Tag Archives: life

Preparing for Your Inner Journey | The Chopra Center

Sometimes things happen that we think are random.

But most of the time, it’s the universe, speaking clearly to us.

As you may know, I have been taking Deepak Chopra’s and Orpah’s 21 day meditation. Once I finished, I started receiving emails with gifts – 7 days of them. One was for a new meditation series – Awaken to Happiness, which I started today.

This series is free, too. Each lesson takes a week of learning…growing and starting to see – beginning with exploring happiness and identifying your true source of happiness.

Today, the first day, the universe sent me to an article by Caroline Myss – an article about taking a journey inward to learn more about my self, my ego, my reactions and my life.

Since it is the first day of a new year and since I consider this article to be a gift from the universe, I wanted to share it with anyone who wants to begin a new year with a new journey – one that can quiet the noise of always needing
“…just a bit more” whether it’s stuff, money or ego boosting.

I wish everyone the best in 2014 and hope that you might want to join me as I begin to journey into what really makes me happy – who really makes me happy, as I begin to discover the wonderful spirit that lives inside my skin — my soul.

Namaste

Preparing for Your Inner Journey | The Chopra Center.

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Education, Gifts, Mysteries, World Changing Ideas

My Backyard Chickens & The Last Chicken Standing

I am grateful for many things, as I wrote in this post 6 months ago.  But what I am most thankful for was somewhat of a surprise for some people.  It was a chicken.

My chicken.  Lucia or Lucy  as she is known affectionately.

It’s Lucy of the flashing red feathers and bright golden eyes who brings a smile to my face this holiday season. She has brought great joy to our lives for almost 4 years. She is a New Hampshire Red chicken. And she is or was the last chicken standing.

Lucia died in the wee hours of Sunday morning, July 8th, 2012, age and heat catching up with her.  But she is still here, in my heart.

She and her sisters arrived in May of 2008, just one day old.  The packing box they where shipped in weighed more than the 4 of them, combined.  Tiny, soft, fluffy and so vulnerable, they quickly grew into big, beautiful birds, each with her own personality.

My chickens moved out into the real world at just a week old.

Lucia was the smallest, the quietest and always the last one to get to the food.  Even as a chick, her nature was gentle. Today, she sweeps out of her Eglu Go – Green – Chicken House each morning to feast on a mixture of barley, wild rice and brown rice with a nice topping of shredded cheddar cheese.

Then she patrols her pen, always on the lookout for some wayward bug or hapless spider who entered her house while she was sleeping.

Born with a set number of eggs to lay in her life time, Lucy delivered the last of her 230 or so about 6 months ago.  She is now fully retired.  And she is alone.  Her sisters, Heathcliff, Gertrude and Squeaky Ethel left her behind.

Squeaky Ethel, the most intense of all of them and the one who tried to escape every time the door opened, died first, simply laying down one afternoon and not getting up.  Tall, elegant Heathcliff was the next to go.  She laid the biggest eggs, popped out of the Eglu like she was being shot out of a cannon and generally enjoyed just being a chicken.  She, too, just went to sleep one night.

Gertrude had a stroke.  That’s the only way I can describe it.  I found her lying in front of the Eglu one spring afternoon.  Thinking she was dead, I bent down and picked her up gently and she looked at me.  Her body was rigid; she couldn’t move but she was warm and she was alive.

I took her to the patio, sat on the glider and held her in my lap under the afternoon sun, stroking her and telling her how beautiful she was.  An hour later, she died in my arms.

All three lie in small graves in my garden, giving back to my soil and to me.  Lucy will lie there one day but I hope not too soon.

Yes, I know Lucy’s days are numbered.  And I want to make them the best that I can.  So I put fresh straw in the Eglu, feed her blueberries and yogurt for an afternoon snack and give her all the love this small, beautiful red-headed chicken deserves until she draws her last breath.

She will be buried with great dignity in the garden she loved to scratch in and I will know my girls are out there gardening with me.

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Filed under Death & Dying, Gardening, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death

Thoughts on Winter & Darkness & Politics

I am starting to fear silence again, filling it with sound, running from whatever my head or heart is trying to tell me.  Does this happen to you?

These are the moments when I cannot sit still.  My eyes move from place to place.  My skin itches.  I must jump up and fill the time before….before what?  What could my inner self have to say that so frightens my outer self?

In the past, these moments have led to insight.  In the past, these moments meant personal growth. But what am I supposed to learn this time?

