The Highest Form of Wisdom

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I was working at the Jewish temple when I first saw the words. “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” was a quote from the Talmud. Later, I found those same words, artistically drawn on a plaque no less, at a common home goods store. I purchased it and it is hanging in my mudroom at this very moment.

Why does this quote mean so much to me?

Because it reminds me that though others may not be right about something, it is not always necessary for me to point this out to them.

For instance, Jim and I miscommunicated last week over a small matter. I knew I was right (of course) and he did the quick two step to try and cover up his own bad memory. On the spot, I decided it would do no good to hammer him about it or rub it in,  so instead I decided to try a little humility. I said “Wow, I guess I completely forgot I said that to you”, thereby diffusing a tense situation and practicing kindness in the act.

And Jim, ever the good example of humankind said “Well Jo, that’s probably just how I remembered it.”

Now I know you’re going to say that some things are just worth arguing about and I agree. But there are times when I ask myself truly, is it worth it? Maybe I make a great argument for a point about something and rub my ego shiny in the process. But then what do I do with that? I am the fluffed up rooster, crowing my accomplishments and I forget about what’s really important.

What’s really important is that I treat everyone as if they are a child of God.

So this means I am respectful. I am kind. I try and look at another person’s perspective and if theirs doesn’t agree with mine, that’s ok. I will love them anyway. If another person’s bad behavior affects me, I can set some decent boundaries. But I never want to not be kind about it.

My recovery friends like to say Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? It’s basically the same thing as the Talmud but I do love this more simplified version. It’s worth it sometimes to give in just a little, for a center full of happiness.

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”
Anne Lamott

How do you feel about kindness? Who do you practice kindness towards?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Ah…..Summer!

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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”  Ray Bradbury

There are flowers everywhere in my yard, and I am just loving it.

Our honeybees are pollinating the roses, larkspur, daisies, sweet peas, pansies, AND…there are green tomatoes in the garden! The tomato flowers are multiplying each day, as if by magic.

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Ah….summer…..

Yes, it is finally summer in Pennsylvania. The sun is up early, around 5:30am, making its presence known through the (supposedly) room darkening shades in my bedroom. I don’t mind one bit, being wakened by the morning light….

It’s as if summer beckons me to rise, get up, come, let Jordan out, and enjoy my morning cup of coffee in the back yard. I usually give in.

There is so much grace in summertime. Summer invites me to relax, unwind, rest and reflect. Also to make some plans for this fall (wink wink), which I am working on and will tell you about soon.

Here are some other summertime graces I’m in love with:

The birds are singing early in the morning, their chorus loud, clear and happy.

The grass is so lush and green and filled with clover.

Fifteen hours of daylight is almost sinful, decadent and oh so awesome.

DSC_0022The chickens are loving the warm weather, the freedom to move about and scratch the ground for delicious bugs.

I can hear dogs barking and kids playing while I open the windows to the evening’s cool breeze.

The lightning bugs are like tiny twinkle lights when they light up my field at night (blink blink blink).

Thank goodness it’s only June. Many more days of summertime grace to enjoy.

Thank you to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

Are you in summertime? If so, what graces are you enjoying?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Grace at the Source

Farmer's Table 1

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” -Brillat-Savarin

The picture above is not out of a story book- it is for real. If you look closely, you’ll see tables of people at the V of the stone wall. It is right there that my friend Cathy and I had our first Farm to Table dinner.

We were at Manchester Farms and Left Bower Farm in beautiful Avella, Pennsylvania. The farmhouse is from the early 1800’s and is a real stunner.

I read about Jacob Mains and his Farm to Table dinners recently in our local newspaper. I was immediately smitten and am actually trying to figure out a way for us to work together (more about that on another post!) given my background in events planning. After reading about the dinner, I recruited my organic loving friend Cathy to go with me to our first ever farm sourced food event.

Farmer's Table 2What unfolded was an amazing evening under a blue summer sky. Vegetables that had only been picked out of the ground earlier that day were served beautifully on a white plate, exhibiting all their natural qualities. Diced beets, roasted turnips, kale, cabbage and fresh lettuce greens were featured, as was a delicious dairy cheese. There were yummy meatballs made with beef right from the farm. And to top it all off, a dessert of vanilla creme, topped with fresh berries from the farm next door. And did I mention the cookie? A delicious butter cookie made with butter from the farm was nestled into the dessert. Yes, I broke up the cookie in little pieces and dipped it into the vanilla creme and strawberries!

Cathy and I had to pinch ourselves several times as we met some amazing people. From Jacob and his parents, to Margie and Dave the farm owners, to the talkative radio station owner we sat next to, we were just in awe of the entire evening and the karma of the whole night.

Jacob and his Grandfather
Jacob and his Grandfather

There is something magical about eating outside, among beautiful surroundings, with happy people and enjoying food that is minimally handled and served in its natural grace. When bounty is pulled from the ground and nourishes us heart and soul, there is something very fulfilling and joyful about that experience.

I hope you live in an area where you have access to a farm or farmer’s markets. Please make an effort to support CSA- Community Supported Agriculture– when available. This dinner was an amazing event, one that I hope I will experience again and again!

Thank you to Drew Nicholas for sharing these photos with me!

What’s your favorite farmer’s market or place to buy locally sourced food?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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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

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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.

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

Join me on my graceful journey.
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On Heaven, Faith…and Love

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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.
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Expect a Miracle

Photo by Joe Indovina
Photo by Joe Indovina

God is such a show off….Anne Lamott

In a recent development, a close friend of mine has lost her job. I saw Phyllis at a gathering recently and couldn’t help sharing my own experience with job loss. Is it humiliating? Yes. Do you wonder if you should have done something differently? Yes. Does this mean they didn’t like you? (well, we really didn’t say that but we thought it!)

My period following a job loss several years ago actually turned out to be one of the best times of my life. Some financial compensation provided me with enough income to get by and thankfully, I received a job offer that didn’t start for a few months. It was a blessing. I took advantage of the time by doing whatever it was that I had always wanted to do but never had the time for. I went to Florida with friends on a winter vacation (cheap, because one friend of a friend had a time share), cooked great dinners (Jim loved this part), and read lots of great books. I also hung out with my very favorite friends.

I tried to be encouraging to Phyllis but I know it is still tough. It’s so scary, job loss; it touches all your survivor emotions and then some. I’ve been praying ever since for Phyllis to get a brand new job she just loves.

Meanwhile a close friend sent me a text that she knew someone who had a Christmas tree to give away. Cathy said “Do you know anyone who could use a tree?”. I sent a text to Phyllis and she graciously accepted the gift. How’s that for something sweet?

Last night I said to another friend, “I love to stand back and see what God will do”. Because God is magnificent in her execution. I hold the football and she runs forward and kicks the crap out of it. All we have to do is believe. It will be more than just a Christmas tree for Phyllis, I’m sure of it.

Anne Lamott likes to say “God is such a show off”. It’s true. If we but ask then wait for the gifts, amazing things will come about. Miracles occur every day and I’m spoiled…I’ve just come to expect them.

Is there anyone special you know who needs a miracle? Mention their name here (just a first name is fine) and we’ll all send it up to the heavens…

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Take a Walk with Me

I know how busy you are…this will take just a minute.

After years of going to Cook Forest, I discovered a hidden treasure, a jewel of a place, within the Forest itself.

I want to share it with you. It’s called the Forest Cathedral.

Come….let’s walk.

Told you it would be quick! Now, aren’t you glad you joined me?

Blessings to you and especially to my Cook Forest friends!

(All photos taken by me, Katherine’s Daughter!)

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Reach for the Sky

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Beautiful Sky

I am in love with the sky. And though I love a perfectly blue sky, I am even more captivated by a sky that is filled with white clouds and different depths and shades of blue.

God must have certainly had something in mind when he created the Sky. I wonder what he was thinking? Maybe he imagined the perfect backdrop to whatever landscape might be in our line of sight. Think of the perfectness of it behind weddings, picnics, farm houses, and even your house.

Hello Morning Sky!

Sometimes in our work and personal life we will say (when motivated) “Reach for the Sky!”. What does the saying mean to you? To me, it means aim high, achieve your dreams, go for the top….

But maybe, just maybe, it means something more. Perhaps it means stop, take a moment, and use the “powers to be” that are out there in the universe. Could we possibly use  “Reach for the Sky” as a means of channeling the power greater than ourselves for peace and serenity?

Imagine it. Reach for the Sky….for peace of mind…..Reach for the Sky…for answers…..Reach for the Sky….when feeling restless, lonely or troubled…

Perhaps the Sky is a true gift of Grace. Certainly it contains the air we breathe and the weather that gives us rain or shine. But I believe it is more. For me, it has become one of the tools I use to ground myself in times of stress. I will sit outside in quiet, close my eyes, and allow the sun, moon or stars to envelope me and in turn, calm me. The Sky will literally take my cares away and leave behind a feeling of peace and serenity.

I’m going to share a couple more of my favorite Sky photos with you. I hope you become convinced, as I have, there is a great deal more to the Sky than just a pretty backdrop!

Photos by Michelene Cain
Join me on my graceful journey.
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