changes

The More Things Change….

Life sometimes seems like a turbulent river threatening to drown us and destroy the world.  Why, then, shouldn’t we cling to the certainty of the shore….to our familiar patterns and habits?

As I contemplate the question of risk-taking today, I realize that  I have suffered no major losses in my life for at least several years.  I still have the same home, the same possessions.  My children are all well. Although my husband could be better, he is still vital and happy.  I am, today, still close to the people I was close to a year ago…even two years ago, and in some cases, we are even closer.  My parents are still living.  I have not lost a single friend since I can remember…yet if I thought about how much all this means to me, I could live in terror at the very thought of losing any part of it.  I simply refuse to live in fear.

Even though all of these familiar patterns, people and possessions that have rocked my world for so long remain steadfast in my life, I have to ask myself, “Am I in danger if anything happens to overturn what iI have?”…and the answer is:  No.

Fear-based clinging prevents us from the satisfying experience of being fully alive.  Therefore, I am prepared to let go of anything about my life that I cannot control about it…and if it decides to stick around, well…good.  I’m happy.

let goBeing willing to let go of things that are not in my control prepares me for their loss.  Of course, I would be upset if I lost a family member…if I lost a friend….but I will not live my life in fear of this happening.  I have a friend who lives in constant fear, and his life is predictably miserable.  Everything he does is tainted by the paranoia of imagined consequences.   I refuse to live that way.  I am a much happier person because of it.

Being fully present in my own life, and not being dictated by fear, is what keeps me fully awake and alive. Living in the moment and being grateful for every person that I love, every possession that I own and every moment that I have, allows me to appreciate these people, places and things  while I have them, rather than clinging to the fear that I will lose them.    In other words, allowing fear to overtake one’s life is the same as allowing fear to be in control.

Gratitude.   That is the key.

moment

John Milton once wrote, ” Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever, how we experience life and the world.”

In recent history, I have lost no possessions.  I have lost no friends.  I have lost nothing of significance.   Therefore, when I rise each morning, I vow to cherish what I do have and enjoy them all while I have them. I meditate and awaken the gratitude within me, and I cherish what I have in that moment, rather than waste my energy fearing that I will lose whatever or whomever applies.

 

unlocks

Gratitude for what we have in the here and now, opens the door to personal power.  It opens the door to wisdom and to the creativity of the universe.  If you find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall over some issue that you want or feel you need to control, try simply letting go.

The door can easily be opened with gratitude.

I am even grateful for those obstacles that have presented themselves along the way,  as these things have made me even stronger and more resolute to continue my life’s journey.  I view the world through grateful eyes.  Since I have enlisted in this practice, the whole world has changed before me and I see things a completely different way…so if things do change, I will embrace the change and move ever forward, being grateful still.

grateful

 

 

 

skyride

Mt. Hood for the Afternoon

Yesterday was supposed to be the last of the heat for this Portland summer.  We decided to take our house guest up to Mt. Hood, where it is nice and cool, to spend the afternoon.  The sky was clear and blue giving us a most stunning view from our table.

view

After a nice, light lunch of fruit, bread, salad and wine, John delighted his favorite dance partner with a graceful spin to the 1940′s music that was playing.  Ingrid loves to dance and so does John. 

john and ingrid dancing

Even in the heat of summer, there was a little smattering of snow on the peak of the mountain.  Ingrid made it her goal (and life’s passion) to touch the snow. 

mt. hood peak

So, of course, I could not let her down.  Touch the snow she did!

touch snow

I never get tired of the views around Timberline Lodge.  I’ve been there dozens of times, yet each time I go, the snow has formed a new pattern.  There are different combinations of colors.  The atmospheric conditions cause the sky to look some way that is different from the way it looked the last time.  There is simply no getting tired of this place.  It is far more beautiful than photos can convey.

mountaina

No matter which direction one turns, while there, he or she can witness awesome beauty.

skilift

Even the reflection behind the hand-forged wrought iron window detail was beautiful.

wroughtiron

Land of the Free – Home of the Grateful (me!) :-)  I am so thankful to live here!

landfree

Ingrid was full of joy….happy, carefree….and so was I.

carefree

It was a beautiful day.

 

difficult

THE AWAKENING

In the early dawn of happiness
you gave me three kisses
so that I would wake up
to this moment of love

I tried to remember in my heart
what I’d dreamt about
during the night
before I became aware
of this moving
of life

I found my dreams
but the moon took me away
It lifted me up to the firmament
and suspended me there
I saw how my heart had fallen
on your path
singing a song

Between my love and my heart
things were happening which
slowly slowly
made me recall everything

You amuse me with your touch
although I can’t see your hands.
You have kissed me with tenderness
although I cannot see your lips
You are hidden from me.

But it is you who keeps me alive

Perhaps the time will come
when you will tire of kisses
I shall be happy
even for insults from you
I only ask that you
keep some attention on me.

Rumi

revenge

Reconciliation Over Revenge.

The illustration above exemplifies the need for peace on a global level…but with all things global, change begins with the individual.

Where does one begin to affect reconciliation, peace and understanding on a personal level?

peace2

When I feel violated I can usually just blow it off.  After all, I have a good life and much for which I am thankful.  I’m pretty easy going and definitely forgiving. It can be difficult to simply let go…but I’m pretty good at doing that.

Peace begins in one’s own heart, right?  Who wants or needs trouble?  Who wants or needs drama?

Well, it seems that some people thrive on it.

Before I start sounding as though  I think I am morally superior to anyone else, I must say that just like everyone else, I have buttons that can be pushed, and when they are pushed, I can come out swinging.   I make a pretty good sparring partner when I set my mind to it….but why waste the energy getting dragged into some trashy lower-life situation?

 

boxer2

Under certain circumstances revenge sounds sweet, but it never is…Not really….not on a personal level and not on a global one.  It is a vexation to the spirit.

However, what does one do when the other person does not stop?

Simply let it go.

let it go

I find this decision the universal solution.

The best thing to do when someone is in your face is to simply move forward.  Try to affect good in the world.  Reach out in peace and in the spirit of love and try to understand the other person’s  perspective.  Be better than anyone  that is  trying to hurt or anger you.  Reach out in love.

This applies to every person on every level.  Be good.  Be kind.  BE BETTER. Send love.

be better

Take pity on those that malign you, for they do so from issues that have nothing to do with you.   Try to view the world from their perspectives in order to better understand what they might be experiencing.  Be better.  Add no fuel to the smoke and simply let the negative feelings fall away.

After all…they are only smoke.

“Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”

Teaching Children the Value of Money

My daughter, Sarah, has managed to injure her shoulder and has been in pain lately.  Her daughter, Ingrid, age 4, wanted to do something to help, so she and I opened a little lemonade stand yesterday.  This is how she greeted her customers:

The agreement was that she would do the work that it took to open the stand and that she would save 1/3 of the money earned, give 1/3 of it away and keep 1/3 of it to buy something for herself.

So many parents forget to teach their children the value of money when they are young.  I observed Ingrid thinking about this yesterday, planning which piggy bank she would put her funds into, making plans to buy herself something special, but most importantly, how she could help her mother.  She was most sincere about her intentions, and did not hesitate to discuss this with her customers.  I just sat on the porch and watched her in amazement as she dealt with customer after customer.

customers

I was so impressed by her maturity and the selfless nature of her endeavors.  She wanted to give her mother ALL of her money for chiropractic treatment, but we insisted that she do the 1/3′rds thing.

Ingrid worked so hard throughout the process!  She squeezed the lemons herself while I made the lavender-infused simple syrup to add to the juice.  I did not hear a single complaint from this child!

lemonade

 It  was unusually hot for a Portland day, but Ings patiently sat at her little station can called out to people as they passed.  I had to make sure she had plenty of water on hand so she wouldn’t get dehydrated.  I could only let her stay out for about half an hour because I didn’t want her to get overheated.

ingrid sipping

 This is a picture of her with her first earned dollar!  I’m going to frame it for her.

dollar

There are simply no words to describe how proud I am of this little child.  She knows the meaning of the word, “benevolence” and asked me, “Gams, is it really, really benevolent to do this for my mama?”

 “Yes, Ingrid,” I replied.  “It certainly is!”

She smiled.

recall

Warning! Iams and Eukanuba Have Issued Recalls!

Proctor & Gamble has issued a press release regarding a voluntary recall they are performing on select Iams and Eukanuba dry dog & cat foods, due to a possibility of Salmonella contamination. Fortunately, according to P&G, there have not yet been any reports of illness due this contamination.

 

A dog who has ingested salmonella may be lethargic and have diarrhea (possibly with blood), fever, and vomiting. Some dogs will have only decreased appetite, fever and stomach pain. Infected dogs can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian ASAP.
 

List of Affected Foods

iams

eukanuba

Please protect your pets!  These are both very good dog food brands, but sometimes things happen.   Right?

 

original photograph by Stacy Alexander - All rights reserved

Barack Obama in Austin

Once again, under extreme fire from the Right, Barack Obama calmly, and oh, so cooly, tells the GOP and Texas Delegates what time it is. Last Thursday night, in Austin, Texas, the president slammed the Republican agenda, and brought up their pending lawsuit. He makes it very clear this ain’t his first rodeo.

In his own words:

“As long as Congress will not increase wages for workers, I will go and talk to every business in America if I have to. There’s no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise, and if you work full-time in this country, you shouldn’t live in poverty. That’s something that we all believe.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me. Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.

The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. You hear some of them — ‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.

I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don’t do your job.

There’s a great movie called ‘The Departed’ — a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.’ Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, ‘I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.’

So rather than wage another political stunt that wastes time, wastes taxpayers’ money, I’ve got a better idea: Do something. If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, let’s team up. Let’s pass some bills. Let’s help America together.

buttons

Button up, Buttercup!

When  I see someone like this artist, who can be inspired by something as simple as a button, and then turns around and creates magnificent works of art from something as simple as that, it absolutely amazes me.

This is the work of Miami-based artist Augusto Esquivel who creates something grand from something seemingly insignificant and small: he builds amazing 3D sculptures out of thousands of sewing buttons.   The artist carefully attaches them to a fishing line and constructs musical instruments such as the harp, piano, cello and other things as well. The artist is intrigued by the idea how “a common object used to create a piece of art becomes transformed into something complicated and intriguing.”

 

sewing-button-sculptures-augusto-esquivel-1b

 

marilyn

bass

mona

balloons

Rent a Goat

goat9 ingrid

I have extolled the virtues of Portland numerous times on this blog.  Today is no different.  This is about another of this city’s unique, quirky characteristics that you don’t see in a lot of other places….the “rent-a-goat” service.

Today,  we took Ingrid to visit the goats .  There is a herd of about a dozen of them living in an over-sized weeded field with a nice living quarters, plenty of vegetation and a lot of room in which they can move around.

goat1

People, (particularly those that are interested in leaving a smaller carbon thumbprint on the planet), frequently rent these goats, one at a time, or the entire herd, to clear off unwanted vegetation.

A lot of folks go there to look at them, but the owners had to put up a sign telling people not to feed them.  They were getting fat; plus the owners had no idea what they were being fed, so they had to ask people to stop feeding them.

goat3I love goats…their playful dispositions, their beauty, chevre, the way they bleat.  I have always wanted to buy one for Ingrid, but her mom doesn’t think it is a good idea, so I haven’t……yet. :-)

goat6John and I had such a good time watching Ingrid’s excitement as she raced around and talked to and about the animals.  She raced to catch up with John and told him everything she knew about goats.  It was very cute, and we had a good laugh.

goat8Baaaaaaa!!!

Thank you, John.  Thank you, Ingrid.  Was fun creating memories with you two today. xoxo

rumi

Mornings – I Am Lucky and I Know It

Early morning stillness is my fondest companion.  I meditate in this quiet solitude and offer my prayers of gratitude for the many blessings with which I have been bestowed.  It is the time I most intensely reflect on things such as a recent loss reversed and blissful, unexpected good fortune.  It is when I surround myself with the soft light that filters in through the leaves and the bamboo shades and feel the cool breeze wafting in through the windows.  I am lucky and I know it.

Our home is modest, but very pretty.  It is orderly and smells wonderful….a cross between baked goods and hand-crafted incense or fresh lavender.  We have pretty furniture…sort of a clean, Japanese, mid-century modern “hip” look, the centerpiece of which is our Noguchi coffee table that sits in the middle of the living room as a contemporary sculpture.  Everything is simple.

Order makes me happy, so quickly and quietly putting things in order during the early morning is something I enjoy very much. Today is a beautiful day.  I am happy, thankful and look forward to seeing how the rest of the busy day unfolds.  Ingrid is on her way to us now.  I must edit an article before she gets here and get my guitar lesson out of the way.  I feel good.

I am happy.  I feel good about virtually everything.  Life is good.  I am thankful.  Love causes one to see things through rose colored glasses….and my world is looking particularly rosy today.

beyonce

At Last…..

(I thought this day would NEVER get here!)

I think most of the world looks at Beyoncé and is awed by her talent.  Me?  I look at Beyoncé, and no matter how much she advances in her career, her talent and her fame, I still see that sweet little 15 year old who attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston with my daughter, Sarah.   I am so happy for her….

and today?

 

I’m so happy for ME, actually.

I thought this day would *never* get here.