Fake Holidays

At five years old, my birthday was my favorite time of year.  In my young adult dating years, Valentine’s Day ranked #1.   Christmas anticipation didn’t last long as my dysfunctional family of origin turned a Norman Rockwell holiday into one of chaos, anger and disappointment.  No fun.  For years, I dreaded winter holidays when stores began displaying Christmas decorations in September.  If I could only jump to January 2nd.  What happened to living in the moment — for merchants, or for me?

As I’ve become more spiritual, Thanksgiving moved into top position for favorite holiday.  I prefer the lower key ambience and taking more time to reflect deeply on the people who have given special meaning to my life — a simple kindness, a confidante’, an excellent health care provider…

But this year, things changed.  It occurred to me that many of our holidays have been virtual holidays, perhaps the precursor to the internet’s fake news.  After all, no one knows for sure if Christ’s birthday was December 25thValentine’s Day is just as mysterious.  And Thanksgiving — well what am I giving thanks for if my ancestors came to America, killed the Native American Indians then stole their homeland only to destroy it?  That reality sickens me.

I’ve long felt that Thanksgiving was the more solemn of holidays but now more deeply understand why.   No more “celebrating” fake holidays for me.  Expressing gratitude on any arbitrary day, and as many days as possible throughout the year are my days of thanks giving.  Now that’s something real, and worth celebrating.

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Main ingredient of my apple pie? Love. Lots of it!

There’s a traditional Native American Seneca greeting I love any time of the year:  Na:weh Skennio

It means Thank you for being!  For all that you do and for who you are, I thank you for being. – Jamie Sams in The Fabric of the Future

And that makes any day of the year a real holiday in my heart.

Don’t Jump in if You Don’t Want to Jump Out

Dr. Perry’s post on “Steps to Overcome Technology Addiction” confirms the feelings I’ve had about technology for a long time.  It is sadly deteriorating society, our peace, and our minds.  I wonder how this will affect the elderly when the tech generation rules.  How much empathy and compassion will be shown?  Will that be nonexistent like good manners?

More and more businesses and government herd people to the internet.  Blind “followers” are too willing to give up their personal information and freedoms.  I wonder what these techie minds will do when their computers are hacked.  Will they know how to think and problem solve on their own?  Seeing how people stumble into traffic while looking at their phones is a telltale sign.  People barely know their street address  or phone number anymore.

Many times I’d like to disconnect from e-mail as it robs me of precious time where I could be enjoying more fulfilling activities and interactions.  As previously shared, I’ve consciously chosen to avoid most social media for these and the reasons stated in the post.  Reading it reaffirms that my decisions have been worthy.  I hope reblogging it will help someone before they fall hopelessly into the black hole of disassociating with living real life.  I must continually uphold my values for connecting with humans and nature.  That is what brings me serenity and joy — not a nerve-wracking bell tieing me to a device even if it is only a PC.

Still, I don’t want to fall so far behind that I can no longer function in a technological world.  Trying to balance technology working for me without becoming enslaved to it is a constant struggle.  I use a landline and answering machine.  It works fine.  I don’t answer my pay as you go cell phone because it’s only for emergencies. When someone looks at me as not being “with it” then is distracted answering their cell phone or text, I wonder “who is the one not with it?” For a split second I may be tempted to fall into the traps of technology, but my go-to motto saves me: “Don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out.”

MakeItUltra™

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” ~Seneca

We live in a world where most of our life essentials are one click away. Food, clothing, companionship, entertainment, and even sex can be attained by just a click. More and more we are giving our vital life energy to electronic devices. Look around. I am quite sure you will see what is becoming a familiar norm. The bent head, focused-non-blinking stare, the raised hand holding an electronic device, with the other hand probably tapping or swiping the screen. We are slowly becoming electronically fed zombies. Our interactions with one another are becoming less in person and more facilitated by an electronic device. It is reported that one in eight Americans suffer from problematic internet use and an estimated 30 percent of the population in China is highly addicted to the internet…

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Diversity: The Color of Life

Coming into the house, after what appears to be the last unseasonably warm October day, I glimpsed again at the magnificent colors punctuating the grey cloudy sky — burgundy flowering plums, orange maples, yellow-green birches, tanned leather oaks, fiery red sassafras — their leaves twirling in the wind then freckling the autumn ground.

