Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Losing It

The Mystery within...
I thought I was doing a fairly good job of keeping myself together in these trying pandemic times until I lost it. 

Rare March sunshine was brightening that revelatory day. It led me to hang my freshly washed sheets and pillowcases out on the clothesline to dry in a sunny breeze. I put a lawn chair out and was about to sit down and revel in the warm rays when I was accosted by a wave of poison in the air sprayed by lawn service workers four doors south of me. I was jolted into a rage.  It didn’t help that a few days earlier, neighbors on both sides of me, had their lawn “serviced”. I stormed down the sidewalk toward the offending workers. The level of my rage scared me. But I felt it as a metaphor for all the chaos that is going on in our world.

We don’t need a monoculture, carcinogenic carpet, surrounding our homes. We need a healthy dose of biologic diversity, not only in our lawns, but also in our human communities. We need more human diversity in our religions and governments putting forth a range of ideas, and a genuine willingness to learn from one another. Especially, we all need to learn the skilled art of compromise. 

We need fair maps, not gerrymandering, that subvert opportunities for compromise. We need to be prudent in how we spend our money, not on excesses that pollute our earth, but spending where it is good for the environment and one another. We need equitable tax distribution where everyone pays their fair share, and we need to remove the status of corporations as citizens. We need leaders that promote unity, not division, who have deep concern for the environment and one another. We need to live more wisely from our hearts as well as our heads.

Life is paradoxical. Losing it can help us find our place in the world. Please vote as if all life depends on you. It does.  

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Breaking for Others

The Mystery within...

I am hoping this post is the beginning of my return to a more regular schedule of reflection and writing about the important things in life that find me. Surgeries, two weeks apart in January, on some troublesome veins in each of my legs have slowed me down. Recovery is progressing. I am reminded patience is a virtue.

Walking is the recommended activity to aid my recovery, which I gratefully do everyday outside with my sweet boy, yellow lab, Oliver. We are currently restricted to sidewalk leash walks. We both miss our trek across the bridge spanning the river to the welcoming woods on the other side. The anticipation of our eventual return sustains me for now. 

We walked to the post office the other day, a departure from our now usual route around the quiet neighborhood that also includes a stretch of bike trail. I knew walking to the post office would be easier than the return because the cold, strong north wind at our back would be very unpleasant to face walking home. I was thrilled we caught a brief break in traffic at the busy highway we had to cross that runs through town and pushed on to mail the phone bill.   

The cold wind was worse than I imagined on the return, and at the highway, when traffic to my right had a brief break, traffic to my left was a steady stream of cars, and then it was vice a versa. I felt a little panicky with the icy buffeting wind in my face and the rush of people driving bye. And then there was a break in the traffic to my left, but I could not move fast enough to beat the cars coming from the right until miraculously the lead driver of a long stream of cars stopped and waved me on to cross. My heart leapt with gratitude. Oliver and I hurried across the road as I waved a sincere thank you to the kind driver.

The rest of the way home the kindness of that driver warmed and informed me. I thought how often it is we rush through life not seeing others who need a break, or we are just too busy to care. There are so many critical issues of social justice at stake in our world, our country, and our local communities that beg us to stop and reflect on others needs, and give them a brake. Ultimately we are better off when we are all better off.

What if we all braked for others more often?  


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Troublesome People

The Mystery within...
Troublesome people are troubled people. I know this because I have been troubled of late and I became troublesome for another. My awareness gifted me with the opportunity to apologize. As I was apologizing I began to cry because sometimes life just feels overwhelming. My tears were a gift, cathartic for me, and they elicited true empathy from the one whom I had given a hard time. Through the phone line, I heard the gift of sincere empathy in her voice. 

When gifted with the awareness of being troublesome, I highly recommend an apology from the heart. It just might gift the other with an expression of true empathy. And then life no longer feels overwhelming.

“Adversity mutates and evolves.” I found that quote in notes I took during time spent at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 at the Christine Center in northern Wisconsin.  There, a diverse group of souls spent time releasing 2019 and welcoming 2020. It was a wonderful way to say good-bye to the past and welcome a new year of learning. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Darkness and Light

The Mystery within...
“The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to finally live it.” Those lines ended Richard Rohr’s 12/17/19 daily reflection. I wrote them down on a small card so they can find me again to remind me to live it. 

World news that evening did a story on a camp overflowing with 18,000 refugees fleeing oppression. I stood transfixed, watching and overwhelmed by heart wrenching suffering of the children and their parents in that camp. I was grateful I finished writing and mailing my year-end checks to charities, but the magnitude of need worldwide made my efforts seem insignificant.

The 12/17/19 Women’s Older Wisdom blog was titled, “Coping with Political Despair”. It began with this quote, “Activism is the greatest antidote to despair.” So I was grateful my letter to the editor titled, “Politics and Spirituality” was published in the December 19 edition of my local paper. (See Sacred Connections post, November 25 entry.)

On December 19 I was touched by hope listening to and watching Democrats debate who among them will be the best option to return fairness in government through just taxes; acknowledging we all belong and have intrinsic value regardless of our abilities; and understand the way to freedom, equality and justice is through teamwork. The Democrats' dialogue gave me hope for our country after suffering through the impeachment rebuttals. And I am reminded respectful dialogue is essential in any endeavor for change.  

Life is relational. We learn from own light and darkness and the light and darkness of others. 

What if we each played our small part to bring about needed change in how we allow ourselves to be governed, not alone, but together through teamwork.  Justice and equality in America can then be spread more easily throughout the world.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Living Life

The Mystery within...
November 27 to December 1, 2019

Wednesday and Thursday were two days of cooking, sharing meals, and socializing around the Thanksgiving holiday that left me exhausted before bed each night. Friday, Oliver had his follow-up vet appointment that left me bummed out with his  prognosis and on-going restrictions. And Saturday I took my first walk in the woods in over two weeks, without Oliver. I felt separate and alone, akin to when someone close has just died. And Saturday night I read from a book titled, Miracles and Mysteries Witnessed by Nurses, edited by Jean Watson, of stories of seriously ill adults and children, and either their mysterious cures or miraculous acceptance of their impending deaths. Those nurses stories put perspective on the vet’s recommendation that Oliver loose 25 pounds and only go on short leash walks to give his ligaments time to heal and possibly avoid corrective surgery.

Sunday, there was a cold, light mist falling when I took Oliver on his leash walk. As we walked it occurred to me that after I took him home I could ride my bike to the woods. But then the mist turned to a steadier cold rain and I had second thoughts about biking. But then the rain turned to big white flakes that melted when they hit the pavement so I put on my bike helmet, road to the woods, parked at its edge where I found a new walking stick to steady me on the path of slippery wet leaves that were now accumulating big white flakes of snow. As I walked the feeling of separate aloneness returned. I prayed for both my and Oliver’s miraculous acceptance of our restrictions and a mysterious cure. 

It’s only a little over a mile round trip bike ride to the woods and back and about a mile walk around the woods, so I am hoping the weather will continue to offer opportunities to bike there and back. I gained four pounds in the two weeks of missed walks and the continued biking will help keep my legs in shape for my impending surgery come January. In a previous post titled, “Being Present”, I wrote: “It occurs to me life is like the weather—always changing—and requiring us to change in response.”

Monday, December 2 to Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I’m feeling less guilty about skipping days of written reflection. Not sure if that is good or bad or neither. Are days too short? Am I trying to do too much? Wishing I had more energy to do it all. Or is everything just as it should be?

I spent this morning at the Ozaukee County Court House with friends petitioning the county Board of Supervisors to allow a referendum on the spring 2020 ballot proposing an end to gerrymandering of voting districts following the 2020 census. When I got up to the microphone to speak I told the Board of Supervisors the last time I appeared before them I was holding my first grandchild, who is now driving and looking to buy a house, when I asked that they approve a proposal to acquire Lion’s Den Gorge, a beautiful piece of creation on Lake Michigan’s shoreline near Grafton that needed protection from development and opened for all to enjoy. I thanked them for their decision back then on behalf of my grandchildren, all children, and for myself who now enjoy its beauty. I then asked that they please allow the people of Ozaukee County a voice through a referendum on the spring 2020 ballot proposing an end to gerrymandering districts following the 2020 census to protect our democracy for us and the children.

There are three women now on the County Board, none when I appeared back in the late 1990’s. I was so proud of them. Each spoke eloquently against a board member proposal to indefinitely defer our request for a ballot referendum. We left the meeting with a glimmer of hope since the indefinite was changed to defer to the January 15 meeting, which would still allow time for the people of Ozaukee County to have a referendum, a voice on the spring ballot, to propose an end to gerrymandering of voting districts. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Sacred Connections

The Mystery within...
Thursday, November 21, 2019

A bumper sticker caught my eye and went straight to my heart today.  It said, "Believing in her worth she succeeded."  

Friday, November 22, 2019

My bumper sticker sighting yesterday brought back the memory of another bumper sticker that changed the direction of my life and opened me to the world of paradox and the power in reflection. It said, "Silence feeds abuse." In God Never Hurries I wrote:  

"Silence is a both/and thing. It is golden when I curb my ego and silently accept another's shortcomings in the name of kindness. It is a gift when it leads me to reflect on the messages in my life. But silence also feeds abuse, and as Anne LaMont writes in Bird by Bird, we are only as sick as our secrets. 

Believing in my own worth became the source of my courage to tell the truth. I believe my heart healed with the truth of my worthiness. 

