Saturday, September 30, 2023

September 30--Ideal Day

You cannot live when you are untouchable. Life is vulnerability. 
--Edouard Boubat

    There are some days wherein I would like to just hide out in the woman cave forever. The desire to isolate is common among addicts. Isolation is a vulnerability in itself. 
    Rev. Suellen Miller from OKC offers these thoughts relative to living an "ideal day":
In this morning's reading from A Daily Dose of Sanity by Alan Cohen, he talks about creating a story about your ideal day. One woman created a great story where at the end of the day, she is riding to a concert with her husband in a big limousine so he can stretch out his arthritic legs. Cohen asked her why she would put arthritis in her ideal day? He suggested that perhaps she could change the condition by not continuing to imagine it.

He says: "Be careful to build your intended experience upon your vision, rather than building your visions upon your experience. It is tempting to gauge what could be based on what has been, but that only perpetuates what has been. Your history is not your destiny.

"If you have had a health challenge, a dysfunctional relationship, financial distress, or emotional pain for a long time, you can improve your situation by not including it in your plans. Abraham-Hicks teaches that every moment is changing to something new if you let it. If you are still getting what you have been getting, it is because you keep focusing on what was, so the new moment keeps changing back to replicate the old one. In any moment you can change to something new, not old. So if you are going to ride in a limo to the opera, stretch out your legs because it feels good, not because you have arthritis."

I suspect that most of us are so used to the unwanted condition that instead of visualizing it as not there at all, we tend to visualize it getting a little bit better. Of course, this still includes the unwanted condition.

In my ideal day, I can envision my wallet as being full, my body as healthy, my job as fulfilling, my relationships as exciting. I can visualize health, wealth, success, happiness, fulfillment, joy and love.
    This is a considerably more pleasant way to be vulnerable!

From an acrylic pouring workshop
I took at City Arts in Wichita

Friday, September 29, 2023

September 29--What You Cannot See

Learn to trust what you cannot see far more than what you can see.  
--Carolyn Myss

    I offer this Note from the, Sept 25) by Mike Dooley:
From where you sit right now, reading this Note, you are held and supported by energies unimaginable. All commanded by you and your choice to think big or small, rich or poor, confident or afraid, easy or hard, fun or boring, play or work, here or there, now or then, fast or slow, happy or sad.

Your call. 
Love you,
The Universe
    Some folks need "show me" scientific proof before they will believe. They want all the facts. I am not so much that way. It has been a lifelong practice to recognize, trust and follow my intuition. Often I cannot say why I know or decide something. I truly do try to go with "gut feel," trusting the talents and divine order of Something Bigger Than Me. 

At the CSU Gardens.
I put much faith in the beauty 
of the natural world--
our survival depends on it!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

September 28--Flex Those Muscles!

Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.  --Sigmund Freud

    "God only gives you what you can handle." 
    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
    When we are in the midst of vulnerability, a life challenge of any sort, it can be tough to appreciate the "makes me stronger" part. But our mental, emotional and spiritual "muscles" need to be worked just as our physical muscles do. 
    I am currently having physical therapy for my left shoulder. A large part of the process is to strengthen the muscles around my shoulder in order to alleviate the muscle inflammation, stress and discomfort. My damaged shoulder--vulnerability--is offering me the opportunity for greater strength.  
    The ultimate example in my life of Freud's quote is the vulnerability of addiction. That led me decades ago to seek help. Working the 12-step program has given me strength that I could never have dreamed of back in my using days. 
    Hindsight can help us appreciate our vulnerabilities more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

September 27--More Please

Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they're special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person and only attracts more love in your life. 
--Amy Poehler

    Oh, goodie! Coincidentally (not), I wrote two love letters for the special women who had decade birthdays on September 19 (see that day's post). I can feel more love in my life already!! Actually, secret angels arranged a card shower for 80 (read the post), and she reported that she received 96 cards. 96! That's eight dozen! She said that their mailman was worn out. 😉😉
    At least once today, let someone know he or she is special to you. That small heart-opening effort makes two people feel better. 
    Multiply the love!
Be a LOVE magnet!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