I feel too old to learn, too sure of the knowledge that my time has passed.  I am walking slowly toward death, my own, my loved ones but death nonetheless.

Maybe it’s the coming of winter, the rare October snow we just had.  Maybe it’s the approach of daylight savings — long, dark afternoons into longer, darker nights.   Maybe it’s my feeling that I am no longer the all  powerful wizard of my early days, the one with all the answers.

Maybe it’s because I fear this lesson has much broader implications.

The future keeps crowding into the present – the outside world into my small, sweet corner of it.  Our world, the world I grew up in, the world we hippies and peaceniks changed, the world we loved, was proud of, is disappearing.

Spinning faster and faster away from me, it has moved on its axis to a place of, “I’ve got mine; the rest of you, go away.”  This world is a foreign place for me and I hold no answers on how to fix it.

How I wish I was still that wizard of my younger years and able to make the coming years as rich and warm for my daughter and grandchildren as they were for me.  How I wish the future would not loom on the ever darkening horizon of financial woes, economic downturns.  How I wish our “elected officials” would actually do more to earn their pay and less to get re-elected.

Politicians have lost their way.  Honor no longer goes with the job; passion for what’s right, not what’s personally enriching has disappeared, replaced by greed and guile.

Perhaps this is the lesson I am being forced to learn — there is no easy way out of this huge and frightening mess our country is in, no easy way to close the gap between the ridiculously rich and the grindingly poor.  Perhaps politicians should have to face only one test to run for office.

Do they have a terminal illness?

If only the dying were allowed to run for office, maybe, just maybe it might help them focus on what’s truly important instead of what’s expedient.

 

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Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage

A Good Marriage Is Easy To Spot

How do you know your marriage is good?

Passionately and deeply in love?  Want to spend all your waking and sleeping hours with that one person?  Enjoying today, together  but planning for tomorrow?  Moving in, setting up a joint bank account and sharing the day-to-day tasks of living?

Every one of these could indicate a strong relationship, a good marriage.  Anyone of them could also be just a symptom of what looks like a good marriage.

The first time one of you makes a bad decision, you’ll get a look at what underpins your marriage.  Lose the savings account on a bad investment and watch the argument rip from money to control and back again.  Or make a bad choice morally – just once and it didn’t really mean anything.  But your partner may not be able to bridge the gap between the before and the after.

The truth is anyone can have a “good” marriage when things are going well.  The acid test only happens when things go badly.

Sometimes, bad choices can make or break your marriage depending on how you and your beloved handle it.  But what happens when no one makes a choice but both of you have to live with the consequences?

What happens when one of you gets sick?  I don’t mean a head cold or the flu.  I mean sick unto death.  In our case, it was cancer.  Will you run or will you stay?

It has been 10 years since our journey began, 10 years of chemo therapy, surgery, hospitalization after hospitalization.  Sitting here, reading my journal from the days when I thought, we both thought, that treatment would be fast, surgery would finish it, tears are streaming down my face.  What happened to my husband, to us, still cuts to the bone.  Our loss runs deep and wide.  Our sorrow is endless.

But our marriage not only survived, it got stronger with every treatment, every surgery, every hospitalization.

Since he was diagnosed with cancer, my husband and I have spent every vacation, every year, in that very expensive resort with very small rooms, a single bed and terrible food.  Hitting 34 hospitalizations in this, the 10th anniversary of our relationship with cancer, we are closer together than ever, enjoy each others company over that of almost anyone we know and wish only for one thing, at least another 10 year of whatever life has to throw at us.

It seems ours is a good marriage.

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Filed under Healthcare, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Life Is A Choice – What WIll You Choose

This morning I feel the weight of all my choices rushing in to sit on my shoulders. It is a gray wet morning, leaves scuttling across the yard and my life suddenly reflected  in the balance of good and bad choices made in my career and what they cost me.

What I Chose
Work.  Sounds so simple, so easy, but that choice cost me years and years of my life.

I was a “good” employee.  Work on the weekend?  Sure.  Fly to Florida and work there for 5 weeks without a day off?  Sure.  Spend a week out in Yosemite National Park every month for a year?  Why not?  Live in Los Alamos for 2 months while installing a new system?  Will do.

For almost 10 years of my life I literally penciled in visits to my husband, our daughter, my sisters and brothers.  I was never home on holidays.  They were ideal opportunities to install hardware and software in the many locations across the country where I managed up to 100 people on the team at Marine Midland, Newark Airport, Kennedy Space Center and on and on and on.

