Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Wisdom Within

I am a work in progress. I write electronic letters to myself to serve as guideposts for times I might veer off course. For times I might need a lamp in the dark. For times I forget who I am. Because I write about something does not mean I've mastered the subject. It means I am aware of the importance of the subject. It also means I am aware of the need to capture the wisdom within as it flows from my heart to my unskilled typing fingers. Because everything I need to know lies within myself.

The statistical scores for the 1968 World Series will not be found within me, but everything that is truly of value to live a balanced and blissful life will be. The information bubbles to my conscious awareness and I am compelled to record it, knowing I will forget the poignant information, the clarifying information just when I need it the most. I take dictation from my wise-wired heart and store it within reach for the times I can't seem to punch my way out of a ripped paper bag. For the times I am marred in self-pity. At those times, my wisdom within, my compass, my heart seem faulty. Cloudy. Non-existent. When I need the information God has stored in my being the most, I usually fail to access it. So my motto echoes that of the Boyscouts: Be prepared.

My letters to myself serve to remind me that healing is a slow, but steady process. That responsibility for the flow of goodness into my life is mine. That love is the answer to every question I might have. Because my life's journey evolves in a spiral formation, where lessons are learned in layers and sometimes appear to repeat themselves, my letters often help me in the moment and help me again 3 months from that moment. The wisdom within, stored in my heart, knows the right time to set me down at the keyboard and rattle off a needful notion. It knows what is coming down my spiral path and how far in advance the information must be gleaned. The wisdom within knows exactly what I'll need to weather any storm.

And so I write.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Emotional Tour

Intellectually speaking, I know emotions are the key to a passion-filled life. I know emotions are the key to creativity. I know emotions are the key to opening the heart. Unfortunately, my emotions are currently stifled. Held at bay. Dry as dust. What this means is my desire to create art is blocked, my culinary interest is weak and my heart is gated. If I don't do something to jump-start the flow, my emotional dam will burst on its own in an uncalled-for moment. I can see it happening in the Mega-Mart while shopping for toilet bowl cleaner. "We need a cleanup in aisle 14B. Bring the mop. It's a river."
Emotions are what usher in beauty and usher in love. The most eloquent music vibrates with emotion, the most breathtaking art is a still-frame of emotion, the most passionate kiss is emotion unleashed. The emotional has nothing to do with the intellectual, which makes it uncomfortable for me. However, if I claim to want more love in my life, if I claim to want more passion in my life, it's high time I get over my discomfort. It's high time I do whatever it takes to let the dam burst and get over myself.
What I am in need of is emotional healing and, Sweet Mother of God, it can't be done alone. Not fully and not to the depths needed to usher in the love. It takes a witness. And it takes the courage to ask for the witness. It requires vulnerability and willingness. On everyone's part.
Because my soul is craving a deeper understanding of love, a deeper experience of love, my emotional tour of healing begins today. With one witness to start and eight more to follow. Am I nervous? You bet. But I can't live anymore with the fears that block my emotional life. I can't live anymore with my feelings held at bay and my creativity crushed down. I surrender. Release the river and let the fears be washed away. Ungate my heart and let love sail on in.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The World of Rumi

I was dead, then alive.

Weeping, then laughing.

The power of love
came into me,
and I became
fierce like a lion,
then tender like
the evening star.

{Jelaluddin Rumi, one of my favorite poets, was born in 1207 in what is present day Afghanistan. It is the 800th anniversary of his birth. Look for more of his ecstatic words here throughout the year.}

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Soul Food

This is my favorite meal on planet earth. This is German Soul Food. This is Pfutchens and Wine Soup. Waistlines be damned, clogged arteries be damned, when the call goes out in my family that my beloved Oma is making the meal of meals you can bet your life I will show up at her dining room table. You can bet your life I have eaten very little else beforehand to allow for proper gorging. If I have a date with you, if your goldfish is dying, if you think you need me to help you through some crisis in your life, rest assured, if pfutchens and wine soup are suddenly on the menu, you and your date, you and your flushable goldfish, you and your crisis will be unceremoniously dropped like a hot potato. With no apologies. I'm that selfish about soul food.

