Seeing the Happy

Ever hear the saying, “look at the doughnut, not the hole”? This means that the focus should be on the doughnut, not the hole where there is no doughnut. Same thing with happiness; when you look for it, it’s there.

Too many times in my life I’ve looked at all the bad, frustrating, anger-making things and not paid enough attention to all that is GOOD in my life. And there is so much good in my life, past and present. Goodness and happiness are always around us; we just need to take the time to see it.

For example, I’m a big fan of clouds; they make me happy. I make it a point to take a good look at them each day to see what they’re up to. The big puffy cumulus clouds can look like so many things; teddy bears and running dogs and angels with huge wings. The thin and wispy cirrus clouds stretch silvery-white strands in all directions and patterns. Then there are those colorful clouds in the morning and at dusk. They are never the same, and are always beautiful.

Sometimes the Crankee Yankee and I, accompanied by some of the cats, sit out on the screened-in back porch and watch the fire flies come winking their lights at dusk. Around that time, our resident skunks like to come out and feast on the kibble we leave out for them underneath the bird feeder.

We enjoy the evening show, and, like the walrus and the carpenter, we like to sit and:

“*Talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

It makes a pleasant end to a good day. And that’s part of seeing the happy.

*From Lewis Carroll’s poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”

 

Messenger of Spring When You Need It

Yesterday I was looking out of one of the side windows in the living room. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the tree limbs were bending and waving in the cold wind. It was about 20 degrees outside, but with that wind, it felt like 20 below zero.

Shivering, I pulled on another sweater. Since Dad moved in with us a few days ago, I have been hoping for a warmish day when I can take him out for a ride. But it just hasn’t been warm enough, so we all are still hunkering down and bundling up.

And then I saw it—a fat and beautiful robin flew by the window and perched on the fence. I’m sure he was eyeing the bare patches in the snow, dreaming of fat juicy worms to dig up sooner or later. He didn’t know it, but he was my much-needed harbinger of spring.

March in the Northeast is a vicious clown; it plays with your hopes of warm weather by teasing you with a few fairly good days. Then, when your hopes are up, it cruelly smacks you with strong and bitterly cold winds. It shakes the tree branches just for fun, and, if that weren’t enough, it’s apt to dump a foot or so of fresh snow on the ground just for the hell of it.

The word “fickle” doesn’t even cover the mayhem and sheer cruddyness of March. One day can be balmy and beautiful, and the next will bring snow and freezing gusts of wind. The day after that, the snow will melt, meaning that in the night it will all freeze over. Just a peachy time of year.

But then, there are the robins. They always bring me hope in March, knowing that the Earth is slowly turning its face closer to the sun. There can’t be much more winter left at this point.

The robins know this first before we do. It won’t be long until the bluebirds show up, along with the much-beloved blue herons (my favorite of all birds), the red-winged blackbirds scouting out future nest sites along the pond, the tiny gold finches and the little brown sparrows, and the magnificent cardinals with their repertoire of gorgeous songs.

Spring is just as inexorable as March; it will come and be damned to winter for another year. The crocuses, snow drops, lily of the valley, lilacs, hydrangeas, daffodils, peonies, roses, forsythia, irises; all are patiently waiting in the cold ground to pop up into spring sunshine.

Our eight raised beds are already getting themselves ready for seeds, and our compost pile is full of all the good stuff that makes rich nourishing loam. The tomato cages that the Crankee Yankee built years ago are all ready to go into the garden. The tomatoes will shoot up to incredible heights, protected by these cages.

The tomatoes will soon be followed by tiny and sweet cucumbers, hiding in the twisty spirals of their vines. The pea plants will be ready to climb the wire fences with their delicate green fingers. Our two mint bushes will spring up just in time for us to dream of iced tea freshened with crushed mint leaves. All this is prelude to corn, beets, radishes, herbs and lettuces.

March doesn’t know it just yet, but sweet April is just around the corner. I swear it’s true—the robin told me so.

Hope and Love and All Good Things

Hope is hope and love is love,

Shining down on us from above—

The hope we feel for no good reason

Has its roots in every season.

The love that wraps itself around us,

Is free and endless and unboundless!

We come to Earth with ribbons trailing

Of all that’s good with joy unfailing—

Every soul has its purpose and place

Every baby comes with a laughing face—

We do not see the angels who guide,

Comfort, direct, encourage and abide

With us until our very last breath—

Then we finally see the depth and breadth

Of the lives we lived with those we’ve cherished,

Those we’ve been with until they perished

In order to join the circle once again;

Soul to soul and back again.

