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Today, we are rising on a new dawn after elections across our country. May we and they know the sacredness of each new dawn. May we, the voters and citizens and the elected perform our responsibilities in the magnificence we can bring forth. May we listen to the whispers of wisdom, stand with the lessons of age and ancestors, envision what could be as we take even tiny steps toward common sense mixed with a passion for change that is for the good of all, supported by the sacred power of a God and Goddess of love.

It is time. We are the ones. The American dream awaits this dawn. And we are the creators.

 

Whispers at Dawn
By Gloria Burgess
Hush now.
Listen.
Lean into those voices
That whisper at dawn.
Stand gently
Proudly
On the broad bones
The great shoulders
Of the grand mothers and fathers
Who dreamt you
And held you
Keep you
And walk with you
Stroking your face
As dawn paints
That canvas of sky.
(from Legacy Living by Gloria Burgess © 2006, p. 47)
Congrats on getting back in the saddle!
Sara Pranikoff
sara@artandwritingcircle.com; http://www.womenwriting.org

You are invited in this guest blog to come, stand before the dawn and be still…without words…and wait….   What would that be like for you?

The invitation
By Andrew Norton

Come with me and stand before the dawn,
let us be still,
without words
and wait,
wrapped in the blanket of darkness
within and without.

Watch with me
as sun splinters break into our worlds,
to see and to be seen,
never giving ourselves in total to the light,
but residing in the threshold of shadows
to protect this precious gift.

The invitation of this day comes
through the mist across the vast sea
ensuring the mystery of our adventure,
the known and the unknown,
consummated through our eyes,
a revelation, a constant re-veiling,
for to see fully would be not to see at all
as it is in the familiar of things that we lose our sight.

From this dawning may we awaken
tired eyes blinded by the ordinary

 

 

I FIRST STARTED READING THIS EMAIL & WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE. I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD. THIS EMAIL IS VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING. MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK. READ SLOWLY!

AND THEN IT IS WINTER

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the “back nine” of my life and it catches me by surprise…. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that “I was only on the first hole” and the “back nine” was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is… my friends are retired and getting grey… they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me… but, I see the great change…. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant… but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so… now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though I’m on the “back nine”, and I’m not sure how long it will last… this I know, that when it’s over on this earth… it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done… things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the “back nine” yet… let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the “back nine” or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life… so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you.
The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.
Make it a fantastic one.

LIVE IT WELL!
ENJOY TODAY!
DO SOMETHING FUN!
BE HAPPY !
HAVE A GREAT DAY

Remember “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

LIVE HAPPY IN 2013 AND BEYOND!

LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

~Your kids are becoming you…. but your grandchildren are perfect!
~Going out is good… Coming home is better!
~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything…. “especially golf”!
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do,
but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”…” ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.
~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear..
~~~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

It’s Not What You Gather,
But What You Scatter
That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.

TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN,
YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE,
SO ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.

Life isn’t about Surviving the storm
but learning to Dance in the rain.

 

 

Caring for her paralyzed son taught Sandy Concar how to take care of herself — and other caregivers.

Sandy Concar was used to being in control of her life and her family’s. She found comfort in having a Plan A, B and even C. (Laura got me a book for Mother’s Day, “God Always has a Plan B). When, while raising two teenagers and working 14-hour days as a school bus driver and mail carrier, she needed to move her displaced mother into their home, Concar’s competence kept everyone and everything afloat.

Her kids grew up and forged independent lives. She helped her mom get reestablished in an apartment. Concar and her husband, Ron, empty-nesters at last, were reconnecting after years of responsibility, steering their motorcycle or hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains two hours from their Wake Forest, N.C., home.

“I masterminded my whole life,” Concar says, “until Keith’s accident.”

Her son, Keith, was 27 and on his second Hurricane Katrina volunteer stint, having stashed his belongings in storage and moved to New Orleans. There he spent his days ripping wet drywall and shoveling debris out of ravaged homes, and his nights sleeping on a classroom floor. En route to a job site, he was doing 55 mph on his motorcycle when the Jeep pulled out. Keith’s resulting spinal cord injury returned him to his mother’s care, ultimately leading Concar to what she considers her life’s purpose: supporting those who support others through her mentoring business Care Giver Sanity.

“Is he still alive?”
     This was Concar’s first reaction upon receiving the phone call, followed by, “Everything else, we can take care of.” That she did, shifting into organizational high gear and staying in it for a year and a half, shuttling Keith to doctor’s appointments, researching therapies, addressing financial issues and retrofitting the family home for wheelchair accessibility.

No time to feel
     Concar was looking for answers to heal Keith when an alternative medicine practitioner gently told her, “You need the healing first.” Using EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, Concar tapped specific body acupressure points with her fingertips, causing a “Niagara Falls” of tears as she released pent-up anger and grief. She was, she realized, in control of everybody’s life but her own.

Self-care as a priority
Caregivers aren’t necessarily good at receiving care, even from themselves. For many, Concar says, it traces back to old family rules the likes of “You don’t take the last piece of pie in case someone else wants it.” Healing meant putting herself at the top of her to-do list. Task No. 1: Get out of bed and shower before checking on Keith, which would spiral into task-tending and only getting around to showering at 4 p.m.

Her healing process
     Concar says she was not raised to have a career vision. “By age 25, I’d reached my dream: I had the husband, the two kids, the dog, the house, the picket fence. I said, ‘Now, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?’” Keith’s accident brought the answer. “When I began to heal, I saw so many other caregivers in distress,” she says. “Sure, I wish Keith’s accident hadn’t happened; I would prefer my son to be walking. But it did happen, and there was a reason for it.”

Giving rise to the reason
Two years of practicing self-care after her watershed EFT experience and with Keith settled in San Diego, Concar started CareGiverSanity, at first doing workshops and later adding mentoring: complimentary 30-minute CareGiver Chats via phone or Skype, followed, as desired, by extended one-on-one mentoring and access to a private Facebook support group. Her clients care for aging parents, family members with disabilities, children and other loved ones, and hail from as far away as Canada and France.

Root cause
Hers isn’t an easy sell. “This audience isn’t good at accepting help,” notes Concar. CareGiverSanity’s program only sticks if clients are willing to concede need. Up first is digging into their “stuff,” which, says Concar, they’ve dodged by concentrating on everybody else’s stuff. She guides them in considering such questions as, What is the benefit of doing everything themselves? Things get done right. The downside? They’re exhausted. After the reflection comes the practice.
Baby steps

Advise a caregiver to go for a walk, says Concar, and they’ll reply, “Yeah, right. Find me 10 minutes.” She promotes taking little steps: cooking a nutritious meal one night a week, looking out the window while drinking a cup of coffee, not rushing home from the grocery store. Little by little, such seemingly minor efforts can add up to having more energy, which makes caregiving easier.

“When I awakened to my need to start feeling me,” Concar says, “I realized that Keith’s accident didn’t just happen to Keith; it happened to each of us.” And what happened to Concar — losing control but gaining a calling — now instills hope in caregivers beyond herself.

The Essential Wound

This book is about having an essential wound,
and having it at the beginning of my life.” Hal Zina Bennett, author and writing instructor

Hal Zina Bennett and I have three things in common. One: We both love to write from our heart center. Two: We both had an essential wound. Three: We both had that wound from the beginning of our lives. I am striving to have a fourth thing in common with Zina Bennett: We both have published books. My writing below was intended to be the Preface of my memoir, Journey Girl, Steps in Secrets and Sanctuary, but I have restructured the beginning of my book and I am striking it, so I give it to Napkinwriter to share with you.

