The Blessings Outweigh….

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March 2-5, 2019-

This past weekend brought the beginning of our Nineteen-Day Fast, abstaining from food and beverages between sunrise and sunset, March 2-20 (most years), for those in good health between the ages of 15-70.  This year’s Fast is a bit complex for me, due to travel that will interrupt the practice (Baha’u’llah excuses the traveler; women who are pregnant, nursing, or in their courses;  the seriously ill and those engaged in heavy physical work).

I made good use of the weekend, participating in a seed education program, with one of the community groups in which I’m involved:  Slow Food-Prescott.  I am no expert on seeds, but I can still help with set-up and breakdown of the hall.  I also re-learned a lot about plants- seeds, as opposed to spores, and the various aspects of germination.

Sunday brought me back to Phoenix, for a large music festival:  McDowell Mountain Music Festival, ironically not held in Scottsdale, but in downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park. Two Drum Circles and time with a vibrant and highly artistic friend made the whole event worth the drive.

There was a most diverse group sitting in on the drum circles.20190303_152300

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This English band, Maribou State, was giving the last performance of its current tour.  It was their first visit to Phoenix.

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My friend was very busy with hoop dancing, and had been at it for three days straight.

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I headed back to Prescott in a prudent manner, and have had a good couple of days at work, this week.  Today marked the eighth anniversary of Penny’s passing.  I stopped at the gravesite on Sunday, prior to attending the Music Festival.  I was thus able to properly mark our connection, with a vase of white carnations, which were her favourite flower, and time in quiet reflection.  She loved drumming and had great respect for hoop dancers, so my participation in the former and encouraging Pam and some young women in the latter, was an homage as well.

Most important, though, I have continued with two of our shared passions:  Educating special needs children and advocating wellness.  I have, if all goes well, two years after this, in full time education.  Wellness, though, will be part of my life until it’s time to head beyond.  Essential oils and living a healthy lifestyle are the foundation of my thriving.

In a few short days, I head to South Korea, for the formal wedding of Aram and Yunhee, a return to Jeju and renewing my ties to one of our blessed homes together.  The blessings always outweigh any hardships.

Those Shadows Seen and Not Seen

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February 2, 2019, Phoenix-

So the critters back East, in Punxsutawney and Staten Island, have assured us that it’ll be an early Spring.  No shadows were in view, and after that region went through yet another polar vortex, followed by a modicum of thaw, the comfort is probably just a tad cold.

Sitting here, in a lull, during a timely and productive update session regarding the progress of our Faith in central Arizona, I think of the other unseen shadows, with which many of us deal, on a daily, or long-term, basis.

I took care of the biggest shadow, that of my nest-egg, sometime back, and the proceeds from the sale of a house, back in 2014, are in trust, for when I need them, beginning a few years hence.

The shadow of aging has its match, in daily use of essential oils, CBD and hemp products and, at least for  a month or so, Thrive products- a gift from a grateful friend. Those and regular exercise keep me healthy and moving.

Any potential family shadows are best handled with proactivity:  Research, setting time aside and regular, clear communication.  This is true for all points along the family continuum.

The shadow of intellectual cramping is best countered by free dialogue.  Closing one’s mind to opposing points of view does not make one smarter.  I don’t see how not exposing young minds to either liberal or conservative opinions is going to improve their problem-solving ability.  As a youth, I read “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto”, being captivated by neither, but at least understanding how the authors arrived at such illogic.  Closing off college campuses to Ben Shapiro, or Markos Moulitsas, will never save even the most infantilized freshman from following the primrose path of choice.

There are greater shadows-some real and some figments of vivid imaginations:  The Social Security/Medicare fizzle, or lack thereof, in the 2030’s;  the coinciding “end-of-the-world”, right about that same time; the potential change of our nation’s form of government (some have spoken of this, since Orwell published “1984”); the generations dropping the ball of civilized behaviour ( I seem to remember how “slovenly” and “unkempt” the Depression Parents and the  GI Generation regarded us Baby Boomers).

