Category Archives: friends

Another death in the family

Seems like all I post on the blog lately is the sad news.

We are off to Tucson again, this time for my brother-in-law’s funeral. Randy was way too young to go, but actually made it a lot longer than he was expected to be around when he was first diagnosed with leukemia many years ago. He survived leukemia, with a lot of scares along the way. He survived thyroid cancer, too, having his thyroid removed a couple years ago. This time he was not so fortunate, although he fought a good fight, as always. He lost the battle with pneumonia, after suffering a broken hip.

My sister-in-law is holding up well, so far, dealing with all the details and going into that “numb” place for now where we deal with what has to be done. My son was there for them, and wrote a lovely tribute to his uncle:

There were no miracles the day that my uncle passed away. If anything, they had been the previous 15 years, two decades or so when he’d been given 5 to live. Cancer drugs sucked, but they’d offered years more for me to get to know my uncle.

He loved science fiction, he wrote an as yet unpublished children’s novel, he loved antiques. He collected Minox cameras and 8mm Disney films. He was a chemist, who produced kits to excite kids, like me and my brother, about Science. I think a big part of why my brother is getting his degree in the field is because of my uncle.

I only realized as I walked into the hospital that, when I feared that I had not used the years with him very well, that my uncle Randy, and my aunt, had known how to value time spent together all along, after making it through those first 5 years.

I hadn’t even given it much thought. But they knew better. They had treasured the years. The days. The hours, and made sure I did too, even if I didn’t look up every time the clock struck looking for the sword hanging over our time.

Words for me are almost useless when it comes to death, and I take little comfort from them. But there’s no other real way to express the feelings here, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the understanding that none of us lasts forever. Life is precious, temporary, and remarkable, no matter what life you have. Loved ones will not be around forever, so appreciate them, love them as best you can, and cherish them while they are here. What else is there to say, or to do when we come to an end. We loved those who are gone, and we love those who remain behind.

The Tao of the Self — Two

Anyone can see you are beautiful
If they see others as ugly.
Anyone can see you as good
If they see others as evil.

Therefore having friends and not having friends arise together.
Difficult and easy relationships complement each other.
Long and short friendships contrast each other:
High and low emotions rest upon each other;
Your voice and the sound of others harmonize each other;
Being in front of and behind others follow one another.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing to force relationships,
teaching not gossiping about others.
Thousands of conversations rise and fall without cease,
Creating relationships, yet not forcing them.
Working with others, yet not taking credit for their work.
Great work with others is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Tao of the Self. Two

Today's Lessons

Get up and do something first thing in the day.

Be active.

Be motivated by love.

Don’t be silent anymore.

Simplify life — remove whatever and whoever does not inspire, inform, add personal value and friendship, or provide a needed service

Clean it up, and make it easy to keep clean.

There will always be more things to learn and do as the day progresses, but you have to start somewhere.

You Learn

You Learn

You learn.

After a while you learn the subtle difference

between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises,

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes open

with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

and you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn. And learn.

With every good-bye you learn.

– Jorge Luis Borges

via whiskey river.

How I want to help people feel

Yes. This is how I would  like people to feel around me…

Sometimes you meet somebody who just exudes contentment and you feel happy and safe with them, as if all is okay in the world and you lack nothing. Everything is easy and you are fully accepted as you are, no matter who or what you are. These people make us feel whole because they are whole.

via THE JOY OF SIMPLICITY | Annastao Blog.

Going Home

Well, going to where I grew up, at least. I’m off to Scottsdale, Arizona today to visit family and friends. My mom left me a timeshare there so I am headed there this week.

And I just got the book, “Journey from the Heart” from paperbackswap.com. This is the post for today:

You’re Almost Home

I only had a few hundred miles to go, but the stretch ahead seemed endless. I was tired and near the end of this adventure. I remembered the meditative words of a friend, words that had helped me several years ago, words that helped me again now.

“The life force is a force within you. You have the power to fire it, stoke it, expand its energy throughout your body. Don’t clench up, tighten up. That limits the life force within you. Stop cramping your muscles and telling yourself you can’t. If you say it long and loud enough, you’ll begin to believe it. Relax. Relax your arms, your legs, your neck, your body. You’ve come so far. Look back at all the miles you’ve traveled. What lies ahead is a small portion, such a small portion of fear.”

“Breathe deeply. When you become afraid or tired, your breathing becomes shallow. That inhibits the fire. It keeps the life force from reaching your muscles, your vital organs, your brain. Breathe deeply. Stoke the fire within.”

“Take a moment now to picture the core of light within you. See it in your solar plexus just inches below your navel. Picture it as a glowing coal, a candle, a flame. With each breath you take, picture the flame getting stronger, glowing more brightly, until you feel the vital life force begin to surge through you.”

“Feel yourself being filled with healing, life-giving energy with each breath you take. Feel the flame burn more brightly within you. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Feel your power spread through your body. Feel the power of the universe come in through your breath. Feel the power connect with and flame the burning coal of energy that is within you.”

“You’ve come so far. You’ve almost mastered that lesson, accomplished that task, unveiled that insight, the one you’ve been struggling with. Of course you’re tired. You’ve been working hard. Take a moment now to light the fire within you. Let it give you the energy you need.”

Don’t stop now. You’re almost home.

So I guess that’s an appropriate message for my drive today…

Gratitude


Danielle Anjou, Gratitude

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -– Melody Beattie

“Feel as grateful to existence as possible — for small things, not only for great things… just for sheer breathing. We don’t have any claim on existence, so whatsoever is given is a gift.

Grow more and more in gratitude and thankfulness; let it become your very style. Be grateful to everybody. If one understands gratitude then one is grateful for things that have been done positively. And one even feels grateful for things which could have been done negatively. You feel grateful that somebody helped you; this is just the beginning. Then you start feeling grateful that somebody has not harmed you — he could have; it was so kind of him not to.

Once you understand the feeling of gratitude and allow it to sink deeply within you, you will start feeling grateful for everything. And the more grateful you are, the less complaining, grumbling. Once complaining disappears, misery disappears. It exists with complaints. It is hooked with complaints and with the complaining mind. Misery is impossible with gratefulness. So that is one of the most important secrets to learn.”

Everyday Osho — 365 Daily meditations for the here and now by Osho

Level 2 Gratitude says, “How wonderful it is to exist!” Circumstances are irrelevant because this form of gratitude is a choice that needs no justification. It is a sense of utter fascination with the very notion of existence.

You become grateful for the adventure that is life, including all of its twists and turns. This form of gratitude is synonymous with unconditional love because there is no attachment to circumstances or outcomes. Consequently, there is no fear of loss or change.

Level 2 Gratitude is like having a constant echo in the back of your consciousness saying, “Wow!” Everything else is experienced on top of that Wow. Gratitude becomes the canvas upon which your life is painted… .When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank You,” that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — G. K. Chesterton

“It was the love of love,
the love that swallows up all else,
a grateful love,
a love of nature, of people,
of animals,
a love engendering
gentleness and goodness
that moved me
and that I saw in you.”

— William Carlos Williams

“Gratitude is a twofold love / love coming to visit us, and love running out to greet a welcome guest.” — Henry Van Dyke

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ”good life” we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

I posted this in January this year, but am feeling the need to post it again today. For a while I kept a gratitude journal, but I use it rarely these days. Perhaps I need to start doing that again, to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Last night we had a party for our friends, which we hadn’t done in some time, and I realized how disconnected from them I had become, in spite of the facebook and twitter connections. Our electronic connections are so shallow sometimes compared to the reality of our face to face communications. And it is sad how rarely we let others know how very much we appreciate them.

So much of our society is about that search for more, the higher highs, the more powerful position, the ever-increasing salary, more stuff, bigger houses, bigger cars. We let those things get in the way of simply enjoying ourselves and each other.

When are we ever just thankful for what we have? Don’t we know eventually we will lose all the things, all the stuff, our lives themselves?

Be grateful for what you have now, and more will come to you. That is the nature of the universe. Be unhappy, be disrespectful, be harsh to others, and you will have less. Maybe not less stuff, but less in your heart, in your spirit. You have to be grateful for what you have in order to keep it, and in order to really deserve more. Tao trusts only those who prove themselves to be worthy of being its caretakers.

Hold the jewel in your heart.

My summer vacation

I’m finally back from my vacation time in Florida, and have been going through a lot the last couple of weeks and am still sorting it all out. I’ll be back to blogging regularly eventually. It’s been an interesting and challenging time for me, and I’ve been busy making major changes in several people’s lives. Hopefully for the better, but we’ll see in time. With so much changing in our world right now, it feels difficult to keep up the pace, so I’m slowing mine down for a while. Meantime, I’ll post some less intense and more fun things here.

______________________________________________________

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Midyear Abundance

This post from Beyond the Fields We Know on abundance brought to mind some of my older posts:

The word abundance made its first appearance in the fourteenth century, coming to us through Middle English and Old French, thence from the Latin abundāns, meaning overflowing. The adjective form is “abundant”, and our common synonyms for it include: abounding ample, bounteous, bountiful, copious, eco-rich, exuberant, filled, full, generous, heavy, lavish, liberal, luxuriant, overflowing, plenteous, plenty, profuse, rich, sufficient and teeming.

We use the adjective form to describe circumstances of fullness, ripeness and plenty, and it’s a word in frequent use in high summer and early autumn. There is something almost wanton (or profligate) about the riches on display in summer – wild turkeys in the corn and waving barley, deer and fawns in the newly mowed meadows, flotillas of fuzzy goslings paddling down the river accompanied by their proud parents.

The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
— Tao Te Ching, Eighty-one

“When you open to receive the love of a friend, you are giving them the greatest gift you can give. When you are open to receiving without hindrance the energy of the universe, you are giving the world a gift. When you open to receive an inspiration or a creative idea, you are giving. In truth, receiving is giving.” — Laurence G. Boldt, The Tao of Abundance

The more you learn what to do with yourself,
and the more you do for others,
the more you will enjoy the abundant life.
— William J.H Boetcker

In 2005, I picked up a book that changed my life, Deng Ming Dao’s “365 Tao”. Reading it every day throughout the year, and using it as a touchstone for my own meditation and writing was the focus of my blog for a year. It helped bring me out of depression, reoriented my thoughts towards the world, and started me on a path that continues to expand and amaze me. Here is his writing on abundance:

Sun in heaven.
Abundance in great measure.

Supreme success
In the midst of impermanence.

The midday sun in summer is the hottest and brightest of all. It symbolizes a zenith, a fulfillment, a period of great brightness. In the affairs of people, it stands for the combining of strength and clarity, which yields brilliance. When the times are in accord, abundance cannot be opposed.

Abundance is a cause for celebration, but followers of Tao also remember to be cautious. No zenith can be preserved forever. In fact, the time of abundance just precedes an inevitable path of decline. Nothing in life is permanent. Therefore, the wise person enjoys and is gladdened by abundance. But while they take advantage of the time, they also prepare for what will follow.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

I realized that I had a great abundance in my life, even though I had felt what I was lacking more than what I had. I learned to start celebrating what I had in my life, instead of worrying about what I lacked. I learned to trust that what I needed would be provided to me — not that I didn’t have to work for it, but that if I did the work, it would be rewarded.

If you live in abundance, celebrate. Stop stressing about what you lack and celebrate what you have and who you are. And if you lack something in your life, trust in yourself to be able to find it. Trust in those around you to help you find it, and ask for their help. If you have abundance, share it with others, don’t be selfish about giving, because what you give to others will return to you in ways you least expect, ways that will make your life far more abundant than you could ever hope.

Realize that when you have abundance, you have the power to plant the seeds that will grow in the future. What seeds do you want to plant? What future do you want to leave for the next generation? Are the fancy toys or big house or car so important that you must have them now, or can that energy and abundance go to energizing the seeds of the future? Is it more important to give that extra hour to work so you can buy more things, or to a child to help develop their future?

“One hundred years from now, it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.”

Reap the rewards of your harvest, but store some away to sustain you through the lean times that may be ahead, and preserve some seeds to plant in the future as well. Only in that way can you truly sustain the abundance you enjoy today, and share it with others.

From Waking Heart today:

A whole cosmos speaking its loving presence to you in every moment! You cannot comprehend how wealthy you are. There are places and people in space and time that are far away, but not really. When this opens into your awareness, it will not matter where you are, who you are, or who you are with… or who you are without. All of it will be like a movie projection on a screen, and the light source will be in you, constant and intimately connected to everything.

Destiny

I don’t really think about having a destiny, or that anything is pre-destined. But it is amazing to me how often I can put a thought out there now and see it realized, seemingly through no action of my own. I have come to believe that the universe does take care of us, if we can trust it to do so. This isn’t so much a metaphysical belief as a Tao realization — by acting in accordance with nature, and with my own nature, I do help create the circumstances for what I want to be able to happen. And it is when I am not in accord with nature, or not listening to my own nature or that of others, that I most struggle to get what I (my ego, that is) want.

So perhaps a truer definition of destiny would be that it is what we find happening in our lives if we simply relax and allow life and our own nature to flow. When I can relax and trust that things will work out well, they typically do. And even if they are not working out well, if I’m relaxed and calm I’m certainly better able to deal with a situation. So, even if the universe isn’t on your side, why not believe that it is? It certainly isn’t out to get you, in any case. And a neutral attitude towards things, rather than a positive one, doesn’t really help to get anyone on your side. So being positive, approaching life as if good things are going to come your way, is not merely a Pollyana state but one that helps to create a better Destiny…

“Your destiny shall not be allotted to you, but you shall choose it for yourselves.” — Plato

I have to agree with Plato here.

“Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided. a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.” — Dag Hammarskjold

And Dag, it is good to believe your life has meaning.

“Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of “Pssst” that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.” — David Foster Wallace

I like this because it reminds us to be open to the unexpected, to allow good things into our lives even if we weren’t expecting them. On the other hand, don’t buy watches or jewelry from these people.

“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.”
— Francois Muriac

My friendships certainly do leave their marks on me and my life. My loves, even more so. And I still love them all…

“Time draweth wrinkles in a fair face, but addeth fresh colors to a fast friend, which neither heat, nor cold, nor misery, nor place, nor destiny, can alter or diminish.” — John Lyly

I see new colors in my friends all the time, and I mostly ignore the wrinkles. If anything, they add character.

“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected.” — Ben Okri

I don’t think I’ve ever had a straightforward path to my dreams, but they usually end up realized in some way. And I do like solving the riddles of my life…

Your thoughts on destiny???