Friday, December 14, 2012

Greetings, Gentle Readers...

I know it's been a while since last we spoke.  However, the happenings of this day have struck every one of us deep in our hearts and I found myself asking the same questions everyone else was asking.  I know that politics can wait.  This is a time of tremendous sorrow.  But there are some things rumbling around in that head of mine that I simply must share.  Please bear with me.

There is no excuse for the horrible things we've seen this day.  From the children of Connecticut to those of China, we have realized all too well that we are not immune from tragedy.  Regrettably, we see every day the results from the devolving of our lives and our societies.  So what of that?

First, let me be honest about some things.  I am a liberal Democrat.  I would guess you could figure that out from the introduction on the blog.  But I am also a supporter of the 2nd Amendment.  I'm the oxymoron between wanting progress with responsibility and wanting to find the culture of integrity we all used to enjoy.  One would think I would be screaming "gun control!"  I am not.  But I do have some ideas on the subject to share.  I hope you will be patient and thoughtful and consider what I submit to you.

Alright, let's get into the meat of the matter.

Let's address the 2nd Amendment.  While I fully support the right to bear arms, I see absolutely no need for individuals to have access to what we would consider assault weapons.  What in the world do we use them for with the exception of killing people...purposely?  These are weapons for war - not for the neighborhood.  You say we are in a war in our cities?  Maybe so, but the easy access to these weapons has allowed the mass killings we have seen.  You may disagree, but if one reflects on the past one will see that violence has increased with the availability of these weapons.  I say YES to the 2nd Amendment but NO to assault weapons.

Next let's address morality.  Someone once told me you cannot legislate morality.  We sure keep on trying!  We have laws upon laws to address laws that need no more laws.  Let me explain.  Is murder against the law?  Yep, it is.  So why do we need laws beyond that?  We don't.  Killing is killing.  However, there is an issue with morality that must be addressed.  It is something about which we need to have a national discussion...a very serious discussion.

Our parents and grandparents (if you are of a certain age - lol) lived in integrity and civility.  There was discretion in things they said (or didn't say).  If they were incorrect, they owned up and accepted the consequences.  People and property were treated with respect.  I once watched my father walk away from a job because he refused to lie: to "fudge" numbers to increase sales and oversell his customers.  His integrity was worth more than a paycheck.  We no longer have that kind of integrity.  All things are are responded to based on situation.  Our moral absolutes no longer apply.  We no longer respect life.  We no longer respect other's opinions.  We no longer respect other's property. 

So from where has this come?  I have an opinion, of course, and it may not be a popular one.  But it is one which I believe history bears and proves.

Let's go back to the late 50s.  The wars were over and we were feeling triumphant.  We were, dare I say, feeling carefree!

On come the 60s.  Our nation was looking forward.  And in what seemed like just a moment, we saw the assassination of two Kennedy brothers.  People who were thrilled that we were heading toward a break in the fight against inequality were devastated.  Then the Vietnam conflict expanded.  We saw our sons (and in many cases our daughters) being brought home en masse in boxes.  One of those carried my Marine uncle.  Then there was Kent State and our young people started to become disenfranchised, disenchanted, and disassociated from society.  We watched the fall of Nixon. The recession of the 70s hit us hard.  Our people were captured and tortured for well over a year.  We turned on those returning from Vietnam.  Society was in an uproar.

We had entered the "me" generation.  And we forgot our fellow humankind and sought only to gratify self.

Let me interject here that this is where the religion argument enters.  There are those Christians who would say this is because we "threw God out of our classrooms."  I beg to differ.  It is because we threw away the morals of our forebears.  It is because we sought self-gratification and did no longer care about the greater good.  It was that greater good that made us a great nation.  And that does not matter if you are Christian, Jew, Pagan or rich or poor.  What mattered then was the greater good of an entire nation, of your neighbor, of your fellow humankind.  One does not have to be religious to have morals.  (Some of the most immoral folks I've met have flouted their religion only to fail the test of humanity.)

So where does that place us now?  Now we have the internet and access to things that two generations ago we would have found not only distasteful but violent.  Our kids play horrid internet games that those of our previous generations could never have imagined would be so full of violence.  We have access to thousands of television stations which play 24 hours a day things which no human should consider normal viewing.  We are inundated with blood and guts.  Why do we not see that those things affect us and affect our children.  We no longer have filters that tell us what is appropriate for us and for our children.  Those filters of integrity, character, morality, and common courtesy and decency no longer exist in much of the country.

So do we need to change some laws?  Yes, I believe we do.  But even more than that, I think we need to return to human decency.  We need to take back our lives and our children's lives.  We need to let those powers that be know we aren't going to accept indecency anymore.  I know I sound like I believe in censorship.  No.  I believe in self-control.  I believe in standing up for what is right.  I believe in caring about those around me.  And I believe we start all of this AT HOME.  It's time for mothers and fathers to be role models instead of absentees with latch-key kids.  

I believe it's time to set limits and make priorities and STICK TO THEM.  I believe in America...the America for which our fathers and grandfathers gave their lives to protect.

It's time to demand humankindness in all things.  Now, who's with me?

Blessed Be!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Samhain - A Time of Release

Greetings, Gentle Readers...

And may you be blessed this Samhain!

I've posted Samhain blogs before, but I wanted to bring those blogs into this time in my life.  As you know, I've always tried to be as honest and transparent with you as I am able.  What would be the point of writing were that not so?

In the country year, Samhain (Sow' En) marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter.  Farmers would cull their herds to prepare for the winter cold and winds and have what they needed to ensure their families would be fed during the long, harsh winter.  Hay would be brought into the barns to feed the remaining livestock.  Summer fires would be extinguished and families would re-light their fires with the new fire of Samhain.
Peat and wood would be stockpiled for use so that the hearth fires would not be lost.  This truly was a joyous occasion and families would gather to prepare food for the upcoming season.

Does this sound familiar?  Of course it does!  The holiday season is full of examples of families coming together to cook and share time with each other.

Samhain is also a time of release.  As it is the end of the year and the beginning of the next, it is a good time to look back and find those things of which we need to let go.  All of the negative that has infiltrated must be released and plans for a positive and prosperous new year should be put in play... goals, dreams, projects and hopes for the time to come.

This is also a time of the dead.  It is believed the veil between this world and the Otherworld is its thinnest and it is possible to reach across the chasm to speak to and honor those who have passed over.  We seek their help with protection, advice and guidance for the coming year.  Often, during ceremonies, extra plates of food are set for the ancestors.

And, finally, what is Samhain to me?  It isn't about goblins and candy.  It's about honoring those gone before.  Releasing the things of the past year.  Planning for the coming year and seeking the wisdom of the ancestors.  It is a time of thanksgiving for provision.  It is all these things and so much more.

So if you have pagan friends, be sure to wish them a Blessed, Joyous Samhain.  They will appreciate it!

My friends, Blessed Samhain!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mabon - One Pagan's Perspective

Simply put, Mabon is a time to reap the physical and spiritual of the year; a kind of Thanksgiving, if you will.  The sun takes its path toward darkness, where light and dark dwell equally in this world.  It is the living example of balance.

We know that life is cyclical.  It is ever-turning, ever-changing.  It is this cyclical nature that leads us through the year.  We celebrate birth, life, death and rebirth.  Just as the seasons, so are our lives.  All things that enter our lives have their cycle. 

Historically, Mabon is a tale of a Great Son who is taken from his Mother at a mere three nights old (though some folklore says three years).  He is held in captivity and then freed to be reborn as his Mother's champion, full of light and wisdom.

So what does all of this mean?  It is individual to each person.  For me, however, it teaches me that all things have a time and a purpose.  Everything that enters my life will provide for me in some form or fashion.  It may provide teaching and insight.  It may provide sadness and mourning.  But with each thing and each season, I will grow in insight and wisdom.  And as time moves on, with each year, I learn the lessons of life that give me understanding, knowledge and peace.  I learn that striving against the wind, against the lesson, gains nothing.  Only when I surrender to the lesson, do I learn its secrets.

Mabon is for me a time to look over the past year.  What have I sown?  What have I reaped?  And what do I want to sow for the coming year?

This year I sowed  new things:  A new home.  A new job.  A new vision for my spiritual practice. A new spiritual family and community of like-minded people.

This year I reaped: A home that is comfortable for Patti; quiet and easy on her PTSD.  A new job with people who actually appreciate the work I do, as well as the opportunity to train without the constraints of a corporate structure that doesn't allow for growth.  And as for the new vision? I found an understanding of my path that I had not experienced before.  I found myself in Druidry; in grounding myself to the Earth with the blessings of Air, Fire and Water.  I re-found my Bardic tradition and felt the draw of the Celts in my soul.  And I found a Grove of wonderful pagans who are loving and encouraging.

And what are the goals of the next year?  I haven't firmed them  up completely yet.  But I do know I want to gain further insight on my spiritual path.  I do know I want to be able to semi-retire and for  Patti and I to be able to travel.  I know I want to reclaim financial health.  I want to reclaim all that has been lost through illness and circumstance.  So I will spend the next few days seeking clarity on how to sow the seeds for the next year.

Blessed Mabon, everyone.  May you be blessed as you sow.  May you be blessed as you reap.  May you learn the lessons set aside for you.  May you find insight, and wisdom, and peace in the coming year.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another Fathers Day

Another Fathers Day. This month my father would have been 90 years old. And it just doesn't seem possible that he's been gone 20 years in July. It seems like only yesterday I was driving back and forth from Atlanta nearly every weekend while he was in the hospital. And with every trip, he would tell me to stay home. He was gravely ill and yet worried about me traveling.

And why is it that time turns our memories to faded photographs: still shots of our lives? What was an ongoing linear life is now a flash of a picture in the back of the mind. I can see his facial expression when he would laugh. I can remember him toiling over sales figures. I try to remember everything he ever said to me.

And with each year that marches on, a little more of the memory escapes.

He was a good man. I don't use that phrase a lot. I used it the other day to describe a man with whom I went to high school. And it stopped me in my tracks. That phrase encompassed everything that was my father: hard-working, patriotic, honest. His integrity and his name were cherished by him more than all the gold in the world. I watched him leave a job once because they were requiring he “fudge” the numbers and over-sell his customers. He refused to compromise on his integrity. He refused to be short-sighted for expediency's sake. And it took several months for him to obtain employment. He struggled with his ability to provide for us. Yet, that was a time I remember keenly being so proud of him. I respected him.

He wasn't demonstrative. He showed his love through his character and by providing for us all. He wasn't a rich man – monetarily. But he was rich in spirit. That is something no amount of money can buy. He believed in helping others. Instead of detailing his own sales car, he paid a disabled Vietnam vet to do it. He wanted to support him and that was a way he could do it and maintain the man's dignity. He knew the value of hard work and a job well-done.

He was a part of the greatest generation. He volunteered and served both in WWII and Korea. Dad was a submariner. How he lived on that tiny diesel sub, I'll never understand. When we moved to Alabama, he took me through the USS Drum here. I couldn't imagine him fitting inside that small thing. But he did. It was one of only a couple of times he discussed his service. I felt so honored he would bring me through there, explaining to me all of the do-dads and gadgets. It was one of my favorite times with him.

I miss his counsel. He rarely simply offered his opinion. He didn't waste words. But when asked, he shared wisdom born of a difficult life. He always knew just what needed to be said. He led by example. He had high expectations. Were I to be given one wish, it would be for another day with him. I still have so many questions that only he can answer. I would tell him I love him one more time. I would let him know how deeply he affected me.

And when I feel as though I've failed him, I remember him telling me to try again. Engage my brain. I hope that in my short life, I live up to the standard he set. I hope that when I pass through the veil from this life to the next, he is there to greet me and tell me I've done well.

So, Happy Fathers Day, daddy. You are missed more than you will ever know.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Greetings, Gentle Readers...

Today, I have a wonderful story to share.  It is one of a little dog, due to die, who received a wonderful gift of a new life.  Her name is Green Bean and she's between 3-5 years old.  Here's her story...

While on a Facebook rescue group, I was contacted about a corgi mix in our local shelter. I went to check on her and she was too adorable for words!  A corgi/beagle mix with a bright smile and happy disposition, she was scheduled to die on May 18th.  After some wrangling, several people stepped up and we picked her up on May 17th!

She immediately stuck like glue to Patti (my partner), as most animals do.  If Patti left the room, Beanie would wait at the gate and quietly cry until she returned.  She was such a love-bug here, always wanting to be near.  She quickly potty trained learning both the piddle pad and letting us know when she wanted outside.  All of our dogs enjoyed her and played with her.

We kept her for close to a week before all of the legs of her transport north could be finalized.  There were at least a dozen or more folks involved in the cost and physical transport of her to Bowling Green, Kentucky.   Patti and I drove her 2 1/2 hours north to Montgomery where she was transferred.  She then went from Montgomery to Birmingham, Birmingham to Huntsville, Huntsville to Nashville, and Nashville to Bowling Green.  (I hope I got all that correct - so many were involved!)  

Today, little Beanie is settling in to her foster home in Bowling Green.  She will make a wonderful pet for whoever chooses her as their forever dog.  We were so honored to be a part of it...even just a small part.  We're so thankful to everyone who stepped up to help: from the woman who paid for her pull fee as a birthday gift for her dog to the people who drove 2 and 3 hours out of their way to get Beanie on the road to a new life.

I am overwhelmed by it all.  I knew corgi people were a special breed, just like their wonderful dogs.  But when you see everyone come together for just one little dog who needs a loving family, it reaches deep into your soul.

