Life … Your Life and Mine

Have you ever stopped to take an objective look at your life? I know how easy it is to only look at those things that caused you pain, sadness, grief or great despair. And, of course, there are those ‘happy’ moments in your life when you were recognized as someone special, e.g., your wedding, graduation, promotion, having children. Even in those ‘happy’ moments you can easily look back and find a discrepancy, fault or flaw, demonstrating the moment’s imperfection.

No. What I am talking about is looking back and seeing (or witnessing) your life’s experiences in their totality. Not just the peaks and valleys, but the paths you took, with all the events and experiences, that led you to where you are today. Removing the thoughts, concepts and biases of others and their influences, but simply looking at you and your role.

For example, let’s say you were getting married and at the reception, with friends and family standing ready to snap pictures and applaud at the cutting of your magnificent, towering symbol of life’s sweetness (the cake), one of the caterers accidently bumps one of the cake’s table legs. Watching the towering symbol of sweetness begin to sway, knowing you can’t stop it, you rush to steady it from falling; only to have it land on your feet and legs, and the feet and legs of a dozen of your guests. Horror of horrors.

Now, you could look back and see the faults and clumsiness of the caterer, or you could see how the accident made for a different wedding experience for everyone concerned. You could see the humor in it, and find it to be one of those treasured moments in your life, or you could see it as yet one more ‘disaster’ or disappointment in your life.

Having retired last year, I have had the good fortune to contemplate the many, many things I have had the good fortune to experience. I have done a great many things in my life. Nothing like spending a month in an ashram in India, or hiking the great divide, or spending summers building shelters in 3rd world countries, or sailing the vast oceans or seas. But in my 70 years walking upon the face of our great Mother Earth, I have had the great fortune of a life well-lived.

It’s easy to look back over your life and find fault; fault in others, circumstances, events. Finding fault clouds the existence of the experience. You can look back and say, ‘I didn’t get the promotion because my boss …’ or ‘I didn’t go to college because my parents …’ or ‘I missed the opportunity because no one …’. In the example above, you could easily say with great distain and disappointment, ‘We didn’t get any pictures of us cutting the cake because the caterer…’, or you could say, “We didn’t get any pictures of us cutting the cake, but everyone got to take a piece of cake home with them!’ The former is a story of disaster, while the latter is humorous and a memory shared by many.

Those who know me have often heard me say that ‘life is an adventure; its what YOU make it…no one else’. Like you, I have had my share of trials, assaults, disappointments and insecurities. And, like you, I could look back with regrets and fault those in my life whom I chose to give my power (or responsibility) away to. Instead, however, I choose to look back and see the circuitous path that led me to me.

I’m not sure what has led me to seeing my life from the perspective of a great adventure, perhaps its because I am a fan of such writers and celebrities as Joan Didion and Nora Ephron. They have written some wonderful books about their life and times; the early challenges they faced as writers, editors, young adult women and older, wiser women. Or, perhaps, it is because I never know what the next day, the next hour or minute has in store for me. As they say…’the best-laid plans of mice and men/oft go awry’ … doesn’t mean what we plan will actually happen!

It is in the humor of our lives that we see the true essence of who we are, who we have become, and the gifts and adventure laid upon our life’s path. The old saying, ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees’ is true in so many ways. But, you can step outside your past and past events and look with loving, caring eyes, and see your life in a truer, more compassionate and honest view. Will there be things you regret? Probably. But regret is a great teacher. It teaches you responsibility; being responsible (partially or fully) for particular life events; events you will work to avoid in the future. With loving, caring eyes, you will also begin to see the humor.

As a young woman, mother and wife, I took life very seriously. For the majority of my young adult life, as a corporate career woman struggling for job and wage equality, and as a mother of 3 young girls, seeking quality schools and education for my daughters, I took life quite serious. Decision making can be quite serious! But in between those times, life should be exciting… the adventure, and fun … the humor.

Sunday, April 29th, gives rise to the Full Pink Moon. Make it a time for you to reset and reaffirm who you are, who you want to be, how you will get there, and how fortunate you are to be on this adventure we call life. Make it a good one; one well-lived with humor, adventure and happiness.

