Monday, July 13, 2015

Why Are Symbols More Important Than Unity?

I don't understand why we need symbols to live out what we believe in. Yes, I know everyone has the right to self-expression in this country, but it seems to supersede any sense of unity in these UNITED States.

Why do some need a flag to say they're proud of being from the south? The north, east and west don't have one.  Won't you still be a southerner without a flag?  Why insist on something that hurts other fellow Americans?  Won't you still be free with or without a flag? If it's still the south against the north than we haven't made any progress in over two hundred years.

I don't need a flag, a bumper sticker, a motto, the name of God in documents or even a church to live out what I believe in - and I certainly don't need a stranger to wish me a Merry Christmas to celebrate Christmas with meaning and joy.

What would happen if everyone stopped fighting about the SYMBOLS of our freedom and beliefs and just enjoyed having them in this country? We keep saying America is so great but all we do is defend our right to offend each other.

Other countries with much less freedom than we have probably find our petty arguments laughable.

Even though we have the RIGHT to express ourselves - why is it more important than proving that we are in fact UNITED in any way?

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Great Day in America

This morning I read in the paper that the US Supreme Court has upheld the subsidies for the Affordable Health Care Act so that deserving Americans can continue to seek out health care for their families.

Then later in the morning the Supreme Court once again did the right thing and made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.  From this point forward it should be simply known as marriage.  I found myself in tears thinking about all the dear friends and family members who will finally have this affirmation of their rights. The sad part is that it has taken so long for all United States citizens to have the equal rights in the area of marriage. (There are still many issues to be addressed ).

I will not argue the case here because I have written about my beliefs a number of times. Those of us who understand that we were ALL created in God's image and that love is just love need no explanation of my tears of joy today. Anyone who knows and loves a gay person needs no explanation.

THEN !!! After all that - I had the television on and they broke into the show to broadcast the funeral service of Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was murdered last week in his sanctuary by a 21 year-old racist along with eight other parishioners.

President Barack Obama got up to speak and he didn't just speak he preached a sermon - a beautiful, passionate and uplifting sermon. Then to top it off Barack began to sing Amazing Grace.

What a day in America.


Monday, June 15, 2015

What Makes A Woman

Well, I am not going to mention her name because it's been over-sensationalized, but there is a famous person who suddenly became a woman. We have been bombarded with photos of her looking very much like a statuesque beautiful woman. But is she a woman just because she looks like one?

I am all for people being who they want to be. I do not know why some people are born in the so-called wrong body or why some people are not solely heterosexual, but I am sure that none of them would choose their circumstances (unless they enjoy being bullied, hated, judged, and discriminated against personally and in the law, or living a lie.)

Allowing other people to be who they want to be without any harassment or judgement seems to me to be the least we can do for each other as human beings. So, I am totally fine with this famous person finding her happiness and stop living her lie.

But……

I am going to quote Elinor Burkett who recently wrote a piece in the New York Times.

People who haven't lived their whole lives as women shouldn't get to define us. That's something men have been doing for much too long….they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven't traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails.  They haven't suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they'd forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before.  They haven't had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners' checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

Hmmm, interesting, right?  As a woman, can't you think of dozens of other emotional and physical experiences that men have never had?

Developing large breasts by the age of 13 completely changed me and affected every day of my life after that. I did not want them (that big).  I hated the attention they drew. It stopped me from continuing things I loved like gymnastics.  Throughout high school I never knew if a boy liked me or them. I couldn't wear the same clothes my friends wore.   THAT, for example, is an experience only a female can understand.

This article did not change my beliefs about people who struggle with gender and sexual identity issues at all but it did make me say - yes, being born a female is a completely different experience than this particular person saying at the end of an interview that she most looked forward to wearing nail polish.  I never wear nail polish and yet, I have lived a lifetime of being a woman.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Shocking Facts About America's Children

Marian Wright Edelman recently spoke at the City Club of Cleveland. She is the president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund. Her accomplishments and credentials are too numerous to include here. She spoke on the issue of child poverty in the United States.

"A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the 21st century or before our God."

This so-called great United States of America has the second highest child poverty rate among 35 industrialized nations despite having the largest economy in the world.  Shocking. Shameful.

There are 14.7 million poor children in this country.  This exceeds the population of Ohio and Iowa put together.  An American child has a 1 in 5 chance of being poor.
Six and a half million are in extreme poverty. This exceeds the population of Connecticut and Mississippi put together.

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County:
Over half the children in Cleveland are poor (54%) with 28% considered in extreme poverty.
Twenty-four percent of Cleveland's children were food insecure in 2013.

Poverty has life-long consequences.  The younger the child the poorer he or she is likely to be - this is during the time of crucial brain development.  Growing up poor decreases the likelihood of graduating from high school, and increases the likelihood of having poor health, being poor in adulthood and being  involved in the criminal justice system.  It costs this country dearly everyday.

As Edelman said - these children did not ask to be born, did not choose their parents, their country, state, city, faith or race but in 35 other nation they would be less likely to be poor only ahead of Rumania whose economy is 99% smaller than ours.

"Saving our children is about saving our country. I hope we will begin to counter the fact that too often our politics trumps these policies, moral decency and responsibility for the next generation."

Edelman stated that there are nine programs, already proven successful, that could eradicate at least 60% of child poverty. Her organization has detailed them and shown what they would cost.  The cost would be 77.2 billion dollars as opposed to the $500 billion that poverty costs this country every year.   These programs would include things like basic housing (which would in itself eliminate 2.3 million  children from poverty), food availability for children, early childhood programs, school nurses, and home intervention programs.

(These could easily be paid for if only our leaders would allow it.  If they simply eliminated tax breaks to the rich in America we could save $84 billion.  Congress just voted to repeal the estate tax for the wealthiest 5400 Americans at a cost of $269 billion. They just voted to give the Pentagon $38 billion even though it was not asked for.)

WHY can't our government do what's right?  Why wouldn't they want to eliminate our citizen's suffering? Why wouldn't they want to improve children's futures? Why wouldn't they want to actually save money by spending some on the poor?  Why wouldn't they want to reduce the billions of dollars spent on mass incarceration in our country?

