Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pickle forks

122710 mismatched flatware 

A few months ago as I opened the flatware drawer to grab a spoon, something made me stop and look at the contents within. Huh! I pulled out a bunch of spoons and spread them on the counter. A motley collection it was: mismatched, some slightly bent, some tarnished silverplate, one poor rough-edged piece obviously rescued from the teeth of the disposal. Most of them had ornate scrollwork on the handles, not at all my style; I prefer simple and smooth, more refined and elegant to me than the fussy swirlies on these strange spoons. Where did they come from? I know I didn’t buy them. I haven’t purchased new flatware since I was married at 20 years old. Some of those original wedding pieces were still in the drawer; some I knew had been chewed up in the garbage disposal and tossed years ago. I still had most of the original forks, knives, soup spoons, iced tea spoons. I also had eight matching pickle forks. Pickle forks that I had never used (does anyone use them?); pickle forks that I would never use in the future.

It’s funny how we collect things over time, not really noticing how things slowly accumulate, getting shoved into drawers, finding homes in closets or cabinets. Things are left behind, added to our other things, given to us as gifts (even though they’re things we’d never buy for ourselves). We keep and keep. Maybe I’ll find a use. As soon as I give it away, I just KNOW I’ll need it. I even saw a magazine pic with spoons used as garden plant markers with the plant names on the bowl of the spoon. What a great idea … that I’ll never do!

When we’re young, our parents choose our stuff for us; it’s not really our stuff; it belongs to our parents and we’re told when we can use it and how. We grow up and then we really start to accumulate our own stuff; the real fun begins! We get an education, a career. We get a spouse—and all the wedding and shower gifts to start our lives together. We get in-laws, children, a house, furniture, a garden, cars. In our 20s, 30s, 40s, we busily acquire all the stuff of life, adding and adding. Christmas lights, decorations, Halloween stuff, snow stuff, golf stuff, vacation stuff … stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff. Whew!

And then one day … we open a drawer and see all the stuff that we never really intended to acquire, the stuff that doesn’t add value and help achieve our highest and greatest good, stuff that no longer serves us well. We begin to reverse the cycle. We want less stuff, not more. We want stuff that fits us better, of our own choosing; stuff that elevates, that reflects who we are. We start divesting ourselves of all the old stuff, the things that don’t match us any longer. We release the burdens, the extra weight we’ve been carting around in life. We choose a new definition, a simpler, cleaner, more spare definition, tossing away the excess frills and fussiness that are not part of our essence, paring down to the purer sense of who we really are at the core and choosing those items that serve us better.

122710 matching flatware

For Christmas, my thoughtful daughter bought me a new set of matching flatware, simple, clean-lined, perfect, my first new flatware since I was a young bride. I emptied the drawer, clearing everything out, amazed at some of the odd pieces I found in there. It all went into a donation box and I washed and dried my new flatware and put it in the drawer. (Doesn’t it look beautiful in the pic above?) Then I cleaned out the utensil drawer, getting rid of things I’ve never used (I don’t cook) or didn’t need (melon baller?), putting them in the donation box, too.

It’s snowballed and I’m starting to go through closets and cabinets and drawers, releasing things that no longer serve me well, packing it all up to donate, clearing my spaces and the excess that was burdening my life. I’m intentionally choosing what stays and what goes, not just letting the accumulation take over my spaces as before. Little by little, I’m reclaiming each of these spaces, dumping out the old, clearing the clutter from my life, getting rid of the “pickle forks” that I don’t need and will never use. I’m reclaiming my sacred spaces for myself, with intention and with love for the beauty and peace of empty spaces as well as for the things of value that I choose to keep.

It’s good to regularly stop and ask ourselves “What is no longer serving me well in my life?” We need to do a periodic cleanse and determine what that is, whether it’s pickle forks, friendships, a job, a location, a pattern of behavior. May we all have a happy and clear 2011!


Thursday, December 23, 2010



Giddy, giddy, giddy!  I get so giddy with anticipation as Advent comes to an end and we approach Christmas! I love Advent (see previous post) and all the inner work and calm presence that it provides. But I find myself yearning for the fireworks and happy joy that is Christmas!

I’m restless, anticipatory, finding it difficult to live in the present moment because I’m looking ahead to Saturday, planning my trip to my daughter’s home … then my brother’s … then my Dad’s; envisioning everyone opening the presents that I’ve chosen for each of them. Giving gifts is one of the best parts of Christmas! (Being together with those we love is the best.) I try to put careful thought into the presents and that makes it all the more delicious when I see the recipient’s happy smiles and I know I’ve hit the mark. Yippee!

I took a vacation day today and I’m glad I had a lot to do with my restless self. In the morning, I had two lab tests: bone densitometry and mammogram. Both went smoothly; in and out in an hour. Stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things and bought a pretty bouquet to take to the cemetery for my mom. After the cemetery, I had a hair appointment in the afternoon. Full day and kept me busy.

122310 mom flowers

The cemetery at Christmas is absolutely THE most festive and joyful place to be! Christmas decor explodes in a riot of color and sparkle all over the hills of Good Shepherd. It’s been raining for the last 5 days, but today was nice and clear so there were a lot of families there putting up their holiday decorations; everyone working together, chatting, being family. Red, white and yellow poinsettias in big, foil-covered pots; white picket fences with gold, silver and colored garlands; cardboard fireplaces; giant red-and-white candy canes; angels, snowmen, Santas, wreaths. And the Christmas trees everywhere! Brightly, joyfully decorated with ornaments and garland wound round and round. I wish I could take pics of it all and share with you but it really has to be experienced in person. One family puts up a large cardboard fireplace and hangs stockings on it with each family member’s name; each year, more and more stockings are added to the fireplace. It always moves me; their family clearly consists of those who are still here physically as well as their loved one who crossed over.

And that’s the other beauty of the cemetery: you can feel the air almost vibrating with all the love there! I wish I could share it with you; it’s utterly amazing and always stops me for a moment as I become accustomed to the vibration there. I believe that when we think of others with love in our hearts, we often create a strong, loving connection to them in spirit, whether they’re with or without a physical body. (When my daughter was a child, if we were apart, I’d think of her or she’d think of me with love and the other would feel it with absolute certainty. My mom did that, too, all my life, and even now I sense her loving presence at times.) The physical sense doesn’t matter; it’s temporary anyway and can get in the way of the deepest connections we can make. The forever part of our selves—our spirits—are joined in a beautiful wave of love.

It’s that love connection that makes the air vibrate, I think. As people decorate with their families, they’re loving those who are with them, they’re loving those who have gone ahead of them, they’re remembering their ancestors and their people, where they’ve come from, where they’ve been. It’s all infused with a powerful, abiding, enduring love. The connections blend and blur, filling the air, the earth, the sky, the decorations, the Christmas trees. It’s an amazing experience; I think it’s especially powerful there because ALL those people are gathered there on behalf of loved ones, thinking, remembering and creating a whole lot of love energy concentrated all in one place. Even after they’ve left, that palpable energy remains in the places they’ve been. I’m really glad we still have cemeteries where so many can gather to generate this amazing and loving experience.

