Monday, December 30, 2013

The Kennedy Center Honors for 2013

I try every year to watch the Annual Kennedy Center Honors program.  I recorded it on my DVR this year and just finished watching it.  I don’t know exactly why the arts have become such an important part of my life, but over the years with thanks to numerous friends with a variety of interests and tastes for art of all kinds, I have found myself to be an enthusiastic observer. 

The arts are of incredible importance to civilized society.  A society without an appreciation for the creativity of its members is a society dead to life itself.  I, for one, am eternally grateful to the Kennedy Center for sharing and promoting the artistic talents of so many who have blessed our sights, sounds, and presence through the years.  To me it is a sacrilege to watch elements of our government consistently try to cut funding for the arts.  The arts feed us in a way nothing else can.  Only government can truly provide the broad base of funding necessary to insure a continuing presence of the arts for all.  Of course private funding, through such programs as the Kennedy Honors, provide by far the most significant support.  But without our government acknowledging their importance the arts are continually challenged for their survival.

This year the celebrants were:  Carlos Santana, Martine Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine and Billy Joel. (Photo Courtesy: John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images.)  It would be easy to overlook the contributions of these artists by thinking, “been there, done that,” but I knew as soon as the program started that I would have missed an iconic event.  To have the display of the talents of these gifted persons all in one place at one time is a joy to behold.  If you did not see this program, I strongly suggest you avail yourself of one of the after markets for programming such as Hulu, Amazon or others, and reward yourself with the wonder of creativity.  You can find out more about the program here:

Coming to realize how much music, theater, movies and art of all genres has come to mean to me has, at the same time, left a tremendous ache in my heart for the lack of my ability to personally express some form of art.  A friend reminded me recently that I could still learn to express artistic talent in some way.  I could learn to play an instrument, or sing or paint.  My response was to reject the notion, citing my obvious difficulty learning the subtleties of those forms of creativity.  The one area I seem to have left for creative expression is my writing.  Even if it never was important to anyone else, being able to express whatever talent I have in this way is very satisfying and gives me a sense of productivity.  That is another insight the arts offer us—a glimpse of the productivity of the creative spirit in wondrous ways!

So this becomes my message for the New Year:  Rejoice in the arts and to whatever extent you are able, share your own creativity with the rest of us!

Happy New Year—2014

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reflections and Anticipation

In the day after Christmas I find I am in a reflective and grateful mood.  This year, in my new (to me) home, I felt the anticipation of Christmas as I haven’t for a number of years.  Having given away all my Christmas decorations and artificial tree, I had to start all over acquiring those things that would reflect my Christmas Spirit.  Thanks to my good friend, Lisa, I had strings of lights to adorn my outdoors.  Thanks to Wal-Mart I found a small tree that was just right, and a few ornaments to make it even better.

One thing I discovered to my dismay is that I did not have any real Christmas albums.  So I was left to find something on Pandora, Music TV or elsewhere.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas music and while I think some of the contemporary music is “cute,” I want “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Panis Angelicus,” and so many more.  Fortunately, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir again provided their special presentation of Christmas.  Then, on Facebook a friend posted “The Lord’s Prayer” with Andrea Bocelli and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—the BEST EVER!

I have remedied my lack of music somewhat by ordering several albums from Amazon, which also includes their “Cloud” service that has all the music I ever bought from them. (Listening to the cloud right now!)  Isn’t our modern technology just the greatest thing ever?

As I listen to all this wonderful music the reflections of Christmases past flowed through my consciousness.  I am so grateful for them.  They keep those experiences shared with my loved ones close in my heart though they are miles away.

So it is a time of reflecting upon the year now passing and anticipation for the coming year.  I have a feeling it might just be the best one ever!  I am going to do my best to make it so.  My wish for you is that the New Year is also the very best for you!

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things, Revisited

As I was reviewing “hits” on my LifeCentering blog this morning, I noticed an article I posted in July 2012 had been visited by a reader  The article was my response to a book by Cheryl Strayed.   After looking at the post I decided to repost it, especially since Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, was being made into a movie.  Reese Witherspoon is cast as Cheryl.  Some of you may be following her Facebook page and know the details.

I found my comments from that post are still important to me today.  Maybe you will find the review helpful as well.

Tiny Beautiful Things
I know that some of you don’t really care about what I have read or why or how it affected me.  But some of you do.  It is to you that I write to let you know I just finished, Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl (Dear Sugar) Strayed.  My previous article on this blog was primarily about the author’s book, Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Crest Trail.  Dear Sugar was an advice column written by the author, who had remained anonymous until recently.  I read about her book, Wild, in our local paper and it was in that review that she “outed” herself as the person who had been writing the advice on love and life column for The 

Now why in the world would I, a retired person living alone, care at all about advice on love and life?  Actually, when I started reading the book, it was not because it consisted of many of the advice letters she had received and answered.  It was because of how impressed I was with her writing in general.  Since I consider myself a writer as well, I am interested in how other authors develop their ideas.  I knew from reading Wild that I would probably like her latest work.

In a way I was not surprised by the fact that her “advice” on love and life hit a resonant chord for me in so many ways.  I have had my share of love and life experiences and feel I learned something about myself in each of them.  However, I discovered new ways of looking at love and life, especially as I thought of the people I have loved and do love.  I never really felt I deserved to be loved.  Expectations about what could be or should be the way love works were never quite that way for me because of that lack of deserving.  I spent much of my time with a therapist trying to better understand the ways in which I really did deserve to be loved and to how love others.  I wish I could say I have finished that part of my learning experience.  I have not.

I still am unable to articulate what love is all about.  I know though that in the pages of this book I constantly gained insights that I strongly felt were representative of my needs and ways in which I could have done better in relationships and hopefully can apply from here on out to my friends and loved ones.  There is always something to learn.  Life is never finished and we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have arrived at some exact point of conclusion (on any subject).

One very personal event in my life was touched upon in this book.  Some years ago I shared with my son something that I had felt about our relationship.  I told him that I felt he was my teacher.  How I stated that at the time is probably not how I actually felt it, but it was the clearest way I could say it at the time. Here in this book I gained a further insight to what I tried to convey to my son then.  Dear Sugar, in her response to “Living Dead Dad” said:

More will be revealed.  Your son hasn’t yet taught you everything he has to teach you.  He taught you how to love like you’ve never loved before.  He taught you how to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.  Perhaps the next thing he has to teach you is acceptance.  And the thing after that, forgiveness.

Love is such a powerful thing.  It will teach you whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not.  What it will teach you is personal in every case.  Whether we will accept the potential lesson and move with it is up to each of us.  I will tell you this, you do not have to have all the answers about love and life in order to love and live!  Just do it for god’s sake!  Do it as best you can.  Love everyone and every experience that comes your way.  You will never regret having loved.  If you feel regret for having loved someone who did not love you back as you hoped, maybe there is another way to love that person without your expectation of the way it should be.  I don’t know how it will be for you, but I know each of us must keep loving and finding new ways to express love.  Otherwise, we are not truly living.

Cheryl Strayed pulled absolutely no punches in her advice.  She hit so hard it must have felt like literally being hit in the stomach for some of those who wrote to her.  It certainly knotted my stomach more than once. But, and this is a big but, she never attempted to belittle the writers no matter how apparently stupid, unforgiving or judgmental their attitude may have been.  And she always caressed softly with her words the tender spots they exposed so that each person could be receptive enough to fully consider the possibilities within their particular challenge.

I wish I could be as clear and caring and direct with love in my writing as Sugar is.  Maybe it is because I am a retired person living alone that this writer has come into my life.  I certainly feel uplifted and blessed by having her work in my library and in my consciousness.  Maybe you would like her too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful, Thankful, Thankful!

Yes, indeed, I am most thankful for many things this year.

It is now 2:45 PST and I have eaten the sumptuous meal I planned and executed according to that plan, albeit having rushed it to fruition a bit sooner than I planned.  Let’s face it, you can’t smell roasting turkey for three hours plus and not want to get at tasting it!  I won’t go into the menu since I posted it earlier on Facebook, but suffice it to say I enjoyed everything anyone could imagine for the feast day

Being a Type A personality, and getting up at 5:30 AM it was almost impossible to wait the day through to get at dinner.  I originally planned to eat around 4:00 PM.  I did everything I could in advance of actually cooking everything and it was still too early.  I even managed to start the turkey earlier than planned (by mistake, actually), but that turned out to be fortuitous because it allowed dinner to come earlier.

In my defense, I do not believe the food was any less tasty to have been on the table early.  However, If I had guests, I am afraid they might not have been as comfortable with my scurrying around as I would have liked them to be.

