Your Assistance Required

Dear Friends,

Two young and gifted women and several of their friends have joined together to create a video using the poem, In the Time of Pandemic as inspiration, and with the goal of using images from all over the world to further comfort and inspire us. I have been so moved by their willingness to collaborate and set aside desire for commercial gain to instead focus on all of us and our welfare.

Each of these women had an idea and each contacted me one day last week, with integrity, to ask if they might pursue their unique visions. One is a native Australian, currently on lockdown in Brooklyn NY, USA; and the other is a native Dubliner at home in Ireland,

I asked if they would be interesting in collaboration, which is at the heart of the poem for me, and–without missing a beat–they agreed, I put them in touch, and they are working gloriously well together. They are like the daughters I never had; I’m soooo proud of them and their incredible hearts.

Here is the thing: We’ve all seen the comments and heard the sentiments that the poem is too cheerful, specious, and shallow. That it offers a utopia that never could be. That we (humanity) will “never change.” And I get it: People are scared, frightened, suffering, and losing loved ones. We ALL are.

But the poem/allegory I wrote (with the Spirit–never forget that) has taken on a life of its own because we know we could do a better job with connection, community, loving, and–so importantly–in caring for the earth. We need to celebrate our gifts, reach out in love, and offer each other hope. We need to take responsibility for our healing, and the healing of our earth.

So, my dear friends, here is a way to help:

Please use this e-mail: julia.ngeow@gmail.com

 

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Please do not put anyone or yourself at risk in forwarding any of these photos to this e-mail. Be safe, but please share in the creative endeavor as you are able. It is not, really, a “Kitty O’Meara” film; it’s all of ours, being midwifed by these lovely artists. And do let them know where you’re from when you send your photos. I’m sure they’ll try to use as many as they are able.

Thank you so much for joining us in this project. Love and blessing to all.

And gentle peace.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

 

Unpacking Virulence

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There are many confusing posts about me and about my writing, and, while I’m sorry that the spirit of the poem I wrote isn’t enough for some readers, I realize humans are among the most curious of animals. And, hey, I love learning more about authors I enjoy, too. And, let’s face it; it went viral. During a virus. How does that even happen?

I’m disappointed that people are searching for my personal information online, and encountering stories that are published without cited sources, but rather, seem to have been written by people who googled names, copied and pasted, and fabricated stories to capitalize on the fact that my little poem went viral. (Which literally means, it wasn’t through careful strategy or in my control.) No one, after my first friend, asked to “re-post” the poem until the virus was at its peak. (And I am grateful for those sweet souls.) If you look at some of these Kitty O’Meara origin stories, they’re calling me Kathleen, Grace, Whatever; transcribing the poem incorrectly; saying I’m dead, Italian, from New Rochelle, lived during the Black Plague…And these posts are often badly written and poorly edited, which is really irritating.

So, here you go: Everything and more than you could possibly want to know about me but which will serve as a reference I can cite, post, and never, ever, have to write, defend, or explain again:

My baptismal name is Catherine Mary O’Meara; my nickname since birth has been Kitty. I grew up with my lovely family in Wisconsin, then to Ohio, and then back to Wisconsin  again. I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for my first degree.

I am married to a lovely man, my “dear one.” We wanted children very much, and were unable to have them; we instead gave that energy to, and derived joy from, teaching young people. And we have rescued many dogs and cats. We now have 5 of the former and 3 of the latter. We believe each of them has rescued us.

I have degrees in Theater and English. I worked in advertising as a creative director and copywriter and editor (small firm), went back and earned a degree in Education, and taught middle school writing and literature for many years. My first marriage ended and I married my dear one and moved to another location and school. I stopped teaching to take care of my ill, then dying mother, just as she had, for many years, cared for my ill, then dying father.

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After her death, and in my grief, I went back to school again, for an MA in Servant Leadership, which allowed me to complete a CPE Program and work as a chaplain in hospital units and then with a hospice, which blessed me with the experience of caring for nursing home, cardiac, palliative care, and end-of-life patients. During this time, I also completed a 3-year program in Spiritual Direction and manage that practice from my home.

I have written since I was 6…stories, and poems, and book manuscripts. In 2011, I began this blog to share what I call “lit bits” and my photography. I stopped it a couple years ago because I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases that needed a lot of management, which I accomplished as best as I could.

