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. 


 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. 


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.   






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