What Hides Beneath the Mask?

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I have new neighbors across the hall and the way things are going these days, I may not know what they look like for another year.  When you’re my age, the good news about masks is that they hide the bottom half of a sagging, wrinkled face.  The bad news is that my glasses steam up, I can’t see, I can’t read lips, and I can’t hear because everybody mumbles.  Basically I am rendered deaf, dumb, and blind—but at least I am in the good company of much of the grey-haired, glass-wearing population where I live, and we’re all learning to understand mumblese together.  My heartfelt sympathy goes to the younger generation trying to fumble their way through the dating game.

My sympathy also to those of us in my condo building who are personally confronted with an epidemic of pin hole leaks and an assortment of miscellaneous plumbing issues rivaling the proportions of the pandemic.  Just as we think (and hope and pray) that it’s under control, another pipe pipes up and bursts forth with a vengeance later.  Like health caregivers, plumbers are mightily overwhelmed trying to stay ahead of the floods.  They think it might be due to the numbers of people staying home and flushing more.  I guess there are stranger things . . . who can say?

Meanwhile, the deaf, dumb, and blind among us continue to run around in a frantic effort to plug up wayward leaks lest we drown before we have a chance to rip our masks off and take a great gulp of fresh air.

It all makes me wonder—is the mask that I wear covering up the best part of myself?  Am I hiding behind the safety of what is old, familiar, safe?  Is there something that I’m not facing, or something that I do not wish to see?  Am I afraid that if I remove the protective mask that shelters my so-called safety that I’ll spring a leak and drown in my own fear?  Am I afraid that if I remove the mask I will be judged unfavorably, or that I will expose my vulnerability to others, and be perceived as weak?

So what would happen if I suddenly ripped off the mask, exposed the sags and wrinkles, and came face to face with whatever hides behind the face covering?  Well, I might be horrified.  Or on the other hand, I might be pleasantly surprised to find a lovely person that I’ve never met, a beautiful soul with a light that shines as bright as the sun, someone that I’d really like to get to know, someone I’d like to hang with for the rest of my days.

It requires courage to allow dark shadows to come to light in order to be healed— to rip off the mask like a band-aid, or peel it away bit by bit like layers of an onion to peek at what lies beneath.  But it is safe to trust in the wisdom, care, and guidance of Wise Ones who have our best interests at heart as we do what we must in order to discover the truth, beauty, and goodness that lives within.  There’s light behind the mask.  Let it shine!

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Kumbaya

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The We Are the World blog Link was about a conflict between the Board of Directors and the residents, current front page news in the condo where I live.  It gives me comfort to know that our problems pale in comparison to others.  I’m told that in Florida there is barely a day that goes by without a news article outlining the ugly details of lawsuits between condo boards and residents.  Heaven forbid we ever come close to such an extreme.  Not on my watch.

A friend in our building who regularly reads Voices suggested that my kumbaya approach to problem solving is all very nice, but it doesn’t fix anything.  Perhaps so.  It is true that many blogs of the past few months end with kumbaya, the plea for unity, harmony, and peace in the world.  There’s nothing wrong with a little kumbaya here and there.  It’s good for the soul.

But she does have a point.  How do we build a bridge from the idyllic dream of utopia across the broad expanse of disharmony and discontent to the safety on the other side?  How do we move from kumbaya into practicality?  I don’t have a clue what the experts might say—if in fact there are any—but in my world, it begins with an open mind, willingness, desire, and intention.   Anything less and the bridge will be nothing more than a failed attempt ending in collapse.  Everything begins in the mind first and becomes manifest through action taken out of imagination.  The first step is to approach the problem with the intention of finding a solution, a sincere willingness to address it head on with an open mind, and a true desire to create an outcome that satisfies all parties involved.  Kumbaya.

How many times have I chosen to launch into my ostrich act and stick my head in the sand rather than to a face a difficult problem?  All too often.  Where does it get me?  Deeper in the sand.  It takes great courage to muster up the inner gumption to look fear in the eye and take a risk.  But courage is the foundation, and communication is the superstructure that will build the bridge that takes us safely across the chasm to the other side, where unity, harmony, and peace await in the idyllic land of utopia.  Or Camelot.  Your choice.  You dream it, you intend it, you decide where you want to live.  It’s all in the attitude.

So my friends, neighbors, and fellow travelers on the pathway of life, I bid you well.  I pray you dream happy dreams of life as the way you would like it to be, I pray that when you are ready, you will effortlessly and easily manifest a life of your choosing.  If we all work together, we can build the bridge and reach the safety of the other side.  Kumbaya.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Window of the Soul

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The window washers are coming today and soon I will see clearly from the inside out.  Now if I can just clean up the of the window of my mind, I will see clearly from the outside in.  Once in a while if I’m not paying close attention, things can get a little murky in here.

