Sunday, March 29, 2009

Canadian Geese - and The Boy-Girl List

Well, kind of blurry, sorry. These are the Canadian geese that frequent our pond out front. I love to watch their frolic and interest in each other. They are quite aware of what each is doing; albeit ducking for food, or getting ready to take flight if danger is sensed. Their loyalty is unyielding, their commitment, forever - as in until death. The male is the hunter - and he feeds her. How cute is that. She dotes - waits patiently for him to 'step up to the man plate'. Now don't go writing angry comments about that being a sexist statement about lack of equality between men and women -let's face it - men and women are not the same. We are quite different and I for one am very thankful. I am not as physically strong as most men I know. Nor do I have any need to prove physical strength. I am strong enough, all things considered.

My husband gets quite thrilled with himself when he splits a cord of wood. That does not thrill me, at all. I love to watch him - it is exciting on many levels but I have no desire to swing the axe. Maybe once or twice, for fun. I do enjoy stacking wood and gathering kindling. When we remodeled the upstairs bathroom I did not help remove the 500 pound tub. I didn't even know anyone who could remove a 500 pound tub. My husband did - three guys showed up that looked like line backers and hauled it out. I have no problem saying, "no can do".

We have a delightful 'thing' we do, and it is called "The Boy List and The Girl List". When stuff needs to get done we look up at the imaginary list and say "That is on the boy list, or the girl list, depending on the task at hand. We laugh heartily at ourselves and at times we comically quibble over which list the task should be on. Everything from making dinner to taking one of our cars for an oil change and a million things that come up day to day. Many tasks are interchangeable, others, not so much and we just know that, intuitively and lovingly and even adoringly. The Canadian geese seem to have a similar boy-girl list and intuitively know which is which.

I love chivalry. A door opened, a hand on the small of my back guiding me through a door, my chair puled out at a dining table, helping me with my coat and then he reaches to gently shape my long hair around the collar, getting the car from the lot and then pulling up right in front for me, tasting the wine first, putting his arm across me if he makes a sudden stop while driving, and so much more. I love to serve him food, wine, coffee, his favorite movie snacks - I am excited by his strength and power because with me he is so gentle - I feel safe with him, he is the protector. I am free to be vulnerable, submit if you will because I trust him. He knows my limits. I celebrate him and all his gifts and talents - and where each of us may be weak, the other steps up - and without words - it is a given. We don't need to prove our trust or defend our weaknesses - neither of us are insecure therefore no proof is needed - we live it, we are it, by our design. We laugh, lovingly, at one another. In our most intimate moments there is understanding, desires fulfilled, fantasy realized, laughter and nuances that magically explore and ignite our passion. We know, respect and delight in each other.

The Canadian geese seem delighted with one another too. She dotes, he hunts, and then they calmly sail along, side by side......................stopping only to poke at each other as if to say, "I'm glad you are mine".

Love Gail

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


That's me in the middle front. Our Sophie right in back of me, Tina to the left and Dale to the right. Friends.
We had the best 'play-date' ever!! Four women of all ages who care about and respect, appreciate and so enjoy each other. So why do we "work" so well.

We like each other and we can laugh at each other's quirks. - That wonderfully silly stuff that makes us each so unique. We believe in one another - honor if you will, each other's truths and life's journey.

Dale, our Aussie is full of fire and determination, strength and deep passion - her laughter abounds and her purpose is fierce and unyielding. She stands up for what is right and 'just' at all cost. Dale is the strongest of us all.

Tina - our beautiful Italian - so giving and true. Her family values surround and fill us. Her "just because" offerings of food and unique gifts always celebrate each of us. She is 'every where' all at once and fills a room with her colorful presence and staggering generosity. Tina is the most giving of us all.

Our Sophie - the youngest of our circle and yet in many ways, the wisest. - a beautiful blend of Italian and Puerto Rican heritage that is breath taking to behold.. She is intelligence,with endless energy and wit, playful and sensitive. Her tender years are seasoned and purposeful. She loves deeply. Sophie is the most loyal of us all.

And me? Of Italian and Austrian descent. I see myself as the 'middle ground'. A balance of sorts. Perhaps because I am the oldest (grrrr), :-). I am the peace maker, the planner and the listener. I am the collector of all of us - holding each safely and lovingly within me. I am the kindest of us all.

1 - strong

2 - giving

3 - loyal

4 - kind

and there it is. Friendship.

Love Gail

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Pied Piper

I always loved this song. So, who is your "Pied Piper"? Whom do you trust enough to 'follow'. - To tell you "you are out of line and to get back in line?". There have been some constants for me and I am forever grateful. Some have come and gone - I learned what I needed, and then it was over. Some died, some just left. Each has a 'square' in the tapestry of my design. There are few these days that I would actually follow, allow them to lead me. In most ways, I am my own 'Pied Piper' and I have followers, people that trust me to lead. I take that position quite seriously as it comes with much responsibility. And at the same time, I don't really "do" anything other than just be me. If people like what they experience they are naturally drawn, if not, so be it. And the same is true for me towards others - if it feels right even n the challenges and/or differences I am naturally drawn. Being led is not really what happens as was the case many times in days gone by. Rather, we get in stride and learn from each other, compliment if you will in a respectful way that makes it safe for each of us to be who we are. I think teachers/leaders come along when we need them. That's not to say I no longer need to be taught, or to keep learning or to surrender to a point of vulnerability and simply follow. - I do. I am open every day to endless possibilities of views, vantage points, lessons and opportunities. And I hope that when I do need a 'Pied Piper' again that one will be available, one I can trust and follow when I am lost. Life ebbs and flows - I know this. For today I am not lost - I am my own 'Pied Piper', just for today.
What about you?

