Monday, December 29, 2008

Create a Meaningful New Year

Christmas might be over, but we can still give many meaningful and wanted presents each day. Everyone already knows that at New Year's, it's "out with the old, in with the new." Does anyone really ponder how truly important that is? We make resolutions to try to do better, be better (i.e. skinnier, healthier, nicer, less stressed, more organized, yada, yada), but I'd like to offer some ideas to really make the meaning of "out with the old" effective. I'd love to invite all readers to participate in this experiment.
This year, can we really let the past stay in the past? Can we believe it's possible to see each moment with fresh eyes? Can we see the people in our lives as who they are in the present moment, clear of old belief tapes running in our heads? Can we let people out of the box we keep them in by our old expectations and inadvertent hurts? In this new year, can we honestly begin to forgive those in our lives who have given us reasons to mistrust? Can we begin to see the highest potential in the human being who is trying to emerge from under the rocks we've placed on them based on past history? What a gift that would be, to release others from the bondage we've kept them in by holding on to old grudges, picking the scabs of old wounds. Can everyone imagine the peace that could enfold and surround us as we create new relationships based on PRESENCE.....being present in our listening, present in our noticing, present in our responses with no preconceived notions or habits? Wow, I think a whole new world would open up for us. And yes, I do think it would work. And yes, I do think it will be something we have to practice. But that is what life is for; to practice becoming better human beings; to practice evolving in our relationships; to practice the eternal principles of forgiveness and compassion and kindness; to practice BECOMING the kind of person we would be proud to be. It doesn't come automatically to anyone. It comes by imagining who and how we want to be "when we grow up", and then taking the necessary steps to become THAT human being, which is the Divine path......we are human becomings as well as human beings. We are each endowed with Divine Pure Potential in every moment.
And it all takes practice, and it all takes mindfulness, and it all takes constant forgiveness. These are the true gifts of the spirit. They may also be the true Spirit of the Gift.

Love to all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deep Peace to You

As the Christmas season is upon us,
may I pass along a Gaelic prayer.
May peace reign in our hearts, and
may we spread love and harmony
through our actions.
May we all be instruments of peace.

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
of water flowing, rising and falling,
sometimes advancing, sometimes receding…
May the stream of your life flow unimpeded!
Deep peace of the running wave to you!

Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
which fans your face on a sultry day
the air which you breathe deeply, rhythmically,
which imparts to you energy, consciousness, life.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you!

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
who, herself unmoving, harbours the movements
and facilitates the life of the ten thousand creatures,
while resting contented, stable, tranquil.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you!

Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
which stay invisible till darkness falls
and discloses their pure and shining presence
beaming down in compassion on our turning world.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you!

Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you,
of unpretentious fold who, watching and waiting,
spend long hours out on the hillside,
expecting in simplicity some Coming of the Lord.
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you!

Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you,
who, swift as the wave and pervasive as the air,
quiet as the earth and shining like a star,
breathes into us His Peace and His Spirit.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you!
Adapted from the Gaelic, by Mary Rogers

Love to all, and Peace on Earth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Napa Valley

Some scenic photos of our stay in Napa Valley last weekend.
We enjoyed the Christian Brothers Retreat and Conference Center, in the beautiful countryside vineyards, where we had total peace and quiet, and the whole place to ourselves, except for the Brothers who kept out of sight. We had a second story room, with wall-to-wall-to-ceiling windows which we kept open the whole weekend, because of the unseasonably warm weather. Ideal! We could walk through the miles of vineyards, or we could wander through trails of Redwood Forests. Each morning we watched 3 or 4 hot air balloons rise over Napa. It was so restful and lovely, we were content to just enjoy the surroundings instead of shopping or sightseeing.
The event that took us there was the wedding of Hartley, daughter of Kirke and Darcy, our long-time friends from Spokane, Washington. It was held at the V. Sattui Winery, and they spared no expense in their hospitality. Everything was perfectly arranged, and the Filet dinner was superb. It was fun to visit with the family, to meet all of their children, now grown and having beautiful children of their own. It is amazing to me as I see these little ones, to realize that our own children were that young when we were friends, oh-so-long ago. So, at this time of Thanksgiving, I'll add a gratitude: Thank Heavens for Old Friends, who remember how immature we used to be, and still chose to stay friends while we grew up---sort of.
Love to all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eastern Philosophy 101

