"Only people who are willing to put all they've got on the line
. . . make a difference."
~ Perry Noble
Yesterday I turned in two course proposals for the fall. One was a repeat of my course on Herbs, and another is on seeking the sacred in everyday life - not a new concept, but one that needs to be repeated.
Workshop description: Our world is filled with beauty and wonder but we often miss the miracles as we are bombarded with fear based, negative messages. What we put our attention on increases, yet too often we focus on illness, not health: fear, not joy. This course will include readings and video clips from some of the world’s most innovative thinkers, past and present. There will be exercises for self reflection, and techniques for finding daily treasures.
Last night I started to have second thoughts. Maybe another topic would be more valuable. Today several messages crossed my path validating the need to speak if there are words that are helpful, even it we feel we are taking a risk by sharing an opinion that may not be understood or embraced.
And this from a friend -
"I think your class sounds absolutely amazing! And you have been waiting for something to pop up for you in regards to direction....perhaps this is your purpose? Is to teach wellness and give people a compass for happiness? It is dearly needed in this world! Mikell I honestly believe that people no longer know how to actually feel happiness or have a compass for well being. They have become so immersed in the world they don't even recognize the horrible level of negativity they are exposed to on a daily basis!!! These are much needed skills!"
~ Carrie Faden
Carrie's observation that some of us don't remember what health or happiness feel like rings true. Someone very dear to me has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He has trouble breathing and a cough that sounds painful. His energy is depleted and he walks slowly with a cane. Yet he keeps reassuring me that he "feels fine." It reminds me of the story about the frog who is thrown into a pot of water and it is slowly brought to a boil. It happens so gradually that he doesn't realize things are changing and he is in danger. If he had been thrown in at a rapid boil, he would have jumped out immediately.
Being aware of how we want to feel, and comparing it to how we are feeling, can guide us to making better choices. We can begin by asking questions.
How many times a day do we stop and consider out blessings?
Do we spend more time in the present, or are we living with the fear of the future or regrets of the past?
Do we actively use our senses? (for example, do we gulp down fast food instead of preparing and savoring quality meals with a variety of colors and textures)
Do we realize the power and impact that words have on us? Do we carefully chose the words we use? (firing off Instantaneous e-mail response instead of thoughtfully composed letters)
Do we spend time in nature and value the lessons she teaches?
Are relationships deep and meaningful or are we paying more attention to our screens than the person across the table?
We spent yesterday in the exquisite Walter's Art Museum in Mount Vernon, Baltimore, MD. It was originally a private collection of William Thompson Walters, born May 23, 1819, from Liverpool, PA. Walters moved to Baltimore at the age of 21, made his fortune and married Ellen when he was 26. He and his wife had 3 children but one died in childhood. Henry, born in 1848, and Jennie in 1853, survived. Walter began collecting art with his wife in the summer of 1861 in Paris, then traveled through out France, to Italy Switzerland and England. Ellen died of pneumonia when she was forty years old in 1862 and William continued collecting with even more intensity to attempt to dissuade his grief. After the war, in 1865 he and his children returned to Baltimore. His son eventually became involved in his father's art collection and carried on after his death.
Their collection of 22,000 works of art from 55 centuries of art formed the basis of the collection and today the collection contains over 35,000 works of art including an expansive Egyptian collection, china, Faberge eggs, illuminated journals, French Impressionist paintings, bronze statues and so much more!
Insights From a Child
Their are endless opportunities to learn and enjoy for all ages as evidenced by this young person's observation in a "What have you discovered?" journal encouraging comments.
"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."
When people are born they are gentle and soft.
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.
Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you can't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
- Yi-Ping Ong, from the introduction, Tao Te Ching
"Light cannot be seen without shade.
Shade cannot be seen without light."
By moonlight, we see in black and white. We cannot see colors. There is something fascinating and valuable about seeing the world that way. We see only what is essential.
We see form emerging from a sea of blackness. . . . We can look at the world so familiar by daylight and see it anew in the black and white of moonlight.
You see yin and yang. . . The day warms, the night cools.
The sun moves over a hill, changing the face from brightness to shadow.
Stand in the middle of a forest and watch all the shadows and sunlight shift second by second. You see yin and yang.
- Deng Ming-Dao, The Lunar Tao (edited)
This morning I stopped by the business center to check my e-mail and website stats. i was surprised to see over 800 visits yesterday even though I've posted very little since my computer met its demise. (A friend is doing his best to help me revive it but it doesn't look promising) You are such a quiet group that unless I check stats I'm not aware of visits. I appreciate your stopping by and will be more proactive in posting.