September 26--Heart Healing

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better. 
--Haruki Murakami

    I was pretty sick when I was holding so many secrets in my heart. Part of recovery has been to let those secrets out, and as a result, I got much better. I know there are still secrets in there. I can feel them. Fear keeps them lodged in my heart. One of my fears is growing senile and having no filters, so that all the stuff that I shelter in my heart blasts out. I guess if I'm senile, I won't care!
    I believe we are born with our hearts wide open. Life happens, trauma happens, things don't happen the way we think they should, life isn't fair--these serve to close our hearts. Then we spend copious amounts of time trying to feel safe enough to let our hearts open the tiniest bit. It's a constant practice of safety vs. fear. If we are determined to live a good life, the desire to get better will spur us on. 
    Opening, one chink at a time,

Monday, September 25, 2023

September 25--Being a Grown-Up

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... to be alive is to be vulnerable.  --Madeleine L'Engle

    Amen to that! We had a sunny, wind-at-our-backs drive home yesterday. It seems we are usually cranky on the way home. It's a long drive (almost 600 miles), and we've just left a very fun time with our kids and grandson, and it's back to "regular life." Re-entry is not my favorite time, but then I turn my attention to the day in front of me. Today includes gardening, swimming, physical therapy (shoulder), and teaching MELT and yoga. I remind myself to be present to the task at hand--that makes each day better and takes much of the sting out of adult vulnerability. 
    Pay attention!
Leaves and sand--fascinating to a 1-yr-old

Sunday, September 24, 2023

September 24--Not Knowing is a Good Thing

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.  --Ursula K. Le Guin

    And not knowing what comes next is, at the same time, quite maddening. In general, however, I think permanent uncertainty is the better choice. The question "would you want to know ______?" floats through my brain, and my immediate response is "NO!"
    Today we head home after a fun visit with the offspring. Golf was played, dogs were walked, meals were shared, grandson was delightfully enjoyed.
    I've mentioned that September is my least favorite month, and noted that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of losing my S-I-L Sue. Today is the anniversary of BOTH my parents passing. Yep, on September 24, 1979 Mom passed, and on the same date in 2000, Dad passed. I lost my parents rather early in my life, yet my husband's parents are both still living independently and thriving at age 93. There's some uncertainty for you. 
    Not knowing is the precursor to faith, an essential part of life. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

September 23--THE Reason

You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.  --Louise Erdrich

    I am being "swallowed up" by our grandson Luca. He was so much fun last night, running on fumes (very little naptime yesterday) and dancing and "singing" around the living room. He let me hold him a few times which is major progress. Our first baby-sitting gig went quite well. 
    Today is the one-year anniversary of my sister-in-law Sue's sudden passing. That was a lot of love leaving the planet. She is sorely missed. 
    Feelings were rather discouraged in our house growing up, despite the fact that there was a huge emotional undertow active all the time. There was plenty of love, misguided though it may have been. Loving is a complex process. I don't think any of us humans get it perfectly, but we keep coming back to try. 
    I close with these words by Ilia Delio from her work Compassion: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis:

We have the capacity to heal this earth of its divisions, its wars, its violence, and its hatreds. This capacity is the love within us to suffer with another and to love the other without reward. Love that transcends the ego is love that heals. When we lose ourselves for the sake of love, we shall find ourselves capable of real love.

    May each of us be a healing presence,

Plant life at our son's home

Friday, September 22, 2023

September 22--And the Winner Is...

It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.  --Desmond Tutu

    It is the first of the 12 Steps to admit one's powerlessness. It is number one because until we admit that, we cannot learn or be helped. 
    Our drive to Colorado yesterday was easy. To entertain ourselves on the hundreds of miles driving west on I70 in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, we decided to count Trump signs and Jesus signs. I believe that it is safe to label this area generally as "conservative." Jesus won four to three in terms of quantity, but Trump won in size. 😉😉 While Jesus got a billboard or sign, Trump love is painted on semi-trailers. You'll note the billboard photo below. We refer to this as "white surfer-dude Jesus in the wheat field." There's just no end to things to be proud of in Kansas!!!!
    More fun today with my grandson...
If it's not Jesus, who is it?!?!!??