Sometimes, when I have a bit of spare time, I enjoy peeking through the windows of the minds of other bloggers, especially those who share their innermost thoughts, feelings, challenges, struggles, and insecurities.  Sometimes the view through the windows of others provides a clearer reflection of myself.

Bloggers tend to tell the truth about themselves, about what they’re thinking and feeling.  Their honesty is refreshing, and sheds a light in the darkness.  In finding light in others, I find light within myself.

One of the most profound aspects of my education as a spiritual seeker was my training as a facilitator.  True service, we were taught, lies in healing oneself first in order to help others—healing the unhealed healer.  Thus, we became both students and teachers to one another, working together toward healing the parts of ourselves that were the obstacles to inner peace.

In the process, we discovered that no one is immune from the machinations of a mind ruled by the ego.  We learned that we are all subject to the aspect of ourselves that would have us believe that we are unworthy, undeserving, and unlovable.  We learned that there is great healing in the willingness to share the depths of one’s being in the safety of a trusted confidant.  We learned that the more we are able to see into the soul of another, the more there is to love.

I am no stranger to the battle between love and fear.  Why do we hesitate to share our inner truth with another?  It all about fear.  Fear of embarrassment, of being judged, misperceived, misunderstood, flawed, fear that the truth will somehow reveal the insecure, unlovable parts of the self that we do not wish to acknowledge to ourselves or to others.  The bottom line?  It is a fear of loss of love.

My greatest lessons in life were learned in the intense six-month facilitator training where as both student and teacher, I discovered that the willingness of another to share her deepest and most personal aspects of her being drew me closer in compassion and love, because in the other person, I could see my own struggle to overcome the parts of myself that I perceived as unlovable.

In spite of all of my spiritual education and training, I still find that I fall prey to the tricks of the ego; the window of my soul get foggy and I lose sight of who I am.  The return trip to sanity requires only that I sit and be still, find the quiet in my Soul, ask for help, and remember that love is the Windex that will make the window of my Soul sparkle.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Out of the Shadow

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I dreamed about a woman who covered her eyes when there was something on TV that she did not want to see.  When things got really ugly, her accommodating husband would place his hand on top of hers for an added layer of protection.  Oh no!  Am I the woman in the dream?  Am I hiding from myself?  Rats.  I thought I was an open book.

My world of TV watching ended six months ago, leaving only The Live Reality Show as my sole form of entertainment.  Yikes.  It’s pretty scary out there in the world right now, and yes, the woman is me.  I want hide away with as many layers of protection that I can get and trust that my friends will let me know when it’s safe to open my eyes again.

I must ask myself, “What is reality?”  What is my reality?  What is your reality?  What is anybody’s reality, really?  What is real?  What is illusion, what is fake?  Whoa—heady ‘don’t know’ questions, for sure.

What I do know is that my reality was built upon the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and opinions that I was taught and held as gospel truth until I was old enough to figure out that maybe everything I learned was wrong.

In search of answers that made sense to me, I set upon a path of self-discovery and re-creation of myself and my personal reality.  It has been a lifelong and soul satisfying experience, fraught with joy, despair, shift and change, trial and error, highs and lows, and challenging though it was—and sometimes still is—I wouldn’t change a minute of it for the world.

Do we all our build our own personal worlds with our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs?  If, perchance, this might be the true gospel truth, perhaps it would behoove us to rethink what we think and consider whether a change of mind might be in order.

Oh geez.  I guess this means that I have to take the blinders off.  Really?  Do I have to?

No, but if you want to build a better world, it might not be a bad idea.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Legacy of George Floyd

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Perhaps when life assignments were being handed out, George Floyd raised his hand for a Save the World mission.  Or perhaps he was simply another unfortunate victim of racism, ignorance, and injustice, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Either way, his tragic death has given us the profound gift of awakening, and that makes him a hero.

His death sparked the fire of outrage that has blazed across the nation and spread across the world in sympathy and unification.  It has opened our eyes to an awareness that we have a choice about whether we wish to turn to violence, destruction, and fear to make a point, or whether we will join as one and use our voice in peaceful, quiet protest against injustice, to open our eyes to see that there is a better way.  What an amazing contrast.