The answer is moral judgement.  What other reason could it be?  They are against "hand-outs". They want people to pull them up by their bootstraps - but children don't have bootstraps - they are victims. And what poverty does to children will simply be passed down to their children. Poor health, poor education, prone to crime.

And moral judgment includes that those who have comfy lives think they deserve it. They've earned it. They do not recognize the advantages they started out with because they do not want to admit that they could have been born into poverty as well, but were simply fortunate not to be.  They do not want to share what they have. It is greed. It is entitlement. It is discriminatory.

You may not believe in helping poor people that, in your judgement, have no reason to be - but children don't have those choices.  Yet, they are the future of America.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A New Kind of Bucket List

Being retired I feel like I should have a bucket list. I am pretty much open to doing anything I haven't done before and traveling anywhere I have the chance to go. A bucket list has to be feasible to be successful and I am a practical thinker so we'll see.

I already wrote a novel and published a lot a of poetry but I would like to find a way for more people to read what I have labored over for so many years.

I mostly think about traveling, but my husband is not retired and time and money are a factor. (We are planning a trip to Italy, but we have planned that trip before and life got in the way.)

I truly feel like this is the time in my life to just become a better person - the person I've always wanted to be but couldn't always focus on. My time is not filled up with raising children, building relationships or working full time.  I believe retirement gives you time not just for yourself, but for others. I am currently caring for my mother and tutoring people studying to get their GEDs.  But there is so much more I would like to do. I don't want to spend every day purely focused on myself. (Also, spending time with my grandson, but that's just pure fun.)

Cleveland's popular local writer, Regina Brett wrote a column about a new kind of bucket list. These are excerpts from her column of April 29, 2015.

What if you turned your bucket list into a bucket life? Instead of making a list of things you want to do once in your life, how about a bucket full of gifts for others?  

Instead of risking your life for a thrill, save a life. Learn CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and how to use a defibrillator.  Donate blood, be an organ donor or a bone marrow donor. Become a disaster action volunteer with the Red Cross.

Instead of learning something new, teach someone to read, to speak Spanish, sew, bake, play guitar, change a tire, or to hit a home run.

You want an adventure? Become a foster parent or adopt a special needs child.

If travel is your thing, spend Sunday in a church with people of a different race or religion. Build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Spend a week living with the poor in Africa, El Salvador or India, not to fix them, but to learn from them.

If you love challenges, try this one: Forgive everyone everything.

Instead of writing a book, write a will so your family isn't left confused over who gets what. Write thank you cards to every teacher who shaped your life. Write love letters to everyone you love.

Write your eulogy, then live a bucket-list that will make it all come true.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Good Eye



I have been like the little bird
with one good eye.
As I moved to the feeder 
to refill the seeds
she didn’t see me.
So I poked her purplish wing
once, twice.
She hopped about to face me
with her one good eye
then flew away.

Even with two good eyes
I have only seen half
of what can be seen.
But year by year
my callow vision improves,
like veils being lifted away
one by one or
like a foreign language
that sounds like nonsense
until you learn it, speak it
understand its beauty.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

There is No Reality (The coming election year)

Many years ago I read a book by Dr. Phil.  (Life Strategies) This common sense book had a big impact on me.  In the book he gave some basic life strategies and two of them changed my thinking.  I think these are particularly pertinent in light of the political animosity that this country is currently experiencing and certainly will be in the coming year.

There is no reality - only perception.
 My first reaction to this was, of course there is reality!  But think about a time when you and another person have been at the same place at the same time but have interpreted what happened there differently.  It's almost like someone telling a joke and one person finds it hilarious and another person doesn't. No one is right and no one is wrong. It's just their perception.

Everyone's perception is colored by a lifetime of personal experiences and observations and it is quite common for two people to view the same thing in two different ways.  Just look at the way the bible can be continually argued. One of us reads a passage to mean one thing and someone else sees it another way.

Here's an example:
One of my friends has managed his rental properties for many years. In that time he has witnessed people sitting around watching television while collecting government assistance. So naturally what he has seen influences his viewpoints.

I spent 22 years teaching children living in poverty. I saw firsthand the devastating effects on their lives. I listened to the single mothers whose husbands had left them with no financial support for their children.  The mothers who wanted to help with homework or be at conferences but had to take a third shift job and weren't home for their kids - just trying to put food on the table. So my viewpoint has been highly impacted by years of seeing those situations firsthand.

Those stories are simplified versions of the problem - but even though I did not agree with him I could understand my friend's viewpoint based on his life experience - not mine.

We teach people how to treat us
This is a tough one to accept but I've found it to be true.  The premise is that you must take responsibility for how people treat you and react to you.  It's YOU, not THEM.  So if you feel like a doormat at home or work, maybe you have allowed yourself to be treated that way. Maybe you have even subtly rewarded the other person for doing it by giving them what they want.

The same goes for being ignored, disrespected or being treated in a rude way. What have you done to bring this behavior out in the other person?

So as we enter a volatile time let's remember that we will receive what we send out. How often do we criticize someone for being judgmental when we are actually doing the same thing to them? Everything goes BOTH ways for all of us.

Even though many of these problems seem to be human nature I know I am going to try to keep these truths in mind much more in the coming years.

It's all part of COEXISTING. :)  It's not my expertise - it's my ideal and hope.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Gift of Stressful Times



These past two years have been heartbreaking, revelatory and soul-changing.  It has also been stressful, exhausting and confusing.

I have been through several heart-wrenching and life changing times in my own life - divorce, depression, difficult relationships, stressful work situations - and yet I have discovered that a painful experience in your own life is nothing like watching someone you love going through trials.

Even after so much turmoil in my own emotional life I have discovered that being a daily participant in the end-of-life struggles of my beloved parents has been much more stressful.

I keep asking myself why I am not handling this better. Why it has completely consumed me and I cannot separate myself from what they are going through even when I am not with them.  My life revolves around their needs, physical and emotional.

The natural reaction seems to be to try to keep something of your own life intact.  Try to find stress relievers, a little joy amidst the sorrow.  That in itself is a huge effort and one that constantly gets slapped down as needs change, as unexpected crises arise.  You can never truly get away from your grief and concerns.

