How can we find balance in the chaos that surrounds us? This was the question at the recent HeART of Spirituality workshops held at Tapestry Unitarian.
“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance—this is the balance—this is the balance.” – Baha’i World Religion
The participants picked images that represented spiritual balance and spiritual imbalance and made collaged Contemplation Cards. Similar to tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in many ways.
Can you tell which cards represent BALANCE and which represent IMBALANCE? See all the cards on CATNIPblog.
To see all the Contemplation Cards, a picture of the participants and directions how to make the cards click HERE.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8
- 1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
- 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;
- 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
- 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
- 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
- 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
- 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
- 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
It’s been a rough year. Maybe it’s the media bombarding us with political enmity, flood, fire, war, death, illness . . . but it does seem rougher than usual. My resiliency is running low.
To put things in perspective on this last day of the year I remind myself that this earth has been around billions of years and I am standing on a planet hurtling through space and haven’t fallen off . . . yet
The earth is moving about our sun at a speed of nearly 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour. Our solar system–Earth and all–whirls around the center of our galaxy at some 220 kilometers per second, or 490,000 miles per hour.
“There are anywhere between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way and an estimated 100 billion planets. Around one in five stars are like our sun, and astronomers have estimated that about 22% of them have planets the size of Earth in their habitable zone, where water can exist as a liquid. This means there could be 8.8 billion planets within the galaxy capable of supporting life (not accounting for composition of the planet or its atmosphere).”
“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”
‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith
The theme for July is “Journey”. Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday. The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.
People could share as much or as little as they chose. It was a wonderful group of women. (All you men, where are you?!!!!)
Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!
To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!
“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith
A technique of neo-impressionist painting using tiny dots of various pure colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye. It was developed by Georges Seurat with the aim of producing a greater degree of luminosity and brilliance of color.
Click HERE to see if you were right!
Want to see more collaged Contemplation Cards? The theme was Power. Click here The HeART of Spirituality
A lovely reminder of what our souls know but our minds forget.
Gabrielle Garcia Marquez
Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century and one of the best in theSpanish language, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.
On Mother’s Day Reverend Kent Doss at the Tapestry Unitarian Church began his sermon with a poem. I found myself tearing up. After the service I shared my response with other women who all said they, too, had to fight back tears.
Reverend Doss’ heartfelt delivery can’t be duplicated but I encourage you to read it out loud.
If you have carried a child or children, whether or not they came to be born, we see you.
If you have fervently wished to do so, and circumstances of fate made it impossible, we see you.
If you love children we cannot see, whether because of death or estrangement, we see you.
If you never wanted to be a mother, we see you.
If you are happy to mother other people’s children, as an educator, an auntie, or a foster parent, we see you.
If your mother hurt you, physically or emotionally, we see you.
If you had no mother at all, we see you.
If your mother is or was your best friend, we see you.
If your gender says you are not a mother, and yet you take on the role of nurturer, we see you.
If you wonder whether your mothering has been enough, we see you.
And if yours is a different truth altogether, we honor your unspoken story.
There is room for all in this circle. May it be so, today and always.
“Syrian kids who passed through Milan’s Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.”
Scroll down to last drawing to read one of Ardino’s reflections on the drawings.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”
‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
1 Corinthians 1:10
“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you
If you do not act on upon them?”
Here’s one of Vittoria Ardino’s reflections on these drawings:
“There’s so much happening on this piece of paper — which is maybe a reflection of the child’s chaotic inner world, Ardino says. A flying creature is part butterfly, a common symbol of freedom. But it’s also part gun. A plane dropping bombs is covered by a face that’s half-human and half-fish (or actually, a big fish devouring a smaller one). A flower droops over a series of squiggles, which Ardino believes represent human bodies. All of that points to a child feeling powerless — but “trying desperately to find light,” Ardino adds. The face is surrounded by sun, and an oversized ladder or staircase leads away from the houses. Ardino suggests this is the child’s attempt at answering a critical question: “How can I escape?”‘
Click here to read Ardino’s reflections on all 7 drawings.
