Afternoon Tea And Other Delights

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The gap between Christmas and the coming of the New Year has been quiet and filled with family and friends. We have been enjoying time together, playing with our new Christmas toys like a new camera flash and photo printer. There are new phones and surprisingly, a new remote control car and helicopter my 15 year old LOVES. I love that. Thank you notes have been written and posted and the house still glows in the evenings with candle light and twinkle lights. I have resumed some handwork and sewing and always find it so relaxing to keep my fingers nimble and create new pretties.

We are doing our best to avoid downtown Pasadena this time of year. The Rose Parade takes over our fair community and although it is fun and festive, it causes major traffic issues.

On this last day of 2008, I will go to the sea. This has been a year that has completely knocked me off center. I was seriously injured, I may no longer be working a job I thought I loved, I have lost a community and my reputation. Yet, the lessons remain. I think I can look upon this year with a certain amount of clarity, sometimes.

However, when I look around my home and the uncertain thoughts loom, I am greeted by a home filled with light and love. We had some surprise visitors on Sunday afternoon and I was able to set a lovely tea table with all of the sweets that have found their way into our pantry. As I look at this photo, I also realized that nearly every dish, cup, linen and votive were thrifted. The green floral juice glasses are a new addition. They set me back $2.95 for a set of nine. It is easy to enjoy life when it looks so pleasant.

I was up at 6am baking coconut cupcakes for a friend. We will go off to the shore, release our worries of the past year and contemplate the blessings this New Year has to offer, if only our eyes and hearts are open. We will feast on cupcakes and sea air. This morning I pulled out three Angel Cards. They read: Balance, Responsibility and Joy. I do not think I could argue with any of those blessings...

Blessings on this last day of the year and may your coming days be filled with love and beauty.

Happy New Year.

After Christmas Glow

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas morning arrived with a chilly rain and strong winds. The stockings were stuffed to the brim and the tree sparkled above the lovingly wrapped gifts. Everyone was surprised and warmed by the thoughtfulness of the members of our wee family. 

In the past, as the only adult in the house, my stocking was left limp and empty. However, this year I was remembered and gifts were showered upon me, simple but perfect. Thoughtful gifts, picked out with only me in mind. It made me smile.

We spent a lovely morning with my mother and aunt. We brought the table into the living room, close to the tree and heater! We feasted on Creme Brule French toast and Asparagus Frittata. There was fresh egg nog, sweet conversation and I was able to witness the lovely bond between my mother and daughter.

The afternoon was spent with my immediate and extended family. Now, as the youngest of eight children, the baggage we all tote around can be quite a burden. I have worked very hard over the last few years to release my mother and father from the bonds of what I THOUGHT they SHOULD be and try to see them for who they are. A man and a woman, who came together to bring these eight souls into the world, not a bad task really. They were not perfect but what I do know, is that they worked very hard to provide for us. We lived in a very small house with 11 people. I suppose that is why I am so comfortable in our wee cottage. I am used to bodies on top of each other and a long line for the toilet.

From the beginning, I have been the black sheep of my family, the hippie, the irresponsible one who ran off to India with my infant daughter. I was the one who has always brought my bags to the grocery store, shopped at Farmer's Markets and spent much of my life as a strict vegetarian. I know this may not sound far fetched in these times, but in the 80's-90's, I was quite the rebel in my mostly mainstream, materialistic family. I ate beets. That one fact drove them mad. I did not eat eggs. My sister and her husband are very successful chicken ranchers. That drove them mad too. One year, as my brother-in-law was driving me to the airport to hop on a plane to one of the silly, exotic cities I called home, he turned to me with head tilted and asked, "How did you even wind up in this family?" I don't know, brother. I don't know. my brothers and sisters stood around the bar taking tequila and vodka shots, I snuggled in with the kidlettes. Don't get me wrong, there was a time when I would be right there at the bar. A time long, long ago. I was a little uncomfortable that some family feuds were solved while liquor was involved. Can a conflict born of true emotion really be resolved while intoxicated? Will it stick when the pseudo-euphoria wears off? 

I left feeling tired, but more true to myself than any other time. There is no judgment, I hope it does not come off that way. I have just found that I am feeling a little more comfortable in my own skin. A little more confident in the choices I have made over the years. I feel as though I am not bound by my birth order, the baby of a large brood. Just as a middle child or the oldest child, the baby holds a set of challenges all it's own. Running to catch up with everyone, never quite pleasing everyone all the time. I know, I think it is a baby thing, or a human thing.

I am feeling a little glowy in my revelations and welcome the messages of these holy nights. We are enjoying the last few days with the glimmer of the tree in our home and the feeling that only giving of the heart can provide. It is the after Christmas glow, but I hope we can keep it alight for many more days...

