Thursday, October 27, 2011

Growing A Dream, Starting Small, and Sharing My Journey With You Along The Way In Hopes That It Might Help Others Who Want To Realize Their Dreams...

“As surely as the acorn becomes the oak tree, the images in your mind become your reality.”
~ Author Unknown ~

Dear Ones,

It has come to me in the night, and all day long as I have studied the costs of building a building, getting a permit to do so in a residential area, the complexity of becoming non-profit when you are starting so small and more that I need to -- while working in any way that I can to achieve my goals along the way -- write a mission statement and outline concrete plans. The website is underway, and more important than building a building that is a sanctuary, I think we all have to start with building both a sanctuary inside ourselves, and one right where we live. This includes personal healing, guidance, and many of the others healing modalities that I have been trained and certified to do as well as phone counseling, starting to print the small books that I hope will help people along the way, and as much else as I can do to begin to realize my dream so that it can grow and grow like that acorn into a tree. Will you take this journey with me? Will you plant your acorn, water it, and watch your tree grow? It might grow slower than you'd like, but once it has grown it is incredibly strong and bigger than you might have ever imagined. What is my dream? What is yours?

I've written so much about mine here that it would be redundant to go over it all again. Suffice it to say that once you name your dream, instead of it being this ambiguous, amorphous blob of a thing like jello that has only begun to set, you will wade about in that congealed mess of a mass feeling lost and weighed down. I know I have.

After starting countless books that I thought might be right, but knowing that something was off and not getting very far, I realized, suddenly, that my dream, inasmuch as I have written for over 40 years, (It saved my life starting at nine years old...) and considered myself first and foremost a writer, and to that end thought that what I had to give to the world would come in my writing, I realized that that wasn't enough. I studied for months on end this last summer into fall to become certified in healing modalities that stretched my dream a little further, and gathered together skills and talents of a lifetime into a basket along with the others to look and see what I had. I formed a plan, a good plan, one I was happy with, but then came the dark side of the moon.

I am borderline agoraphobic and I became terrified to step out into the world to use the healing gifts I had worked so hard to acquire. I would still write, but I needed to do more. And then the words came to me, The Love In Every Moment Sanctuary. That was it. It was one of those moments when you feel like you've been hit by a lightning bolt, something I hadn't felt before. Oh, being Bi-Polar I've had lots of big ideas, believe you me, and as the pendulum would swing the high highs would catapult me into a new beginning and the low lows would bring whatever the then goal was to a crashing halt. What's different now?

What's different is that I'm different. I have been changing more than anyone around me, who knows me well, has been able to imagine, and the healing work that I've done the last several months, work on myself with several different healers, as well as learning these modalities myself, and able to use them on myself, and spending much more time in meditation and prayer, (...and yes, having a very good doctor and medications that have evened me out over the last several years, and even she has seen enormous changes...) I am changing at the cellular level. I might not be able to venture as far out into the world as I thought I might, yet. (You'll pardon me, I hope, if my writing is a little wobbly for a moment. The new little pug whom I already adore is under my desk chewing my toes!)

So then came the thought of the sanctuary, and when the disappointment began to engulf me for all the reasons I noted at the beginning of this entry, the fear quickly subsided and a new plan began to form, and most important of all I realized that sometimes, in the beginning, we may overshoot the mark with a dream just to finally settle back into the place we were meant to be all along. This reaching forward and sliding back a little over and over still moves us forward, at a pace we can best manage, and this is the way we all grow and change on every level. I love the idea of having a sanctuary, an actual building, where I can have people come here for healing work so the fear of the outside world doesn't keep me from doing it, (I can't do it inside here, can you imagine laying on my table having a gentle healing with beautiful music and essential oils wafting in the air while four pugs raced around barking, parrots screaming in the background? I think not!), so what then?

I rustled around in my basket and looked at the talents and skills I had that I could use. Yes, I could write. Yes, I could teach online (I was a journal writing teacher teaching a very healing, spiritual class for thirty years, the last five online.). With the new healing modalities, healing that can be done as "distance healing," and my work in pastoral counseling, spiritual teaching and support, and more, I could start right from here and build that sanctuary that is fueled by love, not only in every moment but in every facet of everything I will be doing. So the website, the phone, the internet, and anything possible to do from here -- and there's a lot, far more than I at first realized -- will get the ball rolling, and once rolling I know that I'll go farther than I ever dreamed possible. I have gone out to study and to a wonderful healing center where I will continue to go and meet once a month with the group of people who became Master Healers in the Shamballa method. I have been working on people here, people who know me and whom the dogs don't bother because they will settle after awhile, and I know that I will venture out to do healing work on people that I know or who come to me when the time is right through channels that open as I am ready to meet them. I know these things to be true because I am not the same person I was.

I know that I am different as well because I am not tossing a dream away out of fear, I am looking for new ways to see it into reality and I know it is possible. I am not just dreaming, I am doing concrete work. I am taking a business class, I have worked out a structure so that I will write everyday (first here, and then a section on the book) and it is working, and it is good, better than I ever imagined. And I have made friends here and started to build a community and as I venture out into it, even a little at a time, the ability to do my work outside the home will grow too. I am meeting my demons and making friends with them. It is possible after all.

And finally, when you talk about your process, your dreams, your fears, how you move through them, out loud, to other people, to you dear reader, it all becomes less scary and seems more possible. I get tremendous support from both my online community and my growing local community as well. My dreams may shapeshift along the way but this time I am not letting fear stop me. That I could go out to a workshop from nine in the morning until six at night actually shocked people, but I knew I could do it. I had been going out and working with healers for months, and so I will go again. The most important thing that I am told by those who support me and work with me is not to push myself or rush because I'm afraid others will think badly of me. This had been a recurring theme in my life that can only lead one place and that is into a paralyzing downward spiral. One of the most profound things that anyone has ever said to me came from the woman I have loved for a decade. She said, "You are not your diagnoses." She made a point of telling me that I had many talents and gifts and that she believed in me and just because I had certain challenges in this life didn't mean that I couldn't achieve my dreams. To this day it is the most important thing that anyone has ever said to me, and it has kept me going and moving forward when otherwise it would have been very hard. Kind of wobbly like little pugs chewing on your toes as you're trying to get something done.

And so I am doing this. Let me say that again for my own benefit... I am doing this, and though it is changing by the day it keeps floating on the surface and bobbing along and my dreams keep shining through. The pebble has been thrown in the pond and the ripples keep moving outward. It is thrilling to watch them and the very notion that they keep on rippling outward propels me forward. And I have a lot of pebbles. When the ripples stop I'll throw another pebble in the pond. Nothing will stop me now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Love In Every Moment Sanctuary" ~ And So The Work Begins...

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul."
~ Thomas Merton ~

Dear Ones,

I have just purchased the DVD of the movie made by the Carthusian monks, "Into Great Silence," and I am listening to the music with deep reverence to the CD as the monks go through the rounds of their musical day. I am also studying the works, life, and music of Julian von Bingen (Julian of Norwich), and have just purchased the beautiful movie made about her life, "Vision." I daily study the works and lives of monastic traditions everywhere.

Here is a wonderful page discussing the monastic tradition in an interfaith, all inclusive view of this life. I am an interfaith minister among other things and though I do not practice in that capacity I embrace all faiths, traditions, and spiritual paths. The sanctuary will be one that honors all. The page linked here speaks of all of these including the increasing number of lay people who are turning to this way of life.

The Monastic Tradition
: Discussions on this way of life in many faiths, books, resources, and more...

I feel closest to monastic life these days, and in working toward turning Dragonfly Cottage into a sanctuary called the "Love In Every Moment Sanctuary" for meditation, prayer, and healing I will have found my true place in the universe. All of my writing and healing efforts will be centered here. It has been a long journey to come to this decision and I know that it is right. I will also do phone counseling sessions and have a new blog dedicated to the healing work, a website is in the works, and I am working on a newsletter that will be nearly daily, with podcasts, prayers, journal exercises (I am a teacher of 30 years of a very healing journal process) and more. If you sign up for the newsletter you will hear first about the services when the are ready, have first chance at the very limited number of people I will be able to see or counsel on the phone, and if you are a member of the newsletter, you will get a discount on services. Watch this page to find out when the newsletter starts. It will also be announced on Facebook and Twitter. I am dedicating my life to the service of love, for all of you, for the entire earth and all it's inhabitants, of working with the people who want gentle spiritual guidance and healing, of the animals that need me to comfort them, love them, and offer them safe space and a forever home, and the books that come out of the sanctuary will serve as ongoing support for those of you who seek it. I humbly offer my heart and my life to you all. My work is non-denominational. You needn't even follow a specific spiritual path, but come to find inner peace, and have the goal to lead a more compassionate life, living compassionately, finding your way into a mindful way of living and loving-kindness for all.

I have to work on my own life and a way to make my living independent of my current means, and this will include all that I have mentioned above, and a return to my fiber art, hand-spinning yarns, weaving, crocheting fiber art pieces, and using whatever talents and gifts that I have to offer to support the creation and ongoing efforts of the sanctuary. I will also accept Free Will Love Donations until my non-profit status goes through, and I will have that up soon. Building the small building in the middle of a whimsical garden and natural world (Joy is a wonderful spiritual practice so you can find a statue of St. Francis next to a Magic Ship, roses growing everywhere, and I will accept barter as a form of payment for services as needed for a healing. This will be limited, but offered in love and gratitude. Everything from garden work to fresh organic vegetables, and more of the necessities of life here. I trust that God will provide, and to those of you who will be part of the building of this dream and all that I have to give, I give my thanks in advance. Your tender hearts are truly at the center of all that I will be doing, and if you join my prayer list I will include you in my prayers and meditation by name every single day. I spend several hours in meditation each day.

It will take several years, most likely, for me to learn the ways in which to live a simpler life, for I have not followed this path, and my life will not be without human comforts or contact, but the more we can simplify our lives the more we find the peace that helps us greet each day with more love in our hearts, and a greater capacity to give. This too will be a journey that may take the rest of my life, but I take one moment, one day at a time.

My blog entries will be more frequent and my books will begin to come very soon and be small, books that you can carry close to your heart. My writings will be both spiritual as well as stories of my daily life here with the animals, the rounds of my day, the process of simplifying my own life, slowly, over time, and my work here as well as the building of the sanctuary and the miracles that I know will happen along the way. I hope to help you find solace through my endeavors.

I wish you love, I wish you peace, and a river of blessings to carry you through your life with as little pain and as much joy as is possible.

Finally I share with you this vow, one of deep commitment that I take very seriously. I took the vow on my own many years ago in sacred silence, and now it will be at the heart of all of the work that I do all the days of my life...

Prayer of the Bodhisattva
As long as space endures,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
and dispel the miseries of the world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What If You Woke Up One Day And Knew Exactly What The Entire Rest Of Your Life Was Meant To Be About?

Saint Francis will be my guide...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen 

Pugsley upon arrival, wearing his "Thundershirt" for anxiety,
which quickly came off and he hasn't had to wear it since. He
is snuggled here with his wee tiny sister Penny. Both had been
so terribly abused, and yet they are pure love, tender, and sweet
beyond words. I live in a sanctuary filled with angels, blessed
with God's grace, surrounded by angels everywhere, and spirits
of every size and shape bringing protection and joy and love, and
in the midst of it all here I am, blessed beyond measure, with
endless love to give. Charity begins at home. The love we are
all creating here we are sending out to each and every one of
you, every single day of our lives. When you take a breath in,
a deep, full, cleansing breath, on the inbreath feel a sweeping
of a warm, pure, pink light, warming you all the way down to
your toes and filling you with tremendous joy. Walk out into
the world lighter than air. Now remember you are never alone.
We are always there sending out love...

