Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Year's Wish For You

In 2008, I wish for you the awareness of Love with all 5 senses.

I wish for you the sound of love in voices that call your name. Listen closely. The human voice is one of the greatest conductors of God's purest Being, God's embracing vibration. Listen with your heart. Speak with your heart. Use sound to soothe and bless and uplift the world of everyone you meet. Turn down the discord, turn up the Love.

I wish for you new eyes to see the beauty in yourself. Love is beauty, beauty is love. When you see and acknowledge the beauty within yourself, you see the beauty more clearly in those around you.

I wish for you the life-altering therapy of loving touch. Nothing is more healing than the human hand. Your hand, when offered gently to another, is a conduit for God's love. If you have no hands, know your lips are also gateways to healing. Open your arms. Pucker up. Give and receive. Be touched by love.

I wish for you the discernment to taste only food that was prepared with love. You know when a meal or a cookie has been made with love, the flavor is just that much richer, that much sweeter, that much more healthy for your system. The only meal plan that heals and balances the human body is food infused with the love and positive intentions of its creator. Whether the cook or baker is known or unknown, Love's vibration can be tasted. Eliminate uncaring food. Be healed and slimmed by the flavor of love.

I wish for you good scents. Whatever tickles your nose with pleasure, whatever fragrance makes you swoon, love is the mixer of that fine elixir. Body fluids mixed in the act of love, cinnamon bread fresh from the oven, lilies and lavender and rosemary and thyme, kittens and babies and sweet spring soil. Fill your lungs with saturated love.

Love is all around you. Hear it. See it. Touch it. Taste it. Breath it in. In 2008, I wish for you to come to your senses.

{ For more new year's wishes about the power of the senses, visit my favorite preacher.}

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Masked Bandit

Yesterday, at 7:06am, I was driving to work on Route 5. The sun had yet to rise. Traffic was not an issue. My mind was reviewing the morning's dream. Two points of light in the middle of the road, low to the ground, snapped me out of my lazy review. Animal eyes, yellow-green in my headlights, were moving back and forth. The size and shape of the shadow in the road told me it was a raccoon. A raccoon in trouble.
As I slowed down, I saw the raccoon was writhing on it's back, trying to right itself with flailing forelegs. I sucked in my breath, hard, and spewed out expletives. The bandit was suffering. And there was nothing for me to do. Had the eyes belonged to a cat, I would have been out of my car in flash, scooping it up. But raccoons carry rabies, and I am not equipped to end an animal's life, so I drove on.
I detest suffering. It hurts my heart. And so I began to pray. I asked all Universal agents at large to attend to the bandit in the road. I asked for its highest, most gentle good to be done. I asked for its ability to crawl off the road or its swift death. Whichever was more merciful. I prayed all the way to work, knowing it was the best I could do, then I turned my attention away.
After a short work day and completed errands, I drove home along Route 5. I had to see what mercy had delivered. There, straddling yellow lines in the middle, was my bandit. Flat on its back, forelegs stretched up to its head, belly exposed to the afternoon light. I stopped my car. When traffic had cleared, I walked to the yellow lines and said, "I'm here now. I came back to help". And with that, I picked it up by its tail and walked it over the side of the road. It was not quite stiff when I laid it down on winter grass under a tree. It's teeth and paws were covered in blood, but it had not been crushed. Nor would it be. I covered it with branches that arcked over its belly and told it it's life was a gift and a blessing to this planet. I told it suffering was done and peace was all it would know. I said, "bless you, little one" and walked away.
In exchange for honoring its death, the raccoon spoke to me as I drove home. It told me that its medicine, its symbolic energy, was that of the mask. The mask has many applications for transformations, healings and rituals. All for positive purposes. But in my case, the mask was inhibiting. In my case, the mask I wear is hiding my true self. And without living my truth for all to see, the bandit told me I would never know the happiness I longed for. I would never know the full joy of expressing my life's purpose. The bandit told me I am half way between 2 lives. I am on the yellow lines and now is the time for me to make the choice. Remove the mask and walk proudly to the other side of the life I was born to live, or stay stuck in the middle, still wearing the mask of the life I have outgrown.
Today, I am holding the mask in my hands. Tomorrow, with the help of a raccoon spirit, I hope to leave the mask on winter grass under a tree.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Christmas Wish For You

This Christmas, if you have lost someone dear to your heart, I wish for you 3 moments of peace amid the sadness. Just 3 small moments where the pain recedes and the presence of your loved one is palpable in the glow of white lights.

