Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

To begin with, as a foundation, I  need a spiritual self – one that truly believes in a higher power and one that insist that we are here to help others and to utilize the gifts we have for the betterment of the whole, for me that is a given, it is my religion. But in matters beyond that, I have this idea that the two things that make us feel good at the end of the day, when we stop and access, are productivity and control.
Productivity is such a rewarding feeling – and the high from it is directly related to the challenge of the task. In my life, I relate it to the job of raising my children (the most important job in the world) or the completion of a painting or a column or pea seeds popping up from the freshly made garden. Some days, I feel productive just cutting the grass, some days I need more, but every day I need something – if I want to feel happiness. I need to feel productive and the more my productivity enhances the lives of others, the better I feel.

And control…I do not mean this in the negative sense – control freak – I mean this in the sense of being the captain of your ship. You have control of your life as opposed to being a raw piece of meat waiting for something to happen to you. I feel like I would like to scale down the possessions and the duties of my life as I get older – I feel this way because at some point I will not be able to do all that I do now; I will lose control…I will need a smaller life to feel a sense of happiness, a life I can control, less is truly more.

 This control feature, I believe, has a lot to do with preparation; it is a good idea to prepare for your life, to equip yourself with tools to navigate the dark alleys and the peaks of sunshine – for both, the ups and the downs of life, are inevitable and they will both set you on a course, point you in a direction and the more equipment you have the better your decisions and reactions.

So, there is my two bit philosophy. I am writing this raw this morning because it burst into my head when I looked at the mess in my kitchen. I realized that it was out of control and I was not very productive on the domestic front yesterday – this is a small insignificant example incapable of making me happy or sad but it did make me think of the bigger picture, the important one about my family and how I hope they are gathering tools.

That’s it, just an observation I wanted to share, something to ponder. We are all trying to find happiness and the feeling of contentedness but sometimes we look in the wrong places, sometimes we think we need to have more, do more, but sometimes having more and doing more cause you to lose control and you find yourself in an awkward spin that immobilizes you and then you lose productivity and that saddens you. Again, I have absolutely no qualifications to say what I just said, it is just an observation of my own life that I thought might be something to think about. Control and Productivity – something to strive for, perhaps.

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Get Real

I am writing this in stillness, complete quietness – not a machine running, not water dripping, not a voice. I type (peck) softly and I hear almost nothing. These moments rarely happen for me – aloneness, quietness. It’s funny but we mostly know ourselves through the people we are around mostly. It’s hard to find a spot where you can know you for real – not some reflection of whomever you are with.

It’s good to be able to “find yourself”. I suppose I was able to do that when I took the proverbial trip to Europe in my youth. I was in a place where no one even knew my name. I was able to discover many things about myself that I needed to know, things I still draw from today. But now, with all of these layers of life draped over me it is surely more difficult to get in touch with “ME”. I don’t say this as a narcissistic kind of thing; I say this because we need to know who we are so that we can be who we were born to be.

 It is so difficult today because of the distractions, propaganda and lies that bombard each minute of our days. I don’t really watch TV but when I am in “there” after about 10 minutes I feel, as they say, dumber and so violated with the fabrication that the media wants us to believe is life. If there were one single modern invention that has done more for the demoralization and dumbing of society, my vote would be, hands down, the TV. Even in my day, the fresh scrubbed late 50s, it began its handy work – telling mother’s how inept they were at their jobs and their marriages. The lies were not quite as big then, they were only selling Tide and Tang; today they are selling plastic surgery and overpriced luxury cars. The jury is still out for me on FB and the ramifications it is having. Like most things, it can be a useful tool – I have found a few old friends on it and I can learn about community events and I can post this blog entry on it but I suspect, as all things human, there will be negative issues attached to this means of communication. I am treading softly – trying to “keep it real”.

  Any way I am having a few moments to ask myself a few questions and get some honest answers and this entry is the manifestation of one of my questions – I absolutely hate the propaganda we are being fed intravenously every single day of our lives – that’s who I am, that’s the thorn.  I remember what my dad stubbornly proclaimed and infused us with – “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” I thought that was so harsh and bitter when I heard that in my adolescence but, Dad, like so many other things you said, I so get it now.

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Moving on

Sitting here, taking a small break from the garden, looking at the cobweb under one of the chairs in my keeping room. I see this, not as you might think, but as a testament to not having little ones anymore. It seems just a short time ago, I routinely moved this 9 foot harvest table across the room, stacked the chairs on it and scrubbed the floor underneath and while the chairs were upside down, I wiped away the dust and whatever else might have been hanging there. I did this because some tiny person would most assuredly be crawling through this wooden maze of legs in search of a missing Cheerio or renegade grape. Who would have thought those days would have ever ended?

 I, of course, still sweep this floor but I must confess, it is without much concern, nothing is dropped and nothing is squished and nothing rolls under here anymore. It has become the perfect place for a little cobweb to manifest. I suppose that is how life is, we use a space, we interact with certain people, we spend that time “there” and then we move on. And when we do, there is something or someone, waiting to take that spot.
We move on, we let go. Again, I reference my mother – she would comfort me in those “big” moments, the moments when my children started school, figured out the tooth fairy fable, and left home – she shared with me how she always looked ahead to the next chapter of our lives with excitement and anticipation. I draw from that optimism as I sit in the mottled rays of the setting sun that are shining through the keeping room window and  “artistically” capturing the natural miracle that is a cobweb .

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Broken Glass

I am sitting here trying to put words on this page that come out positive but for some reason, I am in some kind of negative spot. It all started with a mirror, a mirror I broke yesterday. It was my mother’s. It had sat on her dresser for years, a dime store kind of round mirror that magnified on one side and looked normal on the other. Somehow, and I don’t know how, it ended up on Elizabeth’s vanity without my knowledge until this past week, it was the little mirror that showed up in my blog on March 11, my mother’s birthday. It seems Elizabeth had taken a picture of it sitting on her vanity and it was the perfect visual for the entry. Curiously, she had been using it, for quite some time. It was a bit broken from the years of use so I brought it to the “shop” – a place where all the little things go to be fixed by the shop keeper, my husband. So, here is this little mirror that is very old and I didn’t know until just last week that it was even in my house. Anyway, after all of this,   I am, sentimentally attached to it and cherish it. I put the mirror under a basket in my kitchen cabinet where I keep loose recipes so that it can wait in a safe place until my husband could repair it. This is where the negativity happens. The phone rings and it is Elizabeth wanting to know the ingredients to a recipe that is in the basket. “Oh, ok, hold on a minute” – yep, I pulled out the basket and there slid the mirror right onto the brick kitchen floor – shattered. It was awful. This little irreplaceable manifestation of a memory that I just last week discovered I even had and was a physical connection of Elizabeth and her grandmother was gone. Elizabeth was not yet 3 when my mothered died so these things of hers are things I cherish all the more.

 Now for the message; it is something my mother taught me many years ago, and she didn’t even know she was teaching. One day I went for a visit, knocked on the door and walked in. There she was sweeping up broken glass. I asked her what had broken. It was her mother’s glass vase that had been  a wedding gift, one of the very few things she had of her mother’s. This vase had moved with my mother probably 20 times, from Ville Platte to everywhere in south Louisiana. It was about 90 years old and had sat in its last spot for more than 30 years – undisturbed.  On that day, minutes before, she knocked it over while dusting and it shattered as she watched. I, in my naïve age of ignorance concerning these disappointing realities of the universe, was upset for her. She, however, chose not to be – “I just swept it up like it was only glass”. It took years and experience to be able to speak those words – years of learning that “it was only glass” and like all things it had reached its’ end. I have to understand that. At that moment in my life I could not accept the limitedness of things. I thought people and places and things were forever. I had not realized that, up ahead, many components of my life would “go away” and only the memory would endure. She knew that then, she had said good – bye many times by then and she learned how to let it go. Now, I know.  I have drawn from that those few words she spoke incidentally ; they were with me as I swept up the glass.

