Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE WINTER OF MY DISCONTENT



     I must have been three or four years old when I realized for the first time that each year had distinct seasons. But autumn intrigued me the most—the time when the trees and shrubs that had been awash in the green sea of summer, suddenly started to morph into flaming bushes and fields of fire. It seemed that red, orange and yellow were splayed everywhere along with variants that were better than any crayola palette I could imagine.
     And along with the emerging colors came delightful winds that whirred through the leaves, deflecting light in such a way as to make me think the trees could actually communicate with me. And then of course, came Halloween and Thanksgiving, which made me believe that the trees were a part of some festive cosmic celebration.
     So when the leaves began to lose all their color and fell to the ground like kamikaze planes I was quite dismayed. I remember asking my mother why this was happening and my mother in her infinite wisdom telling me that the leaves needed to sleep and rest for awhile so they could come back in the Spring, new and pretty once again.
     That explanation worked for a bit until I went to school and understood that the fallen leaves never returned. However, Christmas always followed this event so I never had to dwell very long on the dying foliage. And diving into piles of raked leaves gave some merit to this event.
      I am now well into adulthood and over the years, however, I have at times felt some degree of sadness as autumn comes to a close. I’ve often asked myself just what it is that fills me with that sense of melancholia. Is it the barrenness that creeps across nature like a grim reaper? Or perhaps the oncoming chill and dropping temperatures? Or just the connotation of Fall?...Fallen leaves, the falling back of the clock, the diminishing sunlight. There is some irony to the fact that the shortest day of the year heralds in the Winter season. 
       And yet what happens when Autumn ends? Winter marches in, cold and forceful, like a babbling brook rushing forward, sweeping along the debris left behind by the previous summer and fall. Snow falls wiping clean the earth with a white blanket of crystals, clearing the way for the return of the sun’s warmth -- The cold killing off pestilence and disease, purifying the air to make ready for the newly born growth of Spring. It seems as if even Winter is part of the Grand Design.
       The cycle goes round and round as does the passage of time, both moving in one direction with no glance backward. The best any of us can do is collect what is worth saving and discard the rest as we are swept along in the grand plan of the Universe. Every season has its purpose, as does every event in your life, even your darkest hours. Winter comes for each and every one of us. It is inevitable. The only thing mutable is how we deal with it.
      Will you rail at the unfairness of its cold and barren nature? Or will you embrace it—knowing that it is a necessary part of your spiritual and emotional evolution? Will you accept that for the tree to grow it must be pruned from time to time, stripped down and laid bare to make way for new growth? It is your choice to bend or to break, to blend or to rage, to rest, reflect and grow or….die….
      And that is truly the cycle of life…For time waits for no one. And as I age I realize that neither can I. Each and every one of us is here for an express and unique purpose. The secret of a happy life is to discover what it is then follow your bliss, no holds barred, patiently learning all the lessons that come your way and accepting that God/Spirit does have a plan for us if we can only have the faith to keep moving forward. And know that Spring ALWAYS follows Winter.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

If Only I Could Win The Lottery

Well the die has been cast,  the numbers revealed and the 640 million dollars goes to three winners from three different states. Congratulations to each and every one of them!... End of story…Or is it?

If you are anything like me, winning that money has been a topic of conversation for the past week. What would you do if you won the lottery? What would you buy? Would you claim the money right away? Quit your job? Pay off your debts? Buy an island and relocate ASAP?

Personally, I would like a studio for my art, a library room and a closet the size of a bedroom, after I’ve paid off all my debts and those of my family and a few close friends.
And then of course, there’s a yacht and the whole “travel the world” thing…But seriously, after all the material desires have been fulfilled, what would you do with ALL that money?

Well, that has been on my mind as well. Let’s face it, when you die, you can’t take the money with you. Or, as I like to say, “Have you ever seen a luggage rack on a hearse?”
I suppose I could leave it all to my children, though in my perfect post-lottery world, my kids would already have a nice share of it.

So, I come back to the same question, once again, “What would you do with ALL that money?”  And THAT is the question that has lingered in my mind. Those of you who have known me for a bit, know that my first thought is of childhood suffering–children
 in need—Imagine feeding thousands of starving children all over the world, starting a foundation to free them from the chains of poverty through education and a better quality of life? Or how about a foundation for sick children, whose parents can’t afford the medical care that they urgently need? Shelters for the abused? For the homeless? A school to retrain the unemployed?  Funding for the arts, the key to a truly civilized society?

The possibilities are limitless with ALL that money. However… I haven’t won the lottery. And this morning, those possibilities are still on mind. Perhaps the more important question is, “How can you help those in need regardless of your station in life?” And perhaps, “How can you make your life better, happier regardless of the money you do or do not possess?”

I think if we dig deep enough, we would discover that we are more powerful and capable than we give ourselves credit for. For the human heart has a vast capacity for compassion, love and simple kindness. And the soul, a limitless yearning for its higher purpose. So dare to dream, take that step, reach out that hand. We build a house one brick at a time and a life, one heart at a time. And that my friends, has no price tag on it.     

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Good Life Parable by Mark Albion

The Good Life Parable by Mark Albion


I would invite everyone to read this story and give it some thought. The moral of the story is to know what you want out of life, because you may already have it.
Hope y'all go out and have a great day! Make it count!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A CHANGE OF HEART

“You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don't even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away; make you something different in an instant. It happened to me.”  ~ George Monroe



A CHANGE OF HEART

Today as I stood back and looked at my yet to be decorated Christmas tree, I realized that something was different. But just what had changed I couldn’t pinpoint. So instead, I proceeded to pull out the umpteenth bins of ornaments that had been tucked away in storage and then did the usual inspection for missing hooks and broken balls.

Now I am not a “theme” person per se when it comes to decorating the tree but I suppose if you saw the need, you could categorize my tree as the “Trip Down Memory Lane.”  For the past 20 years I have been giving my children ornaments on each Christmas that have represented something important going on in their lives at that particular time. I have also been collecting ones from wherever I have visited or vacationed.

So as I hung up each ornament, I was assailed with twenty some odd years of memories and ghosts of Christmases past. Voices of my children seemed to echo through the branches, voices of two toddlers then tweens then teens.

“Can I help Mama?”
“Uhoh, I dropped one!”
“Can we make cookies after this?”
“Awww! I remember this! I played baseball then!”
“This was the year I graduated high school!”

And then came the images of family vacations and girls’ weekends and all the rich and wonderful experiences of a good deal of my adulthood. The memories swirled around in my mind, like an 8mm movie…Oscars to follow….   

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different. When I was done I sat down and studied my handywork. Again I asked, “Just what was it?” Well for one, it was one week before Christmas and I honestly could not think of a single thing that I wanted. I seemed to neither have the glee nor the desire for anything. Or at least anything material. And that was a far cry from my younger years. 

That made me think of a recent visit I’d had with my parents.

Now we all have apprehensions about “going home” and I am no different. Parents welcome you with cookies, pies and cakes forgetting that you are diabetic and 30 pounds overweight. They forget that you are at the half century mark and speak to you as if you’re still a half pint. They tell you stories of your childhood and confuse you with your brothers or sisters. Or they repeat the same story several times. And they can assume you still think exactly as they do.

There was a time when it drove me crazy and I dreaded the visits. I hated being treated like the proverbial child and not having my opinion heard and in the end I would always leave feeling frustrated and disappointed. But this year, I looked forward to seeing them. And I actually had a good time!

 Suddenly I had an epiphany.

As I looked around I realized that nothing had changed except me. I was different. It had been a long time coming up until three years ago.  And then came some of the worst times I’d ever experienced all at once.  I believe now that I must have had some kind of drastic karmic course correction. And through those times I swore to never let the emotional pain I was suffering pervert me or my values and what I believed in. But as I reflected on the recent past I realized that I had indeed…changed….

Now was it a bad thing?  I had to think about that…And all the disappointments of the past few years...But, in the end, I realized that I had developed an inner strength that I had never imagined possible and the wisdom to never allow anyone to ever again manipulate me or make me question my worth. I had also learned what was important to me and what was worth fighting for. And most importantly, I'd learned to be….ME!!!!  Not a persona built on the expectations of others, or a mirror of a friend, lover or family member.

That last thought was eye-opening. How many of us change who we are to accommodate others so we can be liked? Or hide how we feel to keep peace or out of fear of being criticized by people we deem important in our lives?

Change can be scary. We want things to be better yet we fear the unknown. We timidly take a step out of our comfort zone and then find ourselves a bit lost, a bit fragile. Then at the first sign of trouble or a complaint from friends or family that we are not “ourselves” we retreat into that cloud of illusion and expectation.

But I think there comes a point when you can no longer pretend to be what you are not—when nothing could be worse than remaining where you are. And that is the tipping point—the point at which you venture out of your zone and you begin to take baby steps toward something you hope will be better. It is not always an easy journey. There can be many fits and starts.  And sometimes change can be forced upon you, even quite abruptly at times.

What I learned ultimately, though, is that change is inevitable. What is most important is how you handle and adapt to it…how you learn from it…how you grow!  And when I think of the present and just how much how I’ve grown both spiritually and emotionally, I’m no longer afraid of what is to come. Because I am finally who I was meant to be. And that is the greatest gift of all.          

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Machine Gun Preacher - Movie Trailer (2011) HD






This is the inspirational story of Sam Childers, a man who has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease and enslavement....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WHY WAS I BORN IN AUGUST?

It was hot…extremely hot…SWELTERING hot…And I was at a loss as to what to write for the August edition of Spirit Magazine. Having just come back from a wonderfully restful visit with a friend, I was not at all motivated to write anything. So as I sat here thinking about August, I began to think about my birthday, which is in the same month. Being of a certain age I really wasn’t moved to dwell upon the upcoming event but I found myself thinking back to childhood.

I had always resented being born in August. The heat of summer would build to a fever pitch, all my friends would drift away one by one to distant places on family vacations and inevitably I would sit at home counting the days to the start of the new school year. My birthday would come and go, more of a quiet “family gathering” and although my parents did their best to make it festive, I always felt a bit “cheated” and had on occasion asked myself just why I had to be born in the dullest month of the year.

Well, thinking about the “dog days” of August led to a glance of the vase full of sunflowers perched next to me and then a vision of the sun—which in turn led to the question of why I had chosen to buy sunflowers on that particular day. Now I’d had an obsession with sunflowers for quite some time and I knew the myth behind them—the water-nymph, Clytie, falling deeply in love with the sun god Apollo and he being a bit of a “lad” and not returning that love. So there was poor Clytie, rooted to that spot on the ground, staring up at the sun and languishing away, ever-searching for her love until the gods took pity on her and turned her into a sunflower so that she could always face the sun.—which really did not help with the question of why I had to be born in August and just what I should write about.

So, I decided to look up the history of the month. Now August is named for Caesar Augustus, one of the greatest Emperors of Rome—Augustus being a term of honor meaning “the revered or majestic one”. This Caesar was responsible for the Pax Romanus, a peace that lasted in the Mediterranean for more than two centuries. Now that was quite an accomplishment. But what I found interesting was that Caesar had chosen Apollo (of all gods) as his own god and credited his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, to Apollo’s superiority over the Egyptian gods.

My thoughts then drifted to Egypt as I also discovered that the birthstones of August are Peridot  and Sardonyx and these gemstones are rich in history connected to that area of the world. Peridot it seems, has been regarded since ancient times as the symbol of the sun and has been mined from Zabargad, an island in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt, for almost as long.

The Island of Zabargad was originally called the “Isle of Serpents” because it was so infested with poisonous snakes that it was dangerous to venture there at all. But Peridot was so acutely desired that one particular Pharoah had all the snakes driven from the Island so work could proceed. The stones were so brilliant though, that workers had to go out at night and mark the locations of the stones then return the next day to extract them. . In fact, Peridot was so radiant that the Ancients believed it could ward off darkness and evil spirits and this gave it an even greater value. Guards were placed at the perimeter of the island and all suspicious persons approaching were killed immediately.

Peridot eventually was brought to Europe via the Crusaders where it turned up in Cathedrals to be classified as the “evening emerald” as at night it was so richly deep green in color and retained its luminescence. It was also a prized gem in the Ottoman Empire with Turkish Sultans collecting the world’s largest collection.  

As I was reading all of this, I suddenly remembered a recent event—A past life reading about myself—being told that two of the last three of my lives had been in Egypt and Africa as an archeologist. Now that gave me pause. Then I recalled a time during a meditation exercise when I had been asked to think of a flower and instead found myself at the base of an ancient temple. I saw it in great detail as if I’d actually been there.

Now perhaps I was actually getting somewhere. So I continued to read on about the other birthstone of August: Sardonyx. According to what I read sardonyx was placed into the breastplate of the High Priest Aaron, Moses’ brother.

It was also a very popular stone among the Ancients and Egyptians, who carved it into scarabs and beetles and also wore it as a talisman to ward off evil. Romans were known to wear sardonyx carved with images of Mars, the god of war, for bravery and courage in battle.  

Perhaps the most interesting story, however, was that of Queen Elizabeth I, who possessed a gold and sardonyx ring. She eventually gave it to her lover, the Earl of Essex, as a token of friendship, with the promise that she would always be there for him if he ever needed her. At a later time, he was arrested for treason and sentenced to death. He attempted to send the ring to the Queen in the hope that she would intervene but it wound up instead in the hands of a Lady Nottingham, whose husband was no friend of the Earl’s. The Queen believing that the Earl did not want her mercy allowed him to be executed. It wasn’t till years later she learned of Lady Nottingham’s duplicity. It broke the Queen’s heart. 

Again I was reminded of another past life, from the past life reading, a life around that very same time.—A  dark time where I did everything I could to protect my brother, who was eventually murdered anyway and who I had sworn to never let go of again for all eternity.  I took a few moments to process all that I had learned and suddenly it all made sense.

August did indeed seem to have a very big significance for me. Was it by design that I was born in the month where Leo and the sun rule? A month with a birthstone mined and worn by Egyptians since ancient times? A stone that was a symbol of the sun ?  A stone given to a loved one whose death could have perhaps been prevented?  Was I supposed to remember something from these prior lives? Or was it all just coincidence?  

As I sit here, gazing at my sunflowers and pondering this, one thing is certain: This particular August I will have plenty of research to keep me busy. And I will never again consider the month of August boring nor dull. And as for the birthday parties that I’d longed for as a child? Well, being a Leo, I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with some sort of memorable birthday celebration to break the monotony of summer. Safari, anyone?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

AN ACT OF FAITH


              “Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.” ~Rabindranath Tagore




I have been hearing a lot about faith over the past few weeks and I finally figured out that somewhere amid the quotes, slogans and book passages I have read recently, there is a lesson intermingled.

Not too long ago I had a test of faith that rocked me to my very core. My head was screaming, “No! Don’t do it! DON’T GO THAT WAY!” But my heart was pleading, “You know this is what you want. You must proceed. IT IS RIGHT!” Now when the heart and head battle it out, I usually wind up with one heckuva case of headache and heartburn.

But because of all the spiritual growth I have experienced over the past few years, I decided to just let myself “be” for a bit--To listen and see with my “sixth” sense. During that period I actually took the time to look up the definition of faith:

1) firm belief in something for which there is no proof
2) : complete trust
3) something that is believed especially with strong conviction;

Well, I certainly had firm belief. In fact I had two: that of my head and that of my heart. But then I looked at the origin of the word faith which is derived from the Latin “fides” and is the root for such words as confide, fealty, fidelity, and fiduciary. Soon it became all too clear that trust was a very big component of faith as was confidence.

So I asked myself which I trusted more: my head OR my heart? But still, no solution presented itself. Then I saw this quote: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. And I knew it was time to take a step back and pray/meditate for guidance.

I thought a lot about faith over the next few days. We are all too unaware of just how much it comes into play every single day. From the time we wake up each and every morning to the time we go to sleep each and every night, we live in complete faith for that day-- Faith that we will wake up, be able to get out of bed, go about our day, and once again be able to get up the next day and do it all over again. From the minute we open our eyes, we hope for the best and trust with some degree of confidence that the day will proceed as planned. If fear should enter the picture we calculate the odds of past success and quickly put aside any doubts.

So I declared to the Universe that I was going to trust that an answer would present itself when the time was right. And I, too, cast aside any doubts I had. It wasn’t long after this that I had to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment and not being one to sit idly in the waiting room reading some medical journal acquired from a nearby table, I grabbed a book from my bookcase. It was one of several that I had in a stack of “books to read, when I have the time.” I honestly did not even give much consideration to the title as I was in a hurry that day.

As I sat in the waiting room and I began to read, it was as if a voice was speaking to me from the manual of “What You Need To Know In Order To Make A Decision”. The premise of the book was a mirror of the exact struggle I was going through. The characters asked the very same questions and the quotes were some of the very same used by important people in my life. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time.

For the next two days, I read that book at every opportunity afforded me. When I was finished, I went back and reread the highlights once again. And when I was finally done, it was all too clear what my decision was going to be.

Suddenly I had a vision of the “Dark Night of the Soul” which is the ultimate test of faith. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning." And yet, shortly after that time, the birds begin to chirp. If we can trust and believe that when we fall asleep each night, we will once again wake up the next morning then why can’t we believe that just as the dark night follows the brilliant day so does the brilliant day follow the dark night?

So in the end my heart won out, as I realized that my head was simply warning me of all the things I didn’t want, my fears in essence, but my heart was revealing all the things I’d hoped for and evidence of wonderful things not seen. But more importantly, I now had the faith necessary to take that chance and the firm belief that no matter what happened, things would work out as they were supposed to. And somehow, I trusted that I’d made the right decision. And that was a lesson of the best kind.