Thursday, April 30, 2009

In the Kitchen

I have often said, “I am better in the kitchen……” when I find myself lacking in the mechanical skills necessary to know how my car's engine works or how to keep the lawn mower running when it appears to be hell bent on destroying my lawn management day! But it’s true, I am more secure and happy in my kitchen. I am surrounded by culinary items that came to me from both of my grandmothers, who certainly knew their way around the floor bin and back.

For many years I used the measuring spoons that belonged to my Grandma Goldie. I loved them but it seems they moved out of my kitchen at the same time as a former house mate. I grieved over those lost spoons until my son replaced them with a fine shiny set which now occupy a sweet place in my heart.

Of the graduated painted ceramic mixing bowls that I inherited from Grandma Goldie, I have only the large yellow one left. The medium green one broke so many years ago that I can’t remember how. And the small red one dropped onto the ceramic tile floor of my new kitchen shortly after I moved into my new farmhouse. I grieved it’s loss and vowed to rebuild my set. My sister says that they can be found at garage sales and flea markets, neither of which I gravitate to easily, but I remain hopeful.

I have dishes from my Grandma Hazel that I treasure. I have a deviled egg plate that makes appearances on special occasions. I have a pink glass bubbly bowl that reminds me of her; she liked colored glass, just as I do. I have small glass custard bowls that I use for melted butter when my son and I treat ourselves to crab legs. And I have stemmed sherbet glasses that I fill with cocktail sauce for steamed shrimp. Pretty fancy for a small town farm girl!

I have dishcloths that are made from flour sacks that my grandmothers purchased. Baking flour was sold in cloth sacks and they would pick the pattern that caught their fancy and collect enough to sew up what needed to be made. Even though I still use them, gently, I love knowing their history.

I have one aluminum lid that has holes punched on one side. It is used to drain off the cooking liquid from vegetables and pasta or the grease from hamburger; it has a thousand uses. I do not use the aluminum pots and pans that I inherited from Grandma Goldie. I cannot get past the link of aluminum to Alzheimer’s, however I must admit that all of the women in my family had remarkable memories and lived their entire lives in their own homes taking care of themselves till their time to rest in Heaven. And they cooked each meal with these pots every day of their lives. But I can not and I will not give up my dull old aluminum lid with its little wooden knob, still almost painted black. I don’t need it to help me visualize the amazing women of my family ~ they are always with me in the kitchen. I just love it!

* annette

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hummingbird Food

Spring must be here. As I was clearing pine needles from my garden yesterday evening the familiar trill of one of my favorite birds flew by. He’s right on time. I’m making their food right now.

Hummingbird Food

1 part sugar
4 part water
boil - for several minutes
let cool - serve
refrigerate the rest up to 2 weeks

Do not use honey

It’s a fine line between being enthralled with these feathered friends and being mystified. They are spectacular right now because I haven’t seen them in several months. We have three kinds that visit all summer: the Broad-tailed, the largest of the three at 4 inches, the Calliope, the smallest North American bird - about 3 3/4 inches, and the Rufous- the unofficial toughest - similar in size but just a tad bigger than the Calliope. The Rufous always arrives a later in the season. We are just out of their usual range but I’ve seen them every year for the last seven. Till they arrive we have a fairly nice thing going on with the males of the other two species being dominant, most of the time, but getting along well enough. They will let the females have their turn. I have seen three females out smart or at least distract a male long enough to get to the feeder. Also witnessed, three and four females eating at one time but rare to see the male join in on community eating.

When the Rufous shows up the mix changes and battles begin. Even if he is not eating he guards “his” feeder to be sure no one eats. Though not much bigger than the Calliope his attitude sure is. But his rufous color is both beautiful and unique and I can't help but love his spunk.

I’ve had them all let me know they are out of food by swinging back and forth in front of the door till I notice them.
We’ve also had them come right up to our face and do a similar back and forth movement with a loud twill. Or the whizzing right by our ear just to mess with us? To have some fun?

One time housesitting in Big Sur, watering their garden for a long while, one approached three times, as though he was checking me out to make sure I was safe or smart enough to understand what he wanted. A shower. Sure enough on the third try he went in and out of the spray as I held it still. I stood amazed.

Gotta go. I just heard him fly by looking for his food that is cooling right now. I better get out there. I don’t like to keep them waiting. I’m still the student learning what ever I can from these little guys.

Mary

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daughter's Healing

“Are you ready, Mom?”
My daughter quickly swept her long beautiful Raquel Welch wig off her head.
And there she was in all her bald glory, with her island tan and looking healthier than she has in a while, her head dulled in comparison. She had done a 2nd shaving, even taking the gray I had seen a peek of a few days earlier under a short wig.
She’s gaining in boldness, this Leo sweet heart who took great pride in her mane. Now her scalp shines white next to her glowing olive skin.
“Doesn’t my skin look smoother than it ever has?” she asked. A few of us had already told her that…..good ole chemo.
When she was four years old, a few months after her little sister came into her life, I had her hair cut very short, over her ear, she never forgave me.
In my marriage to her Dad, he loved to have his scalp massaged with rosemary and jojoba oils to hopefully grow hair that had decided, in a seemingly rush, to recede. A little fuzz teased his vanity, but we enjoyed the ritual anyway.
Jennifer is in her second round of chemotherapy. She has lost only two pounds, and like me can’t afford to loose an ounce. Her missing hair brought it all into real illusion. Can this be grasped by my mother’s heart?
While having her treatment this week she had an allergic reaction. She couldn’t breathe, was turning red and swelling. All of this was reported to me by her friend, Fiona. I had called her friend’s cell when I didn’t hear from Jennifer at the expected time. She has these three great friends, a strong foursome. From the beginning of her process, they have been a constant and much needed presence.
“You don’t need to come, Mom”, I was told.
“There really isn’t much room in the cancer center and it does get crowded.”
So I haven’t been and I’ve had to work through these feelings, to get beyond this.
The mother animal instinct is a strong one to loosen, at any age.
This time I was truly grateful for her two friends that were with her. Everytime I think about it I grow weak and emotional, wondering if I could have been a strength when she needed me or if I would succumb to a blubbering pile of emotion…….one step at a time, as I take a moment, allowing healing Light to hold us.
Patricia

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Mother Likes Music

My mother likes music.