This Christmas, if you are alone, I wish for you the knowledge that God is always with you. Stillness and candle flame and a quiet mind will invoke for you whispers in your heart that confirm your worth and love-ability. Be still until you hear "I love you, Child" at the very edges of your awareness. Know you are never truly alone.

This Christmas, if you spend it with family, forgive everyone their foibles and dare to see them as individual human beings doing their best to live a valued life. Just one day of removing judgements and "shoulds" and expectations, just one short day of seeing them exactly as they are, will produce miracles. In you.
This Christmas, if you receive everything on your list, or you receive nothing on your list, or you had no list to begin with, I wish for you the most over-looked and critical gift that exists. Your breath. And its continued flow. Without your breath and the life-animating force it carries, you would have no lists to enjoy or aspire to or choose to never write.

Breathe deep the scents of the season. Breathe deep the love that time and space cannot erase. Breathe deep the God-force within and around you. Breathe deep the miracle of forgiveness. This Christmas, inhale love. Exhale peace.

{Ornament image is a stock photo}

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid to open your heart. Do not be afraid to give generously. Do not be afraid to go against the grain, live with abandon and march to your own drummer, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Their discomfort is not your responsibility. Nor is it yours to soothe by plucking the wings that seek to lift your heart into its own wild spaces.

Do not be afraid to live as God made you. You are sacred in Its eyes. You are perfect in Its heart. You are Its hoped for and longed for answer to Love. Love expressed without reservation. Love expressed with gust and glory and glee. Do not hold back. Do not shrink before opportunity. Breathe, center and walk boldly into your wild spaces. Fill them up with your one-and-onlyness. Share them with those able and willing to see clearly your truth and your shimmer. Encourage others to find their own wildness, their own open and generous love.

The world is waiting for you. God is supporting you. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Follow Your Dreams

I am not a plant person. My existing plants survive me. My neglect. My indifference. My poor choices for placement. The terror of feline teeth is a constant tremor rippling through the secret lives of my plants~ violets, spathes, ivy and lucky bamboo alike.
Then came my fascination with potted orchids. The purchase. The pleasure. The seemingly proper placement.
Then came the dream. 2 months ago, as my first potted orchid was at the height of its bloom, all 3 of my African violets, (the oldest of whom is 10, the youngest of whom is 5) came to me in an early morning dream. They pleaded with me to move them from the north window perch in my studio to the shelf in the living room that held the orchid. A north window as well.
Because I pay attention to my dreams, I moved the trio. Instantly, the atmosphere in my living room felt...happier. The spot on the floor beneath the north window became my new favorite place to read magazines, meditate and sip rose petal tea.
The blooms on the orchid waned and fell to the foot of its pot. But color was not lost. Beauty was not lost. The baton was simply being passed with each bloom that fell. It passed to the violets. And they responded. For the first time in their familial lives, all three of my violets began to bloom at the same time.
To encourage them, I have purchased a new orchid. Its blooms are unfurling like butterfly flags. But it's the wee velvet blooms that are singing to me and doing their part to hold happiness at a palpable level in my home. It's the wee velvet blooms that have brought me the most beauty, the beauty of truth which is this: If you follow your dreams, your life will blossom. Threefold.

Ode To Autumn

Autumn in Western New York state. My favorite time of year.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Difficult, Wonderful Year

This has been a difficult year. Little deaths, shattered illusions, foibles played out in center stage. The known has become unknown, answers have dissolved into questions, colors have bled together and layered themselves into shades I don't recognize. There is the undercurrent of change in this difficult year, a sense of being prepared for something I can't quite put my finger on. But that something is looming with sweet-scented breath just outside my window. The window that has yet to open.
I know I will look back on this year with gratitude and see that it was filled with opportunities for grace, and that despite the angst and the emotional tumult, I took those opportunities and turned them into future splendor.
As this difficult, wonderful, purposeful year winds itself down into memory and dust, I am left with two phrases playing over and over in my wakeful mind: "Do not give up 20 feet from the finish line" and " If you focus your energy and attention on something beneficial long enough, it will bear fruit. Fruit that sweetens breath."
I will carry those phrases with me, pasted to a locket and held over my heart, as the last few weeks of the difficult year melt into new beginnings, and the latch on the window is finally released.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Trinity

