I hereby promise -
to be more mindful, bringing my attention to the present moment and accepting the clarity therein.
to find joy in each moment, every task and situation
to be focused on Love and Compassion for myself and others and thereby
to let go of judgment and criticism freeing others of the burden of my opinion
to look for the interesting, delightful, and fascinating in my daily experiences
to speak in gratitude aloud and within
to share my joy of life even in times of distress and sadness and
to cry aloud, weep and wail, emptying my sorrow and clearing a path for the overflow of more joy...
So begins 2012 Promises to myself. I still enjoy the concept of making 100 promises and while it feels like a tall order, you are worth the time and energy investment to reach for your greatest joy. Promises are the opportunity to think well of ourselves in specific ways and they are always for your highest good, so what's not to keep. Today's promises address specific needs in my life and as I support my family (and myself) through the process of death and dying.
Each morning we awaken to new possibilities - embrace them in love.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
|kitchen scraps in compost barrel|
Once upon a time, back in the day, I spent my weekends with seriously alternative off the grid living kind of folks. If it was yellow, we let it mellow; if brown, flushed it down. All the TP went into a paper bag because it was too hard on the septic system (lagoon or city sewer). The cool shower dripped at a trickle and was timed to three minutes. Bundle up. What heat? Being a self-made pioneer girl who once picked green plants and boiled them for dinner I was not fazed. I had lived with wood heat in the country and when we neglected (or were too poor) to buy fuel (from trees) we were left to burn whatever we could find. There was an abandoned shed on the property and desperation required its breakdown and consumption. I placed huge stones on the wood stove (and smaller ones inside) to gather heat for the bed and car. Those were the days. I was thankful to move into town where I could heat my home at the touch of a dial.
After those experience and many more, you would think I was open to just about anything. And I was, until… Sitting at lunch with my crunchy granola comrades, our attention was called to settle a dispute. We had a visiting social renegade from a commune up north who proposed we have compost stew for dinner. There were audible groans and sounds of distaste. I sat quietly thinking there would have to be something prepared fresh to accompany this entrée. We were big on whole grain breads and fresh ground nuts. As a veteran survivor of foods I refused to eat as a child, I would easily make it through this one meal. There were always fresh fruits, teas and nuts for later.
|Something in there look appetizing?|
We had a self appointed leader in this supposed equal congregation. She said no. He asked for a discussion and explained that where he came from nothing was wasted. Someone explained that kitchen scraps are not wasted. They are composted. At this point, he reached under the table, lifted the kitchen compost bucket and began to dig through it. He pointed out bits of discarded produce that could be washed and the mold, rot, and discoloration cut away. The visual did not help his cause.
As with every hippy dippy groovy nut group I have belonged to, there are always those who side with the most insane and ridiculous of concepts and ideas. He had his following as well. Sometimes I think it was because he was from that commune up north. He was bearded and barefoot, scraggly in form and dress; generally unkept in that way that says wild, grizzly. Women/girls running from money dig that sort. So, off they went to prepare their dinner.
At that point, I am thinking, “Note to self: Nut butters from a jar; bread from a package. Hide good food for later. Many days left here.” I passed on casseroles, stews, soups, and salads. If I didn’t crack it or peel it, I was not eating it.
It is popular to write and talk about being frugal, but there was a time when people were living it on a whole other level. I will share about saving money and how I manage, but as I have already traveled out to the edge, I am content to enjoy the warmth of my home, fresh food on my table, good wine and beer.
Here’s what I did save, though. I have fresh greens in the winter. Organic and free!
|Fresh turnip tops|
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have a collection of wooden boxes that contain mementos from long ago. I have carried them for almost thirty years and today they are still hard to toss. I did let go of the hospital wrist bands from the birth my eldest child and the umbilical cord clip. Yes, I kept everything. I boxed up, for donation, dozens of earrings I no longer wear but can't bare to trash. I confess to owning quadruples of lipstick, mascara, and eye pencils and palettes. I pitched the bulk of it, keeping only one lip color I love and making sure the eye pencils I saved were useable.
Now, to that letter. I will tell you that I believed every word written when it was presented nearly thirty years ago. Things changed. I spent years angry and pissed off about how that relationship turned out. The betrayal was overwhelming. After years of therapy, I walked in to the therapist office and cried through tossing the remaining items I was saving (for someday) - gifts I had tucked away, until... That hurt has passed and I have certainly lived though more and worse, but still I am holding this love letter. As a matter of fact, I have a rather large collection of love letters from past relationships. In and earlier purge, I sacrificed nearly a year of written correspondence that rained love, compassion and understanding. What a pity!
I have decided that I am going to keep my love notes, cards, letters, post-its, CDs and cassettes (remember we used to make those, before playlist?). I honor that I opened my heart, repeatedly, and allowed another to get close to me and me to them. I celebrate the dance of our time even when we stomped off the floor and ended the evening in a public row. I was prone to intensely passionate loving expressions. I maintained that same fervor as our patience, tolerance, and compatibility faded.
The intervening years have cleared my interest in that level of interaction; I live free of chaos, crisis, and confusion. And while my memories are sufficient to recall many a boisterous disagreement, I prefer to relax and enjoy rereading our expressions of love. I have a broad collection of published poems and essays. I read the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. But, how very personal are the notes that were written for me.
A lover asked his beloved,~Rumi
Do you love yourself more than you love me?
Beloved replied, I have died to myself and I live for you.
I've disappeared from myself and my attributes,
I am present only for you.
I've forgotten all my learnings,
but from knowing you I've become a scholar.
I've lost all my strength, but from your power I am able.
I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.
Just for Today
Just for today I will live through this say only, and tackle my problems one at a time.
Just for today I will be happy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, rather than try to adjust everything else to my desires. I will be open to new ways of thinking and being.
Just for today I will strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.
Just for today I will expand my spiritual connection. I will share generously. I will recognize another being, with a smile, glance or kind word.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look my best. I will practice acceptance of myself, first and each person I meet. I will honor each person’s path as their own and walk my path free of criticism or judgment.
Just for today I will have a goal with objectives and tasks toward completion. Even in distraction I will have a plan and a way to complete it.
Just for today I will set aside quiet time. I will disconnect from the noise of the world – television, phones, internet, and sound – and spent time with myself and my thoughts. I will relax and get perspective on my life.
Just for today I will live fearlessly. I will enjoy what is beautiful. I will accept all the good present in my life and return good into the world.
Just for today I will ask, “How can I be more loving? How can I be more kind?”
Saturday, December 17, 2011
People have their own stuff going on and their own ways of dealing with change. What I had was another opportunity to let go of expectations. No matter what happens today, I went to offer support and resource. I did just that. I held compassion for all of us in a strange situation.
Today, I am missing my friends who are out roaming. Here, my commitment is to hold a strong signal that when they seek communication they will be able to find me. Surely, I am not the only person who has lost contact with a loved one for unknown reasons. I hold out that instead of letting go of those relationships that we remember the love we shared, honor the joy of companionship, and maintain the hope of return.
That quote from Rumi has sustained my hope through many years. Initially, I thought I would walk out to the field and meet my friend. I have since come to understand that my role is to be waiting in the field for the other to arrive. But how do I find the field that is free from ideas or right or wrong doing?
"Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field; I'll meet you there."
As I cease self-judgment and open to compassion for my own life and choices, I will be able to wait in that space. When we find that others are pushing up our stuff, that is an ideal opportunity to examine the places we have yet to embrace and love within ourselves. When we are angry, hurt, lost, distraught, this is the time for introspection. How are my expectations not being met? Who is not meeting them? Do I have the right to place those demands on another? How would I feel if those same demands were made of me? What if I just let it go? What exactly am I afraid of?
Loving no matter what requires that we face our fears. The fear of loss, abandonment, even hope, can trap us in situations that no longer serve us, or worse cause us to seek to trap others. When we recognize that separation is the illusion and expectations are attempts to control, we can see how they are the antithesis of love.
For love seeks not its own, but rather that the other might be free to live and be, abundant and prosperous. Love lets go. All those old quotes are still true today:
I do my thing and you do your thing.That last line is a bit of a surprise, but included as it is part of the original Gestalt prayer (1969). The idea of the statement is the focus on living in response to one's own needs, without projecting onto or taking introjects from others. It also expresses the idea that it is by fulfilling their own needs that people can help others do the same and create space for genuine contact. It is with this understanding that I propose we can indeed love others, no matter what...
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
In Light and Love,
Friday, December 16, 2011
The next item is a pair of Hot Sox Therapeutic Slippers. I found them months ago, but as the season progressed finally ordered them and am thankful they shipped and arrived for gifting this weekend. HotSox are made from plush fleece filled with temperature-sensitive linseeds on the top and bottom. Place them in the microwave for 60 - 90 seconds to relax and warm aching feet, or slip them on after they have been in the freezer to reduce swelling. I have made various pads from flax seeds and rice, but these were a great bargain and wearable.
