Once Upon a Time

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When you live life noticing all of the love that is within and surrounding you, every day is Valentine’s Day.  Once upon a time, someone had the idea to assign it a date and bring attention to it by selling roses, dinners, confections and expectations, yet what it represents is far more rewarding and worth reaching for.  Flowers wilt, candy is eaten and meals are devoured.  A life perpetually lived in love creates cherished moments and a lifestyle that never ceases to generate bliss.  Since I had to backtrack to find this, it took a bit of reflection and practice.  Now, I truly believe that this is how humans were born to live.  We just forget it fast.

I had the pleasure of attending a Valentine’s Day celebration at a retirement home while visiting a friend who is in his nineties.  At 55, I was by far one of the babies in the room.  I smiled from ear to ear as these folks cheerfully played music trivia while trying to guess love-themed songs throughout time.  Then they would sing them, their eyes filling with joyful tears from happy memories.  I was excited to be with them in this room filled with humans who understand what it means to feel love…the deep and committed fairy-tale kind.  They do not analyze, question, doubt, discount or quickly discard it, but nurture and appreciate it as an unconditional gift.  Yes, although the concept is disappearing from our culture, I too believe in this happily ever after.

I have a collage of family pictures in my kitchen.  The center square says, “Love anchors the soul.”  Ahh yes, but it also frees it.  To go out into the world and discover what and who we love takes courage; to show it, even more.  We are able to expend our energy on finding, feeling, experiencing, doing, sharing.  Driven by that love, there are no limits.  And the beauty of that is, we can learn to offer it whether it is returned or not.  That is where it feels the strongest, when the rewards for that courage are the highest.

Recently in our community a homeless man named Larry froze to death in a bus shelter during a blizzard.  For decades he frequented the local coffee shops and was easily recognized because of his signature dreadlocks.  An outpouring of love and sympathy reverberated throughout western New York as we learned of his passing.  A local reporter wrote, “Larry died in a blizzard in a village where he worked his way into the hearts of people who tried to clothe and feed him.  Those people are asking themselves why he died.  But I know they are the reason why he lived.”

That is the reason we all live….to love and to be loved.  And we spend so much time ignoring this.  We deny it for ourselves and desperately seek it out in others when it is right inside of our hearts and in our faces.   Pink paper heart-laced cards and chocolate are a nice gesture, but they can never take away the power that one glance in a mirror with a smile can generate as the closest reminder to where love really lies.  Only then can we truly pass it on.  Try that today to recapture that long lost feeling and remind yourself how loved you really are.  Then watch the magic begin.

 

FROM THE SANCTUARY

Nature has been abundant these past few days.  I made suet and hung it out for the birds.  Days passed before anyone touched it, and the squirrels found it first, hanging upside down from their tails, entertaining me with their antics in enjoying it.  The deer were out in the largest herd I have seen here.  Eleven in total were feeding along the creek bank and gracefully jumping across.  Meanwhile, in the creek, the ducks are pairing up and squawking and paddling against the current.  I’m hoping this is the sign of an early spring.  March is on the way!

I met with fellow Allegany Nature Pilgrimage committee members to plan this year’s event.  It is a pleasure to be interacting with so many other nature nerds in this endeavor.  If you’re looking to kick off your summer experience with a fabulous weekend in the great outdoors in a family friendly environment, check out our website for more information.

Meanwhile, know and share the love!

Blessings, Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refiring

People are aghast when they discover I left my comfortable job at age 55 to enter the state of retirement as our culture popularly defines it.  This for most is an illusion where one is looking for financial security until they die.  For me, leaving my job had less to do with dollars and more to do with sense.   My intuitive voice was begging me to return to serving others, work that had dwindled at my current job.  I needed to find the quickest and best route to help my fellow human beings in a way that wasn’t restricted by policies, regulations, technology or fear of stepping on someone’s toes;  to do this out of the kindness, love and goodness of my heart.  When it became apparent that such an environment was hard to find, I decided to venture out on my own terms.

