Thursday, December 11, 2014

Little Forever Lights

Sometimes I envision myself as a little spark of energy or light, flitting around the universe colliding with other little sparks. When I collide with the right spark, my energy flames up, radiates out, becomes brighter, at other times when I collide with another spark, I grow dim, my light is paled in the presence of that spark. I can close my eyes and almost feel the buzz of energy flowing through my veins, responding to the energies I am in the presence of. Plants, birds, bees, mankind, all with their little flames of light.

What if that’s really all we are? Little balls of energy flitting around, looking to collide with other sparks that make us bright? Sparks of energy only just barely contained by our cumbersome flesh and bone. Flitting around, simultaneously radiating and absorbing life energy from our neighboring sparks. I would like to think that my spark is one that makes others brighter. I would like to think that that we go on for eternity, little balls of energy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Reflection on Christmas

Another Christmas is just around the corner. In my younger years there was nothing in the world that could crush my holiday spirit. And we were poor, never had enough to make ends meet, but we loved our small traditions, and we made the best of it. This went on far into my adult life. My Cheermiestering started the day after thanksgiving and continued until Dec 26th. I would start baking, several kinds of cookies and sweet breads to freeze. I made homemade wrapping paper, sent out dozens of greeting cards, sang all the classic carols all day long, and drank more than my fair share of eggnog.
But several years ago all that changed. Call it midlife crises, or maybe I just finally gave in to the Scrooge. Looking around at my dysfunctional family, and overwhelmed by the incessant consumerism, I started feeling like nothing I did really mattered. Traditions became thankless motions; everywhere I looked I saw need or greed, both which disheartened me.
I don’t know what caused this change, although I can say it seemed to happen all at once. Suddenly, a holiday I loved, that was filled with joy and family became a chore, something I had to force a smile to get through, doing the bare minimum “for the kids.” It no longer held any meaning for me.
Ever since then, I have been searching, wanting to get back that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling I know exists, but to do that, I now know I have to find its meaning to me. It means a lot of things to a lot of people, and easy if you are Christian, but I am not. But I know it still means something. But what?
This year, it means letting go. Letting go of how things are “supposed” to be, letting go of unrealistic expectations, letting go of perfection. This year it means acceptance and flexibility. To look for that joy in smaller moments, to embrace all of my emotions at this time of year, even if it sadness. To stop with false cheer and look deeper, so when a genuine moment of joy presents itself I can recognize it.
Life is hard, it has so many twists and turns, if there is anything that can magnify that, it’s a holiday where everyone is expected to be full of joy. I am thankful to be in place where I am now open to see things in a new way; I have a sense of hope. I look back at the years behind me and feel blessed to have the life I have led, and lessons learned, and see a new year coming up before me and welcome it, whatever it brings because I know it will teach me something.

So this year, I will put up a tree big or small, fake or real, and love it. I will expect nothing, and love what I receive. I will give of my time freely and with an open heart and joy will find me. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Love is Life

To love fully, wholly, with an open heart is to know we are alive
Falling in love is floating gently, blissfully, soaring through the atmosphere
Heart pounding, full to the point of bursting, All is joy, bliss, and delight
To love fully, wholly, with an open heart is to let it break, shatter and bleed
Breath sucked from your chest, sorrow drowning the light, falling gracelessly to the ground
Hot tears tracing trails down your cheek as you gather up the fragile shards of your broken heart
Yet we still give our hearts to hold, we risk it all, we still love fully, wholly, and with an open heart
To know we are alive.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finding Direction