Last night in Louisville, strangers linked arms and joined as one to create a human shield to protect a lone police officer in danger from angry protesters.  Total strangers, black, white, hispanics, risked their own safety and broke from the crowd to help and protect the “enemy”.   These courageous guardians join George Floyd as heroes.

This demonstration of kindness and humanity by strangers on behalf of another shines light on the fact that there is a chink in the armor of fear that creates an opening through which the light of love may emerge and give rise to an opportunity for the world to see through different eyes.  The light beaming through the crack gives rise to the hope that consciousness is rising, and that soon the tide of protests will turn away from violence toward peace.

Though this man, along with so many others in the past, died needlessly, his death is not without meaning, for it shows us a picture of what a peaceful transformation looks like.  It invites us to hold our government accountable to its citizens for actions and inactions, justice and injustice, to use our voice as one humanity to insist on finding a better way.

Last night in a dream, I observed a man standing knee deep in a lake.  He was staring down at his feet, awed by the sight of a carpet of gold as far as the eye could see glistening beneath him.  Instead of  running off in a frentic search for a bucket and shovel to scoop up the gold, he simply stood quietly enjoying the gift of the beauty that surrounded him.

Perhaps such a dream is nothing more than the figment of a wishful imagination.  Perhaps it represents an exaggerated version of the new world that we are hearing so much about these days.  I like to think of it as a picture of where we are going.  I like to hope that we are on our way to living the dream of a new world in which the reasons for protests over injustice no longer exist, where peace and harmony rule the day,  I like to think that the senseless death of this man is the catalyst that will move us toward that day.

The greater our ability to focus on the goodness and beauty surrounding us, the greater our awareness that we are capable of choosing our future.  The legacy of George Floyd’s sacrifice gives new meaning and purpose to the importance of our decisions that we make, and open our eyes to our choices.

The world needs hope.  Please spread the legacy, share on Facebook, retweet, pass along to friends, send love and light to help stamp out fear.

To resurrect a mantra from the 60’s, make love, not war.

Glitz, Glamor, and Humility

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Have you ever wondered what it might be like to take a temporary tour of someone else’s brain to see what it’s like to live in there?  I do.  This notion came to me as the result of once writing a list of people that I admired and noting the specific qualities about them that I would like to develop within myself.  There were many names listed, but the only one that I remember is Grace Kelly, the lovely screen star turned real-life American princess of Monaco, the icon of perfection.  I admired her grace, elegance, and beauty.

Today’s list has only two names, and when put together in the same sentence, seem absolutely ludicrous because on the surface they appear to be the pinnacle of contrast: Dolly Parton and the Dalai Lama.  Dolly Parton, the worldly, glitzy glamorous entertainer, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, humble spiritual leader of Buddhism and political leader of Tibet.  The very thought that there is any commonality between them makes me want to giggle.

Dally has been quoted as saying, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”  Who doesn’t love Dolly?   She’s smart, talented, unbelievably generous, utterly adorable, and has a heart of gold.  The Dalai Lama is—well, he’s the Dalai Lama.  I have never met him, but I know those who have and they report that His Holiness has an impish sense of humor and is quick to laugh at himself.  There is something totally lovable about those who have the ability to poke fun at themselves.

Dolly is full of sparkles and spangles, big hair, eyelashes, and bedazzled fingernails.  The Dalai Lama is a simple monk who wears only robes of saffron and maroon.  Somewhere between the sparkle and spirituality lies a commonality that cannot be denied.  Beneath the external appearance, there is a profound inner beauty, wisdom, strength, courage, intelligence, kindness, compassion, generosity of spirit, and a concern for the health and well-being of humanity.

Both offer a life of service simply by their presence in the world, by the very state of their being—Dolly by entertaining us with her considerable gifts and talents, and the Dalai Lama by his dedicated life of spiritual leadership and service to his country and to humanity.  And yet at the same time, both are still human.  Like them, we must find a balance between our persona and our soul, and deal with all aspects of our humanness.  Both present us with a portrait of possibilities about who we are and how we present ourselves in the world, and how we walk around in our heads.

These icons inspire me to strive to embody the qualities in them that I admire the most.   They make me want to recognize and acknowledge the best within myself and let go of all that is not.  For me, it’s humility, compassion, kindness, generosity of spirit, self-acceptance, fearlessness, and humor to add a bit of lightheartedness to the mix.   Which reminds me—my own unbedazzled fingernails were part of the inspiration for this blog, but that’s a story for another day.

Today, I would like to invite you to think about the people you admire, and what qualities they embody that you might like to add to your personal storehouse of ideals.  The power of imagination is miraculous—if you can dream it, you can be it.  If there are any qualities that you would like to adopt as a model to shape a new behavior for yourself, start dreaming!

