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Archive for June, 2011

Meeting Love

June 19, 1965

 

 

                   Down the Aisle into Married Life

Meeting Love
                           Susan Heffron Hajec

                                          Like a dove came love
                                          and caught me by surprise.
                                          How did I come to be 
                                          in this place
                                          where we touched
                                          and then came face to face?
                                          To life together, we said yes.
                                          By us, the world will
                                          be truly blessed.
                                          Like a dove came love.      

            

Dinner in Rome, 2000

     

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Some days the walk to the mail box is really worth it. Underneath the bills addressed to me and the mail addressed to current resident, whoever that may be, or to some name that is not yours but who apparently lived at this residence sometime in the past one hundred years, lays a hand-written envelope addressed to me which I recognize to be from a special friend.

      I savor the fun it will be to open it as I walk back to the house and place the other mail in its slot to be taken care of later. Today, this card is the result of a friendship that dates back over the past twenty years. Our paths met rather inconspicuously during a gathering, then grew continually through the years, tethered together not with frequent get-togethers, but rather with a caring bond of communication, compassion and growing respect during several crossroads in each of our lives.

      We made occasional phone calls to each other when we were “just checking in.” Sometimes these calls turned into lengthy, drawn out talk-a-thons, that enriched each of us like a cup of nourishing hot green tea. The conversations were far removed from gossip. We didn’t even have the same circle of acquaintances to be able or interested in doing that. Our talks were direct one-on-one listening and sharing events about what was most important to each of us at that time in our lives.

      Years earlier, we met in a writer’s group and we shared some writing activities and conferences together. But mostly it was these impromptu phone calls or notes we sent each other that fueled our friendship.

      One of these phone calls saved me from surgery I was scheduled to have. I had been surprisingly diagnosed with few symptoms present with a tumor on the pituitary gland of my brain. It turned out she was quite an authority of current treatments and surgery options in this area because her son had experienced one as well.

      She was very insistant I check every option I could, get a second opinion, which I did, and know fully the repercusions and dangers of any treatment I might choose. It turned out, with more information at hand, and a delayed surgery due to another glitch, I was put on a medication which reduced the tumor enough to get me out of the danger zone and give me more time to alleviate the problem with the meds that were working. Monitored by MRIs, the tumor shrunk out of sight and was pronounced gone within eighteen months.

     I moved out of Michigan several years after that happened and we stayed in touch through our usual notes and infrequent phone calls.  Shortly after returning to Michigan, I receive this “welcome home” card from her at my new residence.

      My friend knew it was important for me to be near family in Michigan. “May your new home be a happy place,” reads the greeting on the front of the card. The picture on the card is a simple child’s drawing of a house, a rainbow, a sun in the sky with a dog and and cat and flowers and a tree placed on the landscape.

     The house is drawn the exact way I drew houses as a child proud of my own crayon set — a square base with a door in the middle and a window on each side. Then a triangle roof with a chimney and cloud of smoke coming out of it.

     This card and greeting broadcasts everything I want this new home to be for me. Simple — shorter “to do” lists, fewer responsibilities, more time to choose my writing, drawing, reading and prayer routines. Open days, an exciting invitation to me and an opportunity I have not had since probably all the way back to grade school.

    This is a happy place to be.

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Tom’s Polish mother, our children’s “Buscia” taught me the art of stuffed cabbage making ( gtompki, pronounced Goo-ump-ki). It was a mainstay at their table, served along with mashed potatoes, mushy overcooked frozen green beans, a dessert and lots of love. Her Polish culinary perfection and years of experience created the to-die-for traditional meal.

She and her sister-in-law, Aunt Margaret, made hundreds of these for church affairs of all sorts, funerals, celebration get-togethers, and I think occasionally for Bingo outings, her main source of entertainment.  As a young helper in the kitchen at the Manistee hospital, she always did special things, within the dietary limits, of the patients, and they got to like it when Frances was in the kitchen. She received notes from patients back on the trays.

I had never had a stuffed cabbage before I got married. I can’t believe Tom’s mother didn’t serve that for dinner at least once during the time we were engaged. But when I tasted my first one, I knew I had never had one before.

I remember the first gtompki I had was after Tom’s family visited us all the way from Michigan to our new apartment home in Kentucky. She brought a frozen package with her which I promptly stuck in the freezer and forgot about. In all the years we’ve been married, Tom has rarely suggested the menu for dinner. But after a few weeks went by and he hadn’t seen the cabbage rolls served, he asked about them.

I asked how to prepare them  and he said just be sure they are really warmed up and serve mashed potatoes with them. Walah! I love tomato based foods anyway, but this was the B E S T!

I asked for the recipe promptly. But this is one of those things where the written recipe just doesn’t get it. Making gtompki, over the years, became a process of putting the food together, and letting the mixture of memories of a lifetime float through your recollection. Love seasons the dish as you set the rolls covered in tomato sauce and pieces and slide it into the oven.  

At the beginning of my cooking career, I did not even know what “steam the cabbage leaves” meant on her recipe. My first attempts did not produce a replica of Tom’s mother’s wonderful feast. The next time back North, I w a t c h e d   her  from beginning to end, hearing many family stories and lots of laughter during the process.  I watched and listened as her experienced hands and fingers tucked each cabbage roll in what seemed like a loving home to her within her pot.

I became very successful in making this dish and having the whole family love it. It was not long before mom was delighted in tasting my cabbage rolls and encouraging me with her accolades.

Last week, our daughter had a major surgery in the hospital. On the day of her discharge, I asked her what she had ordered for lunch –I lifted the cover of her served meal tray and there was a moist, steaming gtompki – cabbage roll. Seems mom was directing the kitchen menu from heaven above for her granddaughter.

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Orange Hibiscus

Linda Wilson is a good, long-time endearing friend to me. Another one of my truly rare BFF’s and we go back quite a ways. Forty-six years, to be exact, as in one week Tom and I will have been married that L O N G.  (He’s one of my star BFF’s too!)

                                                     Canna

Linda and her husband, Tom, and daughter Beth Ann lived just down the street from where we lived in our first apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Having moved down to the “border-state” from the North, we really knew no-one, but Tom Wilson had started work at IBM the same day as my Tom did. It wasn’t long before, our telephone was ringing and we were being invited over to play cards on a Saturday night at the Wilson’s.

After our first daughter Laura was born, Linda took “new mother, Sue,” under her wings and we shared lots of time together as stay-at-home moms with our “big sister, Beth” showing toddler Laura the ropes.

 

When second daughter Kathleen made her debut, Laura had her “second mom” home at the Wilson’s during my hospital stay. Linda’s husband Tom was especially fond of Laura and enjoyed playing with Beth and Laura together. On one Saturday morning, enjoying a bit of a sleep-in Tom and Linda heard a “sun-salutation” from the Beth’s bedroom, even though they were not yoga officianados —   “Look, Laura, the sun is up, it’s time to start another day!!!” Oh, that we could keep that amazement in our hearts at the dawning of the day as we grow older!

Linda and Tom moved to Austin, Texas before we moved from Lexington in 1976. I missed my friend, because even though we had moved from our apartment, we still did not live far from their house once we built our first home. I must have never looked at the color of her thumb for it certainly must be green!

We have kept in touch over all these years and just lately she sent me a group of photos and invited me to take a walk in her back yard — a little bit of heaven. And that’s what you’ve been doing, as you’ve read through this post. You’ve been looking at the beauty in Linda’s backyard garden.

Curtiss Ann, I hope you enjoy this!

Thanks for the treat, Linda.

All floral photography credit:  Linda Wilson 

 

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Like Oprah, all my life, I’ve wanted to be thin. Like Oprah, I’ve tried many ways to achieve this “thinness” and at best it was a passing fancy, so like Oprah again, I’ve strived for good health in all the many cells of my physical body and living her “best life” philosophy. Both of these have brought me many blessings.

I have not seen the Oprah show on a regular basis for many, many years but I did have Tom tape her final show and in my opinion it was pure class and direct honesty. She called it her love letter to her audience. Her final guest that there was so much hoopla over guessing, was — us!

She wanted to share the lessons she learned over the years and tell us we were a large part of that learning. She did her show only one day without an audience — the first day. Then she set up chairs and pulled secretaries from the building and people off the street to sit in on her next show. Relating to people, talking and listening, on which she built her empire-size fame, was crucial to her from the very start — and she knew it.

I reviewed the tape with pen and paper in hand and wanted to jot down in her own words what she finds to be important, not only for her but us, as well.  It struck me deeply that over the same timespan, I was finding these truths important in my life as well. I found this through experiencing both blessings and the lumps in my life.

Unlike Oprah, I did not get rich and famous, learning these lessons, but I am glad I am a good student regardless of financial strata.

So, in Oprah’s words:

“I leave you with the lessons that have been the anchor of my life and that I hold precious.”