First we had a portable box stereo with removable speakers and spindly metal legs to stand on. It was only a step above the toy turntable I had. Then Mom got a big console stereo for our living room. It was at least 5 feet long and was made of dark, real wood. The middle of the top opened up to a turntable and radio controls. The front sides held the big speakers. I say it was my mother’s because she was the one who played music.

She grew up with music. Her mom played piano and so did she, although we never got to have a piano in our home. Years later she retrieved some of her old sheet music from a yard sale at my uncles’ house. Somehow he’d gotten it when Grandma died. In high school, Mom played coronet in the marching band. I imagine her in a gray uniform with gold piping on it, making those precision turns as they marched on the football field at half time.

Now, as mother of 6 children and working full time assembling computer components she didn’t have much free time to play music. But the stereo brought music into her life—and mine too.

She belonged to the Record of the Month Club and we got to enjoy many wonderful singers and show tunes. Nat King Cole was a favorite, along with Johnny Mathis, and Andy Williams. Their smooth, male voices crooned sweetly to our ears and our hearts. I learned all the show tunes from Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and West Side Story before ever seeing the movies.

The music lightened up our lives and was a way to feel our hearts in an environment where there wasn’t much speaking about feelings.

Mom got rid of the stereo awhile after it broke to make more room to seat our large clan in the living room. I inherited some of her albums. I carried them with me for years, even after I no longer had a turntable. Then for Christmas one year I bought Mom a retro-looking turntable and returned her records to her. Now that she is alone a lot, she has more time and space to spin her disks. She can listen to records, tapes or CDs, all in the same tidy but tuneful machine. Music still makes our hearts sing, no matter whether it’s a record, tape or disc.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Newness

Newness

Heavens to Betsy!
Great balls of fire!
However you slice it,
The story is dire.

Away with clich├ęs,
And all that’s been known,
This is a new day,
I await being shown.

An excitement arises,
In the core of my day.
Each moment brings freshness,
As old drifts away.

Can I meet a new life
Without any fear,
With courage and knowing
That all will be clear?

Will I walk with steadfastness,
On wobbly feet?
Will I stay in my trust,
That each challenge I’ll meet?

I don’t know the outcome
And that is all right.
I’ll pour forth my heart
In the Infinite Light.

Held in the Grace
Of whatever will be,
The freedom I asked for
Is coming to me.

Prema Rose

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easily Impressed

I know I am easily impressed by movies. I come out of theaters wondering how I can go home to my small life when I’ve just been around the galaxy of ideas and concepts. How do I make sense of some of these ideas and use them as messages about where I am and where we are all going…because many times, for me, that’s what these movies are. Am I looking for signs where there aren’t any? Am I thinking the Universe is speaking to me from the silver screen? Why not? It speaks to me through animals, other people, winged creatures, babbling brooks, even clouds sometimes. I think that whatever medium is available, if I am aware or asking into it, I will get an answer.

I know they lock people up for this type of thinking. But hey, I’m an astrologer…I read the heavens. I look to the sky for answers, even though they show up on paper, in an astrology chart. I scan the cosmos for signs of life, for messages for my life and those of others. I think in symbols, and dream in real life. I take astrology to bed and eat it for breakfast, without letting it rule me. I have boundaries with it. Yet with the Universe, I am fair game. If I can hear it, I will listen. I am obedient on those dimensions. I have my ear out to hear the answers to the questions I pose. Am I always a receiver? No. My own agenda gets in the way sometimes. My own neuroses plague me with deafness, and my mind spins and whirls me around its own tornado activity. I free myself as soon as I can. And cock my ear once more to that voice that speaks through everything.

Jyoti

Friday, April 24, 2009

Squirrel Stew

At dinner I told Jim my plan to start trapping the squirrels around our house. Yesterday one tried to come in as I opened the door to let out my non-threatening dog. I have heard Asian immigrants refer to the red squirrel as ‘tree rats.’ They are rats all right.

 

Jim said he remembers me cooking squirrel up on Beaver Island. Says I fried it and that it was good. I don’t believe him. I can’t believe I would ever cook squirrel let alone serve it up for dinner. I ask him if I ate any. He can’t remember but he claims it was a long time ago. Must have been a really long time ago. Maybe that is when I became a veg.

 

I don’t know, he could be right. I could have been playing pioneer wife or something. He did used to hunt squirrel back in the day. People did do that. People like my mother would cook it up for dinner. Maybe one of the reasons we have an over-population of squirrels is because no one hunts them anymore.

 

Here’s my recipe for stewed squirrel

 

Trap three fat red squirrels and ring their necks

Put them in a pot with some celery, onion and garlic

Cook until they are all evaporated then throw away the juice and the pot.

 

If you don’t have a pot big enough then take them out to Lewisville to live with the prairie dogs.