I began canceling out my own life because I couldn’t be counted on to fulfill any commitments. I did it willingly and said to myself - this is my life now and it’s ok.  I am grateful every day that I am now retired and yet that sense of constantly being torn between my life and theirs has not changed.

I feel like I am lost, unfocused and starting to slide into a depression.  Depression, I learned many years ago, happens when something is too much for someone to handle.
But this can’t be too much for me. I have no choice but to care for my mother now. I am extremely fortunate to have one other sibling to share the care-taking. How can it be too much when I am so willing to devote myself to this right now?

But on those days when I am off-duty I flounder. I still feel sad. I miss my father and want him back to help us through this.  We didn’t really have a chance to grieve his loss before we were consumed by my mother’s needs.

The stress comes not from chores and visits or from advocating for her welfare everywhere we go - but for making choices for someone else’s life. It is heartbreaking telling her she is once again going to the hospital or the rehab facility.  We spend a lot of time encouraging her and the rest of the time agonizing over how we will deal with the next need, the next change in plans.

There is not enough money to provide 24 hour a day home care and yet, that is what she needs right now.  Even though my father planned well for these years the money is quickly dwindling and we must make decisions about that as well. 

I believe what is needed now is to embrace this experience for everything that it is.  To stop the battle between her life and ours. Some of the effort is in trying to avoid the most difficult situations. Times of indignity and humiliation, times when nothing goes as planned.  

I have a praying family and I pray as well. Yet, one of my biggest life lessons has been that God does not make anything easier no matter how many prayers are sent up for you.  What will happen in this world will happen.  He does not make the elderly young again. He does not make care-taking pleasant. He does not heal the body when it is worn out. He does not follow our well thought out plans, or even give us what we are so sure we need ( which is usually to make it easier).

I have thought a great deal about prayer in these years because so many people say they are praying for you.  Even in my life-long faith I began to wonder what good prayer is when the situation never gets better or even clearer.  What exactly are we praying for?  We can pray all we want for someone to be healed, but if they have a life-threatening illness they will not heal. They will die anyway.

I have honestly not felt uplifted by prayer at this time in my life even though I have at other times. So what am I missing?  I am not blaming God for anything. This is life on this Earth and sometimes I long for heaven myself - something better than this.  Why is the journey to get there so difficult? Why do we never stop grieving those we have lost?

Then I think about how I have changed as a human being during this process. How much I have accepted, how much I actually have handled. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been tears (buckets-full)  or anger or frustration - but we have made it through so far.

We kept our Dad in his home until the end - and that was the plan. We spent two beautiful days surrounding him with love.  My mother knows she is loved and cared for and that we will do whatever we need to to help her through this transition in her life.  My own children are seeing and experiencing these years, which is something I never saw in terms of my own grandparents - and maybe they will do better than I have in the future.  I was given a beautiful, joyful grandson in the midst of the sorrow to brighten every moment I am with him.  He was and is a gift beyond measure and has probably saved me from true desperation.


I am more compassionate to others that have gone through these same trials (and most people have or will at some point since so many people are living longer). Maybe in the future I will be able to help someone else through the same thing.  I have a husband and friends who listen and care and when I am at the end of my rope. I have learned that my life is not really mine after all. Surrendering to what is has been an on-going learning experience for me in life. Service to others is something that is part of a rich and full life.  Compassion is a divine goal. Love is always the answer. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Harp of Love

This is a painting by my mother and favorite artist, Martha Vogel . It is called "Harp of Love."
Happy Easter to all.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WWJD?

 In light of the new legislation in Indiana that allows business owners to refuse service to LGBT citizens may we remember these truths. This is no less than blatant discrimination - the same kind that refused African-Americans the right to eat in restaurants, drink at drinking fountains and go to integrated schools. No difference except it is possibly even worse to do it in the name of Jesus.

Have we really not grown as a society since the 1950's ?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

America From An Outsider

I have been struck by a series running in the New York Times Magazine by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knaussgaard. He was assigned to travel parts of America and give his impressions.
I don't know about you but I say OUCH!!

Here are two excerpts:

I had never really understood how a nation that so celebrated the individual could obliterate all differences the way this country did. In a system of mass production, the individual workers are replaceable and the products are identical. The identical cars are followed by identical gas stations, identical restaurants, identical motels, and as an extension of those, by identical TV screens, which hang everywhere in this country, broadcasting identical entertainment and identical dreams. Not even the Soviet Union at the height of its power had succeeded in creating such a unified, collective identity as the ones Americans lived their lives within. When times get rough, a person could abandon one town in favor of another, and that new town would still represent the same thing.  

Nowhere in the world has shared culture been a more imperative requirement than in America. More than 300 million people live here, and they had descended over the course of a very few generations from a huge number of disparate cultures, with different histories, ways of behavior, world views and experiential backgrounds.  All of them, sooner or later, had been required to relinquish their old culture and enter the new one.  That must be why the most striking thing about the United States was its sameness, that every place had the same hotels, the same restaurants, the same stores. And that must be why every American movie was made after the same template and why, in this sense, every movie expressed the same thing. And that must be why all these TVs were hanging on the walls, unwatched; they created an immediate sense of belonging, a feeling of home. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

America the Beautiful

We just spent a week in Arizona and were overwhelmed by the beauty and diversity of the landscape. We traveled by car from the Grand Canyon in the north, to Sedona midway through the state, to Phoenix in the south.

We took a rafting trip in a canyon, loved the beauty of Sedona, saw a billion stars and the Milky Way in the darkened sky, explored a slot canyon on Navajo land, drove up a mountain to an old mining town, saw Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West and went to an Indians spring training game!

If you leave this country for your vacations or go to the same place every year do yourself a favor and explore America.

The vast magnificence has a story that these mere photographs cannot begin to tell.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

This is the book I have been waiting for: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  If you are a reader you wait for that book that you don't want to put down but you also do not want to end. It's rare.

I savored this book, stretched it out as long as I could.  When I heard it was set during WWII I was not excited. I had vowed not to read anymore novels set during the war or of slavery. While they are mostly all wonderful it just felt like enough was enough - but this one is different.

