LOVE

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A Pause for the Fourth Sunday of Advent: LOVE.

“Love is at once an affirmation and a transcendence of who we are”

–Esther Perel


My favorite four-letter word is LOVE. My least favorite four-letter word is Fear. The interesting thing about Love and Fear is their inability to co-exist. Needless to say, Love is invited to every important event of my life’s transformation. Often, I get to attend a meet and greet with Fear; however, always, Love is joyfully, peacefully waiting my arrival beyond Fear’s intrusive confrontation. Hope moves me from Fear to the alternative pathway toward Love’s stomping grounds. I say farewell to Fear and hello to Love. All is well. All is possible. Love is present. Thank you, God.


Love came down at Christmas: a child was born. We were born from the Possibility that created us. We were born from the Source of Goodness and Love and, eventually, to that Source, we will return. In the meantime, we get to learn what love is, how to love, where to find it, grow it, learn it. We yearn for God, for the Good, Love, and Possibility that created us.  We want to accept ourselves and for others to accept how we show up in the world.  We want to be loved and to love as a lifelong quest to be at one with God. We spend our mortality searching for the truth of that Love, for who and whose we are, our purpose, and mission. The universal truth of Love is calling us to our highest Self, our Oneness, our heaven: OM.


Jesus was my first real teacher about love. From my earliest recollections as a child, the Christmas story, the birth of a baby in a manger, was the story that inspired my lifelong love affair/ immersion into Christmas. The birth of God in human form as fully divine and  utterly human  inspired me to want to know that holy child. Jesus was the relationship master that grew me from childhood to adulthood, my ever-present friend, the great love of my life, the witness to all my becomings, my teacher, example, redeemer. I prayed to be like Jesus. He was my everything, the model that taught me how to hope into the peace that inspired love and brought great joy.


As I grew older, I witnessed a similar experience of Love with the births and lives of two incredible sons. These baby boys have grown to adulthood, married women they cherish, and given birth to children and other possibilities that bring great love to their lives and to mine. I’ve witnessed love that permeates incarnation’s farewell with the deaths of some very dear friends and beloved family while witnessing their sacred journeys home to God. I’ve savored love in the arms of my husband, frolicked through adventures with the animals we’ve called family, and treasured  interesting and magical adventures with dear friends and family, with whom I’ve shared life’s experiences. My life’s defining moments are those directed by Love.


My Christology has transformed from my prayers to Jesus every morning and evening to a transcending edicts, rules, and prescriptions kind of theological, Christological belief construct.  Jesus is still my best friend; however, my theology and Christology have changed because I have changed what I believe–in fact, I choose transcendence beyond belief to the realm where Love guides, nurtures, and rules. I don’t have to understand or explain it as I continue to change into what Love created me to be. I choose Love, and I choose God. Who Jesus is and what he means to my experience of God are part of my ongoing learning about Love, Life and God. I love the celebration of Christmas because it is the occasion that has taught me most about the birth of Love.


In previous blogs, I’ve shared stories about Grandma Ray and how she walked her walk and taught me about God’s love; the breath of love found in the pause between inhalation and exhalation; and the grace that is grasped in holding Love at the center of vision and intention.

This Advent, I give thanks for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. I feel grateful for the kindness, patience, and wonder  this anticipatory season brings for the promised arrival of new beginnings and  miracles. Awe and magnificence herald my wonder for this winter season where Love is born.   Collectively we are blessed to celebrate Love’s arrival in concordance with Hope, Peace, and Joy–no exclusion due to sexuality, creed, religion, politics, or race.

Thank you, God, for Love.
Merry Christmas!

Love, Carol

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JOY

JOY!  Advent Week Three

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“The Joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

I love this scripture. Twila Paris has a song about it, and I remember singing and dancing to it at contemporary worship services. Joy always assures me that good, love, and possibility are ever present, and I get to celebrate them. I believe spirit, congruence, vision, intention, and choice aid me in choosing the hope that allows me to connect with God and pray for peace/resolution to any sadness, obstacle to grace or discordance I experience. Joy surprisingly shows up within or because of those prayers, and my heart overflows with gratitude. Thus, and so…and so it is. An amen, perhaps?

Joy is the fullest expression of a life fully-embraced. Not to be confused with “happiness”, Joy gifts different opportunities: Presence. Wholeness. Atonement. Grace. A knowingness that all is well and all will be well, no matter what….and” Isn’t that wonderful?!—Wow!” Joy can not be randomly chosen, it must be sought, lost, and found. It is a gracious gift that surprises, delights, and takes advantage of adventures into unknown spaces. I sat before our Christmas tree, (our first Christmas tree in our new home) and felt overcome with joy—it welled up from deep inside me, beyond words, music, description. Joy often enters my heart that way.

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When I’ve dealt with sad and tragic adventures in my life, the assurance that God and Joy were on the other side of my fears, pains, longings, and grief were the hopeful sustenance that carried my hope and courage. Kahil Gibran, in one of my favorite books, The Prophet, reminds me that joy and sorrow are bedmates—when sadness is present in my life, joy is waiting to make her grand entrance! My life has known much sadness. I am grateful for the gift sadness has brought to my being because it created infinite room for Joy—to show up, prosper, bless and nurture.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

In past blogs, I’ve written about my friends, Nancy and Jane. Nancy is my dear, close friend who always lives from Joy and Blessings. She focuses on the Joy part of life and inspires me greatly. She is truly a joy and blessing in my life. My friend, Jane, always signs her letters and e-mails, “EnJoy, Jane.” I asked her about it, and she said she did that signature because it reminded her to choose joy. She told me she believed it to be the highest vibration for inspirational living. Her sculpture, “Luna’ is a symbol for joy at her home in Virginia.

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I’ve written about the joy present in the pause of the breath. Our breath can create joy when we choose to breathe it into our awareness.

My favorite Joy pause was about my brother, David Charles Hohlfelder, and the joy he brought to the world because of the presence he embraced with his joy-filled spirit. His son, Samuel, turns 24 today. Sam’s Dad would be so joyful witnessing the joy and possibilities that grow within his now grown baby boy. Happy Birthday, Sam!