Jesse

 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lake Louise

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about how ready I was for rain. That quickly manifested this past week-end with three days of gentle non-stop precipitation. When the sun finally came out I checked the lady bug rain gauge; it registered almost three inches. That is a good rain for us here on the high desert and we so needed it. You can almost sit on my front porch now and watch the grass turn green. There are islands of brown spots at the moment, but I think they will come around with a few days of sunlight.

My horse paddock has turned into Lake Louise. It glimmers in the sun, no more than an inch deep. Off to the side sits our round pen, a perfect circle of raised sand and panels with another lake on the inside! And then there is what I call affectionately call “poop soup”. If you have ever given a small child a warm bath, you know what floaters are. I will leave you for a second to draw your own picture. Okay. Feeding the horses will be messy and slippery for a few days until the earth can soak up all the excess moisture or the sky takes it back up only to drop it somewhere else later! Eventually it will all settle and dry in the warm weather forecasted. We will go out with our rakes and forks and clean the debris. I love looking over a freshly groomed paddock, knowing full well it will be no more than a fleeting moment of accomplishment ~ kind of like cleaning the cat box. It is the perfect practice for “living in the moment”.

* annette

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just So

Trust….so easy when waters are flowing just so.

It’s when they get too high or low,

my mind finds worry

in all I don’t know.


Let them rage, let them fall,

to remind where I put a wall.


Now I stretch,

to extend past limits.


The old banks complain,

with much disdain.

The old banks give way,

to breath a little deeper this day.


At first, as water’s rise,

I’m so sure of near demise.

But somehow the water's course

allows release of remorse.


Dissolution of limits past,

I ride free for as long as it lasts.


Then low waters slow me down,

to surface things I’d buried deep.

I’d kept so busy to not look too close,

as muck and mud began to creep.


With simple love and attention

came understanding and a need to mention


A quiet loving hand

brought me to a new stand.

So wherever you may go

you bring the love you know.


So now when waters ride high or low,

I imagine it is really just so.

Mary

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poem - Being Cozy

My haven is being cozy
In my bed

It embraces me in my
Heart and in my head.

Away from the illusion of
All things distracting.

I snuggle myself, as I lay
My lively, now fatigued
Bones
Prone…..

Letting the moment wash over me,
Erasing all stories into the flotation
Of the night,

Allowing the reality of my dreams,
Take me into Truth.

Patricia

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dust


My mother is letting go. She admits that she was never that into housekeeping. She did it for Dad. He searched for some sort of order in his universe and the house was where he could impose it. So now that he’s buried, one layer of the dust comes from that.

And another layer is because her eyes are not seeing quite as well as they used to and her body has stiffened some from age and her lifestyle. She’s carried on her mother’s tradition of loving game shows. And now there’s a 24-7 game show network.

Still ,the dust disturbs me when I visit. It settles deepest in the places she doesn’t disturb with her daily movements.

I remember how as a child one of my favorite chores at my Grandma’s house was to dust every shelf and surface with a rag and aerosol can of Endust in hand. I felt important. The rag was just an excuse for caressing each knick knack she had collected, each one with some arcane or sentimental meaning. I felt proud of the figurine of a woman taking off her apron, her hair and clothes ruffled by the wind, which a younger me had bought her at a yard sale with my own money. I always thought of her taking off the apron—maybe she was putting it on.

Mom has outlived Grandma now by 10 years. Mom’s grandchildren are grown up or seldom seen. Great grandchildren rarely visit and don’t stay to do chores.

What bothers me most about that dust are those words that come to mind, “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.”

--by Terra Rafael

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Big Dump

The scene outside my windows, as I sit here to write, deserves accolades and expletives. After waiting all winter, it is finally here. The Big Dump!

The stillness is palpable, the movement continuous, the monochrome broken only by the dark greens and grey branches laden with huge white puffs pushing them downwards. Out of a white canopy, individuated millions of flakes make their journey, rushing to meet the ever increasing thickness blanketing all stationary objects. It must have reached a good fifteen or sixteen inches so far. The constant falling veers a little to the left and then to the right, or straight down, then all mixed up. Every once in a while, the weight on the branches cannot be sustained and with a swoosh and a resounding thump, a sheet of snow careens through space to join the piles on the earth. I do not tire of watching it.

Here, in my cozy warmth, I can observe to my heart’s content. But, I am being called out, out into the wetness and chill, out into the soft crispness. I want to capture some of this heavenly offering on my tongue. Besides, isn’t it time to bring in some more wood for the fire?

Prema Rose

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Letter To My Child-Self

Patty, I know how sweet and innocent you are at this age (four years old), and yet I know how deeply you see into the people around you. I also know that you feel that the things you see are denied, that people say it isn’t true, and you wonder why you see these things.
I understand your confusion. I want to tell you to keep your eyes and heart open. The things you see are true. The people you are around can’t see in themselves what you see there. You are seeing people’s blind side, the part of all of us that isn’t visible to us. You see those parts of others and if you address them directly, they will be denied.
I want you to know that in your later years these insights will benefit you. You will help other people open to the parts of themselves that they don’t see and can then work with.
I would advise you not to let these experiences go into confusions. You will find your way, and the things that worry you now about yourself, become your greatest skills.
I love you and send you a hug from the future and I will lovingly accompany you as you grow through your childhood.
I will write again when you are a little older and we can speak of other things.
Your future self,
Jyoti (formerly, Patty)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Old Woman Sings

I am the woman who spins in the clouds.
I am the woman who weaves through the earth.

