Winter rains….

Izzy and Soggy steps

Goop and ick sticking all over you?

…grayness…fog….haze…mist…and soggy steps. As I look out my window today there really no other word for the weather but GLUM and GLOOMY. It’s not cold, so it’s raining instead of snowing. As a matter of fact, it is 47 degrees at this very moment outside here! Very odd. Some folks are smiling, and others are frowning, about the warmth. I find it a mixed bag, it is pleasant not to have cold feet and cold sheets  but it is also very odd, wrong, and there is nothing bright, reflective, and pretty about rain. (I know there are indeed beautiful rain days at other times of the year, and there are gorgeous photographs with rain reflections, but I hope you get what I am talking about here.) The reflective properties of snow add a brightness and clarity on a cold sunny winter day that really can’t be beaten. Rain does not.

It is the notion of ‘soggy steps’ I am really fascinated with right now. Clearly there is the literal of soggy steps walking outdoors. What about the figurative, what thoughts come to mind with those same words?  To me, it brings forth that same old theme of “letting go” but now it’s letting go AND walk into/onto new paths. Soggy steps sound like your feet rise and with every step, muck, goop, and other ‘icky’ things we would rather not be carrying around come up with your foot. This goop can stick to our hands as well and even hover overhead! It makes for very heavy steps, hard slow movement and an overall malaise to the day!  I’m as guilty as the next person of heavy steps in the winter. It seems very tough this time of year. For starters it’s often dark, less sun, early sunsets, and everyone is inside much of the time. It is very isolating, with much less human contact than a vibrant spring day.  It seems to take more energy to find things to smile and laugh at, and that’s really horrid! Then, if the dark and isolation isn’t enough, there is often a bitting cold up here in the North! It’s a plain hard truth: it is harder to be happy when your face hurts because a bitter cold wind is blowing and you are out walking your very dear, loyal, and fabulous friends who happen to have 4 legs!

So again the question is- how to get rid of that sticky goop attached to our appendages and possibly even over our heads? Maybe it’s a simple as the Dao of winter states?

 Winter – The Dao of Storage     藏之道

The three months of winter are called closing and storing.
Water freezes earth cracks. Do not disturb the yang at all.
Early to bed, late to rise. (One) must await the daylight.
Make that which is of the heart/mind as though hidden,
as though concealed,  as though (one) has a secret intention,
already obtained. Leave the cold, seek warmth.
Do not leak the skin (sweat).  Urgently hold onto the chi.
This is the winter compliance of chi
and the cultivation of the Dao of storage.
To oppose these principles injures the kidneys.
(Consequently) spring will bring paralysis and fainting
(and) there will be little to offer one’s sprouting.
(Nei Jing Chapter 2) http://www.energyarts.com/taoist-seasons-winter-water-element

Clearly some this is not really possible or do  even agree with … such as “Early to bed, late to rise. (One) must await the daylight.” Most of us don’t really have that luxury most days. (And)” Do not leak the skin (sweat)”  I think movement is very important, it’s all too easy to want to curl up and just sit, or lay, around, in the winter! Movement is good for the mind and body, we all know that!

Whatever it takes- Shake that booty, especially your feet and hands, and shake that goop off! Lighten your steps, hop though the soggy and maybe dance onto that new path! (…or at least try to!)  Stomp out the goop and lets hope for a sunny tomorrow!

 

Stomp down that goop

Connections

Moths to butterflies, flower buds to Botanical Beauties (of both kinds), nuts and bolts, wine and cheese, arts and culture, smiles and laughter, computers and the internet, smart devices and apps, house and home, heartbeats and life, acceptance and love….so many kinds of connections!

