Mark Velednitsky

Last October, my mother-in-law Michele died after a year and a half of living with late-stage colon cancer. Michele was a very spiritual person and loved to learn about world religions.

The first time I visited Shante for the holidays, Michele made sure to buy a Hanukkah menorah and insisted that I teach everyone the candle-lighting prayers. It is fitting, then, then I’m making this post in her honor at the end of sheloshim, an important milestone in Jewish mourning.

Those who knew Michele know how kind she was, more so than words can express. To celebrate her extraordinary spirit, I want to share just one memory of her that has been on my mind.

Michele loved to vacation at the ocean and go for walks along the windy Washington coast. One of her traditions on these trips was to set aside time to clean up the beach. She brought a trash bag, a pair of trash pickers, and scooped up trash that others had left as she walked along the sand. She then loaded them into her car and brought them to a proper garbage bin.

The picture below is from this March, when Shante and I joined Michele for a week on one of her ocean trips. Her tradition was already a testament to her selfless nature, but in this context, I found it particularly remarkable. Michele knew she had terminal cancer and likely had less than a year left. Even so, she took time out of what could have been her last ocean trip for an anonymous act of kindness. Armed with a trash bag, she set out doing her part to make the world a little brighter. After an hour or so, we hauled away about three or four bags worth of trash.

In her last year and a half living with cancer, Michele continued to live her life exactly as she had before her diagnosis: she worked on art projects, she hosted gatherings (when covid allowed), she listened intently to the stories others told her, she brought people together, and she found creative ways to bring cheer into the world. It says a lot when a person, faced with limited time, chooses to spend it doing exactly what they always did. I see it as a sign of a life well-lived. And, in the end, I suppose that is the best anyone can ask for.

252 Reflecting on the “Holy No”

And today, the holy no is about my mind, watching my mind. It can be very busy! In the past, I once identified eight tracks of thought happening in the same moment.

In the Woman Unleashed program, well, in any self reflection program, I have looked at the reasons and the actions my mind decides to take on the planet.  When Amber wrote about the “holy no”, I could see one of my blind spots.  I have been a person who says yes, when NO is the right answer.
I think this happened a lot when I was younger, involved in everything, volunteering for multiple organizations.  My prioritization was not what I would have wished, or, perhaps it was not as balanced as I would have wished.  I did accomplish a lot.  I did alter the world.  I know I did what was “right” in that moment.

handwritten art dark sign
Holy No Photo by cottonbro on

Amber saw that she wanted to spend more time with her sons, yet, was unable to say yes to experiences with them because of her busy schedule. She decided to use her conscious choice to alter that, to use the “holy no”.
I definitely second guess my priorities of the past, and feel a sense of mental regret. (Again, I did what was right in that moment.) 

I could have played more and scheduled less.  I could have built time, required time, for casual self care, read more books for myself, done more artistic work for the sake of the action.  I could have been more present for the kids, more light hearted and available for play.  

Of course, the past is unalterable, and the space of regret can make a person crazy.  Noticing history is about deciding what today will hold.

And today, the holy no is about my mind, watching my mind.  It can be very busy!  In the past, I once identified eight tracks of thought happening in the same moment.  It would be like setting up eight stereos in the same room.  Each had a theme and intention, and each was functioning independently. 

One may have been on music, another on making breakfast, a third was writing or pre thinking a grocery list, the fourth directing the steps for getting the family out the door to school and events.  The fifth track may have been planning a Scout event, the sixth getting myself dressed and ready, the seventh was analyzing the news, and the eighth may have been looking at the other seven and considering how those tracks applied to a course I was taking.  That’s an example, and it was pretty common for my mind to run like that.

closeup photography of stacked stones
The Holy No and meditation Photo by Shiva Smyth on

And, again, it wasn’t wrong.  Pretty talented really.  But busy.  I consciously chose to alter it.  I learned to quiet the lines, to limit the number.  I built the capability to isolate one track, and then to have no track at all.  Meditation.  
Sometimes meditation has one true track, the watcher.  The extra tracks drop outside of self, and the watcher just looks at them, and knows they are something to watch rather than a part of self.  The other tracks try to claim existence, and the watcher continues to just watch, to acknowledge the thought… but to recognize it as being something to look at.  (And, for me, the most exciting and healing meditation is when the watcher drops away, and the sense of being is expansive, universal, and has no edges whatsoever. No tracks.)  But I digress.