I was an executive with an expense account, a secretary and all the gold cards you could possibly want.  First class travel, five star hotels, I had it all.  But one day, something changed.

I started thinking about what all the gold in my wallet and my bank account were costing me.  I stood still long enough to do the calculations.  Working 7 days a week,  averaging between 90 and 120 hours –  reduced my six figure salary to an hourly rate of about $10.00 an hour – what the UPS driver was making except he went home every night and had weekends off.

Then I made the mistake of thinking about what my choices cost me.

What I Lost

My Mom
My mother lived west of Roanoke on 163 acres owned by my brother Mike.  If I saw her 5 times in 10 years, it was a miracle.  Usually, I used my frequent flyer miles to fly her here, to our home, for the one weekend out of 52 that I might be in town.

My mom died of a cerebral hemorrhage while I was in Chicago for yet another meeting.  There was so much I forgot to ask her.  So much she could have shared with me.  But I never stopped long enough to ask.  Now I can’t.

My Life
I was married, had a beautiful home on 2.5 acres in horse country in Pennsylvania.  A gourmet kitchen I didn’t use, a suite off the master bedroom complete with jacuzzi that gathered dust between the maid’s visits and years of sunny summer afternoons on the deck that I never saw.  When someone asked me what my house was like, my answer was swift and sharp, “How would I know?  I don’t live there; I just pay for it.”

I clearly remember the night that I knew I was making the wrong choices.

It was Sunday night on Labor Day weekend. Our daughter was in labor at Bryn Mawr Hospital.  She was ill but it was a holiday.  The Pathology Lab was closed and the doctors didn’t know what was making her sick.  Only after our second grandchild was born with strep did they figure it out.  Whisked from the delivery room to the NICU, the baby’s prospects were poor.

But I had a flight to catch.  I was needed back in Florida.  Heading for the airport, fidgeting in the back of the limousine, I could not get a handle on what was wrong with me.  I needed to go; I didn’t want to.  Suddenly my work ethic and my instincts were facing off and it felt like all the easy answers were off the table until I asked myself two questions:

  1. If I got on the plane and the baby died, how would our daughter be able to face his death?  How would I feel about my actions?  About myself?
  2. If I didn’t get on the plane, if I went back to the hospital to hold our daughter’s hand and be held by my husband, would the meeting be cancelled?  Would the business I worked for fail?

When boarding for First Class was called, I actually walked onto the plane, put my laptop in the overhead, sat down and ordered a drink before I knew I just could not do it.  I could not go.  Leaping up, grabbing my laptop, I raced back up the ramp and into the airport.  Dialing my cell phone, I called my limo back to the airport and ran to the arrival area to meet my driver.

That was the turning point, the moment when I knew that somehow I had sold out all my old values for money and merchandise.  Did I quit the next morning?  No.  It took 2 more years and the death of my boss’s husband to make me wake up.  He died alone, in his garage, in his car, with the motor running.  All I could think was it could have been me who got the phone call, my husband who died.

I woke up.  I realized I was committing suicide – long, slow, deliberate – but suicide nonetheless.

I made a different choice.  I traded in the gold and came home.  My salary went from 6 figures to $28,000 a year.  I came home very night, to spend weekends and holidays with my family and to enjoy time, the only thing we cannot buy.

What choices are you making?  And what do they really cost?

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Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Why This Woman Should NOT Mow The Lawn

I should have known….

Those four words would make a nice tattoo on my forehead, a constant reminder not to go near the mower again.  If only I had been smart enough to get them “writ large”  on my bony pate before this summer.  This summer, it was as though the gods of the mower underground decided to show me just how far away from all things lawn and mower I should be.

This chain of disaster, like most, started innocently enough.  The first time the mower just waved a little warning flag.

It was a simple case of running out of gas on the side of a hill.  It took my mechanically-inclined husband and our neighbor about an hour to figure this out, however, because the operator (that would be me) insisted I filled the gas tank before I started.   I did put gas in…but filled was not the word Pat used when he and Jim finally lifted up the seat, spun off the top and looked inside.

The second time, Pat was at Spring Carlisle so I thought I would surprise him by mowing.  Of course, I was riding around, literally in circles, mowing the back yard as fast as I could when suddenly, the mower choked and the blades below the deck stopped spinning.    As soon as I got off, I knew why.  I had managed to suck about 20 feet of a 50 foot hose up under the deck.