122310 mom headstone

I hadn’t been to the cemetery since July when I broke my ankle. Mom’s headstone was in sore need of polishing and the leaves needed to be cleared off. I tried to pry the flower vases from the holes in the ground but they were tightly and stubbornly stuck. I wrestled and wrestled with them until one of the cemetery workers driving by stopped to help, using his shovel to pull the vases out and then to clear the overgrown grass around them. I was grateful for his kind help and wished him a Merry Christmas as he smiled, waved and drove away. I arranged my flowers, cleared away the grass and polished and polished Mom’s headstone until it gleamed. I knelt and prayed, sending her love, sending love to my tios and tias, my abuelos, my cousins and friends who have all gone ahead, adding to the existing loving energy in that place. My restlessness became a calmer, quieter, loving giddiness. Filled with love from all that energy, I’m soooooo ready for Christmas.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Of Advent, anticipation and acceptance

121209 manger

Advent is a time of joyful anticipation, a space to slow down, prepare, go within and examine our hearts and souls, finding a home in our hearts for the spirit of the season; for many of us, for the love of a Savior, a new King. In the midst of holiday hustle and bustle, shopping, decorating, baking, parties, it can be hard to consider Advent being a slowing down time. I used to get caught up in all the chaos until I started focusing on the Advent aspect of this time of year. Eventually, I learned to plan and organize so that I can slow down during Advent. My trick? I take the week off after Thanksgiving, do my shopping (mostly online), write out my cards, do my holiday decorating and spend time preparing my inner life while the outer life around me buzzes with Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, extended shopping hours, sweater sales and people frantically trying to find the perfect toy. That week allows me to get things done and frees up my time for the rest of the season so I can be more thoughtful, less hurried, more prepared. I remove myself from all the holiday chaos, intentionally, purposefully, planfully.

And that was the plan this year. I took the week off – and promptly became very ill the day after Thanksgiving. I was sick with fever, sweat, chills, nausea – oh, so sick! I lost 14.5 lbs in 4 days. I did manage to get the online shopping done toward the and of the week, but the cards didn’t get mailed, the decorating didn’t get done and three weeks later, I’m still recovering, with a lingering cough and an uncertain tummy.

Life happens and we have to adapt and adjust our plans accordingly, trusting that everything will turn out the way that it’s supposed to. I think of a young girl betrothed to be married, making her plans to become a wife. But all the plans change when her entire world is tossed upside down by the appearance of an angel with a remarkable, fantastical story. I think of a carpenter, betrothed to a girl who we understand to be faith-filled, good and virtuous. Then plans change when he is told that this good girl is pregnant—and not by him, which, according to the laws of the day, could result in her being stoned as punishment. Instead of having her stoned for her betrayal, he decides to quietly divorce her. But plans change again (another angel!) and he takes her as his wife. The lives that they had planned together took a wild, unexpected, unplanned detour. Yet with deep faith they trusted that everything would turn out the way it was supposed to turn out in some unknown way.

120809 advent candles close-upFaith is not rigid, unyielding. Faith requires flexibility, an adaptive spirit, the ability to go with the flow. Faith requires accepting the possibility of change, that things may not go the way we’d planned. We can’t stay attached to the plans when circumstances change; rigid attachment creates misery and unhappiness. We have to release our expectations and be flexible to whatever comes up.

Although I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to during my vacation week, I did slow down during Advent nonetheless, editing my plans to suit my changed circumstances, giving up a little in order to gain the peace and calm that nourishes me at Advent. Trusting with deep faith that everything would turn out the way it is supposed to turn out.

I wish you and yours the deep, abiding peace, love and happy joy of the season!



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rainbows and angels

Prism Rainbows

I start to awaken and, as is my practice, with my eyes still closed, I give thanks for the comfort of my bed, for the shelter of my home, for the dreams I had during the night, for my sheets, blankets, pillows, for a restful night’s sleep. I open my eyes and, as I do every morning, I look toward the window where my liquid amber guardian tree stands directly outside my window with all the other trees beyond. The leaves are changing now, losing their green and turning into big leaves of golden yellow. Something on the ceiling catches my eye … and I smile. Rainbows! There are rainbows scattered everywhere in my room: splashed across the ceiling in tightly colored, long, narrow bars; brilliant red, bright orange, vivid yellow, soothing green, deep blue. More are splotched on the closet curtains, but these are refracted from the mirror and are bigger and looser, gentler-colored. I lift and drop the blankets to make a slight breeze and the rainbows start dancing all around, rainbows on walls, furniture, ceiling; so magical!

Pollyanna prismsI hang crystals in the windows of my living room and bedroom. Pollyanna was one of my favorite movies growing up and inspired me to hang the prisms years ago. During the spring and summer months, they’re just a bit of sparkle. But when the sun starts to hang lower toward the south in the fall and winter, its rays can enter the windows directly and hit the the prisms, which explode into brightly colored rainbows in my rooms.

This afternoon, vibrantly colored rainbows were streaked across the living room walls, floor and furniture. When my granddaughters were little, I’d tell them that the rainbows were angels come to play and to bring us love, blessings and happiness. My little grand-girls would dance and laugh in the rainbows or they’d chase and try to catch them if the prisms were moving from the breeze made by their play. Even now, when they see the rainbows in my home, they remember the angels. I do, too.

Lying in bed the other morning, with the colors all around me, I raised my legs overhead to practice the physical therapy exercises I do for my healing ankle (fractured several months ago). I see a rainbow on my ankle as I go through the exercises and I feel that angels are blessing the work, blessing the healing. Silly for a grown woman (a grandmother) to think such things, but I believe in magical things, in angels and blessings and healing powers. As a young woman, I wouldn’t dare share such nonsense with others; what would people think? Thankfully, I’m at an age where I can be a silly old grandmother less concerned about others’ judgments … and I can believe in angels in the rainbows.

Have a sparkly day!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gratitude – come see my guest post on Shine the Divine

My lovely friend Laura asked me and several other bloggers to guest on her blog throughout the month of November, sharing our thoughts on gratitude. Laura has an amazing strength and resilience that always inspires me. A talented artist, photographer, writer, wife, mother, counselor; loving, kind, courageous and wise.

After you read my post (and Cathy’s too!), please explore her site and her story; be sure to check out the Thanksgiving post and the glorious, colorful Gratitude quilt, a gathering of over 100 writers. 

stars silhouette

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

releasing expectations

 capiz place setting  pheobehoward

I’m re-reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Good stuff to mull over, absorb and see what comes up, finding what rings true for you. As I tell others “Keep what speaks to you and discard the rest.”

The 2nd Agreement:

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Different things recently have reminded me about this Agreement and how we get attached to preconceived outcomes. Earlier this week, I thought someone was unappreciative of the extra effort I put in, then I remembered the Agreement and realized that each of us held different expectations of the outcome we desired. I was expecting kudos and attaboys, but the other person was focused on a different outcome. “Nothing others do is because of you.”

Another example of a preconceived outcome: A friend has been estranged from his son for a few years. Out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, the estranged son texted my friend. Something light like “Hey, how’s it going?” Instead of being joyous that his son had texted him after all this time (wouldn’t that be hard for the son to do?), my friend was upset because the text wasn’t worded the way friend wished it had been. “Shouldn’t he have said ‘Hey, Dad’?” “Don’t you think he should’ve said he’s sorry?” “I’d think he’d say something like …”

I couldn’t believe all the shoulds—the expectations—my friend had as to how his son should have composed the text message. Looking at my friend, I said the point was that his son had reached out and contacted him. The words could have been “eeny meeny miney moe”; they don’t matter. What mattered was that his son broke through and connected. Isn’t that ultimately what they wanted, to resolve the rift? I imagine my friend had been playing an entirely different picture in his mind for how they’d reconnect and this didn’t fit his mental movie. He had a preconceived scenario and couldn’t switch from his expected outcome and accept the different outcome (a great outcome!) that actually resulted. He held on to what he imagined instead of embracing what is, creating “needless suffering.”

I believe it's best not to be attached to a preconceived outcome; the outcome we desire rarely manifests exactly the way we envision.  To have a preconceived outcome in mind is to invite certain disappointment. That’s not to say we shouldn’t imagine how we’d like things to be (I enjoy fantasizing about a lush garden and a cute puppy), but we shouldn’t become attached to them. Hold loosely to that which is not sacred. Hold loosely to expectations.

Many families hold expectations during the holidays. If we go into these gatherings with a Norman Rockwell picture fixed firmly in our imagination—expecting certain characters to be other than what they’ve always been through the years—we’re going to be disappointed. Family gatherings can be big, noisy, messy things. Sometimes words are misunderstood or misinterpreted. Sometimes feelings get hurt entirely unintentionally. (I tend to trust in the Good Intentions of others.)

