On Healing


 

 

This week, I’m focused on healing.  Hernia surgery does that to you.

Tests, doctors, being driven to and from the surgery clinic and getting an IV, all the procedures that are so routine to the wonderful healers attending to you, but new and different to me.  The daily routine has changed, and I am now focused on self care, and have time to heal.

In the past week, my life has focused on pill taking regimens, taking care with painful areas of the body, and the seemingly everpresent need to close my eyes and zone out.  Basic bodily care procedures take on a new importance and challenges, as I sense all the healing that my body is engaged in.

Time and patience, yet also pushing myself a little, me testing and experimenting.  And, listening to my body.

While occupying myself on the couch with books, laptop, and just watching the birds outside setting up their spring housekeeping and discovering the new blossoms on the wild currants, I came across an essay in the April 16 New Yorker, by Junot Diaz. He’s a noteworthy writer, who writes about serious issues.  Yet, “The Silence” reveals a story he has not shared before.

He takes me on his journey, into his wounds, exposing his pain and anguish, and the challenges he has faced in his own personal healing journey.  Uncomfortable, disquieting, yet so brave of him to take on pain from his childhood, and sharing his journey, and his healing experiences.

His courage and his honesty refreshes me, and helps me in my own journey of exploration and discovery.  I invite you to read what he has to share with us. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/16/the-silence-the-legacy-of-childhood-trauma

 

Healing starts from experiencing many wounds; healing comes from many sources.

Old wounds, scars nearly faded, remind me of good times, good friends, how I have changed and grown, evolving into who I am.

There are other wounds and stories, too.  Nightmares, tragedies, events I have buried deep and kept away from my conscious self, yet they are present in the own dark ways. As acts of self-preservation, I have buried them deep, yet they continue to shape and form who I am today, an integral part of my self.

Sometimes, I go there, deep and occasionally brave, digging and probing, rediscovering, exploring dark corners and hearing again stories that need to be told. And, sometimes, I am ready to hear their meaning.

I am not alone on such a journey.  Others do this work too, this self-discovery, this journey inward, downward, this course of study on themselves.

Others have led the way, and still others are following me, opening old pain to the light, part of our learning and growing.

The pursuit of who I am is a life long journey.  I need to be brave. It is when I fear what I might discovery, and don’t pursue these self-discoveries, then I am not practicing self care and self love, but only when the time is right, and this exploration is truly for the good of me.

I must be brave and ask the hard questions I am called to answer.  I must open the rusty lock and oil the squeaky hinges, and bring the light to see into the darkness.

Then and only then can I see the open wounds and the thorns that must be removed before the pain can begin to end and the healing begin. When the time is right, I must act and take charge of this part of the journey, and the healing.

I find strength in the courage of others in their journeys.  There are many teachers and guides in this journey.  From them, I have much to learn about courage and focus, that I am not alone, and that just taking a step can offer great rewards.

When the darkness becomes the light, and the shadows reveal their secrets, the weight falls off my shoulders and I can move ahead, becoming freer, less burdened, and lighter in spirit.

Mr. Diaz is one of my new heroes, one of those people who carries the lantern of truth into the darkness, and brings light to difficult conversations.

 

—-Neal Lemery, April 13, 2017

Today, 65


Me at sixty five today,
This birth day anniversary, as full of possibilities
As any other day of my life. It is just a
Number —challenging me to live each
Moment to the fullest in every day that
Remains for me to claim.

I stand on the beach where ancestors stood,
They living their lives in their own ways, their own
Times, loving others, solving problems, building for the
Future they would not see, helping to build the
World in which I live
And all the tomorrows. Their lives
Teaching me to do the same, teaching
Sacred duty.

Time can be a line or a circle, maybe a
Spiral, or a dance—-
Teaching me patience, perseverance, and
Possibilities coming from determination, purpose, the
Why of being alive and here.

I know now, after sixty five years, I can overcome ignorance,
Indifference with education and taking steps
Forward in every day that remains to me,
Gifts to be used to move forward, to
Change lives, spark love and compassion, realizing
Possibilities.

Sixty five, and moving on.