Everyone has times in their lives where they feel they have lost direction. That is a very hard place to be. Life without direction results in worry anxiety and stress. Not knowing what to do or where you are going in life is a very uncomfortable place to be.
In thinking about this, I think about direction and what that means. Is it some material goal, buy a house, get married, or start a career? For many I think this is what direction is. So when things go wrong and goals are not met, it feels as if you are lost.
I like to think about direction in this way, who do I want to be? How do I want to live? Taking the emphasis off of the material plane and look at it on a spiritual plane. I think there is much less chance of getting lost when it is looked at in this light.
Not finding the right mate, not being able to finance a new home, or have your dream career, does not define who you are. Living consciously, with your focus on the health and well being of your spirit is what will keep you from being lost in your life.
There are times when things will weigh heavily on you, death, loss, all those experiences in life none of us get to avoid. Those are the times when you re-evaluate where you are going or what your “direction” is. If you have made being happy, being whole and conscious in your life, the direction, these losses will be less likely to make you feel as if you have gone astray.
It’s when we lack direction and feel lost, our spirit or soul, or whatever it is you want to call that energy, starts to dim. Clinging to relationships, people, or physical things, or the way we think they should be, can pull your energy down. Instead focus on your own spiritual well being, knowing you are just a part of greater humanity, living the human experience. Direct your energy toward your own life spark, the one thing you are the master of, and all things will fall into place and be just as they should be.

Realize that all things are transient, people, material things, your station in life, and especially grief and loss, will pass through. Relinquish the desire to control, and become a passenger in your life. A learning, growing, contented, inspired passenger. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hypocracy And Our Great Nation version 2

As Independence Day approaches I am reflecting on the state of freedom, patriotism and religion in this great nation. I feel the same about patriotism as I do about religion. It is full of hypocrisy and fallacies. 
Religion is brimming with mythology and misinterpretations and so are the commonly accepted ideas about the founding of “this great nation”.
There’s nothing like growing up in a religious commune as I did, to illustrate all the bold faced lies in religion.  I saw firsthand how it is used to control and manipulate others, and used for profitable gain. I turned completely away from religion about five years ago when I realized that I could not pretend to believe there was some omniscient being, micromanaging people’s lives and making judgment on right and wrong. The white Christian theology many of us are fed from the cradle does not reflect the true diversity that is represented on our planet earth.  It is a narrow and condescending belief system that when closely examined by a critical mind cannot hold up to scrutiny.
This is also how I feel about patriotism; we are saturated by images of the mighty Red White and Blue and fed false ideas about how liberated we are. I find many of these beliefs fictitious. We are governed by a heavy handed government; who feeds us a false sense of freedom and security. When we speak as a people it takes a herculean effort to be heard over the influence of the all mighty dollar, and white male Christianity.
White Christian America and everything that goes with it, is offensive to me, and I'm sure my views will be offensive to some who read this.
But consider who really built this country. It was the determination of a few souls fleeing their homelands seeking freedom from condemnation; they fought tooth and nail to scratch out an existence for their belief in independence. It was the First Nations, making sacrifices of their own freedom and their way of life. Suffering the humiliation and heartbreak of having their land and culture raped. It was on the backs of all the immigrants who came here seeking liberty. This country was built on the struggle of vastly different cultures, and brave men and women from around the globe. All of these varied and beautiful people poured into one nation, with the same goal, to live and be free.
So reflecting on this I see America as needing to go a long way yet to meet its goal of true freedom. When we have erased bigotry against gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation, when we no longer have laws polluted with religious ideals, when we are really free to live without condemnation, when our voices are heard over and above the clamor of the all mighty dollar, when we are all equally represented and have the ability to live without suppression and intolerance, then we will be truly free.
It should be noted that I am grateful for living here, in this country, and not in a country where suppression and abuse of human rights is even more egregious.  I am simply stating my opinion on where we are now, and where we need to go.  I thank the universe I am free to write this.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Adventures in Caregiving

