Monday, May 31, 2021

May 31--See and Be Love

Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.  --Alice Mackenzie Swaim

    That's the crocus. 
    Here is an invitation to see and be the courage of love in daily life, written by Steven Charleston:

Sometimes, in this troubled world of ours, we forget that love is all around us. We imagine the worst of other people and withdraw into our own shells. But try this simple test: Stand still in any crowded place and watch the people around you. Within a very short time, you will begin to see love, and you will see it over and over and over. A young mother talking to her child, a couple laughing together as they walk by, an older man holding the door for a stranger—small signs of love are everywhere. The more you look, the more you will see. Love is literally everywhere. We are surrounded by love.

    What a great way to close out the month of courage!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

May 30--"Interbeing"

Turn your wounds into wisdom.  --Oprah Winfrey

    The following piece of wisdom, quoting Thich Nhat Hanh, comes from "Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation" for May 29 (Center for Action and Contemplation): 


Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926) has offered the world much wisdom through his personal example and teaching. Here he offers a meditation about a piece of paper to illustrate the mysterious interconnection of all things which he calls “interbeing”: 
If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. 
If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here—time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.
Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. . . . Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

    We have suffered many wounds with our attitude of separation. Let the wisdom of interbeing help us recognize the oneness of all life. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

May 29--John Wayne Knows

Courage is being scared to death--and saddling up anyway.  --John Wayne

    I figure John Wayne should know. He was one of my mother's favorite actors, so I saw a LOT of John Wayne growing up. It's kind of comical that I ended up in wild west cowboy territory after being raised in Pennsylvania. Kansas may as well have been on another planet when I was growing up--it was so far away. How our world has changed!
    The most scared I have ever been was in the plane flying up to skydive. Once the plane takes off, the realization sets in that you are not coming down IN the plane. So I had about 15-20 minutes of panic-stricken "what was I thinking!?!?!?" terror until the plane reached altitude for the leap. Terror turned instantly to ecstasy as my tandem partner and I leaned off the step and into space. 
    Sky-diving terror doesn't apply to most folks. It's the daily scares...facing day-after-day medical treatment; concern over loved-ones' safety; traffic; will our kids turn out OK; another day at an unsatisfying job. Daily living brings all sorts of challenges, but we keep on keeping on. 
    "Saddling up" makes me giggle, as I'm positively terrified of riding a horse. 
    Off we go,

Friday, May 28, 2021

May 28--"Keep on the Sunny Side of Life"

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.  --Helen Keller

    To paraphrase Henry Ford: whether you think you can or you can't, you're right. Ya gotta believe, ya gotta have hope, ya gotta be a dreamer to adventure as Ms. Keller suggested. As I've told people about my recent trip driving solo almost 3,000 miles, along with the adventure to the Washington Nationals game by myself, most women have said, "I could never do that." Yep, that's right, with that mindset. How much fun is prematurely beaten to death by pessimists?  
    Flipping the light switch or waking up your cell phone puts you in touch with great optimists Edison and Bell. If they, along with thousands of other inventors, had not believed, where would we be today? Would we have put men on the moon? Would we have the innovative medical treatments that have saved so many from pain, disease and early death? Would we know the many wonders of our magnificent planet?
    It's a fairly simple choice, whether to be an optimist or a pessimist. Be an optimist--if nothing else, you'll annoy the hell out of the pessimists.
    Have a nice day! 😉😉

An optimistic gecko

Thursday, May 27, 2021

May 27--Simple Life Courage

The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of the final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. 
  --John F. Kennedy

    This encourages thoughts within me about the courage in daily living. These things take courage:
  • learning to walk
  • getting on that giant bus and going to school
  • making friends
  • taking tests
  • learning to swim
  • asking someone out
  • learning to drive a car
  • getting married
  • living long-term with another human
  • owning a pet
  • stating one's needs
  • buying a house
  • living within one's means
  • birthing children
  • raising children
  • witnessing a child's illness or failure
  • maintaining a self-care discipline
  • changing jobs or careers
  • traveling to unfamiliar areas
  • becoming an empty-nester
  • undergoing medical treatment or surgery
  • growing old
    I doubt we think much about these natural parts of life as taking courage--these are the "less dramatic spectacles." We are using our courage muscles from day one, and yes, there can certainly be a mix of triumph and tragedy. The glory of being human is that we keep forging ahead, one day at a time. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

May 26--You Can Survive. Will You Thrive?

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.  --J. K. Rowling

    There's surviving, and then there's thriving. I think the tendency initially with setbacks is to focus on just surviving. Consider of the loss of a loved one. We just want to survive the grief. Thriving doesn't enter the picture for a while. This was true of the pandemic lock-down, too. At first, our thoughts went to survival, but many of us created ways to actually thrive during it. I believe it is the security of knowing we can survive setbacks that enables us to reach further into thriving. 
    An important aspect of survival that comes to me at the moment is the recognition that everything has a lifespan. Everything--relationships, jobs, activities, vacations, lives--comes to an end at some point. This knowledge may not make the ending any easier, but it is wisdom that makes us stronger in handling the ending. Ultimately, it is the inherent impermanence of life that pushes us to live fully, to thrive. 
    Enjoying this day,

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

May 25--The Best Option

When in doubt, tell the truth.  --Mark Twain

    LOL. I love Twain's sense of humor. However, I'm sure he meant this quite seriously. Why is this quote included in a month themed on courage? It is not always an easy task to tell the truth, to yourself or to someone else.
    I refer you to the May 23 post: Four Questions. I'm becoming ever more aware of my codependent tendencies, which come with the territory of being raised by addicts and being a recovering addict myself. I learned to say what I believed people wanted me to say, to be who they wanted me to be. Being me, telling the truth, is a daily practice for me. I am grateful for the awareness that leads to choice. 
    Life is good, and that's the truth!

Monday, May 24, 2021

May 24--What Motivates You?

True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world.  --Francois de la Rochefoucauld

    This is a bit of a head-scratcher for me, so here I go, in this direction... Can we do what we do best, offer our unique gift(s) to the world, without any expectation of recognition, simply for the sake of joyful self-expression? Nothing to prove, no one to please, no fame, no accolades, no trophies. It makes us look at our motivation for doing what we do. It does take a brave person to fully self-express without concern for any sort of recognition. We like being liked, being appreciated, being noticed. 
    Considering my motives,

Sunday, May 23, 2021

May 23--Four Questions

The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud.  --Coco Chanel

    Dr. Edith Eger developed over her four decades of practice a therapeutic model based on freedom. She calls it “Choice Therapy, as freedom is about CHOICE—about choosing compassion, humor, optimism, intuition, curiosity, and self-expression.”

    These are the four questions Dr. Eger asks:
  1. What do you want? This is a deceptively simple question. It can be much more difficult than we realize to give ourselves permission to know and listen to ourselves, to align ourselves with our desires. How often when we answer this question do we say what we want for someone else? 
  2. Who wants it? This is our charge and our struggle: to understand our own expectations for ourselves versus trying to live up to others’ expectations of us. . . . It’s our responsibility to act in service of our authentic selves. Sometimes this means giving up the need to please others, giving up our need for others’ approval.
  3. What are you going to do about it? I believe in the power of positive thinking—but change and freedom also require positive action. Anything we practice, we become better at. If we practice anger, we’ll have more anger. If we practice fear, we’ll have more fear. In many cases, we actually work very hard to ensure that we go nowhere. Change is about noticing what’s no longer working and stepping out of the familiar, imprisoning patterns.
  4. When? In "Gone with the Wind," my mother’s favorite book, Scarlett O’Hara, when confronted with a difficulty, says, “I’ll think about it tomorrow. . . . After all, tomorrow is another day.” If we are to evolve instead of revolve, it’s time to take action now. 
    It most definitely takes courage to answer these four questions honestly and aloud. 

Reference: Edith Eva Eger, The Choice: Embrace the Possible (Scribner: 2017), via Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 5/22/21, Center for Action and Contemplation

Saturday, May 22, 2021

May 22--Make or Break?

Hardships make or break people.  --Margaret Mitchell
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  --Viktor Frankl

    These are the words of Dr. Edith Eger, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, on forgiving herself:
The choice to accept myself as I am: human, imperfect. And the choice to be responsible for my own happiness. To forgive my flaws and reclaim my innocence. To stop asking why I deserved to survive. To function as well as I can, to commit myself to serve others, to do everything in my power to honor my parents, to see to it that they did not die in vain. To do my best, in my limited capacity, so future generations don’t experience what I did. To be useful, to be used up, to survive and to thrive so I can use every moment to make the world a better place. And to finally, finally stop running from the past. To do everything possible to redeem it, and then let it go. I can make the choice that all of us can make. I can’t ever change the past. But there is a life I can save: It is mine. The one I am living right now, this precious moment. . . .
    We all choose whether hardships make or break us. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

