Follow the markers

Too often I try to figure everything out, to anticipate all of the possibilities.

And too often those possibilities seem negative. I think of all the things that could go wrong. All of the things that could be bad. All of the things I don’t want.

And I focus on scarcity instead of abundance. I worry that there won’t be enough. That there isn’t enough to go around.

So I’m trying an experiment.

I’m making a concerted effort not to look too far ahead. To look only at my next step or the next – and not try to look too far down the path or around the bend.

And I’m making a concerted effort to think positively, with my heart open. To do what I feel called to do, what makes me feel the most alive. Not to search out negatives and dwell on them. Not to worry about scarcity.

But instead to envision what positive results could manifest if I pay attention and follow where I’m led.

To trust that I live in an abundant universe. That we all do. That there is enough for me. For you. For everyone.

Yes, I have a specific project in mind. I’m following the markers for it. (I’ll share more in detail later as it takes shape).

I’m finding that if I don’t try to plan too much but still am active and involved, markers do indeed appear.

I received two or three pretty significant markers in the past couple of weeks. . . some validation that I can trust following them.

Yet even with validation, I find it’s hard to let go of trying to control, to let go of worrying, to let go of negativity, to let go of a scarcity mentality.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I just have to be aware, to notice when I feel and think negatively, when I start worrying and trying to control, when I’m afraid that there’s not enough to go around.

To notice when my heart space starts closing.

And to choose opening instead.

And to choose to trust in abundance. . . thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even one hundredfold abundance!

I choose to follow the markers today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

And to trust where they lead.

And I bet the markers are forming a path. . .

And I bet the markers are forming a path. . .

What’s Important: Some of What I’ve Learned from My Father

Humility and service and dependability and respect. Some of the qualities my father taught me – taught not with words but in daily life lived.

I like to use Father’s and Mother’s Day to reflect on my parents’ lives. To think about what I learned from them, to appreciate the foundation they laid for me and the support they offered through my entire life.

In looking through a picture album that spanned part of Daddy’s 50s and 60s, I saw a man who didn’t seek the spotlight, who in most photos was quietly enjoying the activity that was going on in the center of the photo. Seldom was he a part of the “center.”

But the qualities he lived were certainly essential, important, center ones.

He didn’t live a flashy or unusual life. It was mostly centered around Ebenezer Crossroads and Effingham County, Georgia, branching out into Chatham County, which is where he went to his job at a big paper mill. He wasn’t an office worker or foreman there. He was a machinist. A basic blue collar job. The kind of job that most of my friends’ fathers had.

His leisure activities were centered around sports and fishing and community activities – with a little travel thrown in after he retired.

Daddy loved sports and passed that along to me. One set of memories to do with sports is of when I was a kid. In warm weather he’d get home from work and change clothes and spend time with me in the back yard hitting fly balls for me to shag.

Caught a big bass

Caught a big bass

And he loved to fish. He spent many an early Saturday morning at “the seas” (*) fishing in a jon boat. I think that was his weekly meditation time. The brown reflective cypress lake, the plunk of the hook and bait and bobber, the smoothness of the worn paddle, all surrounded with an occasional bird call – that was one of his sanctuaries.

His other sanctuary was a literal one, Jerusalem Lutheran Church, the church of his parents and their parents and their parents and their parents. . . . for generations, stretching back into the mid to early 1700s.

He always felt that if the church doors were open, he was supposed to be there.

And he usually was.

He was the church treasurer for years. He was on the council many times, sang in the choir for years, and was the bell ringer for 35 years.

Ringing the bells was a Seckinger job. He took over from his brother when his brother died, and his brother had taken over from their father when he died.

Both his brother and father died early deaths, at ages 45 and 55. Daddy thought he’d follow in their footsteps in early death, too, but he lived to be 73, and it wasn’t a heart attack that got him as it had gotten his brother and father. It was a car wreck. His heart wasn’t what let him down – even though he was afraid that it might.

And I guess it’s pretty appropriate that it didn’t.

Although he was not one to be demonstrative with love, he did love deeply, dependably, respectfully, with much of it shown through acts of service. For family, for friends, for church, for community.

But mostly for his God.

He wasn’t one to preach, but he believed that we’re all equal, that we are all deserving of respect, that we all are worthy of service – no matter who we are, how we think, how we vote, what color our skin is, how much money we have.

None of those mattered. Because the God that my daddy loved and served was one of love.

Love pure and simple.

Daddy took “God is love” literally.

In my whole life so far, I’ve not learned any lesson that is more important than that one.

That lesson is at the center of who I am.

So on this Father’s Day, I say, Thank you, Daddy. For what you taught me through your life, your qualities, your service, your love.

I miss you.

(*) Our extended family property that we call “the seas” is the only example of a word that I think comes from German, the language our Seckinger ancestors spoke. The German word for lake is “see.” I believe it got switched to “sea” somehow through the years because the English word sea was somewhat connected. Our “seas” are two lakes.

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Ringing the bells at Jerusalem Lutheran Church

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Feeling Failure

Just what is failure?

I suppose that for each one of us, it can have a different meaning.

For me, it’s a feeling of not measuring up. To society’s standards. To my own standards.

When I think of the word “fail,” I think of going to school. To fail a test or a class meant you didn’t meet the standard.

My biggest fear as a student was of an F.

Because F = Failure.

When I was writing last week, that Failure of the past seven years sometimes felt a lot like an F.

So just what standard did I fail to meet these past seven years?

The main standard at which I feel I failed was the one that tells me that to be successful, I must have a job that produces money.

That to be a worthy member of society, I have to produce income.

These past seven years have made me question that assumption. Does everyone I consider a worthwhile person make money?

The answer is definitely NO.

I know plenty of stay-at-home moms and dads who don’t produce monetary income – but who are some of the most worthwhile, productive members of society I know.

I have friends who don’t have to work, either because they’re retired or because they have enough wealth to support them. Are they “worthless”? Absolutely not.

So where did I get this idea that to be worthwhile, I have to produce money?

Did it come from my family, from my community? From our society at large? From being born a human?

Where did this whole equation of Income Production = Success come from?

I think it comes from the other word I felt so much this past seven years.

FEAR.

I realized that in MY mind, income production means I’ll be safe, protected. That I won’t have to worry. That life will be easy.

That if I’m working in a job, I’ll be valued. And valued people are taken care of. That bad things don’t happen to valued people.

Even though I know better than that, know differently than that, there’s a basic assumption that I seem to have been born with. That being productive, making money, makes you invulnerable.

And, in these past seven years, I’ve had to realize that that kind of thinking IS A LIE!

Nothing makes me invulnerable.

Not money. Not success. Not faith.

Being alive in this human form means I’m vulnerable.

Sometimes that scares me senseless.

But sometimes. . . . sometimes, when the light is just right, when it’s quiet and empty, when I can release a tiny bit of the tension in my body. . . I realize that my very vulnerability is precious.

That vulnerability is the only thing that can break through the barriers I’ve spent 56 years erecting. That the crack, the F, the Failure, is the very thing that I need – to be fully human, to live fully in this murky, muddy, magical world.

Who’d a thunk it?

That just what I needed was failure??

But there you have it. My F these past seven years has meant much more than any A or gold star or trophy I received in all of the years before that.

Because all of the “successes” didn’t do one thing to help break open the armor I put around my heart.

Only failures have done that.

Failure. Fear. Vulnerability.

My greatest teachers.

My greatest heart openers.

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Early spring wildflowers

A 7 Year Cycle: Failure and Fear

About three months ago, I got the feeling I was completing a cycle.

That something is finishing within me, that something is shifting, that I’m about to emerge into something new.

I realized that it was seven years ago that I quit teaching and embarked on a new life. I also realized that I’ve read about seven-year cycles, that some say seven-year cycles run throughout our lives.

When I did the math, it matched up. I completed my seventh seven-year cycle during the middle of my last year as a high school classroom teacher and had already made the decision to leave teaching. I turned 49 and was beginning a new way of thinking and of seeing the world.

Now, seven years later, I’m 56 – completing one cycle and beginning a new one.

For these three months after my realization, I’ve been pondering the theme of these last seven years.

What has been the predominate pattern I’ve experienced?

What came to me was that these past seven years have brought me a lot of failure and fear.

When you read the words “failure” and “fear,” don’t assume that I’ve hated these past seven years or haven’t found them fruitful.

Because they’ve been the seven years of the most soul growth of my entire life. I’ve said in this blog before that I’ve learned more in the last few years than the rest of my life put together.

What I’ve realized is that I don’t experience a lot of soul growth if things are rocking along smoothly.

If I’m not pushed into new areas, I can become complacent, passive, satisfied (in the worst sense of the word) – and I lose my appreciation for the gifts that this life offers.

