In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Solstice - Happy Birthday - Merry Christmas to come!

 Boulder Reservoir near dusk      --           both from  yesterday's walk     --      On the ice at Coot Lake

December 22nd, today is an important day for me.  First, it is the birthday of grandson Will in Nashville.  Though now a young man, Will is our child who has a sunny face and stories galore.  He is also, at his best, the sweetest of my four grandsons.  He takes after his Dad with this quality, and it's a tough one for a boy in our culture.  His Dad has learned a balance that Will has yet to find.  I have confidence that he will and hope that not many more hard knocks will be needed for him to learn that taking care of oneself must come before one has what it takes to care for others.  This year Will has asked family to wait until tomorrow for his birthday dinner so I can be there, sweet since I paid too much attention to the cost of my plane ticket and didn't get there today.  I am honored and can't wait to celebrate Will's twentieth with him.  Hard to believe that he will no longer be a teenager.
                                               Dressed for his Mom's law school graduation

Today is also the birthday of my long-time friend Elizabeth.  She is not yet sixty--young as far as I'm concerned.  Elizabeth met me when we had very different lives--she, the newly hired Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, a job most had still expected a man to hold, even in the early 90s, and me, the ED of the Enterprise Fund, an experimental small business investment fund in a city where women bankers were a scarce commodity.  She was there--and didn't flinch--when the old dreadful memories consumed my life.  Our lives have evolved.  Now we both live in Boulder County, Colorado, and focus in our own ways on our spiritual journeys.  She is a blessing in my life.

I also like December 22nd because tomorrow the days will begin again to get longer--little by little for sure, but longer, more light.  And it's that light that I focus on today.  As an Episcopalian, I belong to a faith group that looks at the days prior to December 25th as Advent--a time of waiting, the darkness before the light of the Christmas miracle.  There is beauty in that dusk before light, a heightening of perceptions that might go unnoticed in the glare of bright sun light.  That is a bit like the Christmas holiday rush.  We have to stop, find a quiet place, to allow the coming miracle of Christmas to seep into our hearts.

I don't pretend to believe that on a December 25th many years ago a baby named Jesus was born in a manger.  I do, however, love the story.  It speaks to me of new birth, new ways of being in our lives, an opportunity to change directions, even slightly, to allow Divine love to enlarge our hearts and lives.  It is a miracle waiting to happen.  Let's allow for darkness if that's what it takes for that love to explode within and light up our lives and that of those with whom with share this world.  

And for those who light up my life -- below is daughter-in-law Margaret's induction into the Tennessee Bar, which happened this past week.  I look forward to celebrating with her in Nashville!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Ode to Judith -- Changing Times

Hiking with Judith -- Odessa Lake 2012

It is hard to imagine going into a snowshoe season in the Rockies without my companion of twelve winters to venture with me into roaring winds, lightly falling snow, giving me a hand when I can't quite make the step up, sliding down the hills from The Loch or Emerald Lake, and marveling at the beauty of a snow-covered landscape.  With Judith with me on the trail, I would go forward when otherwise I might have stopped.
The Loch, a favorite snowshoe hike, has a steep climb near the top, and on more than one winter hike, I have faltered, but with Judith's encouragement, have taken one more step forward, dug in, and gone on to the top.  The photos above and below are from our hike winter before last when the sun and the deep snow combined for one of the most stunning hikes ever.

Going foward when I might have stopped--that has been true for many of life's passages over the last twelve plus seasons of hiking and show shoeing.  Her amazing listening ear, her patience when it seemed as if I was going through the same inner-journey turmoils that I had going through years before (and I was, only on a deeper level, which she understood--though it must have been tiresome). 

Celebrating beauty even when the ledges were slim and the snow was falling so that seeing ahead wasn't easy reminds me of gratitude, even when life doesn't seem so good.  We stood in RMNP's Glacier Gorge parking lot many times when the wind threatened to blow us backward.  We would remind each other than once on the trail, the wind wouldn't be so strong.  Again, a lesson for life, that when we stop on our paths during a tough time, that moving ahead, even ever so slowly, will ease the angst.  That is a reminder I need right now, when I don't know what comes next. 

