Friday, December 31, 2021

December 31--Bigger Bliss Ahead

I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.  --Joseph Campbell

    I have experienced this. I have just passed the 10-year anniversary of Forrest Yoga Teacher Training and the four-year anniversary of beginning my MELT Method training. Teaching both of those has been pure bliss for me, and opened wonderful doors to friendship, growth, health and ongoing learning. 
    "Don't be afraid." That's a mighty order in a society that seems to thrive on encouraging fear. Last night I watched the Netflix movie, "Don't Look Up." It is both a hoot and terrifying at the same time. The comet in the movie is analogous to the pandemic. The movie nails our current situation perfectly, which is why it is so scary. I won't give any more away. Do watch all the way through the credits--the bit of humor at the very end is essential. 
    Let's expand our bliss in 2022!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

December 30--Growing Faith

Faith is not something to grasp; it is a state to grow into.  --Mohandas Gandhi

    Living makes us grow in faith, whether or not we care to apply it. If we are blessed with some degree of wisdom as we age, we learn evermore that there is very little in life over which we have control. I have to depend on Something Bigger than me to take care of all that. I've been a card-carrying control freak--I learned from one of the best--my mother. What a huge relief it was, mostly coming from the 12-Step program, to learn that I was not responsible for EVERYTHING. 
    Faith is a practice. It is easy for me to have faith in "small" things. But then there are BIG things, like will my sons live long, healthy, happy lives? It is tough not to worry about them. I must often remind myself that there is Something that loves them and cares for them more than I can even comprehend. There is divine order, a divine plan. I can relax (if I choose). 
    Growing daily,
From Illuminations at Botanica, Wichita

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December 29--Maintaining Hope

You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.  --Samuel Butler

    So true and concise! Note as I write this that I'm using this quote as though "faith" is replaced by "hope." I think either word makes the quote a truthful statement.
    Last night my husband and I were discussing 2020, 2021 and having hope, especially relative to the pandemic. As awful as 2020 was, we had hope that 2021 would be better. Well, not so much. Illness still killed thousands more and events were cancelled and/or postponed. Political divisions intensified. In extensions of my own family, word was made known that if one was not vaccinated, one was not to attend celebrations. The lingering Covid virus in all its forms is a huge threat to our hope. 
    I told my husband I still have hope for 2022. This is in part because I avoid the fear-based news as much as possible. I see us humans learning, adapting, and changing for the better, albeit a dreadfully slow process. I'll likely lower my expectations somewhat, for instance relative to travel, but that's not a terrible thing.  
    I'm not letting Covid kill my hope and faith. Hang in there!

I have faith that Fort Collins golf 
will happen in 2022!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

December 28--Bigger Than Me

If the stars should appear just one night in a thousand years, how men would believe and adore.  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    My approach on this one is about what it takes for a person to believe and put faith in Something Bigger than oneself. We are surrounded by the mystical, the magical, the (as yet) unexplainable, and we tend to take those things for granted. I offer the example of stars (per Emerson). Some of those "stars" we see in the night sky are actually whole galaxies. Other examples would be the formation and birth of a human baby, our bodies' ability to heal, the infinite variety of life on Mother Earth, and such mysteries as the pyramids and Stonehenge. There is so much that I don't understand that it is easy for me to rely on a Higher Power that has things in divine order. I couldn't handle that job!
    Life tends to hand us things that seem impossible to overcome--loss of a loved one, addiction, serious illness, accidents, natural disasters, raising teenagers. To survive some of those things, I had to draw on strength beyond my own willpower. I can't name it, but I know it is there.
    Whatever it takes,
Pleiades: The Seven Sisters Star Cluster
by Damien Cannane

Monday, December 27, 2021

December 27--Reason and Faith

 Reason is our soul's left hand, faith her right. By these we reach divinity.   
--John Dunne

    I'm not so sure on this one. I see "reason" as hanging in one's head space. I see "faith" as hanging in one's heart space. I think we need to rely more on the heart in the quest for divinity. Our heads can all too easily lead us astray, but the heart already knows our divinity. As a spiritual counselor, and in my own personal journey, I see far too many of us living in the head space rather than the heart space.  More often than not, when encouraged to give "thoughts and feelings" on a matter, folks will easily express many thoughts, yet be challenged to name feelings. A balance between reason and faith is a worthwhile goal. I would even suggest a little heavier leaning on the faith-and-heart-wisdom end of the spectrum. 
    It's a practice. 

Looking forward to Illuminations
at Botanica this week...
makes my heart sing with joy!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

December 26--The Day After

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.   --Kahlil Gibran

    We had a lovely, heart-warming Christmas together, our two sons, daughter-in-law, two pups, my husband and me. We gave lots of "practical" gifts like socks, mugs, gift cards and garden stuff. My older son, knowing my extreme love of Legos, gave me the 1000-piece puzzle pictured below. It will most definitely be an act of faith that enables me to assemble this one. What a hoot!
    Breathe, relax, enjoy this day of rest...

