Hope, The Gift of Life and Embracing Metamorphisis

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As July concludes and August approaches, these are the thoughts and observations that are coming through me:

  • I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at the national gathering of The Bereaved Parents of the USA in Connecticut this past weekend. I ended my speech by issuing the two-part challenge of Meesha Johnson ( with her permission), which was part of a beautifully crafted and heartfelt piece for my blog titled Left Undone. The line that resonated with me the most for my speech was:

     Celebrate the life of those around you as well because the gift of life doesn’t just happen to us, the gift of life happens through us.

    I ended my speech by suggesting to  those in attendance that if we  are able to celebrate the gift of another’s life through us, then we can be one with ourselves ,one in our grief and one with each other. That is my gentle wish for all of us who are involved in the human experience.

  • I know I am not the same person that I was prior to my daughter Jeannine’s death. I am not the same person that I was five minutes ago. The process of metamorphosis is truly ongoing.
  • During this upcoming year, I am going to reflect on the adventures in my life that I am willing to experience, including the service opportunities that I choose to embrace. There are many categories in my life that need to be honored at this stage of my life.
  • There are days when I marvel at how I have lived so long , so fast.
  • As I get older , my quest for wholeness trumps my quest for happiness.
  • It isn’t the size of an organization that matters; it is the ability of its leaders to make you feel welcomed and truly a part of things that matters. Sadly, many in a position of leadership don’t get that. The ones that do get it are the ones I choose to associate with as I get older.
  • My friend John, a retired military man gave me one of the best object lessons that I have ever received. He told me that the difference between being merely mediocre and outstanding was attention to detail. Sadly, many in a position of leadership don’t get that either.
  • Courage is strength in the knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped.- Atul Gawande: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in The End

  • I identify  with Atul Gawande’s definition of courage, because of my own life experiences and my experience working with substance users and individuals with emotional health challenges.I think one fear that inhibits the development of courage is the fear of change. Though desirable, change represents a departure from what is familiar, even if it is chaos. In situations that demand change our faith and hope must be stronger than our fear.
  • I have developed a deep respect for nature and for all forms of human life.It wasn’t always that way, but catastrophic loss tends to change ones perspective. I am also grateful to all of my spiritual teachers, mentors and friends who have been instrumental in my shift in thinking.
  • Over the years I have discovered that it is the unofficial reasons rather than the official ones that drive certain decisions. Another example of life as illusion masquerading as truth.
  • For a man to conquer himself, is the first and noblest of victories. -Plato-Found this quote on a friend’s Facebook page this morning.I continue to embrace the challenge.

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Sunsets on the shore

The best and probably the longest journey that one will encounter throughout his/her lifetime is the journey to both find and determine one’s destiny. I for one have come to the realization that we as living, thinking, loving creations of promise possess the power to define our destiny. Although there have been some times throughout my journey where I felt powerless, there was always a knowing that I did possess the power to be and go wherever my imagination would take me. It was all a matter of believing in something much bigger than myself and not allowing my circumstances to dictate my destiny.

One way in which I’ve learned to overcome the challenges that I am confronted with is  what I call, self-reflection. Self-reflection is my way of keeping everything in its proper perspective. There are times that I am discouraged and frustrated by life and by the things that I seem to have no control over. This is when self-reflection plays an essential part of my journey. When I take the focus off of me and off of my situations, I broaden my capacity to receive the understanding needed to continue on with confidence. Reflection is simply taking a moment to think about the times and instances that have bought us to the place of now, the place where we are today. This American culture is so inundated with progress and with winning the “rat race” that we have forgotten to take time to remember how we’ve gotten to where we are. Most importantly, we’ve forgotten to remember and appreciate the obstacles or the opportunities where we are equipped to grow in faith and in courage. Imagine if the challenges of today or tomorrow are our first experiences with confrontation. I have to be brutally honest and say that we don’t exist. Our first ever obstacle that every living, breathing person is confronted with is being born. A new born infant has never had the experience of seeing the light of day or being held by another human being. We have all had to learn fairly quickly to adapt and maneuver in a world, a new environment that is foreign to us. This brand new process is life’s initiation or better yet; our introduction to the journey to our destiny. No one was smart enough to write a handbook or an owner’s manual showing the best route to our destiny because no one has figured it out yet. We are responsible for journaling and remembering the steps we needed to take to get where we want to be. Since our destiny cannot be located on Google maps, it stands to reason why we are responsible for mapping out our journey, reflecting on the places we’ve been, and deciding on purpose to learn from our experiences. We must learn again to appreciate the process involved in life’s journey to our destiny.

