Sunday, October 13, 2019

Healing Empathy

The Mystery within...
Sunday, October 6, 2019 

No post today.

Monday, October 7, 2019

No entry yesterday. Got home from the ER after midnight. How fast life can turn chaotic. I stepped into the shower a little after 9:00 p.m. and had just lathered my hair with shampoo when my daughter walked in and said in a shaky voice that I needed to drive her to the hospital, right now. I rinsed off as quickly as I could, dried myself and put my dirty clothes back on and house slippers because they were right there, grabbed my purse and keys, and hurried out to the car where Mary sat waiting.  

Her pain was intense. She wanted me to drive faster. I did. And then we sat in the waiting room for nearly a half hour. Mary said she was afraid she is going to pass out. I put her in a wheel chair and pointed her toward the ER doors. I watched as staff pushed a button on the wall to open those doors. I thought of pushing that button and her chair through those doors myself, but didn’t. I asked the receptionist if you have to be bleeding to be a priority. She smirked.

Finally, we are escorted into a room where a technician inserts a port into Mary’s arm for an intravenous drip. But the bag is not attached for almost another hour. In the intervening time Mary’s crooked face turns hot pink and she tells me her heart is racing. I go out and tell people at the desk. I’m told, “They are busy with other priorities.” I’m scared. I go back in the room.

Mary is standing over a large waste bin vomiting. We are both scared. The technician comes back in and says, “Oh, the intravenous was suppose to be hooked up.” He attached the bag and left. 

And finally, a doctor arrives. 

Her presence is warm, personable and empathic.  She is beautiful and looks like a Hindu Goddess. She talks calmly and confidently to Mary and tells her she may be able to manipulate her dislocated jaw back into place without anesthetic and asks her if she would want to her to try it. Mary agrees. The doctor asks Mary to gently bite down on a syringe tube she placed between her teeth. I watched in utter amazement as Mary’s stiffened body and contorted face miraculously relax almost the moment the doctor’s hands gently touch her face and returns her jaw to its rightful place. The doctor asks Mary if she wants to stay and wait for the intravenous bag to empty before we leave. She declines and we return home a few minutes after midnight.  

I am amazed at how very vulnerable I felt in being so scared for my daughter.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

I wanted to write the hospital powers that be and recommend ER on call staff be brought in when patient loads warrant it but I couldn’t bring myself to make the effort and take the time to do it.  Hopefully, I will get it done at a later date.

I did return to the hospital this afternoon for a scheduled appointment with a vascular surgeon about my increasing concern regarding my varicose veins. Observing other patients and some hospital staff, I felt grateful for my relative good health, body weight, and blood pressure numbers.

This evening, I went to listen to Stephanie Roades from Showing Up for Racial Justice speak. I admired her grasp on people of privilege, and what we are missing out on in our lack of diversity. Most comforting for me was Roade’s acknowledgement that justice is a slow, incremental work of a lifetime.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I don’t remember it previously taking me so long to get the windows washed and storm windows on. I’ve been at it for several days and hope to finish tomorrow. Cold, wet weather is to arrive soon. I wonder how many more years I will be able to do this seasonal task, but am currently grateful I still can.

My next-door neighbor fell and broke her hip last Sunday. She came home from the hospital today. As I carried my ladder in the bright sunshine over to my dining room window, I thought of her plight. My gratitude for my current abilities increased as I made the glass sparkle.   

Thursday, October 10, 2019

I listened to an On Being podcast titled “Befriending Radical Disagreement” featuring Matthew Stevenson, a Jewish college student who invited fellow student, Derek Black, a then White Nationalist, to attend weekly Shabbat dinners with him. (My understanding of a Shabbat meal is celebrating the holy together with family and friends.) Over a period of time, Matthew’s befriending Derek, and sharing these holy meals with him, led Derek to empathy and to renounce his White Nationalist stance that was also a familial tradition, part of his upbringing.   

It takes time and friendship to create empathy to change hearts and minds.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Celebrating the sacred found in the everyday, at a weekly meal, with family and friends, is an enviable, lofty goal that feels far away today.  

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A friend called for help yesterday. Her needs are so great they have overwhelmed me.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

I shared my feeling of being overwhelmed by another's need   with a gathering of women in circle on this night of the full moon.  Their empathy for my angst led me to pray to remember to breathe from our hearts so we can think from our hearts so we can act from our hearts.  Sharing my angst with these beautiful women comforted me.    

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Reflecting Vulnerability

The Mystery Within...
This week’s post is a little longer than usual since Tuesday’s entry contains a summary of July’s Women Gathering Retreat on Vulnerability that I finally got around to writing.  

Sunday, September 29, 2019

There was a very light mist falling when I put on my rain poncho to walk Oliver to the woods this afternoon. I was grateful for my return to daily written reflecting and completing last week’s post. I appreciated how my reflections revealed some of my vulnerabilities and strength--deep empathy, acknowledging my humanness; and for tears of sadness and joy at Enzo’s love of humanity in the movie, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” and in sharing that experience with family members. I wondered what insights this week’s reflections will reveal?

I always thrill at the sight of deer. And one was watching me in the woods this misty afternoon. I checked my medicine card book when I got home that said if Deer has gently come into my life I am being asked to find gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds; be warm and caring and love people as they are. I know Enzo and God would agree.

After cleaning up the supper dishes, I saw a big brown spider on my kitchen floor. I stepped on it and then felt remorse.  I picked it up and put it outside in the grass.  Hopefully, it will be a meal for another being. This being a gentle, caring human being isn’t always easy.

Monday, September 30, 2019

It was a very short day today with yoga in the morning followed by a walk to the woods with Oliver before it got too unseasonably warm; and then an unexpected visitor after lunch; and then feeling truly tired, I laid down for a nap. The weather report for tomorrow is for heavy rain, so when I woke I justified a bike ride before supper and the early autumn sunset.

I found a note I wrote to myself earlier this month, I even dated it 9-10-19. Maybe that was the actual beginning of my return to written reflections. The note began, “I am retired. Retirement has purpose. Slow down. Find enjoyment. Be realistic about what I take on.”  

I am proud of myself for not feeling guilty about my very short day today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Women Gathering Retreat 
on Vulnerability
July 26 to July 28, 2019

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”  Brene Brown

Two months have passed since our summer Women Gathering retreat on the theme of Vulnerability. I am just now getting around to reviewing my notes and summarizing what that weekend meant for me. In some way, it is good that I have some distance between my retreat experience and notes before attempting to highlight them. The intervening time, and more recently my return to daily written reflections, has allowed my vulnerability to come into sharper focus and to appreciate its gifts. 

Vulnerability is what I initially want to hide from myself, or from others, for fear of rejection. When I lean into my vulnerability with openness and compassion I can then be more open and compassionate with others. Vulnerability is innate to being human and part of my natural state.  My vulnerability allows the natural strength of my heart to emerge. 

Vulnerability means showing up as I truly am and taking risks in expressing my thoughts and feelings. It asks me to tell the truth that then lets me rest in self-love. Accepting my vulnerability also allows others to accept theirs and expand the natural strength of their hearts. The paradox of vulnerability is when I allow myself to be undefended I find my true strength. It is the birthplace of my courage. It is my vulnerability that makes me strong and more whole.

When I came across the last sentence I jotted down in my notes it brought a smile to my heart and face. “Be okay with my single life-style choice.” Those seven little words now feel remarkably honest and freeing.      

My art therapy piece for that weekend, cutting and pasting pictures and words from magazines, brought me these words and images to paste on a board: “It’s your vulnerability that makes you strong;” a clock to remind me to take time for myself everyday, and the words, “Keep it simple,” to remind me to do less and be more. There’s a heart pictured with three rings in the center. I now think the three rings within the heart signify accepting my vulnerability expands my heart and helps others expand theirs. Or maybe it means life and love is a three-ring circus. Perhaps it is both. There’s a silly looking Labrador with a flowered shower cap on his head that tells me to incorporate some silliness into my life; and a paddle boarder on a northern lake. Both represent wellness. And on the backside of my board is an empty hammock between two trees with a beach in the background. I put it on the back of my collage because I actually didn’t think I would realistically lounge in a hammock any time soon, if ever.         
                      
Thank you, Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak, for all your hard work and skills in gathering us women together to reflect on our vulnerability.
* * *
I now realize reflecting and writing daily is a major step in looking at my vulnerabilities. And I’ve even started lying down for a nap some afternoons. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

There was a light energy that flowed in my body today. It felt good.   

I dropped my car off early this morning for an oil change and to make sure it is road worthy for winter. Frost is in the near future, so when I got home I brought in two houseplants that summered on the deck. They grew and thrived with the bright natural light and real rain. Several times throughout the day I peaked in on them in the sunroom to admire the variegated brightness and significant growth of both the ficus tree and umbrella plant. They should be okay in the sunroom for another month before it gets too cold and they join me in the house for winter. 

Walking back to the garage with Oliver to pick up my car, I felt deep gratitude for this day, my energy, car, house, sunroom and the security of my retirement. After I paid the garage owner, Mark, for caring for my car, I acknowledged a friend told me that he donates his time and car servicing skills to needy St. Vincent de Paul clients to help keep them safe on the road. I thanked him for doing that. He said, “I’m not comfortable around people, but that is a skill I have and I  am happy to help out.” He said he has been doing it for 35 years and thanked me for my acknowledgment. I felt gratitude enlarge both of our hearts.  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Yesterday’s quiet energy left today. I am feeling overwhelmed with what I want to do to get more organized with household tasks and paper work. The best thing I can do tonight is go to bed and sleep on it.  

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dear Matthew Fox,

Your book, Original Blessing, was of tremendous help to me in finding my voice and claiming my freedom. It allowed me to write my first memoire, God Never Hurries, which was a pre-requisite to writing Both/and Things where I am learning a deeper form of freedom in loving unconditionally.

Thank you,

Marcia Kaminski 


Saturday, October 5, 2019

After Matthew Fox finished his talk yesterday on his book, Naming the Unnameable – 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable, God, I asked a Sienna Center staff person to give Fox the envelope I had addressed to him. It contained my October 4 handwritten note to him and a copy of Both/and Things. I would have handed it to him myself, but he was whisked out of the great chapel for his book-signing event that followed in the dining hall. My friend Ann and I did not stay. I was tired, there was distance to drive home in the dark, and Ann had early plans for the next day.

In his talk, Fox listed God’s many names slowly and deliberately. I could identify with some of them from my experience with Native American sweat lodge ceremony and my East Indian experiences with Kirtan and yoga, and my Buddhist readings. My ears and heart enjoyed hearing Fox speak God’s feminine names and say the Goddess is returning in many forms; and that there are trillions and trillions of names for God--flow, compassion, kindness, and every being is a name for God. His talk was expansive. I felt privileged to be able to relate to many of God’s names and to know when we show compassion, kindness, and forgiveness, we become Godlike.

And today, October 5, is my late son Joe’s birthday--Happy Birthday Joe. You now must know so much more of the Great Mystery that loves and lives within us all. Love, Mom  


  

           






     



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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Reflecting Daily

The Mystery within...
Postings to my website have been irregular of late and I want to remedy that. I have been occupied with attempting to get my daily life and chores more organized. In sorting through some papers, I found an October 5, 2011 reflection that made me realize the importance of returning to a routine of reflecting and writing something at the end of each day. It is a practice that reveals to me the sacredness to be found in everything and everyone throughout each day. My hope is to share my daily discoveries weekly.  So here goes some musings for September 24 to September 28.    

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Perhaps my October 5, 2011 written reflection found me to encourage me to return to writing something of each day. October 5 is my late son Joe’s birthday. He died twenty-two years prior to that 2011 entry when I wrote, “It was a pleasant pain remembering Joe today on his birthday.” I also wrote of the bike ride I took that perfect sunny, warm October afternoon into Cedarburg, as far as Cedar Creek, where I turned back and was then dazzled by a blazing tree as I climbed a hill toward home. It was lit orange against a bright blue cloudless sky. I wrote high school age youth were walking under that tree and that I didn’t think the beauty of the day captivated them as it did me. I wanted them to be captivated.

Eight years later, I am amazed at how vividly I was transported back into that day's loveliness though my written words. I am encouraged to again return to reflecting and writing something of each day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

I was deeply saddened to learn today of my neighbor’s 38-year-old son John’s unexpected death. John was also a husband and father of two young children. This news transported me back to the unexpected deaths of my husband and youngest son. I was flooded with an initial sense of numbing in my body, and then recalled the torrent of emotions that followed news of my unexpected losses. 

When I saw John’s mother out in her backyard I walked through my back gate and took her an envelope containing a copy of my new memoire with a note that said, “After some time has passed you may find some comfort in my reflection titled, “Recycling Pain.” John’s mother sensed my deep empathy and wanted to console me.  

When I walked back into my house, it became clear to me the best thing I could do now was to go for a bike ride on this sunny, warm, but very windy September day.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

I took my newest memoire, Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection, to book club tonight. It was awkward. I sold everyone a copy (5 in total) but it was not chosen for next month’s read. I really wanted it to be discussed. I truly want to know what other people honestly think of it. I am a lousy advocate for my writing. I took comfort in remembering what a fellow Cedarburg writer’s group member shared, “Love What You Do Without Making Money”. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

I don’t want my book to be about making money. It’s about connecting with one another spiritually. If it did make money it would be okay because I worked hard to produce it and believe it has merit. Maybe it’s about feeling validated that I have worth. But deep down inside me I know I have worth. So why am I going around in circles with money, worth and validation? Maybe because I’m human.   

Next week, I am going to pay to listen to author Matthew Fox talk about his newest book titled Naming the Unnameable. His much earlier book, Original Blessing, (initially banned by the Catholic Church) was a very important read for me when I was struggling to find my voice surrounding both my parents’ and my care needs. In my first memoire, God Never Hurries, I wrote:  

…what I most needed to learn from Fox was to befriend both light and darkness--to let pain be pain and mystery be mystery, and trust good would come from it. 

I look forward to hearing Fox speak next week and buying a copy of Naming the Unnameable. I will gift him a copy of Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection to thank him for what he and his past writing have taught me thus far.

Saturday, September 28, 2019 

My daughter, daughter-in-law and two of my grandchildren went to see the movie “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. It is a story told through the eyes and heart of a loving dog named Enzo and Enzo’s observations of his human family. Some of Enzo’s canine abilities allowed him to sense a serious illness in his mistress, and also observe her spirit leave her body when she eventually died. Enzo longed for the ability to speak and perform tasks like us humans, especially his master who drove racecars. Enzo’s wish was that after his death he return to life as a human to be with and like his master—a successful race car driver who was skilled in being present to track conditions, not be afraid, and trust he could win enough, though not all, races.  

I cried when the movie began because I had read the book on which the movie was based and knew what was coming. We all cried when Enzo died and then showed up eight years later in the body of an eight year old boy named Enzo eager to learn the art of racing in the rain from his former master.  

I wondered what it would be like to return to life as a loving dog observing us humans.  What is dog spelled backwards?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

My New Book

The Mystery within...
My new book, Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection, is soon to be published. It highlights my growing understanding of the paradoxical nature of everything. In my first memoire, God Never Hurries, I danced with fear and anger for my mother’s and my safety. In Both/and Things—The Power in Reflection, I am evolving in my dance with love, forgiveness, and connection. I share what I am learning about fear and courage, evil, vital decay, recycling pain, curiosity, diversity’s many gifts, the evolution of love, unconditional love, and forgiveness. The following highlighted words capture the essence of Both/and Things.

Empowerment - Fear brought me closer to the truth to show me how my compliance with patriarchy allowed destructive behaviors in the other and myself. I learned I was the one who needed to change. And I’m still a work in progress.

Acceptance Somehow the creative force of the Great Mystery exists in the interplay of darkness and light where so much becomes clear. I am learning that embracing the darkness is the first step to creating goodness and strength in us all.

Diversity - When we reflectively interact with nature and each other, we become good medicine for the earth and one another.

Belonging - I am learning a new language of belonging is needed to treat all of creation and each and everyone of us as holy.

Love - Each day brings ample opportunity to work toward life’s ultimate goal—love of self and all others unconditionally through the power of reflection.

Forgiveness -  It’s all about forgiveness. Sheer compassion and forgiveness of myself teaches me how to love and forgive the other unconditionally.

Wisdom– My reflections in Both/and Things begin with quotes from diverse souls who understand what life is about: 

Pema Chodron 

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” 

“Nothing awakens the heart like extreme sadness.” 
            
e. e. cummings 

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really 
are."  

Richard Rohr 

“Darkness, mistakes, and trials are the supreme teachers. Success really teaches you nothing; it just feels good."

Jellaludin Rumi 

 “Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

            Albert Einstein  

        “Never lose a holy curiosity.”
              
Stephen Covey 

 “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

Teilhard de Chardin 

“Yet it is the law of all progress that is made by passing through some stages of instability and that may take a very long time.”

“The most telling and profound way of describing the evolution of the universe would undoubtedly be to trace the evolution of love.”

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world [man] we will have discovered fire."


What if we all came to know the power in reflection?  




    















    


Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Other's Shoes


The Mystery within...
Back in April 2013, when I first began my God Never Hurries blog, I wrote a post titled, “Oh Happy Fault” which included this quote from Jim Crace’s novel Quarantine “…for everything that God has made is weak, blemished and imperfect by design.” I asked back then, “What if it is our mistakes that evolve us into more wise, kind, tolerant and humble beings?” My head back then was more narrowly focused on my personal mistakes with a goal toward improvement. But a recent experience has deepened my understanding of love’s puzzle and provided a critical piece for how to love the other unconditionally.

Through a recent mistake of another, I felt the grace to put myself in the other’s shoes.  When I did that, a surge of empathy and compassion for the other overcame my initial agitation. It was huge in helping me understand how unconditional love is possible. I pray I can walk with grace in the other’s shoes the next time agitation sneaks into my being.  

I did a search of my past blogs with the word grace. Following are nine blog post titles that popped up with each blog’s ending What if… question:

Grace Under Pressure – What if we could all go to our heart when the pressure is on?
Grace and Nature – What if we could all practice being more observant of the life going on around us and let Grace bridge the gap in our nature?
Grace in Governance – What if we made a list of the grace we want in our political candidates?
Retreat – What if we remembered there are many paths to the same Energy, Source, Light and Grace more often?
Imperfection – (Richard Rohr:  "We must never live in such a way where grace is not needed hour by hour.")  What if it is our own imperfections that lead us to accept and love one another?
Grow in Grace and Wisdom – What if we could always trust darkness, mistakes, and trials to grow us?
Sharing Grace – What if we all shared what helps us live with grace?
Thresholds – (...it is our troubles that grow us in grace and wisdom) What if we could all welcome the truth our threshold crossings have taught us and continue on with a sense of fragile wholeness?
Ask, Seek, Find – (The profit in suffering comes in the grace in knowing something inside me needs to die so I can experience new life.) What if we could all come to befriend our shadow?

What if we could put ourselves in the other’s shoes when agitation sneaks in?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Forgiveness Mantra

The Mystery within...
I have a friend, Karen, who is in an exercise class with me.  She shared the following simple mantra that she says to herself when feeling challenged by people being difficult.    

“I forgive you ___(name)_____for not being the person I want you to be.  I forgive you.  I set you free.  I set me free.” 

I started a search of my blog with the word forgiveness and stopped counting the number of posts that came up.  Karen’s simple short mantra seems to summarize it all.

What if we understood it really is all about forgiveness?       

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Brave Heart


The Mystery within...

It’s April 30.  Soon there will be no more April 2019 left. I decided I was too tired to post anything for this month that has streaked by with tiresome tasks.  But then I remembered I scribbled some words that were in my head upon awakening one morning a couple of weeks ago.  I found them on my bedside stand.  I am glad I did for they are worth remembering and sharing.



Be very brave.

Walk in the courage of your own truth.
Seek knowing unconditional love of yourself and others
through the grace of acceptance and forgiveness.

Live from your heart.

Dance with courage in the truth of who you really are
seeking always to love unconditionally. 
Grow from what challenges you.

Tiresome tasks have challenged me this month.  But if I wasn’t too tired to write an April post, I might never have remembered and looked for the words I scribbled upon waking a couple of weeks ago.  

What if what challenges us grows us to love unconditionally?  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Doing Life Together

The Mystery within...
Doing life together transforms us from human doings into human beings. And since each of us have unique personalities (think Meyers-Briggs), and each of us are uniquely spiritual (think Enneagram), learning our different approaches to life can bring us closer to the Great Mystery who created it all--our diverse natural world and us. The original design is for nature and humanity to work in tandem—to do life together.  I believe this understanding is our greatest challenge.   

Thoughts of doing life together bubbled up in me after reading the best summary of the Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) I have ever seen by a CPE student, Sister Denise West, a Benedictine at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI. I was recently at Holy Wisdom Monastery, not for a presentation on CPE, but on Native American Patty Lowe’s presentation titled, “Ethics of Indigenous Cultures of Wisconsin.” Putting some of Sister Denise’s CPE summary thoughts alongside thoughts from Patty Lowe’s presentation struck me as a template for doing life together.