This is a terrible picture, all fuzzy-fied, but it was so precious and we couldn't get a good shot so I'm just sharing this with you so you can see how much fun we had. The two women who brought Pugsley yesterday also brought their 3 pugs so we had 7 running all over the yard and you never saw anything cuter in your life! When we came in we flopped on the couch and I was covered with little baked potato shaped hooligans! Ha ha ha!

There's a reason everybody calls me Mama Maitri!

And so I awakened this morning with a terrific JOLT! One of those that raises you up out of your chair so fast you hit your head on the ceiling and see stars. And though this has obviously been growing in me for sometime to come I knew then, as I know right now, with perfect clarity, exactly what I am supposed to do.

In 1999 I left a 25 year marriage to begin a spiritual journey that I would little understand, be devastated by, everything I thought I knew torn asunder, everything that held me up ripped out from under my feet, and I spent a dozen years in deep seclusion. Oddly, while it was very painful and frightening and confusing time, the seeds were planted for the life I was supposed to live, though it would be years before I could understand the meaning of it all. I had named my little cottage Dragonfly Cottage, both because the dragonfly had become my totem animal (In Native American spirituality he leads us out of the darkness and into the light, he is a sign of transformation.). Every place I have lived since in these tumultuous years of having to move, being more and more afraid, and not understanding how I could go on, I sat in the little cottage cottage I lived in in the mid-2000's.  I had come to the end. I could take no more. I was ready to leave this earth and the unrelenting pain and terror I felt every day of my life. But then.... Oh great mercy of God, then a miracle occurred. 

I sat quietly contemplating the way that I might exit the world. I worried about my children, my family, I didn't want to hurt anyone else but when the pain is so deep you can't see your way out, when you are broken down and never get any rest, finally you collapse into this darkness and see no other way out, and it was just at this exact point that, sitting in my little cottage, a miracle occurred. I saw a flash of gold out of the corner of my eye and saw the biggest dragonfly I had ever seen. Brilliant, iridescent gold, just huge. And he very calmly floated over to me and sat on my hand. He said, "No, it's not your time yet, we have much work to do," And he sat with me for the better part of 2 hours, just sitting peacefully, and I took lots of pictures. I have never seen a more beautiful dragonfly and I didn't know that such a one even existed, but here he is...

And when he was ready to go, when he had taught me that what I was considering doing was not only selfish, but was wasting my God given life, and that we all had lessons to learn and to share and love to give and a path to follow in our own lives. THIS, he told me, was our true path, the very act of finding it, and then to fight through all circumstances, doubts of others, self-doubt and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how many years it took, until the day that we woke up and said, "Yureka, that's IT!" (Or some words to that effect!) "It's time to get started!

Started, for me, has been the acknowledgement that that was true, even if I had no idea how it would come about. The process took 2 disastrous cross country moves, having dangerous encounters, meeting amazing teachers, and finally, the last years, finding these little pugs who are truly my angels and my teachers and the little loves that shore me up. They will be with me for the rest of my days.

This is only the beginning of this story, Part 1. But Part 2 will come in the next day or two and the plan that I have laid out in my mind is beginning to find shape and form and amazing clarity. Nothing I have done and learned will be wasted but it will take on a whole new shape than I have ever imagined.. It is thrilling, scary, but finally what of any real value ever takes all we can give and then some? My life will be changing rapidly (at a snail's pace...) over the next one to two years with much starting to happen very soon. I am to create a sanctuary, one of love, of healing, of hope, and of light. My writing, the garden, the pugs and the parrots and the wildlings, my healing practice and oh, so much more, are going to grow and fill this one little spot on the planet, and from this space all of my love, my dreams, my hopes, and the miracles that are always present around me will grow here, the one, true, final, always meant to be Dragonfly Cottage Sanctuary. I hope to see you here one day. Until then I will be doing healings for money and barter and accepting donations to get this place built and up and running. Perhaps one day I will become non-profit, but really, I prefer free will love donations for now. It feels gentler that way. 

