Tag Archives: Gratitude

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

January 19, 2017

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD…

You know the song…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They’re really saying, I love you.
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more, than I’ll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

…Actually though, the music that surrounded me was the whisper of my skis, the happy songs of some little birds flitting about in the sunshine, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing softly through my ear buds as I glided through the woods…

I keep stopping, just to absorb the beauty surrounding me. Perfectly pristine white snow sprinkled with sparkly glitter stretches smoothly out before me. It is marred only by the ski tracks. Sparkling and blue shadowed, it covers the floor of the woods like a frosted cake–one can only guess what lies beneath the smoothly sculpted mounds and gullies. Here and there I spot the tracks of deer and tinier creatures. A rabbit. A squirrel? Some sort of tiny mouse, his long tail marking where he scrambled.

It is quiet here. The loudest sounds are my skis and the crow singing some happy crow song. Vivaldi is light in my ears, and I glide on. I top a small hill, and as my skis carry me down, my eyes rest on the trees. The white birch, touched by the sun, are like white neon poles standing among the rest of the undressed forest of dignified charcoal greys and browns and black. Here and there small groups of green-needled pine keep watch while the others sleep. As I glide by, I breathe in their breath and I am grateful for them.

The sun and the sky are a watercolor wash of blue and buttercream. A few clouds, thinly transparent stretch across the expanse. They look like they are melting into the icy blue water of the sky.

At the overlook, I lean on my ski poles and look down on the harbor of my city and beyond to the Great Lake of Gitchi Gummi. Such a busy busy world down there with its ships and train yards, tall stacks spewing white steam marking the  industrial plants, business buildings clustered at the center of the long narrow stretch between these bluffs and the water, and houses and highways and bridges spanning the harbor–little tiny cars zipping back and forth. The sun gilds the water golden. It is another water color painting.

“Remember this,” I whisper. “What a wonderful world! It’s so beautiful–so breathtakingly, achingly beautiful! Whatever comes, remember this. Show up seeing beauty no matter where you find yourself. Make it. Create it. Show up with Love. It is all around you, all the time, just looking for a way to flow into the world. Remember this.”

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REVELATIONS IN THE ER

LOVE IS THE “BOTTOM LINE”

January 7, 2017

“Life is fragile.” “Life is precious.” “Don’t take life (or your relationships) for granted.” Common, rather overused cliches, even if true.

And then suddenly one afternoon you stand up from placing a plant on the floor, step back, are in the middle of a sentence asking your husband something, and you can’t finish the sentence. And then you realize you can’t move. You can’t talk, you can’t move.

It only lasted a minute, less probably. But when I finally could move again and talk, I felt strange, almost like I wasn’t fully in my body. Husband’s eyes are huge and he is insisting on calling 911, or at least taking me to the ER. I said, “I’m still in my pajamas! I’m not going anywhere without taking my shower and getting dressed! And besides, I’m fine now.”

But I knew what had just happened wasn’t okay. Then, I started doubting exactly what had just happened. I seemed fine now. But during my shower I realized I again felt “off”–like my body was a stranger. I started to cry and didn’t know why. I was trembling, and didn’t know why. I reached up for my shampoo and my right hand suddenly decided it wanted a vacation. It obeyed, but rebelliously, like a child dragging it’s feet and trying to go somewhere you’re not, and only because it could hear the wrath of God rising inside me and got scared.

Me and my hand argued for the next 10 minutes as I finished my shower and dried my hair. By the time I tearfully headed for the closet it had given in and decided to act normal again. As my husband drove me to the ER, I sat on my side of the car shaking violently–from cold or fear, or maybe just cold fear. This fast, I thought, this fast I could end up being unable to write, or maybe speak, or walk.

More morbid thoughts rushed in on the heels of those. This fast I could have to leave this life I know in this body. Inside I started screaming–“I’m not done! My kids still need me. My grandbabies still need me. My husband still needs me. I’m not done with the work I came here to do. I can’t leave; I WON’T leave…and I need my body whole and functional!”

