WATCHING THE RIVER RUN: A Tale of Two Dads

When I think of life, many times I contemplate the flow of moving water as being an apt metaphor. The progression of life, of families, of farming comes to mind. Rivers are constantly in transition. Sometimes there is flooding and at times it runs dry. Water descriptors such as turbulent or calm, warm or icy, deep or shallow could just as easily describe many aspects of life as much as it could a river.

This is a tale of two dads, my own father as well as my father-in-law. Each of them were born in the same county. Both became farmers. They were tillers of the soil, milkers of cows, feeders of swine. While the rivers of their lives paralleled one another, to a large extent, they did not intermingle until my husband and I brought our families together through our marriage.

These two dads each knew the ebb and flow of the seasons. Spring brought the gathering of seed and preparation of ground. They scanned the pastures for new born calves. They planted, they cultivated, they watched for the rains. There was always excitement in being able to row, or view, the first green sprouts of corn!

Mid-summer meant loading sweet smelling hay bales onto a lowboy while sweeping the sweat off their brows. Corn was always well over the old standard of knee high by the fourth of July unless it was a rare year of drought. Walking beans to hand-cut tall weeds provided the visual beauty of contour planted bean rows. When combining golden fields of oats, the year was half spent.

Hearing the rustle of the dry, pale tan corn leaves in the breeze told them the crop was restless for harvest. Cool autumn weather was for reaping the rewards of hard work by filling the bins with corn and soybeans. Fall meant many long days of work, provided the grain tested dry enough to glean. The hum of grain driers would sound through the valleys. These two farmers were always grateful for the completion of harvest, especially prior to Thanksgiving.

When the weather permitted bringing in the crops before the early snows, there was time for field work and turning the soil. Once winter rolled around there was meticulous record keeping as well as testing seed germination and ordering new seed for the next season. The cold weather months were spent hauling hay to the cattle pastures. Checking that the tank heaters were operational for the thirsty cattle was a must. Yes, these farmers knew the nuances of the seasons well.

Our family tree grew within that river of life, surrounded by the rolling fields and pastures. Branches were eventually added to this tree with three generations of children beyond our dads. Life was and is good. Then, there were family members whose branches broke from the tree, seemingly before they touched the winter or even the fall of their lives. My mother-in-law was one. Our son was another, as was my brother. Yet, the river of life flows on.

This week marks the thirty-six year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing. The very same day he passed was the birthday of one of his granddaughters. My dad’s departure two years ago was the very same date. It was also my dad’s mother’s birthday. Out of 365 days in a year, how could all four of these events be on the very same day? These types of synchronicities seem to be one of the mind boggling mysteries of this great river of life. It is as a bend in the river where it was least expected.

I’ve no doubt that our dads are still with us. You see, there are people who are gifted to view our loved ones beyond the veil. They do watch over us, help us, interact with us. In fact, when I spoke of our family tree, perhaps a more accurate comparison would be a family river. Generations upon generations before us as well as after are intimately connected, flowing from one to another, just as the seasons flow on the farm. I am ever grateful for watching the river run.

Relationships: Energetic Flow and Strength

Contrary to how this photo may appear, it is not the creepy, boney hand of a ferocious monster. It is the remains of the most unusual tree stump I’ve ever observed. Interestingly, the only unrotten portions are the inner core of the branches that were within the trunk. The parts that resemble heads of nails are where the branches were cut long ago, flush with the trunk.

Of course, this piqued my curiosity. I wondered why these specific parts within the trunk lasted longer. Then, I pondered about the flow of nutrients within a live tree. This concolor fir would have been drawing water and minerals from deep within the soil through its roots. The needles on the branches would have been photosynthesizing the solar energy as well as utilizing the carbon dioxide from the air. These inner branches were energetic pathways between the roots and needles, distributing benefits to all parts of the tree. As this symbiotic relationship helped all parts of the tree, perhaps that is why these particular parts were stronger and more enduring. The unbranched sections of the trunk itself probably didn’t feed the rest of the tree. Perhaps that portion not being as critical was weaker, so it rotted earlier. The parts where the energy flowed were most vital, lasting and protected. Those boney looking appendages were actually the highways of giving, taking and sharing.

The workings of symbiotic relationships intrigue me. Where might these sorts of connections occur in society? One such example came to me regarding late night talk shows. Prior to the pandemic squelching large crowds, audiences were able to provide immediate feedback to the host’s stories and one liners. The speaker would then catch that spark of laughter, applause and enjoyment. The audience appreciation would in turn give the entertainer more encouragement which enhanced the presentation, contributing to a cycle of sharing energies. When the hosts first began performing to a mere camera, they felt severed from their audience, from the source of their joie de vie or joy of life. Finally, some of the hosts are regaining the vigor they once enjoyed in the symbiotic relationship.

Another example might be in the education field. I feel I became a far better teacher once I realized it was perfectly possible for me to learn from my students. Of course, we think of students learning from the teacher, but the converse can also be true. Experiencing this can be quite humbling as well as fulfilling for the teacher and extremely validating and encouraging for the students. This also would be symbiotic.

Both my entertainment and education examples illustrate a two way flow of energy, mutually benefiting various parties. This flow strengthens the bonds and leads to long lasting value.

Our world is in the flux of change. Where might symbiotic relationships take us further, not only within the education and entertainment fields, but also other areas such as economics, leadership, health or religion? Where might a symbiotic model be of benefit? Dare I ask, would it look like love?

All You Need Is Love

BROKEN

Broken? What are some possible scenarios which may make a person feel broken? Do you think it could be a frightening health diagnosis? That could be. Could it be losing one’s job or home? What about coping with the loss of a loved one? Could it be the loss of a relationship or a business? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

How many people do you know who seem to lead a perfect life? I’m certain there are quite few, if any, who have never had a factor which could potentially cause one to feel broken. It is part of being human.

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. Ernest Hemingway from A Farewell to Arms

The tipping point which shattered my life was losing our son. It can be devastating to lose a family member, particularly from the younger generation.

Imagine our lives as fragile clay pots. What are we to do to pick up the pieces of our lives to enable us to continue? Some pieces are never able to be replaced. Those will leave holes. There are also tiny fragments which splinter away and are perhaps not as necessary or important. Regrouping and gluing oneself back together reveals the cracks and holes. What if those cracks were highlighted with gold? Our learning journey through the rough lessons could be seen as celebration.

The clay pot technique of Kintsugi means golden joinery. My previous description of our lives as clay pots describes how the Japanese culture repairs their pottery. In fact, a pot which has been broken and gone through this Kintsugi process is considered more valued than an unbroken pot. This art parallels our broken human lives.

In our lives, we generally have a choice. We may choose to give up and allow our brokenness to go the way of Humpty Dumpty. Or, we may choose to investigate any and all possibilities to permit a continuation of life with a different format.

Had we not lost our son, my life may have simply carried on with the status quo. However, when he received the cancer diagnosis, which could have been my undoing, I was faced with a choice. I could have chosen a fixed mindset, meaning I had no power to change anything, so why try. However, I loved him far too much to do nothing. I chose, instead, to adopt a growth mindset to stack the odds in our favor. As a result, I had experiences which helped to piece together my fragments.

Our son did stay with us roughly seven years post diagnosis, but then he had to leave. I would have never thought to become an energy healer if he hadn’t become ill. I would not have had experiences of oneness with everything. I would not have been as aware of messages from beyond the veil if our beloved son was not on the other side. I would not have started a blog. These have become some of the golden highlights in my life journey thus far.

The gold filled breaks emphasize the unique story lines of our lives. Our cracks and broken natures can become things of beauty when valued as part of our path, just as a treasured Kintsugi vessel.

Michelangelo Inspiration

Many times famous artists inspire the creativity of others.

One of my favorite elementary school art lessons was influenced by Michelangelo. My students each taped a sheet of paper beneath their tables. They had a direct experience in feeling what it was like to paint above their heads. One of the most memorable student questions still makes me chuckle. Since Michelangelo took four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a student wondered, do we have to spend four years making our paintings? I bet you have the very same question. Being tender-hearted, I only required one class period, measured in minutes rather than years.

Michelangelo also inspired my sonnet.

MICHELANGELO

A sculptor first and foremost in his heart

was Michelangelo, Italian born.

When asked to paint the ceiling with his art

responded to the Pope with mighty scorn.

Well, “painting is my shame” as you can see.

The metamorphosis of marble block,

he carved until he set the angel free.

His masterpieces – cloth and skin from rock!

Consenting to the Sistine ceiling scenes,

built scaffolding so he could make his mark.

His skyward gaze provided him the means

to paint four years until the disembark.

Through cramping neck and paint dripped face he brought

to life the God whom mankind long had sought!

Copyright, Wolfe, Linda M., Lyrical Iowa, 2008

Last but not least, the Bosnian immigrant and artist, Paco Rosic, was motivated by Michelangelo. Using the unconventional medium of spray paint, Paco recreated his rendition of Michelangelo’s ceiling in a Waterloo, Iowa building. It became Galleria de Paco. Until Covid-19 hit, this establishment was a restaurant offering fine European fare in a breathtaking atmosphere. This attraction drew visitors from around the world! When my husband and I dined there, despite the fact that the delicious food was beautifully arrayed on the plate, I just wanted to take in all the paintings. It was not a trip to Europe, but it was certainly the next best thing.

