Nestled in Redwoods

“I wanted to unfurl my toes for a little while.  I wanted silence, isolation and an invitation to exhale life’s complications.  I heard nature’s melody and I harmonized with every single note.  I needed the trees, their colors, and the sounds of wildlife breathing.  I inhaled the essence of the forest and smiled as life coursed through my veins.”  – Amelia Dashwood

Redwoods

It’s been a while since I’ve written. There are so many things I wanted to write about but life distracted me.  In March, I attended several meetings for social activism.  I went to Washington, DC, met with Representatives to talk about political issues and attended volunteer training with the Human Rights Campaign.

I was fired up, ready to jump in and take action. I found it exciting to be in our nation’s capitol, bumping into Senator John Lewis and Planned Parenthood’s President, Cecile Richards while distributing literature to California Representatives. Rachel Maddow glued me to the TV every night with unbelievable news she reported.

But, I became over-whelmed with all that’s going on in our world. I needed to step back and catch my breath. I felt the urge to be in the midst of trees.  It’s where I go when I need to soothe my soul.  Twenty years ago, I spent a year in the redwoods of northern California after going through a stressful time. My Mom lived there and it was comforting to be close to her again.  Recently I went back to visit a friend.

As I drove on winding roads lined with tall trees, I could feel tension leave my body. Passing by familiar places, I felt like a movie played in my head hearing Mom’s voice and laughter.  I walked alone in the redwoods past our old home reliving fond memories.  My friend and I spent an afternoon on her deck reminiscing then sitting quietly hearing the creek flow. When the wind blew, a white blossomed tree in front of us looked like a snowfall of flowers.  We dined at a restaurant where the Russian River flows into the ocean and enjoyed the sacredness of an outdoor church. The beauty of nature and slow pace was just what I needed to feel at peace.

Outdoor church

Russian River flows into ocean

Assumptions

“Your assumptions are windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”  – Isaac Asimov

window-and-light

A friend called to see what was up for the weekend. I told her we were in L.A. for the Women’s March.  “You’re kidding,” she said.  “I thought you don’t like crowds. I couldn’t find anyone to join me and didn’t think you would go.”

It’s true – I don’t like large crowds or driving on the freeway to L.A. There were incredible winds and a rain storm the day before the March.  I worried freeways would be jammed or flooded.  Assumptions proved us wrong.  We drove to L.A. in record time.  My conviction to Human Rights outweighs a fear of being in the midst of thousands of people.  Over a half of a million people came together peacefully, supporting each other, saying “I’m sorry” for bumping into someone, helping those who had tripped and fallen.  The amazing experience reverberated around the world.

Last week, I helped friends feed the homeless. I wasn’t sure what to expect at a center where 60 people receive dinner and place to sleep for the night. They’re back on the street in the morning.  It’s a heartbreaking plight. Their graciousness, gratitude, and pleasant demeanor touched my heart.

These examples remind us to expand our expectations. When we change our view, it can be a bright awakening.

Power of People

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

march

Our lives are influenced by passionate, determined people who overcome all obstacles to reach a goal. This week, we honored Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his inspiration, courage and leadership.  He never gave up hope, encouraging others to do the same as they marched together for civil rights and equality.

Malala is the remarkable Pakistani girl who advocated for female education in her Taliban controlled country. Her heroic efforts, including being shot by the Taliban when she was 15, led to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.  She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize “for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Hidden Figures is a book and movie about the untold story of extraordinary women at NASA, master-minds who helped launch John Glenn into orbit.  Their analytical ability was incredible, but the true super-human feat was overcoming obstacles they faced as Afro-American women during an era of racial discrimination and segregation.

All of these examples demonstrate the power of people coming together for change. Our world is full of challenges and controversy.  We’re at a critical point in the on-going struggle for equality.  On Saturday, we will raise our voices, stand united and march for all Human Rights1 while also honoring those who paved the way to activism.

1 https://www.womensmarch.com/principles

 

 

 

 

Re-create Yourself

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
– George Bernard Shaw

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The New Year motivates us to reflect, aspire, and re-create ourselves. We’re given another chance to evaluate our lives and determine things that either harm or help us. Like a new path on a road trip, we can keep going down the same route or we can choose to travel to a place we’ve never been before.

At times, I can be a creature of habit seeking comfort with what’s familiar and safe. When I dare to break away and try new adventures, my confidence soars from having courage to try something new or face my fears. Once on a beach – despite a fear of heights – I climbed to the highest point on a large rock.  Sitting there with crashing waves below gave me a feeling of exhilaration.

This year  pursue things which excite, challenge, and make you a better person. Follow your passion and enjoy new adventures!

United for Change

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”   -Margaret Mead

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I caught the cold being passed around. Thinking about it, I’m not surprised so many of us are sick or feeling under the weather. The election inflamed everyone, but the results particularly hit those of us who are stunned a candidate with such abusive, discriminatory beliefs and demeanor will be running our country. Like most of my friends, I grieved for days depressed and worried about the future.  I’m sure it wore down our defenses and immunity. 

In a war-torn world, we need leaders who unite people rather than divide or discard them, a government which upholds principles of ethics, equality, and justice, one which protects our rights as well as our environment.  Our Declaration of Independence gave power to the people for defending our rights.

In Franklin Roosevelt’s speech on The Four Freedoms he said, “As Americans, if we say we love our county then it is OUR JOB to stand and speak up for those whose rights are being taken away. It is OUR JOB to stand and fight for them in the same way that people have fought and died for the freedom we have been blessed to experience today. Our ultimate goal and purpose, no matter what party you represent, race, background, poor, or rich should be: to aid the common needs of the common people of the United States of America!”

Now many of us are asking what we can do to voice our concerns and take action.  It’s time to unite and support one another to feel safe, empowered, and help make a difference.  As I recuperate physically and mentally, I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of resources to keep us peaceful, united, and engaged.  I hope these suggestions encourage us to work together creating change for a better world for us, future generations, and our planet.

Coping Tips:
Happiness and Inner Peace during Turbulent Times:
How to help our children:
Twelve steps we can take:

Unplug and Recharge

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes … including you.”   -Anne Lamott

It’s important to allow yourself to slow down, take a break from hectic schedules, unplug from devices and distractions.  Some people power nap or meditate.  Mindfulness is another option for enjoying peace in the present moment.  In this space, there are no worries about the past or future.  It’s an opportunity to observe and become immersed in your sensations and surroundings.  It can be as simple as sitting quietly and feeling your breath, noticing how thoughts dissipate when you’re still, experiencing the beauty of nature.  Yesterday, I sat near the ocean appreciating every aspect of the moment:

sunlight-on-ocean

  • Mesmerized by sunlight sparkling on the ocean
  • Watching every beat of a butterfly’s wings
  • Noticing drops of water shimmer on rose petals
  • Feeling the lulling effect of waves rolling into shore
  • Catching a random rainbow in a bevel of glass
  • Admiring Birds of Paradise pointing to the sea

profiles-of-birds-of-paradise

I heard a loud flapping sound and turned to see a Seagull perched on top of a lounge chair next to me.  He eyed the sandwich waiting for me as I wrote.  Then gave me a look as if to say are you going to eat thatIf not I will. I quickly grabbed the sandwich and he flew away.  The relaxing afternoon was just what I needed to recharge. I packed up my things to head home.  I found the seagull floating in the pool.  Guess he was having his moment to “chill.”

seagull-in-pool

 

Fall – A time for feeling Nostalgic

 

nostalgia

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” – Joe L. Wheeler

As seasons change, they color our mood and perspective on life. With winter’s chill and short days of light, we retreat in our homes seeking comfort within.  Springtime spurts new life in nature and opportunities for us.  Summer is packed with vacations and celebrations from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  But ahhh … Autumn’s sunset colored leaves scattered everywhere shifts us from warm Indian Summers with pink strewn cloudy skies to crisp mornings and cozy nights, sipping hot apple cider, and kicking off the Holiday season.

Fall’s intensity ignites all of our senses. Nostalgia lingers in the air bringing a need to gather with family, connect with traditions, and reminisce about the past.  That’s exactly what inspired a trip in September to visit my sister and family in England.  Renting a home on a lake in the lovely countryside of the Cotswolds, preparing meals together, hiking through long fields surrounded by water and wildlife, sharing memories and special moments became the first heart touching stop on my nostalgic journey.

hike-in-the-coltswolds

Two weeks later, I returned to my roots in New Jersey to visit family and friends. Instead of the usual whirlwind tour of seeing everyone, I made a point of spending quality time with each person.  We dined and danced, wandered around town, ran in the rain, laughed about old times, all while making new memories.

Nostalgia helps us maintain a sense of who we are and where we’ve been. Reflecting on the past plays an important role in revealing where we want to be in the future.  Fall is a time to slow down and savor sensations of the season.