Tag Archive | Religion and Spirituality

Living Golden.

A years time goes by in a flash, two bizarrely even faster.
Have you given any thoughts to what you’ll change and or add to your life in 2014? Do you make new year’s resolutions? A new diet? Stopping a bad habit like smoking for instance?
Or do you tend to be like me and not even go there?
I have long been an advocate for NOT making new year resolutions. This last two years for me has brought so many new life changes that had I made any conscious resolutions the last two January’s I suspect I surely would have not been successful in playing out those resolutions. Simply so because I am busy living in the moments life is prone to, while navigating this that I refer to as the reinvention of my second season.
With the new year approaching, I remain steadfast in my way of thinking for 2014. I have made choices and changes in my life that have challenged me in ways I never even realized were possible. The challenge of finding new paths in life to live authentically, while finding a balance that brings the bliss of contentment comes with built-in fear factors. Fears that very well could have derailed me right from jump street had I fed the fears any energy. Instead I forged ahead, often with my eyes tightly shut not knowing what I might find at the end of each path.
The “reinvention of my second season” certainly has been filled with lessons I have found difficult to reconcile with,  affirming again for me it is not I who is in charge of all aspects of my life. 
And this is my own personal take on a familiar tradition of making new years resolutions, certainly not a suggestion that this is meant as advice in any way shape or form.

For me I am feeling this great wonder of having the freedom and ownership being on my own. The gift of being only that genuine person I have been shaped and molded to be, from all my life’s experiences and interactions is the most comfortable I have been in own my skin for a very long time.
I continue to be a devout and professional student of life. I am certainly in no way a “perfect person” and though I strive to live the “righteous life” of simply being a good person, living by the golden rule, I know without a doubt I am filled with a variety of flaws and imperfections. Which brings me to the theory of new years resolutions. It is not that I don’t need to make changes in my life where most of those flaws and imperfections lie. I do.
I wonder then where the disconnect for me comes regarding the theory behind new years resolutions. It is our tradition and custom to compile new years resolutions that we hope are going to improve who we are, and our behaviors. We all have our own inventory of these self-proclaimed improvements we seek in ourselves, and we think we only need to comply and our lives will magically improve  And there for me is the rub.
I realized that my discomfort in making resolutions comes from my personal theory that for me improving life is really about how to live as a person who treats our planet and all of its inhabitants with great care and respect. All the years.
I find myself needing to slow down in life and look for the ways I am best able to accomplish this as part of the person I am. Finding ways that I won’t just drop the ball after the first few weeks as I did with a diet. I discovered I simply needed to change my way of thinking. Just as I did in relation to my way of thinking about dieting. I chose to change my thinking from “die-it-ing” to instead to “live-it-ing”
Admittedly an abstract way of thinking, but it works for me. I am convinced our thinking determines our behaviors, and if I can simply change how I think about something it will have a direct influence on my perceptions and then consequently my behaviors.

While pondering and wandering in my mind I remembered something from so far back in school I was not even sure I knew what I was recalling was correct. In school studying about The Stoics  I recalled they believed in one basic behavior: Being Good.  Needing some research to confirm what I thought I remembered I was delighted to find history about the
philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium -early 3rd century B. C. 
I recalled correctly and was even more wonderful was that my research was serendipitous to my thoughts on improving life & new years resolutions.
Wiki notes on the Stoics: 
 “The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of “moral and intellectual perfection,” would not suffer such emotions.[1] Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how they behaved.”
Upon further reading I was reintroduced to the very basic of tenets that the Stoics lived by.  .
  • Living according to nature
  • Helping others
  • Commitment to self-improvement. (aha, resolutions maybe?)
  • Central to all else, maintaining a proper attitude. ( And there it is. An affirmation for me)
I find it fascinating when I learn about the philosophies throughout history that despite their originating cultures all touch on the very same ‘golden rule(s). In today’s life-style and belief systems I think living by a sense of the Golden Rule is the only path to true contentment.
 
There are four more tenets that I ascribe to that help me find a clarity in remaining true to myself,  true to those in my world, and true as well to this earth we call home and our universe.
 