First, the writing is exquisite. Every page has at least one beautiful sentence that you want to write down, underline, keep in your heart. There is not a single cliche in the 530 pages - quite a feat for a writer. (I love long books too).  I'm sure Doerr spent years in research, but you never feel like you are supposed to be learning something historic. You are caught up in the experience of these two young people.

Marie-Laure is the girl at the heart of the story. Some of the best writing is seeing the world through the perceptions of this blind girl:

Music spirals out of the radios, and it is splendid to drowse on the davenport, to be warm and fed, to feel the sentences hoist her up and carry her somewhere else.

Marie-Laure sits at the square table, a plate of cookies in front of her, and imagines the old woman with the veiny hands and milky eyes and oversize ears. From the kitchen window comes the wit wit wit of a barn swallow, footfalls on ramparts, halyards clinking against masts, hinges and chains creaking in the harbor. Ghosts. Germans. Snails.

You know from reviews that it is the story of two young lives are interwoven at some point, but it happens in an unexpected way.

There are so many awful books that make it to the fiction best seller list that it was a relief to find one that actually belongs there.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everlasting Winter (21st Century Ice Age)

Well, I wrote this last year so we might as well get used to it.


Everlasting Winter
(21st century Ice Age)

I saw a cluster of summer robins
eating frozen crimson berries
from the tree by the stoplight
Do they know there is no
warm place to go this year?

The yard is no longer a vision in white
but encased in an ancient ice age
my dog walks on top of the snow
with an occasional confusing collapse 
as her leg disappears under the crust

It would’ve been a good year to 
start a curling club in the back yard
yesterday morning a -4 froze the 
stinging tears on my face
in the retrieval of the newspaper

It would’ve been a good year to retire
and forsake the endless commute
it might even have been a good year 
to admit that I don’t love winter
as much as I thought I did

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dad

February 20, 2015 would have been my Dad's 92nd birthday. 
This birthday will have no pain or suffering.


DAD

I want to touch your hands again.
I memorized the shape of every finger;
the ones that held, fixed, carried, loved.

The hands I clutched on your last walk on this earth
after sixty years of steps
across the living room and back.

Then for two days we circled, spoke in your ear,
held those hands, wept, questioned,
and we were one - covered in your final gift.

You know the glory now, Dad,
the reward for always choosing love -
and we are bereft here

on the surface of this incendiary planet
to wait
and wonder.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What I Have Learned From Caregiving

About two years ago both of my parents became ill at the same time and were not able to take care of themselves, their home or their finances.  After some painful confrontations they slowly allowed us to know more about their formerly private lives.  As the months went on they were in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities - sometimes in two different places at once and they needed knowledgeable advocates everywhere they went.

It is easy to step in and do laundry, shopping, cleaning, cooking and transporting. But caregiving is much more than that and involves a lot of personal sacrifice. At first it is a shock. Suddenly everything has changed for all the people involved and there is no choice but to do what is needed whether you think you have the time or not.  There are also events in which you see and do very unpleasant things you never thought you would.

One of the most stressful parts is the responsibility of making decisions for my parents as well as navigating the medical system for them.  If someone is not present when a loved one comes to a hospital there are many things that can go wrong.  We have had to fight battles to get them what they have needed over the past two years. We have fought to change doctors and medications and whether to send them off to yet another facility. I often ask myself what happens to someone who has no one to do that for them.

There have been numerous calls in the middle of the night that someone has fallen and when I got there I still had to decide whether he or she was hurt and whether to call 911 and put them through the ordeal of an ambulance and yet another hospital stay. It is just horrible to see your frightened mother or father loaded into an ambulance. You somehow feel responsible for their suffering in those situations.

There are so many moments that remind me of caring for a young child - the responsibility, the worries, the need for respite sometimes too.  But with adults you are dealing with their emotions, pride and dignity as well. There have been constant battles over for the best medical and financial decisions for them. Doctors do not tell you what to do, but give you options and it is often the caregiver's decision.  Did I make the right one?  This is a tough position to be in when it is your parent.

Everyone has suggestions for you but everything you put in place takes time and often the problem is immediate. We have hired helpers but they have often been useless or caused more problems. We have had them enrolled in various programs for home health care which is always a long intake process and then suddenly they are dismissed and we are back to square one.  We have sometimes decided to go against the doctor's suggestion for rehab and brought them home to care for them ourselves.

But what have I learned from all this?  I have learned that there is nothing I have to do that is more important than being there for my parents. I slowly gave up all my activities because I so often had to miss them. I stopped making commitments for the same reason.  Have I survived it? Of course.  I have learned to do what is needed when it is needed, not on my own schedule.  I'm a pretty routine kind of person so this was not easy for me at first.

I guess flexibility is the word.  I start the day now knowing that there is nothing that can happen that I cannot handle. In the beginning it was constant stress at the unknown and distress at missing work or other things I had planned. I have had to remember that I am not the one suffering - they are.  I guess I'm just saying it's made me a better person and I wouldn't have it any other way.

My sister and I vowed to keep our parents in their beloved home of 61 years if at all possible. We  sacrificed to make that happen for my father who passed away in November. He was there until his last two days at the hospital (and that decision was made by hospice). He never knew he had left home.  Now we are trying desperately to do the same for my mother.

We will never regret that decision or anything else.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Are You Really Pro-Life?

I have expressed a similar reasoning on this blog before.  To me, pro-life means you are for all life, not just the life of an unborn fetus.  It means you are against anything that destroys life.  If you treasure life you should be against war and guns because they kill human life. If you are for life then you should promote helping people not to die of hunger or neglect or homelessness. That's pro-life.  Why is an unborn baby's life more valuable than a homeless child's, or an innocent victim of war in a foreign country, or any of the thousands of people killed by handguns every year?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cleveland

I see Cleveland as a time not yet come,
a book we haven’t read, the tenacious hope 
of next year tangled in its bridges and highways,
beaming off the silvery water of a Great Lake.

A place where Christmas memories and food memories
are built into our bones, where you can step into a diamond
and hear an orchestra, or on any given day view a Rembrandt,
a Van Gogh, or hear poetry in a courtyard.

I believe in the Native Americans who named 
our crooked river, the Traffic Guardians 
welcoming you across the great divide of east and west,
into multicultural streets and towns.

In the jowls and crags of tumultuous industry
I no longer see smoke and filth - its former fame.
I see a place where Grandpa delivered ice, and
Dad played catch with a Cleveland Indian on the streets of the Heights.

God’s good creation surrounds and envelops us
in the glorious greenery of the Emerald Necklace
that we wear so well, with the fearless changing 
of the seasons flowing in our lifeblood.

by Diane Vogel Ferri

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Living in the Present and Compulsive Journal Writing

This is a photo of a couple decades of personal journals and all the pages I've deleted from them . (Actually this is the second go-round).
After a year of spiritual searching this is my attempt to live in the present moment and accept that the past no longer exists.

We all know that the past is gone, but sometimes our minds and hearts do not accept this fact.  I ripped out, shredded or whited out almost half of every journal because they were filled with angst, depression, sadness, regrets and embarrassing entries. I have had a compulsive need to write every emotion and thought in hopes of understanding myself and my life better. It's just my way, but my self-expression needs have been excessive as well as my incessant need to understand everything about my life.

While it is comforting to know how far those situations and my emotional life have come over the years they are not things I want to remember any longer - about myself or anyone else for that matter.

We all grow and change and learn throughout life and at my age I have nothing left to prove. I do not have a need to be right - just to be happy.  Forgiveness becomes easier and easier as I go through life. Not sweating the small stuff is also easier now and even addressing the small slights in life seems so silly in retrospect.

This is a goal I've had for retirement - having the time to reread these many journals, do some reminiscing, and put them in the past where they belong. (Also, knowing that someone could read my years of instability was a good motivator as well!)

But there are many, many pages left. Page upon page of the joy my children have given me through the years, of falling in love and marrying the love of my life at age 40, of singing, traveling and writing, of friends and family gatherings… many joys that I hope to read about again someday and know that while I spent many years in emotional pain and necessary growth -  it has been a life of many joys as well.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Grief



The Grief

is a straightjacket:
no time limits,
encumbered,
the futile struggle to be set free

awakens you with phantom voices,
burning images,
hovers, even when
others think it should be gone,

removes the things you loved,
hides them from your eyes,
crawls through the imprisoned body
with waves of lethargic pain.

No conscious control,
just a disaster of tears pushing out
of your ruined face, a craving for comfort
when the comforting time is past.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life Has Changed

Yesterday I sang a solo in church. It is one I have sung many times - Come Unto Him from Messiah.  But this time was like no other.

I started singing church solos at age 14. I cannot even count how many - and my dad was my biggest fan. Always sitting a few rows back to my left.  He always wanted to sit where he could see my mom and I next to each other in the choir loft. Mom and I sat in the choir loft of two churches for almost 40 years together.  (The various directors somehow knew better than to try to separate us.)

When I am asked to sing, I do, because it is my offering. It is something I can do that sometimes touches people's hearts.  There have been many times I wanted to quit because I didn't feel my voice was dependable or good enough. But even the times that I felt awful about my performance, someone would be moved by it.  I'm not a professional, just an untrained soprano. It's a very humble offering, believe me.

I learned many years ago to never look at my dad while singing because there were often tears streaming down his face. Yesterday my dad was not sitting there and my mom was not either because of poor health.  It didn't really hit me until I sat down after the song, and then I was overwhelmed with grief and loss and the confusion of change.

My dad was supportive and proud of everything I ever did. I know I am just now experiencing what so many of you already have in this life.  I was more than blessed to have him here for his 91 years. Parents (and maybe siblings) are the only people you have known every day of your life so, even though I have lost friends and other relatives, this is much different.

I know my Dad is ok.  I believe in heaven and this is what I believe:
Heaven is the place, the everlasting life, where we receive everything we yearned for here on earth. As human beings we spend our lives searching for unconditional love, for perfect peace, for unknowable joy and for release from the cares of this troubled world.  This is the definition of heaven to me.  All will be known. All will be understood. All will be the peace that passes understanding. It will be nothing like being here - where we are left to grieve and wonder and wait.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

First, there is no war on Christmas.  We should all be thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to worship as we please. That means everyone - Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, pagans - all have the same freedoms here.  Insisting that someone honor your religion while you ignore theirs is, to me, the height of disrespect and judgement.

If you think there is a war on Christmas go into any store right now and what do you see and hear? Only Christmas music and Christmas decorations. Do those who do not celebrate it have a choice?

If you are indeed a Christian then you are familiar with these words of Jesus:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (NIV)

This is not a Christian nation. It is a nation of freedoms. There is freedom of religion as well as freedom from  it. Will someone not saying Merry Christmas to you actually hamper your beliefs or celebration of Christmas? Jesus does not care if you say Merry Christmas - he does care that you love others as yourself - something he repeated 23 times in scripture. Love includes honor and respect.

 Here are some verses from Romans 14 which I think very clearly state that we are not to disrespect others:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.  

One man considers one day more sacred than another, another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tamir Rice

It's been two weeks and I cannot get used to seeing a boy I knew in the newspaper and on the national news day after day. This news story is personal to me.

I taught kids with special needs for over 30 years, so that's a lot of students. Tamir Rice was one of those students you don't forget.  We had our good days and our bad days together in math class first thing in the morning.  If Tamir's day had started out well he was bright, charming and hardworking. He was good at math and he knew it, but he required a lot of attention. He wanted to answer every question. He was behind in academics from constantly being moved from school to school. In fact, he was only with us for one year, and that causes great instability in a child's life.

If the day had not started well Tamir was likely to cry and leave the room.  But the thing to remember about children's behavior is that it is never their fault.  The child who disrupts or is angry or depressed is   lacking a basic need in life that only the home can provide.  Teachers nurture and care and attend to students' needs as much as they can during the hours they are with them each day.  But home is where basic needs of security, stability, love and attention are met.  Tamir liked attention, so he, like many other children, got it any way he could. He probably thought he was being funny the day those policemen drove up within a few feet of him.

The thing about Tamir was that even if he gave you a hard time you still liked him. Right now I don't remember the tough days as much as I remember that smile you see every day from some news source. Can't you see the mischievous charm in those eyes?  You could plainly see the capacity to achieve and even be a leader if life went his way - which it didn't.  What a waste.

Working in a racially diverse school district for 22 years taught me a lot.  If you think there is no white privilege then you haven't been around those who struggle every day to keep their children safe, fed, and sheltered.  You haven't met a mom who is afraid every day because she has to send her black  teenage son out into the world praying he comes home every night. You are not afraid to just walk through your own neighborhood. You're not Trayvon Martin's or Tamir Rice's parents or Eric Garner's children.

I don't have all the answers and I understand that policemen have to defend their own lives. But what about tasers and pepper spray? Could we invest in those?  Body cameras are fine but there are videos of Tamir's death and of Eric Garner's death in New York City and no one sees how those black men could have been apprehended without dying?

Eric Garner was unarmed and committing a very minor offense, but now policemen have left more children without a father. They could have even just let him get away - he was selling cigarettes, for God's sake.

Did the Cleveland police have to shoot Tamir from a few feet within two seconds of arriving or could there have been another way?  Could they have spent a little more time trying to reason with the unarmed Mr. Garner or did they have to strangle him to death?

                                                               Rest in peace Tamir.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river
attendeth my way
When sorrows
like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot
Thou has taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul.

Spafford


Monday, November 24, 2014

Grateful Apologist

Everything I need surrounds me
like a protective shell.
The sun drops on my day as I awaken,
and stays with relentless patience.

God is in your eyes and I can see
him every time I look at you.
My head has eternal music without my ears,
and love is inextricably knit around my heart.

A visceral peace arrives at unexpected moments,
one that can only be found in the human soul.
The world, fraught with danger,
has passed over this house

leaving beauty outside every window,
as if God has lost control of His grace,
and let it move in its own tangents
with glorious abandon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

In Memory of my Dad

For Donald Vogel
1923-2014


Daddy's Girl

You will never again trust
as you did

when Daddy was twice your size
his arms the greatest you knew.

They could straighten your baton
or chop down a tree in the front yard,

he won every game
and you were his best partner.

Driving in the Fourth of July storm
your dread of thunder and lightning

abated with Daddy's hands
on the wheel.

Fearless, you traveled the country
with the deepest knowledge

that Daddy
would bring you safely home.

He never told you he'd give his life
for you, you were born knowing.

You never felt doubt until the day
he held your hands and then let them go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What If You Were Dorothy?

I've started volunteering to tutor adults who are studying to get their GED. It's only been a few sessions and already I think I might be learning as much from them as they are from me.

I spent all morning working with Dorothy on a language arts packet - excruciatingly dull worksheets on dangling modifiers and parallel statements etc.  At the end of the packet it asked her to write a story about something that happened to her. She thought for a while and then she wrote her story:

She had her son when she was 17 years old. They lived on the streets like "gypsies" for eight years. She wrote about how her every waking minute was spent on trying to meet his basic needs. She did that by "hustling" and dancing in bars.  She would leave him with a friend or acquaintance and buy food for that family with part of her pay. She worked hard for her son.

Then one day her sister came and took him from the babysitter and said she wanted him to play with her son - and Dorothy never saw him again - for 16 years.

When she realized he had been taken she wrote; "I no longer had my reason for living."

I asked her why she was in the GED program and she said because she had to make a new life - stop going to prison. An agency sent her to a halfway house in Akron and then in Cleveland to help her get back on her feet. She is done "hustling" and is getting an education with that support. She has a place to live and best of all her son found her.

Her son was adopted by a minister and his wife. They sent him to college and now he is a minister and gospel artist. Dorothy beamed with pride when she spoke of him.  She said he calls her mom and she has two grandchildren that she sees regularly.

I marveled at Dorothy's sweet nature and positive outlook after all she had been through.  I felt thankful for the social programs that gave her this second chance at life.  I realize her story isn't that uncommon. What was uncommon was sitting next to the person telling it.

So the next time you hear some wealthy politician saying poor people just need to get a job and take care of themselves ask yourself exactly how a 17 year old with a baby and no family support, no home and no education would do that on her own.

This country needs to get real about poverty. We can pay to help people out of poverty and horrific situations now or we can pay by keeping them in prisons and dealing with unwanted uneducated angry children. We pay one way or the other. Just imagining that  everyone has an equal playing field  doesn't make it so.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When the Seasons Overlap

One goes down in orange flames,
the other arises in wet white and
the melancholy creeps into your present tense:

The autumn your bones hurt to the marrow,
the winter you bloomed in the brief daylight,
with mouthfuls of bitters, eyefuls of beautiful children.

The days you lost, the reinvented joy,
the unopened books,
a bird singing in the night.

Out of purple darkness the world
turned to face the sun again, and
everything and nothing had changed.

The miles and years like graffiti on your skin,
the generosity of prayer days,
bent on your knees before a creation sky.

And this is what God does:
sends you on a journey in a homeward direction,
makes the dark a light in you,
sings you resurrection songs
until the urgency has passed.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meeting Tori Amos

Well, once again this blog has been woefully neglected. Life has gotten in the way, but I'm going to try again. I still want to use this blog for the good and positive, but I must start out with one of the highlights of my summer to get caught up.  I met my musical idol of the past two decades - Tori Amos.

If you don't know Tori's work I wouldn't necessarily recommend her to you. It seems like you would have been drawn to her music already if you needed it.  She is definitely an acquired taste.  Many people say they like her from hearing a radio hit or two from the '90's, but to really follow her through the years has been a true blessing in my life.  One of the reasons is because my daughter and I share the same love of Tori.  I'm not sure how that happened, but probably because she was forced to listen to "Little Earthquakes" obsessively in her young teens and she was perceptive enough to get it. We have gone to many concerts together (even once in NYC) and we did that this past August 7th when Tori came to Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

I had read that Tori would greet her fans before the show, so on the day of the show I called the venue and was told the "meet and greet" started at 2:00. It was 12:45.  I called my daughter, we pondered it for a moment and simultaneously said "I'll be ready in 10 minutes and meet you there."  We got there at the same time and went to the end of a line of probably 100 people. We stayed pretty much at the end of that line until 5:30 when we were approaching Tori.

