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Showing posts from 2007

Memories of Past Holidays

The scents and sounds of this time of year can carry us to days gone by in what sometimes seems like nano-seconds! Peppermint, pine, gingerbread, and hot chocolate all have a link to the past for me. Sleigh bells, carols, and children laughing can take me from doom and gloom to utter joy in lightning speed.

I remember as a child hearing the sleigh bells on the rag man's horse. I think I am one of the last "city kids" who remember such things. Another memory of that time is the smell of pine or evergreen that filled the air at the spot where Mr. Morgan sold Christmas trees down on Broadway. Momma would take us to get the tree and then we would make cookies and have hot chocolate before bed. It was always so hard to sleep!

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how difficult Christmas was for my Mom. We had so little, yet, she created such a magic time for my brothers and I. One Christmas stands out above the rest. First, I was chosen to sing at the Midn…

The Gift of Giving

For years, I have struggled to maintain balance during the holidays. You know, you promise yourself that this year will be different. Less stress, more fun, less credit, more handmade gifts, less running around, more time with loved ones. Nice concept, but really hard to do!

How do we create a more balanced atmosphere during the holidays? First, for me, was realizing the reason we celebrate this time of year. There is no coincidence that all the major religions have holidays during December. It is the "Season of Light" for many reasons. So, whether you have an established belief system or are among those who diligently follow the seasons, re-connecting with the particular reason for celebrating can be an "enlightening" experience!

Second, I prioritized. I looked at the myriad opportunities I had to celebrate and I weeded out all the things that were not crucial. My priorities surrounded doing things or going places that would enrich my spirit or give me an o…

The Giving of Thanks

It's the day after Thanksgiving. The leftovers have been stored. Already, folks are saying, "What, turkey again!" Those that over-indulged yesterday are working on the diets they said they would start. Life goes on.

I wonder, at the end of today, how many of us will give thanks? What about next week, next month, next year?

Thanksgiving, like Valentine's Day, and Mother and Father's Day, is a holiday that I think should be celebrated every day of the year. Just think how much richer our lives would be if, every day, not just once a year, we celebrated "the Giving of Thanks." Gratitude is such a wonderful gift to give ourselves as well as others.

I challenge the readers of this blog to begin a new year, beginning today, by taking a moment each day to give thanks. Reflect on your day. Look at how, even the moments that were most difficult, helped bring you to where you needed to be. Sometimes, hindsight being 20/20, we don't see how adversity is a blessin…

Tetons - Great and Small

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With two sisters, four daughters, one step-daughter and two granddaughters (a third due in January), not to mention my Mom and Mother-in-Love, I am surrounded by wonderful women without leaving home! Needless to say, the topic of mammaries comes up often.

All kidding aside, I have always talked frankly with my girls about caring for their bodies. This included self breast exams and, once they got to the age, yearly mammograms. We have all been blessed. Too many of our loved ones and acquaintances have not been as lucky.



Sunday at church we were asked to pray for a young mother of four who just found out she has aggressive breast cancer. It breaks my heart every time I hear about another woman struggling to survive this disease. Martha Weinman Lear wrote in Heartsounds, "Women agonize...over cancer; we take as a personal threat the lump in every friend's breast."http://www.amazon.com/Heartsounds-Martha-weinman-lear/dp/0671243…

Heroes

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Every human has heroes. These are the beings we look up to, we emulate, we forget are human.

I have several heroes. My parents are heroes. They have struggled with poverty, disease, addiction, and a host of other obstacles throughout their lives. Growing up was hard, but hindsight being 20/20, I have come to realized that they gave me so much! It is through my mother that I came to know and love writing, art, theater, music.



Four generations: Me, my daughter, granddaughter and my Mom
It is through my father that I learned to create something from nothing.


My Dad
Both my Mom and Dad helped me see that no matter how little I had, there was always enough to share with others who were worse off than myself.

His Holiness the Dali Lama is another hero. His gentle manner, true humility and extreme compassion are inspirational to me. This is the official website for His Holiness: http://www.tibet.com/DL/index.html It tells his incredible story and has many great links to Tibetan history.

Another her…

Upon Awakening

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Writers and artists will tell you that the Muse visits at the most unpredictable times. It is all too true. Most often, my Muse visits in the wee hours of morning before dog or human is up. Or, she comes wistfully whispering lines of poetry or prose as I am tooling down the highway with no place to stop.

As a young student, writing was assigned an hour a day by the my teachers. The idea of Muse, or inspiration, or creativity somehow escaped their drive to "teach" us to write. I remember the exasperation one of my instructors had when after an hour of sitting with blank sheet and pen in hand, not so much as a scratch had been placed on the paper. "But Sister," I said, "I just don't feel inspired." You can imagine the response I got!

Funny, all those years ago, I had been told I would never be a "real" writer, whatever that is. Fortunately for me, I had a mother who believed that if you put pen to paper linking words in a way that informs, enter…

SURPRISE!

After over fifty years in this existence, I am well aware that the Universe often sends us the answers to our prayers when we least expect it.

When I was little, I prayed for a little girl of my own to love. I was the oldest of four; my siblings all boys. I wanted another female to share life with, a daughter to love the way I wanted to be loved. I have, not one, but four daughters, a step-daughter, and two grand-daughters to date!

I asked that I could get a degree after the school I was attending lost its accreditation, giving me only a certificate for the two years I spent studying instead of an Associates Degree. Thirty years later, I graduated second highest in my program with a BA in Creative Writing for Spiritual Health. Now I am finishing up my M.Ed. in Language, Literacy and Culture/Reading & Writing.

I long time ago I prayed that a friend I had hurt would come back into my life so that I could ask forgiveness. We were only kids when last we met. I was not mature enough to u…

Circle of Life

As a child, the first thing you noticed were the thick, black curls and the sparkling green eyes. My mother called him her "wild Irish rover" because he never stayed in one place for long. It wasn't until he was nearly an adult that the diagnosis of AD/HD was made. Unfortunately, by that point, his life had become a dark, lonely hole from which he could not escape.

Through the years, when news of Timmy was less than hopeful, I would often call to mind the image of him as a young, laughing baby of three. There was a picture of him and I and my other brother at the beach. I am struggling to maintain my "cheese" while trying to keep him corraled for the picture. His face is lit with a smile that melted hearts.

Last month, after battling lung and heart disease, my brother Timmy, my mother's wild Irish rover, died of a massive coronary at the age of 51. At his funeral, several people mentioned that he looked at peace. I had to agree. The agony of a life battling d…

Go Gratitude!

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Gratitude...for some it is mere politeness, for others acting with gratitude is noble, but for a few wise souls, living every moment in Gratitude is, as Johannes Gaertner has written, pure "Heaven."

Several years ago, I was introduced to the idea of Living Gratitude by a program I saw on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I began keeping, as Oprah had suggested on the show, a Gratitude Journal. At first, I had trouble filling the pages, but as I began to Live Gratitude, I began to see reasons to be grate-full even in the hardest of times. What is amazing is that the more I lived a grate-filled life, the more for which to give thanks!

Two years ago, I happened on the "Go Gratitude" web site. It has confirmed what I have learned from my Gratitude Journal and then some! Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to take the Gratitude challenge. It has changed lives around the world.

This is the Go Gratitude image.
It is one of the most frequently used symbols in all …

What is Contemplative Education

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Several times over the past few months, I have had various inquiries into just what Contemplative Education meant. It is actually much easier to understand than most people think.

Contemplative Education is the art of teaching mindfully. It means being aware fully of your class, each child, the content of what you are teaching and its relationship to the world around you. It is looking at any subject through the lens of mindfulness or contemplation. It doesn't mean that you need to sit on a cushion and chant. While this is a contemplative practice, it is not the only contemplative practice offered.

At the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society, they have a wonderful graphic that explains the fact that contemplation has many forms. ( Click this link to view.
http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree.html

Living life fully aware and mindful can be elusive. So much in our society works to crowd our minds with needless trivia. We are deluged with sights, sounds, smells, and t…

Over the Whelm

A friend once asked me, several years ago, "When do you think you will be 'over the whelm'?" I laughed. "Probably not until I get 'under the whelm,'" I replied.

Life is often overwhelming. However, who would want to live it if it was underwhelming?

When I first began this blog, it was due to taking an online class called, "Blogging for Beginners" facilitated by educators around the globe. What with critical literacy, multiculturalism and contemplative education as my passions, I had to join. What an adventure!

Each week we had assignments, online chats, virtual meetings, and all types of whiz-bang technological magic to attempt. I must say, I never managed the virtual meetings, but I did join one of the chat sessions. It was enjoyable talking to other educators from around the world. In six short weeks I learned so much!

While I did not receive academic credit for this online course, I am actually working diligently on three master'…

Love IS all there is!

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Just when you least expect it, miracles happen. Your beloved stands before you. Your spirits meld together. Everything seems right.

Wow...really profound, right? So, why do we wait till once a year to tell those we love that we love them? I have always been bothered by this holi/holyday...St. Valentine's Day, because of this. My feeling is, if you live your life correctly, every day is St. Valentine's Day!
That said, I want to share a few of the poems I have written about "love"...all kinds of love...Enjoy!


Rose Strewn Path to the Seventh Happiness



EPIPHANY

To love a body
is fleeting.
Age eventually pushes Youth away…
crow’s feet
smile lines
bumps
and bulges
emerge where once
a nubile form held court.

To love a mind
brings confusion.
Understanding holds wide the door for Mis…
mis-inform
mis-interpret
mis-state
mis-understanding!
The brilliance soon tarnishes.

But,
To Love a Soul
is to find Ecstasy!
Time stands still
as Eternity waltzes in…
the edges of being touch…
filling space…
joining other s…

Four-legged friends

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Molly is the fourth canine to have come into my family. She is a beautiful German shepherd mix with a touch of wolf. Molly is Roger's dog, but she has adopted me, too. She is very protective, watching carefully to make sure I am safe when Roger is not around. But this isn't a Molly story, it's a story about the other furry friends I've had.

