The morning after Thanksgiving, fingers tapping out a flowing rhythm on the keyboard, I am basking in the glow of a clean house that continues to reverberate with the laughter and love that filled it yesterday. Family of choice crossed the threshold, bearing goodies to savor and their open hearts to share….quite a pot luck feast on all counts. I made sure I got to the gym in the morning to pre-emptively burn off calories and it felt really good to say thank you to my healthy, strong and vibrant body for doing its job every day. On the way back, I listened to what has come to be a holiday classic: Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Coming home to find Adam and his girlfriend Rochelle in the kitchen, doing food prep. Adam is a self taught cook, who relishes creatively putting together amazingly delicious and colorful dishes, including his signature key lime pie for dessert. Like the Russian great grandmother he never met since she died when I was 14, he ‘cooks by ear’ much of the time, only occasionally relying on written recipes. In the meantime, Rochelle’s adorable 2 year old son Collin is dancing around the living room watching a show called Bubble Guppies. His laughter is contagious. A few hours later, table set, components of dinner in various stages of readiness, guests begin to arrive. Collin runs to the door each time, curious to see who is coming to play with him. Coloring with me and with our friend Janet, he delights in scribble scrabbling designs and then telling us what colors he is using.
Around the table are 12 of us, including Phil and Janet (Phil has been my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother and surrogate father since Adam was 14, a few year after my husband died in 1998), Ruth and Jason (I have known Ruth since she herself was 14 and when she and Jason got married, I had the honor of officiating), Ondreah who is one of a group of women I call ‘Goddess Sistahs’, new friend Monica and her son Ryan. After Phil offered a prayer taught to him through his spiritual teacher Yogananda, we went around the table and shared what it was for which we felt gratitude. To a person, there was expression of appreciation for our connection like so many woven threads in a beautiful tapestry. I sometimes forget about the awesomeness of my life and throw myself the occasional pity party and yet I am acutely aware how blessed I am to attract kindred souls into my circles. One of my extreme blessings is that Adam is stepping into his maturity, really holding space as a supportive partner to Rochelle in the brief time they have been together and surrogate father to this little one as Phil has been for him.
Afrer dinner, we sprawled on the floor and furniture and watched Avatar which I hadn’t seen since it came out a few years ago. On the big screen, the images were overwhelming and I had experienced motion sickness and had to look away during some of the fast paced action scenes. On the considerably smaller tv screen, I was able to watch with no side effects…grateful for THAT! The theme wrapped around my experience with my friends…how interconnected is all of life and what impacts on one, touches us all. We are part of the Tree Of Souls that is our link to the Divine. We are all at shared purpose with healing our world; since everyone around the table is devoted to making a difference. We cheered as the forces of destruction found themselves inevitably succumbing to the forces of love.
When it was time to leave, Collin climbed onto my lap and said goodbye to this (oh my goodness, hard to imagine) woman delighted to be called Mom Mom.
I am truly blessed bigtime.
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DRHuKI7L47L8 Thank You For Being A Friend-Andrew Gold
Sitting here in a quiet house, save the sound of the dryer tossing around damp clothes and towels. Two candles are brightly burning on the pass-through between the kitchen and the dining room that tomorrow will be the portal through which full dishes will come and empty ones will go. Scents of Warm Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie wax waft through the air at the moment. No fat or calories in those babies, that’s for sure. Can’t say the same about tomorrow’s offerings, although I can wave my magic wand and offer the food reiki in the hopes that it could zap them away.
Tonight I will start the first few dishes in prep for the gathering of the tribe for Thanksgiving. Interestingly, none are blood relatives. My sister will be with her kids, my cousins with theirs. My 25 year old son came to our family when he was nearly 5. This self taught chef who loves cooking shows and making his own concoctions, will be doing most the cooking. The other folks around the table will include his girlfriend and her 2 year old son, as well as dear ones who have become family of choice over the past 30 years. As I anticipate my full house, I gaze into a cornucopia of emotions which include effervescent joy and deep sadness. The first part is recognizing how blessed I am to have such good souls in my life. They have been there come what may in the face of the joys and sorrows, the celebrations and the chasms. Some I know hug to hug and others heart to heart if not in person. Many are cyber connections, but no less treasured. Others are no longer in body and their love surrounds me as if a warm fleece blanket. As I am typing these words, I happen to have a raspberry hued fleece lap robe around my shoulders that had been my mother’s shortly before her death nearly 2 years ago (11/26). In that year, it fell the day after Thanksgiving, so the holiday will forever have that connection for me.
In spite of that, I know I have a great deal to appreciate. My list is ever expanding and I recognize them every day. As we go around the table, sharing what it is we are thankful for, I will share some of these.
Connection to Spirit
Vibrant good health.
My awesome sauce family and friends.
Creative flow that is never impeded.
Lots of do-overs when things don’t go according to plan.
Opportunities to stretch my receiving muscles.
Melodious sounds (a.k.a. music)
Words words words!
Writing and reading them.
New revelations and aha moments.
Overlapping soul circles.
My beautiful home.
Works of he(art).
Being a life-long learner.
My reliable Jeep.
My trusty lap top that is the doorway to the world.
This column and all of the good souls whose lives touch mine as a result.
Wishing you glorious graditudinosity!
http://youtu.be/LhXSbLbE6_c Good Souls-Starsailor
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992 Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver. All rights reserved.
This has long been a favorite poem since it touches on the myriad ways that I question how life operates. A keen observer since childhood, I would lie down in the grass and witness, as Mary did, what was going on as the humans above were bustling about, so focused on doing rather then being. Would that I take that time now. So buzzy-busy that sometimes miracles nearly slip by. I do catch them, such as the many antlered deer that I witnessed out the window of a friend’s home as I sat on the comfy couch and the hawk that swooped down over my car and onto a nearby telephone pole, and the musical messages that love and grace are but a decision away. As I am typing this entry, my partial attention is on the movement of my fingers on keyboard, a piece of my mind and heart are with a friend whose father passed over the weekend. A profoundly spiritual person, she knows he is at peace and yet feels the depth of grief that her daddy is no longer here in body. I am thinking of all others on the planet who are saying farewell to loved ones. I am in my own heart, missing my parents, with the upcoming anniversary of my mother’s passing 0n November 26th. Ironically, I am seeing it as a two part anniversary. She died the day after Thanksgiving, so I will be honoring her on both days. On the actual calendar day, I will be at a retreat in Canada and so will offer a ritual honoring all of our ancestors. It is this constant reminder that life is transient and unpredictable and we d0n’t know when our last day will be, nor do we know the last day that our loved ones will walk the planet.
With my own wild and precious life, I am pouring out words like so much elixir onto a sometimes parched earth in need of nourishment. I am tapping my feet along to music as it emerges from my computer speakers; the beautiful voice of Snatam Kaur singing the lyrics “We are the light of love.” over and over. I am contemplating Thanksgiving here at my house with my son as we welcome family of choice. I am sitting at the table that in a few days will be the gathering place for these beloved souls. I know that my parents will be present in their current form. I am imagining time in retreat next week; both teaching and immersing in the restorative energy at Grail Springs in Ontario, Canada. I am anticipating a visit with my friends Jody Kessler and Doug Shire in Ithaca en route. Jody is a solo singer-songwriter and together, she and Doug are part of a kirtan group called One Love Chant. I am welcoming new friends each day, and the amazing overlapping soul circle connections that enchant me. I am teaching people how to live their own wild and precious life, coming out from behind worn out beliefs of who they thought they were so they can dance with abandon.
Today as I was meeting with a client, we were talking about setting intention each day as a form of prayer of gratitude. I ask each morning, in daily ritual, to be a vessel, a channel, a hollow reed, as the Divine sees fit. It is a counter-balance to the part of me that feels she can never do enough. When I am in that mode, I can accept that whatever I do, as long as I do it whole-heartedly, it will always be enough.
http://youtu.be/HQrud4CQ-O0 Truly-Snatam Kaur
I have long been both a ‘go-getter’ and ‘go-giver’; one who is seemingly always on the move and also in service to others, sometimes to my own detriment. I have used my God-given gifts to support myself and my family and offer positively life changing ideas to others so that they can transform their lives. When I look at my life from an outsider’s perspective, I can think “Wow, that woman is busy and accomplished and look how far she has progressed in the past 25-30 years, from a co-dependent people pleaser to someone who lives out loud and speaks her mind, even if her knees tremble.” All of that may be so AND YET, I often discount those things, even when I Google my name and see it in black and white. Humility kicks in; as well as the ‘agnoxious’ (a combination of aggravating and obnoxious) voice that screeches, snarls and snarks “If you were all that, you’d be farther along in all areas of your life and you would have the experiences you desire…..” ad nauseum
Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to be in the presence of Lisa Nichols; a woman who embodies living life to the fullest, as she says, to save her own life following escaping an abusive marriage with her sanity intact. She was launched into the spotlight with the movie The Secret and her powerful contributions to the Chicken Soup For The Soul Series. She came in to our area to speak and I jumped on board to help promote it, since I knew how inspired and timely her message would be for so many, including me. I was invited to be part of the pre-presentation VIP event during which we were encouraged to dialogue with Lisa and others in the room about our work in the world and what we wanted to experience.
I had asked about moving through blocks that seem to keep me stuck in the social work mindset that tells me money doesn’t matter and I’ll get by, as much as I desire to be successful on all levels with my writing and speaking. I commented that I had sent numerous query letters to Oprah to write for her magazine or to be on her show and have not yet heard from them, among other professional goals into which I pour myself . She looked me in the eye and asked if I really wanted the answer. She told me to stop focusing on the destination and the inner critic chatter that tells me I’m not enough, since I’m not ‘there yet’ and instead, focus on being of service and what needs to happen, will unfold in perfect timing. Less pursuing, more attracting. There is no ‘there’ to get to. No done point. A work in progress is what I am. It might not surprise you to know that the waterworks began with her words. The woman sitting next to me grabbed my hand and held it, in comfort. I felt grounded by the touch of someone who likely had a sense of what I might be feeling. As I listened to the stories that others in the room shared, I grokked that they knew too. Lisa reminded me that the time I spent in the former mode, could have been invested in helping even more people. Feeling quite humbled by that statement. As the evening progressed, I found myself feeling an even stronger kinship with this woman whose work has touched people world wide. It’s nice to be on the same transformational team.
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqolUC13bwMc The Climb-Miley Cyrus