Tori Amos had stood outside and greeted every single fan individually. She hugged, listened, signed things, took photos and treated every single fan as if they were the only ones there. Tori fans, you see, adore HER, not just her music. Her lyrics make you think she's written them just for you.  I was trying to prepare myself for being cut off because of the time because it was one of those too-good-to-be-true moments. My daughter was an emotional wreck as we got closer and closer.

What do you say to someone you have felt bonded to for over 20 years? To someone who has touched and healed you? What do you say to the ONLY famous person you've ever really wanted to meet?

I didn't want to say what the last 100 people had said - your music saved my life when I was drowning in despair - I've loved you since "Little Earthquakes" - I have memorized every one of your hundreds of songs - blah, blah, blah.

So I told her that my daughter and I were together at every concert and that we had a mother-daughter dance to her song "Body and Soul" at her wedding. I told her she had helped me become a poet and I gave her my poetry book "Veracity".  She looked at it as if it was a precious jewel then looked at me and said, "You wrote this Diane? Thank you."

But I wanted my daughter to have the time she needed so I brought her forward and I moved back to take photos of the moment.  The photos show Tori immediately engaged with my daughter, taking her arms and speaking to her with intensity. Somehow Tori knew exactly what to say to my daughter that day - like she had a sixth sense. I won't share what was said, but it was beautiful.

We walked away crying and saying "did that just happen?"A truly surreal moment in life.  One I will never forget.  Even better, my son and his wife joined us for the two-hour spectacular concert that night.

I am not a groupie or an idolizer. I hate celebrities and celebrity worship and everything they stand for in today's society. That is NOT what this is. It is being touched by someone doing what God created them to do. Tori was a child prodigy and got kicked out of a prestigious school as a young girl for rebelling against what she was supposed to play - and that has been her legacy. She is 100% who she was born to be. I admire and respect that. I LOVE her music and the lyrics, and watching her greet every fan as she did that day made me love her even more.

Tori Amos is 51. I am a bit older, but the music is growing with her. Her most recent album contains songs about the experience of aging. I can't get that from a 24 year old pop star.  We're growing together and that is a rare and lovely thing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Do Good Anyway

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
IF you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world you best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa and/or Dr. Kent Keith
(Some discrepancy on the exact quote and author!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dogs Know...

I just read a book by the wonderful author, Alice Hoffman. It's her newest book called "The Museum of Extraordinary Things."  I thought the following excerpt was  a concise and beautiful way to express the amazing creatures that dogs are as well as a life lesson for us all:

Now Mitts (the dog) trotted briskly beside him on their journey downtown, clearly happy to be alive, with no thought of the future or the past.  For this Eddie envied Mitts as well, how light his burden was, how clear his purpose.  He was to be his master's companion and in doing so he became himself, the essence of a dog.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Religion and Spirituality

For the first time in my life I have taken a "break" from church.  I have been very surprised to find my spiritual life growing without it. At first this was confusing to me, but  I have come to believe that church, while important, can lock you into only thinking about what you hear there week after week and season after season. After a time you may find yourself accepting that this is all there is to faith and spirituality - but I have experienced much more being away from church. I have also been seeking it and focusing on my spiritual growth, it didn't happen by accident.

Looking into meditation and Buddhist practices of tranquility may be, to some, not Christian. I disagree. It all works together beautifully. My prayer life has become much more about listening and less about asking. God speaks in the stillness.


These words from an interview with Ekhart Tolle are validating to my experience:

You can have religion with spirituality. You can have religion without spirituality.

Some people are so identified in their belief structure that they're completely trapped in their thinking. There is no spaciousness.

Any Christian who wants to go deeper into their own spirituality and not abandon their religion - there is depth in Christian teachings and in the words of Christ.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Four Agreements

The book "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz has been around for a long time, but I just discovered it.  These are the agreements you make with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word.
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word o speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don't take anything personally.
 Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Don't make assumptions.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.

Always do your best.
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will void self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Untethered Soul

Another wonderful book called The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer- the kind of book you have to resist underlining almost everything.

Much of the book helps us understand how we have complete control over our own thoughts and how much of our energy is wasted on being upset or obsessed with things we cannot control. There are many words of wisdom to share but I just read the last chapter called "The loving eyes of God" and this is what I will share today.

Most of us who have grown up in a church have learned somewhere along the way that God judges us. This causes fear and fear is the opposite of love. The longer I love the more damage I see being done in churches in the name of a loving God. But Singer writes:

What if it is really true that God is not judging- What is God is loving? We all know that true love doesn't judge. Love sees nothing but beauty in its beloved. There is no impurity. There is no possibility of impurity. No matter what it beholds, it's all beautiful. That is how true love sees. That is what it looks like through the eyes of love. So if God is love, what must it look like through those eyes - the eyes are filled with infinite love and unconditional compassion?

It is like the unconditional love of a mother. The mother devotes every moment of life to her child who is physically or mentally challenged. She thinks the child is beautiful. She doesn't focus on the shortcomings; in fact, she doesn't even see them as shortcomings. 

What if that is how God looks upon His creation? You've lost out if you've been told otherwise. Instead of being encouraged to feel completely protected, loved, honored and respected by the Divine Force, you've been taught that you're being judged. Because you've been taught that you feel guilt and fear. But guilt and fear do not open your connection to the Divine; they only serve to close your heart.

So it makes sense to me that God cannot love us and judge us.  Love is unconditional.  I choose love. How about you?

Does anything in God's creation, other than the human mind, actually pass judgement? Nature just gives and gives to whoever will receive. Should you choose not to receive, it doesn't punish you. You punish yourself because you choose not to receive. If you say to the light, "I will not look at you. I'm going to live in darkness," the light just keeps shining. If you say to God, "I don't believe in you and want nothing to do with you," creation continues to sustain you.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Surrender

The concept of surrendering to anything brings to mind a weakness. It has a negative connotation to most of us. But surrendering to love, to truth, to forgiveness, in order to find peace and happiness may be one of the strongest, boldest things you can do in your life.