May 21--The Richness of Conquest

The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.  --Helen Keller

    What would the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars series be without limitations and dark valleys? Those are what make life an adventure. They also test our faith, and hopefully, strengthen it. That would be faith both in ourselves and in Something Bigger. 
    Maybe this quote explains why I love golf so much! There is always the potential to overcome the limitations of my skill and equipment and the rough terrain ("dark valleys") of the course. I doubt, however, that Ms. Keller was referring to golf. There are plenty of pitfalls, stresses, and valleys in life--accidents, illness, job loss, natural disasters, death of a loved one--that make the "hilltop hour" of conquest so sweet.
    Ready to conquer Friday,

Thursday, May 20, 2021

May 20--Boldness Pays Off

Fortune favors the bold.  --Virgil

    As I move my yoga students into a Warrior I pose, I suggest that they explore what they are feeling, observe the strength of their muscles, and breathe deeply. "This is not Weenie I," I say. "Put some warrior into it!" We all have the choice to put some warrior into our lives. 
    Clearly, since I'm writing this, my boldness in life has not killed me. It has often scared me, for sure. My boldness, my willingness to "go for it," definitely has brought great fortune into my life. My recent trip to Washington Nationals Park (see May 14 post) is a fine example. 
    Living boldly is a choice. Boldness has a different and very personal definition for each of us. Be bold in your own way--fortune will favor you!
Warrior I

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

May 19--"There's No Place Like Home"

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. 
--Rabindranath Tagore

    I'm not sure it is possible in human life to be fearless. I think the more common circumstance is to forge ahead despite fear. Maybe one could isolate himself so totally that no danger could get near him, but what sort of life would that be? I remember when I went sky-diving. I was positively petrified, but I did it anyway. I certainly was not fearless in my recent adventure from Philadelphia to the Nationals game in Washington, DC, but I did it anyway. There's just too much "scary" in our world to be utterly fearless. 
    My road trip has come to a close. After 2,922 miles, I arrived home yesterday afternoon, reuniting with my wonderful husband and sweet doggie. We were blessed with plenty of rain while I was gone, and the yard, garden and potted plants are lush and happy. I am grateful for a safe and fabulous trip, all the folks I saw, the generous hospitality I received, and all the love I shared. 
    Re-entry ongoing,

To help me remember the peaceful sounds of a favorite place (Alan Seeger Natural Area in central PA):

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

May 18--Class

Class is the sure-footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life. 
--Ann Landers

    This quote is making me ponder what "class" means to me. At first glance, I tend to think of it in terms of outside appearance--fashionable dress, body language, air of confidence, etc. Those things can be faked. True class on the inside does not need to be faked or dressed up. It is just as Ms. Landers states.
    Let us note that there are several ways to "meet life." One is by using a substance or activity of choice to help one cope, i.e., addiction. One is by simply avoiding life. Another is by having a constructive method to deal with all that life brings one's way. I learned that in a 12-Step program, and yes, that gave me a huge dose of sure-footedness which I did not get from my other methods of meeting life. 
    Trip update: I arrived at my in-laws' home mid-afternoon yesterday and had a lovely visit with them. I also had a 2-mile walk after supper in their beautiful (golf course) neighborhood. It was very welcome movement after 450 miles of driving. Today I go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Homeward bound,
Can't wait to see my sweet Barney!

Monday, May 17, 2021

May 17--Begin Anyway

Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin--but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.  --Harper Lee

    Courage, yes, but I think fulfilling this quote involves a healthy dose of stubbornness, too. My first thought upon reading this quote was my Forrest Yoga Teacher Training. A few days in, I went to one of the teaching assistants to announce "I quit." She talked me out of it, and we made some modifications to help me handle the things that were troubling me the most. Then it became a matter of my stubborn nature keeping me going, along with the mantra, "One minute closer to home." 
    Does anyone ever really know how things are going to turn out? It's a damn good thing we can't see the future! It keeps the "begin anyway" going strong. 
    Trip update: I spent last night in a hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Today I drive to Wentzville, Missouri, and get to spend the night with my in-laws, whom I haven't seen in a year and a half. Joy!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

May 16--Forgiving Requires Strength

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 
--Mohandas Gandhi

    And the weakness that is unable to forgive shows up as blaming, resentment, revenge. I've been there, in that state of weakness. It is a chronic state of powerlessness that can only be relieved by the conscious choice and effort to forgive. I've also born the brunt of long-term blaming and resentment and had to forgive the other's inability to forgive. Forgiveness is freedom!
    Trip update: The highlight of yesterday was my nephew treating me to 18 holes at the beautiful Spring Ford Country Club. It is long, hilly, and very challenging with vicious greens. It was a glorious afternoon for golf and a supreme joy to have the very fun hang time with my nephew. What a fitting close to my PA visit! Today I head for home, the first of three days driving. 