Better to release our attachments to those expected outcomes and be flexible to whatever comes up. Let it go. Let it flow. Ride the wave. Don’t take anything personally. Instead of thinking “that’s a rude comment” just think “that’s a comment.” Don’t interpret and judge; people usually don’t mean to hurt others. We begin to misunderstand each other when we judge things in terms of “should” and “good/bad.” Be accepting and flow like water.

Letting go of preconceived outcomes allows us to open our hearts to a different, easier path, one where there is less needless suffering. Let it go and enjoy what happens. Just don’t take anything personally.


Monday, November 15, 2010

On my nightstand …

092310 nightstand booksDo you enjoy reading? Growing up, my parents, brothers and I were voracious readers, heading to the library each Saturday, returning home with the maximum number of books we were allowed to check out and repeating the cycle again the following Saturday. We’d sometimes negotiate with one another at the library: “You check out those and I’ll check out these and then we’ll switch.” We read a wide variety of topics in books, magazines (from Readers Digest to MAD Magazine), comic books; consumed the Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz series, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew; classics like Call of the Wild, Little Women, Walden; history, wars, political intrigue, mysteries, Egyptology, dance, music – we’d read under the covers after Mom told us to turn out the light. (I think of a lot of us did that! ha!)

I go through spurts of interests in my reading. At one point, I was primarily reading business books along the lines of In Search of Excellence; at another stage, I read classics that I’d missed (Grapes of Wrath); and at another, I indulged in Latino authors and stories.

Lately, my reading has mostly been regarding spirituality and our yearning to connect with the Divine. There is such a wealth of reading available and many of my like-minded friends have wonderful recommendations that I keep adding to my list.

Right now on my nightstand are four wonderful books that I’ve recently completed reading.

- The Yoga of Jesus draws beautiful, rich parallels between the teachings of Jesus Christ and those of the ancient yogis. Examining Christian teachings through a yogic viewpoint provided greater clarity and a deeper understanding; I read this slowly, pondering and absorbing, going back to re-read sections. A beautiful, enriching experience.

- In Your Truest Self, Jan Lundy interviews 12 inspiring spiritual women and identifies 12 spiritual principles to help us strip away the false ego and identities we’ve manufactured and to reach inside to the truest and most authentic version of who we are. There are thoughts to ponder, reflections and exercises to aid our journeys. I love the stories of the 12 women and was inspired by the way their personal belief systems helped them through very challenging situations.

- Happy Yoga – possibly my favorite book ever! This is the third time I’ve read this book, it’s that amazing. It’s not about physical yoga, so much; it’s about how to be happy! I think that just about every word in this book resonates with me. The first time I read it, some of the ideas and principles were very new to me but felt so right, like a personal discovery that I’d known all along but that had been hidden from me until I read this book. Reading Happy Yoga always gives me profound joy!

- Anam Cara is by Celtic poet John O’Donohue and if you’ve ever listened to his audiotapes, you’ll find yourself hearing his smoothly lilting Celtic voice in the prose. The language is utterly beautiful, each word like consuming the finest meal and drink. O’Donohue’s love for Celtic mystical thought shines forth and he brings you into a world of deeply ancient truths, of harmony with all that is Divine.

And now I’m re-reading The Four Agreements, a book of simple, practical guidance that challenges me to be more mindful and operate from a different state of heart.

What’s on your nightstand? Any recommendations you’d like to offer? Which reminds me: I need to renew my library card!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mindful breathing

water lily

A little “Rose woo-woo” for a peaceful Sunday - lol!

I came upon this brief 5-step mindful breathing practice by Thich Nhat Hahn and wanted to share with you. I practice pranayama (mindful breathing) every morning through a series of three different practices: three-part ujjayi breathing, kapalabhati, and nadi shodana.

It's always fun and creatively satisfying, though, to come across other ways to practice.  And anything from Thich Nhat Hahn always seems to be just right for the moment.

"Breathing in, I dwell deeply in the present moment. Breathing out, I know this is a wonderful moment.”

If you'd like, try it and see if it brings peace and joy to you in this wonderful moment. Namaste

Saturday, October 2, 2010

kindness and compassion

kind words

So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies
And downwards to the depths ~ from the Metta Sutta

Kindness and compassion – they add such beauty to our living experiences. My parents always taught us to think of others, to extend ourselves to others, to look to ease others’ discomforts and to assist them in their needs. We always volunteered. It just comes naturally because it’s how I was raised. I don’t even think about it. I’m thankful for their gift and teaching.

My granddaughters laugh because I talk to everyone; I compliment the sales clerk on her earrings … and she shares a story of how they were passed down in her family. I talk to a couple enjoying lunch at Disneyland … and they tell me about their engagement. I talk to strangers every chance I get. People are just so wonderful when we see them through the eyes of kindness.

I smile when I drive: at other drivers, at pedestrians, at cyclists. It’s so beautiful when I get a big smile back!

My parents encouraged us to always think of how our actions affect the next person. When I drive, I try to anticipate if another driver will need to merge into my lane … and I slow down to allow them the room to change safely. In my yoga class, I always take a few minutes at the end of class to sort and arrange the yoga blocks so they’re nicely set up for use by the yogis in the next class.

We are all part of a Divine Consciousness, one Body, one Love Energy permeating through the separateness that we encounter in our physical selves. Goodness toward one is goodness toward all. Let us be good to one another. Let us be good to our selves.

May you give and receive kindness, compassion and goodness. Namaste

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Parable of the Old Man and the Horse


Watch a young child when he is first learning to walk, taking those Frankenstein steps, arms raised up instinctively for balance. Oops! Fell down. The child gets on all fours, gets back up again and continues lumbering.

Watch children playing in a playground, running, jumping, falling, getting back up and doing it all again (assuming no one gets hurt, of course).

A baby playing on a beach might get sand in her mouth, and sputters to get it out, her little sandy tongue pushing and instinctively spitting.

One of the great things we can learn from kids (especially young ones, before they’ve unlearned their magic) is to not judge events like these. A fall is just a fall. It’s neither good nor bad, really. It is just a fall and that is all it is. Things just are what they are, until we attach a judgment to them. (Kids are such wonderful teachers, aren’t they?)

When I fell and broke my ankle a couple of months ago, friends commiserated, some saying, “Oh, that’s terrible.” Is it terrible, though? Or is it just a fall? Is it just a broken ankle? Inconvenient, at times challenging, but it’s really neither bad nor good. It just IS.

Another friend recently posted an article about a product’s possible dangers. Some responded “Oh, that’s scary!” Is it?  If we don’t assign a judgment, it’s just information to consider and use to make consumer choices about the product.

We have a tendency to assign judgments to things so readily. Neighbors hollering and enjoying an afternoon football game could be an annoyance to some … or it could just be neighbors enjoying a game.

~ ~ ~

An old man lived in a tiny village, and although poor, he had a good, hard-working horse to help him on his farm. “You are lucky to have such a fine horse!” his neighbors told him.

One day, the horse was not in the stable. “What a tragedy!” his neighbors said. “You will not be able to care for your farm and your crops will rot. What a curse!” The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. Who knows what is good or bad?”

After a few days, the horse returned … and brought several other wild horses with it into the corral. “You are so blessed! You now have a whole herd!” the man’s neighbors said. He replied “Say only that the horse has returned and brought other horses with him. Who knows what is good or bad?”

The man’s eldest son went out to break the horses and was thrown and broke his leg, right at harvest time. The neighbors came and said, "Your son that you count on is injured. You are so unfortunate!." He only replied, "Say only that my son broke his leg. That is all we know. Who knows what is good or bad?”

A week later, a general of the army came to the village and drafted all the young men of the village to go off and fight a dangerous war, sparing the old farmer’s son because of his broken leg. The villagers came to the old man crying because their sons had been taken. “You are so fortunate your son’s leg was broken! Our sons may never return.” The old man replied “Do not judge or say what is a blessing or a curse. Say only that your sons had to go to war and mine did not. The rest is not known.”