I’m posting my HeART of Spirituality workshops, spiritual art journal pages, tutorials etc. on a separate blog. http://judywesterfield.wordpress.com,
It’s under JUDYwesterfield – as opposed to JUDITHWesterfield. (It probably should be reversed since judy is definitely not as serious as Judith).
As always, it’s been a steeeeeeep learning curve trying to figure out a new blog template (which I might change) but it helps keep me occupied so I don’t have to focus on cleaning, thinking, washing, aches and pains or yard work.
Here’s my latest journal page for those of you who don’t want to subscribe to yet another blog and/or click on the above links.
My husband looked at it and asked who I wanted to strangle! I just smiled knowingly . . .
Don’t remember how I found Susan Wojtkowski’s blog I only remember the title of her blog irreversibly moi made me laugh, her love of rescue dogs made me smile and her online classes kept calling to me.
So I signed up for Art Journaling Through Proverbs. The price made me happy and the novelty of journaling inspired by proverbs (with which I’m not very familiar) made me interested.
My first journal page
I’ll share what we do and the Proverb we are focusing on. So stay tuned for some more of my heART!
P.S. There’s still time to join the online class. Here’s Susan’s description:
“Our first class/group course of 2016 is a journey through the Book of Proverbs! If you enjoy art journaling (or would like to start) and want to spend time in the Bible this year, this group is a great way to go. We will enjoy artsy fellowship in a private, fun and comfortable Facebook group while learning new art journaling techniques and discussing how to apply Proverbs in our daily lives. Read on below for more details about this great group class that kicks off on February 1st!”
In case you need a refresher on what a virtue is here are a few: Patience, Responsibility, Joy, Love, Compassion, Justice, Generosity.
Can you guess the virtue* I need to work on?
Take a look at the second group of fabulous prayer/contemplation cards! Here’s the first group – Take 1
“Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all.
Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world.”
” . . . we must endeavor to promulgate and practice the religion of God which has been founded by all the Prophets. And the religion of God is absolute love and unity.” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace. p. 32.
(Try out the exercise we did after making the cards. Click here for the entire list of virtues and the worksheet on the TUTORIAL PAGE)
Ten amazing people made room in their holiday schedules and came to Tapestry Unitarian Congregation for . . . TA DA!!!
A HeART of Spirituality workshop!
Reverend Kent Doss talked a bit about the history of communion before making the prayer/contemplation cards, The group was small enough for each person to share what their cards represented. The evening ended with a discussion about virtues.
Card #1 – The love of God, love of self – the spark within or what is holy to you
Card #2 – Virtues that connect you – unity with family, friends, colleagues and the world
Here’s the first group of cards and the spiritual principle of unity, oneness and love guiding my choice of focus for the cards.
Can you tell which cards reflect LOVE and which cards express VIRTUES?
“All the divine Manifestations (Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and, in more recent times, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh) have proclaimed the oneness of God and the unity of mankind.
They have taught that men should love and mutually help each other in order that they might progress. Now if this conception of religion be true, its essential principle is the oneness of humanity.”
“The fundamental truth of the Manifestations* is peace. This underlies all religion, all justice. The divine purpose is that men should live in unity, concord and agreement and should love one another.” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace
*Throughout the ages, God has sent Divine Messengers known as Manifestations of God among them – Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and, in more recent times, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh)—to cultivate humanity’s spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities.
(Click here for the second group of the cards . . .
. . . and the virtue I need to work on . . .)
Too pooped to pop! It was worth it! I facilitated a HeART of Spirituality workshop at the Tapestry Unitarian church. It’s my first post-retirement creative expression workshop. Not sure if it’s the last . . .
After so many years of having the luxury of giving workshops in my own office – with the set-up in place and all the materials on hand – I’d forgotten how much prep there is in doing a workshop off-site. (I’ve also forgotten lots of other things . . . like what I had for breakfast).
Here’s a small sample of what we did and a few of the INCREDIBLE prayer/contemplation cards created by the participants (Unfortunately not all the photos I took “took”.)
Take a look at a few of the Prayer/Meditation/Contemplation Cards!