Special thanks have to go out to Paige Davis who allowed us to pull Beanie under her organization (CorgiPals).  

Bless you all for the selfless work you do.  

And Beanie girl you make the most of this.  Find you a wonderful, loving family who will make you the center of their lives.  Cuddle them and play ball with them...and never let them forget how very special you are!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Farewell Sweet Cosmo

Gentle Readers,
The photo is of me and my heart-kitty, Cosmo.  This was taken just a few short hours before she passed over the Bridge, in my arms.  And I am torn to the very core at her loss.

You see, I may train dogs by occupation.  And it is one about which I am  passionate.  But my heart belongs to the cat.  I connect with cats, especially calico cats, in a very deep and spiritual way.  It's something I wish I could explain, but I cannot. And I have always been that person as far back as I can remember.

For a couple of weeks, Cosmo didn't come to bed at night.  She would always curl up between my beloved and me.  It was strange that she would not come to bed, spending her time instead in the hallway.  But last Friday I decided to pick her up and take her to bed with me.  She found her way under the covers and at some time during the night I awoke to a wet bed.  She had relieved herself during the night.  I got up to change the bed and when I moved her, she cried.  Odd.  But I cleared the bed and Patti and I moved ourselves to the couches for the evening.

The next day, she stayed to herself.  I put a pad on the bed for her. She didn't want down.  I brought her some soft food which she ate voraciously and downed what seemed like a gallon of water.  But within a couple of hours, she vomited everything, water and all. She was losing motor control in her hind end.  And she cried when she moved.  Something was obviously VERY wrong.  I knew she wouldn't be with us very long, in my heart of hearts, but didn't want to believe it.

Saturday evening I laid on the bed and held her.  She was somewhat cool to the touch.  And I knew.  Because of my job loss, we couldn't afford to have her humanely euthanized.  So there I was, with my special kitty, trying to make her passing as loving as possible.  She would drag herself close to me, crying as she did.  But we held to each other as she slowly slipped away. 

At one point, she seized and it became obvious she lost her sight.  From then on, she had to be touching me.  Her breathing would change.  Her purr became quieter with each hour. And finally at 2:17am, she cried out and breathed her my arms with Patti caressing her.

In all honesty, that was one of the most difficult things I've ever done or witnessed.  I've worked with people during end of life and have some heart-wrenching stories of that time.  But to love this sweet cat and hold her as she passed from here to her next life, was a gift.  It was horrid...and yet, it was a gift from Goddess.

Our friends were kind enough to set up a chip-in to defray her cremation cost.  I have the most wonderful friends in the world.  I am truly, truly blessed.  And my wonderful, sweet Cosmo will be returned to me Tuesday to take her place among the other animals with whom I've been blessed to share this life.

I know Cosmo will come around spirit form.  I will catch her out of the corner of my eye keeping watch.  But I will miss her gentle nudges and voiceless meow.  I will miss the sound of her breathing as she slept.  But I will be forever grateful for the time we shared together.  I will linger in the love that she gave so freely.

Blessed rest, my precious Cosmo...until we meet again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A New Beginning Is Scary

Greetings, Gentle Readers!

A new beginning is scary. That is a true saying. But it is also quite exciting! Let me tell you of the path that has been laid out before me.

First, after months of stress, I walked away from my job. I know. Not the least bit responsible. But so very necessary. After what seemed like an eternity of problems, I came to the fork in the road. One way kept me on the same path with the same stressors. One path led me another direction that had all the clarity of a cloudy window pane. Which direction? Well, you've heard the saying, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you will keep getting the same result. And the same result just wasn't acceptable anymore.

We are facing challenges. We are strained financially waiting on my partner's VA compensation to come through. I need to find something to supplement our small income. And I have a goal in mind which includes another training/behavior opportunity. It's one I truly want: one that would give me the chance to really grow.

What I can say is that I've never felt better! My stress level is, even though times are a bit tough, so much lower. I'm eating better. I'm enjoying walking with my dogs. I'm enjoying having time with my partner to cook together and spend time with one another. This has been a decision that's needed to be made for quite a while now and it was the right one.

So what's to be learned here? I think the biggest thing for me was to not hang on to that which doesn't encourage and create joy in my life. Too often we hold on to things, people, jobs that just dry us up emotionally and spiritually because it's "the right thing to do." Maybe it's not the right thing. Maybe the right thing is to step into the light, grab ahold of that which edifies yourself and others, and walk toward that fork in the road! Funny thing about doing that. When you do, The Universe is there to catch you and lead you forward.

I think this has been a good lesson in trust. It's been a good lesson in taking better care of myself. And it's time to share that good lesson with others! Step out. Trust your inner spirit! Make a new beginning not so scary!

Blessed Be my friends...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life - What Happens When We Need a Change

Hello, Gentle Readers...

It's been a while, I know. I wish I could say I've been busy. But that would not be true. I've been buried.

I've often come to this blog to speak my truth. And I sincerely hope that my honesty about my journey has encouraged you to find your own truth. Walking in our truth has its moments of unpleasantness. It is what is beyond the unpleasantness that keeps us journeying forward.

Life lately has been a series of ups and downs, good and not-so-good, encouragement and discouragement...all in one. And when I am pressed on every side it is not uncommon for me to find a dark place to hide. A very dark place. I really can't say I like it there. But it is quiet and people often leave me alone to my own musings. The problem with that is I become an island: a tree standing in the middle of a cold field. I shut everything out and I shut down.

I suppose it's my way of coping. We all have our own mechanisms for that. Some do drugs or alcohol. Some shop. Some work out. I eat. I shut everything out.

I have been in this place for months now. It's become too comfortable. And now I must find the strength to break the walls I've built and crash through the barriers I've erected. I've tried to so hard to control everything around me that I have lost the control I wanted.

I'm sitting here this evening ruminating over time lost, friendships lost, negative energy dragging my spirit. Time to grab the bootstraps and haul myself up. So tonight I make a commitment to myself. I will start the small steps I need to make to begin to dig myself out of this hole. Tonight begins a new chapter. Tonight begins life again.

Wonderful thing, life is. The Universe offers us new beginnings with every moment we are granted on this plane.

So, with one foot forward, today we took the dogs to walk in the Japanese Gardens. It wasn't a long walk, mind you. I don't think my old body is ready for that yet. But it was a walk nonetheless. The dogs (Ranec, Moira and Rainer) loved seeing the ducks and turtles. It was cloudy, overcast and windy. Perfect weather for walking and thinking.

Tomorrow's step is food health. I will begin the day with a good breakfast, paying attention mindfully to the act of sharing a meal. No more junk. I must find control and it is in the act of mindfulness.

Day three will be attitude. The dark place is devastating to my attitude. I've been a real downer. So, as I go back to work on Friday, I'm going to muster my best attitude. I really do love the work I do. I so enjoy my clients. There have been challenges lately and I'm not sure how I will handle those things. But, my attitude will affect all of that. So that is what my next focus will be.

Beyond day three, I have no plans. I figure that's a big enough challenge for now. Physical. Emotional. Spiritual. Mindfulness. Freedom. Join me in the journey. Look inside at where you are and set your sails. Let's be strong together.

Blessed Be, my friends! Blessed Be!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

It was a sad day. Whitney Houston, arguably one of the greatest voices of our time, passed away at the Beverly Hilton. She was to perform that evening for Clive Davis’ Grammy party. What was to be a party, turned into an evening long eulogy and time of sharing Whitney’s loss.

There were many offers of sympathy on social networks such as Facebook. And even more coverage in the mainstream media. It became “all Whitney, all the time” for hours. And I’m sure we will hear much more as the days go on towards her funeral.

Along with the sympathy have come many who, instead of appreciating her talent, have chosen to bash her for her failures. As we all know, Whitney had problems with addiction. And those addictions eventually took not only her voice and her physical beauty, but her life. It is such a shame, really. Her voice was like none other. Her ability to hit the most difficult notes with such amazing vocal control was breath-taking! We all listened with rapt attention to her. Her beauty and talent won her accolades and awards by the dozens. Gold and platinum records lined her walls. But if we learn anything from Whitney’s passing, let us learn this difficult lesson:

It doesn’t matter who you are, inside we are all the same. We long for love. We seek approval. We feel insecure. We all struggle. The only difference? Whitney had to do it in public. The pressure must have been overwhelming.

Like me, I’m sure there are others who would put the blame on Bobby Brown. Whitney started her downward spiral after her long-time marriage to Bobby. Their time together was, to say the least, tumultuous. And to top it off, they made it a reality show. Pressure intensified. I can’t say Bobby didn’t have a hand in her demise. I believe he did. But anyone who has had to deal with addictive personalities knows you make mistakes. You give in. You give up. You go along. You keep the peace. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to a lasting peace…really.

So we are left with her body of work. A body of work that is beyond measure. No matter what Whitney sang, she sang it with all her soul. And regardless of her failures, one surely can’t find fault in her talent. So as we all feel her loss, as fans who have followed her. Prayed for her. Hoped for her. Let us remember her at her best. She deserves that.