This past seven-year cycle has pushed me in ways that I never would have chosen – but in ways that have forced me to evaluate myself with a critical eye, to see where my weaknesses are, to see where I must grow if I’m to become the soul I’m meant to become, to become the person I was born to be.

And to do that, I needed to experience failure and some pretty severe fear.

I had to fall.

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A breast cancer diagnosis and a three-pronged treatment journey (of chemo, surgery, radiation) were a part of it. That brought me a lot of the fear. I had to confront my fear of illness and dependency on others – and my fear of death.

And along with the fear that cancer brought me, there was also failure.

It seems that nothing I’ve tried professionally has worked during these past seven years. I’ve tried two businesses with partners, and neither one worked out for me. I’ve tried different ways to make money – and have been an abject failure in each.

These have been hard lessons, particularly hard because in the first part of my life I had many successes. I did well in high school, graduating third in my class. I was selected to play on the first state all star girls basketball team.

I did well in college. I graduated magna cum laude. I applied to one law school – and got in.

And when I was miserable practicing law, I switched to teaching, where (in the first 20 years) I was happy and successful. In my first year as an assistant basketball coach, our team won the state championship. And in my second year as head softball coach, our team won the state championship. And our softball teams won two more state championships.

Yes, I had a good work ethic, but success just seemed to fall into my lap.

And when I decided to quit teaching, I really thought that good things would come to me. After all, they always had.

But that’s not what happened.

I tried a project in education. Nothing lined up. I tried starting a business with a friend. It didn’t go very well.

And then I got a breast cancer diagnosis.

Through all of these difficulties,  I had to take a hard look at myself, to see where I was flawed, to feel fears that I’d run from or avoided by being busy, by being in a steady job which provided money and security.

I thought I’d made progress after the first failures and the cancer journey, but then I took a job that didn’t align with my soul. It didn’t go well, and I had to quit.

For seven years I’ve tried this and that, here and there. And have failed every time. Nothing worked out the way I hoped.

I kept thinking something would shift. I clung to the hope that something would shift. I tried to make something shift.

Something on the outside.

But the shift needed to happen on the inside.

And the only way that would happen was for me to experience failure, to have to face some of my fears.

And that’s just what I’ve been doing for these past seven years.

What have I learned?

Well, I cling less now to the hope that something will magically shift, that there is some future time when all will be perfect.

I know I won’t always be “successful.” I now see success in very different ways.

I know I can get by on – even be happy with – a lot less.

I no longer hope for a charmed life – because it’s hardship that has broken me open, gotten me in touch with my heart, helped me see my flaws and try to change them, to lessen them, to become a better person.

I’ve had to grow up. To choose maturity over childishness, growth over avoidance, open-heartedness over security.

Fear and failure have pushed me into the soul expansion I needed.

Expansion I’d never have chosen if my life had continued to rock along with a steady income and good health.

Life’s ironic like that.

What you most fear can be what brings the biggest gifts.

So this cycle of failure and fear, am I glad it’s ending?

Yes.

But I don’t expect the next cycle to be rainbows and unicorns. It might be, but I don’t expect that.

I do expect opportunity for growth, to continue on the path toward wholeness.

And I have a feeling I’m going to find my way to a new incarnation.

One that has less fear, one that embraces vulnerability, one that is happier with each day’s gifts whatever they may be.

As I pass from one cycle to the next, I know that the path will be revealed little by little.

I’m more comfortable with not being able to see around the bend.

Because the view now, today, in this moment, can be pretty wonder-ful.

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A Sister Trip around NY, Mass, and NH: First, Mountains

Not every one gets to take slow and scenic trips with her sister.

But I do!

Our latest trip began in Pennsylvania and went to Poughkeepsie, New York, up and over to Stockbridge, Massachusetts and then further over to my sister’s home in New Hampshire. We took two days to travel as the spirit moved us.

We met up at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania airport. I drove there, and she flew there. We headed up I-81 to I-84 through the Poconos to the Hudson River and drove up to Poughkeepsie, New York.

Why Poughkeepsie? Well, I wanted to see Valkill, the Eleanor Roosevelt house I’d missed seeing five or six years ago because it wasn’t open for the season yet. And Poughkeepsie is just down the road from Hyde Park. BUT, long story short, Valkill changed its schedule and wasn’t open on the days we were there.