Money and material items, although necessary to get by, have never been high on my priority list, so scaling down in those terms was easy.   I’ve spent most of my life guiding college students to their futures by assessing their skills and, more importantly, their passions, so a few years ago I began taking a close look at mine.  I came across a quote by writer Frederick Buechner who described this eloquently, “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.”  My career had started that way, yet with time the deepness waned, so I dug further and found that writing, nature and helping others were the qualities that bring my deepest gladness.  I noticed a world hungry for joy, love and human connection.  Where those meet I found my essence, Capture Life Writing.  Refirement.

I will show others how to unplug and reconnect to themselves to joy and simplicity through writing, nature, and to people who genuinely care about each other.  In today’s media and screen-driven world with people afflicted by illness of every kind, it’s a tall order.  Yet it is far from impossible.  Starting in my small sanctuary and community, as long as there are places to immerse oneself in nature, people who desire to discover and share their important stories, and someone to listen, there is purpose for me.  Money, success, prestige often take precedence over inner satisfaction and personal values and truth.  I’m all about the latter.

To those who ask me how I managed to retire so young, I respond, “I was no longer able to serve my students, so it was time to move on.  The money will take care of itself.” My mother used to tell me that as long as you use your God-given talents in a positive way, you will never starve.  Her words echo through me as part of my truth.  And as I pass them on to you this day and encourage you to revisit your talents and passions and consider how you can use them to ease one of the world’s hungers, you will create your own unique definition of retirement.  I wish it to be as joyful as mine.

FROM THE SANCTUARY
The highlight of the Sanctuary this week was a cat on a cold shingled roof.  A recent snow storm covered the outdoors in an exquisite blanket of white, showing all else in contrast.  That included an unfamiliar kitty that I caught out of the corner of my eye from my kitchen during breakfast the other day.  Her black spotted features gave her away as she sped across my deck and to my shed. One minute she was peeking in the open doorway and the next she disappeared inside.  I glanced back to my scrambled eggs for just a minute before I looked up to see her prancing on the shed roof.  I have no idea how she got up there.  As I marveled at her ability to walk a slanted angle, I ran to get my camera.  When I returned, she was back on the ground.  Amused about how she had returned there in one piece, I was grateful for her safety and the presence of her prints on the roof as evidence that I had not lost my mind.  She disappeared back into the shed and didn’t come back out while I was looking.  I love this clever creature.

I’m dodging the elements inside and passing the time with my favorite activities, reading and writing in front of the fireplace.  A special shout out to Alex from the firewood distributor who delivered a hefty load of kindling so I can keep warm all winter the old fashioned way.  So grateful!

Meanwhile I’m networking and having conversations to lead me to the path of least resistance in building up the Sanctuary in time for me to move to Florida by the time the snow flies next year.  Stay tuned, the new website is coming before the end of next month.

Joy and Warmth to All!

Love, Mary20190120_213033

Unspoken Words

I recently read a book that was dedicated to “the memory of my father for things left unsaid.”  I thought of my own father, passed away nearly forty years now.  He was here one day, gone the next and I never had the chance to tell him in life what he meant to me.  I have since resolved that with his spirit, but it took a long time and much writing.

It was a lesson well learned; one that taught me to share my kind sentiments to those that I care about in the living years.  If I want peace, it has to begin with me.  That practice has cleared my heart of guilt, sadness, regret, leaving room for only joy.  More comfortable with the written word, I prefer to do this through cards, notes, prose and poetry.  Recently I have become adept at expressing myself verbally as well.  I have now spoken all of my unspoken words.  At times they came out awkwardly, but they have all been said in truth to whom I needed to say them.  Most have been returned in a courteous fashion, some were met with surprise and a few with the stinging rejection of the silent treatment.

It hurts when I experience this “silent treatment” or see it being demonstrated between adults.  There are so many words to express kindness in our vocabulary.  The terms, “I’m sorry”, “Forgive me,” “Let’s agree to disagree,” “I love you,” “I need my space,” “Thank you,” “You were right,” are short and so simple.  How many once-awesome relationships could be mended with them.  How many cold shoulders could become warm again.  How many bad endings could be rewritten.

Organizations and desk calendars announce occasions for the month.  I declare February the month of expressing unspoken words.  Get out your pen or rehearse those lines of appreciation or amends.  Share them with kindness, truth and feeling.  In the recently released movie The Green Book, there was a scene that produced the line, “The world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move.”  If you are harboring unspoken words, be the first to make that move.  If the person you wish to speak them to is no long longer living or gives you the silent treatment, write those words down to release them and feel the relief that accompanies that gesture.  Not only is the pen mightier than the sword, it makes a darn good antidepressant.
From the Sanctuary:

The Sanctuary is a winter wonderland.  When I go out there is the occasional call of geese, blue jays or crows.  Signs of a night visitor were in the snow the other morning when I ventured out and saw tracks everywhere.  The deer visits are frequent across the street, and Frankie the Foster Dog nearly caught a large rabbit in the yard the other night.  A snowstorm this weekend should freshen things up a bit.

Winter sunsets in western New York are precious and few, more often than not buried under cloud cover, yet the one on January16, 2019 was breathtaking.  I viewed this from the warmth of my kitchen.  The soft orange light of the sinking sun reflected the crusty snow and dotted my back yard with the spots that escaped through the fence.  Every needle on one Scotch Pine, slightly swaying in the soft wind, illuminated in answer to the brightness as if bidding goodbye to the beauty knowing it would not return again for a spell.

The fluorescent fading light cast pink on the gray clouds that covered up the blue sky that dominated the day.  I am in awe and one with the serenity that accompanies these moments.   As the last of the color drifted into the other part of the world and the trees disappeared into the darkness, I rejoiced in the truth that the same cycle will happen tomorrow without fail and I’ll get to enjoy this ritual gift until the day my body withers away and I become part of it.

Because I have the opportunity to speak it now…Love, peace and joy to All

Mary20190119_100528

Capturing Life in 2019

20190104_124750“A lot of people know about my background, but very few know my story.”

That quote from one of my newbie writer friends was casually stated, yet it struck me as so profound, that I made him repeat it. That is the case with so many of us; we long to express ourselves deeply and to know each other that way.

In college, my concentration was communication.  The concepts I studied about how humans communicate have changed very little.  Yet in the 21 years since I graduated, the quality and meaning of conversation have diminished in opposite correlation to the number of ways and devices we use to be in touch.   Noticing this, I have intentionally to begun to create a more satisfying way to interact with my fellow human beings.   Although many of my friends and family are slipping into the social media world, I reach out to request face-to-face meetings and create reasons to party.  I long to experience their smiles in person, their eyes and to hear their voices in real time.

Based on my values and energized by what the world needs right now, I will celebrate 2019 by enthusiastically evolving the Capture Life Sanctuary; inviting others to enjoy sunrises, nature, resources, programs and more to experience the power of words, face-to-face human connection and the mental and emotional benefits of Myfi that accompany.  One month after leaving my higher education career, “refirement” has sparked a longing to get back into serving mode quickly.  I wish to show as many people as I can the reflection of their own light and happiness, which I see in every in every human being.  This is especially true for those of us who have been labeled by culture, family, doctors or self with an emotional or mental “disorder.” Those are just words that suppress and limit our capabilities, mask our dreams and drain away any desire to embrace our true awesome selves. I take wisdom from all of the people I work with and my readers who I am in awe of and grateful for what they teach me.

I rejoice as the Universe brings me new people, circumstances and resources to create this haven for myself and others.  It takes time and courage to reach out to find the networks of those who support a mission.  Yet I am finding the more I do so, starting with my neighbors, the local chamber of commerce and like-minded serving hearts, the more natural it feels.  I have said that we all must work together to help one another and that gets easier with practice.

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

I’m relishing in the mild temperatures and the ability to romp around town bootless and without gloves.  New Year’s Eve brought a celebration in the form of a girls’ night at a friend’s house.  Great food, beautiful company and lots of laughter with a traditional champagne toast at midnight made for a warm evening.  I miss the second home of my beach, so that will happen next year.  Meanwhile, fifty-five degrees and sixty-mile an hour winds made for a challenging drive home here in Western New York, yet the rain that represented tears of joy from heaven cascading on my windshield guaranteed a blissful year to come.  And a free car wash!

I’m in the process of introducing my Follower Development Program to encourage people to become Followers of their Hearts, Intuition, Dreams and Spirits, the formula that brought me to perpetual happiness.  There are enough leaders in the world; it’s time for a change. And I’m writing profusely, accompanied by new foster pit bull, Frankie.  She is one six-year-old clingy bundle of affection who follows me constantly and spreads her love to all who enter the Sanctuary.   Meanwhile, culinary training is going fabulously with Chicken Scaloppini and Red Wine Mushroom Sauce on last night’s menu and a successful multi-course Christmas dinner under my belt.

Sharing a quote that caught my attention recently:

“People are not seeking the meaning of life as much as seeking the experience of being alive.”
– Joseph Campbell

I invite you to capture life with me in 2019.
Warmth and Love, Mary

Merry Christmas to All and to Beth a Good Flight

In the mail today was an envelope containing an obvious Christmas card from my friends Walt and Beth.  I noticed immediately that the usual return address label listed only “Walt,” and I hesitated before opening it.  Beth had been in remission for breast cancer, and it had returned and spread.  I had spoken to her by phone once since and she was her usual upbeat self.   Life got in the way, so I thought about, yet did not act upon a follow up call.  When I did open up the envelope I saw the usual photo of a smiling Beth and Walt and their dog with a Santa hat on.  And then I read the accompanying festive newsletter.  In the first paragraph it said, “She left for heaven in March of 2018.”  And I wept, because in my chosen media-free life I had never even heard.

It was a sobering lesson in how precious our time is here and how we get removed from closeness by getting wrapped up in life.  I met Beth at work 35 years ago, and we became fast friends.  Through the years we separated professionally yet kept in touch, raising our families and getting together occasionally.   We always, always laughed when we were together.  When she was first diagnosed, she immediately jumped into action, active in a foundation for a cure.  We got together for one of her chemo treatments and made a lunch party out of it.  Later, when she was in remission, we took a day trip to an Erie, Pennsylvania nature center to promote a nature book I was working on.  We had a wonderful day out, and on the way home took the wrong entrance to the thruway and were 30 miles down the road, chatting away before we figured out we were headed in the wrong direction.  I believe that “laugh out loud moment” lasted for a half hour, and I’m breaking our confidential agreement here that we would never tell anyone to share the humor.  That was the last time I saw her.  We were in touch afterward via email for her to review the manuscript of that yet to be published book.

My heart feels her absence this night and it is bittersweet.  I’m sad for Walt, her two children and me who miss her; she was indeed an Angel on Earth.  At the same time, I am confident that she is having a blast with God and the heavenly Angels she so believed in.  And her spirit is nagging me to get that nature book out to my readers.  She was just that fun, radiant type.  She likely did not expect me to dedicate that book to her, but of course I will.  In the early morning hours before I learned about Beth, I was contemplating my life and writing theme for the upcoming year.  Two thousand-nineteen will stand for Making Time and Memories, dedicated to the old-fashioned values of gratitude, putting family first and serving others with the focus of accumulating memories, not stuff, and spending time in person, not online.  These are what are most important to me.

I am sharing other sentiments from Walt’s newsletter here to offer his wisdom and hope for what others may be going through, “One step at a time always moving forward choosing happiness.  I have learned that my heart has an amazing capacity to love and I truly am not alone…Choose happiness-I have!”

Good Flight, and Happy New Journey, Beth!

And Merry Christmas and Happy, Prosperous New Year to All.
Love, Mary

Let There be Light

Tapping into my spiritual self to share with you because that is what I am feeling this evening.  With Thanksgiving in the past, I am cherishing the memory of a wonderful, small family/friend celebration complete with fireplace fire to kick high into gear with the magical holiday season.  Raised on Christmas, this former Catholic has broadened her idea of the holidays through cross-cultural interactions to instead embrace winter solstice which to me incorporates all of mankind’s religions and celebrations with Mother Nature’s transformation of darkness into light.  It allows me to wish a sincere Happy Holidays to All.   I still hold onto many of my favorite Catholic/Christian messages, including the concept of communion, The Our Father prayer, Sign of Peace and Jesus’ simple message of “Love One Another.”  I had this in mind as I recently had my kitchen repainted and hung a collage on the wall featuring photos of my family together and happy.  Some photos include relationships that are in flux, yet no matter.  These people represent those that I love, and neither time nor circumstances can change the way I feel about all of those smiling faces.

Honored to have appeared as a guest on the “Welcome to See the Good” blog last week.  Kathy is a fellow writer who administers the site and promotes nothing but positive thoughts and messages, a welcome daily addition to my inbox in between the other inspirational quotes and passages that keep me moving forward and delivering my own words of kindness.

 

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

Earlier this week the first significant snowfall arrived and the new contracted plow guy lived up to his commitment.  MS be damned, temperatures bearable wearing layers and itchy to be active, I tackled the sidewalk and porch with a shovel.  Other than that I was content to admire the beauty of the fallen snow from the inside, researching my next book with a blanket in my lap.  As the snow melted this afternoon, my son’s girlfriend pointed out a heart-shaped grassy area in the snow and pointed it out to me while capturing it with her camera.  I’m delighted to share it here.

Daughter and I dropped off Midge the Wonder Foster Dog to her forever family nearby this week, so I no longer have the company of a one-eyed 40 pound Pit Bull thinks-she-is-a lap dog.  I miss her so much, yet am happy to have passed on her mutual love and affection to others.  This is good practice to adapt as I plan my own fostering dreams for children who need the love that I have to offer here at the Sanctuary.  Meanwhile, other pit bulls wait in the wings as next temporary CLW mascots.  My lap is ready!

I’m grateful for all of the time this retirement concept affords me, yet the “serving heart” part of me yearns to be expressing herself.  I’m working on funding my second floor build and getting to know my close-knit Clarence community.  I joined the Friends of the Clarence Library and Chamber of Commerce to network to see what others are doing and who may be able to help.  I’ve also lassoed the dean at the UB School of Social Work who has offered to assist.  Emotional and mental wellness promotional contacts and opportunities exist in abundance, so I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me!

 

As I write this, loud bangs (familiar at other times of the year) draw me to the living room window and a distant, yet bright fireworks display presents itself on the horizon on this rainy December night.  So refreshing and beautiful!  Once again, it pays to be alert and receptive to the unexpected gifts in life.  Those are always the best.

Sending laughter and light to all!

Love, Mary

Blessings are for Sharing

Woohoo, Thanksgiving is here!  Thanksgiving is every day for me, but I love it when the rest of the U.S. plays along.  Most get excited about the travels home, turkey, pumpkin pie and gatherings.  The gifts we celebrate are togetherness and each other and that’s what I’m all about.   On the weekend before the actual holiday, my small part Native American ancestry is kicking in, imagining how simple and brotherly that first celebration may have been.

This Thanksgiving brings me a renewed sense of magical gratitude.   My recent birthday brought me breakfast courtesy of my daughter.  The afternoon included a vintage kitchen set delivered by a collector.  When I opened my door to greet him, we both were pleasantly surprised to discover we had graduated from high school together.  Back then, his jock and my nerd status would not have us interacting, but 37 years later we caught up with ease in our shared knowledge of whereabouts of classmates and interest in everything antique.  In the evening, I treated myself to the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.  With less than ten people in the theater, I relished in watching the story of some of my favorite performers unfold, accompanied by great music.

“Refirement” brings an amazing sense of freedom. I am rewarded by having plenty of time to heal my MS with exercise, modified paleo diet and a new Vitamix.  For the first time, I will teach myself cooking in a kitchen brightly painted in “Upbeat Yellow” by my son (who accurately described it as the color of a child’s playroom).  I will play on the cloudy winter days in my sunny, beach-themed haven.  All while meditating, napping, meeting and dining with friends and planning Capture Life Writing.

And of course writing.  Celebrating the release of my memoir, Reconciliation of the Heart. I wrote this to heal myself, published it to give others hope and help them heal.  My next book project, I Beg Your Pardon, but I am Not the Least Bit Disordered, will be a combination personal story, history, culture and insights into “mental illness.”   Also, in tribute to Mom, who passed away long ago, I will bring alive her journals from her world travels with her best friend from Kindergarten.  Until now, they have been stored in various closets, sporadically read, waiting for the right moment.  Mom once told me that she had dreamed of being a journalist, but her parents talked her out of it because teaching was a much more practical profession for women at the time.  Hopefully, by sharing her stories I can make her dream come true.

Mom’s experience brings to mind a conversation I had with my son recently when he used the term “lawnmower parents.”   This was a new one for me, so I asked what he meant.  He described a scenario that he had seen played out many times where his friends had expressed their vocational aspirations to their parents and they had responded with reasons not to pursue them…not enough money to be gained, too much competition, etc… thereby mowing down their dreams.  His insight was brilliant, describing what I had seen in my career service work for decades.

Do what’s in your heart and you will not fail.

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

The first of the snow is falling, mixing with the rains, making it slushy. There are delicate flakes falling outside of my window as I write this.  The colder temperatures are keeping me bundled in hoodies and longing a little for the beach.  That will come soon enough as I transition to the Florida move.  For now, I create the second floor expansion to my cozy little ranch house.  When complete, it will be a glass enclosed library/meeting and nature viewing area that will become the Capture Life Writing Sanctuary where I and friends will deliver services for mental and emotional wellness in my beloved hometown of Western New York.  And I know my parents, long parted from this earth, are not mowing down this incredible dream of mine. They are cheering me on instead, sprinkling fertilizer and sunshine down from the Universe.

JOYFUL, ABUNDANT BLESSINGS THIS THANKSGIVING AND ALWAYS, EVERYONE!

Love, Mary

Farewell to the Rat Race

My last day of work was this past Thursday.  I came home and raised a glass to celebrate a career that has spanned three and a half decades.  I sat on my couch contemplating and enjoying the lingering scents of cologne and perfume, reminding me of all the farewell hugs I received.  It is refreshing to be leaving the rat race. Commutes are now a thing of the past and so is setting an alarm with the same digital clock radio that has been waking me up for 37 years.  I bought it at BJ’s for ten dollars to arouse me for my college classes when my Mom told me it was time for me to take the responsibility for getting up on my own (Hint: she wanted to sleep in).

I will miss my co-workers, although personal interaction has dwindled through time as gathering at the water cooler/coffee pot and desks in open space has given way to Tim Horton stops and isolated cubicles and screens.  Voice and emails have added overwhelming volume to communication, interfering with conversation time.  My serving self will miss the students that I assist.  When I started working, many of them were older than I (single and freshly graduated with my Associate’s degree).  A lifetime has passed that included marriage, divorce, raising two children, earning my Bachelor’s and rising up the professional ladder just high enough to help students in a more direct way while keeping me away from administration.  In time that faded too, as software replaced the human touch and interaction was replaced by time for learning those systems.  When two years remained before my retirement and my position was eliminated, I found myself in a job search that had become electronic; dehumanized; the descriptions virtually focused.  The interpersonal and communication skills that I possess were no longer marketable.  I landed a position that was a demotion in title, yet a promotion for me personally in every sense of the word, because it once again put me at the frontline of face-to-face serving that I so love.  I have been blessed to have a career where I was able to always compassionately cheerlead my fellow humans in person.  Left to my personal freedom in “refirement” to make my own decisions based on what brings me and others hope and joy, the breadth of my vocation will unfold and be realized to the fullest on my own terms (based on values rather than policies) through Capture Life Writing.

I leave the University at Buffalo with happy memories of the many friends I have made, events I have experienced, people who have guided me.  And to know that I have had the privilege of assisting the lives of thousands of young adults whether through a smile and quick directions to a building or steering them from internship to career by showing them their worth; that time is its own reward.   Every day I learned something to take with me, and I am grateful.  It’s time to pass the gavel to someone who deserves the same opportunity.  And to dedicate myself to offering sanctuary literally and metaphorically.

 

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

With nearly two weeks straight of cloudy days and inches of rain, many are complaining.  Not me.  The contrast of the yellows, oranges and reds of the maple trees is striking and magnified by the wet and grey skies.  Mother Nature is setting up her autumn decorating by painting a canvas of colored leaf decals on the blacktop driveway, deck and lawn carpet.  Beautiful!  The other day as I watched the leaves fall from the trees, I wondered whether they were victims of the wind or intentional partings, individuals tired of swaying all summer long and ready to give their host a rest to make room for the spring newbies.  The squirrels are racing around, playfully gathering their nuts.  Aside from nearby traffic, the neighbor’s leaf blower is the only outside sound beyond squawking blue jays and migrating geese whose calls reach beyond the stifling of the closed windows.  As I gaze from the inside out at the frosty temperatures, I raise my glass to all I have in this peaceful place, and look forward to a bountiful Thanksgiving.  And in preparing myself for new beginnings in the spring, I rejoice at the thought of accompanying Mother Nature in a restful, rejuvenating winter.

Fond Farewell, University at Buffalo and
Bountiful and Joyful Thanksgiving Everyone!

Love, Mary

Bring Back Relationship Sustainability

In the past three weeks my children have broken up with their significant others. Their friends are doing this too, and the grapevine is strangling with stories of people leaving each other. Separating from your partner is going viral.   After making the decision to leave her fiancé and telling me of others in her circle who are doing the same, my daughter described it this way, “Nobody is angry at one another. We are all just sad.” In all of these relationships, I still see the joy, laughter, love and kindness these couples experience when they are together, but they have lost sight of that in the quest for something better, yet they can’t define what that “better” is that they seek. This is what I experienced three years ago when the love of my life parted simply saying, “It’s complicated.”

“Better” cannot be found in the next available partner, shopping online for anything, acquiring the latest apps, job, getting lost in busyness, or telling the world about it on Facebook. It can be found in quality human connection. We rely on a few clicks of our coveted phones to have a stranger deliver our food or groceries. A summoned Uber driver will instantly deliver us to the airport when a call to a friend or relative can send off or intercept us with a warm embrace instead. What has happened to gathering around a table for a relaxed shared meal to talk about the good in our day, the laughter? Everyone’s in a rush, and car horns that used to be beeped as a friendly “Goodbye” signal when pulling out of a driveway are now reserved to blare in traffic jams. Where is the time to enjoy?

Today we communicate on a quick, superficial, unemotional level through screens, text messages and limited word tweets or shared videos and pics. Through Likes, Comments or Reviews, we express our judgments, opinions and thoughts. Feelings have become secondary, almost inconsequential. Contemplating through uninterrupted reflection and connecting via physical face-to-face communication is avoided, yet it is the best way to truly get to know, understand and appreciate ourselves and each other; to look into each other’s eyes while we are speaking and listening in person, make real friends and fall in lasting love. There is strength and power in expressing kind and honest words because taking time to speak your heart directly to another human being triggers inner peace, cleanses your soul, releases and validates your truth. This also vanquishes anger, eliminates fear and builds trust; brings out all that we were meant to be to each other; while allowing us to return to our intuitive joyful selves. And when you can trust a caring someone (even if it is only your own definition of a higher power or yourself) you will find your way back to happiness, self and relationship. To surrender to ecstatic relief.

Sustainability is the latest trendy word to describe the things we need to do to save the Earth, usually associated with the environment. Yet it is important to think about the sustainability of human joy, happiness, love, friendship, loyalty, commitment. Like many species in nature, these attributes are quickly headed for extinction and without them all else will fail. Promoting ocean cleanup, reducing carbon footprints, eliminating plastic bags and straws and rescuing animals are indeed all worthy causes. But if preservation of human relationships does not prevail, what will the planet be like after physical perfection? Before we can rid the world of its plastic, pollution and global warming, we must fix ourselves from the inside. Learn to feel again; to be kind to others without judgment, love and respect one another. Always. Then, and only then will we be able to recognize the good that exists around and in all of us and from there gather for the causes, see the beauty of Mother Earth and work together to help her from there. There is no need to seek the better when we already have the best right before our eyes.

The dogs and whales can wait, and plastic is not going anywhere.

We all must learn to love and help one another.

 

 

From the Sanctuary:
Fall is taking over the Sanctuary in the form of thousands of stinging hatchlings (today’s photo), brilliant gold shrubs, flocking robins and the hungry birds that devour birdseed in the feeder that I replenish every day. They (and I) were surprised by a majestic visit from a peregrine falcon the other day. Magnificent! It is a joy to watch the birds at my sunset gratitude celebrations, along with the squirrels that are hiding their nuts for the upcoming winter months.

Sharing this recently read:
John Lennon’s Mom taught him that he should strive to grow up happy. In school when he was very young his teacher gave the class homework to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. He turned in the paper with the word “Happy” on it. The teacher returned it saying that John had misunderstood the assignment. John responded, “You misunderstand life.”

Be Happy, Everyone! With each other too.

Love, Mary

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