Easter Day

My Easter Day today was great!  My son and his beautiful girlfriend (pictured below) spent the night and after a leisurely morning with coffee and internet time, I prepared some mushroom omelets and toast for breakfast.  He’s really tall–like 6’9″–so he makes her look shorter than she is.  We attended a new church today that’s very near our house and it was quite interesting.  To give you some background.  Although my family didn’t attend church,  I attended church with a girlfriend when I was 12.  And through the years have gone to a variety of churches…all different denominations…Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of God, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, etc.  I have my own personal beliefs, as everyone does.  Anyway, the preacher at this particular church was quite loud and full of spirit.  He was so loud on the microphone that I had to plug my ears with my fingers throughout much of the sermon (but I could still hear him).  He would start off at a somewhat normal pitch and within a few sentences of each point would be almost screaming.  He said that he knows that hell is real because on YouTube he saw a video showing a team of scientists drilling into the core of the earth and their drill bit began to wobble after they were deep into the ground.  There are only two reasons a drill bit wobbles…either it is bent or you’ve reached an area without any matter…such as a cavern.  They placed a microphone down into the hole and heard human voices screaming.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not poking fun at religion…merely repeating what I heard this morning.  Enough about that.

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Lessons in Hot Yoga and on Facebook

A couple of days ago, I went to a Hot Yoga class in Loveland, Ohio at a studio called “Simply Power Yoga”.  There were 22 of us sweating profusely in the over 100 degree heat for an hour and fifteen minutes.  At the beginning of class, the teacher read the following to the class.

Letter from a Mother to her Daughter:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

Here is a photo of my mother and I on a cruise back in 2004.  She passed away in June of 2011.

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As the teacher read this…I found myself welling up with tears, trying to wipe them away without anyone noticing, and remembering back to all the times I wasn’t patient with my mother.  When she was finished reading…she made eye contact with me and knew I was touched.  Then yesterday on Facebook I saw the same letter posted on an acquaintance’s page.

I also remember all of the times I was patient and sweet to her.  Calling her almost daily.  Buying her diamond rings and hiding them in her glass of champagne or wrapping them in multiple boxes.  Flying her to see me in Germany when I was in the military.  Quitting my job to take care of her when she was in a nursing home and finally, again, the week before she passed.

I realized that we are too hard on ourselves.  We beat ourselves up.  I learned the lesson of forgiving myself and realizing I’m not perfect!

Taking it One Day at a Time or…The Power of Now

I took this photo driving from Colorado through New Mexico.  Georgia O’Keefe territory!

Taken near Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch in New Mexico

Most everyone’s heard of Eckhart Tolle‘s best seller…The Power of Now.  Back in the day, people used to say, “Take it one day at a time”.  I’ve made a conscious decision to implement this way of living recently and it seems to be working!  At times in the past, I’ve had a difficult time making certain decisions…i.e. which of my passions to follow or whether to stay or go.  I’m learning to feel with my heart/gut more than listening to the conflicting thoughts that bounce around in my head.

Learning to accept myself…the dark and the light!

Just in the past few days I’ve had numerous situations of Synchronicity and events that seem to go beyond coincidence!  Now that I have narrowed down my true passions–which are–health/wellness, organization/decluttering, and travel/photography/writing, I’ve decided to stop attempting to pick just one to follow and instead…delve into all of them!  So–that means I’m going to be a traveling hypnotist specializing in hoarding, who blogs about her experiences!  Well…something like that.  I’m still “Taking it One Day at a Time“!

The other key component is ACTION.  So, today I got information about becoming a Certified Hypnotist; and I made a flyer to place on bulletin boards to help people organize their homes!  I also entered a photography contest.

I’m learning to let go of fear and replace it with love!  Fear of not having enough money for retirement.  Fear of speaking in front of a large crowd.  Actually, I don’t have many fears…so I’m lucky!

These are my wishes for each of you…that you may be free from fear; that you know and love yourselves; and that you are able to follow your passions and have Gratitude!

The Ashe Keeper

 

A few weeks ago I took my mother’s ashes to the cemetery where my Aunt (her sister) is buried and spread them on her grave.  My mother died a year ago from Cancer at the age of 78.  She was one of eleven children born into poverty and she was closest to this sister.

My father passed away in 2006 from Cancer, my grandfather (his father) passed away in 2004 (at the age of 100) from old age, and my father’s mother passed away in the 1980’s at the approximate age of 80.  At one point, I had all of their ashes.  A few years ago I took their ashes to the Voice of America Park in West Chester (Cincinnati), Ohio and found a spot down a road without anyone around to sprinkle them.  The reason I chose the Voice of America Park was because my Grandfather had been one of the first engineers with them over in Germany in the 50’s.  He and my Grandmother probably would have preferred being spread in Germany, but I didn’t know when I would make it back there.  I was stationed there when I was in the Army back in the late 70’s.

My Grandfather led a very motivated life…was a talented Violinist in addition to his career as an Engineer, and other interesting endeavors/inventions.  If you’d like to read more about him, I have a post here that I wrote over a year ago.

Anyway, back to my Mother.  She believed she had a ghost that lived with her for about 10 years, until she moved in with me back in 2008.  She had some ghost detection people come out and spend the night to see if they could pick up anything with their equipment, and they did register some activity.  She told me before she passed, that if I felt something brush against me, that it would be her.  A few weeks after she passed, I was sitting here at my computer and felt something brush against my leg.  I didn’t think anything of it, just took my hand to brush at the spot.  Well…it happened again and then it dawned on me.  Have any of you had experiences with ghosts?

Back to her ashes.  I’m sure that cemeteries have a rule against doing what I did, but I couldn’t think of a place my Mother would have rather been.  I asked her before she died and she said to keep her for a while and then put her where I thought best.  Having never visited my Aunt’s grave (she died when I was nine years old), I found online what Section she was in and the general location.  This particular cemetery is very large, so once I parked by the Section, it took about 20 minutes of walking around to find her grave.  Some grounds employees drove by me in a golf cart and I tried to keep her bag of ashes cradled in my arm, so they wouldn’t stop to investigate.  I have two brothers, but I’m not in contact with one of them and the other one hasn’t asked about her ashes, so I didn’t think he’d be interested in accompanying me.

I also would like to be cremated.  I think it’s a waste of space and money to put dead people in expensive boxes and bury them.  When I die, I’d like people to celebrate my life if there is a funeral.  Make it a party!

 

Life is Black and White for now

 My life is good.  I have had my share of “bad” things happen in my life, mostly to those I love, which has helped me learn that I have limited control over certain things.  I am a spiritual person…not religious… and agree with the message of the “Serenity Prayer”.  

This has usually helped me to handle the stress in my life in a more positive way.   I have everything I need.  My health.  I have friends and family (although a small one) a husband… one grown child (who still lives at home)…my parents are gone and I’m not close to extended family.  All of the basics (shelter/food/clothing)…I have gratitude for everything and know that I’m blessed.  If you read one of my most recent posts, “50 Things I Love”, you know that I receive pleasure from the simple things in life.  Why then do I feel a discontent…an almost constant pull to travel…need for an adventure…to find my purpose…and loneliness.  I’m free to make choices…am I settling…will I have regrets later?

 Working full-time while my son was growing up, left little time to “find myself”, and even less money to travel to far-away lands to learn about other cultures.  Although I loved being a mother, I remember feeling trapped much of the time.

 If you’re like me, there are a variety of messages that pass your way every day.  Blogs, books and even Pinterest speaks to me!  This was a message on Pinterest yesterday…

The only thing that makes it a part of your life
is that you keep thinking about it!

 

I signed up for messages from “The Universe” and here are some of the most recent—

 

Some think life is not so much a place to seek personal
happiness and fulfillment, Sherry, but rather a place to learn
 lessons and pay dues.  And so it is for them.  
Tallyho, The Universe

 

This one is telling me to have fun…enjoy life!