Thursday, September 21, 2023

September 21--Self-Love

What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  --Anna Quindlen

     WOOHOO!!! We get to see our grandson today! Oh, yes, parents and uncle, too. Rumor has it that my husband and I may get to baby-sit during this visit. We offered a few months ago, and the parents said a hasty "no," so we are delighted to have the opportunity now that Luca is over a year old. 
    "Perfectionism is self-abuse." That's a 12-step program saying which I have found to be quite true. I was raised by a card-carrying perfectionist so I know that of which I write! To be content with who I am--my physical, emotional, mental, spiritual being--is an ongoing, life-long practice. 
    "The work of becoming yourself" is all about self-love. Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis describes it this way:
By self-love I mean a healthy delight in your true, imperfect, uniquely wonderful, particular self. I mean an unconditional appreciation for who you are, head to toe, inside and out: quirks, foibles, beauty, and blemishes—all of it. I mean seeing yourself truthfully and loving what you see.
    Yes, that's both hard and amazing.

Our golf group fit in well there! 😉😉

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

September 20--Onward Anyway

We can't be brave without fear.  --Muhammad Ali

   I think the most scared I have ever been was going up in the plane and stepping out onto the ledge before skydiving. Mind you, I was strapped quite tightly to the tandem instructor but that was worth only a millimeter of comfort. It was pure terror. However, it turned instantly to ecstasy once we were free-falling. That was such a bizarre experience, going in a nanosecond from utter terror to total joy. 
    I have driven thousands of miles on baseball, beach and assorted other adventures. I am often asked if I'm afraid traveling by myself. On rare occasions I am, but it is the price I pay to go where I want to go. I've had many great adventures that would have been missed had I let fear stop me. Plus during my month-long yoga teacher training, I learned to drive in the most horrible Houston traffic, so city traffic does not scare me any more. 
    As I get older, fears seem to pile up. I can terrify myself quickly if I let my thoughts go down that path. It is a constant practice of reminding myself that Something Bigger Than Me has my back. All I need to do is keep moving. 
Wildflower beauty from an Ohio road trip

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

September 19--Happy Birthday!!!

We need never be ashamed of our tears.  --Charles Dickens

    Two awesome women were born on this day, one in 1943 and one in 1963, which makes them reaching the milestones of 80 and 60. To protect their "innocence," I shall refer to them as 80 and 60. 
    80 and I have been friends for decades. I believe it was one of those "we've known each other before" instant connections. We have done many a road trip together, enjoying Costa Rica, Mexico and numerous domestic destinations. We have shared and supported each other through decades of recovery and personal growth. We have been on retreats together. We have both jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. We are such good friends, I can sleep through her snoring and she can sleep through mine. We have cried on each other often, and vented a multitude of frustrations. No subject is off limits. 80 is the first person I turn to for prayer support, and vice versa. 80 is love incarnate, and I cannot (nor do I care to) ever imagine my life without 80 in it. Thank you, dear friend!
    60 is my older brother's only daughter, therefore, my niece. I was just shy of 8 years old when she was born. We are more like sisters than aunt-niece. She lives in Ohio, I live in Kansas. She is responsible for several of my trips to the east-coast beaches--many a glorious day has been spent near the ocean with her extended family and friends. She has an excellent bunch of friends that she has shared with me. On our most recent beach trip, I taught her how to play Rummikub, and she has become a willing and vicious competitor. She is the primary care-person for her dad (my brother with numerous health issues), and she is a high-school math teacher, too, so her life is busy and stressful, but she is a badass. She is also the mother of three wonderful sons. We talk about anything and everything, and we love just hanging out together. I can hardly wait till she retires so that we can share more adventures. Thank you, my badass niece!
    80 and 60, you are blessings in my life! I LOVE YOU!!

Monday, September 18, 2023

September 18--Loving Is Risky

There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve. 
--William S. Burroughs

    Here are fine words from Richard Rohr in his Daily Meditation of September 17:

The point in all the healing stories of the gospels is not simply that Jesus can work miracles. It is not for us to be astounded that Jesus can turn five loaves and two fish into enough for five thousand people, not counting women and children. That is pretty amazing, and I wish we could do it ourselves, but what Jesus does quite simply is feed people’s immediate needs. He doesn’t talk to them about spiritual things, heavenly things, or churchy things. He doesn’t give a sermon about going to church. He does not tell us what things we are supposed to be upset about today. He knows that we can’t talk about spiritual things until we take away people’s immediate physical hunger. When so much of the world is living at a mere survival level, how can we possibly talk about spiritual things?