The first tee

Saturday, May 15, 2021

May 15--Wrestling Matches

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination or forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.  --August Wilson

    I have some really hard-working angels, so the idea of doing something that makes them sing is very exciting to me. Desperately wanting to recover from addiction caused a lot of wrestling matches. That's because addiction is the symptom pointing to dark parts and demons seeking the light. We use the addictive substance or behavior to keep them hidden. 
    I would change one word in this quote: "or" to "and." Illumination and forgiveness. Every dark place I have brought to the light required forgiveness, either of myself or others or both. I believe our consciousness continues to expand through eternity, and the more I can release the past with forgiveness, the more expansion is available to me. 
    Trip update: Had a relaxed day with a 2.5-mile walk in the neighborhood. Those who know about my left-right challenges--I made two turns on my walk, turned around to retrace my steps, and ended up having to use Google to get back to my nephew's house. Geez. My great-niece's re-wedding was a delightful affair. (They were officially married on-line last December; this was the in-person celebration.) The weather was perfect for the outdoor event. Everything went off without a hitch. The dinner was lovely. The dance was wild. Everyone was so excited to have a real live in-person celebration without Covid worries. I am, again, so glad I made the trip to be with family for this joyful time. 
    More fun upcoming...
Beauty from my walk

Friday, May 14, 2021

May 14--I DID IT!!!

Sooner or later, even the fastest runners have to stand and fight.  --Stephen King

    Yesterday's adventure was no longer running from my fears and anxiety--I went right into it. 
    One of the MLB stadiums remaining on my list yet to visit is the Washington Nationals. It's an "outlier" in my travels, and I just couldn't figure a simple way to get there. The Universe set it all up for me. Yesterday, while I'm in the Philadelphia area, the Nationals had a home afternoon game, so that I could take the train there, go the the game, and return on the train all in one day. I planned this over a month ago, buying train and game tickets for this solo adventure. And so the angst began, with my magic magnifying mind thinking of all the possible pitfalls and dangers. 
    I was determined to let Spirit and my angels handle it. I had to stay connected to something bigger than me besides Google. Here's the play-by-play (pun intended):
    The 30-mile drive from Collegeville to the Phila train station was fine. There was plenty of traffic, but I had allowed myself extra time during rush hour. The parking area where I thought I could park had a sign at the entrance which says "No Public Parking," so I had to drive around searching for parking. Those who saw my license plate were mostly kind to the dumb ass Kansas driver. (That saying a lot in Phila.) The constant beeping of my Google Maps changing directions nearly caused me to throw my phone out the window. I finally found a lot one block from the train station. I parked, paid the machine, took my receipt, and headed for the station. 
    I had time to spare, and the train was on time, leaving Phila just before 9:00 am. I am completely lulled by the swaying of a train, and had a little snooze on the way south. That relaxed me a lot. There was a mixed bag of industrial and natural scenery on the way. We arrived at Union Station just before 11:00 am. Wow, that place is HUGE and beautiful. I had thought to take the subway to the stadium, but found a bunch of taxis outside, so I took the easy and scenic way to Nationals Park. The bonus was seeing the Capitol, Supreme Court, Senate Office Building and other sites along the way. 
    It was two hours till game time, so I roamed the area around the stadium and found a brewpub where I could sit outside to enjoy an IPA and slice of pizza. It was the perfect day for baseball, 72 degrees with brilliant cloud-free sunny skies. 
    I made my way into the park and spent most of an hour exploring it, as is my habit on these baseball adventures. Covid had caused quite a few changes. Only the vendors on the main level were open. There were no cash transactions. You had to pre-order using a smart phone app. Capacity was limited so that the attendance count ended up at 8,710. Many seats were blocked off with zip-ties. There was no one seated within arms reach of me, but then I bought an upper deck seat to encourage that. It was a great seat, however, right above first base. 
    The Nats hit two two-run homers, and Patrick Corbin pitched a great game, so that was enough to sink the Phillies. It was joy indescribable to be back in the ballpark!
    I had hoped to find another cab after the game, but that was not "in the cards." However, I was right next to a subway station so I decided to give it a shot. I asked some young men in front of me to help me purchase the pass. They were so kind and helpful, and I noted that the most helpful one called me "miss" rather than "ma'am." 😉😉 I was on the escalator down to the train when a man (angel!!!) next to me said, "How's it going?" I grimaced and grumbled, he asked what was wrong. I told him where I was going and that I didn't know which train direction to take. He pointed and said, "Take that one, and change to the red line at Gallery Place." Yep, that was it. I did that, and ended up right back at Union Station. I truly believe he was an angel in disguise. 
    I bought a light supper and ate while waiting for the train back to Phila. It was on time, and off we went, just after 6:00 pm. My only worry at that point--I looked at my parking receipt and it said to leave it on the dash of the car. Dang. Would my car still be there? Would they have mercy on the Kansas dumb ass? Once again, I turned it over to the angels, because really, at that point, there was nothing I could do. The train arrived at the station just before 8:00 pm. I hoofed it to the parking lot and there was my car, no nasty stickers or anything. I headed back to my nephew's house, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Reading this, you know I made it back safely. I slept like the dead. 
    What an adventure! I'm so glad I went!
    24 down, 6 to go!!!
Nationals Park, May 13, 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021

May 13--Beauty in Unexpected Places

It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.  --Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    I've had both results to my trying--failure and success. I'm reminded that my definitions of failure and success were different from what assorted onlookers had. I'm thinking the most important thing is simply to keep on trying. Courage muscles build. 
    My trip continues. After a lovely breakfast with my college roommate and lots of doggie loving, I headed out. Prior YMCA research and several phone calls (trying with both results) finally netted me a swim at the East Shore Harrisburg YMCA. It was built in 1933, a huge brick building along Front Street facing the magnificent Susquehanna River. It is dark and old, but mostly clean, and the staff were super-friendly. What a surprise awaited me at the pool! The pool room is completely covered in decorative tiles, very intricate. It truly is a work of art. The pool itself is 1" tiles. Along the edges of the 25 yard pool are markers in the tile for 5/10/15/20 yards. On the pool floor in the tile are a turtle, crab and lobster. I told the lifeguard that this is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever swum.   
    Then it was off to Collegeville and a visit with my nephew's family. I arrived around 2:00 pm. I was treated in the evening to a real PA hoagie while enjoying a jazz band concert at an outdoor amphitheater. It was a blast-from-the-past treat to hear the middle school and high school bands.
    I've driven just over 1,500 miles so far. I can hardly wait to tell you about today's adventure!!!
My mid-trip doggie "fix"

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

May 12--On a Roller Coaster

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.  --J. K. Rowling

    This post is about the bravery of riding an emotional roller coaster. Yesterday's trip adventures had me all set for hanging out at the peaks. I left NE Ohio and headed into central PA to visit my "old stomping grounds." I drove over Nittany Mountain out of State College (Penn State University) and drove by the house where I grew up. At least that was the plan. The house is no longer there. My first pass left me disoriented--was I having a senior moment? Was I not where I thought I was? So I made two more passes, and sure enough, it's not there. I'm still freaking about it. It was a rock-solid home that my mother cared for like her child. There are trees encroaching where the house was. I checked my photo history, and it was there four years ago when I drove by. Fire? No clue as to what happened. To say this has rocked my foundation is an understatement. Just like my life, that house seemed permanent. So with it disappearing, it brought home the realization that I'm not permanent either. I know all this, obviously, but the home's disappearance slammed it into my heart in a new way. 
    Forging ahead, I went on to Alan Seeger Natural Area and walked my favorite trail. As my angels would have it, I had the place to myself, quite a joy. Stay tuned--I'll soon post a video describing my favorite spot on earth. 
    My next stop was Peight's Country Store outside Belleville, PA. I can summarize by saying that it is the Amish Wal-Mart. It is a small store that has everything--food, hardware, clothing, office supplies, home decor, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, fabric and sewing supplies, toys, cleaning products, fresh baked goods, glass-bottle milk, cookbooks, even a whole rack of assorted-color suspenders.
    Then I drove through beautiful tree-covered central PA to the Carlisle area to spend the evening with my college roommate, whom I had not seen in person for decades. We couldn't remember the last time we saw each other. We reconnected through Facebook and online yoga classes. We had a great evening catching up, walking the beautiful farmland, getting my doggie fix with her beautiful Golden Retrievers, sharing a great home-cooked meal. It was a heart-comforting ending to a wild emotional ride. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

May 11--Enjoying a Larger Life

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.  --Anais Nin

    Visiting this past weekend with my niece's friends over several beers, I was describing my trip so far and plans for the rest of it. One woman said, with shock on her face, "Are you doing this alone?!?!?!" When I said, "Yes," she squealed, "You're my hero. I'm going to do something by myself!" You go, girlfriend! 
    I'm not sure how it came to be that my desire for adventure so far exceeds my fear. In part, I know that I won't get to see my family if I don't make the effort. No one in my family has come to see me in Wichita since my wedding 35 years ago, so I'm surely not holding my breath there. I've let my courage and intense love of baseball take me to 23 of 30 major league ballparks so far. That mission continues. I've been to many extraordinary places around the world, and wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. I've done a lot of traveling inward (see May 10 post) and have covered some pretty scary ground there, all worth the effort. I'd say my mission, on my death bed, is to be able to say, "No regrets." That takes courage.
    Trip update: my last day in NE Ohio included a one-mile swim at the Akron YMCA, a nap, a hike at beautiful Gorge Metro Park, and a super-fun dinner and margaritas with my niece and a friend at a local Mexican restaurant. I finished off the evening telling stories with my brother and his wife. It's tough to leave here where I feel so much love and connection! Today I head to PA. 
    I continue to have an expansive life, and I am so grateful!

At one of my favorite places on the planet!

Monday, May 10, 2021

May 10--Dark Places Serve a Purpose

Everyone has a talent. What's rare is to follow it to the dark places where it leads.  --Erica Jong

    Very interesting!!! As I think about the talents I am currently using, I see that each has involved some traveling to dark places. My spiritual coaching training was largely working on myself, digging deep into those dark places and cleaning them up (and you know how I dislike cleaning!). That work continues to this day.Yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest is diving-head-first-into-the-dark-places on steroids. The intense breathing, rigid schedule and long hours sooner or later break down every feeble defense. Years of teaching Melt Method and yoga have certainly relieved me of any fears of messing up in public--I do it regularly. It's part of putting oneself "out there." The more-than-full-time grind of tax work simply wears me down, strips my defenses, and leaves me no choice but to be myself, screw-ups and all. Ultimately, I think that's the purpose of all the exploration in the dark places--to recognize that we all have them, that they help to shape who we are, and who we are is perfectly fine. Then we flourish from that place and share our unique talents. It's a simple system, though not necessarily easy. 
    Switching gears... I had a lovely Mother's Day with my NE Ohio family. I talked with both sons and my mother-in-law, and spent time with my niece (mother of three sons) and her mom. All these moms have had a huge, loving impact on my life. I honor them. I made the trip to this area complete with a visit to Handel's Ice Cream 😉😉
    Grateful and joyful,
My favorite brother and I

Sunday, May 9, 2021

May 9--Thank a Mother

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.  --Sir Winston Churchill

    I spent last evening with my niece and four of her long-time friends, whom I have partied with many times over the years. All six of us are mothers. We celebrated life with several beers. It was wonderful to be together again in person. 
    On this Mother's Day, I offer the excellent words of Rev. Dr. Christian Sorensen:
    Your first teacher was your mother, whose arms were created to bring you peace and comfort. Her heart was to give you love so you might find your own. Her blood connected you to your ancestors so you would never be alone in this world. You were not kept forever in the confines of your yard but sent into this world to find your strength, which may have been the bravest thing your mother ever did. She let you go to your self-discovery. Mothers are walking, breathing miracles. 
    Your mother sacrificed so much for you to enter the world. This day is to remind you to find the gratitude in your depth and to express it mom's way.  Allow positive mother memories to activate your heart so your love connection beyond time and space becomes the delivery system for what is more beautiful than flowers. 
    The maternal nurturing energy of the feminine is not bound by birth or gender. Let your love and appreciation go forth from you to all those amazing expressions of God's love, those spiritual mothers who help birth your soul's journey with their grace--the ones who encouraged you when you were down, who were there for you when your heart and soul ached and who reminded you that you are a child of God. 
    Mothers are courage incarnate! Please thank a mother today!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

