.  Happiness and Joy

Happiness is dependent on circumstances be it a place or person or thing.  

Joy is something you carry within you. It is deep and light. It is personal and it is published. It is still and it is movement.

We can have momentary joy that we lay up as treasure. We can have joy that continues even we are no longer here (parents and grandparents listen in!). Sometimes our joy is a memory, an honor of someone we loved who has passed on.

Joy does not go out unreturned.

Unlike happiness which is fleeting and based on something in time or beyond ourselves, joy remains.

I’m not knocking happiness though. Happiness is a celebration of humanity- a wedding, acceptance into a college of your choice, birth of a baby or winning the competition of an athletic event.  

Happiness is needed. I love the song sung by John Legend- Happiness. I jump up and down in my apartment and a grin spreads wide across my face! It truly makes me happy. And just for the record, we all need more songs that lift us up! No sad love songs  Adele!

Joy is the cake and happiness are the sprinkles in our life. Let’s hold onto both and Celebrate!!

And a special shout out to a couple who know happiness and joy! They are living examples of both- Lou and Fran!!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blind Optimism? or Faith?

The subject of blind optimism compared to real faith is one I grapple with a lot.

Blind optimism feels like a form of arrogance and naivete’. Faith is more like grounding oneself in something beyond the present toward the future.  Yet, do we as humans follow blind optimism (or conversely cynical beliefs) more than we follow Faith?

Blind optimism is easier to follow. I had what I felt and experienced  as a beautiful loving relationship come to an abrupt ending a few weeks ago. It truly was heartbreaking. I leaned on good friends as I cried, and in my mind negotiated the situation. I brought blind optimism with me when doubts or fears would rise up. I brought blind optimism with me when I was still negotiating in my mind how we would be together again.  Blind optimism is not faith. It does not give you rest. It only churns and churns within you. It rises and falls according to your emotions and thoughts.

Faith- it is solid. The earth can shake, the waves rise high upon the water, but faith keeps steady. People have faith in many things- a marriage will last through the test of time; friends you love will always be close; and the job you love (or at least feel some sense of contribution) is secure.

And it is jarring, painful and sorrowful when the bottom drops out-your marriage is not sustainable, your friend leaves, and you are laid off after working a lifetime at a place you thought cared about its employees. These are all circumstances. Yes they involve people, connections of some sort. We have on some level invested our time and attention, and even more our heart and faith in these circumstances.

Faith is believing without seeing. It’s how an invention or a business begins. Faith carries you through the set backs, the challenges and the things unseen in the moment.

How do I replace blind optimism with faith? And what is my faith in-truly? Is it in the idea that the right person will come into my life if I just trust they will? Or that this person and I will have a chance later down the road? Or the job I now have, which is disintegrating is opening to another opportunity?

Other people might handle all these circumstances differently. Distraction works well, at least temporally- stay busy, occupy your mind and time with other activities. Or maybe go into deep sorrow and hand-wringing worry over the circumstance. Or a real blind optimism of spouting affirmations that will change the circumstance on the person’s behalf.

Are any of these anchored in Faith? No, I can attest to these methods- I’ve tried them all.

This time I am doing my best to put my desires and human sorrow and disappointment into a faith. This faith is not easy. It requires doing and saying things that feel contrary to my present experience. And it requires me putting my thoughts of successful outcomes-those I think are best for me, aside.  And then what? What does this lead to?

My faith rests in the biggest L word of all, faith beyond myself, Faith in God and in trusting Him. For me- this is the hardest kind of Faith. And many times faith is mistaken for blind optimism.  How do we know? Because Faith is not fighting, struggling or figuring out the reason behind the human plane of disappointment or heartaches.

Faith is resting. Faith is handing over my blind optimism and my doubts. But how do I do this? and what is my motivation, my backup of reason that says I am doing the right thing?

One of my favorite verses has been a tag line for me in my present state. “Be still and know that I am God.”

Where does meditation, prayer accomplish? Being still, stilling the mind, stilling the doubts and sorrow. Breathing in, breathing out and being present with myself and allowing Love to enter in. I am too busy wringing my hands, trying to figure out what went wrong or what I did. None of this helps me.

Sitting still and feeling God’s love come in does help. Reading inspirational words or writing also helps. But being still and surrendering to what is, is the best. And I believe faith usually does not come in a big wave and voile’ you have faith. Jesus said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move the mountain.” That’s not a whole lof of faith. And what is the mountain? All those worries, all the sorrow, all the disappointment, and all the doubts.

