Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And So It Goes

Good bye 2008. I will not soon forget you, but I admit, I am happy to see you go. You were both bitter and sweet in equal measure. You tested me, but you never bested me. Within your confines, I was encouraged to let go of many things. Yet in the void left by each release, you brought forth new options, new avenues, new souls. It was up to me to take the newness unto myself, you did not force it upon me. And Dear One, I took it. I took it all; your uncharted territory, your tears and your triumphs.
So bless you, 2008. Bless you for each and every moment you gave me. I am stronger, so much stronger, than I was 365 days ago. My instincts are sharper. My trust in myself has inflated. My understanding of what is important is more clear. The sweet moments you gave me are deeply etched in my heart.
So long. Far well. Thank you kindly. Good bye.

The View From Here 3

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Americans

We Americans are too afraid. We've been brainwashed by a tyrannical administration for 8 long years. We've been told time and again, we are not safe. We've been told the world hates us. We've lost freedoms and rational judgement. We've literally and figuratively barricaded our doors. In the process, we've lost our warm and welcoming heart.
We Americans have been sheltered by 2 vast oceans and 2 benign neighbors. We have also been sheltered by arrogance. We have largely felt superior to the rest of the world, never really finding it needful to understand anyone beyond our borders. Most Americans speak only one language, oftentimes incorrectly. Why would the population of the world's leading country need to bother with others? We are the way-showers, the benchmark, the heralded blueprint of democracy. So why bother with others? Because while we have been cowering in our sleep, the world has awoken.
If America wants to retain its leading edge, it must learn to embrace the rest of the world. We must choose to step down from the high horse we have marched forward on before we are thrown from the saddle. We must choose to actively live as if the rest of the world matters. Because it does. For many reasons. The number one reason being peace. Add to the reasons, our collective safety and our economic solvency.
You know how good it feels when some one understands you as an individual? When some one "gets" you? We call that person a friend. We bond. We enjoy and respect each other. And we stand up for each other. We become each other's protector. All because we can be our true selves with that person, and being ourselves is the greatest longing of our hearts. So apply that feeling on a larger scale. Populations of countries bothering to get to know each other, learning from each other and understanding each other. It all leads to respect and watching each other's backs. Which leads to stability and the flow of money around the globe.
We Americans need to stop being so afraid. We need to wake up to a vibrant world. We need to open our hearts and find ways to connect with human beings beyond our isolating borders, human beings who have so many of the same wants and needs as we do. In welcoming the world, we ensure our collective safety and our financial liquidity. In welcoming the world, in warming our hearts, we add more life to life.
{ This post was inspired by the book, The Post-American World, by Fareed Zakaria. An enlightening, easily understandable look at the reasons for the rise fo the rest of the world.}
For another opinion on the plight of America, go here. It makes sense to me!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To My Friends

In this season of miracles, offerings, and glad tidings; in this season of hope and of birthing new light, I pause to thank heaven and earth for my friends. It is they, in their myriad differences and great beauty, who sustain me. It is they, givers of healing and encouragement, who keep my soul buoyant. Who keep my soul laughing. Who keep my soul this side of sane.
Without my friends, I could not see myself or understand who I am. They give me clarity and courage and comfort. They offer me reflections of the Divine. They are the doorways to my soul's fulfillment. For me, they are the crown-jewel gifts of this season. And all the seasons that follow.
To my nearby friends and my far away friends and my friends of the heart whom I have never met, thank you for offering the only gift I will ever truly need...the gift of the light from your soul.
{Photo courtesy of my friend and toy collector, Don.}

