Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh My, Another Monday...Already???

You must train your intuition — you must trust the small voice inside you which tells you exactly what to say, what to decide.-- Ingrid Bergman


Monday again, and a pretty rainy day to boot, that kind of day where I sit here wishing I was home.   I don't think I mentioned that I played hooky on Friday.  I climbed out of bed, and my body was aching  all over,  so I called in.  Our body's tell us when we need to rest them, and it is up to us to listen.  Gone is the time when I could go for months on end without a day off, but age is  creeping up, and the older I get, the more time I need to refresh my body.  Besides, it was one of those nasty days, one of those cool, nasty wet days that make it so much fun to just lie back and pull the covers over our heads. 

I do believe that everything happens for a reason.  We all have that little voice buried deep inside our heads that give us little hints about surroundings, situations, people...and I have learned that it is foolish not to trust what that voice has to say.   For example, while it is true that Friday was a nasty day,  it was actually not so bad at rush hour in the morning; I really could  have made it to work without getting all wet.  It was only during the afternoon that the winds really picked up, and the rain came down in torrents, but I was indoors, and even when I did have to go out, getting wet on the way home from work has never bothered me.   So, what was it really that made me stay home from work?

It was mid-afternoon,  and I was lying on the sofa reading my Kindle when suddenly I heard the sound of running water.  When I went into the kitchen to investigate, boy, was I in for a shock; it was  like a water main had broken outside on my back porch.  Water was gushing in  through the crack at the bottom the door, flooding my kitchen.  As it turns out, the heavy winds had broken off the side portion of my neighbor's cloth awning, and it blown over on my back porch.  The upper part of the awning which was closed, had been catching the rain all day.  A sudden microburst erupted quickly filling it to the top and then funneling it down the broken part which had become like a hose pushing all that water right into my kitchen.  Oh, what a mess!  And my neighbors were all at work, so I was pretty much up a creek (no pun intended)  By now we had gale force winds and the torn part of the awning was almost impossible to divert.  Eventually I did manage to get it turned away, but by this time, I was drenched from head to toe.   I shudder to think what would have happened had I not have been home.  But, that is not the end of my story.

I have lived on this block since 1998 and in all that time, I have never had a run-in with any of my neighbors.  That's just the way I prefer  to live.  I am not a confrontational person, and besides, the things I could complain about if I chose to are so petty and unimportant.  For example,  I have never once complained about how uncomfortable I feel when I step out on my back porch and am treated like a creature who just stepped out of a space ship.  It is just so terribly uncomfortable to have a line up of children, noses pressed against the fence, staring at your every move.  I could complain, yes, but they are children and are not harming me or my property in any way.  Why start something over nothing?  

 

You can get farther with a friendly word than with a club.-- Ukrainian Proverb

I am, in fact, what one would call a  perfect neighbor.  Perhaps I am too soft and easy-going at times,  but altercations always leave a tight feeling in my stomach.  Hence, I was not prepared for the response I got when I told my neighbor nicely about what had occurred, and asked if they could please open up the awning before our next heavy rainstorm on Monday so that the water won't accumulate there again.  In essence, the response I received, was  a rather pleasant refusal because the awning is old and we are afraid that if if is open, it just might rip more before we can have it repaired.  I then replied that something had to be done because I couldn't have my kitchen flooded again.  She replied rather condescendingly, "Well, perhaps you should do something to repair the crack of the door so the water doesn't come in." 

Now, wait a minute here.  There is definitely something wrong with this picture.  It wasn't the crack in the bottom of the door that caused the flood.  It was her awning, so, why am I the one who has to do the repairs?  Sorry, but this pushed me to my limit.  I wasn't asking her for anything.  All I wanted was a little peace of mind while I am here at work today, but once I saw that I wasn't going to get it, I not so nicely gathered up my ruined rug and asked what she was going to do about it.   Her eyes widened as she saw the damage that had been wrought, and suddenly, her whole mood seemed to change.  Before I knew what was happening, she called her son out and asked him to please open the awning.  I must say, it was hard for me to suppress a chuckle as the rest of the water that had settled there fell onto her head.  Later, she totally surprised me when she delivered a brand new rug.  

Perhaps I am too easy going; perhaps not, but I cannot complain about how this all worked out. By keeping my cool, the matter was worked out, and as neighbors, we will still be able to say a courteous hello to each other as we proceed in our separate directions. There are many ways to deal with social conflicts, with some being remarkable and even resolving the conflict at hand, and others that tend to fuel the fire or just make matters worse. 


A friendly chat with your neighbor about the problem may be the best solution. Nothing is as effective long-term as a frank talk with the neighbor.-Jim Johnson

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Fishes

The Fishes shine one higher than the other,
From each of them extends as it were a band
That fastens tail to tail, as wide as it floats,
Ane one star large and brilliant clasps its ends,
The Heavenly Knot it is called.
--Frothungham's Aratos--


Pisces, the twelfth and last sign of the Zodiac,  is one of the earliest signs on record.   The sign of Pisces is represented by two fish, each going opposite directions while their tails are tied together by a ribbon or cord.  Pisces is a mutable Water sign, and is very in tune with that element. Modern astrologers associate the planet Neptune with Pisces, and both Neptune and Pisces share a fog-like quality, and a sensitivity to higher, spiritual vibrations.  Its early ruler was Venus.  In fact, many empaths, psychics, and healers have the sign of Pisces either as a sun sign or moon sign.  The flower ascribed to Pisces is the daffodil, and the gem is  the white chrysolite.
The Babylonians, Syrians, Persians, Turks, and Greeks all regarded this star group as representing two Fishes, and we find them appropriately placed in the part of the sky known to the ancients as 'the Sea', because there are so many water related constellations in that area.   To the Egyptians, this sign denoted the approach of Spring and the season for fishing.  It is also claimed that the name of the Fishes was derived from the fact that, at the time when the sun entered Pisces, fishes were considered as fattest and most in season for use. 