The connections I want to chat about today are friends and places. Some friends you picked, some picked you, some are family and, for me, not only are some humans but some are animals-usually dogs! (smiles)  However, they are all connections I feel strongly about. I traveled this past week or so, made a big loop of old, and dear, friends in two states and three places in my mind. When I was driving home I was thinking about where do I feel “connected” and where is home these days? I was driving back to my physical home, walls I love being within. These walls hold my dogs, my memories, my things, and many good aspects for me. The area (place) holds wonderful friends. It is my present life, where I work, where I am! The present, and being in the present, is good- it helps one feel connected! This is positively one home of mine. But, that is my point, it’s only one home, one place of a few I connect with…Home Two: I am very attached to those friends and family I just visited up North. I feel very ‘connected’ when I see them, connected when I walk/drive many of those streets, and even though I have nothing to do with the community anymore I still feel connected to it. There is the familiar and much history for me in home #2. It’s a strong connection, a pull, a draw. A place I am comfortable in, feel safe in, as well fun and welcoming.  Home Three: My connections to the place I grew up are also very strong, those friends, and naturally family connections, and love, envelopes me wherever I go. As expected, many memories and good things here too… I am lucky; I have three “safe havens” to dock in. All offer different pluses as well as a few minus, but that’s all part of what makes up a place -the location, the people, the attractions/activities, the CONNECTIONS that attach you!

It reminds me of a paper clip chain, all looped together and all connected. Mine winds up and down from N. Carolina, to Northern New York, to Vermont and Maine! The other image that comes to mind is that of a butterfly.  All the colors of the wings, flying, or fluttering if you prefer, changing from moth to butterfly. That transformation, somehow is a connection and has always astonished me. Then, those little antennas that do such much! I admit I looked up the word antenna just to make sure I was spelling it correctly but the definitions are wonderful, think figuratively!   “thin sensory appendages…the faculty of instinctively detecting and interpreting subtle signs…a transmitter!” Talk about connecting! If we could all do that all the time- WOW! That begs the question of Connections and how does it interact with Communications? Maybe a post soon…

noun1
Zoology (pl. antennae |-ˈtenē|) either of a pair of long, thin sensory appendages on the heads of insects, crustaceans, and some other arthropods. • (antennae) the faculty of instinctively detecting and interpreting subtle signs: he has the political antennae of a party whip.
2 (pl. antennas) a rod, wire, or other device used to transmit or receive radio or television signals.

Butterfly

Letting go…..

Letting go…..This seems to be thread that I am continuing. I have been writing about doing your personal in-body housework.  Suggesting we all should be doing our ‘work’ all the time, not to wait until Jan 1 to set up a bunch of resolutions, to think about things we want to/need to change about ourselves, our ways, our behaviors, our patterns, or even our lives. Could it be I can’t let go of the subject? Ha ha… The truth of the matter is that I think this is a never ending process as humans who are paying attention and continuing to grow as adults and “good” people. I am sure of two things. One is this is not the last time for the subject, and the second is that once you let go of one thing, the next one pops up almost instantly!

Full Rainbow

Heres to self process of discovery, the joy of hope, and the wonderful feeling if you find the end of a rainbow!

I read a quote recently that said, “You will find that it is necessary to let things go, simply for the for reason they are heavy.” Author unknown, it was a Facebook post, and I apologize for not being able to give credit where credit is due.  I was talking the other day with a dear friend about the very topic of letting go. She said/asked, “How do you do it? How do you let something go?” I translate that to: Part one – How does one come to terms that the “it” is just too heavy… and not serving any positive purpose to your day/life? Part two – How do you process the “it” and what do you do release it? I wish I knew! I think it’s a cluster of thinking, asking yourself questions, acceptance, self love/ respect, and a large learning curve of self discovery. In another words, a lot of hard personal work! We each have to figure out what we will do with these new thoughts and realizations? How are we going to store them in new positive compartments?  Or are we done with them and can truly throw them away? Baffling, for we all hang on to things, physical and mental, imaginary and real, that we no longer need but are afraid (?) to let go for some reason.