Today, my “holy no” is about my mind.  Currently, the outside world is made of mandatory actions and appointments.  There are holy yeses, where I choose family, Reiki, mentoring.  But I need to look at how my mind prioritizes the moments, how many tracks have distracted me.  I want to apply the holy no to put more beauty into each day. 

God willing, I can be gentle with myself.  This is a process. I am a lifelong project, an evolution.

245 Ridiculous Grace-the Lost Article (from after the CT Scan)

Ridiculous grace. It is ridiculous grace that we took this breath, that we can feel the heartbeat, taste the water. It is ridiculous grace that I am on the planet today, typing, tasting, hearing, knowing

One thing about chemicals in the bloodstream, they certainly cause alternate awareness.  I am actively working to rinse the contrast dye and chemotherapy drugs from my system, yet they are altering me in a large way the past few days.

It’s probably better to avoid the world, and safer for the world, but I was out and about.  I wanted to re-send Amisha’s holiday note; it came back by some post office error, ready to arrive at a more timely alignment with Divinity.

I have also been preparing a bit for the people who surround Dad and his Hospice care, and wanted to get to that, knowing that they will be as affected in his death as we are.

And lastly, there was a need for me to seek a protein source and more liquid options for washing this medical stuff out, at this point, anything I am willing to swallow.  Water tastes disgusting.  How can water taste disgusting?  I love water. “Go with the flow and don’t judge,” I heard.  More empathy, more awareness of others.  I am learning.

On the road, the radio gave me political information for about three minutes before I had enough.  I switched over to Spirit, the Seattle based Christian station.  Kwami doesn’t like lyrics.  I find guidance in words, deep information that leads me to insights and answers.

Ridiculous Grace.  Two words that came from a Tauren Wells song, Known.  I burst into tears (not in public, in the car, the public came through my adventure safely).  Ridiculous grace. It is ridiculous grace that we took this breath, that we can feel the heartbeat, taste the water.  It is ridiculous grace that I am on the planet today, typing, tasting, hearing, knowing.  

And why I was crying is that I saw how important each person in my world is, so clearly, how perfect.  And I just wanted them to see through my eyes, to know themselves this way, as the ridiculous grace of this moment.  And my eyes and heart are crying again.

I am grateful for Grace, Ridiculous Grace, that shares this picture, this Truth, this love.  Thank you for being my ridiculous grace!

239 Wisdom in the Prayers

The Matrix is glitching, the choice. The red pill. Forced down our throats because we have rejected it for too long.

There is a balance. We feel the shackles that the lies have formed. They are around our ankles, holding us firmly to the planet, pulling us to the earth’s core, to our graves. Man made iron. The scales of liberty, deformed and inoperative.

That which has been hidden pours like the overzealous rains. 700 documents of UFO information released by the CIA. Pleas for impeachment and the 25th Amendment, asking for the members of government to react to Truth, to stop backing untruth. “700 Indigenous People slaughtered”, marking the governmental reason for the original declaration of “Thanksgiving” as a US holiday. Facts replacing illusion, the truth unveiling itself to the masses.

brown wooden table with candles and incense
Photo by Elly Fairytale on

The Matrix is glitching, the choice. The red pill. Forced down our throats because we have rejected it for too long.

It can be too heavy and too hard. We feel it in our bones. The tears pour unnaturally. Media drowns our thoughts and our minds. Darkness, depression.

There is wisdom in the prayers, in the meditations and the light. A rosary. A mala and mantra. Creative works. Ho’oponopono. I reach for them all. There is wisdom. It is beyond us, in the higher realms. We must reach for our practices and connect. Hope is there. Relief is there. Peace is in the hands of the Eternal.

232 Searching for Compassion

Can I see myself hugging the leadership, hearing their childhood pain and abuse, understanding the (in my judgment, misguided) path?

Today I was ready to watch the situation, to observe the violence, to search deeply within for the big picture, the spiritual picture.

My humanity wants to believe that we are in isolated moments, certain to end, and end soon. But when I look at the full story, I think of Brene Brown. “We are caught in a storm, a shit shame storm.” Worse.

I see bullies on the playground. I see desperation. I see hate and division. I see a nation, a world full of people who need to be heard and understood, hugged and loved. How do we move from the visual of a third world coup and elevate to the spiritual space of “heard, hugged and loved”?

When I ask the questions, it is like being in a silent canyon. The questions get louder and echo. The answers are illusive. Fear hops onto the sound, tries to bore in through the eardrum. Fear is the opposite of love.

I have spent enough time studying the leadership, listening to the psychology, grasping how a young child can be molded and mentored into dictatorship and power. I truly have empathy. I can get into the head of someone who has never felt loved from the emotional realm, who never developed that part of self.

I can also wiggle my way into empathy for the group that rallies around a bully, for the power, but also for the fear that the leader could shift his target. The struggle. Staying out of the line of fire.

When we went to Germany for Tina’s wedding, there was talk about her grandfather who was a Nazi in the war. Instantly, the Western born mind jumps to judgement. Yet, the story unfolded that the choices were “become a Nazi” or “have your entire family murdered by the Nazis”. Join or die. Worse, join or watch your family die. Mike drop.

I hope the empathy that I felt in the moment of hearing that story can echo in the canyon.

Ultimately, the wave of hate groups and supremacy and conspiracy theorists rise from ignorance, lack of power, and fear. Can I see myself hugging the leadership, hearing their childhood pain and abuse, understanding the (in my judgment, misguided) path?

Deep breath. It is a leap.

I can separate myself from the planet. Hug the planet. Beam love. I can find empathy and compassion in the biggest picture.

The echo pings against the walls of the canyon. The sound is rising. The pictures are flashing on the screen, escalating. I turn away… not my canyon, not my movie.

Day 10 of 31 Days of Gratitude Thank Those Who love you unconditionally.

I am grateful. I am so thankful that my role is this one. I have gratitude that this is the part I play in the act, and not the others. Those look really hard and incredibly painful, internally. I am so happy to be “me”. I can work on myself, on my vision and my work, and radiate love.

231 Glitches in the Matrix

I can watch the room open up, like a split or a glitch in the visual scene.

Michael Bogar is an incredible teacher. He is brilliant AND brings brilliance out of his students. Because I ran into him at Seattle’s Center for Spiritual Living, the classes I have taken are all theology based, contemporary, and wildly diverse. One class, multiple days, multiple hours, was based on the Matrix movies.

Poster of the Matrix 1
We live in a Matrix. It is undeniable and there are glitches in the matrix

My role was to sit back and listen. I was mesmerized. The “students” were brimming with ideas about the symbolism! My mind went as far as “take the red pill”, and some blatantly obvious analogies (like the names Neo, Trillium and Morphius… or the overall theme of valuing the Truth over inherent reality). Thank God for other minds.

Little did I know of the background of intentional, scene by scene insertions of the creators. From clips that we watched in class, even the Wachowskis, who made the movie, were surprised by the advanced innuendo that followers pulled from the screen. I might need to find my copies and watch again.

We live in a Matrix. It is undeniable. I think I have taken about one fourth of a red pill. I know people who have gone all the way, or ventured in less and more. It’s helpful to find others who understand when the Matrix starts to glitch. Truth can feel like a tub full of cold, lifeless goo.

Movies illuminate us about glitches in the matrix

When my body is down, the glitch becomes visual. My eyes usually see what the majority sees. Today they pumped in contrast dye for a CT scan, and I was already working to clear the chemo drugs. It’s a lot. And you can blame the glitch on chemicals if you are a person who does that, but this happens now and again when there are no drugs to blame.

When I look out, things cloud over. Sometimes time literally stops, or inversely, shoots by at rapid rates. I can watch the room open up, like a split or a glitch in the visual scene. It gives an option. What do I want to see?

As a friend of mine says about edibles, don’t take the whole thing. Bite the head (of the gummi) off first. If that’s more comfortable, go your own way! Consider the red pill though. It’s the blue one that has caused our worldly, physical and mental decay.

I believe that everyone experiences glitches in the Matrix, but many of us have been taught to ignore, rather than explore, shifts in perception. Glitches in the Matrix are the stair step to Truth. We will all open to new awareness eventually. Red or blue, it’s a moment to moment choice.

229 Orthodox Christmas

Today is another chance to recognize the birth of light within ourselves, the space of Truth, the space of Divine power, another Christmas.

There are so many cultures around the world. Each celebrates the coming of the light in a different and unique way.  The stories have a common theme, a common truth, a common reality.  Yet, religion is at the core of every war and every tirade.  Scratch the surface of any disagreement and you will find indoctrinated belief battling empathy and compassion. 

Imagine being a Christian and then judging others.  The two are, technically, mutually exclusive.  Just imagine.  How can both beliefs coexist in one body?  They cannot.  An inner war is waged, and the battle is ego.

January 7 is the day of Orthodox Christmas Day.  The people in that church have been fasting as the Western world binged. The date is set by the Julian calendar.  We didn’t hit the current Gregorian system until the 1500’s.  Is there a correct day to celebrate?

Greek Orthodox Christmas Card

Since the astrologers tend to pinpoint the star of Yeshuah’s (dark skinned, Jewish Jesus’s) birth to have occurred in October, the thought is that all churches moved the feast date to attract the Pagan followers who were celebrating Solstice. 

Everyone was celebrating the same thing.  The hard handed religious powers worked to annihilate other methods of worship.  And here we go around the mulberry bush, ego, power in play.  We are back to the question of how a person can actually believe the core of all Truth, hidden in the subtext of religion, and then judge and murder others for their way of seeing the exact same Truth from another facet of the spiritual diamond.

A Byzantine Christmas, St Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington D.C.

As we sit in the United States, playing out a form of political warfare, battling for Truth, everyone judging everyone else, fighting to keep a form of economic god, rich over poor, white over diverse, we should really question where our own egos are acting outside of the light.

Iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church with short music from Ave Maria by Rachmaninoff’s Vespers.

Today is another chance to recognize the birth of light within ourselves, the space of Truth, the space of Divine power, another Christmas.  I have gratitude for the moments I can touch on that and release my ego structures.  I am thankful for the shaky ground of religious freedom (controversially so) allowed to me.  I am ever so grateful for the quiet moments of Christ Consciousness that shine out here and there over the darkest of days.

Enlightening and joyous Orthodox Christmas Day!

228 Epiphany

We are called to our individual Epiphany! You are already All That Is, enlightened, Whole. Open to the awareness

On January 6, the Christian churches celebrate the twelfth day of Christmas. Modern songs and stories create a picture of three wise kings, traveling hundreds of miles, camels in the backdrop. Our hearts love the story of Jesus, a baby in a manger, receiving gold, frankincense and myrrh.


It is quite a story. The reality behind the scene is muddier. The “kings” were wealthy mystics and astrologers, likely far more in number. They could read the stars, and just as we saw the formulation of planets on December 21 of 2020, they saw the seeds of change in that same planetary group, on the day of “Christ’s birth.”

There may be no other biblical story that better portrays the Bible as symbolism rather than fact. Nothing aligns. The time lines. The Christian belief system betraying the astrological world. The gifts, definitely symbolic. The concept.

Epiphany. Enlightenment. Finding the Christ within. Within! The Christ is calling us, loudly, clearly. Then. And certainly now.

A man named Yeshua (the Hebrew name that we have distorted because historic popes and kings wished to deny his identity, his black skin, and his cultural Judaism) brought a message of Oneness. I am. He discovered the Truth, and wanted everyone to share in his awareness. Whether this is fact or a long told tale, it is equally extraordinary, illuminating.

We are called to our individual Epiphany! You are already All That Is, enlightened, Whole. Open to the awareness. Happy 6th!

Abraham Lincoln, Ida B. Wells, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony Five men and women of courage who called to our individual Epiphany to be grateful for.

214 Being versus Doing

I woke at four, no surprise.  The early morning is often referred to as “God’s hour”, the moments that are easiest to connect to the Eternal.  Kwami often chants “Don’t go back to sleep.”  The words have double meaning, but for obvious reasons, I usually don’t. I’ve watched the sun rise every day for a few weeks, hours after starting my day (well, sunrise IS at 7:50).

“Don’t go back to sleep” are words from Rumi’s poem quoted by Wayne Dyer on his Facebook page.

Art work with Rumi's poem "Don't go back to sleep."
“Don’t go back to sleep” art by Molly Strong

Today, I was sitting still, praying, meditating… looking at connection and Divinity, the Divine in the individual, and then God as itself, as all that is.

Enlightenment came to mind.  For me, the definition of Enlightenment is the Realization of God, simple, yet exceptionally complex from the outlook of the mind.  

Saints express enlightenment.  Regular people experience it.  The astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, had it happen instantly in space (  Mom described having the experience in a very illusive way in a draft of a letter.  That is a conversation we never had, and I just want to scream for having missed it.   

It has different names in different religions, and could be said to be the goal of every spiritual practice (although church doctrine has been presented in a way that was meant to keep the general congregation from that knowledge in most American faiths, a political power move).

Although seeking It is twisted, because we inherently are enlightenment, or are One with All that Is, I’ve spent uncountable hours in books and texts from equally uncountable religious and spiritual perspectives. I spent a decade in deep pursuit.  There is something comical about chasing your Truth, like a dog chasing it’s tail as if the tail isn’t the dog.

In my morning prayer, I saw the beauty of the individual, the perfection.  When I backed up in my vision, I watched the individuality merge into the Source.  I sat with that Oneness, observed it for a while.  I listened for what I am to “do” today.

Christmas is the American season of doing.

There was a sense of deep laughter, Divine laughter, the laughter of irony.  There is nothing to be done in the Divine sense.  I can sit still and watch the waves.  I can breathe the breaths and feel my lungs and my heart, acting but not doing.  I can crawl  under the blankets and sleep, sleep, sleep, cuddled in the arms of the Eternal.  These are perfect ways to connect and “be”.  They are not “doing” anything. Some people experience enlightenment in an instant.  It passes through.  The message is forever ingrained.  For others, it lasts months, and they look out through eyes that see the Divine perfection in all that is for all of that time.  

A sacred few were born in the paradigm, and live there for the entire lifetime, spreading the wisdom, seeding others for the experience of realization.  As the story is presented, Jesus could have been a “whole life person”.  The New Testament of the Bible presents it as though he spent that last three years of his life in Samadhi.  Biblical scholars debate.  I chuckle a little bit about Christianity, because, as Jesus said, “You will do even greater things…” (John 14:12), and so many are stuck worshiping an individual (who was no longer individual) rather than moving into their own Divine path, their own “greater things”.  Point fully misunderstood.  

For most people, the experience of realization is too much to hold in the human.  Like Tiffany said, in Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men, “We sleepwalk through our lives, because how could we live if we were always this awake?”  And Rumi whispers, “Don’t go back to sleep.”

215 Divine Secrets

People do not walk around declaring their enlightened knowledge, sharing their inner most spiritual truths.

One of the apparent qualities of a person who has experienced realization/ samadhi/enlightenment, whatever name you choose for the connected state, is that they keep it as a secret.  There is no reason to tell anyone.  And in the telling, there is a certain loss of the magic, of the Divinity. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the online audience from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020 during his conversation on The Purpose of Life as part of Techfest IIT Bombay
His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the online audience from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on December 15, 2020 during his conversation on The Purpose of Life as part of Techfest IIT Bombay.

Some people are called to bring the journey to the forefront and use it to teach.  Those may be people you could name.  I venture to bet that the Dalai Lama was either born into enlightenment, or has experienced it along the path, an example.  Google says that if you are a Lama, you are a reincarnated enlightened being.  So inherently, he is a life timer.

If you haven’t read or watched documentaries on how the Lamas are sought after their death, in the body of a child born in chronological proximity, it is flabbergasting, well worth the time. The memories that the children hold are terribly convincing!

People do not walk around declaring their enlightened knowledge, sharing their inner most spiritual truths.  Or rather, it is rare.  If someone speaks arrogantly about the experience, antenna’s up.  

The Girl Scouts used finger motions when there were people around them that caused suspicion and caution.  Certain political figures should currently be causing you to feel this way, as an example… something is amiss.  And spiritually, it happens. Looking at an article on Jim Jones, I can literally feel pulsations run through the core of my body, so much more than “antennas up”.  Don’t drink the Kool Aid!

Maybe we should all be very aware that anyone that is human, is human.  An ego hides in every body.  Take the gifts of teachings, find the connection, appreciate the guru, the pastor, the priest, but keep some spiritual antennas functioning.  

Your spirituality is Divine.  The secret pulses through your veins.  It is always there, has always been there, and has no where to go.  But, even as “your eyes open, and open again” (can’t resist more Terry Pratchett), keep your mouth shut.