Your Life Is Your Art, Yours Alone

Well… another Valentine’s Day has come and gone with me reading the feedback of the day on my Facebook wall… other people’s thoughts on Valentine’s Day.  Of course, there were the typical girls posting about wishing they had a valentine, or girls who were going out with girlfriends and having a good time regardless, guys who pretend not to care that they aren’t with someone… and the people that are genuinely happy together!

But you know, there was one comment on my Facebook wall today that I really enjoyed because I thought it was so utterly true: “why shouldn’t there be a day to celebrate love?  After all, we have so little of it in the world.”

That is not to say I think the word is a loveless place.  I just think that, as humans, we extend compassion to our fellow earthlings far too infrequently.  Our authentic humanity is loving, caring, kind, creative and wise – but being a part of a society, we have lost touch with these things.  Connecting to this part of ourselves is essential to having a wonderful life, filled with purpose.

Ever since starting my daily yoga regimen, I have found myself eating less and more healthfully, losing weight and most importantly… my mood has changed.  I have changed.  I am a better human now, more capable of extending kindness to someone I don’t know.  Customers like me better at work now, too.

I think a lot of the main problem is that people have lost touch with their core values.  It is important to identify those core values and live by them – you will experience huge strides in personal development and as a perk, you are living with integrity.

For example… here are some of mine:

Learning/Teaching – this is big for me because I love to learn new things, but also to pass on what I know.  I think this is why I love being a Girl Scout leader (though I am apprehensive about the dawning teen years, during which time teaching becomes awfully difficult).

Kindness – Well, I would love to get it from everyone I come into contact with, so why shouldn’t I strive to do that same thing to everyone else?  It’s the Golden Rule all over again.

Family – this is something I have always kept close to my heart, even when it seemed I didn’t.  Now that I’m older and have seen more of life (though of course, not nearly even half of everything!) I can appreciate my family and what they provide for me.

Feeling Good – this is a fairly new core value of mine, but I can’t believe I never recognized its importance!  I have realized that being a human in a society means that it is all too easy to abuse your body, even if it’s only by not getting enough sleep.  Add in a couple beers and all the crappy food the supermarkets sell and it’s no wonder we’re all grumpy!  I am currently on my way to becoming healthier, always.

Sensuality – this one is a secret.  ;-)

Enlightenment – when I was a small child, my Uncle Bruce told my mother that I would probably grow up to be “one of those girls that takes their bra off in front of the White House.”  Well.  What do you say to that?  I’m sure he meant that I was to become a hippie, which I now take as a compliment.  I don’t know much about taking my bra off in public protest, but the hippies seem to have had the right ideas.  As Brian from Family Guy once sang, “The 60s brought the hippie breed / We’ve ditched the values but we kept the weed!”  I just want to understand.  Working on this last one.

Actually, I am working on all of them.  I hope to one day incorporate all my core values 100% into my life; the general thinking is, once enlightenment has been achieved you will attract more opportunities and experience more moments of happy coincidence, effortlessly.

After all, what is life about if we aren’t constantly improving ourselves as people?  It’s not about this rat race we call life.  It’s about slowing down and watching the snow fall in front of the street lamps or going on a brisk walk on a sunny day.  The world is really a very interesting place…

The first step to creating an amazing, awesome, scintillating (I would be much obliged if people were to start using this word more often, it’s highly underrated) life… is to destroy negative self-thinking.  You have to first be selfish to become selfless.  If everyone could get rid of their negative attitude toward themselves, we could all begin to shine as people.  And then how beautiful would the world be if it sparkled?

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It’s Been Awhile…

It’s been awhile since I updated…  a lot has happened, I suppose.

I graduated college (back in December)!  Now that it’s been a little while since I’ve got my diploma, I can honestly say I’m glad to be done with school.  I have been able to devote more time to personal development, which is going great!

I have a job, too – well, more of a promotion coming up.  But that is fine with me, I don’t need to do something new just because I graduated.  For now, this is good.  I am looking forward to kicking butt at it, too.

I’ve been planning out things for the new year of the Young Friends of Hale.  It’s going to be awesome this year… we might get a grant from our home office, a huge step.  I can’t say too much more on that, but I know what we WILL be able to afford this year if we get it… costumes.  *fingers crossed*

My scout troop (I have fifth grade girls) are working on their Bronze Award and will be done with it sometime this May.  What a big step for them.  Quite a long way from the little girls I started with… where does time go?

Still trying to get over a certain someone.

