Category Archives: grattitude

Charities

Anne is the Volunteer Coordinator at Gilda’s Club. Getting nametags ready for the Imagine a Place Breakfast

Many of you know that I do regular volunteer work for Gilda’s Club Twin Cities.   Gilda’s is a place where support, education, classes in healthy living, social support and community resources are made available to anyone impacted by cancer – for free.   That’s not just people with a cancer diagnosis, but their families and support systems.  It’s an incredible organization and a beautiful and healing environment.

Because Gilda’s does not demand anything of its members, it is supported entirely by community donations.  Our clubhouse is a gift of time, talent, and resources of many volunteers, community members and business organizations.  The position I occupy, Gilda Greeter, is a volunteer position that many of the group of Gilda greeters have been doing for years.  There is a lot of love at Gilda’s.

Last week was our big annual fundraiser.  The “Imagine a Place” Breakfast started to raise funds to create a clubhouse in our area.  Imagine a Place, our founders said, where people could go to get help and support.  We continue to imagine and to grow.  That takes a lot of time, a lot of hands, and honestly a lot of money.  I put in some extra hours last week to help out.

Girls night out, and we all got an I ATE sticker to support the Aliveness Project

The Aliveness Project has been around in the Twin Cities for a lot longer.  They are an organization that supports people who are living with HIV and AIDs.  They were one of the first groups that offered free testing.  They also provide education and support to their members.

I’ve not been as active with the Aliveness Project, although many of my friends have.  One of the best fundraisers they do is called Dining Out for Life.  Essentially, restaurants who participate donate a percentage of the days take to the Project.  It’s fun to make a date for a night out and know that because of the timing you are also supporting a good cause.

In all honesty, we didn’t plan our night out to happen along with Dining Out for Life.  (In spite of the fact that we were all aware it’s a thing.)  We didn’t pick the restaurant Northbound Smokehouse because it was one of the biggest supporters of the event (a platinum level participant).  We just got lucky.

We ordered big, ate really well, tipped generously and all threw a little something extra in the envelope the Dining Out volunteers provided.  We were happy, and grateful, to be enthusiastic participants.  It was fun, it was easy, and most especially it was a good cause.

Minnesota has one of the most active non-profit communities in the nation.  We have a council that reviews non-profits and provides information about how their money is distributed.  We have community events, generous business owners and an understanding that if those in need do better, we all do better.

How do you support your community?

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Downsizing

This project required a dumpster, a truck, and 3 cars packed full of stuff to go.

I’ve been posting a little inconsistently because I’ve been spending a lot of weekends “up north” at my parent’s house.  As they age their needs have changed.  Mom is mostly using a walker to get around, even in the house.  She’s really needing a wheelchair if she’s out and about.

Literally could not take 1 step into this closet when we started. The stuff on the floor was piled 1/2 way up to the lower bar.

There was a big effort in March to get Mom a hospital bed to sleep in.  She can use the adjustability.  It will also help to have the grab bars just to roll over.  We acquired a bed from one of the relatives (in the next state over).  The logistics of getting the bed here and installed have been daunting.

The biggest dilemma in all of this has been space.  My parents hang on to everything.  As my Mom has lost track of what she has, she’s found the need to “replace” things that never were lost.  We’ve seen them using what we would call rags and bought new as well.  Then we discover the problem is just that the new stuff is being “saved for special.”

There used to be a path along the near wall. The walker couldn’t get INTO the room

We are repeatedly invoking the mantra “Use the stuff!  If you don’t use it, then toss it.”  We’re at the point  where the hospital bed is ready to install and the white gloves come off.  We’ve spent the last weekend cleaning, decluttering and tossing.  The whirlwind also included putting in new faucets in all the sinks (to stop the dripping).

It’s been a little distressing, a little disgusting, and required a lot of patience.  The end result is that Mom can actually take her walker into any room in the house.  Furniture has been moved and cleaned behind and under that had been collecting dust for 20 years.  There is still a lot to do, but this is a good stopping point.

This room has always been a problem.

Here’s the after. Andrea is justifiably proud. Dad is a little unnerved.

