What Happened to You?

Something happened to you. Maybe it was a long time ago. Maybe it was yesterday.

Maybe you were abused, humiliated, ignored. Maybe you were molested, mugged, physically hurt. Maybe you lost a home, a job, money, a loved one.

Whatever it was, you feel angry, frightened, sad. Whatever it was, you can’t get over it.

If it’s sadness, it pierces your soul.

If it’s anger or hatred, it poisons your system.

If it’s fear, it paralyzes you.

If it’s insecurity, it blinds you.

What Did You Do?

Maybe you lied, cheated or abused someone. Maybe you were mean, hateful, unkind. Maybe your words or actions crushed someone’s spirit. Maybe your gossip damaged someone’s reputation.

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Whatever it was, you feel guilt, remorse, regret. Whatever it was, it makes you cringe inside, it darkens your self-image, it weighs heavy on your heart.

Letting Go

There are things that happened to us and things we have done that cast a shadow over our life. Things we wish we could erase from our slate. Things that creep up on us out of the blue and haunt our waking hours. We are not fully alive because part of us is stuck in the past. Our life force is being drained by regret.

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People suffer great tragedies in this world, and grieving is a crucial element of healing. But when grief becomes a cloak we cannot shed, we become petrified. Definitions of petrify include:

to make lifeless or inactive
to make rigid or inert like stone

Life goes on. Whether we go with it or not is our choice.  Some have been crushed by tragedy. Some rose like the phoenix from the ashes to inspire, motivate, change laws, start important foundations. They have succeeded in sports, business, life, and love.

Our experiences can empower us or they can petrify us. As James Agee, writes in the play A Death in the Family…

“It’s a kind of a test, Mary, and it’s the only kind that amounts to anything. When something rotten like this happens, then you have your choice. You start to really be alive, or you start to die. That’s all.”

Pain can make us angry and bitter, and reinforce our separateness. Or it can pierce that defensive shell and unleash courage and compassion. It can be the fire that purifies and reveals a deeper dimension of self.

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. Rumi

What side of the seesaw are you on?

Life is a seesaw with ego sitting on one side and Spirit on the other. We are always teetering one way or the other. The ego is the ‘me’ of our individual self with its story, fears, guilts, hungers, and importance. Spirit is the home of our Higher Self, Love, Peace, Forgiveness.

decision-1013712_640-copyLife is a classroom and everything – EVERYTHING – is a lesson. It pushes us to one side of the seesaw or the other. When you have pain and you move fully into your ego, Spirit hits the ground with a big bang. Your ego rises, it becomes inflated. You become totally enmeshed in yourself. You cannot see or feel or think anything beyond your pain, your needs.

As you begin to let go of the ego, it slowly drifts down and Spirit rises. Your vision expands. Your heart opens. Out of the ashes new life emerges. 

Joseph Campbell said, “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” If not joy, then love. Love of a person or pet, love of nature, art, God. Dwell on love and you will find forgiveness, peace and healing.

What Did You Do This Summer?

This is a new type of article I will occasionally be posting. Aside from this blog, I had been publishing a separate travel blog. From now on, any articles about our travels will appear on this website and feature thought-provoking quotes by famous people from places we’ve visited.

First, a little background for those who don’t know my history…

My husband and I were married in 1995. By the following year, we had sold bothmobile-home-156914_640 our homes and bought the first of three motorhome buses. Over the next 6 years, we explored the United States and Canada from coast to coast.

Deciding to leave this continent and see the rest of the world, we sold the last motorhome and bought a condo in south Florida as a home base. Over the following years, we spent extended amounts of time in Europe, China, India, and Egypt, and took cruises around South America and Africa, to Antarctica, New Zealand, and Australia.

With the small amount of time we were spending in Florida, this question was bound to arise…

Why Own a Home?

There are some things we do without thinking. It is the normal lifestyle, the way we are supposed to live. For most people, owning or renting a home does make sense. For us, it didn’t. We don’t have children, our parents are gone, we’re retired and our lifestyle is travel.

Due to the real estate collapse, we were not able to sell our condo until 2011. We sold it fully furnished and put our few remaining possessions in a small storage locker. I will never forget the closing date: 1/11/11. Two days later we left on our second world cruise. We have been what I call modern day nomads ever since.

Remember when you returned to school in the fall and everyone asked: What did you do this summer? Our travels took us to the birthplaces of some very interesting and wise native sons.

New England

Upon leaving Lake Placid, New York, we spent a week in Burlington, Vermont. As everyone knows by now, Vermont is the home of Bernie Sanders. It is also the birthplace of two U.S. presidents: Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge who said…

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.

Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.

A brief stop in New Hampshire and then it was on to Maine for a month. With its scenic coastline, quaint towns, and lobster and clam bakes, there is no place like Maine in the summer.

p1130347While in Bangor, we saw the home of Stephen King. Best known for his horror and supernatural stories, his talents are not limited to those genres. But talent alone isn’t what made him one of the most prolific and successful writers of our time. As he says…

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Stephen King

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool. 

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win. 

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.

It’s a mystery. That’s the first thing that interests me about the idea of God. If there is one, it’s mysterious and powerful and awesome to even consider the concept, and you have to take it seriously.

Canada

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Visiting friends in Vermont

From Maine, we drove to Canada and stayed in several lovely towns in Quebec. One was close to Vermont and we were able to drive down to see friends who have a beautiful home just over the border.

The inimitable William Shatner, now 85 and still going strong, is originally from Quebec. The star of Star Trek and Boston Legal has said…

William Shatner as Capt. Kirk
William Shatner

We meet aliens every day who have something to give us. They come in the form of people with different opinions.

I’m surfing the giant life wave. 

The conundrum of free will and destiny has always kept me dangling. 

Ottawa was the one major Canadian city we did not get to visit during our travels in Canada. So we made a point of stopping there this time. The capital of the country sits on the Ottawa River, has beautiful parks and walking paths. Tourists flock to visit the majestic Parliament Hill and to watch boats pass through Rideau Canal.

Parliament Hill Ottawa
Parliament Hill Ottawa
Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal

Comedian, screenwriter Dan Akroyd was born in Ottawa…

We must come to the point where we realize the concept of race is a false one. There is only one race, the human race.

I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction and of the worlds of the spiritual and the mystic.

You look at the floor and see the floor. I look at the floor and see molecules.

Back to the States

Upon leaving Ottawa, we made a couple of stops in upper New York State before reaching the home of my alma mater: the State University of New York at Oneonta. It was a great honor to return to receive  the Alumni of Distinction award. Making it all the Version 3more special was to have the award presented by two sorority sisters who live in Oneonta and are active at the college. And to top the occasion off, two of my former roommates, sorority sisters and longtime friends came to Oneonta to be with me. It was a wonderful way to wrap up our summer of 2016.