According to Greek mythology, Venus and her son, Cupid, were strolling along the banks of the Euphrates River.  They were alarmed at the sudden appearance of Typhon, a terrible giant, whose chief occupations seems to have been to frighten people.  To escape the monster, Venus and Cupid leaped into the river and assumed the form of two fishes.  To commemorate this event, Minerva placed two Fishes among the stars.

The Arabs knew the Western Fish as Al-Hut, the Fish, and they considered the stars in the Northern Fish as part of the constellation Andromeda.  The Chaldeans imagined the Northern Fish with the head of a swallow.  The association of a bird with this constellation is very curious.  Among the Peruvians the month of Pisces was represented by two star groups, one called the Terrace of the Granaries  or the Doves, a name also given to the Pleiades.  The other Peruvian system Asterism* was called Pichu the Knot, by which the name of the month was also known, and it was represented by a net enclosing fishes.

In the Hebrew zodiac, Pisces represented the tribe of Simeon, and the Fishes were considered the national constellation of the Jews, as well as a tribal symbol.    The symbol of the sign, M, is thought to represent the two fishes joined together.  A fish was always the symbol of the early Christian faith, and the figure appears in many of the stained glass windows of the churches of today.  When each sign of the zodiac was assigned to one of the twelve Apostles, the Fishes were said to represent St. Matthias.  

 As a water sign, Pisces can be very sensitive and emotional, but doesn't always know how to handle these emotions.   Pisces is mystical.  Its symbol, the two fishes points to the Great Deep. Its two half circles united by a band, shows well the dual nature of man that has run its course in the physical world, but has another evolution to be taken up in the unseen realms.  Each archetype in astrology reflects a function that is essential to the nature of life. In the case of Pisces, one of the primary focuses of its influence is to bridge between the ego, the separated consciousness, and the higher forces.  

May you all have a blessed weekend.


(Asterism:  star pattern that is not a constellation.) 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's All About the Color


Beauty without colour seems somehow to belong to another world. -Murasaki Shikibu

 

When casting spells and performing other rituals, the color of the candle is very important to the intent and outcome of the magic. Using different colored candles can increase the focus and the energy of a particular magical working, based on the energy that already exists within certain colors. Each color is attuned to a different kind of energy, so by using the correct color, you can increase the power in each working.

Yellow is a color of the sun and is often used in solar related rituals. It represents the element of air.  It aids with the imagination, creativity, inspiration, and memory.  Thus, it can be used for creative workings.   or to gain focus during spells or rituals. It can also be used for healing purposes. 

Red is the color of love or passion. It represents the element of fire.  It is associated with energy and strength, and to protect one against psychic attack.  These are a few of the things red candles in magick can be great for. Spells involving passionate situations and matters of the heart can be enhanced with red candles. They're also perfect for fertility, strength, courage, and willpower.  "Men’s skins have many colors, but human blood is always red" ~ Traditional Proverb

White candles are lunar and work perfectly for any moon ritual. They represent spirituality, purity, truth, and balance.  They can be used to contact our spirit helpers.  In addition, white is a universal color; hence, whenever in doubt about a candle color, use white.  Healing properties include treating broken bones and relieving dental pain.  White is also a symbol of the Goddess.

Purple represents spiritual power and is traditionally connected to mysticism. It is great to use for spiritual workings...hidden knowledge, to influence people in high places, spiritual protection, greater magical knowledge,  increase power, financial success, and ambitions.  Be sure to use with caution, however, for purple is very powerful and may be difficult to handle.  "All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul. Purple is not just a noun and an adjective but also a verb – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you." ~ Uniek Swain

Gold is the color to use when dealing with prosperity, wealth, safety, creativity, self-confidence and anything dealing with the sun or solar energy.

Green represents the element of earth.  It is a color that is associated with abundance, fertility, good fortune, renewal, balance, and healing.   Using green candles in tree and plant magick or anything that is related to these topics can enhance those workings.  "Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

 Blue represents the element of water; hence, it  can be used for healing magick, wisdom, harmony, and inner light. It is a color that represents peace and guidance. Using blue candles can enhance spells or magickal workings that have to do with these situations or themes.  If you suffer from insomnia or having any other problems sleeping, charge a small blue candle with a visualization of yourself as you sleep through the night.  Then, burn a few moments before extinguishing the flame and climbing into bed.

Pink is associated with the purest form of love and friendship.  Its use  in magick is  perfect for romantic situations and can help you attract a soul mate. The color pink is connected to friendships, feminine energy, and honor.  This color may also be used to banish depression and negativity. 


Brown can be used in magick when you're trying to uncover what is hidden or find things that have been lost. It is associated with balance, ESP, intuition, and study.  It can also be used when trying to communicate with Nature spirits. The color brown can also help you when you're trying to make a difficult decision.  Concentration and financial security can be increased by the use of brown in magic. It is used for any spells involving animals. 


Candle magick can be greatly enhanced with black candles. In fact, this color is one of the most powerful available.  It  represents the unseen  and can help you to achieve deeper meditative states. It is good for releasing, breaking up blockages and for binding negative forces.  It  can also be used for healing very powerful illnesses.  

Although there are many complicated rituals that one can do with candles,  a simple ritual such as the following which involves only quiet meditation and reflection may be best. Simply light the candle in a color that works with your desires and visualize your desired outcome clearly. The candle should be kept in a place where it will not be disturbed so a magical altar is a good idea.

Some rituals are performed by the cycles of the Moon. The New Moon is the time for candle rituals connected with new beginnings and new projects.  Candle rituals  used during a Waxing Moon should vibrate with an energy of increase, hope, rebirth, and gentle light & thus we do work, increasing our efforts to manifest our dreams.  Full Moon energy is used for banishing unwanted influences in your life, protection magic, and divination. Planning, releasing, and working backwards in time are done on the full moon as well.  The Waning Moon is a time for banishing and rejecting those  things in our lives that we no longer wish to carry around with us. Negative emotions, bad habits, diseases, and ailments can successfully be banned during this time.

Before the candle is lit, it must first be dressed which will provide a psychic link between the candle and the person performing the ritual. This is very simple to do. Touching and meditating the candle while annointing it with essential oils will charge it with your personal vibrations.

"So different are the colors of life, as we look forward to the future, or backward to the past; and so different the opinions and sentiments which this contrariety of appearance naturally produces, that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with contempt or pity on either side."~ Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Warning: A Rant

If we have no peace, it is because
we have forgotten that we belong to each other
.
--Mother Teresa--


I was watching the news last night and was shocked when I learned that the Somalian pirates had executed the four Americans.  Somehow I had never believed that that would happen.  In my mind, I thought  that the pirates, knowing they were cornered and could not escape would let their hostages go and turn themselves in.  What was the sense in this execution?  What did it accomplish?  It makes me angry, and it makes me want to lash out.  It makes  me think of revenge, and I really don't like feeling this way. It makes me wonder what happened along the way...when and where did mankind lost its humanity, or is that something we never had?

Perhaps I am too naive about the ways of the world...especially after 9/11.  But,  I still like to believe in the best of people.  I still hold the belief that all humans are inherently good, and in the long run, goodness will outweigh the evil.  Sadly, I just don't see that happening anywhere in the near future.   Yes, I know that life in Somalia is not easy, but that gives no one the right to take another person's life...to take the lives of innocents who never harmed you in any way....to line them up and execute them rather than simply letting them go...which would have been the right thing to do...but we are not dealing with people who believe in doing right.

Since the beginning of time,  there have been those who only want peace and happiness and there has always been those who would seek to take that away. Today brings about a new generation of predators who take personal pleasure in preying on the innocent.  How does one even begin to understand the motivation for what the terrorists do?  Religion?  Poverty? Sorry, that's no excuse.  And then there are those who hate the United States.  Okay, so they don't like us, but does killing the innocents make it any better?

Sadly, the human race typically responds to evil by being evil.  Even more bewildering to me is that this is something we have observed throughout centuries of history;  we know it doesn't work .  We feed it, and perpetuate its power over the human race, our planet, and our experience.

So, how do we overcome evil?  Slowly, and one step at a time.  Peace comes from within, from our hearts and from our souls.  Ultimately, it all begins with us and the goodness we reflect out into the world.  And the more goodness within us, the more goodness there will be for our troubled world.  Peace begins with you. Thanks for letting me share.  This was not my original post.  Just had to get this off my chest.

Until they extend the circle of their compassion to all living things,
people will not themselves find peace.
Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Candle Magic

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. - Mother Theresa-

 I love candles; I always have.  Was a time long, long ago that I used to make candles. There is something so magical about them that we use them to invoke a mood, light up the darkness, or to send out prayers and cast spells.  We even use candles for their delightful scents.  It's a shame that hubby doesn't like them, but I cannot fault him on his beliefs.  His mom was of an old belief that candles invited evil spirits into the home, and hubby, just does not like them.  I don't believe that he actually takes his mom's beliefs literally as he is very open-minded, but you know how it is.  When you are raised a certain way, it sort of sticks to you whether you believe in it or not. Needless to say, I still find ways to use candles during my prayers or rituals...when hubby is not at home.

Candles have been used since ancient times to light up the darkness. The word candle is derived from the Latin word candere which means to shine, to gleam, brilliant whiteness.   And, while the first candles are thought to have been made by the ancient Egyptians who used rush lights of weeds or torches  soaked in hot tallow,  but, in truth, there is actually very little known about their origin.  It is the Romans, however, who are credited with developing the wick candle, using it to aid travelers at dark, and lighting homes and places of worship at night. 

Burning candles for magical purpose is probably one of the best methods for getting in touch with the powers of the subconscious mind, and most of us have already performed our first act of candle magic before we are two years old.  Blowing out our birthday candles is such a fun tradition, but blowing out the candles on our first birthday cake and making a wish is our first act of magic.  The earliest tradition of this stems from the ancient Greeks who baked round cakes to represent the Full Moon and took them to the temple of the Goddess.  There, they placed candles on the cake to make it appear as if it was glowing just like the moon.

Candles have been important in ceremonies and during festivals in many religions.  The earliest Pagans lit candles for mourning, love, and healing. 
In Christianity, they are believed to represent the light of Jesus. They are commonly found in pairs on either side of the altar. Votive candles are sometimes lit as an accompaniment to prayer.  During parts of certain services, the congregation will stand holding lit taper candles such as during Good Friday, the Lamentations, or on Holy Saturday, at funerals, or other memorial services.  Candles are lit by worshippers in front of icons in Orthodox and other churches.  In the Catholic church, one finds rows and rows of  of votive candles, also called vigil lights.  These are often placed near a statue or icon of Mother Mary indicating  that someone is praying about something in particular, either for themselves or on behalf of someone else.

