Sunday, May 31, 2009

Longing for home ... a poem

I read the following poem recently and something in it moved me to tears. It speaks of strength and bravery, yet also of the longing for home and the wish for a life of peace with those we love. Home, peace, love, family - it speaks to our deepest desires.

I think it's beautiful and wanted to share it with you. Please enjoy.

I am a Greek warrior
Bold and strong
I fight with my allies
But I want to go home.

I miss the high hills
The small city-states
The olive groves
and the statues galore.

I've been fighting for years
But I'm just getting old.
The love of my life is sitting at home
Watching the baby I left all alone.

But the battles are over.
The wars are all done.
I'm a Greek warrior
And I'm on my way home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Got some catchin' up to do!

You'd think that since I'm between jobs right now that I'd post more frequently, huh? I thought I would be, too - ha! Here's a quick recap of the last couple of weeks:


I set some health intentions for myself when I was laid off: walk every day, lose weight, get more fit, continue the 3x-4x weekly yoga practice, prepare more of my own food. (My ultimate goal is to lose sufficient weight to get off the blood pressure meds ... which make me gain weight, by the way. Nice.)

I love my morning walks, listening to the birdsong, saying hello to neighbors, seeing the neighborhood gardens. Initially, it was kinda tough with the fibromyalgia and my twisted spine/spondylolisthesis, but I strap on my brace each morning and I've been able to expand my route a bit (1.25 miles, which is awesome for me) and I'm not in too much pain by the time I get home, so yippee for that! On the downside, after seven weeks of walking I lost exactly zero pounds. Zip, zilch, nada. When they say it's harder to lost weight when you're older, they ain't kidding. Know this and pay heed.

When I get home, I usually head to my courtyard garden, cutting sweetpeas and roses, deadheading geraniums, enjoying all the blooms. Yesterday morning, after watering, I spotted a hummingbird wiggling around on the leaves of the camellia like he was washing himself. So cute!

I also set some project goals, which aren't going so well yet. I have to-have to-have to finish up the bathroom and the office. Bathroom: remove uber-stubborn silicone adhesive remaining from border removal, touch up paint, rehang fixtures. Office: Paint, arrange furniture, get twin bed, hang shelves, bulletin board, touch up chalkboard walls.

Speaking of the office, the jasmine in the courtyard below is blooming like crazy and just fills the entire house - top and bottom - with fragrance. Intoxicating! Here's a shot from the office window showing the jasmine and how it climbs over the pergola directly below the office window; all that scent just wafts dreamily into the office:

Work: I've also been very busy the last couple of weeks helping friends with some Web and writing work. It's been great fun working with them! Time to get back to my own projects now.

Job Intentions: There's been some interest in my resume and I've had an interview for a wonderful opportunity. Mutual interest on both sides. We'll see what happens there. I've also submitted my resume for a couple of other companies with really solid work in interactive marketing. I have a preliminary interview scheduled this coming Monday with one. I hope it goes well! I really like their broad client list and the fact that they do one pro bono project a year for a non-profit organization. That shows the kind of heart that I can relate to.

Funeral: A close friend's mom passed away last week. It seems like I've written a lot of posts about deaths, doesn't it? This is the third one in three months. I hope it's the last one for 2009. The service was beautiful. She'd served as a military nurse in WWII and was given full military honors. As the honor guard was carefully and meticulously folding the American flag, I was impressed how there was no rushing, no sense of urgency; they were completely focused on the task at hand and nothing else mattered. I think the world needs more of that instead of the constant maddening distraction of cell phones and computers alerting us to the next thing. We rarely have time to just sit and daydream. Daydreaming is where we create and re-create, where we re-charge our batteries and refresh our spirits. Watching those young men honoring this woman with their full undivided attention as they carefully folded and creased, folded and creased made me breathe a little more slowly, slowed my own pace in my spirit. Slow me down, Lord.

Memorial Day: On Monday, Memorial Day, I went to the cemetery. I learned earlier in the week that we have 13 Civil War Veterans buried there. As I drove in, I saw all the American flags waving across the hills of the cemetery, a stirring sight. So many who have served our country with honor and dignity. After I polished my mom's headstone and cleared away some overgrown grass, I knelt to pray, thinking of my mom but also of the many lives that were being honored by the presence of those flags fluttering in the ocean breeze. I was glad that these people had graves and hadn't been cremated because I would miss seeing the flags on Memorial Day, a reminder of people and places and events bigger than me.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blessings to all Moms!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, both here and those who have crossed over to the other side! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

It is such a gift and a joy to be a mom to my daughter and a grandmother to my two granddaughters. I am grateful for the gifts of these beautiful beings in my life who lift my heart and bring forth such love that I never knew was possible before I became a mom. Motherhood is an amazing, chaotic, wonderful journey.

Motherhood doesn't come with instructions; it's a journey largely traveled on instinct and prayer. We read books, we talk with friends, but ultimately we trust our hearts to guide us to the answers we need in the moment. I almost said "to the right answers" but who really knows what the "right" answer is when raising kids? The physician's credo "First, do no harm." applies to parenthood, too, I think.

I read once that we are most like God when we create. God, who created the stars of the sky, the land, the oceans, the animals, plants and all of Creation, also chose to give women the gift of creating and nurturing new life from within our very bodies. For the nine months of pregnancy, I was in complete and total awe that there was a life within me, part of me, but separate from me, too. I'm still in awe. With a new life growing inside me, I often felt an incredible connection with the Creator who chose to give women the ability to carry new life.

My two granddaughters are sleeping here in my home right now. Beautiful. Funny. Smart. Creative. Words are insufficient to describe my love for them. "If I knew grandkids would be so great, I would've had them first."

My daughter and son-in-law are out for the evening, but will also come back here to spend the night. In the morning, we'll go to the beach for breakfast on the pier, looking out over the vast expanse of the ocean of God's creation. And I will look at this beautiful family and be filled with joy that we are all together, that we are happy, healthy and abundantly blessed.

I am just so happy to be a mom! I sometimes think about my own mom and how she lives on through me and my brothers, and through my daughter and now my granddaughters, a tree that will continue to grow with love. Thank you, Father, for the gift of my mom, for the gift of being a mom and for the gift of being a grandmother. I am so happy and so grateful!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Without a doubt ...

It’s after 1am. Very quiet outside as I sit at my desk by the window. A helicopter flying overhead. The trickle of the fountain next door. These are the only sounds.

Then a cool breeze comes in through the window, brushing against my arms, wrapping around my legs, brushing through my hair, enveloping me in the night air from my head to my feet. Instinctively, I say “thank you, Father,” instinctively because it is naturally on my lips several times a day. “Thank you, Father.”

I pause and feel the embrace and allow the presence of the Divine to fill me in the quiet night. I feel Love envelop me. I feel Peace. I feel wholeness and completeness. I feel Grace. It’s good to just sit and absorb the sensation. Sitting in that space between heaven and earth, sensing that I’m a part of each, partly here, partly there.

Why is it that I have such a trusting faith? Why do I accept without question the presence of the Divine? Do you ever ask yourself those questions? I sometimes wonder where faith comes from. I don’t question at all whether the Divine exists; there is not the tiniest sliver of a doubt in my being that the Divine exists for me. But why am I so absolutely sure?

I’m not very Bible-smart; my faith doesn’t come just from the Good Book. There are so many interpretations and translations, words written for a specific time and place and audience and socio-political system. To honor those words and the Gospel message, they must be taken in context and not blindly applied without a full understanding and study.

So why do I accept without question the existence of God? I can be a doubting Thomas in many areas of life; I’m meticulous about getting the facts straight. Every chain e-mail is checked on Snopes. I check spelling on if I have the slightest doubt. As a QA Manager, my job was to verify and validate software requirements. “Trust, but verify.” And yet, without any empirical evidence to prove it, I believe fully and completely in the Divine … just on faith. If you’re a believer, do you ever wonder what it is that gives you that faith?

I believe we are each called to have our very own intimate relationship with the Divine … or not. That's between you and the Divine. Each of us has a different relationship; like snowflakes, no two are alike. I cannot tell you what to believe; I can only share what I believe. I don’t know your journey, your life experience, the way the Lord touches you in your soul. You own that, not me. I stay on my own mat. Whether you have a belief in the Divine or not is your personal journey.

Britt-Arnhild, who has a most wonderful and enriching blog, asked recently “What is your God like?” My answer:

My God is beyond definition, beyond boundaries! Wild, Alive, Joyful, Chaotic (God has no limits, after all), Light and Love, Wonder and Beauty. My God is not human, my God has no gender, but is pure in spirit. My God is the Divine that I see in all things and the Divine spirit I see within me.

My God is the breeze that floated in the office window right now on a cool, dark night and touched me with Love. I’ll go to sleep happy and content, trusting and at peace.

Love and Trust photos from Tracy

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Living the fullest ...

"Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
- Lao Tzu

While I'm laid off and looking for my next great new job, I'm also trying to live the fullest life I can at this time and in this space. We have to make the best of any situation we are given. "Receive what you have been given."

Perhaps I've been given this (hopefully brief) respite from work for a reason. No matter the reason, though, each day must be lived to the fullest, being fully present to every moment, every breath. It's pointless to squander today by worrying about tomorrow. We only have this moment, right now. Be prepared always, but don't waste time in pointless worrying. It doesn't change anything and it only discolors the beauty and wonder of now.

In making the most of the situation, I start each morning with a walk. After years of sitting nearly immobile at a desk for long days (I used to tell my boss that I felt like a veal calf, locked in a pen), it's wonderful to get out and move each morning, drinking in the cool morning air, feeling the light breeze that is nearly a constant presence here at the beach. I listen to the birds chirping and watch the squirrels skitter up trees as I approach. I find myself smiling as I walk, enjoying every sensation, feeling the rhythm of the day as it opens up. A beautiful way to start each day.

I spend more time in the garden, too. I've cleaned up the winter debris, trimmed and fed the plants. I listen for the whirrrrrr of the hummingbirds as they visit the garden. I pull green worms off the sweetpeas ... cut white and red roses for bouquets to enjoy inside my home. Sweetpeas are my favorite flower: deliciously fragrant, frilly, feminine, colorful. I keep a little vase of them on the kitchen counter so I can stick my nose in them at any time. aaaaaah ...!

I'm also enjoying the luxury of time to call or meet up with friends. And having time to read articles online that I would've normally skimmed over. And doing some detailed cleaning that I've had to put off for so long. I love a clean, sparkling house! (When did the baseboards get so icky? Looks like I'll be painting trim, too.)

One thing that I've never had time to do was cook. As a single mom, I always worked long hours to support my daughter and I, so I didn't have time to plan, shop and prepare meals. After she grew up, I still worked long hours; plus there's a very low ROI to plan, shop and prepare a meal for one person. Hours of prep and clean-up for a meal consumed in 15 minutes. Whenever I'd buy fresh produce, I'd use some in a recipe, then the rest would go bad before I had time to prepare another meal using those ingredients. Such a waste. It's been nice to be home and to actually use up all the celery, all the onions, all the apples and oranges and cucumbers and everything else that used to spoil. I made soup for the first in my life recently. I felt so accomplished!

I call all these pleasures "Unemployment Benefits," things that I wouldn't normally have time to indulge in while working long days. If I knew that I would be starting a new job, say, on June 1, I would be thoroughly enjoying this time of being unemployed. There would be no nagging voice in the back of my mind harping at me constantly to focus on the job search to the exclusion of anything else. I could sit outside in the sun, guilt-free, relaxed, basking in the beautiful weather, the cool ocean breeze, listening to the birds, smiling at the hummingbirds' whirrrrrr, loving the scents of all the flowers.

I'd love to be working, but while I'm not, I'll live the fullest life I can and enjoy my unemployment benefits of beautiful days and simple times.