It comes down to this. Every human being~ young, old, and all ages in between~ wants 3 things. These 3 things are not found in holiday catalogs. They are not found on eBay. They are beyond the reach of the dollar, the yen and the euro. They are, quite frankly, priceless. They are needful. They can possibly make or break a life, depending on the circumstances at the time of the giving or withholding of these 3 things. The trinity is this: every human being wants to be appreciated. Every human being wants to be understood. Every human being wants to be loved.
We all seek these 3 forms of acceptance everywhere we go and in everything we do. This trinity, when felt and received, creates a stability and a support that allows us to relax and express our true God-given essences. When one or all aspects of the trinity is withheld, overlooked or deemed unimportant in the daily round of our lives, a film of sadness clings to our hearts. We cease to operate at our fullest potential. We are visited by depression and illness and general unease. We no longer shine.
But we forge ahead as best we can. We keep showing up... until one never-hoped-for day, when our wells are dry and dusty from lack of appreciation or understanding or love, we simply give up. Our souls lose the spark that fueled the fires of the Divine within. On that day, the day when a human spark becomes ash, angels weep.

There are alot of weeping angels right now. Deep pools of tears mark the critical point we are at in the tide of human development. We have choices to make. And they need to be made soon.

First and foremost, we must choose to appreciate ourselves,understand ourselves and give love to ourselves. If we know how to give to ourselves, we can easily give the same to others. We cannot give what we do not have within us. From this point, as our own wells fill, we can seek to understand other points of view. We can become aware enough to appreciate the smallest gestures from the people around us and we can voice our appreciation. We can offer love in simple ways~ a touch, a smile, a silent prayer for healing or well being.
It is up to us, individually and collectively, to keep the shine in humanity. It is up to us to stop breaking lives and start making lives better. How do we do this? We choose to tend to the trinity of human needs. We choose to acknowledge the gifts we each bring to the table. We choose to change our world through understanding, appreciation and love.

{The 3 lambs are a stock photo image}

Thursday, November 22, 2007

To Be Thankful

There is so much to be thankful for. Wind. Rain. Soap. Tea. The list is quite literally endless. Or so it should be. In the darkest days, in the fullest days, in the days that test our capacity to be civil, in every moment there is something to be thankful for.

A happy life, a life that supports and nurtures us, is dependent upon our ability to notice and acknowledge the plethora of gifts we receive. A happy life requires thank yous for the unsung, often dismissed miracles of everyday living. Hot water for showers, electricity for cooking and lighting and blogging, mittens without holes and mittens that served us long enough to manifest holes, lettuce and beans and granny smith apples that somehow appear on market shelves and wait patiently to be purchased, cars that start, friends who support us. A thought or a soft whisper of "thank you" for each of these things and the million more that enfold our days will change the course of our lives. Always for the better.

It is not a matter of rolling our eyes and sighing, " I suppose I ought to be thankful for this shoelace that did not break while tying it", it is a matter of truly feeling grateful, in our guts, for the gifts of each moment. There is no fakery in thankfulness. We mean it or it doesn't count. Period.

And the test? The true test to ensure our continued happy lives? Muster up gratitude in the midst of grief, hard times, empty wallets, hurt feelings, misunderstandings that ruin relationships, floods, illness and general crap that gets under our skin. In all adversity lies golden opportunity and bounty waiting to be uncrusted. A sincere thank you, a thank you with the knowledge behind it that the mess we are in is meant to reveal our most beautiful essences, will shorten the duration of any hell. A sincere thank you unlocks and reveals the reasons for the messy seasons.

But, trust me, we need to start being thankful for the hot water and the mittens before we can move on to sincerely appreciating our hellish messes. We need to practice being thankful for the ordinary miracles. The more we find to be thankful for, the more buoyant our spirits will become. Let's change the course of our lives. Get happy. Say thank you.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It Is Enough

Today, it is enough. It is enough to know the sun awoke. It is enough to know my waning cats stayed one more day. It is enough to know I am loved.
I lack nothing today. Money, food, praise, warmth. Large amounts of anything hold no meaning. The right amount, the balanced amount, the amount I can fully use today, it is all here. I lack nothing today. Tomorrow, regardless of my mood, I will lack nothing as well.
I am cared for and I care for others. I give and I receive. I speak and I am silent. Water flows. Leaves blow. Clouds roll in and out. It is enough.
There is no wanting. There is no yearning. Passion settles. Peace floats. My walk is grounded, steady. I am loved. And it is enough.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Her Marrakesh

Do yourself a favor. Click on this link: From there you will find the most tantalizing glimpse into the world of Morocco, from the design-savvy viewpoint of an American woman living and blogging in Marrakesh.
Maryam and her sweet family are building their dreams in the form of a guest house in Marrakesh. It will be known as Peacock Pavilions when the dream has fully manifested. I plan to be a guest in that realized dream because Maryam and her camera have enticed me to fall in love with a land I've never been to. A land filled with colors. A land filled with beauty. A land I can't stop thinking about. All because of Maryam. Her artistic eye and willingness to share the bounty of her adopted home keeps me visiting her blog on a regular basis.

Now, please do me a favor. Maryam's blog has been nominated as a 2007 Weblog Award finalist for Best Middle East/African blog. I want her to win. She inspires me and helps me dream in brighter colors. Votes are needed to accomplish this. Please click on this link to cast a favored vote for My Marrakesh. You can vote once a day, with voting lasting only until November 9th.
My fingers are crossed. Thank you for helping make a little bit of Maryam's dream come true.

Moroccan door photograph: copyright(c) 2007, Maryam of My Marrakesh

Monday, November 05, 2007

All Delightful Conditions

"Cherish your visions;
cherish your ideals;
cherish the music that stirs in your heart,
the beauty that forms in your mind,
the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts~
for out of them will grow all delightful conditions,
all heavenly environment;
of these, if you remain but true to them,
your world will at last be built."

James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Book Obsession

I am madly in love with books. I have spent most of my adult life, however, reading non-fiction. If I was going to spend time reading, I wanted to learn something. An occasional work of fiction would cross my path, but I always returned in the very next selection to non-fiction. Until this year.
This has been my year of falling madly in love with fiction. It began with the loan from a friend of The Expected One, by Kathleen McGowan, back in the spring. By the time I read the 7th Harry Potter in August, the madness had overtaken me. Since Harry, I am simply unable to be without a good work of fiction. Along with meditation, my book obsession is keeping my sanity intact and relieving the stress of 21st century life. I still sneak in some gems of non-fiction, though. Recently, I have been re-reading 2 brilliant, spiritually-based books, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. But the best seller list for fiction has my full-bodied attention.
Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen, was simply fabulous. Every adult should read it. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, (non-fiction) has more folded page corners to mark poignant passages than any other book I've read this year. I found it sacred and sassy and written just for me. But the book that infested my soul and caused me to shirk all responsibility one recent Sunday was The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. It blew me away. Simply blew me away. It made me see how little I know and how blessed my life is and how deeply my soul wants to make a difference in the world.
I took a break after the intensity of The Kite Runner and read The Memory Keepers Daughter, by Kim Edwards. It was my least favorite read so far, but it evened my emotions out in preparation for the newest book I've been coveting, the one I bought today in hard cover because who can wait for the paperback with a book this dynamic and timely? Khaled Hosseini's next little masterpiece, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Do not call me tomorrow. I will not answer. Me and my full box of Kleenex will be otherwise engaged.
After the heat of A Thousand Splendid Suns, these are the tales recommended by my book-loving friends:
Beachcombing at Miramar, by Richard Bode
The Bone Garden, by Tess Gerritson
Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Fallet
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson
A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah
What books would you recommend?

Friday, November 02, 2007

For Sue

Dear Sue,

You are not lost. You are not alone. You are an Angel searching for direction. And you will find it. You will find the avenue, the location, the theater in which to shower your love. The tears are God's signal that your overflowing heart needs an arena to spread its pent up joy. Your heart needs a specific focus to unveil its larger-than-life capacity to offer love and support and hospitality.
When a generous heart needs more room to play, restlessness and dissatisfaction cast shadows over a life too small to contain it. When a generous heart feels the call to serve a higher order, the known life begins to shed its skin in preparation for something more. Something larger. Something that could not be imagined 2 minutes ago, but now calls the heart forward with magnetic urgency.
I do not know what you are being called to do, Sue. But I know for certain your brand of generosity has not gone unnoticed. God has a plan to use you. Love is in short supply around here and He needs all available hands on deck. You heart and your hands have something special to offer this world. Healing, love, faith in the human spirit and even warm cookies. Open your mind. Listen for the cues and look for the clues. You will find your direction, even if you are led by a trail of tears to its threshold.
Fear not. The Angel within you is emerging. Let her wings unfurl. Let her heart grow large. Let her love find its place to flow like a river.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Best Medicine

It was one week ago that love paid a visit. She arrived late and stayed too short a time, but she filled me up and grounded me. She listened to me and cried with me and laughed her resplendent laugh with me as only she can. She is a member of my blood family and my soul family, that rare and precious double gift that unites hearts in unbreakable bonds.
To add to our pact, we are mutual worshippers of the sacred red raspberry and slaves to fine European chocolate. We are women evolving and we support each other's evolution. We have similar dreams of how to uplift a small corner of the world. We are whacked. We are powerful. We are members of the I-don't-give-a-shit-what-you-think-of-me club.
For me, she is the best medicine. xxoo

The Ripening

I'm waiting. And I'm waiting. Then suddenly, there is nothing to wait for. There is only the slow, natural process of ripening and the surrender to it. So much is happening while things, while life is in the process of life. There is so much to do and know and open to as the plan unfolds and rolls and expands. There are books to read and service to be given and the bottomless well of the Self to be reckoned and recognized. There are people everywhere to be loved, animals everywhere to be cared for, beauty everywhere to be embraced.

