Checks and Balances

“Talk between women friends is always therapy…” 

Jayne Anne Phillips

I have been lucky this past week to have had the opportunity to have lunch with two new friends.

We shared old stories from our past, compared daily challenges we face because we’re now home not building careers, and talk openly about what we plan and dream for our futures.

The power of these luncheons has surprised me. Our maturity and past experiences seem to accelerate our friendships. I feel as though I’ve discovered a strong and ever-expanding circle of new old friends.

All of this could not have happened at a better time to help balance out the stress of filling out tax paperwork. It amazes me at the amount of data requested and how it all fits into some rather foggy and mystical equation. I’m not sure this is at all what the founding fathers had in mind.

This afternoon, I raise my glass to my friends, to my Michael for working so hard on the taxes, and I give thanks for my many blessings.

“This is a question too difficult for a mathematician. It should be asked of a philosopher”(when asked about completing his income tax form)” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Little Messengers

An Irish Blessing:

“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes;

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears;

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full years instead of your lean;

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth;

Love your neighbor as much as yourself.”

Sometimes the littlest things bring me the most joy.

I picked up a small bag of bird seed this weekend to use in a feeder I’d found at one of our sales. I wasn’t ready to invest any more money until I saw feasting birds.

It didn’t take long.

Within a few hours there was a frenzy of busy birds–obviously my birds are rather shy and decided to recruit one little bird friend for the attached photo.

Winter is hard on the psyche even in the milder climates. I needed some help in seeing and appreciating the marvels of nature surrounding me every single day.

I believe my perfect messengers have arrived.

“Clearly, one of the major obstacles to our experience of gratitude is the habit we have of sleepwalking through life. The truth is that we are never lacking for blessings in our lives, but we are often lacking in awareness and recognition of them.” ~ Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

New Old Friends

“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” 

Jim Henson, Favorite Songs from Jim Henson’s Muppets

The little library in my new home town has some great free programs open to the community. The topics offered have bits of knowledge for everyone. I cannot imagine my life without the opportunities my library gives me.  It saddens me to know public libraries are struggling. Please, if you are fortunate to have one in your area, take the time to visit and support it.

Today’s featured lecturer introduced genealogy research. A long with a lot of free information she shared her experiences building her family tree. From her presentation and the questions asked from the audience, I learned so much in a short amount of time. I was reminded sharing real working knowledge accelerates the learning process–even this extreme book lover appreciates the fact there are some things you cannot learn from reading the book–you need an actual teacher.

The best part of the day was having lunch with my friend, Judi. We are close in age and share the fact we both grew up in the Midwest. I’ve forgiven her for being born in Nebraska and she has forgiven me for being an Iowan–college football season is always interesting.

Being Midwesterners transplanted to Texas comes with some challenges. Yes, it’s true, Texas really is its own country with its set of unspoken traditions often confusing to those from other parts of the country. Our conversation today was all over the place. At times, we did not have to put feelings into words. We had both found a person who had an open mind and an understanding heart.

Thanks, Judi, for my first Texas heart rock. It is not surprising to me it showed up at your house. The Universe knew exactly where it needed to go and how to get it there. Thank you for sharing your stories, for lingering over lunch, and for renewing my soul.

“So when you’re cold

From the inside out

And don’t know what to do,

Remember love and friendship, 

And warmth will come to you.” 

Stephen Cosgrove, Gnome from Nome

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

Valentine’s Day

This is my post from last Valentine’s Day. Hope you enjoy the re-run. Love you!

 

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone how much you love, how much you care.”
Aulic Ice

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

At one time I’m sure I knew the history of Valentine’s Day. This line of questioning is just one more example of wondering about things I once knew…

To refresh my memory I searched History.com to see what I could find.

I learned February has been celebrated as the month of romance for a long time; no one really knows the true origin of how February 14th became known as St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church recognizes three St. Valentines. All three were martyred.

Father Valentine was a priest who served The Church in the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men after declaring single men made better soldiers than married men with families. Valentine saw this edict as unjust and continued to marry young lovers. When this practice was discovered, Father Valentine was executed.

Another story talks about one other Valentine who may have been killed because he was helping Christians escape the brutality of the Roman prisons. This man was also put to death for his actions.

One more legend has it that another Valentine was in prison and sent the first “Valentine” greeting after falling in love with a young woman. This young lady visited him often in prison and may have been the daughter of his jailor. Before Valentine’s death, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” Interesting, isn’t it, that this phrase is still used today.

There are many stories and myths about the origins of Valentine’s Day. Some people believe it commemorates the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. Others feel St. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of February in an effort by The Catholic Church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, celebrated February 15th.

Lupercalia is a pagan fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and the Roman founders, twins Romulus and Remus.