The meal is ingenious. You get to eat dessert first. Trans-fats, white sugar and alcohol make up the better part of the first course. Hot wine soup is made up of a bottle of white wine and loads of dried fruit. It is the nectar of the Gods and the cure-all for constipation. Pfutchens (the "p" is silent) are deep fried balls of dough. Fried in Crisco. Here's the beautiful part: you eat the wine soup and pfutchens at the same time, both piping hot. Load a pile of sugar on your little plate and dip each hot dough ball into the pile, being sure to over-coat it, and bite off as much as you can chew. Swallow. Smile. Dip your spoon into the bowl of alcohol and slurp it down. Swoon. Repeat process until your pants must be unbuttoned.

The second course is equally ingenious. It's salty breakfast. Fried potatoes, onions, turkey bacon and eggs all scrambled together to perfectly balance out the sugar-rush in your system. This is cholesterol heaven. At this point, zippers are becoming an issue on your pants.

If this meal is being served up by an old-school German, there will be a third course. Traditional dessert. Likely some outrageously sinful torte with whipped cream topping. Despite difficulty in breathing and muffled groans being uttered at the table, I recommend soldiering onward and finishing the last morsel. Only then can you claim to have spent an evening at the Gastronome's Paradise Diner. Only then will you understand why I left you crying on the phone and waiting in the rain at the show.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Letter Of Worth

{A friend of mine has been going through a most difficult time. Her story is familiar and applicable to many of us. After getting out of an abusive marriage, this beautiful mother eventually met a man who swept her off her feet, declared his love, made plans with her... And walked away, leaving her heart shattered for the second time. She asked for my advice on what to do and how to get over the pain. This was my response.}

My Dear Friend,

I do hope you feel a bit better now that you've spilled your heart. For myself, just being able to speak my truth is a freeing exercise. I'm happy to listen and I hope I can help.

What I want to say has nothing to do with Jack or your ex husband. I understand the angst of the situation, as I have been down that road myself. But let's take the man/men out of it. Let's focus on you.

Meeting someone when you are vulnerable and in need of validation is always a recipe for disaster. If it wasn't Jack, it would have been any man who told you how pretty you are, how smart you are, how good you make him feel. No matter who came into your life, when you are feeling bad about yourself and doubting your worth as a woman, you would end up getting hurt. Men are not the antidote for women in doubt, women in personal crisis, women whose self-esteem has been abused out of them. The answer to healing and mending and regaining self respect is the company and empathy of other women. I speak from experience. If you can find a women's support group, I would recommend that option highly. I spent 10 years with a group of women, meeting and calling regularly, just to regain and perhaps, find for the first time, my self esteem. My value. My worth as a woman. This is impossible to find in the company of a man. You must bring these self-values to a relationship, never try to find them in it.

If you do not bring self-respect to a relationship, the man will end up not respecting you. The bitter truth is, we are all the authors of our own reality. If we are cruel and verbally abusive to ourselves ( because we have been taught to do so), we will sure-as-shit attract a man who agrees with how we treat ourselves, and eventually he will treat us in kind. It is a natural law.

So, what about Jack? Mourn as deeply as you can. Rock yourself to sleep saying his name outloud. Cry buckets. Just GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM. Hold nothing back in purging the sorrow. Do not soldier on if that is betraying your core essence. Do not need to be his friend if it is too painful. BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND FIRST! Jack's gift to you, for coming into your life and then rejecting you, is to point out, loud and clear, where you need to shore up your own mistreatment of yourself. Everywhere he "done you wrong" is exactly where YOU "done you wrong" to start. He can only mirror back to you what you think of yourself and broadcast to the world. Never do more for a man than he does for you. NEVER!