There is no more waiting for life to begin again, for the soul mate to press himself against my heart, for the creative muse to grace me with her favor. There is only God. And the calmness of this day as I cease to struggle and resist and rail against the slow process of my ripening. There is nothing, I realize, that can be achieved without standing fully and firmly in the presence of God. Nothing of lasting value. Nothing of true worth. Nothing I need bother with unless it comes to me while I am rooted and anchored in the love that is God.

I have stood outside this love for long enough, this love of That which made me. I have stood, waiting to be invited, waiting to be found worthy enough and now, I have chosen to wait no more. I have chosen to march boldly forward and grasp the hand of That which sustains my very breath and allow It to cradle me and lift my heart skyward. I march forward in a seated posture, silent, lit by candle light, heart and hands open. I wait, without waiting, each night for the palpable sensation of my own inner ripening as everything I need to know comes to me, effortless.

There is no more longing. There is no more despair. There is no more fear of missing my cue. There is now only appreciation for the pace of my ripening. Appreciation for the roots that are forming. Appreciation for the warmth of the Love that sustains my breath, and sets before me the banquet of sweets that is my life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bow To Yourself

You, in your sadness, in your darkness, in your fevered 3am lists of all that is wrong...
listen to me.
Lift your eyes from the floor.
Put your hands in prayer over your heart
and bow to yourself.
Bow again.
Whisper clearly to your own ears,
"I love you"
"I am here for you"
"I will never leave you".
You are everything.
Everything you will ever need to live the life
your heart cries out for.
You are complete
and Divine
and perfectly capable of making your dreams come true.
Just as you are in this moment.
Do not believe this...know this.
Know you are goodness.
Know you are valued.
Know your life matters.
Especially to God.
Bow to yourself everyday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Small Gifts

Every day, without fail, the Universe offers us small gifts. No matter what kind of day we think we are having, the gifts are offered, freely. They are ours for the taking, ours for the receiving, ours for the bolstering of happiness. Noticing them is a practiced art, for many are soft and subtle. Swift in their coming and going. Flickers of light in the dark. Today, an uncertain day, I practiced this art of receiving. This art of noticing subtle bounty. It grounded me and calmed me and lit the corners of my heart.

Today, I received another private yoga lesson. I received the cleansing breaths and deep-tissue stretches meant to clear out trapped chi. I noticed the smile of the man in the white van who let me cross the street in front of him. I noticed the unhurried gestures and calm speech of the veterinarian attending my ill cat. I noticed the unusual calmness with which my cat rode in the car to the animal hospital. I received the exquisite elegance of Arabian horses scampering through pastures near my home. A late robin calling in my yard, the resident black squirrel charging through the grass, gifts ordered from Morocco arriving at my door, kind words read in electronic mail, chilled Austrian chocolate and one ripe pear.

All gifts. All subtle, easily overlooked and taken-for-granted small gifts. Each one fleeting, each one precious, each one meant to expand my heart and increase my joy. I noticed them all. I took them all. And my uncertain day became certain with joy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

For Michael

For my dear friend, Michael, on behalf of the passing of his Beloved Sue~

"For what is to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek
God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of
silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then shall you climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance."
Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, October 07, 2007

After Despair

"After despair, many hopes flourish
just as after rain
thousands of roses open.
Surrender to the Almighty~
and be led into life."
Jelaluddin Rumi

I have lived this year in a mist of despair. It comes, it goes, it comes again. It burns away when sunshine rises, then floats back on silent wings and settles at my feet, obscuring the ground I walk on. Recently, the mist became a fog. The fog was thick with loss and illusions of lack of love. Headlights and streetlights and years of accumulated spiritual light would not shine the fog away, nor open a path that led beyond it. As the fog pressed closer and the dampness of despair became a constant drip, that still, small voice ~the ever-present savior within~ whispered its 11th hour wisdom.

The whisper, the foglight, repeated a passage from a book I read recently: "Go after God like a man whose head is on fire goes after water". It was the only thing left for me to do. The only sane thing left to do. And so I sat down. Literally. On my pink yoga brick cushioned with a blanket, legs crossed in front of me, palms up and open on my knees. I sat for 2 hours the first night. Just sat with my eyes open, looking at the lit green candle on the other side of the room. 6 nights in a row now I have sat on my pink brick. I have gone after God with a passion. The same passion that could not seemingly find a foundation and drew the fog around me, is now fueling the hot, pregnant silence where Creation lives. That silence, I have found, has alot to say.

Sitting in silence, I was told: The greatest longing is for intimacy with one's self. We seek intimacy with others as a portal to our pure essence, our individual expression of God. We seek intimacy with others, in a sometimes addictive manner, because it feels so damn good to be in the presence of our best self, our happiest self. But we cannot expect or need our fix for happiness to be supplied by another. It must come from within. We must learn what it is to be intimate with ourselves, to care deeply for ourselves, to bring ourselves roses. For we are the Beloved we are seeking. We are the chalice that holds the pure, sweet essence that is God. We are the Holy Grail unto ourselves.

In a relationship, when things are going well, we feel our own love shining forth onto the other. It is our own love, shared and poured forth, that gives us the high and the quenching. It is the sensation of the love within us rising up through our veins and flooding itself out into the world that we crave. We crave approval from ourselves, acceptance from ourselves, and unconditional love from ourselves. No one else's love or approval can hold a candle to that of our own. Because when we approve and accept and love, we have drunk from the well within that is God. And there is no other goal in life but to drink deeply and continually from that singular expression of Creation that we are.

When two Beings who are versed in intimacy with the self come together, there does Nirvana lie. There does Heaven sweep over the earth. There does God's Promised Land evolve

It is now the 7th day after despair. My roses are opening and I am allowing myself, through silence, to be led into Life. To go after God. To quench my thirst with my own love.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have a dream. It lives in the colors of my aura and the cells of my blood. It is the deepest calling of my soul. It is a dream that flows to my conscious awareness now and then to remind me its presence lives within me. To remind me it is waiting to be born. To remind me that faith and trust and love of self are the corner-stones of its manifestation. My dream, my cell-deep, soul-deep dream is to offer Sanctuary.

My Soul Sanctuary, which will belong, in the larger sense, to any and all who come, will be a place of calm and peace and healing for those who are experiencing a transformation in their lives. For those in need of healing from wounds of all levels: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. For those who need to recover or uncover their truth and purpose in life.
Because Nature is a critical element in the healing process of any and all ills, my Soul Sanctuary will be nestled amongst trees and meadows and fingers crossed~ a large pond. The animal barn will be well stocked with fur and soft eyes and eager tongues ready to offer the brand of healing only unconditional creatures of God can offer. Arabian horses, feisty ponies, cats and dogs and pygmy goats and Sanctuary Ambassador, Rosebud the black sheep.
There will be little out-buildings scattered throughout the Sanctuary, ready to accept those who need solitude, contemplation or healing for an hour, a day or a week. Some little sacred spaces will offer comfort for those of a particular faith, some will offer comfort with non-secular themes. A central building will offer the opportunity for community. Classes and council and occasions for joy will be served up on a regular basis.
I can see my dream so clearly because I can see the need for healing humanity so clearly. Those who actively seek to be healed from the invisible wounds of Life have few safe places to go. I dream of building at least one safe and sacred place to facilitate the recovery of hope and trust and love in an individual's soul. Because the healing of our planet and the balancing of our human race will happen one person at a time. One soul at a time. Until a critical mass of healed humans is reached and our planet becomes a Living Sanctuary.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Double Infinity

This is what 88 looks like. This is the current life of a creative powerhouse, born in Northern Germany in 1919. This is my Oma, Luise. This woman, who raised 3 small children during WW2 while her husband fought and died, is a Renaissance woman. Is an artist. Is a woman who doesn't give up. Don't think I'm not counting my blessings about the gene pool I swim in.
At 88, Oma spent 3 days preparing and planting the garden on the side of her house, just as she has for decades. At 88, Oma knits and embroiders with the fervor of someone half her age. At 88, Oma bends orchids and lady slippers and every indoor flowering plant to her will, keeping them in bloom for up to 6 months straight or coaxing successive shoots for years on end. At 88, God bless her, Oma can still serve up a sit-down dinner for 12. (Guests and family are required to wash the dishes. By hand, of course.)
And now, at 88, my Oma is famous. For at least 15 minutes, or until the November issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine hits the stands. You see, inside the covers of the October 2007 issue of MSL magazine, on page 115, you will find Oma's delectable recipe for her family-famous Quince Cake. On that proud page is a photo of the completed cake and the recipe beneath, titled: "Luise's Quince Cake". Today, at afternoon tea, on behalf of her daughter's birthday, Oma served up that to-die-for torte with freshly whipped cream and just the right amount of fall's little-known fruit. I restrained myself, with much effort, to one piece.
What's the secret of a going-strong 88 year old Renaissance woman, I ask her? Keep moving, she says. Stay involved with family and friends of all ages. Create something each day: a few rows of stitches, a new recipe, a clean room. And let yourself be loved.
All photos copyright(c) 2007 Graciel, and used with permission from Oma.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Postcards and Time

Back at the beginning of August, I happily signed up for an international postcard swap offered by an Artist in England. Just the jump-start I need to get my creativity circulating,I thought. I was assigned 9 names and addresses. I pledged to create original postcards for each and send them off by the end of that month. 6 to American addresses, 1 to England, 1 to The Netherlands, and 1 to Australia. It didn't happen. My creative circulation was dammed.
The postcards made for me from the other participants started to trickle in. Beautiful creations with sage advice and quotes from the likes of Paul Cezanne, Anais Nin and Leonardo Da Vinci. One even arrived with 3 specially-selected-for-me tarot cards sewn together: 10 of cups, 9 of pentacles and the Queen of Staffs. Still, my scissors and my paints would not beckon. It was as if someone had closed the door on my imagination and taken the key with them. Mild guilt and embarrassment would not even prod me into action.
As the agreed upon completion date came and went, slowly I wandered to my studio table. I cut out the postcards from 140 lb. watercolor paper and dabbled with my paints. A week went by. I cut out some printed images from original photos, laid them on the painted paper, and another week went by. I found the image of a clock from a 1943 American school book, and suddenly, it was time. Time to circulate, time to assemble, time to get my ass in gear.
At the exact right time for me, everything fell into place. The postcards were unexpectedly effortless. And the theme for all of them became "time". I wrote a different message on the back of each one such as, "Whatever you have been afraid to do, now is the time to get it done". I was pleased with my efforts. I lovingly put them in envelopes, held each one to my heart and said a prayer for the highest good of each recipient. I mailed them. 3 weeks late and right on time for me.
The day I mailed them, I received the last of the 9 postcards meant for me. A simple and beautiful card from The Netherlands. On the back was a quote from my favorite Sufi Poet, Rumi. It said,
"Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious."
More perfect words for me, right on time, could not have come.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Empty Heart

To be filled, something must first be emptied. A bucket, a bath tub, a bank account, a heart. Nothing truly fresh and fulfilling can flow into an already full space. Especially if the space is mired in stale energy, standing water, or stifling thoughts. Measures must be taken to dump, pour out and empty the vessel of all that stands in the way of new vibrations, new abundance and higher levels of happiness.

A bucket and a bath tub are fairly easy vessels to clear out. A bank account, less easy, if a fresh supply of abundance is not waiting directly in the wings. A heart, less easy still, depending on the length of years it has beat and the traumas it has endured. But the heart is the most needful of all vessels to be emptied, if Life is to continuously offer up its jewels and its succulence. A full heart can no longer take in additional Life. A full heart can no longer take in a finer quality of air. A full heart can no longer recognize uncommon opportunities for love.

The dumping, pouring out and emptying of the heart is messy. Wet. Painful. Exhausting. Seemingly endless once the process has begun. Old thoughts, stubborn obsessions, magician's cloaks, crappy attitudes, stale resentments, refuse of pity-parties, molehills of doubts and soul-shrinking curses against the self are dredged up from the bottom of the vessel. Laid out in all their putrid splendor. Fingered and tasted for current viability. And one by one, by slowly painful one, deemed unfit for further consumption, consideration or space in the vault.

As the heart is emptied, detachment drifts in. As things and people and once-clutched memories are released to the ethers, judgement takes a back seat and impartiality takes the wheel. The more the heart is emptied of its stale view of Life, the more detachment settles in. Until one moment, one brief moment in the process of dumping and pouring, the needle on the gauge swings completely to the left and the heart is rendered empty.

In that brief moment, reached only through wet and mess, a doorway appears. The doorway does not beckon, does not call, does not entice. It merely stands open and allows the heart to understand, if that thresh hold was crossed, if all that was once clung to was left behind, the soul-aspect of the heart, the aspect that never dies, would be okay. It would be happy and free and loved and safe. Everything would be okay.

In the fullness of understanding, in the fullness of complete emptiness, the doorway closes. Calmness drifts in. Somewhere in the background a bell choir strikes a note. A singular peel that echoes and swells into multiple bells and ushers in new vibrations. The heart begins to fill itself, in an unhurried manner, with new abundance. The heart begins to breathe a more refined quality of air. The heart begins to fill itself, in an unhurried manner, with a deeper, more succulent level of Life.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Season Of Yoga For One

Today I felt like a celebrity. I had signed up for yoga classes at a new studio nearby. I arrived at the agreed upon time with my blue mat and bottled water, ready to join a group of fellow students in search of grounding and inner peace. 10 minutes past the agreed upon time, no one else had come. I was alone with the instructor. The Universe had set me up to have a private yoga lesson. Swallowing my awkwardness, I spread out my mat, faced the woman I had only just met and followed her lead. Only the rich and famous have private lessons, I mused to myself. Since I'm far from famous, I decided I must be rich inside.

At the end of almost 2 hours of private instruction, I was richer inside than I had been upon waking. My understanding of the discipline and practice of yoga skyrocketed with each adjustment she helped me make and each side-by-side example she demonstrated. My downward facing dog and my hands-free baby cobra are darn close to perfect now.

As I left the studio, stretched and strengthened, I realized how much I've been doing alone. I realized this has been quite the solitary year, by choice and by chance. And I will admit, some days of solitude and solo practice have been lonely. My zest for group gatherings and company in general has waned. My social mojo has seemingly deflated. Some days this concerns me. Some days I wonder what happened to my zest and my zeal for social engagement. My need and delight in activities with others. My joy in intellectual conversation and stupid humor.

The knowing part of myself, the wise part of myself is, however, not concerned at all. This wise woman within me knows there are seasons. Seasons in nature and seasons in the life of every human animal. This is my season of solitude. This is my season of receiving private instruction from the Universe at large. Because one on one instruction is so much more effective in getting a lesson across. So much more effective for bone-deep, soul-deep, never-forget-this understanding. So much more effective for cementing trust in one's self.

In my season of solitude, God has come closer. Intuition is easier to act on. My need for approval is dying. And my question of what do I really want has a decent chance of finally being answered.

I'm growing rich inside in my season of solitude, my season of concentrated growth. When the next season comes, as it surely will, I will meet it with greater trust and greater strength. I will meet it with less doubt and more ability to welcome and embrace the harvest.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Flying In Paradise

In my world, it is only a one hour drive to paradise. A passport is required to get there, as is a love for entomological masterpieces. Paradise lies in Canada, just over the bridge from western New York State and slightly down river from the Falls called Niagara. Just outside the gates to paradise a sign reads: Butterfly Conservatory. Inside the gates, my heart takes flight.

Upon entering paradise, I am greeted immediately by four large flying flowers in the most electric shade of cerulean blue. I gasp out loud. They flutter around my head and leave traces of themselves in my stomach. Somehow these four flying flowers have pressed on my tear ducts, even though they are known to stay air born. It is part of their magic and purpose in life to remind all who witness them that beauty is food for the soul. Happy tears run down my cheeks. It feels good to be fed.

Not surprisingly, paradise is a tropical place. Water mists, lush foliage and warm temperatures set the stage for a continuous aerial ballet. It is a cast of thousands and intentionally un-choreographed. Each member of the cast is as stunning as the next. Some even thrill the audience by landing on hats and shoulders or nearby leaves. I walk slowly, so slowly along the paths in paradise, drinking in the colors and the shapes and the intricate costume designs.

And then comes the gift. It happens outside the butterfly nursery. I turn away from the marvel of cocoons and damp wings to be graced with the unthinkable. The elusive. The unlooked-for dream. An electric blue flying flower, the 4 1/2 inch wing spanned Blue Morpho, known to remain aloft, lands on my right hand. On top of the silver filigree butterfly ring I'm wearing on my middle finger. I stop breathing for a moment, afraid it will disappear. But it stays. Commotion begins to swirl around me as other seekers in paradise realize a Blue Morpho has landed. I'm rushed by cameras and rudeness as seekers jostle each other to get a shot of my hand.

There is no option for me to capture this moment, as my camera is held in the hand holding the masterpiece. It doesn't matter. Amid the minor chaos, the Blue Morpho and me have a conversation. I thank it for blessing me with its presence. I tell it how gorgeous I think it is. I thank it for staying. In response, the electric blue flower wiggles its antennas, looks me in the eye and says,"I am you, and you are me". With that, my hand is jostled and the flower flies on.

I linger in paradise, soaking in the glories that God has created. I linger in paradise, imagining my cerulean wings , damp and unfurling, lifting me skyward. I linger in paradise, one hour and one country away, balancing my mind, warming my heart, and feeding my soul.