Judith was there years ago when it seemed that many of our hikes required me to walk through fear, sometimes fear that required stopping until I could gather the strength to go on.  She never waivered.  We have gone places I likely will not go again.  As she leaves for a sea-level life for the next four months, she will return to Estes Park for a while, but hopefully for her sake, she will be able to live where sleep and breath come easily without the aid of a mask.  That is the plan Judith and her husband are making, the adventure they are setting off to pursue.  I wish you well dear friend.  I will think of you often, but especially when the wind is cold and the steps ahead hard.  I will borrow from your courage and strength and go forward.  Enjoy the warmth, the sea and the beach--and sleep well!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Silence -- God's Love

Yes--deep silence and bushwhacking up a mountain side were both part of my 8-day silent retreat at St. Benedict's Monastery in Old Snowmass, CO. This particular silent retreat asked that, after the opening gathering, participants not make eye contact or speak. During meals we motioned for various dishes, and I became accustomed to looking down--or when seated in the retreat house living area, looking over the heads of others to the mountains visible from the large windows.

Mt. Sopris is the large mountain (pictured above) visible from the back windows of the retreat house where the room I shared with my 80-year-old centering prayer friend from Estes Park was located. From the hillside above the retreat house, the mountains of the ski resort, Snowmass, are also visible. The destination at the top of the steep incline we hiked/bushwhacked to is called "Bernie's Rock," named for a deceased monk resident of the monastery.

The silence when meditating with 25 others in a large circle in the retreat house chapel was enfolding--except when the chatter in my head made it otherwise. We sat with our meditation practice, centering prayer, for three and one-half hours per day, broken into three periods of silence, beginning at 5:45 am.

Silence--Comforting?? Peaceful?? Energizing?? Revealing?? It can be and was all of those. There would be very few participants if most of those twenty plus hours of meditation revealed our blocks and shadow sides. I would also have felt it to be a less valuable retreat had I not had an insight or two that continued to percolate after returning home.

My long-time quest was present this time--a deeper knowing of God's love for me, mistakes, stumbles, hurts and all. With valuable coaching from a long-time staff member, I began to get more deeply God's love for me. With a clearer knowledge of Divine love, I believe/feel myself to be more lovable. No it doesn't make me more lovable. It makes me more aware and able to pass God's love through me to others without a feeling of depletion. It continues to work within me. Sometimes I'm sad that it has taken me so long to reach this point of feeling truly valued by God. More times I'm grateful.

Seeing what parts of me I've protected--and hence protected them from God's healing love is freeing. It also grieves me that the girl who fought hard and stood against the violence in my adolescence is the one I've felt I needed so much that I haven't considered that protecting that piece of me was also protecting against Divine love. It protects against human love getting through too.

The Journey continues. Blessings are many. Deep insights bubble to the top. I'm grateful for the silence and for the time spent in glorious beauty (even in the dormant season before snow covers the brown).

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

                                                    Meditation chapel at the retreat house

PS:  Stay tuned for recounting of Bernie's rock slough and Fr. Thomas Keating's talk at the retreat.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What is Right in Front of Us

Looking nearby on the path
Going away, driving up the canyon to higher place- -as if all the beauty is somewhere else--I do that often.  Oh I know there is beauty here, but I live on the flatland in northeast Boulder, not up against the Flatirons or foothills.  Last Sunday grandson Sam and I looked for leaves of all colors on the path in the center of this complex.  I left my phone inside so Sam wouldn't want to play an app, forgetting that I would be missing some great shots with the I-phone camera.  On Monday I retraced our path, walked to the park across the street and down paths allow for a longer trek, looking for shades of red and orange, more likely here in Boulder than in the mountains. 

I was reminded again that beauty abounds.  I am grateful.

I'll be off on Monday to St. Benedict's Monastery in Old Snowmass near Aspen for an 8-day silent retreat so my next posting will undoubtedly be about more "falsities" that I'm shedding.  Perhaps it will also include a dose of Divine Love. 

                                                     Happy Halloween from Sam!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Play -- Changing What's So

Playful Sunsets -- One Manipulated, One Original
Taken at the Boulder Reservoir

It was late in the afternoon when I went to the Boulder Res.  I was on the phone, listening to a friend's family concerns.  I walked slowly.  Then, with the conversation completed, I realized the sun was falling behind the clouds and would quickly lower behind the mountains.  My I-phone out, I clicked and clicked, savoring the colors and the reflections on the water.  Our sunsets don't last long, so I quickly tucked my phone into a pocket and walked with purpose back to the trailhead and across the street to my car, chill beginning to penetrate my body. 

As you all know, color is important to me.  Sunsets and sunrises have made a difference in my life for as long as I can remember.  My daughter-in-law told me that she began to fall in love with my son when he pulled the car to the side of the road to watch a sunset.  When she exclaimed about how special that was, he replied, "That's what my mom always did."  That's a romanticized version of our lives for sure.  There were plenty of days when we rushed past the beauty around us attempting to complete the tasks in our crowded days. 

These days I find myself trying to grasp the colorful beauty and hold it.  Colorful sunsets--holding on to something that is fleeting--easy fodder for a blog.  Am I near the sunset of my life?  Hard to know.  An 80-year-old friend recently told me that she was planning how her resources would last for 20 years.  I exclaimed that she would then be 100 years old.  She nodded, saying this was more likely now than ever.  I'll let her plan for that eventuality.  My plans don't go beyond a few things scheduled this winter and next spring. 

Holding on rather than letting go--snapping all those photographs of the sunset--as if I wouldn't see those colors again.  Of course, I might not be at the Boulder Reservoir at that time of day when there was a glorious sunset.  However, I do walk there at least once most weeks.  It's not such a pretty winter place though.  And what is pretty about the winters of our lives?  I'll leave that question to you as this blog has been intended to focus on the fun I have been having with my new I-phone app.  I made the circles of color above from the sunset photo with that app after trying several versions of manipulation. 

How often do I manipulate what is real to make it more appealing to my sense of self, my sense of security.  I have recently realized that a woman whom I have looked up to doesn't like me.  Perhaps she hasn't liked me for a long time.  I simply hadn't paid attention.  I knew that she wasn't particularly supportive when I led spiritual groups or programs, but I made excuses.  That wasn't her personality.  Lately there has been a coldness that I couldn't ignore--as if she wanted me to be certain of her dislike or disapproval, maybe some of both.  Since she has a leadership role in contemplative programming in the Boulder area, I see that my participation there will be waning even more than I had expected or intended as I let go of roles that I felt called to release.  

I ignored my daughter's anger as much as possible for years.  I worked hard, harder to please, harder to assist, harder so that her life might be easier.  I can see that the woman to whom I referred in the previous paragraph represented in some ways, my mother.  (She would be appalled!)  As with Mother, I wanted her approval and support--and got it as long as I wasn't in her arena.  But as I moved into leadership roles and acquitted them well, the support dropped away.  Like Mother, she didn't want me to be successful in any arena where she played.  

It's rather depressing to see how those old patterns have continued to exert influence in my life!  It's also very freeing.  I can let go of the need to please those who aren't supportive.  I don't need to struggle and work hard to get their approval.  I haven't spent a great portion of my life courting approval.  In my career, I rather enjoyed making a stand and staying with it during stormy weather.  In my volunteer leadership roles, I have done the same, considering it my job to protect the integrity of the group.  And it's interesting to notice that the hardest of those tasks have been in churches and spiritual groups!!!

I will spare my readers more musing on this topic.  Today is the day when we interview four candidates for the soon-to-be vacant Voices For Children CASA Executive Director's position.  My newest role with that board, president, isn't one intended to make me necessarily popular.  However, I intend to go into today's conversations with kindness, even though my questions will be probing.  A few minutes of quiet will be helpful before the process begins.

Blessings on this cold, snowy morning.   

                                                    From my porch yesterday morning


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Acceptance -- Changing Seasons

Front the Boulder Creek path                                                In front of Boulder library -- a planted maple

Reviewing the photographs on my recent postings, I can see that I've worked hard to keep fall's colors as long as possible.  The near mountains have shed all but a very few of their golden leaves.  Boulder, however, is flush with color, again most of it golden yellow.  There are signs--cooler days, nights of hard freezes, more cloudy days--of the season's change.                                 

It feels too soon.  Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, has written a powerful book about the second half of life.  Though near my age, Rohr's focus is on the second half of spiritual life, and he says that many, if not most never get there.  He means most of us aren't willing to make the cross over from our need to see ourselves as powerful and in control.  We don't give up our search for external ways to get affection and esteem, and we continue to look for security where none exists.  As we finished our study of this book on Monday morning, a woman several years my senior lamented that she hadn't made it to the second half of life in all aspects.  Another came back with the single word, acceptance. 

Acceptance.  It seems like such a simple word, but I find that not true for me.  I think of myself as younger than my 74 years.  I did easily make a 6 mile (rt) trek up to a lake at a little over 11,000 ft. yesterday.  I am told I don't look my age (of course, that's not true when I'm tired and discouraged).  I would say that I'm not vain; however, I like hearing that.  This is called noticing what's really true for me.  It's fun only when, as in the instance of how I look, I can smile or laugh out loud, even though there's no one to hear.                         
                             Sure signs of winter's approach from the Blue Lake trail yesterday

Acceptance of my power and control "falsity" as dear Sr. Maria calls it, is harder.  So, as when I don't accept what is and what needs healing, it gets slammed in my face.  The Holy Spirit can be a tough teacher.  Now before I go farther, you are free to think "what in the world possessed her?!"  After several days of not-so-nice e-mails batting back and forth and a board meeting where our Search Committee chair was determined to make me wrong, part of me is wondering too. 

