Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Solstice-Time for Change

Winter Solstice - Now is the time to change from your old life to new beginnings. Get in on the magical potential for renewed prosperity. This is the time of year to set new intentions and anticipate a successful future.

There is no other time of the year quite like the Winter Holidays. There are many Winter traditions - some ancient -- and many still practiced today. All acknowledge the end of the year, and the dawning of a new year, and with it the potential for great good fortune. Some pray, some plan, pledge and promise: This is the time of year to set new intentions and anticipate a prosperous future.

Winter Solstice is the most celebrated time of the year.
Cultures worldwide practice similar traditions: feasting, families gathering, and giving gifts. There's a sense of a deeper meaning celebrated in religions, festivities, caroling, fireside storytelling and dancing, and everyone celebrates the New Year with pledges and promises for a bright future.
Winter is a time of planning and setting intentions. Compiling several traditions shows that the actual "magical time" of year begins on about the New Moon on the 27th of November and ends about the New Moon on January 26th. That period is when you are "planting the seeds" for the kind of year that will grow into your 2009.

Winter is also a time of quiet and of personal revelations and introspection; and also of sharing and enjoying others - and the balance between the two.

How are you "planting the seeds" for your future?

· Begin now at this potent time to actively create your future success - plant the "seed feelings" you want to grow into your life.

· Law of Abundance matches up feelings or vibrations (not words and wishes) with matching experiences. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

· If you are enjoying finding gifts and sharing your resources - you are planting "wealth". If you are fussing and feeling stressed and broke - you are planting "poverty."

· Loving all the fun food and feeling good about your body weight and health? Good! You are planting a healthy fit body...but if you are fussy and feeling fat - you'll get more of that!

· Enjoying balancing work, play and parties? Good! You'll have all the time you need to do what you love. But if you are feeling stressed....well, you know the answer. Don't do that!

· Same with people: if you want joy-filled friendships, enjoy them during this potent time. No complaining and blaming because you don't want more of that.

The key is to live RIGHT NOW as you want your year to become. Hard to do? Think about it. It's much harder to live in an entire year that is difficult, isn't it? After all - Solstice's magic time is only 60 days...and YOU CAN FEEL GOOD for 2 months - how hard is that?

NOW is the time: A few facts and a little history reveal the potency available now - to help you achieve success.
There are some natural events that are so significant that all cultures throughout time have celebrated them collectively.
Solstice is such a time. It was celebrated at Stonehenge and in Celtic monuments spanning centuries. Also marked in stone by the Mayan, Egyptian, Anasazi, Aborigine, Aztec, Inca....and back into time-out-of-mind in monuments and cultures we've long forgotten.
Most people celebrate "something" marking this time of passage: Christmas, Hanukkah, Deepavali (Duwalli), Kwanzaa, Festivals of Light, New Years and many others. You are collectively marking the natural rhythms in nature and in your own body, like the seasons and your own circadian rhythms.

Solstice is the natural phenomenon behind the festivities. Winter has the longest nights of the year and shortest days. Winter Solstice is the day the sun appears to, "stand still." From December 21st, the days become longer and the nights shorter. Six months later, the procession north stops, turns, (Summer Solstice) and again moves to the Winter Solstice point. These are the natural rhythms that cultures mark with ceremonies.

This is also the time of your body's deepest natural internal withdrawal or rhythm- just as life "withdraws" within itself in nature. It's a time to assess the years past and reflect on happenings and changes.

This is a time to remember all those who have contributed to you being where you are now: Friends, places and events of your past. Think of it all as parts of the tapestry that is weaving around you as you journey through time. It's often the most difficult and tumultuous times that give life color and depth. You certainly learned as much from your adversaries as from your friends.

Find the feelings of deep gratitude and stillness. Feel connected to everyone walking your life path with you, from the past, to the Now and into futures unknown. Feel - right now - what you want to feel in your future...and tradition assures that it will come to pass, like magic.

Your good fortune for this time: "Giving and receiving are the same. You will soon receive back the gifts you give."

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Gift of Music - Change the World?

Music has the power to touch souls, bring tears to your eyes from emotions so raw that you wonder where it came from. After all, its just music? Right? Wrong.... Music does have the power to change people. Music is the one universal language that all mankind understands. Not only do we all understand it, we can feel it to our bones. Every emotion that man can feel, he can illustrate with music. All music speaks to everyone with ears to hear it, including animals. There is a song for every mood, every emotion and every culture has the ability to understand the music from another culture whether or not they understand the culture itself.