This is a topic I've been wanting to write about for a long time. It's outside the confines of religion, yet all religions are based on it's basic principles. In the yoga tradition, the first "commandment" also known as the yamas and the niyamas (the do and the do nots) is AHIMSA, translated as non-harming, or non-violence. This was Mahatma Gandhi's basic life teaching, adopted by Martin Luther King in the 60's. It is the medical profession's basic tenet: Above all, do no harm. All life is sacred, imbued with the divine, so if one practices ahimsa, true and lasting peace would reign on earth. In yoga class we teach that ahimsa starts with the self---self-acceptance, loving thoughts towards oneself. How many times we berate ourselves for what we have/have not done, feelings we have that are shameful, guilts, regrets, jealousies. How can we be loving towards another when we have violent thoughts towards ourselves? This principle of ahimsa carries into every area of our lives in everything we do. Can you personally go one hour without having a negative thought? I can't....yet....but I can practice by NOTICING when I am being less than accepting towards myself and others. And like every other spiritual principle, it is a life long practice honed through the years. We "simply" STOP the harming thoughts. I say simply, but it is not easy.
If we didn't adopt another practice, ahimsa would transform the world.
Now, to extend that, in the Buddhist philosophy, the ahimsa principle expands to METTA: meaning "Loving Kindness". In this active exercise, we practice intention. Not only do we stop the harming thoughts or actions, but we intentionally work on feeling what we wish to experience, and then sending out kindness and loving thoughts. It might start as simply as "May I be peaceful." "May I live in safety". "May I have mental happiness." "May I live with ease." But here's the rub: we start with feeling the loving thoughts towards ourselves, because (here's the Christian principle) we get back what we send out; we reap what we sow. The ripple effect begins inside of us. We do unto others as we would do to ourselves. When we want to help others, we send these thoughts out...."May you be safe." "May you be peaceful." "May you know your own true worth." Isn't that what we truly wish for ourselves and others?

This post precedes the holiday season, because it puts us into the proper frame of mind. Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, traditionally means giving presents. I hope to reframe that into giving PRESENCE.
If we could all give each other the benefit of the doubt, what a gift that would be. If we could all offer our loved ones Loving Kindness, it wouldn't get any better than that. If we would truly be "present" in our relationships, instead of withdrawing into ourselves, or in whatever other ways we habitually run away, that would be a gift everyone would value. If we met together in the spirit of gratitude for the people in our lives who always have our best interests at heart, our holidays would be magical and memorable, and would make a difference in our world.

Love to All, no exceptions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History is made!

Wow, we have a new President of the United States. We have discovered that the world did not end, much to the surprise of many. The world as we know it is still with us, and probably will be for quite some time. The question is: Can we rise to the occasion? Can we make the difficult choices we need in order to bring about the changes that are necessary? Can we keep our focus on the essentials, the principles of right action, of integrity, of service, of sacrifice? Can we truly have the audacity to hope for a better America? Whoever you voted for, the separation, judgments, fears and doubts must be put aside to work together so our children and grandchildren will not suffer for our shortsightedness, our selfishness, or greed, or power-hunger. We cannot afford to be petty, but must expand our own comfort zones to be inclusive, to be peacemakers, to heal the divide which has gone on too long. Yes, this is a pep talk. Please leave your comments on ideas you have to foster hope and change and growth in the new climate sweeping the country.
God Bless America, and every person in it. God Bless the World, and every person in it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why the crafts?

