Virtual Green Healing

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I’ll get to explaining the title of this post in a minute, but first, a little preamble is called for.

While I’ve been laying low in the background for a few months, I’ve been silently enjoying reading my favorite blogs (Dogkisses) and Green Healing Notes, along with a ton of books. If you’re a regular reader here at IconDoIt, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve mentioned Dogkisses several times and that the author of those two blogs is also a frequent commenter here. So what’s that all about, you might ask?

One of the greatest serendipities of writing a blog and commenting on blogs other than your own, is that you have the opportunity to come to know people from around the globe with whom you already have something in common (an interest in the subject of a particular post commented on). Now, the odds are pretty dang slim of that happening as you go about your daily routine and encounter previously unknown people at work, at the grocery store, etc. even if you are one of the rare folks who actually speaks to strangers! And when you find yourself commenting and/or receiving comments on more than one posting from the same person, you start to get to know them a bit and after a while, may find yourself communicating with them “off blog” and developing a deep friendship. For someone like myself, who has extremely limited face-to-face contact with anyone in the world beyond my front door, such opportunities and friendships are valuable beyond compare. This is how I first met and became friends with “Lady Dogkisses” (whom I’ll refer to as LDK for the sake of brevity).

From the outside looking in, it might appear that LDK and I have very little in common. I’m close to 20 years older, live in an upscale suburb of a large city on the north coast of Ohio while she lives in the mountains of North Carolina and struggles just to get by. Our ethnic backgrounds and religious upbringing couldn’t be more different and we have entirely different work backgrounds, skills and hobbies. But what we DO have in common is how we have reacted to the tragedies, outrages, and challenges in our lives; the basic principles that guide our decisions and actions; a strong spiritual connection with the earth and sky; and a tendency to want (and make our best attempts to) bring comfort to everyone who hurts and cure the world’s ills. Of course, this latter trait – which is an impossible task to ever fully accomplish, thus we are always feeling badly for our “failures” – often gets played out at the expense of our own personal best interests. And that’s why we need each other to remind us to give ourselves permission every once in a while to escape from our self-appointed burdens to pamper ourselves with some free time to “play” or do nothing at all, get some uninterrupted sleep, and have a few relaxed good meals with enjoyable company. Now THAT’s my definition of a “real” friend!

So now back to the title of this post, “Virtual Green Healing”. For several months now, Dogkisses has been writing a series of posts centered around the concept of “Green Healing” which is a way of cleansing oneself from all of the chaos of the man-made world and getting back to the core of our spirit through working with the earth, planting and growing, and taking the time to breathe in and breathe out along with the land and the creatures who inhabit it and make it work. LDK has embarked on a project to facilitate this Green Healing through volunteering, along with her adult son, in a horticulture program for folks with special needs. Now, I love a beautiful flower garden and eating fruits and vegetables fresh picked each day but its’ been over a dozen years since I’ve been physically been able to participate in that process and more than 20 years since I actually had the time, and even then, I never did have much of a green thumb. But my lack of gardening skills and infirmities have never gotten in the way of my love of nature and, in fact, one of the strongest images in my mind when I engage in guided imagery exercises to deal with chemotherapy and pain, is of walking in the woods along the Skyline Drive in Virginia on a clear, cool autumn day. I can just smell that clean air and hear the crunching of dried leaves beneath my feet and the honking of flocks of geese and ducks soaring way above the trees. And it is with this same imagination that I am taken into the garden alongside my friend and her son, whenever I read the latest posts on her blog and I feel myself healing right along with them. (Thanks LDK for sharing your experiences and letting me tag along for the ride!)


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Merry Christmas!

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To all of my loyal readers and those of you who just stumbled upon my blog (and hopefully will return, again and again):

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Simple Pleasures

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It turned bitter cold today and we were treated to Cleveland’s lake effect snow, caused by north-eastern windows coming down from Canada and across Lake Erie. We’re just on the receiving end and the high winds blew the fallen leaves from our neighbor’s trees into our backyard. The way our home is situated on the property, and being at the bottom of one of the many rolling hills at this end of town, the leaves from ALL of our neighbors like to gather here each year. And so the bunnies , deer, and crows like to congregate here as well, snuggling beneath the leaves, and munching on our garden. A lot of suburban folks would be pulling out their hair, searching for critter repellents, and cursing Cleveland for it’s volatile weather. But for some reason, this is my favorite time of the year and I’m happy our yard can provide a small refuge.

Today’s weather and a phone call reminded me that Thanksgiving will be here next week. Kind of ironic that I needed that reminder, seeing how I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last couple of months creating holiday artwork for greetings cards and gifts. But the days all blend together for me as there really is nothing to distinguish one day from another – or even day from night, so it’s easy to lose track of the date. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another day, though. Today, I’m just enjoying the view out my bedroom window and trying to get into shape for Thanksgiving by going over my mental list of all that I’m thankful for this year. From the outside, it might look as if that list would be almost nonexistent, but from the inside I feel terribly blessed. The interesting thing is that the more frequently I focus on counting my blessing, the bigger that list becomes. Try it yourself and let me know whether it works that way for you, too. I’ve a hunch that it will.