I am the keeper of yarns and dyes and threads and things.
Of needles and looms and magical tools.
A weaver of worlds.
A spinner of tales.

I hold up the rainbow and play with the sun.
My thread spins it’s way through all generations
My loom weaves an ocean
My needle sews the starlight.

I am the woman who weaves through the night.
I am the woman who spins in the clouds.

Jesse

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Creative Eavesdropping … ??

“I just met him, he seems like such a nice guy” said a young woman as she hung on the arena gate during down time as a volunteer at the stock show.

“He really is a good man,” offered another female volunteer.

“I met him when he was 18 years old” a woman chuckled and I recognized the voice of his wife.

“They will celebrate 36 years of marriage this year” exclaimed the young girl, obviously impressed.

“Wheeeweeee!” I think to myself. I am both surprised and impressed. I raise my eyebrows and put a shocked look on my face as I turn to look at his wife. She is smiling and nodding her head; grins as she acknowledges my look. In the next instant she replies non-verbally with her own funny face. We all laugh.

As she talks about her husband she is not boastful or bashful; she is easy and accepting. In the four years that I have volunteered with them, I have never heard them say an unkind word or be disrespectful of the other. For the rest of the day, as we all volunteer together, I pay more attention to the two of them. They joke with one another and all those around them. He is more gregarious and funny, while she is quieter and openly contained. I sense a great deal of support for one another; it is so attractive and humbling.

At this stage in my life, I am happy to rub shoulders with a couple who have made it, and are so comfortable in their own skins. I know several couples that have what I consider to be healthy happy relationships, each one looks very different, but they have manifested some thing that I desire. I like being around them. I want to soak up that magic by osmosis. They don’t know that they are my teachers, there is a good chance that it would sully the moment. Is this a performance art? Almost, yeah, I think it is, in its unscripted honesty.

I have never worried about being alone; I have a very strong feeling that I will have another chance. Although I may never have the opportunity to know another human being that intimately for so many consecutive years, there is another guy in my future and we will have a chance to dance life together ~ mindfully, heart-fully, gratefully, kindfully ~ with wisdom, grace and love.

* annette

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Candlelight

You gave me a candle, lit.
I did what everyone was doing,
what I saw, was taught and what I learned.
To build walls, upon walls
calling them all kinds of names, justifications, separations.
After all you have to protect that light…that small precious candlelight.
Taller, tougher, thicker walls…walls within walls…but, eventually
all walls fall, you know that…all must come down.

They restrict movement, dull illumination, stop expansion, and inhibit vision. A maze of walls, so tall, one forgot why they created and entered into them. What were they protecting?
Ultimately we take them down, any way we can.
We pray them down, smash them down, therapy them down, honor them down, and if we are lucky we love them down. But just get them down, anyway we can.

That little light, candle flickering light, grows within, restless, calling out
“Why all the focus on the walls, the protections, the separation, the illusions? What about me?”

In the beginning there was only light. and you so excited…..bubbled your way out…pop…a tiny bubble of light hurling through the universes to pop, just for a moment into this one tiny world, with your candlelight. And then you forgot and built walls-for the fun or fear of it. But then you got tickled and started to remember and remember and re-member the light….that you are.

Mary

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prose - Zachary's Disappearance

All the while I was working in my little office with a client, in the front of my house, my two-year old grandson disappeared from my daughter at the back of the house.

The two of them were in the backyard playing. Laura had to run in the house for a second to fill her water bottle. When she returned to the yard, Zachary was no where to be seen. He had pulled open the back gate, at the time a wire gate one could see through and was easily opened.

Laura looked up and down the alley, neighbors were out helping her. I was working, totally oblivious all this was going on.

Eventually, she went to Spruce Street, the next street over, and was combing the area, when she saw a policeman coming toward her with Zachary in tow. He was just getting ready to cross Twentieth Street, a main artery, one block from the red light, when the policeman spotted him. Zachary said he was on his way to Oklahoma, looking for his Dad in the milk truck. It was actually a U-haul truck he had driven to Oklahoma, moving all their belongings.

I was stunned I had missed this significant and traumatic episode. How could this little darling be so courageous and intent on finding his Dad, when it was usually upsetting for him to be without his Mom. He was so use to them being a unit together. I was driving with the two of them days later in their car, eastward.

Before we left for Oklahoma, a healer friend came into my house who had psychic sight. She took one look at my grandson who was looking down at us from the loft.

“Oh my god”, she says, “there is a huge angel hovering above him.” She went on to describe the largeness of this being. It all made more sense why he was so safe. He’s always drawn in angelic love, he puts it out and he draws it in. And I find it interesting, he has Venus in Taurus at his mid-heaven in his astrological chart. Are these all the same energies, watching over and protecting him? Zachary has just turned fifteen, even as a teenager, these energies are still a great part of who he is.
Patricia

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poem - Yeh Spring

Yeh spring
Yeh love-
bright shinin
sweet heat.
Yeh spring
Yeh love-
stormy days
rains beat.

whatzit? whatzit? whatzit? whatzit?
doin to me?
prying open my seeds-
singin songs to be free-
let the flowers romance
until fruit bends the branch.

Yeh spring,
Yeh love-
bright shinin
sweet heat.
Yeh spring
Yeah love-
stormy days
rains beat.

Yeh spring
Yeh love-
Yeh spring
Yeh love-
Yeh love-
Yeh love-
Yeh love.

