A friend requested that I repost my manifesto.
Note: I began my manifesto by listing my values - relationships, creativity, spirituality, health, natures, learning and education, Creating a list of what you value will provide a skeleton for you to begin to build your manifesto.
"if you have faith, even if it's only as tiny as a mustard seed, you can move a mountain." Our Bible school teacher passed around a necklace with a mustard seek embedded in plastic, while she explained the power of faith. Or tried. We didn't challenge her. Those weren't the days when a child would yell out "Are you crazy. You mean you think you can just sit there and believe and the whole mountain will move?"
We lived in a town surrounded by mountains and I had never heard anyone express concern about their placement. The story made an impression, but it didn't make a lot of sense from my eight year old perspective.
I was still thinking about it when I got home and did what I always did when something didn't make sense. I asked my father. He was brilliant. He taught calculus at an engineering school, read Chaucer and Shakespeare for personal enjoyment, and did crossword puzzles in ink. He started college at 15, had 3 majors and 2 minors, and completed one of his master's degrees in French. He was one of the few adults who never talked down to me because I was a child. He made me feel he respected my opinion as much as one of his student's or another adult's.
He had an extensive vocabulary yet communicated clearly. He wasn't interested in impressing others. He was interested in learning and education.. "if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it."
My father could have been very judgmental about education and degrees, but he was concerned with learning for the joy of it. He literally lit up when given the opportunity to help others,process information. He had been a Methodist Sunday school teacher for nearly two decades, so he was well prepared for this conversation.
He explained that the mustard seed represented a spiritual point of view and the mountain represented a problem or challenge. "The mustard seed story illustrates if we have faith, we can solve our problems. It is also about taking the responsibility to believe in ourselves enough to confront our concerns."
"But," he continued, "we don't necessarily have to solve a problem. Sometimes we can move a mountain by changing our perspective. If we have faith, and stop reacting and trying to fix things, we might find that what we perceived as a mountain is a blessing in disguise. We often make things harder than they have to be by trying to control everything."
My dad used an example that made the lesson clear. I had recently been concerned that a friend was mad at me because she had been avoiding me for a couple of days. She had been planning a surprise party for me. I had been angry and hurt and began avoiding her. Later, I felt terrible.
Faith comes from inside .We don't need to prove to anyone we have it if we do. It extends beyond the faith we have in ourselves. It is about giving others, and life's circumstances,, the benefit of the doubt, and not making judgements or assumptions.
I wrote this years ago, when my brother and I joined the Pine Street Presbyterian church in Harrisburg, PA. Recently, there are events causing me to question our county's direction. Revisiting this helped shift my perspective and give me peace of mind. I hope it will do the same for you.
Recently a friend and I were discussing the direction this country is taking and I was reminded of this exhibit I visited at the American Visionary Arts Museum in January, 2013,
Lessons from Nature is a topic that has fascinated me for a lifetime. Even so, I was totally unprepared for the insights of Esther Krinitz, a holocaust surviver, artist and story teller, whose work was featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
When I first walked into the museum I was captivated by the whimsy and humor. My guard was down. Had I heard this story at a holocaust museum or concentration camp in Germany I'd have been braced for horror. But I was at my most receptive - my heart was open and unsuspecting.
I glanced at the tapestries before noticing an accompanying video, and sat down in child like wonder, expecting only delight. The video began. "This was not what I came to see," I silently protested, but stayed, mesmerized and paralyzed, enthralled, captivated, stunned.
Esther weaves her mesmerizing story with a needle and thread, creating tapestries to depict her memories of the holocaust. Time and again she referenced the gifts of nature in her journey. She and her sister were hidden and sheltered from the Nazis by nature. A kind gentleman provided them with a garden plot to grow food for their survival. One tapestry depicts a Nazi soldier being attacked by bees when he began interrogating her. A cherry tree, laden with fruit, depicts 'money growing on trees' in America.
I'm still processing my lessons from Esther. My perceptions and understanding have been heightened and altered. She relived the nightmares and miracles, creating an unforgettable story of horror, survival, and gratitude, one stitch at a time.
We were asked not to take photographs inside the museum, but you can read more about her journey here - Art and Remembrance.
Mycala and I are considering collaborating on a "Mom 'n Me" cookbook. I made the crust - she made the blueberry pie filling. It looks like jewels so I had to add it to my 'Today's Treasure'. I'll report back after I try it!
UPDATE: The pie was pure bliss - absolutely scrumptious! This may be my new favorite pie! Thank you Mycala!
When I find myself becoming defensive about a 'weed', and if you've followed my blog, you know I do from time to time, it occurs to me that it's probably time to seek help! Hahahaha! This time the plant I'm defending is poke. My friend Carrie has no empathy for the stand I'm taking because it's taking over her garden and yard, but as always, she's patient with my idiosyncrasies.
My expectation certainly isn't that people nurture and cultivate it. Actually, the plant has done well on its own for centuries without any coddling from gardeners. It's just that anytime the wrath directed at a plant eliminates the appreciation for its benefits - and it does have benefits - my first instinct is to guide them to look from another perspective.
Polk Salad Annie
Tony Joe White
If some of ya'll never been down south too much
I'm gonna tell you a little bit about this
So that you'll understand what I'm talkin' about
Down there we have a plant that grows out in the woods
And in the fields looks somethin' like a turnip green
And everybody calls it polk salad, polk salad
Used to know a girl lived down there
And she'd go out in the evenings and pick her a mess of it
Carry it home and cook it for supper
'Cause thats about all they had to eat, but they did all right
Down in Louisiana, where the alligators grow so mean
There lived a girl, that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame
Polk salad Annie, polk salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her momma was a workin' on the chain gang
(A mean vicious woman)
Everyday ?for supper time, she'd go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess of polk salad, and carry it home in a tow sack
Polk salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody says it was a shame
Cause her momma was a workin' on the chain gang
(A wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin' woman
Lord have Mercy, pick a mess of it)
Illustrated Journal Page - Poke
The berries above are colored with poke ink - beautiful variations from pinks to purples.
"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."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!