Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Honest Blogger

I've happily discovered several new blogs (to me) recently that truly speak to my soul. When I first started blogging, a couple of the blogs I first found were wonderful story blogs, people sharing the stories of their lives. Then some of my friends from my decorating group sites started blogs about decorating with a lot of beautiful pics, and I started following several of them. Somehow, I've been lead to sites lately that speak more to the spirit, to an awakening, to the beauty of our inner selves. These truly speak to me, as my own blog was initially intended to be about my own exploration to the center of my self. (I believe that age makes one more self-reflective. At least it does in my case. :-D)

One of those blog discoveries is Laura, at Shine the Divine: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice. Her blog includes her beautiful art and messages that bring a smile to the heart. Laura surprised me by awarding the Honest Blogger Award to me this week! Thanks, Laura! I'm not normally one who posts awards, but this really touched me because Laura is a new friend and sister in my journey.

Per some of the guidelines of the Honest Blogger Award, as honest bloggers we:

* Speak our truth from the heart and tell it like it is
* Share openly and honestly our true feelings without fear of judgement, blame or shame
* We acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and don't see them in terms of success or failure
* We are free spirits

There are several more, all basically saying that an Honest Blogger strives to be honest, guileless, and acknowledge that we are each on our own unique and special journey.

I'll admit that I'm still not fully comfortable about sharing at times; I do still have some fear of judgement. I guess most of us do. We all want to be liked. We all want others' approval, not their disapproval. But there comes a point when we begin to learn to stand in our own truth, when the judgement of others doesn't matter as deeply as our desire to be known for who we are.

Who am I? A reader, a pianist, a dancer, a writer, an artist, a thinker, a person of love and peace and so much more. These are some of the things that I am in my self, outside of my relationships to others (family, friends, colleagues). To truly know my self is to know who I am when my identity is not defined by my relationships. It's easy to get caught up in being defined as mother, daughter, sister, friend, spouse, but in the still, quiet moments of life, we each stand alone and need to know who we are in that space.

There are many who I consider to be Honest Bloggers that I follow, so I don't feel comfortable awarding this to just one right now. If you feel that you are an Honest Blogger, though, (and honestly, you would know better than me) please take the award if you wish. Thank, you, Laura!

I wish you truth and peace in the still and quiet spaces. Namaste

Monday, October 19, 2009

The woman in church …

exhausted statue I entered church a few minutes before Mass started, trusting that since I was early, I’d be able to find a seat. Looking around, I didn’t see any readily available so I stood at the back of the church, scanning the pews for a place to sit. I knew my friend, Vic, would be sitting in her usual spot but I couldn’t see her when I looked in that direction.

So, I stood in the back, still scanning. My back had been hurting (I have spondylolisthesis) and sitting would be so much better than standing. I spotted my friend up front but was there room next to her? Not really sure if there was room between her and the man on her right. Mass started and so I stayed put for now, thinking I might move down there in a few minutes.

A young woman sidled in to stand next to me. I was very aware of her presence there, maybe even a tad annoyed that she was standing so closely to me. Then I heard her cry. Softly … a sniffle at first … then barely-heard gulps of air … and then quiet sobs. Her head dropped and I could feel her energy withdraw from the Mass and flow deeply into her sorrow. I could see her quiet tears drop toward the floor.

The annoyance of my human nature swept away, and I felt a deep compassion for her, my divine nature coming forward. I didn’t need to know the cause of her tears; I only knew that she was in deep, soul-engulfing sorrow, something so familiar, I felt I was feeling it with her.

I felt a lightness through my crown chakra, flowing down and opening up my heart. Instinctively, I moved in front of her and wrapped her in my arms as she cried even harder. And we just stood there like that - just being - just being present to one another.

As her tears subsided, she whispered, her head still down on my shoulder, “My mom died this morning.” And then we both cried some more.

She briefly shared her story in whispers there at the back of the church, a story much more important in that moment than the Mass that was being celebrated. Others would hold the Mass energy for us for few moments; I knew that I was to be a good servant, that I was part of a Divine purpose.

Later, after Communion, as we returned back to our spots, a new wave of quiet crying washed over her. She hadn’t slept in two days, staying by her mother’s bedside as her mom moved forward in her own personal journey. I found some tissues for her and she knelt in private prayer.

At the end of Mass, we shared another hug and she thanked me over and over, saying that I had been her angel in her time of need.

stars silhouette As a child, I was sometimes overwhelmed with the depth of God’s unconditional love for us. I found it immensely hard to fathom, like trying to think of the universe, the Big Bang, or trying to think of a time before the earth was created. It could make my head hurt to think of the amazing Love we’re given, freely, no strings attached. I don’t have to do anything to earn that Love. I can’t do anything that will make the Divine not love me any more. I will always and constantly and abundantly be loved. No conditions.

And so, my child-self would pray to God to please give me opportunities in my life to be His servant, place me where He needs me to be to serve others, to let me release my own ego and simply be what He needs me to be for others. (I’d hoped at one point to be a cloistered nun, living in a cloister and spending my days praying for peace and goodness and Love in the world.) And so the Divine has presented opportunities all throughout my life, and each time I recognize it as the answer to my child prayer. Not to earn Love; I already have it. But to share my connection with that Love by being a servant for others, gratefully, lovingly.

I read a story once where a child asked a kind stranger if he was an angel. Nope, he answered. Sometimes God’s angels are so busy, they use humans to help out. And we’re only too happy to serve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grandma’s 94th birthday!

figure celebration

Saturday was Grandma’s 94th birthday! I’m lucky she lives within 30 minutes of me so I popped over to her house in the afternoon with a birthday card and a geranium that I potted up from my garden. Grandma and I share a love of gardening; since the day I met her, I’ve enjoyed exploring her garden when I visit.

