Wednesday, December 30, 2009


2009. A year that broke my heart and healed my heart all at once. A year when my Mother's illness shook me to my core and made me look deep, uncomfortably deep, at things, behaviors and ideas that served me no longer. A year when love roared to the forefront and begged to be the guiding force from moment to precious moment. A year when finally, finally, I could ignore my sacrificial tendencies no longer and began to make amends to myself. A year that ingrained in my psyche forever what really matters and what really doesn't.

2009. A year when grace demanded its due and love swept everything clean.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Darkest Days

It is in these darkest days at the end of the year that light comes pouring in. Ideas, refined dreams, and thoughts of what it would take to be more happy. Like little flames of light, one after another, the visions and messages come. At the end of the year, there is only strength to write things down, to ruminate in the well-lit darkness on the flashes that lift my soul. The time is not yet here to act. The time is ripe for stillness. Deep listening. Awareness of the quickening of breath when a thought, a flash, is particularly bright.

In these, the darkest days, answers come, the sun is born, and hope is kindled anew.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Nostalgia

I'm not sure how this happened, but I am now old enough to be nostalgic. Upon arriving at my parent's house Christmas morning, I immediately asked my Dad, "Where is my Brady Bunch Christmas album?" I had to find it. So we trooped down to the basement and dug through musty boxes. Glory be, we found it. Along with a treasure trove of Christmas albums from the 1960's, the festive music of my youth that ushered Santa to my door.

In that musty box was also a tantalizing assortment of my Dad's music of choice, also from the 60's. Little vinyl 45's in the most gorgeous shades of red, green and cerulean blue. Held to the light they were color saturated jaw-droppers. We decided that one day this winter we're going to spend steeped in nostalgia. Naturally, my Dad still has his furniture-sized hi fi, with working needle, in the basement. I can't wait. Nothing beats a vinyl record. Or Marsha Brady crooning carols.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Light And Reflection

When the act of reflection takes place in the mind,
when we look at ourselves in the light of thought,
we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recovering Christmas

Looking out my window this morning, I see the neighbor's tree already pitched on the lawn. I imagine the effort it took to un-decorate it at first light; the holding the door open and tossing it from the top step, slightly too late for the garbage collector. A house with 4 children, but evidently, Christmas is done. For me, one driveway to the left, Christmas has barely begun.

Today, I allow myself to recover from the intensity of a retail job in holiday mode and the traditions of my family. Mine is a weary body filled beyond capacity with sugar and caffeine. Rest is needed, as is quiet contemplation. The true meaning of Christmas only comes to me when my heart and mind are still. So, today, I rest and let Christmas sweep softly in.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Love is the reason for the season.
To each of your hearts from mine~
I ask for your highest blessings
and I ask that you know the power of love intimately;
love for others and mostly, love for yourself.
It is the love for yourself that will create miracles.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sweetness Of Christmas

Today, for a short time, I live inside the sweetness of Christmas. White lights lit along my wall, a generous mug of rose petal tea and a plate of German Stollen define my morning. My Mother calls to ask if the bread is okay. She made it, of course, as she does every year. Over the phone, I hear we have the same Christmas music playing on the classical radio station. She is also eating Stollen. Her tea is Lady Grey. Yes, the bread is wonderful, as always, I say. She tells me how much she likes today's gift. Gift bag number 20 in the 24 day advent calendar I made for her this year contains a compact disc of pictures I have taken. Most of the pictures are of her and flowers. It is a document, of sorts, of her difficult journey. But today, right now, nothing is difficult. Today, sipping tea over the phone with my Mother, everything is sweet.

My Mother. 14 months into her journey through cancer and I am still eating her Christmas bread. Colon cancer that spread to her liver. Stage 4 upon discovery. And here she is. Here we are. Defying normal medical parameters with an amazing response to chemotherapy. She has wept and struggled and stubborned her way through offers of no hope and talk of hospice. Through bouts of poison every 3 weeks since January. She is still here because she has let herself be loved like she had never allowed before. 253 greeting cards (at last count) with well wishes, daily prayers, visits from German relatives, my father's endless devotion. And flowers.

Along with the emotional support and guard of her well being, I have given my Mother flowers to help lift her heart. A fragrant bouquet held at each chemotherapy session, and barely a day without flowers in her home. It's working. The love and the prayers, the devotion and the flowers, combined with medical opinions and formulas, has reduced the liver tumors from 13 to 6. The tumors are currently inactive, much to the amazement of her oncology team.

I am not amazed. I understand this is what love does when it is given and received. Deeply given and deeply received. Healing, in one form or another, takes place. Not always is it the expected form. My Mother has a ways to go to be fully healed, but she has already come farther than most would have thought. Such is the power of love, a power so strong I am living inside the sweetness of Christmas today, eating my Mother's beloved bread.

{"I'm saving the advent bags to give back to you", she says, "so you can fill them again next year."}

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pass Your Knowledge On

Messages come from such unexpected places. Recently, an important one flashed before my eyes in the novel The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski. It is a story about devotion, betrayal and courage centering around the mute Edgar Sawtelle and his family of dog breeders in Northern Wisconsin. Since finishing the book, it has stayed with me. Overall, and in particular page 190. On that page, the author writes of an exchange of letters between 2 vastly different dog breeders, circa 1935. This is the paragraph that flashed and burned its message into my brain:

"I have the advantage of knowing," he wrote, "that long after I am gone my work will provide a foundation upon which future generations of dogs, breeders and trainers may build. Skill and talent alone are not enough. If these are bound up in you and you alone, and not in data and precisely recorded procedures, what will your efforts amount to? A few dogs- a few successes-then nothing. Only the briefest flash of light in the darkness."

Page 190, now heavily creased to mark its importance, has repeated itself elsewhere. Different words, different sources but the same message: if you have a talent, an ability, an innate gift you've been given or a skill you have honed, pass your knowledge on. Do not keep it to yourself. Do not be among the few or even the only one to benefit from what you know how to do with aplomb. Share what you do with others. Record, precisely, how you do what you do. Charge a fee or reap a commission or get paid in some manner if that is appropriate. Or share your knowledge on the simple hope that what you have to offer will make a difference to even one other soul and let that be reward enough.

I have been living this message, to some extent, since starting this blog in 2006. I have shared, on and off, encouragement and ideals on how to let go of what holds you back from living a life that is true to you, mostly based on my own trials and tribulations. But now, the message is telling me to expand. I am being asked to consider other skills and offerings I have. I am being asked to reach further, to leave the safety of the shadows and share more of what I know. One suggestion in the relentless message is to share my floral design skills, even just the basics, with an audience much larger than the few I sometimes teach at work. Another suggestion is to compile/write a book. Another is to share more of my intuitive mind for helping people to empower themselves. In other words, hold back less, give more. Do not be a brief flash in the dark, but rather, be the sun.

And if this message hits you square in the heart as it did me, just what do you know and what will you share?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Saw A Sign

Well, did you see it? The sign? (What sign, you ask?) The sign the Universe laid out just for you?The one that gave you direction on how to better your life? The one that answered your question? That sign.

You missed it? You missed the sign? Oh, for Pete's sake, really? And the Universe went to such trouble to give you such a good clue! Okay, then. Pay attention. More signs will come. No, no, you didn't miss your chance. Always, always, always the Universe will lead you to a better opportunity. Actually, it spends each and every day throwing out hints, big and small, to get you smack dab in the middle of goodness. If you're having a bad time, the hints and clues and signs the size of billboards will come at you more fast and furious. To get you the hell out of dodge and into a much sweeter spot.

So, pay better attention, will you? Nothing and nobody is served by your being in a less than savory situation. The Universe knows that happiness is contagious. It wants to get you happy. It's willing to tap dance naked in the street if it has to, to get you moving in a blissful direction.

Come on. Be honest. You wondered what that thing meant yesterday. You snapped your head around when someone mentioned in passing the very idea you've been cooking up in your brain. That bird sighting, that number coming up over and over, that name, that name, that name. They're all signs and you know it. Don't worry if you can't figure it out just yet. Just keep paying attention. The Universe likes a good, well-played-out story as much as you do. No giving away the ending in the preface. Notice the signs and follow along. The bread crumb trail of signs will walk you through a story meant just for you. A story where fear is conquered with confidence and love. A story that lifts you and gifts you with the life you deserve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Along The Path To Betterment

When plans are made to invoke change and effort is expended to create the path that leads to change and your fridge is fully loaded with images of a more glorious version of yourself, beware. Turmoil cometh.

Yes, indeed, the path to a better, more true-to-you life is slippery, unclear and sometimes painful. The level of pain depends on how far removed your dream life is from your present life. If the gap is large, lessons and opportunities will crop up to move your brain from its current way of approaching life ( the approach you say you're ready to ditch) to a more open, accepting and elevated one. The new approach, or new way of thinking, is what will lead you to the threshold of your wished-for change. You will likely arrive on that threshold feeling bruised, exhausted and weaker than expected. But, you will arrive.

Until you arrive at the moment when your old life dissolves and morphs into the glory you've imagined, do your best to be patient with yourself. Don't push the river, but do act on the nudges and shoves dictated by the Universe. Rest. Nest. Eat to the best of your ability. Do not give up.

Even if you feel like crap, know that positive change is occurring. Resistance will come from within and without. It means you're moving beyond the status quo that was your life. It means your brain is shifting to accept the life you know you deserve. Let the shift take as long as it naturally takes. Fame and acclaim and new levels of love feel ominous to your formerly small-minded self.

Learn what needs to be learned. Let go of what holds you back. Praise yourself for your fortitude and strength. Be patient. You will arrive.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Dazzle

I'm not much for jazzing up my home for the holidays. Sure, I have the lone Santa who sits on my kitchen table all year round and I've haphazardly strung white lights along 2 walls in my living room. Oh, and I bought a green amaryllis today. I think that counts. But no tree for me. No wreath on my door. One cassette tape of A Charlie Brown Christmas (for the Schroeder piano extravaganza) and one pair of black socks in the back of my drawer that sport a cartoon reindeer and the word 'Vixen' underneath. That about covers it.

With apologies to my Duetsch mother, I am decidedly un-American and un-German all at once. It's not that I don't appreciate a little holiday bling, but I prefer to visit it elsewhere and come home to holiday minimalism. Pine needles in the carpet and remnants of tinsel in the litter box I find unnecessary.

Lest you think I am the feminine scrooge, I give you holiday dazzle for this blog post. So much less to clean up, and easier than inviting all of you to my home for eggnog and a look at my Santa.
My best wishes to you for a sparkling season.

{Holiday dazzle courtesy of Buffalo's infamous Italian restaurant: Salvatore's Gawdy Gardens.}

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Word Was Responsibility

It has been a tumultuous time for me. I have been visited by anger and depression and confusion. I've known all along a lesson of great importance lie beneath the tension and tumult, but I could not grasp it, could not see it in full view. The lesson has been a ghost in my periphery, always present, yet incapable of being understood.

Until this morning.

This morning, sitting on the floor in a pool of weak December sun, I surrendered. In my surrender, the peripheral lesson stepped into the sunlight and into full view. It held a single cue card with one word etched in bold black. The word was responsibility.

That single word released me and drenched me in understanding all at once. I am a responsible person. But I have been directing my responsible tendencies down avenues that, in the end, do not serve me. I have allowed myself to become overly responsible, and overly invested in projects and things and organizations that return to me a mere fraction of the energy I put out. The result has left me feeling trapped and drained and far from fulfilled.

I am solely responsible for how I have been feeling. No one has insisted I give of myself to the extent I have. I simply have not known how to give any less.

Difficulty, I have found, is a wise and wonderful teacher. Feeling pushed beyond my limits always means the Universe has something better in mind for me than I have yet to imagine for myself. Difficulty is a code language for "get-there-faster", goodness awaits. And for me, the goodness whose time has come lies in re-directing my innate sense of responsibility towards my own tender heart. It lies, as well, in tending more carefully to the tender hearts of the people (and creatures) who grace my life.

A shift in responsibility is a process. Weaning and a rebuilding of my strength will take time. But the lesson is a ghost no more. I see clearly where to direct my care and my love. I see clearly how to begin.

{The image and mixed media heart (so fitting for my post) are the property of a talented woman I do not know, but admire greatly. Her name is Stephanie Lee. Click HERE to visit her world.}

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

First Snow

Dear First Snowfall,

Thank you for your clean slate, your blank canvas, your permission to begin fresh. I have spent the past 4 days releasing stress, stepping back from the edge, aligning myself with my inner truth. Today, with your clean consent, I can sparkle again. I can kick up your white fluff as I walk more serenely down the path of my choosing. There's love down that path, you know. And I suspect alot of beauty, as well. Adventure, for sure. And bliss of a nature I have yet to imagine. It's a fresh world ahead, First Snowfall. Crisp and warm all at once.

{Thank you beautiful ladies for your encouraging, lovely comments while I was half way to crazy. Each of your souls sparkles with joy. How lucky am I?}

edit: little did I know, the snow lasted for only one day and the lack of stress, the same. :(