Oh, How The Times Have Changed And Stayed The Same

Thursday, December 25, 2008

After years of sneaking around after the children were asleep, I actually filled their stockings while one of them was in the room. She was diplomatic enough  to keep her head turned. They are 18 and 15 now, so I feel a bit less guilty.  We have never been a materialistic Christmas kind of family. Each person got one or two small things they were yearning for and a few items of need. The stockings were stuffed to the gills with a piece of their favorite fruit, nuts, and a candy bar. 

The big booty came at their aunt's house. This is where the Gameboys, iPods and other gadgetry was won. We don't make lists here at home, but their aunt always requested one. It took me a few years to notice her selfless giving. Often times getting EVERYTHING on the list! I finally had to ask my children to be more conscious of their lists, I think they noticed she sometimes purchased everything too. My dear sister has always been aware that as a single mother of two, that funds were always limited. Certainly, my children did not NEED all she has given them over the years, but what they have witnessed what it means to give when you have the means to give.

I do not think it has made them materialistic or expectant. They are always very grateful and aware that giving comes in many forms. Here at home, we give more simply. At family gatherings, more elaborate gifts are showered upon the children. In the end, the heart force behind the giving is always the same.

This Christmas season, I am just so happy in our wee cottage. We have been blessed with time together and family nearby. The rain is falling out side my window, a cool, wet breeze wafts in from time to time. The Creme Brule French toast is soaking in the fridge and the breakfast table is waiting to be set. We have food enough for all, and love enough for all. There is nothing more to ask for this grey and wet morning.

Blessings of this holy season to all of you. 

Just a few peeks at the happenings around here...

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Aftermath

I love the aftermath of a dinner party.  I love the bread wiped plates, the last of the candle flicker and the dregs of the hot chocolate in fancy tea cups. We celebrated the Winter Solstice by feasting on sausages, roasted root vegetables and crusty country herb bread. There was rosemary infused olive oil for bread dunking, fresh butter for spreading and boughs of rosemary from the garden adorning the table.

The meal began with a reading of the importance of this particular Winter Solstice and them a moment where all present joined hands and envisioned one quality we want to see manifest in our new year. There was lots of laughter and a morbid conversation around murder ballads and inappropriate folk songs. We finished with a reading of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, zombie haiku and the lyrics of an old Nick Cave song, Sad Waters. Everyone at the table agreed that Jack should have jumped on the door with Rose at the end of the Titanic, for there was clearly room for him if Rose had just shifted over a wee bit!

We ended our feasting with lemon cake, violet hot chocolate with fresh Chantilly cream and peppermint bark. We did not even cut into the homemade apple pie! After dinner we sat around the tree while my dear friend insisted on straightening the wool Nativity scene under the tree. It actually looks very sweet now. We sipped the best egg nog in the world and giggled until way past our bedtime.

If this is any sign of how the new year will begin, I have high hopes surrounded by flickering candles, full bellies and warm hearts.

Winter Solstice Volume II

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A friend sent this to me. Impeccable timing, don't you think?

This Is A Unique Solstice by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles

The Winter Solstice is considered one of the most powerful times of the year by many cultures around the world. In the Northern Hemisphere this celestial event usually occurs on December 21st. The timing of the solstice this year will be Sunday, December 21, at 7:04 a.m. EST, 4:04 a.m. PST, or 12:04 p.m. Universal Time.

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and it heralds the initial impulse of the annual return of the Sun, the Light, to the Earth. This year the spiritual effects of the solstice will be more powerful than ever before. This is due to the incredible influx of Light that is pouring into the planet through the heartfelt pleas of people everywhere.

Humanity is experiencing the most intensified purging of the economic system, and the various other social structures that do not operate with a consciousness of the highest good for all concerned, that we have ever endured. This is a necessary cleansing that is paving the way for the physical manifestation of the patterns of perfection for the New Earth. The difficult part of this process is that the masses of Humanity do not see the bigger picture. Millions of people see only the painful situations that are happening in their lives. As a result of this limited perception, they feel overwhelmed and hopeless. This is very hard to observe, but it is not all bad.

After our fall from Grace aeons ago, we became so numb to the discord in our lives that we just muddled through our Earthly experiences accepting mediocrity as a natural state of being. We fell into the terrible habit of using pain as our motivator. Unless we were writhing in agony, we did not feel that it would help to take action or to ask for assistance from our Father-Mother God. For millions of people on Earth, prayer and an invocation for Light from our God Parents occurs only when they are brought to their knees by their life situations. This is exactly what is happening at this time for millions of people all over the world.

The Company of Heaven is revealing to us now that more people than ever before are reaching a critical moment in their life experiences. Consequently, millions of people are asking God for Divine Intervention. Many of them are praying for the very first time. This powerful event, in unison with the millions of Lightworkers who daily invoke the Light of God, has created the greatest influx of Light the Earth has ever experienced during a Winter Solstice. This Heavenly assistance will greatly empower the patterns of perfection for the New Earth, and it will accelerate our individual hopes and dreams by leaps and bounds.