I was a caregiver in a nursing home for 18 years and it taught me many things. I'm quite sure it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, at least the way we do it in this country. It taught me time management, and organization. It taught me how to manage ridiculously small paychecks. It taught me how to triage and how to let things go I had no control of. It taught me team work, and leadership, but most importantly it taught me empathy, respect, and tolerance.
During those 18 years, I took care of many types of people. Adventurers, homemakers, professionals, rich, poor, Christians, Atheist, drug addicts, alcoholics and everything in-between. All patients were due the same respect and the same level of care, regardless of their background. As a caregiver my job was not to judge for past miss-steps someone may have made, or the way they chose to live their lives. To do my job to its highest level I had to set judgment aside. Caregivers become quite good at this. 
Empathy was very important, many of these people were at the end of their lives, or had lost so much control over their lives that they were angry and/or sad. They often could not complete the most basic tasks we all take for granted, and were in physical and mental pain. I was bitten, scratched, hit and called names. I chose for quite a few years to work in the special needs unit, where this behavior would dominate the daily routine, because I knew, a patient and steady hand was in need. I was not perfect but I did the best I could. It was confusion and lack of control over their lives that caused many of these patients to act out in this way. It was not about me. I would like to think I carried this lesson beyond the workplace. It is very hard not to react to others negative actions, but rarely is it about you.
I have many memorable moments and people from that period of my life and one story has come up for me on multiple occasions. One of the patients I cared for, for several years was an elderly woman with Alzheimers. She has lost her ability to walk, use the bathroom, feed herself; basically she relied on her caregivers for all of her basic needs. No one had heard her speak for years.
One morning, after feeding her breakfast I wheeled her back to her room. As usual, I faced her to the window, opened the shades so she could look outside, and tucked a blanket around her lap. Probably uttering a few polite words such as “here’s your blanket.” And “let me open the window for you” As I turned to leave the room I heard a voice say “Thank you.” I was stopped in my tracks. This woman had never before uttered a word to me. Of course I went back to her, told her she was welcome, but her moment of lucidity was gone. It was a poignant reminder that she was still there, still worthy of care and respect, and still alive. It still gives me goosebumps. 
I had many patients I was close with. A tiny little Catholic man with 10 children who couldn't figure out for the life of him how I could be married and have no children. (I had none at the time) He always had a mischievous glint in his eye when he teased me about this. 
And then there was the Aids patient, many years ago when fear of aids was very high. He was on a section that one of my co workers worked, one day I observed her putting on a full sleeved gown, two pairs of gloves, and a mask, so I asked her if he was bleeding and did she need help. She said no, she just needed to check his blood pressure. I stopped her right there and said she could take one of my patients I would take over his care. I have no idea the last time someone had come into his room without a full hazmat outfit on. He must have felt inhuman and probably missed human touch very much.
A particularly touching moment is when I brought my firstborn baby into the home to visit the patients. There was a woman dying of cancer, who also happened to be a grandmother of someone I had gone to school with. Recognizing me, her daughter asked me if I would please bring the baby to see her mother. I brought the baby to the old womans bedside full of pride and love, and the woman reached out to touch him and began to cry. She held his little hand and said "this makes all okay, I must go to make room for this new soul" I can assure you there was not a dry eye in that room that day. 

I worked very hard, broke down my body, had daily emotional struggles trying to meet the needs of so many. Some days I cried with frustration and anger at how we provide for our sick and elderly. But many days I laughed, and loved and was fulfilled by the knowledge I was doing good in the world. The moments I was thanked by family at the bed of a dying patient, or pulled aside and told “mom really likes you, thank you for caring”, More than made up for the bad days. And I highly value the lessons and strengths I gleaned from that experience as a caregiver. It humbled me in face of humanity, and as cliché as it sounds we ARE all one. Life is not easy, or fair but there’s no need to make it harder by judging harshly or defining yourself by others actions. More compassion and less judgement will make for a much better world to live in. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lets Talk about Sex

After being inundated with news of Elliot Rodgers shooting rampage and his ridiculous belief he was wronged by women for not giving him sex, and reading commentaries, comments, and reflections on the subject, this is how I feel.
We have built a society where we use sex to sell; we sexualize both the male and female bodies, wax, oil and slap them up on billboards. And yet, it is taboo to talk about sex in any real way to our youth in school, and the kind of natural innocent nudity is shocking, as in a breast feeding mother.
Young men grow up and feel shamed, and is if they are not a real man if they are virgins, and girls are slut shamed and taught to hang on to their virginity as long as possible. This creates a hunter/prey mentality that fosters sexual frustration and violence. More on this subject can be read in a fantastic article by Alyssa Royse " The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality" 

The dichotomy we have created in regards to the sex conversation is absurd. Men and women both want sex, love, and respect. It is time to change the conversation with young people, take away the taboo, encourage questions, and provide useful, reality based information so they can go into the world with knowledge and respect for themselves and those around them.
It is long past time to take the sex subject out of the closet and make it an accessible conversation for young people. No more shame and no more blame. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Love Thyself

