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Archive for May, 2013

The labyrinth is a mysterious and wondrous presence in my life. The labyrinth, itself, is a path and it entered into my spiritual life as a walking meditation path and a learning course of how these design structures filled many ancient lands and were integrated into many varied cultures as a practice of sacred motion and connection between the divine and human.

I had no way of knowing when I first came across Rev. Lauren Artress’ book, “Walking a Sacred Path” in the late 1990s, that this circular, balancing  prayer practice would take me on retreats to the California West Coast, to Paris and Chartres France, to Weber Retreat Center, teaching and using the labyrinth, to now building one in our own backyard, with plans to invite groups in for quiet experiences of prayer and community. For this I am grateful.

This is a link that leads to my background experience with the labyrinth.  I wrote it in July 2011.

https://napkinwriter.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/the-labyrinth-path-that-led-to-paris/

The Labyrinth Path that led to Paris

For some time now, I’ve known I’ve gotten every penny’s worth out of my $5 special plain, brown purse I purchased at K-Mart. And I’ve been casusally looking for a replacement but not exactly on a mission, even as the straps unraveled and fell apart as I carried it.

But vacation time was upon us and that was really my internal deadline for a new purse. So after shopping for the last vacation items the night before leaving, I “captured” my new purse.

Rather, it really captured me with it’s vibrant colors and pronounced turquoise (always a winner) running throughout the purse with a leather type texture.  The scenes of Paris cinched the deal. It was on special but I had to put out a few extra bucks to get it. I didn’t care. The purse just felt FUN to me. It had all the compartments I required for my purse organization AND it definitely reminded me of my time with Tom in Paris in 2000.

Christine Whitehall, in her binji yoga blog, has been sharing her walks around Paris and the surrounding countryside so my thoughts have floated back to my own Paris memories —  tranquil, enchanted and exciting ones.

So do you know anyone who just goes through Paris on the way to someplace else? That’s what we were doing when we arrived at the Paris airport. We were non-French speaking tourists with no money exchanged in the United States to make our way from the airport to the train station for our concluding trip to Chartres France. We were  on our way to a week-long retreat on the labyrinth with Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, Episcopal priest.

This was in May 2000, the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I had previously studied with Rev. Artress at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to become a labyrinth facilitator, but I had no idea of going to France at the time. Things just turned out that way. Like getting onto the labyrinth. You walk to the center and back out again bringing your gift from this quiet walk into the world with you. One of my gifts became a decision made in the future to make the big pilgrimage to Chartres, where this adventure had all begun for Rev. Artress.

(Mary, Mother of Christ Child – Chartres Cathedral)

In the mid-nineties, I had picked up her book, “Walking a Sacred Path” at Weber Retreat Center in Adrian Michigan when I was on a weekend retreat on Centering Prayer.  I got interested in both the labyrinth and mandala during that time.  Rev. Artress explains in her book that when she made her pilgrimage trip to Chartres, she felt an overwhelming mission was given to her to make this sacred symbol more known in the United States and in addition to that, to have them created at retreat centers, hospitals, public parks, and cemetaries throughout the land by the year 2000. She succeeded in doing that through her Veritditas Organization.

Grace Cathedral came to have an indoor Cathedral labyrinth and an outdoor plaza labyrinth where on special holy days and New Year’s Day, high on the hill you see tai chi being gracefully performed and serene walkers and graced dance movements following the holy path of the labyrinth.

The labyrinth was not a major part of my spiritual practice, but it was always around throughout the next several years with a pull toward it I could not deny. I assisted with it at my health center and a spiritual center near me. I met a wondrous spiritual director through our mutual interest in the labyrinth and she helped me through a particularly traumatic professional challenge. I traveled to a Sinsinuwa Wisconsin Dominican retreat center focused on hospitality, the creative arts and the labyrinth once again to be with Lauren.

I also gave writing retreats entwined with the labyrinth experience. I got to professionally write and report on the garden labyrinth made on the grounds of the Grand Hotel on our famous vacation island in Michigan, Mackinac Island.