Meanwhile, Chris and I are doing swell.  We are running low on foodstuffs in the house, so our cooking has got rather creative lately.  All I can say is, thank all the xenophobic gods in the world for NUTELLA.  Mmm!

I am getting kitties soon!  Pictures will abound.  They are a brother and a sister, Sonny and Evie.  They are coming on Saturday the 18th, about a week after they get fixed (this Friday) from Protectors of Animals.  My aunt and cousin were fostering them for awhile and I fell in love with them.  :-)

All else I can say is that I can’t wait to get back to the Homestead.  Life is better by the hearth…

(Okay and I miss the excuse to bake lots of delicious goodies to share with everyone…)

Stop Taking Life So Seriously!

“‘It’s snowing still,’ said Eeyore gloomily.

‘So it is.’

‘And freezing.’

‘Is it?’

‘Yes,’ said Eeyore.  ‘However,’ he said, brightening up a little, ‘we haven’t had an earthquake lately.’

– A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

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Things feel like they’ve been escalating into a ginormous ball of doom lately, what with everything going on and trying to do it all WELL… that’s the catching point, making sure you do things well.  While I’ve been stressing about this, that and the other, I’ve also made time to relax so I don’t die of a premature heart attack.

Aubree and I set up Halloween decorations at the house the other day; it was fun – I’ve never been able to decorate for Halloween before, since our house was always too far away from the road to get trick-or-treaters.  But this year, we put up orange lights, creepy mannequin-things and gravestones in the yard!  Fun!  I can’t wait to buy some candy and some booze, make some cupcakes and have a blast!

You see, I’ve come to a realization recently… I’ll even post a picture here to illustrate my point… cuz, ya know, pictures drive the point home…

I mean, you can’t take life too seriously, can you?  I’m busy, sure.  But I still find time to make a home-cooked meal every night, keep the house neat and get everything done that needs to.  And you know?  I used to race to work, convinced I would be late and needed to speed… but is my life worth it?  No, probably not.  Someone somewhere will disagree with me, but since this blog is for me and not for that person(s), who gives a monkey’s hooter, am I right?

It’s not that I stopped caring, it’s that I think I just realized I was heading for disaster.  I mean, I was doing so many things that were bad for me!  Now I can recognize the importance of taking a study break to play LEGO Pirates!  (Mwahaha, thanks to my hunny for the birthday present!)

Also, I am old now.  Twenty-two.  I looked forward to twenty-one for so long that I don’t know what to do with myself now!  Although I have been told this means I am now truly an adult since I had a year to party hardy.  I don’t think becoming an adult means I can’t party, though!  Screw it.  Maybe I really am a bad role model, in which case I shouldn’t be exposed to children.  Although one of the kids in the youth program at the Homestead remarked that I laughed a lot.  I asked him if it was a bad thing and he declared it wasn’t.  I wonder what that says?

LAUGHTER RULES!  If you can’t laugh, what’s the point in living?  Life is about love, peace, faith in humanity and the human experience.  And you know what?  There’s something beautiful begging to be laughed at in all of those things. <3

It’s No Wonder Birds Inspire Poetry

“Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle,

That while you watched turned to pieces of snow,

Riding a gradient invisible

From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell,

And then they clearly flew instead of fell.”

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I adore that poem by Howard Nemerov.  It was one of the random poems UConn has plastered all over the buses or in one of the buildings, I can’t remember where I’d originally seen it.  I do remember it being so pungent that I was compelled to write it down.

There is something eternal about sparrows.  It’s like that Owl City song “Saltwater Room”…

When I feel warm with your hand in mine

When we walk along the shoreline;

I guess we’ll never know why sparrows love the snow

We’ll turn out all of the lights and set this ballroom aglow.

So tell me, darling, do you wish we’d fall in love?

Yeah, all the time, all the time.

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I’m not generally a fan of birds (I have a bad track record) but they do seem to like me.  Especially owls and sparrows.

Here’s the owl that perched right outside my bedroom window.  He’s a beauty.  Credit to my photographically talented father.

18th Century Funerals

Hi all.  Did some research on 18th century funerals since it’s October and we’ve set up a coffin in the second parlour at the museum!  Since I’ll need to know what to talk about, I researched and decided to share what I found… enjoy?

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In the eighteenth century, wealthy American colonists were well aware of the fashions set in France and England.  Strong ties remained between the New World and the Old, but an ocean lay between sophisticated colonists and the newest designs.  The rigors of life in the colonies also demanded moderation.  A high mortality rate meant that colonists felt a strong pull to memorial symbols, and a tradition of social and religious conservatism led to sobriety in American costume.  However, as the century progressed colonists began to indulge in a wider range of jewelry forms made of more expensive materials and elaborate designs.