Get out, get out, get out even more, Sherry! Because there are
people you’ve yet to meet, laughs you’ve yet to share, stories
you’ve yet to live, and riches you’ve yet to tap into, that will not
find you under any other circumstances.
Besides, how else can I shower you with surprises? 
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me to go on that “trip around the world” that you’ve been wanting to take, but haven’t because you’re worried that you shouldn’t spend the money because you need it for retirement!  But then I’ll think, well I could teach English as a second language or house-sit, or couchsurf, or find other ways to make a living while traveling!

You don’t even have to know what you want, Sherry.
I’ll take care of that.  Just enjoy that you received another
day, and the 10,000 miracles within it.  It’s on me, 
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me to stop worrying about which direction to go…just do what makes you happy.  It’s not that complicated…stop over-analyzing and just have gratitude!

Often, Sherry, having what you want is a function of
letting go of what you have.  If you know what I mean.
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me again…to travel!!  I’ve already minimized possessions… 

What do you now fear, Sherry?
How will you use this?
You’re welcome, 
The Universe 

 

This one knows that I’m still analyzing and fearful about how big changes will affect me and those around me!

I bounce from different schools of thought…

the universe is giving me a sign…to

just envision what you want, take action, and you can manifest it…to

just meditate…it really doesn’t matter who or what is in your life…because you can control your thoughts and perceptions (Eckert Tolle)

 So….I’d love to hear from you…how do you handle these thoughts in your life?  I’ll leave you with more Black & White…

  
 

The Citadel in Cairo, Egypt - 2009

 
 

Stone hut on side of road in Peru - 2009

Dead Fish on ice at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Man weaving on beach on Roatan Island, Honduras - 2007

Sleeping man at outdoor train station in Egypt - 2009

Man at the Pyramids

Little girl in Petra, Jordan

5 Regrets From the Dying

I read an article yesterday about a Nurse who cared for terminally ill patients during the last 3 months of their lives.  She listed the top five regrets that they shared and realized that we can learn a lot from them…from the clarity that they had at the end.  These are the regrets and how they relate to my life…

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all.  They knew that due to choices they had made…most of their dreams were not realized or even attempted.  Because I’m at a fork in my journey right now, the realization that I can fundamentally alter the course of my life, has been driving me a bit crazy lately.  I’m trying to listen to the Universe/God and not over-analyze…but sometimes I do!  When there are other people that are affected by your choice, it becomes more difficult, especially for women who are taught to be un-selfish and I believe are typically just wired that way.

They realize that they took their health for granted and that there was a freedom attached to it!  This is one of the reasons I take good care of myself…exercise…eat right (most of the time)…etc.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

When I was 13 years old, I started buying all of my own clothes and funding any recreational outings by babysitting.  I worked full-time for 30 years and raised a child until the last few years…at which time I quit work to take care of my ill mother and do some traveling.  I’m back at a temporary full-time job and financially can’t retire any time soon.  My quest is to find a job that doesn’t feel like work…to do something I’m passionate about! But…I have the travel bug!  Should I become a digital nomad… somehow make money while I’m traveling or perhaps Teach English as a Second Language in a foreign country?  Universe…I’m listening!

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others and some developed illnesses because of the bitterness and resentment they held in.

This hasn’t been one of my issues.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I regularly get together with my friends…I have a couple of girlfriends that I’ve known for over 40 years.  I’m open to having even more friends!

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The realization that happiness is a choice did not arise until the end for many of the patients.  People convinced themselves and others that they were content, when in reality, fear kept many of them from stepping outside of their comfort zone to reach for their dreams…to be silly…or to stop worrying and let joy take its place!

I am trying to become fearless!

Cincinnati Art Museum and The Way

I had an artsy day today.  Enjoyed spending a couple of hours at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  One painting stood out to me.  The Road Under Trees, by Claude Schuffenecker..1888.

 

Next I went to the Esquire Theater in Clifton to see the movie, “The Way”.  I really enjoyed it.

Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American, who travels to France to recover the remains of his son, who died in a storm hiking the pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago.  Tom decides to hike it with his son’s ashes, to honor him, meets some interesting people and develops a deep bond with them.  The movie was very inspirational!

THE WAY, written and directed by Emilio Estevez, was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.

I first became aware of this 800 km pilgrimage a few years ago and it’s on my bucket list.  What’s interesting is just in the past few days, it has come to my attention through two sources, another blogger, Anita Mac at TravelDestinationBucket and a facebook friend who just saw the movie.

Also…the painting I was drawn to at the Museum appears to be someone hiking on a trail. I believe I’m destined to traverse it!

According to Wikipedia…

The Way may refer to a spiritual path:

  • The Way or “Tao” of Taoism
  • An early term for early Christianity (see also The Two Ways)
  • The Way of the Cross, a Catholic devotion to the Passion of Christ.
  • The Way (church) (Japanese: 道会, michikai), a Japanese movement founded by Matsumura Kaiseki in 1907
  • The Way International, a Biblical research, teaching and fellowship ministry founded by Victor Paul Wierwille in 1942.
  • The Way of Madonna Della Strada
  • The Way, or , of any number of spiritual and martial disciplines stemming from Japanese culture.
  • The Way of the Buddha Dharma, or Buddhism
  • The Way of Shinto
  • A term used for the Two by Twos church, commonly known as The Way, Meetings, Workers and Friends, Cooneyites or The Truth

Everything is a Miracle

I believe everything is a miracle.  You are a miracle.  There is no one else on earth like you!  Everywhere you look, there is a miracle…the spider web in the windowsill, the computer I’m typing on, flying in a plane, being able to hear and see and taste and touch everything!

People are amazing…the things that they can do physically and intellectually!  Animals are so cool!  Anyway, this is the park I trail run at, but I took a hike there tonight…some of the photos may seem to look-alike, but they are actually quite dissimilar…the colors of green are different and the composition of the trees, etc.

This is what I see first after exiting the vehicle to jog or hike…

Then…I walk down this gravel road and turn to the left…

 

Jake, the spoiled hunting dog runs ahead…

 

 

That’s me…

It felt strange hiking rather than running the trail this time…

 

I love the light in this photo…

 

Here comes Jake…

 

There goes Jake…

Hope you can see the miracles all around you and in you and have gratitude for them!!

The Butterfly Effect

When you feel powerless or insignificant…just remember that every thing you say, do, and think has an effect upon the world!  Each time you have kind words to say, a smile for someone, or a positive thought about yourself or someone else…you’ve changed the course of the world!  How powerful is that?

I took these photos at a Butterfly Exhibition yesterday and decided to research the history of butterflies.

According to Wikipedia, The Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. For example, the presence or absence of a butterfly flapping its wings could lead to creation or absence of a hurricane.

Rather than feeling helpless during difficult situations in our lives and of those we love, we need to remember that we have more control/power than we’ve ever imagined.  Realizing that we can’t and shouldn’t control others…only ourselves is the key!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Sending thoughts of peace, love, and joy!

Peace in the Face of Death

As each day goes by, my mother approaches her impending death from Stage IV cancer…with acceptance.  We talk about death and what both of us envision after life will be like.  Although she has rarely gone to Church, she believes in God and Jesus and hopes that she will be with relatives that have already departed.  Her life has been difficult, having grown up very poor, one of eleven children, and having gone through most of life’s greatest stresses…divorce, the chronic illness and death of her second husband and most of her siblings and parents, and many more of life’s disappointments.

I think about what it will be like once she’s gone, when I forget and want to call her on the telephone and realize…she won’t answer.  Grinning, she says, “Once I’m gone, if you feel fingertips brushing your arm, it will be me”.  You see, she’s been the type of mother that would do anything in her power to protect her children, blurring the line between motherly nurturing and co dependence.

She tells me the same story every week of when I was little and looked up from my stroller and said, “Me push Mommy, let me push”, and of how independent I was, even then.

I am proud of the grace that she is showing during this process and realize I am my mother’s daughter.