One man has set out to attempt to unite the world through music. In this beautiful video, he has done just that. This, is of course only one small part of what he is doing but in listening to the interview with Bill Moyers you will have a better understanding. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did and many thanks to
Willow at "Life at Willow Manor", where I found it first. Check this out:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Rainy Day in Paradise

What better day to read a book while curled up on the sofa with a down comforter, in front of the fireplace, than one that is cold, dreary, rainy and a Sunday besides? Living in "sunny San Diego", we don't often see rain, but when we do it is kind of nice to just sit back and enjoy it by taking time off to reflect on things. My daughter just left to drive back up the coast and meet up with her husband who left last week on business. They had been visiting since Thanksgiving and it's always a little sad to see them go. Sad and Glad. I now have my refrigerator back...since they were in-between winery jobs from Napa to Paso Robles, they came with half a frig full of food to store, so Mom's place is as good as theirs. I was unable to see the back of my frig however for two weeks. Friday we spent one whole day baking six recipes of Christmas cookies together for her annual "cookie party" at her old time friend's house, and she came back yesterday loaded with what seemed like hundreds of assorted home-made goodies. Less quantities but quadruple the assortment of cookies. Nothing says lovin like something from the oven....especially when its only once a year at Christmas! One of those family "traditions" I was talking about last post.

Last night I started writing out some Christmas cards (another "tradition") to send to friends around the globe that I only contact a few times a year. Its always nice to get a note back from someone you love but don't see much. Its always a wonder what to write in such a small space...other than a few cryptic notes...I now refer my friends to my blog if they really care to know what I've been doing and thinking. Those that do will check in, those that don't, won't. Meanwhile, my friendly carved cedar Bear totem guards my front door in the rain...

Rain is so cleansing for the soul and for the earth. Its a good day to take off from the insanity of society and the roads and just meditate on life, or nothingness.

If anyone is interested in learning more about meditation and enjoy reading insightful books, some good books I have found to help develop the thought and meditation processes are: Life after Life by Raymond Moody; In the Footsteps of Gandhi by Catherine Ingram; Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh; A Still Forest Pool by Jack Kornfield and Paul Breiter; A Stormy Search for Self by Stan and Cristina Grof; The Sacred Path of the Warrior, by Chogyam Trungpa.

I have decided to re-assert my meditation practice for many reasons. First, I miss the time I used to spend alone, in front of my own personal altar, in reflection of "life", MY life, and others in my life, as well as just breathing and slowing down to think. I try to encourage others, especially my clients when I was in the business of massage therapy and healing, as to how important it is to meditate. I also realize how easy it is to get out of the habit. Bad habits are hard to break but good habits are easy to lose if you don't practice daily. It is simply exercising the brain, like walking or any physical exercise. You must be devoted to it. You must put IT first, before everything. There are no RULES, its just five or fifteen minutes a day or an hour...whatever is comfortable for you. It's not work, it's something you do for your soul.

I am always curious, and love to read all kinds of books. I also have many different interests even though art is probably the first and most satisfying thing to me, or creating something new and fun out of simple raw materials, whether it is fabric or Stone or Glass...its the creative process that counts. Meditation actually helps to focus your intentions and thoughts by practicing breathing and thoughtful silence. Our minds are constantly active and its nearly impossible to stop thoughts, but you meditate on your breath, and thereby keep going back to the breath, to focus. After a time, you can actually be in silent meditation for longer and longer periods of time. When you come back to your thoughts, you don't stay with them as long. Its easier to realize what distracts you and how meaningless most of our thoughts are. WHAT do you focus on? Thoughts become words, become actions, become reality.

I am focusing on practicing meaningful intention to work, creating productive connections in regard to my art and
creating more prosperity in my life. Secondly I am focusing on creating more gratitude and a sense of wonder at all that we do have in our lives. Gratitude is like giving thanks for life - period. We can always find someone who is so much worse off that us, not that it makes life any easier to bear for our own pain and suffering, I believe it is really all in our mind, again, what we focus on, we increase. If we focus on being grateful for the cookies in life, we create more cookies. If we focus on the crap in life - we usually get more crap.

I think that's the reality, the task is to change our thoughts if we want to change our reality. To change our thoughts we sometimes have to dig really deep and start changing some of the old belief's. Open our minds to new ideas and other concepts. Life is not black and white, which some would have us think. It is full of inconsistencies, but there is a powerful pool of creative power in the Universe which if we can focus long enough to tap into, can create miracles in life. Do you believe in miracles? What about a Guardian Angel? They are there and they happen. Allow it into your mindset. Stop "thinking" long enough to hear the magic. Listen to the rain. Listen to your breath.
Yeats writes in this poem:

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,

In a crowded London shop,

An open book, an empty cup
On the marble tabletop.

While on the shop and street I gazed,

My body of a sudden blazed!

And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed so great, my happiness,

That I was blessed--and could bless.

To discover the capacity to bless and find gratitude in whatever is in front of us, this is the enlightenment that is intimate with all things. It is a freedom and happiness with no cause, a gift we bring to each moment and each encounter.

What a way to move through the world, to bring our blessings and gratitude on all that we touch. To learn how to bless, to honor, to listen with respect, to welcome with the heart, is a great art in itself. It is never done in grand or monumental ways, but in this moment, in the most immediate and intimate way. May we all learn to achieve a state of blessing, silence, understanding and forgiveness as a blessing and that it will allow us all to bless all around us.

As the Zen poet Basho reminds us: The temple bell stops; But the sound keeps coming out of the flowers...

Be at Peace.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Falling off the Christmas Wagon

The writing wagon that is...holidays tend to do that to me. I have been preoccupied with too much "doing" and not enough "being"; too many places to go, things to finish such as projects I am making to give as gifts to friends for Christmas. I am of the old school of thought that if you can't really afford to buy someone a gift and you have something you can make, and of course know the person well enough to know what they would like, you can always make one. I love to give homemade gifts whenever I can even if it is just a box of homemade cookies or candies. Even if I could afford to buy a gift from a store, I feel like the art of giving seems lost when you go to a store and pick out some impersonal item that the person probably doesn't need or want anyway and there are thousands more of the same thing. Thinking of something the person would really appreciate and deciding to make it for them, puts your total energy and time into the gift. That is priceless.

I find myself contemplating the true meaning of Christmas a lot these days; what IS Christmas anyway? Is it only about giving? Does anyone recognize it? And why do we celebrate and why only once a year? Why not have Christmas be a holiday we could celebrate anytime? If the true meaning of the holiday is to show love and express your love in "giving" then you can do that any day.

I did not really feel like putting up a tree this year but my kids convinced me that I should.
Maybe its because I have succumbed to the idea of saving trees and a few years ago bought a small artificial tree. Besides not being very romantic, it is at least politically is a green tree in the truest sense, no trees were harmed in the making of this tree and no part of the environment will be ruined for at least five years while the tree is being used. Of course after five years or so, when the colors tend to fade and it looks pretty shabby, then you need a "new" artificial tree. But what happens to the old one? If you just dump it then you are polluting the environment. Which is worse? - cutting down a tree that was grown for the purpose of being a Christmas tree and then re-cycling it into mulch; or trashing the environment with a "fake" tree with absolutely no soul at all? It doesn't know why its a "tree" or for what purpose it was brought here.

I think the joy that a Christmas tree brings is all in our minds. Having a tree, whether its a beautiful natural tree or a faux one, doesn't matter. Once the tree is decorated with love and attention, and lit so it glows in the room, all of that fades. Christmas trees invoke special family times spent throughout our whole lives. Maybe that's what its supposed to do....isn't that what "tradition" is? Why we have the same meal every year, turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc., etc...? to invoke the feelings of something from the past?

What I totally despise is the commercialization of Christmas and all of the holidays in general. Consumerism is at its worst when you cannot go into a grocery store or a drug store without being bombarded even months before the holiday with reminders to buy this and buy that. It gives me great joy to resist at all costs, in fact one of the reasons I love to make gifts for my special friends and family when I can is that I know they are getting something that is one of a kind, and they appreciate my efforts. Giving a gift from the store only shows that I went to a store and bought something I thought they wanted, but it does not express my true love for them, that I gave of my own time and energy to create something that no one else in the world has, which to me is what Christmas is all about. That's what a gift should represent--the time and thought you put into making something unique to that person only.

Pictured here are some of the hand-made ornaments on my tree which have been there year after year. It is always a surprise to find them in the box of ornaments and remember how they got there. Such as this pine-cone angel.

Some of my most cherished items are those small handmade gifts that my children made and gave to me when they were small and could not afford to buy anything. I have saved them all and
find them so special even today. Each year I try to find time to make them something special as well just to keep the tradition going. Sometimes it requires starting in June to complete in time, but it is worth it and very satisfying to give someone something that they will hopefully treasure in some way years later after I'm gone.
They are not perfect, but that is what gives them their special charm and personality. One of a kind, each one represents a single, special moment in time when someone I love cared enough to take their time to make something, thinking only of me and how much I would love it. Those are the true gifts of Christmas.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays!