Gratitude Week, Day 3: Health

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November 20, 2018, Prescott-

The last day of work before Thanksgiving came and went, with barely a hitch.  The students are surrounded by people who want to be working with them.  That has not always been the case, and the kids know when it isn’t.

Health, both physical and mental, depends not only on one’s genes and personal habits, but on how connected one is to those around us. I have been in good health for over ten years now, even counting the infections contracted whilst I was Penny’s caretaker and the recent knee strain.  It has been being surrounded by a largely independent, but genuinely loving, network of friends, to whom I paid homage two days ago, and to extended family, to whom I will pay similar tribute on Thanksgiving Day, which has brought me home, in terms of radiance and stamina.

A good daily balance of work and play, rest and activity, socialization and solitude has kept me in recovery from whatever ailments are brought on by aging and occasional stress.  I am grateful to do Terra essential oils, Planet Fitness and our systems of forests and parks, at all levels of government and of private landowners (Nature Conservancy, various local trusts) who allow access to their treasured sites.  I am indebted to those who provide healthful food and beverages, often but not always, free of Genetically-Modified Organisms and sometimes meatless.

I have much towards which to work, both gainfully and as a volunteer, over the next several years.  My health community is a key component of the process.

Tomorrow, I will offer a shout-out to those who have kept our communities, states and country safe and to those who work towards a safer world.

Gratitude Week, Day 2: Each New Beginning

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November 19, 2018, Prescott-

Mondays begin my work week. Contrary to many, I find Mondays invigorating and encouraging.  Each new beginning in my life is cause for celebration, whether a sunrise, a new week, month or year.  Each birthday allows me to celebrate what has happened in the year gone by, and to anticipate what lies in the year ahead.

Every new food is a joy.  That is, after all, I fell in love with full-bellied fried clams, green vegetables, omelets and green smoothies, at various points in my life.

Being in a new place is most often a joy. There is always something that connects me to the familiar and something that broadens my life.  Having now set foot on five continents, (Africa and Antarctica are in my intermediate future), I am glad to say there is nowhere that I felt unsafe.

Here’s to many more phoenixes!

 

Gratitude Week, Day 1: Eight Valuable Groups of Friends

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November 18, 2018, Prescott-

I am devoting Thanksgiving week to specific reasons for gratitude. Each day will address a theme that is cause for praise and happiness. Today, I want to look at what I’ve gained, from friendships with people in ten different groups.

Senior citizens:  Those over 75 years of age (my arbitrary definition of senior citizen) have accrued the life skills and practice to address even the most anomalous of occurrences.  Those who have all their faculties intact have consistently pointed me in the right direction.

Teenagers: Having worked largely with teens, over the past forty-two years, I find their honesty and energy have been life-affirming and have kept me very much in a place of integrity. A teen’s “BS Meter” is equal to that of a senior citizen.  The current generation of youth, at least those with whom I work, seem to know that much will be expected of them, in the very near future.

Children under twelve:  Like those immediately older than they, the current generation of children has a sense of most likely needing to clean up messes made by others. They tend to have a strong sense of destiny and are the least likely to “be seen and not heard”.  I find their honesty also very refreshing, even when it is seemingly adversarial.

Happily married (both genders):  I have many friends, both male and female, who are at a good place in their marriages.  The perspective brought by a married person, with no ax to grind, actually is a blend of both their opinion and that of their spouse-thus being more grounded.  I am more likely to become friends as well, with the spouse of  a friend who is happy in wedlock.

The firm in faith:   A person who is well-grounded, but not dogmatic, in their faith is most likely to be open to the commonality of spiritual truth.  As this commonality is the basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith, to which I adhere, I find this firmness a compelling basis for my friendships with many who adhere to other faith traditions.

The happily engaged:  Whether in gainful employment or in acts of voluntarism, a person who is happy in what s(he) is doing with time, is an affirmation of my own concept of acts of service.  Happily engaged people tend to be more trustworthy and connected with others.

Lifelong learners:  Students of life, of every age group, present fresh perspectives to any given situation.  They also challenge me to keep on looking into new issues, or to look at old matters, with fresh eyes.

Special Needs people:  Whether simple in nature or full of complexity, my friends of  special need are always up front about what addresses those needs.  It takes intuition, to understand the feelings and wants of a special needs person.  Anything that hones intuition is a good experience.

Having friends in each, and sometimes several, of these categories is largely what has contributed to the richness of my life.

 

 

 

 

Neophytes

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November 17, 2018, Superior-

(I came back to this old mining town, to visit a friend who operates a unique cafe and to inquire as to the health of her husband, who has been seriously ill.  He’s doing much better and she is still doing a good business.)

So, people have, on occasion, asked

if this or that anomalous situation

is my first rodeo.

Most know better,

and are being sarcastic.

I don’t deal with new situations,

the same way the street warriors

of New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta

deal with such things.

Then again, I have not faced

very many life or death situations.

That said, few of us are neophytes,

to most of what life throws at us.

We need patience with one another;

the spring-loaded with the laid back,

and vice versa.

That patience is hard to come by,

and sometimes may not happen,

in this life.

