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-   -   Out on a Limb (http://www.shirleymaclaine.com/encounter/showthread.php?t=214272)

Norma Rae 04-14-2013 08:21 AM

Out on a Limb
I am about to make all of you jealous. Are you ready? I just had the wonderful experience of reading Out on a Limb for the first time! Do you all remember how that felt for you?

Believe it or not, it took me 38 years on this earth to find my way to and to read Out on a Limb. (Of course, once I started, I could not put it down.) I do have the distinct memory of seeing this book in hardcover on my mother's bookshelves when I was young, but then my mother went through a "religious" experience of some sort when I was about 14 and all such books--including Out on a Limb--disappeared from our house.

Fast forward 30 years or so, and I found my way back to the book. But Out on a Limb was not my introduction to Shirley MacLaine, rather--in a long line of synchronistic events that involved my best friend dying suddenly and my trip to Santa Fe for yoga teacher training (I had no idea at the time that Santa Fe was Ms. MacLaine's home)--the audio version of Saging While Aging.

So . . . Here I am having just read Out on a Limb for the first time. Would anyone like to discuss? I'll start with the first sentence or two that I underlined in the book:

" . . . tropical plants and flowers. They were cared for by a Japanese gardener who loved them like children and believed that Peter Tomkins was correct, that plants had emotions. I remembered how silly Gerry thought I was when I first mentioned the concept to him.
'Plants can feel?' he laughed. 'Well, I'm just glad they can't talk back.' I had wanted to pursue the conversation, but his sardonic laughter nipped it in the bud, so to speak.' . . . "


Well, everyone . . . let's not allow that conversation to wane any longer, eh? Anyone want to talk about the spiritual lives of plants? I have one crazy cactus that I'd love to discuss with you!

Namaste _/|\_

sisterlura 04-14-2013 01:31 PM

Okay, gosh dang it, you are right, Steph .... I am jealous!! Having read OAL for the first time decades ago (same year as your mom, probably!), I can still recall the astonishment of one "AHA!" moment after another as I rapidly devoured the pages. :eek:

I have loved Shirley MacLaine and her (at the time) "radical, woo-woo" opinions ever since; she feels like a kindred spirit, and I believe that all of us here, who landed at - and stay at - this site are probably in the same soul group. Hence, that makes us family! :D

Plants have emotions? Well, DUH!! Yes, of course plants can feel!! :rolleyes: I heard a fascinating report a number of years ago on PBS -- someone did a study on three different fields of hops in England. In one field, they played rock 'n roll music continuously; in another, a talk show; and in the last, relaxing classical or chamber music. I can't remember the exact degrees of difference, but I do recall that the hops 'nurtured' by the soft, non-verbal music grew faster and straighter and healthier than the other two fields. The talk show hops finished a pathetic third -- in fact, many of the plants shriveled up and died.

Oh, and for years and years and years I had a crazy snake plant named Fred, which I'd bought at a church fair for probably 25 cents when he was just a teeny little snip of a thing in a palm-size flower pot. However, Fred was like the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors" --- he grew and grew and grew CONSTANTLY; God alone knows why. I kept enlarging Fred's pots, until finally I had to have them custom made. By the time I moved to the convent, I'd had Fred for about 25 - 30 years, he'd adjusted to six major physical moves and he was still healthy as a horse. He now has a room of his own in a former neighbor's home on Peaks Island, where I hear he continues to flourish.

Oh! And it anyone has a plant that is a tad droopy? If possible, put it near - preferably on top of, your tv set or radio. Plants DEFINITELY pick up outside energy and respond to it!! Guaranteed - your plant will perk up in no time (providing you are tuned into a favorable channel!)

Lura :)

PAULA CAMPOS 04-14-2013 01:32 PM

Of course plants can feel and i'm looking forward to reading about your crazy cactus :cool: :D

I too enjoyed Out On A Limb, very well written and engrossing.

Did you know that prince Charles talks to his plants at his Highgrove home and he's not embarrassed to say that.

Norma Rae 04-14-2013 07:12 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Hello! So glad I got some company here!

Thank you so much for posting that story about the hopfields, Lura. Now, did the story tell you which hops made the best beer? You'd think the rock-n-roll field would hold claim to that, but perhaps not. And that is hilarious that the talk show field hops shriveled up and died. They must have not been playing Shirley MacLaine interviews! :-) I'm going to have to do some research and try to find that story. I'd love to listen to/read/watch it.

And I may have a cousin of Fred's . . . let me tell you the story of this yet unnamed cactus . . . my dear friend Anita died suddenly at the age of 37 a few years ago (fell off a golf cart, of all things!) . . . in addition to me, Anita had two other very close friends, and we were all friends in graduate school. The trio of us each now protect 1/3 of Anita's music, books, and plants--one was this crazy cactus from which each of us took one tiny cutting (one is in Florida, one in TN, and mine in Chicago). I'm attaching a photo here of the current status of this thing. I'm not sure what the heck it thinks it is doing, but it seems to be having some fun. Anyway, each cutting has grown into a completely different looking creature. Mine is in my basement yoga room and is surrounded by Anita's books and music. It gets a healthy dose of regular incense, morning meditation, jazz music, Shirley interviews, and gets to watch me routinely practice yoga. Perhaps all those different stimulations has given this plant the courage to follow its own true bliss--which is a bit nutty. I am inspired each time I breathe and sit with it.

I've got other spiritual plant questions, but will save them for later.


sisterlura 04-15-2013 06:59 AM

Oh, I love your plant, Steph!! S/He definitely looks like a free spirit, lol, that will not play by any "normal" plant rules! What a cutie! His/her name will appear to you in due time...

If I get a chance, I too will try to locate the hops story.

Lura :D

patswife 04-15-2013 04:08 PM

Just wanted to say, I definitely remember reading OOAL for the first time. I realized then that there were other people who had the same "crazy" ideas that I have. I have loved Shirley ever since. With each new book, I always feel a little thrill of anticipation when I start reading.
As far as plants--I tend to become attached to them and cannot let them go unless they are just too far gone. I have a small bamboo plant that might or might not make it. Was thinking about putting it outside in the summer to see if it perks up. Does anyone know anything about bamboo and how to make it thrive?

Norma Rae 04-15-2013 06:34 PM

Hello Joanne, I don't know anything horticulturally speaking about bamboo, but emotionally/spiritually, you may want to try reading some Rumi and W.B. Yeats to (or at least in the presence of) your little bamboo plant. In particular, poems with the reed flute image--it abounds in Rumi's poetry and may inspire the little fella to achieve its true poetic potentiality, as Deepak Chopra might say. W.B. Yeats had that durn reed flute imagery running around in many of his poems, too--I argued in graduate school that Yeats was quite influenced by the mysticism of Sufism, etc. (not really a controversial thesis). If the poetry does not lift your bamboo's spirits, it will certainly enrich yours and maybe conjure up a dead poet or two in your midst during the reading! "Not a bad way to spend a Friday night, eh?"

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Namaste and two hands together from the melting Midwest,

Norma Rae 04-16-2013 07:36 AM

harvesting wildflowers?!
Alright . . . before I get wrapped up in my storyline of a work life here, I have to say that on the (long!) commute into the office, I was listening to an archived Independent Expression Radio show where Shirley was talking to Rebecca Skeele about co-creation. She--Skeele--was giving advice about using the essence of flowers as a way of opening the heart, the chakras, and moving from the "story" life to an "intentional" life. I like the sound of that, but when Shirley started asking her the practical questions for an individual, for example, living in the city--what's a city gal to do? Go to the local florist and choose the flower that resonates most vibrantly to her? No, said Skeele, ideally go out into the wilderness and choose flowers from there.


