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Friday, November 30, 2012

Have I learned enough?

Wow where has this year gone and have I now learned enough?

For the last twelve years I have taken every opportunity to try out every piece of information available to me to grow into the spiritual being I was sent to earth to be. Over the years I have read and digested the philosophies of many others, keeping only what makes sense to me.

Back in 1972, while going through the ropes of becoming Catholic, I remember telling my soon to be godfather that life was hard. He in response replied, "Life isn't hard it is easy."

I didn't believe him at the time. Thomas (Tag) had diabetes and eventually had limbs removed and died as the result of the challenges he had been given. Although the reason I dabbled in Catholicism for the next 25 years was because I married a Catholic, Tag was the catalyst for my journey. I remember him telling me that after trying out other religions it made sense to him. In 1999 I decided I had experienced enough rituals and lectures and moved on to other things.

A friend, who as an adult changed his life and became a Buddhist, also had an influence on me. It led me to examine the easy flowing ways of Buddha. Although I had no desire to become a Buddhist it seemed to go along with what Tag had said so many years ago. Life is easy.

My religious experiences up to about age 20 had been sporadic. I was not baptized until I was 34. I mostly learned about the bible stories from the Masonic groups I belonged to as a teenager. I especially loved the words of St. John and the contents of the book of Job. In my humble opinion the bible was written by people like you and me and not by God. I am willing to agree it was the word of god, expressed through the minds of his children.

That brings me to the question of what Christmas means to me. Of course, as a child it meant gifts and because my family didn't have a lot of money they were not extravagant. Many were hand made by my parents, like the doll house from my father and doll clothes from my mother. I don't recall ever feeling that we were especially poor. I guess as a child I judged my life by what was and not what I wanted it to be.  Life is simple when you are young.

I do accept that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. What I do not except is that he is my savior. St. John said, "god so loved the world  that he gave his ONLY begotten son". That makes no sense, when we are also asked to believe that we are ALL god's children. Jesus is my brother, not my savior. He was born because people could not believe in something they could not see. He was born, as all other enlightened souls were, to teach us how to love one another.

And that one word, LOVE, is what Christmas means to me.

A poem I wrote back in 2000 is as true today as the day I wrote it.

One Gift

If you could have one gift for Christmas
Tell me what would it be, someone asked.
Seriously poundering the question awhile
The gift I choose wouldn't be under the tree.

What I really want for Christmas
I told the person who had asked me
Is the most precious treasured gift of all,
LOVE, pure and simple and completely free.

(In memory of Thomas Earl Taggart)
                 1934-2001



 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Apologize please

As I have previously mentioned, as a columnist and free lance writer, I have written and had published almost 60 true life stories about local residents. Because all of my stories were approved by the subject before publishing, errors did not exist. When I occasionally misquoted a person I immediately corrected my mistake and apologized.

I recently had an experience that caused me to look back and appreciate how I had conducted myself as a writer.

A couple of days ago I finally read the article that a reporter had written, after interviewing people attending our Senior Citizen Thanksgiving dinner. I had been the first person interviewed so I was anxious to see how the article had turned out.

 Imagine my surprise when it said that I had moved from Ketchikan, Alaska to Grants, New Mexico in 1976. In one sweep it had eliminated my life from the time I was about 2 until I was 39. When the reporter asked me where I was from I in turn asked, "do you mean where was I born?", to which he answered, "yes". I then offered that I had lived in Cibola County since 1976. Never once did he ask where I had moved from. I would say assuming facts is a huge mistake for any writer.

Even though I distinctly remember telling him that I only ate at the center once in a while, mostly when they served something I don't cook at home, and he wrote I was a regular; I had no intention of asking for a correction. I actually thought it was humorous. Yesterday, I sent the man an email pointing out the error of his ways. His response caused me to regret that I had ever granted him an interview in the first place.

In his words: "Well , No one's past life was totally spelled out. I wrote down Ketchikan before Grants because you didn't mention anywhere else. How was I to know?"

Well gee Mr. Reporter man it was your job to ask! The mistake was yours not mine. Instead of blaming me it would have been nice if you had at least offered an apology.


Friday, November 23, 2012

The second time around

The big day is over and thank you very much for the delicious food I shared with a table full of new friends. My compassionate massage therapist, Lisa, invited me to share the meal with her family.  Today is my turn to have a quieter second time around, staring my very own 10# turkey which had been thawed yesterday and sat waiting for further directions.