I also invite and challenge you to inspire others by sharing your comments in the section below.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Tip Toeing into a Brand New World

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I seem to be verging on the edge of spiritual activism.  Verging, I say, because the thought of actually being one is a little scary.  Well, maybe a lot scary.  Activists can be extreme, bold, in-your-face obnoxious, and they can be shot and killed for all of their radical good intentions.  So yep—the thought of becoming one scares me.  There are days when I think that it might be part of my “assignment”, but mostly, I think that I am too much of a chicken to even think about it.

And yet—and yet, there is also a part of me that says, “Yes, but it’s time.  Somebody’s got to do it, and why not you?”

The world is in a state of chaotic turmoil and is crying out for help.  We need something to grab ahold of that will help us make it through these difficult times with faith enough to know that we’ll be okay, that we’ll survive, and that in the end, we’ll all be better off for it.

Meanwhile, there are bills to pay and there’s a world of suffering out there.

So maybe I’ll put my big toe in the water to find out how it feels to be an activist.  Maybe if a big fish doesn’t come along and snack on it for lunch, I’ll stick my whole foot in.  Maybe one day I might even gather the courage to dive in head first.

Why would I risk doing such a thing at the expense of catapulting myself out of my comfort zone, I wonder?

The world is beginning to wake up.  Evolution is happening before our very eyes.  We are all in it together.  It is happening now, and if there is any doubt about that, we need only look around.  The natural outcome of evolution is change, and though change is never looked upon with great favor, each and every one of us is doing exactly that.  We’re waking up and growing up.  We are all sharing in the painful birthing process that will bring forth a new and improved world.

So am I a budding activist or a midwife?  Or both?  Maybe if I redefined spiritual activist as one who shares good news and brings messages of hope, it wouldn’t be scary.  I can do that.  There is no role for fear in the face of good news.

Either way, I sense a growing need for the newly awakening to have the strength and assurance that there are unseen hands ready to help as we take our first tentative steps into a new and unknown world.  Maybe we just need to know that the waters of the new oceans are safe and there will be protection from the big fish.

All we need do is close our eyes, place our faith in the unknown, and be aware that in spite of appearances, all is well.  Now is the time to trade in fear for love and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are all in good hands.

Did you hear that Julia?  The water is safe.  Just walk your talk and dive in head first.

Yikes.  Okay.

All right everybody, grab my hand and hang on to your hats because we’re gonna ride this scary roller coaster together.  And when we make it safely to the end and splash down into our brand new world, we’ll all rejoice and yell, “Whee—what a ride!”

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

 

 

 

The Power is in our Hands

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I read something recently that sent me off on a round of what if thinking.  I love what if’s.

What if we obsessed about the good stuff about ourselves and the world instead of the not so good?  Whoa.  Now there’s some juicy food for thought.

How many times a day do we decide how we feel about ourselves?  How often do we obsess about our shortcomings, mistakes, wrong turns, and the poor decisions that reap unfortunate consequences?  What if we stopped all of the self-defeating nonsense and obsessed about the good stuff instead of the not so good?

Years ago, a homeless man with the helmet and placard gave me an important message (If We Can Dream It, We Can Build It).  Odd though he was, he was a harbinger of truth.  He told me two things I need to remember: stop listening to my own negative thoughts, and stop listening to the negative thoughts of others.

We as a collective humanity are being bombarded mercilessly by the ceaseless, unrelenting proclamations of the bad news heaped upon us, both by ourselves and by the media—the same media that is owned, operated, and controlled by gigantic, powerful conglomerates that dictate what news we are to be fed, those who seem intent upon brainwashing us with fear for profit, and that invade our sanity with images of gun wielding extremists who frighten us into thinking that their intention of claiming their human rights at the expense of the rest of us will drag us into a civil war.

We need to stop listening.  We need to change the channel.  We need to stop subjecting ourselves to brutal fear mongering and turn our focus to stories of good news instead, such as the owner of the high-end restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York, who converted his business from feeding the fortunate few who can afford it, to feeding the needy through a nonprofit organization that serves leftover restaurant food to those in need.

What if we stopped watching and listening to the news?  What if we sent a message that we will no longer support fear mongering by subjecting ourselves to negativity?  What if we demanded good news instead?  What if we took our power back and called the media to task for their actions and the role they play in keeping our nerves jangled and our hearts aflutter?

What if we stopped all of the self-defeating negativity about ourselves and the world, and obsessed about the good stuff instead?  What if we replaced our bad-news cravings with a desire for upliftment?  What if we realize that as we let go of fear, fear will let go of us.