We will never be clear of all these “it’s” but if we can shorten the list, lighten the burden, and figure out what the core is, if we work really hard, and a little luck never hurts, even it’s just for the purpose of distraction, then we just maybe can let go of “it,” as well as the “shoulds” and ought to! Again, I remind you, as well as to myself, to what I refer to as open palm living. Embrace the new, the unknown, the adventures of the day, of our paths, of our personal journeys. Let go of the things that serve no positive intent and purpose. The earth does it with its equinox, the seasons and nature do it continually, and our calendar says here’s a new chance, a New Year. Welcome to 2014. Good luck to us all!

 

Community: a place where, hopefully, human differences are viewed as gifts.

There are so many types of communities we are all part of. The possibilities are somewhat endless: Work is one type, a gym, a book club, an exercise class, a religious affiliation, even an appointment you may have where you see the same people time and time again, a social affiliation, a political group, a farmer co-op. etc….  These days “Community” seems to apply for pretty much any collection of individuals regularly gathered. Is that ‘honest’ to the true meaning of the word? In the broadest sense, I say YES. As our worlds become ever expanding, and yet also smaller simultaneously, (a whole other subject!) these smaller more personal communities are important. We need collections, we need to belong, we need comradeship, and sometimes we just need a group verses ourselves as mountain top individuals. According to Wikipedia – “The word “community” is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (com, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.”

Community evokes inclusive to all. The opposite, and so a traitor to community is exclusivity. What justifies keeping some one out? A bit problematic for the word, the collected group, the so called community. For instance, a yoga class is most likely not to want high noise, frenetic ‘energy’ folks romping and dancing all over the studio and class- so is that exclusion? No. Most likely no one objects to dancing, and most probably even loves it, but not in this setting. So where does exclusion fall? Part of what community is in todays world is a group of willing, at freewill, like minded people gathered for a common purpose, and for the well being of the group – the community. Easy in a yoga class, not so easy, or necessarily as peacefully, in a group such as a homeowner’s association!

The reason I am writing this post today is I am interested in what we call “a community” in today’s world. I use the world freely and often, and it feels good to be part of a like minded group. People need to feel a sense of belonging to something – a community. A family is a very small possible community. We are not islands, by nature most of us want to be part of something, perhaps even bigger than ourselves, or perhaps just a safe place to land and enjoy some like-minded people. There seem to be two elements to creating such a collection, a community, of people. One option is place- a shared location that focuses on a common element. For instance, every other Wednesday, 2 friends and I gather at a location, and spend a very pleasant couple hours – new people (to us) are there as well, and I now consider that a small and very nice “little community” of in this case, woman. I look forward to it, to seeing the same people to say hello to and chat a bit with. It is the location and activity that bring this group together.  The second option is common interest-  where the people here are gathered by a belief, an occupation, an orientation, an activity, an even an ethic origin.  In thinking about all this I found an interesting article.  It is called *THE DIFFERENT DRUM – Community Making Peace by M.Scott Peck, M.D.* http://www.enkindlecommunity.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/True-Meaning-of-community.pdf   This article states-

” …A friend correctly defined community as a “group that has learned to transcend its individual differences.” But, this learning takes time, the time that can be bought only through commitment. ” Transcend ” does not mean “obliterate” or “demolish.” Lt literally means “to climb over. The achievement of community can be compared to the reaching of a mountaintop.

Perhaps the most necessary key to this transcendence is the appreciation of differences. In community, instead of being ignored, denied, hidden, or changed, human differences are celebrated as gifts.”

So, as this year of 2013 draws to a close- maybe we can celebrate the gifts… join in all the communities you want, partake to the fullest if you so desire… and enjoy all our difference. That sounds like a good way to end one year, and a fabulous way to begin a new year.  Together with gifts- (back to French origin) – The gifts of the differences of us all- the wonders of belonging and sharing in a community.  Here’s to New Year of acceptance and joy of our communities and gifts they bring us.

SaSakura and Community Banner

Sakura and Community Banner

Quiet days…or not?

Jolie, relaxing

Flowers, flowers, flowers- always help me relax, restore and renew.