Not having a computer has caused me to abandon my plans to participate in NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) this year. I've completed the challenge twice and was planning to attempt a third. Maybe next year. I'll be cheering for those of you who are participating and will look forward to hearing of your progress!
I'm feeling blessed. I was spending too much time in front of a screen and I've returned to painting and more heart'-to-hand writing. There are always gifts in loss It has given me a chance to look at the world in a different way - the yin and yang.
I recently read a story about a man who dreamt he was a softly moving beam of light floating through a crowd.
The dream prompted him to consider the impact he had on others as he moved through his day. He made the decision to literally be a 'beam of light'. He made a commitment to bring warmth and light to his personal '10 foot zone".
There are people who light up the area around them naturally. We had a coordinator's meeting today and watching the crowd dynamics was fascinating. We have a couple of people whose positive energy radiates well beyond 10 feet! (Linda, Roy and Kathryn, to name a few!)
Wouldn't it be phenomenal if we would all become aware of the warmth we can extend to others, whether in an increasingly long line at the post office, a traffic jam or passing a neighbor? A smile and a kind word can make all the difference. If they don't smile back, we shouldn't take it personally. We never know what is going on in people's lives. But most of the time people will be receptive, and they'll probably pass the warmth along to others.
We can't control what is happening in the world, and the media makes us very aware of the ugliness and injustice. Yet we are much more powerful than we realize. Extend a warm smile, a sincere compliment, gentle reassurance - it doesn't cost anything to use our boundless source of love and energy to make the world a kinder, gentler place. We all have the power to impact our own 10 foot radius. If each one of us commits to that small area, and all of the circles connect, the impact would be immeasurable.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing
"To see a world in a grain of sand
Food is one of my greatest pleasures. I cook everyday - meals that are healthy, filled with color, texture and variety, and most of all nutrients. When I sit down to a meal - and I do sit down - I want something that adds value. Food is fuel, not entertainment or bulk. I want to know what I am eating is providing value. What's In It For Me?
When did eating get so complicated? We are obsessed with it. We have five senses, yet 'taste', or possible lack of it based on some of the things I see people eating in the name of diet and deprivation, is the over riding concern.
A study at the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio estimates that 70 to 80 percent of health risks come from poor lifestyle habits, according to Holly L. Thacker, MD, director of the study.
When did food become a vehicle for ill health instead of simply a way to maintain our bodies to function as the miraculous machines they are? When did we start misusing it? And why? We are doing this to ourselves. We are literally taking the beauty, the joy, the flavor out of the way we eat and then wondering why we are hungry. Feeding is not just about what we shove in our mouths. There is a satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from the preparation and from the actual process of eating. It may not be scientific or proven, but I'm convinced the more time I spend slicing, whisking and artfully arranging, the less I eat.
People weren't over weight when I was growing up. I truly can't remember anyone I thought of as heavy, let alone "fat". We all sat down to the table to eat delicious healthy meals, and often had dessert. Portions were small, healthy, and varied, simply prepared with not a lot of fuss. We didn't obsess about food, our weight or dieting. I can't remember hearing the word "diet" until I was in high school.
In our home meals were prepared from natural ingredients with no preservatives, processing or artificial ingredients that we couldn't pronounce. Chicken, pork or steak thinly sliced stir fried with broccoli, red pepper, garlic, ginger and served over rice was flavorful, could be prepared quickly and supplied a variety of nutrients. One serving of broiled fish, a sautéed chicken breast (pre-Dolly Parton versions), a crab cake with lemon, served with a salad tossed with olive oil and lemon, and a seasonal vegetable and dinner was served. A little planning before one trip to the store a week and meal preparation was stress free. We didn't eat out or order in. We knew what we were eating because we made it in our own kitchens.
We sat down together with no distractions. The television was not blaring in the back ground, nor was the radio. We weren't texting or checking our phones. We were paying attention to what was on our plates and having conversations with each other.
All this is running through my mind because a friend is frustrated after nine days of a ten day juice cleanse and is seeing no results. The concept of taking the much needed roughage out of our foods because we are concerned that there are fewer vitamins in the them doesn't make sense to me. If you feel the need for more vitamins, take more vitamins!
My friend is feeling deprived and is ready to go back to eating the pizza and hamburgers. I would be too. Depravation is something I don't associate with food. I'd be hungry all the time! The less it is distorted and manipulated from it's natural state, the happier I am. As I said initially, I love to eat. I feed myself with food. Real food. Food that has color, vitamins and nutrients, roughage and texture.
"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death."
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
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