The traditional practice of giving and receiving sentimental jewelry, notably memorial and love tokens, was embraced by the men and women of the American colonies.  The custom of distributing gold mourning rings originated in Europe, where it first gained popularity after the execution of Charles I in England in 1649.  Most American mourning rings of this period were a variation on the engraved gold band.

Symbols that now seem macabre to the modern eye, including coffins, skulls, and crossbones enameled with black or white, were frequently incorporated into mourning rings.  These served as a constant reminder of the wearer’s mortality, while the circular band suggested eternity.  Scrollwork designs influenced by Rococo motifs were also popular decoration for mourning rings, and were highlighted with enamel or colored stones.  Bands were inscribed with personal information of the deceased, usually the name accompanied by the dates of birth and death.

Mourning or funeral rings were made to distribute at the funeral to friends and relatives; the quantity depended on the prominence of the individual.  While wealthier colonists commissioned their rings from London jewelers, they were also produced by American goldsmiths.  Early goldsmiths and jewelry makers utilized trade cards to establish their business and advertise the variety of their products.  The high demand for memorial jewelry was the foundation of the American jewelry industry.

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From Old Sturbridge Village’s website:

Today the physical and ceremonial realities of death are dealt with by specialists in hospitals, nursing homes and funeral parlors.  But at a time when almost all deaths took place at home, families themselves—with the assistance of kin and neighbors—dealt with the corpse and the rituals of mourning.  Without embalming, the body needed to be dealt with quickly once a death occurred.  The corpse was “laid out” and washed by relatives or neighbors, men for males and women for females.  In some communities certain individuals were known as particularly adept and sympathetic in the care of the dead and were often called on to assist at such times.  Customarily (in early America as in Britain and Western Europe ) the body was wrapped in a loose garment called a shroud.  Shrouds were usually made of white cotton (linen in the eighteenth century) and fashioned with long sleeves and an open back.  A simpler but equally traditional burial garment was a “winding sheet,” a long piece of sheeting fabric wrapped around the body and frequently used by poorer families.  A few families were beginning to break with tradition by burying their loved ones in their own clothes—the practice that Americans follow today.  Meanwhile, a local woodworker or neighbor was at work on the quick construction of a coffin. 

The coffin usually lay open in the parlor as family, friends and community came to pay their respects. Often, it was supported by wooden sawhorses or a pair of ladderback chairs.  The paintings and looking glasses throughout the house were themselves shrouded with white fabric out of respect.  Herbs such as rosemary and tansy would be set out in the room to counteract the smell of the corpse.  It was customary for the minister of the family’s church to come to the house to console the mourners and officiate at the funeral.  He would pray and sometimes offer a sermon.  After the coffin was closed and the lid nailed down, it was covered with a black cloth pall and carried to the graveyard. Over short distances it would be carried on the shoulders of the pallbearers; for longer ones it was conveyed on a hearse.  The mourners, with the family at their head, would usually walk in procession behind the coffin.  They would then approach the freshly dug grave, listen to a final prayer, and watch while the coffin was lowered and covered with earth. After the burial, the mourners would return to the deceased’s home for food and drink.

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Please note that in the 18th century Congregational ministers would not have offered prayers for the soul of the deceased. That soul was already in God’s hands and had been judged.  (This contrasts with historic Catholic view.)  Prayers would have been offered for the strength and comfort of the living.

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From www,trinity. com: FUNERARY RITUAL & THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY

Up until the early 18th century, both American Northerners and Southerners observed the English custom of the deceased’s family providing each of their funeral guests with a black scarf, a mourning ring, and a pair of black gloves–or at least as many of these that they could afford.  In 1721, laws were passed limiting such gifting to the six pallbearers and the officiating minister.

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Regarding the use of black fabric, from An Introduction to 18th Century Printed Textiles:

By 1700, English calico printers learned to block print cotton and linen fabrics in a limited range of colors — brown, black, red, and purple — and merchants in the American colonies were importing English printed calico and chintz by the first quarter of the century (see Montgomery, Printed Textiles, pp. 16 – 25.)

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According to primitiveways. com:

A deep, black dye can be created using water, tannins, and iron. Any natural material can be colored a black tone by first soaking the item in a tannic acid solution. Then the material is immersed in a second solution of iron salt to give it the permanent dark pigment.  (They say to start with acorns and tree galls.)