 

Facebook and Other Thoughts

Today I took the steps to deactivate my Facebook account. The whole idea of leaving behind a ‘social’ environment that connects me to others caused me to pause and reflect on what I was about to do. After all, isn’t Facebook already being scrutinized and bashed enough by the media for it’s transgressions?

I can’t say I was ever one who just ‘went along to get along’. There is an old quote by Alexander Hamilton that says … “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Taking that one step further, I believe … if you don’t stand something, you don’t stand for anything. So, what do I stand for?

There is little doubt, and plenty of evidence, that Facebook knew and made money from selling their user’s information. Years ago, when I first joined Facebook, I had tight security measures placed on my account. I thought perhaps they were a little too strict, but also knew I did not want to be vulnerable to people or businesses who would gather and use my information for their own personal/professional gains.

My husband and I have often commented on how our personal information (e.g., what we recently shopped for or bought on-line) seemed to automatically show up on the various websites we used or visited. How could the outfit I was looking at on one website show up as an advertisement on another website? Trying to buy a surprise gift for my husband’s birthday was crushed when the items I was shopping for appeared in an advertisement while he was checking his email!

I don’t fault Facebook for all of these actions. It’s a bigger problem than just Facebook. The problem for me is, if I went to a bank or some trusted retailer, and they sold or gave my private information to everyone who walked through their doors, I would no longer do business with them…if not take some type of legal action.

Many years ago, while living in Detroit, our home was vandalized while we were all at school and work. To some degree, each of us was left feeling violated; uncomfortably exposed. A similar sense to what I feel right now.

Leaving Facebook is my way of ‘standing for something’. Before I joined Facebook, I lived quite well without it. And, I am sure I will again.

I recently broke my ‘addiction’ to my cell phone; feeling I HAD to answer it every time it rang or pinged a text message. I, like so many others, was a ‘slave’ to it, allowing it to interrupt anything and everything I might be doing. Now I answer when I want to; when it is convenient for me, or when answering it is NOT disrespectful to the people I am with. Don’t you feel disappointed when you are ‘put on hold’ by someone you are talking face-to-face with, when they get a phone call or text and say ‘Just a minute’, ‘Let me see who this is’, or ‘I need to take this’?

Communication is a very important part of our lives. What we communicate and who we communicate with should be within our milieu, or our realm of influence and comfort. Every time we communicate, whether with friends, family or businesses, we offer information about ourselves (e.g., where we shop, dine, or play). Over time, we have allowed small bits of our personal or private information to be harvested by those whose interests are of a purely self-serving nature; with no regard to the faceless individuals whose information they freely sell, share or trade. Copiously taking what does not belong to them, and selling it to others; not once, but over and over again. Making millions of dollars selling our private or personal information.

I don’t believe there is anything we can do to gather up all those bits and pieces of  information being held hostage out there, and take it back. But, I will not stand by and give them a nod of approval or acceptance, which is what I would be doing if I remained on Facebook.

My dad used to have this saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’

 

 

 

 

 

Donations

Happy Christmas Eve!
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your kind and generous donations to our adopted families. Yes … families. We were able to help out 2 families this year. One family of 4 ran into some hard times due to the illness of one of the parents. The illness put their family’s Christmas at risk, so we were able to help out with a small financial donation. The second family of 7 received the majority of your donation.
I am including some photos of the Christmas donation we were able to make to this large family of 5 boys. In addition, we were able to provide a full Thanksgiving day of food; providing breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. Part of your Christmas gifts included approximately 20 lbs. of turkey, 18 lbs. of chicken, 15 lbs. of pork, 15 lbs. of ground beef, 8 lbs. of ham, 4 lbs. of bacon, and plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy, as well as other household products. Your generous donations will continue to help this family for weeks to come, and fill their hearts with hope, love and the true spirit of Christmas.
Thank you all so very much. I am also including a link (https://tricycle.org/magazine/wisdom-giving/?utm_source=Tricycle&utm_campaign=19eeacf301-Daily_Dharma_12_24_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1641abe55e-19eeacf301-307326469) to an essay about ‘The Wisdom of Giving’. If you have time or interest in reading it, I’m sure you will see yourself reflected in its sage words.
May the spirit of Christmas and the Holiday Season be with you now and throughout the coming year of 2018
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December, 2017

What a year this has been! So many of us feel as though we have finally hit the home stretch. Just a few more days and 2017 will be behind us. We will be standing firmly in a new year…and hopefully a better year.