After making the cards Reverend Kent Doss led participants in a Wisdom Circle discussion of what spirituality means, how we define it and experience it in everyday life.
“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.” Pope John Paul II
“If a man engages with all his power in the acquisition of a science or the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshiping God in the churches and temples.” Abdu’l-Baha
“Art exists for its role of permitting men to escape their human condition, not by fleeing it, but by possessing it. All art is a means of taking hold of human destiny.” Andre Malraux
A special thank you to Judy Clemmer for her help cutting out HUNDREDS of pictures and providing supplies.
“This small planet is not worthy of division. Is it not one home, one native land? Is not all humanity one race?”
“To mark this anniversary, monuments and buildings across the world are being illuminated in UN blue. As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.” – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
Every year the U.N. and its member nations observe October 24th as United Nations Day around the world. This year, as the U.N. marks its seventh decade,
“Consider the creation of the infinite universe. This globe of ours is one of the smallest planets. Those stupendous bodies revolving in yonder immeasurable space, the infinite blue canopy of God, are many times greater than our small earth. To our eyes this globe appears spacious; yet when we look upon it with divine eyes, it is reduced to the tiniest atom. This small planet is not worthy of division. Is it not one home, one native land? Is not all humanity one race?” – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy
Do unto others
Do not read between the lines
It’s no mystery
The Golden Rule originates in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”):
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. —Leviticus 19:18
Baha’i: Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship . . . So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. Baha’u’llah, Teachings on Spiritual Reality
Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. Matthew 7:12
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 31:a
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517
Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah
Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana Varga 5:18
Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. Analects 15:23
Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5).
Jainism: Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself. He who desires his own good, should avoid causing any harm to a living being. Suman Suttam , verse 151
Penelope and I met a few years ago. I went for a carton of milk and there she was, an albino pig, in a grocery store. She was in a dangerous situation – it was only time before she ended up on the meat aisle. (OIY VEY) So for $9 I took her home with the milk.
I gave her a bit of color and a bow and she went to live in my therapy office.
How to Live Life to the Fullest
by Penelope the Pig, CPT, RET
EAT greedily all the delectable things life gives you.
WALLOW in what’s soothing & cool.
SNORT at those who are not loving.
CELEBRATE how delicious you are.
PRAY you will not be eaten before your time.
May you all PIG OUT on LOVE,
Certified Pig Therapist, Retired
Thanks Jane L.!!!!!
IF ONLY WE HAD TALLER BEEN
By Ray Bradbury
O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measure out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam’s finger forth
As on the Sistine Ceiling,
And God’s great hand come down the other way
To measure Man and find him Good,
And Gift him with Forever’s Day?
I work for that.
Short man. Large dream. I send my rockets forth
between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Will is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!
“NASA New Horizons Pluto Mission Tribute Video! | NPR Hundreds of images from NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto stitched together in retro newsreel form with audio of American science fiction author Ray Bradbury reading his beautiful poem “If Only We Had Taller Been.”‘
New false-color images of Pluto and the moon Charon exaggerate colors to highlight differences in their surface compositions, NASA says. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/14/422840586/nasa-zooms-in-on-pluto-for-closest-views-yet
” But to blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind.” Baha’i World Faith
A 400 lb. black bear wandered into a residential neighborhood in Florida. Black bears half this size have attacked and killed humans across the nation recently … twice in Florida. Wildlife officers sedated the bear to safely relocate him, and that’s when things began to go horribly wrong.”
You’ll have to go elsewhere if you want beer, back yard bar-b-ques and fireworks for the Fourth of July. More interesting (to me) is Benjamin Franklin’s letter to his daughter, in which he explains his choice of the turkey, a “bird of courage” for the National Bird instead of the an eagle, a bird of “bad moral character” and “a rank coward” to represent the majesty of our great nation:
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”
“With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…”
“. . . For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.” Franklin Institute Read more: American Myths, Smithsonian Magazine
I leave you with the sublime
Download “Amazing Grace” by Condoleezza Rice and Jenny Oaks Baker on iTunes: http://apple.co/1LElsTB
All proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Portraits in Faith is a fascinating project which celebrates diversity of belief. For nine years, 27 countries and 400 personal spiritual journeys Daniel Epstein interviewed and documented spiritual experiences and the role of faith in people’s lives. Take a look at the introductory video:
“The main objective was to save my life by helping me understand that there was reason to believe in a Higher Power. That sounds very self-serving, but I needed out of my old way of thinking and my old way of feeling about myself and the world.”
“Now I have a much bigger aim for the project — to help heal the world by bringing people together in humanity’s greater, common spiritual journey. The journey is all we undoubtedly share no matter how much we try to make each other out as different. I have a real love-hate relationship with religion. It really can give people the smallest view of the world when really we are beyond understanding.” Daniel Epstein
Read the Daniel Epstein interview on the Baha’i Blog
P.S. The Bardo Group/Beguine Again is a blog I’ve followed for several years. Their theme for June is diversity ” . . . in all its manifestations: sexual/gender orientation, race, religion, culture, national origin … even nature. . . . celebrating respect – as inclusion – as a big step toward peace, understanding, justice … even environmental stewardship.”
Take a look at the June issue of The BeZine
Recently two very close and dear friends died. They were both younger than me – by at least 10 years. I was hit by painful sadness and simultaneously comforted by a belief:
Several years ago I was depressed. Life was the color of dirty grey. I was in a fibromyalgia flare and feeling helpless. I wasn’t suicidal, just weary, really weary, of pushing through the pain and exhaustion. Half jokingly I wrote to my Baha’i friend and mentor something to the effect: “I’m ready to leave this earthly plane. Beam me up into eternity”
He wrote back four words which rocked me to my core: “You are in eternity.”
You see, I had always assumed life here on earth as a human was separate from the “eternal realm”. I thought that after I died I would then be in eternity. It was a paradigm shift for me. It is strangely comforting to know we are all already in eternity – you, me, my friends.
we are in eternity
life is never short
“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”
“ . . . Love is greater than peace, for peace is founded upon love.”
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” Corinthians 1:10
“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”
“The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve…”
Take a look at this spectacular view of where we all dwell.
“In December of 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first people to leave our home planet and travel to another body in space. But as crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders all later recalled,
the most important thing they discovered was Earth.”
Thank you so much Gloria for sending this video!
Living in Southern California where it’s a few hours drive to see snow does not give me the credentials to write about winter. So here’s a lovely piece written by Barbara J. King and a meditative-monkey glimpse for all you living with winter-white:
“We are about 15 days away now from the spring equinox — but winter is not yet done with us.”
“By measures of temperature and precipitation, winter 2015 has brought ongoing hardship to many in the U.S., perhaps especially in and around Boston, where epic blizzards continue their toll.”
“At this point, those of us in snowy, icy locales may need some inspiration to make it through March. I have found mine in this three-minute film, produced by Art Gimbel, of Japanese snow monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park. The film is also featured online at National Geographic.”
“As primates, like us, these monkeys delight me: Look at the intelligence in their eyes, the delicate fingers as one monkey — clutching close a juvenile, perhaps her child — plays with a bubble in the water.”
“We see in the film the monkeys’ profound relationships made real by grooming rituals, and the animals’ calm as they seek, in warm spring waters, a respite from the snow and ice.”
“So, sure, who can resist red pandas cavorting in the snow? But if it’s winter Zen we need, it’s the Japanese snow monkeys from whom we may take our cue.”
“Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, often writes about human evolution, primate behavior, and the cognition and emotion of animals. Barbara’s most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape.”
I am sustained by my Baha’i belief that pain, suffering – any type of crisis – is an opportunity for learning, changing and growing. My professionally and personal experience backs my belief as I know, without a doubt, that pleasure, ease and happiness do not promote growth.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t seek out pain and suffering but when it happens to me or in the world I do look for the good that can evolve.
When I read this interview with the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Ebola Revitalized her Downtrodden Country it was an example of what I believe is possible in the world.