Loving myself is one of the most important things I've learned how to do.  Not a narcissistic wow I'm awesome and perfect kind of love, but the kind of love that allows me to take care of myself when things get rough. The kind of love that says, I know you're down, I know you're hurting, maybe you messed up or are feeling sorry for yourself, but that’s okay, I love and accept you anyway.
There are times when life just beats you down. Sometimes there is a friend or family member who will call, or visit. Or someone who cares will do something nice like bring you food or get you out of the house, but no one will sit by your side and make you get out of bed, make you go on with your life. There is no one who can repair your hurts or take away your anguish.
I have developed a tactic to get me through these times. For me there is no other answer than the old adage “one day at a time.” When I am in a slump for any extended period of time there comes a day when I know it’s time to move on. So I decide I am going to do one thing, just one thing today just for me. I am going to do it consciously, and I am going to do it right.  There is nothing overwhelming about one little thing, I can approach this with confidence even on my worst days.
Sometimes it’s making a meal. Going into the kitchen to bake bread, and make homemade soup. I will think about what I am doing, I will be thankful for having good food to make and the time to prepare it. I will take in smells, and notice the rhythm of slicing and dicing. I will force out every other thought other than the enjoyment I get from preparing a good meal for myself and my family.
Or maybe I need to get out side, I’ll put on my favorite tennis shoes put my hair up and walk out the door. If it’s cold I’ll take note of how the brisk air braces my skin, how it makes me feel alive. If it’s warm I’ll notice how the sun on my face relaxes my whole body. And then I’ll run. I’ll run if the pain is the angry and aggressive kind, and as I run I will listen to the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground, feel my heart beating in my chest, pumping my blood through my body.  I will be thankful. Thankful that although there are so many things I have no power over, I do have a healthy strong body and the power to move myself forward.
Or I’ll walk. I'll walk if the pain is the meandering and contemplative kind.  I’ll wander down the road and notice the sounds of the birds and the river. I'll stop and breathe in the fresh air and be thankful that I can just wander in peace.
I have come through many tough times this way. Doing just one thing a day, not thinking about insurmountable obstacles or worries of the future or pain of the past, just to be present with myself, and conscious of task I have chosen for that moment.

Whatever it is that you do, to love and care for yourself will work. Paint, yoga, meditate, run, walk, bike, cook, spend time with your cat or dog, it doesn't matter as long as it is done only for you. And that it’s done with intent. The intention being self care. There is something inside each of us that no one else other than ourselves knows how to care for. You are the expert, and you hold the key to healing your heart.

As an afterthought, I realise that I am only capable of caring for others as much as I am able to care for myself. So in order to give true love and grace to the people I care for in my life, I must give it to myself first. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Power Of Emotion

I have heard of a condition referred to as being a  “sensitive” I don’t know if this is a real condition, or learned behavior or what, but I do know I know people who seem to more strongly affected by the emotions of those around them than others. I also believe we are all affected to some extent by the moods and emotions of the people around us.
I know for myself I am strongly repelled by anger, aggression, and drama. I’m usually a friendly open person but when I encounter situations where there are high levels of anger or aggression I clam up and exit the situation or avoid people who emote those things regularly.
On the other hand, I am strongly compelled by the emotions of genuine pain or hurt; I feel it deeply and am drawn to try to sooth those people. Weather I have known them for years or hardly at all it doesn't matter, something pulls me to want to comfort them. That being said these aren't’ the people who emote depression, chronic insecurity or hopelessness, those people seem to suck the air out of a room, and drain the energy of those close to them. I don’t have the fortitude to spend very long with this type of person.
Then there all the people who emote joy, and happiness, they have a light that seems to attract others. These people are easy to recognize, you are drawn to them, being around them just feels good. I think there are fewer of this type of person, the ones who are just naturally full of optimism an joy.
It gets me reflecting about how we emote, and the effect it has on those around us. Because it will have an effect, regardless of whether we want it to.  Our emotions aren't just a private internal experience; we emanate them. They can be seen and felt by others, some people will be more keenly aware of them than others.  