At the beginning of the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gather at a sacred cave where Romulus and Remus were cared for by the she-wolf, Lupa. In this cave, the priests would sacrifice a goat, a symbol of fertility, and a dog, a symbol of purification. The hides of both were cut into strips, dipped into the sacrificial blood, and taken out into the streets.  These strips were used in a slapping motion on both women and crop fields, believing this practice would increase fertility.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day was first celebrated by all classes in the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small gifts or handwritten notes. By 1900, printed cards began to replace handwritten letters thanks to the improvements to printing technology.

Valentine’s Day cards in the United States probably began in the early 1700s. In 1840, Esther Howland, known as “Mother of the Valentine” began selling the first mass-produced cards. Ms. Howland made her creations out of real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures called “scrap.”

In 1913 Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began producing Valentine’s Day cards. Today the American Greeting Card Association reports we send 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards, second only to Christmas cards, a holiday where we send 2.6 billion cards. 85% of those Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by women.

Such an interesting little bit of history to share. Thanks for learning with me today.

I hope your day was filled with love and happiness.

“Love is an afternoon of fishing when I’d sooner be at the ballet.
Love is eating burnt toast and lumpy graving with a big smile.
Love is hearing the words ‘You’re beautiful’ as I fail to squeeze into my fat jeans.
Love is refusing to bring up the past, even if doing so would be a slam dunk to prove your point.
Love is your hand wiping away my tears, trying to erase streaks of mascara.
Love is the warm hug that extinguishes an argument.
Love is a humbly uttered apology, even if not at fault.
Love is easy to recognize but so hard to define; however, I think it boils down to this…
Love is caring so much about the feelings of someone else, you sacrifice whatever it takes to help him or her feel better.
In other words, love is my heart being sensitive to yours.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wish

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 

 

 

Self Love

“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” 

Madonna  

I’ve discovered a new podcast, Maria Shriver’s, Meaningful Conversations.

Don Miguel Ruiz was her guest on the episode I heard this morning. I recognized his name from the book, The Four Agreements.

By the end of this podcast I’d know Don Miguel had more to share with me.

Today’s conversation revolved around the true meaning of love. The discussion was based on another book written by Don Miguel, The Mastery of Love.

My immediate thought was, okay, this is a Valentine’s Day show. I continued to listen and was pleased when the conversation worked its way to the concept of self-love.

I realized Don Miguel had a different way of describing how and why we develop our love for self. The basic concept was the same ol’ same ol’. The attention grabbers were his word choices and metaphors. This combination unlocked another door. My gut told me to pay attention. I became aware what I’d simply accepted as truth in the past was starting to come into a much sharper focus.

The foundation I need to secure my journey to “self” continues to expand, one little brick at a time. As I learn and grow, new pathways open and my next teacher arrives. With their support I know I can journey on.

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!” 

Charlie Chaplin

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

Time Travel

“Childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul.” 

Ivan Doig, The Whistling Season

Memories.

I’m so surprised at how unexpected things can stir up such powerful ones.

My latest trip down memory lane was sparked by three little bowls I found at an estate sale. As I held them I was immediately transported back in time to Aunt Marie’s house in Omaha.

In my mind I saw myself standing in the little kitchen in front of the large farm-style sink, drying dishes. The person who dried the dishes had to put things away. It became my job because I was the tallest. Little did I know then just how much I should have enjoyed that title! Putting dishes away was not an easy task nor was it something you could do quickly.  This was especially difficult due to the fact all the other kids in the neighborhood ate earlier. This meant we could hear them all running and we were being left out. The pressure was on me because no one could go out until we were all done.

To begin the process I had to duck in order to open the wide white cabinet door. Once open I was always amazed at the stacks and stacks of mis-matched china. My twelve-year old know it all mind could not grasp why anyone would choose to have all those different types, colors, and shapes of cups, saucers, and plates.

Today I realize and appreciate the fact that this massive cupboard held not only the original family china but pieces of sets from every family member who had died or moved away from Omaha.

As we got older, my sisters and I visited Marie when we could all get away for a long weekend. Looking back, it’s disappointing to me my young adult self did not have the insight to ask more questions about family and get details about that treasure trove of dishes. Now the dishes are gone as well as those incredible story tellers.

But, by the grace of God, I have physical reminders of Marie. Several times during the day I get to hold each one and thank God for her and for all she did for my family.

I pray she can hear me because I cannot imagine where any of us would have ended up without her.

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” 

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

A Daily Gift

A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. It bothers you, not because you have given it too much meaning, but because God did. This is the type of person you don’t have to fight for because you can’t get rid of them and your heart doesn’t want them to leave anyways.” 

Shannon L. Alder

I’ve been thinking about my friends these past few days.

Getting older is not easy. I think in order to balance that out, God gave us the gift of friendship. If you’re lucky, you’ve been blessed with lifelong friends.

For the past nine months I’ve started my day with morning chats. These texts began early last summer as a way to stay in close contact with a friend going through some tough times. It didn’t take long to realize I could reach out to others. These texts continue to grow becoming a very important part of my daily routine.

I have been blessed with a wonderful group of friends. I get to “talk” with many of them every morning, reaching out whenever I have time. There’s no interruption to anyone’s busy day and they can respond whenever it works for them. It’s a daily gift for all of us.

Try yourself this weekend. Set aside a few minutes to reach out to those you love. It will warm your heart and may be what everyone needs to brighten these gloomy wintry days.

A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, “Isn’t that beautiful,” or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.” 

Henri J.M. Nouwen

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

Recharging

“Each wave that rolls onto the shore must release back to the ocean. You are the same. Each wave of action you take must release back to the peace within you. Stress is what happens when you resist this natural process. Everyone needs breaks. Denying this necessity does not remove it. Let yourself go. Realize that, sometimes, the best thing to do is absolutely nothing.” 

Vironika Tugaleva

Today became a day to linger over coffee, watch wildlife, and take it easy.

I had some great visitors.

The little brown-eyed doe I wrote about a few weeks ago is still visiting us. Her front leg has stabilized and she is putting some weight on it as she makes her way across the fields. She keeps up with the rest of her herd and runs like nothing ever happened to her. She is an amazing example of determination.

The traditional bird house had two different birds putting a bid in for it today. A little wren and a titmouse had a rather serious discussion about who had first rights on the new little abode. The last time I checked it appeared the very vocal little wren had won.

Two yellow finches, a male and female, found the thistle seed. Made me wonder if they would find the little Hobbit bird house.

It was a restful, peace-filled day with Mother Nature entertaining me and recharging my spirit. I am blessed and grateful.

“Authenticity is not the search for uniqueness. An oak tree does not try to become an oak tree. A cactus does not try to become a cactus. All living things simply reach for nourishment – they reach for sun, reach for water, reach their roots deeper into the ground. By being open to receiving what they need, they become unique effortlessly. So let yourself fall open. Forget about crafting yourself a unique personality. Just allow. Allow in love. Allow pain. Allow desire. Allow learning. Allow healing. Allow frustration. Allow uncertainty. Allow yourself to experience what you must experience and learn what you need to learn, so that your uniqueness can emerge organically.” 

Vironika Tugaleva

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

Hindsight

Pay attention to your patterns. 

The ways you learned to survive may

not be the ways you want to continue 

to live.

Heal and shift.

~Unknown

Hindsight–sometimes the view is a difficult one.

I’m learning as I journal and journey through my past, some of the biggest insights come from the smallest things–things I’d missed or things I was not ready to see.

It takes time and persistence.

There are days when I have to hit pause and let things sit in my head for a while.

Remind myself I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

Oh, so many lessons to learn. It’s a good thing I have a very patient soul.

 

A Prayer for Living Up to the Best in Our Souls

You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer. Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts. Thank You, God, for the power to grow. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration 

I am…

B..simply being…

~Peace~

Today I am so grateful to Jo Heiple Thedens for allowing me to use another one of her wonderful photos. Your art nourishes my Iowa roots. Thank you.

 

Foundations

“Your inner strength is your outer foundation” 

Allan Rufus

Haven’t we all looked back on something in our past and wondered why in the world we did what we did? Just what was my motivation?

I’ve been doing a lot of questioning lately which made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.

It’d been a long time since I’d really thought about any of that and honestly, I’d never ever looked at it while examining certain parts of my past.

Remembering the first level of the pyramid was pretty easy because it’s so basic. At the physiological level we all work to meet our basic needs. Until our needs for good air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, and enough sleep are met, we cannot move onto satisfying our other needs. Once those needs are successfully met, we are ready to move onward and upward.

Safety is the next level and the second of the two levels designated as the basic needs.  After we have food and water, we can begin working on finding a home, a job, and ensuring good health.

Level three in the hierarchy is love or our social needs level. After establishing a safe haven we’re ready for friends and finding a place where we belong. It is at this stage when we feel the need to be part of a group, are open to accepting others, and accept being part of that group.

Esteem is word for level four or the level of respect. At this level we acquire a sense of self and the awareness of self achievement. At this stage we are gain the ability to respect others and ourselves.

Level five is the level of full potential. The words Maslow used to describe this level were self actualization–words that sound so strong to me. It is at this level where we reach peace. We are relaxed and accept ourselves for what we are and no longer care what others think of us. We feel safe and secure enough to be truly creative.

After reviewing the five levels, I had a better understanding of what my motivations were during certain times in my past. It was easier for me to appreciate why my world became so unstable when my mom died, after my divorce, or during those first months after I relocated to Colorado and why it took so long to recover.

My reading served as a constructive review as well as a gentle reminder knowledge mixed with a little time is a very powerful thing.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

~Maya Angelou

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace and knowledge to all~