There is a lot of disorientation, especially on Mom’s part.  It will take her some time to get used to the space.  Dad has to touch everything that’s been put away and make sure that his most precious memorabilia is where he can get his hands on it at a whim.  I’m sure in a couple of weeks piles will begin to accumulate again.  Better is still better.

Mom is pretty happy. There’s actually a workable pathway out the door!

Thanks to my sister Andrea, her husband Butch, her son Zac and his SO Darcy, and Andrea’s daughter Alyx (who spent the weekend scrubbing).   I couldn’t have touched this job and they took the lead on all of it.  I’m thankful to be able to help at all.  5 years ago, I couldn’t have done anything.

Our culture has lost track of the sacredness of caring for our elders.  We don’t have the time, services, support or even the examples of how to handle this.  We are trying to do this work from a distance.  3 hours is no distance from my parents compared to what many of my friends deal with.   Very few of us anymore have the resources to take our aging parents into our homes.  We do what we can, and are grateful for the opportunity.

Losing Time

Photo by Gianna Olson (one of our group this weekend)

Daylight Savings time is hard on the body, especially in the spring.  I spent much of the weekend indulging my own body clock.  That was great, but since I’m more of a night owl, it made the spring forward adjustment even more difficult.

I am doing better than I expected under the circumstances.  I attribute that to taking some time out for a Sauna.

Sauna is a social/spiritual/cultural event.  There are sauna/sweat practices in many northern cultural traditions.  In the Twin Cities there is actually a club, the 612 Sauna Society that was founded to explore and share the Norse sauna traditions.

The 612 Sauna Society sets up their portable sauna

This month they’ve set up in the courtyard of the Swedish Institute.  A good friend decided she’d like to try sauna (she’d never done one) and I got an invite.  I chose to see this as a continuation of my birthday celebrations.  Especially after last week’s snowstorm I’ve seen lots of people succumbing to the “is winter ever going to be over blues”.  Part of the reason I maintain the “older you are longer you get to celebrate” philosophy is to combat that.

It was a perfect day to spend the afternoon sweating.  In a Scandinavian setting sauna is usually done in cycles.   You warm up to the core and then come out into the cold and cool all the way down.  The “rinse repeat” can mean coming out of the sauna and jumping into the snow or a cold lake,  doing a cold water splash, or just hanging out.  We did three rounds, and mostly skipped the “rinse” part of the program, although it was certainly an option.

Inside is inviting and peaceful

The 612 volunteers actually recommended a slower cool down.  The quick splash, or even a brisk breeze at colder temperatures, can make you feel ready to return to the sauna before the core has really cooled.  We drank a lot of water and cooled off by the fire.   Being outside in swimsuits at 30 degrees Fahrenheit was quite sufficient, and quite pleasant.

The time in the sauna was social, but it wasn’t small talk.  In many ways the sharing was as much a release of toxins as the actual sweat.  There wasn’t a “timer” we were told to listen to our bodies and come out and go in as we would tolerate it.  We brought water bottles and the 612 Sauna Society provided water for refills so we were very conscientious about staying hydrated throughout the experience.

Refreshing to be in a swimsuit in the snow

It was a time without time.  It was a ritual without a lot of ritual.  It was an opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of sauna and about each other.  It was an opportunity to get in touch and in tune with my own body rhythms.  It was cleansing and healing.  It was delightful.

Even better is that I can tell the cleansing and healing effects have stayed with me.  My desire for just water continues to be high.  My appetite is good, but not overwhelming.  My aches and pains have eased up considerably.  I slept really well.  I’m still grumpy about the time though.  It shouldn’t be this late yet!

 

Previous, perhaps relevant, blogs:

Daylight Savings

My first Daylight Savings post

It’s not the first time I’ve been to the Swedish Institute in birthday season

Resistance and Gratitude

Somebody appreciaes the snow

This is me still not feeling much like writing.  At least this week I’ve been doing the part where I write my blog in my head.  That’s an improvement, and better is better.

