I want, first of all, to thank this lady for the use of her "Frozen Charlotte" photo. I have one too, and mine is a little different, having wings and no body, but a head and a flat piece of metal with a piece of writing paper inside so that a message of condolences could be given to a parent or relatives who had lost usually a child or baby. These Frozen Charlottes were a late Victorian art form for Children mostly and they had bodies with solid forms and no movement at all. The fad lasted into the 1920's, but the idea of people preserving memories of children that had died very young or perhaps were stillborn persisted into the 1950's. One of my best friends had a photo taken holding her stillborn baby, I am sure something she would always preserve. A friend with stage 4 cancer made mine for me and for years it has sat on the edge of a ledge with my collection of angels and beautiful crosses. I am spiritual, but I don't attend churches, and I have always loved these things. But for years, these lovely things in my collection have sat protected on shelves and on top of a shelf and hanging on the wall. They sat there, inanimate and going largely forgotten but still loved, as happens with many of our collections. As I took them down one by one to pack up to go to our new home, a transformation began to take shape in my mind. I intend to put my Frozen Charlotte and all the birds of all kinds I have collected for years into my peach tree, where they can move with the breeze and bring life to the area. As for my angels and crosses, I intend to put them up on a high cement wall behind our home that separates us from neighbors way above us. It will become my Garden of Angels, and when one of our beloved pets passes on, I will have a box to put it in and bury it there and it will have an angel or a cross above it. In this way, I can keep my family with me, and someday when I pass from this plane, I told my significant other, Richard, to put a cross down near my family for me too. I am donating my body to Life Science, and I really believe in that, for it will be used for study if not for replacement parts for others, and when they are through studying or using it in important ways, they will cremate it at no charge for me. Richard will do the same, and if a person is a male or female vet, they can have their ashes transferred to a VA cemetery. I have their number and they come and pick up the deceased at no charge to anyone. In this time when life is changing so much for all of us, perhaps one of the best ways we can manage is to find ways to help others. I am glad to see that happen. Something about transforming things into a sort of living "Garden" really appeals to me. Over the years, I have received a lot of bullying from grade school to being a senior, but I am letting go of that too as my personal transformation. Like my Garden of Angels, I want to live a life free of unnecessary worries and anger at others for having power over me. No one has power over me except me, myself, and I. I am ready for the future and whatever comes from it. Being a lifetime victim serves no one, and definitely not me. Some of my goals right now are to become a volunteer for CASA (Court-appointed Special Advocate) for foster children. I just finished reading two books I could not put down by David Pelzer, who was one of the worst cases of child abuse to ever happen in California, and I have read another tragic story of another foster child who became a victim of the system, which happens often. If I were not older than dirt, I would definitely become a foster parent myself, but since I am a senior, I will be an advocate instead. I have already done my training and they have advocates in every state almost. I also want to become a volunteer tutor again for special needs children and young adults and ESL students, as well as illiterate adults. And I want to finish some of my art projects to donate to worthwhile charities. There are so many needs today, so I feel that is the best use I can make of whatever art I can finish. And I want to finish a book I am compiling of all the poetry I have written over the years and hopefully benefit some worthwhile cause with my earnings. Having goals in life is important. Whether we can realistically finish them all or not, the key is to have goals and dreams to reach for as we go forward in time. You all likely will not hear from me again until we are through moving and I think we take possession of our home on the 29th, but whether we have our computers hooked up or not is unknown right now. Because we are just moving in, we have to show proof of our title and our ID but they say they can turn everything on in one day. We will see. It will all work out and things tend to do. Love and hugs to you all always, Anne
Life has been full of many lifetimes . . . There was the lifetime of a need to be healed, And a lifetime of needing to be loved. There was a search for something to believe in spiritually. And there was a need to be recognized for all I knew Or thought I knew. There was a need to belong And there was a need to help others. There was a lifetime of needing to feel powerful and a need to teach others. And in the process of it all There was a need to know myself And a need to forgive myself For doing the best I could do at any given time. I have been a changeling, And perhaps I will be so For the rest of my days.
In this time of social isolation, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what is happening that has changed our world so much. I remember reading a blog post from my friend, Steve Tanham, one of the Directors, along with Sue Vincent and Stuart France, of a fantastic study from the U.K., The Silent Eye Mystery School. I am going to save the best for you to learn by visiting the site on WordPress blogs, or on Facebook. I have completed my first year of study, and it has been one of the most interesting years of study I have ever had; I am addicted to studying and learning new things.