Someone asked me yesterday if I'd always loved arts and crafts, or if it is a recent interest. As I thought about it, I realized it probably came about because my oldest sister caught polio when I was nineteen months old. Carolyn is 8 years older than I am, so she was just starting 4th grade when the polio epidemic was sweeping the country. My mother practically lived at the hospital, but in those days, they would only let one family member visit for 5 minutes each hour because they believed it was not good for the patient, for various and sundry reasons--all of them so wrong. The hospitals were full of polio patients whose parents would not leave, so they let other parents do therapy on other children during the waiting time, so Mom would visit with Carolyn for her 5 minutes each hour, then do physical therapy exercises with other children while waiting to check on Carolyn. That system sounds so crazy to me, but I know as a mother I would have wanted to be there every minute, desperate to make sure my child stayed alive, and the hospitals had to figure out what to do with distraught parents. Many children didn't survive, and many were confined to an iron lung. Carolyn was in and out of the hospital with multiple surgeries through most of a year, so I was tended by any available adult, mostly Grandma Barr, but also the grandmothers of my cousins.
When Carolyn began to recover, but was crippled, Mom had to find activities she could do, and since there were two other children, it had to be activities we could all do together. I've long been aware of the scars I carried from being abandoned for a year at such a young age, but only recently have I become aware of the gifts. Every Saturday, we would go horseback riding. Mom took Carolyn and the cousins, or any neighborhood friends who wanted to come along. Carolyn could get on the horses and run as fast as the wind. On a horse, she wasn't crippled, and it was good therapy for her legs, since she had to squeeze the thighs together to stay on the horse. Carolyn has had a life long love for horses, raising Arabians, making Arabian costumes which often took first place at the fair. I have loved horseback riding as well, but mostly because of the fond memories of finally being together again with my mom and sisters.
Which brings us to the arts and crafts answer. With Carolyn's mobility limited the first few years, Mom would bring home paint-by-number sets, art supplies, and games, and we all had to help entertain Carolyn (ha, like we needed to---she was the most entertaining of all, a real fireball in those days.) One result of this is that I have always hated to play board games, because I always lost, and Carolyn always chortled with glee when she won. Allison has never forgiven me for not playing games with her enough. The other result which I didn't appreciate until recently is my fondness for arts and crafts, which never took the form of drawing or painting---that was Carolyn's expertise and I couldn't compete, but I could hold my own at everything else, and the best part of it all is that I was never left out of the ongoing craft projects; basket weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, ceramics, and generally creating things out of my hands and imagination, and feeling that it was all valid and valued. Most of that got put on hold until now, when we are empty nesters, and I have time to revisit the good parts of childhood. The only trouble now is that my mom isn't there to smile approval and tell me how clever I am. I have to remind myself---and so I do, by keeping going.
Love to all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Hunter's Moon

The spectacular moon this month has wowed me. This little photo was taken at 7:30 a.m. while I was in the yard walking the dog. The wind had not come up yet, the temperature was mild, and I was overjoyed at the wonder of it all. It's amazing that we are part of this incredible universe.
Here is a fact I learned on the weather report this week: Indian Summer is the time of beautiful fall weather AFTER the first frost, so we are enjoying a gorgeous time right now. Don't blink or you'll miss it. Each month the full moon has a name. This month is called the Hunter's Moon, and you can probably figure out why.
It's like someone turned on the brightest night light.
This is a post in progress, so more will be updated later. For now, here are some pictures of the yard from this morning. You can see why it is so fun being outside with the dog.
The picture on the left is a piece of driftwood we took from the house on Plaza Way. The leaves are now just coming down.
The photo on the right shows the empty garden after the frost.
Remember how it looked on a previous post during the summer?

And below is a photo of John's Inukshuk--an eskimo-type rock formation. It looks like a woman with wind blowing through her hair while she stand as sentry.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Morning Merry Snowfall

We awoke to winter white, and while it's beautiful, it's premature. It's also less than 32 degrees, which means the garden is more red tomatoes, purple (green) beans, white cucumbers, rust colored romaine. The furnace is blasting, the hot chocolate brewing. The weirdest thing is that a few days ago it was in the 80's, and next weekend will be back up to time for a full moon and Indian Summer. That is the poetics of living in the desert mountains of the Rockies. It is the unpredictable, changable, whimsical seasons that I love so much. This location creates the most beautiful sunsets in the world, a joy to photographers, and the cloud formations are an artist's dream. What's not to love? I'll tell you....when the beauty you wish to see is in the eyes and faces of your loved ones so far away. That is the only regret, which is why we're so excited to have them coming to visit for Christmas, to join the ones here who love them.

On a cold "winter" day, what could be better than a huge pot of fresh vegetable soup? Since we had to pick everything in the garden, here are the ingredients.....right out of the ground.

