Kindness Rocks

The Kindness Rocks Project

I was on a girl’s weekend with a few of my friends. We happened to be at Susquehanna University, a beautiful campus with lots of quiet and flowers. I wanted to stay in the shade and decided to walk under a line of trees to keep cool.

Turning a corner, I saw the large flat stones. It stopped me right in my tracks. Here’s what it said.

How fitting that this should be on a college campus. So many people of all ages probably go to this school, work and study hard, and sit among the trees on a gorgeous day. Maybe on a tough day they need to see this. Perhaps they pick up a rock and take it back to their room. It’s possible it will make their day a little brighter.

I decided to be needy and so I took a rock. It said, “You are Worth It.” I love it. I brought it home and placed it in the soil of my growing fig tree. I hope the tree will note this message and feel free to grow tall and strong. I did briefly wonder if I should not take a rock since I didn’t have one to leave. I don’t think this is the main purpose. I think the rocks are there for the taking.

I would have loved to be in the room when these were being painted. How did the painters decide what quotes to choose? There were some rocks with only one word on them. Others had more sayings. Since then, I’ve looked up the Kindness Rocks website and wow, there are so many more wonderful rocks!

I told my friend Ms. Child about the Kindness Rocks. She thought maybe she’d start one in her area. Lo and behold she went on the website and it turns out there is one near her! She’s excited about creating some rocks of her own and visiting the project. How cool is that? To find out if there is a Kindness Rocks project in your area, click HERE.

This is bigger than you think. Check out the video.

I love this wonderful idea. A landmark birthday is looming this year and I’ve already reached out to my township to ask them for an opportunity to start a Kindness Rocks project in my local park. If you live near me, let me know if you’ll come and paint with me.

PS. The Kindness Rocks website is full of information! Many gorgeous rocks and a downloadable “how to” on the best materials to use.

Join me on my graceful journey.
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View From A Farm

The Field at the Farm

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

Every now and then I take the time to slow down and I remember who I am again. It happened last week when I spent four days with my sister Mary and her partner Starr.

Mary had a big event she could have used some help with and well since I’m an event coordinator (after all!), it was easy for me to head down to be of assistance. While I was there, I met some amazing new people and got to visit with some wonderful old friends. This event was called “In Good Company” and was a first time fundraiser for the Winston Salem LGBT community center North Star. I declare it a great success. There were 250 guests plus awards, speakers, music, food, silent auction- what more could a person want?

Mary and Rex at In Good Company
Mary and Rex at In Good Company

When that was over, I spent the next couple of days eating Greek food (and visiting with an old friend), going to the movies, shopping, and having Starr’s wonderful homemade cooking. I had lunch with my webmaster and learned some new things. My favorite gift hang out is still in downtown Winston Salem, Earthbound Arts, which you absolutely have to check out when you’re in the neighborhood.

But guess what I did in the down time? Nothing. Yes, that’s right. NOTHING. I laid in the big bed of my room and read and slept. I took lavender scented baths, and looked out the window. Here’s the view.

Sunrise on the Farm

Amazing, isn’t it?

What do you do when you slow down? For me there was no cooking, no driving, no laundry, no meal planning and only worrying about me. That is a hard thing to come by these days since my life revolves around my family and business. But this is important. This is necessary. This is what taking a break is all about.

And since Mary and Starr live on a farm, there were great views and scenery to remind me to keep it simple.

Even on the plane ride down and back I read, napped and took it easy. Unbelievable. But I have to tell you. I had a great time!

Morning Walk with the Dogs
The Barn
The Field Mid Morning
View from my Window

Thank you to Mary, Starr, Julia, Susan, Tamara, Gordon and the North Star friends who made this trip really special.

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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The Fountain of Youth

Photo- Carmine Sarazen
Photo Courtesy of Carmine Sarazen

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren

Recently, I was reading a magazine article (Think Like a Guy, Oprah Magazine, May 2013) written by Gabrielle Reece who published a new book entitled My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper. A thought provoking excerpt from that article really got me thinking about age and growing older gracefully.

Gabrielle writes “Perhaps the ultimate lesson of getting older is learning to check our egos at the door. Losing our dignity and independence is the fear beneath our anxiety about aging. It’s not so much the lines and sunspots on our faces; it’s more what the lines and sunspots sign; that life moves in only one direction. Yet every day the sun rises, and each day is our own. I’m reminded of the Emerson quote: “No one suspects the days to be gods.”

I looked up the entire Emerson quote and here is what it said: “Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.”

When we are young we think we will live forever. We take daring chances more easily, we don’t break as hard, we push forward thinking we have all the time in the world. As I age, that time seems smaller and smaller, though with life expectancies what they are, who knows how long I’ll live?

I used to think retirement (kind of) meant the end. Done. Gardening, long cups of coffee in the morning, maybe a bit of travel, pans of pastichio for the church food festival. But lately I’m thinking there is more. I am starting to open my mind to think that the fountain of youth is in new challenges, new ways of growing. It’s also in “giving back”; passing along some help, friendship and wisdom to those who may need it at just the right time.

Faith can also provide the necessary ingredient to guard against age panic. I find that when I touch that grace filled spot within me, I am young all over again. Physical being can always be transcended; it is in our mind and heart where we can drink from the fountain again and again.

How do you feel about age? 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Love Is Like A Rock

I’ve been staying at my mom’s on and off during her recovery. Recently, we watched the movie “Hope Springs” together. Have you seen it? The movie stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in a marriage gone stale. It was quite the interesting story if you ask me.

Without giving too much away, Meryl Streep decides after 31 years of marriage (and separate bedrooms), she wants more. Tired of no intimacy and the same routine day in and day out, she decides to challenge the status quo and sign up for a marriage enrichment program in a town called Hope Springs. Her husband says he is not going, blah blah blah, but (much to Meryl’s delight) he shows up for the plane departure.

Husband Tommy has plenty of money but they stay at the EconoLodge. He sleeps on the pull out couch while Meryl sleeps in the bed. The poor psychologist has his work cut out for himself as Tommy flings verbal hatred at him. But I know what’s really going on. Poor ol’ Tommy is in deep seated fear. Fear of change. Fear of feeling real love.

I know there are many troubled marriages and relationships in the world. I’m sure this movie caused some people to squirm in their seats. I am one of the lucky ones. I felt no uncomfortable-ness. I “hoped” for them and the repair of their marriage.

My Favorite Picture of Jim and I! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare
My Favorite Picture of Jim and Me! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare

Jim and I certainly do not have the perfect relationship. We are only human and only God is perfect. We do however, have the “tools in our toolbox” to work most issues out. And we have had some big issues in the nearly 33 years of being together.

As any couple in a long term relationship will tell you, it is not about who is squeezing the toothpaste tube from the bottom or who makes the bed better. A couple who has been together for a while knows how to pick their battles. The real secret to relationship happiness, I’ve come to believe, is not to lose yourself in the process.

Though my marriage has been through many ups and downs over the years, there was a period about seven years ago when I finally became comfortable with who I was. At that point, my unreasonable expectations of Jim fell away. I was responsible for myself and he was stuck loving me the way I was. Thankfully, he loves me as I am. And I love him for who he is.

I believe this unconditional love is the secret to happiness…in anything. Point my finger, tell you how to do it better and I make you miserable. Focus on myself and what my needs are and my life becomes my responsibility. Focusing on what my husband may or may not be doing is not the answer. Loving him for who he realistically is….this is the secret to a happy marriage.

When my mom was ill in the hospital this past winter, Jim was my rock. He endured my tears, fears, tantrums and joys. He was there every step of the way. I called him My Rock on numerous occasions and I still believe this. Without him to lean on, I would have been lost.

On May 10, Jim and I were married 32 years. May you be blessed to have (or to have had) someone in your life, spouse or likewise, who means as much to you. I believe in my heart we are all worthy of unconditional love, not only from others but especially from the God of our own understanding.

Welcome Daily Prompt Readers! Is there someone in your life who is your rock? It doesn’t have to be a spouse! Who can you be yourself with but yet lean on in times of stress?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Nourishment….Body and Soul

IMAG0071

We are spiritual beings living a human life. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lately, I’ve been pondering a different approach to taking better care of myself. I have been thinking about Body and Soul. Sure, it’s a phrase that’s been around forever. But I’m taking it to heart and realizing that one without the other is like walking around with only one shoe.

First, SOUL. I am better at taking care of my spiritual self. Devoting a portion of my non working hours to service work is spiritually fulfilling for me.  This blog and you, my reader, are part of my spiritual life. Spiritual reading, volunteer work and even prayer and meditation are important parts of my soul work.

Now when it comes to BODY, that is a different issue all together.

Menopause (or, insert issue of choice here) has reeked havoc on my physical body. I am abit overweight, tired and admittedly, over sugared. This is where some change needs to occur. My thickening middle has me a bit depressed and there is really no one that can change that except me.

Though I have been trying to do little things to build a healthier me, I’ve not done a good job managing my weight. I rationalize it with my many obligations, stresses, weather, you name it. But deep down I know I really want to take better care of my “temple”.

At this point I have to tell you I don’t believe in diets. I don’t think they work. Having watched friends gain and lose the same pounds over and over through various diets, I believe the mental state of “diet” is starvation. That may not be the case, but perhaps the word reeks a mental manipulation within the heads of its participants. I’d rather make positive changes to eat healthier and get enough exercise.

I want to believe there is a direct correlation between faith and food. If I treat my body as the temple for my soul, does that make me want to treat it better? Yes, it does. So that is what I’m going to try.

By placing food in the same mental bracket as faith, I hope to change how I feed myself. By taking a moment to reflect and notice what I’m putting in my mouth and why, I hope to give my body a bit more respect. The respect it really deserves.

Are you better at Body or Soul? Or both? What works for you?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Faith and My Old Sweater

My favorite sweater
My favorite sweater!

I have a favorite sweater I bought a few years ago.  Hanging on the sale rack at the Gap at end of season, it caught my eye with it’s beautiful knit weave and obvious coziness. It is a shade of slate grey, has a V neck and plain buttons down the front. The collar is large enough to fold over and the sleeves are just a bit too long…perfect for rolling up.

This grey sweater is my go-to favorite for a cold winter’s night, a chilly morning or underneath my coat when taking my favorite pup, Ms. Jordan, out for a stroll.

Though my sweater has seen better days, it is still warm and cozy. It doesn’t have fancy things about it and that’s what I like about it. It is simple and easy to wear. Over time, it has developed a small hole along the shoulder seam. This doesn’t bother me one bit. One day I will probably sew it shut, but for now I leave it alone. When I am at home, my sweater symbolizes my ok-ness with imperfection. It doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside; it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Here’s the correlation. Just like my grey sweater, my faith plays a warm and secure role in my life. It wraps me in comfort and loves me the way I am. It is there for me when I need it. It fills my life with JOY. And going forward into 2013, I will continue to be best buds with Faith as we walk hand in hand through this amazing life.

(Thanks to the Daily Prompt and the ever- fascinating group of folks at WordPress.com for this inspiration!)

What’s your favorite object that brings you warmth and comfort? Share it with me!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Fear Not

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.  ~Bill Cosby

Photos by Michelene Cain

I am afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid of success, failure, ignorance and embarrassment. I am also afraid of spiders, the dark and of being in situations in which I do not have control. If I stopped to let my fears take hold of me, I of course think they would do me some serious damage.

There has been so much in the news lately to make us afraid. People have been committing unreal acts of violence to innocent people, without motive. No wonder there is so much fear in the world. It makes me think twice about going anywhere in public these days.

Fear came up in a conversation recently with some friends of mine. We talked about our worst case scenario and what would we do if it happened. I think we decided that we would just get through it. We’d muddle about, figuring it out. There are people who would help us too if we needed it. To rely on one another is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

I heard a speaker once who said that when she is afraid she pretends she is a small child, and she runs and hides under God’s great robes. In there, she feels safe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that mantra to get me through something scary.

A couple of years ago, I realized I was in a situation that was becoming more and more of a drain. I loved my job but the distance I was traveling had become a huge burden. It would have been easy to stay at that job until retirement but I wanted a better quality of life for myself. The fear of starting a new job all over again, at age 53, was scary.

I finally made the decision that I wanted the quality of life more than I was afraid of starting over. An opportunity opened up for me, close to home, that I had been hoping for. I took the job. A year later, Life is better. It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Photos by Michelene Cain
Join me on my graceful journey.
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