Category Archives: Beauty

Family Values

I hear a lot about “family values,” although never more than during an election cycle.

My question is: What are family values? People tout that phrase all the time, yet when pressed, I can’t imagine that a one of them could mention a single value that would fill the bill.

values

(As an aside: People who talk about “family values” are usually the same people who say they’re fighting for “social justice,” but I suggest that most of them cannot define “justice.”)

So for people interested in values, these are the seven that I hold dear. I believe they are universal as well as personal. I believe they are inherent in our DNA. I believe that any law written anywhere should be held up to this short list of values to see if it passes muster. If so, let it be. If not, then tweak it until it does.

Life

Equality

Quality of Life

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Empathy

Compassion

Love for Humanity

Please note that Life, Equality, and Opportunity for Personal Growth are strangely similar to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a phrase etched into the Declaration of Independence. Those men knew what they were talking about.

These are good values for your family. If we all taught our children to admire these values and adhere to them as adults, our society would be a better place. Our world would be a better place.

It’s never too late to adopt them as your own.

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Filed under Beauty, family, goals, Goodness, Truth, Uncategorized

How to Change the World

On Facebook every day I see little messages like “Be the change you want to see.” and “Save the Rainforests” and “Give Peace a Chance.” Well, yes. Of course.  But let’s get real. What can we actually do to change the world? It isn’t enough to write a check or post a clever saying or read a book or love the sea lion pups. We have to be pro-active, steady and consistent.

Imagine for a moment that there is actually a fabric of planetary consciousness that floats above our heads in the near atmosphere.  This fabric is invisible to our eyes, but perhaps not to the celestial helpers who oversee our planet. They can tell at a glance the sorry state of our planet.

This fabric holds and reflects the thoughts and attitudes and mind-action of every person on the planet. When you or I have a fearful, negative, angry or resentful thought, our thoughts stain this fabric, help to turn it dark. When we have a spiritual thought, a loving experience, commit a selfless act, we add a tiny portion of light to the fabric.

I believe in this fabric. And I believe that darkness begets darkness, and that the light banishes shadows.

What color do you suppose the fabric of planetary consciousness currently is?

If we want to change the world, we need to be in control of our thoughts. I believe our thoughts are far more powerful than we can imagine. And when we are cruisin’ in the zone of light, we’re spreading the benign virus of love, which is a powerful way to lighten the fabric of planetary consciousness.

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Filed under Beauty, peace, Possibilities, Prayer, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability

The Tao of Yarn

Anyone who knows me knows that I knit. In fact, I’m kind of a knitting maniac. Not a day goes by without yarn handling of some sort. I make yarn, spinning it out of beautiful, silky fibers. I knit garments and things. Warm things for children and old people, fashionable things, utilitarian things, things of beauty, filled with the peace that I feel when I’m knitting.

For the last two years I’ve been knitting and/or spinning twice a week at a yarn shop in town, Textiles A Mano, run by Laura Macagno-Shang, a delightful woman of amazing expertise and artistic talents.  Inspired by her and the other spinners and knitters, my knitting has gone from mundane, meat-and-potatoes knitting to creating incredible laces, intricate cable networks and dozens of warm things for the Relief Nursery, a local charity that helps out parents and their children from newborn to six years old.

Most of the things I knit are given away to family, friends, or charitable organizations. I keep a few special things, of course, but it seems as though the minute I cast on a project, a person comes to mind and I begin to think about that person, meditate on his or her situation, and pretty soon that warm garment becomes first a thing of comfort for me and then a thing of comfort for the recipient. But this is not a blog post about what a great knitter I am. It’s about how we can all do little things to enrich a life.

Something as simple as a warm “chemo cap” for those going through treatment. Something as simple as a pair of baby booties for a friend’s new grandson. Something as easy as a set of felted coasters as a wedding gift. These are not items of great value, but I believe that they send good, healing heart-energy into the universe that is multiplied over and over and over again. When we give gifts from the heart, from our creativity, we affirm the recipient’s worth, we spend time in creative contemplation, we engage in constructive prayer.

And that is always a worthwhile endeavor. It adds love to the planetary consciousness.

What can you do today to make the life of a loved one — or even an acquaintance — better?

 

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Filed under Beauty, Joy, knitting, peace, Prayer, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Stress

Gross National Happiness

This YouTube video will take sixteen minutes of your life but could have enormous repercussions, particularly if you repost it vigorously.

A better way is possible. It’s being done right now.

We have much to learn.

Make a difference today.

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Filed under Beauty, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability

Adventures in Fiction–Mexico Style!

It was an honor and a privilege to teach the fine art of fiction along side my pal John Reed for his first annual Adventures in Fiction–Mexico Style! writing retreat last week in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

The week began Sunday afternoon in the third floor open-air classroom in the Hotel Casa Celeste with an exquisite catered reception, then all of us, including spouses, went to dine on the fine Mexican cuisine on the beach, under the stars.

Monday, we got to work, writing hard and fast, having sessions on structure, character, marketing and fielding all manner of questions. The participants each wrote two complete short stories and we critiqued them all in a marathon session on Friday.

It’s always my hope and intention that with every class I teach, each participant picks up a golden nugget or two to carry with them throughout their writing career. This time, I picked up more than one, both from Mr. Reed and from the articulate and probing questions from the participants.

After a hard week of work (amidst all that is wonderful about Zihua), we ended with a celebratory dinner. Then we went our separate ways with fresh  knowledge and new friends.

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Filed under Beauty, Friends, Fun, Short Stories, Writing

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Last Sunday, I got up in the dark, dressed in mighty layers and joined other hearty souls in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. I didn’t know what to expect. I kind of dreaded the idea of sitting, freezing, in a blind somewhere, alone or with someone else, just the two of us, a bird book and a pair of binoculars. Not even a thermos of coffee.

Wrong. Four of us with high spirits set out in a car and canvassed a variety of neighborhoods, identifying and counting the birds we saw. It was great fun. We found an obscure little pond with twenty wood ducks. We found a neighborhood with a disproportionate amount of Stellar’s Jays. We saw a Peregrine Falcon in downtown Eugene. I was delighted to be able to recognize both Ruby Crowned Kinglets and Golden Crowned Kinglets. I learned the difference between a House Sparrow and a Song Sparrow. We laughed at the moving hilarity that is a flock of bushtits. We saw a Great Blue Heron sitting in a tree. I saw and learned to identify a variety of thrushes, including a hermit thrush. I saw a snipe.

Part of our territory included the riverbank, so we counted a wide variety of water fowl, including ducks, geese, gulls, and cormorants. It was all quite thrilling, actually.

Okay, so I’m a newbie at this bird stuff. I’ve always kind of scoffed at “birders” and yet there’s something really intriguing about their behavior (both the birds and the birders). After a good warming lunch, we partnered with another group canvassing our area, the head of which was Dan Gleason, ornithologist from the University of Oregon, and this kind, patient man filled us with all manner of intriguing information about birds.

A thoroughly enjoyable day. Next year I’ll wear insulated mittens like everybody else. My fingers suffered. I’ll bring my own thermos of coffee and my husband, who would enjoy an interesting day outside as well.

Between now and then, I’ll pay more attention to my bird feeders, my bird houses, my bird book and my backyard visitors.

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Filed under Beauty, Friends, Fun

I’m Outraged

Matthew Fox (the theologian, not the actor) said that while there is a time for calm meditation, there is also a time for action and that in his opinion, we were quickly approaching a time for moral outrage.

That time came for me yesterday when I turned on CNN and watched a Christian preacher bully a Muslim Imam, decrying Allah and trying to convert him to Christianity. Despite the Imam’s calm presence and suggestion that he only wanted to be good neighbors, The “Christian” was rude, argumentative and aggressive. I was appalled. And outraged.

“The fundamentalist Christian mind-set has hijacked the name Jesus and the term Christ and the word Christianity,” says Fox in his book A New Reformation. “Fundamentalism has become a religion unto itself…based on control, dominant and domineering patriarchy, on the notion that it is in the right while everyone else is wrong, that those who follow it will be saved while everyone else is damned. But what is the origin of this certainty?”

Really. What is the origin of that pervasive and despicable certainty?

The instigating incident, of course, was the Muslim community center proposed for six blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. That controversy in itself is ridiculous. If not six blocks, then how about seven? Eight? The local officials have determined that the proposal is within the law, so that should have been the end of that. No national politician needed to weigh in, but once someone did, the firestorm ignited.

All those protestors need a little history lesson in why America became America. We have religious freedom here, and that is no small thing.

Matthew Fox writes: “Isn’t it time to stop trying to convert one another and start delving into one another’s spiritual riches?”

Riches are everywhere, but spiritual riches will not be had by resting on a static belief. True religion is dynamic, loving, active, and filled with truth, beauty and goodness. True religious living emulates the actions of a loving and merciful God, no matter what we call him.

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