And the best thing about it is, I won'd have to fix dinner for several days! Makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

Love to all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's that beautiful time of the soon. It's so temporary, but returns again and again, and maybe because I'm approaching the autumn of my life, it seems more poignant this season. Not only are the colors temporary, but so is each leaf, ready to move on to the next stage: compost, mulch, fodder.
As I drove up the canyon before the rain/snow started this weekend, I was reminded of the autumn tradition we had as children. My favorite maternal aunt, after whom I was named, arrived from San Francisco for her annual visit in conjunction with the deer hunt for the men. The women were left home with all of us kids, and so we would gather in this wonderful protected canyon of Millcreek to picnic and hike in the leaves. When I smell the autumn breeze, the scent immediately transports me back to the trails, the games, the fried chicken and potato salad, the laughter of the aunts and cousins...and there was a LOT of laughter.
One of the most vivid memories was waiting with great anticipation until after we ate to receive the precious gift our Aunt Marie would bring with her from Union Square, San Francisco. My Aunt Marie was exotic, and rich. She owned a reducing salon at 140 Geary Street, Union Square, right next to Britex Fabrics. This was in the 50's and 60's before the world was obsessed with weight loss, so she was ahead of her time. Her studio was filled with big passive roller machines that were supposed to roll the weight (read "fat") off, or at least break it down and redistribute it. One of our family stories is about visiting her studio, hearing the phone ring, having my older sister answer it with "Maberry's Reducing Saloon, Salon, Saloon." (You had to be there.) Aunt Marie was always dressed to the nines with lavish jewelry, large pieces, diamonds, pendants, rings, earrings, so being the little girl I was, I could anticipate a beautiful piece of jewelry. Can I tell you a secret? I was always disappointed, because the anticipation was greater than the gift. Isn't that how it is at Christmas, too? The reason I was disappointed was because my aunt didn't have any children, and since I was the youngest child, she couldn't guess what was appropriate for me, nor could she guess what I might like. I never wore the jewelry. I don't know what happened to any of it. And, as I reflect now, I still don't wear much jewelry, except for earrings. Perhaps the old memories tied to jewelry disappointment might still be affecting my choices, who knows?
As I drove down the canyon, remembering the past, I'm left mostly with the memories of laughter, of family togetherness, of childhood freedoms and carefree attitudes, of good food, good fun, nature, and the precious thought that we need to pay attention in each moment, so we don't miss it. We don't know how long the colors or leaves will last, so appreciate it while it's in front of you in the present moment. We can't go back.
love to all.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

If I Could Do It Over poem

One of the problems with a blog is defining what type of content to write about. My true confession today is that I haven't identified what I want to do with a blog, which is why I'm slow to post. Originally I thought I would write about the nature of energy, and how thoughts create, and relate to what shows up in our lives. But I think there's only an audience of 3 or less, so now I'm not sure what to do. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Now, today's post is a poem I discovered, and don't know the author.

If I Could Do It Over

If I had my child to raise all over again
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later.

I'd fingerpaint more and point the finger less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious and seriously play.

I'd ignore the stares and stare at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

I'd see the oak in the acorn more often.

I would be firm less often and affirm much more.

I'd abandon my love of power in favor of the power of love.

Many times I've wished I could go back and do a better job of raising my "kids". But when I see my children now as the wonderful adults they are, I couldn't be more proud. Now it is easy to do as the poem suggests, because as I'm getting older, perhaps I'm wising up. I'm doing a better job as a grandparent, I hope. They say that knowledge is accumulating, and wisdom is letting go. I'm trying to let go....of guilt, resentment, shame, anger, embarrassment, of expectations, wrong-thinking, rigidity, judgment. I am affirming much, hope, connection, harmony, unity, beauty, joy, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if everyone abandoned the love of power and affirmed the power of Love.

Love to exceptions!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dyeing for fun

These are pictures of one of my practice tie-dye experiments. I tried a heart and almost made it. You can see Sasha loves hats and everything becomes a hat to her. The photo on the left is a pinafore dress with a long sleeve onesie under it, the one on the right is called an all-in-one dress, with a snap crotch. Yesterday I created a perfect spiral, but can't post the photos yet.

Here are some pictures of what I've been doing lately in order to maintain some sanity during the presidential campaign blitz. I promised myself I wouldn't sign up for any more online classes, but this one grabbed me. It's called More Journal Making for the Fiber Artist. I've posted a link to the teacher's website. This only took a few hours to make, and I like that kind of project. This is a trifold journal about 6 x 9 in.

