Sunday, September 30, 2012

Opening Your Heart Under a Harvest Moon

In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart.
Roberta Sage Hamilton

Summer brought a plethora of lessons due to the breast cancer. Now that fall is here I've begun to reap the benefits. One of the most important teachings was about opening my heart even more deeply then I have to heal, love and know what is needed to live my life more fully. Last night the harvest moon came up full and bright. Going out and spending some time under it, I thought about a love affair that I had begun under a harvest moon and another that will end soon. I haven't found my soul mate yet, but my heart sang to me and I know he is out there and he will be the one that I dance with in the years to come on the harvest moon.

My gratitude goes to to John who taught me to dance under a Sierra Nevada harvest moon.

Neil Young, "Harvest Moon":

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In Thanksgiving for Wellness

To feel keenly the poetry of a morning's roses, one has to have just escaped from the claws of this vulture which we call sickness.
Henri Fredrick Amiel

This past week I went to have my first check-up post breast cancer treatment. To recap I had taken my own path in not doing the chemotherapy and deciding to use diet and other integrative techniques (although I had followed the other things they wanted me to do: surgery, radiation and hormone therapy). When I had the blood draw, I would be less then honest if I hadn't felt some fear and trepidation, but I acknowledged them and continued on. So when I landed at the doctor's office, it was hard to wait an hour before they called me,. During that hour, as it was a major chemotherapy day, I saw different genders and ages come in to do their treatment. Looking at them, I knew for me I had made the right choice (they all without fail looked terrible and for them it might be the correct path, but I knew it wasn't for me). The doc called me in and immediately gave me that I had good news across the board. He told me that whatever I was doing keep it up. All was negative....

I let out a deep breath I didn't know I had been holding. However, it makes me more determined then ever to continue my journey with my meditation, yoga, diet and acupuncture among the other things I am doing. One good check-up doesn't mean I can go back to my old life style, it means I'm on the right path and I need to keep traveling down it.

Tonight I am grateful for the beauty of life, which I feel even more keenly as I go forward to live each moment that I have been given. And to the god and goddess who guide my path.

Enya,"Caribbean Blue (a dedication to the goddess)":

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fire in the Sky

Firefighters save hearts and homes.
Author Unknown


Tonight I have a major reason to be grateful. We had a fire in one of the units in our complex. We have a fire station a few blocks from our complex and they arrived quickly. While two units apparently suffered major damage, no one was hurt and the rest of the condos were saved.

I went out and took photos to remind me of how hard these people work and how much we depend on them. 

So I'm grateful for the dedication of firefighters. They put it on the line every day to make sure the rest of us are safe and well.

Deep Purple, "Smoke on the Water":

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meditations from the Morning Mat

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.
Buddha


I've been doing yoga off and on for twenty years. It took the events of this summer though to bring me to new levels of doing it. Yoga has become my morning cup of coffee. I cannot start the day without it. I use two primary web sites to help me practice; one is free, one I subscribe to. The Do Yoga With Me website offers a variety of styles. I love the restorative and gentle classes. The other My Yoga Online is a subscription website that costs about as much as one yoga class. It offers huge selections of yoga styles. Lately I've been doing yin/restorative yoga as the hormone therapy I've been taking has caused some side effects with my joints. The yin yoga has diminished them to hardly there now.

After I do my yoga, I practice meditation. This one is harder. I have a very type A personality and my mind offers comments on everything. Once in awhile I get it to shut up and find my sweet spot, but it is an ongoing process. Luckily there are many sources out there to help you with the experience and they agree that meditation is worthwhile, but it is a lifetime discipline, it's not something you arrive at and stay at with all now being nirvana. Rather you sit with it every day and try to live the benefits of the it throughout your life's journey. I also recently began chanting to add into the mix. 

So my travels continues and it is to my many teachers who have taught me and guided me on the path of yoga and meditation that I give my gratitude to.

Deva Premal, "Jai Radha Madhav":


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hinges

I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on. 
Rita Dove
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The word that has come up a good deal in the last two days is hinge. Whether I go back to work in two weeks hinges on lab results. Health insurance availability in a few years may hinge on a election outcomes. By definition it is that on which anything turns or depends....That seems to be the theme of life lately.

In light of thinking of hinges, I'll share a short poem by Shel Silverstein:

Hinges

If we had hinges on our heads
There wouldn’t be no sin,
Cause we could take the bad stuff out,
And leave the good stuff in.


Tonight I'm grateful for for the lessons of hinges....

Amber Digby, "Hinges on the Door":

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dance Your Seeds to the Wind

Dance is movement infused with magic and medicine. As Rumi once said, "Dance when you're broken open. Dance if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free."

My September calender asked the question when was the last time you danced like a dervish? I realized it had been awhile. So tonight I danced, put on music and expressed myself....Rumi was right, dancing brings a lot of insight and joy. 

The flower of my old life might have died this summer in some aspects, but the seeds of my new are there getting ready to blow and dance into the wind, who knows what freedom and knowledge it may bring...

So tonight I am grateful for dance.

Madonna, "Express Yourself":

Friday, September 7, 2012

Whimsical Enlightenment

You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.
Mary Oliver

Whimsy has always been a part of my personality. However, I rarely let that part of me out to play. Also only a few others get to see much of that side of me. In recent years, this has changed. Over the last several months I've turned my extra bedroom/music room/library/yoga room into a place of whimsy and romanticism. And in the whimsy I am finding myself, taking responsibility for who I am and what I want in my life. It's been a great way to find enlightenment.

Tonight I'm grateful for authors over the years who have kept whimsy alive in my life, Andrew Lang, Lewis Carroll, J. R. Tolkien, Frances Hodgson Burnett, but to name a few...