May 8--The Journey Continues

Life is a series of collisions with the future.  --Jose Ortega y Gasset 

    This quote makes me smile. Most collisions are minor, no one and nothing gets damaged. Then there are the fender-benders of life, and finally the major crashes. I'll leave it to you to file your own collisions into the various categories. In looking back for myself, I see that what may have seemed like a major crash at the time was really only a fender-bender. The bumps and bruises haven't killed me, but rather, made me stronger and more resilient. 
    I made it safely to NE Ohio yesterday. I had a mid-trip stop at a YMCA near Dayton for a one-mile swim, relieving much driving stiffness. I've visited many YMCAs over the years of my travels, and the staff are always so kind and helpful to visitors. My niece's home is just over 1,000 miles from mine.
    What joy to reunite with my brother's family (three generations) and share an evening meal together! My brother did not know I was coming. The look of surprise on his face was priceless! I hope I never forget it. He has some serious health challenges, and there were times during the pandemic lock-down that I feared I would not get to see him again. 
    In my ultra-comfy bed at my niece's condo, I slept in till almost 8:00 am. Heaven! I realized that for the first time in months, I have absolutely no agenda for this day. What a treat! 
    Stay tuned...

Friday, May 7, 2021

May 7--Destination, NE Ohio

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone. That's where you renew your springs that never dry up.  --Pearl S. Buck

    So here I am on a solo road trip. I'm definitely hanging in the "place where I live all alone." Yesterday (Thursday) I drove ~540 miles from Wichita to Effingham, Illinois (with plenty of Effing-beans, Effing-turkey, etc. jokes). It was an easy drive supported by a very good audio book. No sooner had I checked into my Quality Inn room than the tornado sirens went off. The huge black cloud blew by, and it was sunny within an hour. 
    I spent some time figuring out where I could lap swim today (Friday) to give my body a break from so much driving. Lap swimming definitely "renews my springs that never dry up." I discovered that the pool where I had hoped to swim in Effingham is closed for maintenance. So I switched to a YMCA in Dayton, which will break today's drive basically in half. Calling for information, I learned that because of Covid, I had to reserve a time to lap swim. That's a new wrinkle, but for safety for all, I'm on board. I also had to compensate for the fact that I lose an hour in the drive there, going from the central time zone to eastern. 
    I am enjoying this time alone. While I'm not crazy about driving, I do love traveling. I am excited to see relatives this weekend that I have not seen in almost two years. This trip will bring much renewal--family relationships, friendships, visiting the area where I grew up--the return to my roots feels so good! 
    Stay tuned,

Thursday, May 6, 2021

May 6--On the Road Again

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--but not absence of fear. 
--Mark Twain

    Today I set out on my road trip. I've had a "trip check" done on my car. I've loaded up everything I could possibly need for a two-week trip, as long as relatives will let me do some laundry. 😉😉 I have the most important thing--golf clubs. And I confess, I'm taking a bit of fear with me. It's just a tiny bit related to heading off into the unknown. Weather? Road conditions? Pandemic issues? Missing home, husband and dog, for sure. I could make myself crazy worrying, or remember that I have done this very thing many times, and it is going to be ginormous FUN! I am returning to the state where I grew up--its magnificent beauty holds a special place in my heart. I shall use my courage to sally forth and have a great adventure. 
    Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

May 5--N.C.W.

With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.  --Margaret Mitchell

    Humorous motivational speaker and musician, Greg Tamblyn, refers to himself with the initials N.C.W. That stands for "No Credentials Whatsoever." 
    A reputation is what others think a person to be. It can be good or bad, depending on the onlooker. It is based on what others perceive to be one's character, beliefs and deeds. It seems to me that the reputation may or may not match the actual person. 
    This quote says to me that one does not need a lofty reputation to accomplish any given desire. All one needs is the courage to take the "baby steps" needed to achieve a goal. It doesn't matter what a person's past history is--it is the effort moving forward that counts. 
    For some reason unknown to me, "reputation" tends to be a mostly negative word, and a bad reputation could certainly be a hindrance to accomplishment. Conversely, a good reputation could smooth the path to achieving a mission. Ms. Mitchell indicates that any reputation is irrelevant if you are courageous enough. History has proven this over and over with relative "nobodies" creating great things. Once again... we just do it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