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Ginko leaves and a soaring gull frame the sentiments in this lovely Art Nouveau inspired design by IconDoIt. Text is the title of an original poem by Leslie Sigal Javorek (read here) – or change it for your own message.
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Cozy Black Hoodie features this sensational original tromp l’oeil (‘fool the eye’) by IconDoIt creates the appearance of a vintage gold necklace with framed, hand-painted enamel portraits of 3 of the most enduring, beloved models (Evelyn Nesbit, Maude Adams, and Lily Elsie) favored by Art Nouveau artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Charles Gibson.

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Evil? Or Just An Eternal Toddler?

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Everyone wants to be heard; to know that their opinion matters, that THEY matter. But there is a difference between being “heard” (i.e. “understood”) vs. winning people over to agree with your opinion. It’s when people get these two concepts confused that problems arise.

Most of us learn at a very early age that we can’t always get our way, or at least we can’t always get what we want, when we want it or in the exact manner we want it. That’s what the so-called “Terrible Twos” is all about. The reason that you don’t hear about the Terrible Five’s, Ten’s, or Thirty’s, is because the majority of us figure out how to balance our personal needs and desires, with the needs and desires of our parents, siblings, neighbors, countrymen, and the world. It’s that simple but vital skill of Give-and-Take that distinguishes civilization from barbarism. It’s learning to play well with others.

Unfortunately, not everyone successfully learns the lessons necessary to progress past the stage where a toddler suddenly is faced with the fact that they are not the center of the world, and so these Eternal Toddlers [“ET’s”] continue to believe that everyone outside of themselves exists solely to satisfy their needs and desires. When confronted by the reality that they cannot make everyone snap to attention at their every beck and call, the ET ends up feeling constantly thwarted, oppressed, unappreciated, disrespected, and even abandoned. In turn, those feelings lead to intense, never-ending anger at those the ET perceives have come between them and their desires that they ultimately deal with by turning that anger back on others (in the form of adult temper tantrums or worse) and/or on themselves (i.e. self-loathing, severe depression, suicide). This is hardly a satisfying strategy to procure either the respect of others or a realistic sense of self-worth for the ET. As obvious as that equation may seem, ET’s rarely appear capable of recognizing the folly of that mindset or recalibrating their expectations and methods of communication that’s needed to escape the viscious circle they’re trapped in.

It is easy to fall into the trap of judging an ET – especially when you’re caught within the scope of an ET’s rage or continually compelled to witness the dark, disheartening world of an ET who has turned their rage inward. The inclination to yell “Snap out of it”, “Get Real”, “Grow-Up”, or “#!!?@!&!!! You!”, is understandable yet it’s foolish and counter-productive to give into your frustration that way, and can even be putting yourself at risk of great danger. So what can you do when your life crosses with an ET that won’t set you up as their Eternal Victim [“EV”]? The easy answer is to walk away and fuggetaboudit. But that’s not always possible, especially if you have conflicting feelings such as actually liking the person or even loving them, or if you’re stuck with having to deal with them for professional or other reasons. It’s heartbreaking to watch otherwise intelligent, decent people self-destruct and fearsome when an ET has the attitude of “Take No Prisoners”.

Lamentably, we are powerless to make the necessary changes for them. All we can do is try to be patient, to listen, to maintain our self-composure and dignity, to always maintain our self-respect, try to protect ourselves the best that we can, and then pray. Pray for a miracle that forces the ET take stock of themself, gather the strength to face the truth and seek help to turn their life around. Keep reminding yourself you did nothing wrong to deserve the ET’s venom. Forgive the ET, who is undoubtedly hurting even more than you, but don’t forget to take cover. And most important of all, constantly remind yourself that you can survive anything as long as you stick to the truth, never act with malice, and never stop having faith that somehow, somewhere, some time, you’ll finally be free.

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The Difference Between “You” and “I”

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In total darkness and bubbled water I sat, crying my eyes out uncontrollably, my chest heaving with hysterical cries. Rushing in like a madman to save his damsel in distress, my hubby got down on his knees, praying I hadn’t fallen, praying our baby hadn’t decided that would be the day he arrived. Still unable to calm down enough to speak, I nodded my head to show that my distress was not physical. After a minute or two in watchful silence, accompanied by a lot of head scratching, followed by his hand thrust into the water, Don looked at me even more perplexed. “I don’t get it. This water is pretty warm so it can’t be that.” He was of course referring to the day before, which was the first time he had to rush into the bathroom to rescue his delirious bride, mother of his soon-to-be son, whose eyes and decibel level appeared to be seriously trying to compete with Victoria Falls, for no reason other than the lack of hot water. This time, my anguish was over something far more solemn and deserving.