The important thing that God seems to want to be doing in history is to create a community of compassion where people care about one another. It is not only the feeding that matters to us, it is also the caring for other people’s hunger and needs. Jesus never once talked about attending church services, but he talked constantly about healing the sick and feeding the hungry. That is what it seems to mean to be a follower of Jesus.

    Caring for one another is certainly risky business, but it is the only way to create a world that works for everyone. 
After the rain...

Sunday, September 17, 2023

September 17--An Open Heart

To love at all is to be vulnerable.  --C. S. Lewis

    I hit on this every time I see a photo of my grandson. (BTW, while I am dying to show off how adorable he is, I have agreed not to post any photos of him.) I want so much to have more time with him--it is so hard to be so far away (~580 miles) from him and his parents. 
    Have you ever experienced someone you love having a major challenge such as illness, an accident, job loss, and so on? It hurts to watch it, because we love them so much. It is a position of vulnerability for all involved. 
    Absolutely the hardest thing I've dealt with personally has been the ongoing process of letting go of my sons. The greater the love, the tougher the release. It leaves me feeling very vulnerable. 
A new pot home for my little bonsai...
a gift from my younger son...
part of my woman cave window garden

Saturday, September 16, 2023

September 16--Failure??

It's impossible to live without failing at something--unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all--in which case you have failed by default.  --J. K. Rowling

    I don't think it is possible to live that cautiously. If you are a parent, you have automatically failed at something--it comes with the territory, and the fact that those little creatures don't come with an Owner's Manual. 
    I've had several business/work failures, serving to teach me that I am not any sort of salesperson. If you participate in any sport, you know failure. Golf and pickleball provide me regular doses of humility. I have been told by my children that I did not measure up to their expectations on many occasions. Note that those occasions were not failures from my perspective! Which brings up another point--the term "failure" is relative and personal. 
    We can let supposed failures stop us in our tracks, or we can learn and move on. We can adopt the Bob Ross attitude: "We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents." 
Fall approaches...

Friday, September 15, 2023

September 15--We Need Each Other

You are so weak.
Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave 
till it gets to shore.
You need more help
than you know. 

    We certainly need more help than we know. I was thinking the other day about how so many of us have only cell phones nowadays. If something wiped out our cell towers, communication would mostly cease. We wouldn't be eating without the folks who grow our food and those who get it to the grocery stores. Going from one place to another requires people to design and build the transportation device (plane/train/automobile), build and maintain roads/airports/train tracks, and provide fuel for the vehicles. We'd be in a world of hurt without our water and sewer systems. This is all stuff that we take for granted. 
    I think it is pretty clear that we need each other. 

Someone created this beautiful
display for my enjoyment...
CSU Gardens, Fort Collins

Thursday, September 14, 2023

September 14--Pet Peeve (Pun Intended)

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right.  --Neil Gaiman

    Warning, blog rant ahead!
    Yesterday while walking Barney, our best-dog-in-the-Universe, around our neighborhood park, I encountered two bags of dog poop, collected but untied, sitting on the path. I also saw many piles of uncollected poop near the path. 
    WTF, people!?!?!!
  • Is it beneath your dignity to clean up after your dog? 
  • Are you really proud of the dump your dog can produce and you want to share it with the world? 
  • Do you think you are providing fertilizer? (The weeds love it?)
  • Note that diseases can be spread to other dogs through poop. 
  • Don't you just love it when your dog sticks its nose in another dog's pile?!?? Maybe even tasting it?? Then licking your face?!?!?!?!
  • Is it too far to bend over? They make pooper scoopers for that reason.
  • Maybe you have never had to clean up dog shit from your carpet because a family member unknowingly tracked it into the house. This move also requires digging dog poop out of the shoe treads. I have done this multiple times. 
  • Or are you just a lazy asshole??!?!??! 
    PLEASE, do the world and all pets a favor--clean up after your dog!!! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

September 13--Why Not Be Brave!?!?!