Chef Crossing at the CIA

Chef Crossing at the CIA

However, there’s plenty to see and do in that area, and we’d made reservations at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. We had dinner at the CIA in the American restaurant (they have three: American, Italian, and French). We both chose the prix fixe menu, a special one in honor of the last episode of Man Men, a three-course meal with a 1960s theme. Our meals were  both excellent. I highly recommend a trip to the CIA for a meal prepared by the students. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Karla on the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie

Karla on the Walkway

The next day we went to the pedestrian bridge that is a former railroad bridge over the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie. The Walkway Over the Hudson gave us a little exercise and a great view of the Hudson River and the surrounding area on a crisp, windy day.

From there we drove up to Hyde Park. I’d been to the Roosevelt house and presidential library and the Vanderbilt Mansion on my last trip, and since we didn’t have a lot of time we chose to stop only at the graveyard where several of the Roosevelts are buried behind the Episcopal church. It’s a pretty little cemetery with some significant and interesting graves.

IMG_8349From Hyde Park, we headed north along the Hudson to Rhinebeck. I’d read that it’s a pretty town, and it really is. We had a nice late lunch of rustic pizza there and got back on the road. We meandered over to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a small town in the Berkshires, for the evening. We stayed at the Stevens House of the Red Lion Inn. The main building dates back to 1773, but we were in a “newer” building, which is itself an older house. We walked to the Lion’s Den in the main building for a pub dinner in a unique undergroundish setting.

The next morning we walked to the Elm Street Market and sat at the counter for a diner breakfast. A couple of locals were perched on their stools in what seemed to be their regular spots, so I made sure to say “y’all” a few times and engage the reticent cook in a little conversation. Very little :) He wasn’t so crazy about tourists.

Karla get a pic of the studio

Karla gets a pic of the studio

The Norman Rockwell Museum was our next destination. It’s just outside Stockbridge in the country. It’s not a big museum, but it’s really interesting and has a good assortment of Rockwell’s paintings and copies of all of the Saturday Evening Post covers. We heard a gallery talk and enjoyed the Rockwells as well as the Leyendecker exhibit. And we took a walk out to the Rockwell studio, which had been moved to the museum grounds from downtown Stockbridge where Rockwell worked through much of his career.

We also tried to visit Naumkeag, an estate with gardens, but it wasn’t open for the season quite yet. And it turns out that Chesterwood, the country home, studio, and gardens of Daniel Chester French, is just outside Stockbridge, too, but I decided I didn’t really have the energy to enjoy it as I’d like, so we left that for another trip. Instead we drove into Lenox for lunch. Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Pops and is a nice little Massachusetts town. Edith’s Warton’s country home, The Mount, is nearby, but since we’d been there years ago and still had a couple-hour drive to my sister’s house in New Hampshire, we got on the road and left Western Mass and the Berkshires.

That was the end of our motel and driving time. Our next excursions were day trips. And I’ll tell about those in my next post.

Hallway at the CIA

Hallway at the CIA

Rockwell's

Rockwell’s “The Golden Rule”

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This is the Four Freedoms series. Freedom from Want, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear

Rockwell's studio

Rockwell’s studio

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5 Appreciations I Have for My Mother (I Wish I’d told her)

Why is it that it’s not until after your parents have died that you have some realizations about them? Then it’s too late to tell them thank you.

These five appreciations about my mother only came to me years after she crossed over.

I never told her.

Some are daily kinds of things. Others go deeper.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I’m hoping that maybe somehow that energy of appreciation can still reach the other side . . .

1. I appreciate the good meals Mama prepared for our family.

I have a hard enough time feeding myself, and feeding a family of four was much, much harder. Many days I can’t figure out what I want to eat. And it’s just me to feed! Not four people with different tastes. Somehow Mama figured out how to have a protein, rice or potatoes, and at least one green or yellow vegetable at supper each evening. And typically more for Sunday dinner.

Most days, I don’t enjoy cooking. I know Mama didn’t, either. But she still did. For us.

2. I appreciate that she treated people equally.

I realize now that my mother was careful to teach my sister and me that we were no better than anyone. I think that’s partially why when people had car trouble at the intersection where we grew up they came to our house for help. The people who knew us knew that Mama wasn’t going to look down on them – whoever they were, wherever they were from. They were going to get the help they needed, whether it was using the phone or getting gas or help changing a tire.

