’s couch — because I was convinced that something was wrong with me and that a spiritual awakening would be my way out of it.
But it has occurred to me: I don’t want to read the biography of a person who has not lived a full life; where they’ve not crawled through their own personal never-ending hell and survived, not celebrated to excess and beyond when success was achieved — and survived; and everything in between. Perhaps no one is allowed to have a spiritual awakening until life has been lived in all corners of darkness and light. I don’t think I’m anywhere near my end, nor sampled all corners, but I have done my fair sharing of crawling and celebrating. Perhaps not in that order.
I sat with my mom when she died and was with my two twin uncles when they died — separately — as well; all within the past recent years. I saw things happen to them as they were “transitioning”. I had emotional conversations with each of them that seared my core; my mom knocked me out of the park with her parting words for a couple of weeks. I saw “someone” come get them, “be” with each of them and even shine a light on my mom’s face when there was no light. I absolutely HAD to change the way I participated in my world because of these experiences. It was very different for each of them — I can only sum it up by saying their spirit was delivered by whom it should have been delivered. errrr something like that!
My Three Holy Ghosts:
I have also been fired from three jobs in the past year as well — I even quit one job, so these past few years have completely made my head spin round and round and round. And cry and cry. Although I shed no tears for this last job — I was on my way, so the feeling was mutual.
I’m currently living in Woodstock, Illinois (although I watch the sunset in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when I can) and I have honestly made peace with this town that I once despised, and even thanked Mayor Brian Sager for a job well done last week. I met him at Woodstock’s festival nod to Broadway; he and his administration have really opened up theater options in Woodstock, as well as welcoming more new businesses in town. The day was much like a day right out of the pages of “Waiting for Guffman.” and I was tickled! I no longer have angst for this little town and have honestly enjoyed my time here. The aforementioned silence can be found in this town, as well as in the surrounding area towns I once hated while growing up, but ahhhh no longer 🙂
I was hoping to leave Woodstock now that I have made peace with it, but with the recent lose of yet another job, I find I must stay put a while longer. Apparently I have not yet learned what I have come here to learn in my little hometown neck of the nape, and OY please don’t make it last forever! Because I hear the call of the West.
I recently stumbled upon this video and it stopped me cold in my tracks because….. well because I have experienced ALL of these things in the past few weeks — and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit scary at times. Somedays I have no idea who I am and where I’m headed, but I have faith. I have faith!
… so ask me if I have any idea who I am right now.
And I will say I AM MEAGAN BURNS!! My eyes are open and I love it! These experiences with death have showed me a beautiful side of life, even if I can’t stop getting fired! I have never felt more sane in my life…
I feel tremendous gratitude for all the people that have helped me through these past few months and I keep meeting more and more of these kindred souls; I am excited to learn more through them and with them. Below is a list of a few of the books that have also helped me through some of these issues, but don’t forget about being silly and laughing! Because really, why else keep plugging along if you can’t laugh about it? xoxo
Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Marianne Williamson: The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles
Cheryle Strayed: WILD
Doreen Virtue’s Angel Therapy
Denise Linn: Soul Coaching
Gerry Gavin: Messages from Margaret
Sabrina Reber: How to Raise Your Vibration
Caroline Shearer: Raise Your Vibration: Tips and Tools for a High-Frequency Life
Dr. Christiane Northup: Lightening the Mother Load: Healing Strategies for Daughters
Dr. Steven D. Farmer: Animal Spirit Guides (I AM A TIGER RAWWWWWRRRRR)
Pam Grout: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments
When I think back to the last half of 2012, it occurs to me that I was in a rather suspended mode and did not make many waves as I waited for yet another holiday season to roll on by. I knew something was up with my mom, but I was not allowed to get too close, so I numbed it out of my mind. I remember walking out of my office and I could feel my feet walking down the sidewalk, but it felt like my head was staying in the same place. I was trapped in a tunnel. It’s all rather surreal when I think back, because it was literally right after the holidays ended that my mom went south, after her youngest brother went into the hospital and was told he had about a week to live. Tom did not make it past three days and the night of his funeral was when I first had to bring my mom to the Emergency Room. They told me they couldn’t keep Mom, they said excruciating pain was not enough of a reason to admit someone. WHAT?
It was a snowy Friday January evening; I took the bus home across the Loop and arrived at my West Loop neighborhood in record time. I didn’t want to go upstairs just yet; I don’t even know why because I never usually hesitated. I walked through the alley behind Girl & The Goat because I didn’t feel like looking at all the beautiful people on Randolph going to dinner. I smoked a cigarette in the alley and it tasted God awful, I couldn’t even finish it but I held it and looked at it in the falling snow. I hated that thing. I flicked it at the dumpster and made my way home.
Twenty minutes later the call came in that Mom was really sick and I needed to head out there. Ninety minutes later I was there with mom.
I took a leave of absence from my job. A job I knew I was not right for, but so many of us know that we are not right for a job and do it anyways because it’s 2013, and dammit we should be grateful that we have a job at all, so fake it ’til you make it. All bets were off when my mom got sick, I knew the gig was up. I will make amends for this when the time is right.
Now it’s the middle of May and I have radically changed almost everything about my life. My current reading and doing list:
Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
(Eat your veggies, ignite your spark and live like you mean it!)
The Rainforest by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt
(The secret to building the next Silicon Valley)
Soak Your Nuts
(Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods and Recipes for Everyday Life)
Astrology for Beginners (just because!)
The Holy Bible (I pick it up, give it a side-eye, then toss it aside)
Modern Qi Gong by Lee Holden
(a 27-part online series to learn & live the basics of Qi Gong — wonderful to learn how to breathe from my toes and awaken the Qi)
Mother Daughter Wisedom by Dr. Christine Northup
(also attending the Doctor’s 4-part workshop on Lightening the Motherload, which has been super super helpful and freeing)
I’ve changed my eating, drinking, breathing, address, job and spare time since my mom passed away. I go to yoga, I meditate with Buddhist Monks, I hike the hills (mounds?) of McHenry and Walworth Counties and every day I learn something new about where our food comes from and how screwed up the American food system is today and I am trying to discover a healthier ways through this. I teach social media at a creativity incubator and also am doing in-store demonstrations for a smart phone company (I made this connection while at a funeral, so always remember to keep your options open).
I was Meagan the Vegan many years ago when I lived in San Francisco; however things were so very different back, but then again not really. The cool thing to do was to jump on the “John Robbins, “Diet for a New America” bandwagon; I did it and I loved it, but I think I took everything too far as I was known to do. This was when I first learned how wrong the American diet was (is!), how proper food combining was necessary to thrive, all about food allergies and how poisonous Baskin & Robbins ice cream is to a body. I soon became convinced I was addicted and allergic to everything under the sun. I attended 12-step meetings, saw several therapists, tried different religions, worked with shamans in the forest, went to women’s drumming circles, had soul retrievals, studied expressive creative dance, did ecstasy naked on the beaches of Big Sur with hippies, rode my bike all over Northern California (mostly because I didn’t have a car for the first two years) — honestly it was an incredible time in my life and I will never forget the San Francisco years. I worked in SOMA’s South Park neighborhood (the exact park where Twitter and Instagram were born!) as a 35mm slide designer and then I tripped the holistic light fantastic at night and on weekends. I lived in Mill Valley with my pastry chef boyfriend and rode my bike to the Sausalito ferry to ride across the bay each day, right on past Alcatraz Island — could there be a more beautiful start the morning? No! It was cold of course, but absolutely gorgeous.
So here I am going green again twenty years later and I am basically re-learning everything — which is the cool part because I always love a challenge, and naturally it’s all different. My mother is dead now.
I don’t say that flippantly. Losing my mother was such an incredible kick in the guts, I was so not prepared. Even though I thought I was and had been preparing myself for the past two years. The lessons have been hige; my mom’s death is teaching me so much about myself and about life. I am extremely grateful for this bittersweet message that has changed my life.
I am not saying that it isn’t difficult for sons, but the mother-daughter connection is such a powerful connection, even if the two were not friends. My mom and I were occasionally friends, but mostly not. I’ve been amazed at some of the stories I’ve learned in the past few months; both heart -breaking and inspiring. Never in a million years would I have thought it would be me to have a complete meltdown after my mom died, in fact I would have wagered big money that I would NOT be the one to lose it. No Siree Bub, not me.
I did lose it. But I quickly crawled up to gasp for air and asked for help in turning my life around. I was in bad shape. Not on the outside necessarily, but my insides were all topsy-turvy. I was empty and then shattered. My mom apologized for being so mean to me for so many years. She apologized. I laughed at her when she said it, but it was a nervous laughter because I did not know how to respond. Then I saw the look in her eye. She looked away and stared out to nowhere with an empty sadness in her eye. I knew she meant it. I knew right then that she was going to die soon.
I was fired twice in 2012 from two shitty jobs, and these back-to-back firings were very challenging to recover from their blows. I didn’t get fired for lack of trying, that’s for sure. I took this last job out of desperation — even my co-worker mentioned that I seemed “very hungry” when I first started working with the group. It’s true, I was literally hungry and scared because I had to sell my truck, my jewelry and anything else of value to stay afloat. It was very scary and I avoided calling my mom for several months because I did not want her to worry.
My Monk buddies tell me there is no such thing as being “balanced”, there is only “balancing” – I agree! I will continue to attempt to balance things through thick and thin, but I realize there will be challenges and setbacks, along with the successes, and perhaps those setbacks may require a strawberry sundae. It’s starting to sound less and less appealing but perhaps some rainy day may call for a cheeseburger to make things feel alright.
I couldn’t be more inspired than I am right now to live a right life. I don’t expect perfection, in fact I don’t want perfection — I want the real deal. I intend to remain soft, spongey and teachable as I enter the autumn of my life. I want this to be the best time of my life and live well for both myself and my Spirit Sister; my mom Juls.
I have been back in Woodstock, Illinois only a short time now, but I will say this; the town has made some welcomed advances that really seem to perk up the town and yank it out of the past. It can only cling to the fact that the movie Groundhog Day was filmed here for so long, and I’m glad to see that new businesses have sprung up, with more good ones to come (and not one big-name-chain store, that I’m aware of, thankfully).
Starting first with the Woodstock Square; I now go here often, whereas in the past, I would only go for Starbucks — and that was a rarity because I have never been a fully-committed Mermaid drinker. But now there’s the Woodstock Yoga Lounge and it’s lovely warm-tone-walled studio overlooking the square-shaped park and I adore the teachers; they do a nice job of keeping the classes fresh, because we all know that yoga can get boring quickly.
I am enjoying taking a combination of the beginning and Level III classes to mix it up; it’s a great way to start the day. Looks like there will be some classes taking place outside at Emricson Park later this summer, which I look forward to as well. Worth mentioning as well; a few of the women have been more than welcoming to me, because sometimes when I breathe and bend and stretch, I cry for no reason. This does not make me a freak, or so I am told.
And for those moments when I feel hunger pangs, I have a few delicious options right on the Square as well; Expressly Leslie; a Middle Eastern vegan restaurant that first started in Caputo’s in Lake in the Hills and then reached out the Woodstock Farmer’s Market a few years ago. It was clear the demand was high for her delicious falafels and other Middle Eastern delights. I asked my mom several times if she would like to try a falafel with the hot sauce…. “No.” My mom bored me to tears with her habits. I digress.
These days Leslie is is not only a very popular lunch and dinner destination in Woodstock, she also has live music on Friday nights AND it’s a BYO. A WHAT? Woodstock has a WHAT? Yes, it’s a BYO establishment in Woodstock, Illinois, and if and when the weather ever lightens up so that we may enjoy evenings on the sidewalk cafe,we can now bring a bottle of something special to enjoy that music on the sidewalk cafe.
Last week it was the Kishwaukee Ramblers (good music made by nice people) and I found myself tapping my toes to their folksie tunes. It seems fitting for the ambiance. Yes that’s a harpsichord!
My other go-to eating haunt on the Square is Taqueria La Placita. Many of the scenes in Groundhog Day take place in the Tip Top Cafe, which is now this taco joynt, but over the years it seems whatever restaurant moved into that spot, it never survived more than a year or two. It’s one of those locations that always has high turn over; we have all seen this; some locations just have bad chutzpah.
However, La Placita is CRUSHING IT. They are quickly becoming my all time local favorite, even though they are so many Mexican joynts in the area now — loco! But it’s probably because the food is really awesome, I mean really riquisimos, they even have nopales, gorditas, huaraches, carnitas every day, breakfast all day and honestly the best aqua de jamiaca I have tasted, outside of my own (it’s not overloaded with sugar, you can literally taste the jamiaca!). I ate a whole bowl of their salsa just this afternoon — it’s that good. Oh yes there were a few chips involved as well.
