Category Archives: Spiritual Experiences

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.

 

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Unquenchable Thirst

 

And so our troubles, we think, were basically of our own making.

The Big Book 

My blog is almost three years old and I’ve begun to think about it in different terms. I’ve skated around a few issues here and there, but mostly written about the many things that have a positive influence in my life.

Originally when I began, my website URL was Everyday Life in Recovery. Then I switched it to Katherine’s Daughter. I’m ready to share with you what that was all about and why it is still such a huge part of my life.

About eighteen years ago my life changed in a big way. Someone near me made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. It was a profound decision, one that I really didn’t realize the gravity of until much later.

You probably know someone who drinks just a bit too much. Maybe you know someone who overdoes other things too much.  Just for today I’m going to talk about alcohol but you can substitute the words food, gambling, pornography, drugs, sex, video games, control, anger, and money- anything that can be an obsession or fodder for over use. Because what I’ve learned is- addiction is addiction- doesn’t matter what it is.

I’ve read some good stuff on the internet lately about recovery. It is amazing to see people talking about it. The holidays are coming and I used to love and hate the season. It was usually a tension filled time. There were unrealistic expectations on my part. Sometimes depression and anxiety. Controlling situations meant more work and ultimately, more disappointments.

I don’t have the obsession to drink. If I have one or two glasses of wine in a month, that is about it. But since my life is affected by drinkers I go to a twelve step meeting for those who love an alcoholic. To respect the anonymity of my friends, I am not going to divulge any names. To follow the traditions of the program, I’m not going to name the group. You can easily find a twelve step program on the internet.

Going to recovery meetings has affected my life in such a positive way. Members share their experience, hope and strength. No one tells me I should do it this way or that. It is there I learn how not to be absorbed by behaviors or situations around me. I make an effort to mind my own business. I try not to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.

The twelve steps are a calming force in my life. They enable me to have quality relationships with others and with my family. It is work, yes. Even after all these years I still go every week. The biggest thing it helps me with is setting boundaries.

I’ve always been a fixer, a take charge person. And I’ve prided myself on that. And that is something to be proud of unless you prevent someone from hitting their own bottom, or interfere where you shouldn’t. The meetings have taught me where in that line falls.

Now here’s no big secret. I love going to open twelve step meetings where alcoholics meet up. I love when the chairperson reads the promises. I love when the recovering speaker gets to the podium and shares his or her story. Wow. (and it’s usually a whopper). Guess what? It is rarely the bum under the bridge. It is the successful businessman, the hard worker, the mother, the wife, the son or daughter, the CEO of his or her own company. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone.

By the time I leave the meeting I am uplifted. I have often thought that you cannot get closer to God than being in a room full of recovering drunks. Honestly, I so love and respect them. They have taught me so much.

I love the slogans of both programs like “Easy Does It” and “Keep It Simple.” There’s a lot of forgiveness in the rooms, and just as easily, accountability. The alcoholics keep each other sober by sharing experience, hope and strength. They work their own twelve step program. It works when they work it, just as it does for me.

All these years later and I am still in awe of my friends who chose to put the drink down and live life without numbing themselves. Alcohol is so glamorized in tv and media and I can’t help thinking what a monumental task is it to quit. But from what I can see it is worth it. That’s when the living really begins.

 

 

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Is It Odd or Is It….Waffles?

Chocolate Chip Waffle from Bob's Diner

Chocolate Chip Waffle from Bob’s Diner

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous- Albert Einstein

It all started with a phone call.

I called Aunt Joy this morning to see if she wanted to check out the new library. I confess this was our old library, just re-opened in a new spot. They moved in quite a few months ago but it’s been a long winter. I kept telling Aunt Joy, “We’re going to go see that new library.”

Well that day finally came. I called her and asked what was she doing today? She said “Nothing!” So I picked her up and we found the new library. Wow, was it beautiful. Rows of books, quiet, and very nicely decorated.

While I was clipping my new library tag onto my key chain, I noticed a small, strange key with a tag on it. I looked at it more closely and realized it was a key from my former job at Joe’s office. I couldn’t believe, in a whole year of leaving that office, I had not noticed the key. It was kind of an important key, to the drawer in my old desk.

I knew I’d have to drop it off today. Likely, when we were on our way home.

Aunt Joy and I spent some time at the library and then we headed down to the grocery store for a few items. While there she said, “How about lunch?” and of course I said “Sure!”

So we headed to Bob’s Diner, just a stone’s throw away from the grocery store. On the daily special was chocolate chip waffles! I briefly debated the healthy choices (oh sure!) such as grilled chicken salad, etc. but in the end, the waffles won out.

Aunt Joy ordered them too! The waitress said “Do you want whipped cream?” We both said “YES.” 🙂

While we were waiting, in walked my old friend Jeff. Now how did God know that I owed Jeff an amend for something I did lately? (I got ticked at him over a Facebook post recently and deleted his comment!) I got to apologize to Jeff and give him a hug. That was grace on the spot.

Then, I kid you not, in walks Joe, my old boss, and his wife five minutes later. We chatted for a few minutes and I handed him the key to my old desk. I said I was sorry, I didn’t realize I had it. He said he had been looking for it and we both smiled at each other.

Is it odd or is it God? When you have those coincidences that just don’t seem so….coincidental. I know they are a sign. Someone is watching out for me, keeping me on their radar, and helping me out.

Thanks, God!

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The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel book cover

When my grandson Gavin was born, there was really no easy Greek translation of his name. So when he was christened, the baptismal name he was given was Gabriel.

Since then, it has been my wish that the Archangel Gabriel watch over and bless my grandson Gavin. And with that thought, I just couldn’t resist the latest book from Hay House Publishers “The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel.”

The author, Ms. Doreen Virtue, has also written a book on Archangel Michael. In her book on Gabriel, Ms. Virtue goes into a biblical history of the Archangel, beginning with the poetic first words he spoke to Mary, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…..”

From there, the author takes us through chapters of how Gabriel has assisted women through conception and pregnancy, parenting and childhood, and interestingly enough, how the Archangel has affected writers and the way they communicate to others.

For those of us who love to write, Ms. Virtue urges us to press on. “I believe that the desire to write is a signal that it’s part of your life purpose. Those who continually think, I should write, are getting Divine guidance to express heavenly messages through a book, article, blog or other medium. In some cases, Gabriel will suggest journaling or keeping a diary as a way of opening the creative pipelines. Whatever form the writing takes, the process of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is soul- stirring.”

I loved that motivation! This book is encouraging and thoughtful, with beautiful pictures and inspirational stories. If you are looking to further your knowledge of Archangels, this is a great book to add to your collection.

And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

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A Writing Adventure!

In my latest writing adventure, I have been accepted by Hay House Publishing Company as a book reviewer! This is a good feeling for me as not only do I get to stretch my writing chops a bit, I also get to choose which new books I’d like to review! I love it!

In The Shadow of a Badge by Lillie Leonardi

In The Shadow of a Badge by Lillie Leonardi

For my first official book review, I chose Lillie Leonardi’s recent release “In the Shadow of a Badge.” Here’s a bit about the book and my thoughts regarding Lillie’s story.

Ms. Leonardi worked in law enforcement and was the first female responder to the scene at Shanksville on that fateful day of 9/11. She was the Community Outreach Specialist for the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI and as such, was one of the first to witness the crash scene in that lone field. As she surveyed the barrenness of the landscape, she was overwhelmed by what WAS NOT there. There were no bodies and very little left of the plane and crew of Flight 93.

Lillie chronicles her story beautifully, delving into her law enforcement background and the prejudices that women face in such a male dominated field. There was no place for emotion, crying or falling apart by what she saw.

However, as you can imagine, the sheer sight of the crash scene floods all of the checkpoints she had developed to deal with such tragedies and loss. Her emotions overwhelm her as she gazes upon the sight, wondering how anyone could do such a thing in the name of God. Then, a light comes upon the field and a vision unfolds in front of her eyes. A legion of angels appears, led by the Archangel Michael.  “This archangel stood with confidence, radiance, and an aura of leadership. The saber in his hand angled toward the ground in resting mode. I knew instantly this had to be Michael, for in my Catholic upbringing the Archangel Michael had always been depicted as the warrior. He was also known as the guardian of law enforcement.”

When the vision disappears, Lillie wonders if what she saw was real. She asks God to show her a sign that she was not just dreaming. A bible on the ground, barely singed by the flames of the crash, blows opens in a sudden wind. It stops on Psalms 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…..” This is her sign. The confirmation of a miracle.

Lillie holds onto the vision of angels but doesn’t tell anyone about it. For years. Finally she is diagnosed with PTSD and thus begins the long road of recovery stemming from years of denial and fear.

What touched me deeply about this book was the depth Ms. Leonardi was willing to go into her soul to tell this story. She reaches into herself again and again to face her fears and tell her story. Her law enforcement background makes a fascinating read and the effect that 9/11 had on her daughter and young granddaughter is poignant, one that any mother will deeply relate to.

My favorite chapter is entitled “Superwoman Has Left the Room.” Lillie wishes to remove her symbolic uniform and cape and ask her old persona to feel safe to return. As those of us who have been through a life changing experience can attest to, it is through the shedding of our previous self that real healing and spiritual awakening can occur.

I loved the spiritual lift this book gave me. I encourage you to read and enjoy it AND be transformed by it. Here’s the LINK.

And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

Thanks for joining me on my first book review! What are you reading these days?

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After the Storm….Grace

Some of my closest friends and I get together at a lake house in Deep Creek, Maryland every year for a long weekend. We are blessed because one of our friends happens to own a beautiful lake house in Deep Creek and really, we can hardly believe our own good fortune.

So we all gathered at the house, beginning on Friday afternoon. We hung out down by the lake, soaked up the sun, caught up on each others lives. Some of my friends I had not seen since December so I was joyous and happy to be with them.

Usually on the first night we take it easy with dinner. Someone brings a frozen lasagna (yep, we’re real gourmets here), someone brings salad, and so on, including rolls, drinks and the requisite desserts. In this case, dessert was a delicious blueberry pie. You just can’t be without sweets during this lake weekend.

So we heated the lasagna, got dinner on the table and the sky became darker and darker. We moved inside in just enough time and then the storm hit. Thunder, lighting, wind, lots of rain. We kept talking, barely aware of all the nature goings on, until of course, the lights went out a few times. Then, the lights went OUT.

My friend Susan quickly gathered all her candles and lit them. We figured this would be a short inconvenience and heck the candles were so cozy we just laid back, kept talking and waited for the lights to come back on.

Here’s the thing. They never came back on.

Saturday morning we all woke up and still no lights. So we heated water on the stove (thank God it was gas), drank instant Chai and had coffee cake, banana bread and fruit. Some of the girlfriends had signed up for a garden tour so they prepared themselves as best they could (there were numerous jokes about a bad hair day) and off they went.

When they left, I hung out with my buddy, Samantha. We changed into bathing suits, sat on the dock and chatted. Later, I took a short nap, just because I could. I had planned to do dinner on the gas grill that night, so there was no stress about warming anything else up in the oven. It was a luxurious afternoon.

When the garden tour group returned, we were all treated to a long boat ride around the lake. The sky was a real stunner- gorgeous baby blue with fluffy marshmallow clouds. As the sun went down, the rays streamed through the clouds and touched the lake. I looked at my friends on the boat. I looked at the sky. It felt like a spiritual experience.

Here’s the Grace. Despite our lack of electricity, we laughed and had the best time. We lit candles when it got dark. We ran down to the lake with watering cans and empty gallon jugs to fill up with lake water, just so we could flush the toilets. Through all this, there was no complaining, no talk of leaving. We just made the best of it. We used dry shampoo, called ourselves Pioneer Women and slept with flashlights.

By Sunday afternoon, we reluctantly packed up our bags. It is never easy to leave the lake house and I think that each time we get together, it almost becomes harder to say good bye. We so enjoy each others company, love and accept each other so completely, and we know that our friendship is a true gift.

Truly…..Grace from God.

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God Between the Clouds

There was a time when I was afraid of storms. As a little girl, I remember hiding my head under the covers whenever lighting and thunder would strike. I remember telling my kids when they were little that, during storms, God was bowling, just so they wouldn’t be afraid.

Last night, after a whole day in the Pittsburgh suburbs of sun and clouds and clouds and sun, the clouds finally won out. Around 6:30pm, it started to storm. I was meeting some friends at 7:15 and took Route 30 just when the sun was going down and the clouds were letting up.

The sky was so stunning I couldn’t help but stop at a small church and take pictures from the parking lot. Hope you enjoy the shots as much as I did.

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