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 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.

Engaging in Life

Have you ever been criticized for being an observer of life more so than a participant? That could be someone’s perception, someone who isn’t in your shoes and doesn’t understand how you got where you are and what’s going on behind the scenes.

Aren’t results better when we stop comparing where we are with where someone else is? When we look at what’s on our plate instead of taking envious glances at what’s on the plate of another? 

Today I was able to go out into the sunshine and walk to get groceries. I stopped to give my opinion at an open house for a city project. It’s easier for me to write than to speak and I stumbled over words and rambled a little in getting to my point. But I showed up, shook someone’s hand, introduced myself and gave my opinion and suggestions. When the project is completed, I’ll have given my input as best I could and if the results cause me to roll my eyes or shake my head, at least I’ll know I participated. 

When I got to the remodeled and reorganized food co-op, I was pleased to see they carry bakers ammonia. I’ve been looking for it at two of the local stores and didn’t want to order such a small item online. It doesn’t have a long shelf life but cookie season is approaching.

I need to eat gluten-free foods. The bakers ammonia gives old-fashioned cookies the crunch on the outside and I want to make springerlies. My life is complex now and there isn’t much attention for my ancestral heritage but the anise-flavored springerlie cookies are something I feel I can reach for. I have one of the rolling pins used to press the design into cookie dough. I have several recipes and the most simple one will be the one I try first. 

I’ve used gluten-free cookie mixes but not made cookies from scratch with gluten-free flour yet so it will be an experiment and takes enough planning that it will be a somewhat significant project for me to include in my life. It will also be one of just a few things I’ll do for the holidays.

I intend to be successful at it and won’t be comparing myself to what others with more do and have or with what others with less do and have.

I’m participating in life whatever someone else’s perception is.     

State of the Blog

This blog got a comment I needed to approve or not so I was reminded of its existence. After tracking down my password I logged in and saw that it still gets views. That surprised me. It was never a well-read blog; I wrote for enjoyment and for something positive to do while I was continuing to go through some great challenges.

While I was posting I never thought beyond the possibility of someone reading within a day or two. It’s been almost a year since I’ve even logged in and now I see that every month someone reads something. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written but it’s given me pause to think how long some of this content sticks around.

Towards the end of my engagement here I was reading so much of what other people were doing that I didn’t really have time to attend to my own blog. It was a learning experience and I enjoyed it but in the end it just seemed that everyone was wanting attention and not really giving it to others. Maybe my perception is wrong but I just didn’t understand the game here.

Now that I’ve got my password info and this is on my radar again perhaps I’ll write from time to time.

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