In his example of the student remembering how he was when he witnessed the unbelievable (at that time) happening of the Kent State National Guard’s shooting of four students on campus, who were peacefully protesting the Viet Nam War. I remember it as well. It was exceptional and unbelievable at that time, but not shocking anymore in our time now.

In his book, Write from the Heart, author Hal Zina Bennett describes giving his class a short writing assignment about having an essential wound. One student tells him he will write it but he is not sure he can read it to the class. Yet the very next day, this student is the first one to pop out of his seat for the readings.

He describes a scene of a young woman on campus holding her friend’s bloody head and limp body. She is hysterically shouting at the National Guard soldiers nearby. That exact historical and iconic scene played out on television and in newspapers across the nation, during a particularly troubled time in 1970. It was the May 4th shooting that took place on the Kent State college campus during the Vietnam War Protest era.

Barry, the writing student, had witnessed the horror, terror, confusion, and disbelief of violence thrust upon the students by military might. It resulted in four college students lying sprawled on the ground in their spot of instant death. Once the students in proximity to the shooting recovered partially from their shellshock and temporary paralysis, Barry and most of the other frantic students scrambled for pay telephone booths to call home (cell phone technology and social media were not products and methods of communication in student hands in 1970).

The phone booth lines were long and when he finally gained access, Barry called straight to his father’s office. He told the secretary to interrupt his father, who was in a meeting.
“This is important,” he insisted, in a begging tone of voice.

Barry’s father, a veteran of the Korean War, of which he never spoke, responded rapidly as he picked up the receiver. “Make it fast because I am in a crucial meeting.” The father’s staccato directive exploded upon his anxious, terrorized, and stunned son.

Then Barry’s father listened to the fast, rambling crescendo of his son’s recounting of what became known as the Kent State Massacre without saying a word or interrupting. When the son finished, he paused, letting the rest of his energy flow onto the floor of the phone booth, his legs weak and wobbly. There was only silence on the telephone line for what seemed like a long time to the dazed student.

“Dad, did you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you,” his father replied, detached and distant. “Are you okay? You’re safe?”
His son replied he thought he was. “I haven’t been shot or anything.” And that was it. As Barry stood cramped and crouched in the restrictive phone booth, his father matter-of-factly informed him, “Good, then. I have to get back to my meeting.”

Hal Zina Bennett contends that being present to the horror of the campus shootings would be enough to last as an essential wound for any one of us. But Barry, the student writer, went on with his story about how he carried the essential wound around inside of him for many years to follow. He never felt safe anymore.

The memory of that day haunted his dreams over and over again. He was still upset for not being able to get over it. He realized many thousands of people saw these kinds of horrible things and seem to have lived with it. He blamed himself for continuing to suffer. That is why he was not sure he could read it to the class.

A usually quiet, older woman student, perhaps somewhat past the age of seventy, whom the instructor knew to be a keen listener, spoke from her desk in the back of the room, breaking a hushed silence and the palatable feeling of respect floating in the air.
“Your father dropped the ball,” she said. “That’s your essential wound and I think you know what I mean by that.”

Barry kept his eyes down and nodded slowly, tears freely flowing. Because Barry had noted on paper the history of his father being in the Korean War but never speaking about it to his own family or anyone else that he knew of, the woman went on to describe it as his father’s essential wound. It was something that his father could not face or release. She continued to say the same had happened to Barry regarding the Kent State shootings.

“But you have broken the chain today and escaped from your own history by having the courage to tell us this story.” She offered him thanks, for this story healed her as well. “You didn’t drop the ball.”

Bennett, the instructor, admitted to not knowing exactly what all went on in the classroom that day, but he remained convinced that the essential wounds we all carry are powerful within us. What had just happened in the classroom among the students was more than a lesson in writing.

This incident made Bennett think about the phenomenon of the essential wound. From his vantage point as a writing instructor, where students trusted their personal stories with him, he saw these wounds expressed in the majority of his classes. Surely, most people don’t get through life without an essential wound. The youth of his students most likely meant these types of wounds still lay ahead in life for many of them also.

This was a whole new way of looking at his students and their writing. What was there to be said for recovering from an essential wound after they gained the courage to talk about it? What were the protections offered for these wounds, which could still burst open and cause so much pain? How choices were made in whom to speak to about certain wounds, for it was a trust that could be so betrayed and produce ongoing regrets in the future life of the wounded.

Many people who begin studying their genealogy find stories, all too quickly, of “misplaced people” on their family tree; a surprising “crazy uncle” who was never talked about, perhaps even a rich heiress that disappeared from the family. All of this new news could probably be traced back in time to an essential wound that would not be talked about in generations going forward. Most of us know that sense of not quite being able, even though willing, to support another in deep emotional grief and turmoil. Past history, over which we have no control, plays a large part in our inability to “be there” for another at some time in our lives.