Love Gail

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The United Nations, Laverne and the Prostitute.

The castle - International High school
Me and

Coffee House

Our trip to the South Bronx to visit our son for his 25th birthday was perfect. The high school at which he teaches English is a castle, yes, a castle right in the middle of the South Bronx. The castle's design and stature is like something from 'Harry Potter'. The flags flying from the top named the three International High Schools within the castle. The police presence out front, perched on the stone steps before iron fences were both alarming and comforting. We had to wait outside until our son came to lead us in. During our half hour wait we sat by the bus stop out front, close to the busy street. This proved to be quite interesting. The cast of characters that passed by or sat on the bench waiting were all fascinating. Groups of teenagers, laughing and playful - happy while exchanging pokes and shoves and words of promises to catch up later. A man approached us trying to sell us 'boot leg' DVD's. Another gentlemen peeked at us from the side of the bus stop while mumbling to himself.
I watched as a middle aged woman walked toward the bus stop. We smiled at each other. I said "hi, how are you today?", as she walked passed me and leaned on the side of the clear enclosure for those waiting for a bus. She said "hi, how are you, you look pretty in pink". Skipp then said, "that was a movie", and a delightful conversation followed. Her name is 'Laverne', - she is a CNA in a state run nursing home. She went on to share that she went to the International High School years back. She listened with keen interest about our son and why we were in the South Bronx. Our exchange was lovely and concluded with a photo of the two of us.

Shortly thereafter, Skipp wandered down the walkway about 30 feet from me. I watched as a woman approached him, she was lovely with dark skin, deep brown eyes, short stylish hair and colorfully dressed. I watched as they interacted - I watched as Skipp attempted to move away and she quickly circled in front of him to stop him from leaving their conversation. Eventually he turned and walked away from her. He came back over to me shaking his head as if he himself could not believe what had just transpired. He was chuckling to himself as he approached me and said, "she asked me about chicken, if I Knew where to go for chicken and if I knew the chicken was good or not". She then said "we could go get some chicken together, you know, see if it's any good!!!"........Skipp was amazed, that under the guise of where to get some good chicken he was being solicited. We laughed heartily. In less than a half hour we came to know Laverne, were offered the opportunity to buy boot-let DVD's, were 'peeked at' by a man who found us interesting and Skipp was solicited. Amazing huh?

Dolan came to get us and we entered his castle. There were flags from many countries hanging from the ceiling in the long hallway - flags from all the countries the students are from. It really looked like the United Nations of students. We met some of his colleagues - the admiration and respect they have for Dolan was obvious. We also met some of his students, former and current - they too were so complimentary of who he is to them. Their excitement to meet us was intense - their enthusiasm, contagious. I was smiling so hard that my face hurt. :-) Dolan's strong positive presence was evident in every interaction we had.

We then met Amy. His girlfriend. She is adorable, small and delicate - a lovely young woman of quiet intelligent speech, gently spirited and soft in her approach. I felt immediately comfortable as did Skipp. We then found our way back to our car and headed back to Brooklyn to one of Dolan's favorite writing and eating spots in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. The place is called the 'Greenpoint Coffeehouse'. As we entered the music I heard was perfect - it was Johnny Cash's last CD of many old favorites. "In My Life" was playing - Dolan and I just stopped for a moment about the timing of it all. That song has such special meaning for so many reasons. The place was old and rustic, dark and wooden - the cook had Bob Marley dreads, our waiter, Jeff? adorable. we ordered a nice bottle of Pinot Giorigio and pinini sandwiches. Dolan opened his cards and gifts and we talked and laughed and ate and drank for a long time. I actually lost all concept of time - lost in the wonder of it all.

We ended our day back at Dolan's apartment where we sang happy birthday over a strawberry rhubarb pie with candles stuck in the center. Dolan is not a fan of cake - he does however LOVE strawberry rhubarb pie. We picked it up fresh that morning from 'Bishop's Orchard' in our town. Dolan was thrilled - and felt 100% celebrated. Our goal was met and then some. :-)

The drive home was uneventful. We did stop for a coffee and to pee. The bathroom smelled like an old barn still filled with horse and or cow crap. It was horrid. eeeeeeewwwwww.

Like I said, the day was 'perfect'. I am so gratified, still high from the experiences - a natural high that surpasses all others - it doesn't get any better than this.

Love Gail

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trickery and Promise

This was actually an email I sent to someone, just by chance just because. I never got a response, but whatever.

Winter is coming to an end and yet the weather predictions include colder temperatures, freezing rain and a stiff wind.

Somewhat of a metaphor for life it seems.........warmth surrenders to cold, sun is shadowed by clouds, calm is unsettled by strong winds, buds peek out and then recede , fooled by a warm afternoon, decks are swept and cars washed only to be covered in ice and road salt and sand, but each day of perseverance and determination makes each cloud, wind gust, ice pellet and snow flake just a feeble attempt at interfering with the hope of Spring - it is Winter that will hide, retreat and give way - the buds will open into colors, the trees will thicken and plump green, the bramble of forsythia will brighten yellow, the roses will unfold, bare feet will prance on decks and lush lawns and sandy beaches and warm flowing rivers and brooks, the birds will return and the scent of sweet flowers will filter in through open windows and doors, clothes will shed, sounds of kids playing and smells of grills sizzling will abound - but for today - as the wind rages, the dark clouds race across the sky, the chill in the air promises snow and ice - I am right where I am suppose to be. One with the trickery and promise - such is life. Such is "The Rose".......

Love Gail

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Ring Leader of Negativity

As you all know I am learning how to post videos so the song, "In My Life" is at the bottom although I swear I placed it here at the top. My goodness.

I love this song. Skipp and I sang it together to our family and friends at our wedding - right here - outside in our yard - surrounded by a circle of torches, flowers, and love and laughter. It was amazing day in so many ways.

I am troubled today, unsettled, if you will. I am very willing to accept blame" for something I did. If I am falsely accused of something it wreaks havoc within me. I was, in fact, falsely accused at a "Team Building" workshop of being negative. There are so many facets to this I don't know where to begin. The first three hours were wonderful - the last hour, not so much. We were directed to each anonymously list three problems/obstacles we see as reasons our in-patient treatment unit is struggling. I thought it odd to ask this and was hesitant. It didn't seem to "fit" with the theme of the day - a theme of "getting to know one another better via fun activities such as working as a team to keep balloons up in the air, a trust walk, and a questionnaire that we filled out about someone else and then spoke about that person to the group. It was such fun. The last segment was out of place, I felt. I then thought that it was not my agenda to question so I did as I was directed.

As the forty or so "problems" were compiled and taped to the walls they were then categorized into areas of concern - communication, the gap between management and line staff, the 'red-pencil' mentality and one other I can't recall. As the discussion ensued it turned away from the fun atmosphere of earlier to one of serious concerns being stated. I did speak about my concerns only because I was asked to do so. I am well spoken and have seen all the changes over the past decade and I am well-aware of the pit falls. Somehow my sharing my concerns was seen as negative and I was even named the "Ring leader of Negativity". This was so far from the truth and my intent. This mis-perception was bad enough but when someone I thought knew me well and understood my expression betrayed me I was devastated. I also know that people like to blame and because I was verbal I was an easy target.

I learned a couple of things - First - I will NEVER attend a Team Building day again, Never!! Second, that people you think are your friends will throw you under a bus to save their own ass. And third - Dual relationships are really difficult to manage.
Of course I new these last two already, I am not naive. It didn't make it hurt any less. I am stunned by the betrayals and accusations and perceptions that are so far from the reality it is mind boggling. I always say that when we defend ourselves what we defend against becomes very real. I need to strike a delicate balance between standing up for myself and defending too much. This is definitely one of those times when 'less is more'. I will bring myself out of this and away for the false accusations and the power I allowed these to have.
Meanwhile, I will listen to the song - "In My Life" remembering all those people who would nerve betray me like this.

The Ring Leader

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rambo and the broken water heater

I really, really love James Blunt and I really, really, love this song. I have done a small survey and it seems that mostly women appreciate James Blunt's music and men do not. Huh. What's that all about? Men and women are different? No news flash there ey? :-)

This post really has nothing to do with the song - I was practicing putting videos on a post is all. :-)

Well, our water heater broke while we were both at work, 40 gallons of water seeped everywhere. I immediately called our neighbor, whom we call "Rambo" to see if he had a water problem - he did not. He came right over and quickly assessed and concluded that it was the water heater. As luck would have it he 'knew someone' who just happened to be at Lowe's who picked up the new water heater and was at our house in less that two hours.

"Rambo" is a military man - tried and true - although retired due to a serious injury he is still boldly and proudly connected to the "special forces" and local law enforcement. In fact, to prove such, while he stayed at our house for four hours while his buddy put in the new water heater he told me many, many war stories and showed me texts he received from the police department asking if he could help with the tacticals of an upcoming drug raid. I was exhausted from listening. He is the type of guy that doesn't converse - rather he speaks and his 'audience' is held hostage to listen. At some point, he being fully aware that we are loving, peaceful, non-violent, anti-war ole hippies - challenged me in this way. He asked why, the way in which I 'help' people in my work in addiction services is any different than his work of making it possible for people like us to sit on our deck, playing music, sipping wine and grilling steaks. He asked who would help those I serve if didn't do it, and compared it to his work of 'painting his face, bearing arms, tactical maneuvers, homeland security, and overall protecting the people. The first and obvious difference is that I don't kill or torture anyone. To him it is just a difference in the job description, a job all the same and equally necessary. He make jokes such as, "while you are singing "We Are The World and holding hands and living free it is people like me that are making sure that you can continue doing that. On some weird level I understood him and at the same time I disagreed with him because he professed it way too loud and strong. He had stories about everything from who really killed JFK to just how unsafe we are now that Obama is in office. along with tales of businesses owned and lost, big money, plans to buy land in Montana and a multi-million dollar lawsuit for his injuries.

He was quite racist in his story telling and yet claimed he was not racist. He used the "N" word without flinching - I was cringing every time. My head was spinning and I was 'stuck' in my own home while his friend -whom he claims would never say "no" to him because he and his narcotics detective brother keep him out of jail. I am not convinced the water heater guy was a criminal, but who knows. In fact, most of what "Rambo" told me I found so hard to believe. There was a huge element of honor and purpose in his speaking that was long established from generations of military and policemen in his family - and when I tried to tell the simplest story of my Dads WW ll experience - it fell to deaf insignificant ears. And yet, here he was, helping me, us........and I know I can call on him for anything, anything at all. Still, he scares the crap out of me. He is the kind of guy I don't ever want to piss off - it feels like one might feel about a 'prison guard' and you know if you are nice to them they will "take care of you". How weird is that?

He is well spoken and knowledgeable - hard to challenge - impossible to "reach"...........and his opinions are facts in his mind. He is very strong in his presence both in size and voice. Last night was a rarity - our paths seldom cross so it was "over-kill" to listen to him for so many hours. He calls me ma'am and salutes Skipp - once he swore within earshot of my Mom and he came to her and apologized - he cleans the snow off of my car. When we lost power here for several days he came by and made sure I had water to drink and for 'flushing'. He is a combination of good and evil. Life and death. Fact and fiction. Honor and fear. Hope and despair. Prejudice and tolerance. (mostly prejudice).

I am writing about this because I had to look at myself after experiencing him for so long. I realized I don't need to prove anything. I didn't have to explain or share anything. I found the strength of who I am was enough - and I need not defend. I realized that it was he that was struggling - to defend-explain-prove....that the simplicity of our life frightened him - that my inner peace is something he longed for. My view of the world is not jaded despite the many injustices. I believe that kindness does matter and it need not come back to me from the person receiving the kind act because it will come back around eventually - as does harmful acts. There is a sense of "owing him" that was clear. It is unfortunate that he doesn't know how much he has already been given.
He is a force to be reckoned with, - and then again, so am I.

Love Gail - an ole hippie

Monday, March 2, 2009

The God Memorandum - from Og Mandino's book - "The Greatest Miracle In The World"

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Hi all- I love this memo. Love it.

To: You
From: God

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Take counsel.

I hear your cry.

It passes through the darkness, filters through the clouds, mingles with starlight, and finds its way to my heart on the path of a sunbeam.

I have anguished over the cry of a hare choked in the noose of a snare, a sparrow tumbled from the nest of its mother, a child thrashing helplessly in a pond, and a son shredding his blood on a cross.

Know that I hear you, also. Be at peace. Be calm.

I bring thee relief for your sorrow for I know its cause ... and its cure.

You weep for all your childhood dreams that have vanished with the years.

You weep for all your self-esteem that has been corrupted by failure.

You weep for all your potential that has been bartered for security.

You weep for all your talent that has been wasted through misuse.

You look upon yourself with disgrace and you turn in terror from the image you see in the pool. Who is this mockery of humanity staring back at you with bloodless eyes of shame?

Where is the grace of your manner, the beauty of your figure, the quickness of your movement, the clarity of your mind, the brilliance of your tongue? Who stole your goods? Is the thief's identity known to you, as it is to me?

Once you placed your head in a pillow of grass in your father's field and looked up at a cathedral of clouds and knew that all the gold of Babylon would be yours in time.

Once you read from many books and wrote on many tablets, convinced beyond any doubt that all the wisdom of Solomon would be equaled and surpassed by you.

And the seasons would flow into years until lo, you would reign supreme in your own garden of Eden.

Dost thou remember who implanted those plans and dreams and seeds of hope within you?

You cannot.

You have no memory of that moment when first you emerged from your mother's womb and I placed my hand on your soft brow. And the secret I whispered in your small ear when I bestowed my blessings upon you?

Remember our secret?

You cannot.

The passing years have destroyed your recollection, for they have filled your mind with fear and doubt and anxiety and remorse and hate and there is no room for joyful memories where these beasts habitate.

Weep no more. I am with you ... and this moment is the dividing line of your life. All that has gone before is like unto no more than that time you slept within your mother's womb. What is past is dead. Let the dead bury the dead.

This day you return from the living dead.

This day, like unto Elijah with the widow's son, I stretch myself upon thee three times and you live again.

This day, like unto Elisha with the Shunammite's son, I put my mouth upon your mouth and my eyes upon your eyes and my hands upon your hands and your flesh is warm again.

This day, like unto Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, I command you to come forth and you will walk from your cave of doom to begin a new life.

This is your birthday. This is your new date of birth. Your first life, like unto a play of the theatre, was only a rehearsal. This time the curtain is up. This time the world watches and waits to applaud. This time you will not fail.

Light your candles. Share your cake. Pour the wine. You have been reborn.

Like a butterfly from its chrysalis you will fly ... fly as high as you wish, and neither the wasps nor dragonflies nor mantids of mankind shall obstruct your mission or your search for the true riches of life.

Feel my hand upon thy head.

Attend to my wisdom.

Let me share with you, again, the secret you heard at your birth and forgot.

You are my greatest miracle.

You are the greatest miracle in the world.

Those were the first words you ever heard. Then you cried. They all cry ...

You did not believe me then ... and nothing has happened in the intervening years to correct your disbelief. For how could you be a miracle when you consider yourself a failure at the most menial of tasks? How can you be a miracle when you have little confidence in dealing with the most trivial of responsibilities? How can you be a miracle when you are shackled by debt and lie awake in torment over whence will come tomorrow's bread?

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Enough. The milk that is spilled is sour. Yet, how many prophets, how many wise men, how many poets, how many artists, how many composers, how many scientists, how many philosophers and messengers have I sent with word of your divinity, your potential for godliness, and the secrets of achievemnet? How did you treat them?

Still I love you and I am with you now, through these words, to fulfill the prophet who announced that the Lord shall set his hand again, the second time, to recover the remnant of his people.

I have set my hand again.

This is the second time.

You are my remnant.

It is of no avail to ask, haven't you known, haven't you heard, hasn't it been told to you from the beginning; haven't you understood from the foundations of the earth?

You have not known; you have not heard; you have not understood.

You have been told that you are a divinity in disguise, a god playing a fool.

You have been told that you a special piece of work, noble in reason, infinite in faculties, express and admirable in form and moving, like an angel in action, like a god in apprehension.

You have been told that you are the salt of the earth.

You were given the secret even of moving mountains, of performing the impossible.

You believed no one. You burned your map to happiness, you abandoned your claim to peace of mind, you snuffed out the candles that had been placed along your destined path of glory, and then you stumbled, lost and frightened, in the darkness of futility and self-pity, until you fell into a hell of your own creation.

Then you cried and beat your breast and cursed the luck that had befallen you. You refused to accept the consequences of your own petty thoughts and lazy deeds and you searched for a scapegoat on which to blame your failure. How quickly you found one.

You blamed me!

You cried that your handicaps, your mediocrity, your lack of opportunity, your failures ... were the will of God!

You were wrong!

Let us take inventory. Let us, first, call a roll of your handicaps. For how can I ask you to build a new life lest you have the tools?

Are you blind? Does the sun rise and fall without your witness?

No. You can see ... and the hundred million receptors I have placed in your eyes enable you to enjoy the magic of a leaf, a snowflake, a pond, an eagle, a child, a cloud, a star, a rose, a rainbow ... and the look of love. Count one blessing.

Are you deaf? Can a baby laugh or cry without your attention?

No. You can hear ... and the twenty-four thousand fibers I have built in each of your ears vibrate to the wind in the trees, the tides on the rocks, the majesty of an opera, a robin's plea, children at play ... and the words I love you. Count another blessing.

Are you mute? Do your lips move and bring forth only spittle?

No. You can speak ... as can no other of my creatures, and your words can calm the angry, uplift the despondent, goad the quitter, cheer the unhappy, warm the lonely, praise the worthy, encourage the defeated, teach the ignorant ... and say I love you. Count another blessing.

Are you paralyzed? Does your helpless form despoil the land?

No. You can move. You are not a tree condemned to a small plot while the wind and world abuses you. You can stretch and run and dance and work, for within you I have designed five hundred muscles, two hundred bones, and seven miles of nerve fibre all synchronized by me to do your bidding. Count another blessing.

Are you unloved and unloving? Does loneliness engulf you, night and day?

No. No more. For now you know love's secret, that to receive love it must be given with no thought of its return. To love for fulfillment, satisfaction, or pride is no love. Love is a gift on which no return is demanded. Now you know that to love unselfishly is its own reward. And even should love not be returned it is not lost, for love not reciprocated will flow back to you and soften and purify your heart. Count another blessing. Count twice.

Is your heart stricken? Does it leak and strain to maintain your life?

No. Your heart is strong. Touch your chest and feel its rhythym, pulsating, hour after hour, day and night, thirty-six million beats each year, year after year, asleep or awake, pumping your blood through more than sixty thousand miles of veins, arteries, and tubing ... pumping more than six hundred thousand gallons each year. Man has never created such a machine. Count another blessing.

Are you diseased of skin? Do people turn in horror when you approach?

No. Your skin is clear and a marvel of creation, needing only that you tend it with soap and oil and brush and care. In time all steels will tarnish and rust, but not your skin. Eventually the strongest of metals will wear, with use, but not that layer that I have constructed around you. Constantly it renews itself, old cells replaced by new, just as the old you is now replaced by the new. Count another blessing.

Are your lungs befouled? Does your breath of life struggle to enter your body?

No. Your portholes to life support you even in the vilest of environments of your own making, and they labor always to filter life-giving oxygen through six hundred million pockets of folded flesh while they rid your body of gaseous wastes. Count another blessing.

Is your blood poisoned? Is it diluted with water and pus?

No. Within your five quarts of blood are twenty-two trillion blood cells and within each cell are millions of molecules and within each molecule is an atom oscillating at more than ten million times each second. Each second, two million of your blood cells die to be replaced by two million more in a resurrection that has continued since your first birth. As it has always been inside, so now it is on your outside. Count another blessing.

Are you feeble of mind? Can you no longer think for yourself?

No. Your brain is the most complex structure in the universe. I know. Within its three pounds are thirteen billion nerve cells, more than three times as many cells as there are people on your earth. To help you file away every perception, every sound, every taste, every smell, every action you have experienced since the day of your birth, I have implanted, within your cells, more than one thousand billion billion protein molecules. Every incident in your life is there waiting only your recall. And, to assist your brain in the control of your body I have dispersed, throughout your form, four million pain-sensitive structures, five hundred thousand touch detectors, and more than two hundred thousand temperature detectors. No nation's gold is better protected than you. None of your ancient wonders are greater than you.

You are my finest creation.

Within you is enough atomic energy to destroy any of the world's great cities ... and rebuild it.

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Are you poor? Is there no gold or silver in your purse?

No. You are rich! Together we have just counted your wealth. Study the list. Count them again. Tally your assets!

Why have you betrayed yourself? Why have you cried that all the blessings of humanity were removed from you? Why did you deceive yourself that you were powerless to change your life? Are you without talent, senses, abilities, pleasures, instincts, sensations, and pride? Are you without hope? Why do you cringe in the shadows, a giant defeated, awaiting only sympathetic transport into the welcome void and dampness of hell?

You have so much. Your blessings overflow your cup ... and you have been unmindful of them, like a child spoiled in luxury, since I have bestowed them upon you with generosity and regularity.

Answer me.

Answer yourself.

What rich man, old and sick, feeble and helpless, would not exchange all the gold in his vault for the blessings you have treated so lightly.

Know then the first secret to happiness and success - that you possess, even now, every blessing necessary to achieve great glory. They are your treasure, your tools with which to build, starting today, the foundation for a new and better life.

Therefore, I say unto you, count your blessings and know that you already are my greatest creation. This is the first law you must obey in order to perform the greatest miracle in the world, the return of your humanity from living death.

And be grateful for your lessons learned in poverty. For he is not poor who has little; only he that desires much ... and true security lies not in the things one has but in the things one can do without.

Where are the handicaps that produced your failure? They existed only in your mind.

Count your blessings.

And the second law is like unto the first. Proclaim your rarity.

You had condemned yourself to a potter's field, and there you lay, unable to forgive your own failure, destroying yourself with self-hate, self-incrimination, and revulsion at your crimes against yourself and others.

Are you not perplexed?

Do you not wonder why I am able to forgive your failures, your transgressions, your pitiful demeanor ... when you cannot forgive yourself?

I address you now, for three reasons. You need me. You are not one of a herd heading for destruction in a gray mass of mediocrity. And ... you are a great rarity.

Consider a painting by Rembrant or a bronze by Degas or a violin by Stradivarius or a play by Shakespeare. They have great value for two reasons: their creators were masters and they are few in number. Yet there are more than one of each of these.

On that reasoning you are the most valuable treasure on the face of the earth, for you know who created you and there is only one of you.

Never, in all the seventy billion humans who have walked this planet since the beginning of time has there been anyone exactly like you.

Never, until the end of time, will there be another such as you.

You have shown no knowledge or appreciation of your uniqueness.

Yet, you are the rarest thing in the world.

From your father, in his moment of supreme love, flowed countless seeds of love, more than four hundred million in number. All of them, as they swam within your mother, gave up the ghost and died. All except one! You.

You alone persevered within the loving warmth of your mother's body, searching for your other half, a single cell from your mother so small that more than two million would be necessary to fill an acorn shell. Yet, despite impossible odds, in that vast ocean of darkness and disaster, you persevered, found that infinitesimal cell, joined with it, and began a new life. Your life.

You arrived, bringing with you, as does every child, the message that I was not yet discouraged of man. Two cells now united in a miracle. Two cells, each containing twenty-three chromosomes and within each chromosome hundreds of genes, which would govern every characteristic about you, from the color of your eyes to the charm of your manner, to the size of your brain.

With all the combinations at my command, beginning with that single sperm from your father's four hundred million, through the hundreds of genes in each of the chromosomes from your mother and father, I could have created three hundred thousand billion humans, each different from the other.

But who did I bring forth?

You! One of a kind. Rarest of the rare. A priceless treasure, possessed of qualities in mind and speech and movement and appearance and actions as no other who has ever lived, lives, or shall live.

Why have you valued yourself in pennies when you are worth a king's ransom?

Why did you listen to those who demeaned you ... and far worse, why did you believe them?

Take counsel. No longer hide your rarity in the dark. Bring it forth. Show the world. Strive not to walk as your brother walks, nor talk as your leader talks, nor labor as do the mediocre. Never do as another. Never imitate. For how do you know that you may not imitate evil; and he who imitates evil always goes beyond the example set, while he who imitates what is good always falls short. Imitate no one. Be yourself. Show your rarity to the world and they will shower you with gold. This then is the second law.

Proclaim your rarity.

And now you have received two laws.

Count your blessings! Proclaim your rarity!

You have no handicaps. You are not mediocre.

You nod. You force a smile. You admit your self-deception.

What of your next complaint? Opportunity never seeks thee?

Take counsel and it shall come to pass, for now I give you the law of success in every venture. Many centuries ago this law was given to your forefathers from a mountain top. Some heeded the law and lo, their life was filled with the fruit of happiness, accomplishment, gold, and peace of mind. Most listened not, for they sought magic means, devious routes, or waited for the devil called luck to deliver to them the riches of life. They waited in vain ... just as you waited, and then they wept, blaming their lack of fortune.

The law is simple. Young or old, pauper or king, white or black, male or female ... all can use the secret to their advantage; for all the rules and speeches and scriptures of success and how to attain it, only one method has never failed ... whomsoever shall compell ye to go with him one mile ... go with him two.

This then is the third law ... the secret that will produce riches and acclaim beyond your dreams. Go another mile!

and again, wont work.

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The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be. This is a habit followed by all successful people since the beginning of time. Therefore I saith the surest way to doom yourself to mediocrity is to perform only the work for which you are paid.

Think not ye are being cheated if you deliver more than the silver you receive. For there is a pendulum to all life and the sweat you deliver, if not rewarded today, will swing back tomorrow, tenfold. The mediocre never goes another mile, for why should he cheat himself, he thinks. But you are not mediocre. To go another mile is a privelege you must appropriate by your own initiative. You cannot, you must not avoid it. Neglect it, do only as little as the others, and the responsibility for your failure is yours alone.

You can no more render service without receiving just compensation than you can withhold the rendering of it without suffering the loss of reward. Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, these cannot be separated. The effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, and the fruit is always in the seed.

Go another mile.

Concern yourself not, should you serve an ungrateful master. Serve him more.

And instead of him, let it be me who is in your debt, for then you will know that every minute, every stroke of extra service will be repaid. And worry not, should your reward not come soon. For the longer payment is withheld, the better for you ... and compound interest on compound interest is this law's greatest benefit.

You cannot command success, you can only deserve it ... and now you know the great secret necessary in order to merit its rare reward.

Go another mile!

Where is this field whence you cried there was no opportunity? Look! Look around thee. See, where only yesterday you wallowed on the refuse of self-pity, you now walk tall on a carpet of gold. Nothing has changed ... except you, but you are everything.

You are my greatest miracle.

You are the greatest miracle in the world.

And now the laws of happiness and success are three.

Count your blessings! Proclaim your rarity! Go another mile!

Be patient with your progress. To count your blessings with gratitude, to proclaim your rarity with pride, to go an extra mile and then another, these acts are not accomplished in the blinking of an eye. Yet, that which you acquire with most difficulty you retain the longest; as those who have earned a fortune are more careful of it than those by whom it was inherited.

And fear not as you enter your new life. Every noble acquisition is attended with its risks. He who fears to encounter the one must not expect to obtain the other. Now you know you are a miracle. And there is no fear in a miracle.

Be proud. You are not the momentary whim of a careless creator experimenting in the laboratory of life. You are not a slave of forces that you cannot comprehend. You are a free manifestation of no force but mine, of no love but mine. You were made with a purpose.

Feel my hand. Hear my words.

You need me ... and I need you.

We have a world to rebuild ... and if it requireth a miracle what is that to us? We are both miracles and now we have each other.

Never have I lost faith in you since that day when I first spun you from a giant wave and tossed you helplessly on the sands. As you measure time that was more than five hundred million years ago. There were many models, many shapes, many sizes, before I reached perfection in you more than thirty thousand years ago. I have made no further effort to improve on you in all these years.

For how could one improve on a miracle? You were a marvel to behold and I was pleased. I gave you this world and dominion over it. Then, to enable you to reach your full potential I placed my hand upon you, once more, and endowed you with powers unknown to any other creature in the universe, even unto this day.

I gave you the power to think.
I gave you the power to love.
I gave you the power to will.
I gave you the power to laugh.
I gave you the power to imagine.
I gave you the power to create.
I gave you the power to plan.
I gave you the power to speak.
I gave you the power to pray.
I gave you the power to heal.

My pride in you knew no bounds. You were my utimate creation, my greatest miracle. A complete living being. One who can adjust to any climate, any hardship, any challenge. One who can manage his own destiny without any interference from me. One who can translate a sensation or perception, not by instinct, but by thought and deliberation into whatever action is best for himself and all humanity.

Thus we come to the fourth law of success and happiness ... for I gave you one more power, a power so great that not even my angels possess it.

I gave you ... the power to choose.

With this gift I placed you even above my angels ... for angels are not free to choose sin. I gave you complete control over your destiny. I told you to determine, for yourself, your own nature in accordance with your own free will. Neither heavenly nor earthly in nature, you were free to fashion yourself in whatever form you preferred. You had the power to choose to degenerate into the lowest forms of life, but you also had the power, out of your soul's judgement, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine.

I have never withdrawn your great power, the power to choose.

What have you done with this tremendous force? Look at yourself. Think of the choices you have made in your life and recall, now, those bitter moments when you would fall to your knees if only you had the opportunity to choose again.

What is past is past ... and now you know the fourth great law of happiness and success ... Use wisely, your power of choice.

Choose to love ... rather than hate.
Choose to laugh ... rather than cry.
Choose to create ... rather than destroy.
Choose to persevere ... rather than quit.
Choose to praise ... rather than gossip.
Choose to heal ... rather than wound.
Choose to give ... rather than steal.
Choose to act ... rather than procastinate.
Choose to grow ... rather than rot.
Choose to pray ... rather than curse.
Choose to live ... rather than die.

Now you know that your misfortunes were not my will, for all power was vested in you, and the accumulation of deeds and thoughts which placed you on the refuse of humanity were your doing, not mine. My gifts of power were too large for your small nature. Now you have grown tall and wise and the fruits of the land will be yours.

You are more than a human being, you are a human becoming.

You are capable of great wonders. Your potential is unlimited. Who else, among my creatures, has mastered fire? Who else, among my creatures, has conquered gravity, has pierced the heavens, has conquered disease and pestilence and drought?

Never demean yourself again!

Never settle for the crumbs of life!

Never hide your talents, from this day hence!

Remember the child who says, "when I am big boy." But what is that? For the big boy says. "when I grow up." And then the grown up, he says, "when I am wed." But to be wed, what is that, after all? The thought then changes to "when I retire." And then, retirement comes, and he looks back over it and somehow he has missed it all and it is gone.

Enjoy this day, today ... and tomorrow, tomorrow.

You have performed the greatest miracle in the world.

You have returned from a living death.

You will feel self-pity no more and each new day will be a challenge and a joy.

You have been born again ... but just as before, you can choose failure and despair or success and happiness. The choice is yours. The choice is exclusively yours. I can only watch, as before ... in pride ... or sorrow.

Remember, then, the four laws of happiness and success.
Count your blessings.
Proclaim your rarity.
Go another mile.
Use wisely your power of choice.

And one more, to fulfill the other four. Do all things with love ... love for yourself, love for all others, and love for me.

Wipe away your tears. Reach out, grasp my hand, and stand straight.

Let me cut the grave cloths that have bound you.

This day you have been notified.


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March-Storm (Kevin - there is a photo of that ole doll just for you)!!

Clearly, I have not mastered how to put the photos in an order or alignment, huh. All in good time. You are looking at our surroundings, front and back, after last night's snow. Lovely, isn't it? Lovely indeed.
Our little grandson slept over- his Mom works overnight. I felt good as I tucked him in - safe from the storm - snuggled under quilts as the warmth from the wood stove drifted up and around him. Sometimes I just want to keep him - here, with us. That is a heartfelt story - with many layers. Let it suffice to say, that for now, him experiencing us, our home, where it is always kind, respectful, fun, free, loving, safe, with tradition and music and prayer - that these family gifts will be imprinted in to his spirit - so as he grows he will remember and make choices that reflect his memories of unconditional love and encouragement, celebration of his uniqueness and where he understood, learned - that to create a haven, a loving home, is the ultimate goal to which all must tend. Amen.

The storm rages on today. I am safe in here. I have written of storms before - as I feel the power and mystery of them so familiar to life's storms and calms. There are times, as with nature, that I know a storm is coming so I have time to prepare. And other times, the storm develops out of nowhere it seems, and I am in it without warning. I can't even say for sure which is better - certainly not based on success or failure in regards to my surviving the storms. It seems my skills, wisdom, available resources are there regardless. Also, and more importantly, I have a strong foundation, a core of resilience upon which I can always rely. As I look back at storms I/we have survived, with or without warning, - it is the center, core, of "us" that has sustained us. I am so filled with gratitude and hope, in the best and worst of times.

This is a nice segway to "Hope". I wrote about "Hope - the tree". I have a photo of her, yes her. She is growing so beautifully and is filling up with meaning as people have brought items to hang on her branches, covered in diamond dust.
And KEVIN - you had said if you could see a photo of that 50 year old ice-skating doll my Mom found and brought to me it would help you to see/understand - so I have that too. She was in her broken box for half a century - and has been 're-born' - although she looks possessed or something like that! :-) So here are the photos of "Hope-The Tree" and that ole doll of mine.

The teddy bears in front of "Hope" are from my Mom's collection of bears - 'Henry, Henrietta, and Honey Bear'. And how eerie is that doll? My goodness. :-) My Mom began collecting bears after my Dad died in 1984. She has many. And one day she will pass them all on to me. Sigh.....

Well, the storm is still storming. I am warm and cozy. My flannel pajamas, thick socks, and fleece robe remind me that I am very lucky, blessed if you will. The fire is roaring and the black kettle on top is sending out scents of spice and patchouli. I can hear the wind and see the snow dancing in every direction. Dancing, yes, of course. it all has a rhythm with which I am in sync.

Peace and hope