Category Archives: fall
Gratitude is difficult when the world seems to be falling down around our heads. It is difficult to find gratitude in crisis. It is difficult to find gratitude when we feel threatened. It is difficult to find gratitude under stress. But it is especially during these challenges when we need gratitude the most.
Practicing gratitude is uplifting. Even seeing people who seem to have less than we do being grateful can be inspiring. Knowing what we have to be grateful for is like finding a lifeline in a troubled sea. When we most need something to hang on to, an active practice of gratitude gives us just that.
Thanksgiving is a highly charged holiday. There are the family dynamics. Mixed families, blended families, new relationships create conflict over who gets to be with who when. There is finding table talk that doesn’t push buttons, make judgements, and generate huge arguments. There is the food both, expectations and execution, and issues of tradition versus lifestyle.
Thanksgiving is also highly charged politically. Not just with the family table, but the actual nature of the holiday itself. What we celebrate is the coming together of the European settlers and the Native Americans. The reality of that relationship is not nearly as peaceful or generous. Even now at Standing Rock Native Americans on their land with their supporters are being treated in ways that have the United Nations, the ACLU, and Amnesty International making statements against our government’s actions.
I am reminded again about the power of gratitude, and so I write reminding you. Let’s all take a moment, many moments, this week and dig deep into the things we do have to be grateful for.
I am grateful for all the people who work peacefully and diligently to preserve my civil rights, my breathable air, and my drinkable water.
I am grateful for all the people who work to ensure I have good, healthy food available to me especially all winter long.
I am grateful for all the people who are actively kind to others, who help those in need, who work with populations (in prisons, the mentally ill, impoverished families etc.) that I am not equipped to help.
I am grateful for the small opportunities I have to do my part to bring kindness, and caring, and loving support into the world.
I am grateful for the support I receive (from family, friends and strangers) just to be able to function in this world.
I am grateful to have a platform and readers who support my work. – Thank you!
What are you grateful for?
As someone who works with ancestral spirits it is important for me to acknowledge that my ancestors put themselves on the line so that I would have the right to have a voice in how my life would be governed.
In fact everyone in this country has the right to vote because some ancestor put their lives on the line for that right.
If you are a white male landowner you have the right to vote because we fought for independence from hereditary kingship. Right to vote 1776.
If you are a white male who does not own land, but who is strongly in support of states rights when you got the right to vote varied considerably. This was a state by state decision and the last state finally came in almost 100 years after the revolution. Right to vote 1856.
If you are a Native American you pretty much didn’t have the right to vote until you’d been educated away from your people. The boarding school era, where children were ripped from their homes and sent away to school where they were given Christian names and punished for speaking their native languages was from the late 1800 into the 1900’s. Congress granted the right to vote in 1924, but again some states maintained their right to prevent natives from voting and did (despite congress) until after WWII. Right to vote 1957.
If you are female (and I am) you may have relatives born without the right to vote. Women fought for the right to vote for over 70 years. In the musical Hamilton the Skyler sisters are determined to make Jefferson include women in the rewrite. Abigail Adams wrote to her husband “Don’t forget the women.” The suffragettes were beaten, jailed, ostracized and ridiculed. These women were feminists and that word still has degrading implications. Right to vote 1920.
If you are black in this country you are still struggling for your right to vote in some states. Although blacks officially gained the right to vote in 1870 there were many barriers placed to keep them from the polls. Plantation owners intimidated their workers and refused to allow time off or transportation. Polling places required fees (often waived for poor whites and increased for middle class blacks) to vote. There were “intelligence tests” demanded for registration.
The voting rights act of 1965 – which required a filibuster to pass congress – eliminated those discriminatory practices. Unfortunately in 2013 the Supreme Court decided that the voting rights act was no longer relevant or necessary. Some of the contention in this election and much of the concern we hear from the United Nations is because of the indication new versions of Jim Crow voter restrictions are being put into place. Right to vote 1965-2013. Currently depends on State and circumstances.
Immigrants have the right to vote (based on the above factors) when they become citizens of the United States. However, the reality is that at the polls and in registering they need to prove that citizenship. Again this is regulated by the states and that means that many natural born citizens who “look” like immigrants can and are being harassed at the polls. Right to vote requires proof of citizenship.
So please, honor the ancestors and if you have the right to vote exercise that right.
Halloween on a Monday! It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight. Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.
This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer. We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me. It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles. I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!
Karina threw her first big party in the new house. Halloween Housewarming. (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday). It was a smash. She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.
I did my part the day before. We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go. She still has most of my chairs. Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well. It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.
Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday. The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally. Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.
Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.
It has been raining on and off all week. That puts more than a little damper into our plans. There is flooding. (We’re fine, but there have been road closings just 10 minutes north of us.) Power has been a little unstable. (I haven’t had long outages, but there have been several rounds of reset the clock.) My allergies, especially mold, have been acting up.
The part that’s hard is that Orion and I had weekend plans that involved being outdoors. The weekend was actually mostly quite lovely. The sky cleared, the sun peeped out it was pleasantly cool, but not cold. All things that make for a great time in the outdoors. Unless you are in a wheelchair.
I struggle to push Orion when we’re “off roading” under the best of circumstances. When the ground is firm, when there aren’t a lot of fallen obstacles or rocks, when the grass is short, when he could push himself for at least a short distance that’s ideal. This weekend, given the amount of rain, was not going to be ideal and could be really horrible.
We skipped through several versions of our plans. We did make an appearance at the Richardson Nature Center. They had an event called Party in the Park. Most of the party was spread out into the park, and not accessible. I got help from a stranger to go up a small hill. We visited the bee keeping exhibit inside. We played with a bull snake, made a seed bomb, and had some sumac popcorn from the Tatanka Truck. Then I was done in.
Our “time in nature” was mostly spent shopping at the co-op. Even there we didn’t load up as much as we often do. Prices are high and the budget is not.
I ended the week on a note of gratitude. We did a ritual for the harvest season. There is a lot of bounty in my world, even if I don’t have full access. It’s good to take some time out to recognize what I do have, to be grateful.
Equinoxes are about balance. It’s the time where the amount of daylight equals the amount of night. The reminder of the season has me working on balance as well. I’ve finally gotten the internet back (knock on wood) and I’m actively trying not to let it absorb all of my time and attention.
I’ve written about balance, and about the fall equinox, many times before this. Sometimes lessons seem like the same things over and over again. But for me the reminders really do help. I still need to be reminded that balance is active, not static. One of the best ways for me to get that visceral understanding is to get on a boat.
Balance is about making sure that the list of things I need to do also includes time for my relationships. I am really bad about initiating contact, making the phone calls, checking in without a schedule. I also forget how much I need that interchange. I need to take time for the good conversations (and the hard ones). I thrive on sharing stories, information, lessons learned and lessons that we are still struggling to incorporate into our daily lives.
Balance is about finding time in between getting dinner on the table and earning enough money to pay the bills so that the floor gets swept and the laundry put away. Balance is about watering the plants, but not too much. It’s about bringing in the tomatoes before they rot on the vine and about drying the peppers before they go to mold.
In such a politically volatile climate balance is finding a way to be of service without overloading. It is about being firm and honest, and still polite. It’s not just the election. It’s the pipeline. It’s the nurses strike. It’s Black Lives Matter. It’s all the shootings, stabbings and bombings. Sometimes it is about shutting out Facebook (the wifi in your home going down is a really effective means of taking a break from the mudslinging).
Balance is about getting enough sleep. (I’ve had too many late night/early mornings in the last month!) It’s about taking the time for real food. (I’m pretty good about that, it’s just that I also try and do 6 other things while I’m eating it.) It’s about being in the moment. Sometimes that means writing things down so that you don’t have to hold them until you need them. Sometimes it means remembering to bring that grocery list with you when you go to the store.
So today I’m filling this blog with photos from sailing with friends. We need more “time out in nature” in our busy lives. We need to enjoy and appreciate our friends. We need to remember balance is active (like being on a boat) not static (like sitting on the ground). Have a happy Equinox!
Previous Fall Equinox posts:
This was not my family’s Thanksgiving. I don’t know that this has ever been my family at Thanksgiving. But it’s the picture many of us hold in our minds of what family gatherings “should” look like.
As my parents age, and particularly my Mom, she becomes more vocal about how much she would like to see us be her vision of family when we get together. I suspect it’s one of her personal “measures of success”, perhaps as a parent or maybe just as a person. I know I catch myself occasionally looking for that ideal to affirm my own sense of accomplishment.
I’m pretty sure my Mom never had a Thanksgiving that picture perfect growing up. But I think she remembers it that way. Rose colored glasses and simpler times often shade our memories, especially where our loved ones are concerned. We would love to be able to paint that picture for my Mom, to enact the “perfect” family united.
There are no scripts for that kind of drama. And even if there are, they are often impossible to recreate. For instance I believe my Mother’s scene truly requires a bird she cooked, her stuffing, her wild rice. Except no one else can make it “just right” and it’s really too much for her to do it herself without creating an enormous amount of stress that isn’t part of the picture. I think all that pretty china, silver, and tablecloth get swept up and disappear without anyone washing (or breaking) dishes, or doing laundry or getting crumbs on the floor.
The reality of this Thanksgiving was no more “perfect” than any other. The smoke alarms went off when the dressing spilled in the oven. The turkey took an extra hour to cook. Dad made the “wrong” bread (delicious, just not the kind we expected). In the end, though, everything was tasty, everyone had plenty to eat, and there wasn’t a major fight.
We’ll all remember this Thanksgiving as Norman Rockwell perfect. I suppose that’s something to be thankful for.
November has been a very stressful month, and it’s not over yet. Some of the stress has been in a good way, so I’m grateful. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to speak at the Minneapolis Women’s Club at the Women of Words event. I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to speak to our local Ostomy Society. What a great bunch! I’m grateful to the people at both presentations who took the time to tell me exactly why what I have to say had such a strong impact on them.
I’m grateful, as always, for my time at Gilda’s Club. I’m putting in an extra shift this week, stepping in for another greeter. Since Thursday is my usually day I’ve got a “day off” so I suppose it’s not really extra. Besides, there’s a social event this morning so I would be there anyway!
I’m grateful that I’m not hosting Thanksgiving. The family I grew up in has two generations under it. I’m a Great Aunt. The crowd is getting too big for us all to be together in one space. It’s bittersweet to break it up. At the same time I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend a little more intimate Thanksgiving rather than all the noise and chaos. I’m grateful, especially after this summer, to still have both of my parents. I’m grateful both of my children will be there.
I’m grateful for all the things I say I’m grateful for in my speeches. Telling my story means I am revisiting points in my life where I had reason to be very grateful, for people, for circumstances, for support. It’s challenging for me to open up that way, but it’s also a great reminder of how blessed I’ve been.
I’m looking at the Syrian refugees. I’m looking at the shooting (by the police) of a black man just a few miles from my home that’s threatening to turn Minneapolis into Ferguson. I’m looking at the bombing in Paris. I have so much to be grateful for, so much bounty, so much privilege, even my stress seems minor in comparison.
So I give thanks and stand in gratitude and pray for healing around the world.
The last couple of weekends have been busy ones. Orion turned 27 last weekend! We went to a Comics for a Cause event. My friend Brenda Elsagher put it on and had her new book release there as well. Her book is about the humor in aging, the event supported the Ostomy Society. It was her sister’s birthday so she arranged a cake for both of them. What a sweetheart!
Orion wasn’t sure about it. He’s used to going out for German food on his birthday, but there were brats so even that was covered. He let Brenda know that although he doesn’t have a colostomy he’s had j-tubes for feeding on and off over the years. He had a great time and the comedy show was fun. Karina joined us (best sister ever!).
Karina and I spent some time together on Saturday. We brought Orion home brats from a beer fest we worked at. It was another fundraiser, this time for a center for homeless teens. Because Karina is in the industry she got a call from a friend, a distributor, looking for help. I poured beer from a craft brewery in the UP.
I know I’ve been “running”, pushing the edges of what I can do. It’s been good and I’ve been pleased with how “able” I am. I even got some yard work done this weekend! I know I’ve got more coming up and I need to find a way to pace myself a little better.
I have to be alright taking some time out, doing something just for me. Curling up in a chair and reading a book, being okay saying no, I do those things. It’s just that they get “fit in”. I suspect a little time out needs to be part of the plan.
I spent most of the weekend outside. Winter is coming. There aren’t that many lovely weekends left in the year. Last weekend was definitely one of them. It was warm, dry, there was a good breeze. The evenings cooled off, but didn’t get cold. Perfect weather for being outdoors.
Saturday was the community equinox ritual we often attend. I’ve blogged about it in the past. (Autumn, Darkness, Harvest, Balance – Wow I’ve been doing this for a long time!) I had Orion along so there is the additional piece about pushing him on uneven ground. I used to have to be sure I had someone else there who I could count on to help. Not so much this year. I made all the trips from the car (Orion, Pot luck cooler, Pot luck crock pot, Lawn chair and blankets) all by myself.
It was good to catch up with some old friends. It was also nice to have a community willing to share a dessert – so I could have a bite rather than throwing out most of a piece. The buffet table is still a challenge for me, but I have found that if I fill one plate (with an eye for both Orion and I) and then split it into two at the table I do better.
We were there most of the afternoon and late into the evening. Sat around the fire talking, watched the dancers and listened to the drummers in the background. The moon was high, the night was clear and the wooded grove a pleasant cathedral.
Sunday Karina took me off to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We didn’t get there for the first cannon, that’s about the time she picked me up. We didn’t stay to the last cannon (hoping that leaving 5 min. early would help get out of the parking lot.) But we spent much of the day wandering around the festival.
The last time I was at the Ren Faire I was with a friend who was looking at knee replacement surgery. Neither one of us was moving very far or very fast. We took all day to circle the grounds one time through. We traveled from one bench to the next. This time was a very different story. We did sit down a few times to eat, grab a drink, or see a show. Mostly we were on our feet, back and forth across the entire park.
We had another beautiful day, warm with a breeze. We saw friends working at the festival as well as running into a few just visiting. Karina ate, and I nibbled off of what she got, so I didn’t struggle much with the food. The highlight of the day was visiting with the Morris Dancers. These guys are all friends of my daughters from when she was a waitress. They are a warm and welcoming bunch. They brought us up on the stage for one dance, and Karina even joined them in another.
We watched the full moon rising on our way home. It was huge on the horizon (as the harvest moon often is). When my Ex dropped off Orion he made me go outside again. The eclipse was happening so even though I was exhausted I got to see that as well.
I was tired enough to go to bed when Orion did. I ached. My ankles were a little swollen. BUT I got to do BOTH things this weekend. My ankles still look like ankles. I didn’t feel like if I sat down I was never going to get up again. I didn’t worry about walking or getting anything done all week. Life is so different this side of the bariatric journey. I am exceptionally grateful for good tired.