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.     

Monday, November 11, 2019

Connecting


The Mystery within...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Really tired tonight. Medical appointments and shoveling snow claimed my energy. I am grateful for my easy access to medical care and my car that got me to my appointments and back home. Wishing all of humanity had easy access to medical care and a home to come back to.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Oliver went to the vet Thursday. Major change looms in our lives. The fluid drained from his back leg is being analyzed. No more walks for a while and maybe the end of rough housing with my son’s dog, Moxy. It was an expensive visit along with weight loss prescription dog food that was ordered. Hardest of all will be no woods walks for two weeks. It is the highlight of our day for both of us.

I never took our daily walk among the trees for granted. But now there is deep longing for our treks across the wooden bridge with the river’s movement beneath us; and the breeze or wind, or stillness among the tall maples, beech and oaks who greet us; the intoxicating freshness of air that heals us in body, mind and soul--this absence in our life now deeply grieves us.

Monday, November 11, 2019

After publishing Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection I thought returning to written reflections on the significance in each of my days would be a good and easy way to stay connected with Spirit, and you who read my posts. And it is—when I do it. When I skip a day or days because I am exhausted as I climb into bed, and doubt I would have anything worthwhile to reflect on, I feel like I am failing you, my readers and myself. I think there is something amiss in my thinking.

Whether or not I feel connected isn’t the point because we are intricately intertwined with everyone and everything in life. And everyday, no matter how mundane it may appear, holds significance for you and me and waits to be discovered in reflection. 

I remember Thursday when driving to Yoga I was listening to an NPR piece on the two men who created Netflix. What stood out for me in that discussion was how these co-founders were complete opposites in personality and how each approached life and problem solving differently. Enhanced creativity was said to be the result of accepting and working with their differences. Thursday night, after Oliver’s vet visit, I was too wrung out and tired to reflect and write about that.

And last night, after spending the entire day preparing my son Mike’s birthday dinner, I was numb tired and didn’t write, but grateful for the time and food we shared celebrating him, and the leftovers I ate tonight.

I go to sleep this night conflicted because of the appearance of ants on my kitchen counter and in the leftover blueberry pie. I put out ant poison tonight even though we are connected.  

Monday, November 4, 2019

Acceptance

The Mystery within..

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Delia Owens’ novel Where the Crawdads Sing was discussed at book club tonight. Her story’s ending left us with a moral dilemma. I was a little surprised how quickly some came to judgment during our discussion. Life is not so black and white for me anymore. I have come to know its complexities and how differing experiences affect options and actions. I am grateful to know life is not so black and white anymore. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Seven inches of blowing snow piled up on this last day in October. This early snow just seemed wrong until Oliver and I walked to the woods late this afternoon. The snow had stopped and the wind moderated. The wood’s beauty was so unique with freshness and color. It could only have happen with soft October snow that stuck and contrasted on grey and black tree trunks supporting a bright yellow canopy of snow covered leaves. The wood’s beauty was humbling.

Friday, November 1, 2019

In my physically challenging physioball class this morning, I relayed an annoying experience I had on a recent visit to my clinic to get a stuffy ear checked out. A young nurse came to escort me to the exam room. She made an exaggerated point of telling me how very far down the hall I would have to walk. And when we reached the exam room she exclaimed, “Yeh! You made it!”  My exercise classmates wanted to know if I said something to her.  I said, “No, but I wanted to smack her.” And the class instructor said, “You could have said something to the doctor.”

Tonight I understand I still have a very long way to go in using my voice. I could have come up with a clever retort, or better yet, a heart centered reply of correction. Worst of all, before we made that long trek down the hall into the exam room the young nurse had introduced me to another nurse in training who was shadowing her that day. 

Life really is full of complexity and endless opportunities for learning how to use my voice.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Tonight I am aware that it isn’t possible to think of a heart centered response when you would like to smack someone. So I needed to back up and accept the young nurse did not understand how patronizing her words and tone of voice sounded to me. I am the one who needed empathy and compassion for her lack of awarenessPerhaps then I would have found kind words and I could have said, “I know you do not intend to sound patronizing, but my age has not yet handicapped me. And if it did, I would prefer you just walk with me at my pace and not make an issue of my physical limitations.”

Any other suggestions out there on a heart centered response I could have made to the young nurse who escorted me to the exam room?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Today in yoga we were encouraged to smile from our heart. I liked that and so does my heart. It made me recall a question I put to my instructor almost two years ago when I asked for one tip on “putting up with the other”.  My instructor said, “Breathe from your heart”. Maybe if I smile from my heart more it will be easier to breathe from my heart and then I can more easily learn to speak words of kind correction instead of wanting to smack someone. 







Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Being Present

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Following are two tributes to my late friend Rosemary, written by her husband Mike, and hand delivered to me today. 

A CRUISE OF A LIFETIME

 Early one balmy summer evening, I dialed up my best buddy Joe, and said, “Want to go cruising?”  We lowered the top on my red and black Buick Roadmaster convertible and started down Teutonia Avenue with my dice dangling from my mirror.  We came to a stoplight at Villard Avenue and, pay dirt; behold a large black car with pretty girls dangling out of every window waving—at us! Soon the light went green, their tires squealed and off they sped. Quickly, they turned down the first side street and by the time we turned, they vanished. We methodically combed the nearby streets and after what seemed like an eternity, we finally found them. The car wasn’t quite as full, so I asked, “What happened to that cute blonde with the ponytail?” Annie, obviously the pack leader said, Oh, Rosie, we dropped her off, would you like her number?” “You bet” I said and off we speed to the nearest phone booth. “Rosie, hi, I’m Mike. Your friend Annie gave me your number. Would you like to go cruising for some ice cream tomorrow?” “Sounds good to me!” Okay, I’ll pick you up about 6:00 p.m.

I nervously went to the back door, DING DONG, instantly a big burly man in the “T” shirt appeared, “WHO ARE YOU?” I’m Mike and I’m here for Rosie!” The man turned away and yells, “Hey Mert, there after Rosie already, and bring me a beer.” Obviously, he was the prototype for Archie Bunker, but after giving a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” he allowed Rosie to ride with me the next forty years. 

I HAD THE BEST WIFE EVER

Rosemary was a good and beautiful person both on the inside and the outside. Rose’s golden hair and big blue eyes sparkled and her smile never left her face. I always told her she was a natural beauty. She never needed or used makeup.

On the inside she was equal to the outside. Rose was kind, compassionate, thoughtful. She never even nagged and best of all for me she loved me unconditionally.  

We did everything together and as a family: camping, vacations, church leadership, started the St. Benedict’s Meal Program, joined the St. Vincent DePaul group, and more. Best of all, we raised three almost perfect children, Wendy, Dr. Kris, and Mick to adulthood.

Did we ever disagree? Definitely, but we had a rule, “Never go to bed angry.” Some nights we stayed up pretty darn late.

Ovarian cancer chose Rose when she was only 52 and when she was halfway through her studies to become a hospital chaplain. At 56 Rose slipped away.

Rosemary was a good and dear person. They say, “Only the good die young.” Maybe if Rose had a little “bad” in her she would still be riding with me to this day in our red convertible.

This is tribute to my wife
Rosemary Terwelp

* * *

I did not read these tributes to my friend, Rosemary, in Mike’s presence. As usual, I was preoccupied with other tasks. When I did read them, just before going to sleep that night, I felt shame at my lack of presence to Mike and his heart felt gifts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I read a book many years ago titled Spiritual Lemons by Lyn Brakeman. My encounter with Mike yesterday returned to me a memory of a specific chapter in her book titled “The Sacrament of Shame”. My shame led me to call Mike today and apologize for my insensitivity in not reading his heartfelt tributes to Rosemary in his presence. He appreciated my call. 

In the mess of papers I am trying to organize was an article titled “Simple Gestures of Solace”, which speaks to the importance of being present to one another. The article closes with a reflection titled, “The Companionship of the Dead,” which I read to Mike as follows:

 “As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life.”

“Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship.”

I dedicated my first memoire, God Never Hurries, to my late crone friend, Rosemary, in which I share some of her wisdom and influence on my life. I think she is still working with me to grow through the power in reflection and understand how everything is a both/and thing, including the sacrament of shame.

Thursday, October 24

Fall colors have been muted this year because of all the rain. But a glance down a side while biking surprised me with an iridescent red/orange glow of tall stately trees. Because this loveliness will soon slip away, makes it all the more precious to behold.


Friday, October 25, 2019

I don’t know how many years it has been since I washed the window in the garage. It was opaque with spider webs and dead insects. Just to get at it was a project, moving an old hanging bike and a table full of pots, potting soil, and other garage things that could be in a better place. I even put clear tape on the window’s torn screen. Of all the list of projects needing to be done, this clearly was not a priority. No one except me will ever notice the improvement. But I am glad I got this done today.  It taught me to take things one at a time, rejoice in what gets done, and accept it could take the rest of my life to get organized, if ever.  

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Trick or Treat!


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Halloween is on Thursday, October 31 but my village scheduled Trick or Treat yesterday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A cold rain started exactly at five o’clock. I felt sorry for the young children showing off their wet costumes in search of fun and treats, and their parents who accompanied them. 

I set out a brightly lit pumpkin next to the big bowl of treats, and put on Oliver’s lion mane costume. I wore a warm coat and gloves, put a soft cushion on the lawn chair, and a rug down for Oliver to lay on as we set up under the overhang of my front porch to admire the children and parents out in such frightful weather.  

Oliver’s costume is a big hit with both parents and children who proclaim him, “Simba!” He adored all the attention. I proclaimed the children and parents “very brave” to be out in the cold rain. What I remember most from yesterday’s Trick or Treat was a young father who said to me in a soft appreciative voice, “Stay warm.” The kindness in his voice warmed me through and through, and will always, whenever I recall it.

Today, bright sunshine and warming temperatures began and ended this perfect fall day that seemed created for yard work. Didn’t even need a jacket. I could only feel gratitude for the sun’s warmth and the strength I felt in my body as I worked the rakes and lawn mower and made a huge pile of debris at the curb for pick up. 