 

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Life is arbitrary. What we grow into and who we become are what we seek. With grace, good, love, and possibility, we can grow into the JOY we were created to witness, embrace, and gift to our world.

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.

Love,
Carol

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A Pause for PEACE: Advent Week Two


My Pause this week is for and about Peace, beyond understanding, perfect in its emanation, transformational with its presence. Just as many claim Hope as the highest vibration for possibility on the planet; to me, Peace is the pinnacle vibration for congruence and balance, the ultimate expression of Yoga, and the greatest invitation to Love. Peace is the highest aspiration of my being. In the struggles, obstacles, even battles of my life, the profound resolution of realized Peace is the presence of the Holy Spirit as incarnate within the ethers of my soul. My vision for the world I’ve held for the last decade is where Peace and Love are intended by and for all creation. And the vision of Peace and Love begins with me. When I choose Peace, I choose Love. I am called to embrace all of the ups and downs that I gather when I choose such ideals. My life often experiences the antithesis of what I choose to embrace even as I nest into who and whose I am, and what I seek to create and experience with this precious life I’ve been gifted. Those moments are when I learn the miraculous and challenging intricacies of Peace.


The second Sunday of Advent, we light a candle for Peace. While we wait with expectation for the miracle of Christ energy to be born, we often fail to fully acknowledge the transformational power of holding the anticipatory Peace reverently and sacredly within our beingness . The holidays are especially conducive to an imbalance of doingness to beingness, forgetting the reasons for the season, frantic goings, circle racing, erasure of presence with the peace among us. A Peace centering prayer, a commitment to balance, patience, presence, forgiveness, compassion and grace, all make room for opening to the Peace place. I think of that Peace as a plain of possibility: great views, awe, wonder, gratitude, and pranayama that elevate my yoga to a place beyond you and me: the Oneness found in the “We” that is all in all and moves through the OM from which Peace is sourced.   In a recent yoga class, a favorite teacher reminded me that my exhale is another’s inhale and vice versa.  How I flow through life, how I choose to create balance and ease is how I manifest peace of being–for myself and with and for everyone around me.


When I’ve experienced imbalance, disease, grief, anger, loneliness, anger, hopeless feelings, and sadness, I know that the first step in my healing process is to pray for peace. When I do, I experience the entry of good, love, and possibility gracing me with hope. I grow gratitude, embrace hope, and acknowledge a higher power as the source of my hope and peace. Prayer is hope in action, a conscious choice to connect to a vision for life in this world.  Prayer brings me peace, eventually and always.


Relationships can be rocky, not always grounded in peace. My first blog about peace was about my tumultuous relationship with my Dad and how our shared desire for peace brought us together as dear friends before he died in 2002. Another Pause was about the peace found with the pause in the breath as an intention to inhale peace before choosing exhale anything that isn’t peace-filled, pausing for the peace present within the pause of each breath I inhale and exhale.

I’ve written about the Institute for World Peace and their ongoing peace prayer: “God bless you. I love you. Peace, be still.” Last year I wrote about Peace and breath prayers, peace through yoga, and peace and love as best friends joined in union with all that is good, loving, and possible.
Peace, beyond our understanding, is available when we reach for it, in hope, choosing our peace with a generous topping of grace, pausing to be present in the moment where God lives as we breathe into Peace, and give thanks for our vision as if it already is.
Thank you, God, for Peace and Love intended by and for all creation.  Amen.

OM shanti, shanti, shanti OM.


Love,
Carol

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HOPE

Week One: Advent 2019
HOPE

‘For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with HOPE”. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Advent is upon us—the four weeks before Christmas, the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth. Advent, “before the event”, the expectation of a transforming event, a tomorrow beginning today. Our time waiting for this blessed event is filled with our expectations of that transformation: We look for hope, peace, joy, and love in our anticipation of a new paradigm, a vision of the world, our lives, and our spirits overflowing with the birth of possibility. Advent is a season where the preview, the birth, the body, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ inspire HOPE. Hope is a conscious choice to connect to possibility., Hope is prayer. Hope is an opportunity to dream goodness, love, and openness into infinite possibilities of being. Hope is possibly the highest vibration in the universe because it brings us to congruence, vision, intention, and miracles.
In August 2010, I began my transplant adventure with stem cells from an unknown donor. The night I was infused with my stem cells, I received a card from my donor with the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11, written above. So many friends, neighbors, loved ones, and strangers were praying for my well-being, and this donor, whose cells were blessing me with the hope for a healthy life was also inspiring hope beyond life in this world. The spiritual connection hope brings is eternal and promoted in me courage, confidence, and the ability to address whatever I experienced during my transplant adventure with grace. I knew all was well and all would be well no matter what because I had the gift of HOPE.
I’ve written blogs/pauses about hope for 3 years: the first, I used my mother as an example with her six-year breast cancer journey. The second was about the pause in the breath where hope is created, the Kombucha of pranayama. Last year, I wrote about hope as inspired by Idina Menzel’s song about Hope, the bird without wings who soared in the sky.


This year I write about the Hope all of us share when we choose to trust God and be open to what can be. The hope our divine souls yearn to create in this broken world: The hope of a new born baby. The hope that comes from visioning what is good, loving, and possible in/for/ how/what we imagine to create living in this world. The compassion that is birthed through acceptance and knowing that we don’t know it all alone and that we need each other. The bridge that is created when we give up being right and choose hope as our companion for meeting on a peaceful vista, where hope, love, peace, and possibility connect the dots and bring us home to ourselves.


This week, I pause for HOPE. Thank you, God.
Namaste,
Carol

A Pause for Thanksgiving

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A Pause for Thanksgiving

For sixty years I have loved Thanksgiving. From my earliest recall, it was an “Over the river and through the woods” magical trek to Grandma Ray’s house for a traditional feast/gathering with family. To this day, mention the fourth Thursday of November, and I picture 318 North Second Street, Monmouth, IL—my beloved grandmother’s home, the table set with her china, crystal, and sterling; the smells, tastes, sounds,laughter, and awe that surrounded a family communed together for Thanksgiving.