During that time, my friends and family urged me to write the blog again. I didn’t listen. Last month, seeing the pandemic coming, and the lack of preparation with which it would be met, I began to worry a lot about my family and friends in healthcare and what they would be facing. I felt upset that I couldn’t be with them, helping/doing something. I had a talk with Spirit and said, “C’mon. Show me what I can do!” The Holy always answers, but we don’t always hear it, because we’ve already decided what the answer should be and in which direction we should be looking, and how it will look and sound when it arrives.

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So last Friday, March 13th: We were already 3 weeks into self-quarantine, and I was sitting with my dear one at lunchtime, feeling pouty that the Spirit hadn’t pushed me anywhere clearly and specifically. We watched some anxious news and talked about the pandemic and fretted about loved ones. We also had noticed reports that the earth was healing and the pollution receding while people were in quarantine. I’ve always thought and written a lot about healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and, next to my lovebugs, my passions are the earth, her creatures, the seasons, and my gardens.

I turned to Facebook, scrolled a bit, and then I wrote, “And the people stayed home,” and hit, “post.” I moved through the rest of my day: walking dogs, working out, doing laundry. Life stuff. That night, I tuned into Facebook and a friend said she liked the post and asked if she could re-post it. I typed, “Sure.”

The ensuing week was as unexpected and frenzied as an inland tsunami. Blessings in abundance, a few hurtful attacks, and many blissful gorgeous explosions of collaborative creativity…I would be utterly non compos mentis if I hadn’t discerned the work of the Spirit and her mighty slap-upside-the-head-answer to my prayer, so I humbly started my blog again, and have tried to let go of the madness that accompanies virulence while delighting in the sacred connections. This is how I can offer spiritual care, virtually, through my words. The answer was there, all along, but hearing it took not one virus, but two, and that is how the Spirit worked for me. And that is who I am.

Honor your talents and set aside judgement. Use your gifts. Surrender. Let Go. Heal yourself, then others, then yourself again. Forgive. Ask for guidance. Listen. Listen. Listen. Stay awake. Mind the Spirit’s slaps-upside-the-head. Love without stopping.

Bird Print

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

That’s O.K.

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It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, and I am sitting, unshowered, in yoga pants and the t-shirt
I slept in last night.
That’s O.K.
I lost my temper. I’m scared.
That’s O.K.
There is another basket of laundry to fold, just sitting on the couch.
That’s O.K.
I am eyeing what may be a pool of cat puke on the floor.
That’s O.K.
I am not picking it up immediately, like I always have.
That’s O.K.
I don’t know what’s coming. At. All.
That’s O.K.
Nothing is like it was, always. Everything has changed, forever.
That’s O.K.
There are little voices many of us carry around, all the time.
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The Judge: This character is always with us, cutting down our looks, actions, attempts to learn, be, and do all we can. It can keep us from stepping into new ideas,  behaviors, patterns and forms of thought and expression. You can’t do THAT! What are you THINKING? You’ll FAIL!

The Drill Sargeant: Did you make a list? Did you check it? You’re not following your routine! Everything is out of order. You should…you always…that’s not…BE AFRAID.

They often harmonize and sing duets throughout our days.

Sometimes, we know where the voices originated; sometimes they’re a distillation of many we’ve known; sometimes we create our own sabotage masters.

Most of us manage to carry on, tell them to be still, accomplish goals in spite of them, and become approximations of who we’d like to be. 

We stay so very busy that the voices slip back into silence.
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But now, many of us have been robbed of our busyness, and the voices are trying to take control. Storm-trooping through our psyches and dumping loads of stress at the beginning and end of every thought.

You should! You can’t! Never! Always! What’s happening? Be afraid! You’re not in charge! Do this! That! WHAT IS HAPPENING? Loud inarticulate shriek!

Now is the time to go gently and offer yourself forgiveness for mistakes and loving kindness for all the feelings that are flowing through, faster than you can name them. Routines can be set aside for a while. Rest can happen whenever you’re tired, even a moment of deep-breathing and closed eyes can quiet the voices. 

Notice the hidden invitations, turn the voices around and mother them into peace.

Banish the word “normal” and take life in very small bites for a while. Let yourself find your footing. You can do it.

The bedding can go a week without changing. 

WHAT???!!! 

Wait, there’s an invitation! See how you do that? You catch the voice and turn it back as an invitation to be kind to yourself. 