Monday October 28, 2019

Grateful again for my warm clothes against the cold, cloudy dampness--snow is coming. Dug out the parsley from my herb garden and put it in a pot to go in the sunroom along with an already potted rosemary plant. Both are hardy and could possibly survive the winter in there as well as continue to provide flavor to my cooking. I insulated and covered the sump pump outlet next to the house to keep it from freezing. It occurs to me life is like the weather—always changing—and requiring us to change in response.     

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Making Connections

The Mystery within...
Monday, October 14, 2019

It was with deep gratitude and real joy that I received a stunning acknowledgement from a yoga classmate today. She told me I was “very brave” and how much she enjoyed reading Both/and Things. It was the priceless spiritual connection I longed for to come from my writing. 

And a paper copy of my April 30 post titled, “Brave Heart” found me today. Three lines stand out for me tonight from that post:

Be very brave.
Live from you heart.
Grow from what challenges you.

What challenges me now is to be aware of opportunities to connect with others through my acknowledgement of them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

So thankful I got a bike ride in before dark and for listening to Democratic voices debate on my radio tonight, each offering  their hopeful visions to replace the current president. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

No post.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

I honored my tiredness yesterday and went to bed without writing of my day. Yesterday was one of those short days that pass quickly with an early acupuncture appointment and then returning home to find a message from my daughter-in-law on my answering machine. She said my granddaughter came home from school early not feeling well and could I look in on her. Searched my freezer for some chicken soup, grateful I found some, and took that to her. Wednesday night I went to the Ozaukee County Democratic monthly meeting where I signed up to learn the art of door-to-door canvassing for a more just government.  Perhaps, in some way, it will help me feel learning this new skill will help my very needy friend as well as grow myself. Sorting out life’s complexities isn’t easy. 

Tonight I attended the Ozaukee County Democrat’s annual fundraising dinner and listened to John Nichols, political commentator and writer. The following stood out for me in Nichols’ energetic, impassioned speech:

    - Our current president is shaming our country and harming the world.

     - Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis.

     - Universal solutions are the answer to problems in this country.

     - And Nichols held up the recently deceased Elijah Cummings' difficult life of discrimination from childhood on, declaring he was part of a "glorious struggle". 

The above thoughts from Nichols stood out for me because they point to how connected we all are to one another and how we all need to be part of the glorious struggle for justice and peace in our country and the world.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Margaret Hoover’s Firing Line’s guest tonight was Bryan Stevenson, a social justice activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Two statements he made jumped out at me. The first was, “You have to tell the truth to get to forgiveness and reconciliation.”  I immediately related this to my first memoire, God Never Hurries, which was about truth telling and the pursuit of forgiveness. The second statement he made was, “The opposite of poverty is justice.” Those words put light on the injustices in our world today, and how their elimination would end poverty.

And earlier today, I went to hear Robert McGrath, a University of WI psychologist, speak at my public library on “Resilience in Times of Stress”. He shared his electronic power point presentation titled, “Mind and Body Wellness”. I’m grateful he gave me permission to share it with you. 



There is no shortage of stress in our world today for which injustice is the root cause. Reflection and good self-care is critical to surviving these stress filled times, and are what both my memoire’s are about.

Saturday, October 19, 2010

I felt my limitations today in an aging brain that had significant difficulty finding addresses in unfamiliar neighborhoods as I canvassed for the Ozaukee County Democratic Party for a more just government. I had hoped pushing my comfort level would be expanding for me. Instead it was stressful and exhausting. Tonight, I am thinking I need to honor my growing limitations.

Sunday, October 20, 2010

It was a beautiful fall day but I missed most of it because I was in my kitchen cooking.  Oliver and I didn’t even get to the woods because I was making chicken soup, and readying another chicken to roast in the oven for supper. Even though I eat mostly vegetarian now, homemade chicken soup is a comfort I needed today and I had two organic chickens in my refrigerator waiting to be prepared. I enjoyed a quick cup of soup before going out to cut the grass while the other chicken went into the oven. Watching fog sweep in just before dark as I was finishing the lawn was a treat, but it was little compensation for missing our woods walk on this beautiful fall day.  

While cutting the grass, I thought of the Jewish mother and young son we met while out canvasing yesterday, as they walked home from their synagog. The mother respectivefully declined to talk politics on their Sabbath. I admired the discipline it takes to be Jewish.


Monday, October 21, 2019

There was a brief break in the heavy rain this morning.  I checked the weather radar map that showed more rain to resume soon so I put on my poncho as Oliver and I left the parking lot to walk to the woods. There, the aroma of wet wood was intoxicating. Softly moistened, newly fallen leaves of yellow, red, and some still mixed with green, dotted the path. Wind rustled in the leaves still above. And then the rain came with a beauty all its own. But all that changed as our walk ended and I bent down to put on Oliver’s leash and saw, and smelled, one side of his neck, collar, and ear was covered in shit. I stayed mad at him most of the afternoon.  Life is so full of complexity.