So where does Paris, France come into all of this? The New Millenium year of 2000 had several spiritual energies going for me that just told me this was the time to explore roots.  In January, during the Catholic celebration of Jubilee, we went on the Jubilee diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi and Florence, Italy.

Our sacred paths included walking the halls of the basilicas of Rome, the dusty floors of the catecombs, the artistic halls of Forence Art museums, holding Michealangelo’s David, and the streets and Cathedral of Assisi, where religious history is recorded in Gioto’s world-fames frescos.  History, culture, art, and human revelations of spirituality across time surrounded and absorbed our group of twenty plus pilgrims. Again, I had the task and blessing to record this in writing and in professional video newsletter form.

And I’m still not in Paris! Tom’s and my second pilgrimage across the sea came in May of that year to Chartres, as I mentioned above. So you fly into Paris to get to Chartres. My thought was, we can’t say we went in and “out” of Paris without really being IN Paris. We began to make arrangements to be able to stay in Paris for a few days after the retreat.

With that came more good fortune because Tom’s sister had a good friend who was an American actor, moved to France where he married a writer of romantic novels, and they now lived in Paris just off the Champs – Elysees (Avenue of Champions). When we contacted them about hotel recommendations, they insisted we stay in their large apartment.  We would be able to get anywhere we wanted with ease from their location they advised.

So we did that. Their apartment was like staying in an art museum. Their son was an artist and they were working out scripts for a TV series from their apartment.

We window-shopped the avenues, people watching as much as window gazing. We went to the very top of the Eiffel tower, back-patting ourselves for our bravery as we passed the mid-level viewing platform. Our walks along the Seine were exceptionally pleasing to me, as were the lighted bridges spanning the famous river. We took a Sunday morning boat ride upon the river also, and there was a great soothing energy all up and down the Seine.

We visited the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame. Stopped and prayed a bit.  Not a regular partaker of the sacrament of Penance, I made a split-second decision to go to confession while I was there. The French priest gave me the penance of lightening up on myself and the advice to play more than I was playing! If I ever get back to France, I may go to confession again.

We also visited the Cathedral of Sacre Cour, one of the mainstay sites for tourist visits, with many, many steps up to the church, itself, and a very panoramic view of Paris at the top. Other places we got this type of view was on the tall ferris wheel, the Victory Monument on the Avenue of Champs, and of course, the Eiffel Tower.

Our adventure of the day was almost getting separated at the underground train, as we tried to decide which train to take. Before the day of cell phones, Tom climbed aboard one just as they were clearing the tracks with me still on the platform. I quickly lunged forward to be with him, only to discover by looking at the train wall map, and the motions of the French-speaking riders, that we were going away from our desired destination rather than toward it. The up side? At least we were going away from it together!

We made a very short visit to the Louvre — appreciated the Mona Lisa, and I was especially entranced by the sculpture throughout the museum. They, too, had a magnetic pull. You could not just walk by them. They commanded an appreciation and an acknowledgment. They hold a very special place in art and history and their residence in the Louvre bears witness to it.

Paris was magical. It felt like being in a movie just to be there. Our short time there flew extra fast, it seemed. And a longing remains. One I don’t think will ever disappear. It is to return again for a longer and slower time. The aging process will take care of slower. To be there a little longer, just once again, would be a blessing.

I will think of this the next time I walk a labyrinth. I will live Paris vicariously each time I tote my purse along for the ride.

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God bless our vets

God bless our Veterans. May Peace be the Truth of our Lives.

Coleus said Take me home

I could not walk past this Coleus. It said, “Bring me home with you.”

Everlasting Love Rose

Everlasting Love grows in our hearts and in this rose.

Lilac Aromas

Adding the aroma of lilac.

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Labyrinth paths continue.

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Engineered path width being laid down.

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A dove dropped a feather right beside the brick path, so a feathered cairn watches over our progress.

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The feather holds.

Bringing in bricks

Carrying bricks to the path.

Laying path supply

Path Design Engineer’s assistant.

Break

Water and Break Time

Toward center

Going toward center.

Gentle Breezes

Gentle breezes assist.

Map

The Map guides the way.