I have taken on the job of Board Chairman for my favorite charity--our local CASA organization.  Across the country CASAs are trained and provide advocacy for neglected and abused children who are wards of the court.  We are in the process of searching for a new Executive Director, one to replace the woman who has led this organization for 22 years, most of the time it has been in existence.  I moved into this position without much notice, and have been acting as president for a couple of months prior to my term beginning on October 1st.  However, the previous president made sure that she appointed the Search Committee, including the chair, her friend and our newest board member. 

I could list the annoying behaviors of this committee chair, and some of you would agree.  However, that is not the point of my writing.  I've known for some time the truth of one of Sr. Maria's teachings--that when something sizzles down deep inside, rumbles around and disturbs me more than makes sense, it is telling me something about me.  Monday night after the board meeting, I was upset.  I was tempted to write a "nice" e-mail to the Search Committee pointing out the need to omit one step the chair had insisted was needed at the board meeting.  I wanted to thank the committee members who had been unable to attend last week's meeting for making time to review all the applications (the chair had wanted to cull the applications before others saw them).  I wrote it in draft, but didn't send it.  I did communicate with the two board members I can count on for a measured assessment of the meeting, and I was given affirmation. That didn't stop or even ease my stewing and fretting.  

I got to see in living technicolor, a dating expression for sure, what a grip my power and control and revenge issues have on me still.  Sr. Maria says that only God can remove our "falsities."  No doubt she is right.  I do know that for me, being open to my unconscious' ability to bring up the early nuggets of how those falsities were formed is what allows breaking them open for healing.

This afternoon we have another Search Committee meeting.  I'm going to spend time in silent prayer before going into the meeting.  Then I drive to Denver for session four of Sr. Maria's class.  I will no doubt have grist for the mill when I arrive! 

There are more lessons in all of this than I could share in this post.  One merits acknowledging.  My two fellow board members pointed out that the search chair must feel very insecure or she wouldn't have behaved the way she did in the board meeting.  I'm no longer good at saying nice things I don't really mean, but I will look for ways to appreciate her efforts before the meeting and for ways to express them

Thanks for listening.  Prayers and blessings to you on this fall day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Awareness and Acceptance of our Own Darkness

I awoke this morning to our first dusting of snow on the bushes outside my window.  October 5th!  Really.  More light snow is predicted overnight.  I am not ready or willing to move into winter.  Perhaps that reflects my feelings about life. 

Even though the darkness I'm feeling today will move into light, I'm saying today's word "acceptance" over and over.  In the spiritual journey class that I'm taking at the Denver Contemplative Outreach Center, last night's word was "awareness."  That one too is useful today.  Awareness keeps me from running to the cover of the Swedes' latest import, The Nightmare, by Lars Kepler.  When I read his first book printed in the US in early summer (The Hypnotist), I stayed up way too late to finish it.  I would neither have to accept or be aware if I made that turn.  If I feel the need to turn to fiction, Mary McGarry Morris' Light from a Distant Star's main character, Nellie Peck, on the verge of adolescence, brings up feelings from my life at that age though her story is different from mine.  Over 100 pages into it, I should continue with that one should I need diversion.

Today's "falisity," as our class teacher calls the behaviors we crafted as children to make us feel safe, secure, loved, or powerful is seriously ugly.  The Enneathought for my Enneagram type might have been sent with me in mind.  The work for today--"I now release believing that taking vengeance will free me from my own pain."

Really, you say.  Surely you didn't really believe that?!  Oh yes--that hurt, angry little girl Margaret definitely decided that if she could get back at those adults who hurt and shamed her, she would feel better--powerful even.  That wasn't the news that came over me at last night's class.  The behaviors those adults exhibited deserved punishment (and today that might have been possible). 

What showed up last night was that this feeling hangs out still, often coupled with good wishes -- "I hope it doesn't work out to make you so happy after all" on one hand, while wishing my daughter true happiness in her quest in the other for instance.  It's a quiet and preferably unaware feeling in the background that pollutes loving wishes.

One of my favorite--yes, I'll admit that I enjoyed it--memories of revenge was from my life in Tennessee Economic Development.  The corporate executives that our senior loan officer and I were meeting with had sized me up to be someones "girl friend" or a political appointee, and Phil, the loan officer was young and looked younger.  They had come to show us their financials since they had not been willing to give us a copy.  They didn't need the money they were requesting.  It was a perk for locating a plant to employ several hundred people in a poor county.  I was quiet as they rather condescendingly took us through them page by page.  I made sure that I showed no emotion.  Then when they finished I asked a couple of piercing questions.  Their heads shot up, a startled look on their faces.  Finally one said something like, "Oh, she's smart," to the other one and began to answer my questions.  After the meeting finished, Phil gave me a "high 5."  He enjoyed it too. 

That was not the way to make friends for sure.  Another loan fund applicant took the same behavior as an insult and wrote the Governor to complain.  While the Governor's staff person who sent me a copy said the man no doubt deserved my treatment of him, it still wasted time in a frenetically paced work life (for others too) to answer the letter and make amends.  That behavior was planned.  The background thoughts that I'm seeing more and more of today are those that I'm either not aware of at the time or that shame me into being overly nice to someone about whom I've had such thoughts. 

I certainly know that taking vengeance, even in thought only, doesn't take away my pain.  So with Divine assistance that I always need in this healing work, "I now release believing that taking vengeance will free me from my own pain."

A post script:  I began this writing with the intention of using the changing seasons to talk about seasons of life.  Maybe next time.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall's Beauty -- and What's Underneath or on the Other Side

A late summer/early fall thunderstorm is looming--a good time to be inside.  It was predicted to rain much earlier in the mountains so my hiking companion cancelled for today.  Yesterday I spent the day in the mountains driving and walking among our golden aspen leaves taking photos.  It was gloriously beautiful, even when, as you can see above, the aspens were painted against dark rolling clouds and threatening rain. 

I drove from place to place, avoiding most of the rain--and snow I could see in the distance where I had planned to hike.  On my way out of a dusty road that led to a Boulder County park where I had taken pictures of me, trying to get aspens in the background (my arms weren't long enough!), I turned into a steep road that led to "Mud Lake."  The loveliness of the grass and trees surrounding that lake were more beautiful than the photo below.

Not yet ready to leave the area so profuse with beauty, I turned onto a dirt road I had always passed by.  As I was about to decide that it was far too dusty and bumpy--as if life some days--I gasped at the red in the aspen ahead.  I so miss the red and orange fall leaves of Missouri and Tennessee, and this year I have found more reddish aspens than ever.  Here is the tree that lured me forward, and a photo I pushed through the dense forest to take.

Then I decided
to take a different
way home.  I
drove up through a canyon studded with golden aspens and back down through the burned-out forests left from last year's big Boulder County fire.  It was a contrast I hadn't planned.  I was going to cut over to another back road into the highway north of town, but either I missed the cut-off or it was the road marked "narrow and steep mountain road."  I chose not to drive my new (to me) front wheel drive car on that road since I was already on a mountain road that would become narrow and steep in places.  With the old Subaru, I wouldn't have hesitated, but I am still learning what my Hyundai will do easily.

The Sunshine Canyon road on which I drove was filled with lovely aspens and bare aspens.  I could also see the first snow falling on distant mountain tops from a couple of vantage points.  Shortly before I reached the tiny mountain town of Gold Hill, I began to see remnants of the fire.  As I started down the mountainside, its ravages were on either side--black "sticks" standing on a barren landscape.  It erased the joy of the earlier afternoon as the nature girl part of me grieved for those dead trees.  It was evening before I mused about the stark contrasts my drive had exposed.

I have been reading Richard Rohr's Falling Upward, a spiritual book about the two halves of life.  In his chapter called "The Shadowlands," Rohr talks about our shadow sides and says that if we are in the second half of life (and he also says that many never make this crossing from the first to the second half of life), we are familiar with at and have spent time with at least some of our shadow side.  He defines our shadows as "what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see." 

What I wanted to see in the mountains was the golden aspens, though much of the time I saw them against a dark background.  It was a bit like seeing my true self with the false self, the one I constructed to please others and make myself feel as secure as possible, always lurking in the background.  Rohr calls the experience I often have--learning about my shadow side through over reactions to remarks or behaviors of those with whom I come in contact (today, those in my non-profit volunteer world) the "golden shadow."  I'll think of the aspens, shining against the threatening clouds, as I find myself pulled back into false-self behavior.  As I say, "oh that will turn into a positive lesson," when something I say or do reminds me of my shadow self, I'll try to think of it as a "golden shadow."  And as I think of contrasts, I remember that the pure gold is inside each of us.  The outside gold, like the Aspen leaves, doesn't last. 