I watch everyone I know sink into the cabin fever, long winter blues at this time of year.  The longer brighter days are great, but they’re not enough when we get yet another 6″ of snow.  I’m grateful to have a birthday this week.  It gives me something to look forward to and it gives me a reason to get out and celebrate.

I have the best neighbors!

I’m grateful for the neighbors, who are Karina’s age.  I haven’t had to lift a shovel all weekend and I was able to get out of my driveway to spend Sunday with a good friend wandering through the Como Park Conservatory and Zoo.  We are very fortunate to have this haven in the depths of winter.

When you walk in your skin celebrates.  There’s moisture in the air!  Your eyes delight in the variety of shades of green.  The conservatory staff is very contentious about rotating the small plants though so there are always some manner of blooming orchids.

It’s a mini tropical vacation

This time I was delighted by how many things were in fruit.  There were limes on the lime trees, chocolate pods on the cacao, star fruit and prickly custard apple.  (Now I am on a mission to try prickly custard apple or Brazilian paw paw.)  We found odd buds and blooms everywhere.  In the conservatory hope for spring thrives.

Thursday was an adventure.  Karina had the evening off (a rare occurrence) so we’d planned for her to take me out for my birthday.  Then her whiskey distributor invited her to a launch party for Jameson IPA.  (They age their whiskeys in beer barrels (caskmates) and brew their Irish Pale Ale in whiskey barrels).  I was game and we had a good time.  It was not too big a party, probably because of the snow (the first 4″ was Thursday, the 6″ was Saturday).

Don’t know what we’re getting into, but we’re game.

We critiqued the drinks the same way we often have dinner.  Debating the merits and downfalls and discussing how to use or adapt the idea.  Mostly we were pleasantly surprised.  Neither of us are big IPA fans, but the mixed drinks were well balanced and the caskmates added a level of nuance to the whiskey.

“After party” because Karina needed to do a little more “homework” checking out local hot spots

I’ve always maintained that the older you are, the longer you get to celebrate your birthday.  I started last Thursday and I’ve got plans (so far) through most of March.  That’s something else to be grateful for!

 

Here are a few more photos from the conservatory, in case you needed your own touch of spring:

Even the ferns are having babies!

Cocoa pods in the tree

Bright colors breaking up the greens

 

I’ve written about the Como Zoo before:

Apparently it’s a good place for me to go when I’m “resistant”

They’ve finished the expansion, but we didn’t see any great apes Sunday

 

MLK Day

So on Martin Luther King Day I decided to use my platform to expand another voice.  My friend Crystal Blanton    is a Social Worker, an activist, and a talented writer.   Reprinted with her permission:

Losing the Illusion: The Reality of Racism Today

Losing the Illusion: The Reality of Racism Today

Jun 17, 2017

Many of us are angry right now. I am enraged by one more example, another reminder, that Black lives don’t matter in this country. After hearing the verdict today I am numb. I cannot wrap my mind around a society that clears a cop from all criminal charges after shooting and killing a man, Philandro Castille, in front of a 4 year old child and his girlfriend…. while he still had his seatbelt on.

I have been sitting in my numbness thinking about the trauma of this on that little girl, his girlfriend, his family, his community, the school children he worked with.. And the Black community at large. I have been thinking about the ways that trauma are retriggered and how that applies to racial trauma. I have been thinking about the generations of transgenerational pain in the Black community and how epigenetics pass this down generation after generation in our DNA.

It seems like year after year we have been fighting for the larger society of Americans to listen to our stories of pain, trauma, and fears. We have been working overtime to prove the existence of racism and discrimination that continues to be normal in our experience and a part of the fabric of the very society we share with others. It is interesting in today’s times to see the country continue to be divided by race, and to watch a portion of Americans come to grips with how overt racism has become (again) in the age of Trump. It is interesting to watch people come to grips with the ongoing murder of Black people by the state, and work to cope with the increasing realization that the words of our Black friends and family were truthful and real all along. It is essential for people to understand that racism is alive and well, functioning in all facets of our society and interwoven in the fabric of our history and our present.

Critical Race Theory is very applicable to this and understanding the ways that American society continues to thrive on systems of racism embedded into its very operation. And when we are evaluating the impact of racism, and ways to disrupt that pattern, we have to start looking at racism itself from a very different lens. Racism isn’t just the white hooded figure with an ignorant view on life and an affinity for the word Nigger. Racism is a system, a construct, that permeates every corner of our society and has been used as a tool for targeted success in this nation.

On the UCLA School of Public Affairs site it states that “CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures.” Let’s say it again for the people in the back. “The individual racist need not exist…”

People live in a place of cognitive dissonance by convincing themselves that someone is a good person and “can’t be racist”, or that people of color just want to make everything about race. Arguments even ensure about how a cop, like the one that killed Philandro Castile, “isn’t white and so it couldn’t be racism”. Ignorance about the functionality of racism in power structures and institutions, coupled with cognitive dissonance, is the reason people can believe such things. It is comfortable to think that racism is a person, that it is “bad” people, and that others can be separated from it because they have Black friends.

There are tenants to Critical Race Theory, and while those tenants are often a source of disagreement among different theorists in the field, there are a some that are universally accepted. The widely accepted CRT tenets include the following: Racism is Endemic, Race is a social construct, the power of differential racialization, interest convergence and materialist determinism, advancing the voice of the marginalized and intersectionality of identities.

In Critical Race Theory in Social Work Education: A Framework for Addressing Racial Disparities, the first tenet discusses the very point of how we view the role racism plays in society. It isn’t isolated to an individual person or experience and is not abnormal in our society. It is the normal reality of the power dynamics within the society we have created in America.

“Racism is Endemic. First, CRT asserts that racism is not an abnormal experience, but an everyday occurrence for people of color. It is reproduced in our structures, customs, and experiences. Accordingly, race should be seen as a central rather than a marginal force that defines and explains human experiences (Solórzano & Bernai, 2001). Given this endemic nature, CRT suggests that the functions and effects of racism are often invisible to people with racial privileges.”

The reality of this statement strips away the lies modern society has been able to tell itself about what racism is, how they are exempt and the accountability each person holds in the continuation of this demoralizing and deadly epidemic. What we are seeing now is how this illusion of safety for the average American has been  slipping away with every police murder of an unarmed Black person that is caught on a standard smartphone by a passing citizen.

While white America experiences the slow slipping away of the illusion of righteousness and exempt status, Black people are losing the illusion too.

Once again the Black community is faced with the reality that change isn’t really change, we still aren’t safe, and that we are rapidly slipping back to the 1970’s civil rights era. We are dealing with the harsh reminders that our bootstrap muscles are more defined than most and yet we are still target practice in these streets.

We are again and again faced with the reality that we are not in control of the narrative and our voices are too often left out of the historical accounts of our history. Coming to terms with our lack of social capital, in 2017, and the disenfranchised power-base we are holding onto, it leaves us to really think about what it means to navigate as a Black person in a modern racist society. It is comfortable for us too to believe that “We The People” now includes us…. Until it doesn’t.

Going back to the Critical Race Theory, how important is it for us to redefine our understanding of racism and the impact of the illusions of meritocracy, and good will on our psyche? How does this support or hinder positive change that promotes the survival and the ability to thrive for Black people?

For a moment, let’s dive a little deeper into the tenet about interest convergence and materialist determination.  Too often the survival of our people relies in our ability to appeal to dominant culture. Critical race theory makes space for us to understand that this itself is part of the construct of a racist society and an institutional system of privilege benefiting the majority.

“A fourth tenet of CRT is that of interest convergence and materialist determinism. This suggests that racism confers psychic and material benefits to the majority race. Further, it posits that the interests of the oppressed are addressed only when they converge with the interests of the dominant group (i.e. Whites) (Bell, 1980). According to Stec (2007), “acts that directly help blacks must implicate white interests because white economic (and other) interests and black oppression are inextricably interwoven and depend on each other for their survival” (p. 2). This means that those in the dominant culture who enact social, political, and economic change on behalf of racial minorities would only support changes if their own self-interest is better served.”