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Little girl of my dreams.

Reward

End of today’s work treat.

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Playful, often joyful, and gentle way of inner exploration! Those words describe the process of SoulCollage. For me, it is a visual of my prayer time, a spiritually fun or serious — or both– way of taking an imaginary snapshot of my real self.

SoulCollage then gives a microphone to my visual and invites “me” to speak. I write down her/his words to me. It seems like I’m making this up — but I know I am not.

What I am hearing and seeing is an intuitive message, at any given time, soon after I have created the card (or the card has actually created itself before me). Then, later on I visit the card and, in the moment of silence I offer, the card begins anew and continues a conversation I am grateful to have.

The process of SoulCollage was founded by Seena B. Frost, M.Div. M.A., Marriage and Family Therapist, in the 1980s, after study with Jean Houston. It is a simple, creative process using work and play with images, imagination and intuition to gather insights about one’s personal and unique Soul and about how to become transformative  agents in the world.

There is now a vital community of thousands of Facilitators, teaching this process world-wide. I experienced my first SoulCollage workshop with Catherine Anderson in Charlotte NC. I will return to her gracious studio to train as a SoulCollage Facilitator to be able to enlarge this work/play in the world.

Dave - Soul Collage

This is my soul collage card that “breathes my heart”. I made it in Catherine’s workshop. It tells of the voyage I’ve had with my “big brother,” Dave who is now travelling in the misty paths of Alzheimers.

Dave is on the twilight journey of the canoe paddler, (or perhaps it is the dawning of a new morning experience of life). He is alone but not alone. There is the dandelion whiffs of memory within me of Dave holding his little sister secure in the flower of life, pulling the wagon with little sis in it, establishing a fulfilling brother-sister relationship through personal letter writing.

Toward the top of the card, the message  of the card is”heard and read” by me in the silence of completing the card.

The message I hear internally is that a candle will light his way now and the flame of my love accompanies him. I add a little chocolate for sweetness on the cobblestone path he walks within the disease. There will be peace within each of us as we give way to the path that is before us and that is ours alone to walk. But truly not alone. That is a message I needed to hear. It has shone light upon my path and it acknowledges for me that Dave’s path is blessed.

This soul card has given me great comfort as the distance between us grows and I look for the grace in aging. It is there. I must agree and sit within it. All is well in this world.

Catherine Anderson2Catherine Anderson

http://www.catherineandersonstudio.com/soulcollage.html

Catherine trained as a SoulCollage facilitator in 2004, offers trainings in Charlotte, and has trained facilitators in South Africa and India. “It never fails to amaze me at the discoveries that participants have when they allow themselves to follow their intuition and let images speak to them,” she says.

SoulCollage is an excellent process for people who think of themselves as “non-artists”.  Also for people who just “don’t get” meditation.

Engaging in this visual, quiet, respectful process and sitting in a respectful community of other person souls, the gift of the personal card appears before each one. It is then honored and celebrated at the completion of the project.

I am taking a 4 class on-line SoulCollage and FasterEFT course with Australian Karen Mann, who joyfully enlarges the practice of both of these systems.

Karen Mann

https://www.facebook.com/MsKarenMann/about

Between the first and second class, we students were to create our Soul Collage Cards from the Career/Business and Health/Fitness sections from her Wheel of Life.

The following are mine:

Best Health & FitnessHealth & Fitness

Answering: “Who are you?”

“I AM THE ONE who flies freely within you, an endless supply of joy. I am the One within the butterfly chrysalis who emerges on butterfly wings.  I AM THE ONE in grace and balance, freedom and beauty.  I AM the ONE who is the Truth of you. I AM THE ONE who is your rest and your big dreams. I AM THE ONE who gives birth to your creativity. I AM THE ONE within you who defies gravity. I AM THE ONE of sleekness and non-judgment.  I AM THE ONE who answers only to Joy and Love and Compassion. I AM THE ONE WHO fills you with those. I AM THE ONE who is whole and healthy and I AM THE ONE who celebrates that with deep gratitude.

