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Blessings

The sun is shinning!

The sun is shinning!

As I come into 2014 I recognize that I have a lot on my plate.  There are new adjustments to make in terms of income and diet and services for Orion and taking care of my own health.  I have some big stressors and some exciting opportunities.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed.  When I start to feel this way I’ve learned that the best answer is to shift my point of view.  Instead of listing the “to do” and getting bogged down I find it’s more productive to count my blessings.

1. HEAT   It’s -25F  outside this morning.  There’s also a wind, so the speed at which frostbite happens is equivalent to a temperature closer to -40F.  (THAT’s what wind chill is for those of you who’ve heard the term but never experienced the sensation.)  Last week I woke up one morning to a house that was less than comfortable.  My furnace had gone out.

The fire is warm

The fire is warm

I have a fireplace so I managed to keep the temperatures stable if chilly (55F) until the gas company could come out and fix it.  I called at 830am, they arrived at about 630pm.  I didn’t get my errands run, but I do have a working furnace.  There are plenty of people who don’t and I’m grateful.

2. FAMILY My Aunt Donna died this fall and my Uncle Ronnie died just last week.  Both of them had struggled for years with the diseases that would ultimately take them.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

I am incredibly fortunate to still have both of my parents.  Certainly they are aging, but they still manage to participate in their community, entertain friends and support me in innumerable ways.  I treasure every moment I get with them.

My kids are a joy.  I even like it when they grumble at me.  I’m proud to watch As they work to establish their own lives and it’s nice to know I am still a touchstone on bad days.

My sister, the one who hosted Christmas, is so open-hearted, generous and patient it humbles me.  I am blessed by the fact that family is important to her and that she’s willing to work to maintain traditions.  She’s passed those values on to her children.  Even the sister I don’t see much would show up if the situation was dire enough.  Family you can count on is a rare gift and I’m grateful.

extended family

extended family

3. FRIENDS We got to get together with my kids’ “other mother” last week.  Because of Orion’s special needs he had personal care attendants growing up.  When Kauser came into our lives she was new to the country, but she took us all under her wing.  Her oldest is the same age as Orion and they became “best buds”.  We were pregnant together with our seconds.  She went on to have a third.

When Kauser started with us Orion was 3 and over the years had my kids both on and off the clock.  Because of changes in the income stream, and her other job responsibilities everything changed when Orion became an adult.  We still keep in touch, but the day-to-day has slipped away.  Her kids are all away at college and her husband is working out-of-state.

Seeing her and her eldest this week was like coming home.  We picked up right where we left off and spent a long lunch catching up.  This family would do anything for me and my kids.  Friends like that are hard to come by and I’m grateful.

4. FRIENDS I have several clusters of close friends:  my circle, my women’s group, my business support group.  All of these (mostly women) people have supported me in various ways throughout the years.  The women’s group has been a place to explore and expand spiritually and when hard times come they are an emotional support that is invaluable.  The business group is the reason I managed to write my book and dared to see it published.

My circle includes the members of my coven and those friends who identify as Pagan who have supported me in the larger community.  I am not a strong self-promoter and it is these people who know my teaching and presentation style who have helped me make connections stronger and broader than I ever could have on my own.  I am grateful.

Community altar from Earth Conclave

Community altar from Earth Conclave

5. FRIENDS You didn’t think I’d forget you did you?  If you’ve read to this point you are indeed a friend to my blog and therefore to me.  I write for myself, but it is the support and encouragement of you, my readers, that keep me plugging away.  It’s the sharing that makes it delicious, savory, and fulfilling and I couldn’t have that without you.  Thank you so very much.

There is much more to be grateful for.  There are so many more blessing in my life, too many to count.  I am surrounded by generosity and support and warmth.  That’s a good way to start the year, and also helpful on a cold Monday morning.  May 2014 be filled with an abundance of blessing for us all.  And may we remember to stop and count them every now and again.

BB

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100

Many of my earliest image postings were clip art.

Many of my earliest image postings were clip art.

This is my 100th post on this blog!  That may not seem like such a big deal, especially for those bloggers who are writing something every day.  But I’m posting once a week, which means it’s been almost two years of posting on WordPress.  I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn.