Faith the size of a seed? Surely I have that much faith. So then, how is it my mountains still stands in front of me? Why has it not been thrown into the sea?  I’m still working on this. But when I see David in the Old Testament running for his life from King Saul and living in caves with his loyal men, I see his faith working.

Faith is not ignoring what is going on around us. Faith is stretching out beyond what is going on. In the Psalms there is a pattern: It begins with recognizing and bringing to the forefront the goodness of God. Call it praise. Something happens when we do the contrary of what we are feeling.  When we believe beyond our sorrow.

The psalms begin with stating the truth-God’s greatness or His protection or His love for me. Then it usually states the problem-the situation of either the problem or more likely the heart in the problem. Blind optimism would gloss over this, would rearrange the truth for deception.

David grapples with his truth, and God’s truth. He grapples with his heartache, his worry and fears. But after the grappling and stating the situation, he comes back to relying on the source of love outside. He becomes still and sits with God. And then he ends in praising, in resting and in Faith, knowing he is being led in the right direction.

Whether I am sitting still on my couch in the early hours of the morning or I am walking at my beautiful park and taking in the gorgeous sunset over the mountains or enjoying the cool breeze and the green of Spring everywhere, I am praising and ‘sitting still.’

You build faith in life not in a vacuum or a place of ease. You build it brick by brick until it becomes a wall of strength and surety.

And as anyone will tell you- sitting still involves letting go. And when we let go, wisdom arrives and gently and compassionately speaks to us. It happened on Wednesday. The day had been awful- all of my hurt and worry and doubts just hit me full force. I cried a lot. But then I went for my walk and all of it was lifted, I breathed in the beauty and listened to my songs of joy. And God whispered to me, “I desire your heart more than you desire XXX’s heart.” And I felt like a child, a lamb. In that moment my heart shifted and the thought of God loving me so much quieted my restlessness, my worry. At least for today. 
 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Knuckle Hills In Kenya

The Ngong Hills are peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley, located southwest near Nairobi, in southern Kenya. The word “Ngong” is an Anglicization of a Maasai phrase “enkong’u emuny” meaning rhinoceros spring, and this name derives from a spring located near Ngong Town. [1]  Though I hear the villagers describe it as the seven knuckles. 

The Ngong Hills, from the east side slopes, overlook the Nairobi National Park and, off to the north, the city of Nairobi. The Ngong Hills, from the westside slopes, overlook the Great Rift Valley dropping over 1000 meters (4,000 feet) below, where Maasai villages have been developed.

The peak of the Ngong Hills is at 2460 meters (8070 feet) above sea level. [2]

During the years of British colonial rule, the area around the Ngong Hills was a major settler farming region, and many traditional colonial houses are still seen in the area.

In the 1985 film Out of Africa, the four peaks of the Ngong Hills appear in the background of several scenes near Karen Blixen‘s house. Local residents still reported seeing lions in the Hills during the 1990s.

And here I am with my co-workers last year in May.  May is the rainy season and the coolest part of the year for Kenya. As we began our ascent toward the first hill, and Honey, these aren’t Hill Country, Texas hills! No comparison. Practically no switchbacks  and straight up a ‘hill’ that is mostly grass and moist red dirt that doesn’t provide the best of footing.

But oh, it is worth it! Lush vegetation and continual scenes of houses nestled into the hill on one side, and views toward the Great Rift Valley on the other.

We scaled the hills in the rainy season of Kenya. Mist and fog surrounded us frequently. Clouds moving in and out above us. Scaling the last hill, we came upon the Great Rift Valley- the end of our destination. Only a thick blanket of fog greeted us. My heart sunk a bit. Did I tackle these steep hills not to see the most amazing sight of all?

We stretched our tired bodies on the green slant of the hill and had lunch. Meanwhile our guard talked with another guard, their AK-47’s slung casually over their shoulder’s.

In Kenya, as in many places of risk, you pay for a guard to accompany you. For wild animals? No. For wild people-looters and people who would do serious harm or rob you. Yes, even on this mountain (I am adverse to calling it a hill) surrounded by beauty.

But this is Kenya and you come to accept it.  Patience is required in Kenya. They call it Kenyan time/Africa time. Unlike the good Ol’ USA, people aren’t slaves to their timers and alarms. It is more relaxed.

So we ate our lunch and waited for the clouds to drift and dissipate. And yes,thirty minutes later, the valley revealed itself. It was worth the wait.

I started jumping and asked my work colleagues to do the same. We were on a slope and as we jumped and jumped, laughing all the while, we captured photos of us with the valley behind us.

IMG_6299

Photo opportunities abound-the valleys and the hills, the mountains in the distance, the small grasshoppers with butterfly wings, and the beauty of a tree that looks like it came straight out of a scene of Lord of the Rings movie.

I snapped a photo of all these. And a photo of a tree standing alone, it’s windswept branches reminding me of a girl’s long hair floating behind her.

When I came back home, I wrote a poem in regard to this photo, this tree. I hope you enjoy.

SOLO ON NGONG HILL

Solo on Ngong hill,

No duet, No pas de duex,

as you wave your body gracefully in the wind.

Alone, you have been for some years,

on this tall hill.

Rooted enough to let

the force of time shape,mold your branches

into a banner of beauty.

As I climb the crest of the ridge

I am in awe of your Brise’ Vole,

Your strength in dancing against the elements,

holding your ground  for one more storm.

Oh Dancer, dance with me;

Teach me your moves as

I traverse across your land,

A corps de ballet.

By Victoria Yeary

 

IMG_6360

Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

Letting Go of Home

Source: Letting Go of Home

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May in Colorado

I am a southern girl. I grew up in lush foliage, humid hotness and long summers where air conditioning was your best defense against the cloying heat.

Now I live 5620 feet above sea level. My windows are open and the 58 degrees is cool and comfortable.

I walk in my park- I call it my park because I am less than a mile’s walk from it. The park is green and cool and loaded with families that relax on a Sunday afternoon. I walk the 2.8 mile circumference and I am so full of joy! I see families and groups of friends in small groups across the grounds. Families who have been there for the day, tents erected for and loads of food splayed out on either a picnic table or blanket.  Lots of Latinos and Indians grouped together around picnic tables- lawn chairs (or rather collapsible chairs) with everyone relaxed and connecting in their own way. There are no cell phones, but talking and laughing and just being together.

Little fringed carriages that have two seats and everyone must contribute to the cycling to push it down the lane. and dogs every where of all sizes!

I am alone- no companion except my ITunes and sports style  blue tooth that wraps around my neck and into my ears. I feed off the green leaves sprouted fully on the trees regardless of the spring snows we have had. I am lifted by the energy of nature and people. Occasionally, I’ll say hello to someone or stop and pet a dog ( I do love dogs!). And even sometimes, I join a stranger on a walk and we talk. Who does that but a lonely extrovert?

And even though I have a very fast and intentioned walk, lately I have stopped to either sit in the cool blades of the grass under the big shade of tree or on a park bench and observe and appreciate all around me; it is glorious!

Now, I am on my couch writing this late at night. I have no air conditioning ( a sin in the south and a literal life support for hot weather). Now I look outside my big picture window (on the second floor of a small 12 unit Condo) and see tree branches full of green leaves and feel so grateful to be here, in the heart of the city and yet so surrounded by the bountiful nature of Colorado.

Come visit me- those who call me friends.

IMG_0917.jpgIMG_0918.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Strength of Ten Bulls

This is a story about a man who owned 74 Bulls! That’s impressive. Causes me to wonder about bulls in his life and the bulls in mine:

You have 74 bulls! Big shiny belt buckles and trophies show off your strength, your accomplishments. Wow! Such force, such power from 74 bulls! Strong bulls, bronco bulls, big bulls, sometimes up to 2000 pounds of muscles and bones. One of the strongest animals with great ability to buck so high, so fiercely that nothing stays on its back too long, nothing subdues it.

 

.images.jpg

I only have Ten bulls. They are small, stunted compared to your 74. Ordinary bulls that need no large stalls or trailers to transport them from place to place.

My Ten bulls all stay with me. They never leave my sight. Your bulls need food and shelter. My bulls feed and shelter me. They are gentle with me.

Can you go into a stall of one of your powerful bulls and lay your head on its shoulder and stroke his powerful flanks? Can you sit upon them and walk through the woods or over a grassy plain?

Fighting bulls are full of frustration, anger and power. They have learned to react to the circumstances of their suffering; they rebel though-fight back, bringing a grown man to his knees in less than 30 seconds.

Tell me your happiest, most satisfying moments with your bulls? Was it when they won a prize or money? When the nature of their self preservation bucked high? And when you returned with your earnings or your losses, how long did you carry them?

My ten bulls are my best friends. I can rest my head on their shoulders and stroke their flanks. I can ride on their backs-all of them because they are small. They carry me off to places I have never dreamed. They comfort me when swirls of dark clouds gather over the scenery of my life. When I ride with them, I am not as scared. Their strength rises up in me. I feel strong. I feel empowered. I feel free. And some times if I ride with them enough, I feel joy.

You have sold your 74 bulls. Were they your delight? Your distraction? It’s probably a good thing you do not have these brutal beasts of angst in your life anymore. You literally have 118,400 of pounds you no longer carry around with you.

I will never sell my bulls. They are a part of me. They are light and free me from my angst constantly. They give me confidence and comfort.

Even now, they are writing to you. They are carrying me on their backs across the wind of change and uncertainty.

I have the Strength of Ten Bulls.

 

close-up-fingers-on-the-computer-keyboard-E4T5WA.jpg

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where is a Garden of Love?

91839394

Many of you as readers may have seen me going in a new direction in my blogs, more spiritual in nature (and more Biblical centered). It’s because I have been going through some changes-good ones. So those who are curious or as hungry as I am to know more, stick with me. For those who don’t care for the spiritual- that’s okay too!

It all starts in Genesis-the beginning. Now there are several theories about how the earth began and if there was really an Adam and Eve- the first man and woman. I don’t know, but I love the story- so here goes my version. If you don’t believe in the literal view just try and understand the foundation of the truth.

In Genesis(chapter 3) God found Adam and Eve in the garden hiding because they felt naked- they became aware of something that before had no shame,  Eating of the tree of good and evil caused, truth and lies, light and darkness, love and hate.

Before we go there, I want to talk about the Garden- The Garden of God, of Good, of Delight. What kept that all in perfect condition? Love in big capitals. God is Love. They basked in the complete and powerful Love of their creator. It flowed easily into their hearts.

And they found it with each other. Love flowing to them and between them was a place to thrive and be free of the doubts, ego ridden defenses, and all manner of dark detritus.

So when they took matters into their own hands, they opened Pandora’s box of the knowledge of good and evil.They invited in with that simple bite of the forbidden fruit-the darkness, the lies. Flooding in came shame, loss of integrity, and blame. The happy couple began the first unraveling of their partnership. We see it today with so many couples in relationship.  They are basking in love for each other, overlooking any faults and loving their oddities. They feel great, they love beyond what they believe is possible.

Then the heart allows love to be tainted by the frailties of being human- blame is in the top ten. Instead of a WE, they are a Me and You. Integrity breaks down- not being honest with each other but pretending they are real. Shame and regret are also up there. But they thrived in the Garden. Why? Because God really was the source of their love. Unlike Jerry Maguire saying, ” You complete me.” it was God who was completing them, individually which leveled the field for them to be true partners.

They separated from God, from his complete love, protection and plans. What happened next was not God giving them curses and banning them from the Garden. He was protecting them. He was showing them love. He clothed them in animal skins, clothing that would protect them well in the elements. He knew their weakness and the beautiful serpent who beguiled them. And what they could absolutely not eat was the Tree of Life, of eternity. If they did they would be in the state of darkness forever and ever!

And the result of knowing evil (darkness, lies) was they had to live in that state between  love and hate. Life began to be a struggle. The beautiful serpent became a reptile. The woman was put UNDER the man, and the man was the provider (who toiled the land for food). Isn’t it interesting that most people do not like snakes and avoid them? And haven’t we as women struggled to retain our equality and recognition ever since being put under the man? And men are still viewed as the primary providers and are shamed if they aren’t providing. Though now women are toiling the earth right along with them!

Love is still in this world and whether you recognize this as God, as source, it’s still there. Found in each other’s eyes, in holding your newborn or someone else’s child. Love holds this spinning world that seems like it’s about to spin off its axis and into pure crazy.

Can we go back to the Garden? Can we find Heaven on earth? Jesus said, “As it is on earth  so shall it be in Heaven.” God used a tree to spread Jesus across. He used his horrible pain-filled death to bring us all back to the Garden- to God’s love. The fruit we eat of now is the fruit of the Spirit- of Love. They are love, joy, peace, tolerance, kindness, and goodness and faithfulness.

Are these not the things we all espouse to, around the world, all creeds all religions (well most religions)?

Let’s go back to the Garden.

I have to include the lyrics of The Garden by Kari Jobi: listen to it on Spotify or ITunes- a beautiful and lyrical song

I had all
But given up
Desperate for
A sign from love
Something good
Something kind
Bringing peace to every corner of my mind
Then I saw the garden
Hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep
I realised
You never left
And for this moment
You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green
I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul
I can see the ivy
Reaching through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul
Ohh, You’re healing broken souls
You’re healing, You’re healing broken souls
Faith is rising up like ivy
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all

all things right
Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears
You crush all my fears
You crush all my fears
With Your perfect love
Oh-ohh, with Your perfect love
Now I see redemption
Growing in the trees
The death and resurrection
In every single seed,
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment