Honoring Interior Seasons

Spring by dareppi from Flickr Creative Commons

Spring by dareppi from Flickr Creative Commons

The spring equinox is this week for about half the world; new life is rising and it’s time to plant seeds literally and metaphorically.

The season inside of us doesn’t always coincide with the season in nature. My life works better when I honor my interior season however I can, whether it’s more physical rest being needed, an emotional retreat from the world or less focus on technological communication and more on energetic connection.

Of course we need to be responsible for our lives but sometimes I opt for a less popular way of being in order to honor an interior season.

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The Master Cat by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

The Master Cat by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

Creativity and inspiration, like many things in life, arrives in waves and cycles. Seeing that truth as a problem when the wave is out or the cycle is quiet has never been helpful to my peace of mind. This week, there hasn’t been any inner urging to post about a particular subject and I was tempted to skip a week. It happens to bloggers all the time. Who would ever notice?

Different thoughts went through my mind like butterflies. Blogging once a week is a practice that is serving me well; if I skipped a week would I ever return? Doing things mindlessly, like an automaton, isn’t so good–yet, it didn’t seem as though my habit is quite that bad. There’s no need to compare any of my posts with any other, whether mine or another bloggers.

I decided to take extra care with brunch and not think about it. It can be pleasant to rest and not have something calling to be expressed. Showing up here is a healthy practice and contributes to my feeling that all is well and it doesn’t have to be a bigger deal than it actually is.

I found a great picture that demonstrates how I’m choosing to approach this lull in what I wish to blog about. And like a cat, I might spring into action when there is something to spark my interest again.

The Delivery of Changing the World

photo: Come Together by h.koppdelaney ~ flickr creative commons

photo: Come together by h.koppdelaney ~ flickr creative commons

We can have a great message or important insight to share with the world but our delivery of the message is important if we want to be heard. Yes, there are some people who are at the level of making changes that other people want them to when they are shamed, guilted, nagged, ridiculed and so on. If the message is so brilliant and right, isn’t it enough to walk the talk and use words of compassion, clarity, respect and insight?

This week I’ve been noticing folks who have good points to make but their delivery is one of anger, scorn, blame and using the word “should”. There’s that saying–I’m not sure who it’s attributed to–that “they won’t remember what you said or did; they’ll remember how you made them feel”.

When I’ve wanted someone to change, I’ve learned that making them wrong and putting them on the defensive hasn’t worked so well. In blogs, when the writer has an observation or opinion, it can be readable and interesting if they’re hip, snarky, scornful and such. They can simply be expressing themselves about their pet peeves or whatever, but disrespecting others and then pointing out what they “should” be doing in a one-size-fits-all, I-have-the-answer way…..really? Is that working these days like it used to?

Truth That Serves

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

The truth is important, of course, and the search and recognition of it has always been important to me. These days I feel the need to get on with it, really live my life, tie up loose ends and do what I can with what I have. When we pay enough attention, life doesn’t always have to amp up the warning signals that change is needed, yet too much navel gazing and waiting for perfection in answers can slow us down and keep us stuck.

The “truth” at age 20 can be very different than at age 40. Your “truth” is likely very different than mine. It’s a huge subjective area and I want to focus on one part of it today. Giving a nod to the truth that our attitudes, beliefs, words, habits, actions and perceptions can help shape our reality, I want to briefly address the notion that when bad things happen it’s somehow our own damn fault. We created our reality, as they’re fond of repeating like parrots in some circles and usually for a huge fee. How is that helpful? How is that kind? Is it a truth that serves in the moment, where someone is at, with what they have to work with?

It can be truth on some huge, metaphysical plane but as we’re here to be living and learning in a human lifetime, how does listening to the beating drum of “you created your illness; you can create something different” truly serve us?

Recently the self-help author Debbie Ford died after a long battle with cancer. She helped many people with her work, knew and worked with Deepak Chopra and knew a lot of those folks at Hay House, which is a large New Age publishing company. Louis Hay wrote a little blue pamphlet decades ago that matched particular diseases with “wrong thoughts, attitudes and emotions”. While the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives are connected, it isn’t that simple and formulaic.

Like many people, I’ve subscribed to e-zines and such for topics that I have a deep or passing interest in. Most of them I never open. One of them is a weekly e-mail from life coach, author and speaker Cheryl Richardson, which this week mentioned Debbie Ford in the subject line. I opened this one.

Richardson got to spend some time with Debbie Ford in the last few days of her life. This quote is taken from the newsletter:

“Death is a doorway to the next stage of our spiritual lives and when we approach this doorway together, hearts and hands aligned, it becomes a profoundly healing experience for all parties involved. I’m so grateful to have had this adventure with her.

Before I left, there was one thing, in particular, that Debbie asked me to share with people as I continue to travel and teach.

‘Please tell people that they do not cause their own illness – it’s a ridiculous notion that creates so much needless pain. All illness, including my cancer, is an invitation to love ourselves more,” she insisted. And then with her signature shadow laugh, she added, “The truth is, in the end, that’s what life is all about anyway – learning to love ourselves more’.”

There’s a truth that I’m choosing and it’ll serve me better than the misinformation circulating around in some segments of our culture.

When the Crazy Comes Out

Spring Flowers by El Frito from  Flickr Creative Commons

Spring Flowers by El Frito from Flickr Creative Commons


I haven’t noticed any spring flowers in my area but they’re surely on the way. The sun has been shining more, the ice is gone from the sidewalks for the time being and sometimes it isn’t always windy. Windy is annoying and can lower my mood.

I can be puttering or rushing along and let something effect me and when I can see what’s happening I usually work at regaining some equanimity rather than going into a downward spiral. Lately I’ve noticed a fair amount of people flipping out of character, both in my personal life and with those I connect with online. The news headlines are full of stories of people who crossed over a line of going out of character to a seeming point of no return and now they must face consequences.

Loyalty is a value I hold dear, not abandoning people I care about on the basis of a downward turn in circumstances or the fact that they are no longer able to offer something they once did.

But when the crazy comes out I don’t want to invest too much time in understanding it. Tantrums, venomous spewing that seems to have no relation to whatever is going on in objective reality, vague overreactions, especially with online interactions–I just want to step away. Some people are consistently displaying attitudes but I’m writing about those who seem to lose it in a way that seems to come from out of nowhere.

When people show me by their actions who they are, I’m going to take more note of it. In the meantime I’m avoiding the wind where possible and am on alert for the first spring flower I see outdoors.

A Taste of What Can Make the Soul Sing

Edgar Allen Poe's room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

Edgar Allen Poe’s room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

There are many reasons, known and unknown, why we choose what to pursue in life. Much of my focus has arisen from necessity and responsibility; there were limitations as to what was available to me and other people have had a tremendous influence as well.

Some things are so familiar, like water for a fish; now I’m talking about things that make one’s soul sing. For me that has been my love of old architecture. No one ever talked about architecture when I was growing up in an area where everything looked ugly to me. The first time I went to an art museum on a school trip, I loved the building as well as the Monets and other art. In school I wasn’t good at math, logic and whatever sort of things one needs to be good at to become an architect. The idea never crossed my mind for decades.

I’ve always been tuned in to a sort of hierarchy of what society considers most important; lovely buildings didn’t seem to be it. I recall the emotional impact of watching ugly housing projects implode on television and I enjoyed daydreaming about rehabilitating interiors. When I realized my love and looked into schooling, I became aware that much of building now is about boring stuff like codes and laws which ruins it all for me, even if the study were to be within my reach. I tend to think I built bridges and buildings in ancient times–that is the feeling I get.

Anyway, it was on my radar that people were fixing up houses and most of it seemed to be too much about business. It just made me feel kind of sad as I went about caring for the things in my life that made practical sense. So it was with delight that I noticed something on Pinterest about the Bronson Pinchot Project. He’s fixing up old homes in Pennsylvania and it’s being filmed for television. I honestly had never heard of him as an actor, although he’s famous, and I don’t have access to HGTV or the diy network. I very much enjoyed watching some Youtube videos and then looked through the confusing websites until I found this page where some of the episodes are available as of now.

I have different taste in decor than Mr Pinchot but if I could be an astronaut or a rock star or such, I’d likely do something similar to what he’s doing. Recently had an epiphany about all this. (I might have had it before and simply denied it.) I love to draw but I love real flowers and animals so much better than drawing them. Drawing fantasy architecture or simply utilizing classical details in drawings would be something I could really enjoy and satisfy my love. It’s given me lots to think about regarding people who need more passion in their lives but aren’t hopeful or have clarity about how to fit it in. Even a little taste could go a long way.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging here is searching through Flickr creative commons for a photo for my posts. In searching this time, I found this gem of a photo of Edgar Allen Poe’s room at the University of Virginia.

Roasting a Duck

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

On Saturday I roasted a duckling, the second time I’ve ever done that and the first time in a decade. The first duck had so much fat and was so difficult to clean up after, that I swore never again. That was back when I believed all I read about how fat is so terrible for us.

It had taken a lot to get me to the point where I could even consider roasting a duck since I’d had one for a pet as a child. My siblings and I had named him Duckess, somehow thinking he was female when he was a baby. He was the only duck we had amongst chickens and geese and he became mean when he grew up.

I love animals and believe they ought to be treated well. My physical body will not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle and I’ve learned to walk away quickly from those judgmental people who don’t know me, don’t care to know me, don’t care what happens to me or why I choose the things I choose.

Anyway, my roast duckling didn’t look as pretty as the one in the photo here. Usually I need to eat only organic food because of high-maintenance health circumstances. In this case though I chose a $13 duckling from a regular grocery store instead of a $30 plus one from Whole Foods or the local co-op.

I tossed out the orange sauce packet and partially followed the directions on the wrapping, partially following the instructions for obtaining and saving the fat from an excellent blog post I found online. I’ll use the fat for roasting root vegetables and will be making bone broth with the carcass today.

Because I research about health online quite a lot, I’d heard of the GAPS diet. It usually seemed to be presented as a diet to help children with autism. Being a grown-up with other life long health issues, I didn’t pay it much attention.

When it finally came onto my radar a few months ago, after sincerely transitioning to an extremely healthy diet and still feeling like crap, it seemed to make some sense and when I transitioned to it cautiously, I began to heal. It will take some time since I have decades of damage. I crave the cultured vegetables, coconut kefir and other probiotic foods that are part of the diet but understand I need to use caution as the detoxing and die-off of bad bacteria can be awful. While the point is to heal, it’s also important to be able to function in life with some degree of comfort while doing so.

I didn’t have any butchers twine to tie the legs together and my motor skills were such that I couldn’t really carve the duckling in any decent manner–it was more like hacking it up. There was surprising little meat on it but I got a reasonable amount of fat and have gotten through the clean-up part of the process, except for the oven.

We are all so different and the GAPS diet is not for everyone. It would have saved me decades of suffering and missed opportunities had I understood this before, but it was certainly never suggested by the health professionals I consulted with. All the information being presented was pointing me in other directions. Much of what the health food industry was offering was better for me than the standard American diet, but it too caused me challenges and suffering in the long run.

Some people do very well on raw foods, or mostly raw foods but many of us don’t have the digestive fire to deal with a raw diet in a healthy way. Others seem to do well with a vegetarian diet. We’re all different and some of us have to do quite a bit of research and take a lot of responsibility for finding what works for us. Often without support, understanding or interest from those around us.

Other people’s life journeys involve things that aren’t so focused on health and food and they can seemingly get by without giving it much thought. I’m not one of those people.

Comforts Against Cabin Fever

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

January has been a good month and I’ve much to appreciate. One thing that I’m longing for now is a closer connection with nature. It’s been unusually cold for longer stretches of time, the sidewalks have been too icy for me, flu has been rampant and I didn’t have to go out so I stayed in with my well-planned stash of necessities. Even opening the windows a crack for a few minutes every few days has helped but I’m really looking forward to the first walk along the river and the first spring flower I notice.

Hydration is important in the winter as well and I believe I’ll feel better with drinking less coffee and more water this week. If it’s warm drinks that comfort, some honey and cinnamon in water is great. I’ve taken the time to make some this past weekend as well as hot chocolate made with coconut milk and good quality cocoa. Why would I think I’m too busy to stand there and stir the chocolate in for a moment? Actually that’s just an habitual, unconscious thought and something that I’ve picked up from the culture around me that considers being crazy-busy as an honorable thing.

It’s tempting to stay up late and stare at something on the flickering screen of laptop–Pinterest and hulu–but I’m being mindful of the healing benefits of being in bed by 10:00. Stretching too, especially when I’ve been sitting in the recliner for about an hour, makes a difference in how I feel.

Last week I wrote about my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. I’m also reading a book by Charles Finch called A Death in the Small Hours. I quite enjoy reading novels set in Victorian times and I’ve read all his previous work. It doesn’t seem to be as easy to sit down and focus on a book as it used to be but winter is an excellent time to coax myself into it.

I guess what I’m going for is to make the most of the opportunities I have in this season so that I’ll be ready for spring in reasonably good shape while giving myself some comfort and stimulation now instead of feeling deprived and focusing on what I can’t do.

My Fascination With the Images of Cuba

Havana Courtyard by Michael Tutton from flickr creative commons

Havana Courtyard by Michael Tutton from flickr creative commons

Mostly the impressions I had of Cuba that flickered around on the edges of my radar, weren’t very positive. Poverty and politics and the military, cigars but not much of beauty. A few months ago I was looking at photos on Pinterest, something that is very effective when I’m on hold trying to straighten out some annoying first world problem that must be dealt with.

There were some photos of Cuba taken by Michael Eastman that I loved. I looked at his website, read his bio and kept thinking about the inspiring images. I purchased his coffee table book, Havana, as a holiday gift for myself and it’s a good fix for me to look through it still.

There are some inspiring photos on flickr as well, like the one above by Michael Tutton.

In the Havana book, Eastman mentioned noticing the buildings and backgrounds of Cuba in the film, Buena Vista Social Club, so I rented that and the beauty in it was striking.

Then I recalled enjoying some of the episodes of Covert Affairs that were filmed on other locations, one of which was Cuba in an episode called Loving the Alien.

While I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and New Zealand and a few other places, I’ve now added Havana to my list but for now I enjoy seeing the images.

January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?

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