We have the power.  We can claim it.  Will we?  I will.  Will you?

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth Will Set Your Free

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I had a little chat with my friend (the one who plans to buy a gun) and without going into great detail, it turns out that our differing interpretations of the meaning of yesterday’s blog (Faith Trumps Fear) was Venus and Mars.  I thought that such misperceptions only happened between men and women, but apparently, I was wrong.  That happens a lot.  That I’m wrong, I mean.

As the last child in my family, I often did not feel heard so I learned to stuff my words back down my throat to avoid choking on the disappointment of not having my needs met.  My inability to understand my feelings and express my thoughts became the undoing of my failed marriages, but thankfully, after decades of trial and error, I have learned a great deal.

Oh, there were lots of errors—sometimes comical, sometimes painful, and often they came wrapped up as a combination platter.  In one of my marriages, my husband and I developed what we called the two-week rule, a tool that we used in the midst of an argument, or anytime that we faced a weighty issue that affected both of us.  It gave us two weeks of radio silence to mull over options and consequences and seek answers from within.

At the end of one such period, my husband’s conclusion was that he was leaving.  “WHAT?  What do you MEAN that you’re leaving? That’s not what we were supposed to be thinking about,” I bellowed.  “That’s what we were thinking about and that’s my decision” he replied.  “Noooo—we were thinking about whether we would invite your son to come and stay with us for a while.”  Talk about the mother of all miscommunication!

So, he packed up and left.  But it didn’t last long.  He was back later that evening at which point I wanted to throw him out again.  We laughed about it later, but it wasn’t very funny at the time.

Hmmm. Why did I wander down this road, I wonder?  Is there a point?  Does it have to do with being wrong?  Or communication?  Or telling the truth?  Or check all of the above?   Or Maybe it’s just a way to crack open the door and take a peek to see if there is room for improvement to be made anywhere along the line.

There is truth and then there is Truth, and it takes conscious effort to decipher one from the other, to discern the difference between the voice of the self and the Voice of the Soul.  Communication on every level is a skill, a fine art.  To be successful it must be learned, studied, rehearsed, practiced.  But mostly it requires honesty with one’s self.  It’s a trial and error process.  Will there be mistakes?  Absolutely!  Will there be wrong turns?  Of course.  I’m an expert in both, but even in wrong turns, there is great value.  But like anything truly worth having, it is truly worth working for.

Oh—and as a side benefit, it may even eliminate a few trips to Venus or Mars and save a marriage or two.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Give Us This Day Our Daily Blog

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Every morning I nestle down with my coffee and trusty laptop to start the day by hoping and praying that the Voices du jour will just show up on the page with little or no effort from me.  Sometimes it works that way, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Why is that, I wonder?

Perhaps it is a mirror of my life reflected in the experiences that proved easy—finding the perfect home, job, roommate at the perfect time—and those that were difficult, like marriages and finances.  Occasionally, there were times in my life when I was stopped dead in my tracks from moving in a direction that I thought I wanted to go.  I look back with gratitude for those aborted missions, for in hindsight I can see that they would have proven devastatingly painful had I tried to force the issue and succeeded in my efforts.

Day after day as I sit down with my coffee and laptop, I ask myself why I have made this commitment to publish Voices every day.  I drown in an ocean of answers that flood my brain and threaten to drag me down into the undertow of fear and confusion.  Then suddenly, I am catapulted to the surface long enough to see the sunlight and catch a breath of willingness and courage to carry on, regardless of how uplifting or difficult the effort might be.

Even now, in the midst of a patch of fear and confusion, my heart beats with joy at the thought of how much there is to be gained.  I have agreed to enter an institute of higher learning where the question of why will be answered.  It will take time, it will take patience, it will take courage and willingness.

I have no idea where the path will lead but I am looking forward to the journey.  I suspect that there will be an ocean full of lessons, challenges, questioning, tests, frustrations, joys, and eternal why questions, but one day I will be able to look back in hindsight and say, “Oh.  That’s why.”

I would enjoy having some traveling companions along the way and would be delighted if you would  join me for a bird’s eye view of what goes on in the world of a serious Truth seeker in my practice of listening for the quiet whispers of the soul.  And I would love hearing your thoughts and musings as you travel with me.  Please share!

Meanwhile, I fully intend work hard and be the best student that I can be.  As always, it will be good for me to remember that it’s not about the destination, but rather about the journey.

Such an adventure!  Y’all wanna come along for the ride?

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).