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Tough Start

Happy belated New Years! I had a very tough start to 2020. With much sadness, my father passed away in January.  I had planned a trip to see him, and timing was everything.  The last I had heard just before leaving to go out was that he was coming home from the hospital on Tuesday, and I was arriving the day before. But that was not what happened. I knew his health was declining, but I was blindsided by his passing. Ultimately, I am so very grateful that I was there at that time.

My grief took such an unexpected path. My work in Hospice has provided an education not only in death, but in grieving. The grief I experienced with my mother’s passing was not at all comparable to this. With her passing, I felt so totally lost. I felt such an enormous void, not only in my life and heart but with my spirituality. Thanks to Hospice (even though Mom had not been in Hospice they still helped) and Fr. John, I worked though these voids.

My grief now has affected me more on a global level. If global is the right word. I’m still very much processing it all. I am profoundly sad. My father was always there, even though he was on the other side of the country. He was my direct connection to all I’ve been in this life. To my childhood and claim to Arizona, to my sense of restlessness and wanderlust.

Another global aspect of my grief is how we carve out these lives for ourselves. How each one of us strives to mean something, not only to our loved ones but to matter and to be a part of all this. And we do, we create these relationships and areas of importance – whether it be to our families, our church, or jobs, friends… – and then we’re gone. To what avail? Besides a few people, who will your life matter to?

All this sounds so dark, but I am acutely aware of the duality it all represents. We have this life, this precious life and it’s up to us what and how we live it. What we create for ourselves, and how we experience and enjoy the richness of possibilities.  Perhaps we should live life more hedonistically, actively seeking pleasures (and we should!). But then the Buddhist nature points out and directly confronts suffering. Again, this duality. So just as I sit with my grief, my thoughts go around and they explore.

In this month of Valentines love, my wish for you this month is to feel so loved. To realize what a beloved child of the Universe you are! And to love and to be loved!

Laughing for 7 mins

I recently read online the following Daily Habits that will change your life:

  1. 1 hour of exercise
  2. 2 liters of water
  3. 3 cups of tea
  4. 4 colors on your plate
  5. 5 mins of meditation
  6. 6 songs that motivate you
  7. 7 mins of laughter
  8. 8 hours of sleep
  9. 9 pages of a book
  10. 10 reasons to be thankful

Pretty easy to see these are all good ideas. The one item listed that gave me the most thought was number 7 – laughing for 7 mins.  Yes, laughter is great for you, but how do you generate 7 full mins of laughing daily?  Well, last night my work Christmas party provided me with a lot more laughing than 7 mins!

Two ladies I work with are always in charge of the games – the steal a gift game and the saran wrapped ball – because they always bring a bit of naughty and mischief into these games. If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that playing is something that I’m always trying to fit into my life and is important to me.  Working in Hospice, our jobs are pretty serious in nature – so all of us together – playing and laughing was priceless!  To see these adults forgetting propriety and playing just like when we were kids! To see these men and women getting on the floor to play – yes, some of us needed a helping hand to get back up, and grabbing that saran ball from each other… I repeat, priceless. Not to mention how freeing it was to let go of my usual decorum especially in this world of everyone’s a winner. No, it was a dog eat dog game last night, and I was in it to win some!  Good times and good laughter.

Our next New Moon is early in the morning on Dec 26th. While I will not be holding a New Moon Hoop this month, I will sit in meditation and prayer.  So this New Moon also coincides with a solar eclipse.  It means all possibilities are on the table and you can rightly put yourself at the forefront of new plans for the future. This is the ideal time to make a fresh start – so write your new goals on paper! I have heard many people express their anticipation for this New Year and that it will be a better year.  I sincerely wish that for everyone.

During these holidays, I’m hoping you find peace and joy throughout. But I’m also wishing you more than 7 mins of good hearty laughter as well.

My Christmas Prayer,

May all who work for a world of peace and reason be granted the gifts of strength and courage… may the good that dwells within every human heart be magnified… may the blessings of truth and understand be ours…  may the joys of the Christmas season dwell within all of us… and as we grow and build for tomorrow may we live in sympathy with all others.

Yesterday I went to the mountains in VA to pick apples with my sister and nephew.  Even though the apples were slim pickings, we had a wonderful day.  My sister always has this way of making whatever we’re doing a little more special.  She had packed this really yummy picnic for us, and even brought a blanket to sit on. We sat on the crest of a little hill with beautiful views of the rolling hills of the apple orchard nibbling yummies while relaxing and talking.  She told her son that our parents had brought her to this very same orchard when she was a little girl. Not that she’s all that old, but to think about the rich history in those trees and in that ground. To picture my brother and sister all young and running around, picturing my parents young and happy, all picking and eating apples and having fun.