The first thing I did this morning was make a pumpkin pie. Yesterday's desserts included mince meat pie, a peach cobbler and an apple pie that was my contribution to the abundance of food offered., but no pumpkin pie. What's Thanksgiving without it? Considering all the calories I consumed yesterday I believe I will opt for no whipped topping today.

Next I made sure my bird was actually thawed and pulled out the giblets to be boiled and later cut up and added to my dressing. Mrs. Culbertson has been my special friend for years and years! At this point I made my two cats very happy by sharing portions of the cooked neck with them. 

Later on I will soak a piece of cheese cloth in white wine and melted butter (as per Martha Stewart), cover the little fellow and place him in my oven; anticipating the wonderful aroma that will soon follow. The rest of tonight's fare will be simple with the big challenge being carving the turkey. It is my least favorite holiday task. It is an advantage when eating alone- no eyes to witness and the bird no longer cares!

Since there is no one to impress I can just hang out in jeans and my favorite sweat shirt for the rest of the day. After dinner the second time around is still not finished. When all the meat has been removed from the bones I plan to boil the carcass, adding carrots, onions and later more broth, small pieces of meat, a package of frozen mixed vegetables and probably a little pasta. Is it soup yet?

Thanksgiving will probably officially end for me about Saturday when all of the leftovers are divided up and placed in containers and frozen to be consumed at a later date, perhaps even offered to my own future guests. It seems the second time around just goes on and on! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude

When I was 20 I never imagined the experiences that would fill my life for the next 50 plus years. The opportunities I have been given to aid in my growth are amazing. There have been times when I would have liked to change the circumstances, but I know that if one little thing had been added or subtracted I would not be where I am today. I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am grateful for the journey.

Several years ago while serving as a member of a parish council I had an experience that has stuck in my mind. The priest asked us the following question. If your house was burning down (with the exception of living things) what would you save? Everyone gave a different answer, but the one he was looking for was- nothing. The most valuable thing we have is our life.

With all the devastating natural disasters that have occurred in recent years I often think of the survivors who have nothing left but the clothes on their backs. I wonder if I would be grateful for my life if I was one of them or would I curse God for putting me in such a horrific position?

There are many aspects of my life that I would like to improve, but generally speaking when I look around at the lives of other people my age I realize that I don't have a lot to complain about. I am grateful for every person who has come and gone and every challenge I have been given, for without them I would not be me. Most of all I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to live a human life.

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends, family and especially to those loyal souls who follow my blog!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Perception is everything

Stuff happens every minute of every day and it is up to the person perceiving whether the results will be negative or positive. It only takes a little effort to push it either way.

I had an interesting experience last week while attending an early Thanksgiving dinner provided by our local senior center. While waiting to be served I noticed a well dressed older man looking around deciding where to sit. I wanted to meet him and I silently thought, "Sit at my table and he did."

As it turned out Michael was the new correspondent for a newspaper in a neighboring town. He was interviewing a few people to find out what they were most thankful for.  I felt fortunate to be the first person he talked to. My answer was that I was very thankful for having the opportunity to live a human life. He eventually interviewed the two other people sitting at my table. The food came and he chose to eat his meal with us. It gave me a chance to "interview" him and also put in a plug for my writing group, Write On People.

Michael is a very interesting, well traveled man who has written for seven newspapers throughout the country. He moved from Sedona, Arizona three months ago to accept a writing job that in his words was, "too good to pass up". I assumed he was at least semi-retired. I for one was very grateful to have met someone drifting in from somewhere else. I am finding more and more that, except for the natives, it is how most of us came to live in little old Grants, New Mexico. I know I got here accidentally over thirty years ago.

I found it interesting how different people perceived Michael's appearance at the center. A member of my own writing group said, "I left before he got to me because I didn't want to talk to him."

Yesterday the woman who sits at my table asked, "Who was that "weird" man taking pictures and asking us questions?"

I replied, "He wasn't weird he was very nice".

I tried to explain to her what his purpose for being there was. His article will be published on Thanksgiving Day and I am looking forward to checking it out.

As I said, perception is everything and it is all up to those perceiving.