This leaves us with a lot to contemplate while we grieve yet another injustice at the hands of the state. How do we navigate a system, without the power of the dominant culture, and isolated from a system of justice that is meant to protect us? How do we heal hundreds of years of transgenerational trauma when we are living the horror that continues to retrigger the very pain of our ancestors? What does it mean to be an ally when the very nature of the system we exist within disproportionately devalues the oppressed and empowers others? When will we begin to look at how transgenerational trauma has impacted white America’s epigenetics around empathy, power, worth in our distorted systems?

I think it is time for us to begin the work of diving deeper into the construction of our societal fabric than we have ever been in order to gain understanding that will prioritize change. How can we shift what we do not understand…..

And in the meantime, I will continue to grieve for my people and the reality we are living in. I will continue to contemplate the meaning of freedom in the middle of the warzone. And I will continue to fight for the survival of myself, my family, my community and a collective consciousness that moves us back into future. In the meantime I will fight for love.

More to come…..

 

https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/counseling-theories/critical-race-theory/

http://www1.uwindsor.ca/criticalsocialwork/system/files/Constance-Huggins.pdf

Happy Birthday Mom!

How thoughtful to write Happy Birthday on the desert plate

I got to spend the weekend up at my folks helping to make a happy birthday celebration happen for my Mom.   Fragile is not I word I would ever have thought to apply to my mother.  She’s the strong one, who will do whatever is necessary no matter where she is at.  She bounces back.  Climbing mountains after surgery is something I learned from her.  She’s “in charge” and keeping track of all the moving pieces at any event she attends.  At 82 today, she struggles to reconcile a self image which she can no longer maintain.

She rarely goes out anymore.  It’s hard for her to get around.   It’s hard for her to sit in the car for any  length of time.  When there are a lot of distractions, or conversations going on she gets confused.  My Mom has been dealing with chronic pain for a long time.  Her allergies are severe and complicated enough that medicating pain isn’t an option, beyond an occasional Tylenol.  Her mouth is dry, so eating and talking become impossible when she doesn’t have water at hand.

We took her 100 miles there and another 100 miles back to go out to lunch with a good sized group.  I went a few days early so we could get her showered, lay out her outfit and do some massage therapy in advance.  Just my presence gives her a space to gather her resources.  I make sure her water glasses are always full so she doesn’t have to ask.  I put food in front of her rather than quizzing her about what she might want and what is available.  I do the dishes and sweep the floors, which are both really big jobs for her.  She can bank a little reserve.

There are a few of us when we all get together and we can be quite raucous.

For her, it was more than worth it.  She had a really good day.  She enjoyed it so much she didn’t want to go to bed because she didn’t want the day to be over.  My youngest sister couldn’t make it, but all the rest of the female children and grandchildren were in attendance.  It was a girls day out.  There were lots of leftovers, but she knew I would get them home and see that they were used.  The wait staff sang happy birthday and fussed over her desert.  We all tried to keep the table conversation with one person talking at a time.  There was a lot of love.

I am so very fortunate to be able to help facilitate that kind of good day for my Mom.  I’m grateful for every opportunity I have to see her out and about and having a good time.  It’s a joy to watch her relax and participate and let go of the worry of being “in charge”.  I wish I could do more.

Karina went to work straight from lunch. They were having an “ugly sweater” party. She made us all smile in her get up.

Happy birthday Mom!

Thanksgiving

My sister and her daughter doing “finishing touches” on Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving this year was at my sister’s house.  She and her husband have a lovely space with a beautiful kitchen and it’s close to my parents so it’s the logical spot for family gatherings.  I keep saying that I’m grateful that she’s the one doing the work!

My little sister and her family didn’t make it this year, which is no surprise.  Karina also didn’t make it.  She just got a promotion at work and was assigned the Thanksgiving Day buffet.  She spent a lot of time with decorations and set up.  Karina is a hard worker and she wanted to impress on her first event for the restaurant.  She did a beautiful job and got lots of kudos.  Hopefully she’ll learn fast how to delegate some of that work.

Some of the Thanksgiving Buffet at Claddagh Maple Grove

We missed Karina, but she sent up a cheesecake.  She may not be baking at work, but her love for doing that hasn’t stopped.  It was a great treat, especially for me.  With a cinnamon allergy most pumpkin and apple pies are death to me.

Orion and I came up Wednesday evening and stayed at my parent’s house.  We planned to spend the weekend visiting and helping with some of the housework.  Just keeping up is getting harder for my parents.  Wednesday’s mail brought 36 catalogues.  Mom can’t get through them, and doesn’t really need anything.  Unfortunately that depression era mentality makes it hard for her to just toss them without at least looking at them.  I can sort through the pile, hand her 3 catalogues and send the rest to recycling.

Mom and Dad at Thanksgiving

Friday morning we all slept in a little bit.  The plan was for a lazy day.  Mom was thinking about sorting through one of her old jewelry boxes.  She was also pretty sure there was a box of Christmas ornaments we had sorted that needed to be taken over to my sister’s Saturday for her and her kids.  I got up and my Dad greeted me with, “Good Morning.  You need to go home – today.”

YIKES!

The problem wasn’t me (thankfully), but the weather.  We were having an unseasonable thaw.  All that deer from hunting was frozen in coolers on the back porch.  It wasn’t going to stay frozen based on the weather report.  I needed to take it home and get it in my and Karina’s coolers!

And me and Mom

So we spent the day packing, setting up leftovers into meals, and taking a memory lane trip through Mom’s jewelry box.  We called Karina, who was back at work, and arranged to stay through close so she could haul and carry meat.  At least we didn’t have to drive home though holiday traffic.

It all turned out well in the end.  Sad that we were unable to spend more time with my folks, but happy to have a few “extra” days at home.  I kept off the internet, didn’t tell anyone I was back, and started making space for the rest of the holiday season.  I just have to figure out how I’m going to do the baking in my torn apart kitchen!

Orion and I waiting in the Pub for Karina to get off work

Hunting

Dawn does not conveniently “fall back” for Daylight Savings

I missed posting last week because of hunting season.  We went up to my parents for the week.  They don’t have the internet.  We were up before dawn bundling up to sit in the cold and back again at dusk.  In the meantime there were meals to make, housekeeping to tend to and just visiting.

I knew Karina would wear her favorite shirt so I couldn’t resist finding a similar one for Orion

The area we were in was pretty unrestricted but we did need to have everything inspected.  There is a prion, like mad cow disease, that has been invading the deer herds.  The state is trying to track its spread.  Given that we hunt for meat rather than for trophies this is kind of important.

There are a lot of views on hunting and a lot of reasons to hold those views.  I like wild meats and having them makes a significant impact on my very tight budget.  My family has always supplemented the grocery budget this way, even the farmers.  It makes sense to me to know that something has to die for me to eat.

Participating (even if it just means sitting with a gun in my lap waiting for Karina to shoot something) in this annual ritual is a way to connect to my heritage, my ancestry.  Through both lines I come from northern climates, where hunting was an essential food supply.  My people were not city folk, and even when they were they stayed involved with natural cycles.

Growing up in my family I’ve cleaned fish, tapped maple trees and weeded gardens.  I’ve tried my hand at milking a cow and had pigs, chickens, and goats butchered to accommodate my visiting the farm.  I’ve always known where my food came from.

Karina is also going to look good doing it. This year Blaze Pink was available as an alternative to Blaze Orange.

Karina’s generation is even further removed from food sources than mine.  As a chef food is important to her.  In taking up hunting she is also committed to learning how to field dress an animal, how to process it and of course how to prepare the meat.  The fact of the matter is that she’s the one doing all the work.  I’m just making space in my freezer.

This year hunting was also an exercise in support.  As my parents age it is become difficult for them to be as independent as they’d like.  My Mom worries about my Dad’s eyesight.  She worries about him carrying a loaded gun through the woods, tracking a deer on uneven ground.  My Dad worries about my Mom being left alone too long.  She has trouble getting around and has taken a fall or two herself.

Going up this year we could pretty much be sure My Dad wouldn’t have to go out alone.  We could set Mom up for comfort and give her a “check-in” call before we wandered too far off.  Orion stayed inside so they could “look out for each other”.  Karina took charge of all the carrying.  She says the beer kegs she’s been weighing each week at work are heavier than the deer.  She also appreciates how easily things slide when you drag them on snow.

Now that I’m home I can look forward to some tasty meals.  When I have them I’ll be grateful.  I will be grateful for the deer that sacrificed its life.  I’ll be grateful for my daughter taking care of me.  I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to make memories with my parents.  I’ll be grateful for my heritage.

Comfort

My Facebook feed is full of black and white “Day in the Life” photos. Here’s mine.

The temperatures are dropping and the wind is gusting.  The cold and damp are fitting for the season, they set the mood.  There are ghosts walking.

I am at that age where parents die in clusters.  This is the way of things, of course, but that doesn’t make it easy.  I worry about my own parents as they approach their “end years”.  I see that gradual decline isn’t so gradual any more.  It’s getting harder for them to keep up, to get by, to get things done.

This year in particular I find myself trying to offer comfort to friends whose loss simply can not be consoled.  Grief comes in waves, it takes its own time.  Those “stages” are neither sequential nor independent.  They can come in any order, repeatedly and sometimes all at once.  And I take those phone calls.  I listen.  I witness.  Sometimes that’s enough.

The symbol of death and renewal in Paganism is literally food and seed.

I’m looking for comfort too.  I want to escape in a good book.  I want a fire in the fireplace.  I want a pot of soup on the stove.  For my ancestors those things were just part of the days.  Now I can go to the grocery store and buy mirepoix, precut and measured.  (I didn’t, but I can.)  Bone broth is on the shelf in boxes because much of our meat is already removed from the bones.  Soup is no longer the ever present cauldron, but a can in the pantry.

Baking is part of that comfort factor as well.  A good bread, warm from the oven, and I can feel myself relax into the smell.  Pop-up biscuits from the refrigerator case do not elicit the same affect.

Bringing in plants meant repotting everything and trying to find space

There is no time for this kind of comfort in most of our lives.  We rush through our days, rush through our meals, rush through our grieving and just “get on”.  Perhaps the most important part of this season is to make a point and take some time.  In most of the U.S. we have an extra hour coming to us this coming Sunday.   How are you going to use it?

Meditation on the season

 

Autumn

At the apple store (no the real apple store).

I love this time of year.  I like the cooler weather.  I like wearing sweaters.  I like the light and the colors in the leaves.  Fall harvest has me making soups and baking.

I struggle at this time of year.  I have serious mold and dust allergies that always gets worse until we have a good hard freeze.  The temperature swings (I live in Minnesota.  It can be 35F one day and 80F the next) are tough to navigate.  I cherish the sunshine and dread the days getting noticeably shorter.

There is so much to do at this time of year.  I need to bring in the plants and repot.  I need to get ready for Halloween (both trick or treat and the Sabbat).  I need to swap my closet and bedding over to the winter wear.  All I want to do is curl up in a blanket with a good book and a warm beverage, or maybe take an outing to the movies.

We saw Victoria and Abdul. Orion appreciated the Urdu. He did not translate for me.

There’s also the food issue.  My body wants to eat more.  I’m not hungry, as the post-bariatric pouch won’t allow that.  It’s not even head hungry.  It’s more like hunger in the bones.  My genetics expect a winter and have kicked into survival mode.  I can tell I’m not getting enough protein, even though my diet hasn’t really changed.  It’s another push and pull.

This year it seems I’m especially aware of the paradox of the season.  As I struggle with balance in my own life I become more alert to the push and pull around me.  I recognize that I can allow any of these things to buffet and batter me, throwing me off course.  I can also simply acknowledge them and let them wash over me.  There is a peace in simply appreciating the variety of moods the season brings.

I live in bounty

So I do small things.  I get apples and squashes for baking and decorating.  I tidy the house.  I pick up a few things in the yard as I walk by.  I’m playing the grasshopper, not the ant.  I’m not ready for winter.  I am simply trying to be present in each day.

 

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