For some it easy to be light and joy, that’s just who they are, but for the rest of us I believe it is a daily struggle to be aware of what we are attracting or repelling with our emotions. I think the full range of emotions are healthy and should be felt to their full extent, but to linger too long on the negative spectrum will draw unwanted experiences and people into our lives. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Crazy Beautiful

I have had my share of pain and hurt in life, and even when I was as down as I have ever been I thought how grateful I am for my life. I remember very clearly one day realizing this. The fact my heart was so broken and I was so hurt, meant I was alive, and if I could experience that level of grief, then I could experience the same level of joy. I turned a corner right then and there and started to heal. I have never ever forgotten that moment. When my heart hurts, or I am angry, somewhere in my consciousness I know I am capable of that equal and opposite emotion and it carries me through.

Life is a crazy beautiful ALIVE thing.
Babies are born, people die, there are huge triumphs over struggles and terrible tragedies. Hearts break, or are filled to bursting. We cry and mourn, and laugh till our sides ache. We feel pain and bleed, and also enjoy pleasure. We hunger and thirst, and seek love and comfort. We rage, and love and hope and hurt. We work and sweat and sing and dance. All of us.  If you take away race, gender, age, and religion we are all the same. We are human.

Life can be cruel and difficult but it is always a crazy beautiful ALIVE thing. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Letter to My Sons

This is a letter to my sons. They are both my greatest gift, and an infinite challenge. I know I have guided them thus far to best of my ability, taught them what I can, sometimes failed them, and always loved them.
First Born

My first born-
Tender hearted, analytical, and quickly developing a quick wit. You are emotional, cry, anger, and laugh easily. You are ceaselessly loyal. You are a devoted friend and you have a strong sense of right and wrong. You love quickly and easily, just like your father. You love the constructs of rules and guidelines just like me. You watch from the sidelines, carefully taking in your surroundings. You consider cautiously your next move. You are careful, and kind and compassionate. You are curious and silly when you feel safe. You are the type of person people will count on; people will turn to you when they need someone with common sense. You are not rash or bold, but contemplative and thoughtful.  And I love you so much it makes my heart hurt.
Second Born

My second born-

You are silly! And full of laughter and mischievousness. You will do whatever it takes to elicit laughter, including dancing around the house in my red high heels. You have unarguable logic, that you mostly use to your advantage, but have an innate ability to know when someone needs your comfort. You argue, analyze, and refuse to accept “just because” like your mother. You love to push boundaries, seek thrills and excitement just like your dad. You sing, you dance, you are joyful and irreverent. You are kind and generous, always willing to help and share. People will always be entertained in your presence.  And I love you so much it makes my heart hurt.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lovers Reverie

My lovers’ weighty head rest upon the fullness of my breast
My heart beats warmly within the depths of my chest
I breathe it in the smell of him and him the smell of me
The two of us adrift together in a lovers' sea
The memory of our entanglements and of our hot embrace  
Fades away unhurriedly as united the morn we face.

Monday, February 10, 2014

True Romance

Happy obligatory romance month everyone!
I know, that sounds pessimistic, I am a romantic at heart, really I am. But Valentine’s Day has always seemed to bring out my sarcastic snarky side. To me it is a prime example of our nations consumerism. I do not want my romance bought and sold on the open market to the highest bidder. It feels cheap, and well…obligatory.  There is nothing romantic about obligation. Romance comes in small moments, thoughtfulness, and gestures that say “I love you” or “I thought of you.” That is not saying flowers, wine and chocolate by a crackling fire aren't romantic, they very much are. It’s about delivery.  It means so much more when it comes from “because I love you” than, “because on this day I’m supposed to.”  The best gift is to love truly. To love truly is to take risk, risking your heart; to let someone in. To fully invest your heart in another person, in and of itself is a gift.
My husband loves this, takes the pressure off him for finding the “perfect gift for your loved one.” He knows what the perfect gift is. Those gifts come in special moments shared together, a heart shaped rock found on the beach, a cup of coffee in bed on a Saturday morning, a pretty potted flower brought home for no other reason than he saw it and thought of me. He’s always been quite charming that way.  I try to follow suit, but I am inept compared to him. I bring him a beer while he soaks in the tub, surprise him with one of his favorite meals, or color a silly handmade card.
Ironically, it’s Valentine’s Day we mark the passing of our years together. This year it will be twenty! Crap I’m getting old. Twenty years ago on Valentine’s Day he brought me a single red rose and bashfully asked if I would be his valentine. How could I possibly resist? (I told you, I really am a romantic). So for me it does mark an event of importance after all.
Valentine’s Day does however get me reflecting on love, and what it is. It comes is so many forms and encompasses so many things it's hard to believe one little word is enough to describe it.  Compassion, caring, adoration, tenderness, admiration, longing, joy, the list goes on. When you tell someone you love them you are saying so many things. “I care for you, your happiness is important to me; I want to be near you.”   Try thinking about that next time you say I love you, it’s pretty amazing.
All you lovers out there, don’t confine your love to one day, or give too much importance to how society proclaims it should be expressed; or to whom, you know in your heart what should be done. Love whoever you love without reservations, risk your heart, and embrace love.  Love your loves every day, in all the small ways that are so important. Do silly things for just the two of you, the little things that make your love unique.  Let your heart guide you in matters of love.
I like to remember all my loves on Valentine’s Day, for me it's not just about romance but about love in all of its forms. I am sending love to my friends my family, and all the people who touch my heart. I trust you know I love you through my actions.

