Tag: Beauty

Everyday Is Earth Day ~ Feel the Earth, Feel the Gratitude

Everyday Is Earth Day ~ Feel the Earth, Feel the Gratitude

Earth DayOur earth is a spectacular gift … a miracle … a source of constant amazement to me. When I stop to think about its riches and abundant beauty it boggles my mind. Particularly those of us who live on the western hemisphere have so much to be grateful for, far exceeding the wildest imaginations of those sequestered by circumstance to other parts of the world. I need only watch the news one evening to be reminded of the abundance that is ours for the taking. Not only have we been blessed to be at home in a country that affords us some distance from the destruction of war, but the freedom to enjoy what we have. With all freedom comes responsibility. The more freedom we have, the more responsibility we bear for tending to and protecting what is sacred … and the earth is sacred. The earth provides for our very existence.

I whisper a prayer of gratitude in my heart whenever I see, sense or touch a thing of beauty … a reminder to maintain some semblance of humility for the gifts I have been given. Gratitude is a reminder that our ego will never provide for us, or care for us in the way that we think it can. Our mental gymnastics and machinations will not do it for us either. Rather, it is humbling ourselves so that we can surrender to and rest in all that stands outside of reason, logic and ego, and outside of the cultural norm.  This alone keeps us grounded in the awareness that we are a part, not only of the earth itself, but of the universe. What is in one is in all. What is in all is in one.

 

EARTH DAY QUOTES:

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
– Ancient Indian Proverb

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
George Santayana

[tweetthis]]”In the spring at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Attwood #quote[/tweetthis]

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.”
Andy Warhol

Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

When I first saw these flowers in the nursery, their beauty stunned me. I discovered they were called Blue and White Columbine (Aquilegia). There were only a few blossoms on the plant when I purchased it, but within the week it was full of flowers.

via Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

Perfect pictures for a beautiful Spring morning in NC. I just had to share. Enjoy!

A COURAGEOUS OLD WOMAN

A COURAGEOUS OLD WOMAN

Dogwood BlossomsWhen we moved into our home nearly twenty years ago I was delighted to discover that we had a beautiful dogwood tree right outside the living room window.  Healthy, strong and stately — in a delicate dogwood kind of way – our tree has delighted us year after year. Unlike the wild dogwoods one sees along the Carolina back roads, with spindly limbs and small white blossoms, this tree provides a showy display of large white blossoms, and has the distinct feature of a whole branch of pink blossoms!  While this is not altogether uncommon in cultivated dogwoods, I have always felt fortunate to have such a beautiful tree growing and healthy in my front yard.

The tree was probably at least as old as the house was when we bought it, if not a bit older.  That would have made her twenty-five plus years then.  Now, she’s much, much older, and like me, she has gathered a hitch or two in her get-a-long.  Sadly, she’s less and less showy each year and I was heartbroken to discover her pink branch was lost last winter in an ice storm. There were no pink blossoms this year.

She has been battered and bruised over the years; neglected during a long dry spell in our business when we could not afford to give her the extra care she needed. She weathered another dry spell when nature held back necessary sustenance, a drought that brought an end to the life of our beautiful big maple, and it took its toll. I study her weathered bark and broken limbs, the scaly lichens that finds her a delightful host. I bear witness to her crooked starts and stops and feel aches and pains as if they were my own. I often wish we’d treated her better and taken her less for granted.

I sit beside the window and drink my morning coffee each day and still feel blessed to have her here with me. She holds a different sort of delicate beauty and like an old woman who has more inner determination than physical strength to keep on keeping on, her vulnerabilities are overshadowed by her strength to live on.

I can’t help but wonder about her vulnerability to disease and weather extremes. When her leaves fall in recent years one can see her scars more plainly. I wonder if I should fertilize her, prune away the dead bark, or leave her be.  I wonder if there are things that are weakening her that I can’t even see. I fear not doing enough for her, and I fear doing too much. I felt very much the same way when my mother lay close to death. Should I force her to eat? Should I just let her be. No one wants to be responsible for neglecting a loved one; for not doing something one should to sustain them; but I learned then that there is a time for letting go and letting God.

As for the dogwood,  I learned too late that trimming her branches in an effort to help her grow into her fullness actually created openings for insects and disease.

Many days I feel much like this old dogwood tree. Once innocent and resplendent as only the young can be, I have no doubt that an oddity or gift or two escaped my notice.  I believed myself strong and capable of weathering most any storm that might come my way. Like our lady, I was assailed on many sides, but it was the ones that I did not anticipate or perceive that created the most harm. I’ve lost a branch or two along the way. I’m not as physically strong as I would like to be, and yet my will to live and be and continue to become grows stronger with each passing day. I know it will be a race to the finish. I also know which will win!

No matter how things turn out for the dogwood, or for me, we’ve had a hell of a run and put up a hell of a fight to blossom and share what beauty we can. I hope she out lives me. I would hate to see her go.

THE MASKS WE WEAR

WOMEN STYLIN’ AT EVERY AGE

Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is an Inside JobIt seems like a hundred years ago that Sophie Lumen of The Art of Aging began to amass her spectacular following on Facebook. We stumbled across each other and immediately recognized that we were kindred spirits. We joined forces in heart and mind to take on the challenges of aging. An artist and spiritual guru she spread love and acceptance everywhere she went.  Even though Sophie has been on a bit of a sabbatical, The Art of Aging is still gathering followers, and she posts from time to time on her website Feed the Beauty. I have a feeling that she’ll show up again one day shining even brighter than before. I tell you about Sophie because one of my favorite quotes of hers has always been “Beauty is an inside job.” How very right she is!

I also believe that aging is an inside job. As we get older everything in and around us pushes us, and not so very gently I might add, away from externals and toward getting right with ourselves. We are being directed to start facing our fears, healing our wounds and traumas, figuring out what we truly believe and value and learning to start living congruently…aligning our insides with our outsides. We can’t do this by obsessing about our gray hair, our sagging breasts, our wrinkles, our decreasing strength. We can’t do this by focusing on externals. External concerns are only a diversion, an escape, a habit of avoiding the real issue at hand.

Are there real life concerns? Of course. They, however, must take a back seat to the inner work that needs to be done. The inner work will make the outer work more manageable and clear. Carl Jung outlines this process in his 7 tasks of aging. It’s a good place to start to see the basics of this process.

Carl Jung’s 7 tasks of aging

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

These are no light weight tasks! Then again, we always complain about not wanting to waste our lives! The inner journey can appear daunting. No wonder we shy away from it. It doesn’t make it any less compelling or necessary. I’m pretty sure the alternative isn’t any better. We just think it is.

In the coming weeks, I will begin to address each of these tasks in more detail.  I hope you’ll hang around and offer our experience and insights.

Have you tackled any of Jung’s tasks? Where are you in this process? Where are you getting stuck? Please leave a comment if you have time. We have so much to learn from one another.

Do You Hate Your Body?

Do You Hate Your Body?

A friend shared an article on Facebook the other day titled: We Hate Our Bodies, and It’s Not Our Fault. How could I not read it after all the conversations we’ve had on the subject of body image and self-acceptance in recent years? I wondered what women were thinking now? As I read through it, many of my own memories came back to the surface. Even when we make significant steps toward self-acceptance, the damage runs deep and lingers long.

What saddened me was that the post was written by a woman from, what we might now refer to as the “younger gegraphic-design-snow-falling-perfecthue-photography-portfolio-of-jason-1381158neration”. At 37 she still wrestles with body image demons that took root at the very young age of seven.  I always thought my most entrenched body image issues arose when I was nine. I think if I dug deeper I would find that they began in very subtle ways much earlier.  I was startled, however, by the writer’s admission to such early wounding. Two years may not sound like much, but in developmental years it is significant. Cultural demands on women with regard to their appearance were worse, it seems, for those ten, twenty and even thirty years younger than we are. The conversation has only really just begun.

Like most women, I carry the scars of living for too many years trying to measure up to external guidelines and hating myself for failing to do so. I cry sad and bitter tears for all of the precious little girls who live inside of each of us today, who silently bear similar wounds, and I wonder how many tiny little beauties field daily assaults on their self-image, assaults that will last a lifetime.  It is, in my opinion, a very serious problem that needs an army of ambassadors to tackle. It needs to stop and those of us who understand the pain and a bit of the problem can do our part to undo the wrong that has been done by a culture run amok.

WHO’S FAULT IS IT?

Abuse victims often feel that they are to blame for their abuse and the pain it has caused. The admission of innocence by the author in the aforementioned post is one more telling piece of evidence to support the understanding that what the collective thought and action of our culture is inflicting on women is, in fact, abuse. It is not only first hand abuse, but the abused abusing. The mother who herself was denigrated often unwittingly inflicts the same skewed standards on her daughters. Insofar as we do not stop the abuse at its source, we are cooperating with it.

It is true that the victim of abuse is not to blame. However, until she gives up her victim mentality and takes back her power of choice, she will remain victimized by herself if no one else. Yes, it is true we are not to blame for the messages we received as children. It is also true that we alone can and must take responsibility for healing our own wounds and when possible helping others do the same. We alone must take responsibility for what we allow into our space and what we allow to continue around us without objection.

BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?

Things are not changing fast enough to suit me. We still allow big business and the media to have enormous power over us and as long as we acquiesce and purchase the products they push on us, they will remain strong and virulent as they benefit from and prey pray upon on fears, our insecurities, and the self-loathing they helped us  create. Every time we step foot into Victoria’s Secret and lay our money on the counter we are reinforcing the body image, not to mention the morality, the company spreads across our planet in images and impressions. Each time we abdicate our responsibility as women to right the wrong, we continue to set up one little girl after another to hate herself for who she is. Every time we go to into a store and buy SPANX, we are supporting an industry that says curves and softness are to be vanquished and that perceived beauty as defined by the fashion industry and supported ad naseum by the media, trumps comfort. Every time we disparage our age, criticize our wrinkles, buy another product to change or hide or cover up who we are, we are passing on the curse of cultural expectations to those who follow in our footsteps.

feed the beauty
Art: Sophie Lumen

Our very first step as my friend Sophie Lumen so aptly stated numerous times on her Feed the Beauty website and Facebook page, “beauty is an inside job”. Work on your inside and you will be beautiful on the outside. It’s just how it is. It’s simply the nature of humanity. Get healthy in body, mind and spirit and you won’t need Victoria’s Secret or Spanx. You won’t need a face lift or a tummy tuck. Our bodies are beautiful in all of their little, and not so little, dips and curves and infinite uniqueness. As Dr. Estes reminds us, “Our body is our beloved companion”. Would we treat our beloved in the way we treat ourselves? I think not.

But, what can we do to change such an insidious mindset? Plenty. We have the power…collectively. Imagine if today, this minute, each one of us did one thing internally and one thing externally to attack this problem by taking a personal step of any size toward greater and greater self-love, self-care and self-acceptance, and one public step toward changing the destructive cultural patterns that are continuing to wound little girls and women alike? Imagine the ripple effect?

As we grow in consciousness of what is of true and right and good for all women, our need and desire for, and attraction to, cultural guidelines and expectations will fall away. We may even find that we are repelled by the images that are flashed before us. When we are focused on honoring and respecting who we are we are automatically repelled by anything that debases us or sends a message to pretend we are someone other than who we are.

Each time we refuse to purchase a product that portrays or advocates an unrealistic, culturally devised image of a woman we take a stand for truth and self-love as higher values. Women’s magazines and websites are rife with such images and advertisers. Begin there. Send letters, write posts like this one. When assaulted by an image or an ad that supports the idealization of the female body, call the initiator on it, or publicly announce that you will not be purchasing this product because….and let them know exactly why.  If we do not show up to purchase their products, or read their magazines and websites, they will have to change or go out of business. Purchasing power is a mighty sword and we have it in spades.

It’s time ladies. Let’s take a stand to stop the abuse and to take back our power and dignity as women.

 


Recommended Reading/Listening:


“Each one of us is a triumvirate being – at once the union of the body, soul, and all that lies within.” For any that experience disharmony amongst these three vital aspects, Dr. Clarissa Estes reveals a path back to wholeness. Join her with the Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype for the third volume of her masterwork on the Wise Woman archetype. This empowering six-session program shares original and old family stories, poems and psychological commentary on the challenges, remedies and ancient knowings of the female body, “that which is not a dumb servant but a divine human traveler and consort.”

MORE ARTICLES ON BODY IMAGE:

Keeping Up Appearances: Who Would We Be If We Quit Talking About Aging

Women at War with Their Bodies

 

 

Contemplate Beauty

Contemplate Beauty

“When you look upon another human being and feel tumblr_mn75oi8TqE1s9g8apo1_500great love toward them, or when you contemplate beauty in nature and something within you responds deeply to it, close your eyes for a moment and feel the essence of that love or that beauty within you, inseparable from who you are, your true nature.”

Eckhart Tolle

When hope seems lost and darkness is your constant companion…contemplate beauty.

When pain and heartache sit beside you at the breakfast table and go to bed with you each night…close your eyes and contemplate the ever-present warmth of the sun.

Step outside of your pain for a moment and breathe in the fresh air of the day. Focus your attention on the cool breeze that plays upon your cheeks, the sound of the morning dove calling to her mate, the rustle of leaves as the Tohees scrounge for food.

Take a moment, or two…or three, and step outside of your earthly discomfort and turn your thoughts to the blooming rose. Smell its fragrance; feel its soft petals; remember its perfection…if only in your mind’s eye.

Beauty surrounds us on all sides. It lives within us. It never fades, no matter how dark the night. Spend some time there and let it give you strength when you think you have none.

The beauty of nature, the gift of love freely given, is there for all of us. It can be found in the laughing child, the romping puppy, the purring kitten. It can be experienced in the fragrance of the lilac, the magnificent colors of the setting sun, the glorious tones of a chorus of voices, the soft, carefree tones of the flute, or the mellow hum of the bass violin.

Turn to music, to nature, to the soft touch of velvet, the warmth of your favorite sweater. Take your mind from the place of mental anguish to the place of physical joy. Immerse yourself in beauty in any way you are able, in every way possible. Allow it to heal you. Allow it to remind you of hope.

DJS May 2014