Shadows are dispelled by light.  The lights of  faith, understanding, clear communication, discourse and above, all, consistent, firm action, will work wonders at clearing the darkness which seems to pervade so many lives, at so many levels.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

Rainy Day Reflections

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January 15, 2019-

Yesterday, I rushed about, in the morning, to get  an essential oil blend to a young friend suffering from a health ailment not normally associated with the young.  I hope the oil will help.  More potentially problematic was getting to my own appointment, halfway across the Salt River Valley.   I was twenty minutes late, but had been able to message the office, as to my predicament.  No worries and I emerged with a clean bill of dental health, for another four months.

On the way up to the cemetery where Penny is laid to rest, I was obliged to stop, as the funeral procession of another soul passed.  I could hear the proceedings of the person’s ceremony, as I communed with my beloved, some fifteen minutes later.  Each one of us ought to be able to expect a dignified send-off, and someone to keep us in loving memory.  Of course, what one gets in that regard, depends on what one has given.

I went up to Cave Creek, for lunch, with a trio of pleasant eateries on my short list:  Local Jonny’s, my favourite, was suitably packed; Big Earl’s, always offering a warm greeting, also offers food too heavy for my needs at that time; Divine Bakery was thus my choice, with no other customers when I walked in, but five people entering, as I left. In between, was the best quiche south of Rustic Pie Company (Prescott’s best) and a delectable cannoli.

Today the rain came down in buckets, as unusual as the snow that hit the central part of Arizona on Saturday night.  We can expect such moisture in July and August, but not so much in winter.  These are not “conventional” times, though.  Besides, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of our larger reservoirs, with Lake Mead, which got a fair amount of rain today, also, being Ground Zero in the drought watch chronicles.

It mattered little to us, ensconced in the classroom and taking our post-lunch walk around the main building.  Our life today revolved around getting more familiar with talking electronic pads- giving voice to those without the  ability to speak, themselves.  I recognize the urgency of this, and am giving quick study to mastering the use of these devices.

My knee has been better, of late, with ongoing exercises and essential oil treatments. There are a few exercises in the adaptive P.E. class, to which we take our students, which will require more acclimating, but I am getting there.  Now it’s time to head over to Planet Fitness.

 

Purposeful

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December 17, 2017, Prescott-

I stayed close to home today.  My spirit guides told me it’d be a good idea.  I spent some time with friends at a local restaurant, then visited another friend’s family Christmas display.

One week is left of school, before we break for two weeks.  This week will have two regular days and three shorter ones.  My purpose remains the same, though:  Impart as much, in the way of social skills reinforcement, to our five students, and maintain a consistent routine.  This last means everything to autistic people.

I have signed on for business training, with another travel blogger, albeit in more essential business practices of TODAY’S environment- both digital and physical.  It’s legitimate- I have checked.  It may even help me with other interests of mine, like teaching about essential oils.

Another subject, that keeps coming up among my fellow bloggers, is relationships.  Well, duh!  I was asked, yesterday, by a much-older friend, as to when I was going to get married again.  I have no idea-especially since:  To women over 70, I’m a younger brother; to women in their 40’s and 50’s, I’m too old; to women in their 60’s, I am also like a sibling.  Anyone under the age of 40 is like a daughter or niece.  In short, I am quite happy with all of the above.  It’s nice to have reliable friends in my life, and not have to complicate matters with romance. Penny was one of a kind.  If there is another such person, well, I will know.  If not, I am in a good place.

I have become better at living  purposefully. 2018 may well be one of the best years of this life.

Rubicon

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August 14, 2016, Prescott- I remarked to some collaborators-in-faith, this morning, that I have scrapped plans for most travel outside North America, until at least 2021. (South Korea, where my son is to be stationed, next year, being an exception.)  There were crickets in the room, so our discourse went on to things of more common interest.

Later today, I attended a gathering that was sponsored by Team Rubicon, the disaster recovery organization that is mostly made up of military veterans.  The very allusion to making a decisive and irreversible choice defines this group, whose impact is as great, if not greater than that of the Red Cross.  These are the people who remain behind, once the news cycle is over and the long-term work begins.  They choose to walk the celestial path, with practical feet. (‘Abdu’l-Baha admonished us Baha’is to do just that, in several speeches, when he visited North America, in 1912.)