Isn't it amazing the power that can come from reflecting on bumper stickers?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today my heart felt significant turmoil after reading claims of political righteousness that couldn't be further from the truth. I was so upset I could not sleep even though I was very tired. So I got out of bed and drafted a letter to the editor of my two local papers and my heart quieted. 

It still surprises me how negative events can spark positive thought and action.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Letter to the editor:

Politics and Spirituality

Politics is an inevitable journey that can destroy or transform the world. I believe we are at a critical crossroads in our human development and how we vote will determine our progress or decline as human beings. Please vote as if every person and all of the earth is sacred, because the earth and we are sacred.

Spirituality is a profound sense of belonging to one another and the earth. Spirituality is about love and love yearns to transform the world. Love doesn't vote to maximize self-interest but looks to what serves us all. The Spirit of Love expands notions of private morality and makes us more tolerant and forgiving beings. 

Be engaged with the critical issues of our time. I invite you to come to Ozaukee County Democrats' monthly meetings the third Wednesday of each month at the Saukville Village Hall from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. We are a friendly group of perfectly imperfect people working together to improve life for all and protect our Mother Earth.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

I am so aware of how fortunate I am to be living in a democracy, albeit a struggling one, and having others who support me in this struggle. Wherever you may live, find others to support you in your struggles because we are all deeply connected.    

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Comforting Connections

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Mystery within...
As I closed the living room shades against the unseasonably cold night my memory was jogged by the near full moon’s blue glow on the early cover of snow. I remembered a nighttime winter walk with my son Joe and our then beagle-cocker mix, Lydia. I wrote of that walk in my first memoire God Never Hurries

I remembered soulful fun from another earlier time when my late son Joe and I took Lydia for a walk after a big snowstorm. We went behind the school that night where deep drifts lay against a steep hill. I can almost hear Joe’s and my laughter, feel the fresh cold air in my lungs and on my happy face, as the three of us took running jumps and dives into the blue moonlit drift. Lydia’s little black body wriggled as she got stuck in the depths. We had more fun that otters.

That memory was so clear tonight I could almost see Joe and me in the kitchen when we returned home happily refreshed by the cold air, and the fun we had in the blue moon lit snow. I believe Joe is near tonight.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A young man named James warmed heart with deep gratitude Wednesday night. 

I was getting ready to print copies of a reading to take to my Cedarburg library writers’ group when my printer jammed. I couldn’t see how to open the printer, or get the print cartridge out, to see if that’s where I would pull the half way out paper all the way out.  So I called my local Office Max and asked if I brought my printer in could someone please help me with unjamming the paper. I was told they do not do any service work. I pleaded and said, “When I buy replacement print cartridges I bring in my printer and someone puts the cartridge in for me. All I want is for someone to show me how to open the printer to get the stuck paper out. Reluctantly, the young woman who answered the phone told me I needed to speak with James. When he came to the phone I told him of my need for help and he said, “We don’t do any service work”. I repeated the print cartridge scenario. There was silence. I asked, if I come in with my printer in the next 15 minutes would he be there and help me open it up.  More silence, and then, “Yes”.       

It was miraculous. First, because of my beseeching persistence, second, because James didn’t even have to look at the back of the machine as he opened it up and handed me the rumpled paper. I thanked him profusely and asked if I could give him something. He shook his head “no” with a disbelieving smile. I was euphoric as I walked out with my printer past the young cashier. I told her its out. She smiled and said warmly, “I’m so glad.” 

My lightheartedness stayed with me the rest of the night. Who would ever guess a paper jam could bring such happiness?

Friday, November 15, 2019

Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it will be opened.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Last night at a Full Moon Circle gathering of women we reflected on women’s need to ask for what we want from life. Asking for ourselves is not something most of us were raised to do but is important, not only for us, but to the benefit of all. It was suggested we begin each day asking for something for ourselves. 

I began this day asking that I live more from my heart today. Truly amazing things happened. I was more aware of how I moved through my day—with more acceptance, more thoughtful responses to others, and forgiveness of myself when I could have done better. I now want to make living more from my heart a conscious standing request to begin each day. And hopefully I’ll learn to tack on other requests too. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

When I saw today’s date on my computer screen I felt its significance. Thirty years ago today, my youngest son Joe died at age 22. The devastating emptiness of losing him slowly healed through my acceptance. Tonight I wonder what life would have been like if he were still alive. That I will never know. What I do know tonight is I fear my own eventual death less because of him.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The following stanza from a poem by Rashani titled, “Unbroken” appeared in an e-mail from the Center for Courage and Renewal this morning.

There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness
We are sanctioned into being.

Deep comfort comes when we connect with another’s pain and the understanding that comes from it. It is why and how I wrote Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection, God Never Hurries, and continue with writing this blog.