~ ~ ~

A wretched curse and a blessing are only distinguished by one’s perception. It’s not easy to alter one’s perception, but with practice, we can unlearn our tendencies to judge and be more like the little children we once were. We can accept that a broken ankle is just a broken ankle. We can accept that what is, sometimes just is.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

a little alone time …

052310 scenic view fog

Settle yourself in solitude, and you will come upon God in yourself. ~ St. Teresa of Avila

Solitude – we live in such a hustle-bustle world that solitude and quiet can seem hard to come by. It can be challenging to find true silence.  Everywhere there is noise assailing us: on video screens in the grocery store’s check-out line; from people’s cellphone conversations; traffic noise; children playing; radios and TV blaring. Many of us have difficulty finding a place of solitude when there are children to care for, jobs to do, errands to run. I know of folks who always have the TV or radio on to have “background noise.” Many people feel uncomfortable and squirmy in silence.

Silence provides peace and calm to the spirit. It can have a physical effect, lowering blood pressure, tension and anxiety. (Listen to loud, raucous music for a few minutes, then turn it off. You can almost feel your body say “aaaaahhh …”) Silence allows us to go within to hear the voice of the Divine. The voice of the Divine doesn’t yell and jump up and down to get our attention. It doesn’t shout; it whispers … gently, in our hearts. Yes, it’s also present in each moment of our day-to-day lives, but when we want to really touch and engage with our Divine consciousness, it can be best to find a quiet place of solitude, free from any distractions.

To find her quiet place, a friend spent time sitting under a Banyan tree each day to reflect and to write. A friend in Hawaii swam with the turtles. My mother used to sit in her big upholstered rocking chair, rosary beads in her hands, her children playing around her, eyes closed, lost in the ecstasy of prayer. Jesus often went off by himself to pray, out in the wilderness, up on a mountain, to a “lonely place.” When my ex-husband left us, I went to the beach nearly every day, just sitting and watching the waves come in and go out, gaining peace from just being in a quiet place and feeling the presence of the Divine with me, making me feel safe and Loved.

091109 waves II

The act of solitude—of removing oneself from the distractions and chaos—gives us a quiet place to Be, to listen, to hear the voice of the Divine whispering in our hearts. It might be out on a hike, pausing to quietly gaze at the natural creation around us. Or on the ocean on a surfboard, bobbing up and down in rhythm with the waves. On a beach, in a garden, in a park, in a quiet place at home.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence. ~ Mother Teresa

052310 pink gauraEach morning, I spend those first quiet minutes in bed feeling the energy of Love in my life. I awaken happy and joy-filled, connecting with the Divine consciousness present in all of life—in the trees outside my window, in the chattering of the squirrels, in the light of the day. Afterward, I sit quietly on the floor, breathing full, deep, lung-filled breaths at first, then just sitting. Nothing to do, nothing to undo. Just sit and Be. In those quiet moments I can best hear the Divine whispering in my heart, starting my day.

How do you find peace and solitude in your life?

Friday, August 27, 2010

small acts of kindness


"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness:
kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
Mother Teresa

The phone rang the other night:

Caller: “Good evening. This is [name] and I’m calling on behalf of the American Cancer Society. How are you this evening?”
Me: “I’m fine, [name], thank you. But this is the third call I’ve received from the American Cancer Society this week.”
Caller: “Oh …”

And in that “Oh …” I suddenly felt my ego-self drop away and my higher consciousness showed me a woman … a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend … working a job … putting in an honest day’s work, earning a paycheck to pay the bills. In that “Oh …”, I could feel her tense up, ready to be yelled at, hung up on or berated for bothering a person for the third time in a week.

Me: “It’s OK. I told the previous caller that I would help, so we’re all set. But thanks for calling!”
Caller (with obvious relief in her voice): “Oh, great! Thank you soooooo much. Have a great evening!”

I hung up with a smile on my face. I’d had a choice: I could be annoyed and blustery at being (insignificantly) inconvenienced and make this kind woman cower in her shoes … or I could simply and briefly explain the situation in a way that honored BOTH of us. The entire conversation took less than a minute. I wasn’t inconvenienced; the caller had done nothing wrong. I imagine the call list she was given hadn’t been de-duped and so my name appeared on multiple lists. Not her fault; a simple error. Things happen.

Some people brag about how they handle telemarketers, how they blow a whistle really loudly into the phone or curse at them and hang up, how they really “show them” for daring to call (i.e., do their job) in the first place. Why do that? What higher purpose does that serve? How does that make any of us better? How does that bring about heaven on earth?

It’s actually pretty rare that I get a telemarketer call. I’m on the National Do Not Call Registry ( so the only calls I get are from organizations that I’ve provided information to, such as charities. But when I do get a call and I’m not interested, all it takes is a gentle “Thank you for calling, but I’m not interested at this time. Have a good evening.” Simple, kind, effective.

Every day, we have a myriad of opportunities to be kind to others, to smile, to wait our turn, to open a door, to give up a seat, to wave at a neighbor. These are opportunities to connect with our higher consciousness, to remember that we are all connected through our Divine nature, that we are One.

May you give and receive kindness. Namaste

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No waiting

yoga seated positionI had a yoga teacher, Peter, who often shared beautiful wisdom with us that spoke truly to my heart. I was grateful for the many things I learned from him during the short time that I was his student.

One of the lessons that has had a strong influence in my approach to things was about waiting. Waiting is an activity, an active stance, a verb; to actively expect something to happen. It’s looking ahead to some future event, to anticipate the next thing. Sometimes we worry while waiting, sometimes waiting takes too long. Waiting isn’t the same as being fully in the present.

There are times when we need to wait. But instead of looking ahead and missing the present moment, we can choose to be fully present to right now and instead of waiting, we can just sit and Be. As Peter put it:

Be … and the next thing will happen.

Whether we anticipate and wait, or sit and Be, either way, the next thing will happen.

In yoga class, there’s a general pattern that’s followed and it’s easy to anticipate the next thing. A Warrior II is often followed by an extended side angle stretch, for example, or a floor asana on the back might be followed by a spinal twist.

In Peter’s class, initially, I would be working a pose and anticipating the next pose he would call out. I’d be thinking “OK, we’ll be moving to [pose x] next …” instead of fully experiencing the current pose that I was working. Peter wouldn’t shift into the next pose, though, we’d hold and hold and hold the pose, my legs and arms quivering, Peter encouraging us to experience all that was present to us right now in THIS pose: turn out the thigh, tighten the underarm muscles, lengthen the spine… all the myriad tiny little adjustments that can be made to perfect a pose. I soon forgot about the next pose and let myself melt into the work of the present moment.

This teaching has totally shifted my inner peace when I’m waiting now. By learning to be fully in the present moment, I can experience it more completely--the sights, sounds, sensations. I don’t look ahead of where I am right now and anticipate the next thing. I enjoy where I am in the present moment.

I can simply Be … and the next thing will happen.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

No fear

love is patient rock

“If I’m filled with only one thing at a time, and that thing is loving-kindness,
then there is no room for resistance or anger or
the rest of those snotty-nosed kid emotions we all thrive on.”
~ Geri Larkin, Tap Dancing in Zen

I guess we all get them, the chain emails that are filled with anger, CAPITAL letters, multiple exclamation marks from people or groups that are absolutely fed up and mad as heck and want the rest of us to be, too. Many of these are aimed at specific people or groups of people, the OTHER, those not like us; or they’re targeted toward certain political figures or corporations. There are conspiracies afoot, many of them assert. We have to act NOW. The tone is alarmist, sensationalist, frightening; the scaremongers proclaim that the sky will fall—doom will prevail—if we don’t do something.

I delete them. I just don’t want that kind of vitriol and hate within my consciousness. There is so much Fear in them, fear that They are out to get us, that They are doing bad things. I don’t want my life ruled by fear.

I want my life, my thoughts, my emotions, my actions—my entire being—ruled from a center of Love. I want my Divine consciousness to guide my life. I want to be at peace, to be gentle with my love for all of God’s creation. I want to live with tolerance and understanding, with the inclusiveness that Divine Love counsels me to do.

Love is dominant in my life. Love is in every breath I take, each inhale and each exhale. Love is in my smile toward others I meet: young, old, clean, unwashed, tough or timid. I can’t—I won’t—live a fear-based life.

Love doesn’t incite others to fear; Love embraces, includes, tolerates, understands, forgives.

When Love fills every fiber of my being, there is no room for fear or anger, intolerance or hate. I choose Love.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dinner on a roll

080710 dinner on a roll2I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law from last Sunday night until Wednesday night. Those three days really helped me on the road to healing, as I didn't have to do everything myself those first few days. My SIL made sure I had ice for the swelling, they gave me meals, I had my own suite with bathroom, a big comfortable bed - so grateful.  The pain is tons less than it was initially, the swelling is going down and I'm sure that with all the prayers and good wishes from friends and family the healing is going well.

They went with me to the ortho on Monday. Instead of a cast, he allowed me to stay with the boot and crutches as long as I promised not to put any weight on the left leg for 3.5 weeks. After that, I can walk with a walking boot while it completes healing. Not bad, huh?

I returned home Wednesday night and my brother set up wireless in my home and I set up my personal and work laptops on the dining table. Each morning, before I come downstairs, I gather everything I need for the day (cell phone, paperwork, etc.) and put it in a plastic bag and then I booty-bump it downstairs, dragging the plastic bag behind me. I stay downstairs all day, then go back upstairs at bedtime with my plastic bag of anything that needs to go back upstairs. Pretty hilarious if you could see it in person, but heck, it works!

I find myself filled with gratitude daily for so many things! My little stand-up shower allows me to hang on to the walls with no danger of falling; my kitchen is small enough that it’s just two steps to the fridge or the stove or the sink. Small is good! I’m finding all kinds of ways to manage on my own and it’s working out just fine. AND I’m asking for help when I need it. My neighbor just put my trash cans out for pick-up and gave my front plants a good watering for me. I believe most people want to be helpful; we simply have to put away our egos and let them do so.

I even found a way to get my dinner from the kitchen to the living room. (Bad, I know. I eat in front of the TV.) My brother brought my stool downstairs for me on Monday so I could prop my leg up. I found that it also makes a very handy transport device! I put my meal (salad and tuna last night) on the stool and then push it ahead of me with my crutches – ta-da! (See the crutch in the pic below?) My buddy Chris cracked up when I told him. I think it’s pretty clever. Necessity is the mother of invention – lol! 080710 dinner on a roll So, that’s the latest. I’m looking forward to walking in just a couple more weeks. Every time I use the crutches I think to myself "You grew it, you lift it." LOL!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ego and a broken ankle

073110 ankle boot1

Attractive, isn’t it? Thursday at work I slipped on a paper that had dropped on the ground, my right leg sliding forward while my left leg and ankle twisted up behind me. (Thankful that I’m flexible and can do splits.) Yowza! It hurt something fierce so I just sat there on the ground for a few moments, making jokes with co-workers who had gathered, putting my arms up in the air with a brave “Ta-da!”

I thought it was just twisted and some ice and elevation would help. By the end of the day, it was still hurting pretty badly. Several co-workers offered to help me, but I kept saying “Thanks so much, it’ll be OK.” When I tried to walk, though, I realized I might need a little help. One friend helped me to the elevator so I wouldn’t have to take the stairs and another drove me to my car. “Are you sure you can drive?” “Oh, yeah, I’ll be OK.” “Call me if you feel you need to pull over and I’ll get you.” “Thanks! I’ll be OK.”

I have a manual transmission, a stick shift, a clutch. It was NOT OK. Every time I had to depress the clutch was like sending electric shocks of pain shooting through my ankle and leg. It actually felt crunchy. Stop-and-go traffic on the freeway didn’t help. “Turn green … turn green … turn green …” I said at every light after I got off the freeway.

I drove to the after-hours clinic, hobbling up to the door. “I’m sorry, the doctor just left. There’s another clinic across the street.” I hobbled back to the car and drove to the other clinic. “Do you need a wheelchair?” My first inclination was to say No, I’ll be OK, but the wheelchair sounded pretty good by then, so I accepted.

X-rays showed that I’d fractured the bone about two inches above the ankle, an unusual break according to the doctor and x-ray tech. When they found that I’d driven myself almost 20 miles on a broken ankle, they looked at me like I was a crazy person. “How are you getting home?” “I’ll drive myself.” Again, the crazy looks. “Do you have anyone at home to help you?” “No, but I’ll be OK.” Again, with the looks and comments like “You’re very strong.”

Thankfully, my daughter called me when I was preparing to drive home and said she and her hubs were in the area (they live 50 miles away) and would drive me home. I accepted. Being strong at this point wouldn’t be too smart. I had to accept help.

This is a good lesson for me. Like the other strong women I know, I am stubbornly independent. Being a single parent taught me to stand on my own two feet and get 'er done without asking others for help. I could always figure it out and take care of things. So it's very difficult for me to accept any help from others. I never want to impose on others or have them go out of their way on my account.

One of the things I’ve been working on is releasing the ego and I see this as part of the lesson. It’s ego that makes me rush to help others, but not accept help when I need it. It’s humbling to accept help from others; even more humbling to ask for help. But I have to. Humility is a good lesson to learn. I have to put aside ego, do what I can reasonably do and allow others to help me with the rest.

My daughter and her family brought me dinner on Friday night and stayed to visit. My precious friend Vicki is lending me her car (automatic) while she’s in Scotland. Her daughter/my goddaughter Taylor took my laundry upstairs for me when they brought the car over. My brother has offered to let me stay at his place where I can use their downstairs suite. The bedrooms are upstairs in my home and navigating the stairs is challenging; I’ve learned to go down on my butt. So I’m going to go and stay with him and his wife for a few days. My neighbor just called and left a message offering to help, too.

I’m being humbled but I’m learning. And I’m grateful this is temporary.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

My grands are off to Sea Adventure Camp!

American Pride tallship 

I’m just so thrilled! My granddaughters, 13 and 10, leave tomorrow morning for Sea Adventure Camp, spending five days aboard a three-masted schooner, American Pride, where they’ll raise sails, snorkel and kayak the waters of Catalina Island, explore and discuss marine life and their adaptations, learn ecology, geology, island history. There’ll be popcorn movie nights, beach parties, skits, sea shanties – my tummy’s tingly with excitement for them!

Here are a couple of links if you’d like to learn more:

Doesn’t it sound like a wonderful adventure? Like being a pirate at sea but without that pirating part – lol! My grands are very cool little chicas and they love a good adventure! One of their greatest gifts is that they are so adaptable to different situations. They know how to go with the flow and be flexible. Their mom and dad (my daughter and son-in-law) take ‘em on trips to the river and the lake in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter, plus other vacations (Hawaii, Mexico, Washington), and they’re just very comfortable and easy-going about things as a result. They aren’t tied to an outcome, rigid and inflexible; they just roll with whatever happens. Not being tied to an outcome and being adaptable are such great qualities, don’t you think?

When I called my dad the other night, he asked (as he always does), “How are the girls?” Now, Dad’s had a couple of strokes, so his memory isn’t as sharp as it was; he tells me “My clutch is slipping” – lol! On top of that, his hearing is pretty bad, too. Put bad memory and bad hearing together and you have yourself a challenging phone call for both of us. But we do our best. Sometimes I have to repeat something a time or two or remind him of names and relationships. Sometimes it’s too much and he just says some non-committal statement to make me think that he heard/understood me, but I know he didn’t. Doesn’t matter. We move on and it all works out.

When he asked about the girls, I told him about their Sea Adventure Camp and that they’d be on a schooner for five days. Oh, how he perked up! Dad served in the Navy in the Korean War aboard the USS Ernest G. Small. On October 7, 1951, his ship hit a mine off North Korea, killing 9 and wounding 18 of my father's friends. Four days, later her bow broke off in heavy seas. My dad loved being in the Navy. He’s always told me he loved being at sea, away from everyone; he loved the peace of being out on the ocean.

So he is just thrilled about the girls going on this Sea Adventure. I told him they would learn how to tie nautical knots and he told me that although he learned them in training, he never did them after that. He was the Personnel Officer so there was no need. He told me, too, that as Personnel Officer, he would get up at 4am each morning and check the newswires for the latest news. He’d then gather all the pertinent information together, make stencils and create a daily newspaper for the crew. I loved learning that about him. I love any and every opportunity I get to learn more about my dad’s personal story. I want to know his stories so I’ll have them to enjoy for the rest of my life. We all should share our stories more …

I’ll be picking up the girls on Friday when their ship returns. I’m really looking forward to hearing their stories about their adventures at sea!


PS. My youngest grand has been saying for some time now that she wants to be a Marine Biologist. Isn’t this just perfect?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

remembering that it’s temporary …

"Have you ever stopped to consider, Rose, that due to your eternal nature,
you, and everyone else, live forever?

Of course you have.

And therefore, have you realized that in the truest sense,
everyone beats cancer, aids, and starvation?"

~ The Universe

lotus zen

I subscribe to daily posts from; loving, brief messages that remind me of my divine nature. And I just loved this message!

I believe we are eternal, that we only (very) temporarily manifest in a physical form as we are now. It is beautiful and joyful to consider that, as eternal beings, we will be wonderfully free of every ailment, every sorrow for all eternity. I’ve carried sorrow in my heart the past couple of months and I found this message a good reminder to focus on the joy in each moment; to find the peace and calm in every focused breath. Although each loss and grief is tragic while we endure them, they are mercifully temporary. All suffering is temporary. Hallelujah for that!

You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
~ C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time to be together …

052210 Kaweah River below bridge

The last couple of months have been very busy, some event or gathering every weekend, getting together with family and friends, multiple events on the same day – just an unusual flurry of activity. (Boy, my home really needs a good cleaning – lol!)

A dear friend married her love at a beautiful garden ceremony at a luxurious hotel in Los Angeles. The garden was beautifully set in a Chinese theme with pink and white paper lanterns overhead; the food was delicious. Most of all, I was thrilled to see my friend looking so radiantly happy with her new husband! I caught up with an old friend there, as we all—friends and (very large) family—celebrated the happy couple.

Another friend’s daughter celebrated her First Communion, a beautiful milestone in her religious education; everyone—adults and children—got together in the family’s home afterward to celebrate with a big spread. I had a great time!  Recently, I was also lucky enough to attend the dance recital of another friend’s daughter; I loved it. She danced beautifully, was very comfortable on stage performing, and I really enjoyed all the other dance numbers, too. The littlest ones are always so cute!

We spent a weekend in Three Rivers, California (near Sequoia National Park) to share in my sister-in-law’s (my ex-husband’s sister) 25th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows on a wooden bridge over the Kaweah River.  The husband (they’re both in theater) sang to his wife during the ceremony; oh, it made me cry, hearing the love in his song! A reception followed, with slideshow, music, flowers, food. The family all stayed to clean up, washing pans and utensils in the big church kitchen, packing the extra food, everyone horsing around and laughing. We all went back to my sister-in-law’s home, which sits with the river at their back door, talking and laughing late into the night. The next day, my daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters and I went to Sequoia National Park to visit the giant redwoods. Were we surprised when we got up there and it was snowing! Fun trip!

A friend drove out from Arizona with her daughter and mother for a short visit, so myself and 4 other friends drove out to Playa del Rey to have dinner with them. Non-stop gabbing – lol! We had a great time!

Several of my old high school chums have met again on Facebook, friends I haven’t seen since high school back in … some time ago. One friend came out from North Carolina to visit so we planned a beach party mini-reunion so we could all get together in person. Omigosh! It was like we were all teens still in high school, teasing, telling stories, laughing till my stomach hurt! I had a perma-smile on my face from all the happiness; at one point I looked at my old friends, gathered talking and I looked at the sky, the beach … felt the warm sun and the breeze … and my heart filled with utter joy and contentment.

Today, my cousin David was buried. David, bigger than life, a man who lived every minute of his life with absolute gusto and enthusiasm. To him, a big family gathering was the norm, whether it be at the house or on a camping trip or a vacation or just being with family. When David was at the party, you knew you were going to be laughing. My dad would say he was “full of the devil.” What a great storyteller he was, too, adding just a little embellishment to make the story even better. He reminded me of Dean Martin when he smiled, his eyes disappearing into starry twinkles at the corners, his dimples dotting his happy smile. He adored his beautiful wife, Linda; it was written all over his face when he looked at her. David was so full of life, that I think it makes his absence from this world even more apparent. He was a semi-truck driver and he was killed last Thursday in a tragic multi-vehicle accident. His sudden and unexpected loss has stunned the family.

We all got together on Saturday, seeing family that I hadn’t seen in years, meeting family that I hadn’t yet met, being with other family that I see more often, too. It’s always good to gather together with family, even under these circumstances. Normally, everyone has their lives, their day-to-day family and friends, but everything stops when something like this happens. We cancel our plans, we make calls, we get together and cry and hold one another, and we also share stories and laugh, because that’s what families do. The rosary and vigil was last night and it was wonderful to hear the tributes, everyone nodding in recognition as people remembered my cousin, his generosity, wonderful spirit and great stories.

This is all part of the journey, being with people, sharing happy times, comforting one another in loss. I’m sometimes tempted not to accept invitations to events or gatherings, to put off getting together for another time, being too busy, having too much to do to make time for others. I’m quite content with my own company, but I also love to be with those I care about. I have to remember that we’re all temporary. I have to say Yes more often, Yes to those good times, Yes to laughter and stories … and I’ll take time to experience and enjoy that wonderful sense of deep peace and contentment that comes from being with good people, people I love. I am so grateful for their footprints on my own life journey.


052310 scenic view fog

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy children make for happy moms

112109 Jas and Bri best sisters                Amber Jas and Bri Spring 2009 

     060709 sisters          011308 jas and bri ice cream

The saying goes “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” As a mom (and Nana), what makes me happy is knowing that my daughter is happy and that my granddaughters are happy. The greatest delights of my life as a mom are seeing and sharing in those moments of pure joy for my daughter. I’d get goose-bumpy with all-over happiness listening to her tinkly peals of laughter while playing with her baby toes. I’d grin from my face to my heart seing her happy surprise the first time she rode a bike, or rode a wave. And through tears, I’ve soared with abundant gratitude witnessing her happy glow as she walked down the aisle to marry the man she loved, or sharing in her experience of becoming a new mom.

Moms aren’t happy when their children aren’t happy. We worry, we become the protective mama bear, we want to fix it and make it better. If mama’s babies ain’t happy, mama ain’t happy. (And they’re always our babies, no matter how grown-up they get.)

Happy children make for happy moms, and I feel so richly blessed that my daughter is happy, with a good life, good husband and wonderful daughters, who are such happy, sparkling little girls. She’s a wonderful young woman. I am a very happy mom. Thank you, God. And thank you again, God. I am so so very grateful. And happy. Did I mention that I’m a very happy mom?

Wishing all moms (and those who mother) the rich blessings of happiness with your own children.

And now, a very funny video moms can really appreciate:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

choosing happy …

011610 puffy skies

It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to sit and write. Apologies. I miss it when I don’t write. All these thoughts, discoveries, questions, ponderings buzzing around inside my head always want to get out and usually end up on notes here and there until I can find time. I have endless notes in random places, so have plenty of material from all my navel-gazing, but the time to write seems to elude me. Glad to be here for a quick post. Hope to get back to reading my favorite blogs more regularly, too.

Once again, life is changing … in a really good way! Background: I was unemployed for nine months last year after being laid off. A wonderful period of rejuvenation, wonder, happiness and walks. Then I started a new job in December. Within the first week, I knew it wasn’t the right fit, either professionally or personally. Professionally, because I was hired as an Interactive Project Manager, and the company did not have an interactive group, nor did they practice project management. Personally, because it was a very toxic environment for anyone with any kind of sensitivity, which would mean most people. A lot of agitation, aggressiveness, finger-pointing, accusation … a negative and hostile work situation. It physically hurt to work there.

I applied and interviewed for several months while continuing to work at the company. Then a few weeks ago, someone from my previous company (the one that had laid me off last year), contacted me regarding an opportunity there. It would be in a different department and the pay would be less than I’d made there previously (but more than I was currently making). Basically, both the title and the pay would be lower than before.

I gave it a lot of thought. My job search the past few months was entirely targeted toward interactive project management, but this opportunity was in quality assurance, and I would not hold a manager title, for the first time in many, many years. In three other companies, I’d been a QA Manager, establishing the discipline for each company and growing the department, before I became an interactive project manager.

Did I want to move from a manager role to an analyst role? Did I want to abandon my search for an interactive project manager role? Did I want to return to my former company in a different capacity, with different responsibilities?

When I asked my daughter for her thoughts, she simply asked: “Mom, what would make you happy?”

What would make me happy? Doing work that I do well, working with people I enjoy, being successful in my efforts, being in a good, supportive company, going home at the end of the day feeling happy and satisfied. Those are the types of things that make me happy. Feeling that I’ve contributed and done the best job I can do. Feeling that I'm in a place where I can thrive, professionally and personally. Pay, title—those aren’t things that drive me to excel and achieve. Nice to have, but not important to the health and wholeness of my spirit. In fact, when I really thought about it, pay and title are more about my ego than they are about happiness. And I’ve been really working the past few years on learning to release ego. Maybe that’s why this opportunity was presented to me at this time, to help me in my journey, to help me be less prideful and less egotistical? Maybe the lesson here is to learn what choices will simply make me happy?

“Mom, what would make you happy?” I stopped thinking (ego) and started feeling (spirit). When I thought about going back to my previous company, I felt physically light and happy; right with the world. There was a lift to my spirit and a smile in my heart. What more did I need? Every experience has value and helps us along our journey here and there was a reason that I had to spend time at the “toxic” company. I’m exceedingly happy to report that I’m starting my new job at my old company in a different role tomorrow morning. I chose happy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

easter 2010

Alleluia! He is risen!

Wishing you a most blessed Easter! May this be a day of reflection on what the Easter message means in each of our lives.

May you honor the sacred in each moment of your day,
in each breath that you take,
in every beautiful moment you experience.

The Lord is with us. The Divine is with us. The Sacred is with us. Peace be with you.

I invite you to read my post from Easter 2008:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

choosing …

cup of tea“Thanks; I don’t drink. But I’ve brought my own tea.” (Big smile)

I’ve come to realize that making that statement of personal choice makes me feel strong and empowered. Any time that I make a statement or a choice that I feel is truly right for me at that moment—even if it’s contrary to what others may be doing—I feel that I’m standing within my more genuine self.

When I was younger, it was important to fit in with the “tribe” and be accepted. It’s probably a primal thing; at one time, being in a tribe provided safety, companionship, sharing, common bonds. One would assimilate into the operative norms of the tribe; to be cast out from it could mean danger, deprivation, loneliness, perhaps death.

So, like most of us, I adopted many of the behaviors of those around me. I adopted a sort of pseudo-self, one who went along with what most of my friends at the time did. I had 70s hair – like my friends. I got married shortly after high school – like my friends. In my 30s, I used to drink wine on occasion – like my friends.

Even decor-wise, I went along with the crowd for awhile. When I bought my home, the French Country look was big and really appealed to me, and so I painted the walls to look aged, used FC colors and patterns, bought FC accessories. It was all quite lovely; I enjoyed it, friends enjoyed it. It was pretty, comfortable, cozy.

After awhile, though, I realized that it wasn’t really me … and I painted the walls aqua, painted the trim crisp white, and added accents in chocolate and fresh green. I simplified accessories, made everything less busy and fussy, pared it all down. And I absolutely, totally love it. Simpler is better suited to my genuine self at this time.

As the years pass, I find myself releasing that pseudo-self more and asking my genuine self what it is that *I* like, what is it that *I* enjoy personally.

It’s pretty similar to when I was first divorced. I was so used to buying products and foods that we both agreed on as a couple (compromise is part of being a couple), that I had to consciously learn to buy products that I personally preferred because I didn’t have to share them with anyone else but my daughter.

I don’t abstain from alcohol for any moral or judgmental reason, for example. I have no problem with others drinking responsibly. Quite simply, I’ve just never really liked the way it affects me. I used to drink on occasion, but was never into it; I didn’t feel like me. My genuine self eventually realized that I just drank to be socially accepted in the crowd. My daughter used to laugh at me, though, because I’d nurse the same beer for an entire party – never fooled her!

I try to make more conscious decisions about my choices these days. What do *I* like? For beverages, I like tea. Preferably Yogi Tea Egyptian Licorice tea. Oh, sooooo good! If not that, then Good Earth Sweet & Spicy Tea. I’ve never tried chai tea, which seems to be quite popular. Being popular isn’t a reason for me to try things any longer, though. I love that my good friends all respect my choice to not drink alcohol. At a gathering recently, someone asked if I wanted a beer and my good buddy Chris told them, no, Rose drinks tea. Made me smile.

I find that I don’t follow the crowd like I used to, but try to find my own way more these days. I try to tap into my genuine self and define what is suitable for me. Hmmm … a nice cup of tea sounds so good right now …


Sunday, March 21, 2010

on acceptance …


“Receive what you are given.”

One of my yoga teachers, Peter, always had a way of saying things that resonated strongly with me. This was one of them, the idea of acceptance, of receiving both the good and the bad. I’ve meditated on this concept many, many times, unearthing its layers and meanings for my life. I use it several times a week to help guide me and my spirit with grace.

At my granddaughter’s softball game on Saturday, one of the parents complained to the coach that they’d only had one week to sell their fundraising items. The coach, of course, could do nothing about this, which the woman even acknowledged, but she went ahead and complained anyway. I thought it was pointless and felt that they were given a week; do the best that you can with it. And then contact the board and see how you can help next year to provide more time for fundraising. Complaining doesn’t change anything. The coach (who agreed with her) asked if anyone had had a chance to sell anything. My daughter said yes, she had. How much? he asked. “$180. And M (another mother) also sold $180.” Such a contrast: two mothers who received what they were given and moved with it in grace, doing what they could. Another mother who got aggravated and became immobilized in her aggravation as a result.

I’ve always said that if you become stuck in traffic, you have two choices: You can either get angry, honk your horn and yell at other drivers … or you can turn on the radio and sing. (Guess which one I am – lol!)

Yesterday morning, I had an appointment for my 2002 Civic’s 110,000 mile service. It has 132,000 miles but I couldn’t get the service (over $1000; timing belt and other major service) done previously when I was unemployed so I was happy I was finally going to get it done. As I headed out to my appointment, I immediately knew something was wrong: I had a flat. I drove the few houses back home and called the auto club. Problem :: solution. No getting angry or upset. Identify the problem; determine the solution. Receive what you are given. Deal with it. Get it handled. (I was immensely grateful that I didn’t get the flat when I was driving the 50 miles to my daughter’s home on a busy freeway. A grace.) A nice young man came out, replaced the flat with the temporary spare, I gave him a tip and went to the dealership.

At the dealership, we examined the tires and determined that I really needed to get all four tires replaced, but I could get by with doing two now and doing the other two at my next service. I also had a headlight that had been out for a month and needed to be replaced. Since it would be a few hours, I took the shuttle home. A couple of hours later, I got a call: the front brake rotors were below minimum and should be replaced. I could just replace the pads for now, though, and do the rotors at my next service. (Let me say here that I absolutely trust my service tech. He’s a great guy, I’ve known him for eight years and I trust him.) One of the suspension bushings was also broken and needed to be replaced. I knew the car had been riding really roughly and had meant to mention this when I brought the car in; now I knew why.

Even with a 5% discount on parts and service, the final total was $1800. I had all new belts, two new tires, new timing belt and tensioner, all new fluids, tire alignment, new headlight, new suspension bushing, new front brake pads … a complete service, head to toe, plus a very nice car wash to boot. It was more money than I’d planned for, but it is what it is. I haven’t had a car payment for six years and I plan on hanging on to my Civic while I save for a new one, so I need to have it well-maintained and safe to drive. I could complain and be upset at the expense, but it doesn’t change anything. I feel that I’m fortunate the tire went flat when it did, I’m fortunate the brakes are better, I’m fortunate the suspension is much better. Receive what you are given. I’ve been given an $1800 bill but I’ve also been given a safe, well-running car. Money well spent.


PS. Thank you to those of you who dropped me notes to check that I was OK since I hadn't posted in a couple of weeks. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness! The new job is an 11-hour day with commute, so it doesn't leave me the time I'd like for reading my favorite blogs and for writing. Hoping that something shifts so I can have a bit more time. Thanks!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

To those touched by sorrow …

exhausted statue

Being the Pollyanna that I am (“let’s play the Glad Game!”), I simply don’t understand the depth of despair and darkness that one must be in to take one’s own life. What a horrible place to be in! Without hope that things will ever get better, in such mortal pain that even knowing that others will be enormously hurt by the act of suicide doesn’t dissuade the person from ending his or her life.

What makes the people of Haiti—many pulled from the rubble, many with amputated limbs, many with no homes or businesses to go to—what makes the Haitians able to continue to struggle on, even to sing as it’s been reported? What makes the Amish families who lost their daughters in a heartless massacre capable of not only coping, but to find forgiveness in their hearts and move on through the pain? What makes any of us reach the depths of despair … yet still trust that things will change, that we won’t always be in this dark place, that even in the worst of circumstances, there is still hope?

And yet others who appear to be in less dire circumstances (emphasizing appear) are incapable of coping and making it through to the next minute. What makes one person resilient and another person fall apart? If we only knew.

I can only sense that it must be beyond any pain that I can possibly imagine, a place where a person feels they have no other option left. My prayers go out to the Osmond and Koenig families as their hearts cry in sorrow for their losses. May grace and peace touch their hearts during this time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It was 20 years ago …

022110 cemetery bouquet

On February 24, 1990, Mom’s physical body died of a massive heart attack, releasing her spiritual self fully, no longer tethered and limited by the physical needs and limitations of a flesh -and-blood body. It’s hard to imagine what that moment of release must be like, but I sense that it’s a glorious and wonderful moment of immense joy and love. I hope it was—and is—that way for Mom and for all our loved ones who have loosed their earthly bonds and transcended the physical world. 

There are those who believe this physical life is all there is and there’s nothing after the body dies. That’s their personal truth. My personal truth is what C. S. Lewis wrote:

“You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.

It occurred to me earlier that when Mom was alive, our relationship was with both of us in physical form; pretty easy to communicate. Currently, one of us is in a physical body and one of us purely spiritual energy; more challenging to communicate. Eventually, our relationship will be with both of us in purely spiritual form; this will probably be t022110 cemetery bouquethe easiest to communicate, with no egos involved, just pure love. That will be pretty incredible, assuming that I have any of this right at all. It’s just something I got a sense of earlier and it seemed like an interesting thought to consider.

Senses – For those who are sensitive to such things, have you ever noticed that sometimes a scent, or a taste, or a touch of breeze can suddenly bring to mind someone who has crossed over? For me, it’s often through my senses that I get a sense of a loved one’s presence. Sometimes, though, there’s no obvious trigger that causes me to sense someone. I’ll be doing something random and my Tia will pop into my head and cause me to smile, sensing her love and maybe smelling her tortillas on the stove. On Saturday, one of my little cousins was wearing a dress with a bow in back and I sensed my Tio Luis and remembered—as if it was happening in present time—how I always preferred that he tie the bow on my dress as a little girl. His brown workman’s fingers were gnarled and twisted; that’s just the way I always knew them, even when he was playing piano. I didn’t know what arthritis was and never really gave a thought as to why his fingers were like that. But with those crooked, bent fingers he’d take his time and tie a big, full, absolutely perfectly straight bow on my dress. Gorgeous!

I took flowers to the cemetery on Sunday to honor my mom and the anniversary of her passage. A lot of people don’t like cemeteries; many say we should bring flowers while our loved ones are still alive. I did bring Mom flowers, and other gifts, too, during her world life. (I read that the Sufis distinguish between “world life” and “soul life.”) One of the first gifts I chose and bought for her was a small plastic statue of the Virgin bought from the religious goods store after catechism one Saturday morning. In my mind, I can still see it on the windowsill where it sat for years and years. Over time, we used to buy one another “for no reason” gifts; I’d see a vase I think she’d like, she’d see a sweater perfect for me. (She was always trying to get me to wear a sweater.)

022110 markerSince she’s living her soul life, though, I can’t buy her a Mother’s Day card or a vase or a pair of earrings. (What use would she have for these anyway?) But I can honor her by taking flowers to the place where we buried the body she used to hold me, to kiss me, to care for me and for all she loved. And I can sit in the sun, scrubbing her headstone with love and respect, spraying it with polish and rubbing and rubbing until the stone is gleaming. I can clear out the overgrown grass and leaves, put fresh water in the container and trim the flower stems to fit. I can kneel and pray and thank her for her presence in my life, for the way she taught me about the Divine and about love, and good times with family and friends. I can let the sun warm my skin … and I can sense her presence when I feel the breeze unexpectedly growing stronger and running through my hair as I kneel and pray—a caress from my mom, my beloved mom. My heart fills with love. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shower the people you love with love!

Shower the people you love with love.
Show them the way you feel.

Ahhhh … James Taylor, telling it like it is. And it doesn’t apply to only romantic relationships; in all our relationships – family, friends – we should be able to tell those we love that we love them, to be able to share with them how much their presence means in our lives. Rain down the love, people!

As my granddaughter Jasmine wrote when she was about 7:

Love, love
I love to love
My heart goes with me
So I can love
Yes it is true
Because I love you!

There is powerful energy in love, an energy that spreads beyond the people who are sharing in that love. (I read recently that committed couples actually improve the conditions of their entire community – government, schools. churches, retailers - and are a stabilizing factor in it.) I believe that when two people love, their love energy is magnified and spreads beyond their relationship, like happy colorful balloons floating gently out into the world.

Singles (like me) exude a powerful love energy, too, and we love with as much intensity and passion and strength as couples do, but couples—through their intensely personal commitment to be a life partner to another person, to be an involved witness to that person’s life—have an additional capacity to multiply the energy of love for all the world. I love the line from “Shall We Dance”:

“You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

That is a profound responsibility for one person to take on for another. Wow. There is power and strength in that kind of love for another. I admire people who have found that one person who makes them “zing!” enough for them to want to take on that responsibility, for better or worse, for ever and ever. And I thank people who have found that and made that commitment because we all benefit from it.

So thank you, couples! And even as a single, I will always, always make sure to shower the people I love with love. The more love energy we all put into the world, I believe, the more love there is to counteract the hate and violence of some. Let the love rain down!

linked love hearts

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Tomorrow’s my birthday! I love birthdays and being able to celebrate another year of living a wonderful, blessed life. I am abundantly grateful for my mind, my circumstances, the people in my life, the opportunities, the beauty that each day affords.

Last February 15, I wrote the following on the blog:

Thank you, dear friends. You remind me of all the various parts and history of who I am and who I have been. Each of you holds a different piece. I am abundantly grateful to have you share some part of my life's journey with me. How happy you make me!

Still so true this year, too. Thank you for your presence!