“One Of These Mornings You’re Gonna Rise Up Singing”*

I haven’t been writing much for the past two months for reasons I hope to blog about soon. Basically, life has gotten in the way. This is a post from a couple of years ago that still makes sense. I’m surprised by how consistent I am. I edited a little and the photos are new.

WE ARE RACING TOWARD SUMMER, AREN’T WE?

It’s feels to me, after such a long and difficult winter, that spring lasted no time at all. April seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and incredibly, we celebrated the unofficial start to summer last weekend with Memorial Day.

When I realized we were quickly coming to summer’s front door, I initially had an anxiety attack thinking of all the springtime activities and chores I haven’t yet gotten done. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a list maker.) But then I relaxed and allowed myself to think about the things I have enjoyed this spring, which is a much healthier exercise.

I was fortunate enough to watch the progression of buds to blooms to leaves on the trees and the pushing up of flowering plants from inside the ground to up  toward the sun.

I put the first of this year’s tomato plants and herbs into the garden. While planting the herbs, I held some aside to make some air fresheners, teas and lotions. I naturally have more energy come spring so I’ve been walking in the nature preserve to bird watch and I got to see goslings make their initial appearance at the pond’s edge.  Also, after talking about it ALL winter, I finally got to take the little people to the playground for a game of Hide ‘n Peek Seek. I engaged in each of those activities and enjoyed them completely in the moment as they happened. So if it seems that the springtime flew by, it is only in retrospect.

I hope you enjoyed your spring and that summer will be an equally wonderful set of precious moments for you. I hope you’ll find the recipes below useful. And lastly, I hope you had a great Memorial Day and thanks so much for reading.

*Lyric from “Summertime” by DuBose Heyward from Porgy and Bess

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Baking Soda Air Fresheners

Mason jars
Baking soda
Essential oils, I use lavender, rosemary or lemon
Dried herbs (optional)
Fill the jars to 3/4 with baking soda, leaving a little room on top. Add about 5 or more drops essential oils and stir. Sprinkle on top about a tablespoon of matching herbs to whichever oil you’ve used. (Some people punch holes in the jar lids and screw them on. I never bother, preferring to leave the jars topless.) Shake gently occasionally to reactivate the oils. The lingering aroma will be subtle but fabulously fragrant.

 

DIY Lotion

2 oz Shea Butter
2 oz Vitamin E oil
1 oz Jojoba oil
1 oz Lanolin
1/2 tsp essential oil
All of these measurements are approximate. I find its good to play with the proportions so you get just the right mixture for your skin type. Also, I cut the amount of Lanolin from the original recipe because I don’t care for the smell.

Traveling

So, I’ve been traveling this week. I’m in Boston right now where I lived for many years before moving to the DMV. I still have people here. This past week has been about celebrating birthdays, births and connecting with kin. Coming back to the place that was my home for so long but is no longer my home is challenging. There is a mixed bagful of memories here. Fortunately, after so many years, the memories evoked are more like my mind’s movies than pains in my heart. And I’ve gotta be real, the weather here is challenging too. It’s kinda cold. I’m not used to it anymore. It feels a little more like spring at home where there are buds on some trees. Not so much in Boston.

 

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Bare as they are, I still love “the triplets”.
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That’s snow. What?!

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make a little space for writing and reading while still tending to the needs of my family. I can’t work on poetry submissions while I’m away but I can continue working on my new short story, “Perennially”. And I’ve been putting together my next blog post about some changes that come with the second half of life. Hopefully, that will come next week when I’m back home. At night when there are too many of us to all use the wifi, I practice reading as a writer which is wonderful. I borrowed Dr Apelles by David Treuer from the library before I left. It’s an engrossing work that covers territory I know little about which makes it even more interesting. As always, I’m reading my favorite WordPress bloggers.

I’m heading for home soon.  Until I get back, I’ll leave you with a few more photos from Boston.

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There is beauty.
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Had to have the New England clam “chowda”.
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Celebrating her made the trip!

Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Subtitle: Seasonal Affect Disorder in March

Today’s break in this year’s unending winter weather prompted me to take a nature walk.  I wanted to take advantage of this: 

Glenn Carlyn Park today
Glenn Carlyn Park today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the weather once again turns to this:

My yard last week
My yard last week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t a beautiful day, the sky was milky but it was warm which brought out all manner of creatures;  squirrels, joyriders, walking widows and kids. Lots and lots of kids. There were also lots and lots of birds, mostly robins.  I didn’t need my binoculars to watch them as they were confident enough to hop and peck around the mish-mash of natural material on the ground. Apparently they gathered, discussed and decided we walkers were no threat. I  thought I was there in the park to bird watch but it turned out I was actually there to contemplate, write and look for signs of spring. It appears, we’re not the only creatures sticking our “necks” out on hope and optimism:

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Anyhoo….Today’s weather reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago titled:

Spring’s Deception

Do you feel the sun waking warmer in the morning?
It’s gentler when rising every day.
It spends time a little longer now
Chasing the winter blues away.

Did you notice the air has changed its’ smell?
It’s including a trace of the earth.
It’s teasing with that aroma of promise
Suggesting of green and rebirth.

There are days when the chill is obstinate
Then spring’s certainty seems a cold deception.
But March winds will blow the clouds from here
In time for the sun’s scheduled reception.

  

In the Dead of Winter

I mentioned in my previous post that I have persistent thoughts of death in the winter. I don’t mind because I think it’s natural. Historically winter has universally been interpreted as the dead time of the year.

Every year I contemplate the lack of plant life and the hibernation of animals at this time, but more than that I think about human death. I tend to focus on loved ones who have passed on and re-mourn their loss. I would say that my definition of ghosts is the occurrence of re-experiencing someone or something that is gone so as to feel as though they are still present and further to feel the absence as a presence itself. To me ghosts are our own feelings. That’s why I think those ghost hunting shows are hilarious. Why hunt our own feelings? (Although a lot of us spend time doing it in therapy). And as an aside, how would the dead, who have moved on to a totally new reality, spend time here. Can you or I go back in time?

Anyway, I think about that every time I look at pictures or movies of people who are gone. I know they are gone yet it feels to me; it registers on my emotional scale as though they are still here. I couldn’t watch any of my favorite old movies if I viewed the actors as a bunch of corpses or ghosts. I was thinking about it today while I was listening to one of my favorite Curtis Mayfield songs. I could hear him inhale in the recording and yet he was not inhaling. The time of the recordings are “ghosts” themselves. That particular time of that song being sung that particular way is gone yet I am experiencing it now. Just as the plant life and animal life appear to be gone at this time of year yet we experience them anew but what feels like again in the spring, are we humans ever really gone as long as someone can re-experience us in some way? Ghosts, ghost images, ghost songs, ghost feelings. .. Ahh, but spring is less than a month away (March 20th).  The full snow moon is behind us and sunsets happen later now. As always, the added light prompts in me thoughts of new life. I hope it does in you as well.

Spring Meditation

   Ok, this is my planned “Easter piece”. (Please see previous post.) I actually wrote it a while ago and waited for this time of year to post it. I know it sounds like I wrote it standing on a soap box and I promise not to preach again if you forgive me this one time. I’ll write for this blog “in the now” from now on but I can’t let all that planning go to waste!

Get It Together*

    I probably read more into song lyrics I than I should or the writers intended. I admit that sometimes I can’t tell the difference between love songs and hymns. But this particular song overtly speaks to spirituality. If you listen to the song I think you’ll agree.

“Now’s the time for stepping out of place. Get up on your feet and give account of your faith. Pray to God or something or whatever you do.”

The British singer Seal co-wrote the song “Get It Together”. I have often wondered if he realizes that the song is divinely inspired. Ironically, it’s on the same CD as his famous song “Love’s Divine”.

