Saturday, October 27, 2012

Simple Steps

Woke to chilly temperatures...35 F (1.7 C )  Floors cold.  Polar fleece slacks and a warm sweater serve me well as I light the stove and get breakfast going.  Conversation at breakfast determines that perhaps a nice gas heater would be good for the living room, as a back up heat, since we seem to enjoy sleeping with no heat on, we often choose in winter not to keep the fire going through the night, making some very cold mornings.  Having some heat on while the fire gets going would be nice.   Its actually a step in making things more simple.   Its not something we will depend on, but it sure will be a nice backup on the coldest winter mornings.
Simplicity, I have learned is in the mind, in the heart and in how we react to situations, more than it is about making your own soap or keeping goats.   True simplicity is about living in the present, not stressing out, not being a worrier, not being full of behaviors and attitudes that strangle our freedom.  True simplicity is about seeing the necessary and seeing what is not necessary in our lives.  Its being able to take the time to see your life as a flower, and seeing that this beautiful flower needs to be nourished, cared for and admired.   Taking steps to live a simple life, means living with the purpose to be unburdened by objects that take away from the care of our peace of mind.  I had some soup last night, and as I ate it, I was mindful of what was going in my mouth, how amazing God is to make foods for us with different textures and colors. He didn't have to do it that way, but He loves beauty, and He loves us so much that He wants to delight us.  As I took a bit of broccoli in my mouth, slightly crisp, little buds of flavor, I thought about all the sunshine, the rain, the nutrients in the soil that had to come together to make this mouthful of taste and texture.  It was as if there was a bit of the universe in each mouthful.  I thought about each bite this way, the carrots, the celery, the mushrooms.   Thinking about the farmers, the packaging folks, the truck drivers bringing the produce to the stores, to the store clerks stocking the shelves.  Each bite of my food became such a miracle, such a beautiful gift. Simple living is I have discovered, about being present in the moment, its about taking time to experience what is around us.  Life is good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Multitasking, A Thief

Each day my heart wakes with a yearning sort of feeling.   Not for love, or things, or new places to visit, but for betterment.  Enlightenment is the word that comes to mind, but for so many, there is a religious prejudice attached to that word, that stops them dead in their tracks and creates some sort of fear within.  I do not feel that way, I feel drawn to a word that bespeaks of understanding life better.  Getting a handle on the emotions that sometimes rule us and have us say or do things we regret later.   As I grow older, it feels to me like a time of preparation, of looking within, with crystal clear vision of who and what I really am.  No longer so busy with raising a family, no longer burdened with some sort of self imposed sense of needing to be super woman, super mother, super anything for that matter, but feeling the need to be so full of compassion for others, that all the bad attitudes, all the aggravating situations, angry people etc, appear as they really are....people suffering.  We so often have it in our hearts to read a story about an abused animal that bit someone, and our first response is often, "oh, that poor dog, no wonder he bit someone, being abused like that for years." and our hearts fill with compassion for the dog, yet, when a person is aggravating us, perhaps a sharp answer, a biting remark, a rude action, we have less compassion for them than we do for the dog that bit a person.  No doubt, that rude person is suffering from the results of some form of abuse.  Perhaps a bad childhood, a hard time at school, a nasty boss that degrades them, a less than loving relationship, or perhaps their suffering is poverty, created by circumstances beyond their control or perhaps self inflicted by self indulgence.   A persons suffering can be from a feeling of little or no self worth, that fills them with an anger so deep, that they have no idea how to reach it to change it.
So, this journey of mine, the one where simplicity is sought at greater levels each and every day, has taken me on a course of mindfulness.  For years I have read Jon Kabat Zinn and nodded my head at the wisdom he imparts, but I just could not still my brain enough to fully grasp what being mindful really is.   The reason I could not quite, "get it" was that I was always multitasking, even while reading, my mind would drift off to something I want to be doing, should be doing, would like to do.  I have spent my life, doing two things at once, or actually more than two things most of the time.  I would read, listen to music and have something baking in the oven.  I would iron while doing laundry and in years past, do that while I was teaching the children.   Even now, in the evening I watch TV while I I knit, drink tea, talk and assume I am giving my husband lots of my attention.  I sleep with my iPhone next to me, grabbing it like a seeing eye dog if I happen to wake in the night to make a trip to the bathroom, checking my mail and facebook while I do my business.Each morning I sit on the back porch, eating breakfast, bird watch, and try to read a book.   No more.  I watched Thich Naht Hanh on Oprah and he said something so profoundly beautiful, that it has transformed how I do everything....He spoke to her about 4 mantras, the first one, "Darling, I'm here for you....when you love someone, the best thing you can offer him or her is your presence. How can you love if you are not there."  He says so much more that is eye opening, and you can watch this part of the interview here
After watching this clip, I realized that I am not "there" quite often, even when eating.  I eat mindlessly, and when that thought came to me, life has changed even more.  This little youtube video got things really moving for me.   One thing has led to another and re-reading Jon Kabat Zinn on mindful living is changing how I live.   It has given me a peace and a freedom that is beyond anything I have ever experienced.  If I want to watch birds, I watch birds.  When I eat, I eat mindfully and that means you eat a lot lot less.  No dieting, just eating and listening to your body.  Enjoying each and every mouthful, thinking about where it came from, all the people involved in getting it to you and being filled with gratitude for creation. Even shopping has changed, no more mindlessly wanting, no more shopping without being present in reality, understanding need vs want on a very deep level.  At our yard sale last weekend.  It was so freeing to sell things that were taking me away from being in the moment so many times in a single day.  My goal, to be there for my loved ones, be present in the moment to see that a person that is being less than pleasant is suffering more than I am at that moment and to grasp this profound bit of wisdom from Thich Naht Hanh....

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.”

Multitasking has been a thief, stealing away from me, the joy of being present in the moment.  Each and every moment in our life is fleeting.  Gone in an instant, never to be regained.  No redo.  I will no doubt still chew gum when walking on occasion, and talk while I eat at the table from time to time, but I am living my life in a new kind of freedom that comes with being mindful of where you are at every moment.  
Thich Naht Hanh also said, “The amount of happiness that you have depends on the amount of freedom you have in your heart.”
I understand that now.  Its what God has been whispering in my ear for years, but I was too busy multitasking to really hear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Dawn

A beautiful sunrise, dawn, waking the world around me, right before my eyes.  Colors to stir the soul, delight, bring joy.  In the rose garden, the first fall rose in bloom there, "New Dawn", how perfect..colors fading from pale pink to creamy white, delighting the eyes, bringing joy, stirring my soul to contemplate the wonders of the Creator.

AMAZING SÁMI FOLK MUSIC | Máddji - "Dawn Light"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Learning To Be At Peace With Yourself

There are a lot of people in the world that are uncomfortable in their own skin. Not happy with who they are. Many cannot even sit in a quiet room alone because they need a diversion from their own thoughts.  I have been one of those people.
People run around busy. Compulsively cleaning house, talking on the phone for extended periods or numerous times in a day, shopping, over eating, running from one thing to another. Never having to stop long enough to listen to their own heart beat. Angry thoughts may crowd their mind, or they carry a grudge, or think about what she does or what he said, and never take time to take inventory of who they have become. Many spend time trying to guess what the other person is thinking, when in reality the other person wasn't even thinking of them !
It may seem painful at first to look deeply at ourselves. You may want to ask yourself some questions. Am I trying to copy people? Do I think out my own actions ? Do I constantly try to "be" someone else ? Perhaps do what others do and call it our own thoughts and actions ?
You may wish to sit alone quietly in a room. No music, no TV, no pets to distract you, face away from windows that may cause your mind to wander to what is happening outside.
Clear your mind of all the things you think you should be doing and look at who you are, what you are, what you know about yourself. If there are things you dislike, change them, work on them and make progress each day. If there are things that you like, consider them and think on those things for a bit. Feel good about the things you like within you. Decide what kind of person you want to be. And work on those things that you see need to be improved. Be comfortable in who you are. Make peace with yourself and don't mentally beat yourself up over past mistakes and shortcomings. Be at peace with yourself and you will find yourself being more compassionate and loving to others. It is a journey that never ends as one discovery leads to another.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yard Sale

Sticking to my word regarding living with less "stuff", this weekend we are having a large yard sale...even some of the antiques are going into the "sell" pile.  The more mindfully we live, the less we want around and or need in our lives.  Simplicity just seems to be the manifestation of living in the moment, with no fear of tomorrow or all the "what if's" that we are so good at imagining.    Life has a way of teaching us lessons with each and every new step.  It seems that the stages in life, keep requiring less than the stage before.  
Here is a picture of one small corner of the stuff that is part of the yard sale, its only a fraction of the stuff we are moving on.  It feels good.  Like loosing weight, in a way, and getting rid of the "fat clothes".

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Morning Ramble On A Damp Sunday Morning

None of us can force peace upon another person, the sheer fact of using any force makes it not a peaceful act. We can however find peace within our own hearts and minds and scatter seeds of peace all around us. In our homes, seek peace and show peace to our loved ones. Bring our children up with peaceful hearts. Perhaps, peace within comes from a lack of being attached to things, to objects and from refraining from holding on so tight to our own self interests that a territorial nature arises within us. I don't have the answers, just the questions. I am walking this path of life just like everyone else. One step at a time, gleaning from life's happenings any bit of wisdom I can find. Watching others, seeing whats working and knowing what is not.
Always, in each step I take, the goal ahead remains the same, to be at peace within.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Morning Joy

A pumpkin spice breakfast, half a pumpkin spice bagel with pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin spice granola, and of course, pumpkin spice coffee to go with it.  Edgar and Allen had their breakfast at the same time, Poe arrived a little later.  The three of them "talking" loudly the entire time they were here.  Time spend gathering acorn hats for some needle felted gnomes I am working on, pine cones gathered for starting a fire in the stove.  Simple things, delightful things, things I enjoy, things that gave me some morning joy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


When water is still, the reflection found is true to the objects being reflected.   When the water is angry, or being tossed about, the reflection is distorted and not true to what is being reflected.   We are like that, when we are still, not embracing drama or worry, what is being reflected is true, we see a clear picture of what is going on around us, which often allows us to see both sides of a situation and also gives us time to see things as they truly are.  Time to think of the best way to handle the situation.  Calmly.   But, with busy, hectic  lives, the water around us is rippling, then rushing or with great waves. Chaos often steals our chance to see the water around us still and reflective.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


"Religion is always an individual, personal thing. Every person must work out his own views of religion, and if he is sincere, God will not blame him, however it turns out. Every man's religious experience is valid for himself, for, as I have said, it is not something that can be argued about. But the story of an honest soul struggling with religious problems, told in a sincere manner, will always be of a benefit to other people. That is why, in speaking about religion, I must get away from generalities, and tell my personal story. "

Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

Sums up exactly how I feel these days

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Living On The Surface

Last evening as I sat on the shore of Cedar Lake and watched the tiny fish swimming right near the surface, it gave me much to think about. I knew that deeper down in the water, large fish were swimming.

I do not wish to compare the fish, but rather to relate the difference in living on the surface of life, or reaching deep inside life to find hidden gems of wisdom and as much as the term "enlightenment" is used primarily for eastern thought, I find it fits all thought that is deep and profound.
You can go through life, living each day without ever contemplating what is taking place around you. You can just go through all the motions of life. Living life on the surface. Dealing only with the obvious and reacting only to the bare minimum of experiences. In the end, you may just come away wondering what you were ever born for, what are you here for ? The question may never be answered since you never really looked deeper than going through the day.
We all need time to think. Quiet time to pull away from the ordinary to seek the extraordinary in our lives or around us. We learn that way. We learn the value of life, of nature, of birth and death. We see the cycles and rhythms to life when we stop to look for them and then simply think on them. Life begins to have a deeper meaning. We treat our life with a gentler touch and those around us too.
Living on the surface gives you little nourishment for the soul. Take some time to pull away to a quiet spot. Empty your mind of all the stresses and worries and just look out at the expanse of nature. Look deep inside your own being to see what matters and what really doesn't. Think about others with compassion that can only come when we are thinking clearly and below the surface of immediate reactions.
You will be happier.


Surround yourself with things that inspire you. Art, good books, poetry, music, and people who are inspiring.
Be an inspiration to others. Be a container of goodness that overflows. Notice things around you that draw you to the simple beauty of nature. Look at the sunsets, notice the clouds, the way the leaves are budding on the trees. Seek to find flowers and look deeply at them. Notice if they have a sweet scent. Move beyond the obvious to find the hidden beauty in the things around us.
Reach beyond the worries and concerns that consume you. Seek the things that take you to a moment of inspiration and then you can inspire others.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sunshine and Shadows

Autumn winds blew cold yesterday and last night.  A light frost greeted much of the world around me this morning.  Cold floors reminded me its once again time to sleep with wool socks on.  Sitting by the wood stove this morning, building a fire, the sunshine and shadows danced together with an inaudible harmony.  The colors so alive and so unspeakably beautiful in their simplicity.   Imagine how the heart of God must be to create so many pleasures for us to see, hear, taste and smell each and every day of our lives.  One can only assume that His desire for us is, happiness in every breath we take.  I woke this morning, more committed than ever, to be mindful of all that is in each and every moment of my life.  That, brings profound joy and a peace that reaches far deeper than I could have ever imagined.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Morning Walk

Winter like morning.  Gray sky, cold north wind, mittens and hats.  Camera around my neck, binoculars around Emery's neck.  At home, breakfast in the crock pot simmers, waiting for our return. Walking in near silence, soaking in the beauty and enjoying the cold air.   So wonderfully refreshing after the long hot summer.  A female Red Tailed Hawk, swoops down near us, mouse grabbed up in a move so fast, you were not sure you had actually seen it.  
What a wonderful way to start the day.  Mindfulness  intensified each and every moment.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...