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

    I have gone zip-lining in the mountains of Costa Rica. I have gone para-sailing on the coast of Jamaica. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, landing safely in the prairie of Kansas. I am quite scared of heights, so all of these definitely qualify as "daring adventures." I remember on the para-sailing--you start out sitting on the back of the boat with your legs extended straight out. I had been floating up in the air for several minutes before I realized that I had not let my legs bend. 
    Yoga teacher training was another daring adventure. It was a month away from home with 28 straight 12-hour days and driving in Houston traffic before and after those 12 hours every day. I felt like a rock star upon completing that "daring adventure." 
    Then there are the long-term daring adventures, such as we take on when choosing to raise one or more children. Less welcome are illnesses and losing loved ones. Even dealing with aging is a profound daring adventure. 
    Life is as much fun as we make it!

Even being a baseball fan
is a daring adventure!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

September 12--The Four Agreements

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  --Don Miguel Ruiz

    This sounds like one of the Four Agreements: Don't make assumptions. Mr. Ruiz wrote a book of that name. The other three Agreements are don't take anything personally, always do your best, and be impeccable with your word. If you have not read this book, it would offer that it is definitely worth the time. It is no small challenge to live by those Four Agreements, but it surely makes life and relationships much smoother and easier.  
    Here are the summary statements of the other three Agreements from the book:
    Don't take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. 
    Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. 
    Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. 
    Practice, practice, practice,

Monday, September 11, 2023

September 11--ASK That Question!

If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. 
--Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    I have a dear friend with whom I exchange daily emails. The other day I warned her that I was offering a rant, and off I went. Part of our daily exchange is to get stuff off our chests as needed. We both know that the other will hear and understand the frustration loud and clear. It is a blessing to have such a sounding board. 
    I like to use the phrase, "There are no stupid questions, but I may give you a stupid answer." I love it when folks ask questions in my MELT and yoga classes. More often than not, the topic benefits everyone in the class, and it's a good teaching and/or demonstrating opportunity. 
    I don't have a problem with asking questions. I know some folks fear appearing stupid or ignorant. But there's just too much stuff out there for anyone to know it all. I love to learn, and asking questions is a necessary part of that. 
    Curiosity and questioning are essential aspects of a rich life.

Barney and I headed west
on an early morning walk.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

September 10--Live and Love Like St. Francis

Love is the opposite of power. That's why we fear it so much. 
--Gregory David Roberts

    This is from Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation of September 8, 2023. 

Brian McLaren and Patrick Carolan call for a renewal of the Franciscan way (living like St. Francis of Assisi) in Christianity:

We have a proposal that addresses both the crises in the world at large and the crises in the Christian church: the possibility of a Franciscan Renaissance…

A Franciscan Renaissance would be ecological, nonviolent, economic, and inclusive.

First, at this time of ecological crisis, the Franciscan legacy is powerfully ecological…. We need a spiritual vision that integrates love for God and love for our neighbor with love for the earth….

The ecological vision of Francis was about … the interconnectedness of all creation, so that we see every creature as sister or brother.…

Second, in this time of violence, this time of school shootings and war in Europe, this time when many politicians seem to believe that the more guns we have the safer we’ll be, or the more bombs we have the safer we’ll be, we need St. Francis’ message and example of nonviolence as never before….

Over the centuries, many forms of Christianity have become religions of fear. But Christianity wasn’t always like that. It began as a nonviolent peace movement, a community known for love, a community gathered around a table of fellowship and reconciliation, a people armed with the basin and towel of service, not the bomb and gun of violence. A Franciscan Renaissance would invite us to become, in the language of St. Clare, not violent warriors, but nonviolent mirrors of Christ for others to see and follow.

Third … the Franciscan vision is deeply economic. Today, a larger and larger percentage of wealth is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals and families…. St. Francis arose in the early stages of modern capitalism, and he saw its potential dangers. He exemplified an alternative value system where the poor, the leper, and the outcast matter more than money, luxury, and power. Our current economic model places no intrinsic value on creation, except as a source for raw materials that we consume…. A Franciscan Renaissance would help us “redeem”—which means to re-assess and revalue—everything, so we rediscover the priceless beauty of the earth and its creatures, including our neighbors and ourselves.