   The words of this song are so powerful; that’s why I included them in my prayer. The first line, “Now’s the time…”. Wow! It puts out there the profound concept of all of us, whatever the form of our faith, addressing our collective spirituality, together. “Now’s the time for stepping out of place.” Now’s the time. If ever there was a time we needed to get over ourselves enough to step out of places in time, with our involvement in what wants to be a holy war, this is the time. For what is extremism at either end except being locked in place? “Get up on your feet and give account of your faith.” I try to imagine if I had to account for my faith. Could I do it? Notice the song doesn’t say, “give account of someone else’s faith” because that would be my first inclination. As in ‘I don’t know how so and so can give account since they have the wrong faith.’ Or ‘so and so isn’t doing right by our faith, they don’t do this and they don’t do that.’ Or how about a two-fer, which goes something like, ‘What kind of values was that child raised with?’ With that one I get to account for the child and the parent.

   Imagine if we all had to give account whatever our faith is. If we all had to step up and say ‘This is what I believe, this is why I believe it and this is how I live it.’ Do you know what would happen? Besides those who try to use the term “faith” to wrongly justify violence, what would happen is….we would be giving the same accounts. We would be expressing the same things no matter how we expressed them. Seal gets to the point in the next line. “Pray to God or something or whatever you do.” Or something. So he’s saying it’s not so important how we account but that we stand up together and account, again in our collective spirituality. He goes on to say, “What I see can make me stop and stare but who am I to judge the color of your hair.”  So when I see someone who makes me stop in my tracks and think ‘WTF?’, let me remember to give account only of my own faith.

   “We’ve got to keep this world together, got to keep it moving straight. Love like we need forever, so that people can relate.”  The only way we can keep this world together is together. And with the lyric “love like we need forever” the songwriter is beating us over the head with his point. He’s saying that together we need to love one another in a deep way, in the true way that comes after we give account of our faith. That’s the meaning of the Christian concept of Agape love, isn’t it? It’s compassionate love that comes from faith in love as a manifestation of the divine. If we can love each other like that then, once again, it doesn’t matter how we express it. We can be together and relate to one another in love. As in the song line “so that people can relate”.

   The next line is the one I adapted for my prayer. “If you’re rolling to the left, don’t forget I’m on the right.” I interpret those words to mean that no matter what position I take I have to consider the ‘other’ position with compassion and love if not agreement. Next comes the big payoff of this stanza, “Trust and forgive each other.” After I have accounted for my own faith and therefore opened my heart to the love I want and need forever then maybe I can trust and forgive. Trust and forgiveness are clearly not new ideas in faith traditions but they are two of the biggest obstacles to Agape love.  In order for me to trust and forgive I have to get over myself. I don’t mean get over my traditions but get over past ideas of group or tribal righteousness that prevent me from trusting. I must accept that the values of “the other” are as valid in God’s sight as my own, and then I can trust. And forgiveness is even harder. On more than one occasion I have convinced myself that I have been forgiving only to find myself hanging on to my own sense in my heart.  When I tell myself that I will forgive but not forget it’s just a ruse I use to disguise my lack of forgiveness. To forgive is to forget and let it go completely. The greatest and holiest of those among us throughout history have all stressed the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness through compassion is a fundamental in our traditions.

    In the next stanza the songs says, “Thinking of the troubles of today is it easier to put that gun away or is it difficult to stop and show you care.” Yeah it’s difficult! It’s a lot easier to put flag decals on my car than it is to step outside my comfort zone for the sake of others. I know that often I’ll feel the desire in my heart to show I care but then my mind gets started and I’ll think ‘If I get involved it might take to much of my time or I’ll have to take up someone else’s burden and I’ve got enough of my own. Or I might get hurt.’ But if I listen to my heart sense instead of my head sense I know that what is really important is that I show that I care.

   The next line is the most profound to me. “Everything and everyone we know is beautiful.” Amen to that! The words go on to say, “Surely you will be the guide in light to see us all. Maybe we can be the vision of a perfect man’s dream.” The words are so optimistic and hopeful. When I hear them I envision the songwriter in a kind of rapture. What do you see when you think of those words? Maybe we can discuss that goal, together. Any contemplation of collective spirituality is vital in today’s world. Now’s the time.

