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Archive for the ‘seasons’ Category

Nostalgia comes from the root word “Nostros” which means “homecoming.”

For some time I’ve been wondering why I kept thinking about my hometown in Wisconsin ever since my trip back there last summer.  I know I don’t want to live back there, but I just kept thinking about it, searching for web sites, and thinking it would be nice to have a summer cabin there.

I also had sent someone some photographs of her grandmother, who did a lot of traveling with my grandmother until they had a falling out (no one knows what it was about).  She thanked me but I never heard another word from her after I sent them.  We also never heard from the relatives that held the reunion, and I had sent them some photographs, too.

I thought part of it was because nature and the outdoors is so much in peoples’ lives, and I envy that.  There’s a more pronounced four seasons than in Arizona.   But I don’t have any close relatives up there any more, and there are other reasons I choose not to live there which I would rather not reveal here.

The other day I had an “Aha moment” as Oprah says.  Some of the people have lived there their entire lives.  I knew I was mainly glad I had lived the life of an Army brat, and we never lived in one place more than three years (until Arizona).  But there was also a small part of me that wondered what it would be like to walk down Main Street and see a childhood friend.  So I think it is that part of me that keeps thinking about it and tried to make friends with the granddaughter and our relatives.  I still consider it my home town, and in fact that is where I will be buried, next to my parents.  The cold won’t bother me then.

But lately I’ve had thoughts about having some of my ashes scattered at sea, too….I liked the life of a sojourner.

“The Sea is our mother rocking, rocking.  See how she fills her blue arms with gifts ~ with slippery bits, weed, white shells, fish as bright as wisps of moon.  Hear how her voice lifts, falls, lifts while she sings our life.” – Tony Johnston

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I have always loved that line from “One of These Nights” by the Eagles.  I think that’s where I’ve been these past few months.  I once Googled it (or maybe it was “Shadows and Light”) and got some porn site, but even that isn’t as yucky as getting another one when I Googled “Disney Girls” as in the Beach Boys song.

The Winter Solstice and Season of Light of the various holidays draw us once more to the Light.  As you probably know, 2012 is supposed to be a tumultuous year.  My most trusted sources say the end of the Mayan calendar in December will not be the end of the Earth as others are saying.  Personally, I do feel it will be a powerful and life-changing year, but that is only based on my instincts.

My word for the year is Clarity, and I also have a vision of  “Embracing the Seasons” instead of reacting to them or ignoring them.  I have found two resources for this journey:  “The Sacred Journey Daily Journal for Your Soul 2012” and the “We’Moon 2012 Gaia Rhythms for Women” weekly calendars.  I’m not posting links because I’m not in any way affiliated with them, and I haven’t really used them yet.  You can Google them if your’re interested.  The first doesn’t have any photographs but has a lot of room for journaling and reflection.  The second does not have a lot of room for writing but is full of beautiful art and poetry.  Both relate to the earth and seasons.

With all of the bizarre weather of the last year, I feel that connecting to and healing the Earth is one of my top priorities.

Blessings for a peaceful, happy, and Earth-friendly New Year.

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When I learned Wednesday a former neighbor had died, I sent an e-mail to my sisters.  One of them asked if we wanted to send flowers for the service.  My older sister questioned why when we had lost touch with them.

Why?  I used to babysit their children (and they were the best kids I ever watched), but that’s not the reason.  Yes, they were our neighborhood children (we used to call Lynette “Lynetti Spaghetti”–hope that didn’t cause any problems for her later).

It’s because I know where the family is–in that cold, dark place where the grief comes in waves so strong you feel you are going to drown.  But first you have to get through the numbing shock that makes you think you must be dreaming; this can’t be real.

Yes, we had lost touch.  But they came to both our parents’ funerals.  And they had stopped by our parents’ house here a few times when they made trips to Scottsdale to buy Southwestern turquoise jewelry.