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Bloom Like An Artist

Wether you’re an artist or not, everyone can take away something from this…

Now To Speak On Something That Matters…

Recently, I went up into the Adirondack mountains in beautiful, rural upstate New York for a festival in the woods.  I have never been to such a beautiful collection of minds before, or since.  Music echoed through the woods from instruments that had long since fallen into obscurity, or on instruments that didn’t exist anywhere else.  You can YouTube “That 1 Guy Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and see for yourself, for example.  There were vendors selling – or just showing off for free – crafts… pottery, incense, jewelry, drugs (it was a festival, what do you expect?), or services.  For example, there were two guys who would let you sit in a chair while they would open your ears with their gongs, which were enormous and placed on either side of the chair, while you sat in between.  Can I just say, the vibrations are real… they do something almost magical to your body.

While I was there, I met this girl, Erika.  Erika is a Reiki practitioner and she worked her magic on me.  Reiki is really cool – it’s like getting a massage without even being touched; she uses her energy that she focuses through her hands onto your body and after awhile, you can feel its warmth and you stand up feeling so utterly relaxed.

Erika also was studying the seven chakras and showed me how to open them and soothe them so that they are all in balance.  I haven’t been able to actually achieve the balance yet, but I’m working on it.  I’m close too, I think.  I found some images on google that describe the chakras….


<<<<  There is an image on the locations of the seven chakras on the body.

Crown Shakra is located at the top of the head; its function is understanding.  Its inner state is bliss.  Balancing this chakra is said to give vitality to the cerebrum and affects the development of psychic abilities.

Brow/Third Eye Chakra is located in the center of the forehead, between the eyebrows.  Its function is seeing and intuiting.  Its inner state is ‘I know’.  Balancing this chakra helps psychic perception and balances the pineal gland.

Throat Chakra is located in the throat.  Its function is communication and creativity. Its inner state is synthesis of ideas into symbols.  Balancing this chakra is important for the speech and communication areas of the brain.

Heart Chakra is located in the center of the chest.  Its function is love; its inner state is compassion.  Balancing this chakra is important for the circulatory system, heart and thymus.  It also affects spiritual love, compassion and universal oneness.

Solar Plexus Chakra is located in the area about the navel.  Its function is willpower, its inner state is laughter, joy and anger.  Balancing this chakra is associated with calming emotions and frustration, easing tension and helping to better utilize intuition.

Navel/Sacral Plexus Chakra is located in the lower abdomen and sexual organs.  Its function is desire, pleasure, sexuality and procreation.  Its inner state is tears.  Balancing this chakra is associated with sexual vitality, physical power and fertility.

Lastly, Root/Base Chakra is located at the base of the spine.  Its function is survival and grounding; its inner state is stillness and stability.  Balancing this chakra is supposed to give energy to the physical body, controls fear and increases overall health and helps in grounding.

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I think the time is coming swiftly when average people need to learn this stuff.  Our generations, as we come into the world, are swiftly losing spirituality because they are fed up with the institutions of religion and all the rules that you must apply to life through them, sometimes going against inner nature or animal instinct.  I’m not about to go on a rant about religion, because I think religion does not exist.  As Benjamin Hoff stated in his book “The Tao of Pooh” (in which he explains the concepts of Taoism through the characters from The Hundred Acre Wood…. actually a very interesting read)…. true religion cannot exist without complete goodness and having every single person being of the exact same mind to understand a single religion all the same way.  This is righteously impossible, as every single brain on this earth functions differently from all the others.  Therefore, since religion is unable to be mentally processed by all in the same fashion and since true goodness probably does not exist – true religion is impossible.

HOWEVER, spirituality is something else.  Spirituality is very real.  A lot of our generation do not care to attempt spirituality, because religion has forsaken their line of reasoning.  The problem is, a lot of people don’t know they’re primed for spirituality.  Statements like, “There must be something” or claiming agnosticism because no organized religion makes sense… mean that an individual is primed for the possibility of being spiritual but no one has tried to pull the trigger yet.

Religion is a veil that covers what is truly important to us.  By being spiritual, I don’t mean praying to anything.  I don’t really believe in the power of prayer, myself.  But by understanding yourself, you can become able to understand the world.  It is not difficult to understand your place in nature, or your place in the balance of things.  By understanding yourself, I think true enlightenment can be achieved… and then follows inner peace.

I don’t know about you, but an era of peace sounds pretty damn good to me.

Good luck, Generation X.