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