May I encourage each reader to create something JUST FOR FUN to remind us that our economic woes, our day-to-day grind, our worries and our cares will make time for themselves and have the potential to eat away at our peace of mind. Re-minding ourselves that we have the power to create a little piece (or peace) of heaven here on earth is always a choice. One of our purposes in human form might be to BE the eye of the hurricane amidst the chaos swirling around us. May we all be blessed in our endeavors of creation, in whatever form we choose to create. Love to all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First, thanks.

Wow! My mind is truly boggled. I must thank leashypoodle, janine and sarah for comments which were encouraging, to say the least. I am absolutely blown away by the fact that this blog might be read by someone I don't know, let alone some so far away. Your messages were truly appreciated.

Which brings me to what's on my mind tonight. Upon reflection, it is amazing to me to remember how many times I've been searching for a path, an answer, a feeling, an insight, and how many times a "coincidental" sentence I've heard in passing, a line in a song, a scene in a movie, or even an out-of-the-blue phone call has given me the exact answer to what I've needed most. I don't believe it's coincidental; maybe synchronistic, but certainly not accidental. I believe when we stay open, without preconceived notions, stuck beliefs, or personal stubbornness, the answers and insights we are seeking are right in front of us, and come in the form we can recognize. I think one of the definitions of humility is having a measure of faith that whatever we need is coming our way, and we will hear and accept it when it comes. So many times in my life, someone has reached out and touched my heart without them ever knowing they made such a difference. And so I must remember that even little ole me might touch a life somewhere clear across the globe, or that someone on the other side of the country can give me hope. And the result is GRATITUDE, which is one of the greatest principles in the Universe. "They" say (whoever are "they", anyway?), that if you are stuck, or feeling low or uncertain or not confident, then find something to be grateful for and your whole outlook shifts. I believe that. The energy we carry with gratitude changes the feeling for everyone with whom we come in contact. And that is how we can make a difference, one person at a time. So, THANK YOU for caring enough to send out rays of hope. Let's all keep changing the planet, one person, one smile, one thank you at a time.
Love to all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maybe a quick end?

Well, I haven't run out of things to think or to say, but I truly question why anyone would want to read a blog written by me. Surely my children have heard it all, or if not, don't desire to hear more from The Mom. The only one who thinks I have anything at all worth listening to is me. Isn't that the way it is? I spent my first half century saying nothing important, and now that I feel I actually have something important to say, no one wants to hear it. I know if you're into genealogy and future generations, you might think you'd like to pass things on to kids and grandkids to show them their heritage or whatever. So, here's what I think:
If you want to understand the Ultimate Reality, simplify the process and undertake ONE, and only one practice, and then do that one thing until you've gleaned all you need from it. "They" say it takes 90 days minimum to affect a change in yourself, but remember those 90 days come one day at a time, one minute at a time, and being present in that minute is a huge practice. And I also think the word "practice" says it all. We usually don't get to mastery----until we get to mastery. Yes, this life is full of double-speak.
Here is only one example from my own life to illustrate the point I'm trying to make. It is for posterity.
September marks many emotional anniversaries for my family. My mother was born in September, and both my mother and father died in September. In fact, last weekend was the anniversary of their deaths 32 years apart, so maybe that's why they've been on my mind a lot.
There are traits my mother had which I've spent my whole life trying to overcome. One is that she was tremendously judgmental, critical, racially prejudiced, and an angry victim. O.K., that's not all she was, and she outgrew many of those traits by her death. But since I was a baby-boomer, and she lived through two world wars and the depression, her experiences were clouded by fear and cultural/racial prejudice. It was the way it was. So, my youth was spent with a victim archetype, where blame was the mode of the day. Somehow, complaining was modeled to us---after all, she had plenty to complain about during the depression and wars. So of course, I picked up the pattern and learned to blame and complain. I didn't realize how miserable I was making myself, let alone everyone around me. When I took the personal growth seminars in the 80's, that was the first thing I understood----blaming didn't work, it just made me miserable. Taking responsibility for my feelings and actions was tremendously empowering. It was the first experience I had of Free Will. One sentence I heard which became like a mantra was, "You are responsible for everything that happens to you." I spent 20 years trying to understand that one sentence. Another one was, "You have as much as you're willing to be responsible for." I still am trying to get the full meaning of that one.
But, the thing that helped me more than anything, was learning the 10 yamas and niyamas of yoga, like the ten commandments, the 5 Do's and 5 Don'ts. One of these is Santosha, or contentment. One of our instructors had us take one principle at a time, and practice it for a day or a week, or a month, or a year, or just an hour. Being aware on one principle at a time is an amazingly difficult thing to do. Our minds want to race all over the place. But I knew in my heart, I had to practice Santosha, because of the way I had been raised, so I chose to practice for 90 days. What an education!!!! The first thing I noticed was how much I complain. Next, I noticed how it made me feel. Then I noticed how hard it was to not complain. Finally, I decided I had to break it down. So, I PRACTICED not complaining. That's it. Everytime I started to complain, I just clamped my jaw shut or bit my tongue. It took about a month to stop the habit of complaining. Then I realized that the opposite of complaining was gratitude. So I tried to find one thing a day to be grateful for. It was a practice. After about a month, I started noticing a major shift in my happiness level. There were actual moments I NOTICED that I felt happy. After a few weeks I began to notice that I was calmer, more grateful, and whoa! even content! Truly, after about 90 days I had made a major shift. And now I have a tool in my back pocket so whenever I find myself complaining, and I still do, I know I can STOP, FEEL, NOTICE, SHIFT, and CHOOSE. And with all of that, I also notice my breathing slowing down, my comfort level improving, and I know that I can get back to feeling the way I want to feel.
They say that the hologram of the WHOLE is fully contained in a single cell, or even atom. In yoga, they believe that if you fully meditated on only ONE thing, you would understand and unlock the secret of the whole universe. In my lifetime, I don't believe I could do that--I'm not built that way. But I CAN take one thing at a time and try to glean the importance of that one principle and use it for bettering myself. I have the gift of Free Will, which means I can choose how to feel, how to think, how to create the best human being I can be. I am untimately responsible for what I become--in essence, I am responsible for being responsible for what I create and who I create myself to be. Don't I want to be the best I can be? Don't we all?
Now, if you think I've said it all, please leave a comment so I'll know if I need to quit blogging.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What do we really know?