WHAT I GIVE YOU is creative possibility and unquenchable Joy. I plant deep within you the sunflower seeds of light and the grace of flying to the moon with your grace and agility. I give you the acceptance of what is and the courage to heal and transform suffering and physical challenge. I teach you balance and enhance your awareness and intuition.

I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER all the ways in which you’ve nourished the essence of fitness and health within you. I WANT YOU TO APPRECIATE and CELEBRATE the courage you’ve built within yourself to continue to choose wisely and change in order to realize your health and shine your light of Truth and Creativity in your life. I WANT YOU TO ENJOY your good health  and TO BE OPEN to conscious expansion to become Universal Humanity”

Best - SouljournerCareer/Business

When I came to making my business SoulCollage card, I feared the image of the businesswoman suit showing up. Instead, what came was the whirling, young red-headed girl in the dress I love. She was on a card I had begun in Catherine’s class, but knew I had not completed.

When I found her again in my SoulCollage box, I knew it was time to complete her. The candles that light her way were already there, and she was headed into the Cosmos, which excited me.  The waterfall, looked a bit odd to me at the right hand corner but it nourished me and I had also already had that glued on the card.

The only thing I added was the logo from three of my work activities now: Souljourner at-Large, coming right from her heart area on her dress, my Prayer and Care Companion lotus, and the hands surrounding the heart from my Gentle Woman Reiki business card. The labyrinth turns of life was already embedded in my card and I acknowledge its wisdom and grace in my life’s landscape.

These are the activities and services that beat my heart and my breath. These are my business. These are my career and no business suit is required.

This is what my card spoke to me:

“I am the One in you who is Joy! I am One who leads you in a circular path of life and you can trust it. I am one with you who is your passion and purpose. I am the One who fuels your dreams and fulfills your desires. I am one who beats deep within you. I am One who IS yes to life and love.

I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER I am the One within you who is looking out into the Cosmos and yet serving people on Earth with love and compassion. I WANT YOU TO KNOW you are trustworthy of  the gifts and talents within you and that financial abundance lies within your willingness to serve as Souljourner at-Large…I WANT YOU TO CONTINUE offering this service in playful actions and not worry about the results. I want you to give up doubts and swirl with me into your future.

THE MESSAGE I HAVE FOR YOU TODAY is to enhance your inspiration by PLAYING rather than working your way through life.”

My SoulCollage cards are like instant self-help books. I see a life novel emerging from them.

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My grandmother, Katherine Heffron, was quite afraid of storms. I remember, as a little girl, when the winds would whip up, the skies darken and the lightening begin to spark, she would become very anxious, light a candle if one was available, and sit and rock purposefully in her rocking chair.

The clap of thunder brought out her blue crystal rosary beads from her dress pocket and her mouth began moving, forming the words of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, in whisper volume, often punctuated with a frightened gasp and ever-more fervent praying on the beads.

Today, I assume that grandmother probably endured her share of violent, wind-driven storms in the northern woods of her native Wisconsin and really didn’t care for them one bit. Her now aged  body still held the molecules of fear she endured, herself, as a young woman.

Yesterday afternoon, I had just returned from a visit with a friend who wanted to share some dark times and  physical and emotional challenges she is now experiencing. As I came into my house, still somewhat concerned for my friend’s condition, the ominous tornado cloud formations over Oklahoma were being shown live on the television screen.

Before I began to see the devastating results and loss of children’s lives from this horrific storm, I had a telephone conversation with another friend, telling her of the frustration  I’d had earlier in the day with a sewing machine I was only attempting to sew straight lines and zigzags with.

I do not discount my exasperating experience, but it was quickly put into perspective when, after the conversation concluded, the news started pouring in about Moore, Oklahoma and the  annihilation of family lives and property.

As the evening went on, I found myself thinking of the children in the schools and the parents waiting to find their children. It made me think of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It also made me think of our guardian angels.

My prayer turned quickly to many conversations and requests of these family’s guardian angels. For the missing children,  if alive, to be given some comfort and protection until found; for the parents, some strength beyond human strength in the waiting hours.

And I burned a candle for everyone.

This morning, I lit my candle as usual, for early morning prayer time. Again, the children came to mind….never, actually, far from it. I picked up my small Benedictine Way of Living Prayer book, and opened to a marker….the marker, I could not see, contained the “Angel of God, my guardian dear” prayer….Ever this day be at my side….  Is that how the angels told me they were there, on the job?

I didn’t have too many prayer words this morning. Just sitting in the silence….attempting to balance both peace and awareness of shattering loss so many people would have to find a way to endure and survive.

My two words in the quiet time were, holy  and help. I didn’t have words for those words, I just kept repeating them.

I think it was about the Truth that families ARE holy, and I was uniting in compassion with the families in Oklahoma….and help……just a primal appeal from my heart.

The page I opened to in the prayer book had these words:

“It is for us to train our hearts to live in grace.”   This reminded me of something Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago — a holy man suffering with cancer —  said: “Pray when you are well, because it is hard as hell to pray when you are sick.”

I am well and I pray for myself, my family and friends and the people of Oklahoma who may or may not find it hard as hell to pray right now.

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A few weeks ago, I reported I was on a quest to put some order in my creativity room. I managed to get about two-thirds of the way done, all the while creating more piles of stuff and folders and never ending paper that seems to cover the clean surfaces of my work spaces like fresh snowfall on a December day in Michigan.

So, I will show you just a few things that make me feel “at home” in my space.

This top photo is looking out of my room, as when I leave it on occasion to fix a meal or head to bed or take a walk around the block.

We had a beautiful and lovable cat, Fritzi, who was Laura’s cat and she graced several of our homes for many years, and endured our travels and Laura’s exit to college. So the framed picture behind the door (not too much uncovered wall space in my room) has an elegant black cat (like Fritzi) sitting on a garden path and it is a serene picture for me. My sister-in-law, Donna, made a gift of it to me when she no longer needed it.

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I have always shamelessly taped images and words that inspire me on my walls and bookcase and ledge surfaces (all the while, hearing some inner critic voice telling me not to do it.)

This beautiful photo of Laura and newborn Amy is the first image I see upon entering my creative room, and right below it an explanation of The Creative Process from Ideal through Manifestation. These fill me with gratitude.

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My own Intention mandala for 2013 hangs above my writing table. My Souljourner at-Large journal awaits the next entry.

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I loosened up my overstuffed bookcase, added some greenery to it, organized my spiral notebooks and Yoga Journals, and there is always a stack of paper ready to be written upon.

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Some more precious books and spiritual images and mandalas beating their energies into the room. A prayer stick made long ago is the perfect background over all.

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What! More book deliveries?

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A chair to read, pray, listen within and moodle.  

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The guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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The years 1999-2000 Millennium Plates given to my by my good friend, Martha and photos of Tom’s mom and dad and my birth mom and dad.

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For my little girl, within and without, this special doll graces my room, given to me by my friend, Rosann.  She said it was for “Little Sue.”

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This is an image shared between Rosann and me and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

I always like the hymn, “On Eagles Wings” and it is a special bible verse that has calmed me in stormy or fearful times. I thought I would get an artist that would paint me the image of being raised up on eagle wings, flying to the breath of dawn.

And then one day, I took my first watercolor class. The instructor approached the painting time with a meditation first. Then she had us run water color all over our papers to “just see what happens.”

What happened for me was a majestic cosmic colors background of blues, whites, pinks, and purples…..

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and in the middle of it, there flew the eagle, with his wide wings spread over the breath of dawn!  This, too, hangs in my room, reminding me to just let God’s grace happen.

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Trust to Love

Shattered Mirrors

By Susan Heffron Hajec, inspired from
Mimi Foyle,’s Shattered Mirrors

I will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
The world breaks
My effort is needed.

I am a humble artist
with prayerful hands
I nourish new life.

In dark corners,
unmolded clay in my hand
in broken places
molding my earthly clod
to reflect what is neglected.

I will trust to love.

