Summer Solstice

My father started a gathering 28 to 30 years ago, that he named the “Solstice Gathering”.  Part of his vision was to bring people together from all walks of life to fast from food, phones, TVs, radios, and the daily distractions of life and participate in our Native American Indian ceremonies so that a spiritual space that was safe could be created and remind us of/rekindled our connection to our creator and all of life.

Our Solstice gatherings started at Sundown on June 17th and ended the morning of June 21st, with a feast on the last morning.  Our solstice gatherings have always been 4 nights and 3 days.

Solstice gatherings are meant to be difficult and an ordeal as my father like to say.  That is what pushes us outside our comfort zone to look at ourselves and our lives and hopefully to start to glimpse our own essence, and the essence of all life.  By glimpsing the essence of life brings us back to that place of feeling connected with all of life and not separate from it and feeling alone.

I have journals for various purposes and one of my journals I use to write down spiritual things that I don’t want to lose and to help remind me of my way back to my own path, when I have drifted from it.

Here is something I found in this journal that speaks about the essence of life and connectedness (I don’t remember where this comes from, but I wrote it in my journal around the time I was attending some talks that a Tibetan monk was doing in our area and that I found these talks and sharing of information, deeply profound):

Look at the source of your thoughts.

Where they come from – the essence of your being.

Which is the same essence in all living things.

The place of Connectedness!

By experiencing the essence of your being, then you start to see that all things arise from the same essence and there is no duality.

Then you can start to not hold so tightly to a joyful or sorrowful experience, because you realize they come from the same essence and there for you can return to this place of essence, where it is calm and be content that life is ever changing. 

Joys and sorrows will come and go, but the place of your essence, your being, the oneness of all living things never changes or ends.  It exists in all of life and all of time. 

You can only understand this by directly tasting the experience of life in all of its many faucets and remember to be grateful for being a live and enjoy every moment!

We did not have our Solstice gathering this year, so I wanted to post something to honor this sacred time and those who I have shared many, many, many solstice gatherings with over the years.

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of sunlight for us here and each day after the Summer Solstice the days start to get a little shorter, until we find ourselves waking to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of sunlight.  But hold the dream of the returning sunlight deep in your hearts and never lose your hope and faith that the Sunlight will return and the light and dark come from the same essence of life!

May you all have a blessed year!

Enjoy

RainSunshine

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The Circle of Life

I’m sitting on my front porch steps and it is a beautiful morning.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and there is a slight cool breeze blowing upon me. 

I remember sitting on these same steps 13 years ago when we first moved here.  I would hand write letters to my father and share with him my joy at living here and how I was shifting gears and creating a new life for myself.  A life that would allow me to live more in the moment and live closer to nature.  That seems so long ago. 

As I sit here this morning and I look around my yard, I see that it has been transformed greatly from 13 years ago. 

ElderBerriesSm

Elder Berry Flowers

We have raised beds that I grow herbs, flowers and few garden vegetables in.  I have planted trees, blue berry bushes, rose bushes, wild lady slippers and flowers.  

We have chickens up on the hill beside the house that provide us with eggs and meat.  The chickens not only entertain us and our grandchildren, but they teach us some lessons about natural laws, that most of us are disconnected from these days. 

Last weekend my grandson got one of his first lessons in one of these natural laws.  What we call the,  “The Circle of Life”.

Danny and I were standing on our porch talking last weekend, when I looked over at the bottom of our porch steps and I saw our cat, Joe (named after the man we got him from) had caught something and it looked fairly large. 

I pointed it out to Danny and he walked down the steps to Joe and leaned over to take a closer look at what Joe had.  It was a rabbit.  Not a full grown rabbit and not a baby.  I would say it was a teenage rabbit, for a lack of a better term. 

Danny noticed that it was still alive, so he took it away from Joe.  Joe was not happy about his prize being taken from him.  After all, this was his catch.   

Danny handed the rabbit to me and I noticed it didn’t seemed hurt any where, but its heart was racing as fast as a locomotive train. 

I said to Danny,

“lets go down and show it to our grandson”. 

 

Danny smiled. 

I handed the rabbit to Danny and grabbed my car keys.  We jumped into my car and drove down our road a 1/2 mile to where our kids live.

When our grandson (who is 4 1/2 years old) came out to see us, his face lite up with a big smile when he saw the rabbit in Danny’s hands.  When he next looked up at us you could the wonder twinkling brightly in his eyes. 

It brought a great big smiles to our faces. 

We let our grandson pet the rabbit and we talked about how we came upon the rabbit and the kinds of things that rabbits like to eat and things they like to do. 

Then Danny said to our grandson

“we need to go over to that field and let the rabbit go free, do you want to come with me?” 

Our grandson nodded an agreement that was full of enthusiasm. 

RabbitSmall

Danny and our grandson freed the rabbit and when they came back, I detected something slightly different in our grandson.  I sensed peace or joy or satisfaction, or maybe all of those emotions in him, I’m not sure. 

Our grandson wanted to come home with us and take a short hike.  It is something the three of us regularly do, when the weather is nice. 

When we got to our house and headed down the road on our hike, I looked over and saw our cat, Joe in the neighbors fields in a crouched position.  His hunting posture.

I mentioned this to Danny and my grandson, and our grandson wanted to go over and see if there was a rabbit’s nest near where Joe was crouched.

When we got within 10 feet of Joe, he suddenly pounced and came up with another teenage rabbit in his mouth. 

He didn’t hang around.  Before we could even think about about what we were seeing, Joe took off like a streak of lightening and headed for our house.  He was determined to keep his prize this time. 

Our grandson wanted to go back home and save the rabbit.  I gently explained to him, that by the time we return back to our house, that Joe may have killed the rabbit. 

Our grandson expressed some sorrow about this.  We explained to him that everything has to eat.  That one of the things that Joe eats, is rabbits. 

We explained to him that we (humans) kill to eat.  We kill cows, chickens and plants so that we can live.  It is what we call

“The Circle of Life”. 

 

He looked up at me and said “I know what else we kill”.  I asked what that was.  He said “Gorillas”. 

I was so surprise by that comment.  He does watch a lot of nature shows. 

I said “yes, we do Gorillas, but not for food.  This kind of killing isn’t a good thing to do.  Life is sacred, and should not be wasted”. 

He thought about for it a moment and said “yeah”. 

When we returned home, Joe was hiding under Danny’s camper with his rabbit.  Joe had killed the rabbit this time and he had already eaten part of the rabbit. 

Our grandson got down on his hands and knees with Danny to look closely at the rabbit and to get a glimpse of  “The Circle of Life”. 

He thought it was gross, but he seem to understand “The Circle of Life” and he wasn’t afraid. 

Enjoy!

A Mirror

I was looking for some paper to write a list of things down on that I needed at the grocery store today.  I was getting ready to head into town and I didn’t want to forget anything, since it had just started to snowing hard on our mountain.  We may need to dig in for a little while, after I returned home.

I picked up a notebook and I started thumbing through it. I noticed that there was something written out in my hand and it was long, like a letter or something.  I started reading it and realized it was one of my own writings, I decided to publish it here.  I hope you enjoy it!

A Mirror

I was sitting on my front porch listening to her share her dreams and thoughts about a new life that she and her younger husband want to create for themselves.  I heard joy and hope in her voice and as I looked upon her face I saw that it was full of wonder.   I could see that she thought unlimited possibilities lay at her feet and all about her. 

As beautiful as this was to see, it was like a mirror for me.  Mirroring back to me a time when I first came to Paint Creek.  I’m sure I must have looked  the same way and I may have had some of the same dreams and thoughts. 

I remembered how wonderful that time felt and how things just seem to flow so easily.  I didn’t know then how hard things would get at times living on the mountain and the new life we were trying to create for ourselves.  I was naïve and newly in love, just as I imagine my new neighbor was.

There was a brief moment when I had the desire to tell her about all the things I didn’t know, that made my transition from my old life to this new life much harder.  I stopped myself and just sat there and listened to her share her hearts desires.  When she would take a pause, I would encourage her to continue on by smiling kindly. 

I understood in that moment that we all have our own path to walk in this great life and it is the walking of the path that leads us to growing in our own experiences, our own wisdoms and our own understandings of the world and ourselves.  Why would I want to prevent this from unfolding for her in the way her life journeys was meant to. 

Update:  This was written several years ago.  Sadly the couple in this story have chosen to go their separate ways, but I loved this story and the wonderful memory from that beautiful and sunny day sitting my front porch.

Enjoy!

Celebrate Earth Day

Today is April 22.  A day chosen to celebrate the earth worldwide – Earth Day.  Earth Day was founded in 1970, as a way to promote love and respect for the planet and help to bring awareness to environmental issues that we humans are creating. 

Wow, I didn’t realize that Earth Day was founded in 1970, until I did some research recently.  I think today is a good day to reflect on our environmental progress as a nation and as individuals. 

I know I do many things different in my life today, than I did in the 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s.  I’m certainly living more green.  I try to reduce the amount of waste I generate, reuse what I can, recycle, I don’t use chemicals on our property, I have quit using most of the harshes chemicals in my house for cleaning, I use my own bags at the grocery store – most of the time these days, and we have our own chickens for eggs and meat. 