Beginning now, and continuing for the next 72 hours, focus intently on the vision of what you want to manifest in your life and the lives of your loved ones. Focus on your visions for the New Earth and the harmony and balance you wish for all Humanity. This is a rare opportunity, and we are being called to action by our God Selves—our I AM Presence—and the Company of Heaven. Be sure your visions and your intentions always reflect our Oneness and the Reverence of ALL Life.

This event will pave the way for a God Victorious New Year. 2009 is going to be a year of miraculous changes. These changes have been in the works for quite some time, and now we are going to experience them tangibly in the world of form. These changes will not happen by chance. They will occur through the unified efforts of Lightworkers all over the world and the Company of Heaven.

I know there are a lot of dire predictions regarding the global economy and the challenges Humanity is going through, but we are not the victims of circumstance. We are the cocreators of our Earthly experiences. If we do not like the way things are going in our lives, we have the ability to change our circumstances. This is what we have been preparing for aeons to accomplish—and now is the time.

As the Hopi prophecy states: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

2009 numerically is an 11 year. Eleven is the master number that reflects the transformation of the physical into the Divine. The archetypes for the patterns of perfection for the New Earth were securely anchored into the physical plane in August 2008. In 2009, through our creative faculties of thought and feeling, we will expand these patterns into our daily experiences.

The purging and cleansing of the obsolete behavior patterns that have caused the maladies existing in Humanity’s lives will continue. But the wonderful news is, as these old archetypes crumble away, the expansion of the patterns of perfection for the New Earth will begin to manifest in ways that will bring joy, fulfillment and great expectations into the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

There is a new sense of hope flooding through the hearts of people around the world. Humanity’s hope is magnetizing Legions of Light from the Realms of Perfection into the atmosphere of Earth in ways we have never experienced. The Divine Intent of theseMessengers of God is to assist Humanity to move quickly through the cleansing process so that the bliss of the New Earth will manifest in the twinkling of an eye.

2009 is going to be whatever we cocreate together. Do not let this opportunity pass you by.

Patricia Diane Cota-Robles
New Age Study of Humanity's Purpose
a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit educational organization


FAX: 520-751-2981;
Phone: 520-885-7909

New Age Study of Humanity's Purpose
PO Box 41883,
Tucson, Arizona 85717

This article is copyrighted, but you have my permission to share it through any medium as long as the proper credit line is included.

©2008 Patricia Diane Cota-Robles

Winter Solstice

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Winter Solstice is upon us once again. I always love this transition most of all. It is quiet and silent and turns our heads and hearts to the core of winter. Although I am a summer baby and sun lover, and a Leo in all ways, the Winter Solstice touches me deeply.

I love the dark velvety night and the clear winter days. The bright blue of the winter sky warms me as I am bundled beneath my scarf and light sweater(sorry, it is Southern California.) I feel as though I can look far into the night sky and begin to see my year beginning to take form.

It is also the time of the Twelve Holy Nights. These nights fall between December 25 and January 5, just before the Epiphany. This is the time when the veil between us and the spiritual world is more transparent. I try to be open to the subtleties of my days and am very attentive to my dream life. The twelve nights are said to represent the twelve months of the coming year. If one writes down their nightly dreams, you may find a thread or theme. 

One year, I was very diligent about recording my dreams. At the beginning of each month, I would read my dreams from the Twelve Holy Nights. It was amazing how many themes began to manifest. It wasn't overt, but I felt as though I had a small guidepost for the year. It is also just nice to be open to these magical happenings of this special time of year.

I am being forced to re-imagine my life this Winter Solstice. I must find a clear path, or at least a visible path. I am going to embrace this sacred time, stare deep into the dark, velvet night and try to find my way. Happy Solstice and may the merry of the season fill your heart and home.

Things I Have Purchased For Under $1

Friday, December 19, 2008

I am an avid thrift shop shopper. I love the thrill of a deal and the idea that I am reusing an item that is already on the planet. I hope by living like this, I am helping to keep my use of mass produced items at a minimum. Don't get me wrong, I love to treat myself to a little something at Anthropologie now and again. I just get a thrill from finding a great item for under $1. Here are some photos of recent finds. Due to 50% off sales at the thrift stores, I grabbed a few great items!

I am always on the lookout for vintage ornaments in good condition. I love finding unique styles and colors. The Christmas Tree ornament is iridescent blue with white and black trees and one sprig of a tall grass. Silly, but so lovely. The white snowy one with a red center also has a blue spot and a hanging red tongue at the bottom. The photo does not do it justice. It looks very much like a UFO. I love it! 
The framed cross stitch was handmade by Viola. It was a Christmas present to her friend Stella in 1962. Or so says the inscription on the back. All of the linens were half off, this vintage tablecloth is faded in just the right way. I have been throwing it over my bed, I am still swooning over the perfection of the color.