I have plenty to do around here, during the academic year, and with regard to both my Faith and the needs of the larger community.  At 65 years, 8 months, it’s important to consider at least the seeds of legacy.  I’m in fine health, and I do want to continue with a full, contributive life.  Five years of gainful employment remain.  I will insist on actively taking part in the well-being of the Prescott area, both inside and outside my worksite.  Summers will still find me visiting friends and family, in various parts of this continent, starting with a second journey northwestward, next June. Christmas and New Year’s will still be marked by the presence of loved ones and good friends, both here and on the East Coast.  June, 2021 will still be the beginning of an extended journey to many parts of the globe, the only caveats being the needs of my son, any family he might have by then, and our larger family.

I will remain working to educate people on the Oneness of Mankind, on the need for an inquiring mind, and on the healing properties of Certified, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, and the imperative of wellness.  My Rubicon was crossed, years ago, when Penny pointed me towards the mountain with a shimmering star above it.

 

Irons and Fire

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April 20, 2016, Flagstaff- En route to this superb university town, in northern Arizona’s Sky Islands, known otherwise as the San Francisco Peaks, I thought of the various “irons” in my collective fire.  Interestingly, each time I consider letting one of these go by the wayside, something occurs to put it back, front and center, again.

My Baha’i beliefs are the core of my being, so they are only becoming more important, as the bedrock for everything else. Working with children and youth is the next level, and as it gives me a livelihood, also is unquestionably important.

I am not the world’s greatest businessman, but sharing and educating on the use of Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade essential oils is crucial to my commitment to promoting health and wellness.  There are many people and companies claiming to have the “finest” such products.  I can only testify to what works for me.

I am not available as often as the Red Cross might like, but being ready to step in, on the occasion of a local emergency, during the school year, and anytime when I am off work, even when on the road, is also not something I will relinquish.

Then, there are my itchy feet, the icing on the cake.

It’s a good life,  of many pieces.  Have you ever felt like you needed to give up one of your activities?

Hibernation

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January 20, 2016, Chino Valley- It’s easy to enter into hibernation, physical and /or mental, in the somnolent season.  I linger in bed a bit longer, in January, than I do even a month prior, or following.  The darkness does not spur one forward.  It is the sense of light; the inner sense of duty, that gets me going, during these days of what passes for winter, around here.

I will be going up to Colorado, next week, leaving Wednesday morning and getting back sometime on Sunday, the last day of January.  Much of the time will be spent talking, pondering and internalizing ways to promulgate the the beneficial use of essential oils.  I am encouraged when I see how many people are taking to these time-honoured healing media.  Whether through the company whose products I promote and use, one of its competitors, or that most American of systems, DIY, essential oils cast forth no side effects.

I digress.  The topic at hand is hibernation.  I wish the Wall Street bears would go back into hibernation, and stay there.  They have a job to do, though:  Teaching us all not to be greedy, for what one holds too tightly, others can and will take away.

Winter, for me, though, cannot be a time of slumber, or of sorrow.  I must go up north, and tend to my part in the healing arts.  I will miss my precious children, those three school days, but what I bring back will only help them, and everyone else I meet, to have a better life.

That said, I may sleep in (until 6:30) tomorrow- unless the call to duty comes beforehand.

Highway 16

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January 1, 2016, Prescott-  Yes, I know it’s still 2015, here in the American West.  It’s New Year’s Day in Rouen, France, one of my ancestral homes.  It’s also 2016 in: Silesia, Poland; Bremen, Germany; and Tours, France- three of my other ancestral homes.  In 5 1/2 hours, the New Year will come to Old Town, Maine, where my Native American relatives still live.  I am starting to beat a dead horse.

I will use the road motif for this year’s posts, much as the Road took me to age 65.  Highways indicate assertiveness, clear vision and moving out with a purpose.  So I intend 2016 to be.

I came back to Home Base, yesterday, to find I have a financial issue to settle, and will tend to it next week.  In the meantime, bills and rent will get paid and I was, thankfully, able to fulfill a promise I made, last week, to help a sick friend.  My nest egg isn’t growing right now, but neither is anyone else’s, in Wall Street’s mad rush to sell anything that’s not nailed down.  My nest egg IS nailed , though, so the bears can just go back into hibernation.

Meanwhile, I am not hibernating.  The next three days will see me on one trail or another, as we enjoy crisp, clear weather.  The schools will be back in session next week, and I will be ready for whoever needs my services.  The certification process will take a bit longer- ADE doesn’t save transcripts, so those need to be re-sent, and my long-ago teaching internship host will need to verify that I did complete “practice teaching”- in Fall, 1975.  So, I see that process being successfully completed by the end of January.

My essential oils have benefited me, health-wise, and I will be at three conferences, this year, that focus on their promulgation.  This month, and June will find me in Boulder and September features an International Convention in Salt Lake City.

Travel in the summer will depend on how well I do, work-wise, this winter and spring.  A week or so in Reno/Tahoe, at the end of May, is a given.  Anything beyond that, though, remains to be seen.  In any case, the focus will be on time with friends, not on “Here’s Gary at yet another fabulous site!”  I never want the latter to be how all this is viewed.

Reading is still huge for me, and with the Kindle, an excellent library system and three nearby book shops, I will never run short of material. I am currently engrossed in “The Witches:  Salem, 1692”, Dick Van Dyke’s “Keep Moving”, “Terra in Cognita”, by a fellow Baha’i:  William Barnes, “Extreme Ownership”, and “The Dinosaur Heresies”.  My tack is to read at least ten pages of a book, then go to one of the others, and so on.

This year marks the Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s initial offerings of “Tablets of the Divine Plan”.  I will have much more to say about this remarkable set of documents, during the course of the year.  Suffice it so say that, without the guidance I have received as a Baha’i, the person some in my family remember from long ago, and still think they see, would still be stumbling around- and I would not be blogging, to say the least.

This year also marks the Centenary of the National Park Service.  I will visit several National Park holdings in Arizona, and around the Southwest, in the course of this year.  Most certainly, my boots will meet some trails of the Grand Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly, for the first time in 18 years.

Most importantly, though, is WHO I am going to be in these next twelve months.  That will never be defined by anyone but yours truly.  To say otherwise would be to invite chaos.  Some, not far from here, want me to move nearer to them.  That is not happening.  Others would rather I stay as far away from them as possible.  So be it.  Any given decision could be resolved in at least seventy different ways.  The factors, for me, are these:  Service to those in need, especially children and youth; my own family’s well-being; my ability to fend for myself (I am not presently, nor will I be, a burden on anyone else); and, lastly, the overall circumstances of the world-at-large.

Happy 2016, one and all!

 

The Five-Year View

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November 29, 2015, Prescott- I got back here around 8:10 P.M.  It was another picture perfect day, leading me to hope that the southern Plains will catch a break from the horrid ice that has caused so many to break out the blankets and longjohns.  I pray our weather heads to you, and soon.

I left Chula Vista at 11, stopping in Riverside for lunch, at Hideaway Cafe and a brief walk around Mission Inn, which I last visited in 2012.  The displays are as splendid now, as then.  I will post photos tomorrow, but for now, I am tired, so briefly, as to my longer view:

I am looking at the second half of my seventh decade.  Age is somewhat as the late, beautiful Aaliyah said, “but a number.”  It isn’t, however, nothing, in my opinion.  Age is an experience magnet, and, if one is paying attention, attracts wisdom as well.  The “old fool” in the ditty is most often asleep at the wheel.

As I’ve said earlier, I plan to be at work, each school year, until I reach 70.  Summers will see me making shorter journeys, to specific places.  One exception to both of the above is likely a two-week visit to Chile, next Fall, as the first Baha’i House of Worship in South America is to be dedicated soon, but nothing’s definite yet.

My focuses, as always, are on the welfare of our children, the propagation of the Baha’i Faith and grassroots health and wellness promotion.

The only specifics I have set, as my “new year’ starts, are for December:  To continue at Mingus Springs, to visit my family in Massachusetts during the Christmas period and to hike the Pemberton Loop in Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains, on Dec. 29.  2016 will see three essential oils gatherings, two in Boulder and one in Salt Lake City.  I am determined to finish what I start, from now on.

It’ll be a most interesting maw into which I jump, this year 2016.