Tag Archives: spirituality

The Quest for Perfection

More Webs

“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
Bob Marley

I have been thinking alot about perfection lately. What I have been thinking about it would probably surprise you. At this ripe age of 57, I am relieved to find that I have very little interest anymore in being a perfectionist.

Why? Perfection is usually unachievable and based on perception. What I may think is perfect, you may not. And what you may think is perfect, I may not. To the degree that we differ, what lies in that gray area? (probably a big difference of opinion)

I will tell you this. I believe that only what is created by nature and the universe is rooted in perfection. When I look at the magnificent sky every day, a honeybee on my basil plant, the face of a new born baby, I know this is perfection. The sun, moon, and stars are perfection. The dew on the morning grass is too.

So what does this awareness do for me? It releases me from the quest of having to do things over and over, ad nauseam. It also gives me the permission to apologize- which I do fairly frequently- without guilt. After all, I am not perfect.

What this isn’t is an excuse. It is not a reason to not try harder; I must be alittle more diligent about my health, attentive to my family, and nicer and kinder to wait staff at restaurants. If I am to be a spiritual being living a human life, I need to not forget that all living creatures are deserving of unconditional love and respect.

Two people passed away that I knew in the last week. Yes, it was sad. I went to the funeral of Margaret (yiayia Teta) this past Monday. There was something at the luncheon afterwards that blew me away. Yiayia had nine grandsons. Seven of them were there. Before we all ate, they stood in a line and said their favorite yiayia memories. It was unforgettable.

I couldn't help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

I couldn’t help taking this picture. Gorgeous- all of them.

These were truly kleenex moments. What I loved best was each one of them said that yiayia told him he was her favorite. I need to remember that. It is priceless.

At the funeral before the luncheon, I actually listened to the words of the priest. He did most of the service in English and I don’t remember hearing SO much of it ever before. He said basically, you can’t take it with you. Wow, you really can’t.

I was reminded (again) this week how fleeting life is. It is over in the blink of an eye. Why waste another moment on the relentless pursuit of perfection, unless it’s the God created variety? My friend Shelly gave me a little plaque once that said “Good Enough is Really Good Enough.” It was the (haha!) perfect gift. I got it out the other day and set it on my dresser. It’s a good time to be reminded of it.

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Michael J. Fox

 Don’t forget to check out my sharings on the Orthodox Christian Network.

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Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper

“From the clear center of my heart, there are no edges to my loving you. I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another, but if there were no wall, what need of installing a window?” – Rumi

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

So begins Chapter 1 of The Heart of the Matter: A Simple Guide to Discovering Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper by Dr. Darren R. Weissman and Cate Montana, M.A. , a beautiful book in theory but a challenge to work through none the less.

I found it interesting that the authors believe that most aches, pains, diseases and emotional suffering are gifts in strange wrapping paper. They are messages to discovering the truth of who we are. There are some stories and examples given that illustrate how early traumatic incidences can have deep emotional roots in our subconscious.

The theory is to learn that these symptoms are not personal in any way, but rather spiritual in every way; they are wake- up calls to alert us to evolve to our fullest potential.

Do I agree with this? Tentatively, yes. I have to say that I think many illnesses are stress related and triggered by old emotions we have no conscious awareness of.

The book identifies a way to work through uncomfortable problems and just about every situation. It’s the See Feel Hear Challenge. I’m not going to give it all away but basically the authors teach us how to slowly allow ourselves a way in which to face and work through anything that is causing us pain or discomfort. No crazy stuff, just good old fashioned introspection- and a whole lot of courage.

My favorite section is on setting an intention. This is something I am trying to do more of lately and the book describes the process in very good detail and easy to understand directions.

Other chapters are on responsibility and the freedom to choose, social conditioning, addiction and compulsions and some other challenging subjects. If you are looking for a book to guide yourself into the next spiritual plane, this one may be exactly what you are looking for.

And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. 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.

There are some other reviews of this book on Amazon.com.

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Peace on the Farm

NC Mist

How have you been? Here in my neck of the woods, the days are slowly getting shorter. It is dark in the morning until after 7am and the leaves are slowly falling from the trees.

I took a quick trip to my sister Mary’s house (farm, really) last week and spent two lovely days in North Carolina. One highlight of the trip was Starr’s food. Dinner on the first night was black eyed peas, collard greens, carrots, homemade mac/cheese, and fresh baked bread. If you think this was amazing you are right.

Dinner on day two was homemade pizzas and salad. Delicious.

I got acquainted with the six dogs of the farm but I have to tell you about my absolute favorite. It was Emma- the Emmanator– as Mary has fondly dubbed her.

Emma 2Mary rescued Emma as a pup from a hot car (Go Mary) and ended up being her new owner. Emma has doubled in size in a few months and is just a ball of energy. From the moment I walked into the farmhouse, Emma squealed to visit with me and I couldn’t help but indulge her in as much attention as I could.

It was a tempting thought to stash Emma in the car with us and bring her on home to PA. But Mary loves her and I’d never argue with a dog to owner kind of love. Plus, Emma would likely exhaust me as she has a way to go before some of that puppy wears off!

Other things I did in NC…. two trips to the best Goodwill store ever (in Mocksville, NC) yielded me two new comfortable tops, a Christmas red tablecloth for $3, a gorgeous fall scarf for $1. What woman doesn’t love a bargain?

I had a great lunch with my webmaster Susan at my favorite Winston Salem restaurant- Sweet Potatoes. I chose the grilled turkey burger with cranberry mayo and of course, a side of sweet potato fries. Susan and I kicked a few ideas around and got to chat like good friends!

On the morning of our departure, Mary and I walked the dogs down a long path that runs adjacent to her property. Corn stalks had recently been cut down and the field was wide open. The sun was coming up and it was a scene right out of a movie. A glowing sky, the multiple colors of a sunrise, and even a cloud formation that evoked a bit of a spiritual presence filled my heart with a calm and serenity. I knew these blessings were a good reason to live on a farm.

Cloud Cross

So I’m back home now, reminiscing about my time in North Carolina. Even when it’s only for a few days, it’s great to just get away….

Horse NCHow are things with you? Are you busy, slow, doing anything autumn-y with yourself?

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

I went to a wedding not so long ago and when the thank you note for the gift arrived, it was a picture of the bride and groom holding a sign that said “thank you.” It was nice but there was no personalization, no signature, just the picture. My heart sank a bit as I thought this was yet another symptom of our too busy lives. Were thank you notes becoming a thing of the past?

So it gave my heart a lift when my husband shared this story with me recently. He said, “There are days when it is terrible to be a nurse in the ER. We see some of the same people over and over again, who do nothing different for their own conditions, and yet they expect us to fix it immediately. I get tired and worn out and wonder for what purpose I am here.”

On one particular day Jim headed back to his station and there was a clasp envelope laying on his desk. When he opened it, there were three thank you notes inside. They were from the children of a woman he worked with; they had all come to Jim’s Honey Party and had participated in spinning the combs and witnessing the delicious, sticky honey that had come from that experience.

The notes expressed gratitude and warmed my husband’s heart. He told me, “It was a great moment to realize that I had made a difference in someone’s life.” I am guessing those little notes restored Jim’s faith in himself and the reason he is here on earth.

I have several boxes of pretty thank you cards and I try and remember to thank people who have given me a gift. But I also try and send a thank you for no reason other than to acknowledge someone else’s loving act of kindness. Recently, my aunt and uncle took me to Chicago for a wedding. They came to my doorstep and picked me up. We spent the entire, wonderful weekend together. Afterwards I wrote them a thank you note because not only did I have an amazing time, but I got to know their teen grandchildren a whole lot better and realized what totally beautiful kids they are.

A few years ago when I was beginning my spiritual journey, I decided to keep a gratitude journal. I wrote a few things down each night I was grateful for. It could be something that happened that day, or a quality I had come to recognize in myself or others. After pages and pages of gratitude, a shift in my thinking occurred. I realized the gift of every day life.

I save most all of the thank you notes I receive. There is a shoe box in my closet where I have amassed a collection of notes I’ve received over the years. There are hallmark cards, handwritten notes, some large and some small, but that box serves a purpose. Whenever I am feeling down, I reach for it. I pull out the cards and read them one by one. By the time I am done, my faith in myself is restored.

*The thank you note on the window sill says, “Thank you for giving my shoes back. I liked playing with Jake. A bee is flying.” (sweet!)

Have you ever received a thank you note that you just never forgot? Tell me about it!

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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!

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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!)

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Keeper of the Secrets

There was a time, long ago when I was not so great at keeping confidences. Actually, I was terrible at it. I grew up (like all young women?) loving a good juicy secret, whether it was true or not. And sometimes the details were just too irresistible to check out thoroughly before I passed them along. Whether I could help myself or not, I managed to get a great deal of pleasure from talking about others’ problems and Good Lord, the mess these people made of their lives.

Meanwhile, I was the one later who had a mess of a life going on….

Enter my friends, the ones who I latched onto when I really set out to work on myself spiritually. These friends taught me to mind my own business and respect the privacy of others. It took some time but eventually I overcame the urge to talk about people behind their backs (or to their face!). This was nothing short of a miracle. And, I have to say, it’s hard work. I needed (and still need) to remember that talking about others devalues me, disrespects a confidence and if I think well enough of myself, I don’t need to talk down about others to build myself up.

While my friends were teaching me about privacy and respect of others, they taught me something about secrets. Through their own generous acts of respect, they listened to my secrets and kept them as confidences. This was another miracle. It was a great leap of faith to talk about things that I was keeping inside of me, things that threatened at times to seriously bring me down. But here they were, listening…..and loving me anyway….secrets and all.

The upside, the greatest reward to all of this is that people now trust me with their own secrets. They know when they tell me something intimate, it will not go any further than my own ears. This is God’s Great Grace, I believe, to have been given the gift of confidential and respectful listeners and then, to be able to pay it forward.  I gave my secrets to others and now, I have been chosen by a few close friends to be their Keeper of the Secrets.

So I listen to stories of troubled pasts from my comrades, bits and pieces that represent good (and not so good) portions of their lives. When I do this listening, I am silently loving and praying for them. They tell me their shortcomings and again, I love them anyway. Things they suffer from shame about, things they think no one could love them through… and yet I love them even more. I am not sure why this spiritual work has been given to me but perhaps I am not here to question it. My responsibility is to continue to love and accept unconditionally those who choose to confide in me.

This trust, this confidence speaks volumes to me. I will never, ever take it for granted. Again, it is an opportunity to pay back over and over the great gifts that have been given to me. The gifts my friends gave me so freely, way back when I knew not what their real value was.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung

Thank you again to Cally Jamis Vennare, for these beautiful pictures!

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A Hug of Grace

I grew up around my Greek grandma, my yiayia, who loved to give triple kisses. She would lean down, grab my head, turn my cheek to her lips and fire off three rocket-like kisses in a row. Then she’d mutter something sweet in her native Greek language and you knew you were really something special.

When I went to Greece, everyone there kissed you on both cheeks, whether they knew you or not. Usually they added a hug as well. No wonder the Greeks are known for their warm hospitality.

In this age of social media and detached conversations, I wonder if people are still touching, still hugging and kissing? And I mean in a friendly, I LOVE YOU, kind of way.

Last week, I read a story and saw a picture on the internet (which actually turned out to be from 1995) that almost stopped my heart. It was an image of two very small twins and one had her arm around the other. Apparently the one twin had not been doing well and a nurse fought to put the other twin in the incubator with the ailing one. When placed together, the one stronger twin swung her arm over the other more fragile one. The fragile baby stabilized and lived. I think this speaks volumes about the power of touch. Touch has the power to heal, to say I care about you, or even to say I’m with you on this.

These days, touching can be greatly misconstrued. It is a sad state of affairs sometimes when it’s done for the wrong reasons or when it gets out of hand. But I still believe in a warm embrace, a loving hug, a kiss bestowed as a valentine. I believe that we as humans crave touch, yearn for closeness and wish for connection. Hugs and kisses are an expression of our innate yearning to bond with our fellow human beings.

My husband Jim and I are cuddlers. Even now, while I’m still on the last edges of menopause, I lean against him in bed or touch my hot feet to his cool ones! Thankfully, he is a hugger and loves to snuggle.

Recently, Jim needed a small surgery on his knee. It was outpatient surgery and I hung out in the waiting room until they told me I could go sit with him. He was very groggy from the anesthesia so I didn’t say much. I sat down on the chair next to his bed and softly laid my hand on top of his. Sitting patiently, I waited for him to come around. I knew just touching his hand spoke volumes and words were not really necessary.

A touch, sometimes, is all it really takes.

Thanks to WordPress, for giving me an opportunity to show off one of my favorite posts!

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Writing, Faith….and Chocolate Truffles

I took the brave step this past weekend of creating a Facebook page to go with my Katherine’s Daughter blog. Now I will admit, I am a fan of technology but not a brave one. I hesitantly step along (almost as if I am walking through a lawn laced with dog poo) tap tap tapping on my new fancy cell phone, adding clever things to my blog (note the Goodreads section), occasionally tweeting and all the while doubting whether I am doing things right or not.

Note: I have to blame my weekend Facebook/Blog adventure on my sister Mary. She encourages me, so believes in me (Cally too, but Mary is a real motivator!), that sometimes when I talk to her, I think I am Superwoman.

So Saturday morning, with coffee cup in hand, I began to create the Facebook page. Within a half hour, I became instantly overwhelmed. I wondered if I did it wrong, wondered if I should be doing it at all, blah blah blah, Good Lord, what am I possibly thinking!! Jim, sensing my oncoming headache, offered to take me out to lunch. I said yes. Thank goodness, for Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and those delicious wings.

When I returned, I bravely checked my Facebook page. To my amazement, my friends were slowly starting to LIKE me (thank you!!). Just like Sally Field, they LIKED ME! I am feeling much better now and, thankfully, not so overwhelmed. Also, my daughter’s paramour gave her a delicious box of chocolate truffles that I must admit, seem to smooth out all those rough edges of worry and moments of insanity.

The Yummy Truffles!

If you are wondering why I am doing all this- the blog, the writing, the Facebook- I will tell you this…I am really not sure. All I am sure of is… I am following my dream of writing to you. I want to share my thoughts, inspire and walk hand in hand with you while we both look for the Grace and Love that is present in our everyday life. It’s here and I can feel it.

That said, I am not good at self promotion. You will not see me pushing you to read, share or even comment on my blog posts or Facebook page. That is up to you. If you decide to do those things, I admit they are meaningful to me because it means I have touched a cord within you.

I’m just going to have Faith that I am going in the right direction. I will keep going, one day at a time….and…. I’m taking a few of those truffles with me! Thanks for walking along and being a part of it all!

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The Graces of Sisterhood

Graces

1.Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.

2. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.

3.The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.

4. An excellence or power granted by God.

 I have been wanting to write about my two sisters for some time now. There are those ideas, as I’m sure other writers will attest to, that are just challenging to put into words. But here and now I’m going to try and describe the feelings I have for my two sisters.

L to R, Joanne, Mary, Cally

First, just bit of background. Mary is two years younger than me. When we were growing up, she and I played Batman together, rode Schwinn bikes together, fought and protected each other. Today she is an entrepreneurial, forward thinking, loving woman who makes time for anyone and any good mission or project. Cally is four years younger than me. I remember her as a child, but just barely. I am sure I protected her, watched over her, as my father often reminded me of my caretaker and role model responsibilities. Cally is soft and quiet but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t step up to the plate. She is quite the leader, eloquent writer and artistic creator.

I think the three of us are a blend of my father’s outstanding leadership qualities and our mother’s (Katherine) wisdom, strength and great Grecian- inherited event planning skills. How very lucky we are to have been so blessed!

It was not until the three of us left for college that I felt how really close we were. Though separated by distance, we would come together at holidays and on special occasions. As we got older, we shared our life experiences, our trials and tribulations of growing up. We have not agreed upon everything but we respect and support each other. I think we make a great team, bouncing ideas off each other and managing some good retail therapy when we have a chance to be together.

There is no denying that now, the relationship between us is very strong. I found a quote by Susan Ripps in which she says “There is no outsider anywhere who wouldn’t appreciate and even envy the tremendous advantage that sisters have, if properly utilized, against all odds”. How true!

At the Base of the Acropolis!

God must certainly have Grace in mind when he creates sisters.  Divine love, the state of being protected, and power to support, love and care for each other. When I found the definition of Graces in Wikipedia (in my opening), somehow it was just perfect for describing my relationship to my sisters.

Do you have a sister? Whether she is blood related or not, sisterly bonds can last forever. I can think of several people who I feel special enough about to call them sisters. Tell me in comments below what your sister(s) mean to you. I’d love to hear about it!

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