Friday, December 19, 2008

365 Days of Christmas

It's not that I don't like Christmas. I do. The candle light, the cookies, the carols, the gifts with my name on them; it's all very appealing. The love and the warmth and the gathering. Makes for a wonderful life. But the monetary stress, because I never start shopping in June, and the pressure to express how much people mean to me in a condensed time frame, has left me cranky about Christmas.
The pressure to perform and provide every December drains me. I'd much rather spread the love and the presents out over the whole year. I'd rather gather with people I care for when the mood strikes and schedules allow, than the frenzied, blustery, obligatory last 2 weeks of the year. I've kept up the yearly rigor and angst because there never seemed to be a way out. Everybody blindly agrees to the frenzy and so I have gone along on the wild ride. But 6 years ago, when Jean came into my life, the frenzy began to fade.
6 years ago, I was hospitalized for drastic unpleasantness in my intestinal tract. The hope was to be home in time for the annual Christmas Eve uber-extravaganza. On the 23rd, however, all hopes were dashed. I wouldn't make it home for Christmas. How could I miss the frenzy, the food, the love, the warm-fuzzy family gathering? How could I miss Christmas? It was unthinkable.
After a slew of women came and went in the hospital bed next to mine, Jean arrived on the evening of December 24th. She was 72. Four foot eleven. She wore brown shoes. She had trouble breathing. I introduced myself and told her she was not alone. She mumbled thank you and smiled at me.
Jean was only in my life for 3 hours. She choked and stopped breathing when a young nurse came to check on her. A frenzy of activity erupted in our room, with doctors and nurses trying to revive her and 2 lawyers watching the process. I was sitting in the opposite corner, invisible in the mayhem. A do-not-resuscitate order was revealed, and she died. At 9:52pm on Christmas Eve.
While my family ate German confections around a sumptuously decorated table and sang carols in the glow of a candle-lit tree, I sat until midnight in the company of Jean. She, shrouded in the hospital-regulation wrapper for the deceased, still causing the air-compression bed to rise and fall under her weight, and me, shrouded in a new found peace.
Jean helped me realise how ridiculous is the notion of saving up my expressions of love for one season out of the year. That if I miss the season or the day, if I am not present for presents, I miss the opportunity to love. Jean helped me realise the season of Christmas is precious, but really not more precious than any other season. Because in every season and every day lies an opportunity to express how I feel about my friends and family. To celebrate the birth of goodness. To give comfort. To share joy. To offer peace. To invoke the Christ-spirit in my life, if I choose.
So yes, I like Christmas. 365 days of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Light Of Love

Thank you, little flame, for sending my steadfast prayers and petitions to the invisible realms. Thank you for keeping my spirits focused on truth and possibilities. Thank you for your beacon that knows no time or space, and knows the light of love is a force to be reckoned with.
Thank you, little flame, for reaching his heart across the miles. Thank you for sustaining him in difficult moments. Thank you for the stillness you have brought to me, the stillness that channels the whispers of God. Thank you for keeping the path between his heart and mine well lit. And at 2am on day 54 of our vigil, thank you, little flame, for illuminating my soul and my phone with the sunniest, most welcome, "Hi Honey, it's me" of my life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Many Blessings

This morning at work, my friend, Lynn, found a handwritten note addressed to no one and everyone. The 3 1/2"x 4 1/2" slip of paper read:
"Many Blessings,
Please take this as a gift from the Universe. I pray that
it multiplies many times for you and all you love.
This world we live in is a wonderful place. Enjoy it.
With Love."
Shortly after finding the note, Lynn found a folded $20 bill on the floor. When I arrived, Lynn handed me the little note and said it was my turn. When my gift arrived, I was to pass on the note. Within one hour I had passed on the note.
My gift of many blessings was not monetary, nor could a value be placed on it. My gift of many blessings was priceless and powerful. It came from my friend, Sue, the Cookie Contessa who once made me cupcakes to thank me for writing this blog. An hour after I received the little note, Sue thanked me again for giving me my blog as a book. 2 volumes and one on the way at the close of the year. My blog as a 3 volume book. Printed in its entirety, photos and all, and spiral bound. Me, as a book.
I think Sue said she did this to thank me again for writing and something about how much my writing meant to her and my last post had her in tears, but I'm not sure. I was so stunned by the time and the effort and the heart it took to create this blessing for me, I was in the throws of an instant out-of-body experience. I hope and pray when I burst into tears and hugged her tight I said out loud how much I loved her. I hope I expressed my gratitude. But really, it's not possible, when something has touched me so deeply, to express fully my thanks. The effort of this blessing leaves me speechless.
When I arrived home this afternoon, I spread a blanket on the floor, made rose petal tea, put the cookies I had ordered from Sue on a plate and sat down to leaf through 2 years of words. My words, mostly, with smatterings of favorite poems. I had not realised how many words I have written. Words that could not be held back once I defied my own penchant for living in the shadows. And now the words that have poured from my heart can be held against it. For the first time.
I have wanted to write a book. Sue showed me today, I already have. She gave me the visual of my dream to have and to hold, and to give me the courage to continue. So I shall. With an even more grateful heart.
This world we live in is truly a wonderful place. The little note that was passed to me, with its wishes and prayers for Universal gifts, multiplied countless times for me. I am passing the note onto all of you now with wishes for multiplied gifts. Please print it out or write it down and carry it with you until your Universal gift arrives. When it does, and it will, please pass your note to some one else and ask that they do the same. Let's accept our many blessings and spread the love.
{For anyone in the Buffalo area in need of mouthwatering, sinfully delicious holiday cookies, please feel free to contact Sue, the Cookie Contessa at: Her raspberry almond thumbprints are my favorite!}

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gift In Adversity

There is so much opportunity when things are not going well or as expected. It is the difficult times that yield the most flavorful harvest. It is adversity that can throw wide the windows that were thought to be painted shut. In adversity, listen for the call. The call of opportunity for growth and reward and the sweet amidst the bitter. Answer the call, and be born again into a more splendid version of your world.
The call came yesterday for me. It was on behalf of my Mother who was lost in a dark pool of tears. I left work early, armed with sunshine-orange gerbera daisies, and showed up at her side. My job in her journey through cancer is to keep her spirits lifted and her mind focused squarely on the positive. I did not ask why she had been crying. I know why. I did not ask her to tell me of her fears. I simply put orange sunshine in every room and suggested we finish decorating her beloved Christmas tree. We put on German carols and hung silver pine cones. We discerned which branches would hold the white candles to best light the tree in a magical glow. I made 2 cups of tea and set up the manger scene. I unwrapped the Santa Claus collection. We talked quietly about going to Germany again.
While hanging her grandmother's glass bell on the tree, my mother said simply, "I feel so much better now that you're here". And there it was. My gift in adversity. The awareness I was making a difference and the sweet connection of hearts in a seemingly bitter time.
I tell you, do not back away from difficult times. Meet them with courage and open hands and a soft heart. We all need each other. And we have all been afraid to ask for the love and the help. Be willing when opportunity calls. Follow your instincts and act. Offer your true self. Your true self. I promise you, your world will be changed by the sweet gifts in adversity.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pull Back

Oftentimes, when our energy is directed outward on behalf of others or our personal commitments, and sustained at high levels, it becomes necessary to pull back. It becomes necessary to refuel. To revive. To honor. Ourselves. Even for a day. Or bits and pieces of successive days. Oftentimes, if we don't choose to pull back, we will be pulled down.
You who can't say no, I am giving you permission to say no. You who rush from one self-imposed obligation to another, stop. Go to bed early. Wake up late. You who think the world should be spotless, leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Read a book. Drink tea. Let it be. You who must do it all, for pity's sake, ask for help. Asking does not mean you have failed. You who cannot let go of control, resign as general manager of the Universe. You have not received enough hugs. You have not given enough hugs.
We, you and me, need a break. We need cream in our soup. We need cupcakes with sprinkles. We need fleece. We need time to do nothing. And we are the only ones who can give ourselves permission to stop, let go and say no. It is our grown-up responsibility to ourselves to occasionally play hooky. To honor ourselves and not put the madness before sanity. To pull back before we are pulled down. To choose to put ourselves first.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Audible Sigh

Today is a day for deep, releasing sighs. The kind that make your shoulders finally relax and beg you to spend time horizontal, under blankets, with books. This is a good day. Although, I realize, all days are good. But today, while the new moon sliver meets the shining rays of Jupiter and Venus in the western twilight sky, love is working its quiet magic.
My Mom is healing well from her cancer surgery and building strength for the forthcoming chemical invasion. My newest cat, Buddha, has let me in on his well kept secret. He's a lover boy. He likes nothing more than to have his face rubbed. And give my heart wings, my Love is not missing anymore. He is not home, but as of today, I have definitive word he is alive and well and doing what has been asked of him.
So, my lit candle in the window, the prayers, the mala beads, the instincts, the hopes, the mind-chatter held at bay, the kindness of others, the cupcakes, the letters, the patience, the trust, all have led me to this day. The day when a sigh of relief could shudder up from my lungs and pull me down to the sofa, under blankets, with books. The day when all my efforts are confirmed as being worthwhile. The day that gives me strength to give thanks, keep calm and carry on.