  • Live without pretending.
  • Listen without defending.
  • Speak without offending…

And my All-Time, All-Star favorite tenant:

  • Love without depending. 
Maybe some might choose to call these resolutions, and that’s okay by me.
I can do this for the rest of my life, not for just a few weeks. 
 
I will still make the choice to call it simply “Living Golden”.
 
 

©ttaylor2013

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Winter’s Wild Wonderland

Finding delight during the height of the Christmas season brings a special sparkle. I love the classic (might I say vintage?) Christmas songs we all have grown up with, Hearing them year after year brings with them attached memories. I have this my first Christmas being single been especially remembering Christmas with my brothers, and with that has brought the soft feeling of being a bit homesick.

So this year I am going home!

The week after Christmas my daughter & I will be with my brothers & their families. I have a grand-niece who I will be meeting for the first, I am so looking forward to the trip. My brothers don’t know we are coming. My sister in-laws’ and I decided to make a surprise out of it for both my brothers who think they will not see me at all this holiday.

This means a road trip with my daughter as we will be making the trek across the Cascade Mountain range from our small home town on the high desert to the big city of Portland Oregon, Affectionately known as P-town.

All of this is very weather dependent of course. because of the temperamental climate of the wild winter wonderland of the Oregon mountains. Makes me think of the Christmas son Winter Wonderland.

The trip over the mountain pass this time of year can be quite a wild adventure if caught up at 6000-7000 feet above sea level in white out conditions.  (Think good thoughts for us please)

It can also be the most Zenful trip of the year  bringing an incredible sense of peace over your whole being. This stunning winter wonderland drive over the pass very soon begins to creates a calm and quiet that gently blankets the energy inside the car. No one speaks. Everyone feels it. Our breath is literally taken by the crisp and pure beauty that lies in every direction our eyes can scan.

And the silence. the blissful silence of snow. Only the subtle tapping cadence from the studded snow tires needed for traction keep time for the orchestrated quiet.  There is no radio reception, no cell/mobile service, and there is a sense for great reverence for that kind of wild winter wonderland silence. So we honor that for a bit of time and just drive.

We are in the middle of a national forest

 A deep humble sigh escape while softly smiling. Gratitude for the gift of living amongst such spectacular grace of nature is a shared thought. Day dreams about the little cabin nestled under the shelter of the great pines, tall sentry’s guarding at its sides. Then the narratives begin. As we wind through the mountains with the back drop of the sun glancing brilliant light off the snow we begin to spin tales. The stories we tell and build with one another;  the songs we make up on the fly singing together, and the silly laughter.

All part of the magic.

….and then once again the silence will come.

Oregon’s Wild Winter Wonderland.

Merry Christmas Y’all!

©ttaylor2013

Fall Brings An Easter Blessing

18 October 2013

 
Seeing a plant in stages of its growth is not at all unusual if you garden. And I do. 
I think of gardening as a blessing, I love to grow things wild and unruly. I love to get my fingers into the dirt in the ground, I love to make mud pies.  
I have an unusual event happening in my garden this Fall.
Every year since my two daughters were infants I received an Easter Lily from them & their father to help set the environment of spirituality for the season of Lent & Easter in our home. We are not an overly religious family, but we are deeply spiritual and Easter & the spring equinox are significant, with the traditional & symbolic gift given of an Easter Lily. 
 

An Easter Lily  (Lilium longiflorum is actually a native of the southern islands of Japan. A World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, is credited with starting U.S. Easter Lily production when he brought a suitcase full of lily bulbs with him to the southern coast of Oregon in 1919. He gave them away to friends and when the supply of bulbs from Japan was cut off as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the rising price of the bulbs suddenly made the lily business a viable industry for these hobby growers and earned the bulbs the nickname “White Gold”. Today over 95% of all bulbs grown for the potted Easter Lily market are produced by just ten farms in a narrow coastal region straddling the California-Oregon border, from Smith River, California up to Brookings, Oregon.

For almost 40 years every May I would replant said lily’s outside in my gardens and flower beds. Different gardens throughout those years, and for 10 years while living in a downtown Seattle high rise I planted the plants in the apartment buildings gardens since I had none of my own. 
I could grow really healthy beautiful plants, but to get them to re-bloom again in their natural environment was something I was never successful with. They make gorgeous foliage with shiny green pointed leaves, adding much texture and different heights to my flower beds. But to bloom again in the early summer months of June as Mother Nature intended the following years never happened.
 I was okay with that,  I knew from research that to get a plant to re-bloom after being forced to bloom unnaturally is not an easy feat.  
 
This past March 2013 on Easter I was in a very different space than I had ever been; not only had I become a newly single woman at the start of 2013 I also gifted myself for the first time ever an Easter Lily. It had been 3 years since my youngest daughter survived emergency brain surgery and woke from coma on Easter Sunday 2010.
As I said my Easter 2013 was very different than it ever had been, my first alone, and my daughter was winning the fight to save her life a second time.
IMG_2535
 
After taking great care to keep my lily alive after its blooms were spent I planted it in June outside in my tiny flower bed I had created at my new little apartment. 
It was a late planting this year even for the high desert because we had a later than usual beginning to our spring with freezing night-time temperatures prevailing through May, making it impossible to start gardening like the rest of our state did in March.
So my lily finally went into the ground and I nurtured it along, making sure through that during our warm summer days it was thriving and growing strong. 
 

Last month I noticed a bizarre thing. Growing out of the original plant were two new offshoots. Two new stalks, the Easter lily plant had propagated itself. In the fall. That in itself was different from any other time I had witnessed before. Typically the lily goes dormant after its blooms have faded and dies back into itself until spring the following year. 

“Well,” I thought, “that’s kind of cool.”
 
Then… it started happening.. First one bud appeared, then another, and then both stalks created 5 to 6 buds each. 
I could watch almost daily out my window the buds turning into blooms. 
 
My Easter lily is blooming!!
In the Fall!
IMG_2620
 
 
By rights This lily should not be blooming! Unless my past history with Easter lily’s( that were hot-house forced to bloom in the spring) is odd. 
But even the irony of MY lily blooming is enough that I think it is very cool.  
But that it is also fully blooming in October, in the high desert of central Oregon… well .. that is such an incredible thing I am in awe with this lily.  I associate my youngest daughter’s recovery from emergency brain surgery on Easter Sunday morning of 2010 as a miracle, along with that 3 years later the reinvention of my life and my maiden Easter purchase of this now blooming lily as my Fall Easter blessing 
And I am amazed.
 
It is why I wrote about it, so I will never forget the miracle of Mother Nature’s strength and resilience. 
I think our own human spirit mirrors that strength & resilience.
 

Sometimes Angels Sing..

Sometimes Angels Sing To You In The Wind…
And sometimes even from cyber-space I can hear singing… like angels in the wind.

Least anyone reading, writing, or even talking about blog author’s should suggest that this is not community of genuine and caring people they would need to make an appointment to see me; so I may enlighten them.
 
I have angels come sing to me, disguised by their blogs, behind their songs (words & photograph’s) are the most beautiful & generous people I have ever found.. in any space, let alone it be cyber-space. These angels are just as important to me as those in my real time’ community. 
 
I know you know who you are, so naming names won’t be necessary. 
 
If I had a song for every time my heart has been touched by your own words, your own shares in these last 3 years my heart would be a House of Music. I have gained valuable lessons from shares between us.
I have laughed with you, I have cried with you, as you have me. 
I have found great comfort in knowing when the chips are down, or when I am walking up in the clouds, or just even living life on an even keel, I need to look no further than to have the sense of this never-ending support & encouragement. I need look no farther than this Word Press community. And you.
 
While reading a thought-provoking article about relationships from a blogger who is a kindred spirit to this Barefoot Baroness I thought about these friendships here in this blogging world that have become so significant for me. The Wise Counsel of this post about relationships is just a perfect explanation in how we can interact with each other in our relationships. I had been contemplating writing my gratitude recently for you, for your devoted support & encouragement when I read this blog. It was my prompt. You are my muse. It was the perfect segue into what I wanted & needed to say here. (Thank you TeeCee)
 
Wise Counsel’s essay on relationships is a thought-provoking piece. I often find myself nodding in agreement with what this blogger so eloquently shares. This post & his masterfully written blog can be found @ http://teeceecounsel.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/wise-counsel-on-relationships/
Relationships & the communications between others matters a lot to me, I see this as a gift when we find relationships where we can give & receive raw, transparent; and open sharing, The possibilities of shared experiences enrich our emotional intelligence ten-fold. 
As for me, the relationships where the interaction with one another is reciprocal are the most rewarding relationships that I am a part of.  Emotional investment between two people is the foundation of a genuine friendship.
Absolute authentic relationships are what helps feed my soul. and in my mind are the most treasured kind. They should be protected and nurtured.
 
I hope in some way I have given back to you a sense of support and encouragement, this sincere feeling of the friendship that I feel from you every time you visit.
I hope that you find something significant in our relationship too.
Thank you my lovelies,  you my community,  for being all that you are. 
For you are my friends ~

 

 

 tjtaylor2013©

 

 

Resilient Human Spirit

Sometimes we need a powerful reminder just how fantastic the human spirit is, how resilient we are as a species. I had another post in mind for today that actually also speaks to the resilience of the human heart and spirit 

The video below is the most perfect segue into that post ( look for it early in the week )

I ran smack into this gentleman & his story thanks to social media, and if you have not seen it yet I promise you will be moved to tears. Feel good kind of tears. 
The powerful reminder received from this man’s story is a perfect example of how getting outside our own head, our own ‘issues’ and being allowed to be touched by others is healing to our own spirit. 
Thank you Arthur for your share ~

On Mindfulness: This Moment In Time.


Through all these times 

I wondered about:

 the wounds of my soul,

all the mistakes, 

and all of the miracles.

~

Through the tears,

through the laughter,

along the side.

I obsessed.

I sighed.

~

And then

I begin 

to let go. 

~

Sighing,

 finally

letting go,

 always returning 

to the silence.

Over and over.

It heals my soul.

 

I am certain this is not news to anyone that trying to live a philosophy or concept you believe in 100% can still be trying. 

For instance just the day to day logistics can try to get in the way, and old habits are hard to break even when you want to. 

 

Some say Being Mindful of the Moment is just an expression, I disagree. “No surprise there” I hear someone saying. 

it’s true I believe mindful is a verb.

 

I often use to find myself feeling needy of knowing what tomorrow would bring. Today I know this is a feeling I do not have to react to, it is not my need to know what tomorrow will bring. 

Because in all honesty my future is not where I want to be. I want to be mindful of just this moment. I want to be fully present in the here and now.

But because often with that needing to know I could also make myself wicked crazy waiting for the answers.

 

I could. 

I did.

For some time. 

 

It has only been in the last decade of my life that the realization and wisdom come to me that fretting over what tomorrow or even hours from now will bring serves no rational purpose. Least of all it does not serves me.  

I’ve researched, studied, observed, absorbed, and experimented with ways to help myself remain mindful of Staying in the Moment. I needed some lessons, teachings, or maybe some magic tricks that would help me remember to be mindful.

It is too easy to fall back into old habits, old ways of thinking, even when we are trying to change our thinking to grow and enhance our life’s journey

 

Once I had some logistics in place, some ‘teachings’ I could grasp, that which allow now to be gently reminded to remain in this moment by practicing these lessons daily. 

 

First three teachings:

1. Practice Self-Love.  (Another verb.)

2. Practice Self-Compassion 

        &

3 Practice Self-Forgiveness

 

Practicing even one of these teachings helped me remain grounded, to retain a balance in my small world in the beginning. I say go slow..

It was quite remarkable how when I chose just one teaching that seemed like magic in that it helped decrease my level of predilection for wanting (read need) to know what the future is going to bring. 

 

How do we remain in the moment, to stay mindful of the here and the now? It’s the only space of time that matters. This time.. right no.w

In the spirit of this blog I’d like to share the teachings that work for me. My wish is that you are able to take something away, and please be welcome to leave something behind in your comment.

  • I wear or carry “totems” (an Native North American term) sometimes also referred to as prayer beads, worry stones, or even amulets. My affinity for doing so came from my youth. I found great comfort in a “smoothed by time” river rock in the shape of a flat heart.  I found beautiful comfort in holding its warm stone between my forefinger and thumb, or in the closed palm of my hand. I loved the connection with earth as a girl, I treasure it now as an adult woman.

  • *On Mediation: I prefer to mediate regularly; typically it is once every day for at least 15-20 minutes. I found it is that regular practice of meditation that really starts to shape my mind and the way it works. I have heard that this has been backed up by the latest brain studies. I find it easier to maintain focus, have that stillness of mind I am looking for. Being mindful is becoming my norm.

 

  • Journaling: This is probably not a surprise to those of you who know a bit about me. Keeping a daily journal of my goals and my accomplishments while articulating (what I like to think are wise thoughts) into my way of living can be remarkably effective. Absolutely it’s a habit that requires practice. A lot of practice. Journaling at night when I can’t sleep and reviewing in the morning helps keep these teachings alive throughout the day.

  • Reminder Notes: By placing inspirational/motivational notes, and self-affirmations around my small world (as done even on this post) these become helpful reminders for staying grounded and not getting distracted. This can be favorite quote, important concept, notes from loved ones,  or even a short narrative or a poem. A personal favorite are two prayers sent from a very good friend who is one of my spiritual mentors.

 

  • Mind-fullness Alarms:  I loved this teaching especially when I began my quest of mindfulness. Although I don’t do this as a norm anymore; setting alarms to go off at regular intervals throughout the day can be a very effective teaching to help kick-start good mindful habits. This is especially helpful when marathon writing by the way. Having that reminder alarm helps me to get out of my head for a time with regularity.  


It is also important I believe to note of what to be mindful of. Buddhists refer to this as the Right Thought and Right View. 

 Things that consume us during the day, like anger, fear, worry, or frustration, comes from unwise or misguided perspectives. Having a wider & more open mind to other perspectives than our own is a big help. I heard once about a very effective practice of referring to the issues of certain circumstances in our life as “third-world problems”. This is short-hand for a reminder that while dealing with issues we think are monumental, we might instead be mindful that there are people in our world who don’t have access to enough to eat.

It is all about perspectives.

And how we think.

 Can this kind of daily practice of mindfulness achieve a state of bliss In The Moment? 

For thousands of years, practitioners have reported greater happiness and tranquility when we are able to stay In The Moment’ 

 

 So….I think… I shall stay right here in this moment….this here and now – and absorb it for all its worth. 

And this moment in time? 

Priceless!

 

 

Signature 2013

Sunday Soul Shining ~

Let today be a milestone day in your life. One that with all the successes & adversities in your life you might experience you find the wisdom to see that your soul is still shining bright.

One thing that cannot be ignored is nothing in this world ever stays the same. That is quite remarkable and I embrace the changes. Although not always changes I had looked for. This is a day to celebrate those changes, to embrace that which we thought might break us, but did not. That which will we know will keep us.

” Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”

                                                               ~ Martin Luther King

Faith is allowing the soul to shine even when it feels impossible.

Searching Reflecting, Soul thoughts. Soul secrets. Soul shining on through.

Sometimes the light may seem to dim. I know it’s true. Yet that shining light never goes out. The dimming of the shining light is a gentle reminder that there are times certainly when the shadows in our lives threaten the way; but choice is ours in how we accept and navigate the shadows.

Recognizing they are merely shadows. Nothing more.

This is the time when my spirit takes over.

If I am quiet enough to listen my soul will shine again brightly enough to help guide me back.

So once again I go to search for the yellow moon and the red sun,  and I find with grace there is once again brilliant illumination.

I make that choice… to let my soul shine on through.

Let myself be guided by the spirit within. To find that gratitude inside myself for things that let me see the value in not just the day, but this very moment. This is extraordinary.

This is time I will not have again; and each moment, no matter whether with gladness or with sadness.

This is a  gift.

This very moment in time; So Many Souls are Shining Bright ~

Signature 2013