VISION

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Life is what you make of it.  Always has been, always will be.” 

Quote by Grandma Moses, a.k.a., Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961)

VISION

This Pause is third in a series of five essays about dreams, passion, vision, imagination, and calling. When I first sourced the inspiration to create this writing series, it was an intention-setting January morning in early 2020. Life in the realm of Carol Margaret Hohlfelder Roth flowed in its normally weird and wonderful rhythm.  Feeling grateful and graced by life’s transformations, blessings, and gifts, I even gave thanks for the challenges of perspective, experience, and circumstance in the new year.  I dreamed of the year ahead with joy and wonder. My “new year state of mind” is captured in G.K. Chesterton’s quote: “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder—the highest form of thought.”

What are my dreams? How do dreams evolve for me? What are passions? How do they influence becoming? What am I called to create, learn, transform? How does imagination color my reality? What can I plant, grow, and harvest into inspired vision with intention for miraculous possibility?

The conception of this blog series excited me.  I discovered five quotes that fit what I wanted to write, wrote an introduction, and literally soared through the first post (A Pause for Dreams) without a hitch.  Then, (Imagine the music from the movie, JAWS.) Covid-19 emerged from the periphery where it lurked as a far-off mystery and crash landed front row center in the amphitheatre of our world.  I managed to compose a rather forced essay, (Inspired Passion: Embracing Possibility), linking my originally chosen quote and subject matter to the newfound horrors of Coronavirus. In the first daze after our unwelcomed resident monster’s invasion, I suggested we embrace passion in response to our newly arrived, rapidly growing pandemic.   A plan that emanated from shared passions to serve the highest good seemed essentially necessary to subdue the beast and  reduce the rapid escalation of the virus.  So many components to address:  How to staff, supply, and create new safety protocols for hospitals and medical workers?  How to test?  How to bring compassionate and financial support to the vulnerable, broken, and sick?  How to restore well-being to the foundational systems providing necessary resources, sustenance, service, provisions, and community ?  How to bring abundance to our world. a world teetering with the uncertainty of hope’s location and where to search for healing direction?  The Highest Good called for my passion to be compliant, to do as I was told.  My passion for the greater good was a necessary measure, even if it were disappointing and inconvenient.  We, all of us, were sharing this experience, and if we stayed home and did our part, we could heal, flatten the curve.   

After our first “order”, (actually, an unenforceable request), to sequester/social distance/quarantine/stay-in place/safer at home /stay at home; after all the differing and ever-continuing “what to do and how to do it” conversations, I sat down at my computer numerous times to “finish what I started”.  (In my childhood and adolescence, ‘Finish what you start!’ was my mother’s frequent admonition to me.)  I felt compelled to write nothing.   I felt totally blocked every time I approached the idea of  crafting a blog. When I turned on my computer, it took so long to sort through e-mail or a newsflash, there was no time left to create anything but frustration.  I didn’t want to write anything.  The news was arbitrary, politics were divisive and ugly, truth was in short supply, every single word about what to do during a pandemic was controversial or unproven…How could I write about callings, vision, or imagination when they were growing shorter in supply every minute?

 

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BLACK LIVES MATTER.  “I CAN’T BREATHE”.  HATE.  INJUSTICE.  WAR.  TERRORISM.  INHUMANITY.  POVERTY.  ABUSE.  ASSAULT.  VIOLENCE.  FRAUD.  DISHONESTY. CORRUPTION.  SACRILEGE.  ISOLATION.  CONDEMNATION.  DEPRESSION.  LOSS…

So many horrendous spotlights upon which to focus!  When all of the blatantly exposed injustices, widespread disrespect and unkindness are added to our socially-distanced living with  COVID-19, we can no longer hide our witness to the horrific absence of a moral or ethical compass to lead our country.  We purvey a fractured political system of divided lines without compromise, union, or compassion.  We stand on fragile ground, waiting for an earthquake, a vaccine, an election, a resurrection.  All the worry,  significant, repeated tragedy, sadness, and horror… Can we transform our world through  prayer and choosing to hope?  How do we connect to what is good, loving, and possible? The only way I can imagine being able to participate in the healing of our world is to gather my prayers,  hopes, and choices to connect to good, love, and possibility, put them all out there for everyone to see, and from that openness, create, live, and share a VISION.

VISION is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. VISION is a mental image of what the future will or could be like. To create and live VISION into REALITY requires INTENTION.  Intention is defined as an aim or a plan.  In medicine, intention is the healing process of a wound.

 

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In a wounded world, we intend healing, when we make a conscious choice to transform our experience with committed responsibility and shared contribution. Especially, in this unique, surreal year, 2020, William Johnsen’s quote, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”, is the imperative call to every healer.

 

I imagine a world where peace, love, and healing are intended by and for all creation.  I vision a world where HOPE is available for all creation, where Joy, Abundance, Freedom, Peace, and Equality are blessings for ALL. I see a world where Grace is actualized; where acceptance, kindness, and justice color every connection, and no matter what, everyone knows LOVE and  ENOUGHNESS.  May we love others as we love ourselves and plug into the Oneness that we truly are when we embrace our best Self.  May we look for the good in everything, and may we find that goodness from the inside out.

Visioning can be lengthy and wordy, and its wisdom is heartfelt.  To vision is to fully lift my desires with reverence to God/Universe and carefully choose intentions that support my precious offering’s manifestation.  I choose ways of being that support the vision created for each new moment, for my dreams and passions, and for our world. Choosing which supportive actions empower my vision, I choose how to navigate while holding my vision so that I will experience the desired lessons and blessings of my vision’s advent.  With hope and trust, I release my vision with gratitude to God, and live my amen, a.k.a, “So it is.”  

As I wrote earlier in this post, it can be imagined that the highest form of thought is “Gratitude equaling happiness doubled by wonder.”  I don’t know how it works, (and it does)—Vision supported by intention gifted to the universe with gratitude gives the world hope and possibility.  Thankfulness unveils miracles that heal and bless all creation as we expand our growing awareness toward inclusive visioning.

Conscious living is a creative process.  Life is what we make of it, just like the prolific creator/recreator history knows as Grandma Moses believed. ( Her quote is found at the beginning of this essay).  Richard Bach (the author I discussed in my pause,  Inspired Passion: Embracing Possibility) suggested that to bring anything into your life, …”imagine that it’s already there.”  Our world needs visionary artists, warriors, sages, pioneers, explorers, servants, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventers, pilgrims, and angels….  To vision is to fully lift hope into possibility, the unfolding of miraculous living.

 

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August 2020 heralds the 10thanniversary of my stem cell transplant, the healing chapter in my book, HILDA (Health Imbalance Leukemia Diagnosis Adventure).  The actual anniversary on August 23rd is a day I celebrate as a new beginning, a re-birthday.  My early visioning ten years ago—as simple as it was—blessed me during my transplant when I couldn’t carry hope or muster the ability to pray.  Visioning was released into the universe, and I was grateful I did whatever I could to trust that it would find its way to me and our world, eventually.   Although I modified phrases from Julian of Norwich, Madeline L’Engle, and Sue Monk Kidd, I found my seven letter sentence easy to remember.  It became the mantra my soul sang to me.  Perhaps my mantra/vision for that time in my life is an appropriate common phrase to begin a shared visioning process for the healing of our world. 

“It always gets better, no matter what.”

That statement can inspire outrage and judgment, but within its depths and dimensions, it inspires the paradoxical simplicity of three questions that bless navigation for hopeful living through vision:  What can I learn?  How can I love/heal?  What is the gift/where is God in this experience?

Namaste,

Carol

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“Hello, sun in my face.

Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”—Mary Oliver

Inspired Passion: Embracing Possibility!

Passion. What does it mean? What does the word evoke in me? How can this word transform the world, and why do I believe it is so important for meaningful purpose, spirit-led inspiration, zealous devotion and dedication to something bigger than myself? These are the questions I am considering in this Pause, the second in a series of five this year. Passion!

As I write this blog, Holy Week approaches, and I’m reminded of the way we can be called to witness the Passion of Jesus of Nazareth. Passion, in this case, was the chosen willingness by Jesus to suffer for what Jesus loved and made primary for his existence . His embrace of passion transformed death into a resurrection, and taught us about the precious gifts and blessings of compassion (willingness to suffer with another to ease another’s suffering). Choosing to be a difference maker, Jesus modeled the sacred transformative process of embracing possibility and new beginnings, regardless of  pain, suffering, and obstacles.  Instead, he modeled grace, forgiveness, surrender/letting go, and an unconditional presence to his experience.

Passion is an activity, goal, or cause for which I am willing to suffer. Passion is a focused energy. I can choose and change my actions. A dream can evolve into something beyond its originally conceived vision. One dream may disappear, die, or mutate, and a new dream emerge. Those choices and changes are largely driven by passion: What do I love so much I’m willing to sacrifice other activities so I can prioritize my passionate pursuit of what I am driven toward?

“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.” (Richard Bach, author, born June 1936)


One of my favorite Bach books was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Written in 1970, the story is about Jonathan, a seagull who flew for the love of flying rather than merely to catch food, which was considered weird for a seagull.  Flying was JLS’s passion.  Bach’s story was turned down by publishers before finally being published by Macmillan Publishing, becoming a best seller soon thereafter.   It contained fewer than 10,000 words.

Richard Bach was an avid aviator. He loved flying, and he loved to write about flying in a metaphorical context. Most of his writing is based on semi-autobiographical events that colored his life philosophy.  Bach believes that  apparent physical limits and mortality are only illusions. Flying was a lifelong hobby for Bach.  He became a pilot at age 17 and even though he was badly injured in a plane crash at age 76, he is still passionate about aviation at the age of 84.

“Once you find the way, you’ll be bound. It will obsess you, but believe me, it will be a magnificent obsession.”
(from Magnificent Obsession, book by Lloyd C. Douglas, American minister and author, 1877-1951)


Another inspirational book I loved when I was younger was Magnificent Obsession, (1929) by Lloyd C. Douglas. I also loved the movies made about the book (1935 and 1954). The life of a spoiled man, Robert Merrick is saved through the use of a hospital’s only pulmotor (similar to a respirator/ventilator), and because the device couldn’t be in two places at once, it results in the death of a selfless, brilliant surgeon and philanthropist, Dr. Hudson. Merrick falls in love with Hudson’s widow, who holds him responsible for her husband’s death. He makes a pass at her while insisting on driving her home, and she gets out of the car only to be hit by another car and becomes blind. Merrick asks a friend of Dr. Hudson why his beautiful young widow would have married a middle- aged man. The doctor’s friend told him about the doctor’s philosophy of life: To help people, but to never let it be known that you are the one helping them. Only then, he believed could there be true reward in life.

Merrick watches over Helen (the blind widow) and calls himself Dr. Robert. When he finds out she is nearly penniless, he secretly pays for specialists and trips all over the world to restore her sight. He follows her to Switzerland where she learns her eyesight is gone forever. He confesses his Dr Robert is really  Robert Merrick and proposes marriage. She forgives him, but won’t marry him because she doesn’t want to burden him with her affliction.

Years later, Robert Merrick has become a renowned brain surgeon. He learns that Helen needs a risky operation, which he successfully performs. When she awakens, her sight has miraculously returned.

The quote at the start of this paragraph was one of the doctor’s friend’s quotes at the end of the movie. To me, it shows how passion becomes destiny when it drives how we live.

Passion+Vision=Transformation The Passion Driven Congregation

For many years we were members at a wonderful church in Indianapolis. What made it so wonderful were the people inspiring community, and the freedom, direction, and opportunity for all of us to follow our passions for service, ministry, vision, and intention. If someone wanted to develop a social justice committee, go for it! A healing ministry, a spiritual life center, a compassionate, connected leadership with a passion driven congregation–all were miracle-making ventures we were blessed and grateful to be a part of. When I wanted to teach a class about mysticism or start a women’s group, I was given a thumbs up. We knew, like Richard Bach, there were no limits and we could serve from our best selves for the highest good because Passion was the chauffeur for St Luke’s United Methodist Church. Carver McGriff and Kent Millard, two successive senior pastors wrote a book about how a theologically progressive church can be faithful to its particular character and grow significantly. “Passion+ Vision=Transformation” was the formula the Holy Spirit used to plant and grow our amazing church.

Our world today is encouraging passion in a way our generation could never expect to experience.  Covid-19’s world-wide pandemic has united us even as it has separated us from our normal modes of operation and from each other. We are told to stay home so we can slow the rate of infection. The call to work together to stay apart becomes a passion. Like Bach’s metaphorical references to flight as a way to transcend limits (or in this case, flatten the curve), we are called to accept and adjust in creative ways so that we can help heal our world. Maybe the gifts of sequestering provide inspiration for new dreams and visions. Like Dr McGriff and Dr. Millard’s recipe for transformation, we too can vision a healthy, happy, abundant world: “Passion + Vision=Transformation.”

Finally, like Robert Merrick, in Magnificent Obsession, we realize that there may not always be enough ventilators, supplies, masks, money, or drugs, but may we trust that there will be a way, and that “once we find the way, we’ll be bound.” Bound to goodness, love, peace, and possibility? I hope so.


Palm Sunday starts Holy week. A celebrated entrance into Jerusalem by a humble, justice -seeking, healing, loving, beloved child of God. That fortuitous week overflowed with hope and joy, sorrow and suffering. With the weekend came death.

The next week began again with new life. This pandemic has compelled us to upend our dreams and to choose new ones. It has called us to change our actions. It has reminded us that we are called to serve the highest good from our best selves. Maybe our questions can be, “What would Jesus do?” What can I do?


Present, patient, hopeful, and praying, may we choose compassion and acceptance of the calling to live passionately so that the embrace of possibility can be a sacred blessing for all.

Namaste,
Carol

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A Pause for Dreams


A PAUSE FOR DREAMS

“Dreams are the soul’s pantry. Keep it well stocked, and your soul will never hunger” —Shirley Feeney (as portrayed by Cindy Williams in the tv sitcom, Laverne and Shirley. 1976-1983 on ABC. Theme song was “Making Our Dreams Come True.)

 
The theme song from the highly popular situation comedy, Laverne and Shirley, was called “Making Our Dreams Come True.” The lyrics are below.

Making Our Dreams Come True

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated
We’re gonna do it!

Give us any chance – we’ll take it
Read us any rule – we’ll break it
We’re gonna make our dreams come true…
Doin’ it our way

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now
Straight ahead and on the track now
We’re gonna make our dreams come true…
Doin’ it our way

There is nothing we won’t try

Never heard the word impossible
This time there’s no stopping us
We’re gonna do it

On your mark, get set and go now
Got a dream and we just know now
We’re gonna make our dream come true
And we’ll do it our way – yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
And do it our way – yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you!
(Cyndi Grecco, 1976)

Cindy Williams was a spunky Shirley to Penny Marshall’s gutsy Laverne. They were a favorite tv show for seven of the 8 years they were on ABC. Their theme song was fun to belt out at the top of my lungs. In 1982 when Cindy Williams was pregnant with her first child, producers wanted her to film on her due date (they would do head shots avoiding her pregnancy) and continue filming after her baby arrived until all season 8 series was complete. Cindy had a different dream: she wanted to be home with her baby. After much consideration, she left the series after episode 2 of season 8, and her co-workers, especially Laverne, were furious when the series was not renewed after Cindy’s exit. Cindy and Penny didn’t speak for two years until they reconciled for a new shared project that worked for both of them and grew for themselves a friendship beyond the highs and lows of financial success and fame, a true “me and you” partnership, making all their dreams come true.

How much fun I had with the Yiddish start to this song: A schlemiel is an inept and clumsy person, and schlimazel is a very unlucky person. “Put them together and what have you got?”: Laverne and Shirley’s great tv show. There are many times I’ve felt like a schlimazel and a schlemiel in the pursuit of my dreaming. There’s a fun Yiddish saying that a schiemiel is the klutz who spills his/her soup, and the schlimazel is the person upon whom the soup spills. Hasenpfeffer is a traditional German stew spilled in the first line.

So many moments in my life I’ve spent cleaning up the soup I’ve spilled everywhere or mopping up the consequences of another’s mess I’ve been in the middle of. Dreams and ideas that never quite took off, but in their conception and ideation were immensely thrilling and wonderful to consider.

As a young girl, I dreamed of cutting every younger girl’s hair in the neighborhood. In fact, I suggested we all cut each other’s hair, taking turns because I imagined it would be fun and wonderful. Because I was the oldest of the three girls gathered, I chose to be the first hair stylist. After my turn, one little girl had three bald spots in the back of her blondish pixie hair, “Two eyes and a nose!”I exclaimed with satisfaction. Barbara (the little girl) giggled with delight, and because the bald spots were in the back of her head and we had no mirror, she seemed thrilled. Jeannie was another story. Her shiny brown hair was long and flowing down her back, below her shoulders. I loved giving her a jagged edge bob! At the time my first clients were sharpening their scissors for my shearing, I was called home for dinner, deferring my time in the chair for another day.

Less than 10 minutes after arriving home, Jeannie’s mother appeared on our doorstop screaming about her daughter’s hair as the loss of “her pride and joy”. Barbara’s parents were gentler with their horror via a phone call, but this grand dream of mine wasn’t going to mesh with the constructs of my reality. I was the schlemiel AND the schlimazel, and there was no out or detour for making this dream come true. I was five years old, and this kind of “Hasenpfeffer” was my continued childhood experience for trying on the dreams of Carol Margaret Hohlfelder.

As a little girl, I found myself consequenced by wherever creative imagination led me: Flooded bathrooms while playing restaurant, an upset stomach from eating the mud-berry pies with painted rock designs I sold to unsuspecting neighbors (I didn’t sell many, yet wanted to feel successful, so I ate more than my share). I dreamed about being a princess, a star in the movies and on Broadway. When I took piano lessons and sang in talent shows, I imagined myself playing in Carnegie Hall, with leads in musicals on Broadway in-between piano gigs, and Hollywood waiting in the wings for a diversion if I ever got bored.

As I matured, I dreamed about being a minister, a college professor, a lawyer. Each dream was the end-all be all when I dreamt it. I pursued many of my dreams; however, they morphed with the ever- unfolding Carol Margaret Hohlfelder. I met my great love and we married. Two sons, an active volunteer life, a real estate career, cancer. With every changing dream, I experienced the presence of the schlemiel and the schlimazel, and usually one or both of them were me. My subjective reality was pervaded with millions and millions of once upon a time imagining. My pantry was bulging with dreams; however, not all of my stock cooked well in my kitchen or fed the dreams sitting behind the rest in a forgotten cupboard.

 


“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
–Langston Hughes,1902-1967.

The nice thing about having the pantry stocked is that I can pull out a different dream each day to try out, kind of like what to cook for dinner. I’m figuring out what to write next for this chapter of my life, and I still lack the “what’s” and “how’s”; however, the writing dream is always there. I try on essays, short stories. I’m experimenting with a novel. I wonder about children’s books or scholarly articles.

I love studying new things. Currently, I’m fascinated with Judaism, the constitution, theological discourse, and every way to breathe. I dream about traveling to places I haven’t been, doing new things every day, learning to cha-cha proficiently, and living life as big as I can imagine it to be.

The most compelling area of my pantry contains the dreams I pray to vision daily:

Peace and Love in our world intended by and for all creation; a world where we seek Good, Love, and Possibility at the center of every relationship and every experience; Presence in each moment to savor awe, wonder, and synchronicity.

My prayer to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God, I share with our dog, Micah, and my beloved number one husband.

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I love dreaming—day dreaming, night dreaming…I believe dreams fuel our souls, ignite passion and intentions for our lives. Inspired by my imagination and vision, I am called to live into my dreams, and if one dream loses the meaning and focus it once had or can’t carry itself in the long haul, I get to go into my soul’s pantry and pick another.


If I were alone in a desert without food or water, I imagine I would survive until my body wore out. I guarantee you, I will never let go of dreaming, no matter what.

 

Love,
Carol

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Dream, Passion, Calling, Vision,Imagination: Pauses for 2020.

A Pause for Dreams, Passion, Calling, Vision and Imagination.

“Dreams are the soul’s pantry. Keep it well stocked, and your soul will never hunger”—Shirley Feeney (as portrayed by Cindy Williams in the tv sitcom, Laverne and Shirley. 1976-1983 on ABC. Theme song was “Making Our Dreams Come True.)

“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.”
–Richard Bach, author, born June 1936.

 

“We’re called to love, serve, and do something. ‘Something’ is different for everyone. The universe, like Nike, calls us to Go! Do it!!”
–Carol M H Roth, professional dreamer, pauser, and reconstructer of meaningful anonymous quotes, born January 1959.

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Photo by Anny Patterson on Pexels.com

“Life is what you make of it. Always has been, always will be.”
–Grandma Moses, aka, Anna Mary Robertson Moses, 1860-1961.

 

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“Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.”
–William Wordsworth, poet, 1770-1850.

 

An assortment of gifts I’ve accumulated to bring into this new year—aspirations, resolutions, and desires as well as continued focus on growth, truth, improvement, and  meaning. The eternal questions, subjective truths, and ongoing lessons spiral me fully into 2020, often accelerating me into overwhelm at the onslaught of “the new now”. Numerous varied activities and their unfolding adventures, good-byes to old ways of involvement, and greetings to unknown pages of becoming. Sometimes I skip, smile and laugh myself through uncertainty and fragments of unmapped living; other times, I stumble, growl, and race back to what I already understand or think I do—not ready to face the path I choose to travel with the humility, vulnerability, and patience necessary to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I forget my always present support group of  community, service, grace, and gratitude.

I enter 2020 with ambitious resolutions. I am clueless as to how they will unfold, and unfold I know they will. No ideas as to the hows, whats, or wherefores; but I am grateful it will be what it will be.

For five essays, I will pause for dreams, passion, calling, vision, and imagination. In my writing I will explore the questions and realizations I seek for my life, and I invite you, dear reader, to join me in this adventure into possibility for your own precious life.

In each essay I will explore one of the five quotes listed above, and I will invite us to seek inspiration for our own creativity in this new decade year. I invite you to join me as I attempt to conjure up a committed resolution to bring my best self into this process of wondering, dreaming, choosing, changing, imagining, questioning, discerning, visioning, and intending.

Wishing all of us a remarkable season of discovery!

Namaste,
Carol

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