That last unique item is KRU 82 Vodka. "Imported from Holland and bottled in a handsome, reusable, recyclable, and shatterproof stainless steel container, it offers up a clean taste with an unusually smooth finish, which is fitting for a vodka that comes with its own strap and carabiner." That's what the ads say. I bought it because of the container and liquor is one of the regular gifts we exchange, but it must be different. This is.
My daughter "jokes" that I only gift socks and lip balm. She is right. They are both needed items this time of year. Besides we already have more than enough stuff. We will miss our Z, but gather to share a meal we have argued about, drink lots of wine/coolers, exchange gifts (yes, socks; no lip balm - I made and gifted those already), sing and take pictures to laugh at later. No matter how the day evolves, we are blessed to share our lives now. Our love is not measured by what we receive on yet another holiday that co-signs our societal insecurities. Rather we celebrate the relationships we have built and sustained through time.
There is no separation. That is an illusion. We are each a part of the other - growing, shifting and changing together. And so we will always be - no matter what...
Sunday, December 11, 2011
|Sweet Gum Tree seed pods|
Every day little bits of magic open before us, call it grace or miracles, or a glimpse into reality. We wake to a bright sunrise cast over icy roads, or clear skies behind a storm. We witness the brilliant hues of the setting sun and the twinkle of the first star. This weekend's full moon shone bright in a clear sky, the air was crisp but not yet frigid so that we gazed easily on her presence. today, in the Midwest, the temperatures were moderate, meaning low fifties, so that venturing out was absolutely pleasant. Coming outside today was a big, "Wow!'
Then my granddaughter discovered the seed pods from the sweet gum tree. They have been on the ground for the last month and I usually keep them off the walkway as it is easy to stumble on them. She began shouting with excitement and gathered them as she pushed her car along the walk. By the time she was ready to put her car away, she had a "trunk" full. DA is still easily amused, amazed and delighted. "Gumballs" from the tree, bubbles, airplanes in the sky - each pulls and holds her attention and she shares her joy enthusiastically.
Somehow as we grow into conformity, we lose the ability to be delighted and when we are excited about some "simple" thing, we are bashful about sharing. Grimacing and grousing are acceptable, but happiness for its own sake, not so much. One winter I found the most exciting product. I was wandering online and determined it to be the most delightful gift to share. There were mixed reactions. Here's what I found:
My children and I have moments that were so funny sometimes we call them out to laugh together again. There are great realizations that come to us. There are "ah-ha" moments that shift our paths, but there are also butterflies, hummingbirds, spiderwebs, wind chimes, friendly neighbors, laughing children, songs, poems, and prayers that are just amazing.
May our hearts be open to receive.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
|Balance for my rainy day - memories|
There's nothing like a grand plan. I love them and I make them. Now here I am with five days and 25,000 words to go. There were several days I didn't write. I can see the error of my way, now. It's not that I think I should have been writing as much as maybe if I kept pushing I wouldn't feel so strapped today. The problem is my premise changed.
I have three women who had a secret I designed. The problem is that they want to be friends, but fear that exposing this aspect of themselves will interfere or perhaps destroy their budding relationship. I could have started them out as friends, but didn't. They had to meet. Since I knew the secret, I could have offered it early. I thought I had, but it turns out they had different secrets to deal with other than the ones I designed.
Today we have a bit of a mess. One is really deluded. The other on the verge of being isolated. And the third, well she is either just way shut down, dishonest, or scared. In the end, they must face their hopes and fears, individually and with each other.
So, that's where I'm heading with this. I have five days and those words to wrap it up.
I quit my job to travel, write and drink beer. One and three are going great. Time to step up the writing for this novel.
How are you coming on your promises for 2011?
Friday, November 11, 2011
|The walk that waits for me.|
I forget how incredibly long the trip from the midwest to the west coast can be. Flying is much faster than driving, but still all those hours on the road and in airports can wear away at one's enthusiasm. I am thankful for traveling graces and a safe and uneventful arrival. Z! collected me at SFO and we returned to the Tenderloin by BART. I do love riding the rail system.
I love the city - the lights, the sights, the sounds. I have been returning here every six months, walking these same streets and still I find something new each visit. Last night exiting the BART at Powell I noticed a mall. Really? A mall entrance from the BART station. How had I missed that before? Z! commented that she didn't think I was a mall person, and I'm not, but malls have chocolate cake and that was my arrival priority.