—-Neal Lemery, February 28, 2018

My New Novel, Finding My Muse on Main Street, is Published


 

 

 

Neal Lemery’s new coming of age novel, Finding My Muse on Main Street, has been published and is available on Amazon. The book explores the young creative spirit and the role of art in building community.

Growing up on the Pacific Northwest coast, small town boy Jake Morgan wants to find himself and his purpose in life. With the help of his many friends along Main Street, he lights his artistic creativity on fire. Taking the lead, he forges a coalition of artists, movers and shakers to build a community and open an art gallery on Main Street. Along the way, lives are transformed, including his own, on his way to manhood.

 

In this young adult novel, Jake discovers his own artistic gifts and dreams, and connects with others along Main Street, who are seeking their own artistic dreams and creativity. Together, they build a renewed community, healing old wounds and reinvigorating their lives.

 

A recent review praised Finding My Muse on Main Street:

 

“In this positive, uplifting, coming of age novel, a creative young man struggles to find his artistic self, with the help of the inhabitants of a small, coastal town. As he walks the path before him, he learns that almost all the people he knows have private, artistic lives which give them strength to endure the vagaries of life. The more he learns about and from them, the more each artist encourages him in his journey, the more he grows to know the path to himself involves making a place for the artists he knows where they can share with each other the art they create.

 

“The author shows how art can both forge connections and heal a broken soul, making it whole again, turning naysayers into enthusiasts of the creative spirit. I found myself cheering for the young man who cared enough for others to make his town a lovely place at the same time he was creating his own life.”

 

Lemery will hold a reading from his book during the downtown Tillamook, Oregon monthly Art Walk, on Saturday, February 24, 2018, at the Art Accelerated gallery, 1906 Third Street, Tillamook, from 1 to 3 p.m.

 

Lemery, a retired judge and now a community volunteer, is the author of Mentoring Boys to Men: Climbing Their Own Mountains and Homegrown Tomatoes: Essays and Musings From My Garden.

 

            More information is available at http://neallemery.com

Seeking An Intelligent Inquiry and Conversation


How does one navigate community political discourse in this age of apparent propaganda, half truths, and dogmatic black and white thinking?

A government clerk engaged me this week on my thoughts about Michael Wolff’s runaway best seller on Washington dystopia. When I opined that the book presented a significant amount of information that was critical, that there appeared to be substantial dysfunction and lack of moral compasses in the current administration, centered at the top, he seemed to agree, then caught himself.

He then abruptly sidestepped the conversation, to praise the recent federal tax code changes, expressing delight that Apple would now bring back billions of dollars into the American economy.

While that statement would warrant some serious fact checking and deep analysis of public tax policy, international macroeconomics and trade policies, my conversational partner quickly nodded off my obvious skepticism of his statement, and turned to his next customer.

I was left hanging, with an unresolved conversation, and yet another encounter of bold statements unsupported by intelligent discourse and informed debate. Such is our current level of community conversation and social dialogue. Conversation by ambush, and don’t go too deep.

Such encounters run counter to our duty as citizen to be of a curious mind and to demand that a point of view stand on its own, based upon truth and reason, and at least a mostly well informed factual foundation.

We need to be on guard against false logic, propaganda, deceptive thinking and hidden agendas.

Instead, I am a seeker of Truth and leading a purpose-driven, meaningful life aimed at bettering humankind, and being congruent with thoughtful, goal-oriented moral values. That conversational topic can actually challenge all of us to assess our own views, and perhaps grow our minds, even alter our opinions.

In my questions and along the path of my search for truth and moral focus, I aim to strive to focus on thoughtful logic, challenging questions and science-based methodology.

In applying these principles and processes to current events and publicly expressed and popular viewpoints, I notice a general lack of the application of researched facts, moral principles and thoughtful, persuasive reasoning.

Instead, the rhetoric is dogmatic, emotional (primarily fear-based), and beset with half-truths, falsehoods, and unsupported conclusions.

It often appears that the goal of the one who makes the declaration of a certain political view is often not seeking a lively debate, truth or intellectual development. Instead, there is an attempt to persuade by false logic, even outright lies, and changing the argument in mid-course, a mixing of two distinct trains of thought and reasoning, hoping, apparently, that the listener would simply agree with both conclusions and points of view. And, all the while ignoring the concept that perhaps many issues and social questions are inherently complex, and that reasonable people may reach different conclusions and viewpoints.

