Posted in A Day In the Life, Storytelling

Welcome to Podcasting

A little coffee to go with Coffee Table Wisdom

Launching my podcast, Coffee Table Wisdom, reminds me of when I first launched a blog.  Although my first blog wasn’t really launched; it was more like a shy tiptoe into a world where stories and essays became public and could be read by anyone. I have to admit, it’s still thrilling to click on “publish” and see my work come up on a colorful page that has pictures and headings. 

Podcasting is just another way to tell a story. It’s a new take on what radio used to be when we’d gather round and listen to programs and public figures.  In today’s world though, people can put in their ear buds, and listen to a podcast just about anywhere.

My podcast is about positive aging.  I advocate for embracing the years as a noble passage.  All of us fear getting older to some degree. That fear is un-necessarily exacerbated by toxic myths in the culture that have all of us sitting around in Depends after the age of 60, just waiting to get sick or die.  And that’s why it’s time for a revolution in positive aging!

My experience of the accumulating years is that there is a tremendous potential for aging well and finding joy in the process, stereotypes be damned.  I’ve invited guests from the worlds of health, psychology, spirituality and the arts to be on my podcast and share their perspective on the grace and gratitude of growing older in spite of any challenges that we may face.

Podcasting has given me an opportunity to fall in love with the ordinary people that I interview, all of who reveal the extraordinary in their lives.  Every time I meet a new guest and record a new show, I marvel at how much magic there is in each of us.  Podcasting has truly become my labor of love and learning.

So, I’m inviting you to take a listen and enjoy the power of story in this format. You can find Coffee Table Wisdom wherever you get your podcasts.  On my web site you can click on the Podcast Tab to discover Season One.

We live in the most literate time in human history. We have so many writers and so many stories that can be told in virtually unlimited ways and formats.  My great hope is that all of this will help to remind us of how we are connected by our stories; and that it will demonstrate how none of us is ever as alone as we think we are.  Isn’t our human family just amazing?  Happy listening from this grateful granny!

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Insecurity, Not Good Enough and Other Sucky Things Writers Do to Themselves

Opened notebook, pen, books and glassesIf you are a writer, you’ve probably asked yourself why. Writing is serious business. It’s solitary. It’s demanding. And no matter how much you study and how much you practice, it is a craft that you never master.

On the one hand, you have to be a little bit crazy to want to lock yourself into a room several hours each day to create worlds with the written word. On the other hand, story telling is sacred art. Stories can teach us, provoke us and make us feel and think in ways that we might not have otherwise. And the writer is always looking for this–what is it that I am writing which touches a universal place in the human condition?

Even with a lofty vision of what writing is to you, it will always be an unforgiving taskmaster.  I write and perfect to the best of my ability only to discover the one flaw in the work that will unravel it all, baring my insecurities. I laugh at the rookies who when confronted with cutting 6,000 words thinks that they will be able to use it somewhere else, as through you can just cut and paste one world into another. But I digress. . . In spite of a daily discipline, in spite of focus and unending practice, I have moments where I wonder if I am good enough? Can what I’ve written cut muster? Why do I do this?

That answer ebbs and flows, and it sucks to wrestle with the demons of insecurity and not good enough. So why then, put myself through it? Why does anyone, in any craft where excellence is held in high regard, put themselves through it? It would be so much easier to be a lady who lunches.

I don’t know about other writer’s reasons for creating in this way. For me, I think it comes down to how it informs my unsettledness and gnawing discontent. It feeds something in me that wants to look down from on high and move the pieces around the board to make it mean something. Writing is born of a dark, chaotic place in my psyche that is engaged in the perpetual activity of examining the what if’s in life. The meat of grief, falling from grace, love, betrayal, revenge and how those things can push us toward transformation is my grist. It makes me lick my lips.

Still on a day like today, when I am filled with doubt and I sit down to write anyway, I feel as though I am doing the right thing. And I suppose that counts for something, that and a fervent prayer that I will get to the “good enough.”

Most people who read my blog are writers too. So the question of the day is: why do you write?

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Inspire or Perspire, Thoughts From An Old Determined Rookie

istock_000017878764xsmallThere were lots of Facebook messages this birthday. I enjoyed each one of them. It was part of the celebration, a veritable cyberspace party. And, I was surprised when I read that someone thought I was inspiring. Obviously they had just run out of verbs and that was the only one left. But then a couple more people wrote, “You inspire me.” Inspire? Me? Is this because I’m old or because it’s my birthday? It certainly can’t be because of some level of attainment. What is it that I do that inspires you? It got me thinking about where or how I might be inspirational in my life.

My writing journey is pretty inspirational, at least to me. For the past four years, I have been doing what musicians call “woodshedding,” the process of locking yourself in the woodshed and practicing until you can’t stand yourself anymore. That’s what I think it takes to become a good writer, and in my case a good novelist. I probably threw away more than half the words I wrote last year. So, is this what people mean by inspiring? Or is it possibly the definition of crazy? But I digress.

In January of 2016, I signed with my first ever-literary agent, and a really good one too. I thought, piece of cake. She’ll sell my book to a publishing house. My book will be released to thrilling accolades. Tom Hanks will call me and want to do lunch and I will wash, rinse, repeat and move on to my next novel.

It didn’t happen that way.

I’ve spent the past year learning to revise and rewrite my novel so that it is better. During that year there were some members of my writing community who told me “if the agent doesn’t like it this time, you should just stop.” But I couldn’t stop. How can you turn down the advise of someone who has been in the business for thirty years when you’ve just walked through the door? So I slogged away. I wrote, rewrote and revised, painstakingly correcting the rookie mistakes I’d made in my book. By the end of the year I was exhausted, but the last round of revisions finally made the agent’s cut.

I sometimes get frustrated with this culture of instant gratification, quick results and “it’s good enough” mediocrity. I think there is a special place in hell for self-help gurus whose only success criteria is money and things. And while I have never been a particularly patient person, I scoff at promises to write and publish your novel in 90 days, replete with revisions that take us mere mortals six months to a year to complete. What’s the old adage? Anything worth doing, is worth doing well, and I will add to that, to do it well, you need to slow the fuck down. 

And you know what I find really inspiring? The determination to be a viable writer at 65-years-old; making writing a second chapter career and coming face to face almost daily with 30-somethings who can get up earlier than me, write longer than me and have twenty years a head of them to work out the kinks in their craft. That being said, I’ve just started another novel.

Having mulled over the you inspire me comments written on my birthday timeline, I have come to this conclusion: We are all inspired by hard work, tenacity and the striving for personal best, regardless of age or anything else. I will never be a savant. I’m one of those poor schmucks who have to earn every page, every scene, and every chapter that I write. I don’t often get things right the first time, it takes me several. I’ve had to learn to be humble in the face of the competition, become a perpetual student and keep an upbeat attitude of gratitude throughout. Is it the positive attitude juxtaposed to unrelenting hard work that is inspiring to others?

I find deep satisfaction and purposfulness in doing the work of writing to the best of my ability and then pushing myself to do better work. Either I’m a masochist or maybe that narrative is what is inspiring to others.

What’s your take? Do you inspire? Does it happen by accident or is it deliberate? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

The Last Belgium Blog

My retreat partner Susan and I with a statue of a Beguine.
My retreat partner Susan and I in Luven, with a statue of a Beguine.

It is the work of women to balance the world, to know their strength and stand courageously in the light of their truth. A patriarchy without the balance of matriarchy creates an uneven playing field upon which women are subordinates rather than leaders. You don’t have to look too far to see how out of balance institutions and governments create both a physical and spiritual poverty when they do not include the voice of women.

Traveling in Belgium and learning about the Beguines, I was inspired by the this esoteric group of women who sought to remedy the corruption of the church in the 12th century by living an example of spiritual and financial independence at a time when women did not have such choices. For a short period of time, they brought about a reverence and a station for women before their ideals and actions were again muted and absorbed by church and state. So, what did they teach me? How have I changed?

I walked the same cobble stone roads that they walked. I sat in churches where they prayed. I brushed up against the places and times that informed them. I listened to lectures about them, read about them and wondered about them. What all of that ignited in me was strength, the strength of standing strong in the light of my own truth. I have dug for examples in my life and I have found that all throughout history there were women who walked before me who had the same desire to live full and equal lives. I came away from Belgium with newly found and newly reclaimed inner strength to move forward in confidence and respect for myself.

The images of old-world northern Europe delighted my senses and reminded me that the world is a big and diverse place. Still, I doubt that I will ever become a world traveler. I am more of a Hestia, the Greek goddess who found satisfaction in tending the home fires. I am so happy to be home and so happy to have made the once in a lifetime journey. I met wonderful people, taught good writing classes, learned a lot . . . and made sure I did a little shopping.

The charm of old-world northern Europe.
The charm of old-world northern Europe

Now at home, settling into the autumn, I will begin my next novel and spend the winter months holed up in my office creating. The Beguines were creators. They made art and music and I see those things differently now. I see making art as a worshipful thing, a praising of all creation, a joy created in the heart, mind and spirit. My writing is an expression of love through creation. It’s good to be home, slightly altered and deeply grateful for where I ventured out,  and also for the return.

With Mathew Fox, who traveled with us for two days and taught us wonderful thing!
With Mathew Fox, who traveled with us for two days and taught us wonderful things!

 

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

The Heart of the Beguines

Cathedral at Ghent
Cathedral at Ghent

The word “cathedral” means “the throne upon which she sits.” In 15th century Northern Europe, there was a worshipful attitude toward the Divine Feminine as embodied in Mary. In this time, the Beguines thrived. They lived in democratic communities, separate from the church, caring for each other and practicing  social justice by feeding the poor and tending to the sick. Truly the “cathedral” in all its majesty and art, is for me, a symbol to the beauty by which the Beguines lived.

Even though they were the first feminists, it is surprising that this group of mystics is so little known, even here in Belgium. Steeped a mysticism that didn’t match the hierarchy or patriarchy of the Catholic Church, they would eventually adapt and become absorbed by the church. But for a short period of time, they thrived as panentheistic, meaning that they believed “God is in everything and everything is in God.”  I relate to that viewpoint, noting that the rest is just politics.

The Beguines were all about compassion and action. They understood and underscored that “help the least of these” was less a directive from the Christ and more a clue as to how to fully live the spiritual life. These women advocated for what was then, and is now, a radical idea, that the spiritual life should not be about the rules and values of a hierarchy and a patriarchy, but should be about our individual capacity to sense the Creator in how we care for each other.

Hugging the statue of Marcela, the last Beguine
Hugging the statue of Marcela, the last Beguine

The biggest mistake that Christianity has made is that it put God in a little white house, and then treated the rest of the world however it wanted. This is why the churches in Europe are mostly empty. This is why membership in churches in America dwindles. Young people seek a new spirituality, one that is inclusive, of all people, one that honors and reveres women, one that will take care of our planet. And one that is democratic rather than modeled upon a military inspired hierarchy.

It’s been good to be away from the crazy-ass headlines of America these past few days, away from pasty old white men dominating the television screen, the politicians and candidates who still want to control women’s bodies as some perverted sense of personal morality. Power hungry men thumping bibles and trying to convince the world what great leaders they will make while an overheated world burns and the poor die at their feet.

I came to Belgium to learn something from the Beguines. I can hear them whispering on the wind that they have things to teach us about living together and caring for each other.

The Beguinage Church at Luven
The Beguinage Church at Liven

Here is a summation of the compassion lived by these women: “When you drink the waters of sorrow, you will kindle the fire of love.” (Metchild of Matenburg) To be theistic means, I am here and God is there. And again, panentheism is the belief that God is all things and all things are in God. If you embrace this viewpoint it becomes more difficult to turn away from the suffering of the world and its people. This was the radical idea that eventually led to the Beguines’ demise.

The Beguines have ignited in me a clarity and vision that goes beyond the grand cathedrals and charming Beguineages that I have visited here. This is the stuff of unraveling, the gifts of traveling and letting the history of a place teach you. I am so grateful to be here, and to be lit with new passion.

Stay tuned for at least one more blog from Belgium. I will come home changed somehow, though I cannot say how that will be. Right now it’s all just Grace, promise and exhaustion.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Delights and Deliverance

IMG_0086So many images travel to my eyes, rise and fall from the heart and float away on the afternoon breeze. Brugge, Belgium is the old world. Homes from the 15th century line the canals with window boxes overflowing in cascades of red geraniums.

Our group goes to the Minnenhauf. It means “house of love.” We meet  Sister Felicitous, who tells us about the women from whose ideals her order of Benedictines borrow–the Beguines. This area was filled with Beguines at one time, pious women who lived to serve, who made lace, with intricate knots and turns, reflecting the focus of a meditative state, focused singularly on devotion.

In the evenings the four or five nuns living at the Minnehauf sing in the chapel. They invite our group to join them and then be blessed with holy water. I don’t go. I sit in my room at night alone. The days are already packed too full for me, and I need time to process all that I see and taste and feel here. The reason I came was to pay homage to my home girls–these 11th century feminists, mystics who developed an esoteric evangelism and grabbed, however briefly, financial independence a time when neither spiritual nor financial independence was available to women. I’m afraid that if I fill up every minute I will miss their whisperings in the night air.

On a canal boat ride Sunday morning, I turn my face to the sun, close my eyes and just feel this place I am in, all of itsIMG_0113 history vibrating in what I breathe in. The swans stand in the park at water’s edge, long necks curved gracefully. I’ve heard that the Beguines brought the swans here. I’ve heard that the swans were a memorial to an innocent man executed in the city square. I don’t know which story is true. I know that the swan in Sufism represents the soul and that feels appropriate to either story. Maybe stories and history converge somewhere, and all of it makes sense in the end.

Today I taught my first writing class: Deepening into Your Spiritual Story–the Arc of Spiritual Memoir. I am animated, passionate and lit. I share my ever-changing, ever-growing process and philosophy about writing. I give exercises that place their pens to the page. An hour later I feel energized and happy to have shared something that I love so much with such a fine circle of individuals.

The Beguines were the first people in western civilization to write about Spirit in the vernacular of the day. Margareta Porete wrote a book called A Mirror of Simple Souls,” the premise of which is that the little church is the cathedral on the corner and the big church is the church that lives in the heart.” Later they burned her at the stake. I share this in my writing class. We are all connected by our stories. We communicate through story. We tell each other stories all day long and yet at the end of the day, or the end of a life, we sometimes fail to see what the story is or to ascribe meaning to it. That we seek meaning at all is unique to the human journey.

IMG_0108I am moved and inspired by the stories of the retreat participants. Former nuns, former and current clergy, people in the throes of unanswered questions and the inevitable loss that comes from living such a full, rich and long life. These people are of an older age, teaching and learning from each other about reclaiming the broken parts of the self in the last years of living. Surround those pieces in love, shrugging and saying “you know, life is messy,” and then be willing to have it be messy again.

This part of my story takes me to Belgium. And to borrow from Margareta Porete, the little adventure is the plane ride and the events of this place, and the big adventure is what is changing and growing within my heart.IMG_0126

Stay tuned for more adventures blogging through Belgium. Miss my friends and delight in this adventure. Hugs.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Blogging on the Way to the Plane

iStock_000001998520XSmall(1)Seven years ago, I produced my first retreat. Joan Borysenko was, at the time, a neighbor of mine and she agreed to come hang out in my living room for a day with twelve women. The idea was that with Joan as a facilitator, we would all be encouraged to be with each other in a purposeful and authentic way. Unplugged from cell phones, computers and the obligations of work and family, we gathered. It was a day of deep camaraderie, tears, laughter and the sharing of dreams. I felt a great sense of joy in bringing all of us together, and I enjoyed that everyone got to slow down and ponder the mystery and miracle of our lives, taking time to celebrate and appreciate each other.

With the advent of each autumn since, I have planned a retreat. Just before I moved from Colorado to Oregon, I found myself sitting in the back of a large conference room, filled with two hundred and fifty people who I brought together to immerse in the study and contemplation of the great mystic, Meister Eckhart. A former Trappist monk, Dr. James Finley, facilitated the three days. I learned that I had the skill set to produce larger retreats. And in James, I found a friend and ally who is a valuable touchstone in my journey.

Here again at the edge of autumn, I am about to do yet another retreat, this time in Belgium. Oh brave, new world. My friend Susan is a dynamic minister and group leader. Our friendship became a partnership as we planned an plotted and signed up individuals with whom we will share the next ten days.  Like the first retreats in my living room, this is a small group. And unlike the first retreats, I now teach a writing component entitled “Deepening Your Spiritual Story, the Arc of Memoir.” It’s probably more accurate to say that I share what I know about the philosophy and process of writing as opposed to teaching writing. What I do is kind of coaxing that will hopefully inspire stories and images to arise from the heart.

Each year the retreats I produce change me. One retreat, I reclaimed the young woman who wrote. She had been pushed aside and overlooked. Life sometime intervenes in our dreams and you have to pick up the pieces later. In meeting her again, I began writing daily– blogs, short stories, essays and journals. And I began to teach. I mostly worked with incarcerated women, a group who reminded me that my life has too many blessings to count. My students in the jail taught me how to be grateful for the smallest things.

So, tomorrow morning at 5:00am I leave for Belgium to be with fourteen people who will be my community for the next couple of weeks. We will trace the footsteps of a group of 11th century feminist mystics, called the Beguines. We will meet up with Mathew Fox and listen to him speak from the pulpit where Meister Eckhart once preached.

We will spend days visiting the places where lace is hand-made, one of the ways that the Beguines supported themselves financially. We will have morning prayers and meditations and late afternoon process groups. And just like that first little retreat in my living room, each person will be unplugged from the digital world, enter a world of heart-touch and share our lives. I love learning about other people, about their faith and what it is they hold as good.

What will I learn in Belgium? How will this change me? Peace within and peace for all? A reclamation of the parts of self that are broken and cast away? A whispering from a Beguine sister that comes as a light September breeze, inspiring a contemplation of community? I can’t say for sure, but I do know that it will change me and push me toward the growing edge of my life.

Stay tuned for my adventure of blogging through Belgium. The plane leaves at 5:00. I’m a little nervous about whether or not I have packed all the right stuff. I am going with an open heart, a curious mind, and a sense of adventure. If I throw in some gratitude, I should have everything that I need for the journey.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

And Then I Blogged Through Belgium

iStock_000040946278Small

Thus far, my sixties have been the most exciting and fun part of my life. I never believed I would say that a few years ago. Sixty is, after all, a daunting age that marks the threshold of what we know as “old age,” or at least “older” age. And I certainly went through a time in my late fifties when I could feel my significance in the world, along with my smooth, tight skin, slipping and sagging away. But then I turned 60. I stopped working full-time, and started becoming the things I used to dream of when I was 20. Jerry Garcia was right, “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

This preamble marks the lead in to a trip I never thought I would be taking. I am not a world traveler. During my work years, the weekends meant the grocery store, a hike with the dog and a nap in front of one of my favorite HGTV shows. When the sweet, young woman at the checkout counter asked me enthusiastically what I was “doing” this weekend, I was sure to give her a disappointing answers that did not involve Jell-O shots or Kama Sutra oils, let alone a trip anywhere . . .but I digress.

Next week, I leave for Belgium. This is a trip that has been a year and a half in the making. My friend Susan and I cooked it up one afternoon when we were sitting at the tea house talking about our favorite group of women, The Beguines–a group of feminist mystics that took root in the area around France and Belgium in the 12th century. “Let’s go trace their footsteps,” she said. “Let’s go sense their history,” I replied.

Now Susan is a world traveler and when she actually began putting the pieces of this trip together I totally freaked out. “You mean get on a plane and fly over the ocean to a foreign country,” I would scream over the phone. Week by week, we constructed a trip, a plan and a group of people who would join us. My gig once we get over there is to help people deepen their spiritual story through writing. Writing is my grounding wire. It’s what I do. It’s what I understand. Everything is a story and I am a student of story. I’ve taught creative writing in my spare time for over twenty years–but my students up until now have been troubled teens and incarcerated women. This will be a class of clergy, former clergy and really nice people. My girls in prison were nice people too, albeit addicted to meth and a few other bad habits. Somehow I am making this trip for them too, wanting to light a candle in a place where the Beguines once met, in hopes that the light, the warmth of the flame and the prayer it symbolizes will find its way to them, comforting them in the night.

So, I’m going. A week from Friday, I get on a plane for way too many hours and I travel to Europe, where I have only ever been one time, thirty years ago. And I get to sit with all these amazing theological students and seekers, spiritual directors and one retired judge who have given their lives to the constant exploration of faith and spirit that informs their lives. In a way I feel like the kid who got on the wrong bus. Then I remember that I have something to offer in terms of writing and story and I trust that if I can coax open the doors of story in a group of incarcerated meth addicts, this group might be a little easier.

This blog has never had a theme. When I am not practicing being a novelist, I write here, and it’s really nothing more than just little slices of my life, laid bare to the world. In the next couple of weeks though, my blog will have an actual theme, the theme of “The Grand, So Big, Once In a Lifetime, Wow, Trip.”

Meanwhile, back at the preamble, I love being in my 60’s. I write and study story every day. I write novels. I take naps (still in front of HGTV) and evidently I can travel. The significance in the world that I once felt slipping away has been replaced by an unfolding into a fullness of being that I could not have imagined ten years ago.

I have a phone call with my friend and retreat partner, Susan today. This might just be the first day we’ve talked where I don’t scream into the phone “get on a plane and fly over an ocean to a strange land–are you friggen’ kidding me?!”

Stay tuned for more stories about this travel rookie’s once in a lifetime journey to Belgium and my encounters with spiritual sisters from the 11th and 12th century! And I’ll let you know how my writing classes go. How joyous to be older and able to unabashedly nerd out!

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Settling In

20140613_073608_resizedI suppose that I thought of retirement in the traditional sense in the way that I always thought of the word, meaning that you stopped. Maybe that is true for golfers. They stop working and then play golf until they die. I don’t play golf. Thus far my retirement has been anything but a stopping or a golfing. It’s been more like a wild wind that whips and swirls and when it finally dies down, everything in its path has been forever changed.

The odyssey of sorting, purging and packing started in September when my husband “retired” from clinical practice. That resulted in an encore career in which he consults. Consult is a word that covers a myriad of sins…technical writing to product development. He is definitely not retired in the classical sense. He is working from home. Working from home is a lot less stressful than maintaining an office and it suits him.  I’ve been doing some part-time work too, but mostly it feels as though I have been moving for a year.

To enumerate the components of this big life change is too much. It’s like forcing one of your friends to listen to your itinerary when you are over committed. So let me just say this. All this retirement business has landed us in the great northwest, where hubby, dog and I have managed to unpack ourselves into a new life that day by day settles in.

I woke up this morning to a light rain and squirrels dancing on the deck. There is a writing desk in the corner of the living room that was placed thusly for daily writing practice, and as the moving boxes dwindle, it is accessible and beckoning. Nonetheless, I sit in bed with a cup of hot tea and my laptop, a favorite place to order the chaos in my brain.

Hubby is already upstairs in his office doing non-retirement things. I am now in a position to resume the writing practice left fallow during the past nine months of packing up offices and houses and unpacking and now finally the great promise of settling in. My head is swirling with thoughts of what I want to write about and I am already thinking ahead to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Until then, however, I am committed to getting into the daily habit of writing down my stories.

Blogging has been a great way to get me writing, because as soon as I hit the “publish” button I have put myself out there for better or for worse. It doesn’t matter if the stuff is good or if it’s crap, the important thing is I have committed words to the page, put forth ideas, thoughts and feelings and now it’s out there. I don’t “publish” everything I write on my blog, but the blog is certainly a catalyst for continued effort.

Meanwhile, back to the dancing squirrels. The squirrels in Colorado were brown. Here they are grey, either way; Jeter has only fierce growls and barks for the furry little creatures. I can rest assured that thanks to my dog, we will all remain safe from squirrels and I can engage in daily writing practice without fear of being bombarded by acorns.

 

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Today I am grateful for…

iStock_000015756375XSmallI read a lot of other bloggers. I learn from how other people write; what they write about; and what subjects inspire them. Last year I found a blog called All of Us (http://all-ofus.com) that was a mother chronicling her child’s journey with cancer. It’s good to report that the journey had a happy ending. Along the way I was amazed and inspired by the grace of both mother and child and found myself rooting for them each step of the way.

Recently I’ve been following a blog by Ruth Rainwater. It’s a simple blog that lists a different gratitude every day. I look forward to reading what she writes. She makes the seemingly mundane beautiful and important. She takes things that I would have thought of as flat, and makes them full. I know that there is great power to change the heart and mind by being grateful. Gratitude has gotten me through some fierce sorrows. Sometimes the world seems like it is full of crazy bat-shit people and they are all in my way…those are the times that I especially appreciate the Ruth Rainwater’s of the world who inspire me to get a grip in the face of challenge and humble me to open my eyes and appreciate every moment of this life!

Today I am grateful for other bloggers and the inspiration that they bring. I didn’t write much this past year because I had so many changes to deal with–retirement, a move to a new state, a new home, and all the purging and packing that come with those things…but I continued to read and seek blogs that move me. As I get settled into my new home, it is my intention to write more and get back into a rhythm of posting. My writing chops are weak.  “Use it or lose it” applies.  I struggle with finding my voice and the confidence to write each day…and I do know that this is the way back.  Just get in the chair and write.  There is no muse or calling that will do it for you…just sit down and write.  But I digress…the Word Press community is more valuable to me than I have previously realized.  I am grateful I had blogs to read this past year when I was not writing so much and grateful now that those very blogs are inspiring me to get with the program again.

Ruth begins all of her posts with “Today I am grateful for…” So, here’s to you kid: I am grateful for Ruth Rainwater and all the other bloggers who share their messages of thanks and hope. It was Meister Eckhart, the 17th century mystic who said: “If the only prayer you ever prayed was thank you, it would be enough!”  Onward to new beginnings!

Please visit Ruth Rainwater’s blog at:   http://newbeginningsgratitudejournal.wordpress.com