Grandma is actually my ex-husband’s grandmother. When my daughter was born, Grandma got a new nickname, Great G, to celebrate her status as a great-grandmother. After the divorce, Great G always remembered my daughter/her great-granddaughter for every birthday and every holiday, sending a card, a gift, always letting my daughter know how very much she was loved. Other than my sister-in-law who I’ve always remained close to, we didn’t have much contact with the rest of the family (for various reasons that really don’t matter after all these years). But Grandma and I exchanged cards and letters from time to time, keeping a bond of love between us. When my daughter grew up, married and had her daughters, I told her we had to go take the girls to see Great G. Oh, Great G just sparkled at seeing her great-great-granddaughters!

To meet Grandma is to love her. A little bit of nothing, she weighs less than 100 lbs. But she’s not frail or fragile in any way! Her hair is always beautifully coifed, as red as it’s always been. Her voice is strong and capable, her movements sure. She has trouble hearing and some sight issues, but nothing stops her. She demonstrated to me Saturday that her hands – even with arthritis in her right one – still have good gripping power for her garden clippers. On a bad day when her two arthritic fingers don’t work correctly, she just bends them around the handles and gardens away!

That’s the kind of woman she is. Never a complaint, never a mean word about anyone (at least to me). She’s resilient and resourceful. No car? No problem. She walks to where she wants to go. The grocery store, church – she gets done what has to be done.

And her stories! I love hearing her stories and Saturday over coffee I enjoyed one after the other. Grandma was born very early on a Sunday morning on October 3, 1915, on the family farm in Kansas City, Kansas, the youngest of her mom’s children. The doctor lived 12 miles away, but he didn’t have a horse and buggy so Grandma’s Daddy took his own horse and buggy to go fetch the doctor. Grandma’s mother knew the menfolk would be hungry so she made breakfast for them so it’d be ready when they returned. Then, at 6am, Grandma was born.

Life on the farm taught her to be strong and take care of what needed taking care of. Every summer there were fruits and vegetables to be canned. The meat was kept in the cold storage (they didn’t have a freezer or electricity) but if the weather warmed up, they’d have to take the meat and can it, too, so it wouldn’t spoil and go to waste.

She grew up, married, had her two daughters. Her husband, though, had a wandering eye and left the family a couple of times. Afterward, she said, he’d always summon her and she would go. (She shook her head with obvious regret as she told me this.) She finally divorced him and bought her home for her and her daughters, telling them that this was it, she wasn’t going to be moving any more. (She’s lived there over 60 years.) She worked at the market deli to support herself and her daughters. And she told herself that she wished he would call. Sure enough, he did, and this petite, strong woman gave him her answer: no, not this time, not ever again. Grandma was smiling and proud of herself as she told me the story, looking strong and young as she remembered.

pink_balloonsUntil recently, Grandma still hung her laundry out on the clothesline to dry. She had a retractable line in the backyard that she’d pull out from one pole and then pull it across the width of her yard to secure it to the pole on the other side. As she says, “it wan’t a bother.” She’d always done it this way and it’s what she was used to. She finally has a dryer now, though, and when we were in the kitchen fixing coffee, she grinned and told me in a conspiratorial whisper that she really likes how much easier it is to use the dryer. Ha!

She says she likes the church she goes to now, but that she sometimes has a hard time hearing the preacher. Grandma prefers the Baptist church she used to go to, where the preacher spoke more loudly and forcefully. She likes a church, she says, with her face crinkling into a smile, where she can shout “Hallelujah!” The old church is too far to walk, though, so she goes to the one that’s close by, walking to church on Sunday morning and getting a ride back home from a neighbor. I’ve never been in a Baptist church. I think I’ll give her a call in a couple of weeks, and see if she’ll let me take her to her old church. I’m looking forward to shouting a couple of Hallelujahs myself.

Happy birthday, Grandma, you wonderful woman!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

a little respect, just a little bit …

“…we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.” - ”

capitol buildingAll partisanship – I’m not sure that I’m for “all partisanship.” I think we need to be bi- or multi-partisan – with intelligence, respect and courtesy for all parties involved. We need people to have differing opinions, to debate the issues from multiple viewpoints, to not agree on the best solution from the get-go. Each party should want something different, creating some tension in the argument that will give rise to flaws, errors in judgment, political blindness. Instant agreement doesn’t dredge up and expose the bad stuff.

I was once in a business meeting where two parties – the heads of their respective departments – seriously disagreed on an issue; option A would would have greater negative impact on one department, and option B would have greater negative impact on the other. Each one argued her points passionately and intelligently. And always respectfully. I remember thinking how impressed I was with each of them at that moment. It was the job of each department head to run her department well and to represent the best interests of the department, and that’s what each of these women was doing. This was an important issue and needed the depth of review and debate that their discussion was providing. If they’d agreed from the outset, there would have been no quality review, no discussion and questioning and exposure.

I believe it’s healthy – even vital and necessary - to have two (or more) different viewpoints when discussing Important Issues. Get it all out there, expose the flaws, discuss options, disagree and explain why you disagree. Listen. Listen and understand. Don’t keep playing the same record; listen to someone else’s. Broaden your thinking.

All this name-calling across the aisles and emotional propaganda by both sides is disrespectful of others’ opinions. The disrespect (and threats) accorded our previous and current presidents does not advance the discussion in an intelligent manner.

We need differing viewpoints on healthcare, the economy, and the other Important Issues. And we need to respect those viewpoints and appreciate that each person is doing his/her job, representing the best interests of his/her constituencies. It could be dangerous if everyone fully agreed on every Important Issue. We should agree that bipartisanship is a good thing. And respect our differences.