The Jewish tradition of lighting candles on Friday night at sundown to bring in the Sabbath is called Shabbat.  To do it the traditional way,  move your hands in circles...three times over the candles...drawing in, towards you  that  special sense of Shabbat. Then, close your eyes and loosely cup them with your hands so your eyes are covered while you recite a special Jewish blessing.  During Hanukkah, the lighting of the menorah candles commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after its desecration by foreign  forces.   The Hanukkah menorah has nine candle holders. There are eight candles, one to be lit on each night of Hanukkah. The ninth is called the Shamash. This is the candle that is lit first and used to light the other candles.  The Jews also use a memorial candle which is lit and burned for 24 hours on the anniversary of the death of a loved one...or on April 30th to remember those who died in the Holocaust.

In Buddhism worshipers place candles before Buddhist shrines or pictures of the Buddha to show respect.  The light produced by the candles is said to represent the light of the Buddha's teachings. There is also the Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival which occurs at the start of the Buddhist Lenten period.  Huge white candles are paraded through town, each representing a local  temple, district, or other institution.

To the Hindus,  candles are a symbol of enlightenment and prosperity. Diyas or clay lamps are most frequently used in Hindu celebrations.
The Festival of Lights known as Diwali is the lighting of the small diyas to signify the triumph of good over evil. The even, which falls somewhere between mid-October and mid-November lasts for five days. Most people celebrating this holiday wear new clothes and share food with friends and family.

One of the easiest forms of magical practice is candle magic, and, as you can see,  anyone can practice it; we use it all the time.  It is not just for those who follow a certain religious or spiritual beliefs. Candle magic is for everyone.  They bring us out of the darkness and into the light.


There isn't enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.--Author Unknown

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy President's Day


Mother Nature sure can be fickle.  After 68 degree temperatures on Friday, we dropped down to the 30's on Saturday, but it was the winds that did everyone in.  It's been a long time since I've seen them that blustery for such a length of time.  They actually ripped my neighbor's awning right off her back porch....and frigid.  I cannot begin to explain how it felt when I turned the corner, and that blast of wind hit me.  It was one time I was glad to have a little weight on me, but...

...when all is  said and done, I cannot complain about this weekend.  After a day of food shopping and cooking on Saturday, Sunday was a day to do something nice for me, and despite the cold
temperatures, I went shopping for some new spring clothes.  And this time I made out like a champ.  For $120 I got 4 new bras, 6 blouses, a crystal necklace that I didn't need, but couldn't resist.  Also got a new pair of slippers and a purse.  Now, I can't wait for Spring to come so I can wear this stuff....


(Again my poor bush)

...but, I will definitely be waiting awhile for that one as you can see by the photos above.  Winter is just not ready to let go of its hold on us....as you can see in the above photos.   Glad it happened on a day off.  Been just lounging around in my jammies and watching a marathon  of Supernatural.  Don't know how I missed this show the first time around.  Holidays are nice, even if it is only one day.  I say that  does anyone remember back in the day when we had two holidays off instead of one?  Whose bright idea was it to combine the two?   So, even though the day is half over, hoping you all find something to do to take care of you.
 

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Mocassins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Musings

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends
I want to see.  The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon
the beauty and wonder of the world.  I hardly know which feeling leads,
wonderment or admiration.
--John Burroughs--


Hard to believe that another whole week has passed on by, but here we are, another weekend is upon us. Oh, where has the week gone.  Time seems to have slipped away from me, silent and unnoticed.  It seems year after year the days go by faster than I can count....and I never seem to have the time to do all the things that I want to do.  I have often thought about if I could just take the time off to do the things that are really important to me.

This Saturday will be devoted to cooking.  Yes, it is always rough and wears me down, but it does give me two weeks away from the stove, and with my odd hours at work, it makes the weekdays so much smoother, but sometimes, even just coming home from work and fixing the meals is too much for me.   Sometimes I just want to come home and do NOTHING, but sit back and enjoy the things I love.   But, responsibilities are a part of life, and it is easier to accept them than to fight against them.   Sunday I plan to spend a little money on myself...perhaps a new spring outfit to go with this wonderful weather.  Treating ourselves once in awhile is important.  It makes us feel good. 


I find that every day I seem to have fewer minutes at my disposal, and more and more I find that somewhere during all the work, I lose sight of what is important. Meaning, where is the meaning in our lives? Is it in what we achieve? Is that where our meaning lies? How often have you heard someone say "I've been so busy today, but I don't seem to have achieved anything?"... Something I have definitely said many times myself. Then one begins to feel guilty because one has nothing to show for the day, but, when you honestly think about it, why do we  always need to be achieving? Why not just spend the day mending the body and soul?  

Our souls, just like animals and plants, need air. In today's hectic society we sometimes neglect the feeding of our spirit.   We need to take time to nourish our soul by letting the world go on its way without us for awhile.  For those of us who work, this will be a long weekend with a Monday holiday.  Let's try to take just one day to feed and nourish our souls.

Enjoy your weekend.  May it be one of peace, love, rest, and a time to mend.


Enjoy yourself.
These are the good old days
you're going to miss in the years ahead.