We were just up in Wisconsin over a week ago.  We drove by our old house but didn’t stop in to see them.  And now I was feeling the pain again of losing your father through those kids.  The oldest is five or more years younger than me.  Living 75 years might seem a lot to some, but losing your father at any age is devastating unless you had a horrible relationship.  Even then, the closure would probably never come.

That is part of the reason we made the journey north.  We had not been there in 5 years, for my father’s funeral.  I wanted to see my hometown again and attend to their graves, hoping it had been long enough to get some kind of closure.

I had forgotten how truly beautiful the northwoods are.  We stayed in a cabin, and except for the noisy neighbors it was so peaceful and and restorative.  I made a vow to get out in nature more now that the cooler weather is finally coming.

We also attended a family reunion with some relatives we had never met.  Our grandmother and her brother had a falling out over an issue no one knew anything about.  My grandmother was a proud person, and when she had a falling out with someone she never talked about the person again.  They were truly nice people, and we agreed it was a shame we had not been a part of each others’ lives for all those years.

We visited my dad’s second cousin and his wife on the lake and were joined by some other old friends of my parents.  The next day we had lunch with one of my mother’s dearest friends and her husband.  There was a lot of talk about the past and how things used to be.

We drove around to all the lakes and places we used to go to.  A lot had changed, of course, and my overall impression was the one most commonly noticed when visiting the past, that everything used to look a lot bigger.

We did clean the graves and put silk flowers on them.  We had not seen the headstone from the Veterans Administration, since it was placed after we left.  We also visited our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ graves.  A rosebush my grandmother had planted on her parents’ graves was blooming but needed a lot of trimming.  My uncle, whose family we are estranged from, had been buried the week before.  But we did not have to look for his grave, as he was buried right next to his parents.

I’m glad I made the journey back.  It’s nice to remember it as our childhood playground for a while, and not the place where we buried our parents.  I probably wouldn’t have sent the plant if we hadn’t just been back there, but I hope seeing it at the service this morning made his wife and children understand there were old friends who appreciated their father and felt their loss, knowing that their lives are forever changed.

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I began the practice of mindfulness while reading “The New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle, although I admit the practice was sketchy and I did not finish the book.  I did begin to experience mindfulness more fully based on my weekly walks in the park.  Unlike the older park about a block from me, this park already had many tall trees when it was created.

When I began being mindful in nature, trees become a focus of my attention.  Because I live in the  desert, I appreciate them more, because I come from northern Wisconsin, rich in forests.

To me, they are a sign of strength, of timelessness.  My favorite part of “The Lord of the Rings” was when the Ents came to the rescue.  I wrote several years ago about a stand of over 100-year-old trees that were destroyed in my hometown.  Those trees had been there longer than any  people, and there was a picture in the paper of a man grinning like he had just conquered Mount Everest because he had cut down the stand.

About a month ago I really began noticing the trees on my way to work and errands.  We had a  record-breaking cold spell of about a week in February.  Water pipes busted in some peoples’ houses.  The gas company turned off the gas supply to hundreds of homes because of the lack of supply.  I was lucky and did not have any of those problems.  But those problems were  temporary and did not cause a lot of long-term damage.  Sadly, the damage it did to trees seems longer lasting.  Some palm trees have new green sprouts, but some magnificent old pines and other large trees do not.

And then there was a new twist–pardon the horrible pun.  In the fierce tornadoes of April, trees, like the ocean, became dangerous.   Of course they did not choose this.  But it seemed ironic the very tree you had cherished over the years could kill you, as it did in several cases.

Of course, those storms were not normal, and trees have many benefits besides shelter and shade.  For the most part, they are “peaceful and diligent” as Mary Oliver wrote in “About Angels and About Trees”:

“The trees, anyway, are

miraculous, full of

angels (ideas);even

empty they are a

good place to look, to put

the heart at rest–all those

leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly

ready to be

the resting place of

strange, winged creatures

that we, in this world, have loved.”

And this little tree, which I thought was dead, bloomed like this in a week.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, one of my angels; and to Mother Earth.

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I was lucky to go to an elementary school in New Jersey that celebrated May Day with a Maypole.  There would be a little homemade carnival, too.  There also was an annual flower show, although I’m not sure if it was at the same time or where the flowers came from.