I made Oatmeal Cookies with almonds, cranberries and dark chocolate, they are sitting atop one of two linens that were purchased together. After using them in the kitchen for a few days, I actually think they will be better used as bathroom hand towels. So sweet, they are both hand embroidered. Really, really lovely. 

I am swimming in the sweetness of my finds, my home feels cozy and filled with items made lovingly by hand, or handed down, until they have found me. I promise to care for them with glee.  

Living In The Moment

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For over ten years, I have been the primary financial support for my children. When I first left their father, I went back to school to finish my teaching certification. I worked long hours at a Thai food place in Eugene and attended classes full time. I had an angel in my life who offered to care for my children for the duration of my program, two years. For those two years, I did not have to worry about my long hours and school commitments.

 I knew my children would be safe while I put in a full day at school and then a long, late shift in the evening. The rainy nights made it difficult to transfer the children from their sleepy beds, through the rain, into the car, back out of the car, through the rain again, and finally into their own beds. On these long nights, my angel thought it would be best for them to spend the night, she would take them to school and I would be pick them up.

It was hard. Sometimes I did not see my children for a couple of days, mostly due to school, sleeping, etc. I know it was hard on them. However, I am so grateful for my darling angel, there are no words. After graduation, I accepted a teaching position in Southern California.

The three of us packed up our belongings, said a teary farewell to our former life and headed south toward Los Angeles. We made many stops to see family and friends in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. If you ask my children, they will tell you we stopped at EVERY mission along the way. It wasn't every mission, just three or four.

We finally made it. I found the sweet cottage we now call home and embarked upon the next chapter of our lives. I know it sounds lovely and sweet and it has been, but it has also been very hard. My job was demanding in many ways, academically, emotionally and spiritually. My children were often on the back burner. Please know, they were cared for and loved and fed, but I was rarely fully present. I never received help from their father, they have no relationship with him. He still struggles with addiction and it has been difficult for all of us.

I guess I shared all of this because as I type this post, dinner is cooking, the house is tidy and the children are off at their after school activities. I am no longer the only adult in the house, and have the love and support of a wonderful, generous man. When the children return, we will all sit around our table together. Only this time, I will be present. I will not be a million miles away, planning the next lesson or thinking about the parent phone calls I must return, but here, at our dinner table.

I feel so very lucky in this precious moment.

Embracing The Season

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I finally feel as though I am embracing the season. We brought home a sweet Noble Fir tree and adorned it with our best vintage ornaments and hand made lovelies. The lights glimmer in the cozy room and candlelight illuminates the dark afternoon. I found all of our artisan clay ornaments from our time in Eugene. I am so glad I made the decision all of those years ago to purchase a handful of Celtic crosses and wood nymph faces.

I even feel inspired to finish the handmade items that have been awaiting my attention. We also have family coming in from Hawaii and we can't wait to see all of their friendly faces! The rain we had yesterday left a sprinkling of snow atop our local mountains. What a treat it was to step outside in the crisp winter air and see snow overlooking our valley. I am anticipating time in our glistening, cozy cottage with family and friends.

I hope to fill our hearts and home with the light of the season. It feels good to have made it to this point. Just a few days ago I was feeling far away from this warm season, but I feel it warming in my heart. I hope you are feeling the warmth of the holiday season in your homes.


Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.


Monday, December 15, 2008

The rain is falling here in the City of Angels. It has been a steady down pour throughout the night. These are my favorite nights. I awake several times, just to hear the pitter of the rain only to snuggle deep into the comforter again. As much as I love the pink sunrise in my window, I welcome the rain. I love imagining the earth soaking up every drop, drinking in the steady flow.

I have always said, "There is nothing like Los Angeles after the rain." For all of the terrible things said about Los Angeles, it does sparkle after the rain. The mountains loom majestically over the valley, the downtown buildings rise up through the clean air and you can make out the glint of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

I am trying to clear my day so I can remain here at home, soaking up the gray, moist morning. We lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years. My children spent their wee years playing in the rain, decked out in rain gear and wellies. We walked in the rain, we played in the rain and we spent many a morning snuggled by the fire, drinking hot cocoa with whipped cream and dreaming of the bright, shining days of spring and summer.

Now, as we gather by the fan and try to escape the oppressive heat of July, it is mornings like this that we desire. So just as the earth is soaking in all of this rainy splendor, I will revel in the damp morning. I will recall how much we desired the rain on those hot summer afternoons.

And I recall a time when we lived in the rain and my children fit under my arms...

In With Love, Out With...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I have been going to a Restorative Yoga class recently. It is a quiet, meditative process, mostly stretching and holding the stretch for long periods. It has been good for my physical healing process and even better for my frame of mind. Yesterday, in one of the longer poses, I was deepening my breath and meditating on breathing in love, light and joy. I was attempting to release hate and resentment. It seemed healthy and deliberate, and well, good for me.