~ Author Unknown ~

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Full Moon in Leo


According to the Native American tribes in the North and East, the February Full Moon is called the Snow Moon, and for the tribes that used this name for the January moon, it was called the  Hunger Moon, based on the scarcity of food during this season. Traditionally this was the month with the most snow leading to challenging hunting conditions so it is easy to see how they arrived at this name.  The Celts called it the Moon of Ice,  and the English called it the Storm Moon.  Some preferred to call it the Candles Moon because everyone, including those in the Southern Hemisphere, can relate to this name.

The Moon will wax to Full at 29 degrees  Leo on February 18th, and while all Full Moons are known to have a strong gravitational pull on the Earth and our human bodies, this Full Moon will be close to the Earth and closely aligned with both the Earth and the Sun.  This Full Moon will be conjunct the fascinating fixed star, Regulus...a royal fixed star that confers success.  It is the most important of all of the fixed stars and regarded almost as a planet. The ancients called constellation Leo, ruled by the Sun and the chief star of the heavens  the Royal Constellation because it was dominated by the  Regulus which sits 29 degrees Leo.  It is also called the Lion's Heart.   Regulus was named by Polish astronomer Copernicus; it is derived from the Latin word for king; hence, Regulus means Little King. This was from the belief that it ruled the affairs of the heavens...a belief  from at least 3000 years before our era. 
 
The fixed air of Aquarius dominates and blended with the bold and fiery Leo, this moon  marks a time of aspiration and charisma. Ruled by the Sun, Leo is full with the optimism of life energy, passion, and pleasure.  You may be feeling inspired to chase romance, be social, and generally just to help others. Leo brings with it a need to shine and be praised by others, but just like the Lion that symbolizes Leo, you may appear quite self-confident,  but deep down be yearning for approval and acknowledgment. Be sure to avoid melodramatic displays to grab the spotlight.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transformation

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own;
and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave,
it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy
that we can scarcely mark their progress.
Charles Dickens

(Right after the December storm)

(Monday Morning)

The other morning as I savored my morning coffee on my back porch, I began to think of transformation.  The ground itself is dead and bare, the trees naked with no blanket to shield them from the wind, but soon, this will all change.  The transformation of nature is both fascinating and inspirational.  This past winter has been one of the snowiest on record in my neck of the woods, and as the snow melts away, it  gives way to the hidden world beneath that awaits the yearly cycle of rebirth. Where once lay seemingly dead plants, newness takes its turn. Take the bush in the pictures above, for example.  Several weeks ago I thought it was beyond all hope; today, it is once again coming alive as nature begins to demonstrate again what a truly miraculous and amazing world we live in. 

...And, just as nature, life is a series of changes that mold us and shape us.  From the smallest to the most dynamic, there is constant change, and even the smallest of changes can lead us to transform our lives...just as nature transforms hers.  Follow the seasons and you will see the process of life played out.  From each season, we gather the seeds of wisdom to carry with us and help us through the next season. I am who I am today as a result of a series of transformations that ranged from leaving a life of victimization to a total change of career at midlife.  None of it was easy, and there were many times I wondered if change and transformation was really what I needed for my life was in chaos....
...yet, although we may, at times, feel that our life is in a state of chaos, it's important to remember that nothing ever happens chaotically because, like nature, and the changing of the seasons, there is always order and design in our changes. Growth is a part of life, and without change, there will be no growth.  

From the tiny acorn comes the mighty Oak.  This seed of potential is in each of us.  Nature is, indeed, our gift in life...the physical  manifestation of the true miracles, beauty and the complex simplicity in life. Spring is on its way with a renewal of all that died away in Autumn; it is a time of new beginnings which instills and renews within, a greater sense of hope, peace and appreciation for life and all it has to offer.

Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.
- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet is the Breath of Morn

Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds.--John Milton (Paradise Lost)

Most of you know that by nature I am a creature of the night.  I love the darkness, communing with nature when the rest of the world is fast asleep.  When I was young and single, it was easy to live that way, but as one grows older, has children, and new responsibilities, one must learn to change accordingly and embrace what we have.  And actually, it hasn't been that difficult for me.  One thing I have found as I grew older was that I need less sleep, so I can still enjoy the darkness as well as the beauty of the dawn. 

(Photo of early dawn in Brooklyn, New York.  Lovely, isn't it? It's wonderful to have a camera to catch these delights when they occur.)

According to an aboriginal sun myth, Wuriupranili is a solar goddess who awakens daily in Her camp in the East, lights a torch made out of bark... which becomes the first light of dawn...and and carries it across the sky from East to West.  Before setting out, She decorates Herself with red ochre, and the clouds of the sunrise are a reflection of the red ochre that She spills in the sky.  Upon reaching the west, She reapplies her paint, again spilling reds and yellows in the sky, before returning home underneath the earth, where Her torch warms the earth from below.  Well, yesterday, She really outdid Herself.

Watching the sunrise is one of the joys of nature that even we city folk can enjoy on a regular basis, and yesterday was such a splendid day.  Of course, to begin with, it was Valentine's Day, and I have to admit, I did overdo a wee bit with the candy; went to bed last night with a tummy ache.  But all in all, who could of asked for more!   Mother Nature couldn't have blessed us with a more enjoyable and refreshing day.  Spring was definitely in the air... blue sky, sun shining brightly, comfortable temperatures....a day when the boots and all the heavy gear could be left at home.   So, when I put on the morning news and saw it was actually 40 degrees when I climbed out of my bed, I slipped on my robe, grabbed my coffee and camera and headed out to my back porch...something I haven't been able to do in a long time...and thank goodness I did, because I was blessed with such a beautiful sunrise.

The soft sunrise as it breaks across the sky is such a delight to behold.  Each sunrise indicates a new beginning, a fresh start. It brings brightness to our lives as it inspires us to move from the darkness and begin a new day. It renews our opportunities of energy and hope. In the silence of the early morn, one finds themselves close to nature in the face of such serenity and tranquility.  And, when I enjoy those little pleasures in life, it fills my heart and spirit with peace.

Now even if you do not take it as an inspiration, view the sight of the sunrise to enjoy its beauty. It is an awe-inspiring and spectacular sight.  With Spring on the horizon, take some time to get outdoors and witness the sunrise.  Connect with its beauty and become one with it.  Think of the things that you can do today to make a real, valuable, and lasting difference in your life....and then do those things. Cherish this, and each morning that follows as a gift for yourself and those you love as the start of a new day, and a new you.

O holy virgin! clad in purest white, 
Unlock heaven's golden gates, and issue forth; 
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; 
let light Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring 
The honey'd dew that cometh on waking day. 
O radiant morning, salute the sun 
Roused like a huntsman to the chase, a
nd with Thy buskin'd feet appear upon our hills. 
O radiant morning, appear on our hills.
 --William Blake--

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day
Is a wonderful way
To make "I love you"
Easy to say'.

--Nicholas Gordon--  

In most parts of the world Valentine's Day is celebrated as a special day to cherish loved ones, especially a spouse or a lover, and when most of us think of Valentine’s Day, we naturally perceive it as a day of love, roses, cards, and chocolate covered kisses. But there is so much more to Valentine’s Day. For example, there is actually no agreement in how the day first began. February was once considered to be the beginning of Spring, and the Romans celebrated it with a young man's rite of passage to the god, Lupercus. February 14th was the eve of Lupercalia, when the names of young girls were written on paper and placed into jars. Young men would draw the name for their partner for the festival, and it was hoped that this might lead to romance. Others say this is a day to honor St. Valentine's death, while others believe that this was an attempt by the Christian church to Christianize the Pagan Lupercalia festival.

According to the story, it is believed that Emperor Claudius II ordered his soldiers not to get married because he believed marriage would negatively impacted their ability to fight...but there was a priest named Valentine who conducted secret weddings anyway. When Claudius realized what Valentine was doing, he ordered him to be executed. Valentine died on February 14, 269 A.D. Legend says that he left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter and signed it, "From Your Valentine".
 
Now, while Valentine’s Day may have have been named after a Christian saint,  the day itself has long had links to love and fertility. During the Middle Ages, the people in England and France held the belief that February 14th is the traditional day in nature when birds started to look for a mate. This concept soon gained ground amongst lovers, and they deemed that it should be a day of Romance; hence, they began exchanging love notes and simple gifts.
  
ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet.
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.

I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling place
And can return no more.

--John Clare--

Valentine's Day is acknowledged and celebrated in many cultures.  In Italy, Valentine's Day is  a day strictly for lovers. It is celebrated in the popular way of giving gifts and flowers.  It has also been a time when couples announce their engagements. Initially, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a Spring festival in Italy, and it was celebrated with festivities held in the open air.. Young people would gather in tree arbors or ornamental gardens and enjoy listening to music and reading of poetry. 

Valentine's Day is also very popular in Australia where they celebrate much like the US and Canada by doing things to strengthen their bonds and relationships with loved ones.   One interesting fact about Australia  is that the men seem to be more romantic and open about love and showing that love than the women.  Valentine's Day Festival is also celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm in France. People take opportunity of the occasion and express love to people close through them.  The history of Valentines Day has a strong association with France, and Valentine's Day cards are believed to have originated from here. 

In Scotland, this is a day of great celebration. People have small get-togethers and candlelight dinners.  Single Scottish men and women customarily become Valentines whenever they meet by a chance encounter on Valentine's Day.  A love-knot is a traditional gift given to a true love on that day.  Just as in many other countries, people in Britain express love for their beloved on this day by presenting them flowers, cards, chocolates and other special gifts.


Japan and Korea celebrate Valentine's Day in ways similar to each other.  On February 14th, the female is the one giving gifts to the man.  The customary gift is chocolate,  and women purchase it for every man close to them. No male is excluded--male friends, family, boss, and even male co-workers--but, of course, that special man in her life gets a larger, more expensive box.  The favor is returned on White Day which falls  on March 14th when  it becomes the male's turn to buy and give gifts to the women who gave them gifts.  In Korea, White Day is often when a man confesses his love for a woman. The holiday continues on, still another month later on Black Day, which is set aside for those who didn't have sweethearts on White Day.

South Africa also celebrates with giving gifts and showing love, and their celebrations can last an entire week. Young women celebrate the occasion Valentines Day by following the Roman festival of Lupercalia, and  during this festival these young girls pin their lovers name on their sleeves.

It is only recently that Valentine's Day has caught on in India.  However, it is mainly the young people celebrate the day.  The older Indian generation tends to view celebrating Valentine's Day as a Western custom and hesitates to celebrate it the way that the younger generation has recently begun---in  much in the same way Western culture does with chocolates, fresh flowers, and other little gifts.

It was about 18 years ago that I almost lost hubby.  He was so close to death.  We'd only been together about a year and a half, but we knew from the start we were soul mates.  One day we were waiting to see his doctor, and little old couple came in.  The two were obviously so much in love.  Hubby looked at me and said, "I wanted to grow old with you.  I wanted us to be like them."  And all I could say as the tears began to well was, "You will."  And a miracle occurred.  Hubby's disease went into remission and has remained so to this day.  The following poem reminds me of that day in the doctor's office. 

Growing Old Together
My, the years are flying by
I cannot slow them down;
What really makes them pleasant
Is the fact that you're around.

You're the bridge to happiness,
The only one I know;
Your love is all I live for,
I could never let you go.

Growing old is not so bad
When it comes to push or shove,
As long as you're beside me
We will always be in love.
The years have been so kind to you
And so well you've done your part;
The proof is in the 'pudding'
By the love that's in your heart.
Years have come and years have gone
And still you make me sigh;
It's true that we'll grow older
But our love will never die.
--Fay Shaw Kinsey--






Friday, February 11, 2011

Taking Time to Smell the Roses

We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget
to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the
people we meet on the way.  Appreciation is a wonderful
feeling; don't overlook it.
--Unknown--

As the weekend once again approaches, it is time for us to slow down and take time to embrace each passing moment; alas, in today's fast-paced society, this is  something many of us fail to do.  We are always rushing to get somewhere and in doing so, become so preoccupied with our destination,  that we fail to appreciate the actual journey itself.  It is so easy to forget to take the time to simply breathe and appreciate life. I am definitely guilty of this.  Well, maybe not so much anymore because age has slowed me down,  but there was a time that hubby didn't even want to take walks with me.  Put it this way, if it were a race, I would be at the finish line and he only making the first lap.  That's the way I was with everything.  Focus on the destination...forget the journey.  Hubby used to tell me all the time, "Slow down.  The store is not going any place, and you are missing so much. Take some take time to smell the roses."

Hubby was right in so many ways.  The truth is, always being in a hurry doesn't always get you were you need to be.  Oh, it may get you where you have to be, but that's not always where you need to be. I have to go to work.  I have to go to the store.  I always had to be on the move when I really should have been doing is appreciating life.  Yes, it's true, we do have to work, and we do  have to eat so we must go to the store.   But what about after work, or after we come home from the store?  What do we do then?   Is it really necessary that we  continuously busy ourselves with endless tasks,  or do we pause and take the time to appreciate our loved ones and the beauty of the universe that surrounds us?  Do we ever take the time to smell the roses?

Taking time out of our busy lives to smell the roses is just another way of saying that it is so important for us to pause now and then throughout our hectic days to appreciate all the wondrous things that are right in front of our nose. A smile from a store clerk when we stop to buy our coffee or a cheerful good morning from our neighbor can act as a catalyst to turn our negatives into positives. By slowing down and paying more attention to the little things that we pass on our journey, our lives will feel that much more meaningful when we reach our destination. 

Oh, there are times, I will admit, that I do miss that little pep in my step and wish I could keep up like I used to, but the trade off is well worth it.  Since I have slowed my step down. I've noticed that a neighbor down the block has a magnificent Holly tree in their front yard.  I've lived here going on 12 years, and this year is the first time I noticed it.  That just goes to show how much I have missed.  So, with the weekend upon us, be sure to take the time to smell the roses.  You never know what  you will find.

Life just is.  You have to flow with it.
Give yourself to the moment.  Let it happen.
--Jerry Brown--

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Audit Time and the Crunch is On

Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do can leave you feeling totally undone. --Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, I'd Kill for a Cookie

 It's audit time here....and a surprise one, no less.  Anyone who has ever worked in a social service agency knows what that means and the stress it can cause.  All of our work will be under the magnifying glass, and we will be walking around on pins and needles.  In fact, that part of it has already begun. Yesterday was one of the most hellish days I have had since I began working here. To begin with, the boiler is broken.  Not that it is off; no, it is far from it.  It blasts heat, and there is no way to regulate it. Imagine it being 25 degrees outdoors, and you have the window wide open and the air conditioning on high, and still you are hot...  

...and then there is the nit-picking to deal with.  That's the worst.  The bosses become so anxious and want everything to be perfect, so they find all these little things that aren't really wrong and insist that you change them, a date here, a word or two there...and by the end of the day, your head is spinning, your clothing disheveled, your hair flying this way and that way.  Why, one of my clients came for his session at 4 pm, and his first question when he saw me was "Are you all right?  What happened?"  It was then I discovered that my mascara had run, and I looked like I had a black eye.  It's about this time that  you begin to question yourself, "Is it all really worth it?", and you wonder about the next day....and doing it all again...And the truth of the matter is, it is all for naught.  The auditors are going to find something wrong no matter what you do.  That is what they are paid to do...

...and the truth of the matter is, imperfection is a fact of life; there is no such thing as perfection.  In fact, I think it would be a pretty boring world if everything and everyone in it was perfect.   I'm not saying that I am happy with everything there is, and if I had my way there would be no more hunger and wars and killing and destruction of the planet.  What I am saying is that, if we as human beings had nothing to strive for, what would we do?  We certainly would have no need to read because there would be nothing for us to learn.  My job, as well as all of the others in the helping professions, would be eliminated because with everyone perfect, there'd be no one out there to help.  As I always say, without the darkness there could be no light.  In other words, would truly not enjoy our perfection because we'd have nothing to compare it to. 

Think about it.  Everyone would be essentially the same. We would all have the same opinions, look pretty much the same and act the same. There would be no variety, no color and no debate.  If we were all perfectly happy with the hand that we had been dealt there would be no ambition or progress,  and it is these factors that allow us to integrate, discover and grow.

Human imperfection is the sum of our whole; it is what makes each of us unique. It is our imperfections that  keep us alive and instill a desire for better things, a desire to learn, and we need to learn all the lessons that life can possibly offer us. If we were perfect, all we would do would be to quietly enjoy our perfection; there would be no need to create anything new. Accepting our imperfections and limitations simply means accepting ourselves as we are.  Acknowledging our limitations as well as our abilities will lead to the realization of our human spirit and help us to reach our full potential.


The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur
when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.
For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort,
that we are likely to step out of our ruts
and start searching for different ways
or truer answers.


~ M. Scott Peck ~

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Respect...Sorry, Sort of A Rant

I'm not concerned with your liking
or disliking me.  All I ask is that you
respect me as a human being.

-Jackie Robinson-

When I walked down the subway stairs yesterday after a long, hard day at work,  an older gentleman held the door open for me.  As is my habit, I picked up my steps and  looked at him and smiled, "Thank you."  Then I did my usual roundabout to see if someone was coming, and happened upon a gentleman maybe 15 feet from the door.  I don't know exactly how far enough away from the door he was, but I did know that, had I let the door shut, it would not have slammed in his face.  The man saw me holding the door and knew I wasn't going to slam it in his face, but didn't bother pick up his pace until he reached the door; then, he picked up his step and squeezed on through, not bothering to take the door from me,  leaving me standing there holding the door like I was 'his' personal door person.  Not even a 'thank you' from him.  Of course, he had to hear my rather sarcastic, "Thank you and you're welcome."  You don't know how much that kind of stuff irks the heck out of me.

Respect and manners...where have they gone?  Is there any one of us who does not wish to have a little basic respect?  After all, when one respects others, shouldn't they receive the same?  Isn't it true that when we are respected, we know that our role in society is appreciated? I was always under the impression that we desired, and even worked for respect.   "Respect your body." "Respect other cultures, religions, beliefs."  "Think of the next person." "Respect his/her feelings." "Respect your elders."  Heck we use the word respect so often, but  do we even know what respect is anymore?  I know most of us do, but what of the younger generation.  Do they know?   Did anyone bother to take the time to teach them what respect really means?

I remember that back in my day,  we were taught manners, in school,  and, when I had my children I made sure I passed those manners on down to them. And it didn't stop there. I not only taught them; I also expected them to use what they had learned .  On the subway, when they were babes, they were on my lap, unless the seat next to me was available.   I see mothers today  allow a toddler to lie down on the seat and take up enough space for three tired adults to sit.  And, when my children were older, they were allowed to sit only if there were seats available for an adult...especially an older adult.  My children were taught to use the words, 'please, thank you, you're welcome', as well as to hold doors for others.  My boys are not perfect, and they do make plenty of mistakes, but manners are one thing I drilled into their heads.

I find it so sad that respect and manners seem to be such a lost art these days. Treating others with decency and respect should be something that happens naturally. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.  But that doesn't happen often in today's fast paced society as  we hurriedly rush through every aspect of our lives, forgetting the feelings of others along the way. Sometimes I don't think we mean to slam a door in someone's face; I think we just aren't paying that much attention to the next person as we think about something we have to do at our job or how we are going to pay our rent.  We forget that we are not alone in the world, that there are others around us.  

Now, with that being said, I would like to relate a little story of something that happened a few years back.  This went beyond manners and rudeness. It had been a long day on the job, and my back had been aching on and off to the point where the walk to the subway was torture.  The train itself was packed, no available seats, but as I moved into the train I heard a seated teen-age girl ask her friends what stop they were getting off at, and it turned out to the next stop. So, I inched my way down closer and waited.  The next stop when the girl got up, I sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.  It was then that I overheard the girl,  young enough to be my granddaughter smirk and say, " Look, at that lady.  She couldn't wait to grab my seat".   And then they laughed at me.  I tell you, the whole thing was pretty sick.   It really makes one wonder.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy."  I have to believe that this girl and her friends actually didn't know any better.  It was obvious that respect is not even a part of their vocabulary.  And who is to blame?  Parents.  Schools.  Obviously, someone is not doing their job.  The basic tenet of manners is the ability to think of others before yourself. Such simple acts such as opening a door for  someone or helping a person across the road or offering to carry their shopping can make someone's day. 
 
But thankfully, all is not lost.  I'd like to close by sharing another little story with you.  This happened not too long ago, the day after the first  big snowstorm.  I had come up the escalator and discovered there was no place to go; the up escalator was all that was there, and there snow was piled sky high all around me. The only way out was to climb over the mountain of snow that blocked the crosswalk.  I panicked and looked in all directions, but there was literally nowhere to go.  I started to cry. "I can't do it."  I said aloud, not realizing that I had said it aloud.  It was then I heard, "Yes, you can, I will help you."  I turned, the young woman took my arm, and not only helped me over the mountain, but also across the slippery street.  And that was a gesture I will never, ever forget.  Young lady, wherever and whoever you are, you gave an old lady faith that all is not lost to the world, and for that, I thank you.

The principal thing children are taught by hearing these lullabies is respect. They are taught to respect certain things in life and certain people.  By giving respect, they hope to gain self-respect and through self-respect, they gain the respect of others.  Self-respect is one of the qualities my people stress and try to nurture, and one of the controls an Indian has as he grows up.  Once you lose your self-respect, you just go down.--Henry Old Coyote