The deck would not lift up off the ground so I spent the next 90 minutes using a long-handled shovel as a lever, lifting the deck about 2 inches in the air and shoving my arm up to my elbow underneath to pry, pull and chop bits of hose off the blades.  I almost made it but the last 4 feet were tightly wrapped around the center column.

Another 20 minutes with my cheek on the ground, my arm under the deck and my knees pushing the shovel down and the deck up and I knew it was all over.  I would have to make the call.  Wiping the mud off my face, I dialed my husband.  He was on his way home and said he would take care of it.

He walked into the yard, looked at the mower and me, walked to the shed, grabbed the ramps and put them on the edge of the patio.  Then he started the mower, drove it up the ramps and in 3 minutes, the hose was defeated, the last bits lying on the ground at his feet.  This was when I should have known I was outclassed by my man and my mower.  But no, there was one more embarrassing moment to come in this mower trilogy.

Two weeks ago, I was mowing, again, and suddenly the mower stopped, dead. All I could think of was I can’t call my husband again and tell him that the very expensive John Deere riding mower was dead and I was behind the wheel, again!  It was the 3rd time in 4 months!  How would I explain this one to him?

This time the dealership had to come out and pick the mower up on a flatbed.  The hydraulics had quit – no power steering, no deck, no wheels….no, no, no… My husband tried to make me feel better but it was no use. I still felt like a mower murderer.

Five days later, when John Deere drove up and rolled our repaired mower down the ramps, I decided to try mowing one more time.  Pat wasn’t there to stop me.  And so the mower gods shot their last arrow.

I couldn’t have been on the mower more than 15 minutes when the right front deck wheel fell off.  Here is where this story gets really, really ugly.
Whipping my cell phone out of my pocket, I call the John Deere dealership and ask for the Service Manager.  When the poor innocent picked up the phone and said hello, I let him have it.  Here follows some excerpts:

ME:  “Fifteen minutes, wheel off, deck not working…   You guys broke our mower.”  When he finally managed to get a word in around my Daffy Duck imitation, he asked me a single question.
HIM: “Do you have the broken parts?”
ME:  “What?  You think I have the broken bits?  I was mowing.  I don’t have the parts.  (Warning: if you are not mechanically inclined, don’t do this at home.)  You guys broke it.  You took the deck off.”
HIM:  Ma’am, taking the deck off would not cause the bracket holding the front wheel to break.”
ME:  “Really?  Really??  Well it did break and I want this thing fixed.”
HIM:  “I’m assuming you want it fixed quickly.  How about tomorrow?”
ME:  “Tomorrow?  Are you kidding?  Now, I want someone out here right now.  I want it fixed, now.”
HIM:  “I’ll check for the parts and will dispatch a mobile mechanic immediately ma’am.”
ME:  “Good thing.”

I hung up. Then I went looking for the parts.  And I found them.  And I knew I had to call back, apologize, profusely, offer to pay for the parts, the house call and my very, very bad manners.  I called, I asked for the Service Manager (to his credit he actually got on the phone and asked how he could help).  And I apologized for my very bad behavior.

The mower was fixed that evening.  I was still suffering from the embarrassment hangover you get when you have made a complete fool of yourself.  An in-person apology with a box of handmade truffles from Little Sister’s Kitchen helped but nothing has helped with my considerable reluctance to saddle up the lawn mower.

But, there’s always next year!

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Filed under Home Ec on Acid, Love and Marriage

Promise Me This

Ah, here again.  We know this place, you and I.

Murmuring heads leaning over a chart, talking about what’s next.  Phones and bells and monitors ringing and beeping.  Soft footfalls in the hall outside your door. The steady whir and click of the IV as it drips fluid and medication into your veins.

Another hospital.  Another time when the outside world disappears and everything in our lives narrows to this room, this bed, this time.

As our future unfolds before my eyes, I ask only one thing.

Will you promise me this?

If I am lying in that narrow bed, if I am dying before you, will you slip in with me, wrap your arms around me and hold me the way you do every morning before we get up?

It is a small act but it would give me the courage to go quietly into that dark good night.  If you are there, nesting with me, my back leaning on your chest, our heads together, your breath caressing my neck, I can reach out and hold on.

I will not be afraid.  I will be loved into the next world, soaring on your heartbeat and the touch of your hand on mine.  And when it’s over, when I am gone, lay your lips next to my ear and says these words – for you.  For me.  For us.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

And know that I am not gone, I am there, just beyond the horizon, waiting to take your hand in mine once again.

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Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage