Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mornings at our new cabin

I woke up early this morning to watch the sun rise, listen to the loons sing, and allow my spirit to be wrapped by a light fog over the lake. A good friend of mine visited me in my dreams last night. She's been gone since April and missed sorely by many. I felt her presence this morning .. her spirit brought heaven to earth as I could feel her radiant energy in the midst of utter calm. In my dream her face is glowing, radiant as always -- "I am okay", she says. I can feel her love for the universe, her acceptance of life's terms, not our terms. I can feel the love she has for her partner, for her family, for her friends, for all living creatures.

Heaven isn't up there. Heaven isn't somewhere we go to when we die. Heaven is right here, right now.

"The still lake without ripples is an image of our minds at ease, so full of unlimited friendliness for all the junk at the bottom of the lake that we don't feel the need to churn up the waters just to avoid looking at what's there.” - Pema Chodron.

Thank you Elaine for visiting me last night. Thank you for reminding me that we are all connected, and that our spirits live on forever.

I captured images from this morning on camera and have posted them in a short video clip ...

Here's wishing you a peaceful day. May you experience heaven in you heart today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Magnificence in the ordinary

When words can't suffice ...
when the wonder of this world pulls you in
and brings your world to a screeching halt ..

when grace and goodness are at your doorstep ...
camouflaged, only to those who walk too fast ...

when stillness sits patiently, offering possibilities, offering connection.

when perspective can shift
at any given moment
and you notice, there is life ....

... everywhere ...

today, I am blessed.
today, I saw the divine in the ordinary.
today, I took time to simply notice.

what a gift life is ....


Thursday, August 20, 2009

MnPAW: Collaborating on behalf of homeless dogs and cats

Three plus years ago, after the loss of our beloved collie/shepherd mix Shen to spleen cancer, somehow, someway, the path of grief and healing (nudged by the spirit of Shen), led me to Pet Haven and to Missy, a black lab/pit bull mix, who was our first "foster" dog with Pet Haven and whom we ended up adopting.

[I share my story of Shen and how passion emerges from grief ... it is posted on the Pet Haven site.

I have learned a tremendous amount in the 3+ years that I have immersed myself in the world of animal rescue/animal welfare. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I went through a period where I was disheartened to learn of the divisiveness and the "politics" present in the animal welfare community -- my simplistic mind asked "aren't we all working for the same thing? Aren't we all giving so much of our heart, soul, time, skills to a cause we share -- to rescue and re-home adoptable dogs and cats and to reduce/eliminate the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable dogs and cats?

With the support and guidance of some fellow Pet Haven board members, I continued to hold in my heart, a belief that we would all some day come together to work together in a positive, collaborative and respectful manner. About six months ago, I met with Janelle Dixon, CEO/President of the Animal Humane Society, the largest shelter in Minnesota. Some would criticize me for doing that - my gut told me it was the right thing to do; six months later I can honestly say, it was the right thing to do, for many reasons. I believe, with all my heart, that we MUST all work together. Out of that first 3 hour meeting we learned we had a shared vision. We also acknowledged the path would be steep -- that we would not agree on some things, but that we must build on common ground. We stressed the importance of establishing and building trust amongst leaders of the animal welfare organizations. Out of the meeting, and with the support of many others, a new animal welfare coalition emerged: Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare, Out of that meeting emerged the seeds of trust and mutual respect that continue to sprinkle amongst members of the coalition. I am proud to be a part of a coalition that I believe is going to be instrumental in transforming the landscape of the animal welfare community in Minnesota.

This Saturday, August 22nd, MnPAW will be hosting its first adoption event at two locations: in St. Cloud (Tri-County Humane Society) and in the Twin Cities. The adoption event in the Twin Cities will be held from 10 am - 4 pm at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley and there will be adoptable dogs and cats from Pet Haven, Animal Humane Society, A Rotta Love Plus, Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota and Minnesota Spay Neuter Project. Chuck & Don's will also be there handing out Chuck Bucks!

I am inspired by key leaders of the founding members of MnPAW. As we work together, share ideas, collaborate, explore new ways of doing things ... I find myself even more grateful to be a part of this transformative coalition. To learn more about MnPAW visit the MnPAW site.

"To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable" - Helen Keller

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's in a word?

Months ago I signed up for a writing workshop at The Loft - the name of the workshop "What's in a Word? Making Our Personal Stories Matter." Two reasons drew me to take the class: a) the teacher, Laura Flynn, whom I previously had taken a 6-week course at The Loft titled "Writing of Witness" where she combines her two passions of writing along with social activism, b) the topic of the course ... The description of the course provided was: "You know that you have a personal story you want to tell. The question is how can you make your story resonant with others? How do you begin to reach beyond the personal, toward the universal? One answer is by bringing the outer world—history, culture, myth, science, etc.—to bear on your personal story. In this writing intensive two-day workshop students will draft an essay that weaves outside or researched material into memoir or personal material. We will begin by identifying a word that has deep resonance or meaning in our lives. During our first meeting students will write scenes from their lives in which the word figures prominently. Between meetings they will conduct some basic research on the meaning, origin, and history of their word, and then will work on weaving the various pieces together into an essay. During the second day of workshop we will focus on revising and shaping the essays. There will be ample time for sharing our writing and discussion along the way."

Going into the class, I thought my word was going to be "roots", thinking I would explore what home really means to me, my cultural heritage, how being raised Catholic by a Filipina mom impacted me, while growing up in a Buddhist country, etc, etc.. There have been some very difficult painful memories in my childhood -- many of which I have tried to bury. As I participated in the class, I realized that this was my opportunity to not only share my story, but to put on paper, a secret I have carried for so long ... being sexually molested at the age of nine by a deacon in the Catholic church. This was a secret I finally revealed to my finally before my father's 40th death anniversary this past December. A secret that has set me free. The word I chose for my essay was Rosary. Three scenes made up my essay: a) the afternoon my father died and the cross of the rosary falls to the hospital floor, b) the abuse and betrayal of a trusted family friend, masked behind a cassock and a rosary, c) my conversation with my mom on my last trip to the Philippines this past June.

My story is one shared by many. I learned that in class on Saturday as so many of my classmates approached me and shared very personal stories. I learned how wounds from our childhood don't just disappear - they remain with us until we are willing to face them. I learned in this class how to utilize one word, the rosary, research the meaning and origin of the word and weave it into the threads of my own life and make it more universal. One classmate even asked me to consider publishing my essay. As I continue to rework my essay, I am considering a new path that may be opening up for me.

The photo of the water lily above was taken a few weeks ago at Wilderness Resort, a cabin that my partner and I are buying into - we close on Monday, 8/24. I was mesmerized taking photos of the water lily. The water lily, or lotus, is symbolic of rebirth. Maybe that will be my next word ... my next essay ... one that explores how the word Water Lily and Lotus are a thread in my life's story.

What word resonates deeply with you?