Make A Joyful Noise

DSC_0195

Beside them the birds of heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

The holiday season is upon us and though it seems the nature world is quiet, it is really not. Birds are still singing and deer are crunching along on the snow covered spots in my backyard.

I’m not a big fan of winter but this year it doesn’t seem to be bothering me. After the past few years of hot flashes, the coldness is a welcome relief and my sleep has been deep and comforting. This is something to be thankful for.

I bought a big bag of birdseed and when it snowed last week, I fed the birds from my backyard feeder. They put on a show for me and I am comforted by their presence. I think their colors are a beautiful backdrop to white snow.

DSC_0666Something interesting happened on Monday. I am reading a book that I will be reviewing, and it mentioned sending an “intention” out (more on this when I write the actual review!). So I did. I don’t even remember what the intention was, but it had something to do with my wedding planning business.

That night, I had a dream about a bride and a wedding. I did not recognize the bride but she was lovely. In the dream I was a part of her wedding. The next day (I kid you not) I received an email from a young woman, asking me to assist her with her wedding.

I have no idea if it was the intention or the timing or maybe a little bit of both. Perhaps it is just faith. I am approaching this business, my event planning business, from an entirely new position. Years ago, I was fairly aggressive when I was self employed. Things were good; I was successful and happy. This time, I am determined not to be a bothersome pest. I believe that if someone needs me, God will put me in their path.

JOYLast Christmas, you may remember that I received a word at a gathering of friends. That word was JOY. I have to tell you, it has been a joyous year despite many challenges, including my mother’s illness and my departure from full time employment. I kept JOY in mind all the year through and I am grateful for the many blessings I have received.

I hope you are living joyfully! How have you been?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

What I Am Grateful For

Pine Trees Winter 2013
Pine Trees Winter 2013

Here it is- the first big snow of the season. Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and the Northeast is in the grips of some pretty cold weather. Thankfully, I am not traveling. I am the chef du jour, making most of the gratitude dinner with a little help from my friends.

My mom has been with me for a few days. I gave her a lecture a month or so ago about snow. If we are expecting any big accumulations I said, you have to come over. She didn’t argue with me when I told her Monday morning I was coming to pick her up.

So she and I have been spending some quality time together. I decided to put up my Christmas tree on Tuesday because I had a whole free day (and it snowed all day!) and those little lights just bring a lift to my heart. The nativity set went underneath right away. I have to keep in mind the reason for the season.

Region 1 DVD cover
Region 1 DVD cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We indulged in a whole recliner session of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It occurred to me how Rudolph was bullied- no playing with the others in reindeer games, all because of that red nose. I seriously shed a tear when the program was over and Santa said “Merry Christmas!” from his sky high sleigh.

So as I think about Thanksgiving, there are many things I have to be grateful for. I wanted to share my list with you and I’d love if you’d leave a comment and tell me what you’re most grateful for.

1. Family- Where would I be without them? My husband Jim, my kids Michelene and John, my grandson Gavin, Gavin’s dad Jonathan, my mom Katherine, sisters Mary and Cally and their beautiful partners Starr and Raymond. Jim’s family and both our extended families. My beautiful yellow lab Jordan. They are my greatest treasures.

2. Friends- Oh they have seen me through some troubling times. As has my family but my closest friends are privy to my thoughts, words and deeds of high and low. I owe my salvation to my recovery friends and their infinite wisdom on life and teachings on practicing these principles in all my affairs.

3. Faith- Deep as the ocean, infinite as the sky, my love for God only grows and grows each day. I realize how walking a spiritual path has changed everything. It makes me understand that I am not in control and God is.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you are alone, give me or a close friend of yours a call. We should all be together on Thanksgiving.

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving of great blessings! Tell me, what are you grateful for?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Rocky Mountain High

DSC_0304

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can really get a committee going in my head. The committee sometimes makes good sense or helps me through a problem in a loving and encouraging way. But sometimes the committee speaks too loudly and makes no sense.

It likes to go on and on about dumb stuff and I just follow along, wimp like, victim like while it chastises me for various things. I didn’t do this or that good enough, or wow, how could I have reacted in that situation like that. On and on it goes, just making me feel bad.

Until I got the bright idea one day that I could just change the station in my head. Just like turning the knob to another radio station, I can switch off the bad thoughts and tune into another station. I mentally try one station- soft music- and in my head suddenly I am singing an old familiar 70’s song like yep, Rocky Mountain High. I saw John Denver in person once, the year before he died, and he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That was the first song he walked out on stage singing and I still get chills just thinking about it.

DSC_0302

So now my head is filled with glorious music and a stunning mountain vista, instead of those pesky, bothersome committee members.

If the song ends in my head, I can again switch the station. This time, I switch to the spiritual station. In the background I can feel the warmth of soft candles. My Higher Power is there, s(he) is engaging me in loving thoughts and encouragement. I am again bathed in a wash of light and happiness, grateful to be alive and ready for my next destination.

This takes some practice, but I am getting pretty good at switching stations. The committee is learning that it can’t sit there and complain and give me a hard time or the door will close to its room. I’ll be off and in another direction, content to find another, more happier place in which to hang out.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning photos!

Where do you go (in your head!) for a change of scenery?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Does Prayer Work?

But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Luke 22:32

I happened to type “Prayer” into my Pinterest search bar this morning and boy did I get a spiritual eyeful. I’ll give you the link at the end of this post but suffice to say there was a whole wide range of pins on the subject.

Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illuminatio...
Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illumination, 10th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This got me thinking about prayer. How do you pray? Or do you even pray? My prayers have changed over the years. When I was young they were the prayers of church, whispered along with the priest’s words or out loud during the liturgy. During the kneeling down part of the service, I was either paying attention or not, fidgeting or wondering what I was going to do later that day, like riding my Schwinn bicycle around the neighborhood with my girlfriends.

One time as a young child, we missed church because it had snowed heavily. I remember being worried about the consequences and what God would think if I wasn’t there. So I took a cross I had in my room and prayed, maybe on my knees. I don’t remember what I prayed about but I remember I had a really good week, getting an “A” on a test and other assorted awesome stuff. That’s when I knew God had some serious pull.

Jim, my SO, doesn’t believe in praying for specific things. He thinks I do but honestly, my prayers are of the general variety. Does prayer work? I used to think it was silly stuff but the older I get the more I believe yes, prayer definitely has its potential.

It is amazing sometimes that I will pray for assistance for someone or some issue, again the prayers not being specific, and help will arrive in some shape or form. Honestly, if I leave well enough alone and not give God directions on how I want it done, s(he) will do a fabulous job. After all, it’s God we are talking here.

What doesn’t work is praying and then using my own control devices. Or praying and expecting immediate results. Prayer works fast sometimes and other times it does not. Maybe God wants us to practice a bit of patience.

Letting go of results is probably the hardest part of prayer for me. Maybe this surprises you- is there really a letting go part? Yes, I think this is the most powerful part of prayer- surrender. There in lies the freedom, the relief I have been seeking. That moment when I can lay my head down and feel a peace come over me that just wasn’t there before.

The results of prayer are often solutions I hadn’t thought of. Imagine that. That is when I know God is really good.

Click HERE for the Pinterest prayer board link.

Do you believe in prayer? What’s your favorite prayer or tell us how prayer has worked or not worked for you….

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Road to Happiness

0817091653

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

When my children were young, I really had no choice. My life revolved around my family and there was little time for much else. Between working part time, the house work, meals and playtime, I was focused on being the best mom I possibly could.

As my two children grew and became more independent, it occurred to me that I was not needed as much. They started to have their own lives, friends and activities and many times I ended up being just a taxi service and meal maker. Of course I reminded them to wear clean clothes, shower and brush their teeth, but they were good kids and I didn’t need to remind them all that much.

So what to do with myself? A mild depression in my late thirties and early forties caused me to seek the advice and wisdom of a good therapist. After much soul searching and aimless wandering, it became obvious to me that the best way to live life to its fullest was to find a cause I love- and volunteer for it.

So over the years I have learned from and worked with families affected by addiction. When I mention my recovery friends occasionally I am not sure you can feel it, but there is whole hearted love and respect there from me. There is no monetary reward for doing this work, no green carrot dangling at the end of the stick. No contract with a financial reward as possible gain, just plain and simple good deeds done for people who need help.

What do I get in return for this? Nothing financial but a priceless spiritual opportunity.

It fills me up inside with a feeling I cannot describe when I work with families in need. I give them unconditional love and they in return grow and flourish. It takes so little time really, and the rewards are amazingly great.

If you are looking to get a little more meaning and happiness out of life, consider picking a cause and then volunteering your time even in small and simple ways. It doesn’t take much to help make a difference. And you will absolutely love how it makes you feel.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning sunflower photo!

Is there a cause you support? Tell us about it!

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Coming Into Grace

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Cook Forest 2Years ago I would have completely dismissed the above quote, thinking I didn’t have time to contemplate such nonsense.

Now, it sums up my journey of the past decade or so. Finding serenity, searching for grace, deciding what can be changed and what cannot.

My journey has led me over tall mountains, in deep valleys and down the road less traveled. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

Occasionally I tire and stop to rest. But then I pick up my walking stick and begin again.

I remember what I have to be thankful for. My family, my friends, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth.

I remind myself what I have no control over– all of the above.

If I think I can control other things, living or otherwise, I am a fool. I can only control myself and my reaction to people, places and things. This is the secret of serenity- minding my own business.

The journey has been a difficult one at times and it is not over. It is continuous. If I remember every day to have gratitude for my life, my serenity will be easier to maintain.

Thank you to WordPress for an inspiring word today- Journey!

How do you find daily Grace?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Big Picture

I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose. When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds. Ellen DeGeneres

DSC_0139

This is the last week of my job. I feel somewhat in limbo, somewhat emotionally stressed. Soon my life is going to change. Heck, it is changing already.

I have always identified myself by the work I’ve done. Whether I’ve been a business owner, events coordinator, project manager or administrative assistant, my work becomes my persona. It is an extension of me and who I am. Maybe my ego gets tied up in it. I’m sure it does.

DSC_0145Now as I go forward, I leave another job behind me. I put on a different cloak. It identifies me as caretaker to my mom. It feels good to be able to say this. I am leaving to spend time with my mom. This is enough of a purpose for now….though I have a feeling there will be more to come.

Interestingly enough, I have been thinking a lot about ego lately. Quotes have been coming into my view that cause me to think twice. This one caught my eye today- “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. ” (Matthew 6:24)

So true. I am leaving my job for time with my mother. I am also taking time for myself. As I grow closer to God, material things matter less. Money matters less. So far, all that I need has been provided to me. Strangely enough, I am requiring less and less to feel fulfilled. This must be the enormous gift of walking a spiritual path.

Thank you again to my daughter, Michelene for these beautiful pictures of California flowers.

DSC_0163

Do you feel your spiritual purpose? Tell me about it!

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Letting Go…and the God Box

Winter in the Northeast
Winter in the Northeast

The holidays are over and boy, it’s chilly and cold here in the Northeast. I’m trying to get back in the game of Life by settling into a somewhat regular routine. Eating more normally (getting out of that holiday cookie habit is tough!), trying to sleep well, trying to take care of myself.

The holidays don’t take away problems but they do seem to temporarily disappear during that time, don’t they? Or maybe we’re just too busy to care much about them.

When I settled back into my routines, I don’t know if it was tiredness or a bit of winter depression, but a few issues loomed in the background. I began to focus on them, picking them apart, festering and making myself a bit miserable over them.

I tried reading inspirational books and that helped a bit, but it wasn’t really banishing my dark cloud. In a moment of radical desperation, I decided to try an idea I’ve heard from my friends in recovery and from my favorite author, Anne Lamott. I decided to try a God Box.

My God Box
My God Box

At first, I thought I’d try and make myself one. I envisioned finding a small box, making it pretty, then cutting a slot in the top. Then I remembered a heart shaped gift box that my friend, Jeannine had bought me with pretty earrings inside. I wrote a couple of problems, each on its own piece of paper, each summed up in just a few words. I said a prayer, folded up the problems and slipped them into the box.

One issue was solved within a week. I was greatly relieved and very grateful. The other issues are more challenging; God really has his work cut out for himself with those. I know he’s up to the task though and I’m striving to put them in his hands. Letting Go is really the hardest part.

Here’s a great reading I found inside of “Help Thanks Wow”, Anne Lamott’s new prayer book, that hit the nail on the head for me this week: “Even though I often remember my pastor saying that God always makes a way out of no way, periodically something awful happens, and I think that this time God has met Her match- a child dies, or a young father is paralyzed. Nothing can possibly make things okay again. People and grace surround the critically injured person or the family. Time passes. It’s beyond bad. It’s actually a nightmare. But people don’t bolt, and at some point the first shoot of grass breaks through the sidewalk”.

My friend Larry’s funeral was Thursday. I wrote about him in my last blog post. Since his passing, everything else feels insignificant. Life is short and we must remember how special and important each day is. Though we miss Larry and the situation is awful, I know one day we will be walking along and there will be a blade of grass coming up through a crack in the sidewalk. Thank you Anne, for reminding me of this.

There is no problem so big or so small that Faith cannot fix it. If we but get out of the way and Let Go, things will work out.

What are your tools for dealing with problems or issues? What works for you?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

On Heaven, Faith…and Love

DSC_0280

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. Many books, mainly on Heaven and Faith. It has given me much food for thought.

In the last six months or so, I’ve read “Heaven is for Real“, “90 Minutes in Heaven“,  “In the Shadow of a Badge” and I just finished “Proof of Heaven“. Lest you think I am completely off my rocker, I’ve also read “Explosive Eighteen” (I love those Stephanie Plum novels!), just to give my brain a break. And…I’m in the process of finishing “Everything Matters, Nothing Matters” by Gina Mazza and “Help Thanks Wow” by Anne Lamott. Yep, I am steeped in Heaven and Faith lately.

Here’s the hodgepodge of thoughts running through my head about Heaven, Faith and Love.

DSC_00041. It’s all about Love- Unconditional Love. The Universe (God, your Higher Power) loves and cherishes you and me unconditionally. Literally, we can do no wrong. We are forgiven.

2. You and I can have a deep relationship spiritually with the Universe (again God, HP) if we but take some bits of time to connect and feel the spirit deep in our soul. Prayer and Meditation help with this.

3. At the very least, we can have a kitchen sink of faith; the kind that doesn’t answer to any real organized religion. It can be a belief system of our own creation. I think God isn’t really picky. S/He just wants you and I to be happy.

Now, this may not sit well with everyone reading this and that’s ok. I am not aiming to stir up controversy (well, maybe!) but I just want you to THINK a bit.

IMGThat’s what I’m trying to do. THINK a bit. And keep myself open to all that I can learn and feel about God and Faith. There was something I read recently, something that seems too well placed to be just a coincidence. Here it is:

“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action. Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mold and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon”. Judy Chicago

What do you really want? Do you have the courage to ask for and then receive and accept your dream?

I am beginning to realize that I can truly dare to dream on a higher level and a wish can become reality. Or better yet, I can have no idea what would be right for me and dare I stand back and let God choose for me?

Yes, it is a huge leap of faith. And it is not about taking the bull by the horns. It is about stepping back, letting go and allowing Faith to step in and assist.

(Thanks again to my daughter Michelene and my sister Cally for these photos!)

What’s your brand of faith? Share it with me…I’d love to hear about it!

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.
1015