 

 

Look! See! Be Amazed!

Did anyone see that beautiful full moon last night? It was a huge silver coin suspended in the sky, just begging to be admired. The moon at any stage is lovely; but there is something special about the full moon.

This one was especially special, being that it coincided with a minor lunar eclipse, also known as a *penumbral lunar eclipse. It is the first lunar eclipse of 2017.

How many times do we say that we have to be more “present?” Notice more? See more? Feel more? It doesn’t take a lot out of our day to really look at the amazing things all around us.

I may have mentioned this before in another post, but it is said that, when an artist dies, he or she is given the gift of painting that day’s sunset. The day my mother died, the sunset as I remember it was shot through with gold and flamingo pink fire, blazing down into lavender and peony embers.

If you live near the water, take time to admire its particular beauty. Right now there is ice on the lakes and ponds, and amazingly, in the open areas, ducks serenely paddle. If you live near the sea, you can be mesmerized by the rolling gray-green-blue water, the hypnotic sound of waves grumbling to shore, and the icy sand under foot. The raucous screech of seagulls wheeling overhead and the salt on the wind all play a part in the whole experience.

If you live in or around the mountains, then you know what ‘purple mountain majesty’ means. You can watch as the sun and clouds play over the mountains and changing color as they go. If you have ever climbed a mountain, then you can recall when the vegetation turns to outcropping rocks and tightly woven moss. This means that you are coming to the top; a reward for all that climbing.

I remember the time I was in Arizona and went to see the Grand Canyon. It was a cloudy day, and I was disappointed—until I looked down into the canyon. I could see the dark and light areas kaleidoscope as the clouds chased across the sun. Brilliant colors in the canyon flashed red, orange, ocher, black and brown, and deep below was the clear blue Colorado River.

Let’s remember that, wherever we are, there are sights and sounds all around us that we should not miss. Let us not be too busy with errands, tasks, have-tos and must-dos that we miss out on all that beauty. When life gets tedious or scary or riddled with grief and worry, we can summon forth those sights and sounds that open our hearts and minds to amazement and joy.

*Penumbral: per Webster’s dictionary: a :  a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light b :  a shaded region surrounding the dark central portion of a sunspot.

Hope

Remember this poem by Emily Dickinson?

“’Hope’ is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.”

I think of this often when things look dark. I am always amazed by how much hope can fill a human soul, even faced with everything the world can hurl at it. It is too easy to feel the crush of the worst side of people instead of the good.

At these times I try hard to remember that everyone has a story, a grief, a hurt, a feeling that they are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or whatever it is they hold in their heart.

The REAL truth is that everyone is here for a purpose and a reason. Even if it takes all of our lives to figure out what our own mission is, we are meant to be here at this time.

This is why it is imperative that we remember all that is good and hopeful and kind and loving, even if we don’t see it around us. The smile you give a stranger may be the only one they see all day.

I follow the Kindness Blog, and enjoy the many stories of hope, love and kindness. Just reading one or two inspires me to initiate hope, gratitude and love.

During this season of Christmas, keep your eyes and ears open for hope; it is all around us. Believe it; it is there, just waiting for us to notice it.

The Miracle of Mackerel

Back in the ’70s, I felt I wanted an adventure. So I signed up for a week-long windjammer cruise out of Camden, Me.

I climbed aboard the Stephen B. Tabor, and the adventure began. Our captain told us that our ‘itinerary’ would be wherever the wind took us. It sounded fun and exciting! We enjoyed the sights and sounds all around the Penobscot Bay area; the wind in our faces, the smell of salt, and the camaraderie of the strangers who would quickly become friends.

I met a man on board who loved scrimshaw, and had brought his kit with him. I was interested, so he showed me how to carve into the ovals of ivory he had. With his help, I painstakingly carved and inked a miniature of the ship, a few wavy lines for the ocean, and two seagulls off in the distance (easy; just two arches for wings). He gave it to me as a remembrance, and I still treasure it to this day.

The cook was a 19-year old girl who could make the best meals in the smallest cooking space I’d ever seen; the galley below decks. The first night we ate fresh haddock with roasted vegetables and chewy, crusty loaves of bread with sweet butter. Dessert was homemade apple pie with ice cream.

We all helped out as directed by the captain and crew. It was fun; one day we would help the cook clean up, another day we would help fold down the sails, and so on. It was enough to occupy us for an hour or two, and then we were on our own. We stopped on a few islands and walked into a couple of towns. On the boat, we swam, sunbathed, read and dozed. We slept in bunks on the other side of the galley or up on deck under the stars.

One day the captain announced that we were going to have a lobster roast on the rocks of one of the islands. As the sun set, leaving a burning gold path on the water, we cracked open our lobsters by the fire and ate like wolves.

In midweek, some of us went out in one of the little dingies to fish or to just enjoy being out on the water. I was sitting in one with two other girls, and suddenly the water was filled with flashes of blue and silver.

It was a huge school of mackerel, all boiling up to the surface. They were in a feeding frenzy, all trying to eat as many tiny fish as they could. We sat there silently, taking in all that teaming life, with its ravenous hunger and breath-taking beauty.

Finally, as one mass, they disappeared into the deep water, taking all their color and life with them. They left us breathless, and somehow richer for that brief blue and silver miracle.

When I came home a week later, my hair full of salt, my skin roughened and rosy from the wind, my mind was still full of all the sights, sounds, smells of that adventure. I missed being on the water, and I missed the new friends I had made. It really was an adventure, and one I will always remember.

Sometimes at night these days when sleep is hard to find, I go back in time to that wonderful week on the windjammer.

Soon I am rocking in the narrow cradle of the bunk under the deck, hearing the smack and slap of the waves. I can still smell the salt breeze, and as I drift off, the blue and silver mackerel wait for me to come to the water and admire their dance.

Don’t Forget to Look at the Sky

As my dad and I visited the other day, we talked about noticing things; for instance, how the sky changes from hour to hour, day to day. We talked about what a gift it was to have the time to take in all the beauty around us.

When the last storms rumbled up the East Coast, the sky was amazing. We went to Hampton Beach to watch the surf come charging in, and the waves were big enough to bring out a few brave surfers. But more incredible than the waves was the sky. Where the horizon met the ocean, the sky was a luminous silvery blue with flashes of gold. It was breathtaking.

We are fortunate that we can enjoy the sunsets by simply looking out of the front porch door. They have been gorgeous; peony pinks, golden peach, lavender blue; then they softly fade into darker blue. Later on, we can  look straight up and see the Big Dipper. At this time of year, the stars are lambent and feel somehow closer.

On the back porch, we can watch the moon rise in a deep blue velvet sky. In the morning, we can wake up and look out of our bedroom window to see the sunrise; splashes of pearl pink and red-orange over the golden corona of the sun.

When I was a little girl staying over night at my grandparents’ home on a summer night, I would sleep on the old porch swing on the sun porch. Before falling asleep I could watch the moon rise over the lake, making a silvery path all the way to shore. It was about that time that the frog chorus would begin, and I would drop off to the comforting ‘chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum’ concert.

There is something magical about the sky, whether clear or cloudy, rainy or sunny. I can’t help but see pictures in the clouds as they scud by; puffy elephants, bears, whales, horses, angels, cats and more striding across the sky. My favorite clouds are what we always called “mares’ tails;” those long wispy, trailing clouds that look as though a child has taken silvery-white paint in both hands and streaked it generously across that vast eternal blue.

On warm summer nights when the Crankee Yankee and I have sat out on the front porch, we have enjoyed watching the sky sink into deeper blue as the little brown bats flit off to catch bugs. At that time of day, the birds gather in the trees to gossip about the day’s events before they settle down for the night. With the moonrise, the stars begin to wink and sparkle, and time seems magical.

As cold weather begins to set in, the sky changes to an icier blue, and the stars appear to be sharper and more defined. When I see Orion striding across the sky, I know that the cold weather is on its way. What a wonderful thing it is to look out at the sky and appreciate all that glory!

I read somewhere that, when an artist dies, he or she gets to paint the next sunset. My mom designed and made beaded jewelry, and her color sense was incredible. She put amazing colors together in her jewelry; turquoise and cobalt, candy pink with gold and amber accents, black with aqua and periwinkle, silver and lime, ruby red with crystal and purple, lavender with peach and pearl, and so much more.

The evening of the day she died, the sky was splashed with gold, purple, peach, and pink; a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life.

Dad said, “people should look at the sky more often.” I couldn’t agree more.

Send Love, Not Worry

Our second granddaughter, Juliette (whom we now all call “Juju B”), was born in April with some pretty serious lung and heart issues. She spent the first three weeks of her life in the NICU, along with her mother and big sister, Ava. We worried about Juju B night and day, and also worried about the rest of the family.

Each morning one of my go-to readings is always a random chapter from Tosha Silver’s wonderful book, “Outrageous Openness.” I opened the book, and it opened on a chapter called “Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear” that addressed well-intentioned worry:

“…if you care about someone, worry is the worst energy you can send. It directly transmits fear and restriction, since we usually visualize all the darkest possible outcomes. So even if it’s well-intended, worry blankets the poor recipient’s energy field in a negative vibe. Imagine a black Express Mail envelope marked “Thinking of You” filled with muck, mildew, and a few skull bones. THAT’S worry.”

I realized that all my worrying might even make our Juju B worse, so I began imagining her being completely healthy, strong, and in her own home. I saw her breathing well on her own, with healthy lungs and a healthy, strong heart.

In my mind, I sent her angels of love and healing, and placed them all around her. I actively sent her healing Reiki, as well as prayers for her good health. I widened my focus to her whole family, that everyone was healthy and strong, and in my mind I pictured a healthy Juju B breathing on her own.

The day came when Juju B finally went home, still on oxygen. Immediately she began breathing better and seemed to be calm and happy. During that first week home, as her mother was feeding her,  Juju B looked up at her, and reached up and pulled the oxygen cannula right out of her nose! It was just as if she said, “Mom, I’m home, and I’m done with being sick.”

At the next pediatrician visit, she was pronounced healthy and strong. She now sleeps 6-7 hours at a stretch, she only cries when she’s wet or hungry, and she has the sweetest attitude about everything around her. This kid radiates love, contentment, joy and perfect health. In every picture we have of her, she looks positively tickled with everyone and everything around her. Big sister Ava (age 5) adores her, and talks with her all the time.

This was another lesson for me to remember: where good intention goes, energy follows. Fortunately, I was not the only one sending our Juju B positive thoughts. I called on my entire metaphysical circle of friends, and they all came together to send love, health, happiness and positive energy.

You don’t have to be a psychic or Reiki master or angel on earth to do this; you can do this any time you like, and focus on any person(s) you like. Any time you send a good intention to someone, they will feel that good energy in some way. In some part of their minds and souls, they feel that surf of love and compassion wash over them.

By the way, you can also do this for yourself. You can send yourself love notes of love, kindness, comfort and health any time you like. You can say out loud to yourself, “I am happy, healthy, strong and I feel great.”

Or if you are feeling nervous about something that you have to do that day, just say, “Everything today is going to go GREAT.” Keep on saying it and your day will be better because you are giving yourself the gift of good intentions.

Look, if it worked for a baby, it can certainly work for all of us—just ask Juju B.

 

Love Notes From the Universe

You know, if we keep our minds open, we can often glimpse a “grand plan” behind what seem to be ordinary occurrences. These days as we help my dad care for my dying mom, I see patterns in everyday existence. I began noticing them after connecting with some wonderful people who are a lot like me in ideas and beliefs.

A few years ago I began taking metaphysical classes from the amazing *Noreen McDonald. After the first one, I drove home with my head spinning and thinking, ‘how crazy is this? What IS all this metaphysical stuff all about?!’

The first lesson had been about positive thinking, starting with being positive about ourselves. We were each given a sticky note at the beginning of class—I snorted when I saw mine: “I love Jane!” We were told to put the note on our bathroom mirror and look at it each day. The reason for this exercise was to promote loving ourselves. Being the self-critical ass that I was, I pooh-poohed the whole idea as simplistic. How could a mere sticky note prove I was loved for just being ME?

So there I was, driving myself home after that first class, inwardly flogging myself with wasting my time and money on this class, when I noticed the license plate on the truck I’d been following for miles. The license plate read “URLOVED.”  Coincidence, I thought. There are no “love notes” from this impartial universe we live in, I chided myself.

Now, a few years later, with many more classes, a Reiki master practitioner license, as well as a whole pile of new life experiences under my belt, I no longer believe in coincidences. Here are some of my own personal love notes from the universe:

  • A job that I was planning to retire from in a few years suddenly went in a new direction and my job was gone. This happened EXACTLY when Mom’s cancer no longer responded to her meds and she went into Hospice. I could not possibly have kept that job and helped out with Mom’s care.
  • I have been involved in a few major traffic jams that made me late to where I was going. I found out in each case that a horrific accident had caused the jam; if not for the traffic jam, I could have been involved in those accidents.
  • Each and every time I need a parking spot–even in the most crowded places, I ask for one and I get one–always.
  • Each time I have been running late to get to an appointment, I keep on saying that I will get there in plenty of time–and I do. Always.

…and there are many, many more love notes and messages that happen on a regular basis. Also, I have learned to never say “I’m broke,” because then I will be. Money always seems to come at the right time, and often even in the exact amount when I need it. I keep picturing the universe as carrying a tremendous laundry basket full of good things, some of which just spill out on me from time to time. I find myself asking when something unpredictable happens, what is the message here; what is it I am supposed to learn?

I find that, as long as I am willing to ask for something good for myself, it will come to me. I still sometimes fight the urge to think, ‘oh, I’m not worthy of anything good, I don’t deserve it,’ and so on. Why in the world would I NOT be worthy? Why not accept the gifts I keep being offered? In fact, why don’t we all just assume that we are good enough to deserve good things?

Trust me, if you keep your eyes open, you will start to see opportunities where you may think none exist. Look for those love notes from the universe, and you will find them. They have probably been falling all around you for years.

*Check Noreen out at http://www.noreenmcdonald.com.

The Worry Box

I am reading an excellent book right now called “Outrageous Openness, or Letting the Divine Take the Lead” by *Tosha Silver. The inner cover of the book reads “what if the Divine is constantly igniting road flares to get our attention? What if there actually is a Supreme Organizing Principle with an unbridled sense of humor? And what if we each have this ardent suitor who’s writing us love letters every day that often go unopened?”

The book is easy to read; each chapter is about two pages long, and covers such topics as “Giving It All Up,” “Own Your Own Power (Or Someone Else Will),” “Mundane Miracles and Other Mysteries,” “Be Who You Are, Really,” and so much more. In the chapter called “Following the Inner Lead,” it explains thinking inside the box (versus thinking outside the box).

This chapter reminded me of when I was smart enough to assign a day and time limit on my worrying (I have my PhD in worrying, plus an advanced degree in DmN [Driving Myself Nuts]). Tuesday night between 6pm and 7pm was my official “worry time.” I would save up all my worries for that time—I would write each worry on a slip of paper and store them all in a box so that I could be ready for my weekly worry time. Come Tuesday night at 6:00pm, I would read the worries out loud, then think of a possible solution. If my solution was good, I’d start putting it in place and throw away the slip of paper.

But that, like so many good ideas, gradually went by the wayside and I stopped doing it. Then a dear friend lent me “Outrageous Openness, or Letting the Divine Take the Lead” and I started my worry box again. So whenever a worry comes into my mind, I write it down and pop it into the box. When the worry or problem starts niggling at me (usually when I’m trying to go to sleep), I can now say, “it’s in the box. It’s done.”

For example, the Crankee Yankee and I have been a one-car family for quite a while now. He has a wonderful old Toyota T-100 red truck he loved, but over the years it has become harder to find parts, and of course things have gone wonky on it here and there. So there it sits in our driveway with a big “For Sale” sign on it. A friend of ours has a truck to sell that the Crankee Yankee would love, but in order to buy it, he needs to get a certain amount for the T-100. So far, no takers.

Therefore a note regarding this has gone right into the box; it says that the Crankee Yankee HAS a good working truck. The “has” is important, because we know he NEEDS a truck–and we want him to HAVE a truck. Get it? This is the way things get done in my humble opinion–you put the worry/issue out there in the universe, do all you can to encourage the right thing to happen, then forget about it. The positive intention is now out there, virtually broadcasting the Crankee Yankee’s needing to have a working truck.

Please note that I said “do all you can to encourage the right thing to happen,” emphasis on the “do all you can” part. Regarding the truck, we have advertised, have spoken to interested parties, and have the truck right in the driveway with “For Sale” signs. It isn’t that I believe that the perfect truck will magically drop down from the heavens because we wish it so. It’s simply that I believe that the universe, the divine lead, whatever you wish to call it has loads of abundance for us all and is just waiting to be asked to give it to us.

That said, I will let you know when the Crankee Yankee has a good working truck. In the meantime, the worry box is filling up, and my mind is emptying out.

Stay tuned.

 

 

*See http://www.tosha.silver.com.