I still have to get a handle on the whole writing process thing.  I find myself making amazing misspellings and bad uses of there’s and it’s ( inevitably pointed out to me by my readers).  I know how to use these words, but apparently my fingers don’t care when I type.  I don’t always catch it in editing, especially when I’m a little sleepy or rushed to hit ‘publish’.  I’ve had to learn the discipline of meeting the weekly commitment .  (Sometimes a day late, but still….)  I’ve worked hard at learning to be open and authentic both with the personal posts and when I am posting about a larger event.

One of my most popular posts was inspired by a book I read about Great Apes.

One of my most popular posts was inspired by a book I read about Great Apes.

I’ve been disappointed in my expectations.  Who knew that hundreds, no thousands of readers who would love this blog are having so much trouble finding it?  🙂   I’ve never been Freshly Pressed.  I haven’t gotten a blogging award.  Some of my friends, the one’s who ask “what’s new with you?” are clearly not even checking in.  My Mom doesn’t read my blog! (But then, she doesn’t have a computer so I suppose that’s to be expected isn’t it.)

I’ve learned to be a bit more reasonable about expectations.  Now I write as much for myself as anything and am delighted when others find something useful, or inspiring, or entertaining in what I have to say.  I recognize that winning those blogging awards often requires things like writing a post with 24 things about yourself – one for each letter of the alphabet.  I’m grateful to have avoided that.  As for freshly pressed, on the few occasions when I’ve checked “this weeks list” I’ve not been impressed.  It seems that photography blogs are popular and occasionally a humor piece.  I’m delighted when my blogging buddies make the list, but even they seem confounded by the selection process.

The post that generated the most comments (July 2012) was about Trolls

The post that generated the most comments (July 2012) was about Trolls

There’s another thing I’ve learned.  I really can have friends on the internet who I’ve never met, but feel I’ve truly gotten to know. The blogs I tend to read are like mine, a little personal, a little day to day, observations and perspectives on life.  I’ve found several “blogging buddies” who I’m sure would be delightful to spend time with in the real world as well as on-line.  Someday I may just  drop in on them.  (Well, there would be discussion and planning and schedule checking and making arrangements for Orion, but you know what I mean.)

So thank you for going on this journey with me.  I hope you will continue to enjoy my posts and will share with your friends.  Who knows.  Those thousands of potential readers may find me yet!

The post that I continue to get feedback on (not always in this forum) is my post on Prayer Beads.

The post that I continue to get feedback on (not always in this forum) is my post on Prayer Beads.

Sewing Bee

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Ready for anything

Arts and crafts are not my thing.  I have a great talent in the kitchen.  I can wield a knife to chop, dice, julienne or even slice fresh bread.  I get asked to cut cakes at weddings to serve the guests.  I can take apart a roasted chicken practically with my eyes shut.  Put a scissors in my hand and I’m hopeless.

I have a degree in theater arts with a focus in stage management.  Pretty much that means you need to learn how to do everything.  I took classes on costume design.  I learned how to make a pattern.  I turned in a project for costume design for a play including fabric swatches and design sketches.  I was supposed to spend a certain number of hours working in the costume shop.

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sewing station

College theaters are staffed by professors and upper level students.  Most of the labor is provided by volunteers and to ensure an adequate number of volunteers most theater classes require signing up to put in hours.  These shops get students with all range of talent and experience.  They generally require that you prove dependability and competence before you are given anything too complicated to work on.   They also supervise closely the new volunteers.

The problem was that I had avoided the costume shop for most of the time I was working on the degree.  It may have been the first time I was required to put hours specifically in costumes but most of the staff knew me from working on other things. Maybe I didn’t get quite the attention I should have?  I was given an easy task.  It was sewing a simple seam on the sewing machine.  The machines were already threaded and ready to go.  The fabric was pinned.  This is pretty basic stuff for the costume department.

20 minutes later, having jammed up three sewing machines in a row I was kicked out of the costume shop and told I could do my costuming hours down in the props department.  Seriously.  I did end up putting in a few hours with costuming helping with hand sewing here and there over the course of the next year, but not that quarter.  I really was that bad.

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sewing handed down through generations

I know a lot of people who sew.  I enjoy spending time with people working on projects.  I find myself invited to tag along when a “major sewing event” occurs.  Events like ‘let’s make everyone a swimsuit for the season’.  Sometimes there is a great new pattern that everyone wants, like (shudder) Zumba pants.  SHAZAM! An excuse for a mad sewing extravaganza.   I have literally had the scissors taken out of my hand and been asked to find something in the kitchen to do to keep myself busy!

The really tricky part is that when there is a sewing event and I’m on the list of people who need the garment (in this case ritual robes) I don’t fit the pattern.  I’m too large, too tall, too long in the waist and arms, too broad in the shoulders to fit a standard women’s pattern.  Things need to be adjusted. I need to get invited, even though everyone knows I’m really not much help.

This weekend I got to spend some time (not) sewing.  It’s good to spend time with friends.  It was great helping out in the kitchen.  I got prodded and pinned and fussed over as the pattern was dramatically adjusted to fit.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my sewing friends.  How lucky am I to have people in my life who are willing to work so hard just to be sure I’m included.

guilt free desire to get out!

guilt free desire to get out!

Thank you Rachael, Michelle, Vonnie, and Judy – the actually workhorses behind this extravaganza.  Thanks also to the men in the group who also don’t sew but who don’t feel nearly as guilty about letting the women do it for them.   (Sexism and male privilege at it’s best.)  At least I wasn’t alone.

Coffee

There is something special about sharing a cup of coffee with a good friend.   I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this several times recently.  I got to meet a good friend in the coffee shop just to do some “catch up”.  We see each other plenty.  We talk on the phone regularly.  It just seems like one or the other of us is always distracted.  There isn’t enough time or there are people around who need our attention.  It was really nice to have a chance to feel like time was unlimited (which it wasn’t but it felt like it) and just talk.

I went to lunch with a friend that I see about once every 2-3 months.  We’re close, but not in daily contact.  She’s a friend on Facebook and I’ll occasionally shoot her a message or an email.  I think about her when I run into something I think she’d be interested in and she does the same for me.   She’s not a phone person so when we do talk on the phone it’s short and to the point.  After eating we sat and drank several small pots of coffee.  We got to talk about what’s going on in our lives, giving each other support and advice.  It felt really good to touch base.

This weekend I was running errands with Orion.  On the list was getting to the library before it closed.  Also on the list was dropping off some donations at ARC, right next to the movie theater/draft house.  It just seemed sensible to treat ourselves to dinner and a movie after a busy day of running around.  Unfortunately that left an empty hour in the schedule.

I gave Orion some options, including going to the coffee shop.  You have to understand that Orion doesn’t drink coffee.  When his sister was in high school he and his father used to sit in the coffee shop and wait for her during choir rehearsals.   Orion said it had been awhile since he’d been to the coffee shop, and I think he knew I needed a cup.  I did make him drink a steamed milk, and he almost liked it once I took of the cover which was making him spill.  I sat and read my library book and he eavesdropped on all the other conversations around us.  It may not have been the same kind of bonding as with my friends, but it was still a pleasant and cozy hour together with no pressure.

Of course there are also autumn days when the light is soft and there is a chill in the air when making a cup of coffee for just me is nice too.

When was the last time you got to sit with a friend and have a leisurely cup (or two, or a pot) of coffee?

COFFEE IN A CARDBOARD CUP From the musical 70, GIRLS, 70

The trouble with the world today, it seems to me,
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
The trouble with the affluent society
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
No one’s ever casual and nonchalant,
No one waits a minute in a restaurant,
No one wants a waitress passing pleasantries
Like “How’re you, Miss?”
“How’re you, Sir?”
“May I take your order please?”
The trouble with the world today is plain to see,
Is everything is hurry up.
It’s rush it through, and don’t be slow,
And BLT on rye to go,
With coffee (I think she said)
Coffee (I know she said)
Coffee in a cardboard cup.

The trouble with the helter-skelter life we lead
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
The trouble, the psychologists have all agreed,
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
Tell me, what could possibly be drearier
Than seafood from the Belnord cafeteria?
Seems to me a gentleman would much prefer
“Afternoon!”
“How’ve you been?”
“Would you like the special, sir?”
The trouble with the world today is plain to see,
Is everything is hurry up.
There’s ready-wear, and instant tea,
And minute rice, and my oh me,
There’s coffee (I think she said)
Coffee (I know she said)
Coffee in a cardboard cup.

The trouble with the world today, beyond a doubt,
Is coffee in a cardboard cup.
The trouble is the way we like to take things out,
Like coffee in a cardboard cup.
No one knows the meaning of utopia
Is dining at the corner cornucopia,
Seems to me we wouldn’t be such nervous wrecks
With “Hello, there!”
“Be right back!”
“Would you care for separate checks?”
The trouble with the world today is plain to see,
Is everything is hurry up.
It’s all become looney tunes
With sugar packs and plastic spoons
And coffee (I think she said)
Coffee (I know she said)
Coffee (I’m sure she said)
Coffee (She must have said)
Coffee in a cardboard cup.

