Sunday, December 30, 2012

For Holly :)

I thought of you dear, as I read this recipe..


Better Than Anything Cake

IMG_8127
Combines all things great into the PERFECT gooey dessert!

Ingredients

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Instructions

  1. Bake cake according to directions in a 9x13 pan.
  2. Let cake cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Poke holes in cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon.
  4. While cake is still warm, slowly pour over sweetened condensed milk over the top making sure some gets in all the holes of the cake.
  5. Next drizzle the caramel topping evenly over the cake slowly, making sure some gets in all the holes as well.
  6. Spread cool whip over the top evenly.
  7. Sprinkle with Heath Candy bar pieces.
  8. Store in fridge until ready to eat. Store any leftovers in fridge.
Enjoy!
*NOTE* you can combine the sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping in a separate bowl, stir together and then pour on cake, but I just use the easy method so I don’t have to dirty another dish :)

Kind of Figured it Might Happen Again.

that's all I have to say today.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just for Today. (elephant journal 12/29)


Just for today, swing wide that proverbial “life’s door” stepping boldly on into the outside.

Scream loudly for all and everyone to hear—let the wind flush your cheeks and mess up your hair, as you run wildly forward and into your fate…your destiny.

Just for today, embrace your dream with both hands locked firmly and tightly around its back—squeezing with all of your moxie and might—as if to say, “I shall never lose you again, my friend.”

Just for today, smile with all your heart and at all those things that wander in and out and through your path and then, let that smile find the empty eyes of a stranger, smiling once more until those eyes shine back to you again.

Just for today, walk fearlessly and ferociously out and into this world and on again and into that dark night. Hold your head up high and strong and let your heart guide you to your most perfect you.

And then, look up and far and deep into those stars knowing each and every one of them is there—just for you—to share their love and light your way.

Just for today, love with all and everything you’ve got and if you find your mind clinging backwards instead of forwards, reminding you of just how very hard a heart may shatter and fall…then, and right there, love again, but love yourself first and most of all.

Just for today, let go of all of your moments save for this one, right here and right now.

Let loose your grip on the way back when and save tomorrow again for another day.

Just for today, hold all of forever and everything in it, tucked gently in this moment now…promising to never, ever let it slip away again.

Just for today.

Source: piccsy.com via Tara on Pinterest

There is nothing more beautiful.

Source: imgfave.com via Tara on Pinterest

Walk With the Dreamers.

Be that dreamer, 
Be that believer, 
Be courageous.. and cheerful... 
Plan and then *do*... 
Let your head live up in those clouds... because, that is where the magic begins... 


And then... be that spark that is bright enough, and powerful enough, and just magical enough to light up this whole big world... and all of the darkest skies that surround it. 


But most of all and just for today, believe - anything is possible, and it's all right there for you.


*namaste*



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Something worth remembering.

If you want something you've never had before... be willing to do something you've never done.

Source: thechive.com via Tara on Pinterest

Monday, December 24, 2012

a good christmas cry.

sometimes, it can be - that someone we love, may say something that pokes us right at the core... at our very heart... making us feel so not so very well. 

so tonight... after a very long day... and after someone saying something so hurtful... I believe I am going to retire early for the next few days... and pray for good energy to come this way... I made a Christmas wish tonight, it was a big one - I'm hoping for a hug. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

One hand to ship. One hand to me.

"One hand to ship. One hand to me."

It's not something we often think of as we move into the busyness and noise of our day ~ focussing all of what we have in that which we are doing, sometimes pushing all of our own hearts so cleanly out of the way. How is it that we have become so detached from self?

"One hand to ship. One hand to me."

Any old sailor will tell you, this is the way to steer that ship without losing one's balance. But in many ways, it reminds us ~ that in giving energy to the work in front us, we must also be mindful to our own self in that process. In this way, we don't lose ourselves in the activity of doing. In this way, we are able to stay in balance and always present. Only when we are present, are we fully open to the moment.

"One hand to ship. One hand to me." 

Remember this, as you move through each moment of your day ~ namaste.


Friday, December 21, 2012

A letter from a Plum Village monk and native of Newtown, CT, written last weekend.

Brother Phap Luu, a monastic at Plum Village, grew up in Newtown, Connecticut. He has written an amazing, heartfelt letter to shooter Adam Lanza, that you can read here:

Saturday, 15th of December, 2012
Dharma Cloud Temple
Plum Village

Dear Adam,

Let me start by saying that I wish for you to find peace. It would be easy just to call you a monster and condemn you for evermore, but I don't think that would help either of us. Given what you have done, I realize that peace may not be easy to find. In a fit of rage, delusion and fear—yes, above all else, I think, fear—you thought that killing was a way out. It was clearly a powerful emotion that drove you from your mother's dead body to massacre children and staff of Sandy Hook School and to turn the gun in the end on yourself. You decided that the game was over.

But the game is not over, though you are dead. You didn't find a way out of your anger and loneliness. You live on in other forms, in the torn families and their despair, in the violation of their trust, in the gaping wound in a community, and in the countless articles and news reports spilling across the country and the world—yes, you live on even in me. I was also a young boy who grew up in Newtown. Now I am a Zen Buddhist monk. I see you quite clearly in me now, continued in the legacy of your actions, and I see that in death you have not become free.

You know, I used to play soccer on the school field outside the room where you died, when I was the age of the children you killed. Our team was the Eagles, and we won our division that year. My mom still keeps the trophy stashed in a box. To be honest, I was and am not much of a soccer player. I've known winning, but I've also known losing, and being picked last for a spot on the team. I think you've known this too—the pain of rejection, isolation and loneliness. Loneliness too strong to bear.

You are not alone in feeling this. When loneliness comes up it is so easy to seek refuge in a virtual world of computers and films, but do these really help or only increase our isolation? In our drive to be more connected, have we lost our true connection?

I want to know what you did with your loneliness. Did you ever, like me, cope by walking in the forests that cover our town? I know well the slope that cuts from that school to the stream, shrouded by beech and white pine. It makes up the landscape of my mind. I remember well the thrill of heading out alone on a path winding its way—to Treadwell Park! At that time it felt like a magical path, one of many secrets I discovered throughout those forests, some still hidden. Did you ever lean your face on the rough furrows of an oak's bark, feeling its solid heartwood and tranquil vibrancy? Did you ever play in the course of a stream, making pools with the stones as if of this stretch you were king? Did you ever experience the healing, connection and peace that comes with such moments, like I often did?

Or did your loneliness know only screens, with dancing figures of light at the bid of your will? How many false lives have you lived, how many shots fired, bombs exploded and lives lost in video games and movies?

By killing yourself at the age of 20, you never gave yourself the chance to grow up and experience a sense of how life's wonders can bring happiness. I know at your age I hadn't yet seen how to do this.

I am 37 now, about the age my teacher, the Buddha, realized there was a way out of suffering. I am not enlightened. This morning, when I heard the news, and read the words of my shocked classmates, within minutes a wave of sorrow arose, and I wept. Then I walked a bit further, into the woods skirting our monastery, and in the wet, winter cold of France, beside the laurel, I cried again. I cried for the children, for the teachers, for their families. But I also cried for you, Adam, because I think that I know you, though I know we have never met. I think that I know the landscape of your mind, because it is the landscape of my mind.

I don't think you hated those children, or that you even hated your mother. I think you hated your loneliness.

I cried because I have failed you. I have failed to show you how to cry. I have failed to sit and listen to you without judging or reacting. Like many of my peers, I left Newtown at seventeen, brimming with confidence and purpose, with the congratulations of friends and the approbation of my elders. I was one of the many young people who left, and in leaving we left others, including you, just born, behind. In that sense I am a part of the culture that failed you. I didn't know yet what a community was, or that I was a part of one, until I no longer had it, and so desperately needed it.

I have failed to be one of the ones who could have been there to sit and listen to you. I was not there to help you to breathe and become aware of your strong emotions, to help you to see that you are more than just an emotion.

But I am also certain that others in the community cared for you, loved you. Did you know it?

In eighth grade I lived in terror of a classmate and his anger. It was the first time I knew aggression. No computer screen or television gave a way out, but my imagination and books. I dreamt myself a great wizard, blasting fireballs down the school corridor, so he would fear and respect me. Did you dream like this too?

The way out of being a victim is not to become the destroyer. No matter how great your loneliness, how heavy your despair, you, like each one of us, still have the capacity to be awake, to be free, to be happy, without being the cause of anyone's sorrow. You didn't know that, or couldn't see that, and so you chose to destroy. We were not skillful enough to help you see a way out.

With this terrible act you have let us know. Now I am listening, we are all listening, to you crying out from the hell of your misunderstanding. You are not alone, and you are not gone. And you may not be at peace until we can stop all our busyness, our quest for power, money or sex, our lives of fear and worry, and really listen to you, Adam, to be a friend, a brother, to you. With a good friend like that your loneliness might not have overwhelmed you.

But we needed your help too, Adam. You needed to let us know that you were suffering, and that is not easy to do. It means overcoming pride, and that takes courage and humility. Because you were unable to do this, you have left a heavy legacy for generations to come. If we cannot learn how to connect with you and understand the loneliness, rage and despair you felt—which also lie deep and sometimes hidden within each one of us—not by connecting through Facebook or Twitter or email or telephone, but by really sitting with you and opening our hearts to you, your rage will manifest again in yet unforeseen forms.

Now we know you are there. You are not random, or an aberration. Let your action move us to find a path out of the loneliness within each one of us. I have learned to use awareness of my breath to recognize and transform these overwhelming emotions, but I hope that every man, woman or child does not need to go halfway across the world to become a monk to learn how to do this. As a community we need to sit down and learn how to cherish life, not with gun-checks and security, but by being fully present for one another, by being truly there for one another. For me, this is the way to restore harmony to our communion.

Douglas Bachman (Br. Phap Luu)
who grew up at 22 Lake Rd. in Newtown, CT., is a Buddhist monk and student of the Vietnamese Zen Master and monk Thich Nhat Hanh. As part of an international community, he teaches Applied Ethics and the art of mindful living to students and school teachers. He lives in Plum Village Monastery, in Thenac, France.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Get in Touch With Me.

I have been getting more and more contacts and questions - a big mucho-thanko to elephant journal for sharing their site with a rambling goof of a writer.. but I guess this means now I have to get somewhat organized... *gasp*... Anyway - here's my online 'business' card, in case you ever want to reach me - all roads to lead to home, and I always love to chat. xo

Inspiration.

On days, just like today, where I find myself at the 'almost very end' — just about when the night sky gains the slightest of chills...

 And just about when my little pup climbs into my lap... 

I close my eyes, find my breath, and thank the stars for all these most wonderful things... 

I think of all of those I love and whose love lights my path... 

I think of all the moments I have shared and hope yet to share... 

But most of all, I think of how forever grateful I am to most very simply — be here now. 

This is what I am most grateful for this evening. 

What is your gratitude as you end this day?




 

 

*Love* this. :)

One of my all time, most favorite things to think and say out loud and often to myself... Go now, and live....

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Surprises the Dalai Lama Most?



A most brilliant reminder, of how it is we should view this life and all our moments within it. If you would like to see more of this article (and many other cool ramblings and writings).. you can visit elephant journal and read to your heart's content. 

 

Just Because.

This is how we all need to wake up :)



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

13 Amazing Quotes about Gratitude. ~ Elephant Journal, 12/18



Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

At this very special time of year, it’s important to take that ever-thoughtful pause in our busy day to show gratitude for our own lives and the lives of those around us. And in taking this moment to make time for gratitude, we’re giving ourselves the most wonderful gift of all—the gift of now.

Be grateful, in every moment of every day. Because, when we believe our Universe if filled with abundance and love, then this world and all of our moments within it will be always and forever wonderful.

So, as you’re busy getting ready for this holiday season, why not take just a moment or two to make room for gratitude?

Happy Holidays, and namaste—may the gratitude that is within you, become the blessings that surround you.

13 Amazing Quotes on Gratitude

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
~ Thornton Wilder
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
~ Albert Einstein
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
~ William Arthur Ward
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~ John F. Kennedy
There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
~ Ralph H. Blum
The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.
~ Richard Bach
Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.
~ Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
~ Albert Schweitzer
Forget yesterday—it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow—you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift—today.
~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.
~  Alphonse Karr
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~ William Arthur Ward
If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.
~ Winnie the Pooh

And a bonus poem, with a gentle reminder of how we might live each of our days.

Dare to Be
by Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free 


When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.
Dare to be the best you can—
At all times, Dare to be!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Letter to My Children.

 

 

"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." - Dalai Lama

As I turned on the news yesterday, my heart sank learning of this great tragedy. I watched as our President paused in tears over our Nation's terrible loss. In that moment, as most parents, I began that process of searching for just the right words to give comfort to my own children and in this hour.


The following, is a letter I have written them - that I wish to share with you. I hope it brings comfort to your children, as it did to mine.


A Letter to My Children.


To my most precious darlings, my love - my light...


I suppose that you're wondering what it is that is going on in this great big crazy world. And, as with all things, you're probably looking to me to provide you answers, insight... perhaps, even a little light. But the truth is, it's not always easy being a parent and finding always just the very right thing to say. I suppose, when you were much younger, this job was much easier.


Why is the sky blue?


How many stars are in the sky, Mommy?


Where does all the toilet paper go when we flush?


But then, you've grown - and now, you are just a little older, and your view of this world has changed, as it always and forever will.

And you're probably looking to me now to give you just the right words to make sense of all of these most recent and horrible catastrophes. But the bottom line is, that sometimes - I just don't know these answers. And I can't always be there to help you to understand why it is that these things are happening.

But you are here now, seeking comfort - and as your Mom, I feel compelled to share with you my heart.

My darlings, sometimes there are no answers. And, sometimes, there are just no words to describe what it is that we should be thinking and feeling and believing as we move through to our next day.

All I know and I have ever known is that everything we have and will ever need is right here with us in this very moment.

You’re probably wondering what it is that we must do when faced with these often overwhelming life situations. My darlings, what you must do in these moments is breathe, because that is always the very first step.

Then, when you’ve found your breath again—’be love.’ With every breath of every moment and with all that you’ve got in your hearts— ‘be love’ again.

Because, my darlings, when these things happen in our world, you will find that love is what we all most need right now. You will serve this world well, if you are able to carry this forward in your hearts no matter what the darkness may bring.

Be love, my beautiful babies. And know, that we are much more than our bodies, that our inner light will shine on just like all those stars in the sky. Our spirits, and the energy that we share, will forge the path for our next generation.

Be love, my beautiful darlings. Because, in the end, you will always find that it’s true what they say: “love conquers all.”

Why has this been such a difficult year? Why did this happen? My darlings, in life you may find that sometimes there are just no answers and no words to describe.

It’s in these moments that we must most hold dear to our hearts faith and hope and lovingkindness, because without these there is no hope.

Hope is what will always bring up the sun on a brand new day. Hope will forever toss those stars high and deep into the dark sky. Hope is what will carry us through those nights when we feel that we have lost it all.

In those moments when you feel your hope is most challenged, those are the moments you hold hope most dear to your hearts. Because, in the end, and no matter what, hope is what will always and forever carry you through even your most darkest hour.

Sometimes, there are no answers. But in the end, we always have hope.

In love and light, forever and always,

Mommy

P.S. Hope is what makes the sky blue.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Need Your Help!!!

NEED A QUICK FAVOR!!!!!

As you all know, I am writing for elephant journal... and, this year they are rewarding their writers with a little extra cash in pocket. They are having a contest for us regulars - paying out $250 for each few thousand 'views'. With all my expenses this year, I could really use your help getting the link out there... with a request for just a quick "click". 

Here is the link - 

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/12/the-gift-of-now/


xo

The Gift of Now. ~ 12/10/12 elephant journal



Source: etsy.com via Lynn on Pinterest

I had finally made my way outward and into this world, venturing off as if a new explorer discovering this whole great planet all over again.