Life, however, and its complexities, rarely allow that luxury of simultaneously accepting two viewpoints on two vaguely related topics. It is an unsatisfying mix of apples and oranges.

I simply want to engage in informed and interactive conversation. Perhaps in that, we will each grow in our thoughts, and be better informed citizens in our community.

Gratitude and Aspirations: My Intentions for the New Year


 

 

By Neal Lemery

 

 

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus

 

At the beginning of a new year on the calendar, I am reminded of the many things that I am grateful for in my life. I celebrate all of that, and seek to be mindful of those treasures: friends, experiences, opportunities, and being present in a beautiful place on this Earth.

 

Gratitude is being thankful. And, being patient for what has come into my life and what awaits me in the future. By living in the moment, I can fully appreciate and be grateful for what life has brought to me and who I am becoming. I am a work in progress. Perhaps I need to wear a “construction zone” sign around my neck to remind me of that.

 

Being present with my intentions, and focusing my intentions on what is to come is my goal for this coming year.

 

In this coming year, I intend to:

 

  • Be fully present when I am with others. I need to listen with an open heart and an open mind, and be tolerant of our differences and the wisdom and experiences of others. In doing that, I will learn and grow. Remind myself that I have one mouth and two ears for a reason, and that I am only learning when I am listening, and not speaking.
  • Work out of my comfort zone. Try something new, something challenging, and strive to have new experiences and opportunities. I will only grow when I am challenged. I only learn when I am uneasy with whom and where I am at. Allow others to be my teachers and guides. Be open to new ideas, new viewpoints.
  • Be a lifelong learner. Embrace new experiences, listen to different and challenging ideas, read books I disagree with, and be open to other ideas. Be tolerant and mindful. Wisdom comes from unanticipated sources. Remind myself that I may be wrong, that I can change my mind, that I am not all knowing.
  • Embrace creativity. See the art in everything in my life, and seek out the creative energies of others. Tend to the artist within me, and celebrate the messages of my Muse, pay attention, and allow the Muse to work through me as I create. Tend that fire, and allow the heat of the moment to fill my heart. Grow that creative energy by sharing it with others. In that, I grow community.
  • Build community in everything that I do, everything I say. Do that in big ways and in small, ordinary ways. Have the intention of building community without fanfare or ego, but instead because I am a child of the Earth and it is my moral and ethical duty to improve and grow community.
  • Be fully mindful of others. Heed the saying that one should walk a mile in the shoes of another. Every person has their own wisdom, their own Truth. Be a good example of what I value.
  • Live life according to my morals, my ethics, my beliefs in the goodness of others, and the unity of humankind. Small kindnesses can open hearts.
  • Speak out against intolerance, fear and hatred. While silence has its place in changing the world, let me be aware that there are also times to speak my peace, share my thoughts, and take action for the good of all.
  • Act according to my beliefs and my purpose in life. A good life is not all talk and no action. Be congruent with my thoughts and beliefs and act accordingly.
  • Social change comes from being a example of what I want to see in the world. Life is not “do as I say and not as I do”.
  • Avoid judgment. I strive to avoid assumptions, or jump to conclusions. I cannot assume the roads traveled by others. I seek to be compassionate.
  • Act with humility. Recognize that I don’t know everything. Life still has lessons to teach me. Be open to new ideas and new experiences.

 

12/31/2017

The Real Presents Under the Tree


 

 

Christmas Eve, 2017

 

I’m sitting by the fire, with a mug of coffee, watching the cold rain fall outside, almost turning to snow.

The presents are wrapped and under the tree, brightening up the living room. Soon, dinner will be in the oven, and the merriment of Christmas will begin.

The real joy of the season, and the real presents to be enjoyed, won’t be found under the tree. The true gifts of Christmas have already been given, and our hearts are already filled with the joy of the season.

That joy, that “reason for the season” is found in relationships.

It has been a year of reaching out, reconnecting, and opening our hearts to one another. Friends and family have shared their fears, their uncertainties, their doubts. Many have had their lives turned upside down, and have been left fearful of their future, and their own abilities to captain their ships through storm-tossed seas.

This year, I’ve made it a point to reach out and share time with many people. Being a good listener, offering comfort and solace. Realizing that each of us is an instrument of change. One person can make a difference. It’s a simple truth.

Often, simply showing up and being there for someone has warmed our hearts and provided a safe harbor during the storm.

Last week, I visited two young men in prison. Both of them were filled with doubt and uncertainty, feeling lost and unsupported in their journeys. We talked, we laughed, we shared our stories of our struggles and doubts during this year.

We each took comfort in the other’s big hearts and willingness to extend hands of friendship.

Behind cold walls topped with razor wire, I found the light of personal commitment to a better world. Young men, with great courage and great wisdom, speaking from their hearts gave me hope for the future.

We are not alone. None of us are fully confident in our ability to weather the storms of life. Yet, we have each other, and we believe in each other. In our community, by coming together and sharing our hearts and our talents, we will change the world.

This year, I celebrate the gift of friendship, the gift of unconditional love.

What really is important this year is not found in politics, and is rarely talked about on the pages of newspapers, social media posts, or on TV. Yet, I hear it from friends and family, over coffee, and in new books that come my way.

The real treasure we have, and the true power that we hold in our own hands and in our hearts, is the ability to care about each other, to support each other, and to act with compassion and respect.

The answers to the world’s problems won’t be found in the marble halls of Washington, but they will be found in our hearts and in the strength of hands holding hands, people walking alongside other people, and working towards our common goals and implementing our common values in the work that we do.

This is a time of rebuilding, and restarting the relationships and the social institutions that have served us so well in the past. In our commonality, our common goodness, there is hope and there is our future.

–Neal Lemery

Gunking Out


 

 

Today was the day for those disgusting November outdoor chores that I keep putting off. I am glad that it is raining, giving me the excuse to put it off. Yet, the cascading waterfall over the eaves trough that isn’t draining, making a lake out of the flowerbed, and the leaves molding on the deck, keep nagging at me for attention. No one else is claiming this fun chore.

This afternoon, the clouds cleared for an entire hour and the sun showed its face. It was time. I donned the warm coat, but didn’t bother with sunscreen.

I eased into the experience, first hosing off the deck’s collection of half rotted leaves accumulated from the last three storms. Now that the trees are bare, there is no excuse to wait.

The still dripping eaves trough, and the pool of rainwater flooding the flowerbed called my name. Dark clouds were moving in, signaling the return of the November monsoons. Time was running out.

I wrestled with the ladder, wondering if it will teeter a little too far and send me flying.

“Death by downspout” — will that be my obituary headline?

With one hand on the ladder, and one hand dipping into the great ice cold black water and whatever has morphed into existence here, I plunged in.

I gunked out the eaves trough and the top of the downspout, liberating the thick wad of matted conglomeration of leaves, moss clumps, shingle grit, and whatever else lurks in the eaves troughs.

Webster’s doesn’t think “gunked” is a word, and refers me to “muck”, which can be a verb. I like “gunked” better. It sounds more like the near gagging I experience as my hand pulls out a wad of something, be it gunk or muck. And, that special feeling of black ooze dripping down my arm.

My mind envisions the swamp monster in that old Fifties horror movie, “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Will it grab me and haul me into the depths of the morass?

I thought of wearing gloves, but, really, nothing gets the job done better than bare fingers fully immersed in icy rainwater and gunk. Dealing with sodden gloves would only compound the experience. You try to fling the evil smelling mess out onto the lawn, but of course, some of the liquid runs down your arm, and splashes on your face and clothes.

The downspout, finally liberated, gurgles to life, releasing a torrent of black gunk and water.

To anticipate a tweet, “the swamp has been drained”.

I climb down from my precarious perch, and find the hose to rinse off my fingers and arm, and everywhere else the mess had landed.

One last wrestle with the hose coils and the ladder, and I am done, ready for a warm house, some serious hand washing and something hot to drink, as the first splatter of the new rain cloud strikes my face.

 

–Neal Lemery 11/28/17