Saturday, December 25, 2021

December 25--Devotion

True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself.  --Henry Miller

    From Father Richard Rohr's Dec. 14 "Daily Meditation":
Father Richard shares why he believes devotion, or heart-centered faith, is essential to life's journey.

I want to encourage the uncovering of what we mean by the word devotion. We have to somehow live a life that’s connected to the heart. Otherwise, we get into head ideology, righteousness, opinionatedness, and insisting on the right or wrong words. All are ways of avoiding the heart and staying in the head!

I have to admit that I’ve learned this kind of devotion from good old-time Catholics and healthy evangelicals. They’re invariably heart-based people who look out at reality with soft eyes. We can usually see it in their calm face or the natural smile on their lips before they even start talking. Trust that first impression, it is seldom wrong.

If our message at the CAC (Center for Action and Contemplation) is not heartfelt and creating heartfelt people, I predict it will not last, and it doesn’t deserve to last. It’ll be another head trip that we can argue about. I think it was the gift of the early Franciscans, although I don’t know that we, as the later Franciscan Order, always kept it. Francis and the early friars had a heartfelt quality that made them dear to people. Not everyone always agreed with Francis on things such as not going to war or radical poverty—but authentic, heartfelt, devoted people cannot be dismissed.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about when he taught, “Blessed are the pure of heart” (Matthew 5:8). It’s having achieved a purity of intention, desire, and motivation that isn’t about me—how I look and whether people are going to like me or affirm me. I think we all have to purify our intention several times a day: “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” If we don’t localize our intention in the compassionate space that we call the heart, it all becomes about making an impression that will ultimately benefit ourselves. We are all attracted to those loving people who are concerned about others more than themselves and concerned about us specifically. It’s really quite beautiful. We feel softened, we feel held, we feel more tender around people like that.

We can’t fake devotion but sometimes I do suggest we “fake it till we make it,” as many say. We need to practice some kind of heart-opening prayer and practice being compassionate and kind toward others. Eventually our hearts, as John Wesley said, will surely be “strangely warmed” [1] and no one is more surprised than we are!

This is one of the hardest things in the teaching of spirituality because we cannot manufacture devotion. It is the work of grace, but of course we have to want it and create the conditions that can allow it to happen. Anything that helps us to be less willful, less pushy, less judgmental toward ourselves is a good place to start, because the face we turn toward ourselves is the face we turn toward the world.
    I was especially moved by this reading, primarily because of the very profound last line: the face we turn toward ourselves is the face we turn toward the world. Do you smile and look lovingly at yourself in the mirror? Or do you only find flaws? Do you love the world, or only see its flaws? It's an idea worth pondering...
    Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2021

December 24--Peace Be With Each of Us

Peace is always beautiful.  --Walt Whitman

    Well, dear readers, apparently I forgot to actually hit "Publish" yesterday, even though the Dec 23 post was written and ready to go. So this is blog #2 for today...
    What an excellent quote for Christmas Eve! Please pause for a moment and take a couple of nice deep breaths. As surely as our breath is a constant, peace is likewise, if only we take a moment to tap into it. The area I am in has no likelihood of a white Christmas, yet I can imagine a late night snowfall, the silent settling of the flakes on the ground, trees, and colorful decorations, and the peaceful scene of a winter wonderland. Yes, it's always beautiful. 
    Let's allow beauty, kindness and peace to flow freely through us today. Joyful Christmas Eve to you!

December 23--Gifts

Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given.  --Deepak Chopra

    I'm in Colorado at my son's house. There are lots of gifts under and around the tree. The real gift, however, is being with my kids on Christmas. It wouldn't trouble me if there were no physical gifts here at all. 
    What is of value to you? For me, I'd list off health, love, kindness, reliability, peace, joy, harmony, laughter, friendship, beauty. As Mr. Chopra says, all those multiple when given. It is the people and relationships in our lives that make life worth living.  
    I feel we honor the "meaning of Christmas" when we celebrate those things in life which don't have a price tag. 
    Life is good!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

December 22--Bringing Light

It is better to light a candle that curse the darkness.  --Adlai Stevenson

Leta's random solo thoughts:
    Be the change we want to see in the world... bring light into dark places. 
    Turn on the light rather than complain that you can't see. 
    If you don't like something, figure out how to change it for the better, and do it. 
    You can't solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it. 
    Whining never solved anything. 
    You can work with a good attitude (light) or a bad attitude (darkness)--you ALWAYS have a choice. 
    Complaining gets you nowhere, and likely drives off friends. 
    Problem-solving is a very valuable skill. 
    Successful people are those who have chosen to light the candle. 
    I ran across this adorable poem by Lois Smith (age 13) from a book titled "Favourite Prayers" compiled by Deborah Cassidi:

