Awe of Dogs
The other day Aria said, Mama, you know how I learned to talk to the dogs? Listening to you. I can’t do it exactly like you but I keep trying.
My 13 yr old daughter is referring to the ridiculously flirty baby goo-gooey way I talk to all furry creatures but none more so than dogs. All dogs, not just mine.
I have 3 and feel the itch for another one or two. What’s a farm for, if not for a pack of muddy waggers gallivanting all over the place? Doc and I have had many dogs. Our first was a beloved black lab--Elzia. She had the softest ears and got into messes, the likes of which, I had never seen. That is, until I had children.
Over the years we’ve had the privilege of knowing 9 dogs for various lengths of time before they departed this earth. All of them have taught me the same lesson.
I don’t know if I can put into a single word the essence of this teaching. I suppose that’s the Awe of it. Words attempting to describe the experience of awe only prove to reduce it. Better to just be in and with awe than try to word it out.
But for the sake of this practice, I want bring you to the awe of dogs starting their eyes. The eyes of a dog don’t lie. They don’t hold back. They don’t project. There’s no false bravado or questioning confidence. There’s no doubt. What you see in a dog’s eyes is what you get and what you get is who they are in that moment. If a dog is feeling angry or upset, you’ll see it. If there’s any insecurity or fear, it radiates from their eyes. If they’re guilty their eyes say it all. And when dogs are happy, oh my, just one look in their eyes is enough to make my heart explode.
Looking into the eyes of a dog forces me to wonder, what do my eyes reveal?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a dog’s tail. Asia, our largest and oldest is ½ lab and ½ border collie with a tail that speaks volumes. When he’s happy, he wags in a wide sweeping arc with a toothy grin. When he’s nervous, he sits on his tail tucked tight between his legs. Only three things make Asia quake. Gunshots, thunder, and something in the shifting energy related to weather—a sense I do not possess. Then there’s my favorite wag of his. I call it the tail-tip wag.
Every morning I sit on a little stool in our laundry room and talk to my wagger friends. This and a cup of coffee is how I greet my day. Asia, when he’s completely content, will sit at my feet, wrap a paw around my arm and with his tail, lying on the floor sticking straight out, wag only its very tip. I look into his eyes and experience nothing but friendship, trust, affection, and pure happiness. Asia doesn’t tail-tip wag for everyone, so when you receive it, you know you are being granted a gift.
Noticing how a dog wags forces me to wonder, what does my body language say?
The awe of dogs is about coming into the awareness that so much of what we say needn’t come through our mouths in words. In fact, we’re probably more true when we learn to speak with our eyes and wag just a little bit more.
Eventually I'll write about the Awe of AWE but this morning my mind is on birds.
It's last day of winter holiday and sleeping in. Morning is my favorite time to write. Before I sat down to the computer, I was in the living room with the eastern sun to my back illuminating the pages of an old spiral notebook Aria used for her 6th grade reading class. At the time, Reo occupied the computer seat as he ate a bowl of Lucky Charms for his breakfast. Something about the chime-like sound of his spon against the bowl puts a smile on my face. Awe is always the little things that punctuate the most profound and inexplicable moments.
Sitting on the couch, I turn my head to the left and crane my neck slightly, gaze out through a disgracefully filthy window and see two sour cherry trees. The branches bow to the snow-blanketed earth that sparkles in the sun. Staring at glittery snow on clear blue days is one of my favorite ways to pause.
The cherries on the trees are not frozen solid despite the frigid temperatures. They've cycled through chill and thaw enough times that they are now mooshy and have traded their bright blood red color for a cranberry orange.
Soon one of my favorite winter time events will happen. The migration of the Cedar Waxwings! I will never forget the first time I experienced their arrival. It was a quiet mid-January morning and out of nowhere the tranquility of the farm erupted into a frenzy. A cacophony of bird song from Cedar Waxwings, by the hundreds, perched on every branch of every tree surrounding the sour cherries pierced the quiet. Bird brawls and boozey flight punctuated the 20 minutes or so it took for them to strip the trees bare of every last fermented berry.
As mysteriously as they arrived, they vanished. Presumably flying off their drunken stupor until the next cache of winter deliciousness.
What makes me anticipate their arrival this year with such glee is their noticeable rare absence last year. I can count on one hand the number of times they have not danced in my trees in the 17 years of living at No Worries Farm. January 2016 was unseasonably warm and instead of Cedar Waxwing gluttony, we had Robins. Countless everyday Spring-time robins, which was totally disconcerting. They aren't typically due to arrive until April but with two years of drought-like conditions, I wasn't completely surprised.
So far we are experiencing a more normal winter season with plenty of snow and cold temperatures. I check everyday for these noisy fickle friends to return. They leave a mess on the ground, to be sure, but it's worth the party they have in the trees and the way they elevate my spirit for just that fleeting moment of awe.
Happy New Year!
New Year's Resolutions. I've never resonated them. Specific goal setting to accompany one's intentions. Now, this I can relate to better. However, goals are second to intention, so let me begin there.
My New Year's Intention is to bring awareness to AWE--my word for the year.
Awe-sibilities People! Let the infinite unfurling begin.
And everyday I might add. That's the thing about Awe. It's ordinary and yet here's the mystery. Once you step into Awe's awareness nothing is ordinary.
I know you know this. But do you live it?
To write about Awe on a daily basis. A lofty endeavor, full of talk and good intention, which is, ironically, empty. I'm not remotely certain I can pull it off. In fact, I likely won't, but that's my goal nevertheless. I want to tell you that I will try, but I keep hearing the great Sage, Yoda, in my head saying, There is no Try. There is either Do or Do Not.
So here it is folks; I won't bother to try and achieve this goal. I'm simply going to Do my Best. I can't wait to see what that will look like!
The first day of this new year has me in awe, thinking about pins. Regular ordinary pins. Pins with big round yellow heads, small beady heads, flat heads, and bent heads. Long straight pins, and short blunt ones. Pins. Not safety pins, mind you. Those are different kind of awe. And not needles either. Just plain ol' regular pins.
They prick, poke and pierce. They combine and gather. They hold.
If I were to personify the pin, I would say they behave with enormous humanity. I'm sure you've all known people who prick, poke, and pierce. People who combine and gather. But it's the ones who hold, that are the greatest source of security and trust.
People who are able to stand straight and firm in the middle of a storm are the ones to whom we all aspire. The rides of life are tumultous and we need people to pierce through the roughest parts and hold. We need people who can gather strength from combining talent and anchor an ideal.
Pins also often reside at the point of balance. Balance--a popular New Year's resolution and word. What does it really mean? To have balance. The illusion is that we'll have everything perfectly in place, eliminating the highs and lows of life, so we can be comfortable forever and ever amen. We all know this ain't gonna happen and yet we pursue this notion of balance with a fervor.
Balance. Highs and Lows. Pins.
A harmonious life is one that is pinned to the holy knowing that weaving opposites is what creates the whole of one's life. Even the humble pin knows this. In order for it to hold, it must go through a fabric's front and back piece in order for it to be balanced, strong, and secure.
The Awe of pins. May you never see them the same again.
December 31, 2016
For several years I have started the New Year by sharing the books I’ve been privileged to read for the past 12 months. In the library of Ol’ Henry the Farmhouse, there is a specific shelf where I stack the year’s books so at the end of the year I can offer a summary of each. My goal is to read at least 4 books a month. I always try to read one book from a Nobel Prize winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner and one book to receive the Newbury Prize for children’s literature. I try to read at least one classic. I read all kinds of genres, although I admit that I’m pretty limited when it comes to Science fiction and Poetry. I share these books in no particular order and offer a brief opinion of each.
1. From Fear to Serenity with Anthony de Mello by Thomas G. Casey, SJ and Margaret Brennan Hassett
I’ve read this book more than once. It has become an essential reference, stock piled with gems like this one:
~ There is a big difference between gratitude and judgment. Gratitude comes from the heart and expresses the heart. Judgment comes from the mind. Gratitude sees what is good and beautiful, but judgment often looks for what is deficient, ugly, or missing; it regularly finds fault. If you judge yourself negatively, you will see the worst in yourself. If you are grateful for yourself and your life, you will see the best.
2. The Family under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. A Newbury Honor winner. This is a curious story. Suspended my state of belief immensely.
3. The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory. This is the first book from this prolific author I have read. It was by far the most tedious and boring book I read this year. Her ability to develop characters was elementary at best and her storyline was repetitive. Yawn! I’m glad I read it though. I won’t need to read any more and that’s a relief.
4. Buddha’s Little Instruction Book by Jack Kornfield. I loved it! This tiny booklet is perfect bathroom reading. I mean no disrespect here. We all have to sit several times a day, so why not pick up something easy and delightful to read that inspires and refreshes the mind!
5. They Had a Dream; The Civil Rights Struggle from Frederick Douglass to Marcus Garvey to Martin Luther King and Malcom X. by Jules Archer. This book is probably a middle school read published in 1993. I loved it. I needed to go back to the basics in order to gain a broader understanding of what continues to happen in the lives of people of color. This was easy to read, difficult to digest, horrifying to hold, and inspiring to my spirit.
6. The Gift of Years- Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister. This was one of my favorite books of 2016. This prolific and accomplished writer has set the bar very high in this work. Here’s one exquisite example;
~ The unselfish generosity of forgiveness is a myth. Forgiveness is more important to the one who forgives than it is to the one who is forgiven.
…We are who we are—and so is everyone else. And it is our forgiveness of others that gains for us the right to forgive ourselves for being less than we always wanted to be.
7. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Seriously mind-blowing.
8. Stars Above; A Lunar Chronicles Collection by Marissa Meyer. This is total word candy! I loved every bit of it. A friend introduced me to Sci-Fi with this series and it was wildly fun.
9. The Gospel of Buddha by Paul Carus. I loved this piece. It reminded me in some ways of the children’s bible I grew up with. Wonderful stories and teachings. Another reference book for my shelves for sure!
10. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder who is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. This book was just marvelous! I highly recommend it particularly for those of you whose parents are making ready to wander on out of this life. His story shines a bright light, sometimes glaring and sometimes sweet, on life in a nursing home.
11. Wild—From lost to found on the pacific crest trail by Cheryl Strayed. Loved. Every. Single. Word. I haven’t seen the movie but I completely understand why this adventure was put onto film. WOW!
12. Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman. A Newbury Honor winner. Just a fun easy read!
13. The Princessa Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin. This was a complete surprise! I had been studying Machiavelli and I mean that sincerely. I had to study. Sit at the kitchen table and read and process sentence by sentence. It was difficult for me to digest. Strategy of war and power was like something stuck in my throat that I couldn’t swallow. This book just happened in my gaze one day. I can’t remember where I found it but it will be another reference on my shelf. Here’s a lovely little note:
~Enlarge your life, your circle, your mind. Boundaries do more than keep others out; they lock you in.
14. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Reo was reading this for his 9th grade English class, so read it with him. I’m pretty certain I read this in high school, too but I couldn’t fully remember. I am so glad to have read it again! Reo wrote an essay about mental illness in the 30’s when this story was set compared to today. What a great thing! I had so much fun working with him on his project.
15. Secret Daughter by Shipli Somaya Gowda. Total departure from my reality! I loved this take me away read.
16. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Winner of the Pultizer Prize. Oh. My. God. I had no idea. I’m not going to say anything but get this book and read it right now!
17. Falling Leaves—a Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. Brutally sad and completely compelling. Just WOW!
18. The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee. A Nobel Prize winner. This story. I just can’t even…The writing…The sensory palette…Beyond the beyond. For me to say it was outstanding is small and pathetic.
19. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Another take you into the depths of a fantastic story. 500+ pages. A commitment for sure but one you will not be sorry for having made.
20. Leading with Soul by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. What I remember from this book is how delightful and easy it was to read. I think I devoured it over lunch. I did not mark this book in any way, which tells me that I read it purely for pleasure. There was nothing particularly outstanding about it, just a simple pleasant read that I think I’ll have to read again!
21. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence. I have to read at least one classic and this one chose me. This is another 500+ page book and it is dense! The language, the character development, the tension. Oh my God. The tension that is created in this book is like nothing I have experienced before. It’s a commitment to read and not a fast read so be ready. Incredible.
22. Circle of Stones; A Woman’s Journey to Herself by Judith Duerk. When I grow up, I want to be like this! I absolutely loved this book. The copy I have is on textured raw type paper, which felt so good in my hands. It’s organic and encouraging. The inspiration written throughout is something I shall turn to again and again and again. Here’s a little sample:
~ To discover who she is, a woman must trust the places of darkness where she can meet her own deepest nature and give it voice…weaving the threads of her life into a fabric to be named and given…sharing it with the women around her as she comes to a true and certain sense of herself.
23. Bury Me Not in a Land of Slaves; African Americans in the Time of Reconstruction by Joyce Hansen. This was an incredible book. It brought me into the awareness of slavery’s chronology and many of the main players involved. The featured biographies; Phillis Wheatley, Frederik Douglass, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Martin R. Delany, John R. Lynch and Charlotte Forten Grimke were fascinating to read. This is probably another middle school age book, which I need from time to time. I can’t handle full adult academia on every subject. I need an elementary presentation sometimes in order to better match my basic and limited understanding. It was important to revisit where we’ve been to better understand where we are.
24. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. A Newbury Medal winner. Holy Wonder! Fabulous story!
25. They Don’t See What I See; How to Talk with Loved Ones who have Crossed Over by Ruth Berger. I confess, I don’t remember much of this book at all. Clearly made little to no impression upon me. General rating on this kind of stuff? Meh.
26. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson. A Newbury Honor and National Book Award winner. This book blew my mind! I loved every word and basically wanted to start stalking Jaqueline Woodson so we could become friends because I felt like we already were! Seriously wonderful.
27. The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy by Nick Bantock. I hadn’t seen these books in ages and I scored the set of three in a second-hand bookstore. I was blown away all over again. Everything about these books…the art, the story, the interactive-ness, and the creativity. Just pure fun!
28. The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan. This guy! Okay. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 and I wish-wish-wish I was smart enough to really get him. Alas, I do not! I read this book but it was a chore. It bored me to tears in places and there’s little of it that got my juices flowing.
29. Lesbian Nuns Speaking Silence by Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manahan. I. Had. No. Idea! I’m serious. I grew up with nuns for God’s Sake and I knew that some nuns were likely gay but I had no idea just how many! I’m sitting here writing, smacking my forehead with a resounding, “Duh!” I loved this book. It was raw, real, honest and heart-breaking too. That we STILL seem to think we have the right to dictate how people are going to be and who they are going to love is something that fills me with despair and disgust.
30. First Light by Rebecca Stead. Absolutely huge fun!
31. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. How have I never read this book? I can’t stop thinking about it! Absolutely fantastic! Here was one of my favorite parts;
~He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.
I can relate to this completely!
32. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. WOW!! The science in the beginning was so much fun! I loved every word. Her personal story is overwhelming and powerful. It’s so easy to say, “Life can change in a moment.” It’s something else to actually live that! Furthermore, she has a great way of explaining difficult neuroscience in a way that regular people can have access! Here’s one of my favorite examples;
~As members of the same human species, you and I share all but 0.01% (1/100th of 1 percent) of identical genetic sequences. So biologically, as a species, you and I are virtually identical to one another at the level of our genes 99.99%. Looking around at the diversity within our human race, it is obvious that 0.01% accounts for a significant difference in how we look, think, and behave.
Um. Just wow… Do you understand the significance of this fact? We are 99.99 % more alike than we are different and yet we are forced to believe and behave as if we are 99.99% different from one another! This has stirred up a cynicism in me like nothing else. Those in power waging war on people who are 99.99 % just like me and just like you is something I cannot bear. That the powerful have increased their power through the suffering of my global brothers and sisters at the expense of our Mother Earth, who supports us all, is just not something I will tolerate. I can’t and neither can you. We have to come together as a global people and why wouldn’t we? Genetically we are identical minus 0.01%.
33. Outliers; The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Kaboom! Mind blowing.
34. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. A Newbury Honor and National Book award winner. Totally fun story.
35. Hercules and Other Tales from Greek Myths by Olivia E. Coolidge. This is an old kid’s copy. I have no idea from what crack this thing emerged but it was fun. I hated reading myths when I was little but I love them now.
36. The Dream Watcher by Barbara Wersba. What a trippy story this was. I have no idea where I picked this one up either. Totally loved it.
37. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown, Ph.D. I’m a little late to the party. I know you’ve all probably read this and loved it. Me too. Interesting note. I didn’t make a single mark in this book, which always tells me that there was nothing remarkable or outstanding that I would want my attention called to repeatedly. That’s not a bad thing. It simply suggests that there wasn’t anything here that was particularly new or earth-shattering, but what I LOVED is her presentation. She’s absolutely wonderful. She’s hilarious and smart. She’s unapologetic and sincere. Her tone was so refreshing to ideas that needed a new stir. Highly recommend.
38. Love and Power by Lynn V. Andrews. I loved this book. I’ve read everything she’s written. Some of it is completely la-la and takes me to places of my dreams but this one totally grounded me. This was one of her smartest pieces filled with questions and poetry. Here’s something from a chapter called Life is like a Clay Pot:
~When you are filling the vessel that is you, you are imploding energy, or taking energy into you through knowledge and practice. Though we live in a male dominated world, the filling of the clay pot represents the female, receptive mode. At some point, there has to be explosion, an opposite and equal reaction, which is the male mode. And so the emptying begins.
39. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. I have to read this one again. I remember being thoroughly entranced. There’s SO MUCH here. This was an exceptional read! I may have to begin 2017 right here!
40. Gratitude by Oliver Sacks. I read this 3 times and loved it each time discovering something new with each read. It’s a short little book full of beautiful gems like this one. He’s referring to his experience of being gay.
~The matter was never mentioned again, but her harsh words made me hate religion’s capacity for bigotry and cruelty.
41. The Feminine Face of God; The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this read. The collaboration is impeccable. The questions are smart and sharp. The answers or perhaps the direction they are suggesting and guiding us toward, are going to be difficult to absorb. This book is already 25 years old and some of the ideas probably strike a radical blasphemous nerve. I say, “Good and about time!” Time. Repetition. Daring. These are the main ingredients for the shifts to come. Check this out;
~ In North America men and women alike can now choose from an almost limitless number of paths and practices and teachers. Hindu yogis teach next door to South American shamans, and Congregationalist churches share their space with Buddhist and Taoist communities. Jewish men and women become Zen masters and Catholic priests learn Japanese forms of healing and purification.
With so many options and so little background, it is difficult to discern what is really needed. How do we know which tools best fit our needs and which are unreliable or even dangerous? Who can we trust to show us? What are the risks and what are the benefits of these tools and can a benefit become a risk without our realizing it?
For women in particular, the situation is paradoxically more difficult and more advantageous. It is more difficult because most of these tools, as well as the systems that gave rise to them, have been devised by men and do not adequately meet women’s needs. It is more advantageous because women have had to search for new tools.
42. Women Food and God; An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. Fantastic! Great Story Telling. Tears. Laughter. Highly recommend.
43. Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen. My favorite memoir of 2016. This was an edge of my seat read at times. What people must endure. That people survive such horrors and struggle. Profoundly humbling in every conceivable way.
44. Tying Rocks to Clouds; Meetings and Conversations with Wise and Spiritual People by William Elliott. Man I loved this book. So William Elliott’s stories about meeting with his spiritual heroes and heroines is just fun! He’s humble and curious. He’s smart and respectful. He’s taken down paths he doesn’t expect. He lights up the page and warms the reader’s heart! Beautiful read.
Here’s a little something from Frances Vaughan:
~On what do you base your life?
I believe consciousness is evolving, and we participate in the process, with or without awareness. Evolution, however, is only part of the process. Simultaneously there is a process of involution that sustains life. Life is essentially a journey of awakening to the reality of who and what we are.
45. A Separate Reality; Further Conversations with Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. The thing I loved about this book is how never in a million years could I imagine myself being like the main character of this story. I’m not a wanderer in the truest sense of the word. Not even close. I’m not much of a thrill seeker and I definitely avoid substances that alter my state of reality. But none of that is to say that I don’t enjoy reading about other peoples’ experiences. I do. Thoroughly. And I completely admire the courage it takes to abandon one’s familiars. The wisdom here. The unapologetic insanity. I loved it all. I’ll want to read again.
46. The Path of Power by Henri J. M. Nouwen This tiny booklet was a wonderful step into Christian wisdom. Like this:
~My Strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9
The thing I love about this is the invitation to examine the word weakness. You can take weakness literally and scratch your head. Literalism does that a lot and is therefore easy to read and dismiss. BUT if you pause and read the poetry of this holy wisdom, you have to wonder about what weakness it is pointing to. What is the reference? To me, weakness is nudging us toward humility and all the ways we avoid it. If you pause further, you will recognize that the most powerful teachers of wisdom throughout the ages have been those who taught us how to exercise humility. This is going to be increasingly important to remember because we have a lot of people who think that power in the absence of humility is strength. We have a lot of examples throughout history to illustrate just how misguided that thinking is. Power in the absence of humility is destructive and leads to great suffering. I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to experience this in order for the teaching to really sink in, but apparently at least one more time, considering the blathering blustering brat elected to our highest office. Good thing we have Holy Scriptures to guide us back.
47. Great Dames by Marie Brenner. What can I say? The stories of women are compelling because so few of them exist. This was a marvelous collection.
48. No More “Nice Girl”; Power, Sexuality and Success in the Workplace by Rosemary Agonito, Ph.D. The title was what drew me in. This is a wonderful academic piece and a great reference for my shelves.
49. Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen by Gabriele Uhlein Matthew Fox wrote in the preface to this book, Hildegard can be called the Grandmother of the Rhineland mystic movement, a movement of creation-centered spirituality. The year of her death (1179) St. Francis of Assisi was born; there followed Thomas Aquinas, Mechtild of Medgeburg, Meister Eckhart, the anonymous author of the Theologica Germanica and Julian of Norwich. It is doubtful any of these mystic-prophets would have sunk so deeply into truth and experience had St. Hildegard not preceded them.
I read the works of Saints because they embody a devotion to which I aspire. I read these ancient thoughts, stories and experiences because they help me stay connected to the teachings of Jesus. So little of modern Christianity holds my attention or interest. I look upon most of it like picnic food that’s been picked over and left out in the sun.
St. Hildegard writes, Divinity is aimed at Humanity.
This I believe with every fiber of my being. Amen.
50. Betsy Ross Quaker Rebel by Edwin S. Parry. Published in 1932 presumably for elementary school children, this 250 page book was an absolute delight! The author’s grandfather was one of Betsy Ross’s grandsons, so he had access to familial oral traditions that are woven throughout. He reminds us that she never wrote her story down…there are no known letters, in fact Revolutionary documents of any kind are sorely lacking. So I read everything with a grain of salt, a curious imagination and an open heart. Fun!
51. Wicked; The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. Confession time. I loathed this book! I know it was wildly popular and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I put it down several times throughout the year to try to turn my attitude around and get a more comfortable seat on this band-wagon but no go. This read, for me, ranks right up there with Phillipa Gregory for pure tediousness and bore. I remember finishing it, tossing it across the room and screaming, “Fucking Finally!” This one will accompany The Red Queen in the ‘can’t get rid of these fast enough’ give away pile.
52. The Ancient One by T.A. Barron. What a wonderful book of fiction. Again, a children’s book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The story was creative and the characters were well developed. Great good departure!
53. There are 2 magazines I read cover to cover that are almost like books and I wanted to offer their titles here;
Parabola and Tricycle are two really smart and insightful Spiritual reads. I highly recommend you grab copies if ever you have the chance. I’ll also mention that I read Time Life’s Magazine featuring Mother Teresa, which I also highly recommend. It never ceases to amaze me the degree to which some react out of envy and jealousy. This is an element of the human condition that is deeply disturbing and yet St. Mother Teresa rose above it all. Every. Single. Time.
Happy Reading everyone! Please send me your recommended reads!
I grew up going to church every Sunday. Eventually the prayers said aloud were words I could speak by heart. Although I no longer attend Mass and haven’t for decades, I can still bring up remnants of those prayers. I find it fascinating how little they speak to me. I wonder if they ever spoke to me.
Suddenly understanding what prayer is has become of great interest to me. Is it something I speak without fully understanding the words I’m saying because it’s comforting to do? Is prayer something I make up on the fly? And is that even okay? Is prayer like wishing on a star for adults? Is prayer a way to connect with Divinity? What do people pray when they say things like, “Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.” Can thoughts be prayers?
I suspect everyone who prays comes to it for all manner of reasons and in all kinds of styles, which seems rather perfect. Whatever you do and whatever you say, so long as you do it and say it with an awareness of your intention will likely be sacred in prayer form.
For the month of July, I’ll be practicing prayer on a weekly basis at Souls Center during Wednesday morning Coffee Circle. We’ll be using wooden tokens that have a word burned into them as sources of inspiration for what’s to unfold into prayer.
Yesterday there were 4 women who participated in the first prayer circle. I didn’t set a group intention. In fact, I didn’t encourage setting intentions at all. Simply being together and engaging in this practice of sacred vulnerability was intention enough. I asked each woman if there was a number that was speaking to her and to choose that number of tokens for their prayers. As each woman blindly reached into the bowl, wooden tokens spilled out and became the center into which all these prayers were poured. This is what came forward.
~I must Allow Anger to come out and turn that energy so I’m Gambling that it will Birth me into something else that connects me to center. Birthing me to Listen, practice Stillness, Paint, Inspire all of which will bring me closer to God.
~I operate on Will and I’m really in this place of Wandering on so many levels of life; personally, professionally, geographically and now I know why Arrogant is there. How Arrogant of me to not trust the Mystery of Life.
~Asleep has not been in balance. Now that I’m awakening, it’s time to Seek and Realize I can have Health and learn to see the Beauty inside of me. So, I ponder why Resonate is there.
~In the Wealth of Spirit, I honor and revere the sacred process of Death to bring to Life ways to Simplify my Disappointment.
Prayer, I’m discovering, has reaches farther than I could ever have imagined. Beginning with a Circle of Women, we will write them anew for ourselves and one another.
Pecking at Chunks
I think of emotions as a hearty stew seasoning in a giant cauldron. The texture of the stew depends upon my emotional state. When I’m light and upbeat, my stew looks a lot like a natural thermal pool bubbling, popping, gurgling thickly. Something good is brewing and a sense of contained contentment permeates the top with heavier emotions hiding below the seemingly thin surface. When I’m angry, my stew rolls and boils. When frustration defines my mind, I flare up in spits and splatters like a spaghetti sauce that’s stirred after simmering for an hour.
Sometimes deeper emotions come to the surface and I’m faced with one of three choices. The most common and easiest choice is to blame the spoon that stirred these darker crusty feelings to the top. The next option is to quickly suppress the emotional flakes by stirring them back into the stew. The last resort is to take a slotted spoon and finally have a nice long look. I do all three and the point is to simply become aware of my emotional cooking process so my cauldron doesn’t spill over and burn other people. The miraculous part of this whole process is that once you begin to understand these feeling-specks and hunks, they eventually transform the flavor of the stew.
There is one caution though. The gunk at the bottom of the cauldron is, for most of us, seriously caked-on stuff. I’m not taking about the sticky resin emotions that get scraped up by deep stirs. I’m referring to the layers below that. These are the deepest darkest emotions. The core emotions that have been cooked over for so long that when they rise to the surface, they come up in chunks.
Core Emotional Wads (CEWs) pronounced ‘cues’ arise often when we least expect them. They’re tricky because they defy how we normally deal with our emotional burbles. CEWs are easily spooned out but these chunks require more than mere external examination. We have to peck at ‘em in order to incorporate them.
Pecking at Chunks is a practice in patience with resolution happening one tiny piece at a time. The good news is that when chunks become pieces that dissolve into the stew, the taste offers a sample of Eden. And that’s not even the best part!
When you have a chunk appear, you’re ready for it. You know the cauldron of yourself and already have an impeccable stew. All you need to do is take your time. You’re not a woodpecker so frenetically jabbing CEWs misses the point. Deep core feelings require tender attention, focus and concentration. I know Pecking at Chunks sounds sharp and picky like an awl against a block of ice. In reality, it requires no more effort than stepping on the outer edges of an almost frozen puddle. Remember when your chunks surface, you’re ready to peck them slowly, effortlessly and perhaps with a little curious fun.
(Inspired from the teaching The Cauldron and The Spoon©)
Here it is. The first soul~writing.
I have to begin by inviting you to see what has made this website, the physical space of Souls Center, and my willingness to share possible. I know I could never have pulled this together on my own. At the same time it’s hard to imagine how many people have been involved, supporting and encouraging me with their wisdom, experience and pure enthusiasm.
Allow me to begin by introducing you to my incredible sister, Susie Newton. She is 100% responsible for the beauty and ease with which you can navigate this website. I would never have been able to create anything like this. Very simply, it’s not my thing! Susie has not only created a work of art, but she managed to make the whole process fun! Here’s her picture. Isn’t she gorgeous? Oh, and those bunny-ear fingers in the background?! Yeah. That’s our mother, Dolores Hayes, whom we call Mimi! You can’t see her because she’s so darn small as a vibrant 80 year old but you can imagine her bratty spunk is still intact. I grew up in a generous joy-filled family.
Next up, I want to thank a community of women called The Full Moon Goddesses. They are the single reason I am here sharing this writing with you. They are the reason I created a whole new space called, Souls Center. It is too small to say that I am privileged to know them and be a part of our community. For indeed, they have changed my life!
I’m certain the mind knows that a gathering of women circling to share story is a powerful thing. I’m less certain that the heart fully understands. The majesty of women…The power of their stories…The resilience of Spirit…The depths of Soul…the vast expression of creativity and wisdom. Women gathering shifts and shapes consciousness and when we pay attention, we are elevated in ways we never dreamed possible. To All Women, this is for you.
I’d like to thank two primary professional photographers. Jess Asien and Ginger Blue, who have shared their talent and time with generosity you can’t fathom! I am indebted to them for their beauty, patience, skill, and willingness to teach me to relax before the lens. They are both truly divine to work with. Many of the photos on the website are theirs so I want to make sure I give them full credit.
I’d like to introduce you to my husband, Doc. Here's his photo. Isn’t he lovely? Let me say front and center it is not easy being married to a Queen Goddess! What this man puts up with is a lot. So, a whopping dose of thanks and gratitude to my guy who supports my every whim and fancy. He makes it all worthwhile. He makes me laugh and smile like nobody else! I can’t wait to share more stories of him with you. We have three beautiful children I’ll tell you about later. We’ll be celebrating 32 years together this summer. He’s my person…my favorite person of all time.
Last but not least, I want to invite you to be with me in this moment, right now, in something called ‘The Center.’ It is here where Mystery lies, unfolds and reveals itself. I’m inviting your mind here because I’ll be talking about it a lot. The mysterious unfolding of life in all its beauty and horror. The Mystery of how Life forces us to examine pairs of opposites. Duality. Constant, yet worth re-framing. This photo was taken at sunrise on my farm, called No Worries. What you see is a stained glass picture frame I made years ago from scraps of glass. The streaking rainbow light around and through the frame begs my mind to ask, “When I look through the window, what is it I’m really seeing?”
The Soul of the matter…that’s what we’ll be experiencing. I hope to see you around.
To the Sacredness of you, I bow deeply.