(Track from Seal’s CD “Seal IV”, 2003, Warner Bros. Records)

Thoughts On The Season

This is the first post that is difficult for me to write. Before I started this blog I carefully considered why I’d be doing it. I took all the time I needed to define the aim and the message. (Please see About This Blog) I went through a long period of questioning whether I was ready to expose myself. This included testing the waters by creating another blog about which I told no one and I even used another personae for authorship. Finally I felt confident enough in my voice and writing skills to go public with what I had to say. Even after all that it took a year of planning and collecting material before I felt ready to launch.  I never intended for this to be an “off the cuff” blog ala Twitter. I edit my pieces a couple of times before I actually post them. I committed to myself to write at least one post a month so as not to put too much pressure on myself, which I knew would be self-sabotage. I thought I had covered all the bases.

So what happened this month? A close family member went through a frightening medical event.  It threw me off my game mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I’ve gone through similar experiences with others and I know that I’ll process through it all and regain my balance. But I couldn’t figure out how this blog fit in with that process since I hadn’t planned for it. This is where I confess that I’m a planner. And by planner, I mean control freak. Doesn’t exactly jive with the Yoga/Buddhism leaning, does it? And that’s the point of what I learned about making time for this blog during rough periods. Although I doubt I’ll ever write a “stream of consciousness” post, I think they can be edited but not guarded. They can be organic if not spontaneous. They can be  “in the now” if not “in the minute”.  So this is not the post I had meant for this month but it’s the one that happened. If I get a chance I’ll type the “Easter” piece I had planned. (Hahahaha).

And now back to the business at hand. Last month I talked about Easter and the moon. Tomorrow is Easter of course and it’s late this year.  Easter is a “moveable feast” holiday which means it doesn’t fall on a fixed date on the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar follows the sun cycle. Moveable feast holidays follow a lunisolar calendar similar to Jewish holidays. So this year the Christian Holy Week and the Jewish Passover coincide as they often do. I prefer it when it happens because it reminds me that we beings are all connected in the world, whether I like it or not. That connectedness is important for me to think about at this time when the emphasis is on forgiveness and salvation. I reflect on how I treat others and how I want to be treated. But I also reflect on how I respond to how I’m treated by others because that’s the tricky one for me.  When I perceive that I have been insulted or aggrieved will I turn the other cheek?  As I’ve talked about before, I’m still working on “the bow”.

Speaking of reflection, tomorrow, Easter is the beginning of the last quarter moon phase. The waning moon is a perfect time for reflection and meditation before the renewal of the new moon and new projects.

I’m giving my best wishes of the season to all of you who celebrate Passover and Easter.

Moon Mania II

I guess I’ve been thinking about the moon because at this time of year it’s “going and coming” is so important to how we human beings mark cycles. (Maybe that’s why it seems so natural to me to factor the moon into my personal cycles.) For instance, Easter is next month. Do you know how the date of Easter is determined?  Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon date for that year. In June 325 C.E. astronomers approximated astronomical full moon dates for the Christian church, calling them Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. From 326 C.E., the PFM has always been the EFM date after March 20th (the vernal equinox date in 325 C.E.)

Today is the waxing gibbous moon. As I mentioned in my previous post, the best time to clean is right after the new moon but anytime during the waxing phases is good. Now, we could argue all day long about the need for clean. But to paraphrase character Marie Barone of the old “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV show who was speaking about those how argue against cleaning; you know who says that, people who don’t like to clean. And so you’re just going to have to give me that cleaning is good and I’m going to give you some great (organic/natural) cleaning recipes, applicable only if you’re the one responsible for cleaning where you live. Don’t blame me, blame Marie Barone and please go to the Recipe page.

Today is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. I remember the March I was introduced to Irish soda bread. I’ve put the story and the recipe on the Recipe page.

Spring starts this coming Sunday, March 20th . Although the moon doesn’t determine the seasons, the sun does, it’s worth noting that this month’s full moon is on Saturday. Spring equinox marks the first day of the spring season and the beginning of a long period of sunlight at the North Pole. In the northern hemisphere, usually March 20th, the sun crosses the equator moving northward. March 20th seems to be a circled on the moon and the sun’s calendars!  And spring is like that, isn’t it. The factors that were dormant or distant last month are acting on us at a fever pitch now. I can see it where I live. The crocuses are coming up and today marks the start of 12 hours of sunlight in my area. And oh, that moon. Is there anything more beautiful than a spring moon after a long day of sun? What a blessing! And that’s why I have moon mania.