Let me say we passed on the dessert offerings and selected pretzels and snacks instead. Poor choice. I felt especially disappointed as convenience foods in the city are VERY expensive. The food bar was $9.99 per pound. That does limit what one might pile on one's plate. Thankfully, we already had dinner plans and continued our way home. Next stop, Pakwan's. This is our favorite Indian restaurant. We had our usual meal of saag paneer, garlic naan, and vegetable samosa. (Pictures are missing this visit. Next time.)
Because we were sated from the mall stop or exhausted from our day we packed up the leftovers and headed home. Beer waited there. Yay! New to me, but enjoyment for Z! was Stocktop Belgium Spice. I introduced her to the Raspberry Wheat. Both excellent choices which I highly recommend.
I was so ready to collapse into oblivion and had to convince Z! not to watch the scary movie she had cued to play. Thankfully she chose Kevin Hart who was incredibly funny as I drifted from exhaustion to sleep. And there I stayed until her alarm sounded at 0400.
I am further thankful to have lazed delightfully in the hazy morning embraced by a cool breeze hunkered under warm bedcovers. I haven't written about the girls (in my novel) since I left St. Louis. I will take a rest and open to their world that I might be a more accurate witness and share their stories more fully.
I've reached 100 days. There was great surprise even as I walked out the door. This biggest came as they proclaimed how very much I would be missed, that they loved me, and that I was great. This was news to me. Well, not the "missing me" part. I have shown up as the person I am. I gave what I had to offer fully and easily. My word was to be trusted and I was dependable, reliable, and responsible. While I want way more than that on my tombstone, I know those characteristics make a good and memorable employee.
The rest of the story is that I am opinionated and likely to share. I believe in radical honesty and while I didn't practice it consistently I had a low tolerance for any forms of bullshit (including placating, brown nosing, acquiescing, or accommodating). To me that meant my word could be trusted. To others, well, lets just say they preferred a smile even as your teeth were brown. Being polite doesn't have to turn one into a liar, but the lines were blurred entirely too often for me.
It was hard to figure out what to say. There were a few people I will continue to share parts of my life with and the rest I will just let go. I have several stories left to tell that I have waited for my departure to even write. For that I am excited.
Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time. ~Miguel Angel Ruiz
Sunday, November 6, 2011
When we make a commitment, all the forces of the universe gather to support our choice. I once believed that meant that everything would come along to remove the obstacles and smooth the path. I believed that landmarks and buoys would light the way and signal the next best move. That does happen, sometimes. However, what we really get is a constant check-in to see if this is really our deepest desire.
Are we prepared to stand in the resolution, or will we crumble with the first challenge? Is this our deepest desire or are we pandering to the ideas of another? Are we willing to commit to the process it takes to get where we say we want to go or will we grow weary and return to comfort?
There were some huge issues which drew my attention away from my presumed security and left me feeling as though I was dangling over a precipice. I am holding to the belief and understanding that each challenge is another opportunity for re-commitment not just to leaving my job, but maintaining my budget and learning to live with less.
This morning investigating a stream of water rolling along the counter, I found the leak from my hot pot. Who knew that was even possible? It boils water. My first thought was to replace it, immediately. I use it every day- several times a day. Yes, I can make do without, but I really like the speed and efficiency for all hot water needs. (And that means less waste waiting for water to travel from the water heater to the sink.) On the other hand, do I really need tea in a hurry?
I had two hot pots. I gave the other one away. It was also brand new, but was the older version that was completely metal with the heating element sealed into its case. The one I kept, now defunct, is a modern version – plastic with a hot plate element in the bottom. As the water was leaking from beneath the pot I can only guess that the seal has eroded. Another modern upgrade turned to trash. (That’s why I have so much stuff. And why it gets hard to part with the extra. It might come in handy and some day is here.)
My draw is to replace the pot today, but I will take a while to feel its absence. Before I make the purchase, I will ask my neighbor if she has one to spare. I live without a sauce pan or stove. I can return to boiling water in the microwave while I consider my options. Is this something I am willing to live without?
This morning we rolled our clocks back. I am thankful for a wonderful night’s sleep and rest. My day ahead is full and after a day off from writing yesterday, I have several thousand words to find for today. The grrls (actually 50+ women) have met, enjoyed an evening together and just returned home from the Wymin’s Music Festival. Will they debrief in isolation or return to a waiting community?
Life is a daring adventure!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
|On an adventure|
I told you a while back that I was having a gentle freak out. It got a little bigger so that I thought I might have a meltdown. Well, actually, I had a meltdown. But that’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Remember that? The Process. You see, that’s what I signed up for when I said I was open and receptive to all the good coming my way. I am open and receptive. That means without judgment of the packaging or delivery methods and personnel. Looking at adventure that way is a hold new ball of wax – hence, the meltdown.