Friday, November 9, 2012

Sharing and caring

It has been a month since members of our writing group started volunteering at our local nursing home. Our original purpose was to start a writing group with some of the residents. Things didn't quite work out according to our plans. We soon realized that due to physical challenges the residents just were not capable of writing. By our second meeting I decided we needed to come up with another name for the group for reference purposes and "Sharing and Caring" was agreed upon.

Writing is only one method of communicating. Verbally sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas works just as well and is less painful for the physically challenged. After our third meeting with the residents I realized that they were just as interested in our experiences as we were in theirs. The more we shared the more willing they were to relax and share too.

One of the first things we discussed was, "what is the biggest lesson you have learned?"

Marvine said, "Treating everyone the same."

I asked, "Isn't that hard to do when some people are kind and sweet and others make a point of being mean and hurtful?"

Her answer made me think a little deeper. Her view was that it didn't matter what other people said or did it only mattered what she said and did. She was absolutely right. I have thought for awhile that my most important lesson is that I am only responsible for myself. Adding Marvine's thought gave that new meaning. It really doesn't matter what anyone else does. Being true to myself is all I have ever needed to do to be happy.

Harry has a special way of looking at things and is very accepting of his current situation. His most important lesson is that everyone's perception is different. One of his favorite past times is to ask people to look out the window and share what they see. He observes that no two people see the same thing. I agree with him and I believe everyone's view is based on their own life experiences. What makes his opinion so interesting is that his three siblings and two nephews have been blind since birth.

Lenore is a very sweet lady who enjoys meeting new people. She tries to communicate, but it is very difficult for her because she has a severe hearing problem. The activity director is looking into getting her a hearing aid. One of her favorite activities is putting together over one hundred puzzles, which are framed and adorn the walls of the activity room. She also enjoys reading Bible verses to people and helping them see how they relate to their lives.

Although this project is not turning out exactly the way we had originally planned it is giving everyone involved an opportunity to share and care about someone else. I for one am grateful that I took the risk to try something I had never done before. 




Friday, November 2, 2012

Are you my mother?

A friend of mine just wrote a blog post about feeling that she was dropped by aliens in the wrong place and encouraged me to write a post about my travel adventures during my life. Her blog can be found at: http://www.playinganewgame.com/?p=2367

The odd part about this is that last night just as I was about to write a post on my own blog our internet service went out so I never had a chance to carry out my plan. This is the way it started and I am sure you can sense an interesting connection with what my friend Lois wrote on her blog.

Sometimes I feel that my life is a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz with a smidgeon of Are You My Mother? tossed in for good measure. When I was a teenager I actually convinced myself that my father was not my biological father. My mother insisted that I was wrong. She also insisted that I was premature and my birth certificate eventually proved her wrong.

All of my life I have made every effort to keep my so called biological relatives connected, but it seems I am the only one who cares. I am beginning to wonder if there is a piece to the puzzle that is missing. None of the rest of my family for generations has my height. I find that very odd. Perhaps that is the reason I have always felt a little out of step with questions that have never been answered to my satisfaction.

In the last few years things have happened to convince me that I have a closer connection with my universal family than my biological family. They are the ones that I can count on to really care when I have challenges that are causing a serious problem. When I was in the hospital last year my friend Lois, on her way through New Mexico, made a detour to visit with me. Priscill, another friend, called me long distance just to see how I was doing. I had not met these two people before, except through Facebook.
My biological family never made an appearance.

My physical travels have taken me from Ketchikan, Alaska to three towns in Washington state and two towns in California. I moved around so much that I can't say I had a hometown until I came to Cibola County, New Mexico in 1976. When I first came here I didn't like it one little bit. Living in the middle of the Laguna Indian reservation was not my idea of fun. In 1980 I had the opportunity to move closer to the small western town of Grants, NM. Although it was an improvement I must confess it took many years for me to appreciate the gift I had been given.

This area finally feels like home and at the moment I don't think I would like living anywhere else on this planet. I have found not only the friendship of my fellow humans, but a wonderful connection with the spirit world and all it has to offer. In recent years I have taken some magnificent photos of actual spirits and have had some very interesting experiences with them to share with others.

I guess it really doesn't matter who my human mother was because someone had to accept the job or I wouldn't be here sharing my thoughts with my readers.

My favorite place to be, Riverwalk Park, Grants, NM