Fourth, we live in a time of exclusion, division, classism, racism, and religious prejudice. We need the example of St. Francis and St. Clare, who clearly modeled deep inclusiveness and solidarity…. In this spirit of solidarity, I see that my life and your life are interconnected. I refuse to settle for my own happiness, because my life is in solidarity with yours as my neighbor.

The relationship between Francis and Clare modeled this: we’re all equal—male and female, rich and poor, healthy and sick, well-clothed and clothed in rags, Pope and Bishop and lay person. Francis even teaches us to refuse to discriminate between Christian and Muslim, Jew and Atheist, for we all are beloved by God.

    This would be living in love, a blessing for all. 

Tiny fungi sprouting bountifully on 
Auburn Hills Golf Course

Saturday, September 9, 2023

September 9--All Are Wounded

To be alive at all is to have scars.  --John Steinbeck

    If you are breathing at this moment, you've been wounded in some way. Some wounds were intentional, others not, but all affect us just the same. We have suffered from acts of commission and omission. 
    We have physical scars. They start as we become mobile and experience the bumps, crashes, and tumbles of being a toddler. Assorted illnesses like chicken pox can leave scars. Then there are accidents and surgeries. Let us take a moment to appreciate the magnificent healing capabilities of our bodies. 
    We have emotional scars. The physical therapist working with me on my shoulder is encouraging me to pull my shoulders back and open my chest. I know that my lifelong poor posture is related to early emotional trauma. I (unconsciously) adopted a rounded posture to protect my heart. Being a yoga and Melt Method teacher, I see plenty of evidence of emotional trauma held as bodily scars. 
    We have mental scars. Consider that there is a scar any time "should" is involved. "I should do that." "I should not have done that." We make mistakes, and if we don't take responsibility for those and make amends as appropriate, we create more mental scars. 
    We have spiritual scars. Actually, due to most modern day religious teachings, we think we are just one huge scar, unworthy sinners, all of us. How sad that we have been scarred by dogma away from our Spirit-given, innate divinity. 
    Love heals, 

Friday, September 8, 2023

September 8--The Vulnerability of Being a Cubs Fan

Love is the burning point of life, and since all life is sorrowful, so is love. The stronger the love, the more the pain. Love itself is pain, you might say--the pain of being truly alive.  --Joseph Campbell

    This is heavy, so I'm going to lighten it. I'm approaching this as a Cubs fan. I became a Cubs fan way back in 1989 or so. WGN offered the only daily baseball broadcast that we could get, so I became a Cubs fan. "The stronger the love, the more the pain" became the story of my life as they had OK years and crappy years. Mostly their pitching was the problem, though I surely did love to watch Greg Maddux hurl the ball. It became one of my three overarching goals in life--to see the Cubs win the World Series. Note that this has been a goal of millions who had passed because the Cubs went World-Series-winless from 1908 to 2016. It was a very long sorrowful time for Cubs fans. 
    In the very wee hours of November 2, 2016, I can testify that there IS crying in baseball. After over a century's drought, the Cubs won in extra innings in Game 7. My friend living in Chicago invited me to the celebration parade, but I declined, saying, "There will be 5 million people there." Literally, there were 5 million people there. The Cubs fan base is huge--we know love and we know sorrow. 
    Am I nuts about baseball or what?!?!?!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

September 7--"Happy Little Accidents"

Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.  --Cheryl Strayed

    In ways I never imagined, the birth of my grandson caused this. It has been both wonderful and painful as I move through time and he grows. It's all part of life's adventure. 
    Twice in the past few weeks, I have been in a restaurant with many TVs, and one of them was playing the Bob Ross Channel. The rest of the TVs were broadcasting sports events. A friend of my son introduced me to Bob Ross and his painting videos. I certainly can't paint like him, but I do enjoy watching him create a painting. Most of all, I love his philosophy: 

"We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents."