Anniversary

I posted my first blog on July 26 2011.  That makes this the one year anniversary week for the blog!  Yea!!!   I haven’t acquired thousands of rapt followers, a long list of blogging awards or international acclaim.  But then, that isn’t why I started blogging in the first place.

My first post was under 400 words.  (I average somewhere in the 500 range.)  It’s a very optimistic little ditty about Spirituality and daily living.  Well this blog has certainly been that, and much more.  I think what I envisioned a year ago was some sort of little weekly sermonette on very grand topics of spirituality and spiritual practice.  I’m SO glad that’s NOT what this has become.

Instead this blog has been an exercise in opening.  I’ve had to learn to express myself in an honest and sometimes very vulnerable way.  Hopefully doing that while still being (at least marginally) entertaining and readable.

In the last year I’ve covered a huge range of topics from very personal to political (in the sense of civil rights) and thrown a good chunk of Spirituality in there to boot.  I’ve blogged about the things that have touched my heart.   This hasn’t been a journal in any sense, but it has been an exercise in focusing on where I am in the moment.  Occasionally it’s even been a plug for the work I’m doing with writing a book and presenting workshops on Spiritual practice.

What I’ve found it that you can develop real friendships on the internet.  I’ve found that I feel incredibly supported by my friends who follow my blog and especially by those who write encouraging comments.  I have found that some of the hardest things to share are the most important.  I’ve found that speaking from the heart is the only way to truly have an impact on others.

So on the anniversary of my blog I will write another very short little post.  This time rather than visions of grander I offer my humble thank you.  Thank you, to all my dear and treasured readers for finding and following my journey.  May we all continue to grow and thrive in all our endeavors in the coming year.

Blessed Be.

Time

Between the holiday and the heat I feel like I’ve lost a week.  Those of you who follow me regularly will have noticed that I didn’t get this weeks blog posted on Monday.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say.  It’s just that I didn’t feel like it.   Monday after a holiday is difficult, because in a lot of cases it’s still a holiday.  The virtues of living in America where everything is adjusted to accommodate the corporate culture.

With the 4th falling mid-week the holiday weekend was kind of neither and both.  There were fireworks, public and private, on both weekends.  There was the day off in the middle of the week.  There was unbearable heat across most of the country.

highs for 7/4/2012

I’ve never moved out of Minnesota for a reason.  I don’t do well in the heat.  Sure, when we have heat it’s especially horrible because of the humidity.  Even at its worst a Minnesota heat wave is not July in Florida!  In the southwest the heat is supposed to be more bearable because it’s dry.  It’s true.   85 degrees is almost still pleasant in the southwest.  However, anything more than 90 is pretty horrible for me regardless.

That midweek vacation day was cause for me to join some friends for an overnight in the woods.  A little spiritual retreat to connect with friends and nature.  We weren’t really roughing it.  We stayed at a friends home.  They have a lovely secluded spot a couple of hours out of the Twin Cities and across the Minnesota/Wisconsin state line.

Usually it’s delightful to be away from the noise of the city and out of cell phone range for a day or two.  Usually the lack of air conditioning is compensated for by the shade of the trees and the fresh breezes.  Not this time. It was just plain too hot!  It was too hot to walk down to the creek to cool off.  It was too hot to dig out the camera to take photos.  It was too hot to think.  When the time came to get back into the car and head home I was just a puddle of goo.

This is actually late July or early August of 09, when it was MUCH cooler. Some of the same friends though.

Thankfully my car does have working air conditioning.  I felt like I’d “woken up” about an hour into the drive home with the fan on full blast.  Of course it didn’t hurt that about then I hit the traffic delayed by city fireworks as people looked for parking and good seats.

It was surreal driving home with an occasional distraction of blasts of color and light in the distance.  It would have been fun to have just been the passenger.  Then I would have been able to watch the fireworks without having to pay attention to the road.

This was one of those times when I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation.  Because I don’t really get one (it’s a mom thing) it takes a little longer to reorient and recover.  So I feel like I’ve lost time.  I should somehow have almost another week before this blog is due.  It can’t possibly be Monday already.  Or Tuesday.  Or whatever day I finally get around to posting this.

Do you find time a little harder to keep track of in the summer?  When you take a vacation?  When you put excessive demands on your body?

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