The Next Chapter

“Never allow anyone to convince you into believing that your weren't brought into this life to experience a life of massive success and unconditional happiness.” ― Edmond Mbiaka
“That state of joy, hidden at the very center of consciousness, is the Eden to which the long journey of spiritual seeking leads. There, the mystics of all religions agree, we uncover our original goodness. We don’t have to buy it; we don’t have to create it; we don’t have to pour it in; we don’t even have to be worthy of it. This native goodness is the essential core of human nature.” ~Eknath Easwaran

I am a 73-year-old woman living in America.  Not that long ago, I was a 20-year-old woman living in America. Then 30, 40, 50 and 60. It is unlikely I get another set of numbers like 80, 90, 100 and 110. I know that statistics don’t define possibility, but as a point of reference, in the U,S. the average man will live 73 years and the average woman 80 years. Doing the math, if I live to be 90, my last quarter began at age 67 and leaves me with about 17 years remaining to do and be. You can count on me to unceasingly argue with what the ‘world’ says I can or cannot do with those 17 years!
Most of us do not want to talk about these things much. But because of the inevitability of the situation, we must not be afraid to talk. I personally desire open-hearted, meaningful conversations with others about how to approach and execute these years with optimum everything. It is a fact that in 150 years,100% of us alive today will have left and another 8 billion of us will have arrived for the glorious ride that we call life on earth.
I have spent most my adult life striving to live with conscious and intentional awareness, experiencing and expressing authenticity, satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness. I also desire to forever remain relevant in conversations about raising consciousness and doing my part to create a world that reflects increased emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. The world we inhabit, though awesomely beautiful is also a hot human mess. I would love to see a time when the elders of our world are invited to contribute all of that accumulated wisdom and compassion in meaningful and appreciated ways.
As most of you know, my spiritual awakening occurred when I was 45. It was a time of radical growth and self-awareness which permanently altered the course of my life. I am not exaggerating when I say that these last 28 years have been exciting, real, true, and profoundly rewarding. I can say that I am happier now than I have ever been even with the myriad of trials and tribulations. I would not go backward even if I could. Do I want to get even older and die? No. Is it a bit scary to think about how that transition might come about? Yes.
But the philosophy, faith, and way of life that I live asks me to embrace the inevitable changes in my body and life circumstances with elegance. I know my body is merely the vehicle for my soul. The body is temporary while the Spirit is outside of time.  We think of this life as having a start and an end. I think it more a process of experience and a journey of growth.
In America, aging is quite difficult for most people. We don’t take very good care of ourselves so by the time we reach the last quarter we suffer from many lifestyle dis-eases; heart disease, obesity, diabetes, addiction, and depression to name a few of the most popular. We are fundamentally a society without a significant spiritual foundation so the experience of meaning and purpose gets confused with materialism and consumerism.  We are a society that reveres youth, beauty, and money and two out of three of those melt away with age. We don’t honor and respect our elders and lack family and community systems that many other cultures have in place.
So many of us will end our lives in silence, shuffled into some back room –  perhaps in your children’s house, a nursing home, or a memory care facility. Maybe nothing that dire but merely feeling ignored, invisible or irrelevant. Regardless of the version, it isn’t right.  We ought to be able to create a new possibility for what it means to live happy and meaningful lives until the very end and then slide out of these bodies with dignity, peace of mind and some degree of anticipation for the good that is yet to come.
I believe that the good that is coming is not about a rewarding after-life in some mythical place called heaven or some long-suffering destination called hell. Rather, that part of us that is included in eternity, is a unique slice of consciousness, an ever-evolving spiral of becoming the more of who we are – never less. Energy cannot disappear.
So, this exploration of the last quarter of life is about making peace. With your life, your people, and yourself. It is about relinquishing the ego’s need to be rich, pretty, powerful, and influential in the worldly landscape. The earlier we do this in our life, the happier and more profoundly meaningful life can be. Every day a brand-new baby day, offering opportunities for love, interaction, and soul-blending with others. No matter how young or how old we are, we can learn to care for the holy temple that is our body, with sufficient, nutrition, water, and exercise. We nurture our Spirit with silence, nature, and meditation.
You are going to to die.  Why not do it the best you can do it.
You might even be facing a diagnosis or some ‘dis-ease’ in the body itself.  Even though the YOU of you is not your body, it can still be quite awful moving through pain and never-ending medical treatments. Speaking as one who knows. Fortunately, we live in a time where the management of pain is good and knowing that God is in the medicine, we can avoid the severity of untreated agony.  We are also living in a time where we can leave our bodies on our own clock should we desire to do so. 
Enlightened masters appear to leave the body with a kind of gentleness which I aspire to. The absence of resistance to death or pain, allows for the process to be easier.  Stephen Levine in his book, “Who Dies?” speaks about the correlation between how we live and how we die. The more open and yielding one is in life, the more open and yielding one will be in death. The more clutching and fearful in life, the more clutching and fearful in death.
Wayne Dyer said the awareness that our essence remains as our bodies are recycled is a great source of liberation; it is your ticket to eternity.  It allows us to not fear death. And to not fear death will allow you to live in an entirely new way.
The question I ask every day of my life is what is needed for me to stay on the green growing edge of my own evolution? I retired my position at Unity Church in Naples December 31st of this past year. Almost immediately, the universe blessed me with a beautiful home in Fort Myers and then I came to South Africa for two months. Asking myself, of course, what next, now what? I am glad to report that I have received the guidance to move me into the next chapter.
As the founder of of A Life of Spiritual Power, I have spent many years talking and teaching vision, commitment, and congruence. What does it mean to live as the captain of your own ship, as the creator of your own destiny? What does it mean to enter our lives living fully from the inside out rather than from the outside in? When practiced and lived, this culminates in a life lived with bodacious authenticity, peace of mind, joy, and meaning – at any age.
Carl Jung was right when he said he had never seen one single permanent healing from any kind of neurosis without a restoration of spiritual faith, and that it is impossible to get the most out of life while we are alive unless we believe in our own immortality.
My interests have changed over the past 25 years. In the last quarter of my life, I am blessed with relatively good health, sufficient energy, and the desire to do what I am inspired to do. And I am inspired to engage with people in meaningful conversations about what it means to live better, grow older gracefully and die consciously. I am giving some creative space to the idea of “A Life of Spiritual Power: Conscious Living, Aging and Death.” This idea fills me with zeal when I imagine what is possible for my next decade with this as the context for my life.
I am also feeling called to embrace the role of a Death Doula, also known as an End-of-Life Doula.  This involves working with individuals and families as they prepare for their own end-of-life or that of a loved one. This is a real job similar to  a Birth Doula which is the person who helps women to navigate the birth of their baby.  A Death Doula helps people to navigate the release of the body while providing love, comfort, and support to the one who is dying as well as the community of people in their lives. My experience in ministry, chaplaincy and hospice makes this a perfect fit.
I return home on April 11th and after taking time to move into my new home, I will begin the work. In addition to securing a Death Doula Certification, I will be conduct classes and workshops on Conscious Living, Aging and Death and create partnerships with local Hospice organizations. I hope you will engage in the conversation with me - for yourself and for the 20% of the population currently in this stage of their lives.
In the meantime, love your life. Draw a line between you and the world that allows for full engagement but not full entanglement. It is possible to have the news, politics, family, work, and wars swirl around you but not rob you of your right to peace, happiness, and joy. As a soul, your, natural state is a state of serenity. Why? Because the Spirit of you knows that it is birthless, deathless and eternal. Every single experience on this planet, in this body, is fodder for growth and soul-fulfillment.  It is why we came.





 

A course in miracles says that birth is not a beginning but a continuation, and death is not an end but a continuation.  Life goes on forever.  It always was always will be. 
A Few of This Trips Favorites

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