For these last days in December, I am participating in a blogging challenge http://www.reverb10.com/, which is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.  Reverb provides writing prompts to elicit my reflections on 2010 and to generate my intentions for 2011.

PROMPT:  December 22 How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)

At this time in my life, I find that my travel involves dragging my daughter around the country to visit various family members.  Up until a few weekends ago, my husband and I had not been away together, without child, for four and a half-years.  Our flight for our weekend getaway to Asheville, NC left Cleveland, OH at 6:25AM.  By the time we reached the airport at 4:50AM that morning, we had completed TWO WHOLE CONVERSATIONS.  I mean, the- from- beginning- to- end kind of conversations.  Not the kind that involves a “hold on, Sophia, mommy is trying to talk to daddy” every 5 seconds.  The problem was, by the time we reached our departure gate at 5:30Am, we were desperate to hear our daughter’s tiny voice.  And we admitted it, tearfully, to each other.  But Lord knows we boarded that plane anyway.

In 2011, we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  But time and money may not cooperate with any sort of big trip kind of thing.  We will take it as it comes, which is how a traveler should travel.  Sure, we have a wish-list that butts up against a to-do list, like every family.  The key is to remember this:  “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  Marcel Proust

For these last days in December, I am participating in a blogging challenge http://www.reverb10.com/, which is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.  Reverb provides writing prompts to elicit my reflections on 2010 and to generate my intentions for 2011.

PROMPT:  December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

You know what, I have stopped doing this.  I have stopped imagining the future and planning for the future in a way that compromises my present.  Think I am joking?  Call my financial advisor.  I recently cashed a retirement fund with the click of a mouse button.  I did not need the money for anything specific or any sort of financial mess that I am in.  I just wanted it.   My intention for that money is to help me become the person that I want to be TODAY because I am not that person yet.  And it is time to be her.  So what have I done with some of that money?  I have enrolled in a professional herbalist program that hopefully will lead me to acupuncture or naturopath school, because I would like to be an authentic healer for my family and community.  I am holding on to some money so that I can enroll in a course to become a certified yoga instructor.  I have taken a recent retreat for myself and I am going to do it again until I am all retreated out.  I am going to get a tattoo that I have wanted for a long time.  I treated my husband to a really great pizza in Asheville, NC a couple of weeks ago. I purchased some clothes and shoes that actually fit my current body…not the body that I want to be or the body that I once was.  Besides, what was that money doing anyway?  Expanding and contracting in imaginary ways in an imaginary account for some future that may or may not happen.

So what advice would I give myself for the current year?  STOP LOOKING AHEAD.  Be here now.

We have been told that we must plan, save, project, aspire.  But no one ever told us to just BE.  I am telling you now.  Just Be.  Warning: this may hurt, but look up from this screen and look around.  What is around you now?  The felty grey walls of a cubicle?  A messy kitchen?  Are these places where you want to be?  Are there people around you that you wish were not around you?  Worse yet, are there people you wish were around you right now who are not?

Even worse than that, are you, the person you want to be, the one who is missing?

In 2010, I discovered that I was missing.

For 2011, I have set the intention to find the person that I want to be.  I had to step out of my financially responsible self to do it.  I have also had to step out of my people-pleasing, comfort-seeking self to start to shed the situations in my life that are no longer working for me.

Are you ready to transform the place where you are into the place where you want to be?  What needs to be shed from you?  What needs to be found for you?

Now for the “bonus” portion of the writing prompt:  Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?

Dear 23-year-old self,

Your plans are solid and in place and what everyone has ever wanted for you.  They are the plans that you want for you.  But do yourself a favor.  Stop planning.  Put the becoming aside and let life awaken your true self.

Love,

Your 33-year-0ld self who is learning as she goes and grateful for every moment of it.

[Image from here]

For these last days in December, I am participating in a blogging challenge http://www.reverb10.com/, which is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.  Reverb provides writing prompts to elicit my reflections on 2010 and to generate my intentions for 2011.

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance

PROMPT:  What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Oh crap.  I signed up for this?  I mean, do you all have a few hours?  Because the response to this prompt could be long.  Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine because my mind is already racing by categorizing all the ways that I fell short…let’s see…every day I make choices in my mothering that I regret because I am too busy.  Sometimes I throw pizza at my daughter instead of showing her ways to incorporate beautiful, healthy food into a meal because I am returning phone calls or rotating laundry or…you name it.  We all do.  And the truth is, those phone calls never really do get made, the laundry is never quite done, and so it is something that has the nutritional value of pizza again for dinner!

Even now, I cannot give what I want to this post because I have a conference call in an hour.  And I feel horrible.  Scattered.  Like everything only gets a fraction of my attention.

So what should I have done in 2010 but didn’t?

FORGIVE MYSELF.

This is life.  My life is going to be in a thousand directions at times and I perpetuate that momentum with my guilt.  The lists only get longer.  I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD…

No.  Stop. Forgive myself.

Stop.  Forgive yourself.

Be joyous.  Make a mark on the wall that indicates how high the laundry piled this week.  Who knows?  Maybe next week it will be even higher.  Consider it a gain, not a problem.  Consider the abundance in that moment.  We have all of those clothes, and loving family members to wear and dirty those clothes!  I need to tell myself:  You are not short on time, you are just rich in life.

So if you did not do that in 2010, the forgiveness part, do it in 2011.  I intend to.  The laundry will get done, I promise.  Well…maybe not mine.

This weekend my husband and I are going to attempt to spend a weekend alone for the first time in 4.5 years in Asheville, North Carolina.  At this point I am only going to count on the “attempt” as we have a list of obstacles to overcome before we actually arrive there.  We have to drop a kid off in Cleveland in my sister’s care, and we have to hope that our car and Continental Airlines can battle early December weather in Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Asheville.

I love Asheville, but we have no major, groundbreaking plans to accomplish much while we are there.  I just want to stand in the belly of the Blue Ridge Mountains and once again wade through the accumulation of  soft, long needles from the Carolina Pines.

I am not sure why I am thinking now of the time, two years ago, when I was sitting with a hospice patient on Easter Sunday.  We sat in a tiny room in a high-rise apartment building overlooking Lake Erie.  She was tiny and fidgety in an over sized hospital bed, while I sat in a folding chair beside her bookshelf.  From time to time we would hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes.  She was so comfortably familiar to me, and I did not know why until I studied her shelves full of haphazardly placed books.  It was almost identical, book for book, to my own collection of books.  Well-worn volumes of poetry, books on meditation, Buddhism, Catholicism, human rights, saints and mystics and the occasional beloved work of fiction filled the dusty spaces.  I would read to her and watch her eyes light up before she fell into a light doze, only to awaken again for more.  This went on for several hours.  I remember feeling ease and delight sitting next to her, listening to her sporadic breathing.  This was exactly how I wanted to spend my Easter Sunday.  Witnessing the dying process summons a sense of resurrection in me and is a reminder to seek life in every moment.  To find it in the shadows and the light, in the tangible and the abstract.

Hanging on the wall above the head of her bed was a poem I had never seen before entitled Desiderata. Suddenly I knew.  This was not my hospice patient.  She was a messenger.

And I thought on that Easter Sunday in a tiny room by Lake Erie in a folding chair that I was offering  my hands to hold. Instead I realized that she was holding mine.

Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

[Image from here]

What distracts you from using your God Eyes?

Watching this 5 minute video will change the eyes you use to see, at least for today.  It reminds me of a rule that I have learned to live by:  the most important thing to know about a person is what you do not know.

I honor the place in you where Spirit lives.  I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then we are One.

Namaste.


Sophia, pointing to a large and obvious church on our drive home from Trader Joe’s, asked “Who lives there again?”

“Oh, nobody lives there,” I answered.  “Many people like to go there to pray to God or Jesus.”

“I know all about Jesus, but who is God?”  she asked again.

“God is not a who,” I replied after holding my breath because honestly, I am more equipped to answer the question of how babies are made to a 4-year-old than Who Is God.

But somehow it came to me.  “God is the love that you have inside of you.  The love for all the things and people of the world and even beyond the world.  Never forget that you are God, that everyone is God.”

After a moment of thought she spoke.  “Some of the boys in my preschool do not have God inside them.”

I laughed for a second then realized the opportunity.  “Yes they do, Sophia.  If you practice using your God eyes, you will see it.”

[Image from Here]

I let my 9th wedding anniversary slip away unblogged.  This was intentional because I am getting a little concerned about the need for people to do things and then run them by THE INTERNET.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say “this will make a great facebook status” before they actually do something.  Are we living for facebook?  And I am getting a little wary of the facebook status complainers, the blog complainers.  The internet could be a tool to spread light, love and truth through ease of connection. Instead it is often used to dump our oh-so-smart opinions about our last bad meal or traffic or coworkers.

Wait.  I am totally complaining about complainers.

The title of this post will prove to be a bit ironic, since the heroine in the book Eat, Pray, Love left her husband to find herself by traveling around the world, discovering that she was a spiritual being, only to wind up in the arms of another man.  That being said, I would encourage anyone who is starting to nudge into a spiritual existence read it right away.  A really good book, but I do know that it did not resonate with many wives and mothers who already know that the real, true world runs into your arms every morning, kisses you on the cheek and demands chocolate milk.

Anyway, I did make it to the 9 year mark in my first marriage on September 15th.  My husband and I are financially forced to keep things low-key these days.  And I was about to get all pouty about this, like who lets a 9 year milestone pass them by without at least a dinner out that costs half a thousand dollars?

Because that is the way we used to do things.

Way before we had to factor in the cost of a babysitter, before the housing market decided that we should carry a boat anchor around our necks in a state we no longer live in, we really knew how to live it up.  We spent our 5th anniversary in Napa Valley, and we only rolled out of bed for those pesky vineyard tours and dinner reservations we had every day and night.

So waaaaa!, those days are over for a long while, I think.  But scarcity can be a blessed bitch, if you open your eyes.  And I did.  And now I see that I don’t have to travel to California or even to the most expensive restaurant in this town to celebrate what I have every day of my life.  What I have is better.

I am going to let out a secret here.  My husband is a gourmet chef and the way he cooks turns every day into a celebration.  And you guys, you should see our wine cellar.  My readers who know him are also aware that there is always some type of charcuterie in the works (and that charcuterie no longer attracts flies).

Pork Belly

One problem.  I am having trouble keeping up the act of whining to him about how he never takes me out anymore.  Food from any other place does not compare.  It’s true and sad.  I crinkle my nose at the finest menus.  I can’t get a steak that like his from any restaurant.  He selects the perfect rib eye and dry ages it and cooks it to perfection.  If I ask for something innovative, he comes up with something like vegetable egg rolls and spicy coconut rice.  And that is what we eat on a non-celebration weeknight!  Imagine what he pulls out when he is really trying to impress me.

What I got when I said I wanted Macaroni and Cheese

Christmas Eve Roast

He is now sharing all of his creativity and ideas in a blog, and I am glad. Passion should be shared.  What I get is the first taste of his creations and the man behind them.  The one who rubs my feet as we sip wine,  loosen our pants, and watch our daughter fill our living room with laughter and surprise.

As far as I know, those things cannot be ordered off of a menu.

Happy 9th Anniversary, Dan.

We made fun of my sister for organizing this photo while we were in Myrtle Beach.  She made sure we were all dressed this way and standing on the sand at precisely 7pm, not 7:30.  At 7:30 the light would begin to fade and that would show all of our excess weight and wrinkles, perhaps.

Anyway, I take back all of our grumbling and whining.  I take back every comment about wishing we were at the beach bar instead.  I take back laughing at the moment when the camera clicked and my husband said, “everyone say DYSFUNCTIONAL!”

There will not be day that I am not thankful for this photo.  If I look long enough, I catch myself smiling back at all of those people standing there in the sand.  They are my past and my future, and the net that I could safely fall into at any moment.

Maybe it is just the magic 7pm moment, but there is a light cast on this photo that is unique.  It is the light that fills the space when everyone you could ever want surrounds you.

My daughter loves to look through a book of art by Alex Grey called Sacred Mirrors.  The other day she stared long and hard at the page that features the painting below and ran her hand over the side that represents the agony of the modern world.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” she said on an exhale.  “I better try and fix that.”

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