Now I have pugs climbing all over me and I am getting many many kisses and giggling a lot so I better stop here. There are mountains of things to do and finally I realized that I can climb every one...

Oh, I love you all so dearly....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love As A Spiritual Path...

"Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."
~ Leo Tolstoy ~

Pugsley, the newest member of our family, who
will be coming very soon...

Dear Ones,

One day I woke up in love with the whole world and it changed my life forever. I can't say why it happened. Raised Catholic, a student of Buddhism since I was in my twenties, attending many churches to see what I could learn, what felt right, studying Native American spirituality, Goddess and Earth Based paths, being ordained an interfaith minister in the Christian church, and finding that even with all of that, all paths, religions and promises, as much as I wanted to serve, to live a contemplative life and dedicate myself to helping others, no building or tenets of any faith seemed to fit. I wanted Direct Communion with God. And so it would go, with me finally deciding that my "church" was right here, in the garden, with the many animals that I rescue who also rescue me, caring for the wild animals outside my cottage and in my woods, and this summer and fall I ventured out to go through the 3 attunements to become a Reiki Master and then took the Shamballa training to become a Master Healer in the Shamballa method. Still, tending my garden, walking in nature, sleeping with 3 small pugs surrounding me, their tender little faces moving me so deeply I would sometimes get tears in my eyes, I knew that life itself would provide me with everything that I needed to walk the path of faith in my own way. I knew that God would approve, and so I have continued on.

It has been my privilege to share my life with several parrots who came to me in my days of running a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots. The last few years I have dedicated my life to pug rescue, and I have adopted 7 to date with the 8th on his way. I take in the elderly, disabled, or badly abused little ones who need much love, patience, and care, and last year I lost 3 of them, the elderly ones. I have since adopted more.

My last rescue, wee little Penny, such a tiny girl, was left outside for a year, her eyes crusted over leaving her 90% blind, she had no hair and her skin was a mess, and she had severe urinary tract infection. The foster mother and vet got her in good shape and when she came to me I knew that she would need special care the rest of her life. My eldest, my heart pug, Sampson, came to me 4 years ago after being so badly abused and left alone so much, often without food for days at a time, and then adopted out and returned twice to the rescue so that he was terrified, came to me and clung to me like a limpet on a rock. They said, "He has abandonment issues." I said, "That's okay, so do I," and we have been constant companions ever since. Two year old puppy Tanner was a stray and nearly run down by a car when he was rescued and he came to save both Sam and I when we lost two pugs, my beloved Big Dog Moe, a lab-doby mix we had adopted from the Humane Society as a little puppy and who was, at his death, 18 1/2, 3 weeks before sweet Harvey pug died leaving Sam and I alone. 4 beloved elderly animal companions lost in less than a year. Sam nearly grieved himself to death, and so Tanner quickly became part of our family. He lifted our spirits no end and Sam and Tanner bonded so deeply that often the two of them sleep curled around each other at night. It is a joyous thing to see two small boys happy and secure. And now comes little Pugsley.

I will never understand people that abuse innocent little animals, but Pugsley was adopted, crated ten hours a day, and then hit so frequently that he came back to the rescue so terrified of everything he was almost inconsolable. He went to an amazingly wonderful foster mother, and now is on his way to me since I also work with the little ones who have been hurt and are afraid. Pugsley has been put on Prozac, he can't bear being left alone and will become so terrified he will likely wet himself and go to pieces, and he has to wear a "thunder shirt" to calm him down when he gets really upset. To any of you who have heard of the brilliant autistic woman, Temple Grandin, and her "squeeze machine," the thundershirt was based on that. It velcros snugly around the little one and makes them feel safe. When he becomes very nervous and afraid he must wear the thunder shirt and it helps calm him down. He lost several teeth trying to chew his way out of the crate, and needs to be held and cuddled and reassured a lot to know that he is loved and okay. He is coming to the right home for that.

We live in a society where self-love, not selfishness but pure, unadulterated, innocent love, is almost non-existent and it has been the downfall of great numbers of people around the world. The Dalai Lama said, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." He also said, "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." I don't use the word religion any more, not about my own path in this world. I am a deeply spiritual woman who defines my walk in this world as one of love, compassion, and kindness. When Pugsley

I find that more and more it's the little things that matter most.Borderline agoraphobic, and sometimes full out agoraphobic, I learned that there was much that I could give from my own little corner of the world. My life here, centered in meditation, prayer, healing work, caring for the little ones, and being mindful of the small things in life, is the basis for my life and all of the writing that I do, and in this way I try to reach out in the world and say to people, "You are loved, you are truly loved. You need not live life as the world expects, live the life that you have and find the gifts therein. Celebrate what you can do, do not denigrate yourself for what you feel that should do but cannot. There is no one right way, there are countless ways to be of service in the world. I share with you how I have learned to live my life, not so that you feel you have to live this way, but so you can see that you, too, can live your own life, your own way, and be a blessing to the world, and find fulfillment and joy right where you are, right as you are. You are beautiful to me. I don't need to see you to know that. I feel the beating of your heart from this chair that I am sitting in. I close my eyes and say a prayer for you and ask that even in this one brief moment you know that someone, somewhere in the world, treasures you, and wishes you well. Start from there. Look in the mirror and say 'I love you.' You may feel uneasy at first and like it is a silly exercise, but if you do it every time you pass a mirror, with as much tenderness as you can muster, somewhere along the line you will believe it. Say to yourself, 'I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you,' and as you say it say it not just to yourself but to everyone and everything around you. Every natural thing on this earth is a living being. A rock, a crystal, a flower, a blade of grass, a spider, the wild bird at the feeder. Your elderly neighbor, a little child passing by, the lady at the checkout counter at the grocery store who has been on her feet all day and is tired but still serves you with a smile. Remember to say thank you. Say something kind to her. That is love."

The more you do this in your life, the more that you find your own cup filling up, brimming over, with so much love to give you can't help but let it spill out into the world. What can you do? How can you spread this love? It doesn't take much, or it can take a great deal, whatever you have to give. Imagine if everyone on this earth did one bit of loving-kindness, each and every day, what a world we would be living in.

Can you go a whole day without complaining about anything or making one negative statement? Try it. It's not as easy as you think. Don't beat yourself up if you do it, just start over again from where you are. And then do it the next day and I'll bet you'll go longer. And then make it a practice. It will change your life.

If you are walking down the street smile at a stranger. Think gently, "I love you." Don't say it out loud. A genuine smile can say it all and change the course of that person's day. Can you move through  your day and smile, mindfully and with love, at 5 people that you would normally pass by? Do it today.

Can you pick one neighbor in your neighborhood and do a kindness for them? A bouquet of flowers from your garden, or fresh vegetables if you grow them. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor or help a child who has fallen down. Adopt an animal companion if you are able or show the ones in your very own home some extra loving care. Water your plants and say, "Thank you for growing." Fill feeders outside for the wild birds and put fresh water in a big old pot if you don't have a bird bath. Take a notebook and write down as many things that you have to be grateful for as you possibly can. Shoot for twenty-five. Like the White Queen in Alice Through The Looking Glass don't get out of bed until you believe "six impossible things before breakfast." Now write them down. Now figure out how to do them. Now feel the joy of even trying. Feel the smile come across your face. Feel that warmth welling up inside. Sit for a minute and just feel it. That is love. Fall in love with yourself, with everyone and everything around you, with the whole world.

When you feel downtrodden and put upon think of ways that you might help another. That small act creates miracles. Feel your heart opening up. Feel your very cells changing shape and form. You are shedding old layers, of blame, of guilt, of shame, of grief, of pain and all the ways of living and being that no longer serve you. Cross a line in the sand and step over it. Leave all of those things behind. Walk into the world seeing it with new eyes, seeing it for the very first time unburdened by your past, not worrying about your future, living in the now, living in this moment, in the most trying times there is something good in the world around you. Hold onto that, and say thank you. Take another step. You have made it through.

Nothing is too small. Start something that is tiny, go from there. I have saved the tiniest of parrots abandoned by their mother. Nothing has brought me greater joy.

Love everything. Start small. Love everyone, start where you are and let it fan out to the world. Know that I love you, and that I mean that with my whole being. You are treasured, just as you are. Now treasure and love yourself. It will be the most important thing you have ever done. You can't give from an empty well. Fill your own and then let it spill over into the world. Is there anything more important that you can do?

Fondly, and with a full heart...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Because There Is The Promise Of Joy, I Go On...

"Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow...
Joy shall be reflected in all things."

~ Helen Keller ~

Dear Ones...

Some of you have never been here before. Some of you have come to this blog for many years and know my story. In the end, or rather the beginning, or most importantly now, nothing matters except this moment.

In this moment, on the first of October, in the year 2011, the temperature has dropped dramatically and I have all the windows in the house open and a cool, slightly chilly breeze wafts in, rinsing the house clean, lifting my spirits, rendering me almost a little too cold but fully alive, more alive than I have been in months. Some people suffer in the winter from lack of light, they burrow in under covers like bears wintering over in a cave not daring to venture out or fully live again until the winter is over. I love winter, autumn has always been my favorite time of year, I suffer terribly in summer's heat, but in the dog days of summer there is the promise of fall to come. Leaves changing color, frost on the grass, geese honking overhead as they fly south, the dogs running in the yard and frolicking instead of drooping out -- I droop with them -- to do their business and then we all creep back in, thanking God for air conditioning, and looking to better days when we can take deep breaths of fresh air that make our lungs tingle, that make us laugh.

I could tell you all about my past, my childhood,  young adulthood, marriage and motherhood, divorce and coming into a whole new life at midlife as well as all that I am doing in my life today but it really wouldn't matter. Who were you yesterday? Who will you be tomorrow? You can really barely remember the former, not in the clarity of pure truth, you have no idea what the future holds, but oh, my heavens, look to today! It is full of potent possibility abundant. There may be sadness, tears, heartache and hard times in your life but there is always the promise of joy just around the corner. There is in mine.

A joyful heart is the inevitable result of  heart burning with love."
~ Mother Teresa ~

I used to feel shy and melodramatic when saying such a thing but I can tell you, right now, in this moment, that I am unequivocally in love with the whole world and every one in it. Everyone. Inside the worst criminal on earth there was once a tiny seed of potential. The crimes he commits are terrible tragedies, but one wonders if the greatest tragedy of all is that that light went out inside of him. Imagine who he or she might have been had that light grown and grown into a kind of holy brilliance that could have changed the world. These are the great losses, but thank God there are so many more good people that come fully into this life with their whole being facing each day as a rich new blessing that they intend to live to the fullest. I think the bravest person I ever knew was my mother. Despite the fact that we had often had a difficult relationship, and one that really no one ever understood, we made peace in the end and loved each other dearly when she passed. Every day, through a painful, shattering, life-diminishing cancer that destroyed her body -- Multiple Myeloma -- there was not a day when you would talk to her and in the worst of her pain and long after she had gone blind, she always started her day saying, "Every day's a good day, it is what you make it." Until she was absolutely unable, she got up, got her bath, made her bed, dressed and did her best to put some makeup on, and someone drove her to very early Mass where she led the congregation in the rosary before the service began. She was truly an inspiration to all who knew her, and that phrase will stay with me until the end of my days, "Every Day's A Good Day, It Is What You Make It." If a dying woman in terrible pain who has gone blind and has to spend 2 days a week getting a complete blood transfusion and platelets the next can say that with a smile on her face and a softness and belief in her heart as she said, even while she was dying, how could I possibly do anything else?

"Every Day's A Good Day, It Is What You Make It."
~ My Mom ~
This moves me doubly deeply because it reminds me of one of my favorite passages ever, written by Colette about her mother Sido. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read in my life...


You ask me to come and spend a week with you, which means I would be near my daughter, whom I adore. You who live with her know how rarely I see her, how much her presence delights me, and I'm touched that you should ask me to come and see her. All the same I'm not going to accept your kind invitation, for the time being at any rate. The reason is that my pink cactus is probably going to flower. It's a very rare plant I've been given, and I'm told that in our climate it flowers only once every four years. Now, I am already a very old woman, and if I went away when my pink cactus is about to flower, I am certain I shouldn't see it flower again.

So I beg of you, sir, to accept my sincere thanks and my regrets, together with my kind regards."

"This note, signed 'Sidonie Colette, néeLandoy,' was written by my mother to one of my husbands, the second. A year later she died, at the age of seventy-seven.

"Whenever I feel myself inferior to everything about me, threatened by my own mediocrity, frightened by the discovery that a muscle is losing it's strength, a desire its power, or a pain the keen edge of its bite, I can still hold up my head and say to myself: 'I am the daughter of the woman who wrote that letter -- that letter and so many more that I have kept. This one tells me in ten lines that at the age of seventy-six she was planning journeys and undertaking them, but that waiting for the possible bursting into bloom of a tropical flower held everything up and silenced even her heart, made for love. I am the daughter of a woman who, in a mean, close-fisted, confined little place, opened her village home to stray cats, tramps, and pregnant servant girls. I am the daughter of a woman who, many a time, when she was in despair at not having enough money for others, ran through the wind-whipped snow to cry from door to door, at the houses of the rich, that a child had just been born in a poverty-stricken home to parents whose feeble, empty hands had no swaddling clothes for it. Let me not forget that I am the daughter of a woman who bent her head, trembling, between the blades of a cactus, her wrinkled face full of ecstasy over the promise of a flower, a woman who herself never ceased to flower, untiringly, during three quarters of a century."

~ Colette, Earthly Paradise ~

I do not fear getting old, nor do I fear dying. What I do hope for, pray for, is that I might be that old woman so full of joy and expectation at the opening of a single flower that she knows she will not  have the opportunity to witness again in her lifetime that she will place it's importance above even seeing her beloved daughter, and knowing that my daughter understood. Can there be any greater love than this?

Last weekend, at the beautiful 4 day Shamballa Master Healer workshop we had an exercise where we were to wander about and look at trees. There was one so big with such a glorious trunk I just sort of fell against it, wrapping my arms around it as far as they would go and laying my head against it's bark. I felt a deep communion between us and I cried. The world is so full of such enormous miracles and connections beyond our human knowing that it is staggering. We need only open our hearts and be to witness and experience it all...
"Being, not doing, is my first joy."
~ Theodore Roethke ~

I am the daughter of a woman who, to her dying day, knew that every single day, no matter what the odds, could be a good day, as good as possible given your circumstances, and that we must never stop believing and trying to make it so. Now that she has been gone nearly two years I feel her presence very near me more and more. It is that place where all is forgiven, no sins were ever committed, and there is only love. I cry as I write this, I cry with joy.

I know mom, every day is a good day, and I plan to make this a splendid one, filled with joy. I love you mom. I love you all...