The poem that I’ve entitled “Sunsets on the shore” expresses the reality that outside of ourselves, there are lessons in nature that teach us about life. The photo that accompanies my poem is a picture of a parcel of land that belongs to the Shinnecock Nation. To many it is a beautiful sunset on the shores of the beautiful beaches in the Hamptons. To me and to my fellow tribal members, this picture represents the gift of land the creator has blessed us with and that our ancestors died for. On the days that I am overwhelmed by life, I go and sit at the beach and just listen to the sounds of creation. For me, my land and the reality confronted by my ancestors ministers a deeper truth that will forever dominate over my current obstacles. This truth is that just as the sun rises on the shores of our beautiful lands the sun shall set every day. Just as many adverse situations in our lives shall arise, they shall set or be settled. How we respond to our situations will determine our outcome. Sometimes it takes reflection on the order found in nature to give order to our lives. Every obstacle that we are confronted with has a purpose and an order but we have to give it a purpose, otherwise it will produce disorder.

Before I end my note to the readers, I have to be honest and say that even when I get frustrated by life, I find myself wanting to take the easy way out and give up. There is always this small still voice that reminds me what would happen if I gave up every time I wanted to give up. I then start to think and reflect on the good times as well as the bad times. The truth is that I learned more during the dark times in my life because it was the darkest times of my life, the hardest times during my journey that taught me that I am bigger than my circumstances and that all I need is the will to overcome. Lastly, I would like to present all of our readers today with yet another challenge. I would like to challenge everyone that is dealing with a situation that may seem beyond human control to stop and reflect or remember what it took to overcome the last obstacle that you were confronted with. Think about the people who came to encourage you and from the outside looking in, were able to show you something you couldn’t see as you were in that dark place. The last thing I challenge you to think about is the one person who may be confronted with a situation that is darker and harder than your circumstance. Life is a true testimony of what we choose to focus on and how we choose to respond in situations we cannot control…Wishing all of our readers a week, month, year filled with peace and destiny manifest!

©Sunshine K. Gumbs 2015

©Sunshine K. Gumbs 2015

                                                        

By Meesha Johnson

Gazing above the sky’s beautiful abyss is a constant reminder of LOVE’S certain joy and happiness. As brilliant pastel colors blur the heavens above one can only think of what’s gone and what’s to come ,for it is confirmed that another day is done while yesterday’s experience remains. Today’s presence abounds, and tomorrow’s future, while still uncertain, hopes of opportunity. We refrain from fear because the sultry day almost gone is comforted by a gentle breeze that whispers “just hold on.”

Beneath bare feet are remnants of childhood memories of these indigenous lands. The rigid shells of the oyster and smoother rocks once held in innocent hands ,the same ones that uncover crab shells hidden in damp sands. Marvelous sounds of waves crashing to shore while Ospreys and hawks sing in unison as part of a choir, or perhaps they are just in search of one who hears what the future has in store.

Directly across the Indian reserve man made constructs ignorant of the creator’s concepts held in trust evidence of worlds separated by an absolute truth held in our ancestors’ eyes. Yesterday’s reality becomes today’s proof as tomorrow’s destiny is an inheritance slightly obscure when compared to their outside.

Yet from within there is a history of pride never to be denied by those who believe.   For this we know, life is similar to seasons and tides and although darkness of hatred and uncertainty of lies may come, they shall not abide. For just as the sun sets the sun must rise again on our Stony shores…

©Meesha Johnson 2015

Left Undone

By Meesha Johnson

Greetings to the readers! What a perfect day for a celebration! Today marks the birth day of a very special friend who transitioned to the spirit realm some time ago. My friend would have been 37 years old today and I’m sure that if he were still here, there would be a party somewhere to remind all tribal members that this is the day that Jason was born. On April 28, 2012, there was a horrific accident that occurred here on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation that took the lives of two of our Warriors. Although this accident left many of our tribal members with a dark void, there are some who have made the choice to celebrate the lives and the potential of the two young men. As I think back on that day, I too remember feeling betrayed but not really sure by what or whom. I think that often times death or the things we don’t understand has a way of making us feel as though we have no control when we are confronted with situations such as this. The truth is that we have more control than we even know or think we do when we are confronted by adverse circumstances in our lives. When I think about the personality of the two young men, I smile because I think of all of the good times had as a community. I am reminded as well that even during the darkest and during the hardest of times, I am very blessed to be a part of a community that instinctively pulls together to grieve and comfort one another. I see as well that we come together to celebrate the accomplishments that we as individuals make because we are all one.

The poem that I have written entitled “left undone” was my way of gaining control of a situation that I had absolutely no control over. This is a poem that was written after the accident and after reading it, I thought to myself that although I didn’t see it then, I certainly employed a level of control by channeling negative energy in a positive way. I realized that this was a choice that I was able to make and must choose to make every time I am confronted by situations where it feels like control is limited. If one takes gasoline for example, we can see that gasoline can be channeled or used to give power to an automobile. Gasoline can also be used to cause destruction. Gasoline may just sit sedentary and never be used to do anything. Regardless of how it is used, the potential of gasoline doesn’t change.

There are two things that I would like to challenge our readers to do today and every day when you think about it. Challenge number 1 is to evaluate the potential and the control you have in every situation that you are confronted with. Decide to channel the control and the potential you see in a positive way. The second challenge that I shall present us all with is to make the choice to celebrate life. I have always been told and I know from my own experience that life is a gift. What we decide to do with the gift of life is up to us. Celebrate the life of those around you as well because the gift of life doesn’t just happen to us, the gift of life happens through us. Wishing you all an extraordinary day full of peace and a successful journey…Love is love 2015 – Eternity

Jason-Tech King Rest in Power 7/1/78-4/28/12

Jason-Tech King
7/1/78-4/28/12 -Rest in Power
©Meesha Johnson 2015

 

Gone from this earth with so much left undone

One last chance we needed, just one

If only we knew what tomorrow would bring

So many things that we would have done right without even thinking

Gone with so much left undone

I never got that one chance to tell you just how much you meant to me

I always thought that tomorrow it could be

Gone with so much left undone

I never would have thought that our kids would grow up like you and me

I always thought that your daughter would play with my son

Gone with so much left undone

I never told you how much I admired your style and your smile

I always thought that one day while talking and laughing as we normally do, I would tell you

Mad at me and asking why it took such a long while

Gone with so much left undone

Even now as I think and reminisce, thoughts fill my head of that kiss

A kiss of life left upon this earth for all to behold

Now that you are gone, warm memories suddenly turn cold

So much left for us to say and do

I am still here and the one thing missing is you

This question I ask not sure directed at whom

But what now is there left for us to do

Gone with so much left undone

I never got the chance to show all that you taught me

I always thought that with time I would do or say something and you could see

So many things that we learned from one another

You are not just a friend, but a brother

So much potential in both of us

Suddenly awakened from this nightmare I can see that all is not lost

Your memory, talent, your life is your legacy

Through me you live on, this is what to expect from me

You may have left us with so much left undone but I see an opportunity to pursue

You have left me now with so much to do and this I promise you

Beautiful memories of life and love live in my heart and mind

Gone from this world but not from me because comfort in your memory I always find.

©Meesha Johnson 2015