I do love those golden leaves.  Perhaps they resonate with that inside gold?!  I admire them even after they have fallen and haven't thought about what that might say to my soul. 

On another day, I'll say more about Rohr's Shadowlands chapter and how it speaks to me. 

Blessings --

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Savoring the Moment--Even When the Insights Aren't What One Wishes

                                        Early September 2012 photos on the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, RMNP

Earlier I was writing.  Then the Internet connection died, and I can't find my draft.  That could be a good thing.  I was pouring out my heart, probably not so good--and not much fun for you to read. 

I have friends and acquaintances who have had tragedies and difficulties in their lives this week--dear friends who lost a dog to cancer, who in a bit over a year had become an integral member of their family, a friend who underwent her second surgery for breast cancer, difficult though it appears it hasn't spread, and a church friend/acquaintance who died Monday after suffering a stroke at her home on Friday evening and wasn't found until Sunday night--and she was only a year older than me and hadn't been in bad health.

My recent automobile accident made me realize that we never know what a few minutes, hours or days will bring.  The church friend's death was yet another wake-up, reminding me that the things I plan to do in the future need to begin now.

I did rearrange my writing/office to make it easy to decide to paint.  It gives me hope to see the blank wall covered with plastic on which I have put a small canvas on which to paint. 

I've been using "all the tough insights" that have surfaced since the accident, the painful awakening that I can't count on family here, and that my friends who can really be there for me when times get tough mostly don't live in Boulder or Boulder County, as excuses for not writing or painting or getting my proposed website together. 

This is also about to be fall in Colorado.  Fall and fall colors here are short lived.  The first Boulder snows usually come in mid-October, and while there is hiking time after that, it is usually lower hikes as snow melts and refreezes on higher paths, making shady paths treacherous.  Now is the time to get out and enjoy nature.

I'm off for a walk nearby and hope to hike tomorrow.       

Enjoy the moment!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Rainy Day - - Outside Quiet; Inside Churning

This photo from my I-phone is from the banks of the Boulder Reservoir on my walk yesterday--one of the first local signs of fall's approach.

As I try to write on a longer piece, I find myself avoiding the blog and now understand why a couple of writer acquaintances say they don't blog.  However, today seems a good time to look at beautiful photographs with flowers and fall colors.  The paintbrush photo below was taken on July 4th at Butler Gulch, which is off Highway 40 heading toward Winter Park ski resort.

The rain is much needed; the humidity feels so good on my skin.  I went to Yoga at the Y and enjoyed letting the light rain sprinkle on my head as I walked from my car to the door. 

Oh yes--Yoga and the big toe that is healing.  Yesterday I walked about an hour around nearby lakes without noticing a twinge in the big toe broken in the automobile accident five plus weeks ago.  I didn't think about the toe flexing that occurs in several Yoga postures until I tried doing one.  I quickly decided that I would need to baby the big toe in some ways a bit longer.  I was able to do many of the position though and enjoyed the practice.

It is quiet in my writing room.  This rain has brought no thunder or lightening.  Most of my neighbors are away at work.  This should make life peaceful, right?!  However, inside I am in turmoil.  Difficulties within an organization as one Executive Director retires and we seek another are disturbing.  My term as president does not begin until October 1st; however, family health problems are keeping the current president busy, and I feel left holding the bag on unfinished business.  I yearn to make decisions and get on with the job.  But is that appropriate?  Those Executive Committee members I have e-mailed do not answer.  Board members who supposedly do not know what's happening do.  I just screamed!!!!  It felt good! 

Other things are churning too--old emotions and feelings.  Watching manipulation up close is disconcerting.  It hearkens to times when I've allowed myself to be manipulated (not childhood since I had little power there)--and when I look at how I've been manipulated, then the next place to look is where I have done the manipulating.  Neither are pretty. 

I think of times when it has seemed for the best that I was using manipulative tactics to achieve my objectives--words that were freighted for example.  "This is a difficult way to approach the problem," could be a simple example as it implies that I have an easier (and hence better solution).  If I can sound kind and helpful in the process, then my chances of getting what I wanted were much better.

My intention is to be more aware--use my objective self to notice--when I am tempted to be manipulative in conversations and decision making--and take another path.  I won't always be successful, especially when I'm feeling my buttons being pushed.  However, when I'm over-reacting, that's when I know there's something I need to learn from the experience. 

Blessings to all,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Trying New Things and Ways

NOTE:  This post is a mix of how things stood on the date I wrote it, and an update as of today, August 17th.  It bring you up to date with things in my life not mentioned in today's blog.