I’m glad my habits have changed in ways that are better for the planet and the next generations that follow me – us.  But I’m still not doing enough, but I’m doing the best I can for now. 

I don’t want to get on a soap box.  I just want to bring some awareness to Earth Day, and invite you to think about Earth Day and invite you to participate in Earth Day.  There are lots of enjoyable things you can do for Earth Day.  Even it is as simple as taking a walk with family and/or friends today and appreciating the beauty and splendor of life.  This would we a great beginning and enjoyable way to spend the day. 

In fact, there is a whole movement (Picnic for the Planet) out there that is promoting Picnics on Earth Day.  People are having small to very large picnics everywhere.  What a great idea.  To learn more about this movement, check out Picnic for the Planet

Another interesting group out there is The Earth Day Network.  They are promoting A Billion Acts of Green.  Awesome!  There is lots of information on their web site.  I just found this link this morning, and it looks really interesting.  They have a link to a group called the “Women and the Green Economy” (WAGE™), which looks interesting, but I don’t know much about it. 

The Earth Day Network has lots of links to various projects and groups.  If you are interested in learning more about the Earth Day and living more Green, I think you may find something on this web that will interest you. 

There is even an Earth Day flag.  The first Earth Day flag was made from recycled items.  Here is a picture of the Earth Day flag:

Flag

I like that this flag promotes the awareness and well being of the Earth, since the Earth is our home and vital to all life here.  It is a universal symbol for all of us. 

The Earth Day Flay represents something that we all have in common and we all have an invested interested in – Our Planet, and it doesn’t matter who we, where we come from, what religion we follow, how rich or how poor we are, we can all come together on this issue of ensuring the health of this planet for ourselves and all the generations to come.  We can think of the Earth Day Flag as The Flag of the People. 

If you chose to do something today or this weekend in recognition of Earth Day, consider posting what you chose to do.  It is amazing the creative ways that people  come up with to celebrate Earth Day. 

Enjoy!

Related Links

Random Act Kindness Update

A good friend of mine, Mik Wright participate in a Random Act Kindness (RAK).  I just wanted to post a quick update regarding the RAK.

Mik makes awesome handmade shoes (thoseshoes.com) and he made a free pair for a woman who is doing work in Haiti’s.  Here is her comment to Mik:

Mik ~

I got my shoes! They arrived yesterday, the last
possible day before my trip to Haiti for another three
months. Thank you so much. I will and do pass on your
random act of kindness. You have helped in more
ways than you know. You see, every day that I am in Haiti
doing the work that I do, I will step lightly and in peace
with your spirit in my soul(s). Thanks for your support.

With happy feet and smiles galore,

~ Kelly

www.greatergoodhaiti.org

If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally
transform one million realities.

-Maya Angelou

Wow!  I love the RAKs that folks come up with.  Keep passing them on and we’ll continue to make this great life better and better, with each RAK we do.

Enjoy!

A Birthday Adventure

I returned home yesterday from a week in the Caribbean.  It was a birthday gift from my youngest sister, Beth.  Beth had won a free cruise for two and she decided to take me on the cruise with her for my birthday.  What an amazing and generous gift.  For details regarding the contest, check out my blog post “7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise”.

When I returned home from the cruise on Sunday, there was a foot of snow on the ground.  This morning when I woke  up, it was raining down snow and we are expected to get another foot of snow.  Wow!

The cruise ship we were on was called the “Freedom of the Seas” and the cruise line was RoyalCaribbean.  Our ports of call were:
  • Port Canaveral, Florida
  • CocoCay, Bahamas
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
  • Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • Port Canaveral, Florida

The Freedom of the Seas (FS) was like a small floating city.  It had restaurants, a spa, a sports center, swimming pools, hot tubs, putt putt golf, a game room, arcade (video games), theaters, a skating rink, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop, shopping stores, beautiful lounges, a library, an online room for internet access, a casino, a bingo room, a coffee house, night clubs and pretty lounges, art gallery, etc..

The FS had 14 decks and there was artwork  every where you looked.  The theme of the artwork was “The Elements” – Fire, Air/Wind, Water, Earth. The artwork pieces that were chosen to  express this theme were beautiful and unique.  I really love this theme.

There were also quotes that were posted around the ship that expressed the Elements theme.  I should have written a few of these down, but I didn’t.  I was so caught up in the moment and enjoying myself, that the thought didn’t occur to me, until now.

Spa Date

Beth treated me to a massage at the spa.  It was my first professional massage.  It was heavenly.

They massaged our backs, feet, hands, scalp, and face.  It felt so good and I felt so good for several days afterwards.  It was the next best thing to good _ _ _ (you can fill in the blanks).

Beth and I left the Spa with huge smiles on our faces.

Saint Thomas Island Tour

Beth arranged an Island tour for us.  The tour was on Saint Thomas Island.  It was an interesting ride.  They drove on the left side of the road, and the roads were pretty narrow and full of traffic, but I soon started to relax.

We were driven up to the top of the mountain where we could take some pictures and where we could check out the tourist shops that were conveniently located at these stops.  But that was ok.  We saw some interesting stuff and some of the people were entertaining.  Like the man who had a donkey named Monica Lewinsky.  You could get your picture made with the donkey for a small donation.

The Islands were full of lots of tours stores.  Everything from cheap trinkets and clothing to fine liquore and jewelry.   Some of the Island stores preferred only cash and the ones we visited, accepted US currency.

Most stores were Duty Free, but remember that there is a limit on of the amount of Duty Free items you can bring back into the states, then you are hit with the duty for items over your limit.

Exploration through Snorkeling on Saint Martin Island

Beth also setup a Snorkeling trip/adventure.  I have never been snorkeling.  I was really excited about the snorkeling.

The water was pretty rough the day we went out, but I still really enjoyed myself.

I was a little nervous about only breathing through my mouth, but I was surprised by easy this was for me and relieved.

I got to see some fish, strange looking corral that looked like a human brain, black spiny sea urchins and white sea urchin, starfish, and ship wreck.

I actually got to hold a white sea urchin on the palm of my hand.  It moved around and I said to our tour guide, that it moved and he said “that is what alive things do” and smiled at me.

I also got to hold a star fish.  The star fish wrapped its self around my hand and wrist.  It felt strange, but good.  I really liked the star fish.

Cruise Ship Events

The food was endless on the cruise ship and very good.  We had so much to choose from, and of course I ate far more than I should, but I enjoyed every bit of it.

There was also lots of beer, wine, and liquor.  It wasn’t free or cheap, but we couldn’t resist having some on our cruise.

There was good entertainment on the ship.  We saw an ice Skating show, a Comedy show, live music – Motown style, play Bingo, Play a funny quiz game, saw a Magic show, and watched Aerial Acrobat that was performed by a couple and their show was so beautiful and graceful.  I loved it.

Beth won at Bingo (100.00 or so) and she won at the Casino.  We played the quarters game and Beth won about 30.00 dollars.  She was lucky on the ship.

Canon Camera Lost

My sister, Beth lost her point and shoot Canon Camera.  It had all her pictures from our  week long cruise we took.  She thinks she lost it in the Orlando, FL airport – Delta Terminal, but she isn’t sure.

Now, she isn’t happy about loosing her camera, but what she is most sad about, is that all her pictures are gone.

If you find a Canon Camera, if you could at least return the memory card from it with Beth’s pictures, that would be great.  How will you know it is her camera?  Check out my youtube slideshow below and if you see similar pictures, then you found Beth’s camera.  Just email me and we’ll take things from there.  I know it is a huge long shot, but no harm in trying.

Update on the camera:  Someone actually found Beth’s camera and turned it in.  The photos were still in the camera.  Awesome!

In Summary

I had an amazing and fun trip with my sister.  It was a trip of a life for me.  All the places we visited and all the things we did were great, but the best part of the trip was that I got to spend it with my sister and share many laughs with her.  She was a great traveling companion.  Not everybody travels well, but Sissy Beth does.

It was the best birthday ever!

I’m so grateful for this wonderful and generous gift.  Thanks Beth.

I also want to thank my family for their generous gifts and support. It wouldn’t of been the same with out it.

Thanks Danny for your understanding, love, and support.

Love you family.

To see a slideshow of pictures from our cruise, check out the below youtube video:

 

Enjoy!

Leaving on a 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

I’m getting so excited.  I leave for Caribbean Cruise tomorrow with my little sister, Beth.  Beth entered a cooking contest for a chef position on a cruise ship.  She did great.  They choose her as one of the 6 finalist. She didn’t win the contest, but she won a 7 night cruise for two and she invited me to go on the cruise with her.  Wow!  How awesome.  Here is an online article about Beth and the cruise: http://wheatoncollege.edu/quarterly/2010/12/03/newsmaker-beth-littlejohn-03/.

This is the first time I have taken a cruise or even ventured outside our country.  I’m so excited.

My birthday is tomorrow and my sister wanted me to have a special birthday adventure.  What a generous gift.  This is already the best birthday ever.  Thanks sis.

Stay tuned for future blog post and pictures.  I’ll be gone for a week in the Caribbean, so be patience and give me a couple of weeks to get things posted.

Enjoy the day!

KayAndBeth

Left to Right – Beth, Kay

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