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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dearly Beloved,

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Compost Stew

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

More on letting go

I've been sorting and cleaning again. I thought it was a simple task and scheduled it on my list today. The reality is if it was simple, it wouldn't have taken me years to get at it. Since I'm not working or writing much these days, I've run out of excuses for not getting on with my chores.

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,
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

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

No Matter What...

I woke this morning feeling the need to recommit to my promise of loving "no matter what." Events and circumstances have arisen this month offering the opportunity to be true to my word. As I faced the situation with my family of origin, I held the Prayer of St Francis in heart/mind that I might offer understanding and compassion to others and let go of my expectations. I thought things were going well, but then faced a moment when it looked differently. I fell into my old panic of having done something wrong. I took awhile and lots of prayer to remember that everything is not about me.

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.

"Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field; I'll meet you there."

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?

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.
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.
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...

In Light and Love,


Friday, December 16, 2011

Soft warm gifts - Winter luxuries

Gifting is an incredibly big deal to me and  I take great care to select items that are new, different, and unique - at least to the person receiving them. What you see here are this year's finds. To the left are Socks to Stay Home In. They are delightfully soft and warm. And while you may be thinking they are not new, they will be to the guys receiving them. Last year I took a chance and purchased a couple of pairs for my son and a male friend. My friend was so delighted he asked where he could buy some for his father. Men are often neglected in the area of tactile luxuries. Sticking with dark colors, these socks can be worn at around the house and out and about. I had a massage therapist (male) show me the ones he snagged from his girlfriend. He was very proud to be wearing them while he worked.

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
Can you remember the last time you were easily amazed, delighted or amused? When was the last time something almost took you breath away and you just let it? Has there been a time when you enjoyed the moment without looking for explanation or seeking understanding? Do you have a "Wow!" moment that was real?

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:

Yep! It's still funny, and a wonderful product.

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.