Sunset over Yellowstone Lake, August 2008.
The Blue Ridge Parkway.

O.K. I took out the last blog. It's not that I'm embarrassed about it; I think it was pretty well written, and it had some good ideas. But that's just what they were--ideas, thoughts, opinions, and personal ones at that.
I was talking to one of my longest (not oldest) friends today, and out of her mouth came the words, vehemently, "We've just GOT to keep that Obama out of the White House!" And I realized how opinionated that was, and I realized I am equally opinionated, and I wonder, when do opinions turn into self-righteousness? What makes me think I know anything more than anyone else? I do my homework, study the issues, study the principles, form an opinion about what direction I think is best. But others are equally educated and intelligent, and their opinions are different than mine. Who determines who is right? Each person has to search his/her own internal compass for direction. Each person has to decide what is right personally, and then follow the Internal Guide, because that is the only way we can find peace inside. And yes, again, this is my personal opinion which might differ from yours.
The other thing is semantics. We spend so much time holding our own positions about things when the real difference might just be in the words we're using. For example, even though I was raised Mormon and have the vocabulary of one, when I was teaching non-denominational yoga to 35 kids in each class at SLCC, I had to find neutral languaging so that I wouldn't chase off various cultural and religious students. I had to find a way to speak so people wouldn't turn off their ears and minds, and some valuable seed ideas might find some room. When I speak of The Universe, or Infinite Intelligence, I have to trust that the ears that hear the words know of what I speak, and that my heart is in the right place, rather than the words being culturally acceptable. I happen to believe that we are all the same species: Children of a Heavenly Father who loves us, whether that sounds like scripture or whether I say it as Namaste, which literally means, "The Divine which is in me honors and acknowledges the Divine which is in you. When we meet in that place, we are One." Is it different in meaning, semantics, or is it a place in the heart to give respect to those I love who have differing opinions and positions? I want to honor ALL through the place of the heart and soul. Namaste.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wanting things to be different