I’m writing a novel. Every day I spend time with my girls (the characters in the book). Their lives are full, active, and they have issues like the rest of us. They long to be loved and accepted as they are, but find themselves slated into the boxes of should, would, could and ought. Any bold stance seems to push them farther from the very things they long to claim – belonging and acceptance. However, they are committed – committed to the process of finding each other and wading through the issues that arise and challenge their resolve.
So, here stand I. Committed and resolved to honor the process. I relinquish my illusion of control and open to the loving understanding of a universe that supports my happiness and well being. I will settle for nothing less than absolutely everything. (And so it is. Ashé)
In the last week, I have faced some health issues, home repair problems, unexpected financial obligations, overwhelming exhaustion (due to sleep deprivation) and anxiety. All these matters, arising in succession seemed (in the fear mind) to suggest that this was not the best time to be leaving my job. They seemed to pound one after the other hoping to occupy my heart and mind. And they did, for a moment. However, I have a plan.
When I decided to leave my job I changed my flight arrangements to extend my travel beyond my paid leave allotment. Next, I used up all my paid leave. Of course, I turned in my notice. Now I talk up the process of living my dreams, even in the face of pessimism. I face the fear in the eyes of others and encourage them to dream beyond the paycheck. I keep showing up.
When the meltdown came, I reached out. I called someone who I knew could hear my struggle and pain yet not buy in for even one single second. She reminded me, “Trust the process.” I laughed through the tears pouring and slobbers dripping. I was an absolute mess. This too was part of the process. The fear, the challenges, the meltdown and the call – learning to reach out.
Reaching out is a new place for me which is why I signed up for classes, online dating, and language partners. I know that to live well means to find strong, meaningful connections with other people. I continue my hiatus from the virtual friend world except when I am actually sending a message of personal content to a specific person. I use pen, paper, email and the minutes I pay for each month to seek out and touch the lives of others.
Here toward the end of my day I know I am blessed. While the issues are still present, the feelings have passed. I remember the freak out only as a dot on the timeline. Like each moment, it’s here, and then it’s gone.
As I prepare to rest before work, I will hold my mala (prayer beads) and chant NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO - the greatest teaching of the first historically recorded Buddha, known as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha. This teaching, called the Lotus Sutra, declares that all living beings, regardless of gender or intelligence have the potential to attain Buddhahood. In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha teaches that inside each one of us a universal truth known as the Buddha nature. Basing our lives on this Buddha nature enables us to enjoy absolute happiness and to act with boundless compassion. Such a state of happiness is called enlightenment. It's simply waking up to the true nature of life, realizing that all things are connected, and that there is such a close relationship between each of us and our surroundings that when we change ourselves, we change the world.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Celtic Festival , Samhain (pronounced sow-in), approached soon. Commercially, this is the time of the popular Halloween celebration. Houses are decorated in orange and black colors with both playful and ghoulish themes. Children (and adults) dress up as their favorite characters, in alter egos costumes, or frightening attire and wander the streets in search of mischief or favors. This is the beginning of yet another marketing season with candy, cards, and decorations. While fall offers the most amazing color displays we trade it all for plastic, crepe, and chenille.
(Did you know that one quarter of all the candy purchased in the United States is for Halloween? That is the best time to get your Christmas supply, as well.)
Samhain has another significance. In ancient times, October 31st marked the end of summer and the beginning of the New Year. This is the time in which the veil between the world of the living and dead is thinnest and allows those who have passed over to return (believed by some to cause trouble and damage crops). This time is also when priests, shamans, and intuitives are able to make predictions about the future.
|"Oyá" (c) Francisco Santos|
Listening to the wind chimes, the rustling bamboo and whirls of leaves, I hear change happening. Watching greens become golden, red, burgundy, orange and brown, I see the shift from life to decay. Wood scented breezes share burning from fireplaces, open blaze, or chiminea. We light candles and hang decorative twinkling lights, to dispel the darkness. Our meals become warmer with soups and stews; as do our drinks – teas and toddies, hot chocolate and mulled wine.
Today we are cooking a cream vegetable soup with new potatoes, mixed bell peppers, spinach, onion and cheese. We are enjoying warm cups of ginger, orange zinger teas, and nibbling on chia seed cookies.
Come Monday, October 31st, we will move the ancestral altar outdoors. I honor the memory of those who have gone before me and passed beyond the veil. For me, this season is a purposeful opening of my heart to allow the flood of loving memories to wash over me, knowing that even in death I am not separated from those I hold dear.
How are you welcoming and embracing this season of change?