Bruce Springsteen, "Secret Garden":


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Almonds, Figs and Some Blues

Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
Epictetus

It is harvest time for some of my favorite foods. Figs and almonds.With all of my life changes, I'm figuring out how to adapt some of the foods I love. Here is one that fits that category:

Almond Muffins with Gooey Fig Center

Zest of 1 small lemon
1 1/2 cups almond meal (or finely crushed almonds plus 1 tsp flour)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oat flour (found at health food stores)
1/4 cup xylitol (sugar or other sugar substitute of your choice)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
12 small figs, stemmed
1 small egg
1/4 cup raw honey
1 1/4 cups almond milk
1/8 cup almond (or toasted almond) oil
6 tbsp sliced almonds


Heat oven to 350°F. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl. Puree figs in a food processor until smooth and scrape into a small saucepan. Place over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until puree gently boils, about 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. Whisk egg, honey, milk and oil in a bowl. Incorporate into flour mixture and blend on low with a hand mixer. Line a muffin tin with paper cups; fill each halfway with batter. Add 1 tbsp fig puree to center of each cup, then cover with a small spoonful of batter. Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


What do you listen to while you are baking? In the theme of something bearing fruit, there is a new CD coming out by my favorite artist Jesse Cook: The Blue Guitar Sessions. You can listen to it for free until next Tuesday. It will be released in both Canada and then the US later this month.

Here is the link if you would like to sample:

http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2012/9/Listen-Jesse-Cook-exclusive-The-Blue-Guitar-Sessions

Today I'll have to give my gratitude to Jesse Cook for his great music that keeps on inspiring me.

Jesse Cook, "Havana":


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labyrinth

No matter how lost you may feel, in a true labyrinth you are never lost. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Helen Curry

Today I went to my acupuncture treatment. In the last weeks, it seems that I've been feeling better and much is improving with my world. At the end of treatment, my acupuncturist who is Chinese, expressed disappointment that my "liver chi" wasn't doing as well as he hoped and it might cause me problems.

It was a bit deflating. But I rose to the occasion and responded that I feel that I am moving through the labyrinth of healing and I'm right where I should be now. I feel as if I've come far and am doing incredible. That I am moving towards the center of what will be. It also taught me a lesson about expectations. Healing is not about meeting the healer's expectations. It is about meeting my own. It doesn't mean though that there cannot be a meeting in this labyrinth of healing. Let me explain.

I went to a wedding several years ago where a couple walked a labyrinth to be married. Helen Curry gives an explanation of what happens:


...the two of them have begun their journeys separately; the labyrinth allows this reality to be reflected. At this time they are both moving around in circles, both on the same path, heading to the same place, yet not walking together. They pass each other, which is really powerful because you know they are eventually going to meet....

So it is with healing. I've begun my journey from a different point of view then that of the other healers I am consulting. We are moving around in circles, really both on the same path though and heading to the same place. We are just not walking together. We are passing each other, but eventually we will meet in the center of healing.

Tonight I am grateful for the lessons I have learned in walking life's labyrinths.


Kate Price, "The Labyrinth":

Monday, September 3, 2012

Soft Whisperings

The muse won't be summoned. She alights when it damn well pleases her.
Erica Jong

Sometimes as evening's hours give way to midnight's embrace, and the light of the waning full moon falls across the gentle billows of curtains, you hear the soft whisperings of your emotions muse...

dragonfly flights of love
dance across my heart's surface,
they settle on you.

Tonight I'm grateful for my muse's visitations. May it be so for all who seek to create.

Happy Labor Day.

Michael Franks, "Dragonfly Summer":

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Slowing Down

 For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up -- to know that there's life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. 
Natalie Goldberg

Why is it the moment you discuss slowing down with other people, they see it a weakness or restriction of life?

I was at a birthday party yesterday for a a friend's baby girl who turned one. There was a wide range of ages there, so it created some interesting discussions. One of the discussions was not having enough time. When my turn came to contribute, I presented the point of view that being forced to slow down has enriched my life and changed it for the better. That it has taught me balance. What made my point of view not so popular was that I've come to believe we can make the choice. Most of the people there had been brainwashed by our societal point of view that busy is what makes us better, more interesting etc.

Busy has it's place, but slowing down and taking in the details, enriches life and relationships. The photo above was taken because I had slowed down and was paying attention to the changing of the light and the details of the bench where I was sitting.....:Look at Ansel Adams, Edward Weston's, Ruth Bernhard's work among others...They all learned the lesson....When you see and experience what is in your present moment,the subject often becomes wonderful becomes no matter how mundane.

Today's gratitude goes to the gurus of slow that I keep encountering. They are teaching me to see and experience in new ways everyday.

Anthony Green, "Slowing Down (Long Time Coming) Remix":

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fusion

Every piece has its own identity which we develop by the rule 'We know no limits.' We follow the inspiration of the moment and don't worry if what we're playing is alternative, progressive or fusion rock.
Page McConnell

One of the words and concepts I love is fusion. One definition for fusion is: The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity. Be it food, people, art or especially music, I love what happens when people try to bring new things together.

Fusion is a process I have been and am currently experiencing. I'm trying to bridge the old with the new...it will be interesting to see what entitic being will result. Music is something I've been exploring a good deal all my life, but recently even more so. Being a yoga practitioner I am aware of Kirtan, but have never really explored it much. Recently I had an exposure to Krishna Das and fell in love. The man growls out Sanskrit like a deep south blues boy and then (at times) marries it to various western standards. It's uplifting, inspiring and insightful.

So today I'm grateful to all the musicians of the world, who keep bringing new flavors out and keep us growing out of our self-imposed limitations.

Krishna Das, "Narayana/For Your Love":

Beauty Is...

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