 

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Curious, I look closer.

 

 

Round, oval, small, huge, striped, speckled, smooth, crimped, crumpled and curled.

 

Each one is distinctly beautiful in its own unique way.

 

I am convinced we were created to be different and our diversity is as fascinating as nature’s endless combinations.

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It is man who tied hatred to diversity. 10-24-17-leaves-114-heart-leaf.jpg

Not nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gratitude

I didn’t think much about gratitude while growing up.  Actually, I’d say I was pretty ungrateful in those years.  Raised in a dysfunctional family — although I didn’t know that’s what it was then, just that my father would rage at a moment’s notice — we often ran for our lives.  Literally.  It wasn’t until I married a man in a 12-step program that I considered the word gratitude.

While my new husband’s recovery from prescription painkillers opened the Al-Anon door for me,  I couldn’t relate to others struggling with loved ones’ active addictions because my husband already had three drug-free years when we met.  In times of angst, I turned to gardening but it couldn’t eradicate a darkness I felt deep within.  And then I found a different 12-step meeting — ACOA.  For the first time in my life I felt I belonged, and tasted true fellowship.

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Listening to others traumas from similar or worse upbringings lessened the impact of my own.  I now realized my family wasn’t the only one that didn’t look like Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear paintings.  Feeling safe and unjudged, I unveiled the shame that overshadowed three decades of my life.  I now understood my father as a rageaholic and how this ill-affected our family.  (This is the early 1990’s before recovery became a buzzword and rehabs became multi-million dollar businesses.)

Twelve Step meetings — of any kind — frequently discuss gratitude and suggest keeping a gratitude journal to heal the spirit.  My gratitude can be as simple as I’m grateful the sun is shining, for the joy my dog gives to me, or for my eyes to see the beauty around me.  It is a daily prompt in my thoughts illuminating my heart.

A gift of the Twelve Steps is learning to live life instead of just surviving,  existing,  staying sober or stopping an addiction.  Hearing someone share, “I was so busy looking at the thorns that I didn’t see the rose,” changed my life forevermore.  I now look for gifts in unanticipated circumstances rather than see challenges as problems.   The more I became grateful, the more I’ve had to be grateful for.

A few more decades later, I’m still evolving and learning other shades of gratitude.  I’ve come to realize and feel grateful that the darkness of my youth led me to 12-step recovery.  The Twelve Steps expanded my spirituality and lessened my fears to try new things and be who I really am.  I evolved to become passionate about hand drumming which led to my interest in the Tao.  My understanding of the Tao and life grows through gardening.  Coming full circle, I more fully understand and am grateful for all the layers of my life.  As my 12-step friend once told me, “The gift is as great as the pain.”

 

 

Transformation

Dazzling green and metallic blue dragonflies transformed my summer to autumn.  Taking in the colorful, changing fall landscape yesterday amid September temps, I was mesmerized when a silvery gold dragonfly as sparkly as Christmas ribbons landed on my garden chair.  We both sat perfectly still for the next few minutes, its lipstick red mirrored dots on gossamer wings captivating me.

018 My dragonfly

Surely, clothing and fabric designers must get their ideas from nature I thought.  And then my view cast to the maple tree reflected in the pond, and the pathway illuminated from a myriad of golds, greens, browns, oranges and reds that painted the cherry, pear, oak, magnolia and unidentified trees.

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 I felt awestruck that nature could be so endlessly beautiful, even while dying.

But, then I decided to look at it another way.  Just as the dragonfly transforms so does the tree.  It may shed leaves until it stands stark and bare but there is a regenerative undercurrent; it is not approaching death, it is transforming, preparing for another season, for another time, for the vitality of Spring.

My view of the seasons reflecting life — birth (spring), prime of life (summer), mid-life (autumn) and end of life (winter) — has also transformed.  No longer do I see only one life cycle.  Nature is teaching me more about life and what I use to call death.  More and more, I am convinced the end is not the end per se.  Life, for us, for trees, for seeds has many cycles.  I’d much prefer to think I’ll continue to grow and evolve than to die back and out.  The roses return.  Perennials too.  Trees grow new leaves and bloom in the spring.  Again and again and again.

Who’s to Say?

Sometimes things don’t work out as we planned.  Sometimes, oftentimes, gifts appear in unexpected places or they don’t look like what we envisioned.  We think it should be something else and too quickly pass it by.

10-15-17 045 Moms cat

When I was very young — about five or six, I desperately wanted a kitten. What kid doesn’t at that age?  For my seventh birthday my Mom gave me a white fluffy cat with wide-surprise eyes curled up in its three-inch green basket.   Yes, I said “three-inch” basket.  It was a tiny tchotchke.  Feeling terribly disappointed, I didn’t understand my Mom’s cat allergy.  Decades later, I still have that tiny memento; its white fur deteriorated with time.

 

This week I nearly trampled over a viola.  How odd, I thought, that it jumped from the flower pot to the other side of the sidewalk.  Oftentimes, I’ve planted something in one place only to have it pop up somewhere else like the mound of irises that left the garden plot to live on the pond bank.  Who’s to say they were better off in the garden? Who’s to say a gift is not a gift?  I don’t dismiss things so easily anymore.10-15-17 031 blue viola

Have you ever had your heart set on something but too quickly passed off what was presented because it did not look the way you thought it should?  Please do tell.

 

Daily Prompt: Coincidence…

via Daily Prompt: Coincidence

…is a word I’ve replaced with synchronicity mostly after working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book.  Before that, I viewed coincidence in the sense that there are no coincidences, meaning God has a hand in everything.  And I’m not referring to God of any particular religion but God as in a Higher Power.

When my thinking evolved toward synchronicity, I continued to view things in a spiritual way.   Like manifesting my dreams.  I became more aware and more in tuned to the little things that were helping me along my way.

My most recent synchronistic experience relates to my lifelong dream of visiting Scotland, along with some other recent nudges.  Since practicing Qigong the last few years, my thoughts of God and the Universe are directed toward nature which has led to an interest in studying the Tao.  Participating in World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQ) has also been on my list but scheduling conflicts prevented me from taking part in this annual international event.  (It’s always held at 10AM on the last Saturday of April.)

But, this year I was free to drive an hour-and-a-half to participate in WTCQ Day with a group of seeming strangers in a lovely rolling green park dotted with blooming cherry blossoms.  (A favorite springtime site that takes my breath away.)  Imagine my delight when I heard the announcement, “We have a monthly discussion group on the Tao.  If anyone is interested please see me for details.”   Wow!  Did I hear that right?  Two dreams come true via one event.

A month or so afterward, while perusing Dr. Elaine Aron’s website for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs),  she discussed spiritual pilgrimages and the varieties to choose from.  Hmmm.  I began rethinking my trip to Scotland.  I never travel as a typical touristy tourist and having a loose framework of where I want to go, this concept appealed to me.

Then, when I first attended the Tao discussion meeting in July, I learned that one of their mutual friends runs sacred travel pilgrimages in Scotland.  Woo hoo!  Synchronicity at it’s finest, I’d say.  A week later I ran into a fellow yogi I hadn’t seen for a while.  “I  just got back from Scotland yesterday,” she reported.  “Already I can’t wait to go back!” She smiled and I smiled too.  Another confirmation the Universe was guiding me toward satisfying this long time desire.

Coincidence and synchronicity are mystical experiences for me.  My thinking has changed over the years from too good to be true to believe in the magic.   Awareness is the key for so many things, and particularly for unlocking the gifts of this phenomenon.  I believe synchronicity is happening all the time, I only need open my eyes and see.  Then, I open my heart in gratitude and smile wide.jongjit-pramchom-211559 cherry blossom