Excuse me? Harvest wildflowers?! This is where I put the brakes on in the conversation. While they did not address this fundamental problem in the conversation, I think we could talk about it here. Harvesting wildflowers? As a lover of nature, the wilderness, our national parks--especially the Smoky Mountains which have the most variety of species of wildflowers in North America--I am pretty shocked at the idea of stripping wildflowers from their home so that I can soak up their essence for my own personal use. It kind of sends shivers up my spine even typing that.

So . . . if you cannot go to a florist (and I understand the complicated ethics of flowers in a flower shop--have you seen the documentary Love, Women, and Flowers?! Most flower shop flowers/plants have had such a tragic life imbued with violence imposed upon them and the women in the factories!) and you cannot harvest wildflowers (thank goodness!), where do you get your flower essence from? . . .

I suppose one obvious answer is that we must grow our own flowers--as we should our food we consume as well, eh?

Any thoughts out there on, to coin a phrase from Shirley this morning, our petal people?

Alright...into the story work day I go!


patswife 04-16-2013 04:23 PM

Hi Norma, I loved your advice about reading Rumi and Yeats to my little plant. Since I love reading poetry anyway, this is right up my alley. I will let you know the results.
I know of the IE interview that you speak of. I have to say that I , also, would have an extremely hard time plucking wildlife flowers. Years ago, my husband and I were hiking on Mt. Rainer and came across a meadow of exquisite flowers. All kinds and colors--it was breathtaking! Well, there were two woman ahead of us that felt the need to gather some for themselves. For what purpose, I'm not sure. They were probably wilted by the time they reached the bottom of the mountain. That has always stayed with me because it bothered me so much. Sometimes beauty is just meant to be enjoyed and not owned.
Nice to meet you here, by the way!

Norma Rae 04-18-2013 10:26 AM

Nice meeting you, too! And call me steph. "Norma Rae" is just a pet pseudonym I use on occasion.

Wow, that's a shocking story about the wildflower poachers at Mt. Rainer. I've seen similar disregard on occasion in the Smokies--usually young adults who have forgotten how to respect nature (and have not yet rediscovered that lost compassion). And let's not even get started on corporations wrecking havock on the natural resources and pure essence of this Earth (said the woman who just drove 2 hours to get to work! *sigh*). Or maybe we should? . . .

Yesterday and this morning during my horrid commute to the office, I listened to two really inspirational conversations on the environment between Shirley and Forest Guardians Executive Director Susan Trixier and the other between Shirley and Kuki Gallmann. Both were just wonderful and are certainly a continuing conversation of Shirley's initial question in Out on a Limb: "Do plants have emotions?" Traffic was so brutal today, that I was able to write down a few thoughts from Kuki related to this topic:

"Listen to the voice of the Earth, the plants, the trees."
"Plants have many secrets."

The ancients certainly knew this; poets and artists know this; beings from other planets and solar systems--I am certain--know this; people from less industrialized countries than ours must know this; the shaman knows this. We've forgotten, but at least it seems that some of us are trying desperately to remember the thing(s) we've forgotten. What is it that we've forgotten? The feminine? The yin? That we are all energy and all connected?

Should we continue this conversation or switch gears to another line or two from Out on a Limb?

namaste from the soggy midwest!

Norma Rae 04-23-2013 09:48 AM

The Secret Lives of Plants and . . . a new topic to discuss
Well . . . this thread may be ready to move on to a new topic from Out on a Limb, but apparently the universe has decided that I am not. Today on the commute into the office, I "randomly" (yeah, right!) selected an Independent Expression Radio interview between Shirley and Cleve Backster. Whoa! Biocommunications of plants, plants being able to clearly sense *thoughts* of others, plants being able to distinguish between intention and pretense (I could really use that in my line of work! Perhaps I'll bring a plant to my next hearing!), and . . . Peter Tomkins' The Secret Life of Plants (referenced above in the original passage from Out on a Limb that I first underlined)! Okay, okay! I hear you, universe! I suppose the next step in following this journey is for me to rustle up a copy of Tomkins' book, eh?

Well . . . how 'bout we tackle another sentence that I underlined in Out on a Limb . . . much later in the book:


"Well, life is like hot sauce. As soon as you start enjoying it, it makes you cry."


Any thoughts/experiences you want to share on that little gem of wisdom?

namaste from the slowly drying yet still soggy Midwest,

patswife 04-23-2013 04:06 PM

Hi Steph,
I love how you are taking sentences from the book and using them as a starting point for discussion. As far as the "hot sauce" reference---I take that to mean that life is kind of a roller coaster. It does seem sometimes that everything is wonderful and we go along happily and then something kicks us in the butt. But that just seems to be life. We learn from both types of experiences. Sometimes more from the butt kickers. I'm sure I am not saying anything that all of us here don't already know.
But, I guess we just have to remember to be grateful for ALL of life's experiences--it all helps us to evolve. And we all have different lessons to learn. Some people may seem to have everything, but scratch the surface, and they are miserable and vice versa.
Thanks for provoking some thought!

Norma Rae 04-25-2013 11:00 AM

Hi Joanne (and others)!

I believe that at the time the comment was made in the book (David says it to Shirley), that she had just experienced a moment of true enlightenment, epiphany, euphoria, and at that moment of enJOYment, she began crying. Unfortunately, I do not have the book with me to reference right now to be sure. I believe Shirley asks the question of why she was crying in such a moment, and David responded with the hot sauce analogy.

In my yoga teacher training (in Santa Fe, thank you!), we studied the "subtle body" during the last week of intensives, and one exercise we did was to partner will another yogi and meditate on where in our body we felt any discomfort and to follow it. Many people--as did I and my partner--experience an energy moving throughout our body as if it were stuck. Upon further meditation and dropping into the moment and observing our stuckness without judgment, the energy would often release. What your partner would do is watch and observe your body while asking simple questions of "where it is now?" and "how does it feel now." Often, what you would find is that the energy would start to release itself through involuntary movements like eye twitching, but upon ultimate release of the stuckness, tears would spontaneously flow.

Viola--Hot sauce!


patswife 04-25-2013 03:55 PM

Your take on this is SO much better than mine:) Thanks Steph!

Norma Rae 05-01-2013 02:45 PM

souls that bind
Here's a selection of Out on a Limb that should stir up a good discussion:

"They say there's an energy that fills interatomic space, but they don't know what it is. Even they call it the cohesive element of the atom, which they term as 'gluon.' They know it is not matter, but rather units of energy. . . . Mayan says it is this subatomic energy that makes up the Source. Therefore the Source, that form of energy, is not molecular. . . . This energy is the energy that makes up the soul. Our bodies are made out of atoms; our souls are made out of this Source energy."


What do you think about that?!

Namaste from the midwest,

patswife 05-02-2013 04:39 PM

Steph, this is a good one. I have to say that if even "they" don't know what it is, then I sure don't either. I do know instinctively that the soul is made up of energy. But from where this energy comes from, who can say? I often wonder if we will have access to all the answers when we pass over or if it will still be a mystery. Maybe things are revealed in stages as we pass from one life to the next. And when we do ultimately reach the final destination, what then? Do we cease to have any individuality? If so, are we even aware? I cannot even comprehend this with my earth bound mind. I guess we will all discover the big truth when it is time.
I love the thought provoking ideas you are throwing out with Out on a Limb!

Norma Rae 05-03-2013 06:19 AM

Joanne (and all!) . . . your comments remind me of Shirley's initial reaction to David's revelation in the book (if you have the paperback, we're on pp. 324-25, btw). Shirley says to David, "Why? . . . It could be anything . . . And it seems to me to make damn little difference at this point, whether we know for a fact, or don't know, what the soul is made of. . . . what's the point of breaking down its components . . ."


Well, I suppose that is an entirely different conversation we can have, isn't it? Perhaps the point of questioning and exploring is just that--to learn. It is the best our little human brain can do (with the help of opening our chakras, subtle body, and intuition to the inexplicable) to try to reconnect with what we have forgotten (the Source?) in this human form. Interesting, I'm looking at a few paragraphs after the above selection (on p. 326), and Shirley says "I felt I was remembering something somewhere way underneath my mind in a place I had never touched. . . ." Hmmm?