Beds aren’t changed?

That’s O.K.

Are we O.K.?

Yes. We’re O.K.
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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

One Thing We Can Do

So many choices lie before each of us in the time of pandemic: practical, challenging, and agonizing choices. Our medical professionals are already overtaxed. Let’s be responsible and take what burdens we can from their shoulders.
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Vents and beds are in less than short supply; many of us who have lived long lives can make a choice not to have efforts expended on our behalf, if they are efforts that will waste time and ultimately fail. But truly, the virus can jeopardize all lives, young and old. Of course we’d like to keep living; life is grand, holy, and wonderful for most of us. Who wouldn’t want more? However, I invite us all to meet this new reality, prepare for events we’d rather avoid, and then stay inside and take care of ourselves and those we love.
Let’s be wise and let’s be selfless while we’re able.
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If we, or our loved ones, have not completed our Advance Directives for medical care, let’s take the time to do it, now. Write it; print it; have it accessible. It can be a task to cross off our list, or it can be a profound emotional and spiritual exercise we can use to once again sift through our beliefs and desires as we contemplate what life and death really mean to us, and to seek ways to make peace with our dying. Either way (and no “right” way), let’s do it.
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Our bodies are temporary; our legacies are not. We’re all in hospice, now.
This is the acceptable time to offer forgiveness, jettison grudges, see and let go of the myriad ways we judge ourselves and others, celebrate our joys, and be damned sure everyone we love knows it. Feel the gratitude we owe this gift of life. Love the courage within us and all around us. Shine light.
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Note: these are your medical directives and no one else’s. There is no judgement, just clarity.
 
Here is one link; there many available online. Be well; be merry, and gentle peace.
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Love Has No Boundaries

Today we walked in a local state park that was once home to a large settlement of people who were part of the Mississippi Culture (10th to 13th centuries). Ceremonial spaces, mounds believed to have been constructed for religious and political use, and fort boundaries have been reconstructed and informative stations line the paths.

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The earth hasn’t thawed yet; no scent of geosmin is yet being released by the earth’s microorganisms, but the promise was present in the sunshine and breeze.

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There are many trails in this park, and all of today’s visitors were respectful of space. A woman and her little daughter went to the right; we went left; and a man and his dog went straight ahead. We honored the boundaries we’re required to keep.

We were too far apart to converse, but I felt a tender, sweet human concern among us all. It looked a bit like a science fiction film (The People Who Could Not Connect), all of us veering away from one another, but the energy was gentle and somewhat sad. Grief becomes part of the atmosphere breathed in a time of such suffering.

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I felt a tangible love for us all of us in the newness and the tentative choices, the fear, the anxiety, and the wonderful courage, we see in so many people, but specifically, my heart went out to this holy little group of travelers, walking ancient paths into a new world.

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Solvitur ambulando, said St. Augustine; it is solved by walking, and for me, that has so often been true. This time, though, we’re walking into mystery, and I think the only solutions involve surrender, forgiveness, and loving all those we walk among as the tender, flawed, and fleeting miracles we are.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Time for Transformation

The recommendation from our government, during this time of quarantine, is to stay inside; the deeper invitation, as always, is to actually go inside.
At some point in our childhoods, we strap on a backpack we never remove. Instead, we stuff it full, every day, with all the feelings we don’t want to feel, because we haven’t time; we’re too frightened; they threaten our ego; we’re not worthy of our own love. All the feelings of shame, hurt, anger, resentment, regret, loss, grief…the backpack gets heavier and heavier and we wrap it in denial, and our spirits bend lower. “Someday,” is really the mantra for most of us.
Now, many of us have been given the great gift of time our spirits yearn for all our lives. We can continue to avoid the call of our hearts by overfeeding on the nonstop anxiety offered by our phones, televisions, and computers…or we can allow ourselves the grace to empty the backpack and begin to sort through and “feel” the feelings it’s held for so long.
Just sit with them, offer gentle welcome, listen, forgive, befriend, let go. And it’s OK if we’re not ready; we can keep opening space for them to emerge when they are ready.

In a time when we must endure a virus that brings death, we can choose to become more alive than ever. Let’s not squander this gift to heal and emerge from our cocoons transformed. Gentle peace.

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

In the Time of Pandemic

And the people stayed home.

And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.

And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.