          The Prayer of the Turtle  
O God, let me be free of this weighty shell upon my back.
When I'm swimming freely in the cool dark water
It is a great discomfort to be weighted down
By this, this piece of bone. 
But if I didn't have a shell...
I wouldn't be a turtle! Amen. 
    Each of us has our own unique light--shine brightly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

December 21--Dyed-in-the-Wool Faith

The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience. 
--James Russell Lowell

    "Mordant" is a new word to me. Wikipedia defines it: "A mordant or dye fixative is a substance used to set dyes on fabrics by forming a coordination complex with the dye, which then attaches to the fabric. It may be used for dyeing fabrics or for intensifying stains in cell or tissue preparations." With the quote above, we are talking about faith that comes from experience that has colored our very soul. It is a faith that "walks the walk," not simply "talks the talk." 
    Certainly earthly life gives us all the experience we need to develop faith. That ultimately is our choice, whether or not to believe in Something Bigger. Too many things have happened along my life line that I could not have orchestrated by myself alone. It is easy for me to hold that conviction that a Higher Power has my back. Without that conviction, life would feel fairly rudderless. 
    Learning and growing,

Monday, December 20, 2021

December 20--Reliability

Be faithful in small things--because it is in them that your strength lies. 
--Mother Teresa

    The vast majority of us are not headed for sainthood, nor do we aspire to such. It is in the routine, day-to-day, small things in life wherein we have the opportunity to make a difference. 
    The quality I value the most in a human being is reliability. The person does what they say they will do. They stick with their commitments. I refer affectionately to the opposite as a "flake." That is a person who is always changing their mind, backing out of promises, someone I know cannot be depended on to follow through. I know that in every human being, myself included, there is both a reliable person and a flake. 
    Reliability is being "faithful in small things." That is a strong personality trait. We all need one or more strong people on whom we can depend, starting with ourselves. 
    Are you faithful in small things relative to yourself? Are your daily diet, exercise, sleep and activities strengthening you or weakening you? 

"Small things" that make us strong

Sunday, December 19, 2021

December 19--Creating Miracles

When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.  --Helen Keller

    This quote brings to mind when I began teaching yoga ten years ago at the Clearwater Wellness Center. Clearwater, Kansas, is a small town southwest of the "big city" of Wichita. I was an unknown to most to the folks. But they took a chance coming to my class, and I was doing my best as a rookie teacher. The result has been nothing short of miraculous. I've developed rich friendships, and I've expanded my teaching options over time to include the Melt Method, hugely popular at the Wellness Center. Zooming classes for folks during the pandemic lockdown kept me practicing and moving. Those are the miracles in my life. I can't speak to the miracles in the lives of my students, but they keep coming back, so something is working for them. 😀
    The best we can do is to be our authentic self, and that is enough.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

December 18--Grateful for...

Gratitude is the fairest blossom from which springs the soul. 
--Henry Ward Beecher

    I can't imagine my life without gratitude. It is a vibrational energy that offers a comfortable place from which to move through life. Being thankful brings more to be thankful for.
    I am grateful for:
  • my body and good health
  • my spiritual practice
  • my loving husband
  • my sons and daughter-in-law
  • my dog Barney
  • many friends
  • my home
  • my neighborhood and city
  • transportation
  • abundance
  • opportunity and ability to exercise 
  • travel
  • work I enjoy
  • a flexible schedule
  • my love of baseball
  • recovery from addiction
See... once you get going the list can go on and on.
    For what are you grateful?

Friday, December 17, 2021

December 17--Sacred Heart of Love

You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds... What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.  --Thomas More

    This is a heart message to me, and as joy would have it, I am reading this week an interesting meditation series on our sacred hearts from the Center for Action and Contemplation. These are the words of David Richo:

The Heart of Jesus is a passionate devotedness to the well-being of humanity. To follow Jesus is to be possessed by that same passionate intention. Indeed, to say that God created the world is to affirm that it vibrates at a pitch identical to the nature of God, who is love. Indeed, the pitch we were meant to live at is love. Life does not ever feel quite right unless love is the best and greatest part of it. . . .
Our heart is the soft center of our egoless self and it has one impelling desire: to open. The heart is the capacity to open. This is the force that complements our other powers. It takes us beyond our limits. It contains our ability to reach out so it is the antidote to despair. We are spiritually coded in ways we have not yet dared even to imagine. The depths of our spiritual capacity are still unplumbed. Contemplation of Jesus’ Heart shows us how deep we really are, how vast our potential for love, how high our aspiration for the light. . . .

     I do not consider myself a "Christian," because the far-right direction that term has taken makes me nauseous. Actually, I do not adhere to any religious label or dogma. I do, however, feel that Jesus gave us an excellent example of how to live. The devotion to love is the key. It does not need to be Mother-Teresa-style sainthood love. Simple love of self, family, friends and neighbors does the job. 
    'Tis the season to practice more love,


Thursday, December 16, 2021

December 16--Spiritual Fitness

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.  --Indira Gandhi

    In repose, in quiet time, I learn to connect to my inner Self, which is the source of the vibrant energy that sustains me. I pay attention to each breath, which brings me into present moment awareness. We can't breathe in the past or the future--each breath is now. It is this connection to inner strength that enables us to remain centered whenever we are in the midst of activity, which may bring us into unsettling circumstances that could easily pull us into fear or negativity. In the 12-Step programs, we are reminded that we have a daily reprieve from addiction based upon the maintenance of a "fit spiritual condition." I believe that is what the quote above is all about. 
    It's a practice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

December 15--Love Requires Faith

Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love. 
--Erich Fromm

    Unpacking and laundry are all finished, and I feel settled back at home. Especially nowadays, it is an act of faith to fly to another country for a vacation. I have huge faith that all the pieces necessary for a successful trip fall into place--I guess that's why I love to travel so much. My mantra is "I lead a charmed life, especially when traveling." And so it was in Jamaica.
    Giving one's heart to someone is truly an act of faith. It may be a wonderful experience. It may result in one's heart being stomped upon. We can keep practicing love and faith, or become hardened by unrewarding experiences, lose faith, and therefore forsake the joy of loving. Resilience is key.
    We have to be able to depend upon some sort of inner strength to become vulnerable enough to love. That inner strength is faith in oneself and in Something Bigger that has our backs. It can be our biggest challenge to apply faith and love to ourselves. Yet if we cannot apply it in loving ourselves, there is "little love" to offer anyone or anywhere else.
    Faith and love--a daily practice,

Pansies blooming in Wichita winter

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

December 14--Loving in my Heart

Don't wait for the last judgment--it takes place every day.  --Albert Camus

    And every bit of judgment is in my own head and your own head. There's nothing outside us judging us.
    I can say that it's no fun leaving Jamaica. I did a 2-mile walk on the beach to get my feet in the ocean one more time. Our gang relaxed on the beach together for another hour or so, then the four of us who were leaving boarded the bus just after noon. 
    I'm home. It was a very tiring but on-time and successful trip. We had a short-ish layover in Atlanta, but the immigration, customs, re-check the suitcase process is quite efficient. I did set a new record for steps yesterday, between the early morning beach walk and travel. 
    Re-entry and getting into the home Christmas spirit begins. To that end, I offer these words from Howard Thurman:

I want to be more loving in my heart! It is often easy to have the idea in mind, the plan to be more loving. To see it with my mind and give assent to the thought of being loving—this is crystal clear. But I want to be more loving in my heart! I must feel like loving; I must ease the tension in my heart that ejects the sharp barb, the stinging word. I want to be more loving in my heart that, with unconscious awareness and deliberate intent, I shall be a kind, a gracious human being. Thus, those who walk the way with me may find it easier to love, to be gracious because of the Love of God which is increasingly expressed in my living.

Happy to be home!

Ornaments on the resort lobby Christmas tree

From my morning walk on the beach

Monday, December 13, 2021

December 13--The Journey Home

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. 
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Today I'm praying for safe and easy travel back to Wichita. I have experienced answered prayer MANY times, enough to know that it is a quite effective practice. 
    I'm enjoying my final swing in the hammock as I write this. Soon I'll head out for my final walk on the beach. We leave for the airport at noon. 
    The last full day here, Sunday/yesterday, held in store for us the best weather yet, totally clear blue sky all day. I was tempted to take a plain blue photo of the sky above the lap pool, to remind me when I am swimming indoors at home. After my lap swim, I had a successful negative Covid test enabling me to go home. I once again spent the afternoon floating in the choppy ocean and sunning on the beach. I was feeling a lot of melancholy. I'll miss my buds who live in Florida. I'll miss the ocean and warm temperatures. It's always sad for me to leave a beach vacation, because I can never be sure when the next one may be. (Though my buds will be here same time next year.) This is the time when I wish "Beam me up, Scotty" was a reality. 
    Our farewell dinner turned out to be a big disappointment. The first restaurant we tried was too crowded, so we went to the buffet. Only a salad line and a pasta line were open, with one person at each place to serve the long lines. Orders from the menu took over an hour. We got so weary of waiting that none of our group ordered dessert, very unlike us. The staff was clearly overworked, but kept up a good attitude. 
    The sky was pretty amazing last night--mostly quite clear with an awesome lightning show off in the distance. 
    Homeward bound and eternally grateful!