We, my sister and I, are always very reflective on our lives, on our parent’s lives, and our family.  When we go to NY we always talk about our parents traveling on the same roads when they were first married, going back and forth between their parent’s homes.  When we go to Arizona to visit our father, we usually make trips to the Mesa, or other areas that hold special meaning to us growing up there.  Always riddled with stories of our memories there.  And in Virginia, having lived there in several different times and areas, we always recall memories when we’re in those areas.  Seeing something here that brings to mind a memory from when I lived in Wisconsin that I need to share. It’s not just my sister and I that do this – it is our parents, our brother and both sides of our family that are memory keepers and storytellers.  We grew up with our aunts and uncles, our grandparents and cousins all keeping these memories alive.

Our children have heard most of these stories many times already, but I think that they enjoy them. I know when my son was a teen he would roll his eyes at my repetition of things he’s said and done when he was little. Now he grins when we repeat these same stories.  As he’s gotten older he definitely has more interest in our family history.  In fact, recently we spent hours on the phone looking at family pictures together, with me sharing who’s who and where and when.  I like to think that our children take ownership of their heritage and their place in this ever growing legacy of our family and our lives.

I know for me I feel very connected to something bigger than my immediate everyday life.  With my father and brother so far away it helps me feel closer to them. That by them being so special to me, that I am that special to them.  It’s part of what is keeping my mother and all my deceased loved ones very much alive and in my heart. It’s helping my son, nephews and niece see the bigger family, their heritage. To remember we are a part of something much larger than what we simply see in our daily lives.

Speaking of my son, he is planning on coming up to visit early next month.  And then “it” all begins: many family birthdays, all the holidays, and all the holiday preparations! I’m thinking we need a Reiki share.

Wishing everyone some moments to embrace your own heritage and your own memories that fill you with knowing that this world is affected and special because of You!

 

Autumn is here, my most favorite season! But what a summer it’s been. I’ve been hiking – in fact I completed a day hike on the AT (Appalachian Trail) logging a little over 11 miles on the trail in one day. It was a great hike mixed in with small moments of doubt, some really aching knees, and a big sense of accomplishment. Now I’m looking at the next section and working out logistics for that hike.

I recently spent a quick weekend trip to see my father. He’s been dealing with some big health issues so it was very good to be with him. He is such an inspiration. One that I didn’t appreciate when I was young, but now am genuinely impressed and inspired by him. The day I arrived in Phoenix it was 109 degrees! It’s been a while since I’ve been in temps that high and boy did it feel good. Yes, it is a dry heat and that makes a difference!

This fall I’m looking forward to seeing my nephew when he returns to the states on his teaching break, and for my son’s annual fall trip up here. Plus all the family birthdays and then the holidays coming up! Also Marvin and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. That’s quite a milestone.

This life of mine, ever evolving. I recently read this quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj, “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

I hope your summer wraps up filled with wonderful memories. And that your road into autumn filled with beauty and wisdom, leading you to ecstasy!

Last post I told you about my hiking goals. To bring you up to date on my fitness achievements I’ve been on the Whiteoak Canyon trail on Skyline Drive, and I’ve built up my jogging distance.  But yesterday I tried a whole new adventure – and one that I’m still wondering if I’ll attempt again. I traveled the entire Three Notch Trail on a bicycle. That was 22 miles sitting on a very hard weird little seat. Oh my goodness, but my “saddle” hurts!

Last month we made it down to see my son and his new home.  That was such a wonderful trip. This is his first home purchase, and I am so impressed with what a grand house he found.  I was with him on my birthday and my best friend and her husband came and helped us celebrate. While the day was not designed or intended to be a “birthday party”, it definitely was one to me!  And I had an incredibly fun time.

Why is it when my girlfriend and I get together, we seem to revert to being young teens again? I can be in the pool with my husband, son, even with other kids it doesn’t matter, I just swim along. But put Bethany and me together in a pool we’re doing cannonballs, water ballet, and we play! I still giggle at this 10-yr old boy’s expression watching us play.

I sincerely hope you’re playing, exploring and enjoying the start of your summer.