-by Terra Rafael

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vigil

Vigil

Tonight is the vigil. This is the night when the Resurrection is in the process of manifesting. Whether or not the story is to be taken literally does not matter. What does matter is the power of sacrifice to fulfill that which is. In the complete surrender of individual will, as Jesus did when he asked that this cup be taken away, but “Not my will be done, but Thine”, is there a taste of freedom from attachments, even to the body. Even so, to walk the path is so different from theorizing about it.

These last few days, my contemplation of what it was for the realization of what had to be done to really sink in and the events of the time playing out in each moment, has the enormity of the sacrifice reached another level of understanding in my awareness. I am so deeply moved by what it takes to fully wake up to our own empowerment and the surrender involved.

Many people throughout the ages have come to this understanding and have made enormous sacrifices. This exemplifies the work that must be followed through a comprehension of certain universal laws. By our study into the Law of Octaves, we can begin to see how a progression of forces manifests in the movement of actualization. In order to complete the evolving cycle, the moment comes to surrender each attachment.

For me, I have been working to release every attempt of my mind to conjecture about the outcome or justify the changes that are taking place within my life story. I am trying to hold a space of allowing so that the greater will is unhindered by my mental machinations. At the same time, I see the moment of taking responsibility to manifest the highest ideal for the good of all, is now. I must stand in the full power to choose. If I truly walk my talk, I create the now, now. I am committed.

These are the thoughts that come as I write in this moment of the vigil. It is the vigil of my own soul being resurrected from the tomb of my desires for certain outcomes. But who is to say that those outcomes are not exactly what is to be. It is therefore essential to hold the vision and at the same time to release it.

I am grateful for this celebration of the triumph of life over death, Light over darkness. Through this action, we can know our immortality. But it takes our constant vigilance.

Prema Rose

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Guilt

We ate guilt with our Catholic school lunches. I assumed it was one of the ingredients in the lentil stew or the tomato-soup-tasting bowl of spaghetti. Our goodness and badness was part of the curriculum and the gates of Hell beckoned to the side of the blackboard in every classroom.
Anything that we could possibly imagine doing in those tender years had such huge consequences attached to them, that to step over that line, even knowingly, made one’s spirit quiver as if the devil himself had entered our presence.
At home, the guilt trips were rampant, especially on a psychological level. If I spoke to my grandmother of how my mother really felt about something, I carried the guilt of my mother finding out, the fear of how she would deal with me, and the guilt of having done something that she wouldn’t like, quite innocently sometimes. It just came out.
As a young teenager, even though I attended public high school, the words of the Mother Superior as I had left that school to move to N.J., to my mother on my last day , remained in the recesses of my brain.
“She’ll wind up in the Home of the Good Shepherd!”
So every boy I kissed, every sexual act I engaged in during those exploratory years, had guilt peering over my shoulder and assessing how much I would pay for that choice. In Catholic school, I had been taught that the greater the guilt, the larger the punishment, because it implied that I knew what I was doing yet did it anyway.
But the judgments of the choices I made were theirs. I didn’t always agree. Some of the things just felt natural or innocent or the next organic step.
I wasn’t brazen, overt or deliberate. I didn’t just do things and sit back and watch the repercussions. I was engaged with life and sometimes didn’t think things through. Those traits would follow me for most of my life, yet somewhere along that path, I began to part ways with guilt. I began to see that, as I felt better about myself and knew I was a good person, making the best choices I could in the moment, there was no reason to carry guilt with me.
Yet to this day, after raising kids and getting up and out for a job by eight in the morning, when I have mornings with a client around noon, and I have morning time to write or walk or work on a project, guilt begins to niggle itself into my thoughts. Isn’t there something I should be doing? Is it okay to have hours of free time? Will my bills not get paid because I’m using this time to play instead of work, etc., etc. I keep breathing and letting go and speak gently to that part that still wonders about guilt’s purpose. I tell it that it’s okay to have free time. It’s okay to enjoy my life and not feel bad about having a good time, doing things that give me a sense of creativity. The bills will get paid and they do.

Note: The guilt that I see some Catholic women carry, those taught by nuns and where the beliefs are reinforced at home, is a paralyzing load. They second guess themselves and the choices they have made. They also go out of their way to not make waves, apologize, take blame when it’s not theirs, and cripple themselves by not making expansive decisions when the opportunities arise. Their sense of unworthiness shouts at them. Their mea culpas drown out their authentic voices and keep them small, I guess so the devil won’t find them!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Faraway

There are no roads leading into Broome. One flies in or comes in by boat. It is on the Indian Ocean where the ocean waters in February are as warm as body temperature. One simply walks into the surf from the air temperature of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels like soothing therapy. Broome is in far northwestern Australia. Our year was ending and we would be leaving soon. Jim had read a book about a remote place called Broome. It had intrigued him. We booked tickets and went.

From the first moment of stepping from the small charter Twin Otter I knew that this place was different. We were taken to a little hut close to the beach. I could see we would have company during our visit. Hundreds of little tree frogs inhabited the place. They slept with us, ate with us, bathed with us, and hung out with us. They were happy companions.

The whole place was incredible. We’d never seen or felt anything like it. We instinctively spoke quietly as if our voices would disturb the sacred spell. The ocean was enormously huge. The red earth behind us was vast and pure. The sky was deep overhead. The sky, the land, and the ocean were timeless, suspended in the universe.