So life in Woodstock is good, eh? When I lived here before, I honestly hated the place so when I knew I was headed back here, I made a vow to myself that I would find the good in Woodstock and make peace where I could. This task has been made that much easier for me because of the new additions to the town — and I am committed to exploring new places out here as well. Each weekend I have checked out a new park — I had no idea there was a glacier park in the county, as well as countless wetlands and waterlands to explore (today I was in Bates Fen Nature Preserve, as well as Highlands Park — both very beautiful — and waterlogged.). It really is not the worst place in the world; my soul is being fed well here. My commute to work is a killer, but my smartphone project ended this past Friday, so we’ll see what happens from here.
I have also been meditating with the Buddhist Monks over at the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple and it is slowly revealing layers of the onion to me. The first time I went here was right after I signed my mom into hospice, which is just up the street and I needed some silence. The temple obliged. I have no idea how long I will stay with them, but so far they have been so lovely and helpful because they honestly don’t give a damn about dying. Which is not to say that’s all we discuss; it’s more about not getting too over whelmed by anything and living a good, proper and honest life. And not forgetting to breathe ….
Bhante Sujatha even suggested I unfollow people on Facebook and Twitter and outlined his reasons why. All solid reason; I agreed and hit that almighty unfollow button. Remember, we don’t have as much time as we think.
I am making peace with Woodstock and it is taking good care of me. For this, I am gleefully grateful 😀
My mom, Juls, was a wonderful quilt maker and won many awards and accolades over the years for her art — but never really told anyone outside of the family. Even at her wake, neighbors that she lived next door to for decades had no idea that mom was such an accomplished quilter. Cousins, aunts, even one of her brothers had no idea that this is what my mom did up in her little condo; in a work space roughly about 6 by 6 feet. To see all her quilts up on display was really rather moving for me, I had never seen them in this light and it blew everyone away.
Juls was able to blow the room away at her wake because as an ode to my mother, I filled the “wake room” with her quilts and it looked very much like her own personal art gallery. It was really beautiful if I may say so myself. Quilts on walls, on chairs, on couches, on podiums, she was everywhere. Relatives asked all day and night, “What are you going to do with your mother’s quilts?” My brothers were ready to bring in an auctioneer that night! I don’t know exactly what I am going to do with her quilts, but I certainly am exploring some options.
A quilt appraisialist said that they should go to either the Illinois State Museum in Springfield or to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. This appraisalist never met my mother, not many did, but she certainly was familiar with my mom’s work. Juls was the recluse quilter that quietly won all the awards at the McHenry County Fair each year and came in to pick up her ribbons on the Monday after the fair — and into the fabric cabinet the ribbons would go.
The reasons why mom hid for so many years are starting to become clear to me as I sort through her things and empty out her life and it’s not always easy because I get upset with her. I wish she had let me in on some of her thoughts and not let them fester. So stubborn. Stone Head.
I always threatened my mom that I would expose her craft when she was gone and she would say, “What will I care then?” Well, ummm true but that time is here and now the first thing I had to do was photograph the quilts. This is not as easy as it sounds, as her quilts are huge, well most of them at least, and huge means heavy. Thankfully I was able to use one of the studios at the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship (where I am now also teaching and studying, but more on that later).
I sold some of my mom’s quilts at her estate sale but have hung on to a good many. I learned that my mom had quite a following and when word got out that some of her quilts were up for sale, people came from all over the area and her estate was quickly emptied out. I am pleased about this. As well as a little freaked out by her empty house that I can now hear an echo when I talk. I wonder if I made it all happen too quickly and now have very little of her left.
I am not a pack rat. Now I am preparing to contact the museums as soon as I have them all properly inventoried. These are just a few.
My mom was never big on talking. It drove me crazy my entire life. When I saw her quilts up on the walls of the funeral home, I saw that mom said everything through her quilts. There are layers and layers of her emotions and thoughts in her quilts and I will do what I can to get people to hear my mom.
Aw Juls. You finally said something. xo
I grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, which meant that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was just a hop, skip and a jump to get across the Wisconsin border, where things were a bit more readily available in my younger years. It also felt like a world away from the cornfields and cows of Crystal Lake because the town has always felt like vacation, with the availability of taffy, fudge and paddle boats in the quaint and cute little downtown.