May 4--Sailing through Storms

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.  --Louisa May Alcott

    That's life--a constant learning of how to sail through the storms. I live in Kansas, which, as it turns out, is an exciting place for meteorologists, because the weather is so interesting and can change very suddenly in a very short time. Being prairie land, there is an enormous amount of sky to watch storms roll in. Just like life, some storms are mild and some leave a wide path of destruction. Despite the Wizard of Oz mythology, I've lived here almost 40 years and have never seen a tornado. I have, however, seen the destruction one creates, and it is mind-boggling. 
    Alas, we probably learn more from the storms of our lives than we do from the peaceful times. They force us to bring forth our determination and resilience. Each storm survived builds confidence for handling the next one. Note that storms are a natural, organic part of life on our magnificent earth. I can't imagine a place where storms of some form don't happen. Let us remember that, in Kansas at least, storms bring much-needed rain. They serve a purpose both in our planet's atmosphere and in our lives. Life storms and weather storms keep things interesting!
    Sailing through today,

Monday, May 3, 2021

May 3--Adventure Ready!

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.  --Helen Keller

    Hmmmm... let's consider this in light of the pandemic. I just wasn't daring enough to submit myself to outright exposure. I spent many months avoiding the danger of the virus. I learned new ways to enjoy my time other than being out and about in the world. None of that was bad. But too much of it has eventually come to feel like "nothing." I'm ready to get out and adventure, to experience the "outside world" again. 
    To that end, I leave later this week on a two-week solo driving trip to visit assorted family and friends. I'm excited to see folks I haven't seen in many, many months. I have plans to visit various YMCAs to swim, to relieve my body from the tedious position of driving. I have an extra-big adventure planned as part of the trip. I'm holding that secret so that I can lure you into reading about the whole adventure, just to see what's up. 😉😉  I do plan to sensibly "avoid danger," taking appropriate precautions Covid-wise and following each state's guidelines. I'll be a good mask-wearer. 
    I was blessed with a mother who loved to travel, and she took me along on her international adventures. I'm so grateful for the "travel bug" she planted in me. Our magnificent planet is too beautiful and the differing cultures too amazing to confine oneself to a tiny area and never check out the rest of the world. Each one of us is braver than we think. 
    Let's go!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

May 2--That Difficult Task?

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.  --Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

    The Nike Company summed this up in "just do it." If we sit around and use our magic magnifying minds to consider how difficult a task will be, we are very likely to talk ourselves out of it. On a rather mundane level, I do this with cleaning on a regular basis. I fuss to myself about how I dislike cleaning, how much of my precious time it takes, on and on. If I just dive in and do it, it's doesn't kill me, and I like the results. (This transpired yesterday, actually.) 
    I can come up with quite a long list of things that seemed difficult until I actually did them: completing grad school a long way from home; moving to Kansas; being married to the same person for decades; birthing and raising children; several job and career changes; yoga training; golfing; international travel; long solo driving trips; doing tax returns; having a hip joint replaced. The one I must comment on further is painting. Yes, painting. It seemed thoroughly impossible, far too difficult, for me to paint anything. "Real artists" did that. Then I dared sign up for a painting class and discovered that I can paint, and it isn't difficult. It's just a matter of finding what form of painting "floats your boat." I personally like straight lines (see one of my creations below), which may seem difficult, but I'll tell you the secret: Green Frog tape. 
    Enjoying the adventure of life,


Saturday, May 1, 2021

May 1--Courage

All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.  --Frank L. Baum

    I'm not sure we humans realize how afraid we actually are. Fear masks itself in so many ways--anger, jealousy, envy, violence, abuse, addiction, on and on. I distinctly remember one of my first 12-Step meetings wherein the leader was talking about fear. I thought, "Geez, what a wuss, I'm glad I'm not afraid of all that." Little did I know! I had all those fears and even a few more, which I uncovered once I stopped burying them with food. 
    There are literally an infinite number of things to fear in this life, and fear can paralyze us if we allow it to do so. That's where courage comes in. We do the next thing in front of us, keep moving, and build confidence in our ability to make it through scary circumstances. 
    As Baum says, every living thing is afraid at some point. It is not a personal failure to be afraid. Viewed as an opportunity to strengthen our "resilience muscles," we can conquer fear and bring more confidence into our next fearful episode. I'm not sure we humans realize how courageous we actually are. 😉😉
    Confidently facing today,