You must figure out how to heal yourself before you can truly find love. You must give love to yourself over and over until it is a habit. Treat yourself as you do your babies. If you have nowhere to start, no idea where to turn for a support group of sorts, get on your knees and ask God to give you definite signs of where to go and who to ask. Then watch carefully for the signs, because without fail, they will appear. Without fail.

I recommend strongly the following books to heal your Soul:

A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

In that order.

You will get over Jack. My favorite line in the movie, The Joy Luck Club is: "Losing him does not matter. It is YOU who will be found and cherished".

Have self respect. Drop all communication with him, if that is what you need to do to heal yourself and move towards wholeness. The only life that matters here is YOURS. No one else's. Heal yourself and you will grant your children the single best gift they could ever receive from you.

With love,

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Cooking Goddess

It was unnatural. My co-workers Don and Gene spent a day this past week talking about cooking and sharing recipes. Because there are only 3 of us in this department at work, I was privy to their ongoing conversation. Two men going on and on and blasted on about cooking, and me with the glazed-over look and the eye rolls. I finally walked out of the room, only to return later to the sound of the culinary drone marching on. Something about Indian food and the perfect sauce for tentacles. Or whatever.

Then co-worker Sue trots into our department with a tupperware dish of foul-smelling stew. Turns out it was squirrel stew, compliments of co-worker Rob and his penchant for killing things. Thoroughly repulsed, I directed Sue to the websites for Rodent Eaters Anonymous and Dead Squirrels For Jesus. I told her if she came to the door with Possum Pie, she would be banned for life.

None of this was helpful in resurrecting my interest in cooking. It's not that I can't cook, it's not that I'm a bad cook and I have had moments of inspired brilliance in the kitchen, but I seem to be caught in an extended void of unbridled disinterest in food. At least, if I have to make it. Things that pop out of wrappers and right into my mouth are highly prized. I have found chocolate and cheese to be particularly good and evil friends.

But this can't go on. It's time for drastic measures. It's time for this Cooking Goddess to strap on the power-apron and call in the big-guns for help. Enter Saint Martha, Patron Saint of Cooks, who showed up miraculously after the squirrel stew incident. (Luckily, rodent is not in her recipe rollodex.) She has taken a thorough inventory of my culinary accoutrements and deemed me a not-quite-hopeless-cause. Praise be. "O blessed St. Martha, I beseech thee to help me step back from the brink of culinary oblivion and guide me down the road of the Good-Enough-Gourmet. Amen."

Embarrassingly, I have 47 cookbooks in plain view in my kitchen. I have a year's worth of Cooking Light magazines from 2004, barely touched and gathering dust under my kitchen window. After reviewing my library, St. Martha decided to start me off with the ever-reliable Better Homes & Gardens Junior Cookbook for the Host and Hostess of Tomorrow. Circa 1955. Tonight's delight will be "nipper tuna casserole", with the helpful tip that asparagus is a tasty "go-with" for tuna. Say it with me now...Yummy.

St. Martha promises to help reignite my passion for cooking. Or at least keep me from eating cereal for dinner. What's the carrot-on-the-stick she's dangling to help me to stick to her plan? It's the recipe on pg. 67 for Raspberry Jam Tartlets and the Saintly advice that aprons double as lingerie.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Search For Beauty

I am addicted to beauty. I search for it everywhere. And I almost always find it. I look for it in unusual places, in unexpected places, in places where beauty is not thought to reside. I like to search for beauty in the grey, muddy days of the fallow season. It is an exercise in present-moment awareness and seeing acutely. It is an exercise in slowing down time to notice the nuances. Because beauty is subtle and secretive when sunshine is scarce and colors are soft.