When we got there, I marched into that ER shaking like a dry leaf in a strong Autumn wind–but on my own two feet. By sheer force of will I passed every damn test they gave me. As the afternoon wore on, with CT scans and blood work and a hundred questions to answer, as mad and determined as I was, I couldn’t stop shaking. I also felt embarrassed. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I thought, “and here I am in this hospital, having all these tests and upsetting my kids.” Per my request my husband had notified them since I didn’t know what was happening to me, and unbeknownst to me, news of the event was hitting Facebook scaring the bejeebers out of my friends.

As I lay in the ER for the afternoon, I thought about my family–I thought about the petty things I can get my undies in a bunch over. I thought about the relationships in my life that are wounded. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve agreed–none of that matters! But now that truth had taken a deep dive to somewhere inside me that suddenly made it imperative. Really, all that matters is love. Is connection. We are connected whether we want to be or not because everything that exists is interconnected. Kinking the flow of love, tying knots in the cords that connect us heart to heart–why? Why do I judge? Why do I defend? Why do I need anyone to be other than they choose to be? Why can’t I be content with who I am in this moment of my life experience? Peace does not elude me–it is I who bar the door.

Tests were inconclusive since I no longer had any symptoms other than a headache. The ER doctor figured it was probably a Transient Ischemic Attack–a mini-stroke that’s not really a stroke. If I understand correctly it mimics a stroke but resolves quickly leaving no damage. They said that the CT scan showed an area in my brain’s right frontal lobe that was damaged–“missing” as the doctor put it–which my husband said might explain a few things–that indicated a minor stroke in my past that I have no memory of, probably because that part of my brain is missing. They let me go home because there seemed no reason to keep me. I had to promise that I’d reduce my stress and come back for more tests.

Once home, I found myself immersed in a rushing tide of love and concern and prayers from family, friends, and even strangers via the FB posting my daughter had done. I sat and cried from the humbling truth of how much I am loved by so many. It was a deeply personal realization of how much love and goodness and caring there is in the world–perfectly imperfect people caring about other imperfect people, stepping out to offer support and sending healing energy through their thoughts by just being willing to care about someone they may not even know.

My mother taught me that love is about showing up. When you love someone, you show up. Practicing love, means you show up. I suppose that means that to love even ourselves means showing up for ourselves. Certainly, a whole lot of people showed up for me in my tiny little crisis. At first I felt ashamed and embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve it since really, I was okay and nothing terrible had happened. I had to let that go, and just allow myself to be filled up with gratitude–for my life, for my health, for my body that allows me to experience life in this world on this planet in this time…and for all those people, these many many people in my life who love me. I don’t think I realized even how many!

It rather undoes a person. It reduces you to your own “bottom line”… What is my life going to be about? What do I want my legacy to be when that day comes when my body decides it’s done and isn’t persuaded to continue? The ultimate result, or outcome of my life, what do I choose to make that to be?

A long time ago I decided that the specifics of the story of this planet and the Universe and who is the Creator of it all and how will it end and by what means, though interesting since there are nearly as many stories and myths and opinions with proof to back them as there are people, was far far less important than whether and how I lived in accordance with the essence of all those teachings and beliefs. Whether it is the admonition in sacred texts of numerous religions and spiritual practices to Love, or the call by those awakening to the Light to raise our vibrational frequency to Love so we can evolve, it is still about Love. Every belief system, at its core, is about love as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

So what does it mean to love? To love your enemies as yourself? To love your neighbor as yourself? To love yourSelf? To love the Earth? To love the Creator?

To love even if you expect to be saved from a dying earth by the Rapture or E.T.s?

To be imperfect human beings, bombarded by so much…confused, wounded, stressed, afraid for our safety or that of others, grieved by the harm being done to the Earth and to people all around us…yet still, called to Love. What does that look like when someone tromples on my dignity? What does that mean at home in my kitchen? What does that feel like when I have to take in the news of great harm being done by powerful people?

For one day I felt that. The undeserved outpouring of love and grace and concern upon my small, imperfect Self.

I owe it to all those who poured their love on me to make good use of this life I was given. To exercise the discipline needed to create beauty and peace with sometimes just the power of my thoughts–directing them in a positive and loving way. And to utilize the gifts I have been given, honoring the sacred trust given to me to share. Shining my small light bravely into the world–not hiding it away in a closet, or under a blanket.

Love is my “bottom line”.

THE PRICE FOR THE FUTURE

December 6, 2016

THE FUTURE DOESN’T COME FREE–THERE IS A PRICE

The storm that snowed-in North Dakota has now blown across Minnesota, spilling into Wisconsin. All night the wind battered at the trees and leafless shrubberies; its howls given eerie voice across chimney tops and rain gutters. I got up this morning expecting to see deep snow piled up in drifts. But the storm split at the point of Lake Superior, just miles from my home. The snow went north and south–we caught only the ragged edges.

As I move through my morning, I am thinking about a quote I wrote down the other day  from the book, The Song Poet. Author, Kao Kalia Yang wrote: “…the price for the future is the present.”

When the week began I continued to carry a heaviness that had begun slowly over the past few weeks, a heaviness that was draining my store of energy. Each morning I stretched my will long…longer, on mental tip-toes, trying to snag the edges of happiness and joy so that I might wrap my arms about them and press them into my body. But I could only brush the edges as they sat shiny on the shelf high above my head. I was weary of the effort.

But Kalia’s words keep repeating themselves in my mind–“the price for the future is the present.”

I cannot retreat. I cannot hide. If I am creating in this present what will be in the future, I cannot stop planting seeds of hope, seeds of wisdom, seeds of truth, seeds of beauty. I must water these seeds–or there will be no harvest. No hope, no beauty, no wisdom born of truth honestly faced to guide us tomorrow. I cannot shut my eyes, but must keep them wide open, searching for even the tiniest gifts of loveliness and laughter that bestow  upon us a little sip of joy. I cannot close my heart, but must keep it wide open so that the flow of love can fill depleted tanks of any who may have need among those with whom I live and move and share my being.

I stretch my will again–no halfhearted effort this time–I snag the edge of Gratitude and hold it close…for the small comforts and privileges I mostly take for granted…for the big things that I oughtn’t ever take for granted. I take myself out for a walk in the grey light of a new winter. I stand by the waterfall where the creek tumbles down the bluffs a few blocks away from where I live. I throw my arms wide and release my little prayers of gratitude, a kaleidoscope of butterflies spiraling up into the heavens.

I smile at the water. I smile at the sky. I smile at the trees. I lean lightly against a cedar. I watch a little squirrel looking for where he buried his morning snack. I listen to the birds gossip. I watch what I think is a Raven playing in the wind. I think of my grandsons. I feel my belly waking up wondering what’s for lunch and remember I have leftover soup in the refrigerator.

Holding grief and rage in equal balance with love and joy is a high wire act worthy of Cirque du Soleil.

 

 

 

 

SPRING SONG

SPRING SONG

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March 20, 2016

I saw two robins in the slush during our Winter’s final tantrum the other day. They were fighting over what looked to be a worm. It had been raining hard in our part of the city, while snow buried everyone up over the bluffs. Our basement was leaking, proof that the ground was saturated and the earth soft–we knew this because it was easy to pound the metal stakes into the ground to put the deer fence back up around our garden. The tulips were pushing up above the earth–a beloved delicacy for the pregnant does who wander out of the snowy woods into the neighborhood where the snow has retreated, looking for the special treats they crave. So, it might truly have been a winter fattened worm escaping a flooded den. Do worms hibernate in dens? Where do they go when the ground freezes up? The scrawny robin won.

When my children were young, we went for our first ice-cream cone after we saw our first robins in Spring. It was a tradition. But I’ve become lactose intolerant. I bought some fresh strawberries instead that afternoon while it rained, and the school children were at home having a “snow day”.

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This morning the sun came up blazing rose-gold, announcing the first day of Spring. It is streaming in through winter streaked windows, inviting us to fetch our overshoes and go for a muddy trek in the hills. I am making fresh ground-buckwheat pancakes. David is frying bacon. There is a pitcher full of Green Smoothie on the counter filled with pears and pineapple, grapefruit and greens, ginger and celery and cucumber and avocado–we’re getting IMG_3258fortified for our Sunday migration into the bluffs. There are a flock of Redpolls taking turns having breakfast at the feeder outside the kitchen window; getting fattened up for their migration to their summer home in the Arctic–true northerners after my own heart!

I’m going to buy some daffodils from the Market today. It’s a tradition. A vase of Sunshine on my table. Last week we found some pussy-willows just beginning to consider opening up. This week they will be ready. Maybe we’ll find some today as we slog through the mud and navigate the swollen streams in the hills that climb up to the bluffs. From up there we can see our neighborhood laid out like a toy town. Beyond lies the harbor, the bridges, the Lake. We can see all the way to Wisconsin.  We’ll gather some pussy-willows, and fill up our house with Spring. Tonight we’ll go grill steaks at my daughter’s.

Tomorrow we’ll clean out the closets and put away the parkas and the skis.

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LIKE A MATCH STRUCK

November 20, 2015

MORNING SONG

The Earth spins, and we turn from the stars and the deep dark of space into the grey light of dawn. I watch it come, slowly, melting the dark. There is pink now, streaks of watercolor across the dove grey sky. The songbirds are waking up. And then the sun scrapes the edge of the world and ignites the whole sky–a raging flame of orange and rose, shot through with bits of blue and violet. A flock of geese wing their way above the city, dark silhouettes against the flames. Like a match struck in a darkened room, the light flares, and then settles to its task. The flames fade as the Sun leaps over the horizon. The dove grey of dawn slowly becomes a thin, watery blue, darkening and deepening as the Sun climbs into the trees, and then sails over the rooftops of the neighborhood.

It is the fifth day of rain. Piles of storm clouds have sealed off my corner of the world. I sit at my window with my cup of tea, watching the world turn into another twilit day. But I remember; I remember when the sun scraped the edge of the world and the sky burst into flame.

 

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YANKING AT THE VEIL, KICKING AT THE DOOR

March 29, 2015

CREATING PEARLS OF LIGHT

It is grey here today and rain is predicted. The sky inside me is also grey, brooding. I listened to a presentation this morning about the deeper mysteries of the creation of human beings and of Earth that are coming to light; truths that are only beginning to be understood by the Western World. These are truths, realities, that many indigenous cultures have known for millennia because they were the keepers of the Mysteries, the keepers of the Secrets. I am wondering where I fit into this grander, bigger picture of the Universe, of Earth, of this shifting and evolving that is happening to us. My heart longs to understand what is veiled, to enter the full stream of the power of the Creator. I am irritated that we are fed riddles and enticed with visions of the possible–and yet most of us remain too weak or too dense to come fully into who we are. We have to work so hard, not only to overcome the unconsciousness and the fear within us–but to overcome the evil and darkness that aligns against us from without. I yank at the veil; I want to see things as they truly are, to understand fully who I was created to be! I kick at the doors; I want access–now–to all the desires of my heart. My limitations are a fiery itch under my skin that I cannot ease.

When I stop my kicking and my yanking and my stomping about, I grudgingly acknowledge that all I can do, the most important thing any of us can do is to cultivate compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness and courage. To keep faith and to steadfastly maintain positive thought creations while living from gratitude for whatever IS our experience in this NOW moment. How often have we heard it said, or read, that all we have is this present moment? How much better, how much brighter are each of those moments when they are lived with gratitude, compassion, kindness, and courage–moments strung together, connecting to the moments others are living with compassion and grace. Eventually a string of Light, like a necklace of pearls, reaches all the way around the world–spilling into new moments–lighting up entire days. The Earth turns and we spin through the years. And one distant day from this moment in which we stand today, the Light is complete and the Darkness overcome and Fear vanquished by Love.

The winds of change begin with the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. They begin with a choice to smile bravely; to forgive a wrong; to bless instead of curse. They begin when I steadfastly hold the vision that I am thriving even when in this moment there is no money to pay the bills, my child is ill and somewhere a bomb blows up some mother’s children.

I hold a stick in my hand. I wish it was a wand and that I could channel magic throu10857342_10152711930831439_858846269660153274_ogh it. I kick again at the door. I scratch the itch. I want to do so much more–NOW! I lift my face to the grey sky and let the tears of Gaia drizzle on my face, mingling with my own. I take a breath, and in this moment I offer thanks for this simple pleasure of the gentle rain that will bring the flowers.

 

 

 

 

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

March 6, 2015

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

“Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the real path to freedom.”  – Sogyal Rinpoche –

In a swirl of snow and roiling clouds the color of ashes I skiied across the ballfield and headed into the woods. With nine inches of new snow, I could break trail and go wherever I wished. The trees writhed and groaned as the wind tore through them, leaving only its tattered bits behind to brush against my cheeks. Inside myself a storm also raged, a nameless darkness boiling and screeching.

I found three chairs sitting in a circle of birch trees, holding space around a buried campfire. I stood and watched them for awhile. I became aware of the Circle within mySelf; except the chairs are not empty. And the fire has not gone out. A bit of Winter lingers, but the storm is quieting.

I skiied down the hill. Well, mostly I sat on my skiis and slid down the hill, the feathery snow flying in my face, washing away all trace of tears and leaving me breathless and laughing. I found a clan of cattails alongside the trail and picked one that was only beginning to release its seed to the world. I tucked it into my hand with my ski pole. As I skiied down the trail, little helicopters of cattail seed streamed out behind me, riding the frigid currents of air.

I followed a deer trail back up into the woods. The wind had dragged off most of the piles of dirty clouds and the sun was spilling through the openings, a raging fire against the deep blue sky. Cresting the hill, I wandered off the trail into a natural basin ringed with birch and a huge boulder. I sat and leaned wearily against the boulder, gazing up into the drama in the sky as the last of the fuzzy clouds were blown out over Gitchi Gummi, somewhere beyond these forested bluffs and ridges.

“Keep faith with me.”

Such a quiet, unobtrusive thought to slip in between the ragged clouds slowly dissipating in my soul. “Keep faith with me. Keep faith with yourSelf. Trust.”

I have clung so tenaciously to what I want for my life, to what I want to do with my life, to what I want to do for others. Year after year I struggle against obstacles and hurdles and although I make headway, it seems so little–so far removed from the thriving life of abundance that I desire to create. I get tired. Discouraged. I feel abandoned. I get angry.  And then I feel guilty and ashamed because I have been blessed with so much that is good, and so often experienced the love and support, encouragement and direction of that which is beyond the veil of what my human eyes and ears can see and hear: God, Ancestors, Angels, Light Beings who guard and guide me, the Divine Soul within me. Shredded to tatters like those clouds, bullied about like these trees, my courage and faith are at the mercy of the dark winds of Fear–the Saboteur. And then I cling tighter…I will to create and manifest the life I not only desire, but feel I have been purposed to live. But all I do is tread water, and wait, and grow weary.

I see mySelf now, laying back against that boulder in the snow, all the weariness draining slowly away into the rock and the snow and the earth beneath. My spirit flies away to another scene where I am clinging with my little boat to a tiny bar of earth and rock in the midst of the River of my Life. I am nervous in the rapidly increasing tumble of white water. I insist I cannot continue without assurances of safety–either calmer waters, or a better boat–something! I design a map and wave it about, asking for assurance that the path of my River will conform to this map.

I’m told that all my requests have been received; there is no need to continue waving the map about and shouting out my litany of desires, requests and intentions. “Trust the benevolence of the Creator; of ‘God Inside’. Trust the flow of life that is indeed shaped by your intentions. Trust that the journey will unfold as you allow it to. Get back in the boat and release your fear-filled grip. Let go of the map, let it melt into the Energy of Life that surrounds and fills you. Breathe! Fill your lungs with this sweet Light that is the very Power of Creation, the Power of Life–a Power fueled by Love–a Power that dances with the Joy of Consciousness. Sing! And with trust and gratitude move again into the flow of the River of your Life.”

I won’t know until I go.

This is paddling down the River of my Life: acting upon what I DO know and keeping the promises I’ve made to mySelf, to my Creator and to others. It is honoring the Gift I have been given by developing it and sharing it with the world. It is focusing my energy and love upon the work I’ve been given, embracing joy and gratitude each day. Stroke by stroke, I move down the River, in the flow, the flow of Life that allows more Life.

I don’t know if the path of this River will conform to the map I carried in my head; perhaps it won’t and perhaps I will be glad because there is so much I do not know. Keeping faith with the Creator of the Universe? What a terrifying and awesome request–to trust enough in the benevolence of the Creator to let go of my control, releasing my expectations, and relaxing into Love.