I understand that the resort stores the Christmas
decorations for guests that come back this time each year.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

December 12--Is It Really Christmas-time?

That's the way things become clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they've been all along.  --Madeleine L'Engle

    Wow, I've lived this quote several times in the past few months. I truly think the pandemic has been a big catalyst for this. 
    Let's talk Christmas. I said that I was excited to see the Christmas decorations at the resort in Jamaica. There is the gingerbread house display in the lobby (see photo on Dec 4 post). There are little white lights on a lot of the trees (but those could stay year-round?). There is lighted garland in assorted places. I hear there is a Christmas tree in the lobby now. Several industrious guests brought Christmas lights with them and decorated their balconies and patios--those are really cool. Apparently they do not start decorating in November as we do in the U.S.--duh, they don't have to contend with cold temperatures! 
    I have lived my whole life where there is cold winter and always the possibility of a white Christmas. I confess that I am fairly baffled by the idea of Christmas in a warm place. Being here in Jamaica has given me a renewed appreciation for four seasons, even though I will eventually whine about the cold and extreme heat of home. When I return to Kansas, there will be twelve days until Christmas, so I'll get in the spirit quickly, especially with the chilly weather. 
    I don't think I've mentioned the tree frogs. The horny little bastards chirp all night long. The standing joke around here is that it is a recording, because the frogs are rarely seen. Also note that the windows in our rooms are screens with closeable wood slats and no glass. You can hear ALL outside noise. Fortunately I've been tired enough to sleep through the "frog serenade."
    Last night was our reservations-only dinner at Feathers, the fanciest restaurant at the resort. I had crab cake, salad, rolls, "smashed" potatoes and beef tenderloin, and cheesecake. It was probably the best beef I've ever had. It was a long, luxurious meal for our next-to-last night in Jamaica. 
Great music and harmony singing; 
impressive carrying a stand-up bass along the beach!

Saturday's sunset

It says "One Love" (Bob Marley's Jamaican theme song)

Ready to be spread around the resort

Part of the mural at Feathers

Saturday, December 11, 2021

December 11--Is It Worth It?

Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. 
--William James

    Well, duh. Simple, but true. Alas, the opposite is true, too. 
    Granted, it is easy to say that life is worth living when one is vacationing in Jamaica. This place certainly lends itself to the idea that there is never anything in life to worry about. I told my buds that I wish I could remember that for more than five minutes when I get home. 
    Yesterday was another lovely day here. I started with another lap swim followed by a big brunch. Then it was back to the beach and ocean. I finished another book--"The Lost Apothecary" by Sarah Penner--an excellent read. After showering and dressing, I walked down the beach to check out the souvenir shops. My mission was to get some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to take home. I finally found it at the resort gift shop. I did the thing I would only do on a vacation--paid $62 for a pound of coffee beans. I surely hope it is worth the price! 
    After a buffet supper, we stayed and watched a man who danced with fire sticks and twirled fire. The walk back to our rooms offered clear skies with a half moon, three planets, and lots of stars. 
    Ready for another day in paradise!

Friday, December 10, 2021

December 10--Creativity, Beauty, Friendship

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched--they must be felt with the heart.  --Helen Keller

    I did an early morning swim yesterday so I could make it in time to have a full breakfast, since I pretty much had rum for supper the night before. An omelet never tasted so good!
    I went to a beading class on the beach and made an ankle bracelet. There were hundreds of little bags of assorted beads to choose from. When we finished the stringing, the man on the beach who sells jewelry put the clasp ends on for us. Creativity itself can't be seen or touched, but we recognize the results and those warm the heart. 
    I learned today that the Jamaican flag colors represent sunshine (yellow), lush vegetation (green) and the people (black). I am immersed in beauty here... the brilliant, warm sunshine and perfect cool water, the vibrant green vegetation, the kindness and courtesy of the resort workers, the opportunity to try new things (like para-sailing), a pure white hammock to sway in as I write this. My heart is overflowing with joy.
    The most wonderful part of this trip is the friendship and laughter that is truly enriching my heart. I'm getting to know much better the friends who invited me. My roomie was introduced to me several years ago at one of my yoga retreats (by the friends who invited me to Jamaica). As we have talked over our time together, we are finding more and more in common and creating a lovely bond. I'm sure this is not the last time we will be together. Plus we have a couple of early risers in the group who have, every morning, gone to the beach and set up our chairs with fresh towels, a much-appreciated service. 
    Lovin' life!