Hello Napkinwriter readers. Well just a few moments ago, my blog was shattered…..I typed “glog”. That’s what I feel like now. I had expressed in the first “blank” issue of this, how many ways this workshop experience at WWAM from artist/writer Kittie Bintz had excited me.  Now, I am left looking in a seeminly empty draft land to come up with my version.

Recently on MeetUp, I joined a WordPress group and missed the first meeting. This is one of the first things I want to find out how to avoid or at least be a good enough sleuth to recover it.

This experience was about creating an altar to our muse. Kittie, a soon to be retiring public school art teacher, was a vivacious guiding presence, as we mixed water color, tea lights, collage images,words  and shattered glass to our creations.

The word “retired” didn’t really fit Kittie, so I suggested she was “re-FIRING” instead, and that word stuck, as I heard it repeated among the more than 50 attendees of WWAM Weekend at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York.

What a weekend retreat it was. But then again, we creative’s don’t really retreat from life, rather we continue to re-TREAT the world with continuing inspirations, images, ceremony and words.

The inspiration for my creation came from Mimi Foyle’s poem, Shattered Mirrors, which I share here.   I live in the truth that it is indeed prayerful hands and honoring the Mystery that has healed me from my own wounded and light-deprived places in life.

I am in deep gratitude for the great gift of life I enjoy.

Shattered Mirrors
Mimi Foyle

i will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
heart broken open,
i will pick up the pieces
no matter how sharp
to reflect
what is neglected
in dark corners.
wounded, light-deprived,
with prayerful hands i’ll
recycle devastation to
nourish new life
art, like gardening
is an act of faith and healing,
shining for the world.
as Mystery’s greater
than the sum of all suffering,

I will trust to Love.

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MARY mother of God

Mary, mother of God, thank you for the graces which have poured through you onto our family. I am forever grateful.

“Mother dear, o pray for me! while far from heav’n and thee.
I wander in a fragile bark o’er life’s tempestuous sea,
O Virgin Mother from your throne, So bright in bliss above,
Protect your child and cheer my path
with your sweet smile of love.

Mother dear, remember me, and never cease your care,
Till in heaven eternally,
Your love and bliss I share.”

Sue - March 2013

Amen.

 

 

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Sue & Girls Lexington

“Hail Mary, full of Grace
The Lord is with you.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb
, Jesus”

Family Disney

Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful family of women
who express in the world the highest esteem, respect and
faith in motherhood.

You set the foundation of our country
and give our future hope, otherwise unrealized.

I will call you by name:

Grandmothers:  Katherine Heffron, with whom I shared little girl stories and private sharings of what grandma was like in the “prairie days.” Grandma Tanberg with whom I shared blood heritage, giggles and hugs. Grandma Thompson, only a short stint of summer farm days. (But a secret alcove upstairs in the farmhouse, where I spent many hours alone going through scraps of fabrics and antiques of great-grandma and grandma’s possessions nobody else cared about).

Three beautiful mothers:  Doris Tanberg Heffron, who gave me birth and told her best friend, motherhood was the purpose of her life, which ended here on earth a few days after my birth. She was also mother to my older brother Dave, whom she told my father in the Catholic orphanage that: “this was the baby for us; nobody else would love him like I can.” So Dave got a sister a short year and one-half after he became first sibling in our family; me.

Marion Heffron – the mother I knew and loved from age 2, who created a home for us, being dad, Dave, younger brother John and me.  Mom’s creativity was homemaking par excellence and a soft, caring heart for others. She was in love with her grandchildren and puffed with pride at our daughters’ accomplishments, enjoying many of them before she died of Alzheimers. She loved it when Great-grandson Andrew pushed her wheel chair fast for her trips around the nursing home. She laughed and laughed and probably remembered herself doing what others said she did: “She drove fast!

Frances Helminski Hajec – I fell in love with my ” newest mom” the first day I met her when Tom brought his “intended” home to his family.  Mom was a gift of Mary to all her future daughters-in-law, who wanted nothing more than each of her sons to be loved and cared for by a good woman. And she DID get her wish 100%.

