Illuminating Blog Award

What a lovely award to receive! Thank you Michelle for nominating me! Folks – check out the Dogkisses Blog for Michelle’s inspiring stories & gorgeous nature photography!

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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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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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I Am The Woman
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.

Going Postal Over Thanksgiving

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In doing some research concerning the history and traditions of our celebration of “Thanksgiving” here in the US, I came across something that really peaked my curiosity. What I found was that a dozen or so countries around the world have issued one or more postage stamps depicting either the “Mayflower” (the ship which the first wave of pilgrims journeyed) and/or honoring those pilgrims in general or individual passengers that landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusettes on November 21, 1620. (November 11 to those of you using the Julian calendar, as did the pilgrims themselves).

Among those countries, I found stamps issued by: the United States, Bangladesh, Chartonia, Great Britain, Guinea, Isle of Man, Oman, GrenadaUganda, Burkina Faso, Canada, Antigua, Liberia, and more. The question I was not able to find an answer to, is “Why?” Why would any country, other than the US, have any connection to or interest in honoring the Mayflower or those pilgrims?

While the ship did depart from an area of London, England known at the time as “Plymouth”, the pilgrims were fleeing that country due to oppressive (deadly) means of dealing with those who defied the rules of the Catholic Church. They were not government-sponsored explorers or emissaries that Britain could claim bragging rights in the more traditional manner. So had their issuance of such stamps been with the attitude “Thank G-d, we got rid of them buggers! They’re your problem now.”? Or was it simply a matter of commerce in that they saw the US as a great marketplace that they sought to exploit by appealing to our vanity? Me thinks that is the most likely explanation, not only for Britain, for all of the other countries as well. What do you think? And while you’re at it, anyone ever heard of Burkina Faso before? Or am I the only one so ignorant?

Enjoy!

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Pinkies Up in Appreciation of You

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When I was a kid, the phrase “proper etiquette” was never too far off the tip of my mother’s, teacher’s, and other authority figure’s tongue. There was just this set of certain rules you had to follow else you’d be considered uncivilized and therefore shunned from society, along with your parents who obviously were at fault for not teaching you better. So I learned the rules, such as to always place my napkin on my lap, never put my elbows on the dining room table, send thank you notes to those I received gifts from within 24 hours, wear white gloves when going out to a restaurant, and never wear a white skirt or slacks before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. There were a couple hundred other rules just like that, as well.

When I became a teenager in the mid-1960’s, at the height of Haight-Ashbury’s heyday, I rebelled against the rigid rules of my parent’s generation (which seemed to have gone back to pre-Edwardian manners). I had a problem with even the concept of anyone making rules of how I should dress or with what hand I could hold my fork as such intrusions on my personal liberty seemed to me to be completely against nature, despite how trivial those particular rules were. The fact that no actual harm to anyone or anything would occur if such rules were not followed – other than harm inflicted by those intent on punishing such “wrong” behavior – struck me as grossly unjust and a symptom of an unimaginative society trying to place everyone into their little labeled boxes so they (society) wouldn’t have to think too hard or have to actually examine the logic of their beliefs. I was hardly alone in that rebellion as even a quick skim through any news archives around the world will attest to.

Every generation since the time of Plato, if not before, has recognized that teenagers, in general, feel their parent’s generation are “old fashioned” and overly strict and that they (the younger ones) are far more intelligent. Yet it has been relatively rare for the specific focus of such rebellion to outlast not only the teen years but to continue on through subsequent generations as well. I’ve no formal education in this area, but I would venture a guess that the reason for this rarity is simply due to the fact that on the road to maturity, we experience the natural consequences of what happens when we or others do not follow certain rules of civility, until it finally leads to an “Aha!” moment – and then the cycle begins again with us as the old-fashioned parents instead.

The rebellion against society that came to the forefront in the 1960’s was far more complicated that this “usual” type of teenage angst and rejection of tradition though, as it included far larger issues such as racial and gender equality, isolationism, responsibility for our neighbors, and even the very existence of God. In reality, those issues had actually been in the making since the 1840’s when Darwin and the Industrial Age gave rise and opportunity to ponder such existential questions. Thereafter, it was only due to the advances in communications technology (i.e. television, transatlantic telephones, etc.) that permitted the questions and debates in response to them, to be shared with the masses. And most spectacularly of all was that, for the first time in history, the masses were largely literate and educated enough to join in the conversation, which in turn forced serious consideration and decisions upon our elders and our governments.

Fifty years later, we’ve come a long way but as is typical for humans, it’s been a journey of three steps forward and two steps back. So we’ve still got a long, long way to go in figuring out which rules of society go to the heart of what it takes for individuals to live and work peacefully and productively together and which rules only serve to divide us. For isn’t that the weight we should be measuring such rules by?

With that standard in mind, On my own personal journey to maturity, I re-evaluated each of those rules of etiquette embodied in books by the likes of Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, and Letitia Baldridge. In raising my own child, I threw out the white gloves and rules about what color you could wear at what time of year and such but I did return to the “rules” about writing Thank You Notes and other such niceties as I came to understand the importance of taking the time to let people know you appreciate their acts of kindness and generosity. And like many of my generation, I’ve tried to take this concept even further by ensuring I tell people that I simply appreciate them – for who they are – and their presence in my life. For it is through these small but sincere gestures that we all have the power to help another feel good and to make the world a little more pleasant to live in. It is an act which tends to infect the actor, the receiver and even those who merely witnessed its’ occurrence. Now that’s an epidemic I’d love to spread!

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