My Jamaica JOY bracelet

The flag of Jamaica

Thursday, December 9, 2021

December 9--When in Rum... Squeeze and Suck

If you desire faith then you have faith enough.  --Robert Browning

    This is a very comforting quote. I have decided that I want to be here again next December with the gang, and I have faith that I can make that happen. 
    Yesterday was another day in paradise. No rain, lazing in the ocean and on the beach. My buds on the beach told me that while I was floating face-up on the mat in the water a huge (4-foot) stingray swam right by me. It was big enough that they saw it from shore. I think I'm glad I didn't see it!
    The highlight of the day was a sunset cruise on a huge catamaran. We went along the coast seeing lots of places to stay. Eventually the beach ended and the cliffs began. The boat dropped anchor by bat caves and the crew let us off to swim. The water was too choppy for me to feel like swimming the distance. I elected instead to go off the slide on the boat. It was great fun, but I landed mostly on the girls, so now I'm an A-cup instead of a C-cup. Just kidding. The tour guide on the boat gave me a stick of sugar cane--a first for me--and that's where "squeeze and suck" come in. That's what you do to enjoy the sugar juice. Yummy!
    A group pun here is "when in rum, do what the rumans do." The drinks were mighty strong on the cruise, the music was great for dancing, and things got wild on the way back to the resort. Line dancing, train dancing, too much rum, but not too much fun. 😉😉 I skipped dinner, crawled into my safe (not moving) bed, and read myself to sleep. 
    Now it's off to breakfast to make up for missing last night's dinner!

My morning lap-swim heaven

Lighthouse along the coast

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

December 8--Good Good and More Good!

When you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. 
--Oprah Winfrey

    Well, my goodness should be overflowing (it is!), because what else is there to focus on when vacationing in Jamaica but goodness!!
    Speaking of goodness, today is the two-year anniversary of Barney Clark coming to our home with boundless joy, love and energy. I can't imagine life without him!

    Back to Jamaica and yesterday's fun... I again had the whole lap pool to myself, a beautiful sunny morning. It took me a couple of days to get used to the slightly longer pool (50 meters instead of 50 yards for a lap), but now I have it down. A fruit smoothie and coffee await me at the adjacent juice bar--my incentive to roll out of a very comfy bed and go swim.
    We took the day off from activities and spent the day on the beach and floating in the ocean. It was the first day with mostly sunshine and no rain at all. We went off to shower then re-gathered on the beach for the sunset. It was amazing watching the sun drop into the water. Once the bottom of the sun hit the water, it dropped very quickly, like a rock. I guess the sun is pretty heavy 😉😉

Looking from the ocean in,
where our gang hangs out, and

The beautiful turquoise water we get to laze in.

    Time to swim laps!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

December 7--I DID IT!!!

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still and dark. 
--Rabindranath Tagore

    Yesterday was my most excellent Monday ever!
    It began with another early morning lap-swim. Sunday's storm had chilled the water a bit. Note that I have to cross a busy two-lane road to get to the fitness center complex. There is a cross walk with a traffic light and an employee to press the stop button and monitor it. But between the driving on the left and drivers' random decisions to ignore the red light, I have to be on my toes even with the walk signal displayed. So far, so good.
    Then, working on keeping my "brave broad" status... I did it--I went parasailing! It was a really long adventure because we were taxiing people to and from the shore to the boat with the parachute on it. I wish I could have had a measurement of my blood pressure before and after. I was quite anxious and nervous before, and so relaxed after. It was a very cool experience. I did convince myself to relax a bit during the flight, but my palms had red marks afterward due to the death grip I had on the straps, which was totally unnecessary. Faith took me up there, yogic breathing got me through it, along with the mantra, "I've jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, I can do this!" I was also motivated by the possibility that I may not have the chance to do it ever again. Who knows?!!?!? Friends went along to take pictures, those may show up here in days to come.
    After that it was back to the beach and ocean. We had a couple mini-rains (like we were told happens). The weather is supposed to keep getting better the rest of our stay. 
    I could easily live in a country whose common potato chips are made from sweet potatoes.
    I am reminding myself not to fuss about how dry it is in the winter in KS. Every surface here is wet and stays wet. My straw hat got drenched in Sunday's storm and shrunk. Now it makes me look like a cone-head. It takes at least two days to get anything dry-ish here.
    On the home front, after more than a two-year (re)search, my husband put down a deposit on a dark blue 2021 RAV4 Hybrid. We will get it at the end of January. Two huge accomplishments this wonderful Monday--parasailing and the vehicle.
    Leaving the restaurant after dinner, there was a crescent moon with a planet nearby, but my camera does some weird processing so it looks like a full moon. It's a cool photo anyway. 

    And one of our many visitors...