The most holy remembrance I own from gatherings with my grandma, great aunt Marie, and my entire birth family was my memory of our prayers at the table. We thanked God for the abundance, blessing, harvest, and graces of our lives, as well as the “thank you” that stood first and foremost for me: gratitude for the love in our family.

When I married Gerry, moved away, and grew our family, my traditions for Thanksgiving day changed. Grandma Ray moved to a smaller home and no longer hosted Thanksgiving. When I was pregnant with our older son in Michigan, family travelled to us, and we ate at a restaurant. My father-in-law loved to host Thanksgiving, and Gerry loved the holiday almost as much as I did. Our first years as parents with young children, we traveled to LaPorte to celebrate the day with Gerry’s dad. Regardless of where we were or who we were with, gratitude for the love of family, our abundance, the harvest, blessings, and graces of our lives were the collective thanksgiving at the table.

Over the years, we settled into our homes and full lives, our children grew, and we inherited the large dining room table of the Roth family. With the stewardship of that table, we hosted Thanksgiving in our home with the living family members who could join us, and those who were with us in spirit. Always, our thank you prayers were to God for family, our abundance, the harvest, our blessings and the graces of our lives. Of course, we were thankful for the food, but it was for the inspiration and nourishment of time together at the table for which I gave my heart-felt “Thank You Gods!”

Except for Super Sister, our birth families are no longer physically present with us; however, when we gather around our Thanksgiving table, they are with us in heart, spirit, and the memories of prayers of gratitude we’ve shared together.

I imagine as I celebrate my sixtieth Thanksgiving tomorrow, my prayers will be gratitude for family, abundance, the year’s harvest, and for grace. My thanks will be to the Source of good, love, and possibility that grows, supports and sustains me, creator of mountains, rivers and fields that eternally grow me into who I endeavor to become.

Thanksgiving is an event I can choose to practice every day. TGIF=Today Gratitude Is First! May I remember to greet the morning, live each day, and preface sleep at night with an attitude of gratitude.

I journal my prayers every day. The current journal I’m using I purchased in France on my bucket list trip last spring. The cover of the journal is below.

Translation is subjective, depending upon the translator. The translation that spoke to me first and foremost was…

“Just a single word has launched for me many wonderful adventures.”

Today, I choose that word to be gratitude.

Thank you for reading my pauses these past years. Thank you for your support of my writing. Thank you for being present in this world and making it a better place.

With gratitude, I give thanks for you and your families, abundance, the harvests, blessings and graces in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Carol

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A Pause for Relationship with Time

 

I don’t know where this year has gone.  Since last year at this time, my life has been a response to what has knocked at my door, opened my windows, stopped the clock or started the stopwatch.  Time is my friend, it waits for no one, and sometimes it fades into the sunset or some mysterious cavern I don’t choose to explore.  

Time.  A Paradoxical Adventure.  I surmise that when I consciously choose to spend my time with an ideal, activity, or person, I feel present, focused, and fueled for utilizing energy in a causal manner.  When I give time, take time or focus on and beyond time—requiring full presence, attention, energy, talent, power, and passion– I become immersed in the relationships created in awakening moments that birth my best self to inspiration, connecting me to my greatest possibilities of becoming.  A consciously intentional relationship with time is a great aspiration for me, one I seldom realize on a regular basis.  When I get in the “flow” as I call it, time and relationship are one, infinite, beyond measurement or interpretation.  Life is.  I am one, and all is well with my soul.  

This pause is about creating relationship to time and to myself, what I’ve learned, and how this learning has been a blessing to me, especially this year.

Every year in June, the battery in my watch dies.  Time stands still until I go to the jeweler to get a new battery for another year.  Like clockwork, I’ve known my old Seiko will stop, and if I want it to work so I can measure time with it, I will replace the battery.  However, this year, my watch battery died in April.  Again, in July.  The jeweler told me this was irregular, but that they would give me a new battery free of charge because their batteries were guaranteed for a year.  He suggested my watch might be messing up because something was wrong with its mechanism to keep correct time, to keep track of time at all.

2018-2019 has mirrored my experience with my left wrist adorning companion.  Last fall we bought a new home.  Shortly before that purchase, in August, we chose a Florida condo as a second home to rent when we were back in Indiana and to enjoy when the weather was cold and gray in the Midwest.  We had a few health glitches to deal with (I think a “glitch” is kind of like replacing a battery in a watch that stops ticking.  Stops time for a while, and then settles into a new rhythmic tic.)  

We had a home to sell, another to remodel, and we were dipping our toes into the waters of retirement, growing our snowbird wings of flight and fancy out of no concerted rhyme or reason.  Our fall and winter were spent cleaning, moving, settling, replacing, renovating, planting, planning, discovering, and experimenting.  Interestingly enough, the time zones of our Florida condo and our Indiana homes differed by an hour, and with daylight savings time, we really were confused.

 We would set one of our automobile’s clocks on Indy time and the other car’s clock on central time.  Same, too, with our watches.  With our moves, every single time mechanism seemed to require batteries, repair, acknowledgement, or a reset.  Sometimes, we became confused about what time it was or where time went.  Keeping current with time was especially challenging when we traveled out of both time zones for a bucket list trip to France.

This spring we joined a new church.  We also attend a different kind of church when we’re in Florida.  I am a member of two distinctly different yoga studios.  We are meeting new people everywhere, and yet not fully involved, volunteered, committed or routine oriented anywhere because of the contextual constraints time places upon our relationships and memberships.

We spent the entire summer remodeling our new home in Indiana.  We hope when we return to Indiana from Florida in a few weeks, the remodel will be almost complete and the holidays, gatherings with family, friends, arrival to home base will be joyful, fun, and settling.  All is and will be wonderful, awesome, and spontaneous EXCEPT when the ways I am responding to our experiences of this time conflict with how I truly desire to prioritize my time.  My time for stillness, meditation, reflection and writing has been demoted to a timeframe due to “To Do” activity directing my timeline.  Choice determines relationship, and I have spent less time with myself this season of transition as I navigate the detours and turns creative experimenting can manifest.  I suppose it’s time to sit and savor the beauty of being, goodness, grace, and possibility.  Thank you, God.

