3 Remarkable Mystical Women: Giving Thanks

3 Remarkable Mystical Women: Giving Thanks

 

 

 

Gratitude surrounds us this month, doesn’t it? We in the USA have created a day of Thanksgiving and regardless of how the story is told we spend a day together where many of us hold hands and give thanks. I was fortunate to have been with family and friends this holiday. It felt warm and lovely to break bread with them. I hope you have used Thanksgiving to give thanks too. No matter what is in our lives on any given day, we are here and we are participants in life. For that I am grateful.

I decided to share with you my thoughts and feelings about three incredibly remarkable, mystical women that have truly inspired me along the way; some you may know and some you may not. Since I am an avid reader and love to teach, these women are successful authors and teachers. They have been the stars in my sky especially when clouds got in the way of clear viewing. I am excited to talk about them and hopefully inspire you to pick up something different and amazing for your winter reading and for your holiday gift list.

 

Jean Houston, at 81 years old and proud of her age, is a lover of life, genius, storyteller, philosopher, mentor, and world renown speaker and teacher.  She has mentored me through her books to question the bigger picture.  Her sense of humor reminds me to lighten up and think BIG. Her book, The Wizard of US, enchants us with the retelling of the Wizard of Oz from a symbolic point of view. In A Mythic Life, she recounts her “dreamland” upbringing in Hollywood and intersperses her worldview and philosophy. I admire that she has been called by many all over the world, heads of state, governments, including our own to bring her love, guidance, and possibilities of co-creating, finding solutions to the critical problems we face today. She brings style, grace, depth all with an eager heart. Thank you, Jean.

Caroline Myss: Wow. She is like the North Star, a guide for a soul traveler. She too has authored many books and teaches all over the world. For example, Sacred Contractsmakes the world of archetypes understandable. As you may know, the world of dreams has been a passion of mine for decades. I appreciate her in-depth understanding of how our archetypes guide us. For me Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potentialthis work is invaluable.  More than her books I admire the teacher she is who reveals the person she is. I have gotten online webinars from her website and I am continually impressed at her depth and her clarity. There is no other word I can think of that describes her dissemination of complex philosophical understandings and her depth of the world’s history other than awesome! Her willingness to serve and be of service comes through and reminds me again and again that I/we came here to help create a great world, not mediocre, not one we settle for, but a GREAT world. We have that potential and possibility. It starts with you and me.

I continue to read most of her work. She has a blog, go to her site to sign up. I look forward to her blogs and her insights. I hope you will consider this amazing lady and explore her work. Thank you, Caroline.

Marianne Williamson, another woman facing self and working to create a new world, the new earth. She too has been on the inner journey. Years ago, I came across an article on the qualities of a true leader from The Institute of Noetic Sciences. This organization is dedicated to asking questions and then exploring answers in science, spirituality, and nature.  What can we do to improve this earth, where we are born where we play, create, explore and discover our potential. A true leader, they said, is one who goes on the inner journey and honestly knows oneself. Marianne is one such woman. Her books explore relationships, forgiveness, and love that use her understanding from the Course in Miracles as her springboard. Today she is daring to state our political process doesn’t work. How can we change it? What do we want from and can give to our political process that enhances our commitment to serve each other and not the bottom line?  Remarkable.

Marianne’s book The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles. helps us get clarity on the law of attraction looking at our deeper self.   Thank you, Marianne, for reminding me that miracles are a part of life.

Three women living extraordinary lives because they have listened to the call of their souls, the Holy Spirit, the Divinity that dwells within them, that dwells in all of us. Their gifts have blessed my garden and I look forward to walking new paths. Their collective clarion call to us is to wake up to our authentic self, be grateful for the old story, let it go and pick up the mantle as co-creators. The new is unknown. Remember we have each other.

With gratitude and appreciation for these special ladies in my life, I thank you.  Namaste. Judith

Blog: An Attitude of Gratitude: 3 Simple Steps to Take Today

 

 

My Native American elder friend, Grandmother Kitty, Nakota Sioux, who has passed, would often remind us to do everything with ‘an attitude of gratitude’. Being grateful for every aspect of our lives ‘in the moment’ shifts something deep within. Is it easy? Sometimes yes and sometimes not. We have to redirect that which bothers us for just a moment and when we do, our breath becomes our ally.