    Love and blessings from the brave broad in Jamaica!

Monday, December 6, 2021

December 6--It Will Pass Quickly--NOT!

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.  --Albert Einstein

    As we have been floating in the heavenly turquoise ocean, we have been treated to a pelican diving, catching a fish, enjoying the snack, and lifting off. This has happened within 20 feet of us. It is majestic to watch. It is mysterious how the bird zeroes in on the fish, because we don't see them swimming around us.
    This morning I am blogging from the hammock. I am thrilled to see a clear sunny sky because...
    Yesterday began with another lap-swim followed by excellent coffee. I spent the morning floating in the ocean and sunbathing on the beach. Around 12:30 we broke for lunch. We came back out to the beach, got into the ocean, and the rain started. We initially went with the theory that it would blow over quickly. After about 15 minutes of pelting rain, the breeze cooled off enough to chase us out of the water. Thus began a four-hour downpour that soaked everything. Even my straw hat is still soaking wet, because nothing dries around here. It does not feel humid, but it certainly is. I braved the rain to trudge back to our room, showered and hung up all the wet stuff. Then it was off to the hammock for an afternoon of reading while the rain came down. 
    The evening began with two drinks at the martini bar. The menu had probably two dozen different martini options. For dinner, my friend and I elected to order from the menu rather than roam the buffet, so we had long waits for our food. Not a problem, since we love talking about all sorts of things, and we are "on the same page" on so many topics. Plans to go to the fitness center to watch the Chiefs game fizzled when the guys learned there was no alcohol in the area. 
    This may be my most excellent Monday ever!
View from the hammock

Sunday, December 5, 2021

December 5--Another Day in Paradise (ADIP)

You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.  --Louise L. Hay

    Sitting on our lovely patio with the surf off to my right:

    No, I have not yet spent time in the hammock, because I spent most of the day yesterday in the ocean. But let's back up. After blogging, I went to the fitness center and did 24 laps in the Olympic-size pool. There is something magical about lap-swimming under the sky. There is a coffee/smoothie bar adjacent to the pool where I had post-swim coffee. How cool is that! 
    Then it was a full day at the beach, spent mostly floating in the ocean. The water temperature is perfect--just cool enough to refresh and warm enough to stay in. I used plenty of sunscreen and did not get burned. I'm getting myself psyched for parasailing. I have a new favorite drink--coconut rum and Ting, a local soda pop. (Note: I use both "soda" and "pop" so that no matter where you are from, you get it. 😉😉) Lunch was fish tacos and dinner was lobster tail and mashed potatoes. The sunset was lovely with rain off in the distance but none on us. I wish I could sleep every night like I slept last night!
    Regarding the Hay quote above, I'm living proof. Approving of myself is much more rewarding. Yep, it's another choice we make, a daily practice. 
    My choice right now is more lap-swimming, then coffee! 
Music on the beach at sunset

Saturday, December 4, 2021

December 4--Heaven!

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all. There is only the meaning we each give to our life.  --Anais Nin

    I have "died and gone to heaven." I'm in Jamaica. Yesterday's travel adventure went off without a hitch. I purposely wore my Life Is Good shirt that says, "Breathe. The Universe is taking care of everything else." And so It did.
    For the next nine days, my "big cosmic meaning" is to R-E-L-A-X and soak up the sun. Yes, I will keep blogging, because it is part of my daily spiritual practice. So here's the scoop on my adventure so far...
    I awoke this morning to sounds of the pounding surf--that's how close our room is to the water. 
    Unbeknownst to me, the price we paid for this trip included expedited guidance through immigration, enabling us to get past huge lines and away from the airport in less than an hour. 
    We had a couple-hour bus ride to the resort which was an adventure in itself. First of all, they drive on the left side of the road here. I'm grateful I took a seat on the left side of the bus, and I kept looking at the scenery rather than the oncoming traffic. It is awesome being back in the mountains, especially since they are Pennsylvania-sized mountains covered with trees. The quantity and variety of vegetation here is truly astounding. The homes and living conditions look quite rough at low levels; the higher up the hills/mountains one goes, the fancier the homes look. As we were leaving Montego Bay, there were vendors offering assorted things for sale to our bus riders--jicama sticks, Red Stripe beer, peanuts, and donuts were the ones I saw most often. 
    We arrived at the resort just before dark. I met up with my friends on the beach for the tail end of a magnificent sunset. The sand is like fine-grain sugar. There were several beach dinner setups we saw on our way to eat. The buffet is awesome. They are very Covid-safety-conscious--you have to sanitize and glove up on one hand for utensil use before you get a plate to serve yourself. The most unusual things I saw were goat and oxtail, though I did not try those. I did have jerk sausage and it was great, along with awesome stewed veggies. One has to pace oneself with pretty much an infinite amount of food and drink available. 😉😉 
    Having been awake since 2:30 am for travel, I was asleep by 9:00, with overwhelming gratitude and JOY!
        The adventure continues...
Sand decoration leading to one of the beach dinners

The resort lobby

Gingerbread house display in the lobby

One of the street vendors

This sign made me smile

Friday, December 3, 2021

December 3--Your Image of God Creates You.

We are as much as we see. Faith is sight and knowledge. The hands only serve the eyes.  --Henry David Thoreau

The following is from Richard Rohr's Nov 28 "Daily Meditation":
Your image of God creates you—or defeats you. There is an absolute connection between how we see God and how we see ourselves and the universe. The word “God” is a stand-in word for everything—Reality, truth, and the very shape of our universe. This is why good theology and spirituality can make such a major difference in how we live our daily lives in this world. God is Reality with a Face—which is the only way most humans know how to relate to anything. There has to be a face!

After years of giving and receiving spiritual direction, it has become clear to me and to many of my colleagues that most people’s operative image of God is initially a subtle combination of their mom and dad, or other early authority figures. Without an interior journey of prayer or inner experience, much of religion is largely childhood conditioning, which God surely understands and uses. Yet atheists and many former Christians rightly react against this because such religion is so childish and often fear-based, and so they argue against a caricature of faith. I would not believe in that god myself!

Our goal, of course, is to grow toward an adult religion that includes reason, faith, and inner experience we can trust. A mature God creates mature people. A big God creates big people. A punitive God creates punitive people.

If our mothers were punitive, our God is usually punitive too. We will then spend much of our lives submitting to that punitive God or angrily reacting against it. If our father figures were cold and withdrawn, we will assume that God is cold and withdrawn too—all Scriptures, Jesus, and mystics to the contrary. If all authority in our lives came through men, we probably assume and even prefer a male image of God, even if our hearts desire otherwise.

All of this is mirrored in political worldviews as well. Good theology makes for good politics and positive social relationships. Bad theology makes for stingy politics, a largely reward/punishment frame, xenophobia, and highly controlled relationships.
    I see in myself that I was raised with an angry and judgmental god, and work daily to overcome my extreme tendency to judge. I also recognize a strong seed of anger in myself. I am eternally grateful to the 12-Step program for giving me the ongoing opportunity to (re)define my Higher Power in a manner that works for me.
    Pondering my image of The Big One,
I do tend to get god and dog mixed up... all that love!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 2--Vastly More Beauty than Misery

I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.  --Anne Frank

    "All the misery" is just too much in our world. It can easily overwhelm if we allow that. Beauty stays in the forefront for me as I stay present in the current moment with whomever or whatever I am interacting. 
    I was raised in a middle-class white family in the 50s and 60s. Prejudice abounded in our home against blacks, homosexuals and Catholics. Those were the "big three," and trust me, the words I just listed were not the common ones I heard at home. Fortunately, in my teen and young adult years, I ended up with African-American and gay friends, and my best friend from seventh grade on was Catholic. Knowing individuals in those groups allowed me to see the beauty rather than the misery my family suggested was there. 
    The problems of the world seem insurmountable to my small mind. I remind us that we can't solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. Mercifully, I fully believe that a new consciousness is being birthed now on our planet, one that will bring about a world of beauty, peace, inclusion, prosperity and sustainability. While I am not personally a fan of death, it does have a cleansing effect as old ideas of how things "should" be leave the planet. 
    One of the beauties of humanity is our ability to change, even if we don't like it. I'm grateful for that. 
The Flower of Life symbol

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

December 1--Taking My Light South

There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or to be the mirror that reflects it.  --Edith Wharton
Heaven on Earth is a choice you must make, not a place you must find.
--Wayne Dyer

    December's theme in "Daily Joy" is faith
    I LOVE Christmas lights. Seeing lighting technology advance over the past few years has been an incredible delight. Our local botanical gardens, Botanica, has a huge light display every year at this time. It is heaven on earth to me. 
    It is well documented here in the blog that I dislike house-cleaning. Well, I buckled down this past weekend and cleaned the whole house and did the indoor Christmas decorating. Barney and I were "baching" it. Both days, after lots of cleaning and two neighborhood walks, we relaxed and enjoyed the light show. I had my favorite "husband-is-away" meal--mac 'n' cheese. 
    In two days, I will be in Jamaica. I can hardly wait to see the Christmas decorations at the resort. I'm excited to visit yet another new country. I set my intention to be a pleasant traveler in every respect--to bring peace with me through the airport and flights, to be kind and generous toward all the folks who contribute to my great beach vacation. 
    Packing my light as well as my clothes,

Illuminations at Botanica