Mary mother of God

Andrew and Great Buscia

Little Kelly

Daughters: Laura Sue Hajec Mitchell, wife of Carl Mitchell and mother of Amy; Kathleen Marie Hajec Warriner, wife of Gregory Warriner and mother of Devon and Andrew. Two daughters who grace the world with their gifts and talents of giving and focus on motherhood. They and their children make this world better by their being here.

Grama,Devon & Amy

Baptism Cloth

Andrew and Me

Bed time pals

Kathleen and Clarinet

Laura baby Amy

Amy and Dr. mom

(Dave’s) Donna Hajec – Gentle, quiet presence with direction. A guardian angel of a mother to her children.

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(Mike’s) Shirley Hajec – Center stage for laughter, fueled by a passion for living in the moment with what life gives you. A heart of deep compassion,  and …… quietness is not her thing!

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(Dave’s) Mary Hajec Russell –  Mary, the “apple of her five brothers’ eye”, the baby of the family grew in grace, as the prayer says. Mother to three wonderful boys, grown to fine men. The thing I remember Mary saying the most was “my boys”. That defined her life and now she enjoys those boys and their families,  Jeff, Dan, and Tim.

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Australian sand

all photos by Christine Whitelaw  (c)

A beautiful shared experience of Australia and yourself by Christine Whitelaw.

Clouds, Sea, Meditation

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This evening I read post by Annie about peace descending on her when she spent a week in a place by the sea. Our inherent nature is peace, just as it is love, compassion, beauty, generosity, joy and wisdom. Nature shows us all this, if we can take the time to be present, to open our senses and begin to perceive who we really are.

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I will be teaching a meditation class with new people next week, so I am thinking about how to explain something so simple yet so profound. Sitting with nature, sharing love, or meditating are excellent ways to discover that we do not end at the visual boundary of our skin.  When we pay attention we discover awareness radiates out endlessly beyond and into the body in every direction; this is a hint about our real nature, we are life, we are It, whatever It is. The mind tries to jump in with its own importance, questions and rationalisations, but if you reassure it that all is well you can slip back into simply being One. So much more peaceful than being two, you and It.

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When practising yoga nidra (a powerful tantric form of meditation) we spend time sensing each of the koshas or ‘bodies’, staying as alert and present as we can, even though we are lying down. Buddha said to start with the senses, being mindful of everything that enters our sense doors, so we do. Attention is carefully guided around the body, then into the energy body by following the breath.  Concentration is developed through counting the breaths for while, and when the pranic body is fully awakened we move on with our senses to the emotional body of feelings. Now we notice what is present, or focus our attention on a feelings such as heaviness/ lightness, or happiness/sadness, creating opportunities for healing and harmony to do their work. Similarly yoga nidra takes us to the mind; thoughts and beliefs are all examined as part of this simple but profound meditation. Through all this we learn to ‘pan out’ so that as well as being aware of all we are doing in our mediation we notice that we are awareness itself. Not separate. Joy tingles through every cell of the body, everything smiles, inside and out … mmm yoga nidra is delicious!

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Thanks for being patient while I tried out a few thoughts. Usually I have only taught yoga nidra to my yoga students, where most of us already have some common understanding. Of course my first class will be mostly practical, and I have worked out some basics that must be covered. I will let you know how it goes; we are hoping it will turn into a monthly meditation in town after we return from our trip to the Kimberley.

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If you are interested to learn more about the simple practice and transformative power of yoga nidra I can recommend recordings by Richard Miller and Kelly Boys titled iRest at Ease. As part of my work I will be recording each session and making it available to students for their home practice … a new skill I am working on!

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Susie's Pie

This is a guest blog from Suzi Banks Baum, a beautiful and electric woman who presented an art workshop of image, word and techniques that we, students were grateful to absorb.

Suzi gives voice, in so many vibrant and meaningful ways, to mothers in much of her work and play. She also lives this voice within her charming family.

“But what can I do?” we so often ask, feeling helpless in the face of horror,  tragedy  and suffering.  Can we look within and find our own answer to that and break the paralysis gripping us in great numbers?

Yes, we can. Here is a humble and exaulted answer.

http://laundrylinedivine.com/5078/what-is-a-mother-to-do/

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