A major part of CPE training (which I experienced in the late 1990s and early 2000s) is a group critique by fellow students and the CEP instructor, of our individual written verbatim reports of interactions with patients. These words from Sr. Denise’s CPE summary brought back vivid memories of struggle and growth from my four CPE units:

… we would reflect on the interaction to see not how we could have done things better, but how we could have done things differentlyThis framing freed me to scrutinize how I encountered those in need. I had to learn to let go of my agenda when I walked into a patient’s room and let the patient’s needs unfold before me. In my best moments, I was a companion on a path we co-created."

Patty Lowe’s presentation at Holy Wisdom Monastery shared her Native American Seventh Generation Philosophy that decisions made today should be in the best interest of seven generations into the future.  She spoke of current threats to the environment, and to we who inhabit it, including the adverse effects of mining and pipelines both under the earth and in Lake Superior. She said care of the earth is the most important thing we can do in life--we need to change our relationship with nature and can no longer put profit over planet.  She spoke of her love of nature, the Rights of Nature Movement, and asked, “What if we believed nature loved us back?”

Care for one another, and Mother Earth, calls us all to reflect on how we can each do things differently, to see what agendas we need to let go of, and discover how we can become companions with one another on a path we co-create to sustain Mother Earth and us today, tomorrow and seven generations into the future.     

What if doing life together makes us all CPE students to one another and Mother Earth?   

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spiritual, Not Religious

The Mystery within...
Where did February go? March starts tomorrow and I have yet to write at least one post for February. It’s late.  But I want to write something before February ends.  So here’s a draft synopsis of my next book that is in the editing and publishing process:

Spiritual, no longer religious, is the transforming journey that Marcia walks seeking to learn unconditional love and forgiveness. Both/and Things – The Power in Reflection shares her everyday discoveries that accepting everything and everyone encountered in life can eventually lead to a love that is bigger than the universe--a love that connects us to one another, Mother Earth and beyond.

What if we all seek to connect with one another, Mother Earth and beyond?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thresholds' Review

The Mystery within...
On our July “Women Gathering 2018” weekend retreat we were led to reflect on the many different thresholds we have crossed in our life. Our one-day winter follow-up, on where each of us are with our life’s thresholds, was held January 19, 2019. This review made it clear to me all of life is about change and how I accept and grow with those changes.

The challenging threshold I was standing on in July was to find my voice and express myself to a public political ideologue. I feared getting “dirty” in a fight. My initial fear of getting “dirty” led me to find the courage to write my truth respectfully, through a series of letters to the editor of my local paper. 

Main ideas in those letters were: we are all in this together—vote responsibly. Service to others is the hallmark of a healthy community. The health and education of our children is our country’s future. I shared recent tips I had learned in how to search the internet to be better informed on the issues and candidates on the ballot for my district. I acknowledged my gratitude for the Dane County League of Women Voters who listed statewide Wisconsin candidates and how each proposed to served the people if elected. I summarized the first ever Ozaukee County Democratic Party fundraiser where speakers called for respect and dignity of all; more equitable tax distribution, critical infrastructure maintenance, returning science to environmental management, investing in our children’s education, mental health, and adequate, affordable health care for all. And I quoted excerpts from Parker Palmer’s book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit”. I acknowledged we need grace in governance, and voting is more than a civic duty, it is a spiritual exercise. And finally, I shared how learning to breathe from my heart allows me to feel sheer compassion for those who govern with self-serving agendas.  

I was in a better place for our “Women Gathering” January Thresholds’ review. I realized how much effort I put into reflecting/writing/speaking my truth. Not just in political matters, but also from my own life in the completion of my second memoire titled, “Both and Things – The Power in Reflection”. In my first memoire, “God Never Hurries”, I danced with anger and fear for my mother’s and my safety. In “Both and Things” I am learning to dance with love, forgiveness and connection. The nest photo in this post was an art therapy piece from July’s “Women Gathering” weekend  retreat. When “Both and Things – The Power in Reflection” is printed, the nest photo will become the book's cover and will include an explanation of its symbolism for me.

To facilitate our January review of our individual Thresholds we were given these words to ponder: Acceptance; Letting Go; Mindfulness; Compassion; and Identifying Helpers. My helpers were easy to ID. They are retreat facilitators Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak, and our beautiful circle of women, who are gently guided in discovery and sharing. Poems also accompanied each of the five words for reflection. This stanza from a David Whyte poem titled, “Start in Close”, stood out for me:

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet, 
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Also poignant for me were these words from a John O’Donohue poem titled “A Blessing, A Poem”:
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing 
whispering in you heart that something good 
is going to happen to you.

What if we all felt empowered through reflection?