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Living Your Ecstasy

 

What inspires you? What makes you lose track of time? What makes the demands of life fade and the passion for life and love rush your soul in ecstasy?

A moment in dialogue with a child? A gaze upward on a starry night? A horseback ride at sunset? A hike along the forest trail? Faith-filled knowledge of your unity with God? An idea and creative inspiration in the space between waking and sleeping? Intimacy? These small snippets are the essence of what we really value, right? Is there is a discipline that allows these minuscule seconds to grow? Can we experience life more fully by experiencing more of these moments?

I think so. The discipline seems to begin with acknowledgement and giving TIME to experience glory moments. We have to come to expect them. Our busy, overwhelmed lives don’t facilitate soul food. Haven’t we given homage to drudgery long enough? It isn’t the path for wholeness.

There is another way.

While our logical mind tells us we have to worry to be productive, (and logic has it’s place in helping us survive in this body,) it’s not equipped for the survival of our spirit.  Is it possible to be living in effortlessness productivity? I desire more of that life.

This may explain why vacations and trips planned away from the routines of life fill our souls so differently. Those unique moments rise to the surface when we speak of the highlights of life. When we take time to be affected by the people we are with and the sights we see, reading books and taking long meandering walks,  intentionally letting our mind rest, we find that we became fueled and focused in profound, unexpected ways. We’re “more” of something, not less.

It’s as if life *rewards* and *responds* and *gives* based on something very different than our consumerist mindset. Maybe the mindset of passion + surrender = the inspired, purposeful, ecstatic life. Spirit living.

I’ve heard that we ARE what we LOVE, NOT what loves us. This makes me ponder.

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Family Reunion Musings

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I had the privilege to go to my family reunion this weekend (my mom’s dad’s side of the fam). I have not seen many of these relatives since I was a teenager. I’m almost 50, so in some ways I was re-meeting some cousins. I have one great Aunt still living. She is precious and seeing her smile is as endearing as it gets in this life. Her impact (along with the others) impacted my life greatly, mostly for their love and care for my mom.

Being with relatives in person gave context for snippets of things I remember. Memories seem more solidified somehow. In some way it feels like missing pieces of a puzzle were found. We gathered mostly from all over the state of GA– Savannah, Athens (Commerce), Atlanta. One from TX, My mom from FL and me, the “gypsy wanderer from everywhere”.

I noticed some similar family traits—skin, eyes, expressions. Those are the obvious visible things. It made me wonder about the invisible ones. Do we each share some propensity for a certain perspective? Are we equally as vulnerable in a certain way? Do we battle the same hurdles and obstacles in our mind?

My cousin Tina is working on info for the family tree. As we chatted about birth dates, marriage dates, birth cities etc, I imagined my Grandad, Aunts and Uncles as part of the mighty roots of a this huge Red Cedar Tree. Looking into the eyes of their offspring made me feel something good. It’s a grand thing that the goodness of them remain among us. When my 2nd cousin Willis hugged me, I immediately felt like my Uncle Wit was right beside me. When I chatted with my cousin Julie, my great Aunt Ruth seemed to be within reach. Over and over again, like a beautiful deja vu, I felt connected to someone from my past. Goodness remains in our memory. The not-so good we let go with the wind. We’re a blessed bunch to have each other.

I came away from an afternoon with these dear ones encouraged and connected. Afterward, we walked among the cemetery where our departed ones are buried. We brushed the red dirt from the top of the stone to read their names with reverence. We miss them.

I left with red dirt on my boots and also on my heart.

#beautynearme

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As a Woman…

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Do you want to be…

Fierce?

Strong?

Connected?

Valued?

Altruistic?

Unstoppable?

Engaged?

Uninhibited?

God-conscious?

Determined?

Motivated?

Loving?

Guided?

Fearless?

Faithful?

Powerful?

Gentle?

Confident?

Cherished?

Hard-working?

Peaceful?

Proactive?

Soulful?

Celebrated?

Then, you must be. Not because the day is declared for you, but because you declare yourself for this day and for every day to follow.

Every meaningful and lasting shift in culture is understood more fully, not by decree or mandate, but by the LIVING of it.

(glass raised) To Women. To Living. To the combination of those two forces.

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Little Heels and Pigtails

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“Little Heels and Pigtails”
10 x 12 oil on canvas panel

This one is special. It represents the journey for both the parent and child. This little one is wearing her first pair of heels, feeling quite grown up while proudly sporting the adorable and spunky hairstyle of a child. And it is so fitting, the way the light greets her like a protective angel. She stands just outside the door of all she has known, ready to greet LIFE. 💕

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The Privilege of Struggle

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Most of us aren’t wondering how we will physically survive the day. But we do wonder if we will survive emotionally and spiritually. The struggle itself means we are forging through obstacles. Sure, we could avoid struggle, but the cost is so high.

The cost is high…death while being alive.

There’s a little old building on this property outside the RV. It has weathered a lot. You can tell it’s old by the wood, chipped paint and antique doorknob. I love it. It’s the backdrop for my prairie view. It reminds me that resilience is interesting, noble, honorable and worthy. It reminds me that scars mean we’ve tried something…maybe even something daring.

If we dream, love, open up, try new things, imagine better, well, this means we are vulnerable to emotional and spiritual daggers. We might look a little “weathered” like this building.

But, if we don’t dream, love, try, imagine… we are dead already.

Do you have a clear vision of the life you want? What are you called to contribute to this world? Are you trying new things? Saying yes to scary things? Are you loving people in all of the ways that make you most vulnerable? Do you counter the darkness by being light? Do you think against cultural norms? Are you aware of the power you possess?

If any of these things are true, consider the next thunder-clap in the heavens above as an applause for YOU. Do you hear that ROAR? That’s for YOU. The world has been waiting for you to show up with exactly what you are. May this thunder=clap echo loud and long enough to be confirmation to your soul. YOU are onto something here.

This is the privilege of struggle. This is living while being ALIVE.

 

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The Missing Scientist

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“What we do not know about a missing loved one,” the poet T.S. Eliot said, “becomes all that we know.”

On Sunday, January 28, 2007, during a short solo sailing trip to the Farallon Islands near San Francisco to scatter his mother’s ashes, Jim Gray (a prominent computer scientist) and his 40-foot yacht, Tenacious, were reported missing by his wife, Donna Carnes. He never returned. His wife had to deal with questions upon questions, his boat and body never found.

After listening to The Myth of Closure podcast (On Being, interview with Pauline Boss), we realize these kinds of stories make us reconsider closure. It makes us reconsider that maybe this goal is not one to pursue. We erroneously think that with the right amount of facts, we may close a door; that maybe we can resume into normalcy just as before. But after listening to this podcast, I am reconsidering this assumption.

Here are my takeaways from Pauline-She writes/speaks about ambiguous loss–when you’ve lost the person, but they’re still there (like with divorce, immigration, a missing child, or Alzheimer’s disease). Or any loss with many questions.

While “closure” is a nice word in business deals and transactions, it is not very relevant in relationships. It is not relevant in grief. Pauline Boss encourages that we must let go of “fixing” and search for the re-calibration that helps us learn to hold loss in our midst. There is no denying loss; no way to mandate or customize the hurt.

We must not accept that even without closure, we can attach meaning. It is attaching meaning (even if the circumstances seem meaningless) that brings hope. We must let go of perfect answers.

We can pursue meaningful perceptions because they are real in their consequences.

Relationships in life are not mere doors to be closed. People are more than that- absence, intended or unintended, stays with us; within us.Grief is part of life that lingers. It is in the background. It never dissolves completely. It is the testament to what is meaningful.

Jim’s wife wrote years after his disappearance on the water,  “Walk On.”

“You walk on still beside me, eyes shadowed in dusk. You’re the lingering question at each day’s end. I have to laugh at how open-ended you remain, still with me after all these years of being lost. I carry you like my own personal time machine, as I put on my lipstick, smile, and head out to the party.”

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I Promise, Both Stories are True!

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There are many ways to tell the stories of our life. We are more than facts and circumstances. Our story also contains our perspective and this gives all the color.  We get to decide that crucial element.

WE GET TO DECIDE.

I’m going to tell a little piece of my story-twice.

My story- take 1:

I am a twin, born premature, weighing 2 lbs and 14 oz. I have always been “sick”. Allergies, asthma, bronchitis, medications, steroids, allergy shots were all part of the routine of my childhood. At one time I couldn’t eat chocolate. I know, so awful huh? The dr thought I was allergic, so I watched from a distance as everyone ate my Momma’s fudge. Oh, that was as difficult as you can imagine.

I grew up in Georgia where it didn’t snow, but one winter it did, just a little bit. I was sick and couldn’t go out to play. I pressed my face against the cold glass, watching my sister play in the unfamiliar white stuff. I felt sad, left out, disappointed. I started to wonder why this body couldn’t be strong. I decided life wasn’t fair and that I guess everyone had to learn that at some point. Life can be very tough. We have to persevere.

My story- take 2:

By being born a twin, and being born too early meant I was gifted with some unique and extravagant gifts. I was born with a sister who gave me the gift of “belonging”. One time it snowed in Georgia; a very rare treat. I was watching my sister from the window. She did all sorts of funny things in the snow to make me laugh. I think of her in her childishness doing her best to include me from a distance and I wonder if she knows how mature she was at such a young age? She’s always looked out for me.

Being born too early meant from the beginning, before I had conscious thought, I knew the face of tenacity, strength, pain and resilience. It meant that as a child I had the gifts/strength to confront the demons of self-pity. I found creativity was my friend and life was not completely bound in the body. From the mind and heart I could pursue, create, draw, imagine.

I was able to see my parents and family in the beautiful light of selflessness over and over again. You cannot forget that glow. It’s too angelic to dismiss. And maybe from a place of need you get to see character traits more clearly. Like the season of life when I couldn’t eat chocolate, my momma made sure I had a strawberry treat all to myself. She’s such a nurturing soul. I have memories waking up in the dark to find her at the edge of my bed, staying with me while I cough and wheeze. I wonder if she realizes how beautiful she was in that light? Wow, I’ve been given so many gifts in my life…

Maybe the WAY we tell our story reveals most about us.

 

Both stories above are true. I get to choose how I remember it, and… how I tell it.

Now tell me yours.

 

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The Forrest Finn Treasure

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I’m about 5 years late to this party, but I have finally arrived. What party? you might ask. Well, I heard about this man named Forrest Finn. Even his name sounds like a fictitious character in a novel, but guess what? He’s a real live person.  I’ve read and seen interviews and plan to read his books. This interesting man, artifacts dealer, explorer, decided to invite others to “The Thrill of the Chase”. That’s the name of his book where he explains how he hid a small treasure chest north of Santa Fe somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. It’s filled with gold coins, gems, artifacts…I am so intrigued. I mean I’m the person who does somersaults when finding a beautiful rock, a shark’s tooth, a piece of driftwood, so you can only imagine my brain is in overdrive, devouring information, trying to decipher the 9 clues that this gentleman left in a poem.

In the midst of my churning brain, I am also intrigued with the concept of risk and adventure. What role does this play in our life? Is it healthy? Can we be adventure seekers while being content? I think the answer is “yes” and I don’t think I’m trying to justify my “obsession”. Honestly. I’m not. I’ve been on a personal journey, a quest if you will, where I am pursuing this: the art of being content while contending. hmmm, let me say it another way. It’s like in my best moments I’m holding hands with two friends, “thankfulness” on one hand, and “dreaming” on the other. And BOTH are so vital to living a full, rich life. (no pun intended)

Seeking denotes a few things about us. 1. that we don’t know everything. 2. that we are teachable. I think we innately want to ask questions. We want the quest, SOME quest, some story, some victorious moment that required resolute determination. This is only possible if there is something   just.  out.  of.  reach. It involves just a handful of clues…and an open mind. In essence, this quest is a microcosm of life. Wouldn’t you agree? And along the journey, we may realize the greatest gift of the journey is the adventure along the way; the sights and sounds of that which intrigues, warms, speaks to us at the core of our being. The journey may be just as valuable as the treasure we seek.

Even if I never found THAT treasure, I’d rather have a life full of adventure.  Wouldn’t you?

forrest finn poem

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Night Life

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Memories flash like the tiles of an old clock clicking to reveal the next number

click, click, click they come

the blue sky vibrant in the light of the sun

snow caps beckoning down from the trail

the boat at sunset, ready to sail

miles and miles, harmony songs

golden aspens shaking but strong

cradled in feathers sinking down

floating at ease with the current’s sound

story and love in words on paper

a poem scribbled in haste at the table

the passions of friendship breathes life inside

a strumming guitar with nothing to hide

riding so fast in the red shiny car

riding down roads that are never too far

riding wild horses with wind blown hair

beaches and palm trees, breathing salt air

the campfire crackles and lullabies sung

soothing truths whispered as one

fresh cotton sheets in the morning light

star-gazing in winter, wrapped up so tight

a familiar smile in the eyes of my lover

curtains blowing in the last days of summer

the movie reel catches ..the scene is the same

over and over and over they came

then a child laughs and the scenes move on

a cry echoes loud of my firstborn son

saturday morning the little feet run

as cartoon images add to the fun

cuddles while rocking and reading a book

little kingdoms conquered as new lands we took

winnie the pooh’s words echo the way

…“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

crisp air wafts from the tall blue spruce

cerulean blue brushstrokes swirl around loose

a long winding dirt road leads the way home

cottonwood falling bids us “please come”

and the river carries the fluff with pride

floating and gracing the riverside

 the clouds move in time-lapse fashion

roaming the fields of quaking aspens

the path leads somewhere …I must go

while the washing and sifting continues to grow

hammock rest with my book in hand

the hourglass moves sand by sand

vibrant-colored leaves swirl on the ground

her breath catches as she hears the sound

 visions of coffee laden with cream

 left only a memory

…of a beautiful dream

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Entangled Senses

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Have you ever felt the coming scent of rain? Occasionally, there is a split-second that senses almost overlap. Today this happened when I saw the sky. maybe it’s what we call a premonition? The scent of rain was a vision in my mind before it was actually there. Then the moment came when the rain was actually falling and the ground gave up it’s offering; the scent of gratitude for what it needed, the heavenly scent of rain ascended. earthy. poignant.

It’s a gift to believe in something so fiercely that you experience it in your mind before you experience it in body. This is a secret in life. Some call it imagination. Some call it being positive.  Faith.  Having vision. You will catch yourself recognizing it most often interacting with children. And even as a child yourself, before you had words for it, you felt it and your heart smiled and glimmered. The child in you understands.

The power of our mind is sometimes so overwhelming that some walk away and try leave it to catch dust on the table. They only glance at it sideways, hoping it stays put and doesn’t move. Believe me, I get it. Power can be scary. But what if we realized that there is no neutral place for it to lay dormant? What if it IS making an impact, either FOR life or AGAINST? Walking away from the responsibility of harnessing power just means disaster.

Focus your mind on that which is life-giving. Envision the change you desperately desire. You must live IN it before you will LIVE it.