Well, before I get too much off on that tangent (unless others want to follow it?!?!?!), I want to go back a little in the book on p. 324 before David makes the statement . . . Shirley says "Well, . . . You mean it is a kind of ocean in which everything floats? . . ."

Okay, the reference to the phrase "cosmic ocean" and the name of David's unearthly companion Mayan reminds me of the Story of Markandeya: Waters of Non-Existence, which can be found in Heinrich Zimmer's Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, which I read during yoga training. Shoot . . . I'm going to have to return to this later because I've got to head into a long commute into work now . . . But Markandeya touches on the existence of "maya," what is "reality," and that durn cosmic ocean . . . the Source? the interconnectedness of our soul energies? . . .

Two hands together from the peaceful Midwest . . .

patswife 05-04-2013 05:39 PM

I love that you are using these quotes from Out on A Limb! It has really gotten me thinking and focusing on certain concepts.
I love that you quoted "I felt I was remembering something somewhere way underneath my mind in a place I had never touched."
I have felt this on occasion with certain people and very strongly in places I have visited.
But here is my question. Certain people and places may nudge us to remember something in a past life. But why? What good is it doing us in this incarnation? I know that I have been certain places before. But, what does that really tell me that I can practically work with in this lifetime?
Do you (or anyone here) have thoughts about what we can do with the bits of information that we may remember from past lives? Can we learn from this?
Thanks for your postings, Steph!

Norma Rae 05-08-2013 08:00 AM

lessons from those we've known (or have not known) before?
Joanne (and all!),

That is a huge question! I think you have to go on an individualized case-by-case basis. I've listened to some of the archived Independent Expression Radio shows where members sent in questions for Shirley to answer, and often this is one of the questions. And even Shirley--someone so in touch with her past lives--has difficulty answering the question without really narrowing it down. I think it is something you have to sit with and meditate with for a very long time--a lifetime? Lifetimes, even?! Anyone want to share some specific lessons learned from past lives? I am not yet in touch with my past lives well enough to even begin to articulate lessons I may be in the process of learning right now. However, that's part of the reason I am here (in the cherry bowl...or am I in the cherry pit bowl?)--to learn to connect with that "subtle" part of my body or being in this incarnation.

Thoughts anyone?

Here is the flip of that question that I have been noodling over for a while: What do we learn from those whom we absolutely know we have never before encountered in a past life--especially when that person is in a significant role in this life? Why would we choose that? Interesting.

(By the way, I am now reading The Camino, and (oh boy!) do I have lots underlined in that book already! We'll have to start a Camino thread!)

Namaste from the sunny Midwest!

Norma Rae 05-13-2013 07:15 AM

lessons from the past
Friends, Joanne asked "Do you (or anyone here) have thoughts about what we can do with the bits of information that we may remember from past lives? Can we learn from this?" . . . I just finished reading The Camino, and what a great question to transition from a discussion about Out on a Limb to The Camino, but let's not stop this thread just yet. I underlined many thoughts in The Camino on what one might do with past life information:


"Did imagination begin at the moment of creativity, or was it based on previous experiences and some kind of forgotten knowledge that my soul was communicating to my mind?" (p. 217).

"Everything each of our souls had experienced through millions of years was still a part of our genetic memory. We had been both male and female, because in the beginning we were a reflection of the soul that was divinely both." (pp. 244-45).

"Was what we called imagination truly based on soul memory? Would we ever know the truth of our soul's past and therefore dream a more magnificent future? Would we learn to trust that once, billions of years ago, the Divine Spirit had been lonely and created us into being, to live as a family of children who loved the Deity with all our hearts and all our souls and our neighbor as ourselves? I pulled out my gold cross and held it tightly. Yes, I could imagine such a thing." (p. 302).


Is this too much to start with? Perhaps, but let's keep this thread going here with a discussion on what do we learn from our past lives and why learn it at all?

Namaste from the deserts of Las Vegas,

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