This evening during the class, I was doing the same, breathing in and out. I know, novel idea, huh? Anyway, in with love, out with...Oh, what if I released love instead of hate? In with love, out with love, hmm? Could it be?

So, being adventurous of soul, I attempted to breathe in love and breathe out love. Guess what? It worked. I did not have to keep anything straight, breathe in hate, release love...No, that is not right. I do not want to breathe in hate. But breathe in love, release love? I think I am on to something.

Winter Morning

Sometimes it is another person's words that hit so close to the heart.  I was looking for a poem that described my sudden urge to bring the holidays home, to enchant my sweet cottage with winter cheer. Instead, this dropped at my feet. Coincidence? I think not.
I saw a group of old friends from a former life. The only thing they kept repeating was how my face looked different. Rested? No. Glowing? Maybe. Pregnant? NO. In love? Yes, but I have been in love for a long while. Is that still showing? As I read these words this cold December morn, I realized, I may be glowing. I may be rested. I am in love. For certain, there is no wee one in my womb and that is fine with me. Why do I look different? Perhaps because all of the voices that have been plaguing all of my days are beginning to quiet. I am not pulled in all directions by THEIR desires, by THEIR will.

My own desire to prove myself to the world at large is starting to fade. I am attempting  to look beyond this physical world long enough to catch a glimpse at the bigger picture. The full life. The stream of truth that lies deep in one's own heart. One's own truth. The voices that indicated that those things were the same as pleasing the world at large are moving along down the road, without me...

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
-Mary Oliver

Today's Inspiration

Friday, December 12, 2008

I just saw this video over at Superhero Journal, and had to pass it on. Enjoy, collaborate, create. You can find Amy here. You can watch the sweet video here.

I hope it inspires your day the way it has inspired mine.

Moon Madness


As I lay awake in the white moon light,
I heard a faint singing in the wood,
'Out of bed,
Put your white foot now,
Here are we,
Neath the tree
Singing round the root now!'

I looked out of the window, in the white moon light,
The trees were like snow in the wood--
'Come away,
Child, and play
Light with the gnomies;
In a mound,
Green and round,
That's where their home is.
Honey sweet,
Curds to eat,
Cream and frumenty,
Shells and beads,
Poppy seeds,
You shall have plenty.'

But soon as I stooped in the dim moon light
To put on my stocking and my shoes,
The sweet sweet singing died sadly away,
And the light of the morning peeped through:
Then instead of the gnomies there came a red robin
To sing of the buttercups and dew.

- Walter de la Mare


Thursday, December 11, 2008

I had been trying to snap a photo of twilight. I was trying to participate in a Shutter Sisters Challenge, but I was always cooking supper at twilight. I haven't really figured out the Shutter Sister website and want to be a part of it so badly! It kind of reminded me of Liz and her Twitter challenge. I promise I will figure it out this weekend.

Anyway, my family was delayed, supper was ready and warming in the oven so I took the opportunity to see what was happening in the night sky. I was able to capture the full moon and a wee bit of twilight. I have had my camera for a little while, but have avoided reading all of the instructions. I just keep shooting until I get it right.

Tonight, I got something right, I think. I had to delete several shots, but ended up with a few great photographs of tonight's stunning cosmic delights. There is something about the full moon and the nights surrounding the eventful eve.

When we lived in the country on the North Shore of Oahu, I would bathe in the concentrated moonlight streaming from the heavens. I felt enlivened by the stream of moonshine and always felt a special connection to the moon, especially as a woman. The tides and phases of the moon are said to have a profound effect on women and their bodies. I am so happy I have finally been able to capture it's form and the effect it has when shining in my yard and streaming through my bedroom window. I have been known to awake in the wee hours of the night to find moonshine on my face, turn my full face to the full face of Her Majesty, The Moon, and soak in the violet light.


It has been challenging confronting this holiday and comparing it to last year. I know in comparison to others, I am lucky. I am making a strong physical recovery, I have a safe and sweet life. I know others may have suffered and are suffering in ways I will never know.

What I do know, is what happened to me. I injured my back after ignoring it for months. There were many signs that something was not quite right in my lower back, I would have severe, painful periodic episodes. Because I had my life to live, children to raise, an emotionally challenging job to tend to, I ignored what I was feeling. I began to ignore what I was seeing as well. Intense emotional exchanges began to litter my life. All of a sudden, I was charged by the insincerity I was witnessing in my workplace. I felt I had to fight for what was clearly plaguing my work environment. After a particularly heated exchange, mostly aimed at me for speaking up, I was speaking with a colleague. She said she was glad I was willing to fight this fight for everyone, that she was thankful I was able to speak up on their behalf. It was in that moment that I realized I was holding something for a group of people that were qualified to fight their own battles. If they did not want to, it was their choice, but I did not have to hold all of this for them. No wonder my back hurt.

The next week, in a silly freak accident, I herniated a disc, in a big way. I awoke at 3am, paralyzed. I could not move my right leg. The pain was excruciating. I had no idea what was happening. I had no idea how badly I was injured. What I did know is that I could not walk or move or get out of bed without suffering. I kept thinking that any day now, I would feel better. I spent the holiday season flat on my back, the only comfortable position was flat, staring at the ceiling. The Christmas Holiday arrived and I thought I would be back to work by the New Year. As I look back, it is hard to imagine how I survived. My children were getting weary from caring for me. I missed the last Christmas with my nephew before he passed in January. I still had no clue to how I would recover, if I would recover.

I became overwhelmed in my dealings with the insurance company. I was slapped in the face with the reality of America's health care. Everything has been a fight, from the largest thing to the smallest thing.

I keep thinking, is this my life? When did I choose this path? Do I require this lesson? Apparently I do. Here I am. I am trying to embrace this part of my journey, find the lessons and leave the rest. Spiritually, I feel spent. I am exhausted from sifting through the rubble that I thought was my life. I thought I was well situated in my career, in my family. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Now it has all been shook up form this injury.

I am still trying to reflect and make sense of it all. I hope this season, when the portal to the spiritual world is cracked open, that I will find some light, some hope, some clarity. Has anyone else experienced this kind of deep change at 40? I keep hoping it is a mid-life shake down. I keep hoping that at the end of this, I will hold some talisman that I can carry with me...

Readying For The Season

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last holiday season, I was confined to my bed. This year, although physically improved, I am struggling to embrace the season. I am hoping to bring a tree indoors this weekend and spread a little cheer. I found this sign at the thrift store and something about the simple statement, "Christmas Welcome" helped me say what I have not been able to say out loud. 

So, the ipod has some new Christmas music, there is sewing being done for gifting and as long as this sign does most of the work, we should be fine.
Welcome Christmas, come on in. There is eggnog in the fridge and a chill in the air, have a seat, I will be with you in a moment. 

Revel In the Obvious

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I think I can say that of late, I have been experiencing a dark night of the soul. I have done my best to keep it to myself. Even my closest friend was surprised to hear my admission this weekend. I guess it is hard to say, "I feel blue." or the dreaded "D" word, could it be? Depressed? If only I were more on top of my game, maybe if I could just suck it up, then I could lighten up.

So instead of being ashamed, today, I will honestly state, "I am struggling." However, in spite of the struggles, I will pull on my yoga pants, take care of some paperwork, take a trip to the post office and hit the early yoga class. Because what I do know, is that I will feel better. I will smile and breathe a wee bit lighter. I know getting out of bed seems obvious, but today I will revel in the obvious!

Night Musings

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is my favorite time of day. The dishes are drying on the rack, the house is still tidy from a weekly cleaning and most of the laundry is done. Our tummies are filled with homemade tacos and avocados from a neighbors tree. Homework is done, I think, and my teenagers are on the way home. I love that my daughter is still enthusiastic about driving on errands and fetching her brother from boxing.

I imagine a restful night's sleep under clean and crisp sheets, sweet dreams, in our sweet home. Have a pleasant night, and may your tummies be full and may your spirit be ripe with living. Ah, I hear her car now. Everyone is home. Sweet dreams.

Unlikely Anniversary

It is coming up on a year since my back injury. I did not know how I would feel as the date began to grow close. On December 13th of 2007, I injured my back. I was in bed and in extreme pain for many months while I awaited surgery. It was a complicated and confusing time. I had no idea what was wrong and had to wait weeks and months for word from the doctors.

I was stuck in an insurance nightmare. My fate was in the hands of the insurance company and they were not running to my aid. It was such a lesson for me. I have always "known" that I am not in control. Yet, every day, I did my best to convince myself otherwise. I organized and cleaned, I worked obsessively, I hounded my children and looked at myself in the mirror with a cruel and critical eye. From the very beginning, I knew deep inside that hidden in the pain, in the unknown, in the surrender, that there was a lesson not far from the surface. I could see early on that the universe had been whispering to me to alter my ways. I was not listening. Finally, the universe shouted, "Go lie down!" I had no choice but to obey. I had to plan the pain medication to coincide with using the toilet because bending was SO painful. When my children would leave for school, the click of the door signaled another day alone, in bed, unable to get up to even fetch a class of water.

It was in those days that I could see, none of us are in control of our destiny. The best we can do is embrace the moments that make up our lives. Surgery finally came and although generally, I steer away from western medicine, I knew surgery was the best option. It was a technical success, textbook. Physically I was healing very rapidly and with much success. It has not been until recently that I have begun to realize the emotional toll my time away from living in the world has taken on my soul, my family and my career. 

It is the simple details of the day that have been most appealing. I find I am seeking a different picture of what I hope for my life, for my children, for my love. I still find there are days I seek the solace of my bed, no longer confined to the down comforter and forced to lie staring at the ceiling-I find I long for the lesson. The lesson of surrender, of forgiveness for myself, to allow myself time. I still need time to heal, to hope and to love me and where I am today.
So on this day, my bed remains empty while I explore once again, how to walk, how to love and how to surrender.

There Is A Chill In The Air

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Life in Southern California forces one to experience the seasons inwardly. The external signs are subtle and sometimes easy to miss. For instance, now, one must remember to bring a light sweater in the evenings. You do not realize it is cold until you walk out into the night air, or have to run out to the car at 6:30 in the morning.

Often times, the sun begins to beat by 9am and the sweater is tossed away. Although red and green Christmas decorations have been in stores since before Halloween, one must remember, it is now December. It is up to you to recall that this is the season for turning inward. There is no great down pour of golden leaves, for the oranges are readying themselves for harvest. The wood burning stove does not begin to crackle and hot tea is really only needed in the early morning or late evening.

So, as I look out of the bedroom window at the oranges ripening in the dark green foliage, I must remind myself to reflect. To reflect on the summer sun and bring it into my heart, to warm my thoughts and being when the chill in the air greets me at dawn. 

How Do I Tell Her?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How do I tell her it is all going to be okay? How do I tell her that a broken heart hurts, well, until it doesn't? How do I explain that this feeling of fear over change may just be the first of many? That living on this planet means we have to learn to look at ourselves with clear vision. We need to always, always see our part and then admit that the only control we have is our own reaction. How do I tell my 18 year old daughter, the one who has been the light of my life, that her change is my change? How do I tell her that I don't ever want her to leave, without sabotaging her destiny?

She has a future so bright and shiny. How do I help her to keep walking toward it, even when your heart hurts, even when your body hurts, even when it feels like your spirit is broken, or damaged? How do I tell her, that frankly my dear, this is what life feels like? There are joys and they seem fleeting, but in fact they are as long as the pain. It is just that the joy feels soooo good and the pain feels soooo bad.

How do I tell her that in fact, she is perfection, even in her pain, always in her joy? I suppose I can't really tell her, I guess I need to show her.

The Midnight Run

My paternal grandmother lived with my family while I was growing up, she was my solace. After her death, she has remained my ever present guardian. There were eight children and three adults living in a two bedroom house. When I was around five or six, my father added two more rooms. It was an interesting addition, he simply knocked open a doorway in the second bedroom and added on two rooms. The only thing was, you had to walk through the two rooms to get to the last room. At one point, I shared the second  room with my brother. 

I have a birth defect in my right shoulder and right arm, I was pulled out of my mother with forceps and it damaged the nerve endings and muscle in my arm and shoulder. Each night, Nana would rub my arm with warm olive oil at bedtime to keep the muscles limber. When she was finished, she would tuck me in and kiss me goodnight.

You should probably know that as a child...and as an adult, I have been a wee bit afraid of the dark. I think it is my imagination that sends my mind into a tailspin when the sun sets. Each night Nana tucked me in, I would wait with bated breath for the moment I could make my escape. When the house would grow quiet, I would ready myself for the run of a lifetime. I would silently pull down my covers and while still holding my breath, I would run down the dark hall as fast as I could. In one smooth jump, I would land on Nana's bed and snuggle myself into the spot between her warmth and the cool wall. There I would stay until morning. She never made me leave, she never mentioned it to me when she tucked me in and she never forbade it. 

The risk of the midnight run was always worth the warmth of my grandmother's bed. Each morning, I would turn over in the dim sunrise and watch as she put on her pantyhose and housecoat that had been hung over her chair the night before.  My brother has that chair in his house, that makes me so jealous. My only comfort is the fact that I will always have the nights and the thrill of the midnight run. 

The Women

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There is a corner in my wee home that holds the photos and keepsakes of my women ancestors. The photos are of my grandmother, May; my mother, Lucille and my Chinese grandmother, whom I knew only as Ahpo. She spoke no English, but my daughter has her smiling almond eyes. In this, the connection is confirmed. Each and every one of them had a long and arduous life, a lifetime filled with lifetimes.

My Chinese grandmother immigrated from China to Hawaii to marry a crippled man. The rumors are that the least expensive passage was to be smuggled in a coffin-like box. She spent the remainder her days in Honolulu working the pineapple fields and raising eight children, all birthed at home. The last birth was a twin birth, but there was no one present who knew that and so the second twin did not live. His brother has been living a full life. He is a physician and philosopher, musician, writer and world traveler. He is a teller of tales and the keeper of family lore. I believe he has made his brother proud. My mother was her third daughter, Sam Moi. These were the names my grandfather intended to give the children when he registered them at the city hall. The women at the desk convinced my grandfather that the babies must have proper names. It was these women who named my aunts and uncles. I always wondered how my non-English speaking grandparents came up with such a motley collection of English names for their children Loretta, Edmund, Lawerence, Kathryn, etc.. I actually never knew all of their names until I was older because they called each other by their Chinese names: First Son, Second Son, First Daughter. All of these Chinese names were abbreviated to names that filled my childhood with chuckles and bewilderment. Let's, see...there was Uncle Duck, Uncle See, Aunty Y. The images that were conjured in my mind's eye were plentiful, fanciful ducks, an elaborately written letter C and simply, Y? Why? 
As Hawaiian culture dictates, anyone who is close to one's family instantly becomes an uncle or an Aunty. I suppose I was ten when I realized that Aunty Betty, who was Hawaiian-Korean, was not in fact related to me at all. She and my Aunty Nancy were actually my mother's oldest and dearest friends, but were an integeral part of our lives. Their children were like our own cousins. The Korean aunty thing really confused me. How can she be Korean when nobody in our family is Korean? 
The other funny thing about the Chinese part of my Hawaiian-Chinese background, is that the Chinese part NEVER tells anyone, anything! Yes, every secret is a deep family secret. Even if it is not a secret, even if it is just a misunderstanding, it becomes a silent secret held by all. I spent most of my childhood in the dark. I never knew real names, real lives or if I were actually related to the people I so dearly loved. 
In short, I grew up loving everyone and knowing nothing. Not a bad thing in the end. More to come...

Flowers, Fruit, Cool Water and a Wish

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend has come to a close and December is upon us. The weekend was lovely, there is nothing like time to enhance the time we have together. I especially love the feeling of thinking it is Sunday when it is really only Saturday. We spent a leisurely morning browsing through thrift stores and tending to household chores. When Saturday afternoon arrived, it felt as though I had all the time in the world with those I love. As much as I love Sunday afternoon, there is nothing like the feeling that we all have one more day together.

 I just purchased a beautiful camera strap from Emily Falconbridge's Etsy store. If I could take a photo of it, I would. Unfortunately, it is attached to my camera and thus difficult to document. You will have to trust me, it has enlivened my photo taking bug. I have been snapping lots of shots around the house. My blueness has forced me to take a good look around, weigh the aspects of my life and find the most valued of my treasures.
I am surrounded by so many. I live in a teeny tiny house. I joke that it is a French country house, and actually, it feels like one. It is blessed with a lovely yard, perfect for a garden, fruit trees and lounging about. My favorite pastime is embroidering the leaves of the various plants in the garden. I will share photos soon.
I have always appreciated my wee home and the shelter it has offered, but just recently I am able to embrace even the simplest of details. It is cozy and cost effective and forces my family to learn to live together, did I mention there are no doors? Well, there is a front door and a back door, and a bathroom door. Otherwise, thin veils of green curtain separate us from each other when we slumber. 
It is a simple dwelling, but as I look about from my camera lens, I find that blessings abound in every corner. So today, I greeted the day with flowers, fruit, cool water and a wish.

Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I suppose this is something I should do daily, but here goes:

I am thankful for:
  • The rain
  • I am able to see bits of the sunrise from my bed
  • My healthy children
  • My true love
  • Feeling less blue
  • Time to regain my balance
  • A man who does the dishes
  • A daughter who fills my heart with pride
  • A tall, tall son who still wants to hug and snuggle with his mother
  • My down comforter
  • My sweet French cottage
  • My new car
  • The ability to pay all of my bills and still have a wee bit of money left
  • All of my books
  • My mother and the fact that I still have time with her to right all of my wrongs toward her
  • My sisters
  • My brothers
  • My students and all the lessons they have afforded me
  • Their parents and all of the lessons they have given me
  • Love
  • My trials, for they make me strong
Thank you.

A Simple Life

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

While in Carpinteria a few weeks ago, I found myself in my favorite antique shop. Just like thrift stores, I always get a little tickle, a foreshadowing that I may find something brilliant. On this occasion, I found a sweet vintage tablecloth. This is the same store in which I found an Asian print vintage tablecloth, which I think is kind of rare. I just had to have it, and I use it often.

As I was paying for the new, old tablecloth, the storekeeper asked if I used the tablecloths. I looked at her quizzically, 
"You mean, do I put them on the table?"
 "Well, yes. Do you just collect them, or do you use them?"
Of course I replied that I indeed use them, even with my 15 year old son in the house. I purchase them because they are lovely, because I like to look at them. It made me smile a little inside, that I did not find these beauties so rare that I could not put them on my family table. On the contrary, it is the sweetness and simplicity that attracts me to these little lovelies. 
I am careful with them, and launder them with care. I also hang them on the line. And do you know what? Every time I hang the tablecloths on the line, or any laundry for that matter, I always, always, look back and admire the cloth moving in the breeze. I love hanging laundry on the line. I love laundering and hanging lovely tablecloths that cover our family table. Of course I use them, these are the things that comprise a simple life...