3. I appreciate that she enjoyed helping people.

This one ties in with the previous one. People came to our house for help because Mama liked helping them. And she knew how to do all kinds of things, from working on cars to tending a fire to repairing just about anything. Plus, she was always well-supplied. Gas, ropes, duct tape, wrenches, you name it. She had them all handy – and knew how to use them. Daddy knew how to use them, too, but she’s the one who made sure there were all kinds of tools and equipment handy. That mattered more to her than it did to Daddy.

4. I appreciate that she could fix most anything.

And this one is connected, too. She understood cars, and she and Daddy kept our cars running well. She could repair all kinds of small appliances. She could fix nearly anything around the house. She was also good at refinishing furniture.

She knew how to take care of almost any kind of wound, too. We’d teasingly call her “Dr. Seckinger” because she had strong opinions about taking care of physical ailments. The bathroom cabinet was full of tinctures and lotions and salves and gauzes and tape. She tended to many a cut or scrape or sprain.

5. I appreciate that she taught my sister and me to be independent.

That was one appreciation that was brought to me right after her death. Several people at the funeral home mentioned that she was “independent.” I hadn’t realized that independence was unusual. But when I thought about a woman born in 1927 and the usual role she had to play, well, yes, my mama didn’t fit that. She definitely thought her own way and lived her life her own way. She never waited on a man to take care of things. She knew she could do just about anything. And she taught my sister and me to think and live that same way.

I wish I’d thought of thanking my mama for these specifics while she was alive.

I hope that maybe I did in a roundabout way. Sometimes things get conveyed underneath the surface of words. I hope I let that conveyance take place.

Maybe she already knew – even if I didn’t say the words.

When love is deep, a lot can be communicated without words. Maybe she could feel my appreciation. Even if I wasn’t directly aware that I had it. Even if I didn’t know to say it.

I hope so.

And maybe, just maybe, she can feel it now.

Mama, you were such a blessing to me. Thank you. I appreciate all you did for me. I didn’t have the words then, but here they are now.

Happy Mother’s Day with much love.

And appreciation.

And boy, could she pack a trunk! (A Robinson talent).

And boy, could she pack a trunk! (A Robinson talent).

She liked animals a lot. Even old goats.

She liked animals a lot. Even old goats.

An Upcoming “Birth”day: Three Years After Cancer Treatments

April 24th is a kind of birthday for me.

It’s the day I completed breast cancer treatments.

And fittingly, this year’s local Relay for Life is on April 25th.

So I’m looking at this year’s Relay event as a “birthday” celebration of my third year as a cancer-free person.

But I’m not only feeling celebration . . . because cancer is swirling all around me. I have friends for whom cancer has recurred. I have friends who are nursing family members through cancer. I have friends who have had family members die from cancer. I see Facebook posts and news articles about people who are diagnosed with cancer – seemingly every day.

Cancer, cancer everywhere. Or at least that’s what I’m seeing and feeling now.

Heck, our centering prayer group reading even mentioned cancer last week!

And I have to admit that seeing and reading about cancer lately scares me. I wonder if cancer will return in my body.

I guess all cancer survivors worry about this. This past week I’ve had acute awareness of that potential. Nearly every ache and pain makes me wonder . . . is this a sign that cancer has returned?

My deep feeling is that it won’t return.

But what if I’m wrong?

That’s where my centering prayer practice provides me a foundation, one of being present with what is. Because right now I feel healthy. I feel stronger than since before cancer. I feel I’m on a good path, even though I’m currently jobless and not sure of my future.

But, honestly, who is ever sure of her future?

None of us is. Anything could happen tomorrow or in the next hour or in the next minute.

So all we really have is this moment.

I’m going to appreciate it. This moment. Right now.

With my coming “birthday,” I’m looking at the energy I’m feeling now as well as reflecting on my cancer journey in the past.

My initial Relay for Life goal

My initial Relay for Life goal

I’ve been feeling some wonderful energy connected with this year’s Relay for Life. I set a goal of raising $1,000 and posted a photo on Facebook. Within 48 hours, my Facebook friends had me over half way there, and within four days they had me over my goal.

A big “thank you!” to my very generous friends who donated to the cause of helping cancer patients and helping fund research to find a cure for this terrible disease. I’ve increased my goal, and friends continue to donate.

I’m feeling the love!

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. . . and again!!

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. . . and again. . .

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. . . again. . .

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Thank you to Relay for Life donors. . .

My look back at my cancer journey has me feeling the love, too.

Because, you see, I was surrounded by love the entire time.

Friends and family and even strangers were so loving and generous with me. They prayed for me and sent good vibes. They took me to doctor appointments and took notes for me. They brought food. They gave me blankets and clothing and hats and scarves and art. They sent cards, encouraged me on Facebook, wore scarves in solidarity, mowed my yard, raked leaves, took me to treatments, met me at treatments, visited, emailed, and texted. They sent packages with blankets and sweet grass from Montana and gift cards and more.

Some restaurant owners treated me to meals. Friends and strangers knitted, felted, and crocheted hats and blankets and prayer shawls for me. Friends and family took me out to eat. They shopped for me, had picnics for me, sent anonymous gifts to me, cut my hair (and shaved it) for me, gifted me with acupuncture sessions. One even got a squirrel out of my ductwork for me.

Another called to check on me every day.

And my sister was with me with my first (port) surgery and back for the last of the first round of chemo and back again for my lumpectomy and back again for my last chemo. She came a lot! And she checked in every day via phone or email.

There were so many loving gestures of support that I’m sure I left some out. But know that I deeply appreciated – do appreciate – them, even if I can’t remember them all at this moment.

As tough as that cancer journey was, it showed me how much love and generosity is a part of human nature. How kind people are. How willing to help.

And as I celebrate this “birthday,” I’m asking my family and friends to join with me – in prayer and thanksgiving, and perhaps in a donation to my Relay for Life efforts. Because, you see, I doubled my goal. I worry that it seems pretentious to think I could raise $2,000. But then I think of the cause – helping those with cancer and helping find a cure – so I think, “Why not? Why not try to raise as much money as I can?”

If you’d like to donate, to help me celebrate by helping others on this difficult journey, click here.

And thank you to those who have already donated – to me or to another Relay for Life team or another beat-cancer organization.

I’ll end this post with a photographic walk through my cancer journey – from September 2011, when I was diagnosed, to April 24, 2012, when I had my last radiation treatment, and three days later at Relay for Life. You just might see yourself or a gift you gave me.

It’s with gratitude that I celebrate this April. I don’t know my future, and I feel for those currently on a cancer journey.

But now, in this moment, I say thank you, deeply, to all of those who helped me in my journey and who remain friends now.

You make me feel loved.

And I love you all right back!

Because that’s what it’s all about.

Giving and receiving love. All the rest is details.

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My sister joined me in a special meal just before I began treatments. She came down from New England several times to take care of me. Nothing better than a loving, caring sister!

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My friend Claire painted a silk scarf for me

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Getting my head shaved since my hair was about to fall out from chemo effects

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Angie shaving my head

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Almost done. . .

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Bald!

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A tough day. I was getting used to being bald and feeling rotten.

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Scarf solidarity from my centering prayer group

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Now let’s get Margaret in the pic!

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Selfie on sofa (where I spent most of my time)

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Celebrating our birthdays (and my no-cancer-in-lymph-nodes after surgery)

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Steroid voraciousness after chemo

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LAST chemo treatment

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Face rash from chemo. There are all kinds of side effects! BUT this was the LAST chemo treatment.

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Chemo was over, and I was getting out and about. Sporting my Kim-made felted hat :)

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Radiation room

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Before one of my eight seroma aspirations. Yeah, I had lots of fluid problems.

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Fuzz! Angie tried to dye it pink, but it didn’t work.

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An outing at The Pocket to see wildflowers with Susan

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A Mentone outing with Sandy, who checked on me EVERY day during my treatments!

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My first Savannah return near the end of radiation treatments. Those live oaks did my soul a world of good!

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With my high school friend Efrayim in Savannah

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Savannah selfie

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Last day of radiation, and thus of treatment. Retiring my arm and head support.

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Treatment is over! My “birthday”! With the wonderful radiation techs. And wearing the cool hat Nina brought me from South America.

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My first Relay for Life, three days after I completed treatments. With Kelly, nurse extraordinaire. She’s the captain of the Fuller Cancer Center team, the one I’m supporting in Relay for Life.

Energy Exercise Hiatus

As you can tell by the lack of posts lately, I’ve been on hiatus from the Pam Grout E-Squared energy exercises.

But I haven’t been on hiatus from energy.

Because, well. . .  you can’t be!

You might remember my last experiment, the one with the cilantro seeds. My intention to have the seeds sprout – and for the left side to grow faster than the right – ended like this when the week was up.

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But I kept watering the seeds. I even took them with me to Savannah so that I could water them often enough. I didn’t send any intention, though.

Or, rather, I didn’t send any mindful intention.

But I did water them.

Maybe that includes some intention?

It has to, right? If you’re watering, you’re providing the seeds with something they need. And that involves intention.

Well, long story short, the seeds did start to sprout.

I can’t remember how many days it was after planting, but a couple of the seeds sprouted first.

Both were on the right side of the carton! Not the left, the side to which I had sent the intention.Nor did my intentions make the seeds sprout within a week.

But the seeds did sprout. All of them. This is what they looked like a couple of days ago.

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I’m not sure if this experiment was a complete failure.

It certainly was at least a partial failure.

But however I choose to see it, I still have some cilantro to plant in a larger container.

And a lesson: Planted seeds – given sun and water – want to sprout and grow. Mindful intentions or not! And they’ll do just that. In their own time.

I mentioned that you can’t really be on hiatus from energy. During this Savannah trip, spring energy was all around.

So much was flowering, especially the azaleas.

There were and are other energies at work, but I’ll save writing about those for a later post or two.

I’ll end this one with some photos of the azaleas.

No one had to send intentions for them to bloom.

They just did. Just as seeds know when to grow, when to sprout, when to bear fruit, these azaleas bloom every year.

Profusely.

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Azaleas in Forsyth Park

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More Forsyth Park, azaleas and live oaks

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Angel in Bonaventure Cemetery

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Drive in Bonaventure Cemetery

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Forsyth Park sidewalk

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Bonaventure Cemetery cherubs

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E-Squared Principle #6: “The Superhero Principle”

After last week’s life-changing (literally) principle, the one that prompted me to leave my job, you’d think the energy would be rocking. And that this week’s experiment would be amazing.

But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

This week’s experiment was to see if my thoughts could change matter, the physical world.

Could my thoughts make seeds sprout faster, and not only that, but could my thoughts make the seeds planted on the left side of an egg carton sprout faster than on the right side?

As Pam Grout, the author, instructs, I planted seeds in an egg carton and watered them every couple of days. And I sent good thoughts, intentions, for sprouting – and sprouting faster on the left side. Grout suggests green bean seeds, but I used cilantro, because I figured I could actually tend those sprouts in planters this spring and summer.

Today was the end of the week-long experiment.

Here is my result.

IMG_7609Yep, no sprouts left side or right side.

I did grow a little mold on the left side of the egg carton, though!

The last experiment, the one which prompted me to leave my job, also didn’t turn out as expected. Twice.

So I’ll keep watching these seeds, sending intentions, hoping for sprouts. Intending sprouts.

I’ll keep you posted.

And in lieu of cilantro sprouts, I’ll share photos of Gibbs Gardens from this week. This is daffodil time there. They have over 20 million daffodils.

20 million! Now that’s some positive intention.

And lots of bulbs planted. Lots and lots and lots and lots.

Surely these 24 cilantro seeds can produce some sprouts.

If I truly believe they can . . .

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Gibbs Gardens daffodils

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More Gibbs Garden daffodils

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Buddha in the Japanese gardens at Gibbs

E-Squared Principle #5: “The Dear Abby Principle”

WARNING:  DOING THESE ENERGY EXPERIMENTS MIGHT AWAKEN THE ENERGY IN YOUR LIFE AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN DRAMATIC WAYS!

That statement in itself seems dramatic, doesn’t it?

Well, my life took a big turn a couple of weeks ago. A turn that I swear that was prompted by doing these exercises, paying attention to energy, connecting energy with intention . . .  even subconscious, unspoken intention.

It was this experiment that convinced me that tapping into energy and paying attention can have dramatic effects in my life.

But it won’t sound like it to begin with. Because I did this experiment twice, with little to no result.

In her book E-Squared, Pam Grout calls Experiment #5 “The Dear Abby Principle.” This is the experiment which answers the question, “It it really possible to get ongoing, immediate guidance” from the the field of possibilities?

I first tried it on February 7th, immediately after completing Exercise #4. I asked if I should pursue Reiki or some other kind of energy healing as a vocation of some sort.

Then I waited for the answer. And mostly forgot about it.

So what happened in the 48 hours?

Nothing.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

I wondered what that meant??

I didn’t jump into the next exercise. I’d lost some of my motivation.

A couple of weeks passed. We had several days of weird weather with snow and ice, which here in the Southern states brings things to a halt. So I had lots of time for thinking, ruminating. I was feeling lots of negativity, as if I were slogging through mud. But I also felt something astir. Something positive seemed to be wanting to take root, to use this mud as fertile soil.

I decided for a re-do of Exercise #5. But I’d ask a different question.

This time I asked if I should plan a trip to the upper Midwest in the next few months. I’d been thinking of a trip, and the upper Midwest is an area I’ve hardly visited.

I paid more attention this time.

And in 48 hours, I got only one thing that might be an answer.  Certainly nothing clear, nothing in neon.

I was behind a big, yellow 18-wheeler in Fort Oglethorpe, one that was with the Estes company. I love Estes Park, so maybe that was an answer? Not the upper Midwest but back to Colorado?

But that didn’t seem a clear answer . . .

So it seemed to me that this experiment had failed twice.

Or so I thought. Until the next Monday.

That day, I had two meetings about projects that speak to my soul, projects that touch my heart. And each meeting went wonderfully. I felt real connection, a part of the flow, as if I’d plugged into the energy.

But sandwiched between the meetings was an email about my job. An email saying I wasn’t producing enough, that the home office was choosing to diminish my already-small territory,

That event felt terrible. That energy was awful.

Just the opposite of the two meetings that were sandwiched on either side of it.

A friend at the first meeting had asked questions about my job, questions that I couldn’t answer enthusiastically. And her responses made me pay attention. I could tell she didn’t think the job was a good fit for me.

She was right.

That email was waiting as I left her. I first responded to the email asking for more time. That seemed the mature, professional thing to do. But then I slept on it, and when I woke, I was angry. I had been blindsided. No mention of not enough production before now.

I thought, “Do I really want to work for this company? After all, the energy has never felt good with them, ever.”

And I thought of how that email was sandwiched between two meetings that had the opposite energy. Positive energy, soulful, heart-centered energy.

That felt significant.

So, on a whim, I fired off an email to an acquaintance who works with an education-related company asking if she knew of any jobs, part- or full-time.

She answered within five minutes. Her company was always looking for someone in professional development.

I read the requirements. They fit my skill set. More importantly, they fit my passions.

I knew what I was supposed to do.

Leave my job.

And I did.

I didn’t hear back about my request for more time until the next afternoon. They did offer more time (with some restrictions), but I’d already made up my mind the previous day. The lifting of the bad energy had been immediate when I decided to leave them.

It was all so clear now!

So why am I telling you this story as a part of the Dear Abby Principle??

It’s because I think that this situation was the clear answer to that experiment.

But I’d been asking the wrong questions!

I’d read that chapter three times before trying the experiment, and each time, this part jumped out at me:

“But watch out. I tried this once and got fired. In retrospect, however, it was the perfect answer, maybe the only one I could hear to the question I’d asked . . .”

All three times, that part kind of scared me. So I was careful not to ask a question that had anything to do with my job.

But guess what?

The field of possibilities decided to answer a question about my job!

That was the question that wanted to be asked, needed to be asked. Even though I was afraid to ask it.

I didn’t get fired, but I saw the handwriting on the wall. This already-yucky job was about to get yuckier.

It was time for me to leave. And the Universe showed me another path. Within five minutes of my asking.

Now it may be that this new path isn’t exactly the right one for me, but I feel sure it’s leading me in the right direction. The yucky feeling of the past year and a half has lifted. I’m exited again. I’m wanting to learn new skills, to use the ones I already have, to pursue my passions, to follow the energy that feels right – as opposed to the energy that felt wrong.

And I truly feel that doing these experiments has put me into the flow so that guidance can come my way, will come my way.

Has come my way. Miraculously.

Even when I was afraid to ask!

I started Experiment #6 today. I’ll report on it next Sunday. It’s not so risky. This one involves sprouting seeds, literal seeds.

I’ll also be watering some figurative seeds, ones that got planted with the last experiment when I got the answer to my unasked question.

And until next Sunday, I’ll be trying to pay attention to what wants to happen in my life.

And watering seeds. And sending intentions. And paying more attention to the guidance I receive.

Because I’ve discovered that if I get into the flow, what wants to happen is probably going to happen anyway!

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Chickamauga Battlefield last Sunday afternoon.

Check out the my previous experiments here.