And with an almost hesitant awareness, I found my way into the city to meet a dear friend for coffee.
I had felt a bit down lately, with these approaching holidays, stuck in my home recuperating from a very long and difficult surgery. In some ways, I had wanted to shut my door to this whole ugly mess of holiday festivities, which I had tried my best to avoid in these last several weeks. Although, in my heart, I questioned—how can anyone really hide from Christmas?
But as we walked about, I couldn’t help but breathe in all of these most brilliant surroundings. I had been tucked away for what seemed so long, that these streets in some way felt “new” again. And with each step, it took me back, to a time when I was just so very small and the snow was still so very new.
I remembered sleeping anxiously the night before, my heart filled with the anticipation of knowing that the dark of this night would soon give way to brightness of that first snow. In the morning, I would bundle up into every piece and sort of protective winter warmings, and swing wide that big, steel door to our house… stopping for just a moment to admire this great and new wonderland.

photo: Ross Tucknott
There is a sound to winter, a sort of muffled stillness setting the stage for the symphony of gusting winds and cracking trees. And that first breath—that first big winter breath—would sting my lungs and force a gasp. Oh, how I would love to trample off into that deep snow, with all the force and determination and might my tiny little body could produce—pausing only just long enough to watch the clumps of snowflakes drop to the earth, and wonder how it was that they could always fall so effortlessly and perfectly into place.
Hours later, my mother would lure me in with promises of dry clothes, a spot by the fire and a mug of hot cocoa to warm my nearly frostbitten hands still buried somewhere deep inside my snow-caked mittens.
As night would begin to fall again, the only remnants of my day, would be a trail of snow-packed footprints somewhat shadowed in the moonlight and displaying for all the world to see, my each and every move on this cold, winter day. And even though this snow, was so familiar, with each passing season—just like this day—it always felt so completely and entirely new.
Convalescing can be quite the trickster, playing with our minds and moods in ways neither imagined nor expected. But as with all things, and specifically our life’s challenges, in some ways our biggest adversary can become our greatest teacher.
I had been so caught up in the process of being tucked away, that I had almost turned down this day’s meeting, somewhat fearful of the world around me and all those things left waiting for me. But something compelled me to venture outward, to take a chance, and believe again—if only just for today. To have the same faith and trust and wonderment, as I had “swinging wide” that door so many years before.
And as we walked along, sharing stories of these days and weeks gone by, I realized just how verylucky I had been. And I also realized, had I stayed tucked away into my inside world, I would’ve almost and most nearly missed this most wonderful gift—a reminder of seasons past, and the brilliance of being able to see this world as “new” again. But most importantly, I would have missed out on the very best gift of all— this gift of now.

Time moves with us or without us, never looking back to see if we’ve kept pace.

And it moves on irrespective of the things and stuff and matter of our days. But, if we’re able to approach each moment with the anticipation that precedes that first winter snow—with the same spirit, determination, and child-like incessant unstoppability from our many years ago—then we’ll have always, and most certainly, lived this now, well.
Happy Holidays, and namaste—may the gratitude that is within you, become the blessings that surround you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brilliant heart video.

As science looks more and more at the human body with greater technology, we have begun to come full circle in understanding what the ancients knew about the heart, the brain, and divine consciousness. What is the heart? Is it more than just a pump for blood? Or could the truth about its power be related to the essence of your entire being, and have a field of energy so great that it can transform not just your own being into that of light, love and happiness, but even those around you. What is the shining light of the heart, and how can you access it and gain the inner knowing of who you are and why you are here?

From the Spirit Science Channel - and worth the view: CLICK HERE




Fascintating Video.

And thank you to my new dear friend, also named Tara, for sharing ~




Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Second Thought for Today

Leave it to Dr. Seuss to remind us of those simple things that keep that childlike wonderment so vibrantly alive in each and all of us...your five second thought for today, something quick to cause you to pause and reflect, and hopefully wonder why :-)

xo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The First Day Back to "Upright"

How much we take for granted, these little things that come so effortlessly into our day. We manage them almost in passing, we've done them so many millions of times - they become as effortless as breathing.

And then the bottom drops - and you find yourself spending 45 minutes of hard core effort and ingenuity just to put on a bra - in the end, fashioning a MacGuyver like device using last years Christmas decorations 'hangers', duct tape, and a long piece of minty waxed dental tape.

*Don't judge me.*

And so it goes, day one of being 'upright' after surgery ~ and I am knock-me-on-my-ass 'humbled'. It's amazing how sometimes life events, which at first seem so difficult and cruel can be the first step at acquiring a new 'life's lens'... I am beginning to see everything in a different light... the little things I do each day, the feel of Nudnick loyally posted at my side since I have been home... and the actions of those around me. It's always eye-opening.

So today, is a day of making changes - and for the first time, these changes will be selfishly and all for me. Because I deserve it.

Don't we all... ?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thought for Today.

That which you experience, only changes you by way of the *choice* that you make in what to do with it.

- Tara Lemieux

And a teaser for my next article ~ xo

Sunday, November 11, 2012

For every soldier that has been killed on the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, 25 other soldiers commit suicide upon returning home.

Repost from Elephant Journal, and something that *must* be addressed. For the original article, please visit Elephant Journal dot com.



Photo: The National Guard

Perhaps the single most devastating emotional pain we suffer is abandonment.

Millions of children know this experience as their primary relationship to their parents, and the effects are wide-ranging and long-lasting. Abandonment is rarely about the person being left, it is most always a reflection of what is broken in the person doing the leaving.

Yet, the abandoned person rarely perceives this, instead the message of unworthiness  and the belief of being fundamentally unlovable is planted deep inside of us. Almost like a dormant genetic trait in the human genome, most of us seem to carry the potential for this erroneous belief. Tragically, most of us also have plenty of opportunities that trigger it.

Abandonment is usually not the product of malicious intent. Often, it results from competing demands, not enough resources, inability to conceive of consequences and fatigue. We are not, as a species deliberately unloving, we are more often preoccupied with our own pain and not up to the profoundly hard work to love responsibly.

This is as true in individual family stories as it is on a national level. The world of diminishing, or at least limited, resources is catching up to all of us. Promises and guarantees that were made in brighter economic times are no longer sustainable on many levels. Worldwide, the question of how we care for each other, how a society sustains itself is being examined. But nowhere is this abandonment being more acutely felt than among returning veterans and their families.

Here is a fact that I cannot get out of my mind. For every young soldier that has been killed on the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, 25 other soldiers commit suicide upon returning home. This suicidal drain on our returning soldiers and their families goes unrecorded and unaided. These deaths happen in the killing fields of our own communities, in the bedrooms of  what were once the young, strong boys who initially left home with a sense of mission and invincibility. Their intentions of protecting their country in wars for which they were ill-prepared, left them so damaged and empty of themselves that drug and alcohol addiction was the only means of self-medicating their trauma.
My sons are young men, just barely out of their boyhood. They are trying to figure out what it means to be male and working to chart their course in life, not unlike the young men who joined the armed forces. It is hard for me to imagine who they would become and what would be lost of them under the same stress.

The truth is that the human psyche is not built for war, and its effects are profoundly damaging to the soul of growing boys. This is not news. Collectively, we have witnessed the loss of tens of thousands of lives to the post-traumatic stress disorder cases that are still being treated from the Vietnam conflict. The army has only just begun to recognize the frighteningly high rates of brain injury that the most recent conflicts have left in their wake.

The cost of war for those who bravely commit to fighting in them endures for many throughout their lives. For as strong as we make our forces, equipping them with billions of dollars of protection and weaponry, we must acknowledge that we are not wired as killing machines. Our nervous systems are not designed for 24-hour combat for months on end. The loose ends of our self-esteem and self-worth unravel quickly under the strain of constant threat. The emotional healing and forgiveness that is required for a soldier to come home from a tour of service will last at least as long as the tour, and for many people, 10 times that long.

If we are going to continue to promote war as a solution to our collective insecurity, then we must be prepared to commit to the rehabilitation of the young boys who come home alive, yet broken and emotionally damaged. Our military budget should, without question, be committed to the healing at least as much as the killing. Otherwise, we become our own enemy.

The worst abandonment we can perpetuate is on the young men we sent to battle. We are responsible for the healing of the troops we send to kill.

Surgery ~ (dum dum duuuum)

Well, here we go again ~ surgery Thursday, and I will be out of writing commission for just a little while...but stay tuned, as I am certain even this will bring me something wonderful to share.

xoxo and much, much, MUCH love ~

Stay tuned and see you soon :-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life's Simple Rules for Living. (Elephant Journal 11/8)




Digging Through the Muck

During a recent conversation, and in a moment that I’m sure was marked by the exasperation of wanting very much to understand, but not quite knowing the way forward—my most dearest friend, took a long, deep breath and said to me, “I just don’t know what to do.”

We were having one of those conversations, the deep and soulful—and sometimes painful sort that often takes place before we are able to learn and grow. It was one of those forever moments, that we mentally bookmark—never knowing at the time its true value, but knowing enough to tuck it away for a second look.
Life is just this way. It likes to sometimes hide its messages and lessons, in ways that force us to dig deep through the thickest of mud and muck to find the gem inside.

And sometimes in the digging through we find something most surprising: that the “gem” was there inside us, all along.

Sometimes, we don’t always know what to do.

Sometimes, there is nothing we can do.

And sometimes, the things we are supposed to be doing get lost in the complexity and emotion of those things we are trying so desperately to understand. It’s in these cases, where it becomes most important to fall back to basics—and remember life’s simple rules for living.

It’s not a very long list, after all. But if you dig through the muck and the mud long enough, you might just find that gem inside.

Life’s Simple Rules for Living

1. Upon waking up, and before your toes touch the floor…

…always remember to take a moment to do a mental count of all those things that make you smile, and all of those many reasons you are forever and so endlessly grateful. And then, when your toes do touch the floor… let it be a reminder to carry all these things in your heart as you move forward through your day. This is my process every morning. It works pretty well. Unless, I step on a Lego, in which case, I fall back to my bed and repeat that process all over again.

2. Coffee, first thing…

…and before you even brush your teeth. Maybe also have it set on a timer so that when you wake up that beautiful aroma surrounds you, kind of like a “welcome mat” for your day. I do this too—only these days, I fill my cup with decaf. But that aroma remains the same.

3. Hot towels, right after a shower…

…for me are a Godsend. I know it seems frivolous and probably way too much of an indulgence, but if you don’t have one, get a towel warmer. Just for you. There’s nothing like being swallowed up by an oversized, super fluffy, hot towel. Hot towels are good for your soul—I’m convinced of it.

4. Read, everything…

…because good stories, particularly the farthest-fetchiest ones, are the ones that build hope and dreams, and set our hearts to believe that everything is a possibility. And good stories seem always to find their way to the “happily ever after” —no matter how difficult or complicated or twisty the story line.

5. Go for walks in the woods, long ones.

And don’t take anyone with you. Be alone if even just for 15 minutes. There’s a beauty and a magnificence in this solitude, as you’re surrounded by an entire world of nature. This world is oblivious to all the interference in our days—the problems, the issues, the upsets. In nature, there is no sense of urgency, no marking of time. It’s the only place that I have ever felt so completely still.

6. It doesn’t matter.

Don’t get me wrong, some things matter, but in general, most of this stuff that we experience is just the noise of this life that surrounds us. At the end of the day, and in a much bigger way—these things only serve to steal away the fullness of those more beautiful moments. In the end, it’s what we have experienced and the love that we have shared that matters most of all. The memories that we create will still stand firmly in our place when our bodies are long gone from this earth. Our legacy is everything.

7. Simplify everything.

The big stuff and the little stuff, too. Take the easiest route from point A to point B, and eliminate all those extra steps our chattering minds would love always to insert on our behalf. Simplicity allows us the space to breathe.

8. Stop worrying.

Sometimes things are not always as they seem. Sometimes there are bits and pieces of the greater whole that are not always entirely visible in that moment when our minds begin the process of filling in the blanks. And sometimes the blanks are there for a very special purpose: adding to the mystery and magic of our lives and this great universe. Our energy is better spent in appreciating those little things that we can see fully. Like a tree bending in the wind, or a puppy sleeping on the edge of a couch. Or, in a friend saying to you, I’m here, now and I love you so fully and completely. It’s the worry that keeps us from being fully and completely here.
Imgur

9. Laugh until your belly hurts.

This comes only after the long walking and the simplifying and the non-worrying. Find that one thing in your day, or that one memory that will creep up on you as a small giggle, or ends up stopping you in your tracks as you struggle to catch your breath and wipe the tears from your eyes. Because laughing this hard tears down all of the made up bullshit that is around us. And laughing this hard can take away any pain (no matter what). Laughing this hard can bring together even the most farthest away of spirits. And, laughing this hard leaves a wake of silliness and joy in its place. So laugh until your belly hurts, or until you wet your pants—whichever it is that may come first. It doesn’t matter, just laugh.

10. Memories are like little time capsules.

We choose what it is that gets so neatly locked into place for “discovery” so many moments further into our future. This time capsule has no limit—no capacity, no fill line. It’s endless, and waiting for you to fully embrace that moment and fill it with everything you’ve got. That’s why, when we can hear a song, or smell a faint scent wafting through the air…it instantly carries us back to that special place. And it’s also why, when I hold a peanut in my hand I think of that most unfortunate squirrel, who in spite of his best attempts still ended up taking one straight to the noggin. Myself? I’m a memory pack rat. I stuff it all in. Because I want to remember all of it, every moment.

11. It’s okay to dig out all of the pecans from the inside of your favorite butter pecan ice cream.

If it’s what you want, and what will make your heart smile, then baby, grab your spoon (or fork, if you prefer to limit the trail of pecan destruction evidence). Whatever it is that rocks your world, go out and get it. And don’t ever apologize or try to justify. Just do it. Embrace it. Life is way too short to be stuck in that silly endless process of wondering whether we should, or should not. Whether we ought to, or ought not. If it’s in your heart, and what matters most, then do it. And do it with the greatest flourish, and flair that you can possibly pack into that experience of finally having what it is that you’ve wished for all your life.

12. Boundaries and limits: they’re not always set in stone.

Sometimes you’ll meet someone with a crazy sense of adventure and spirit (like me) who’ll not rest until those limits and boundaries are pushed, and nudged, and finally nudged again. Some people, like me, are born into this space and role of continuously testing those limits. It will piss you off and probably make you crazy, but rest assured, there’s a little reason in all of that unsettled upset. It’s because, at heart, the person who is most testing your limits is usually the one that can see beyond potential and far into possibility. She’s the one who can stare at worthless, unworked patch of land and see a lifetime of exploration and adventure. And though sometimes this message can be lost inside the awkwardness of the pushing and the nudging, rest assured, it is always there for you to see. “Be limitless, and be in your limitlessness. Everything is possible.”

13. Love is the “takeaway.”

No matter where we are, and no matter where our paths may take us…no matter if we walk our paths together, or stumble along on our way alone, love is always the takeaway. And we should carry it in only the most special of ways, tucked closely and forever to our hearts, and look to it in these sometimes seemingly impossible situations, because…love is what carries us, and love is what gets carried on long after we are gone.

Sometimes we don’t always know what to do.

Sometimes there is nothing we can do.

But in every situation and circumstance it is always our choice in how to live inside each and every day. So, be forever mindful—and never forget, these little life lessons learned along the way.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Terrified.

I have always been terrified of storms ~ I'm sure because of the massively loud and thunder filled storms that would roll in over the lake growing up. The house would shake from the thunder - as if it were about to explode. So here I sit this evening, in the cold dark ~ and with each gust of wind, I find myself taking a big deep breath *in* hoping it will soon go away.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Leaves ~

Remember a time, when you were very young ~ how exciting it was to race through the woods and all those fallen leaves...how eager we were to find within ALL of those leaves that 'most spectacular one' of all?

Do you remember how amazing it felt to hold that one single leaf in your hands, taking in each little splotch and dab of fabulous color, and turning it over carefully to view each of those tiny little lines and veins. Sometimes, it seemed I could spend hours locked into this gaze ~ drawn in by this little masterpiece that I had found laying on the forest floor. It seemed with each subtle twist and turn, I would discover something even more breathtaking. And I would only find my way back when it seemed my heart was satisfied that I had looked over each and every leaf.

This is why, when people ask my favorite season - I will always smile and say, "I love fall most of all." Because, when fall does make its way through to this point of my year - I am once again, most happily and excitedly a kid again racing my way through the woods.

I hope you enjoy the colors, as much as I do, too. If you would like to see those colors up close - you can do so by clicking here

Saturday, October 27, 2012

You are never too old.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. -- C.S. Lewis

And, you are never too old to *believe* that all will fall into its rightful place ~ and the dreams may begin once again.

I took a very slow, cautious ride this morning ~ through the fall leaves, and along a most wonderful path. Thankfully, the hills we ever so kind, tucking quietly up to one side as they watched over this, their visiting passerby.

And though, I felt the need to stop so many times over and again ~ there was always something breathtaking to fill this space. These days I take, moment by moment, in this their most literal sense. And, although it may take me a bit longer to get from point a to point b - I am ever grateful for this pace, as it forces me to breathe in every little detail of every little moment in every little thing that I may pass along the way.

I know I shall pay the price for this outing, but not today - today, I'll sleep deeply with dreams filled of all the wonderful things from this day.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hope, an owner's manual

Hope; An Owner's Manual

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.




To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand
on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at a toddler
secretly, over his mother's shoulder.




You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is
laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don't
want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go,
passing time, passing strange. Don't pass this up.




In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing
in the bank, you'll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping
in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad check.
You might still have just enough time. To make a deposit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beautiful.

sometimes a picture has the capacity to offer more than any combination of words, brilliantly strung with the greatest of care - may ever hope to offer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Greatest Gift You Can Ever Give.

Is simply to be fully *present* for someone else. To let them know that you are *here* in this *now*, and that you are here for them.

Take one moment today, to simply share a moment *with* someone else.

It's the greatest gift of all, giving of your self *to* someone else. And, it's the one gift most likely to give back.

xo and namaste.

Finding the Good by Falling on Your Ass. - 10/18 Elephant Journal Article


Finding the Good Between the Bumps and Bruises

This past year, for me, has been tremendous in many ways. Fabulously wonderful things have dropped into my lap, and, some not so very fabulously wonderful things, as well.

For you see, as is the case with all things, there must always be balance. And so following every fabulously wonderful thing, it seemed, there was something much bigger for me to experience, to understand and grow from.

I have always viewed everything in my life, all of those ups and downs, as being there for a “reason.” I have always found, that no matter what, something wonderful always comes from these sometimes humbling experiences. For this reason, I wear my “bumps and bruises” with much pride—showing them off as a young child might show off a new toy.
“Look, see what *I* have? Look at how wonderful it is!”
Because inevitably, it’s just these experiences that bring me the most wonderful stories to share. These bumps and bruises are like stories unfolding, with twists and turns, heroes and dragons… and always a “happily ever after.”

This year, I have experienced many challenges in my life, both spiritually and physically. It’s in these moments, that it becomes most pressing—all that I have lost. In these moments when we feel our hearts are lost and our spirits overwhelmed, it becomes so easy to wallow in a shadow or two.

And so it goes: this morning, as I was getting ready to face my day, I had a bit of a tumble—the result of a little unsteadiness and a whole lot of clumsy. As I hit the ground, I felt a pop, a searing pain rolled over my body, brutally forcing out everything that dared to cross its path.

As I lay still in its wake, my mind wandered over to a shadow and I sat quietly, and began to cry. I cried for all that I have lost in this year. I cried for the energy required to face those things with resolve and a smile. But mostly, I cried because it really hurt. And as I took a long slow deep inward breath, a thought came over me with so much force it nearly took that breath away. In that moment, I listened.

“Stop your crying,” it said to me.

“Breathe,” it continued.

Look for the good,” it reminded. 

I felt a peace wash over me, and though, the physical pain was still very much there… all of that which was there casting such a very big shadow… suddenly disappeared.

Sometimes it takes falling hard on your ass, to pop that most very important thought into your head.
Nothing is so great. Nothing is so overwhelming. Nothing is so life shattering that we can not take a moment to find our center, and really look for that good.

My good is that I have wonderful family and friends who love me. My good is that I am doing what I love most. My good is that my life is abundant.

And that is all and everything that matters most of all.

Even with a gimp shoulder, I am blessed beyond words.

And, tonight, I shall think about a woman who embodies the spirit of optimism and gratitude. At 108 years old, Holocaust survivor Alice Herz Sommer greets every day with a vibrant passion and glow. If you ask Alice how it is that she experiences so much joy in a life filled with hardship, she will smile delicately, lean in, and share with you her secret, “I look, where it is good.”

Thank you, Alice, for coming to me in a moment where it mattered most that I look where it is good.

This universe is beautiful.

This world is beautiful.

Life is beautiful. Live it, no matter how often it is that you may fall hard on your ass.


To see this article, and many wonderful others - you may visit the original link on Elephant Journal

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amen.

Sometimes messages come to us in ways that are both curiously magical and wonderfully well-timed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A must watch.

This is from the movie, "The Cure is You". If you've not yet seen this powerfully moving film - you absolutely must make the time. The message is simple, the impact everlasting. I have this video on my iPhone, and I watch it at least once a week. It has kept my spirit empowered, and belief, unstoppable.

I'll make it so very easy, here is the link...all you have to do is click on it. Easy. Now go -> http://thecureismovie.com/

And then, let me know what you think. If you can't purchase the video for whatever reason, send me a private msg and I will make sure to send one out your way.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Everyone Farts. (Elephant Journal Article 10/10)



The “Toot” of Commonality That Connects Us All.

I had a really rough morning. Like, super rough.

I have been having some health issues, which can sometimes be unsettling, particularly when you’re at “that age” when you start thinking about age and most specifically, sometimes counting out loud the number of hypothetical years you may have left on the planet.

Needless to say, I have found myself in the care of a cardiologist, which, is a very unsettling prospect no matter what the age. It first left me in one of those whole-body, super tense sort of moods. So, there I sat in my cardiologists office—in the snootiest, most “upscale” part of town where everyone takes such great pride in showing how awfully, well-mannered they are in even the most extreme social settings and situations. It was the very last place on this Earth I had wanted to be when feeling in such an awful frump.
As I got settled in, I noticed that the “delightful” couple sitting next to me was obviously mid-squabble, and although I couldn’t hear the details of the upset, I could tell it must have been something noteworthy because the wife was still giving her husband the, “How can I cause your death, and not ever get caught?” questioning scowl.

The hubby just hung his head with that, “How many more years before I die?” tortured look of desperation on his face.

I felt really bad for the fella because he was filling out the new patient questionnaire, and though I would never dare to offer my medical opinion in an area that is most certainly not an area I should be offering my medical opinion, I will say that I could already see perhaps the source of his stress and upset.
I don’t think he actually needed a cardiologist. A lawyer maybe, but not a cardiologist.
But I digress.

At one point, and still carrying the energy of the earlier upset, the wife muttered something not so very nice and something which I shall not ever repeat. Her husband continued quietly filling out his questionnaire, causing yet even more upset for the distraught wife. And, in an act indicating that she had just about reached the end of her “tolerance rope”—she drew in one of those very long, “I’m about to say something quite lengthy and most certainly involving my feelings” sort of breaths.

Sensing this most imminent attack, and in an attempt to, I believe, thwart said attack, this fine gentleman dropped his pen and clipboard to the floor directly to the front of him. In retrospect, I believe the clipboard and pen to have been thrown rather than dropped, but this may be the army girl in me constructing a much more sophisticated strategy where it ought not be necessary. Sometimes the dropping of a pen and clipboard is simply the dropping of a pen and clipboard.

And then it happened.

(read the rest of this masterpiece article on Elephant Journal), and remember to COMMENT and LIKE ME on Facebook - that way, this struggling writer can eat ;-)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Can you Imagine?

Sometimes, at night when the house is still and the clammerings and clunkings of my day have long past... and my body has settled in for just the beginning of a much longer rest...

It's just at this moment, when the mind has realized it's done its bit for the day - that it may take leave, and wander about... and imagine these, the most amazing things... and in its wanderings, find a way to bring to me... these, most amazing gifts.

And just like that, with the blink of an eye - my world has transformed into something, most magical.

I wish the world could see itself just as I do...

If all the world, could see the world - just as *I* do... it might find, these the most amazing stories... where a little girl, might meet a man and his loyal friend, the Elephant.. while walking along a path, in the most tucked away, farthest corner path of this world... and that man, might take a moment to show that little girl that love comes from ALL things and everything...in all things, great and small... love comes to everyone...  including, the most monstrously tall and intimidating of sorts...



And then that man, might show her a way to meet the Great Forest King, a crinkly sort ~ who will fluff his chest, and try to show her how AWFULLY very big he is (in the most smallest of ways).. and she would learn, that we are only as big, or likewise as so very small as our minds will allow... 


And then that Great Forest King, after some formalities and introductions, would then show her that *all* the greatest friendships are built on trust... but, that sometimes trust can be a tricky sort... and never always showing itself at moments it's needed *most*. And then the Great Forest Kind would explain to her ~ that sometimes in order to have the greatest of friendships, that it's important to take a little leap of faith... because, sometimes trust will only come when it knows that someone *believes* in it most. And when we believe, and when we have trust... sometimes the impossible will happen. It's just that way.



 And then at the end of a very long day, the Moonkeeper would emerge to tend to his rightful duties of making sure the Sun was snugly tucked away... and in its place, the Moon might shine brightly for all and everyone of this great world to see...

 And then, this little girl might find her way... to a resting spot, high up into the trees... and almost touching the Moon. Where the fireflies would keep her safe while she slept... and not too high that only the best of dreams may find her.


If I could, I would wish the world to see - the world, exactly as I do in these moments tucked away, at the end of my day... when my mind has a moment to wander. 

 

Remember John Lennon

Today is John Lennon's birthday. And, as is the case with each and every single passing of this most momentous occassion - I make it my intention for the day, to infuse as much love, tolerance, and compassion as is humanly possible (at least for this most wonderful weirdo).

Because, I think in doing so ~ somewhere along the way... I may affect the smallest of change, that leads to a much greater whole... that becomes something magnificent... which later becomes something miraculous whereby love... will conquer everything... and all... from the smallest, to the largest.. from the stuff that matters most, and that which matter none at all..

That is my dream on this day...and in every way.

And, as the song goes - you may say I'm a dreamer... but I'm not the only one..

Happy Birthday, John ~ and thank you for the gift of your love.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Long night, longer morning - and a setback..

Long night, longer morning - bad news, and somewhere a setback...

But still, I dream - and still, I can *see* where I am supposed to be...and I won't let go, and I won't give in...because nothing is so great as to keep me from where I most want and wish to be...