I find beauty in chipping paint and rusted chains, mudhole reflections and moss-covered rocks. Graffiti shines brightest without solar assistance. Leathered wood has more character in rain. Luckily, I have an artist's eye and see masterful compositions in leaf-muck. I see breathtaking contrast in lichen on bark. I see legions of bare trees as salve for the soul.

Beauty cannot be seen through the eyes of depression, the eyes of anger and the eyes of self-pity. I search for beauty as an antidote to the sometimes compelling desire to sink below the surface. I search for beauty to remain buoyant in times of cloudiness and stress. My search for beauty is, in essence, a needful exercise to keep my heart open and keep the blood of my compassion flowing. If I can see beauty in the most mundane and indifferent circumstances, I know my heart is aligned with Higher Forces. If I can see beauty, I know my heart and not my brain is guiding me through my days.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I found Jesus. At the Chat'N Stand in Akron, New York. And lucky me, it's the Feast of Epiphany. How do I know this? Because Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar were just about to present their gifts when I pulled up. Frankly, I felt like a party-crasher, but the Little Guy invited me to join the celebration.

Baby Jesus seemed quite at home in his ramshackle creche. Evidently, there are more important issues to be addressed than 4 walls, central heat and rusted buckets hanging from the ceiling. He seemed much more interested in discussing the concepts of the day at hand. January 6th, in the Christian calendar, is the day Jesus was revealed as the Christ to the Gentiles. Not being strongly affiliated with any particular religion, I had some questions and concerns. Being the patient and merciful type, Baby Jesus indulged me.

Despite the fact the Little Guy had no footy-PJs to keep him warm on this blustery day, we had a heart-to-heart conversation right out in the open. We spoke mainly of the idea of the Christ, which means "the anointed or chosen one". It is the phrase that defines the collection of Divine ideas for humankind. Ideas of intelligence, joy, substance, strength and above all love. Baby Jesus had been chosen to blaze the trail and be a living example of these Divine ideas. He was to demonstrate the possible perfection inherent in every member of the human species when God's Truth was known and embraced.

When I mentioned my desire to explore the religious ideas of the world and find the foundations of love in each, Baby Jesus started wiggling with joy and bouncing on his Mother's lap. He told me perfection, or perfect love, lies at the core of all major religions. He told me the true church or mosque or synagogue or temple is not made of creeds and books. Nor does it lie in halls of wood and stone. The true church, the true foundation of love, lies within the heart of every man and woman. It lies in the willingness of each heart to express kindness and mercy and compassion , first and foremost to itself, and then to all others. When enough hearts can give their best effort and walk the talk of perfect love, when enough hearts have personal epiphanies of the glory residing within them, the world will bask in the collective Christ light. And the human species will realize, it has always been chosen.

As the celebration wound down, and I readied myself to leave, I apologized to Baby Jesus for not having a gift to present. He cooed and smiled and told me the only gift He would like from me is the willingness to follow my heart and the willingness to live from my heart. It is the most valuable gift I will ever give.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Attics Of My Life

In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eyes can see
When there was no ear to hear
You sang to me.

I have spent my life
Seeking all that's still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me.

In the book of Love's own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me.

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets are all told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me.

{Lyrics by: Robert Hunter
Infamous lyricist to the Grateful Dead}

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Color My World

Every thought I have colors my world. Every thought I have creates my world. Every thought I have is a living entity, defining my reality and charting my days. I need to be careful what I think. I also need to be careful what I say. Because thoughts and spoken words have power. Power to attract or repel everything that exists or does not exist in my life. Who I am, where I live, what I have and who is in my life, in this moment, is a culmination of my thoughts and words. Is a culmination of a story I have told myself over and over and over. It is the same for you.

In the beginning of anything is the word, spoken outloud or thought in the mind. This word or group of words will define the bones of reality and hold it in place until the word or group of words is changed through conscious choice. An example of this would be the amount of money we have in our lives at any given time. If we find ourselves flush and easily able to attract money, it is because we think we deserve money, we declare we deserve money and we therefore behave as if we will always have money. And so we do. We create the magnetic attraction for money to continually flow into our lives through our thoughts.

Conversely, if we find ourselves constantly lacking and struggling for money, it is because we have told ourselves over and over and over, in one form or another, we don't deserve money, money is hard to come by or we literally repeat outloud to all who will hear us, "We have no money, we have no money, we have no money". And so we don't. We create the constant lack through constant reinforcement in our minds and in our speech.

Our thoughts and words create our relationships and the quality of them. They create our level of happiness and its sustainability. They create our good days and our bad.

If we find ourselves in situations not to our liking, we have a choice. The choice and the responsibility to change our minds. Change our thoughts. Change our words. We are not victims. We are at the mercy of no one. We are empowered through the choice of thoughts we think in our minds. We are empowered by the choice of words we speak to the world and the words we speak to ourselves. We must choose to change those thoughts and words that created the bones of our current reality. We must choose words that support what we truly want. We must think them incessantly. We must speak them incessantly. Until our realities shift and our quality of life rises. "I deserve. I can. I am. I will. I have." All powerful beginnings to thoughts of a positive nature. Thoughts of a life-altering nature.

We must become aware of the countless times in a day we begin our thoughts or words with, " I can't" or "I don't have". We must banish from our internal dialogue the words, "loser" or "stupid" or "idiot". If we truly want to live the golden life, we must color our thoughts and words with more positive choices. We must practice. We must have patience. We must know we have the power to think and speak the life we deserve into being. We can and must create the new story.

{Thank you to Alexandre, the French Wizard of Paint Shop, for my colorful portait!}

Monday, January 01, 2007

Flowers For Lisa

My Dearest Friend,

Peace will come.

Peace will come.

Peace will come.

Until then, I send you orange roses and Angels.

Love to you,

Welcome 2007

Do you feel it? I surely do. This is going to be a good year. An interesting year. A year of positive forward movement. This is a year to journey within while moving about. This is a year to hone self-respect and allow more love to flow. This is a year to invoke creativity, in all areas of life. This is a year, no, this is the year to lighten loads and uncomplicate lives. The journey to a better personal world begins today. Look around, the maps are already being drawn up. The compass is housed in the heart.

My personal map for 2007 began at 12:01am with an awe-inspiring fireworks display seen from the comfort of my living room. 1/2 a block away, in the Village park of Akron, a 20 minute booming light show exploded over my neighborhood. It was pouring rain, so yes, there will likely be tears this year, but more tears of joy than sadness. More light than darkness. More color. More thrills. More mile-wide smiles.

The map continued to unfold shortly after waking this morning. Raindance, my cat in ca-hoots with Angelic messengers, sent yet another breakable object crashing to the floor. Upon inspection, it turned out to be my favorite teapot. It was turned upside down in the middle of the kitchen with lid swept off to the side. It was completely intact, with only 1 chip to the lid. I looked at the ceiling and said outloud, "So, you plan on turning my teapot (read: my world) upside down this year? Fine. As long as there's minimal damage and functionality won't be an issue, I shan't protest too much.

This afternoon the map expanded. My life-long friend, whom I've been sadly out of touch with of late, called to wish me a Happy New Year. It was a balm to my soul to hear her voice and catch up on our lives. Thankfully, blessedly friends will play a major role in the coming year for me, with reconnection likely at the top of the list.

This evening, I will purposefully, intentionally expand my map with meditation and prayers to invoke a more awake and aware connection with God as I see It. I will open my heart and ask for guidance to ensure my journey within and without is always for my highest and best. I will ask for Love to light the way in every moment of 2007, and the wisdom and courage to follow that light.

May your year be good and interesting and positive. May you have the strength to embrace a simpler life. May you exercise greater self-respect.

And above all, may you have the courage to open your heart to all opportunities for love. Be vulnerable. Be brave. Let it out and let it in.