Logging Miles

The weather has cooperated with me the last three weeks, and I have been able to go on substantial hikes. The first was in Cedarville State park and was a 7-mile hike. Although I was tired after that relatively flat hike, I was very proud of myself.  I had been thinking about hiking, and I actually hiked a respectable distance. The next weekend we went to Rock Creek Park and logged 5-miles but with a lot more challenging terrain. This weekend I logged almost 8-miles at St. Mary’s Lake with a 500 ft elevation change.

What started this was that I had watched the movies A Walk in the Woods and Wild, both based on true stories about hiking the Appalachian and Oregon-Pacific trails. There was something quite thought provoking about each of these stories. It stirred a longing in me. A desire for more adventure, to be in nature more, to explore… to challenge myself.

I’ve started with these trails in order to build up. Soon I want to walk the entire Three Notch Trail from Charlotte Hall to Baggett Park which is about 11-miles.  I’ve ordered a couple of books about the trails in the MD, DC and VA area. With my ultimate goal to do some of the Appalachian Trail.

I have been quite surprised at all the offers by friends to come with me. While that’s heartwarming, I have my sister and grandson who are logging miles with me. And I’m also wanting to do some of this on my own, I think this is where challenging myself comes in to play.

Spring has been the perfect time to create and start this new adventure, and I’m looking forward to see how it all grows with me.  And I certainly hope the weather continues to cooperate with me!

Wishing you an adventurous month!

As you know, I work for Hospice. I have been a home health aide for just shy of 2 years now. I know how the program works, I know what we do, I am an integral part of the Hospice team.  However, I also became a family member on the receiving end of Hospice. The team did not allow me to participate in my father in laws care; instead they told me to just be his daughter in law.

I always say I’m so lucky to have a job that I get paid to love people.  But to be on the receiving end of this changed my perspective.  I know we have a big impact on our patients and their families, they tell us all the time. To see how Hospice works from the family’s perspective was enlightening, very touching and heartwarming.

Most of us think and feel it is better to give than to receive. Well, sometimes we need to receive – and it’s not only ok, but very good for us to receive. Being on the receiving side I find myself short on words that genuinely tell the depth of our appreciation.

A week or so after my father in law’s passing one of our social workers checked in with me to see how I was doing, and she asked me what I was going to do for self-care that weekend. Not sure what my expression took over my face, but she posed a concept that hadn’t been at the forefront of my thoughts. I think I mumbled something about attending a funeral, and doing the same ol’ chores and errands I do every weekend.

With her gentle suggestion fresh on my mind, that weekend I did splurge and pamper myself. While going for my morning jog, I intentionally smiled and appreciated all of nature. After attending that funeral I indulged in a little retail therapy which I was going to do online, but opted instead to enjoy a little bit of time walking around the stores instead. And I listened to my internal dialog and spent extra time writing.

Gratitude is about shifting your attention to appreciation for what is there, for what you are and what you have. And Kimberly helped me shift my focus to appreciation, to enjoying life, appreciating nature’s surroundings, and to allowing myself to slow down and to spend a little time on myself.

All the robins are busy in my front yard, the tulips are starting to grow, and I’m hoping the weather becomes more cooperative and that I can get a garden planted this year! I hope this month is filled with all sorts of things that bring a smile to your heart.

Happy New Year 2019!

Happy New Year!

What will 2019 bring? For one thing, it will bring 365 days of opportunities.  In past years, there were plenty of New Year’s met without any goals or resolutions. I would easily fall back to my old standby “to be a better person than I was the previous year.”   As with many resolutions it was made with good intentions. Even though it was one that didn’t require much effort as I always strive to be a better person every day.

This year… I do have some things on my calendar that I am looking forward to. First being a trip to AZ to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday with him. My son, sister and hopefully my brother and nephew will be there as well. I’m also looking forward to teaching more this year. This past November I held a Reiki I class, I hadn’t taught Reiki in a couple of years and it felt truly wonderful to teach again. And this year I’ll be teaching more classes.

After over 2 years of getting established in the healthcare industry, and finding my niche there, I am now really starting to blend my two worlds.

Pondering a New Year’s resolution, I looked to Wiki where they define resolution as a resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.  Hmm, ‘improve life’, that’s good. Let’s look at the synonyms for resolution, and I find the words determination and purpose.  Yes, I like that – what is my purpose for this year.  Working in Hospice, it is easy to see what the purpose should be – to enjoy life!  That sounds kind of flippant, but I genuinely mean it.