After a beautiful summer, much too short, the weather did a left turn this week. Saturday was 99 degrees, Monday was lightning, thunder, hail, rain, and cold, cold, cold. We turned the heat on--September 1st. I'm just not ready to let go of summer yet. In fact, that got me thinking of all of the things in life with which we just struggle. Letting go is one of the tough life lessons, and one of the things that create suffering, according to ancient wisdom traditions. We suffer because we want things to be different than they are. We struggle to hold on, we resist the changes which inevitably come. We want more, different, better. We'd rather have the past because we've been there and survived, or, we'd rather have the future, because anything is better than the present. can make up your own statements to put in the blank. Sometimes this resistance takes the form of waiting....waiting until the kids are in school, or older, until there's more money, until things settle down, until ....(fill in the blank). One of the great teachings of yoga, or buddhism, or taoism, or hinduism, or any of the Perennial Philosophies of the world, is the importance of living in present time, in the moment, in reality, to show up in the present moment, where our body, breath, mind, thoughts, spirit, soul are all in one place together. It's called integrity, or wholeness, or even unity. And even though it sounds simple and logical, it is one of the most difficult things for a human being to master. It is also one of the key points to de-stressing. We stop the mind from yanking us around, feel our feet on the ground, feel breath moving in and out of our nostrils and lungs, check in with our feelings, notice that we are not being chased by lions and tigers and bears, oh my! We are integrated, we are capable, we are present, and in this moment of presence, even Presence, there is the chance to choose. Freedom to choose only exists in the present moment. Freedom to choose includes how to respond, how to act instead of react, what would we rather be thinking or feeling, what we could choose to think instead of what the automatic mind-feed is. Remember that the mind , attached to ego, likes to think it's in charge. It feeds us any number of random thoughts any time it wants. The trick to maneuvering around the "mind-field" is to determine which thoughts are trying to get through to us to help us, and which thoughts are being randomly generated to drag us down, to explode in our faces, so to speak. I think that is the journey of notice and to choose, to recognize in each moment that we have a choice, the greatest of all gifts from God---the ultimate Free Will, to choose our response in each present moment. That is the Precious Present.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just some quilt pictures

Here are two of my favorite quilts. I'm quite proud of sock monkey, since it is an original--well, almost. I had a little image of sock monkey which I enlarged, but putting it all together into a quilt design was a fun, creative project. It was made for Allison's new baby when the Dr. told her he was pretty sure it was a boy! HA!
Sock Monkey lives in the back of Allison's car and goes for walks in the stroller with Sasha. I think Cedar has the sock monkey apron of the same fabric.
The pink and brown quilt is called an Apple Core design, and is quite tricky, since it's sometimes difficult to sew curved lines. The scalloped edges are also technical, but they went all very smoothly. My quilt guru introduced me to Roxanne's fabric glue. You might say this quilt was glued together.
I think my next project must be a Batman blanket for Cedar to match his pillow case. I think he's the only one I haven't made a quilt for, right? Cedar, if you're into other interests besides Batman, let me know, O.K?
love you all

Sunday, August 31, 2008

This 'n' That -The garden

Photos and pictures make a blog so much more interesting...
(I've discovered that if I click on a photo on someone else's blog, the pictures show up bigger. You can see how happy John is in his protected shelter.)

This is a photo of John in his garden, under the shade awning he invented--(right side).
The trusty shed is well used for everything, the grapes are on the vine in abundance. In fact, there is an overabundance of everything, and the neighbors are starting to avoid us now. I'm thinking of putting a sign out front that says FREE TO A GOOD HOME--ADOPT A ZUCCHINI. Since this photo was taken, we had to make modifications to prevent the new puppy from romping through the produce, for various reasons--one of which is he eats it, preferring cucumbers, and being competition to Will, Jonas and Sasha. Also, the zucchini has doubled in size, the onions have been harvested, we've had a book group tour our "organic heaven" after they read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book, and of course we had to serve them fresh tomatoes (nothing better!) and zucchini cookies (new recipe-a keeper).
So, yesterday the weather was 99 degrees, and tomorrow they're expecting snow above 8000 feet--the 1st day of September. We'll be picking the first ears of corn today for dinner, and then we'll hope the tomatoes don't freeze.
We do live in a beautiful place, even if the weather is capricious and fickle.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Random thoughts on Karma

Volumes have been written for many millenia on Karma, so this is nothing new. But this post is about a way I like to think the world is.
One short sentence about karma is that what we do (or think or feel) comes back to us. What we send out, returns to us, like ripples going out on a pond, and returning to the point of entry. In my personal experience, nothing I do is ever lost or wasted, and I don't need to keep track of it all, because Something or Someone Greater Than I Am, keeps track. Here's the fine tweaking: If I put something out there, something comes back in equal measure, but it may not come back looking like I sent it. Here is one example.
I like to quilt. It's fun and creative and I feel like I'm expressing myself in ways that feed my soul. Many quilt/fabric stores furnish fabric for Quilts4Cancer if someone will do the work. So, I've made 3 quilts now. I put in my time and effort, and my expenses, because I have to pay for the batting and the machine quilting, but it's a way I can serve and contribute in a very small way. I turned in my most recent quilt on Sunday. My reward is feeling like I'm useful. Now, here's how karma works, in my book: Thursday we went to Snowbird to go on the Alpine Slide, the Zip Line, the Bungy Trampoline, and if we had time, the Tram. It's expensive! A day pass is $32 per person, or a single ride ticket is $8, $10, $12, depending. When we got to the ticket booth, someone came up to us with a free day pass he wasn't going to use, and just plain gave it to us. When I offered to pay or tip, he said, "No, a thank you is enough." So we thanked him profusely, and had a great time with all the activities we could handle. What went out was a quilt, what came back was a day of fun. I call it a great exchange. I have hundreds of stories just like that one. I choose to believe that if I do things for the right reasons ("just because, with no strings attached") I get rewards that are unforeseen and magical. The trick is NOT to expect anything at all, but to RECOGNIZE when the magic happens and just say,
"THANK YOU!" I think there's a great quote by Meister Eckhardt that says, (paraphrased) "If the only prayer you ever say in your life is THANK YOU, that will suffice."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why is it so hard to relax?
I've been going to an aerobics class (believe it!). Of course, you don't know that it's for senior citizens and I'm the youngest one there...the oldest being 93, who comes with her 72 yr. old daughter. I'm amazed at the agility, fortitude, and aliveness of this group of 25-30 people. The instructor is my age, has been teaching aerobics there for over 25 years, probably longer, and some of the women have been going that long. Isn't that amazing?
Now, coming from a yoga background, where the most important pose is the corpse pose, or relaxation, or savasana, I look forward to the end, when we can stretch out on our mat with the cool, damp, essential oil-infused washcloth the teacher provides. I put it over my eyes and breathe deeply. After two breaths (I'm not kidding or exaggerating) I feel the air around me stir, hear everyone talking, look around the room, and everyone is packed up and leaving. With the opportunity to do nothing but stay and breathe, which is such a gift, why is it people are so uncomfortable letting go, so eager to be one their way? I'm sure these octogenarians don't have to run off to pick kids up at day care, or fix breakfast for their husbands, or even go shopping at Nordstroms. Yesterday I determined I would complete 10 breaths before I got up. The teacher was the only one left in the room, and she had her stuff all packed up.
What amazes me most about all of this, is that these aerobics classes are full, while my yoga classes were sparcely attended. Relaxation is neither valued nor wanted, but everyone needs it. Being quiet, breathing, listening inward, feeling sensations in the body, noticing the wanderings of the mind are all such gifts. May we all have a moment to just BE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Way to Begin

I love to read the blogs of my family. It's a great way to catch up on their busy lives, plus I get to see wonderful photos of my grandchildren. I've never felt like anyone would like to read what I might have to say, but maybe one day I might say something profound. Who knows? Miracles happen every day.
I thought I'd give the blog the focus of "What's on my mind?" since most of the teachings I've been studying for the past 25 years are about the way we think (or not), and the nature of the mind. I'm also at an age where I'm not sure how to proceed in my life. Being over 60 is sometimes tough, and I need to explore that. It's an age where I feel like I have something to give, I've acquired a measure of experience in many areas, but there doesn't seem to be a venue for what I have to offer. It's the aging and saging (don't read that as "sagging", although that would also apply). (Should it be spelled ageing and sageing?) Anyway, if what I've experienced helps someone else, I'd love to offer my services. Advice is free, and you get what you pay for.
So, here's to a new adventure...exploring what's on my mind. Maybe you'd like to leave a message about what's on your mind. Be my guest. I think I'll answer any post and any question. It might be interesting and fun.