This year, in light of all the recent disasters, I decided to do prayer ribbons.  I found out they are a tradition of many indigenous people and are used by Buddhists and Native Americans.  Then I found a page on Celtic Holidays that suggested doing prayer ribbons for Beltane/May Day since going out and chopping down a tree was impractical (although it does give you a way to use one of your own trees).

I needed something to cheer me up.  Friday was the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death, and tomorrow is my dad’s birthday (I lost him 4 years ago).  I don’t shop at WalMart for ethical reasons, but yesterday I found a craft store listed in the phone book that I didn’t know existed.  It had lots of neat stuff for many arts and crafts, and the owner is very friendly.

So I made my ribbons after my studies this morning.  I have one each for Japan, marine life (especially in the Gulf and Pacific),  wild horses, and the tornado victims.  There are four because of the four elements, four directions, and four Archangels.

You ask the tree’s permission first, and then you remove them in three days out of respect for it.  Then you burn or bury them in your garden.  I’ll probably tie them to my garden fence, although with the wind we’ve been having they might not be there in three days.

I also love the old tradition of May Baskets.  I was going to make one, but I found this one in a grocery store for $20 and decided it was perfect and a bargain because it had so many pretty flowers. So my May, which is also my birth month, is off to a merry start.

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My roommate used to play a song called “Going In Circles” all the time.  The day she broke up with her boyfriend she called her ex-boyfriend.  Whenever I feel in the pattern of being stuck, I think of her and that song.  Or of the Springstein song that says, “One step forward, two steps back.”

It seems whenever I have made some progress in my spiritual or soul journey, something happens that triggers the old doubts and fears, and I feel like I’ve gone backward.  I don’t even know what the trigger was, but I’ve felt this way for a while now.  I think I know part of what’s blocking me, but I’m unsure what to do about it.

This morning it was good to see the trees in the park are starting to show a bit of green.  I saw a tiny hummingbird, a symbol of joy.  I’m hoping that the promise of rebirth in spring will spark a shift in my attitude.  I’ve been calling myself “Grumpy Grulla”, the name of an old lead mare that was captured in the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Area.

“Expect to have hope rekindled.  Expect your prayers to be answered in wonderous ways.  The dry seasons in life do not last.  The spring rains will come again.”  Sarah Ban Breathnach
Except we’ll be waiting until July for our rains.  A long, dry, dusty wait.

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That may seem like a strange title, but this year I felt the need to bring more joy into the holidays.  I did all of my shopping and mailing early, so I did feel less stressed, but I also had a strange feeling of not being invited to the party since I was not out there rushing around like everyone else.  But crowded stores really bother me now, and I almost felt like I was going to have a panic attack standing in line in the crowded post office.

I also wanted to explore the meaning of Christmas traditions to bring more meaning and less commercialism to my Christmas this year, since I was staying home.  I made an Advent wreath, found a wonderful Advent calendar, and did some reading and research.  I was amazed to learn many of the Christian traditions are based on pagan ones.  It did make the season more special.

That isn’t to say I did not spend too much money.  There really is so much pressure to buy, and of course I had to have some presents to open “from my dog.” Those were books and CD books, and I have sworn never to buy more.  But they give me more pleasure than anything else, and I found some real treasures this year.  I decided I would read them and in some cases pass them on if I felt someone else could benefit, unless they are something I mark for future reading.  I used to not want to make marks in my books, but I realized that was ridiculous.  It does not ruin the book; it only shows how loved it is.

I did decide to reduce my Christmas CD collection.  I usually added one a year, so I decided it was too large because I never played them all.  I kept the ones I really loved, and I gave the others to a woman who adopted three families for Christmas and a young military wife whose husband is deployed.  She was thrilled because I also added some children’s DVDs I had bought for when my nephew comes to visit, but he has outgrown them.  I’ll spare you a cliche on that, but it did feel good.  And I will make my Advent wreath on something less tacky than tin foil next year.

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