But how to do this when you have serious problems and stresses, which are extremely difficult, hard, and overwhelming? It’s easy to say, go take a walk outside and notice the insects and rocks on the ground where your about to step. Look at the sky and the clouds, what do you see in them? Do you recognize any of the birds you see or hear? Feel the winds on your face and smell the air. Where are your thoughts meandering to? For me this is at the top of my list of pure enjoyment – but maybe that does not bring any pleasure to you at all.  And in no way am I offering a Pollyanna opinion.  Another way of looking at this is to look for and recognize these moments and be fully present in these moments.  Maybe better said is to make a priority of finding moments of enjoyment, doing some little things that bring you happiness.

The numerology for 2019 is a 3 year! This triad, the 3 representing beginning, middle and end/father, mother, child/mind, body, spirit, represents creative self-expression, relationships, optimism, and inspiration.

Wishing you much peace and all the best in 2019!

 

“Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; let’s stop for one second, and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go away.

It’s been several months since I’ve written. There were a couple of factors at play that really squelched my writing outlet.  One stumbling block for me was my ego.  I started equating statistics of my newsletter above the whole reason behind my newsletter.  And that reason was to share my journey, my life if you will, with anyone that wants to read.  To share lessons I’m learning, words I’ve read that make me really pause and challenge my thoughts, and to share what inspires me.  So now I’m re-focusing on my initial drive to write – to bring my authentic passion into my writing outlet.

Well, we’re at the onset of spring. Where everything is getting ready to bloom, to start anew.   I have just started a new certification program to become a Hospice and Palliative CNA.  Marvin and I are getting ready to start a list of improvement projects around the house.   And  I’m looking forward to my best friends visit. She will be here for the New Moon Hoop on the 17th!  It seems I have a lot going on this month.

Astrologically, we’ll have two Full Moons this month and Mercury will go retrograde on the 22nd. Meteorologically March has come in like a lion!  I truly feel that the last year or better has had the energy of a lion marching forth.

Wishing you a month springing forth with fresh newness, good health, and a bit of a lion’s strength to support you.

Right Time!

I have Louise Hay’s Heart Thoughts in my bathroom, and each morning I open to a random page to read and ponder. This morning I opened to the subject Time. She writes:

I am here at the right time.

We are all on an endless journey through eternity and the time we spend on this plane of action is but a brief instant. We choose to come to this planet to learn lessons and to work on our spiritual growth, and to expand our capacity to love. There is no right time and no wrong time to come and go. We always come in the middle of the movie and we leave in the middle of the movie. We leave when our particular task is finished. We come to learn to love ourselves more and to share that love with all those around us. We come to open our hearts on a much deeper level. Our capacity to love is the only thing we take with us when we leave. If you left today, how much would you take?

Sometimes I have felt oddly out of place in my life, and other times I know I’m right where I need to be.  In my young adulthood, I truly felt like I was born too late.  Perhaps the better way to articulate is to say I felt that I should have been born in the 50’s rather than the 60’s. I felt all that happened in the 60’s were definitely the environment I wanted to appreciate and be a part of at a more mature age.

In the 1980’s and 90’s I was quite unsettled and impatient. It was a time of searching – for a different life, for spirituality and knowledge, and in retrospect – searching for my true me.  Then the first dozen or so years of 2000 was so heavy with commitment, change, and some very heavy stuff. All that “stuff” is what has led me to the life I have now.  Sometimes I catch myself going down the ol’ what if road: what if I hadn’t sold the store, what if I had gone to nursing school earlier when the desire first bloomed, what if we hadn’t invested with that particular guy. Chasing my own tail is something I can get stuck doing, if I don’t straighten myself out of it.

So reading Louise Hay’s inner wisdom words on time has been good for me.  This year I find myself in a place I hadn’t previously envisioned. I ended up in a job that although I fervently fought it so much in the beginning, has turned out to be such a blessing.  And of all the jobs in my life, I sincerely feel that I am here at the right time.

Changing subjects now, I know the holidays are not fun or happy or good for a lot of people. I know this time of year can be very depressing or lonely and hard. During these hard times, I hope you find the strength to look back at happy memories, to revisit feeling good especially during this time of year; and to tap into your creative and playful self to build new moments and memories that help you.

I sincerely hope everyone finds opportunities to play this month – after all, isn’t this the month for festivities.  And as always, I wish you much peace and joy this month.