Happy heart day everyday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Growing Up Flower Child

This little blurb is from the archives, (recycled material) over the years I have stopped and started writing my memoir more times than I care to recount. It's difficult to know what viewpoint to write from, how much detail to include or leave out etc...Lots of touchy subjects. But the more I write the better I feel, and when I share, I find people with shared experiences which is good as none of us wants to be alone in our tragedies or triumphs.

Growing Up Flower Child
For as long as I can remember, I had a sense of being different, for one reason or another. It seems I always had awareness that my life was not the same as others. In the beginning, I think this feeling was generated by an ugly custody battle between my parents that turned out badly. My mother ended up with me, while my father took my older brother and sister, none of us at the time realizing it would be twenty some odd years before we would see each other again. In addition to this, my mother’s choice to raise me in a commune, that would obviously make one feel different, I even felt different within the context of the commune. I felt like an outsider, it was a pervasive theme in my childhood.
     This sense of being different I think in the beginning was not one of comfort, but caused me to want to hide away or blend in. Of course being a young girl, I had no way to make any sense of my life up to that point.
     My mother was the stereo typical “cult” member, submissive, and unsure, looking for guidance and a sense of belonging. In addition to this, she had the benefit of receiving assistance with getting custody of me, and an escape from an abusive marriage. At that time I'm sure it felt like a good option, and without it, both our lives would be very different. She first lived between the "Love Families" Seattle homes and the 300 acre Arlington ranch. At the Ranch location we lived extremely rustically in an army tent with community facilities such as showers and kitchens.  The tents were furnished with pot bellied stoves and woven tapestries for the small amount of privacy they provided. Beds were on the floor and we had “travel bags” for our clothing and personal items which were minimal to say the least. I was fed and warm and loved at this point, and I had nothing to compare our vagabond lifestyle to so I suppose you could say I was relatively carefree. These were my youngest years and I believe short lived as my mother still lived with the fear of my father and expressed her desire to relocate to the properties in Eastern Washington.
     After joining The Love Family, my mother soon settled in a secluded area in Eastern Washington on property occupied by several other families. Being a shy quiet child, of a shy and quiet mother this was heaven for me.
     The families who located there were hardy, hardworking and peaceful people. We gardened, raised chickens, and had the rare bit of game for our food. Being “hippies” and not having much money we also received items such as cheese and milk on the Dole. We (the children at least) never knew we were poor. We were well fed and well cared for.
I can remember my mother and God mother in the cabin kitchen on bread baking day. The heels of last week’s bread had all been devoured and it was time to start again. Thin films of flour covered the counter top, the soft conversational voices of the women filled the kitchen. The children played just outside the window in the yard in summer, or in a warm corner of the cabin in winter. I remember watching their skilled hands fold and punch the balls of dough kneading it until it was just right. There it sat for hours it seemed, in a wooden bowl covered with a kitchen towel. When the time was right it went into pans, six at least, and was put in our wood fired oven. That smell will never leave me and will always mean comfort. One loaf, maybe two were served that very day, warm thick slices with butter and homemade jam. Our mothers may have felt it was just another daily task, but it was always done with care, and is remembered still as an act of love. It was a treat that was always eagerly awaited by our entire family. Homemade Bread to me represents a mother’s love, a happy family, a full heart and full belly.
 Summers were also particularly memorable here, long hot days spent on banks of the Columbia or helping in the garden. Everything grew here to huge proportions; I remember eating tomatoes plucked right from vine, that seemed bigger than my head, still warm from the sun. We raised chickens and for a time had Belgian horses that were used to work the land or get us to town when we were snowed-in, in winter.