Well Thanksgiving Day is behind us…Hunukka  (or Chanukah if you prefer ends 12/5)  is still with us…Christmas and New Years are around the corner… Then there is also Boxing Day (12/26) for the English in you… Kwanza (12/26-1/1) for those that honor African heritage, and the Winter Solstice (12/21 at 17:11) for ALL OF US. In fact if you look up Winter Holidays on Wikipedia there are 28 listed for December! Many of these holidays revolve originally around lights. Winter is dark! Winter is for a storing of energy! Look at the hibernating bears, dormant plants and trees in nature, they are all using stored fuel. When the sun is out in the winter, and it’s a crisp clear cold day, it is exhilarating. It’s as if you can feel the energy stored in the earth and sky too! Store up those feelings, wrap up that energy, and take hold of the good. Reflect, restore, renew…its sort of like recycling.

Thanksgiving….

Gordy w/Pumpkins and Leaves

©BotanicalBeautiesbeasties…Thanks and Thankful…

A few days ago I was at my ‘other job’ and I want to share what I think is a fabulous reminder of holidays and meaning. The morning started out as usual with a good morning and ‘how are you’ conversation with my first lesson of the day.  The man said something to the likes of  “I’m good we are getting ready to celebrate one of my 2 favorite holidays.”  I have met this gentleman at work a few times, and I knew he was a ‘good guy’ but his answer was so great that it has prompted this blog post.  I said “I too like Thanksgiving, it is actually one of my favorite holidays, no big pressures, the hype is low (all that stuff seems to go to that other very big winter holiday that the world seems to love so much and the retailers can’t get enough of.) This one is about family/friends, some good food, and hopefully a nice day.”  Well my answer pales to his. He said, simply and elegantly …”Yes that’s all true, but my two favorite holidays in N. America are July 4th and Thanksgiving… because on July 4th we celebrate freedom here in the USA and on Thanksgiving, everyone hopefully has something to be thankful for.” I couldn’t agree more and thought it was a wonderful answer and reminder of the true reasons for many holidays.  I add a tiny bit more , and they get to stop and think about it for a moment. So the obvious question of the day…. just what are you thankful for? No need to tell me or the  world…just always a good question to think about. Happy Thanksgiving… and for those that celebrate it- Happy Hanukkah as well!

Thanks for so much to so many of you.

Is your Self Mold intact?

Breaking out of the mold

Breaking out of the mold

There are Jello molds, mold spores, molds for objects, and molds for just about everything. This post is about how we have molded, and continue to mold ourselves. The ‘self’ mold has to posses both rigid strength as well as ultimate flexibility and flow. Pretty tough to do at times. I state the obvious-we are entering the winter months. A time we often ‘hunker down’ and take stock of ourselves inside and out. According to Taoism, the winter is the season of the Water Element. (This is why todays illustration of Breaking out of your mold is featuring Moe, Minister of Clean Water.) At first the concept of winter as the water season was puzzling to me, but as I have pondered it for about a year now it is making more sense. The quote below is from The 5 Elements in Taoism. 

” Water is the energy phase associated with winter, when the Yin force is prevalent. The winter is a time of rest and quiet, when energy is saved, gathered, condensed, conserved and stored. Water is a very concentrated element containing great potential, a great power waiting to be liberated. In the human body water is associated with essential fluids like hormones, lymphatic liquids, marrow, enzymes, all with great energetic potential. Its color is black or midnight blue. It is the color that contains all the other colors in concentrated form. In nature, water evaporates under excess heat; in human beings water’s energy disperses because of excess stress and strong emotions. The way to conserve water’s energy is with quiet and rest, by staying “cold”.  http://www.healing-tao.com.br/en/alchemy/elements.htm

 

As we approach the winter, the cold, the still, the frozen water, our personal work should be well in progress. Our personal mold may indeed need some shaping, that’s where the flexibility and flow comes in. We may need to change a piece of the mold, we may need to remix and/or reshape a chunk of the mold, or maybe the mold is broken and needs some repair. Only you know. It’s all ok, it’s all part of our every changing lives, your story.  One of the great things I learned in yoga this week, where this mold idea was planted for me, is that no matter what has chipped, eroded or weakened in/on your personal mold, at the core of your mold is your spirit and no one can hopefully ever take that away. So get out those chisels, those picks and reshapers and have a go at it! Nothing is static and really, neither are you.