I hadn't been able to reach the blogs I'd written and not posted--a habit where I often write, then go back and read another day before posting.  I found this one when I posted todays

Okay.  Now I have time.  There are still meetings, and commitments, but not many.  I've had the carpets in my condo cleaned, which resulted in cleaning (and some discarding) a lot of other things too.  A couple of my group duties have been completed and passed on to others.  I have only one church responsibility, and that comes only two or three times a quarter.  For the organization that I had been prepped to take over as president, it appears that since the Executive Director has announced that she will resign at the end of the year, the current president wants to stay on--and that's okay with me.  I'm completing details in the accounting software to finish my work with Michelle in her business. 

NOTE:  Change of plans for the current Voices For Children CASA board president means that I will become president in October.  While that will be in the middle of the search for a new ED, we are both on the committee, the only new officer will be the vice president, and I believe the board transition will be smooth.  Hopefully the ED transition will be too.  Also my work with Michelle ended in July.  She has chosen to distance as she works on her relationship with her husband.  Hard, painful though it is, I am adjusting more each day.  Though I have crawled into that hole, I'm grateful that I don't hang out there.

My endings are all appropriate though it's a lot at one time.  My ushering responsibilities at the summer Colorado Music Festival have made this month's evenings busy.  Hiking continues weekly.  Writing has moved to the front burner; however, I have heard nothing from the small press editor.  I heard through my friend who works at the corporate office here that the editor had returned and had or was going to read my material this week--but nothing to me from her.  I still have prayers out there--that the story will stay with her over the next few days, and she'll feel compelled to publish it.  I've edited the adult voice pieces and am through working on the memoir.  If I hear nothing, I might--just might send out a flurry of queries to agents.  Again, I might just let it go.  I have decided absolutely not to self-publish it.  Other stories perhaps, the spiritual journey/hiking proposal I'm working on or something else--not the memoir.

UPDATE:  I didn't hear from the Seal editor.  I did send out one more query--and might do two or three this afternoon--without any expectations. 
I have an early spring date to give a Quiet Day program for my friend's church in Florida, combining it with a visit.  That's one way forward.  I'll check out that as a possibility--some version--with another priest friend tomorrow.  I still feel a call to get in front of a more diverse audience, but there's never a way to know who is in the audience anywhere.

It's strange, thinking that I'm to do one thing for certain, leaving time and feeling in a vacuum.

August 17th --
I'm less in a vacuum each day, more settled with working on the spiritual journey hiking book, which means more since I can't hike right now--and gearing up to do the website.  Suggestions for good titles for the website anyone???   Blogs posted there will be more like earlier spiritual posts.

Gratitude for Miracles Big and Small

                                                                                Moss in the trees behind me--like Ala. or Fla.!
                  Nearing Odessa Lake, RMNP, July                                      Near Finch Lake, RMNP July

This morning I walked to the development kiosk to pick up Friday's paper (I only take the local Sunday) with my sandals on both feet.  Then I walked to the street, down to the corner and back--probably a block and one-half all together--with no foot pain!  How's gratitude for that from a long-time hiker cut off from the trails for a month after a pickup raced across on-going traffic in front of me almost two weeks ago?

I've been grateful that it was only my car that was totaled that Monday afternoon.  But gratitude slips as I search for another car and as I automatically think, "I'll just take a walk" when something frustrates or I feel restless.  Not being able to do my usual morning walks has left me realizing how much being able to take half hour to one and one-half hour walks here in Boulder means to me.  I know how lucky I am to be able to do mountain hikes, but haven't so much appreciated just being able to walk around the nearby park or the Celestial Seasonings trails across from our complex.  And that's not counting driving to other great trails here in Boulder.  So my short foray out this morning felt like a minor miracle! 

The ortho doc said I'd be back on the trails (perhaps not the steepest at first) by Aspen changing season.  That feels a lot closer this morning with the temperature at about 52 when I was out.  Shades of fall for sure.  I have golden Aspen photos from as early as mid-September, and last year I took photos up above Eldora (up Boulder canyon) as late as October 4th.  While I look forward to that time, I'm grateful for each pain-free step I take and for many friends who have commiserated and urged me to be patient. 

The car---oh yes a car.  My biggest decision has been to give up driving a Subaru.  For those of you living where winter snows are infrequent (and that included Boulder last winter), Subarus, all-wheel drives, are by far the vehicle of choice in Boulder.  They drive through snow without a hickup.  However, here in Boulder where there aren't many steep hills, front-wheel drives work well too.  Subarus sell at a premium for cars with over 100,000 miles, an even greater premium for lower mileage.  I have bagged having another one. 

Another reason for gratitude:  a Boulder centering prayer group leader's husband is an automobile wholesaler in Denver.  I made this connection through a newer friend who attends that centering group.  He is searching for just the right cars for me to drive and check out either tomorrow or Monday--two or three years newer than any Subaru or that I could buy without the wholesale discount. 

At next writing I hope to report progress on my "hiking as a spiritual journey tool" book--perahps on a website too. 

I am deeply grateful for each of you too!  Blessings from Boulder.

PS:  I haven't been able to "fix" the big photo and am not trying today. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stepping Out -- Writing and Hiking

Today I e-mailed a query letter, a synopsis, and 35 pages of the memoir (now called The Light in the Darkness) to an editor of a small CA press.  It was scary so I took my journal and a book and retreated to the pool.  There I listed more hikes for my newest book proposal--hikes as a spiritual journey tool.  Then I decided that I need to plot out the journey and see what hikes fit in those spaces rather than listing hikes as there are too many.  Doing that, and hanging out in the pool for a while (a lovely mid-80s day) calmed my fear.  It will no doubt be back in a couple of weeks when I know that the editor is back at her post (she's vacationing right now).

I also went on Facebook and friended our new St. John's priest, a 54-year-old woman who graduated from Sewanee School of Theology and is a rector in Utah right now.  She looks fun and likes to hike.

Friends Judith and Mary Ann and I hiked to Blue Lake on July 2nd to celebrate my 74th birthday.  In about two and one-half miles we reached the lake, which sets just above treeline.  It's one of the shortest and easiest ways to reach space where trees are left behind.  It is a rocky trail, which we had forgotten when encouraging Mary Ann, who will turn eighty later this month, to join us.  The lake is pictured here.

Look at my new hiking boots!
After a gourmet lunch prepared by Judith (including champagne), we returned to a high meadow and enjoyed seeing the bull moose we saw last year in the same place.  My camera had died at the lake (it's really dead), and I hadn't yet uploaded an app to improve my I-phone camera so no new photos of the moose.

On July 4th, I drove to a flower hiking trail that's become a favorite, even though I've only been there three times.  Butler Gulch is about ten miles beyond Empire, a village that looks as if it hasn't changed in 50 years, off Interstate 70 on highway 40 that leads to Berthoud Pass and Winter Park Resort.  While it seems like a long drive (1.25 hours), it's shorter than going back to the Bear Lake Trails in RMNP.  I didn't leave early so was between the early throng and the afternoon hikers.  It looked as if it would rain in the afternoon.

I remembered that it was a thirty-minute hike to the first flower areas so I wasn't anxious.  Soon columbines lined the path, dotted the first meadows and hugged stream banks, red and bright pink paintbrush mixed in.  Chiming bells climbed hills and covered valleys.  I was early for the monks hood, though I found a few blossoms on my way down.  After fording a couple of creeks (and being thankful that my new boots are water proof), the rocky trail rises steeply.  I met and chatted with a three-generation family on a 4th of July picnic, but lost them when I wanted down to the creek to take photos (with my new I-phone camera app).  Again I stopped at the waterfall and took pictures.  Making myself comfortable on a boulder, I realized that the clouds were closing in.  I couldn't miss the flowered meadows that were up and around the next steep climb. 

As I crested the hill, my efforts were rewarded.  Red paintbrush filled the high meadows. 
 I could have stopped then, but then I would have missed more flowered meadows and the flower-lined stream near the trail's end.  A line of morning hikers were heading down.  I ignored the thunder.  It wasn't loud.  Chatting with a couple whose dogs were determined to go up rather than down, I wondered if they were the last to leave.  I would follow them down (though I wasn't ready to go).  Then they hollered back that a couple was coming up the trail--and another and another came, ignoring the probability that rain might set in. 

I hiked on to the stream where a friend and I had eaten lunch when I was there on a fall trek, took a long look, some photos, pulled out one-half a sandwich and took a few bites, and turned around to head back down as I felt a few large raindrops.  Reaching trees, I sat on a boulder and pulled my poncho out of my backpack.  I did take off my hat.  Later I would realize that my sun glasses were on my head and must have fallen onto the ground as I squeezed the poncho over my head.  I hurried down the steepest part of the trail, then realized that the sky was getting lighter.  I sat by a stream and ate the rest of my lunch.  As I exited the trail and headed to the parking lot, a few raindrops reached the ground.  A couple joined me at the outside table where I enjoyed ice cream in Empire before starting the drive home.  It had been a delightful day.