Winter, was also an adventure, we were so remote, that even getting to the tiny town of Northport was a challenge. We had to literally be stocked up for the winter. Much of our goods were gathered and grown on the land an canned or dried for winter. We would pick and clean the wild hazel nuts and store them in 5 gallon buckets. The wild service berries were also harvested by shaking the bushes over sheets we spread on the ground. These were often the chores for us children; everyone did their share to survive. We were living like pioneers even though it was the mid 70’s early 80’s.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Owed To Winter

There is a strange and gloomy beauty about winter. The naked branches of the trees against the iron gray sky, brown and trampled grass from recent snow or heavy rain, swollen gray rivers challenging their banks, all of it a raw, stark beauty. Even the sounds are dark and lonely, drip, drip, drip, of rain or melting snow, an infrequent trill of a solitary winter bird, the crunch of your footsteps on frozen ground.

My mind works hard to find the beauty in these cold dark months, I know it is there, but it seems as though it does not want me to see it. it's not an easy beauty, but harsh, cold and dark landscape.

My namesake is the sun, it is easy for me to love the warmth and light. The long lazy days of summer, ripening fruit and causing flowers to blossom. Everything is alive.  It occurs to me I would not know the warmth of the sun was such a gift, if I did not feel the chill of a biting winter wind, nor would I worship the bright warm light of a summer day, if I did not have the short gray days of winter.

Winters dark beauty works hard to escape me, but I find it. I find it in the sparkling frost on the lawn, and in the still silence of snowfall. A frozen pond, a cold damp trail winding through the forest. I find it in the knowledge that warmth will return to coax new life from what appears to be long dead.  I know life is there, just beneath the surface, resting, waiting...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Making mistakes and Forgiveness

Forgiveness has always been a huge part of my life. I was wronged by many people at a very young age. It was very early on I realized how much work, and how bad it felt to hang on to someone else’s wrong doing. I also realized that good people are just as capable of making mistakes as anyone else, and that included myself. So I decided to try to be as forgiving as possible whenever I could and hoped the same would be extended to me should I commit a transgression.
I have experienced both sides of this. I slipped up once and hurt someone I love pretty badly. But I was forgiven almost immediately because they said, they had seen my example of forgiveness and felt I deserved it.  I am not advocating for people to just let people of the hook willy-nilly, there needs to be true remorse for true forgiveness.
Remorse is a tough pill to swallow, I know. The natural instinct is make excuses for your bad choices, reasons why they were okay. But if you want true forgiveness you must humble yourself, admit your wrong doing, and enact some sort of change to move forward in a better direction.
Both of these things take work but they are so worth it. I feel relief when I forgive, I don’t have to carry a burden of anger and bitterness. Also, the other side, to humble oneself, to make no excuse, is one of lifes great opportunities to grow.
We as humans are fallible; none of us will walk through life with perfection. We all have the ability to miss-step and we all have the ability to forgive.  When I feel someone has wronged me, it helps me to put myself their shoes, to try to understand what they may have been thinking. If I need to be angry, I get angry, or mourn or whatever it is I need to do, and then I communicate my feelings. Sometimes this means you can’t have the person in your life anymore, and sometimes it will enrich a standing relationship, whatever you choose should make you feel peaceful.
Forgiveness comes fairly easily to me when I see true remorse; I find no benefit to hanging on to my case against someone.  If you are struggling with hurt, pain, or betrayal, speak up. No one is served by denial.   You may be pleasantly surprised by people and your own ability to do what is right.
I am starting my new year with full confidence that I am whole, and I am loving, and I want to walk through life with grace and integrity.