So, here we are, on our trip around the sun, near the end of another year on this glorious blue ball we call earth. This time each year we reflect on the past 12 months, while also looking to the new year with hope and expectations. Just like every day, we get to start over again, fresh, each year trying to get it right.
I’m imagining, like you, we’ve all had our share of ups and downs in 2022. Some more than others. But, as I move along in these golden years, I’m reminded to look at them differently and take on a different perspective. I’ve learned to ebb and flow more freely these days through whatever unfolds. I can’t say it’s easy, but I feel grace in it. Grace that seems to match however great the need. I’ve read a few times that with God there is no order of difficulty.
“Bring your mind inside your heart and the world will not trouble you.” ~~ Mooji
Throughout the year, I’ve seen neighbors challenged with cancer, friends dealing with death, family at crossroads with life choices. I’ve been there and I’m trying to be there for them while the world appears to be unstable in these times. But it’s not that it hasn’t happened before. When the next time comes around and similar events pop up, I think what I’ve learned is we get another chance to do it differently that hopefully will put us on the right path for how this life works.
Something else I’ve learned is not to automatically react to life situations but to pause to notice what I’m feeling in the moment. If I pause long enough, instead of reacting, maybe another choice will present itself. Amazing, how that happens to work out more often. And I’ve also discovered that if health issues show up, I can look to the inside for answers as well as work with my resources on the outside.
From Rainier Maria Rilke in “Letters to a Young Poet”:
"I want to beg you be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves. The point is to live everything. Live the questions and now perhaps you will find them. Perhaps you will then gradually without noticing it live along some distant day into the answer.”
Life is beautiful in all its many shapes and forms. You can’t get it wrong. Even the lowest parts are gifts that put us in touch with what’s important and force us to look for something beyond our reality. Laugh, cry, get mad – but feel and embrace all of it, instead of react, and you’ll find it will take you to another place. Be kind to yourself in that place and you’ll remember who you are. Then, you will begin to know your path.
We’re just passengers on this living blue vessel, as it keeps floating on course no matter what is happening — steadily ticking along. We will be at the end of our journey before we know it and events and challenges can help us make changes that really count. It’s a beautiful life and it’s a beautiful journey.
Happy New Year, my friends, and God bless you on your next journey around the sun.
Copper pennies found in parking lot – Photo by Jim Ruppel 9-25-22
Shiny pennies. Never thought much about them until the other day, when I stepped out of my parked car and noticed 2 of them shining brightly on the asphalt. They drew my attention and the thought that immediately popped in my head was of something Wayne Dyer said years ago. “. . . symbols of abundance.”
When I noticed that thought, I felt an immediate connection and was drawn to them. Almost, like they jumped up from the ground saying, “Pick me up!” “Pick me up!”. Sounds silly, I know. But, after living these many years, I’ve learned not to ignore those little God winks. Turns out, a couple of days later, that little thought became a reality.
I have a craft shop online where I sell pinecones I collect from our property. I had a bumper crop in 2020 and collected over 2,000 pinecones, washed, baked, painted and some dipped in beeswax as fire starters. I kept them stored and ready to sell and ship out to anyone interested in pinecones for a project they were doing.
I would get a buyer now and then, especially over the holidays, or for weddings. So, they were not moving in large quantities, and I was okay with that. My pinecones and me have a “love affair” going on and I am attached to them. They have an energy to them that I feel and a life, particularly when watching them close up and open after washing them and dry in the hot sun.
Pinecones from my Colorado mountain backyard.
But, after picking up the pennies and noting the thought about “symbols of abundance”, something started to happen. I was getting orders left and right and not for a dozen here and there. It was for 75 and 100 pinecones at a time.
I remember telling my husband, after shipping out the first couple of orders in one day that it was the best day I ever had. Then, the next day, I got three orders in the morning and 2 more in the evening. I never had so much business. I was wondering if I could keep everything straight but soon discovered I still had those old secretary skills.
I even had one order where a gal wanted to use them as treats for her hamsters and rabbits. So, we worked it out that, for a discount, she would buy my broken and wonky ones and have treats for her animals and I wouldn’t have to throw out broken pinecones. Turned out to be a win-win for both of us.
Within several days, I sold out. It seemed to all happen in a flash. For a while, I had all those pinecones covered in boxes and storage containers, and now, they were all gone. It was a little miracle and comes every day in one form or another, if I notice.
I know it’s been almost a year since I last posted. Not a lot going on for a retired couple in their mid to late ’70’s, just rolling along enjoying each day and each other as it unfolds. So, there hasn’t been a lot to write about until this event and, guess you could say, inspiration came along with it. I listened to that little nudge this time and decided to write about it.
Thank you for reading and hope you are safe and well.
Merry Christmas everyone and wish for you a loving and happy New Year in 2022! I hope you have been well this year and, in spite of perhaps some ups and downs, life has been good to you. Here we are and to everything there is a season and this is the time to celebrate life and each other.
It has taken me all year to write, and I wanted to connect with you before the year ends. For me, it’s been a good year and I hope it has been the same for you given the challenges and obstacle courses we’ve had to maneuver. For me, it mostly has been a year of reorientation to regroup from 2020, the pandemic and the world in general.