Dozo, a collie/shepherd mix was my first four-legged friend. I found him in a small cage at the pound. He looked up at me with huge brown eyes when I said, "Hey, boy, you want to go home?"

Dozo lived with me and my first husband through the birth of all our daughters. He was so good with the children. They would nap on him and he would not move until they woke up. If I tried to move them, he got upset, sulking under their cribs. When I brought home my youngest daughter, Dozo met me at the door, took one look at the new baby and gave a huge sigh as if to say, "Ok, come on in, another one isn't going to matter."

Peace Prayer

Click on this link for a treat by Sissel and Josh Groban. This was filmed at the Nobel Peace Awards.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upddg7yHaSI

Wonderfully, Wise Women

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Two years ago, I was asked to participate in a choral reading to raise money for Devorah's Door, a non-profit organization which provides funds for abused women to have their smashed-in doors fixed and their locks changed.

The unusual thing about this reading was that each of the participants read her own poetry. The poetry was interspersed with Taiko drumming (traditional Japanese drums used for performance art and ceremonies).

What was amazing about this performance was not that we each recited or performed our own work, or that we raised a couple of thousand dollars for Devorah's Door. What was amazing was how we raised the consciousness around women's body image, for others as well as ourselves.

The media has for too many years played with the minds and hearts of women around the world. We look at the magazines or TV, videos or in the movies and we see these "perfect" women. Who ever said they were perfect?

One of my dear daughters was in the audience the night o…

Adventures in Gradual School

(Apologies to John Irving)

I got into creating this blog thanks to one of the faculty members of my concentration in the graduate program I am currently in at UMass Amherst. I knew there was no way I could go to a TESOL conference; it looked interesting; I've taken online classes; love the freedom they allow; and, it was something new.

What I have learned in the past two weeks is phenomenal! Besides creating this blog, I have learned how to use yahoo groups, chat on line in a group conference, chat with individuals around the world, use wiki (well, sort of), posted on Frapper, and keep track of 50 to 100 emails a day! Whew! No wonder I feel tired!

Publicly, I would like to thank the Blogging for Beginners team. What a great job you all have done coordinating all of this. My head spins when I think of the work and effort that had gone into making all of this happen for so many people around our tiny planet!

This leads me to the "spiritual" connection in all this. Just look at…

On motherhood, becoming a grandmother and other adventures

To My Daughters On My Fiftieth Birthday

Many among us
Celebrate milestones by
Adding up the number of things
Accomplished...
150 years in business,
7.5 million gold records,
25 Emmy nominations...

The experts count
Sales,
Opinions,
Votes,
Awards...

After 50 years of life,
My greatest accomplishment
Is also my most prized
Award...

The four radiant gems
Held fast in the crown
Of my heart...

© 2003 LMRN


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A Grandmother’s Birth

The day began as all others.
Responsibilities lay in wait as I rushed to meet them.
Daily tedium rained through the morning,
The gray skies of doubt and indecision placed
A pall over the Sunshine of Hope.

Just as I prepared for rest,
The call came to rush to our designated meeting.
Evening descended with fog and rain.
The sky shone white in the headlights
As I drove into the Light of Night.

Just as you pushed into Life,
I pushed wide the doors of your room.
Reaching your side, tears rained down,
Clouds of doubt and longing parted.
The Sun of Love …

Like Alice in Wonderland

I admit, I am a dinosaur when it comes to computers. I started back in the day of binary codes, reams of paper and little cards punched full of holes.

The first computer I worked on took up an entire room in the doctor's office I worked in. If we did a 'run' we had to leave it on over night and hope it did crash in the wee hours. I remember thinking it was so fast!

Now, here I am some thirty years later immerged in Blogging for Beginners (B4B)! I feel like Alice and I just fell down the rabbit hole! Technology is wonderful! But, watch out for the Mad Hatter! ("No time! No time!")

Looking at the blogs of other educators, I see how nicely this tool incorporates into a classroom. Obviously it takes lots of work, but what a gift to give our students! I can see blogs in elementary classrooms as a way for students to write and share without feeling the discomfort of standing in front of the class. I can also see it as a great tool for the bilingual student who needs extra…

Winter Blues

After living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I never thought I would be depressed because it hasn't snowed! The lack of white stuff here in New England is so disheartening.

What is it about snow that makes most people feel good? Could it be that the sparkling flakes create a fantasy world in the sunshine or moonlight? Or, is it that the child in us longs to run headlong into a snow drift rolling over, arms waving madly to create a snow angel?

It is gray out at the moment. It feels as if the world is in limbo. Nature isn't dead, but it's not alive and happy either. I have brought spring inside. There are paperwhites and amaryllis growing on my windowsill. They will lift me out of the doldrums once they bloom. Until then, I look for other signs of growth and renewal.

I don't have to look far. My daughter has sent an email with new pictures of my granddaughter attached. Suddenly, my life is filled with sunshine, fantasy, rebirth, re-creation and Light. Nothing fills me w…