Think about how much we believe ourselves to be right in every situation, every relationship, every opinion. We may be right, but we may also cause ourselves great anxiety by fighting what we cannot change. We are the ones that suffer. We lose spiritual peace with the world around us. Just look at our Congress as an example. They are unproductive and weak because every has to be right.

I remember a time in my life when this phrase had a great impact on me - Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

Some thoughts from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson:

Surrender means, by definition, giving up attachment to results. When we surrender to God, we let go our attachment to how things happen on the outside and we become more concerned with what happens on the inside.

Our only job in every situation is to merely let go of our resistance to love.

To relax, to feel the love in your heart and keep to that as your focus in every situation - that's the meaning of spiritual surrender. It changes us. We become deeper, more attractive people.

Surrender means the decision to stop fighting the world and start loving it instead.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What is the Soul?

Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Matthew 10:28

The soul is the part of you that existed before you were born and will exist after you die. It's the highest, most noble part of yourself that you can reach for.
Gary Zukov

The fingerprint of God that becomes the physical body.
Iyanla Vanzant

The soul is the core of your being. It is eternal. It doesn't exist in space time. It the feel of infinite creativity, infinite possibilities. It's your internal reference point to which you should always be in touch.
Deepak Chopra

The soul is the spiritual essence of who we really are.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

The soul is the part of us that never dies.
Debbie Ford

The soul is your innermost being beyond form. The consciousness beyond form.
Eckart Tolle

The soul is the birth less, deathless, changeless part of us . The part of us that looks out from behind the eyes  and has no form.
Wayne Dyer

The truth of who we are. The light, the love which is in us.
Marianne Williamson

It is one with God. The soul is immortal. It belongs to God.
Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee

The lure of our becoming.
Jean Houston

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays fear from them.
Proverbs 22:5

For every living soul belongs to me.
Ezekiel 18:4

Friday, January 17, 2014

Musings on the Spiritual Life


So I continue the journey and I am fascinated by the common threads that have run through all my listening and reading so far - whether it is an Episcopal priest, a Buddhist monk, an Indian doctor or a scholar of miracles...

They are:

To be still and allow God to talk to you. The busier you are the more you need the stillness.

To pray to be in contact with God, to reach new levels of awareness to learn who you are beside a physical body (through meditation and prayer).

To live in the present moment. We do not have the past - it is gone. We do not have the future either. All we really have is now. 

To seek happiness because then you send it out into the world.

There is good and bad and Satan, or evil, stems from our ego. 
Ego is the enemy and it is inside of us. 


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Today I Choose Happiness

by Marianne Williamson
from "A Year of Miracles"

The circumstances of my life may go up and down, for the mortal world is changeable.  The immortal world, however, is changeless, for there there is only love.  I build my house on the rock of the immortal world. Today I choose only immortal thoughts.

I extend my perception beyond what my senses perceive, to what my heart knows is true. I withdraw my belief that I need anyone or anything to be other than what they are, in order for me to be secure.  I know that whenever fear expresses itself, love will ultimately prevail.  Therefore, I need not fear, nor cry, nor despair. To the extent to which I see what is truly true, I see only cause for happiness.

Happiness is the choice I make today. It does not rest on circumstances, but on my frame of mind.  I surrender to God any emotional habits that lead me down the path of unhappiness. and pray for guidance in shifting my thoughts. In cultivating the habits of happiness, I attract more people and situations that match its frequency. I smile more often, give praise more often, give thanks more often, and am glad more often. For such is my choice today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

COEXIST in 2014

My only resolution, the one I have felt called to at the beginning of 2014 is to use this blog only for good.  I have tried to do that for many years but I have also included politics and my opinions. No one needs to hear more opinions and certainly not more political rhetoric. So I resolve to be only inspirational.

For the past 8-10 months I have been on a spiritual journey. I believe I am on a path of enlightenment. I am at a turning point. I am seeing things in new ways.  I want to share that journey because if others had not shared their insights I would not have them to begin with.

 I will include the wisdom and teachings of others, not necessarily myself. I hope you will join me. I am still a Christian but as I read spiritual teachings I find that non-Christians use plenty of references to Christ and to Christian teachings - I believe all are worthy of thought and consideration.

Thich Nhat Hnah is a Buddist monk. These are four mantras or sacred words to be repeated, that I am incorporating into my daily life.


Four Mantras of Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Darling I am 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? You offer him or her your true presence. You are there for your beloved one.

  1. Darling, I know you are there.   I am so happy because you are truly there. You recognize the presence of your beloved one as something very precious and you use your mindfulness to recognize that and embrace your beloved one with mindfulness and she will bloom like a flower.  To be loved means to be recognized as existing and those two mantras bring happiness right away. Even if your beloved one is not there you can use the telephone to practice your mantra.

  1. Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you. Before you do something to help him, to help her, your presence already can bring some relief.

  1. Darling, I suffer. Please help me.  When you suffer and you believe your suffering has been caused by your beloved one and you suffer so deeply. you prefer to go to your room, shut the door and suffer alone. You get hurt and you want to punish him or her for making you suffer.  You go to him, you go to her and practice that and you suffer less right away.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

Dear Past,
Thank you for the lessons.

Dear Future,
I am ready.

Happy New Year to All.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Coexist With Christmas



Coexist with Christmas

Like a bird singing in the cold of night,
when multitudes of angels
crawled and hovered above 
God walked into the world with a child in His arms.
The shepherds gave a reception, the stargazers
brought gifts to the harbinger of heaven,

the wise men momentarily lost their wisdom
to seek the sunshine of His face.
Then he grew under our sky, under the same loving Eye,
drank the planet’s water, browned in our sun,
for a brief moment – an alien in this world
just as you and I.

In this earthly rotation: blossoms break forth,
summer scorches, leaves fly, snow flies
to bring us to this annual déjà vu,
when hearts thaw and generosity
puffs out its proud chest, and we rush
in the frenetic, glorious mess of holidays.

Now, in this moment – coexist
with the reality of the day.
When the first wet snowflake touches 
your windshield, and you are singing
with the radio about roasting chestnuts,
hear the bird singing in the night,

sense God waiting to greet you
when the celebration is over,
give the midwinter gift of forgiving yourself,
and cast the remnant of your heart to Him.

Diane Vogel Ferri