Archive for December, 2013

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Grandma Heffron

Grandma Katherine Noonan Heffron used to come to our home in Sycamore Illinois for regular visits when I was a grade school age child. Grandma lived in Milwaukee Wisconsin with her daughter’s family, my Aunt Kate and Uncle Bernard.

Now I have white hair like my Grandma Heffron did back in the 1950s. I also must have some of the DNA in her legs because she had an advanced degree of some kind of disease in them. I am just recovering from leg vein operations that are going to tidy up my legs quite a bit before they advance into a much more problematic stage.  Today, I am sporting pretty hefty surgical support hose and pressure bandages all up and down my legs. The doctor tells me it will be about a two week healing process. And I think I am going to do splendidly.

The picture above shows our front porch where I sat often and did many creative activities. I colored and drew. I fantasized and played with paper dolls for hours at a time, reveling in their abundant wardrobe, whereas my own was merely adequate. Dad worked hard to provide for his family, much of the time highly over talented and gifted for what he was paid and for the good he accomplished for his companies. Our home and our life reflected a neatly and tightly arranged lifestyle centered on the basics of faith, cleanliness, kindness and help to others, and simple family fun activities in the backyards and area parks.

Inside that door was mom’s large, open dining room that was the centerpiece for her marvelous cooking and baking forays, especially in the holiday time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On the far wall, was the tall, upright player piano some friends of theirs gave to them, and upon which I began my piano lessons. I have some of the Christmas sheet music on my piano today that I learned to play on that piano back then.

During Grandma’s visits, I vividly remember mom taking care of her disease-crusted legs, with open sores, and a very painful appearance to me as a small girl. I think grandma suffered with those legs. But later on a very holy woman’s work done by Mother Teresa really is the same image I have of mom when she attended grandma’s legs. She had so much compassion, softness and tenderness as she bathed and creamed and wrapped grandma’s legs that I still feel humble when I remember these scenes.

To me, this was all the more beautiful because Grandma Heffron would often take out her frustrations and fears on my mom. She would also make mom pay when she had had an encounter with her own son, mom’s husband, in which they frequently ended up ranting and raving at one another.  I wondered how mom took this ingratiating behavior on grandma’s part. Mom simply let it exhaust itself from grandma and just roll on out to diffuse the angst present. But she did it, again and again, over and over….and yet grandma’s legs got tended to and healed as much as possible through mom’s loving care.

The other thing I remember about grandma, is her pockets of her cotton house dress or apron always contained her blue crystal rosary. My Aunt Kate gave that rosary to me. My six year old granddaughter Amy loves sparkly things and she told me one day, “That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”  She will make her First Holy Communion in two years. I have promised Amy, and she frequently reminds me not to forget, that  I will give that rosary to her when the time is right.

Below is a story of grandma and her rosary from my Napkinwriter blog in 2011.

Grandma's Rosary

My Grandmother’s Rosary  – written in May 2011

Sue’s Mother’s Day Tribute

“Excuse me,” the gentleman said as he got my attention. “I’m sure you did not mean to sell this.” In his hand, he was holding my grandmother’s crystal blue rosary, with a dull and tarnished silver cross with her name, Katherine Heffron, engraved on the back of it. My heart leapt in my chest. I was so grateful for his kindness in assuming that this prayer tool had much more than a monetary value attached to it. He returned it to me and I keep it on my home prayer table now, connecting me in faith to my elderly grandmother who passed many years ago.

We were in moving mode once again, leaving our country home for a condominium a little closer to Tom’s work. We were getting the final items arranged for the sale, sipping our wake-up coffee to warm us on the brisk Michigan  spring morning when this early-bird garage shopper arrived. He didn’t spend much time and quickly shopped the entire space, snatching up goods that were on his “hunt list”. Somehow, my grandmother’s rosary with her name inscribed on the crucifix, got into his catch. By returning it to me in the pre-sale hour, he saved it from the later rush traffic of the day and confusion which allowed me to keep this rosary in my family heritage.

The rosary belonged to my Irish grandmother who prayed her beads faithfully each day. Most of my memories of this grandma stem from her visits to us in the 1950s in our home in Sycamore, Illinois when I was in grade school. Grandma lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She lived with her daughter’s family, my father’s only sister, and I never knew my grandfather. He lived and died working the hard life of a lumberjack, cutting and hauling wood out of the northern Wisconsin and Minnesota forest lands.

My own father, at a young age, took over the provision role for his mother and sister. Early photos I have seen of those times in the late 1920s and early 1930s looked tough and gritty. I do not know the specifics, but I came to understand that my dad sacrificed in many personal ways to ensure that his mother and sister had their needs met. Most of that information came from my mother. I don’t remember dad talking about it very much.

What I do remember is that my father and his mother had a loving but very testy relationship. Volatile and explosive would be more accurate. Grandma was a pretty cryptic personality when she wasn’t influenced by a little whiskey swig, which she was known to steal on the fly on occasion.

She had her long, white-grey hair usually pulled back in a bun at the neck and she wore soft nylon or cotton shirt waist dresses with a belt around her full torso. She always seemed immaculately clean to me and smelled of soft, fragrant body powders and cream. My mother bathed and medicated her legs faithfully after which they were bandaged with elastic wrappings and stockings. Grandma always wore what I called “Eleanor Roosevelt” shoes, the same black heeled lace up oxfords the Sisters of Mercy wore at school.

My dad and his mother may have agreed on their religion but in almost any other discussion topic, they were starkly at odds – each with a stubborn Irishness that would  not let disagreement of opinion rest. So many of their discussions turned into broiler heated arguments, my dad’s voice raised to thunder level with my grandmother, shaking her head, making clucking sounds with her false teeth, and walking off in disgust and amazement at what she deemed as her son’s lack of healthy respect for her.

Needless to say, this was very disturbing to my brothers and me who could not admonish their father and who hated to see their grandmother upset. The fall-out continued later, too, as the pattern was that grandma would then be gruff or mean to my mother, who through no fault of her own, took the heat that was meant for grandma’s son.

Looking back on this now, my suspicion is that the place where grandma settled all this was with her beads. She would sit in her rocking chair, sometimes completing her own debating points in the absence of her son to no one in particular in the room. Then, within a short period of time, a soft quietness descended upon her and she would reach into her dress or apron pocket and draw out her beads. I often watched her and was grateful for the calm settling over her and the house as she sat alone and began her prayers.

I would sit in the room near her, perhaps reading a book or completing some homework. I could see and feel the tension and the upset in her give way, for this short period of time, to be replaced by the rhythm of the beads slipping through her fingers and the repetitive words of the prayers coming quietly from her lips.

Grandma shared my bedroom with me when she came for visits. One of my favorite times with grandma was when we were alone in my bedroom at night, just before  going to sleep. I would ask her about times when she was a girl like me and she talked softly and sweetly to me as she shared things I cannot remember today. It was a twilight time together for us and I got to know a grandma different from my daytime grandma that I loved and cared about deeply. We even laughed together. I think she liked that. My father might come to the door and admonish us, “You two, go to sleep”.

We would quiet down, and maybe whisper one more secret between us before turning over and settling into our twin bed covers and pillows. Then, before drifting off to sleep, I would once again hear the slipping of the beads and her whispering lips praying her nighttime rosary. Mary, Mother of God, called upon once again for all of our sakes.

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Gentle Woman Reiki

Today’s post is a repost of a blog I wrote a couple of years ago. Today, I continue this practice and continue to give Reiki treatments to those who desire them and Reiki attunements to those who wish to add Reiki practice and healing to their lives.

An ongoing update of the blessings of Reiki in my own family life. Many, with medical comments of the belief that Reiki is, in part, and sometimes wholly attributed to the healings experienced. I always treat Tom and he has recovered remarkedly from back pain over the past two years. He had a spinal fusion surgery and a fast recovery as he rehabbed with no further problems and the ability to walk distances with no pain. The previous ten years had been agony.

His skin cancers, especially around his face and scalp, have continued to be challenging, but right along with frequent Reiki treatments, he found excellent care at University of Michigan Cancer Clinic. This past year, he’s had over a half-dozen MOHS surgical procedures and the main doctor on the case said to us, “You are a good healer, in fact, you are the best healer I’ve seen with the amount of recovery you had to do.”  He definitely acknowledged Tom’s role in choosing healthy recovery and encouraged us to  continue the “Raykee” or whatever it was he was doing!



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

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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Lord of the Dance

Guest blog today is Betty Lue Lieber’s Loving Reminder for Dec. 9, 2013. I am taking it to heart.

Photos by Susan Heffron Hajec.


I am willing to breathe fully and freely.
I easily take gratitude breaks, just to enjoy my life.
I forgive myself for working too hard.
I sit down and quiet my mind, simply to be still and know.

December 9, 2013 Loving Reminders

Slow Down

Just for a moment, slow down and breathe.
For a moment, stop and enjoy where you are.
Take a little time to see the beauty around you.
Be willing to express gratitude for everyone you encounter.

Slow down and be quiet.
Slow down and see the Light.
Slow down and give your Love.
Slow down and feel the Blessings.


These are the Holy Days.
It is Festival of Lights, Kwanza, Solstice Christmas.
It is time for families to gather to forgive the past.
It is time for families to gather to remember the Good times.

Love of Music

These are the healing days.
It is time to close the year with forgiveness and gratitude.
It is time to stop judging and learn the lessons.
It is time to observe the journey and receive the blessings.