    Mr. Ross was referring to the painting process, but I think this is a lovely life philosophy, too. What a great idea to lessen the sting of "mistake" with "happy little accident." That lightens the load considerably!

One of Bob Ross' lovely landscapes

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

September 6--Seeing vs. Looking

Most important and most vulnerable of human emotions: Love.  --Paulo Coelho

    I would also offer "most complicated." 
    I enjoy photography. I've become more interested in it since I've been writing this blog so that I can have a visual to include with each post. I have no desire to be a professional photographer or create "great art" with it. I found in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation of September 2 this description of how Thomas Merton practiced photography as described by author Esther de Waal:  

Thomas Merton was of course a writer and a teacher, and a poet, but he was also a photographer, and it is from his photographs that we learn much about how he saw the world, and how he prayed—and the two are of course intimately connected…. He handled a camera as an artist would, and used it as an instrument of delight and perception. It was in the later 1950s that the journalist John Howard Griffin [1920–1980] visited Merton in his hermitage. He had his camera with him and … let [Merton] keep it on extended loan. At first when Merton sent him the negatives, John Howard Griffin was puzzled, for [Merton’s] view was so different from that of most people. Merton photographed whatever crossed his path—a battered fence, a rundown wooden shack, weeds growing between cracks, working gloves thrown down on a stool, a dead root, a broken stone wall. He approached each thing with attention, he never imposed, he allowed each thing to communicate itself to him in its own terms, and he gave it its own voice.

Later on when he was out in the woods with a young friend, Ron Seitz, both with their cameras, Merton reprimanded him severely for the speed with which he approached things. He told him to stop looking and to begin seeing:

Because looking means that you already have something in mind for your eye to find; you’ve set out in search of your desired object and have closed off everything else presenting itself along the way. But seeing is being open and receptive to what comes to the eye…. [1]

He used his camera primarily as a contemplative instrument. He captured the play of light and dark, the ambience, the inner life. But above all he struggled towards an expression of silence through the visual image, so that his photographs show us that ultimately his concern was to communicate the essence of silence.

[1] Ron Seitz, Song for Nobody: A Memory Vision of Thomas Merton (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1995), 133. 

Esther de Waal, Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003), 63–64, 65. 

    This is what I aspire to with my picture-taking. Something strikes my interest, an ordinary thing, but I SEE it, rather than just looking at it. It is a gloriously silent process. 

Another beautiful Kansas sunrise

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

September 5--The Challenge of Mending

A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended. 
--Ian McEwan

    We are hearing much these days about trauma and its long-term effects. Few have escaped trauma in their lives, some just have it worse than others. 
    I had two major traumas in my childhood. One was simply a natural event--the sudden death of my grandmother, my mother's mother. It set off a chain of events that permeated my whole life. The other was non-stop verbal abuse by my brother, 14 years older than me. Of course that was "all in good fun, just teasing." Both of those traumas tore me, and it has taken many years of self-introspection and counseling to experience the mending I have accomplished so far. I give much credit to the 12-Step Program for assistance in this area. 
    We all have been torn--let us help each other to mend.

The perfect mending job
(from google images)

Monday, September 4, 2023

September 4--Some Days...

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.  --Brene Brown

    I typically write this blog post one day ahead. I just re-read yesterday's post and it doesn't make much sense. I'm OK with that. I'm well aware that I can't control how the reader perceives the text. Some days are better than others as far as my writing talent goes. As I compose this, I note that I awoke this morning in a cranky mood. Why is that? The Cubs lost last night. I'm worried about some folks near and dear to me. Aging is traumatic for me. We have a prediction of yet another absurdly hot, humid day. I have stuff to do that I don't want to do. Are you bored with all these silly possibilities yet? No doubt there are more. It's just life stuff. We all have it. Let's be kinder to each other. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

September 3--Does It Matter?

It's gonna hurt because it matters.  --John Green

    This one feels like walking barefoot on rough gravel. I really struggle with what matters. What does matter? I believe this takes a personal, individualized answer. What matters to me may be of no interest to you. There are many times when I try to tell myself that something does NOT matter, but my heart is screaming otherwise. 
    Let's consider some examples. I'll start with my golf game. I know that it completely does not matter. However, if I'm playing so poorly that I just end up frustrated, that matters, and I need to reconsider how much I play. I have backed away this summer from much of my usual weekly play, and I have not missed it. When I do play, I've enjoyed it. Here is a case of "less is more." 
    This year I have taken up pickleball. It is fun, and it 100% completely does not matter. I'm there to learn, and I do not care one bit whether I win or lose. I simply love to play. 
    And there you have it---"I simply love to play." That's the way to go through life, knowing that the love of the game is all that matters. 

A hand towel at the Fort Collins Ace Hardware

Saturday, September 2, 2023

September 2--Another September

The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open. 
--Chuck Palahniuk

    Here we are once again in September, with a theme of vulnerability. I dread September, even though I love the coming of autumn. Both my parents passed in September on the same date (24th) 21 years apart. Last year my sister-in-law passed suddenly on September 23. Then there was 9-11. I've had my worst health challenges in September, including depression. It's no wonder that at the beginning of the month I take a deep anxious breath and offer a prayer to make it through the month unscathed. 
    Because I am wary of September, I could spend the month hiding in the woman cave. But I don't want to do that, so last night I adventured to Moundridge to the Hub Brick Oven & Brewery. My husband and two friends were playing music there. The pizza is excellent. They have a wall of taps where you can sample a variety of beers and wines. It was a lovely drive both ways through fertile Kansas farmlands. 
    One day at a time, chanting "life is good!"

Friday, September 1, 2023

September 1--Vulnerability

To be full seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow--this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.  --Elizabeth Gilbert

    The theme for September is vulnerability. Alas, when I saw that, I did not go, "Oh, goodie!!!" 😏
    Being firmly grounded in relationship with a Higher Power (God, Spirit, Universe, Divine Love, Gladys, Ralph--whatever you want to call It) is a key ingredient in being able to be vulnerable in this life. From Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation of August 30 are these words by Mirabai Starr about the joy of a life of contemplation and meditation:

Contemplative life flows in a circular pattern: awe provokes introspection, which invokes awe.

Maybe you’re making dinner and you step outside to snip chives from the kitchen garden just as the harvest moon is rising over the eastern slopes. She is full and golden, like one of those pregnant women who radiates from within. Suddenly you cannot bear the beauty. Scissors suspended in your hand, tears pooling at the corners of your eyes, you nearly quit breathing. Your gaze softens, and the edges of your individual identity fade. You are absorbed into the heart of the moon. It feels natural, and there is no other place you’d rather be. But the onions are burning, and so you turn away and cut your herbs and go back inside. You resume stirring the sauce and setting the table.

This is not the first time you have disappeared into something beautiful. You have experienced the unfettering of the subject-object distinction while holding your daughter’s hand as she labored to give birth to your grandson; when curled up in bed with your dying friend …; while yielding to your lover’s lips. You have lost yourself in heartbreak, then lost the desire to ever regain yourself, then lost your fear of death. You long ago relinquished your need for cosmic order and personal control. You welcome unknowingness.

Which is why seemingly ordinary moments like moonrises and lovemaking undo you. The veil has been pulled back. Everything feels inexhaustibly holy. This is not what they taught you in the church of your childhood. Your soul has been formed in the forge of life’s losses, galvanized in the crucible of community, fertilized by the rain of relationship, blessed by your intimacy with Mother Earth. You have glimpsed the face of the Divine where you least expected it.

And this is why you cultivate contemplative practice. The more you intentionally turn inward, the more available the sacred becomes. When you sit in silence and turn your gaze toward the Holy Mystery you once called God, the Mystery follows you back out into the world. When you walk with a purposeful focus on breath and birdsong, your breathing and the twitter of the chickadee reveal themselves as a miracle….

So you sit down to meditate not only because it helps you to find rest in the arms of the formless Beloved but also because it increases your chances of being stunned by beauty when you get back up. Encounters with the sacred that radiate from the core of the ordinary embolden you to cultivate stillness and simple awareness. In the midst of a world that is begging you to distract yourself, this is no easy practice. Yet you keep showing up. You are indomitable. You are thirsty for wonder.

Practice, practice, practice,

More beauty at the CSU Gardens