One morning early just a dawn was breaking I heard someone call my name. In my pajama tee shirt I went outside. The world was mine. But I was not alone. There was something or someone near. I could feel a soft presence. It filled my whole self as I walked across the sand with the dune grass waving a gentle hello. Then I heard singing, an otherworldly music like bells far away. It surrounded me. Standing still I took it in. Looking for the source I realized that it was coming from the grass. The grass in this vast landscape was singing. I held my breath. Then let it out in a long exhale. The grass bowed and continued to sing.

Was it for me alone? I don’t know but my heart was touched that beautiful morning on our beautiful earth.
Jesse

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rain

I am ready for rain. I am ready for humidity, moisturizing, softening, lushness of thought and spirit. I love the little yard at my new house. In the summer the lawn is an oasis, magnificently green and lush under the large old trees. I have a well that sprinkles my lawn and gardens in dry times and I adore walking across it and feeling the grass tickling my feet ~ the ridges of the compact soil underneath knead out the sore spots with soft persistence.

I am ready to hear the rain on the metal pole barn roof. A simple structure but so versatile. The rain will start out gently and softly and I will relax back into the straw. The horse’s ears twitch, attentive. A sudden gust of wind brings a hard smattering of rain drops. I bless the goddess but the horses will run out into the rain, where all of their senses are alert for signs of danger.

I understand their reasons but I will leave them to their own games.

I remember playing in the rain, it was a refreshing break from the mid summer Missouri heat. My mother warns us all to stay out of the mud ~ but who can resist cold mud squishing between our toes ~ sucking on the bottom of our little feet with every step. Mud is good, a marvelous product of rain. I must try and remember that this spring as my parking lot turns to mud ~ remember the JOY.

I close my eyes and suddenly see the rainbow. I love it when the sun shines and the rail falls and goddess’s promise arch’s through the sky ~ a multi-colored canopy of beauty and JOY!

* annette

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Big Surish Day

Kitty just ran by and up the stairs as fast as any roadrunner. It might appear she really is losing her kitty mind as nothing I can see or hear precipitated this action. Now she is rearranging something in the loft, at least that’s what it sounds like. Jumping from some undisclosed height I wonder if its something in the new food we are giving her. ‘Who knows where she takes her cues from’ I decide. A quote from a cat book floats into my mind “Sometimes I can’t explain myself.” This sums up the situation.

Today is a Big Surish day outside. A misty fog, except instead of moisture of the misty kind we have dry snowballs of the teeny tiny kind. raining from its density. Kitty now sits watching the early birds arrive as first signs of light penetrate the thick fog, just enough to subtly illuminate the deck and pine trees, letting us know how thick this soup is. It the kind of morning I long for. I realize this only now that it is here. It wraps around me as the fog wraps around our home. It holds me and lets me feel what’s inside my inner soup, the comfort of warmth, of pulling in, of being held. Of letting all the inner ingredients stew. Best not to have to many cooks around when stirring inner concoctions.

Kitty switches to her other favorite place-my lap-and begins kneading with head tucked in under my armpit. The small beads of snow turn to flakes as if an order was called out, somewhere up there, to “Roll-em” and now they are flattened to reveal their infinitely one-of-a-kind patterns. The birds sit and eat anyway, snow falling all around and covering the treasure of seed they seek. For a while they will carry on through it.

Maybe we all start out looking like those same-little balls- but our balls are made of light-our soul. Then when the show starts, conception and birth, someone says “Roll-em” and out we come, turning into our unique selves. Instead of the crystalline assortment of snowflakes, we have DNA that dictates our one-of-a-kindness. And though we often think of our lives as taking these long and various roads in the larger arena of our life, it’s as short as a trip from the heavens as a snowflake has to the ground, to merge and melt, into earth and each other. Maybe that’s why we hold a secret love for these beautiful crystals, we see ourselves, our short-lived lives in their pure journey. And as much as we’d like to attach a whole lot of meaning and purpose to our tumbling through time…its really could be just for the trip, for the beauty of the trip. Is that what they show us?

Kitty’s back to the glass door peering at all the feathered varieties gathering. She is crouched low waiting for her moment and she’ll take it even though the glass door will stop her. The fog has lifted a bit, I see the hillside across the canyon again, dotted with pine trees, rocks and snow. The rail around the deck fills with pine siskins mostly, though a few nuthatches, chickadees and juncos are squeezing in. I feel the trees rejoicing for any bit of moisture after their long dry spell. Their needles almost sparkle, whispering Yes! They don’t really complain when they don’t get it. They’ll pull in and get quiet, conserving what they have, they have been through those long dry spells and survived, most of them anyway But, if any water falls the needles will sing. It is how they take in moisture. If you listen closely you’ll hear their song, a rejoicing of sorts.

Do you think snowflakes have a song too?

The snow has stopped, a grey day remains and Kitty has found her latest resting spot. A shoebox, tipped on its side, a perfect size to squeeze into and melt like the remaining snowflakes. Watching birds is big work. Rest is needed.

Me, the moment of fog and it’s gifts has dissipated. I’m grateful for it’s visit, short lived and all. I nestle in with a song of my own, quietly humming….

Mary

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Prose - Guilt

Guilt has been upon me ever since I can remember. Maybe as a very small person, I didn’t know what it was called. But I remember the feeling being there. It's planted deeply with sexual abuse, guilt and shame. I’ve worked with it most of my life. For a long time I carried guilt for not being the daughter my Mom dreamed of. She would have been happier if I were religious, had a greater interest in decorating my house, my body and were more of a go-getter.

And then there was guilt around being a better Mom myself. I honestly thought I was doing a pretty good job, especially being devoted and attentive to my daughters’ nutrition, until all they can talk about are the junk foods they didn’t get to have. I could have spent more time, for instance, developing their spiritual lives.

