Tuesday, July 28, 2015

About Bread - and Friendship

More than 30 years ago I found this poem, and I had a friend write it in calligraphy, I framed it, and I gave it to my mom (who is an amazing bread maker). It's been off her wall for awhile, and I haven't been able to internet search it and find it. However, the phrase, "Be gentle when you touch bread, let it not lie uncared for, unwanted," has rolled around in my mind for many years. I was looking for an apron in my mother's linen closet the other day, and because she throws nothing that has sentimental value away, there this was, propped up on its side, in the corner of a shelf. 

Be gentle when you touch bread
Let it not lie uncared for--unwanted
So often bread is taken for granted
There is so much beauty in bread
Beauty of sun and soil, beauty of honest toil
Winds and rain have caressed it,
Christ often blessed it
Be gentle when you touch bread.

I was happy to see the poem, and then Googling it, I found it online. Oh well, the time was now for me to find the entire piece. 

My heart is sad this morning over a broken friendship. One that was nurtured, torn, and forging a new pattern, but one that could not move from the past into the present. Good-byes were sharp, doors slammed, honest words opened old wounds, and no amount of caressing right now, can heal. 

Be gentle with life, with family, with friends, with relationships. 
Let them not go uncared for - 
So often those we love are taken for granted.
There is so much beauty in caring
Beauty of kindling, nurturing, proofing, beauty of honest toil
Good and bad have caressed them
Christ has blessed them
Be gentle when you touch a friend - 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Owls - Western Screech Owl -

An owl has taken up residency in a tree in our backyard. A juvenile Western Screech Owl, to be exact. It spends about 4 out of 7 days in our tree, flying away at night (nocturnal, hunters). This morning Scott and I woke to a bundle of birds screeching in our backyard. I walked out, and a Bluejay was in the same tree just a screaming at the owl. The Bluejay headed to our shed, perched there and squawked. The Jay left, the Owl remained.

Native American lore states that owls are the harbingers of bad news, typically death, and owls are to be avoided. Owl feathers are not to be used in cleansing ceremonies, because they cannot rid the human body of bad energy. Hearing owls hoot is considered bad luck. They are said to give supernatural warnings, particularly as messengers of death. 

In European mythology owls symbolize wisdom, deeper knowledge. An owl is seen as a keeper of souls, often the transporter of souls from earth life to spirit life. Because of its nocturnal nature, it brings secrets, sacred information, and pure energy to its realm. 

Last fall I saw an amazing Great Horned Owl outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, right at dusk. It flew directly at the passenger window, me, looked right at me, pierced my soul, and flew away. 

I felt this owl was giving me a message, a gift - the gift was to celebrate the dark times, gain wisdom from my "evening" travels, and listen. 

This young owl in our backyard (we're naming it Archimedes) has energy similar to the Autumnal owl. It's yellow eyes are penetrating, but not invasive. It brings peace - saying explore the dark times (just as it does), don't be afraid to hunt for what you want, and be at peace in the chaos (our yard is not always quiet, yet it rests). 

I like that. I like this owl. It beats all other animals that have resided in my yard (all uninvited, but welcomed). 

Here's to all that is dark - yet good, looking up, and sifting through the obvious (trees and branches and leaves) to find the gems. 

G'Night -

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pioneers - Mom - Sisters - Authenticity -

Had lunch with my half of my Walker sisters and all of my Walker mom at Sundance this week. 
A beautiful place with gorgeous women. 
Thinking of Pioneer Day, July 24, and the gratitude I have for the women in my life. 
I come from pioneer heritage - women and men who crossed the United States in search of a place where they could live their truth, landing in Utah and Idaho. 
No wonder I am continuously in search of my own authenticity. 
Being true to self is extraordinarily important to me. 
The women below understand the concepts of respect, caring, understanding, support, and space. 
I love them all - and miss, like crazy, my sisters who are not in this photo. 
Happy day - 

Maria, mom of 6, grandma, special needs educator and advocate.
Alice, mom of 7, grandma, great-grandma. Expert in fishes and loaves, accounting, caregiving . . .
Vicki, mom of 4, mother-baby nurse and charge nurse.
Sheri, mother of 3, art educator, artist. 

When pioneers moved to the West,. With courage strong they met the test. 
They pushed their handcarts all day long,. And as they pushed they sang this song. 
For some must push and some must pull, as we go walking up the hill,
 and merrily on our way we go, until we reach the valley - o. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Religion - Spirituality - the Age Old Conversation -

Sat through church, without grandchildren to occupy me my thoughts went in this direction - again. I often wonder why I go to a physical building for my spirituality meals. Yet my heart and head know the power of community - the cohesiveness, responsibility, opportunities, service, support that comes with community. But often the void overshadows the unity. For a major portion of my life I have doubted, and yet I begrudgingly participate in worship services. And who does that benefit? And why do I stay?

So I ask - again -

Can one have religion without spirituality?

Can one be religious without being spiritual?

Can one be spiritual without being religious?

Some say that religion is external behavior that is community-based, and that spirituality is internalized personalized behavior.

So is spirituality behavior or experiences that are very personal but yet take us out of ourselves and connect us to a higher consciousness that is not bound by our world or our time. Is religious behavior rituals, traditions, celebrations that connect us, outside of ourselves, to the higher consciousness of religious community to which we belong?

How do you define religion?

How do you define spirituality?

Do you see yourself as more spiritual or religious?

Do they go hand-in-hand? Can you have one without the other?

Deepak Chopra writes, "Religion is belief in someone else's experience. Spirituality is having your own experience."

Other sayings such as "Religion is for people afraid of going to hell; Spirituality is for people who have already been there," are rampant. "Not all religion is to be found in the church, any more than all knowledge is found in the classroom." "To love God is to serve God; to serve God is to serve your fellow-man/woman."

What is it? Where are you on the religion - spirituality continuum?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Being Over 50 - YOLO

For the most part, I'm pretty darn happy with my age and stage. Until - I get invitations to dinners at Sizzler and Golden Corral, which include a short conversation on preparing for retirement, hearing aids, will writing, and Senior Citizen discounts (in caps, as if I can't see or hear the phrase).

I'm fine with being over 50, except when shopping for clothes no longer includes shopping at the mall - because 75% of mall stores cater to those under 40, those wanting to dress like their preteens to college-aged, and 25% cater to orthopedic shoes and polyester easy-to-wear.

I'm fine with being over 50, until I am called "ma'am," "dear," or "honey."

I'm fine with wearing progressive eyewear (I can read a label and see the items on the shelf, read a text and see my students); I'm fine with buying shoes that are more about fit than fashion, as long as they are fashionable; I'm fine with reminiscing, as long as it means moving toward today; I'm fine with bumps and bulges and sags and unevenness, as long as I'm fit. I'm fine with sharing photos of grandchildren, as long as they're on my phone and not in my wallet.

I'm good. I'm happy. I'm loved - dang grandchildren. I'm in love - beauties they are. And if my feet hurt at the end of the day, if I need to color out that gray, remove that facial hair, exercise like crazy, eat as healthy as I've ever eaten, then that's the price I pay for living life to the fullest.

Lists about aging or remembering you're from a certain era drive me nuts. Emails from AARP about "bests" drive me crazy (TG they were referencing Huff and Kimberly Inskeep).

Retirement? Hell, I'm just beginning! And - I have license to embrace -

The Top Things I Love About Being Over 50

It is all too apparent none of us are living on the "Benjamin Button" timeline. As I don't intend to add fodder to the excessive lamenting about aging (except maybe in the first few minutes of climbing out of bed), I am choosing a posture of downright celebration, calling out the abundant benefits of each passing year. Here are the things I love about being in my 50s; regardless of our age, these things apply more broadly to the beauty of getting older, and when embraced can perhaps allow you to skip some stages and realize earlier freedom before reaching mid-life.
1. I've stopped attempting to be all things to all people. I've learned to focus on the things I do best, and the people who need them most.
2. "No's" are no longer immediately followed by guilt and second-guessing and "Yeses" have become even more certain and enthusiastic.
3. Life's embarrassing moments have a much shorter smack and now quickly move to my "hilarious memories" file.
4. No one expects me to be the one who knows how to work the remote on the Apple TV (but I do, and I get a kick out of how much it impresses people).
5. I now know there are only a few things in life really worth putting your stake in the ground for--and for those things, I am confident enough to stand up for them with all my might.
6. My relationships are truer and deeper then ever. The friends and family who have endured together through heartache, triumph, loss, conflict, or just a bunch of normal Tuesdays, are those who I now truly know -- and feel deeply known by.
7. Glasses have become a fun fashion accessory (albeit a total necessity). They are also a handy prop for slipping into a sage-esque alter ego, should the need arise.
8. I no longer feel a strong desire to be the one who is right. I simply want truth to be found, regardless of who points to it.
9. I've learned how to make really amazing lasagna because I no longer feel captive to recipes.
10. I've embraced YOLO more than FOMO (for my friends without a 19-year-old daughter as an interpreter, that's "you only live once" and "fear of missing out").
11. Now that my daughter is grown, I get to spend my time in awe of the woman she's become instead of worrying about what she might become, navigating the dance of both speaking up and shutting up.
12. I've found a liberating simplicity, going through drawers and closets letting go of "stuff."
13. If I overreact or get a little teary, I can slough it off with a little laugh, muttering something about "hormones."
14. I've let go of "balance." It really doesn't exist. Instead, there is a willingness to let go of what doesn't matter for the sake of the things that do and doing them fully.
15. I've learned true strength is rarely obvious and never self-promoting.
16. The phrase "Actually, I'm going to bed" rolls off the tongue, with a lilt of triumph.
17. Research has shown that cognitively, we are at our highest point between the ages of 40 and 68. We more quickly solve problems and recognize patterns (which has definitely strengthened my position when stressing a point with my husband).
18. I've embraced the power of admitting I don't know how to do something (which has also strengthened my position when my husband is stressing a point with me).
19. My husband and I now value one another's differences.
20. I've seen that the core of business is solving problems. When problems come up, it is not a crisis -- it's the job.
21. I know that no problem to be solved is more important than a person to be loved.
22. I'm one step closer to getting away with those quippy truisms that the Dowager Countess of Grantham can cunningly slip in.
23. With time comes more great stories. I have a treasure trove of zingers (both heartfelt and hilarious) that I can bring out at dinner parties.
24. I have "gotten complete" with my past. I know my story, the parts of it I want to carry forward, and the parts I want to leave behind.
25. For the first time in my life, the President of the United States is younger than me, giving me the opportunity to say "Well, when I was your age ..." with an air of wisdom, should I ever meet him.
26. I no longer care if I get the credit. In fact, it can be a fun game to avoid it.
27. Research show that three quarters of women in their 50s feel more confident than ever before (which may be why I'm so much better at getting out of speeding tickets; wait -- should I not be proud of that?)
28. As women age, we are more willing to take risks (while men grow more risk averse). Because ... YOLO.
29. I've learned that if I give any time to comparison, I lose time I could be using to love life and people better.
30. I am more able to see how "this OR that" can be "this AND that" through increasing sophistication of thought.
31. I now assume the best about people's intentions. This one action breathes abundant grace into all relationships.
32. Tough conversations are no longer something to put off, but rather something to go after with boldness.
33. I am eager to both give and receive feedback and understand that both postures take intense humility. I'm willing to risk a little bit of relational equity for the greater good of speaking and hearing truth that yields growth.
34. They say, "It's not what you know, but who you know," but there is also some truth in "who you know won't want to know you for long if you don't know much."
35. My days are always better when they start out with a yummy breakfast, and end with a yummy dinner. Good food does enough for my spirit to allow a few extra pounds.
36. I love my mom and dad more than I ever have in my life.
37. My grandfather was right; you'll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul so be generous while you can enjoy seeing the difference it makes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Welcome to the World - Asher!

I am blessed with amazing role models in my life. I can say that I have never felt lesser than anyone, and I attribute this to the men and women who mentored me along. I learned to love myself, love others, be accepting - regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity, to be curious, kind, and to think for myself. There was never a separation of duties in my home of origin - the girls mowed lawns, the boys washed dishes, and we all took turns dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and folding clothes. I was taught that home was a heaven here on earth, a sacred place, where the real work of the world took place. 

Meili had #5 this week - I am so very proud of her and Tyler; they are amazing parents to beautiful children! And I see Meili and my other children teaching the same lessons I was taught, and that I diligently taught my lovelies. 

I'm particularly thrilled that they are willing to rear families today, and rear them in goodness, in homes filled with love for each other, love for spouses, love for life, love for God. These children are taught that the world is a beautiful place, that people are innately kind and generous. It's a sacrifice of self, losing oneself to teach others to find themselves, and my daughters, as stay-at-home mothers are rearing wise kind little ones. 

“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sounds of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women (and their amazing husbands) in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradle and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in Congress?” Neal A Maxwell

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Couple of Favorite Teds -

Ted Talks - and two things that are on my mind, quite a bit - addiction, women's rights.