What does it take to meditate?
How can you begin to contemplate.?
Where can you be still and reflect on the Light?
What will you do to learn how to be happy and thankful?

aug 30

“So much to do and so little time!” ??
It takes no extra time to give thanks before you eat and sleep.
It takes no extra time to appreciate the beauty of nature as you drive and walk.
It takes no extra time to say thanks to those who serve you at stores and on the phone.

Slow down and do everything you do with gratitude for you and the doing.
You will discover with focus, appreciation, open-mindedness, you can do more with less stress.
You will learn it takes nothing away and gives your peace and joy.
You will feel blessed by everything you do with your blessings.
Turtle closeup

Life works for us, when we are working for the Good of all.
The Holy healing days are a blessing when we remember to bless.
Each encounter is a healing and holy encounter when we remember to forgive and be grateful.
We can give ourselves the space to remember Love with every breath we take.

No more excuses.
No more complaints.
No more judgments.

Take time to stop and appreciate you and all you have in your life.

You are good.
You are Love.
You are the giver and the receive.
Be the light you are and watch your world transform with your Love and Light.
Loving you in remembering to be true to Who You Really Are.
Betty Lue

From Napkinwriter:
Betty Lue is a blessed presence in my life, always reminding me, reminding me, reminding me of the Truths that will set me free, always giving me choice, always calling forth the eagerness to listen within, find the love and therefore find my way.


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Tom and I have been getting our affairs in order. We’ve received no bad news or anything like that. We anticipate and look forward to a very healthy and happy 2014. But we have “basement issues” with unsorted boxes and papers from our foray of frequent moves and we’ve bravely decided to tackle just a bit of it.

Some of that includes straightening out the fireproof box and making sure records are current and pertinent.  I was mom’s durable power of attorney and we’ve just passed the 6th anniversary of her death in November 2007 so I walked down memory lane a bit before continuing on my task.

Mom was at Hazel Findlay Nursing Home in St. Johns, Michigan when she passed, a long-term resident with Alzheimzers disease. Even without her speech, mom could, nearly up to the end, brighten a worker’s or visitor’s day with her cheerful smile and laugh.

Before entering residential care, mom was living in an apartment near her sister in Indiana. When she visited us, she loved to dote on our cat, Bradley. She kept up a pretty bright conversation with him, and saw him only through compassionate eyes of love. They were pals.

Mom’s been on my mind lately anyway, not just because of the paperwork but because it is Thanksgiving season turning quickly into pre-Christmas season. These were festive times for mom and baking was her speciality. I, in fact, was boasting about her famous pumpkin pie (like none other) that was a cherished heirloom in our family at our October high school reunion luncheon and found myself promising to bring the proof to our November luncheon.


Six pies later, I had pretty wide acceptance that her pumpkin pie was pretty darn good. Mom took out all the stops during this season with her baking. Many traditional Norwegian specialties plus the always-loved sugar cookies cutouts, the confectioners sugar pecan balls, and many others that were stored all over the house and somehow kept fresh right up to the holiday. Mom gave much of it away, but my two brothers and I were lurking when ever we could to capture an extra one or two when nobody was looking.

They may not have been looking, but once in awhile we heard from far in another room, “You kids, get out of the kitchen!” How did they know?


Tom was reading the newspaper one night and said to me, “Oh, guess what is the secret ingredient to the best pumpkin pie.” I bit (no pun intended) and answered, “Ginger.” “Wrong,” he said. “Love.”

By the time Thanksgiving had come and gone, I had added four more pies to my production for family. And I have to agree. I know mom’s baking came from love. And my own? Surely, love is the added ingredient that was enjoyed by all.

About three years before mom died, I wrote a poem at an IWWG Writers Conference I was attending in New York. As I did in every visit to mom, I also tried, in the poem, to get behind that mask of Alzheimers and touch my mom by calling out her identity. This is the poem.

Her Name is Marion
by Susan Heffron Hajec

She is somebody
her name is Marion.
She is somebody
she is my mother.
She is somebody
she is ill with Alzheimer’s.

She is somebody
she is the delete key that’s been
mistakenly pressed on the computer of life.
She is the jigsaw puzzle
with the missing pieces.
She is the finished recipe
minus a key ingredient.
She is the sunset
blocked from view.
She is the wrapped birthday present
without the signed card.
My mother is somebody
Alzheimer’s is the lurking bandit.

My mother is somebody.
She is the gentle sensation of peach fuzz
on my cheek.
My mother is somebody
She is the beckoned smile from a baby.
My mother is somebody.
She is the organizer in a house of chaos.

She is somebody
her name is Marion.
She is somebody
she is my mother.

                    Skidmore 2004

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