Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dragon Fruit Breakfast

A trip to the local Asian Market yesterday yielded many special treats for us in preparation for Chinese New Year, and also I was able to pick up one of my favorite fruits, A Dragon Fruit.  Simple to eat, just cut them in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon.  

Contentment With Age

In recent months, my personal level of contentment has taken giant steps.   If I had thought I was content in the past, I realize now, that it was just a step in the right direction but nothing to what I feel now, and hopefully, the joy of contentment continues to grow and become greater and greater.  My sweet husband and I kept planning all these wonderful trips and found so much fun in planning them, but always, we discovered we would much rather just stay home and enjoy what we have here.  Our porch, our garden, the comfort of our own bed.  The easiness of our day to day life is precious.  I suspect our children think we are just getting to be old fuddy duddys and perhaps fear we are just reaching a stage in life where we don't have the "umph" to  conquer the world, but the truth is, we have already conquered so much of life and now we are finding profound joy in living the life we worked to achieve.   Contentment is joy, it is peace, it is beautiful.  For us, it is the realization that a simple life is all we ever wanted, yet, took years and years to refine.   Age has given us much, it has given us the understanding that no matter how others act towards you, it always has more to do with their own personal suffering or joy than it has to do with you.  In learning that one thing alone, it has given us a freedom from drama and hearts that grow in compassion which in turn, nurtures contentment. 
Last night I finished my rainbow wool shawl.  Its a lovely thought to be wrapped in a rainbow, wrapped in a symbol of a promise from God.
The little birds were hungry this morning, burning up so much energy just trying to stay warm.  I loved sitting in my chair, watching them.  Life is good.  Really good.

Friday, January 25, 2013

As The Week Comes To A Close

This has been a very trying week.  Mei-Lings surgery went well and she is recovering nicely, but its always difficult to see a wee one in pain.   God bless her sweet heart, she is so strong and does not give in to her pain, she never complains.  Melanie, Mei's mommy, came down with pneumonia right after Mei's surgery.  Terrible cough and a very high fever.  I have been helping her with the children at her house and yesterday at my house.  Melanie went to bed in her old room and got the much needed rest her body was begging for.  Mei-Ling played most of the day quietly on the floor with her brother but by late afternoon you could see in her face that she was exhausted and in pain but she didn't want to give in and rest.  Finally we convinced her that it was a good thing to do.  I am on a different antibiotic since the last one did not do the trick.  What a difficult winter this has been.  Everyone we know has been sick.  At the hospital, all the nurses were telling us that it has been the same for them, and even Mei's Doctor has experienced this flu that goes into either a sinus infection, bronchitis or pneumonia, even if they had a flu shot, which we all have had.  It seems like a never ending cycle of being sick, then feeling better, then sick again.
Today, I am just simply doing nothing profound.  Still in my P.J.'s, watching birds out the window next to the wood stove from the comfort of my rocking chair.   Spent my quiet time practicing
Lectio Divina on 1 Thessalonians 1:3  "We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."    Inspiration for me and perhaps for many in that one verse.  Our work to be produced by faith and our labor prompted by love and our endurance inspired by hope in
Christ !  

Lectio Divina on 1 Thessalonians 1:3.   What inspiration for all of us are in that one verse. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prayers Were Answered

Praise God, prayers were answered.  Mei-Ling did great yesterday, all went well.  She is now at home recovering, a bit uncomfortable, very tired and has a slight temperature but otherwise is doing fine.  Please continue to pray for a quick recovery.  Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prayers for Mei-Ling

This afternoon, Mei-Ling will be having surgery.   Please remember her in your prayers.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Enlightenment About Food

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the book, "SAVOR, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life" has given me insight and the ability to transform how I eat, what I eat and why I eat.  3 lbs lost in just one week of opening this book and seriously digesting it and putting into practice what I have read.  
I thought it would be nice to give you a little taste of the profound wisdom contained in this book.  Since I had no desire to do a bunch of typing, I just photographed a couple paragraphs to share with you.  These are the paragraphs that changed it for me.  Gave me what I needed to hear in order to begin to eat more mindfully and in the process, live more mindfully in ways I could not have ever imagined.  The freedom I feel and the peace I feel are beyond words.

click the pictures if you need to make them larger to read.

Sunday in Photos

Knitting a Rainbow, a rainbow shawl that is..
Time for tilling the garden that we allowed to be fallow for the past year.
Stir fry with tempeh
Black Forbidden Rice
A day of sunshine and warm temperatures. A day to be outside as much as possible, for, winter has not gone, just taking a little break.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mindful Eating

Loosing weight has been a struggle for me in the past few years.  I have done many diets, Weight Watchers, Raw Food, Vegan, Paleo, French Women Don't get Fat, and more.  All with some success but not with any staying power.   After my children were born, I had gained some weight, not with pregnancy, but when nursing.  I ate more than I needed out of some fear that I may not be getting enough calories.  So after my youngest was through nursing and a toddler, I lost all that excess weight with no problem, then my mother passed away.  The loss I felt was unspeakable and I ate to comfort myself.   Nothing seemed to work for me since then in getting all the weight off I need to. I realized that its not the food, its my thinking, my mindset, my mindless eating.   I have realized after reading book after book on becoming mindful, that so many of the things we do are done without much thought.  We seem to be overwhelmed with thoughts of what happened 10 minutes ago, yesterday, 5 years ago, when we were children and on and on.  Or, we think about 10 minutes from now, or tomorrow, or 5 years from now, or when we get old.  Not often do we spend time on the only moment we are at, the present.  We zone out of the only moment we are in.   We multitask, we pay little attention to now.  In learning to be "mindful"  I have discovered that I may eat a candy bar, eat it fast, not savoring it, not appreciating it, only to discover its gone before I realized that I had eaten it.    I do the same thing with a meal.  Eat it mindlessly.  Quickly.  Never taking the time to enjoy it.  I remember standing in front of a famous painting at an Art Museum, taking time, just looking, admiring the way the light hit it, the brush strokes, the expressions on the faces in the painting, the colors, the details of the lace, the hair on the dog in the painting and on and on.  I stood for a long time, enjoying all the aspects of this painting, savoring it, you might say. In thinking about this experience, I thought about how I sit for a long time, watching the beauty in the clouds, the way the wind blows through the trees and how I could sit for hours watching the grandchildren play, yet, I love so many foods, so happy to have that chocolate bar, yet eat it so fast, its not enjoyed. No, I do not stuff my face with it, I just eat it too fast too truly enjoy it.  I mindlessly eat it.  
With all this being said, I have discovered an amazing book, 

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life 

by Thich Naht Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung.   The book has changed me, changed the way I eat, the way I view my weight loss journey.  The very way I see food has all changed since reading this book and it meshes so perfectly with my spiritual journey.  To be mindful, to live mindfully and to deeply understand what need is.  My life is changing and I like the changes.  I feel more at peace, feel so content.    There is no blame for past mistakes, no blame for past failures, just living in this moment, the only time we are in control of.  The journey is good.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Grammie and Mei

At least once a week, I get to have an afternoon with Mei-Ling,  We do any homework she has, then we make cookies, play in the dirt and today she had her first spinning lesson, to which she said, "this is harder than knitting"   What a joy to see another generation learn to love the simple things in life.  What a treasure grandchildren are.  

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Prayer for Mei-Ling

Mei-Ling will be having another surgery on Monday, this is either #19 or #20, I am loosing count.  Its not a major surgery, but still we would love her to be surrounded by prayers and also remember her Doctor in your prayers, that his hand be guided.   This child is such a loving, sweet angel, and has been through so much.  

"In Mysticism..."

“In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram —impersonal and unattainable—the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.” 
― Evelyn UnderhillMysticism

The Quest

For many years I have been on a quest to live simply, and for the most part I have been when compared to mainstream American mindset, but it has always felt a bit forced, as if a mission, something I HAD to do, something a bit against the grain of my inner most self.  Turning each and every aspect of living simple as doing the "cool" thing.  It was never painful, but still forced.  After all, I certainly did not grow up with the concept of simple living.  I knew though, that simple living, which in my mind, involves not being tied down to materialism and the rat race to achieve what is commonly referred to as "success" for these modern times.   In the past 40 years I have been on this search for a deeper meaning to live than the accumulation of things and using society as a measuring stick for my happiness level.   If you were to look at my computer search history you would find terms like, "the happiest people" over and over.  The books on my shelf most read, Thoreau, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama, The Rebbe, and the do we access what is deep within us that gives us a sense of peace, an understanding of compassion and the freedom to "not need"?  Where is the wisdom on the secret to being fulfilled apart from the "stuff" and be complete in the very moment we are ?
  For me, the quest for simplicity is tied up 100% with a spiritual connection.    Its God driven for me, every aspect of my life is actually.  There are never more than a few minutes in my day, where the search for a way to live a deep spiritual life is not on my mind.  I am always asking, begging God to show me what life is all about, what matters, and what pleases Him the most.  I look in many places for the answers.  I discover His profound love for us, in each grain of bird seed I pour in the feeders, in the way the clouds fly across the sky, the way a child's hug feels around my neck and in the way a blueberry tastes on my lips and on and on.  But yet, the full concept of living in the moment, without fear of what tomorrow might bring, living in total simplicity, without having to force it had not arrived in its fullness...until....I had been expecting a "light bulb" moment, a "Eureka" experience.   Now, please don't get me wrong, I do not live my life in fear, but I do experience some worry on occasion and there are a multitude of conversations about the wrath of God that come back to mind from time to time.  I have no desire to "keep up with the Joneses" but I am normal and see things all the time that I wish I had, just check out my pinterest page to see that.  But, yesterday there was a shift in my thinking, obvious in some ways and subtle in another aspect, subtle in that it has been creeping up on me unawares, obvious, in the manifestation.   I have been reading with great delight, Thich Nhat Hanh and have felt I have learned more from him than any other writer in my 40 years of searching.  His words so simple, so enlightening that I have considered calling myself a Buddhist that believes in God.  His words have shown me the mechanics of discovering a peace within me that has allowed me to finally live simply without forcing it.  First I was able to get rid of all my old furniture, all the clutter etc and replace it with by comparison, stark simplicity.  That was a bit forced believe me, but it happened and I was so happy with the results and still am.  It did simplify my life.  No more frills.   Next, came the clothing, I gave in to comfort and practicality.  Putting away any notion of being "chic", too much work, too much money and not the real me in any sense of the word.  I bagged up all the extra clothes, leaving me with 3 pair of pants and half a dozen of my most worn shirts.  A couple skirts and two dresses.  Sweaters and jackets for cold weather.    No fear of not looking successful in life, no worry about fashion statements.   Yesterday, came the realization that this quest of mine for simplicity has come to a point of being deeply honest.  I went shopping, my normal weekly event where I go to my favorite stores, looking around, spending what I want, buying what I want.  Yesterday I passed by store number one, went to store number two, went right to the isle where the yarn I needed was, (socks for my daughter) paid for them and left.  No wandering around, no sales tempting me.  No desire to buy more than was an actual need.  It was how the entire shopping trip went.  For the first time, I felt no need to go beyond what was actually a need.  Same in the food store. Shopped for needs only, perimeter shopping.  Done in no time and spent less than normal.  The book Savor has enriched my thinking about food in a big way, I highly recommend it.  The quest for simple living, all 40 years of it, is now more of me than ever, it dwells in my heart.  The peace I feel is greater than I could have ever imagined.  The freedom, unspeakable.   The realization that the journey has all been worthwhile and the journey is far from over, but it is good to see progress, feel it and taste it. Seeking, changing and understanding, all goals.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Warm Wool For a Winter Day

The wool passing through my fingers remind me of the colors of winter, grays, browns, and a dusting of white.  Warm socks, a hat perhaps, will be on the knitting needles in no time at all, winter spun and knit into warmth.

John Michael Talbot - The Hiding Place

As the sun sinks in the west, and the light in the living room fades, a sort of extraordinary peace fills the room and takes up residence in my heart.  The shadows outside are bold, as if to catch the last moments of sun.
A song came to mind, one that matched the moment for me....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Around Us, Life Bursts With Miracles"

"Around us, life bursts with miracles--a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life's daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.” 
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 14, 2013

God Dwells....

Contemplation  today for me, the Hasidic rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk said, "God dwells wherever we let God in." 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gentle Sort of Morning

A cozy fire in the stove, early morning lamp light now extinguished, replaced by sunlight streaming in naked windows.  North wind blowing, the wind chimes.   Baskets of wool beside me, spinning wheel humming.   Contentment in knowing today's main meal is all prepared.   Mashed sweet potatoes, kale salad, and a nut loaf.  Dessert made too, a raw chocolate coconut tart.  Beside my chair, in the window sill sits a piping hot mug of Chai Tea.  Steam swirling up from the hand thrown mug with a dragonfly on it, a gift from the dearest of friends.  Incense burning on the hearth.  Feet warm against the cold floor, thick wool socks up to my knees.  Emery is outside raking the garden, the sunshine calling to him.  Even though its 29 F outside, with a wind chill of 20, he has garden fever already.  Over breakfast he shared with me his plans to till the garden once today, his eyes twinkling as he talked, excited to play in the dirt. I watched his hands for a bit while we ate, farmers hands, strong and full of big veins.  He has worked hard from the time he was a small boy. Often running the tractor before he went to school.  Getting on the bus each morning with a couple dozen other farm children, all the same, farm chores before school.  Milking cows and feeding stock.  Today, that same work ethic alive and well with him.  Never an idle moment.  Just sitting here thinking about him, makes my love for him grow, which already is so vast and so deep that its hard to imagine there is any more room for it to grow, but it does, every day.  
The fire needs tending, the tea needs drinking and the wool needs spinning, so off I go.  

May your day be blessed in oh so many ways.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Walk in The Rain

After a trip to the Doctors office and some wonderful antibiotics for a sinus infection, I am feeling better finally.  However it seems this whatever it is, is making round two or is it three on the children of the family.  All the little ones are under the weather again.  It is the same in every family we know in the area.  The Doctor said the same thing, people feel better for a week or so then it comes back again.
I was tired of being inside, I never seem to be able to sit still very long.  That need to walk among the trees beckons me with something stronger than reason.  I know its probably not the best thing in the world to be wandering around in the rain when I am sick but the colors are so vibrant during a rain, the wood so dark, the raindrops like crystals hanging from the branches, and honestly, I like walking in mud.  My mind cleared of the fogginess that so often accompanies illness, after just a few steps in the cool damp air.  The wonderful world around me, wakened my dull senses and filled my head with wonder and delight.  Life is good, it really is.

A New Year

It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...