Sometimes, there’s guilt about not being a better citizen, not being more active to help change the world. There’s guilt about turning up the heat, using too much water, using the earth’s resources extravagantly.

Of course, the ultimate guilt, was leaving my husband when he was recovering from a major crisis, when he had no will to fight for himself. I felt cowardice on my part and yet it was the only way it could have been done. His great fear of abandonment allowed my great need to enact my guilt and shame.

Guilt is a characteristic of the Metal Element, lungs and large intestines. These organs hold guilt, sorrow, loss. The color of this element is white. These words just feel white to me. The Metal Element is also about hoarding, and oddly enough this is the level cancer is known to begin in the body, in the Five Element theory. Guilt, sorrow, loss, emotions mankind will hopefully learn to live without. They only hold us back and serve no purpose, except to be aware if they are present within and consciously move through them quickly and completely.

As the channel, Abraham says, “there is no suffering into joy, we can only joy our way into joy”.
Patricia

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poem - Bravely Write

Bravely allow the pen to trace you onto the page,
distilling that sacred existence you now populate.
Bare your breast to the world with story
Until your heart beats
-black & white
-black & white
-black & white
through eyes & ears, into the hearts of others.
This will prove to you, once & for all,
that the life sustaining pen is mightier than the sword.

--by Terra Rafael

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Responsibility, Judgment, and Guilt

Responsibility, Judgment, and Guilt

I have been looking deeply at the role of Responsibility in my life for many years now. I see how I am responsible for absolutely everything and that I am the creator of all the circumstances that occur within my sphere of awareness. That does not mean that I can hide my head in the sand and look the other way at the atrocities that are being committed around the world and in my own back yard. On the contrary, I am responsible to take what I see and understand it to such a degree that I can transform it and transmute it by holding it to the light of Truth. Of course, there is just so much that I can take on as an individual, but the wonderful thing is, I am not a mere individual. I am part of a collective consciousness that is waking up to our responsibility. Not that we vilify and create more antagonism, us against them, but that we hold the highest and most objective viewpoint in the Light of compassion and love. Then we step out of the way to allow what we are holding to manifest within the realms of creation. Our job is to be vigilant and undaunting.

The problem comes when we begin to judge ourselves as well as others. Then, there appears a separation between our ideal and the seeming reality. In that moment of judgment, when we see ourselves in the mirror of Truth, the specter of our reflection opens the doorway to the insidious usurper of self-esteem, guilt. I do not measure up to the responsibility. My standards and expectations are too high. I become a failure in my own eyes. I no longer see my life as a learning process to help me expand my conscious awareness. Guilt becomes a quagmire that sucks me into the bog of despair.

But the scale of judgment weighs both, or all, sides in the balance. True judgment is impartial to our foibles and our mistakes. It is too busy keeping the delicate equilibrium between opposing forces. It lifts one out of the morass of self-indulgence into clarity of purpose. There is a sense of peace in that stasis. However, since we are creatures of movement, we invariably slip into chaos and the work begins again to achieve that balance and harmony.

Unless we devote our every breath to remaining unmoved by all the influences that bombard us, we ride the sea-saw of life, tipping this way and that. From my perspective, we need these unsettling influences to give us the practice to bring that balance back to the fulcrum point of stillness.

How hard it is. How often I fall down. I see all the judgment and guilt trying to gain a foothold in my self-perception. Nevertheless, this is the moment of choice when I can exercise my responsibility to my highest Self.

I am called upon, now, to be true to that.

Prema Rose

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The snow coming...

The snow coming
brings me in again
after a false spring
made me shed clothes
and prune my roses…
brings me in again
to finish winter tasks,
quilt not bound
scrapbook to finish
denser foods to eat
those books I swore
I would read
and still want to.
The snow is coming
and it means a break
from the warm weather
activity that needs doing.
The snow is coming
and I can’t wait.
Jyoti

Friday, April 3, 2009

New shoes for Easter

With seven kids my parents couldn’t afford more than one pair of shoes a year for each of us. They would buy them big so that we could get a year out of them. When we got our annual new pair the old ones would be for after school. I remember trying very hard to keep my new shoes new all year. That was quite a trick on a dirt farm but I loved getting new shoes.

One sunny spring day near Easter my dad took me to town to get new shoes. That was a big deal in itself. Getting Dad all to myself for the drive into town and back happened maybe four or five times in my whole life. So there I sat, in the front seat with Dad. I was probably eight or nine, skinny with buck teeth, wearing glasses and stringy hair. Looking down at my old shoes I could tell it was time for a change.

We went to the store on Main Street where if you bought twelve pair you would get the thirteen pair free. Cheaper by the dozen. My parents never shopped anywhere else for shoes. Netterfields. They had an x-ray machine which would show how the shoes would fit. Our bones looked greenish in the cancer producing light of the x-ray machine.

This was to be the thirteenth pair of shoes…I felt like I was winning the lottery. Dad was proud too. Since it was he who had taken me shopping I knew I didn’t have to be practical. Shopping with Mom was different. I chose a pair of brown oxford shoes with white on the top across my toes. They were beautiful. I remember walking all over the store in them while my dad talked to Mr. Netterfield. I put my foot into the x-ray machine every time I walked by.

Finally Dad sat me down and asked, did I really want those shoes? Yes, I really really did.

He even let me wear them out of the store. He held my hand as we walked towards the car. With new shoes and Dad I could almost see Homecoming Queen in my future.