Sensing that our first (and only) child would be showing his face in a matter of days, I had finally permitted myself to look beyond my pregnancy and imagine all the possible kinds of fun we’d soon share with our child, when I was rudely interrupted by the ever so practical, pragmatic side of me that had to speak up and remind me that with fun also comes responsibility. (What a Party Popper!)

# # #

I was already well prepared for that without any serious trepidations, but what had managed to get me in such a panic was the sudden realization, Don and I bore the primary responsibility for teaching our child to SPEAK! and I had absolutely no clue how to do it. Okay. Breathe.

I tried to work it out in my head while lying in my (usually) calming bubble bath with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” wafting in from a stereo in the adjacent room. I managed to come up with a plan for words like ”Cat”,”Dog”,”Apple“, and ”Daddy”. That was good. Then, I came up with similar solutions for a nice size rudimentary vocabulary that I figured would get him through his first year. Whew! That’s when the ground began to shake and give way and the dark clouds suddenly overcame me, when the terrifying thought entered my brain screaming out “How on earth are you going to teach your infant – a virtual alien to this planet born without any conception of words or their purpose – the difference between “You” and “I”?

That day, in the throes of the lunacy commonly shared by many women in the 48-72 hours before giving birth, this dilemma seemed not only rational but absolutely crucial to our child’s entire future. Perhaps I had seen Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine one too many times or spent too many hours reading Sartre and Kierkegaard. As it turned out, my pregnant panic was all for nought. The truth is, I never had to consciously teach Robert how to distinguish between that particular pair of words or the meaning behind them, as one day, somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, Don and I realized that Rob was way ahead of us and had figured out this linguistic dilemma all on his own! Just like a million other toddlers before and after him, likewise accomplished.

# # #

The memory of that day, which was close to 30 years ago, popped into my consciousness last week-end while my oldest, dearest friend and I were enjoying the intellectual challenge of trying to apply various philosophical, scientific, psychological, and spiritual theories to the very concrete reality of each of our lives, trying to find the sense in what has no sense. While the specific facts and circumstances of my friend‘s life has little in common with mine – at least to the naked eye – we have shared the same frustration, hurt, and complete bewilderment over how can there be (and why?) people, chronologically adults, who somehow managed to miss out on that “Aha!” moment, when most toddlers learned that there IS a difference between “You” and “I”.

Subtle as the concept may be about where “You” end and another person begins, it just seems so fundamental to the ability to get beyond the proverbial sandbox, that I find it even more incomprehensible as to why it seems to be such an impossible hurdle for some folks to handle, despite the fact that for most other intents and purposes, they seem to have above-average intelligence and potential.

”When we feel our emotional boundaries, we can discriminate between our feelings & another’s feelings. We can hear another’s feelings & not have to fix them. We can discern what issues are ours & what issues belong to the other person. We can protect ourselves from being dumped on when someone else can’t handle his feelings. We can refuse to take responsibility when it rightly belongs to the other guy.” Boundaries – Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine

I simply don’t get it and so these remain questions I still have no answers for.

And that’s my rant for the day and utterly biased opinion. 🙂 What’s yours?

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Pollyanna Lives!

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It’s been so long since I’ve been able to post. So much going on in my head. So much going on in my life. While my body continues to fail me, my efforts to beat the clock have succeeded beyond what I ever dared to hope for, and I’ve somehow managed to continue to grow while dying. (Is that a Dylan song in the making, or what?)

Optimism is an odd but powerful creature and my religion of choice. I’ve been labelled a “Pollyanna” by those who intended it as a derision, but I have always worn that as a badge of honor. To me, the label means that nothing is impossible. Improbable, yeah. But not impossible. Even when I’m overwhelmed, have good reason for feeling sorrowful and afraid, a voice inside nags at me to “just hang on, as this, too, shall pass.“ Without that voice, I would have succumbed long ago. Without that voice, I would not even want to survive. But with that voice, I will always look forward to tomorrow and whatever it may bring.

While I have never really made specific plans for the future, I learned early on the importance of being open to whatever came knocking on my door. It’s taken me in so many directions – wonderful directions – which were well beyond my ability to conceive of beforehand, and led to a rich and enjoyable life filled with interesting and wonderful friends and associates. The only downside (besides my health) has been in trying to keep up with all the plates I’ve got spinning. I have tried to give 100% to everyone and every cause. I know that in my heart, the commitment is there, but have yet to be able to consistently show it. Never enough hours, never enough energy. But as I truly believe that nothing is impossible, I’ll keep on trying and hopefully my friends will continue to understand and put up with my sporadic bursts of activity and periods of quiet.

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