Here’s an excerpt – The entire interview is worth a quick read:
“Do you think the image of Liberia has changed through this [Ebola crisis]?
“Yes, I think it has. We were the poster child of everything that could go wrong: disaster, death, destruction all over the place. We too, as a result of Ebola, had a re-energizing of ourselves. We saw a new opportunity to turn this crisis into something that will be good for the country. And it’s not just the leadership, It’s also the people in the communities. They were the victims but they became the victors because they were the ones who took responsibility. They all had a role to play. And because of that, we see this as a new resurgence. Our success, we think, has been heralded. If you look at the predictions that we faced in October, I mean, by the end of January there will be 1.4 million people dead. That was a wake-up call for us, a call to action. Our people rose to that.”
Tiny sweaters for penguins!!! “. . . knit by a group of volunteers that includes Alfred “Alfie” Date, who at 109 years of age is Australia’s oldest man.”
“When disaster strikes, the wildlife clinic at the Phillip Island Nature Park will be ready, equipped to deploy hundreds of tiny wool sweaters at a moment’s notice.”
“Date told Australia’s Ninemsn he started knitting the “easy single-rib and double-rib” sweaters shortly after moving to a retirement home in southwest Australia. After learning he could knit, two nurses who knew of the “Knits for Nature” program approached him to gauge his interest, Date said, adding, “I’m a sucker. I can’t say no.”‘
“In the event of an oil spill near Phillip Island’s 32,000 little penguins, wildlife clinic workers put oil-covered birds in sweaters to minimize the amount of oil they ingest while preening themselves. According to the Philip Island Penguin Foundation, the substance also matts the penguin’s feathers, which both prevents it from regulating its temperature and reduces the animal’s buoyancy in water.”
“Following a spill near Phillip Island in 2001, 483 little penguins ended up at the rehabilitation center, with 96 percent ultimately being released back into the wild.”
I’m a bit upset with all of you who have e-mailed me or commented on my retirement with such incredibly loving, affirming messages and gifts. I’m upset because it’s now too late to use all of you for testimonials to promote my services. Where were you when I could have taken advantage of you? I could be retiring a millionaire.
There are so many people who have touched my life I can’t begin to list them all. These are just a few in recent time: Sherry, Lisa, Linda, Margo, Susan, Joyce, Bryan, Adele, Liz, Peggy, Cathy, Doug, Chris, Ramesh, Paula, Ron, Kathy, Denise, Ann, Rich, Nan, Kate, Erin, Alma, Kathe, Ruta, Lyn, Abbie, Jackie, Jan, Ida, Jan, Alma, Rosemary, Denise, Fariba, Margi, Diane, Vivian, Christine, Theresa, Mike, Becca, Carolyn, Vandi, Kim, Daru, Bernice, Deborah, Laura, Tessa, Hank, Jamey, Carol, Theresa, Mary, Blair, Barry, Sandyha, Marc, Cindy, Sam, Laurie, Sally (if I’ve left anyone out please be forgiving as there are literally hundreds and hundreds).
I have met the most wonderful people in my life and career – people who dedicate themselves to helping others, giving to others, people who have gone through painful, frightening, confusing times only to come out stronger and wiser and more loving on the other end. You all have been an inspiration to me and I say that from the bottom of my tired, irregularly beating heart.
I’ve been a psychotherapist for 30+ years and needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) it’s been a huge part of my identity. I painted this canvas a few decades ago when I was in another “identity” shift –
struggling with who I was as a person with a chronic medical condition. The picture was done in about 15 minutes, spontaneously, without planning or forethought. It surprised me. It is symbolic to me of emergence and hung in my office.
It’s probably time to paint another and see if I’m growing a third head.
With love and gratitude to each and every one of you who have touched my life,
P.S. I suggest you consider announcing your pending retirement or your demise (which ever you think may come first) as soon as possible so you can enjoy the nice things people say . . . . and find out who is keeping mum . . .
In case you missed my announcement: Are the rumors true I’m retiring?
“Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” Baha’i
As I “count up” to my 70th birthday” I think more and more about choice & inevitability, and the wonder of the unknown. When I received these pictures from my friend Sharon they struck me as reflecting the human condition . . . mine included.
Speak to me.
for the Source
soaring from the earth
in time and space
clinging by my roots
to a passage yet unknown
Thanks Sharon for sharing!
Becca Givens posts pictures of trees she photographs on her blog Sunday Trees. Becca has much more discipline than I do as it is every Sunday! Here’s some of her “trees” Sunday Trees 03, Sunday Trees 08, Sunday Trees 26 in the Mayan Ruins
round, round, around in our minds
obscuring what’s real
All is connected
round, round, around in our souls
encircled by love
(poem with 2 “haiku verses”, Haiku Horizons’ prompt CIRCLE)
Compassion Compote, 3 steps
Take human beings
peel, discarding all ego
gently fold and mix
add justice and love.
Gorge yourself on compassion
easy to digest
“Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, and for hearts that long for peace.” ‘Abdu’l-Baha- Paris Talks, Baha’i World Faith
Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees “. . . owls have backup arteries, which offer a fresh supply of nutrients when blood vessels get closed off by rapid turning.
Their arteries also swell to collect any excess blood created in the process.” National Geographic
I bought paint today for the bedroom – grey paint, Grey Owl, the name on the paint chip. A quick trip to the paint store. “I like how you smile. I just told my last customer that I like to see smiles. I always say the first wrinkles I get will be right here”, she swipes her fingers around her mouth, “from smiling,” the clerk behind the counter looks at me straight in the eye. “I like how you smile”.
Maybe from 30 years of being a therapist, a scent people pick up just like Freddie my dog picks up with his nose – scents that I can’t, don’t detect. I watch her ring up my paint purchase.
“I just have a happy disposition. They say I’m like my mother. Always laughing. If my Mother saw someone trip and fall out there” – she looks outside through the plate-glass window – “she would laugh and laugh. But people never know what you feel inside, people never know if you have just been in your car, crying. People can’t see the sadness or pain inside. You can swipe your credit card now”, she takes a breath, “My mother died when I was 4 years old. I wasn’t allowed in the hospital. Maybe my brothers got to see her, got to say goodbye. I never saw her. I never said goodbye. I have two boys and a girl. My little girl always wants to be with me. I try to imagine what it was like for my Mother.”
I say something rather innocuous struck by how beautiful – smooth skin, clear, dark kinky hair, color streaked, pulled tightly back in a careless knot, bright red lipstick. Turning, gesturing, looking up, looking down at the computer she doesn’t stop moving, trapped behind the counter. She speaks fast, effortlessly, her words softened with Spanish sounding consonants. “My aunt raised me but I’ve never felt like a daughter. I never felt loved. My aunt already had 6 children but she told my Mom she would take care of me. My mother never told anyone she was dying. She didn’t want anyone to worry. I talk to my Mother. I tell her when I’m angry. I want to give you a hug.” – an effortless, tight hug separated by a counter. She picks up the ringing phone and motions me to get my paint.
Two gallons, one in each hand. They’re heavy, the wire handles digging painfully into my palms. She smiles and nods in my direction, still on the phone, as I walk out the automatic doors.
Grey Owl paint on the bedroom wall. Surrounded by the stark white molding it looks fresh and soothing . I’ll smile at the Grey Owl walls when I wake in the morning, a smile for the young woman in the paint store and her mother.
“The owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging its newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.” animal-symbolism
Meet the mom who started the Ice Bucket Challenge – Great speaker! Inspiring!
“When Nancy Frates’ 29-year-old son Pete hurt his wrist in a baseball game, he got an unexpected diagnosis: it wasn’t a broken bone, it was ALS, and there is no cure. In this inspiring talk, Nancy tells the story of what happened next.”
“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”
Earth’s soil fertilized
artificial poppies grow
in human blood, bones
Fallen in battle
It’s time for falling in love
Soul’s soil fertilized
See view from drone http://bcove.me/qgvfevz2
One of the reasons I follow the Baha’i World Faith:
I scraped the back bumper of my VW Beetle. The scrape is hidden under this bumper sticker: My small gesture of desire that all scars caused by us humans will someday be covered in loving harmony.
“At Carnegie Hall, gospel singer Wintley Phipps delivers perhaps the most powerful rendition of Amazing Grace ever recorded. He says, “A lot of people don’t realize that just about all Negro spirituals are written on the black notes of the piano. Probably the most famous on this slave scale was written by John Newton, who used to be the captain of a slave ship, and many believe he heard this melody that sounds very much like a West African sorrow chant. And it has a haunting, haunting plaintive quality to it that reaches past your arrogance, past your pride, and it speaks to that part of you that’s in bondage. And we feel it. We feel it. It’s just one of the most amazing melodies in all of human history.” After sharing the noteworthy history of the song, Mr. Phipps delivers a stirring performance that brings the audience to its feet!”
Thank you LINDA.
As I near my 70th year I am more than ever aware of what a blip in eternity my time is on this earth.
The 3 areas that the people who were dying shared with Mathew O’Reilly gave me pause for thought about what is important . . . and what isn’t.
- Forgiveness – reflecting on their regrets
- Remembrance – wanting a lasting connection with others
- Meaning – having wasted life on meaningless tasks.
It’s very short video and worth a few minutes of your life.
|“Matthew O’Reilly is a veteran emergency medical technician on Long Island, New York. In this talk, O’Reilly describes what happens next when a gravely hurt patient asks him: “Am I going to die?” — and the personal choice he made to tell the truth.”|
Even if your ears are past the age of 7 take a few minutes to listen with your heart – to the message . . . and the music.
Pianist Daria van den Bercken in this talk, she plays us through the emotional roller coaster of Handel’s music — while sailing with her piano through the air, driving it down the street, and of course playing on the stage.
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato
“We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…” The Baha’i World Faith
Music is the shorthand of emotion. Leo Tolstoy
Psalms 95:1 – O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
I’ve bitten the bullet (while I still have my teeth) and am taking the leap (while I still can leap) into the next phase of my life (which is getting shorter by the day)!
My office lease is up this February 2015 and coincides with my (gulp) 70th birthday.
I have wrestled with whether to sign a new lease, rent space from another clinician, buy a van to set up a Therapist-on-the-Go practice (kidding), move to the South of France (sorta kidding) or fade into memory . . . I will close my office along with my 69th year (no kidding).
Being a psychotherapist has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in my life. I’ve been blessed to have had thousands (yup, count ’em thousands) of people profoundly touch my life. Therapy is a two-way street. I’ve learned and grown along with my clients. Their pain, hopes, struggles and faith have helped inform my choices, strengthen my faith and deepen my belief in human courage, resiliency and ability to learn & change.
It is almost inconceivable to me that I will be 70 years old and have been “practicing” psychotherapy for 30 years. It is hard to admit that in the last several years I have less physical energy and resiliency. But it’s true. (I like to blame my declining energy on fibromyalgia more than aging because fibromyalgia should be good for SOMETHING).
As I take the leap I will try not to lose my grip on the cord of these words that I do my darndest to tether me in my life:
- “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. (THIS is a hard one!!)
- Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.
- Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.
- Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. (GOTTA WORK on this – my speech isn’t always guarded as my friends can attest)
- Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.
- Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.
- Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.
- Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive.
- Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
- Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.” (A TALL ORDER for us humans – one “leap” at a time).
(The Baha’i World Faith, Baha’u’llah)
I’ll keep you “posted” (on this blog) where I land.
Say a prayer that I land on my feet and not my head . . .
Rooted in God’s love
we are all leaves of one tree
and fruits of one branch
“A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith, is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.”
“In this way His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh expressed the oneness of humankind whereas in all religious teachings of the past, the human world has been represented as divided into two parts, one known as the people of the Book of God or the pure tree and the other the people of infidelity and error or the evil tree.”
“The former were considered as belonging to the faithful and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel; one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator.
His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity and this principle is specialized in His teachings for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.”
When you’re stuck in mud
need to climb to higher ground
any branch will do
On March 7, 2012 Lawrence Anthony died.
Two days after his passing, the wild elephants showed up at his home led by two large matriarchs. Separate wild herds arrived in droves to say goodbye to their beloved ‘man-friend’.
A total of 31 elephants had patiently walked over 112 miles to get to his South African House.
But yet they knew where they were going. The elephants obviously wanted to pay their deep respects, honoring their friend who’d saved their lives – so much respect that they stayed for 2 days 2 nights without eating anything.
Then one morning, they left, making their long journey back home.
At the risk of jinxing myself I’ve been puzzling over why I do not suffer as much from fibromyalgia than the women (and men) I know who are in more pain, have more co-morbid conditions and debilitating symptoms than I do.
And because they are, for the most part, held hostage by their medical conditions they are unable to continue to work in their professions and live a “relatively normal” life. I’m not sure my life is “normal”. I’m often stopped in my tracks by exhaustion, distracted by pain but I’ve been blessed by being able to continue to work in a profession that gives my life purpose and meaning.
What’s prompted all my questioning and thinking?
I’ve been reading books written by Viktor Frankl an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a Holocaust survivor. In his book Mans Search for Meaning he writes about his incarceration in nazi death camps where he observed that those who did not believe their existence had meaning succumbed in greater numbers from starvation and disease than those who held the belief that their life had meaning.
Their purpose didn’t involve grand schemes of saving the world, curing people or groundbreaking discoveries. Purpose ranged from finishing a manuscript of a book begun before incarceration, staying alive for a family member or simply believing God had an unknown reason for them to live.
So? What part does purpose and meaning play in our lives? in your life? Does having purpose and meaning help reduce emotional or physical suffering? I don’t pretend to have the answer, just the question.
Here’s Dr Frankl in an interview about finding meaning in difficult times. (He talks about his experience in the concentration camps toward the end of the interview.)
“. . .the man on the street knows that meaning may not only be found in creating a work and doing a deed, not only in encountering someone and experiencing something, but also, if need be, in the way in which he stands up to suffering.” Viktor Frankl
Lives & Living
Mind and faith marry
a spiritual bell heard
with the ring of truth
Entering the ring
with apprehension and fear
feel the knock-out punch
* * *
Encircled by love
in life, death, eternally
it’s all that matters
* * *
This is not your-mother’s-cut-‘n-paste! Do take a quick look at a perspective on life and living by a self-taught artist, Nikki McClur.
A few examples of paper-cut art using color
Grey matter matters
Do we act before we think?
I think I think not . . .
“As the evenings get darker and the first hint of winter hangs in the air, the western world enters the season of the dead.” Scared?
If you want to read about ouija boards, seances and automatic writing click this link: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/20/seances-and-science.
If you want to read what is REALLY spooky, read this excerpt from the article:
In the 1960s, neurophysiologist William Grey Walter got volunteers to operate a slide projector while their brain was monitored with electrodes. The participants were told to press a button to change slides. But the button was a fake – the projector was controlled by electrical activity in the brain. The startled volunteers found that the slide machine was predicting their decisions. A fraction of a second before they decided to press the button, the part of the brain responsible for hand movement burst into activity and – through the electrodes – moved the slide on.
Grey Walter showed that there was a fraction of a second delay between the brain making a decision and someone being aware that they were making a decision.
In the 1980s, Benjamin Libert of the University of California , San Francisco, made a similar discovery after attaching volunteers to electrical monitors and sitting them in front of a screen displaying a dot in a circle. The participants were told to flex their wrists whenever they liked, and report the position of the dots at the moment they made the decision to flex. Again, there was a surge in brain activity a fraction of a second before the volunteers were aware they were making a decision.
Wegner’s solution was that our deliberate, thinking brain – the inner me that makes decisions – is an ILLUSION. Instead, the brain does two things when it makes a decision to raise an arm.
- First it passes a message to the part in charge of creating the conscious inner you.
- Second, it delays the signal going to the arm by a fraction of a second.
- This delay generates the illusion that the conscious mind has made a decision.”