In Chinese philosophy (Taoism, Daoism)  “Nothing in the Universe is fixed, static or non moving; per se everything is transforming all the time…” http://www.nationsonline.org

 

PS: Remember, the next season is Spring- it is explosive with energy and potential! Enjoy the rest of winter, you are realize you are just getting ready for the Spring! It is called The Wood phase and is all about expansion, happiness and is explosive!

The stories of our lives

(Image at story end)  Each and everyone one of us goes about our moments, days, tasks, and events every day. These small and large journeys make up the stories of our lives.  These stories have definitive beginnings (our births) as well as the obvious definitive end. One of the amazing things is that “end” is partly a fuzzy ending to those of us that march on after the passing of a person. The stories obviously continue in memories but also happen in new events. What? How? Is she out her mind? No, I am not.

I recently attended a wonderful life event. A Wedding. All  the hopeful and expected trimmings were present, the guest from near and far, happiness was everywhere, and love was clearly in the air! Two people, each with their own stories, now are lucky enough to start a marvelous new joint story.  One of the really cool things is that the two independent stories continue, and now we have three stories. This is a case were the math is a little askew and 1+1=3!  I believe a good union means each person is still their single story, but the joined/couple story is equally important, and so becomes a shared third story. The journeys, the paths, and the stories will unfold as the years roll by, and we all wish them only the best and the happiest of stories!   My personal journeys, and so my stories, are unique to myself, as is every one of us. So back to the fuzzy part… I was “sans one” instead of “plus one” at this life event – but my “one” knew, and loved, the wedding family of the groom, it’s the grooms mum who is our original connection to this wonderful wedding. My “one” had heard all the stories, he knew the characters, and we would often, in the more recent years, spend holidays and special times together. I am sure that he too was wishing the new bride and groom only the best and all the love. So, although he was not part of the physical wedding story, he will never not be part of my story, past, present and even future. For me, he too, was indeed at the wedding, clearly not in the usual way, he didn’t have to worry about what to wear and we didn’t get to dance together, but he was positively there in my heart and in the love that was in the air. He is part of the reason I am who I am today. The people who come into our lives, and make imprints on us, are all part of our stories.

The fabric of the story continues to get woven each day, each path, each journey, each awareness, you get the idea… It’s a good thing. The woven fabric may get tattered at times, may even get a few holes, but other times it seems to have gold threads woven into it, sometimes it just grows calmly, slowly and steadily – all are part of the story. As hard at times as it seems to understand “the story,” all the threads, the weaving, the tatters, the gold, are what they are supposed to be. They are our individual stories.

Wedding pair, groom in his Kilt

Yes, the groom, all the groomsmen, and many of the other “Scotts” at this wedding donned their finest and wore the Scottish Heritage proud with their  kilts. It was SPECTACULAR!

It’s time to let go.

It is now mid to late fall…and it’s time to let go of 2013 “garbage and badness.” Baffled? What Ollie and I are talking about are the parts of the year you don’t need anymore. The ones that no longer serve a purpose, they may be bad times, they may even be good times but with parts that need to go, or maybe you are just done with them. Maybe you NEED to be done with them, and you have been resisting?  With the ever looming holiday season quickly upon us, the time to do the work is NOW. Clean out your mind, your life, get set up for a fresh 2014.  We all know that this doesn’t happen overnight, making it another good reason to start now. Sure, you can do the obvious like a deep clean of your physical house and that’s a good start. But lets be real, clutter is clutter, and mind clutter is even worse than house clutter. Mind clutter keeps you from doing things you may need to do, want to do, dream of doing, but are too “cluttered up,” therefore stuffed and stifled stopped you. It happens to all of us, so try not to feel too bad about it. There are many parts to this mind/life cleaning. It’s much harder than house cleaning…it often takes more courage. You most defiantly will need to discard some things, and you still have to take responsibility for them. Pay attention. Sit down and do the needed work. You will then be able to start the new season with a freshness. Winter is the time where we tend to slow down and regroup. Just like the earth, we rejuvenate our roots…. Why would you possibly want to wait until Jan 1, to do this? How about having a truly fresh start at the calendar new year. That means, no more hemming and hawing. THIS is the time. Act like a tree, drop off those old leaves and get ready, make room, for new ones. It seems fitting that Ollie – Minister of Truth delivers this message with me…. Ollie and falling leaves

Home-” It’s where you stand.” – Pico Iyer

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “home.” What, where, and how does that translate into our modern world and lives? This conversation has been prevalent my mind/head for I have been “here, there, and all about” of late. I have found it to be a bit disturbing, and disorienting. The very last leg of my multi part  “journey” was a drive back from my childhood home, and the place where my family predominately still is-but me. I was exhausted and as I drove the 6+ hours I was sad. Was I leaving my home? But I was headed to my home…so, where and what is home?

There is a saying that goes, “there are no coincidences” …It was Sunday, a great radio day for driving. I was listening to the TED Radio Hour on NPRNow and I heard the most interesting piece featuring Pico Iyer. It was actually in an Hour that was titled Identities  - with tagged text of “My home is where I find my identity, where I create my identity which is an ongoing phenomenon. — Pico Iyer”  It was just what I needed!

I have gone back and listened again, so I could give you all a glimpse of what resonated with me. Here we go.

Is home the address on your tax form? Well yes, that is clearly one definition, but is that where your heart and identity is? “Home” begs the question of “Where do you come from?” It’s a simple question but as we age and grow, and have life experiences it is an incredibly complicated answer. Where have you been raised, and educated? Is that home? Where do you do the mundane tasks of Dr, dentist, the local stores you like, the local grocery etc.- is that home? Where are your closest friends? Which place is the “deepest” inside you? Which is HOME? I tend to think they are ALL home. Home is where your loved ones are, where your sweetheart is, where your friends are, where to want to be, dream of being, the place that resonates for/with you. It may change over time, and that’s ok too. Iyer said home has “less to do with the soil and more with a piece of soul.” … The TED talk goes on to ask “Is home where you find your identity, or is your identity where you find your home?” Again in Iyer’s words he says “Home is where you find/create your ID- an ongoing phenomenon… a new place may affect my life, thinking, imagination and that will become part of the collage that is my home.” I love the use of the word collage here, I feel like that is the near perfect word for the modern-day home. Home is my past, my family, my childhood, my friends, and my late husband: It’s my solid ground around me at the present time. When that ground is less stable it’s a bit tougher, I need a “place of an inner home.”.. and interestingly that is exactly how the TED piece ends. They said ” Home is something INSIDE you, something that always guides you to the next phase of life… and that you must step back, stop the motion/commotion, and “it’s only by stepping out of your life, and the world, that you can see what you must deeply care about, and find a home. And home in the end is of course not just the place where sleep, it’s the place where you stand.”

I hope you enjoyed this piece, I know it fascinated me to hear the show. If you want to listen to it in its entirety click here.  I hope that it makes you think about what, where and who, is your true home?

Wondering about Pico Iyer. I know I was…

 Pico Iyer (born 1957) is a British-born essayist and novelist. He is the author of numerous books on travel including Video Night in Kathmandu. His shorter pieces have appeared in Time, Harper’s, NYRB and many other reputed publications.

Pico Iyer is one of the most revered and respected travel writers today. He was born in England, grew up in California, and studied at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard. His essays, reviews, and other writings have appeared in Time, Conde Nast Traveler, Harper’s, the New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and Salon.com. His books, include Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, Cuba and the Night, Falling off the Map, Tropical Classical, and The Global Soul. They have been translated into several languages and published in Europe, Asia, South America, and North America.

Life and career
 Iyer is the son of Raghavan N. Iyer, an Oxford philosopher and Theosophist, and the religious scholar Nandini Nanak Mehta…. more”