My Junior Prom was held at The Abbey and I have attended many of public and private events there over the decades, all with very fond Wisconsin memories, but none recently until I was invited by Duong Sheahan, of Live Healthier & Happier, to spend a complimentary weekend this past June to get to know the new & improved Abbey Resort and Avani Spa in downtown Fontana, Wisconsin on Lake Geneva.
The Abbey looks just as I remembered it from years gone by when driving up to it, and especially the atrium dining room that gives it an old world feel. But that’s about where my recollections stopped because it has been spruced up and remodeled to accomodate all your comfort and technological needs to enjoy a peaceful stay. There is wifi coverage in the rooms but not so much in the lobby, which is fine, unless you’re there for a heavy online stay. But this is Wisconsin so why not relax a bit and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Just as you may find it difficult to find margarine in butter-rich Wisconsin, you won’t have a hard time finding a New Glarus Spotted Cow beer, as it is only sold in Wisconsin, and many of us Flatlanders are quick to stash some in our suitcases when headed home because it is that delicious (also the allure of having something that’s hard to get is brilliant on New Glarus’ part).
So after the drive up from Chicago, a delicious and huge brunch spread at the Fontana Grill, I was ready to relax and see what the Avani Spa had to offer. I opted for the Aromatherapy Retreat Wrap and yowzah it was delightful. I could barely walk afterwards, I had apparently released that many toxins, which is the point of it. After being scrubbed with salts and then massaged with oils, you are then wrapped in hot linens and a foil blanket and then left alone to bake. Because it can be a little claustrophobic, the masseuse does not leave you for too long to make sure you don’t go berserk. I did not, thankfully. I then slithered to the indoor pool and enjoyed some cucumber water until I was stable enough to carry on with my day. It was a much needed and delightful treatment, I would like it have it every week if possible.
There were four of us in the group and after our spa treatments, we all went our separate ways to explore or relax or whatever we wanted. I chose to grab a bike from the recreation center and rode around the lake until I was informed that no bikes were allowed on the path; it was a walking path, so I jumped off immediately and rode the back streets of Fontana. Again it was lovely and I’ll always be grateful that this little peach of a town is in Chicago’s backyard, yet far enough away to feel like you are in Germany or something. ha.
After a rest-up and refreshing, we all met for dinner at the Fontana Grill and it was a delicious meal that stretched over about three hours. It’s moments like this you realize you are not in a big city; the courses are parsed out and you’re forced to talk to your friends or family; whomever you are dining with. All of our instincts were to say, “c’mon let’s move this thing along!” But instead we rolled with the punches and enjoyed a fabulous seafood dinner and delicious wine suggested by our server. And for some reason we acted like silly gooses before we went in for dinner, I suppose because WE CAN!!
The remodeled rooms are beautiful at The Abbey and of course the free wifi kept me there probably a bit longer than if there was not, and after a good night’s rest — something powerful about that Wisconsin air that knocks you out — we met for a yoga class with Julie, the Director of Events at The Abbey. I t was lovely to start the day this way, and we were all super hungry by the time we got to The Waterfront Grill for lunch and a trip wrap-up.
It was fantastic to spend this weekend at The Abbey and to see all the efforts they have made to enhance and beautify your stay with them. They have also made some great strids in jumping into the world of social media; they hold photo contests on their Facebook page, where you must guess where a photo was taken to have the chance to win a gift certificate for the spa, and they have joined Instagram, where they post gorgeous photos of the property and events. This past week on Twitter they held a “Your Experience Photo Contest” where you had to capture the best of your Lake Geneva experience for the chance to win a night’s stay at the resort. They boast a lively Pinterest board and also have a Youtube channel, highlighting events and reminders that even in winter you can have a blast in Fontana.
I heart Wisconsin; always have always will. It’s a great get-away from Chicago and there’s something for everyone to do. My sister-in-law has recently purchased a house just off Linn Pier in Lake Geneva, so I look forward to spending more time up there in the coming months. I want to see it in the winter as well!
For me personally, a country drive is sometimes the best meditation of all….
The Abbey Resort & Avani Spa
269 Fontana Boulevard
Fontana, WI 53125