Steve Tanham had written a post about how he had gotten his 90-year-old mom from their old family home, and brought her to stay with his family so that she would be safe during this revolutionary time we are facing, not really knowing anywhere on the globe what might come next.
Then I thought about a lot of seniors in the U.S., and how so many of us have been forgotten by families, not because they want to be cruel, but because of the way the world seems to be revolving. People are moving faster and faster trying to keep up with some unknown forces that seem to be pushing us into a shorthand way of life. We speak no longer in long letters, but speak on the cellphones in monosyllables or e-mail in talk that is nothing more than single letters that are supposed to represent some sort of written language. And now we have come into a world that is ruled by something we cannot see, and can only believe what others tell us. More and more of the world is being isolated from others and having many, if not most of our freedoms taken away by powers that we cannot fight.
Over the weekend, stuck in the house by rain and cold on top of the orders not to leave our homes without face masks, I laid in bed and watched the PBS stations. Actually it was a perfect thing to do for I learned so much during that day. I learned of all the incredible feats accomplished by the ancient ones in their structures that they built when they had none of the incredible tools and formal knowledge that is held today by engineers and builders and others in the trades. And I thought about how there is a trend today at least here in the U.S. to put up housing and some other structures as quick as possible, though there are some pretty amazing public works for certain. Watching the ancient ones with their incredible knowledge considering what was known of the world was a new sort of evolution. I began to wonder if we are in the midst of a revolution or evolution.
And then I saw some incredible programs about the world and how the universe in general is bubbling up through volcanoes, and rivers and the oceans are rising and falling, and sometimes it seems as though there is chaos in the universe as well. So I thought about that for a long time, and in the end, I thought how this is perhaps part of the way the universe was created. It is not always at peace. Sometimes during these universal catastrophes, people do die, or they get cast from their homes where they have perhaps lived forever, without rhyme or reason. Perhaps we have expected the world to be always logical and something that supports life, but the reality is that it does not.
I closed my eyes, and slept soundly, knowing that life is never a guarantee for us or for this universe and that the best we can do is to live each moment fully and to remember those things and people we have loved for whatever time we all have.
Driving across the Arizona desert, I became aware of how immense our universe (outside of ourselves) really is. As I looked out across the immense open space, I saw all manner of mountains, and all colors of land rising up out of the earth. It was strange to imagine how one mountain arose from the earth, smooth and slowly rising, while one practically next to it seemed to have blown up right out of the earth, forming strange shapes and sometimes very sharp features. I can imagine the earth, as it was turning, bubbling and erupting and spinning wildly, but in such a way that various forms of life began to also come forth, or perhaps they came from somewhere else, finally finding a planet that was life friendly, and so cells of living creatures fell upon the earth like a form of rain, taking hold wherever they fell. Perhaps we will never really know the big story in this lifetime, but whatever it was, or however it was formed, was nothing short of a miracle.
In the same way, I think about us as human beings. Two cells, or a sperm and an egg, somehow come together and begin to form the most complex living creature. Not only does this creature have a mind that directs all the parts of what is inside of it, but every single part of this human body has a specific job, and despite the unique differences of each and every part, they all manage to function together to manage this “universe” within.
My brother once told me when he was talking about his TBI from Vietnam, that the brain is another universe all of its own. He told me that when any part of the body is injured, the brain gives the command for the troops (so to speak) to get to the part and help it. But when the brain itself gets injured (and again, it is what my brother’s doctor told him, so I cannot verify that it is true), the brain cannot help itself.
So I have been thinking about the human brain and how it functions regarding how it manages to take care of the whole universe within, but at the same time, can turn against this thing and that thing outside itself. It accepts the uniqueness and the importance and sacred aspect of the universe inside, but it raises up in defiance against that which is not like it in some manner, be it skin color, culture, religious or political beliefs. And yet, at the same time it can suddenly decide to relate to and even love, something that is decidedly different from itself in one or more of the ways previously mentioned.
I used to think I knew the answers. I used to think that life was relatively simple. Just do whatever you are intended to do and everything will be fine. And perhaps, as the world turns, it will be. Perhaps that universe outside and inside changes every instant in mysterious ways as the world turns.
Moment after moment,
the winds of time blow steadily.
Whether the winds will be strong,
tearing away what has been built before,
or gentle winds that quietly
add grain upon grain of sand,
we cannot know.
But our inner universe
Records it all, building its own layers
Of all that ever has been, and all that can ever be.