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Today would be my mother’s 80th birthday. I think of her every day, nearly every hour, but today I wonder, I wonder how she would look, how would she sound –  I wonder how our relationship would have evolved by now – me at 57 and she at 80? There are seemingly volumes of words and lessons I have at my disposal from the 43 years I knew her and I try to keep them handy for I am discovering they were all messages from God really. The things your mother tells you are so pure – there is no ulterior motive, nothing that will mislead you, nothing self-serving, just pure love spilling out to you and giving you their wisdom to take and use to help you in this life. Ok, here’s the crazy part – I still can connect with her. I could sit and write all afternoon about these times and instances and one day I will – just for myself, my memory, in case it begins to fade. I am certain the spirit remains.

 I miss my mother‘s physical presence, however. I miss going places with her, having coffee with her, going to her house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, watching her brush Elizabeth’s hair, and hearing her tell me “how proud I would be of those boys one day”. One quiet afternoon with her in the house I grew up in telling her about my life and hanging on to every word she spoke…that would be heaven.

 You know, they say when you lose your mother, you lose your historian – true. There are holes in my history that will never be filled because only she knows. It is especially difficult and evident while raising my own daughter – I want to ask, “Did I think that or do that” – no one knows but her. And beyond that, no one has the capacity to care as she does. Others come in a close second, but no one can take her place. I am convinced it is a higher love that is eternal.

I suppose this entry is a bit soppy, but it is where I am at this moment, this moment of tribute and remembrance. To continue in this soppy vein, I have listed a few great quotes about mothers – I wish I had an original to share but these will do just fine…

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been. 
Robert Brault

Mother – that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. 
T. DeWitt Talmage

I cannot forget my mother.  She is my bridge.  When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely. 
Renita Weems

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. 
Abraham Lincoln

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. 
Jewish Proverb
This is Elizabeth’s vanity – the mirror to the left was my mother’s, the glass container was a gift to me from my mother, and the perfume Elizabeth wears was also my mother’s favorite. Elizabeth took this picture a while ago but it seemed to be a divine fit for this post.
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At the suggestion of my brother I watched Dr. Wayne Dyer Sunday morning  on Public Television. Hmmm a lot to wonder about. I typed in a few little notes on my iPhone. I looked at it today and here is my very abbreviated summary:

Edged God Out = EGO

The “Small Self” seeks things that will perish.

The “Higher Self” is spirit, God, something eternal .

Jesus says God is Love

This last little note I jotted down is my belief – God is Love. That’s all I need to know…

I like these hasty transcripts; it is something I completely agree with. I am constantly aware of the struggle between ego and spirit. I try to stay in spirit and keep ego at bay. It is difficult, but it’s supposed to be, we are supposed to be challenged by the “outside” but should succumb to our inside, our spirit. When we do, we know it, it feels like victory and when we let ego win, we know that too, it feels awful – it feels like we ate too much, said too much, spent too much, just not good .
Anyway, just wanted to post this. Dr. Dyer spoke for a couple of hours and nearly every word he uttered was profound but this is what stood out for me the most. I hope you can connect and perhaps spend your day in spirit instead of feeding “ego”.

“Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.”
enjoying the weather

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 Ahhh Saturday morning. The rain, not the alarm clock, woke me up this morning. This will be one of the early spring rains that nudge the already fat and swollen buds into bloom. Already the garden is so sweet smelling from the plum blossoms and the clover flowers. I hope there are bounties of bees this spring – I am not cutting some of my clover patches, just for them.
collecting honey last july
 The beekeepers will come in April and I hope there will be bees. Speaking of the bees, I shopped for a few vegetable garden supplies yesterday and was excited to see the notable presence of organic fertilizers and pesticides; I stocked up. I just wish people would lay off some of the poison.

” The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place.”

David R. Brower
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