Paco is currently feeding his creativity. He hopes to eventually reopen as a coffee shop, utilizing the space for its original purpose of showcasing his new art.

I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t answer a question that must be hovering in the back of your mind. Did my students also use spray paint for their paintings? While that is a logical inquiry, I feel it is time to reassure you. No, my students used watercolor paints because we weren’t allowed to apply the fresco technique on the underside of our school tables. Oh, and spray paint wasn’t lingering in my supply closet.

Contemplate who or what inspires your muse in absolutely any field or area. Imagine your possibilities!

Listen to the Children

This is very nearly a Jack and the Beanstalk story, except it has to do with a little girl, maybe even two little girls. Oh, and I guess it is not a beanstalk at all, but a tree.

Many, many moons ago we brought our wee, little daughter home from Sunday school. She was carrying a fragile tree seedling in a small container. Perhaps it was a gift for Mother’s Day. However, it could have been for Father’s Day. Did I tell you this was many moons ago?

We decided to place it behind our home. Of course, our daughter wanted to help plant it in the ground. It was just a little tree. it would look very nice there.

Sometime later, my husband put the hose out to water the tree. He must have gotten distracted. We left for the day. When we arrived home much later he discovered the water still running. He rumbled loudly enough for a giant to hear. Thankfully all was well. Any potential giants were sound asleep at the time. Also, the tree was very thirsty before the watering.

Over the years, the tree grew and grew and grew. It is now one of the tallest trees on our property!

A couple of years ago our granddaughter, who was only six years old at the time, was studying this very tree. She opined of the pine, “Grandpa, why don’t you cut off some of these lower branches? Then, you could put your bench beneath the tree.”

We thought that was a marvelous idea! Grandpa did her bidding. As you can see, we have a lovely sitting area, complete with shade.

You may think this is the end of the story. It is not. Shortly after our yard remake, our daughter was visiting. She decided to sit under her tree, now shading the very bench her niece suggested moving. It soon came to her that this very little tree had grown to the Land of the Giant! However, she did not perceive this as a malevolent giant. It was a very gracious one as long as she was a paying customer. You see, her tree had become an antenna to the giant in the sky – a cell tower, far, far away.

This very little tree had developed into the only place on our property where she gets a phone signal! Our listening to two little girls made it happen!

Our world is changing. It is in need of new ideas. Listen, do you hear that sound? Do you notice the tapping of feet, the lilting of voices, the swishing of brushes? It is the children dancing, singing, painting our future into existence. Listen to the ideas of children. Sometimes they can be wise beyond their years. Let us put our hearts together and imagine our future as beautiful as can be! Quiet! Listen for the children!

KNOCK DOWN PAIN – 174 HZ

Pain relief, whether from physical or emotional sources, is something sought by anyone who has been given more of this burden than they can bear. Pain creates tension. Natural forms of alleviating pain seem to work by inducing a relaxation response.

I’ve worked with success by using tuning forks in reducing pain for others. The particular frequency which acts as a natural anesthetic is 174 hertz.

It is so much easier for people now that You Tube has produced many videos with various healing frequencies.

In order to try these techniques, it is recommended that one’s medical professional be consulted to be certain that it is a safe practice for you. If you do opt to try these, it is wise to allow yourself to settle before you try to stand as sometimes one can become dizzy. Having a pinch of pink Himalayan salt ready before you listen can be helpful. If you feel dizzy afterward, just dissolve the salt in your mouth and remain seated until the feeling passes.

I have included two videos with 174 hertz. The first one has an overall tone interspersed with a pleasantly resonating gong as well as other sounds. It made me fee a bit buzzy after a brief listen! The second one has some intriguingly complex visual designs if you opt for an open eye experience. This low tone on this one has an overlay of other frequencies. As both of these are quite relaxing, I recommend sitting or lying down while listening. Please take your time before you resume normal activities.

Knock down pain!

For another post on healing with frequencies, scroll back five weeks ago to my post on June 24, 2020. This one is Tuning into Healing: Grief.

Treat Yourself to Ambience!

During this highly unusual time in which we are living, there may be a number of ways of life we miss. One of them is dining at a nice restaurant. Depending upon your location in the world, this option may or may not be available or recommended.

What are the elements of that experience which one could recreate? Of course having someone else prepare the food is ideal. If that is not a choice, another aspect of fine dining to consider is the atmosphere. Sitting and interacting together with loved ones at the table is a large part of the picture.

What else could we do? How could one establish a highly ambient quality during a meal time experience? Music is the answer!

I am so fortunate to be married to someone who gives a sense of ambience to virtually each and every meal of the day. It is highly unusual to not have this aspect to our meals. Other than a couple of meals a week consisting of popcorn, nuts, fruit and cheese in front of the television, all our other meals are consumed together at the table accompanied by music!

Enjoying music with our meals is such a lovely, decades-long detail that I very nearly take it for granted. We are each such cultural beasts that to not have this as part of our routine, it can make us feel as if all is not right with the world.

I took a tour through our treasured music collection to give you a sampling of some of my favorite dining music. The selections I’ve opted to share with you are each stylistically different, but you will notice a thematic similarity emerged. Of course, during our meals, the CDs play in their entirety rather than skipping from one artist to another.

The first piece, Angels of the Deep, is by Raphael. This music is classified as new age and punctuated with the mysterious calls of whales. Eva Cassidy’s melody, Wade in the Water, is soft jazz. Acoustic guitar is featured in the final selection, Aerial Boundaries, by Michael Hedges.

In the beginning of our musical journey, I’ll take you through the secrets of the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean. Perhaps we may feel our world closing in as the pandemic surrounds our lives, much as the waters of the sea. May the majestic giants of the deep beckon you to a place of calm.

Next Eva will transport your dancing spirit to the surface of an adjoining river. Allow her beautiful voice to gift you with an aura of calm as you imagine yourself wading in the water. Let the gently flowing water wash away any remaining residue of distress.

In the third and final selection, Michael Hedges takes you higher to the lofty skies with Aerial Boundaries. Permit yourself to fly free as the birds with this compelling delight. Just as your bird’s eye view of the world appears, feel any problems proportionally shrinking into nothingness.

May this musical triptych invite you to create a way to linger over your meals, savor your food and treasure your companionship. Whether you live with others or one other or the famous trio of me, myself and I, I encourage you to engage in the healthful practice of pleasurable eating with musical accompaniment. Contemplate which musicians would best enhance your meals. May you transform your dining experience into an oasis of nurturing peace!

Michelangelo – Reach and Look Up!

The great Italian Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, was tasked with painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by papal request. At the time, Michelangelo was contentedly working on sculpting the tomb of Pope Julius II. This sudden change of plans prompted the artist to declare “painting is my shame!” He very strongly identified with chisels and stone rather than brushes and paint. Somewhat reluctantly he agreed to undertake this momentous project.

Just imagine building scaffolding up to a seventy foot ceiling and painting over three hundred biblical characters during the span of a four year period! Even though Michelangelo did not consider himself a painter, he created the figures and their environments in this magnificent masterpiece as if they were quite life-like and three-dimensional.

He must have endured countless drips of paint upon his face, hands and clothing. I’ve often wondered after those years of gazing upward, how long it took him to comfortably stand straight or if his neck could bend sufficiently to view his toes.

Michelangelo was a poet who loved to pen sonnets. The pairing of his passions of sculpting and sonnets intrigues me. I hear his chisel and hammer continually tap in iambic pentameter. Alas, during these four years his brush, most certainly, must have inherited this innate rhythm of the sonneteer.

Michelangelo worked on this upside down surface doing a job he initially wasn’t planning to do. Prior to starting, he had to learn the technique of fresco in order to accomplish the goal. He, by necessity, had to continually reach and look up in order to do the work.

Many of us may feel as if our world is upside down. We may be doing a job that wasn’t in the plans. Some of us may need to learn new things. Just as Michelangelo, we must reach and look up. Perhaps if we all reach and look up together, we can create a better world. We can do this! Then maybe, just maybe, we will be gifted with something just as beautiful and amazing!

The Mona Lisa Effect

The Mona Lisa Effect is when the eyes of a portrait appear to follow you as you walk in front of the painting.

Here is a little poem I wrote about Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece with the mysterious smile.

MONA LISA’S LOOKING

Mona Lisa’s looking, looking.

What does she see?

She’s looking at me!

I try to smile sweetly,

to work so discreetly.

It’s sometimes distracting –

I’m over-reacting!

But to work as the watched,

I’ve totally botched…

Maybe I’ll be brave, some of these days

and I’ll just return her gaze!

Here is a forty second video of Mona Lisa.

Oh my, it appears that about a year and a half ago, scientists proved that Mona Lisa no longer cares to look at us. Well, even if Mona Lisa isn’t watching us, the world is. As we strive to right the wrongs, may we make wise choices for the good of everyone.

MIRACLES AND DUETS: Visits from Beyond

The miracles were prolific before he passed. Could there still be miracles for us?

This week marks the four year anniversary since we lost our dear son, James. There is not a day, sometimes not an hour that I don’t think of him. He was with us for an amazing seven years from his pancreatic “c” word diagnosis until his passing. It would have been nine years if we had counted the time from when his symptoms began.

For a large part of that seven year period, our refrigerator displayed a white marker board. I’d written an Albert Einstein quote upon it.

” There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

We certainly needed and felt the presence of those miracles back then, but after he left his earthly existence it was different. I’d invested so much energy into doing what I could to help him, that my miracle mindset was dramatically subdued.

I remember a few days after his passing, I did tell his wife I’d heard if one sees a cardinal that it is a sign of our loved one. She then reminded me that he loved mourning doves. I acknowledged that was true.

Back at our place the next morning, my husband and I were relaxing with our tea and coffee on the deck. Our attention was drawn to the electric wire across the front of the yard. Not only was there a cardinal perched upon the wire, but also a mourning dove! What’s more is that they were singing a duet!

This seemed to be quite magnificent evidence that our loved ones can send marvelous signs to us from the other side! Perhaps miracles had not forsaken my life after all!

There are days, however, when I especially regret not having our son here. One such time was a month or two ago. There was a video someone posted on Facebook of a mother and her young adult son (From Jordan Rabjohn Music) singing the duet, Rise Up. Here is the video.

You can see and hear how this inspirational pair tugged at my heart strings. It made me long to have James here so we could sing our own duet. When he was a young boy, he, his sister and I would sing little childhood songs, then later we would vocalize along with pop music on the car radio or our home stereo system. He, of course, had vocal music in elementary school. In middle school, his vocal music teacher told him he was quite good at singing. Even though he was a sax and guitar player who loved to dance for the sheer fun of it, he opted to not take vocal music in high school. Alas, especially now, our duet was not destined to be.

Just last week, I had an interesting series of dreams. It started early one morning, shortly after 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. I’d briefly awoken, then fell peacefully back to sleep. Following that, I had a string of what seemed to be abandoned dreams, immediately and disappointingly becoming aroused after each. The first was a cheerful, bright yellow Volkswagen, covered in hippy style flowers, pulling into our driveway from the east. Then, blip, it was gone. In the second dream, I was one of a group of four standing together, facing east beneath our large maple tree north of our home. Then, boop, it disappeared. The third and last was a beautifully elaborate peacock drawn in ink upon a circular, pale golden-brown parchment paper. Then bop, this one left as well. It seemed strange and quite disconcerting to have these snippets of what appeared to be starts of wonderful dreams, then I would become abruptly alert. I figured I may as well get up as I was certainly wide eyed by now.

I did write all this down, pondering a potential meaning. Could these three unfulfilled dreams perhaps represent stunted hopes: having James in the earthly realm or experiencing a so called normalcy of post pandemic life…?

As my eyelids grew increasingly heavy, I eventually returned to bed around 7:00 a.m. Immediately, I dived into an unbelievable dream. James was strikingly dressed in a black tux and white shirt, strolling about a room and singing a cappella. I listened and watched in awestruck gratitude. Mysteriously, I joined in by harmonizing with him on the refrains of a melodic song I’d never heard or sung before! My heart leapt with joy! Afterwards, I gave him a big hug, requesting that we do this again. He agreed! What a beautiful dream!

The evening of that same day, guess who was on our electric wire out front? Of course, it was a mourning dove and a cardinal! I truly do not see them together often. When I do, it seems it is a special day that for some reason is strongly connected to James. The next morning, I began writing this very post. In the middle of composing it, I looked out our kitchen window. There was Mr. Cardinal on the wire again, along with a mourning dove. The cardinal was inch by inch slyly hopping ever closer to the mourning dove. Entertainingly, the dove was fluffing up its feathers as if to make itself appear more intimidating as the diminutive red bird approached! Well, sighting these two birds in an unprecedented consecutive pair of days confirmed that this time had a substantial connection to James.

In pondering my brief dreams which barely dared to play peek-a-boo, I’ve decided they were vignettes of the larger dream that was to come. Remember, there was the cheerful Volkswagen, the four figures standing together, and the beautiful peacock within the circle. These minuscule dreams seemed to be introducing a grand dream in which I would be cheerful, feeling the four (of our original family) can still connect and that there is continual beauty in the circle of life.

Do you wonder the title of the song James was singing? It was an unfamiliar version of “I Believe in Miracles”! Yes, miracles!

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