“A hiker captured these magnificent images of a rare weather phenomenon that looks like a “rainbow halo” on top of an English mountain. 39-year-old Adrian Conchie was walking on a fell in the Lake District when he looked down and clocked the spectacular display, known as the Brocken specter. The dad-of-one described the moment, which took place at 11:30AM on New Year’s Eve, as “magical” and “absolutely incredible”. According to the Met Office, the Brocken specter appears when a person stands above the upper surface of a cloud—on a mountain or high ground—with the sun behind them. “When they view their shadow, the light is reflected back in such a way that a spooky circular ‘glory’ appears around the point directly opposite the sun,” the Met Office said.
Conchie, who runs an engraving business in Knutsford, Cheshire, was on an 11-mile hike at Swirl How near Coniston when the Brocken specter appeared to him. “I had always wanted to see one after seeing pictures online and hearing about how amazing they are from friends,” said Conchie. “When we got to the summit I looked down and there it was—it was so vivid. “I thought it would disappear there and then but it stayed for a few minutes, it was a really magical experience.” Miraculously, Conchie and his friend Bryony stumbled upon another Brocken specter later that very same day up a nearby mountain called Wetherlam.”
As I read this account, I thought about how much we depend on our senses to connect us with everything we encounter in the world, and yet, the truth of it all is that our senses can and do lie to us. When we see any rainbow, if we were able to run up to it, we would find nothing there when we got where it appeared to be.
I can remember when I was younger, after I would go to bed, and sometimes in the night I would fly. I am certain I could fly. I could take off straight from the ground, and quickly fly faster and higher than anyone could even get close to me. To this day I have been certain I was really flying, though I know in my everyday mind that flight is not something we could do. Yet when I landed in my other consciousness, I felt a bump as I touched ground each time as surely as if I had come down safely but a little less than smooth, perhaps as I might have with a parachute. But the thing is that I never had wings; I just flew with my arms out and I felt the air against my arms and my body extended gracefully.
Was my ego present when I was flying or seeing things that seem so rare and yet so real? I don’t think so. I don’t think it was dreaming any more than the man was dreaming who saw the Rainbow Halo.
Perhaps we limit our abilities when we stay stuck in our egos. When I am lost there, I can feel measures of negativity and lack of confidence in what I am doing, and I want to escape. But when I let go of ego, but still stay in control of the alchemy of all the parts that make me who I am, there is so much more waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I have the ability to create rainbows.
If all of this is a dream, I don’t want to awaken. There is so much to be discovered, and I must gift myself with time to go flying again.
I want to take this time to express my appreciation for all of you whom I have come in contact with this year. You each bring beautiful gifts of your writing with poetry, stories of your inspirational lives as well as stories of the lives of others, and fantastic fiction and nonfiction books. And there are those of you who teach us and who share your travels with us and those of you who provide services for us without which none of this would be possible. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting to mention, but know that all of you have contributed so much to the lives of all of us in many ways. I think that you each bring a microcosmic world to us, something that we would not be able to have with the world spinning so fast and the days zipping by.
I am sure as each of us understands, we are in for some major worldwide changes in the coming year, and perhaps a lot of it will seem negative. Certainly the political arenas of the world are poised to make huge changes that may or may not benefit us and this is happening throughout the world. We can choose to be fearful of another potential war, or we can see the political upheavals as essential for people to awaken to the fact that we cannot just watch our cell phones and see only the things that please us.
Regardless of what may come in the future, live life fully and see what you can do to create positive change for all of us. One tiny candle in the dark can provide enough light for many. While it will be easy to focus on the negative, remember to understand that it is essential for all of us to wake up and not take our world for granted. No matter what holidays you celebrate or if you do not celebrate, I wish the very best for each and every one of you.
I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.
I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.
I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.
But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.
Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.
One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!
I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.
In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.
It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.
I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.
Before we talk about Halloween in another post, let’s look at how Boobalala came to be. I think it was my 65th birthday. I had seen this really fascinating and wonderful art exhibit at a gallery or museum somewhere. I think it was a museum because it was huge. This male artist whose name I unfortunately cannot remember was fascinated with things about his body, and also with taking everyday things and making them look very different in such a way that you could no longer recognize them for what they actually were. In one of his pieces, he laid in a bathtub while a friend slowly poured colored water over him, taking photos of each addition and what was still exposed. He cut up the photos into many parts and rearranged them in fascinating ways that made us wonder what we were looking at even though we had been told. I was fascinated with the exhibit because I have often thought of many natural things and wondered what they looked like from a different perspective. I remember specifically as a child how I used to lie flat in the grass and look through the blades of grass to try to understand what the ants and other bugs’ lives looked like from their perspective. It was almost like being Alice in Wonderland, for it was a truly different world, and I could absolutely lose myself in it.
At any rate, when my 65th birthday came about, I was wondering about such different ways of viewing things we encounter every day. Somehow this is the sequence of things and what happened on that day. I decided to put on some African music from a primitive tribe and I got naked. I began to dance to the music to try to get my mind in the minds of those peoples and what they were experiencing. And then suddenly my mind turned to art, and I decided to find out what my breasts looked like from another angle. So I got out a length of black cotton, painted my breasts with white paint, and made breast prints with these things. I was really surprised that if most people would never know what it was if I didn’t tell them.
Next I decided to try multi-color paint (these were acrylics that could wash off easily) so I got out some white cotton, and painted my breasts with several colors, once again pressing them against the cotton to make breast prints. Amazing! Though they still did not look at all like breasts, they made truly interesting prints.
One ended up a part of a quilt I made called “My Garden of Earthly Delights” and it was donated to the Autism organization since I worked with special needs children for many years and to this day I am a strong advocate for them. This picture is shown below.
Now I really wonder if any of you who didn’t know this story would honestly recognize these as breast prints, or perhaps think them as disgusting. The quilt went to a good cause and I was thrilled to donate it because I imagine that someone somewhere is enjoying this happy quilt with no clue as to its history.
Both these quilts had the same beginnings, with no thoughts of being a disgusting person trying to shock others. It was curiosity about what I am made of, and what it looks like. I have not yet done other parts of my body, but the day may come when I do. These same body parts heralded my change into a young woman, and later on they gave milk for my children at a time when few women were still feeding their babies in this most natural of ways. It is part of what I am made of as a human being, and it is an important and natural part of every woman. It is a good and healthy thing to re-examine things we take for granted every single day. I am glad I celebrated this fact in such an enjoyable and artful way. I actually made “My Garden of Earthly Delights” first, followed by “Boobalala.”
Perhaps this bit of experiment into another aspect of my world is not earth-shaking, but I am glad I did it. Our lives are made of many things we take for granted every single day. I think that studying these things can enhance our ability to see better the universe that we also take so much for granted. Perhaps in seeing things differently, we will somehow be able to re-examine our beliefs about everything that we encounter each and every day. Thank you and Happy Autumn.
I could not believe my eyes when a week after the Monarch Caterpillars totally ate every single leave of the two plants that have also propagated themselves in several other places in the yard, and within one week, they have all come back, bigger and fatter leaves than before.
Sometimes we just need to believe that this old world will continue as it has been doing for thousands of years. Yes, I am not so naive as to believe that we do not have things like climate and environmental changes that are affecting the world. I am sure that some of the things have been happening since the beginning. I believe most sincerely that many changes in cultures have taken place because of the inability of human beings to adjust to the changes successfully. Some of the changes I am not certain humans could have adapted to very successfully such as the ice ages that took place, or perhaps the plagues. But at the same time, mankind DID in fact exist before AND after those things, so perhaps it was an accident that they survived, and perhaps they adapted more than we think they did.
Today a lot of psychology is used to convince us of this potential thing or the other thing, much as the whole world was set to collapse with the coming of the year 2000, is about to happen to us and there are more books and talks, etc. by all kinds of people telling us what we need to do to survive. And of course it IS fully possible that this thing or that thing could cause total destruction of our world at any given time, but the truth is if that happens, I don’t think we need to worry about it anymore.
If, like the cycle of life that I witnessed in my Milkweed plants, this old world goes on, why not just continue to do what makes sense and stop worrying about destruction or the rest of the “what if’s”. When and if they happen, we will deal with them as we need to then, and we will hopefully learn from our mistakes. There is really no guarantee either way.
Enjoy the moment. Appreciate the air we breathe. Look for the beauty all around us. Find miracles in the everyday events. Remember not to always worry about tomorrow because the reality is that when tomorrow comes, it will also be today. Tomorrow is just a way to avoid being fully alive today. Trust, because trust really is something that can benefit us all. I am glad I trusted those caterpillars eating the Milkweed plants and gave the world a chance to do what it does best. Someday I know those Monarch butterflies will show up, and when they do I will be glad that I gave the world and myself this gift.