It is, nevertheless, worth making an effort.

My life, at present, is peaceful.

I am thinking, more presently,

of a newly-elected official,

a steady-as-she -goes workhorse,

now being attacked by

a spring-loaded,conservative journalist,

for not living up to the letter of a promise

she made.

A variation on the letter of the matter

to which she made the promise,

took place this past week.

The rabble rouser pounced,

in the pages of our state’s largest newspaper.

This was a most transparent attack

on the integrity of a public servant,

whom I have followed closely,

for 19 years.

There was a promise of more to come,

and with this particular journalist,

I  take her at her word.

I will say this,

there is a learning curve,

in anything we do.

There will always be

someone who takes umbrage,

at even the most well-intentioned act.

Some people have just been hurt too often,

and see down as up.

Some people crave control,

and smell blood, from the tiniest cut.

Some people just enjoy chaos,

and fuel the spectacle.

Neophytes must learn fast,

these days.

Dear Beloved

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November 16, 2018, Prescott-

Dear Beloved,

I know you are ecstatic, in the placeless realm. Our son is now a husband, a part of something far greater than himself.  My heart was there, earlier today, though my body was asleep as he and his own beloved, our daughter-in-law, took their vows in a simple ceremony, halfway around the world.

There will be an affirmation of those vows, in the not-too-distant future, and then I will be present, body and soul.  These two ceremonies complement and strengthen one another.  Their life together, in the meantime, will reflect all that two sets of loving parents, and two extended families, have imparted to their precious gifts from God.

I feel you continuing to do all in your power to keep him, me and now her, safe and well.  I remain a work in progress, otherwise I would not still be here.  You well know the joys, the sorrows, the achievements and the setbacks that I have met, and embraced, largely with your help.

My little “home base” reflects your presence.  We are everywhere, still, and it will remain thus.  You know of my friends, and you guide me to do right by them. You help me keep a wakeful eye, lest those who do not have my best interests at heart beguile me somehow.  You help me keep my own shortcomings in focus, and in check.

As my little family and I move forward, together and in our respective spaces, I know we can count on your loving, guiding soul.  You can also count on us.

Heartfully,

Gary

Carrying the Heart Home

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November 15, 2018, Prescott- 

As I sat in the midst of a Community Celebration of Thanks, this evening, there was plenty of time, even in the crowd that attended a full schedule of interfaith devotions, to let my heart reflect on what has continued to  make this year one of astonishment and the bestowal of divine grace.

In the past few days alone, I have received affirmations in the areas of finance, friendship and health that I sensed were coming, in the darkness of October, yet had no idea how quickly they would present themselves.

Now, to top it all off, comes the highlight of the year-as I feel, but do not physically witness, the marriage of my son, to a mature, grounded woman, three years his junior, but in every sense his partner, walking side-by-side.  I will be there, in the Spring, though, when they affirm their vows, in a spiritual setting.

I will have much more to recap 2018, upon my birthday, two weeks hence, and of course, at December’s end, when the face of Janus appears again.  The bottom line here, is the value of patience and certitude, even in the darkest of nights.

Our Best Friends, across the Universe, always seem to show up when we need them-though maybe not always upon demand.

 

Back On The Trail

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November 12, 2018, Prescott-

I gave my knees a mild reality check, this afternoon, going to  the Centennial Trail, on the northwest side of town and hiking a small section that I had not previously explored. It was light, by my usual standards, but gave me the workout I needed, to confirm that I can handle more intensive fare.

Here are some scenes of that sector-and of the other end of the trail, now undergoing sewer pipe replacements, for the homes which abut the trail.

I would have gone up the usual north side of the trail, had it not been for the work being done.

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The road I had to use was Westridge, a street about 1.5 miles west southwest of this access point.  It was fine, as the trailhead led to the one area of Centennial that I had never hiked.   The 1.5 mile loop that I ended up taking was good, both time-wise and in terms of workout.  I now know my knees are back to normal, and can gradually build up to that which I am accustomed.

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The trail sticks to the side of Westridge, for about 500 yards, before veering off into the Boulder Preserve.

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We have a penchant for naming things after what they replace. My hope, having seen well-planned homes place in the wilderness, is that this will not be a mindless, chock-a-block  intrusion on a special place.

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Here, I rejoined more familiar parts of the Centennial, and continued on through the public section of the Preserve, for another .75 mile.

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I look forward to returning to the north side of the trail, once the sewer pipes are completed, sometime in the Spring.

Veterans, Donuts and Honouring Commitments

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November 12, 2018, Prescott-

Today is an extension of Veterans Day, being the Monday after a Sunday holiday.  It is also the birthday of a friend, so there will be a small luncheon in her honour, just before Noon.  Before that, though, there is a donuts for vets event, at our local Veterans Center.

These two events will find me showing up, yet there is also the matter of tying up loose ends, by delivering the remaining items I had stored for the individual I mentioned yesterday.  That will begin the afternoon.  Then, I have several hours of “me-time”, and can enjoy the coolness of a crisp Fall day.  For the first time in a while, I will take my camera with me, and just walk-somewhere.

Commitments are huge, and one of the things I have had to work on-under my own terms, is presence.  I am making progress, despite occasional setbacks, and no amount of screaming and yelling on anyone’s part is going to deter me from meeting that goal.  My honour is intact.

I have found, once again, that the vast majority of people in the world are fine folks.  I am in a good place, in this community, and have been treated well on the road, also.  There was a brief period, last month, when I did not feel safe.  That came from giving too much power and importance to someone else-and that is behind me.  One must never hand control over to another, no matter how loud and manipulative that other person is.

Things are returning to good, once again.  Happy Veteran’s Day, Part II, to all who have served our nation.

 

Unconditional

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November 11, 2018, Prescott-

Happy Veterans Day to all who served, in “times of peace” and in open conflict.  I regret one thing about 11:11:11/18- I was resolving a conflict over material possessions (someone else’s) at the time, so I missed the reflection which that time merits.

Basically, I have been storing items for a benighted and angry individual.  I had temporarily forgotten where they were stored, and was thus subjected to yet another tirade about how stupid and worthless I was.  Fortunately, this was all electronic, a “hit and run”, so to speak. Even more fortunately, I found the items, they will be transported to a third party, tomorrow and I will be free to ban the above-mentioned person from ever contacting me again.

I have had it with detractors and naysayers-as opposed to sincere, earnest critics, who point out errors, out of love.  The latter will always have my attention.

It has taken a  long, long time for me to value myself and to know that those who lambaste me  are not worth my time.  That time has arrived and I know, both in heart and mind, that I deserve the best that life has to offer.  Actually, we all deserve the best. The fact that some have been raised to regard themselves as worthless, is precisely why there is so much conflict-whether over THINGS,  or over ideas, or over social norms.

If each of us recognized our worth, material possessions would not be the cause of strife, money would not be the source of grief, attention to detail would not be the cause of condemnation.  We would know that all would be alright, if not immediately, then over time.

If each of us really understood the Universe, the nature of Creation, the eternity of being, then there would be no conflict of egos.  There would have been no Lucifer’s rebellion; no smug disregard, by our distant ancestors, of spiritual instruction; no ongoing conflict, often perpetrated by those who cast themselves as “enlightened”, but whose egos only project utter darkness.

I can’t claim to understand it all, but I do understand these:  There is only a place for Light in this world, in this Universe.  There is only a future for those whose hearts are open, whose goals are based on unconditional love.  All else will fail, and will fall away, in confusion and disappointment. More’s the pity.

Giving All

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November 10, 2018, Prescott-

I woke up from a longer nap than usual, this afternoon.

Getting up this morning,

at my customary workday time of 4:30,

and going through my customary

workday morning routine,

I got going and made it

to Flagstaff,

in time to help a small crew

of firefighters and Red Cross workers,

in checking on homes,

for smoke detectors

and coaching residents

on fire safety and escape plans.

The proactivity in all this,

is not lost on the citizens

of that forested community.

We all watch our neighbour to the west,

and have friends or family,

in some cases in both north and south.

We see Paradise lost,  Malibu mangled

and the San Fernando , smoldering.

People are doing

what is necessary

to get out of harm’s way.

Teachers piled students

into their own vehicles,

and damning the torpedoes,

got their precious cargo

to safety.

This is what it looks like

to give all.

We watch, from Arizona,

and elsewhere,

and we remember.

North Carolina remembers,

the storm surge,

the rivers rising,

and people tending to one another.

Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts remember,

much the same,

and people tending to one another.

Florida remembers,

priceless communities leveled,

and people tending to one another.

We remember, here in Yavapai County,

the gaping maws,

of one fire after another,

consuming subdivisions

and forest dream houses,

and threatening to devour

the centers of thriving towns.

This has been the lot,

of man up against nature,

worldwide,

and from time immemorial.

Now, we see it in Real Time,

in places some of us have been,

and in places we can only see in our minds.

I recall visiting Malibu,

a few years back,

and standing on a ridge,

with a troubled young woman,

sobbing and smoking a cigarette,

nearby.

She put out that cigarette,

when she no longer needed solitude,

and walked, with the extinguished butt,

back to her car,

her emotional state somewhat calmed,

by a few minutes in silence,

looking out over the glorious expanse,

called Mulholland.

She barely noticed me,

but I recognized her immediately,

a public figure,

whose privacy was  honoured that day.

I hope she, and her neighbours and friends,

escaped harm, as this most recent

burst of wrath scours the land.

I visited the Martin Theater,

in Panama City, Florida,

nearly four years ago.

I see that it did not make it

through Hurricane Michael,

just as much of the community

that greeted me so warmly,

did not make it through

the Monster, unscathed.

The Martin will return, though,

and Panama City will rise again.

on more solid footing.

Malibu will rise again,

and the Mulholland wilderness

will remain a refuge

for the disconsolate and the world-weary.

Paradise will be regained.

We who love,

will give our all,

again and again,

for as long as it takes.

Today started out

as an homage to my late mother-in-law,

whose memorial service,

I was unable to attend.

It turned into a statement,

that we will stand

with our family,

with our neighbours

and with all of our children,

to keep this divine trust

called humanity,

in a sacred place,

called home.