A conscious choice of time congruently spent requires a relationship to self, values, and the questions:  Who am I?  What is my dharma?  How do I create my best self in this moment of time?  We are temporal beings doing the best we can at figuring out this humanity adventure we’ve been gifted in these bodies with which we’ve been given—the bodies that age, get weary, battered and broken; these bodies that serve as temples for our holy spirits and cradles for miraculous possibilities.  The time we live with these bodies isn’t really measured in the years we live. Life’s worth is found when we choose to be in relationship to how we spend our time, with whom we spend our time, and all of the choices we make in regard to the whole, what, where, and how of time’s experience.  We measure our lives via coffee spoons, activities, dates,” daze”, hours, minutes, and seconds (86,400 seconds we are rationed every day.) until we transcend measurement, judgment, perfection, competition, comparison, pressures, and “have to” edicts related to the when of life.  At the moment of transcendence, we flow with what is, into who we truly are.

The clock stops being the relevant witness to our unfolding, and we meld into congruent relationship with what is eternal and timeless, the holiness beyond time, the flow of beginning and beginning again…No batteries needed, the only reset buttons necessary:  gratitude and grace.

I accept my life is transitional, and yet, it’s not a race to beat the clock; nor is it about how much I can get done while I’m here.  When I remember to be still, to be grateful, to focus on intentional and congruent relationship with God, others and myself, I don’t need to know what time it is, because it’s always the right time with just enough time and not measured in or by time at all.

When I was first diagnosed with leukemia in 1998, my physical wrist watch stopped working and couldn’t be fixed.  I went through all kinds of personal time keepers—a cheap Timex and “wind it myself” family heirlooms, but for some reason, no watch would keep time while I was wearing it.  I learned to remove my focus on the questions of time and reserve my energy for the questions beyond time—most of which could not be definitively answered, and so promoted my affinity for infinite questioning.  

I am grateful to be dealing with the transitions I deal with instead of those I lived with over 20 years ago.  A reminder for me to be still and know that all is well and all will be well, no matter what the time.  Wherever I am, Good, Love, and Possibility are the keepers of age, time, witness and experience.  Thank you, God.

Love,

Carol

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A Right Time for Everything

A PAUSE ABOUT THE MAKING, GIVING, AND TAKING OF TIME. WEEK TWO. A RIGHT TIME FOR EVERYTHING.

 

Eugene Peterson’s The Message has a great opening sentence for Ecclesiastes 3: 

  “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”

As we witness the onset of autumn, I reflect upon the seasons of life, the transitions I experience, and the constancy of those seasons as well as the transitions before, during, and after all pinnacle points of my becoming and creating.   My inspiration for this pause is the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, and the way that scripture plays out in my head and heart during every chapter of my life.  This pause is also inspired by my day to day experience with my #1 husband, my forever life witness for 40 years.

“A right time for birth and another for death,”

–“So, what makes something ‘right’?” I ask.  We are born and we will die.  Do I have a say in this process?  Post Life is defined as the dash between the birthdate and the death date on a gravestone.  The in-between is the big thing, the place I am gifted the time in this body to grow, create, experience, savor, accept and learn to love all that I choose in this body; only limited by the dash between the dates, a.k.a., TIME.  Did I choose to be born into this body?  Did I have a vision and intention before I incarnated?  Perhaps, questions for another time, a time that is “right” for inquiry and discernment; maybe not this pause, but the seed for another, perhaps?

“A right time to plant and another to reap,”

Fall is the time of harvest.  As I inhale deeply the smell of autumn’s settling into its time of glory, I am reminded that as a 60-year-old, I, too, am breathing into this new decade thing with rapid transitions and changing colors.  What I have planted in the early years of my life is now up for harvest.  I plant new seeds each springtime of every year.  Now is the time for awe, wonder, miracles, the crops to be brought in, a time to give thanks.

My husband and I were married in the spring years of our lives, our early 20s.  We were deeply in love and dreamed big dreams with passionate feelings about our every day and our tomorrows.  The world was our oyster.  We followed our dreams, birthed a family, created our identities together as the Roth family.  We worked hard to bring our best selves to our endeavors, hoping our energy would be rewarded for the highest good.  We hoped we could do our best to be our best for our sons and their futures, and that our lives could be abundant with good, love and possibility.

“A right time to kill and another to heal,”

Sometimes the things we believe are important, really aren’t.  Status, Fame, Wealth, Recognition…all of those things come and go.  When ego becomes paramount, it is time to subdue the wants and desires, to let them die and begin again.  Often, destruction, death, illness, loss bring some amazing lessons because they kill the weeds that threaten to consume us.  In our late thirties, the important things transitioned into the necessary things when I was diagnosed with leukemia.  My diagnosis impacted the Roth family:  marriage, sons, finances, values.  It was an ongoing tumultuous transition as we discerned what to kill and how to heal.

“A right time to destroy and another to construct,”

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  The lyrics to this inspiring song often lead me to necessary losses.  If I find the time to create the peace I seek, I often need to destroy false hopes, assumptions, limiting beliefs in order to begin again, to construct a new context from which to operate, a new dream, a new vision.  Gerry and I have experienced  marital challenges during the transitions, peaks, and valleys of our marriage, especially prevalent during my 15 years with a leukemia diagnosis.  It was necessary to build new relationship visions frequently over the years to experience the peace I sought to experience in our relationship.

“A right time to cry and another to laugh,”

Time brings healing that requires tears, laughter, and blessing.  We get to embrace how life is often sad and at the same time, it’s often funny.  Moment to moment choices grace the times of change in our lives, every season.  Every place we go, we are invited to feel what we feel and reveal ourselves to those around us so we can share, heal and create lifelines for each other.  I live on the edge of tears and laughter.  I would never choose to maneuver my life any other way.

Ecclesiastes 3 continues in the same vein for its total of 22 verses.  I briefly thought about continuing with all of the right time stuff (particularly because I wanted to point out 7b:” A right time to shut up and another to speak up,”.). I like to be “right!”😉

 A bone of contention:  Yesterday, Gerry asked me a question to answer while he focused on his morning coffee and newspaper.  I answered his question, and then I proceeded to discuss and ask him a question. He replied, “I am busy and don’t have time to talk right now”.  Perhaps the autumn of our lives brings this kind of disregarding bluntness—Where did springtime go?  Seriously, the learning of our lives brings us recognition that there is a right time for everything, and we get to learn our methodology for addressing time and those with whom we share it as we age and grow.

The author of Ecclesiastes (Was it truly the wise king, Solomon, I wonder?) closes this chapter by telling us what we already know:  We will all die.  We don’t know for sure what happens when we die until we die.  There’s probably nothing better for us to do than to have a good time in whatever we choose to do.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Sounds like…

A “right” time for everything.

Perfect timing?

Namaste,

Carol

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Time: Week One

This week’s pause is inspired by the first methodology I learned to reframe time.

This week, I’m approaching the concept of time from the perspective of my teenaged self, specifically, the lessons and gifts I experienced in regard to my first job at a fast food restaurant, circa 1975, in Peoria, Illinois.

I remember when I was a teenager, managing “school” (classes, extracurricular activities, studying), working part time for desired money to spend, and determinedly aspiring to cultivate a vibrant social life,  finding time for everything was often challenging. There were numerous occasions when my work, school, and social aspirations conflicted with what I wanted most in a present moment.

 My first job, the summer I turned 16, was as a cook and cleaner at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Peoria, Illinois.  I rode my bicycle two miles to the restaurant location every Monday through Friday and two miles home (rain or shine because my mother didn’t want her car smelling like fried chicken).  My work hours were 9-2, unless I was asked to work longer to cover another worker’s shift for some reason.  My father pooh-poohed my inspirations to spend a summer, reading, writing, at the pool, and hanging out with friends, demanding that I earn my own spending money, so I chose to apply at what I thought were upscale establishments like grocery stores, shops at the mall, and fancy restaurants.  To my chagrin, no one wanted to welcome an inexperienced, naïve and rather full of herself young lady to their payrolls.  I suggested to my dad, that maybe, I could spend the summer writing a book or composing music, but he wouldn’t budge from his position.  Kentucky Fried Chicken offered to hire me, and I sighed, “yes.”   I imagined the managers would put me behind the counter (because I knew that was where I belonged in this busy restaurant). To my dismay the manager had other chickens for me to fry: my jobs that summer were scrubbing bathrooms, floors, and deep-frying chicken.

My days that summer consisted of getting ready and dressed, out the door -by 8:30 am on my bike.  I mopped up grease, emptied cole slaw into containers, scrubbed toilets at least twice each day, cleaned out fryers, and got burned by grease from the fryers at least every other day.  Between 2 and 3, I would clock out, ride my bike home, and sit out on the patio until the smell of chicken diminished enough for me to enter the house, shower, and wash my uniform for the next day.  And every Monday through Friday that summer (except for our annual family vacation week), I plowed away at the same routine.

My days were made up of how I spent my time.  The clock, the travel time, the hours, the minutes, the days—all prescribed to a schedule created by an employer/another for me.  I chose to take time for this job because of several factors:

1. Order from my father.

2. Money to go out to eat, shopping, to events, buy gifts and go to movies with friends.

3. I was learning how to grow up and work was a part of my training.  

There is a time for everything in our lives.  To learn about time is an ongoing process of living.  Whenever my mom would tell me to do something and I was busy with something else, I would reply, “I don’t have time.”  She would raise her voice and admonish sternly, “Then make the time.”  I found that an odd expression as a teenager. Did she think  I could wave a magic wand and spin grease into gold?

My imagination has been my stuck like glue companion for most of my life.  When I struggled with my thoughts, my tasks, or my feelings, I would try on a program of pretend, a beyond present time imagining where the dirt and filth I scrubbed to shining freed me from the spells of servitude and showered me with joy and blessing.  I played songs and scripts in my head, and the drudgery of my greasy job provided inspiration for happy daydreams. 

When I practiced this “fake it til you make it” method of reframing my daily labors, I discovered my time spent laboring was actually okay. It was a temporary time, and with an attitude shift, it could be (almost) fun. My job brought me the money I wanted and taught me that time is relationship to what is present in my experience. If I want to experience possibility/positivity/pleasantness, I could choose to find one way or another in order to make time and room for what I wanted to think and feel. I learned to let go of negative thoughts that didn’t serve me. 

Did I succeed?  Rarely, but the seed was planted. With all the secretive herbs and spices flavoring the Colonel’s recipes, I added a few of my own:  Acceptance of how I spent my time and a smile to pave the way.

When the summer of 1975 ended, I retired from my employ at KFC.  It was a rather wistful farewell to an experience that taught me how to manage time through employment.  When I recall that summer of my life, I smile, shake my head, and imagine I smell fried chicken.  Time for lunch!

Namaste,

Carol

 

 

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One Day at a Time

ONE DAY AT A TIME: A Pause for the Blessing of September.

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“One day at a time, and that done well, is a very good thing, as many can tell.” (anonymous)


I don’t recall when I memorized that time-inspired adage. I do know it’s glued to the corridors—especially the dark ones– of my life. Kind of like a mantra/inspiration/compass through the exasperations, desperations, defeats, griefs, and “less than moments” of life as I maneuver with, in, around, above, below and through what I choose to create: the valleys, bridges, mountaintops, and plains… Being present with “what is” in the actual moment, knowing this moment and perhaps, the next one (if it arrives) will always hold possibilities for transformation and a new beginning.


When I was a kid, a new school year began in September. Sometimes school started earlier, the end of August, so we could celebrate a long weekend after a short week of adjustment to the rigors and protocol a school schedule demanded—often, without overwhelm. September’s first Monday is Labor Day, heralding the official cessation of summer break, a day of vacation from work/school, the approach of fall, a new season, another beginning again.
September presents itself to me as a brand new year, a clean chalkboard upon which to write, erase, repeat. It’s when my volunteer activities for the year get chosen, and all the new activities in the communities to which I belong commence in full force. I pause to recognize the pathways for another grade of my life, choosing which path I will travel for this unique and as yet, unexperienced year of my being, doing, and having while practicing presence and possibility, one day at a time.


Fall, for me, is a time of reflection. I realize that last year today, Gerry had his third heart attack and it turned our lives into a serious “what if?” dilemma. We made concerted choices to navigate our worries, fears, dreams, and visions into possibility using the tools of choice, responsibility, and acceptance available to us. We chose different housing, to live “in the now”, and to consciously cherish and celebrate that which we hold dear. We stopped refraining from our dreams and visions. We accepted that we may not control the past or the future, however wisely we make our health, wealth, and happiness choices. We can only be here and now, with what sits in our laps, beckons us around the corner, or hums in our hearts: This day. This Time. All there is.

 

Today we are celebrating Gerry’s happy healthy life—going out to dinner, gifts and celebration of the blessings that are ours here today. 🥳

One day at a time is somewhat like climbing a mountain (on my bucket list) when I’ve made it half way and feel really tired. Go to the summit or retreat to the base? It’s a moment to moment choice in every hike of my life. To decide how, what, why, when, and where is based on one uniquely particular choice in one uniquely particular moment in that one uniquely particular day. No figuring it out beforehand, and no looking to past lessons to navigate what is before me in new adventuring. The memories that matter I absorb into how I create myself in this one day. Presence in the here and now is the gracious way to reverence life as I inculcate lessons and learning into body, soul, mind, heart, and spirit.

One day at a time. One step in front of another. Moment by moment. Day by Day.
Three things I pray this day:
Gratitude for everything.
Grace for the moment.
Peaceful, loving presence.

Namaste,
Carol

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Time

Sometimes, activity level gets to slow down. Often, Life accelerates. So much of life is measured, defined, created, and remembered with and through the context and constraints of time. Time for this and time for that; not enough time, too much time,timeless; time as a friend, time as an enemy; time as linear, time beyond circumference. Time is relationship to what we know and love; to what we imagine or fear; to what is or what may be. Our connection to who, what, and whose we are and what we aspire to be–the framework that holds us together in the perspective of where, what, when, how, and now; yesterday, tomorrow, and always. Time: my choice for this week’s blog as I Pause in wonder, awe, and questioning for the rest of 2019.

Currently, Gerry and I are transitioning through every corridor, roundabout, and backwoods trail of our lives. Changes in residences, detours, remodels, and adjustments related to time and space have been exciting, paramount, and all-consuming.

Time to pull back and recenter, a.k.a., time for vacation. Vacations are the occasions we let go of to do lists, meetings, obligations, and schedules. Adventures lift us to rechargers, outside of routine and the ordinary, creating space and time for new ideas and exploring.

I’m grateful Gerry and I are alive, together, celebrating exciting happenings and becomings in this new chapter of our lives. For me, I choose to take time to consider what’s next to create from my love of writing. This August marks my 9th transplant anniversary. Life is full and wonderful. I feel blessed, grateful, and so happy!😊.

August is a vacation from blogging so that I intentionally take time to question what I choose to create with the gift of time I’ve been given. Writing is a great love of my life, and it may not manifest as weekly blogging come September.

To Pause is to be still. To take time is to be with myself and God. To be. Amen.

Love and blessing,

Carol

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X Y Z

X Y Z…

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Remember the “A, B, C” song? First three letters of the alphabet begin the song, and the last three, “X, Y, Z,” end it. The final lyrics in the song are, “Now I’ve said my ‘A, B, Cs. Tell me what you think of me.” I’m now at the end of the alphabet with this series of blogs (26 in total) about words beginning with each letter of the alphabet, and I must admit, many of these pauses have truly challenged my self-acceptance, desire to remain neutral, yet committed to finishing what I started, remaining true to doing what I said I would do. I have hoped you’ve enjoyed some of these blogs. Honestly, however, my greatest delight is that I’ve now reached the end of the alphabet, and won’t be writing about something because it contains the letter of the week on a weekly basis. I’m happy dancing as I write this litany of freedom. It’s down to the end, and I get to deal with the three letters with the least inspirational words I can imagine. Xenophobia (fear of strangers)/x-ray? Youth, Yoke, Yoga, Yearning? (These words I’ve already addressed this year.) Zenith/Zero? (Not really inspirational measurements for literary excellence, in my opinion.) In this pause, I will change my process as I write the last weekly alphabet blog for this year.


The learning I’ve experienced with this alphabet adventure is that life is not about kudos or soliciting praise or likes for what I write. I write because I feel called to write, almost like I feel called to breathe. Many days I don’t feel like writing. This weekly Pause has kept me writing beyond my daily journaling practice. It has been humbling to publish something not well-written and gratifying to publish something I strongly advocate and feel excited about. I’ve learned there are beginnings and endings to experiences. The endings always morph into another beginning of something else so I never consider them the absolute finale because everything becomes new, one way or another.
I’ve learned that I don’t write for an audience. I write for me. Graciously, we are connected at levels of awareness we don’t always recognize or appreciate, and often, my thoughts/words may touch another in an affirming, perhaps pivotal, or incentive manner. The writing itself expresses my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with the subject of my writing. Some subjects I love and others I tolerate. Some facets of a weekly blog inspire me to greater awareness, and some aspects drag me deep into “my stuff.”

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Writing, for me, mirrors life. Some days life flows and other days, to flow is a struggle. When I feel challenged to accomplish what I planned with intention to create, I remember my mother, Mary Alice. My mother always admonished me: “Finish what you start.” This edict colored my childhood. When chores, homework, or a project weren’t finished in a timely matter or by appropriate, advised, or congruent methods, there were consequences. If I said I was going to do something, I was expected to do it. If I started a project, made a resolution, or set an intention, I was to be true to my word and complete it. I was to do my best, mean what I say and say what I mean, and to follow the standards and rules that were set for me by my parents and teachers. These precursors to the four agreements guided my upbringing in the Hohlfelder household.
Needless to say, I wasn’t always successful at following these rules. I often felt shamed or blamed, not enough, a failure because I gave myself no wiggle room with these absolute standards. I developed a strong perfectionist judge within myself, one who could never be good enough. Not anyone outside myself was this inner critic. I was my creation, my adaptation to experience, unique to Carol Margaret Hohlfelder.
As I grew life experiences over decades, I learned that I am not what I do, and that who I am is not defined by my association with others. What others think of me is none of my business. I am what I create myself to be, and in my quest to be the best me I can be, I’ve learned that congruence matters. How I act, what I think, how I feel matter in relation to how I choose to respond, contribute, and what I commit to be, do, and have. The best way I know to be congruent is to accept, forgive, and take care of myself. To live by vision and with intention. To bring to others what I want to create for myself and our world: Joy, Love, Peace, Inspiration, Gratitude, Grace…. Lots of different words describing attitudes, feelings, and thoughts that are healing, connecting, and worthy of aspiration by and for all.


I’ve rambled a bit in this “X Y Z” blog, but I’ve followed my mother’s advice and finished what I’ve started. I’ve preferred this discourse to pontification about zenith yokes of xenophobia.

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Thank you for traveling from “A B C” to “X Y Z” with me.

Namaste,
Carol

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WONDERING

WONDERING

 
This week’s pause is about “wondering”. I spend the majority of my life wondering about various sorts of stuff: ideas, silly thoughts, significant life and death matters, worries, and marvels. Wondering includes the gamut of thoughts and feelings I collect, seek to relish, understand, or learn from. Wondering allows me to live with the questions, curiosity, dreaming, and awe. It requires nothing less or more from me than presence, attention, and engagement with the wondering itself. Wondering, when done wonderfully, can inspire, entertain, elevate, and navigate magic, miracles, grace and possibility into living presence and wakefulness. Wondering, when used as a driver for worrying and pre-occupation is not the kind of engagement that encourages growth in awareness, awe, or being; rather, that kind of negative wondering gets to be permanently stashed in a locked closet as far as I am concerned.

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Wonder of wonders, the wonders of creation, wondering as I wander…all expressions from songs and words. Those kinds of expressions describe wonder as a delight. Wondering is to be diligently embraced as one of the highest and best ways to navigate life. Seeing the miraculous in everything, wondering when the next wonderful synchronicity will appear. Life lived as a witness to good, love, and possibility. Life lived attentive to what is and what’s next while seeking to find the wonderful in all of it is the constitution of wondering. A life comfortable questioning, thinking, feeling, all the while wondering at everything crossing its/his/her path is a life open to good, love, and possibility. Blessed are they who wonder, for they will be graced with awe, inspiration, and surprising delights.


What does it take to live the life of a wonderer? Comfort with not knowing it all, acknowledging that I am rarely if ever in control, in charge, or the authority. Openness to mystery, surrendering fear, judgment, competition, and comparison. Willingness to sit, to be present to whatever is and wonder what could be the gift of that present moment.
I often wonder if I’m living my dharma as authentically and purposefully as I could be. I wonder because I don’t know. And, I keep dreaming, exploring, savoring, and celebrating the gracious gifts of discovery, inspiration, delight, and surprise I find when I wonder my way through life today. I wonder how you are delighting in life today.


Wishing you a wonderful day!
Carol

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VITALITY

A Pause for Vitality

Vitality is defined as the state of being strong, active, and energetic. To be vital is to be alive, spirited, exuberant, vibrant, zestful and sparkling. Dynamic, passionate, vigorous, zealous, buoyant, and fiery are adjectives describing someone exhibiting vitality. To claim vitality, one chooses his/her freedom of expression energy to embrace fully alive and courageous manifestation of being, doing, living; a.k.a., experiencing life at its finest; wholeness pieced together with drive, fortitude and determination. Courage, creativity, and aliveness are vital to well-being, manifestation of miraculous possibility, and life-living from the edges to beyond circumference of what I know: an extravagant dance of invitation life calls me to dare to live fully with grace and bravery. Vitality is like a vitamin on steroids. It is the well spring of my desire to embrace life with gusto and joie de vivre.
To be who I truly intend to be requires the creation and embrace of vitality. When I choose vitality as a state of being, I bring my power to the continuance of life, the presence of possibility in all living beings, a tiny seed to a mighty oak. Vitality is life force. Vitality can be physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is the required vigor providing for the capacity to survive, thrive, and grow meaning and purpose with vision and intention.
Many articles have been written about how to increase one’s vitality. From sleep, green tea, greens, cardio, breathwork, mind work, emotional release, purging and beginning again, our culture contains various techniques, differing methodologies, assorted inspirations, visions, and processes to obtain, sustain, revive, or enliven vitality. At one or another point in our lives, we may feel the surges and purges of vitality coloring our moments. There are times when we can’t discover where our energy has hidden. Our mountain summits when we feel like we can fly are vitality at its highest. Vitality is like the ocean wave that ebbs and flows with different rhythms and flows based on the time of day, the position of the moon, or the chapter currently written and read with my own cycling of dazed moments in time.
I’ve learned that my own vitality often requires me to be still, silent, and solitary. Other times, I feel called to action, momentum leading my soul with the energetic call to serve justice, community, service, or to manifest what is wanted and needed for the vitality of my world. Our world.

Again, and again…what is vital for me is part of what is vital for all. As a consciousness, we don’t create and achieve vitality until we empower its conscious and aware presence for every sentient being.
I believe it is vital we share what grows, sustains, and nourishes us with every other “me” we meet. My story, my lessons, learning, and love include all parts of the stories, lessons, learnings, and lovings all of us share. May we heed our calling to live into the vitality we were created to embrace, create, manifest, and share.


Namaste,
Carol

 

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A Pause for “UN”

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The “UNs” of Life. A Pause for the “UN”


My least favorite words on the planet are negating words: the “uns”, the “nots”, the prefixes, suffixes, and adjectives that take a positive or neutral word and turn it into something denying what the first word (without the un or the not prefix, adjective, or suffix) is trying to say. I’ve wondered why in the world we have words that deny words in order to embrace what we mean to say.
I suppose it’s an historical thing. In studying historical literature I’ve read of people denying something in order to claim something. For example, I loathe cottage cheese, but I love yogurt. Especially found in religion (not the food, the denial to affirmation piece) I’ve always imagined it as the letting go/emptying that leads to intention/filling. In that ritualistic methodology, denial/affirmation works as a kind of purging/creating process which may or may not work for a spiritual aspirant of life.
There are some “un” words I like: understanding, universal, unicorn, united, unique, until—to name a few. “Un” is an acceptable word for the game, Scrabble. Not is a good three letter game word, and an often-heard admonition in school and parenting. “Not now”. “Not right”. Often associated with the word, “NO”, not has negative written all over it.


How we use our words is important to me, and “un” seems a very good example of a “less than” compilation of letters to express what I intend to say. When I say I am unhappy, wouldn’t a better word choice be a word that describes what I am rather than what I’m not? Am I sad, angry, despairing, forlorn, lost, searching, bored, caught in the in-between, grieving, mad, heartbroken? Un in front of a word creates a lot of wiggle room, (like the word “nice” or the word “okay”) We’ve been gifted great vocabulary, music, art, and dance to express ourselves. Let’s be intentional about saying what we mean and meaning what we say. No more ‘uns” or “nots” about it.

Until next week,
Carol

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Transcendence

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Transcending Transformation: A Pause to consider Transcendence.


To transform is to change greatly/extremely the appearance or form of something. To transcend means to pass beyond the limits of something. To transcend transformation is the ariel view from 30,000 feet, an observation point beyond the right, wrong, good, and bad of any particular experience. Transformation leads to transcendence. There’s a prerequisite required to travel to transcendence: Stop resisting change. “The blessing is in the stretching.” For this pause, dear reader, I invite you to closet your judgments and join me beyond any self-imposed boundaries. This blog is an invitation to travel with me to the sweet spot of the universe: Transcendence.

The journey to transformation requires living the questions and responding with continual questioning: asking and seeking. The journey to transformation requires action: knocking, opening a door, a window, or doing whatever it takes to change, accept, embrace, create what is calling to change in my life. The journey to transformation requires beginning again and letting go of what doesn’t serve my longing for my life or my world.

Transformation usually takes place within a construct: box, context, boundaries and borders, often illusionary or self-protective. When my boundaries, borders, boxes and context can no longer contain my growth, a larger construct is created. Transcendence becomes possible when this methodology can no longer contain my soul within my experience.

To transcend false beliefs, hate, anger, all the attitudes, thoughts, and more or less justifiable beliefs we use to create ourselves, we need/get to consciously let go, to surrender our judgments, comparisons, interpretations, self-righteousness; our need to be heard, understood and valued by others; and our attachments  to feeling significant or powerful. Surrender of who we think we are so that we can open to become who we truly are leads to Transcendence. Moving beyond lack or limitation, anything is possible! Free, Light, Alive, Present, and Gracious: Amen.

I recently read an article by an interesting personage, Jeremy Hendon. He wrote that if you want to live a life you love, you have three options.

1. Try to change the world around you.
2. Try to change yourself.
3. Let go of all change to act from a place of spontaneity, joy, and perfection.

I believe that “try” is a word that means “choose”. If I try at something, I have the ability to accomplish what I set out to accomplish—It may be arduous, I could lose my life “trying” to do whatever I set out to accomplish. My commitment, my level of effort dictates my success in some ways but not all ways. The letting go piece of option three takes me to the plane of possibility where transformation leaps into the realms of transcendence. To be available, present, fearless in the “whatever, whenever” is a courageous way to begin to acknowledge transcendence as a vehicle for a life of peace, joy, and love.


When I spend my life trying to change our world or myself, I often become attached to what that transformation looks like. When I let go of my attachment to what transformation looks and feels like; for example, growth or improvement; I allow Spirit to work through me, beyond me and our world as a universal creative force. My intuition, or whatever I choose to call or name it, guides me with transcendence to the possibilities of life beyond myself.

Listening to the inner voice rather than the outer clamor.

Serendipity. Synchronicity. Great forces beyond us we don’t have words or music for. Trusting these forces, however we name or claim them, opens the portals for love and joy to bring bliss to beingness, regardless of circumstance.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Everything is perfect.” Not in the perfection itself; rather in the offering transcendence can bring to definition of experience. What we vision and intend for our world we are called to bring through our own ways of being and doing. Transformation is a necessary step. Stretching further is worth it for all of us. Life provides glimpses of transcendence. Let’s grow these glimpses into the radiance of all we were created to be.

May we transcend that which precludes us from fully embracing the loving, peaceful humanity we were created to be.


Love,
Carol

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Solitude

A Pause in Solitude

 


Gratefully blessed by my own company, I write this ode to Solitude. My definition of Solitude is presence with soul (I) and “the dude”( my colloquialism for God as friend, spirit, mentor, guider, truth). I hear, see, feel, touch, and taste good, love, and possibility when I create alone time for myself and the Holy Spirit that is my very source, essence, and soul of being. When I choose alone time, I allow my spirit to reach toward the loftiest vibration of being. I slow down significantly.  I empty.   I pour.  I fill.  I accept.  I give thanks. I become a vessel to grow into. I become inspired, mentored from beyond, and led by unseen visions of my best self and the highest and best aspirations from my Source for being.

 


Solitude is a holy, sacred space for being and becoming. It’s a, “Here I am Lord!” in fullest expression journeying to the highest summit of union, congruence, and bliss. Solitude is choosing to enter a state of grace with humility, gratitude and allowance for the spiritual unfolding that always happens when Spirit invites me, and I accept my calling to journey at one with God.

From my soul time with God, I gather inspiration, connection, and creative ideology for forward movement. In my contemplative prayer, meditation, and deep listening, I let go, surrender, and empty of what doesn’t serve my best self or the highest good. I grow awareness of ways of being supporting what I’d love to bring to my experiences of life in this world, my dreams, and desires. My solo time graces me with clarity essential to moving forward in my life without fear or regret. When I’m alone in sacred time with spirit, Love holds my hand, heart, and soul. Thank you, God.
Being lonely, alone, or solitary isn’t the same as the sacred space of solitude. Solitude is sanctuary:   holy, transformational, wonderful, and as necessary to my soul as breath is to my body.
Wishing you the joy and blessing of solitude as we embrace the wonders within summer’s splendor.

 


Namaste,
Carol