As we walked past the bakery in the middle of the block he stopped.

“Don’t you think we should take mom home a donut or two?” He asked.

On a day like this would I turn down a donut? We went in. He left it up to me to decide which to get but the choices were too enormous for my little mind so Dad helped me out.

“Let’s just get two of each.”

Driving home wearing my new shoes I held the big white box of three dozen donuts on my lap. I felt like a million bucks. As I write this now it occurs to me that Dad had just blown a whole pair of shoes at the bakery. Lucky mine were free that day.

Jesse

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Writing Prompt: Swimming

When I settled down to think about what “swimming” meant to me, different scenes flash across my internal screen.

First, we are floating down the Jack’s Fork River in Missouri in canoes. There are many bright colored canoes filled with kids from my church group and their parents. There is a sensible older couple in one canoe, with all the food for safe keeping. We kids are strung out on the water, bright orange life vests glowing in the afternoon sun, splashing and paddling, laughing and stroking … it is a marvelous memory. When we get hot, we dump the canoe. We swim and back float in the gentle current of the river. The surface water is very warm, but the deeper you let your legs hang down, the cooler the water. We forget that it is hard work to get the canoe righted and pull ourselves back in. I remember one time when we saw a shiny triangle coming through the water at us as we set in our canoe. Someone calls out that it is a water moccasin, very poisonous and totally freaky. They have been known to crawl into boats so we smack our paddles flat on the water and turn him away from our flotilla. A few very frightening moments.

Second, I am setting at lunch with my dear friend and we are discussing what we are doing to make it through these trying times. She told me about her dream of being in the river. She saw herself swimming against the current and realized how tired she was getting. She was scared and didn’t know if she could make it. I could totally relate to the fear. With her dream as a teacher, she told me how she was trying to look at every situation differently; to keep her head above the water, to get a sense of how to navigate gently and easily around the obstacles. I have been using the technique myself and I love the feeling of being a leaf in the water and flowing gently with the water and staying on course while exerting very little energy. Since I don’t know exactly where we are going, why should I resist the easier path? As if I needed to cement in these ideas, I am finally reading the Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff. Winnie-the-Pooh doesn’t even know that he has it all figured out. He is my new hero.

Thirdly, I see myself snorkeling in the waters of Tahiti, one of my more amazing vacations. I am new to snorkeling, but enthusiastic. I do have a small amount of trepidation of being in large bodies of water. Born in Missouri and moving to Colorado, I have been land-locked all my life. I am drawn to the water, but it takes courage to enter because in the back of mind I see paralyzing jelly fish and flesh eating sharks. But the sky is blue, the sand is white and the water is deep turquoise; it is a perfect day and the fish are absolutely amazing. It truly is like a Disney cartoon. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I see a fish swimming right for my mask. I thrash backward and try to stand up but I can’t get me feet under me. Close to panic, I lurch out of the water and get my bearings. I chide myself and take a few calming breaths. GEEZ! Fitting the mask back on, I blow air through my mouthpiece and become one with the water again. But there he is again and he looks a lot larger this time. He darts towards me aggressively and veers off just before slamming into my mask. It is hard to appreciate his exotic brilliance when I see menace in his eyes. Seriously, I can see it and I can feel it. My heart is pounding and I am afraid he is going to bite my nose off. I totally forget that things underwater look much larger than they actually are ~ he appears to grow exponentially as the seconds pass. Round one goes to the darting menace. I rationalize that it is time for a Mai Tia and a stretch on the beach. I compose myself and nonchalantly exit the blue lagoon and leave that two inch beauty to protect its nest.

* annette

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Playing It By Ear

I’m being called to peer into the saying “Playing It By Ear.” Words I’ve walked by, used casually and all of a sudden was stopped to acknowledge more deeply. Like a tree you’ve seen a million times and suddenly, maybe because of the angle of sunlight, notice it’s beauty. I'm reminded of the two times out of hundreds, that I was on one of my Betasso hikes. Near the start of the three-mile loop, no matter which direction you begin, are signs warning of Mountain Lions in the area. Well ninety-nine point eight percent of time I just walk by those signs without a thought, often to the point of not even noticing them. But two times the sign stopped me in my tracks, lit up and was trying to tell me something. I did take note, was extra watchful and both of those times found a fresh deer leg on the trail. This confirmed the mountain lion was about but also that he’d recently eaten, a slightly more comforting thought. But what forewarned me? Part of a subtler information system that informs us of critical data? Can it work for the mundane things as well? All things, in all times?

“Playing It by Ear” is generally referenced to musicians that can “accurately reproduce a melody one has heard without needing written music.” They don’t have to read, practice or study they just know it. I would imagine a desired quality for anyone musically inclined. I find myself using the saying, as many do, in the content of “I’m not sure now but will see how it feels in the moment.” I’ll listen to something inside of me and make the call when I have to. It acknowledges an inner voice, an inner knowing, that “I’ll know when I know” so I better not make a plan now. Some part of us knows all the information is not in yet to make that decision. This recognition of an inner listening, not unlike the musicians, is calling me, requiring I give it more than just a passing glance. Maybe it’s as simple as acknowledging it exists, tuning in a little closer to its whisperings. Just as the musician hears, trusts and translates what he hears into music, knowing exactly what to do, so maybe can I.

I’ve got to think that information system is always there. The ability to hear and trust what I hear is maybe what moves in and out like a melody that is sometimes clearer than other times. Maybe the more I develop an “ear” for listening, the more I'll hear and see the music in my life. I think I’ll play this one by ear...

Mary