I have often talked about the Laws of the Cosmic Cycles, based on the number 7. The last (7th) cycle is the cycle of destruction; the devolution of what was; letting go or shedding that which no longer is wanted or serves you. Looking back over the past year, much of what has been ugly, hidden, negative, divisive or otherwise pernicious or poisonous to society or civilization has been unmasked and laid open for all to see and witness. The term ‘underbelly’ comes to mind when I think of the darkness that has sat brewing underneath the guise of  decorum, or the ‘appropriate attitudes towards humanity’; or, the moral majority. Laying bare all that has been hidden, shuffled behind curtains or swept under the rug for no one to see, has brought light to an enigma that has plagued our nation(s) for centuries.

We have and are coming to the end of many cycles. Cycles of power, greed, corruption and hate, that have never seen light but have existed only in utter darkness, are now laying bare with the light of truth and honesty blazing down upon it. And, with the shining of this light comes pain. Just like when you come out from a darkened theatre into the bright sunlight of day, it is painful … maybe only momentarily, but painful nonetheless. You may not be able to see clearly for awhile; everything seeming blurry or out of focus. But eventually, with persistence, your vision returns and the shocking pain of the light subsides. The pain becomes a thing of the past; a distant memory. But the realization of what you saw, what you witnessed will forever be burned into your memory.

2017 has been a year of tragedy and loss; of shootings and road rage; of strange and ridiculous behaviors; of heroes and heroines; of fear and recklessness; of political lies and bullying; of courage and fearlessness; of right and wrong; of corruption and perversion; and, of tyrannical tweeting and political folly.

This is where we are right now … working our way out of the muck and darkness that seems to have descended upon us. December will continue the unraveling and revealing of what has laid hidden, secreted into an abyss of darkness. But as we move towards the end of December, the ‘light’ of the new moon and winter solstice will be our opportunity to put forth the positive, uplifting and renewed energy we want to spawn through the new year. Just as difficult as it is to witness and work our way through the end of this cycle, so too will it be difficult to carve out a new order for the coming year(s).

Change is difficult. However, remaining status quo is not an option. As one cycle ends, another one begins. Drop your old, depleted and archaic habits, thoughts and patterns now…in this December. And prepare yourself to step into a new, changing, inspirited and inspiring new year and the new cosmic cycle.

 

 

 

November…Time To Remember

Perhaps its my age, or the season, or something bred within me from a very young age, but November has always been a month of ‘Memories’. It’s a time when memories from years gone by have a way of creeping their way back into your consciousness, taking you to a different time and place. Perhaps a place of family, friends, laughter, cool autumn evenings, the smell of burning leaves, or a kitchen filled with the heart warming aroma of freshly baked cakes, breads, or Thanksgiving dinners.

November is the start of the “Holiday Season” and the anticipation of all the holidays hold for you in your heart and mind. It’s often the time when families and friends set aside their differences; letting bygones be bygones, and opening doors, hearts and minds to the warmth of all that is familiar and comfortable about the Holidays. It’s a time when family and friends come together to embrace the glory of sharing and caring, the past and the present, and all of the possibilities for the future.

Of course, there are those that like to mumble and grumble a ‘bah humbug’ about the Holidays. After all, not everyone has fond memories of the Holidays, and some find the whole idea to be unpleasant, uncomfortable and a down right waste of time…(just another way to get you to spend your hard earned money)!

I love the holidays. I love sharing and caring. I love having family and friends in my home. I love the smells from the kitchen. I love the hugs exchanged with each person as you greet them and say good-bye. I love the laughter, the stories, the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready. I love the days and the nights, the long conversations and the tender moments with my children and grandchildren. I love the shared memories, the not-so-secret secrets and old and new traditions. I love having my senses filled with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, hugs and togetherness of the many days throughout these Holiday Seasons.

If your memories of the Holiday Season takes you back to a time of warmth, comfort and happiness, and fills your heart with love, compassion and joy, then allow this November to be a time filled of memories. Embrace all that is good about them and share them with those you love and care about.