I’ve found myself more in observation mode wondering where my place is in it all and I haven’t, until lately, found the words to write. There has been a feeling of ebbs and flows each day, as they unfold, not only in my personal life but in the lives of those around me and beyond. I have sensed a shift, though subtle, and notice the changes in me and my life as I practice love and being in the present moment.
How do I put into words what is going on in my life and throughout 2021? And how can that mean anything to you? I won’t attempt to catch you up in it all in this one post. But, in the past year-plus, we’ve had babies born in our family (our first great-grandson) and 2 great-nephews born to our niece and niece’s daughter – babies, such a fresh addition to life, joy of innocence and hope for the future.
We’ve also had loved ones and distant friends die while others are challenged with health issues. Life keeps nudging us along on this ride and we’re high one moment and then it gets messy the next. All the while, I feel we’re not alone.
But then, what better time than at Christmas is there to reflect and feel the spirit of love. The season gives us that opportunity to pause in our busy lives and take time to write a card or call a friend. It draws us closer in attempts to celebrate longtime traditions, though different, that still have meaning for connection when we haven’t had the time nor felt the need any other time of the year.
There is a strong stirring of spirit this time of year and a holiness, if you can quiet your mind long enough to hear it. I believe this time of year people want and try to be kinder in the midst of annoyances, cancellations and Covid restrictions. The expectations we put on each other are high but so is the spirit of this season to help us remember what is important. Just pull yourself away from the party or TV show and step outside one of these evenings and look up in the sky. Breathe in all the awesomeness and beauty that’s always there waiting for us to notice.
God bless you – everyone. I’m still here and wish you love and joy this beautiful Christmas season and a New Year full of new adventures and surprises.
I’m wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Here we are nearing the end of 2020 and feeling the familiar spirit of love and giving, as we pause to celebrate life with all faiths and peoples around the world.
It’s been different and certainly painful for many, as I’ve watched and felt it through the days and months of 2020. It’s as if we’re struggling to break free and transform into something unlike anything we’ve ever known, like a caterpillar and butterfly. We haven’t quite accomplished it yet and we’re still in the breaking-free part. It’s hard to determine what any of this is about while still struggling in the cocoon of challenges. It feels like traveling along a foggy highway and cautiously moving along but can’t see what’s ahead of us.
There is a shift in the heavens and an alignment of the planets with the ushering in of this year’s Winter Solstice. As we watch Jupiter and Saturn rendezvous, while making another trip around the sun on Earth, the shift and alignment is going on in us, too.
Things no longer look the same nor work in the same way. No matter how bad we want it to go back to the way it was, it all seems so confusing and chaotic but I can’t help but believe there’s always hope. It’s part of the Christmas story handed down so many years ago.
I recently came across one of my old journals where I wrote thoughts about things that were going on in my life some years ago. I must have been reaching for hope and drawing on some inner peace and you may think that ‘all is well’ is last thing you can relate to at this time. But, it caught my attention, while I was reflecting on my girlfriend and her husband’s challenges, both going through cancer at the same time and in their ’80’s.
Here are my entries and I hope they help you reach for hope and draw on your own inner peace right where you’re at and whatever may be going on in your life at this very moment. There is something bigger at work this 2020, no matter what it looks like, and there’s always hope.
All is Well
The feeling when you breathe in that fresh, crisp air on a cool, fall evening and see the stars twinkling . . .all is well.
When your puppy licks your hand and you can feel it’s cold, wet nose on your leg . . .all is well.
When you’ve worked hard all day and come home to the ones you love and love you . . .all is well.
You all know those moments, those times, when all the challenges and struggles of life are worth it. And they’re more than we realize. Somehow, it’s like we’re trained to only give credence to those things that make life hard, as if we need to pass an initiation to an important club.
But, if we would only take time to look around at the precious moments in life that pass through and mean so much with very little effort. How it touches your heart. Oh, the laughter of a child, when he’s being tickled – so much to notice – so much love – just for us to enjoy . . . no charge.
Life shouldn’t be so hard. I think we make it hard so we feel like we’ve accomplished something. But, life just happens whether you’re making it hard or easy. It just happens. Sooo . . .
The taste of a cold, fresh glass of orange juice . . .all is well.
A phone call from an old friend you haven’t heard from for years . . .all is well.
You smell a sweet fragrance of perfume or food cooking and flash back to a childhood memory . . .all is well.
Your husband takes your hand in the movie . . .all is well.
Your baby took his first step . . .all is well.
See, there is so much around us to be thankful for, to feel good about. Maybe, if we concentrated more on the good that is happening, rather than the bad, then when we are faced with a real difficult challenge, we would handle it better and be able to move through it faster and be more open to learn from it.
But, somehow, it seems more appropriate to bring attention to our crisis so we have something more in common to talk about. It’s awkward and we’re looking for comfort – a safe place to land. But, did you notice there are not many people listening. They would much rather hear about something that feels good and distracts them from their own challenges.
Imagine with me, if you will, floating up in space and, as you do, panning out and looking back at that big, beautiful blue ball we call home – suspended there – slowly and silently moving on course. Tell me, in the bigger picture of things taking in all that, you can’t say, “All is well!?”
God bless you this Christmas holiday season. Remember you are never alone as you walk this path of your journey. That is hope . . . that is the spirit of Christmas.
I watch and observe what’s playing out these days in governments, politics and the media and I ask myself, “Isn’t there a better way?” Whether we’re in the era of gladiators, Civil War or pandemic, the scenarios are different but the human dilemma is the same. It’s the powerful versus the powerless. Each side digs in until they get enough support to overcome the other side and then, when they succeed, they proceed to reign over the rest but in a different way. It’s a never ending cycle.
Oh, we’ve evolved and improved life, as we know it, but we just can’t seem to get passed this power play. I wonder what it will take . . . are we experiencing that right now, the birth of a better way, in this pandemic where it doesn’t have a preference nor takes sides?
“The Real You” by Alan Watts
There were many power plays I observed growing up and noted briefly in my last post, “Imperfection”, when I said my parents were from the North and South. That’s a reference to the Civil War era where places in the U.S. will always hold onto their ancestors’ deference of pride and belief.
In the South, on summer vacations as a young child, I witnessed anger and hate between my grandfather and his black neighbor and the heated exchanges they had with each other. The police came to cool things down but the anger remained and I wondered how it began. It’s been more than a century since we had slavery in this country, that resulted in a Civil War, and the lack of understanding and respect on both sides still causes conflicts.
The human dilemma . . . and how far back does it go? I suppose it’s been there since the beginning of time and we’ve all taken turns on one side or the other, either being the one to hurt and apply force or the other who is beaten down and wounded.
My grandmother, as years passed, grew weary of the feud and cut down the story-tall hedge along the driveway that separated their homes. I don’t know if that was the beginning of change or not – time has a way of revealing truth and the handling of past events. On the day of my grandmother’s funeral, my sister and I were walking up to the funeral home when we saw an elderly black man with a straw hat coming out. We recognized him as their neighbor long ago. He gestured as he paused to acknowledge his condolences and we noticed a tear on his cheek.
Growing up in the North, south of Philly in blue-collar family suburbs, the culture was different than the South. Struggles were not as much focused between colors of skin as it was with money and power between the “haves” and “have-nots”. My family was no different in that I observed those struggles with my parents in their community and their neighbors. In what I can remember, gathered from stories I’ve heard, our little community was built by a somewhat rich developer. Even the name of our street we lived on was named after him, “Love”. He had influence in the community and politics where even some regulations became law from his recommendations.
They didn’t have property management companies in those days but fines were enforced if certain laws were not abided by. My dad grumbled at having to cut his grass, as his pie-shaped lot was larger than most because it was on a curve. Likewise, he grumbled at having to shovel the sidewalk, again twice as long as others. And, if he didn’t comply in a set amount of time he was threatened with a fine.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to keep his home kept up and safe for the neighborhood. It was how those in power flexed their muscles and enjoyed it. Many of times I heard him complain . . . “old man Love is at it again” . . . or “old man Love is making us do this now.” I don’t know whether any of that is true or not. I just remember the mutters every time we passed his big house on the hill when coming up out of our complex.
This is mild compared to the many union battles and displays of anger and hate between workers and owners. My father was a welder in the shipyards and spoke of the many disputes disgruntled workers were having with their employers either over wages or working conditions. In some places, it even came to violence. The scenarios are different now but the battles still linger on.
Is there a better way? Is it possible we could make a shift, while in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t play favorites and economic losses that, if not already touched by it, seep out and eventually affect everyone? I’m hopeful we can draw on a source deep within us and learn a different way than how it’s been done . . . forever. Perhaps, it would look something like this.
Years ago, I came across this passage by Ram Dass in his book, “Still Here”:
“…when there is true surrender and service between people, the roles of helper and helped, and the boundaries between those in power and those who are powerless, begin to dissolve.”
These words have always stuck with me and I’ve wondered what true surrender and service would look like in my own heart. How do I truly surrender when I look to be validated and want my voice heard? And, what is true service look like aside from volunteering and giving of my time when it fits in my life.
I think Mother Teresa was the pure example of what true surrender and service looked like. She had a poem above her bed in her little ashram in Calcutta, India where she must have looked every day before stepping out on the street (similar to the 1968 publication by Dr. Kent M. Keith called the Paradoxical Commandments). It goes like this:
The Final Analysis
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
“The Final Analysis” — Dr. Wayne Dyer
We’re living in unusual times. In my 70+ years, I don’t remember when we’ve had a disease spread across our country and the whole world not only taking lives but causing economic hardships for many. It’s something calling our attention, where we no longer have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines watching others go through it, but where it can potentially touch each one of us in some way or another. It gives me pause to look deeper within myself and seek direction on what part I have to play.
As I do, I can’t help but reflect on those great teachers that have left behind for us their nuggets of truth. At this time and space, there is opportunity to find a better way. Where we’re poised at a crossroads we’ve never seen before, I believe it’s possible. Do we listen and understand?
“It may be when we no longer know what we have to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey” ~~ Wendell Berry