Communion

Source: We Heart It

Source: We Heart It

Bear:

Primal Mother

Fierce Protector

Keeper of Wisdom

Instinctively Intuitive

Ursus Major:

Keep me Fearless

Heal Me

Allow me to Ponder and Reflect

To Be Still with Thoughts and Emotions

To Discern and Discriminate with Astute Mindfulness

To Love and Live and Be True to Myself

To Know that I am a Part of Infinity

And at One with the Universe

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Beyond Grateful

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These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It’s true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you                                                         ~ 10,000 Maniacs

Well, we have officially entered the holiday season. All around me, I am hearing snippets of conversations of how Thanksgiving is approaching too quickly or arriving too early  this year. Within the same conversations lie the predictable follow-up of how the Christmas season is fast on the heals of the feast-for some as early as midnight when they begin their Christmas shopping. Most likely the reason that some of us are feeling a sense of dread is that the holidays have become just another thing to do on our already overloaded “to do” list.  These exchanges obviously miss the point of our annual celebrations. As I have gotten older, I have become more and more cognizant of the materialistic and falsely cheerful feel that these holidays are supposed to imbue. Let’s be real: some of us don’t like our relations! Let’s be even more real: some of us have split families and are in the annual psychological juggle of whom we  choose to spend time with.

When we allow ourselves to get into this weird time warp of unhealthy thinking and situations, we are stealing our own joy. I remember the extraordinarily difficult time that my boys and I had with the changes in holiday traditions once their father left the house. It was so ridiculous to have to split time or have them choose between mom and dad. Now they are older and able to make their own choices that fits their desires so that the days are filled with celebration, laughter and emotional warmth.  They can begin their own traditions so that they can create life long memories of the season.

I want this year and every year to be an Appreciation Celebration. I want to dig deep and reflect upon what has really mattered in my life and savor it.  I was thinking about this recently as I drove up the highway to a favorite port city of mine. I was on a gift purchase mission for my sons and boyfriend.  Interestingly enough,  I had never driven alone to my destination and I found myself taking a different exit. I was not panicked by my detour in the least; I knew the city well enough. Also, since I only had a dollar bill, I would need to find parking on the street as opposed to a garage. So, I was quite proud of myself when I arrived at a near perfect parking spot that charged just a buck for 1 hour of parking and was close to the store!  One of the best parts about shopping at small businesses are the personal connections you can make with the store’s owner. During my shopping, the owner and I had a meaningful conversation about relationships with our children and even a bit about our own lives. He struck me a person who had experienced some of life’s hard knocks and had come out a better person as as result. I was so delighted by our talk that I left the store ready for another solo shopping adventure in yet another port city! As I traveled south, the sun was setting. Sunsets on the coast are huge-the whole sky looks like it’s awash in a golden orange. I remember thinking that I started the week basking in the sunrise and now I was doing the same with the sunset at the end of the week-very fitting. So onward I drove until I arrived at yet another terrific specialty store. And of course, my experience there was equally as positive-having made a connection with the store manager around the miracle of finding love the second time around and the challenges of a long distance relationship.

When my shopping was complete,  I felt energized by the experience. Not only had I done something by myself for the first time (on a Friday night in the dark) but I had enjoyed an authentic connection with 2 strangers!  All of us crave some form of connection to others.  Of course, I cannot expect everyone to be like me. But I do believe the we can at least be kind to one another or give a person a smile. Often we are too caught up in our own personal agendas to take the time to perform simple acts of kindness. And, of course, this is exactly what gets lost in the holiday rush.

I feel like I have finally arrived in the life that I was meant to be living. I have an unbounded sense of freedom. I am surrounded by love daily. The other day, I needed to call my youngest son while we were both on our way to work. When he answered the phone, I could tell that he was glad to hear from me just by the way he said hello. For the past two Saturdays, he and his girlfriend have asked if I have dinner plans.  What nearly 20 year old wants to hang with his mom on a weekend night? (Great way to stay out of trouble, though!) My oldest son and his girlfriend are now regular attendees at Sunday dinner. When the five of us are together, we relax, talk and chow down. What especially strikes me is how my sons’ girlfriends love the boys for who they are. As a mother, I could not ask for anything more.

Life is not only short, it is fragile. Go out and live this season and every season with purpose, love and good intentions.

Please note that this post was originally published on 11/19/12 as my own free write and well before I had so many wonderful and inspiring followers of my blog. It fits well with today’s prompt. I am grateful to all of you for your unending support. And I am forever grateful to Kellie Elmore without whom this blog would not have grown. HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

#FWF Free Write Friday: Gratitude

by Kellie Elmore

The Circle of Life

Credit: jonsama.deviantart.com

“For within your flesh, deep within the center of your being, is the undaunted, waiting, longing, all-knowing. Is the ready, able, perfect. Within you, waiting its turn to emerge, piece by piece, with the dawn of every former test of trial and blackness, is the next unfolding, the great unfurling of wings, the re-forged backbone of a true Child of Light.”
Jennifer DeLucy

November has never been a favorite month of mine.  The trees stand black and bare against the steel-gray skies. The wind is brisk and nippy; a coming sign of the season that brings increasing darkness and even despair.

Certainly, I was in the midst of despair five years ago as I engaging in the last breaths of my divorce process-awaiting and preparing for a possible trial date among other dire scenarios.  Knowing I was in absolutely no control of my future, wondering if my relationship with my youngest would ever be as close as it once was, watching myself disappear as I got thinner and thinner by the day. And when it was finally and officially over, I had no chance to come up for air. Within 24 hours of my marriage’s death knell, I received the news that my beloved mother was diagnosed with stage 4b pancreatic cancer.

My world was full of blackness. I was very glad that my marriage was over, no doubt about it.  But the process had taken a serious toll on my soul even before it had gotten underway.  I was definitely an empty vessel in desperate need of refueling. My mother’s prognosis was grim and that news just knocked me out.

For a while, November became-symbolically at least-just a month for me to get through. A year hence, I became seriously ill with the swine flu followed by pneumonia. My mother had succumb to her illness the previous February and my former husband was engaging in a series of violations of our agreement that had led to many court appearances. I was spent.

It would easy to think that my life was a black hole-that each month and each season was November. Not so! Positive shifts, rebirths and renewals were happening simultaneously even during the darkest hours. As I was preparing to legally end my marriage, I discovered a yoga studio. The owners were recalling just last Monday how I was “a mess” when I first walked through their doors. Today  I am more whole because of them. It was also in November that my now fiance’ graced my doorway and my life with his love and unconditional support. And when I was seriously ill, my youngest was also. He rebounded quickly so he became my caretaker and fulfilled his role beautifully.

So the only thing I dread about the seasonal shift is the lack of light and the endless raking. (Well, right now maybe the possibility of having to get a new boiler!) I have learned that moving forward through all of life’s challenges and struggles is the only path to rebirth. I have learned to embrace the dark times, nurture them as a means for renewal. To hold them for a bit and then simply let them go. Their ashes are the seeds for a new life.

Defying Gravity: A guest post on body image across five decades

Wonderful Jennie Saia has begun her second week of Body Image and today I am a guest host with a re-posting of “Defying Gravity”. Please check out last week’s postings as they sure to be thought provoking and stayed tuned for more POV’s this week on her site. Well worth the reading!

Tip of My Tongue

I am very honored to be a guest blogger for Jennie  from Tip of My Tongue this week.  A confident body image is a constant struggle for too many women (and men, also) regardless of age. I hope this re-post from my site will shed some light and a newer, more positive perspective for all women. I also want to link to this fascinating piece about middle-aged women trapped in the cycle of maintaining their thinness. Here’s a quote from the article:

If I don’t exercise (Every. Single. Day.) I get depressed. If I stray from my short list of accepted foods, I can spiral out of control. My life is bound by a strict system of controls and rigid rules (maintained with a pack-a-day gum-chewing habit) that keep my weight in line. These include daily digital scale checks that set my mood each morning: 102.9 is bad news; 100.4…

View original post 1,024 more words

Magnificent Beauty

quotes-about-strength

I am dedicating this week’s post to Jasmine and the women of Amirah- a non-profit organization located in the Boston area that provides a wide range of services for survivors of commercial exploitation* (amirahboston.org). Jasmine spoke at author Anne LaMott’s book event (Stitches) on Thursday, November 7th. Her story of degradation and triumph was moving and inspiring. Jasmine: You are Beautiful!

Live Long Enough and You Will Find

Beautiful Treasures on this Earth

People You Meet, Come to Know

Who Share Their Stories

Filled with Grief, Heartache,

Struggle and Strain

Addiction and Abuse

Sickness and Death

 

They’ve walked in Darkness

Alone, left out, Hanging by a thread

Made to feel Powerless and Worthless

An Object for others to use and throw away

Then one day they hear a Whisper

The sound of their Own Voice

They gather Strength and Taste their Freedom

They see their Worth and the Beauty Within

Their Voice becomes a Roar- a Cry for Others

As they walk the Path of Healing

To the Light of Wholeness and Joy

A fully realized Human

Touched by Grace

*The Stats on Human Trafficking Around the World:

20.9 million adults and children in forced labor

8.7 million number of these exploited by private agents for labor and commercial sex purposes

2.2 million forced to work by the State or rebel military groups

$32 billion total year profits, in U.S. dollars, generated by the human trafficking industry

$14.8 billion The 2012 Video Game Industry in the United States

98% percent of victims of sex trafficking are women and girls

Here in the U.S.:

100,00-300,000 number of prostituted children in the U.S.

98.8: Percent suspected or confirmed child victims of domestic sex trafficking taken in by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NMCE) nationwide from 2004-2010 who were classified as endangered runaways.

(Thank you to Amirah for providing these statistics through the International Labor Organization , the Polaris Project, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, U.S. Department of State(Trafficking in Persons Report) and http://vgsales.wiki.com/wiki/Video_game_industry)

A Change in Latititude

credit: www.flickr.com

So there I was enjoying the hot Florida sun, languishing with the post race crowd in the cool waters of a pool. I looked over to my left as a fellow runner (whom I met earlier at the race) walked in wearing a Red Sox cap and T-shirt. “Hey, where are you from?”, I shouted to him as he approached the water. I was surprise to learn that he had grown up in a town not too far from where I was currently living.  Before I knew it, he had climbed into the pool beside me. An immediate sense of ease came over me  as we began what turned into a 2 1/2 hour conversation.

I will spare you the details; they are not important. Suffice it to say that we each felt a shift occur. A connection. Certainly we were not the only ones to witness this event. Fellow runners and my own teenage sons were keen observers as well. My parents -especially my late mother-were thrilled to see me enjoy myself for a change. (I was in the midst of a nasty divorce, feeling drained and lost.) My mother sang this man’s praises later that evening, but I had no expectations.  After all, we lived very far from each other and I was still not legally divorced. Her reply was simple: “Well, you never know.”

And that’s right. You never do know. Pivotal changes can be subtle. They can be the beginnings of something new without any tangible or obvious or even immediate  changes. In my life, meeting the man I love helped me to return to myself. He did not come into my life to save me-that was up to me. He came into my life for many reasons not the least of which was to show me the profound sense of peace that deep love and commitment can bring.

We have been together nearly five years and will be married in a year and a half. My hard work raising my sons is done. I have given birth to myself once again. I will be moving away from a place that I have known all my life to embrace a newer culture and climate. I have never been more afraid and more ready.  Living out loud and truly free with a man who loves me for me.

Many thanks to Kelley Rose for hosting Kellie Elmore’s     Free Write Friday this week!

#FWF Free Write Friday: LIFE CHANGERS | with Guest Host Kelley Rose