A good Riesling wine before, during and after dinner made everything better I am sure, at least it seemed that way.  Maybe that’s what wine is all about.  Hmmmm.  Of course, not having someone to converse with over dinner was a disappointment, but I have always been a good conversationalist with myself!.   No matter what the subject I can guide it my way satisfactorily and no one has to be defensive.

But to the point of this blather:  I truly am thankful for so many things.  A year ago and for several years prior to that time, I had no agenda for living.  I existed.  Sure, I did all right.  I always have.  But I really didn’t care much about anything.  Then came the opportunity make a move, something someone in my position at my age probably would not normally do.  I bought a manufactured home and moved from my home territory of Beaverton to the more rural community of Dallas, Oregon, just west of Salem.  It has been like a rebirth to me.  I suddenly had reasons to do things that I could not do in an apartment.  I was no longer feeling home bound and I managed to get out and explore my surroundings.  Not everyone could understand what in the wor\ld I was doing with such a choice, but even that did not matter any more.  I was, am living again!

I am thankful for my family, my son and daughter and their families.  I am now a great grandfather and it is unbelievable to experience that, especially since in my own mind I am still a young adult!

I am thankful for friends, near and far.  Some friends have been in my life for many years.  Others are of more recent connections.  All are special to me even though I am terrible when it comes to doing the little things that most friends do with and for each other.  Believe me, no slight is intended. 

I am grateful to have been able to care for myself and my needs to the extent that I have.  Economically, I am grateful to be experiencing the developing security that comes with an expanding economy.  I believe my security comes from believing in a Providence that cares for its creation and I try to be conscious of my part in having the faith that will guide my decisions as long as I am in this dimension, I know that I have a responsibility to act positively and be sensitive to any guidance that comes from any source.

So, my friends, these are some of my reasons for loving to live today and for being grateful for all of the good that comes my way, especially in the form of family and friends.  Love to you all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Day of Reckoning

It was with some trepidation that I entered the Department Of Motor Vehicles this morning armed with the various documents now required to obtain or renew a driver’s license.  It wasn’t the documents being sufficient that worried me.  It was as I began to fill out the application form, which with its small print was somewhat difficult to read.

I left blank the block asking what color my eyes were.  I realized I couldn’t remember!  How many times have I looked in the mirror without even thinking what color eyes I had?  I paused over the question of hair color and finally lied saying it was gray.  Actually, it is all gone!  It used to be brown.

As I completed the form and approached the clerk, I imagined that he would take one look at my answers and challenge me.  The blank for eye color got his attention right away and he asked, “What color are your eyes?”  I said, truthfully, “I can’t remember!”  I opened my eyes wide and leaned forward so he could tell me.  “I know I have a brown spot in my eyes.  I remember that and have thought that was the color of my eyes.”  But of course, it isn’t.  “Green,” he said.

Then I laughed and told him that I said I had gray hair, but it was probably a lie because I’m bald.  We both chuckled.  Nearing the point where I was to take visual exam I imagined him yelling at me, “You’re blind as a bat.  Why are you still driving?  You’re going to end up hurting someone out there!  I’ll bet you can’t hear a horn honk or a an emergency vehicle siren either.”  Naturally, he didn’t say any of this.  Whew!  Passed the vision test okay. 

Now for the photo.  When I looked at the result I exclaimed, “My gosh!  I look 80 years old,” and laughed.  (I’m 78.  Going to be 79 in December.)  By this time I was sure the clerk was going to ask, “Are you okay?”  I just tucked the temporary license into my pocket and quickly left before he had any second thoughts.

Now I am good for another few years of driving, so look out everyone!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And So It Ends

I first read about it online yesterday, September 23.  This morning the news was reported in an Associated Press article by Stan Lehman and Bradley Brooks in the Statesman Journal.  The Volkswagon bus production is coming to its final end on December 31, 2013 in Sao Paulo.

This iconic vehicle has an illustrious history, particularly during the hippie heyday of the 1960’s and 70’s.  It made appearances on album covers for the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan among others.  The Grateful Dead fans followed tours in one.  The bus has been seen in just about every country serving as a workhorse for carting people, supplies and deliveries.  As popular as it was it did not hold the cool mystique in Sao Paulo as in San Francisco.

There is even a movie documenting the van.  You can obtain information about it by Googling “VW Van, Damon Ristau.”  Several photos in this article are from his work.  Production of the van ended in Germany in 1979, in Mexico 1995, and now in Brazil at the end of this year.  Better order one now if you are VW fanatic!

Over the years I have owned five VW cars and vans.  I am sure this is not a record, but it does represent my own fascination with the utility and simplicity of these cars.  My first VW was a 1957 black sedan purchased used in 1962.  From there I worked my way up to a used 1963 VW van in which I drove my family to Anchorage, Alaska. (Now that was an adventure!)   I added a 1964 VW beetle.  After moving to Missouri in 1967 I bought another used beetle and a new 1972 VW van.  Sadly, that was the last one I have owned.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


I haven’t really liked my HP Pavilion Laptop since I bought it about five years ago.  The keyboard was just enough different from my desktop keyboard that I could not type anything without errors.  Plus the touch pad constantly reset to active meaning that if I accidentally touched it, my curser would fly off to someplace on the screen without my realizing it before I had gone on typing.  Frustrating as all get out!

Added to the keyboard frustration was the fact that after moving to Dallas, OR I had to use Charter Communications for my Internet service.  My response on surfing was so slow or would hang that I felt like I was back to my original 40MB, yes, 40 megabite hard drive and tiny RAM that was state of the art in the 80s.  The frustration over the last few months became increasingly worse.  This morning I reached my limit, after trying all day yesterday and this morning to fix some program error.

I am NOT PROUD of myself, but in frustration I raked my hands in anger across the keyboard several times.  SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT!  I ended up with the letter “U” key remaining depressed and unusable.  (The fact that it was the letter "U" is not lost on me!)  I managed to fix it, sort of, after checking tech sites online, but it did not come easy.  I opened a MSWord blank document and checked all keys in both regular lower caps and caps lock.  Everything works fine except for the “U” key, which has to be depressed a little harder than the others.  I am a fast typist (part of the reason I have been frustrated with this keyboard in the first place) and to have to remember to strike the “U” harder than the other keys is craziness for me!

About now (after having to back up and hit the “U” key again, twice), I find the humor in it all.  I also hope I have discovered how stupid it is to hit a machine!!!  Sometimes my impatience at not being “perfect” gets in the way of enjoying the simpler things like taking TIME to smell the roses, or in the case of my laptop keystrokes, taking time to let the machine do whatever it needs to do to accomplish the task at hand.  Oh, the best way I have found to do that is to walk away and do something else while it grinds away at the task!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Lesson of the Mermaid and Her Lover

Often, when I am reading, a friend or loved one comes to mind because I want to share my thoughts about the material with them.  Usually, the most apparent connections are those of my family members, my son and my daughter.  Like most families, especially those who have experienced divorce when the children are young, there are challenges in how the family members continue to relate to one another.  So, there are many reasons they come to mind, but it is always with a deep and loving interest in their lives.

A long time friend has, through the years, sent me quotes from the writings of one of her favorite authors, Mark Nepo.  I finally purchased, The Book of Awakening, and since then I have often quoted him in my own writing.  Today my reading formed around a quote from William Butler Yeats that Mark used to illustrate his point about how we want to share our innermost experiences with our loved ones.

A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own.
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

Mark points out how even though we so much want to share our deep experiences with those we love, often, like the mermaid, we forget that not everyone can go where we go.  No one else can go into our depth completely.  How we respond when we realize this fact has much to do with the nature and quality of our relationships, particularly with those who are closest to us.  Because we want to share what is important to us we become vulnerable to disappointment when others seem unable to go there with us.

He made this point so clearly when he wrote of walking along the gurney as his partner of twenty years was being wheeled to the operating room where she would have cancer surgery.  He could go no further than the glass doors that closed before him as he watched her disappear down the corridor on the other side of those doors.  He

realized then, that whether it be our quarrel with God or with dead parents or with the limitations of our humanity, each of us must go beyond the glass doors of our experience alone.  And the work of compassion is to guide our dear ones as far as we can and to be there when they return.  But no one can go beyond the glass doors for us or with us.

No matter the struggles that occur within our relationships, perhaps made greater because of our love, we bring ourselves toward the surface of the waters of life, so that we may experience the love for and from others.  At the same time our loved ones, friends or even strangers may come from the shores of their lives to wash their souls in that same water.  It is then that we discover the harmony of understanding, sharing and becoming.  These are brief moments shared in that coming together.  But each must return to the environment of his/her own being.  Love does not capture the object of its heart.  Love frees it to be forever what it is that brought us together in the first place.

In the end the mermaid loses her lover when she fails to realize that he can only live in his own environment and she in hers.  They can meet where the air and water come together and share with one another, but must allow each to be true to their own realities. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Another Oregon Adventure

One of the things I especially like about the Statesman Journal, the local Salem and mid valley paper, is that it features at least once every week some of the outdoor activities available to explore.  It may be a special place to hike, hidden swimming holes, historical venues, or some often missed place of interest.  On Thursday the paper noted there would be minus low tides on the weekend.  This would give viewers a wonderful look at the otherwise hidden sea life along the coast.  Forest service staff at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area would offer guided tours between 8:45 AM and 11:00 AM for those wanting more details about the various sea life.

That was all it took for me to prepare to head south through Corvallis and then southwest toward Waldport and Florence.  I knew there was a chance that our hot spell would be broken with rain and possible thunder storms, especially along the coast, but so what?  I liked exploring the coast in the rain even more than during the hot sun.  Indeed, it did rain for most of the drive.  When I got to Cape Perpetua, the rain had stopped and it was comfortably cool and cloudy.

I had been to this area before but never at low tide when the tide pools revealed their teaming life, so I looked forward to the adventure.  The trail down to the pools was paved and steep.  I already knew it was going to be “fun” coming back up!  For once I remembered to bring the walking stick that I always carry in my truck, though usually forget until I am away on a hike.  It is a good thing I had it this time.  I really needed the “tripod” for stability rather than my two feet alone.  More than once it saved me from a fall. 



Heceta Head

Heceta Head Lighthouse Building

Heceta Head

Some of my photos are a bit blurred due to trying to balance when taking the shot.  Still, they present a pretty good view.  The clearest photos are of the starfish, which were in abundance in sizes and colors.  The sea anemones were even more abundant, but I couldn’t really capture good shots.

It turned out that the hike back to the visitor center at the top was not so bad after all.  Maybe the fresh air energized me enough to compensate for any lack of stamina.  I hope you enjoy this adventure as I did.

After leaving Cape Perpetua I headed south to Heceta Head lighthouse, then home to the inland valley heat!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Drive to Sisters, Oregon

As I often do on the spur of the moment (noon), I got the urge to go for a drive.  I headed south on Hwy 99W to Albany.  From there I headed east on Hwy 34 to Lebanon and on to Hwy 20 toward Santiam Pass.  My first stop was at Foster Reservoir, a beautiful and large lake offering all the summer water activities and picnicking along the shore.

Along the way I photographed one of the streams along the highway.   

When I came to the Walton Ranch Elk Habitat, I decided to hike the trail up to the viewpoint, a rise of about 240 over a quarter of a mile.  Didn’t sound like much of a hike, but I forgot my somewhat limited stamina and felt the slight strain.  It was worth the effort to see the lush forest and views peaking out across the valley to surrounding mountains!  I never cease to be amazed at the beauty Oregon offers in so many different ways.

Finally reached Sisters.  What an amazing place, filled with tourists from places far and near (like me!).  Filled the tank with gas and headed back toward home taking the scenic, and crooked, narrow road that was Hwy 242 over McKenzie Pass.  As I left Sisters there were wonderful views of the Three Sisters Mountains to take in.  There was a cautionary sign indicating that the road ahead for MANY miles was narrow and limited in the vehicles that could travel it.  Narrow is right!  Some places hardly seemed wide enough for two cars.  Even though the road was paved and lined, it was a somewhat harrowing drive.

An amazing highlight consisted of the miles through the lava beds dating far back in Oregon history.  The road literally cut right through the lava flows.  I stopped at the Dee Wright Observatory where the path up the steps and paved walkway took you to the top of a viewpoint constructed of the lava rocks.  From there you could see all the mountains—Jefferson, Sisters and others, the names of which I don’t remember.

On this trip I twice crossed the Pacific Crest Trail.  This trail leads from the Mexican border all the way to Canada.  I never thought much about the trail until I read Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild:  Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Seeing the actual places where I knew she had walked on her self-realization journey was an intense moment of recalling her story.

What started as a spur of the moment urge to go somewhere turned out to be an eight-hour journey?  Glad I had a brunch of buckwheat pancakes and eggs before I left.  It seems I never allow myself to stop for eats on such trips.  Guess I should find a navigator who would require stops other than simply to enjoy the view!

Hope you enjoy this brief view of the place I call HOME!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just a Regular Sunday!

It was a regular Sunday morning for me.  I read the newspaper (lightly) and watched CBS Sunday Morning as usual.  Later, I got into my yard for some work protecting my raspberry bush and the couple of strawberry plants I replanted close to the home so as to discourage any more munching by the local deer.  I had been daily observing the large strawberry beginning to ripen when to my dismay this morning it was gone.  The wire mesh I had put over it was knocked over and the feast was had.  Still, I would rather have the wildlife than worry about whether my plants grew as planned.

Following the yard work I came back inside thinking I would watch the NASCAR races.  Started out fine but I could not get my mind off my stamp collection and the work I wanted to accomplish in that regard.  Long story short, I spent five hours working on my Germany stamps alone.  Remember, I concentrate mainly on US stamps and secondarily on the British Empire, so spending that much time on Germany alone has to give some indication of the volume of activity waiting to be done.  I find myself going to sleep at night thinking of things I want to do with the collection.

Now to the point of this writing.  After dinner I sat down as usual to watch the evening news.  I could not help but feel so grateful for my new home.  I feel that gratitude every time I sit in my living room and simply look around at the things the make it “home” for me:  my books, my art work, and the windows that look out on my community.  I could not be happier!

I think of the people I know and love and imagine sharing this space with them. Several of my closest friends are planning visits sometime this summer and I am eager to greet them and welcome the gift of their presence as it adds to the positive energy of this special, to me, place.

Upcoming projects to accomplish include some patching leaks on the carport roof, continuing work on the flower bed, building several above-ground garden boxes, etc., etc.!  What fun!

That’s it.  I just wanted to share my gratefulness to be alive and enjoying life beyond my fondest expectations!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving Beyond the Hurt

One of the possibilities that occur in relationships is that we will experience hurt.  For some hurt comes early in life as a result of uncaring or immature parenting.  For others hurt may come from the breakup of a first love.  Then there are those of us who seem bent on creating circumstances that can have no outcome other than being deeply hurt and scarred for life. 

Mark Nepo, in “The Book of Awakening,” suggests that there are many ways in which we may discover how to get beyond a hurtful experience.  He says that like a radio that can only receive one station at a time, we may think there is only one way to resolve a difficult relationship.  In reality there are many stations being broadcast at the same time, but we choose the one we are listening to.  Further he states:

“. . . compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides (choosing a station).  Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality.  Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us.  Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.”

As a principle of faith, I accept that feeling hurt is a choice I make in how I respond to a hurtful experience with another person.  The fact is, in such a situation we are in pain.  We will stay in that pain until we decide we have had enough it and move on.  Life does not consist only of that particular hurtful experience for any of us.  It is up to us to decide that there are other parts of our life that we can pay attention to that will allow us a momentary change of perspective.  If, in that more serene moment, we can focus our attention on the power of compassion, we will find that we have changed the station to which we are listening.  We hear life in a different way and our pain will recede.

Compassion takes us to another level of our experience of relationship.  It does not take sides in the issue.  Rather we are then in a position to reaffirm our truth and our reality while at the same time recognizing there is a truth the other person is attempting to express.  Life does not require that we all share the same truth.  In fact, individuality requires of us a separate but equal reality.  It is when we judge what the “equal” notion should be that we get into trouble.  We have an equal right to see our reality in our own way and to live with the consequences.

Moving past the hurt will eventually require of us some action.  Hurt does not go away by ignoring it.  It simply falls into the deeper recesses of our consciousness.  That is why some situation from our past may suddenly surface for seemingly no reason.  A current event is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  That has happened to me, as I am sure it has for others.  I felt that was what surfaced for a friend when I attempted to share the excitement about an experience I was having.  The truth of my experience as I saw it was one thing.  The truth of the other person clearly saw something quite different.  I was staggered at first and my own past hurts began to surface with the accompanying anger.  At first it was easy to blame my feelings on the action of the other person.  Fortunately, I did not respond out of the environment of the now surfaced anger.  Instead, through working with the facets of the relationship in my mind and heart I found the compassion Mark Nepo wrote about.  The anger was the first to go after that.  Then I realized I had no reason to be hurt.  The truth of my experience was still real, still true.  I was able to return to the joy and satisfaction of my life.

It is not always easy to let go of the things that we feel have produced hurt in our lives.  The choice is ours whether we let go or not.  No matter how remote some of those other stations are that are broadcasting, we owe it to ourselves to search for them.  Tune into the one(s) that bring you to those peaceful moments where you can see things more clearly and resolve any issue that has produced hurt.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rearranging Life

I was in the process of rearranging the furniture in my second bedroom/office (yes, already after so soon getting settled!), and in the process, spilled contents of my letter trays where I kept correspondence, bills and other items not ready for filing.  It was then I realized an additional reason why I had begun this rearranging. Here is what I discovered.

In going through the correspondence folder I came across several greeting cards I had received in the past and had wanted to save.  I also found a number of photos (grand children); articles I had saved and some pictures I had saved from years ago that had been placed under the glass top to my office desk.  I managed to sort these various items out and saved most all of them again.

It was lunchtime when I got through with the arranging and after lunch I sat down to read.  While I was reading I found myself thinking back to the greeting cards I had discovered.  There was a get well card from members of my Ageless Conditioning class following my heart surgery several years ago.  There was a Christmas card from my good friends from back in the Whole Life Learning Center days in Colorado, the Ebrights, telling me of Jack’s hip replacement surgery done on my birthday and telling me I was an inspiration to him.  Finally, there were Father’s Day cards from family members.

I realized how valuable the sentiments shared in the cards were to me.  A couple of years ago I had gone through my files that contained years of cards from close friends and loved ones.  I had cards from my son and daughter that went back to the time they first were able to scribble their names.  These were so precious and re-reading them reminded me of the love that transcends everything.  As difficult as it was I had to let the cards go, but before I did, I scanned many of them into my computer.

I guess the point of all this is that if or when we begin to take our loved ones and friends for granted, it is wonderful to have those greeting cards to look at again.  It true that some connections remain stronger than some others.  Never the less the special people whose paths have joined with us from time to time leave marks on our consciousness forever.  To be reminded of our shared caring can strengthen our resolve to continue to care, to love and to respect each other more deeply.

So, it was a fruitful morning for me.  Once again my “re-arranging” brought clearer insight about important relationships. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Burying and Planting

In my morning reading I came across these words in, “The Book Of Awakening,” by Mark Nepo:

There is very little difference between burying and planting.  For often, we need to put dead things to rest, so that new life can grow.  And further, the thing put to rest – whether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing – becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form.  As the well-used thing joins with the earth, the old love fertilizes the new; the broken dream fertilizes the dream yet conceived; the painful way of being that strapped us to the world fertilizes the freer inner stance about to unfold.

Having just come inside from working early in my yard, trimming, watering and observing what needs to be done in the process of removing the weeds and making way for whatever I decide to grow in their places, this quote seemed more than appropriate.  In the spring many things that have rested through the winter and seem dead, now begin their transformation.  Without the “dying” there can be no “rebirth.”

How true this is in our lives.  We need to recognize those things that have served their usefulness and bury them in the earth of regeneration so that what is to come next can evolve.  Just as we do a spring housecleaning and clear away the items we no longer need so we can begin fresh with the new items that bring us renewed joy and satisfaction, so we might well find time to clean our mental/emotional house.  Now is a good time to recognize how your life has changed, how things that used to be important do not seem so important today.  Instead, your mind, free of the used up energy of the past, is re-energized with new creative ideas, dreams and possibilities.

As we continue our journey through life, many things are let go in order to freely move forward.  Sometimes we find new friends taking the place of others to whom we may no longer feel connected.  Of course, we will always have those special persons in our lives.  We are always connected to them no matter what other changes we may go through and no matter how separated we may be geographically.  Sometimes, however, we may fail to recognize what isn’t working for us any longer.  Until we come to a place of recognizing and letting go of those “dead” things we cannot fully be awakened to the new life.

I would first suggest examining those things we have an inordinate sense of “needing.”  When we are desperate about clinging or holding on to something that seems to want to leave us, it may be time to bury it and plant a new dream, a new goal, a new social experience—whatever is moving in your creative consciousness.  Innately, I believe, we know what we need to do to change our lives.  Often, it is simply a matter of giving ourselves permission to change.

In a conversation I had with my neighbor this morning I mentioned trying to determine what I want to do with my flower garden.  It seems to me that the previous owner had what my neighbor called, “an eclectic garden plan.”  Whatever she liked went into the ground.  I cannot make sense of it, nor determine if it was “planned” or freely evolved on its own.  In any case, as pretty as it is, I have to bury some of what is there so I can develop the garden that satisfies my plan, my dream.  I think it is going to be fun.  Even though I feel like I am “killing” the plants that I need to let go of, somehow I think they are willing to become the fertilizer for the birth of new beauty.  We will see!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Your Happiness Is Your Job!

I recently was able to purchase a manufactured home in a small Oregon town heavy on farms, orchards, open space and light on traffic (and traffic lights!).  I had lived in an apartment since retiring from Safeco Life and Investments in 2003 and selling my mobile home in the Seattle Metro area and moving back to Oregon.  I didn’t fully realize until I was actually moved into my new home and began to get settled how totally happy I was.  I suppose much of the feeling came simply from a new environment and new experiences.  However, the longer I am here, the more I realize how many factors there are in one’s life that lead to happiness or the lack of it.

Primarily, of course, our happiness depends on our attitude about life.  Our attitude can be influenced by many things:  friends, relatives, social interaction, money, power, culture, ideals, spiritual activity, environment, and on and on.  What influences we accept as contributing factors in how we live most certainly results in the quality of life we have.  I believe that due to our inherent social nature we enjoy sharing our lives with others who are important to us in some way.  When we feel good and enjoy life, we like to share those feelings with friends and family.  Conversely, when we are in the dumps we may tend to share those feelings with others as well.  If we are lucky, our friends and family may rise to the occasion to be supportive and help us through the current challenges.  Sometimes, not so much!

One of the things I have always done when I was not clear about what I should do about some issue, I rearrange my furniture.  Many times I rearranged the furniture in the office where I was working if there was a particularly difficult issue that needed to be resolved.  I have done the same in my home from time to time.  It just seemed that rearranging the way things were outwardly gave me a new arrangement in my thinking and feeling that would lead to resolving the concern.

It is a major rearrangement when we make a physical move from one home to another.  I won’t go into the potentials of moves that constitute a “running from” some situation.  That is another story for another time.  What I am interested in is a move that truly comes about because one has begun an inner rearrangement of priorities and interests.  I had been feeling the urge to make a move, literally, for about a year.  I dabbled at looking at manufactured homes.  It was interesting that I never actually went in any!  Driving by was my way of flirting with the notion of a move.  I shared my process with only one other person.

Then I received a notice of a rent increase coming up at my apartment.  The rent on my storage locker had already gone up.  That was the catalyst that produced a serious consideration of the pros/cons of purchasing a home.  I had seen a listing of a home in Dallas, Oregon and decided to drive down for a look.  To make a long story short, I turned out to be looking at the wrong listing.  The mobile park was large and consisted of two separate, but connected parts.  As I was driving through the adjacent park, thinking the one I was originally looking for was not what I wanted, I stopped to pick up a flyer for one of the homes.  As I was getting ready to get back in my truck, I saw a lady come up the street waving her hands.  She said, “Do you want to look inside?”  I paused in surprise, then, said, “Yes. I would.”  It was exactly the home I wanted.

I quickly contacted the sales agent and arranged for a meeting.  I offered considerably less than the seller was asking, even after it had been reduced in price.  I also was asking the seller to take half the offer in a note for three years. The agent’s jaw dropped when I told him what my offer was, but he dutifully submitted it to the seller, who now lives in Arizona.  A few days later I got the word, “Start packing.  Your offer was accepted.”  Not even a counter offer.

There were many “co-incidental” factors to the whole process, but to mention one is the fact that I had been living in Greenway Square Apartments.  This home was located in Greenway Mobile Park.  The similarity was not lost on me.

Now, to get to the “Your Happiness is Your Job” part, I wanted to share my good fortune with others.  The result from others was varied, primarily supportive from the ones joining in my happiness.  One person in particular found it necessary to dump on my choice of making such a move.  Seems an inter-personal issue made the person think my action was somehow directed at offending him.  Go figure!  I was taken aback and frankly, it took me awhile to determine not to let any dissenter decide my happiness.  Some folks just can’t stand to see others happy when they are not.

I have had more happiness and interest in life in the last six weeks than I have had in the last five years!  In response to the dissent, I am reminded of the words of Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!

From the poem " Outwitted”

To fully enjoy my happiness, it is necessary for me to express the ability to include others in a loving embrace.  What the other person does with that love is up to him/her.