1.  “Every day that I stood here, (4,561 days) I knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was here because this is what I was called to do.”

2.  “What I know for sure from this experience is that we all are called. Everybody has a calling. Your real job in life is to figure that out and get about the business of doing it.”

3.  “It is important to live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living, I know that, but you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”

4.  “What I want you to know is that each one of you has your own platform — mine is a stage in a studio. Yours is wherever you are, with your own reach, large or small. Your circle of influence is where you are in every way, everyday, you are showing people exactly who you are and you are letting your life speak for you. When you do that you will receive in direct proportion in however you give.”

5. “The circumstances are all different but the power, I know, is the same. You can help somebody. You can listen. You can forgive. You can heal — you have the power to change somebody’s life.”

6. “Everybody has a calling. Mine aligned with my profession, but not everybody gets paid for their calling, yet everybody is called.”

7.  “In the early shows, we started to learn by watching others how self-destructive it was when people make bad choices and then blame everyone but themselves for the state of their life. We learned nobody but you is responsible for your life.”

8. “What is your life? All life? every rock, every tree, every human being? Energy! And you are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself and you are responsible for the energy you bring to others.”

9.  “All life is Energy and we are transmitting it at every moment. We are all beaming little signals like radio frequencies and the world is responding in kind. Please take responsibility for the Energy you bring into this space.”

10. “Remember Physics Class? Did you pay attention to Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. That thing is real!  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  That is the abiding law I live by.  All the energy you use to try to hurt somebody else, that same energy will turn around and slap you in the face.”

11. “You are responsible for your life and when you get that, everything else changes so don’t wait for somebody else to fix you, save you, or complete you. Jerry Maguire was just a movie! No one completes you. When you get that you are responsible for your life, you get free.”

12. “Then in a new wave of shows, we showed how people could change and grow and become happier people by admitting, ‘I need help.’ Little by little, we started to release the shame — I am a recovering alcoholic, I am gay, I am a spouse abuser, I am an addict.”

13. “I know I’ve never been alone. And I know you haven’t been either. I know that  this Presence and this flow, some people call it grace, is working in my life at every single turn and yours too if you let it in. It is closer than your breath. It is yours for the asking. ”

14. “I have felt the presence of God my whole life even when I didn’t have a name for it. I could hear the Voice bigger than myself speaking to me.  And all of us have that same Voice.

Be still and know it. You can acknowledge it or not; you can worship it or not; you can pray to it or not; you can ignore it — or you can KNOW IT.  Know it, it is always there speaking to you, waiting for you to hear it. For every decision I make, I wait and listen for the guidance that’s greater than my meager mind.”

15. “So what I know is God is Love and God is Life and your life is always speaking to you. First in whispers, subtle then louder like thumps upside the head, then like a brick upside the head and if you don’t pay attention then, the whole brick wall may fall down on you.”

16. “So I ask you, ‘What are the whispers in your life right now and will you hear them? Your life is speaking to you, what is it saying?”

17.  “You have all been a safe harbor for me. What I hope is that you will be that safe harbor for somebody else. Their place to fall. Connect, embrace, liberate, love somebody, just one person and then spread that love to two and as many as you can. ”

18.  “My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, was my first liberator. She made me feel that I mattered.”

19.  “I want you to know that what you have to say matters to me. I understand the manifestation of grace and God in my life so I know there are no coincidences here, only Divine Order.”

20.  “Gratitude is the single greatest treasure I will take with me from this experience for the opportunity to have done this work.”

21. “How have I done it?  You and me and Jesus! (her hand flies in the air). We’ve been able to do this because the Harpo team and family have all aligned with the vision of service to you, our viewers.”

22.  “Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me. And do you want to know what God I am talkin’  ’bout? I am talkin’ ’bout the same one you’re talkin’ ’bout. The Alpha & Omega; the Omnicient; the Omnipresent; the Ultimate Consciousness; the Source; the Force; the All of Everything there is; the One and Only G-O-D. That’s the one I’m  talkin’  ’bout.”

23. I’ve learned from the guests on this show there is no need to feel superior to anyone. (Regardless of the problem), the root is all the same. There is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and suffering and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for.”

24.  “There is a difference, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing that you are worthy of happiness.”

25.  “What this show has taught me is that you’re worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright.”

26. “Every single person you will ever meet shares this common desire and wants to know:

                            Do you see me?
                            Do you hear me?
                            Does what I say mean anything to you?

Understanding that one principle that everybody wants to be heard helps me to stand with the microphone with an open mind and an open heart. It’s worked for my platform and I guarantee you, it will work for yours.”

                             I see you.
                             I hear you.
                             What you say matters, indeed, to me.

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Her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.” 
                                                                               
Proverbs

As a Usui Reiki Master, I give and teach a natural healing method you can do for yourself anytime, anywhere. It comes from the Japanese spiritual and holistic healing tradition and has been practiced in Japan and the United States and around the world since the early 1900s.  The tradition, for a long time, was passed on to another verbally and Reiki practitioners receive “attunements” into Level I, II, or Reiki Master & Master Teacher from another Master who comes from the line of Mikeo Usui, the founder of the healing practice.

One can learn much today from books and the internet about Reiki, but the passing on of the Reiki Universal Life Force powers of healing comes from the hand of another Reiki Master.

Beside the universal desire for love, the two other things I’ve wanted in life were good health and personal, all-abiding peace within. In my search for these, I walked many paths, dipped into many wells of knowledge and wisdom and I’ve had a wide variety of experiences that brought either suffering or healing.

And I guess I would add balance to my life-long “wanted” list for happiness. This explains the draw of Reiki into my life. If Reiki is about one thing- it is most certainly about balancing the body/mind/spirit for the highest good. That includes balancing your physiology and this impacts how you experience your life positively.

When I give a Reiki treatment to a person (hands above or gently on a fully-clothed person), two experiences are common and shared by anyone I treat.  First, they experience an intense heat penetrating where ever my hands are placed above or on them; second, they go into a deep relaxation — deeper than shivasana, experienced at the end of a yoga session. 

As a Reiki practitioner, I am doing nothing but acting as a vessel for the Universal Life Force to do its healing of the person on whatever level they need it; spiritual, emotional, physical. The person in deep relaxation is actually drawing the Reiki healing power into their being, I am not “sending” it.

When, as a Reiki Master, I give a Level I attunement, to another person, they now have the Reiki Power, to self-treat or treat others in their presence; Level II, is a higher attunement for Distance Healing and like “Prayer Sent” the energy of Reiki can be sent out over the world for the healing of persons or the planet. A person requesting Master Attunement experiences Reiki as a Calling, and wants to bring more Reiki into the world throught treatments and attuning new practitioners.

Like the popular phrase in the Star War Series, “The Force is with you,” you can be sure It truly is — Reiki just plugs it in and lights it up!

Reiki has gone to bat for me in the healing of emotional disturbance, soulful direction and on the physical plane where you can see it: heart surgery and not only the healing but the disappearance of a brain tumor without surgery and about 1/4 of the drugs they originally ordered.

Cats love Reiki! I’ve had them dash out from hiding and come lay under my Reiki table when I am giving another person a treatment. They stretch out long and expose their belly (the cats). If I put my Reiki hands on their furry belly, I’m afraid they are going to break their purring machine!

Reiki helps me stay rooted just in today. It reminds me by its principles to strive for and surrender to kindness and honesty, to let go of stress and worry, and to be mindful of my blessings.

When I am out of balance and not able to relax or respond to others in kindness, I suffer. I don’t like to suffer. When I include a self-treatment of Reiki for myself in my morning spiritual practice, my day goes better me and for others I come in contact with.

Reiki is one of the wondrous practices that came to me as one of the results of my search for good health, happiness and a support of my spirituality. Reiki is here to be shared.

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Monday, June 6, 2011
6:30 a.m.

Right hand journal page:

Dear Whole and Holy One,

I Am humility. Close my mouth. Enlighten my mind. Bring forth love from my being into today to all I touch. Cleanse my mind. Give me the Mind and the Compassion of Christ today.

I forgive myself. I forgive all. I forgive all others. I forgive all others of all. Jesus is the Body I Am. My Body is the Joy that I Am. Make me a Channel of your Peace. Be in my writing and my editing and my caretaking today. I need a word. (Heart symbol).

Left hand journal page:

Dear Sue,

The Word is Love.
The Word is Prayer.
The Word is Silence.
The Word is Compassion.
The Word is Stillness.
The Word is I Am.
The Word is Patience.

Stay the course. Stay the course. Stay the course. I will help you. You are not alone. In your humility, you are super sue, my vessel of Love and Creation. Stay open – let me come through you. Be in Harmony. It is the only place of co-creation. I teach you where you’re at. I Am the Expression of Perfection and Beauty in the world and so are you.

 

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