Bennett writes in his book, “it is our perceptions of the world, the inner vision of what we think life is about that is challenged in every essential wound.”

He says we must start trying out our perceptions, see what the wound mirrors in us, and seek out what we need to learn from the wound. Most importantly, we are to discover what we need to learn to embrace to take ourselves out of the role of victim. In other words, there is actually a blessing in these essential wounds. We need to have courage and ask for the grace to find it.

I had an essential wound at the beginning of my life also. But I didn’t have a name for what it was and I didn’t know what it was. I just knew it was there—for as long as I can remember. It was difficult, for me, to admit aloud that an essential wound of a lost and unknown mother, shrouded in mystery, lived within me.

But it wasn’t hard to recognize. William Faulkner wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” And a time would come when I would begin to connect my past truthfully and freely and find the grace and gift within my wound.

“Meaning does not come from what we do. It comes from what we are. If we are lovers of beauty, then beauty will fill us all our days. If we are committed to justice, then justice will drive us past all fatigue or failure. If we are devoted to building human community, then we will find meaning in the people whose lives we touch. It’s when we are driven by nothing other than our daily schedules that life becomes gray, listless, and dour.

Life happens quickly but the meaning of it comes into focus only slowly, slowly, slowly. The challenge is to keep on asking ourselves what it is.” These words are taken from author and Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister, in Songs of the heart, Reflections on THE PSALMS.

She offers a simple and profound book of poignant and challenging reflections on twenty five of the 150 songs of praise found in the psalms. Each of the twenty-five chosen reflections offer a spiritual oasis away from the stresses of a world that demands more than the human soul can sometimes bear and have rich meaning for people today.

In my memoir, Journey Girl, Steps in Secrets and Sanctuary, I too offer at the beginning of each chapter a brief pause for the reader that is like the spiritual oasis Joan Chittister speaks of. I call them Islands of Silence. They are easy and accessible to the at-home mother who needs a private pause from combined child-care, taxi driver, medical emergencies and unending upkeep of home responsibilities.

They are equally beneficial for the students of all ages (we are all students of life) and business and corporate ladder climbers who can find an instant cubby-hole within to take stock and quiet the busy and overworked mind.

The first Island of Silence I offer in Chapter One is…..

 

The Breath
The Easiest of All Practices of Consciousness
Wherever God lays his glance life starts clapping.
Hafiz

Your breath is an Island of Silence that is with you at all times. You cannot live without it. A baby’s first important work to do when he/she arrives and separates from the maternal umbilical cord is to… breathe.

There are many meditative practices that focus on different ways to engage with your breath for stress relief and relaxation, but taken down to its simplest level, one may just choose to watch one’s breath.

If you don’t want to go to a gym, if you are not ready to engage in Pilates or Yoga (where the attention is put on the breath), you are perfectly free to sit comfortably alone, turn your thoughts inward, seek the quiet and simply breathe… in… out… in… out.

You will see this Island of Silence will come to you and you will appreciate the restoration it gives. Beautiful scenery will not take your breath away. It will give you more breath.
If you don’t wish to sit, you may walk in one of your favorite landscapes, amidst flowers and trees, birds, and animals, still focusing on your breath coming in… going out… coming in… going out.

You may be stuck in traffic with things to do, but still… you are stuck in traffic and you can breathe in… breathe out… breathe in… breathe out.

Return to this Island of Silence many times during the day. It is perfectly fine to take short stay vacations of breathing tranquility. It is low cost, efficient, and brings rewards of renewed energy and purpose. Turn your attention to your breath daily and give this a try.

This is an Island of Silence that begins the first chapter of an at-risk emergency birth where the child is saved, yet the young twenty-nine year old mother dies. Life and death do, indeed, both happen quickly. I am the child who lived. The meaning of it and the grace held within the loss of my mother all happened very, very slowly

 

Looking at Life

“There are only two ways to look at your life: one is though nothing is a miracle; the other as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein said that.

These are a few ways I live my life and I suppose my belief system is that indeed everything is a miracle. That is hard to see though.

The following are five door-openers for living life as the miracle that it is:

1. Be silent. Become silence. Minimize your personal impact on the moment.

2. Be curious. Do you feel a need to explain, interpret, tell or exclaim. Let all your thoughts begin and end with question marks.

3. Be accepting. Be discerning. Don’t stand in harm’s way, but for now suspend judgments. Let it be as it is.

4. Be open. Bask in the mystery. Are you attached to knowing? Learn to be comfortable with not knowing. Warm yourself in the shadows, instead of the sunlight. Be awed by the beauty of the thorn, not just the rose.

These words were a writing instructor’s words in his advice to writers. But they serve how one views life as well. There are plenty of opportunities one’s voice is needed. There are many other times where no words serves one well. Where silence, not noise serves the highest purpose. I have learned to recognize these times in my own life. Yet, sometimes, I don’t.