I woke up today realizing how the sun is traveling the morning sky differently from just one month ago. A kingfisher clicked across the backyard while other birds quietly sang their morning song. I usually begin my day with a warm glass of water with lemon juice. I felt grateful for the clean water I am able to easily drink. And that took one minute, maybe a few breaths of awareness.

Cultivating a mindful practice takes some diligent effort. Yet feeling grateful for something, our car, our job, our family, for being able to get up and walk where we choose and everything in between gives us an easy starting point. So here are 3 easy reminders:

  1. Choose to be grateful for this moment.
  2. Pick one area: grateful for the drink in hand, the food on your plate, your family. You get the picture.
  3. Focus on your breath, taking one inhalation breathing in gratitude for self and exhaling gratitude from your heart for others.

My podcast guest this week. Deb Sodergren, practitioner, teacher and author and owner of Up Vibrations, encourages her clients and all of us to breath deeply and

studioessen / Pixabay

be grateful. So stop right now and take a deep breath with me. Savor this one moment and breath again with the mindfulness of feeling grateful.

One of my favorite teachers, Caroline Myss, reminds us that every thought, word, and deed carries our name into infinity….pretty amazing!  Today I would like to end with gratitude. A reminder for me and a reminder for you….may the gratitude we feel for our precious life and all we share sail up to the moon and reach beyond the stars and bless all.

Remember, please comment and share. You are appreciated

Enjoy, Judith

Blog: Arbor Day: Trees: Our Allies, Our Partners, Our Hope

 

 

“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.” Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

 

Trees, tall and majestic, as a species, are profoundly connected to us. We value their wood for fire, warmth, cooking and creating tools, cooking implements, crafts. We use their leaves, barks, fruits, and roots for food and medicine. They provide shade in the summer, reducing cooling costs. They break the winds from the north providing protection from the cold. They offer habitat to diverse species.

My podcast guest this week, Dana Karcher, Program Manager for the ADF Alliance for Community Trees, says tree science is relatively new. I’ve been reading, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben from Germany. His research and others are beginning to show how holism principles apply to the forest, though many indigenous cultures knew/know this. Science is catching up.

Let’s look at the concept of holism: it is defined as: “the theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in relation to the whole.”

Scientists are discovering that members of the forest are interconnected. What happens to one can affect the whole. If one part is weak, then through an intricate underground network, messages are sent, received with help on the way. Fungi connect the dots and seem to help by receiving chemical signals through their networks that are connected to root tips. Fungi seem to be mediators, too seeking to distribute information and resources equally. The well being of our forests depends on their community. Isolated trees can actually lose their biodiversity and disappear. Therefore we can no longer go in with our machines, look for the best trees, cut them down often injuring others anymore. All parts are connected. Irresponsible logging destroys ecosystems which can take several years to recover if that is even possible.

” ..a tree is not by itself a forest. Together they actually create an ecosystem that can moderate extremes in temperature and generate humidity.” ( The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.) And its complexity is just beginning to be understood.

I saw trees near where I lived completely cut down for apartment development. A beautiful rolling hill was grazed of its trees, many of which were oaks. Oaks alone support over 500 species, versus a Bradford Pear which has now become invasive and supports little wildlife. Our insects need homes, and if we continue to take habitat away, then we see declines and even extinction up the food chain.  What are the implications then of removing trees for development?

First, trees give us oxygen.  “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” U.S. Department of Agriculture

Second, they help retain rainwater. When removed from our landscapes we see an increase in stormwater. Stormwater collects all manner of garbage and pollutants which end up in our waterways. “The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the groundwater supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” USDA Forest Service

Third, trees improve our health and add economic value to a property. “Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” USDA Forest Service

HoliHo / Pixabay

 

Fourth, trees help keep carbon in the soil.  With development like I mentioned above, acres of trees were removed and the soil dug up for housing development. This act alone sends carbon into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. “There are about 60– to 200-million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year and saving $4 billion in energy costs. National Wildlife Federation

 

Trees are a part of our world and therefore a part of us. They create intricate ecosystems that I hope will be valued again.

Please plant a tree and if you cannot, support the wonderful work that the Arbor Day Foundation, ADF, offers around our world. If you live in communities with rules, find out which ones support habitat and diversity and if they don’t, get involved and change them. ADF’s Alliance for Community Trees helps individuals and communities replant.

What stories do you have about adding diversity to your landscapes? Have you been able to make a difference in your community? I would enjoy hearing your stories.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

Interview with Katerina vanDeusen: Earth Steward and Scientist

 

 

My interview for this week’s post  takes us into a different direction. Earth Day is around the corner with many planned celebrations, conferences and dates. I decided to reintroduce to my readers scientist and ecologist, Katerina ‘Kat’ vanDeusen. She and I have been presenters at a women’s’ gathering:“Strawberry Moon Festival.” that used to take place in June. My elder who organized this event is no longer able to do so. However, I found myself looking over bios for the last event and came upon Kat’s bio.

Intrigued, I called Kat and she agreed to be interviewed for my blog..

Kat comes from a matrilineal heritage of healers, one of whom, her Grandmother from Puerto Rico, taught her how to respect, gather and use wild   plants. And yes, to sense the presences in nature that can guide us, heal us and provide for us.

Kat is a senior project scientist and completed graduate work for a masters in bio-engineering at Cook College, Rutgers University where she also studied molecular plant biology. She is the primary coordinator for an innovative program within her company, EWMA. EWMA primarily tackles sites in New Jersey and New York State. An environmental engineer, she uses her expertise for “phytoremediation”, using plants and trees to decompose the components of toxic pollution from contaminated water and land sites. This is a unique and effective program.

Many of our undeveloped land in these states have soils and waterways contaminated with:

PCB’s
Petroleum products
Dry cleaner fluids (particularly toxic)
Metals
Landfill waste

These sites are termed Brownfield sites. Our traditional way of dealing with contaminated sites is to extract the soil for example, remove it. Then the question becomes where do we dump this toxic soil? Other techniques for water breaks down the contaminants and then sprays them into the air. Is that further contributing to air pollution?

Kat is unique in this field. As a trained scientist she uses the skills and tools from her education. However, her grandmother taught her something about working with the plant kingdom in more traditional, esoteric ways. Kat has a knack for scouting out an area, observing plant species present which often leads to a hidden toxic dump site. How does she do this? The plants tell her, she replies.

How does she work?

  1. She evaluates the landscape or Brownfield.
  2. Evaluates plant and tree species present; these two steps are complex as our topography undulates, has curves and slopes.
  3. If she has to replant the area, she uses plants/trees in multiple steps to prevent further contamination into water or lowlands.
  4. Specific plants/trees can eat up contaminants, metabolize them, which results in in the expiration of water vapor into the air that is no longer toxic.
  5. First successors like cedar trees, pokeweed do this efficiently.
  6. Does it work? Ground water is repeatedly tested and these scientists note an 80% reduction in contaminants in the soil and water.
  7. Cattails (Typha latifolia), Phragmites are great at protecting habitats. Have you observed these plants around waterways near our highways?  While some may consider Phragmites to be invasive I find it interesting that these plants are part of nature’s clean up crew. Dandelions are soil stabilizers. Did you know sunflowers are planted extensively around Chernobyl? They absorb the radiation from the soil. Fukushima sunflower project is under way.


Kat concluded our interview by stating nature has effectively engineered a way to create balance and the renewed hope of cleaning up our mess.

Lastly, she gives thanks to the plant kingdom for their guidance and when done often feels she receives their blessing.

She states: “The true measure of a scientist is to allow themselves to be open to all possibilities not the empirical.” This philosophy allows the scientist within and her scientific curiosity to blend with her matrilineal ability to perceive plants differently: which plants give a clue to a problem, which plants can literally eat up toxins and bring healthy renewal to our land. Her projects are unique. Her approach is innovative. Her results are measurable and positive.

Earth Day is upon us; a national awareness time for our country to celebrate the abundance and bounty the earth provides for us. And, to highlight the problems before us and stimulate us to take action. I would like to see us honor the earth everyday, wouldn’t you? Katerina vanDeusen’s phytoremediation efforts remind us of the complexity of nature. We still have much to learn don’t we? Earth Day for me is a reminder to stop, observe, and give thanks.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

 

 

The Things That Count in August

Summer bouquet of wild flowers on a white background

Summer bouquet of wild flowers on a white background

What counts in August?

August comes in with heat and humidity. The days seem to roll by like a lazy river. Low water, little rain reminds me to be grateful that we have water.

Elderberries ripen and stain my fingers red as I pull them off thin and fragile stems before the birds eat them all. Elderberry syrup sends up a sweet vapor as I pour it into jars for winter use. Blackberries begin to ripen too. Jam making is on the schedule for next week.

Red raspberry leaves on young canes are perfect for picking and drying.

Corn, sweet corn, smothered with melted butter drips over my fingertips. Picked within the tall stalks, they click with the summer breeze and silence can be hard to hear.

Monarch butterfly, danaus plexippus, clinging to yellow goldenrod wild flower

Monarch butterfly, danaus plexippus, clinging to yellow goldenrod wild flower

Golden rod and black-eyed Susan’s leave a splash of gold on roadsides and fields. Their mustards and saffrons
provide contrast to fading purples of joe- pye weed and purple coneflower. Rose of Sharon offers branches of blooms while the garden continues to produce before fall planting. Most  trees haven’t turned yet though a few are trying as they toss acorns and nuts to the ground. Leaves sway with the occasional breeze. Thunderstorms and lightning liven up the clouds as if a special effect show.

 

Lemonade and ice cool down a body hot from weeding. Ice cream melts quickly and becomes a reward saved for sunset. Fireflies dance at the tree line bringing glitter to the night’s stage. Dragonflies flit over mown sweet grasses. Bats come out, one or two, carrying the burden of night time patrols, their numbers dwindling. The moon rises as graceful as a slow waltz while stars create a backdrop on a clear and darkened sky.

What counts inBelden meadow stream August are the sounds of summer. Somehow I hear the greens of forest and field deepen. I hear a change in the song summer sings as if a pause, a riff, a sharp that moves into a flat; a reminder that the wheel of the seasons turns no matter if I watch or listen, no matter how I hear. August reminds me of summer’s heat before the snow flies. The sun beats steady on cloudless days causing field and flower to go within. What counts in august are these times, the heat and humidity, the buzz and the harvest, the bounty and the savoring of sunlight, the first hint of autumn and coolness found within the forest.

My thoughts meander today as august nearly ends. Enjoy summer’s bounty and beauty.

Judith

Ending 2016 with Dreams for 2017

(white water-lily and its reflection)

 

 

Sitting in the stillness is a practice, a marker along the way for getting in touch with our Self. Stillness can feel awkward at first since our mind thoughts occupy and demand our constant attention. In the Buddhist tradition they refer to our mind chatter that hops from thought to thought as our “monkey mind.” It takes practice and commitment to sit quietly each day and tune out and turn off the daily world especially the daily world that replays itself in our minds. The Chopra Center offers many meditation practices I find helpful, calming and peaceful.

The water lily is found as a symbol all over the world. Its symbolic meaning ranges from unity to enlightenment, creation and creativity, universality. Its a great symbol to meditate on. As our world changes and can appear chaotic, meditation gets us to our heart and the heart of things. We connect to our Divine essence and maybe glimpse the idea, the feeling  “we are one”. Before the festivities begin can you spend a few quiet moments? Sit with a candle, soft music and allow yourself to be still. What are your dreams for 2017? What are your dreams for your self, family and the world? Feel your desires, send prayers out for others, be still for a few moments and let your Soul speak to you.

I wish to thank all my readers for their comments this year. It’s been a productive and prosperous one filled with many wonderful surprises.

May 2017 see your best dreams come true. Judith.

 

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