However, if your past Holiday Seasons have been painful, scarring or otherwise unpleasant, then allow this November to be the beginning of good memories. Don’t waste time passing on hurtful habits, destructive thoughts or negative attitudes. There are 60 days in the upcoming Holiday Season. 60 days to create the kind of memories you and those around you want to look back on, cherish, savor, and hold in their hearts and minds. Make everyday a day of memories filled with love, laughter and mirth. Make memories that will leave you feeling happy each and everyday going forward.

 

The Club

There was a time in my life when I felt as though I was alone; adrift in a sea. I could see others adrift as well, but we never made eye contact, and rarely spoke. Recently, however, things have changed. I have come to realize that I am not alone at all. In fact, I have become a member of a very, very large Club.

I’ve never been one to join groups, but instead prefer to find my own way versus following in someone else’s footsteps. But The Club is larger than any other group or organization found in the world. For example, according to the Washington Times, “eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group” worldwide. That is 5.8 billion people, out of a total 6.9 billion. One third, or 2.2 billion, are Christian, 1.6 billion (23%) are Muslim, and 1 billion (15%) are Hindus. The Club is larger than any political party. According to a 2014 Gallop poll, of the more than 325.2 million Americans, roughly 139.8 million Americans identify themselves as Democrats. And, 16 million Americans served in World War II, while 42 million Americans have served in the military during wartime, according to ScienceLine at USCB.

The Club is unique and carries a lifetime membership. It’s members don’t actively pursue enrollment; you can’t just join. Someone else has to initiate you into it. Initiation is similar to hazing. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, HazingPrevention.org defines it as …

Hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.

Each member is initiated into this co-ed Club, and some (if not most) are re-initiated periodically throughout their lifetime. My first initiation into The Club happened before I entered the halls of my first public school. No one wants to be a member of The Club, and once you are in, there is no getting out.

Unfortunately the number of members continue to grow. According RAINN.org, “every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.” The Club is much too large, and initiations have to stop. Educate your children, regardless of how old they might be.

Oh … And, what’s the name of The Club? Simple. It’s  #MeToo.

 

Welcoming September, 2017

I took a walk today with Michael, my grandson. Prior to our walk, he commented on what a beautiful day it was and how fortunate we are to be in Michigan, and not in Texas. To date hurricane Harvey has dumped over 21 trillion gallons of water on Houston, which is more than 3 times the amount dropped by Katrina in 2005. The immense power of Mother Nature is simply mind-blowing. Not being there makes it very difficult to imagine such a force of overwhelming destruction, but the images are clear of the desperation these people are living and feeling.

With Michael’s comments fresh on my mind, I found myself witnessing each moment in awe and gratitude. The turtles, herons, birds, fish, squirrels and chipmunks were viewed and admired for their beauty, innocence and ‘busy ways’. It made for a most enjoyable walk, and I am thankful he thought to ask me to go with him.

Something we did notice as we were walking were the subtle changes of color happening to various varieties of foliage, and the blooming of the lotus flowers on the still waters filled with lily pads. The dense fog, crisp morning air and shorter days are all signs of the passing of summer, not to mention the beginning of another school year. With the highly charged energies from the recent solar eclipse and the coming autumnal equinox with its own profound yet retiring energies, September will be a month to remember.

Take advantage of this month and all it has to offer.

  • Visit a farm stand and buy some fresh, out of the garden fruits and vegetables. Support your local farmers while remembering what real, unadulterated food really tastes like.
  • Visit one of the many city, county or state parks. Take a walk in nature, swim, boat or play a round of golf. Fill your lungs with some fresh air and shake up that stagnate routine you call life.
  • Attend a fair, festival or outdoor concert. Meet and support those in your local community.
  • Have a BBQ and invite your friends, neighbors and family. Gather together and let everyone (including yourself) put their daily troubles behind them, sharing laughter, music and friendship.
  • Share what you have with those less fortunate. You’ll reap the rewards 10 fold.
  • If you can, volunteer your time, energy and support to the tens of thousands who have been displaced by Harvey.
  • Embrace each day with patience, generosity and kindness; make it your legacy.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you
pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-