The Greatest of these

My Dear Friends,

It has been far too long since sharing with you. Perhaps, like myself, you have been engulfed by the undertow of negativity and sadness and division that is so public and hurtful currently. Perhaps you are amidst life changes that have called your attention to tasks that are new and overwhelming. And then again, it might be that you are marching along to your sweet drum beat as you always have with contentment and joy.

Wherever and however this writing today finds you, I am being called with love to join you within your world. How are you out there in “your” world? Is there anything you would particularly like to share and discuss that we can address in this world the internet calls “blogging”? I was asked to give a proper answer on a computer skills test to what exactly “blogging” is and how it is appropriately defined. I was given a choice of four answers to choose from, one of which was supposedly the correct answer. I do not know if I chose the correct answer or not because, truthfully, I am not sure there exists “one” correct answer to what blogging is or is not or can be that is universally true for all. For me, blogging is a source of comfort and joy. Writing brings me clarity. When I can read my own heart in words of print, I believe I understand my heart better. When I write about my life, I believe my life becomes clearer to me and my deep prayer is that because that is what happens to me  it also often happens for you. In the moment when we come together via the written word  our energy shares love and perhaps a cyber hug or an inner smile because I know that even now as I sit before this keyboard someone will eventually read this when it is complete. In that moment, after I finish and in the space when, where and how you read it, we  will magically become one in the spirit of the struggle or joy that the writing expresses from me or elicits in you.

And, so it is, my dear friends, that I come back to you today with my spirit greeting your spirit simply because it does good things for the soul.  From that perspective how can I “not” write then? I must. I will. I am.

Again, the greatest of these…reasons to do what I do in my blog is YOU ! How are you doing out there? What have you done to celebrate breathing again today? Are you sad? How can I hear your sadness and help you walk through it? What are you celebrating? What joy or longings have been fulfilled since our last visit? I  believe that this earthly experience is rarely meant to be walked solo. I am spending more time now, in my “official” retirement from a “paying job” world, alone than ever and some days I really enjoy it. Other days, I find I miss very much the inclusion of hustle and bustle and buzz of the world of “work”. What I am learning slowly, and when I say slowly I mean S- L- O- W- L- Y…Like “SNAIL PACE SLOWLY”….is that the energy and love that is “the greatest of these” that we share as fellow sojourners on earth in the year of our Lord, 2017, is the reality that we are all still here together-whether we are physically able to be together or whether we are together in spirit and heart. You are still there. I am still here. Together WE still are and we are breathing and we are trying and we are walking one foot in front of the other to live. And that, my dear friends, is an absolute gift of immeasurable proportion. Let me repeat that so you hear it clearly.”The mere knowing that you are there and I am here is an absolute gift of IMMEASURABLE proportion”. And for that gift I must humbly and most graciously thank you.

Perhaps the greatest gift we give to those we love, and sometimes even and, maybe especially, to those we find difficult to love, is for them to know beyond any doubt that we are still, in fact, here for them, with them, and in their lives for a reason.

The greatest of these my friends, is US!  The greatest of these is us. We are a “we” and that matters. It matters alot!

Please let me know what you would like to discuss or if there is any particular topic you want to share in this forum. It is my blog. It is your blog. It is our blog. This is a place where we can be one in spirit and heart and that is a worthy and lofty agenda. It is an agenda and gift I plan to take better tender care of and pay more loving attention to in the future weeks ahead of us as we live this year of 2017.

KNOW you are loved today. KNOW you are cared for today. KNOW that you matter today.

The greatest of these is…US!  The greatest of these is…YOU!

Until again,

I AM,

JO

 

MILES AND MILES OF WHAT?

saint louis peace photo

Dear Readers,

I come to you today with so many thoughts whirling inside my very busy head. The graphic I chose to accompany this blog was an image from earlier times in our metropolitan area here in Saint Louis and was posted for a different reason. I find, however, that its core message, “May Peace Prevail”, may be the simplest and most direct way to share what is the highest priority in my heart and soul as I write to you now.

I wonder how many miles of text I could create if I began talking about everything that is “non-peace” directed today, October 5, 2016? I could mention just one word at the moment, “election”, and create miles and miles and miles of negativity with a mere copy and paste of the majority of content of opinions, media statements, current internet articles, many individual’s personal sharings via social media and even use quotes from recent conversations I have either listened to or attempted to participate in during the last 3 days of this current week. That is a lot of tension and negativity swirling among, within and around us my friends. And what does any of that negative energy accomplish? Most certainly NOT peace. I remember one gift Jesus made sure we knew he was going to pray we had after he left our physical world-that gift is peace.

In my younger days, I thought that was odd. We just played jump rope and tag and red-rover and did homework and watched TV-so what in the world about that life would require a needed gift of peace ? My younger self, and perhaps your younger self, did not worry about the need to “create” peace. It just was. Sure, there were the everyday scuffles of the growing up phases of life. For example, who is going to get to sit by the window in the car this trip out? She cheated and did not wait to take her turn in line and jumped ahead-unfair! Why didn’t I get picked to be homecoming queen? The mean boys are picking on that same sweet girl again! The world had, will and shall always be “troublesome” and perhaps my increasing age has much to do with my current perspective, yet I do know and remember a time of existence on this earth and in our world when shooting and shaming and guile and human degradation DID NOT fill a television screen or highway signs or newspapers and magazines or our visual input exposure images all day long. And the “work” of creating peace seemed not only probable but real. What are we doing to each other? And why? How far OFF the PEACE SCALE have we fallen? What will it take to shake us at our core to somehow come to a place of unity where peace is a desire in all hearts?

I am not sure one little blog can begin to address the enormity of that very big question. One little blog can, however, seed some thoughts and hope into both my garden and yours, dear reader. One little blog can propose a different path that is maybe not so new or different at all.

I read a piece this morning by Fr. Richard Rohr describing St. Francis of Assisi, the father and founder of Richard Rohr’s Franciscan community. Did you know that simple Francis talked to flowers and honored them with the same respect he did people? I did not know that until today. Flowers! Francis is best known for his love of all creatures great and small, particularly animals, but I was delighted to find out his love of creation meant love of everything–EVERY SINGLE THING! He loved even flowers! How many miles of text could I generate if I begin a gratitude listing of EVERY SINGLE THING that creation has put in my path in the last week, month, year, decade to honor all those things for how they have helped me as Francis did in his everyday living? And how different would the emotions and spirit that the grateful thinking and perspective  produces be compared to the negativity energy lists of messages abundant currently? How much closer to PEACE PREVAILING could we get as a household, city, state, country if we started listing all the simple yet wonderful “things” of creation we see, touch, smell, hear or feel daily? Maybe we should attempt such a list?

I am grateful for:

  • fingers to type this
  • a keyboard to type on
  • no pain in my hands or fingers as I type
  • the batteries in both my mouse and my keyboard powering this process
  • the computer screen I see my words appearing on
  • the eyes that work that help me actually SEE the words I am typing
  • the wireless connection that is powering the internet right now
  • the health to be able to sit in a chair upright for an hour
  • a healthy brain that generates words
  • the English language that I am using to convey thought
  • wordpress.com as a site to write such a blog
  • the internet to spread this blog all over this place
  • the food I ate to nourish my body to create my energy to think

……….

I don’t know about the rest of you but I am noticing the list has the potential to create text for miles and miles and miles once it gets rolling…and how do I feel? Peace filled. Happy. Grateful. Calmed. Optimistic. Altered. Better.

St. Francis is “on” to something folks!  You get back what you put out there. You see what you are looking for. You feel different when you look for the good. You treat yourself and others with more kindness when you are looking for EVERY SINGLE THING in every single moment that is contributing to helping you move forward to take another breath, sing a next song, read a second book, love the next person, cherish the newest memory.

I think I feel hope and more joy right now than I did when I began writing.

I certainly pray you do too.

What kind of “text miles” of content in conversation and action and interaction will you create today?

Until Again,

I am,

JO

 

 

 

Hello-is it me you’re looking for?

Dear Readers,

It has been a long time since our last get together–too long. I have no explanation to offer nor does there seem the need to offer one because the JOY of being back far surpasses any remaining remnants of regret from our time apart.

So, where are we all today? What new thoughts have come your way? I can tell you my road has been an adventure. Death, drama, illness, summer fun, giggles, swimming down the lane, more swimming down the lane, prayers, answers, questions, heat, rain and sleep.

Life, really, has happened in all its glory and struggle. Summer is coming to its natural close and soon school and structure will return. I find myself consistently intrigued by my magnetic connection to  the “school and structure” element. I have not “been” in school for years. It has been even longer since I have had children in school, and thus, a life schedule, governed by the school schedule for children. And yet, this yearly ritual of buying crayons and pencils and markers and Kleenex and new socks marks time for me-it has for as long as I can remember. School-the word itself conjures as many images as there are experiences of the world of school. Something within me still finds the return of the pattern of this schedule unexplainably comforting. The one thing I will treasure thanks to the unpredictable nature of this summer for me is that the pattern of a schedule, while helpful, does not insure peace. A patterned and predictable life schedule is not a necessary component to finding peace amidst chaos. This summer has taught me to find peace amidst chaos, with or without, the ritual and comfort of a school schedule-of any schedule. Let’s talk more about this, shall we?

This summer brought with it discomfort in all arenas of my life.  I have been asked to watch and help support some very important people in my worlds of relationships, and social life, and spirituality and physicality. My own emotions have taken a seat alongside many struggling this summer with job worries, injury, death, illness, absence of a loved one, change-lots of change. Change always changes me, primarily. The world, I am finding, ticks and tocks to a natural hum and beat of its own “ritual and schedule”. The beat of the earth is my true attuned balancer. When I am attuned to nature, I am attuned to myself. When I am attuned to myself, I am at peace. Perhaps an even simpler way to say this is that when I am living IN EACH MOMENT exactly as each moment unfolds, I am so totally present to THAT moment that the beat and hum of my ritual and schedule IS that moment. And when I am alive and participating in THE EXACT MOMENT that I am actually inhabiting, peace abides. I don’t know how or why and I don’t care. What I do care deeply about is that I have learned a bit more about acceptance of whatever is or comes. I have learned that often, mostly, always, honestly, change comes to me at ITS desiring, not the other way around. Going with the flow, rolling with the tide, and a dozen other cliché ways to say this expresses the same idea, yet this summer, for me, those clichés have become more than words on a page. They have become a new, strange, unplanned, sometimes unwanted, “ritual of schedule” that has served to bring me to a deeper place of loving what is- Looking for the good- Finding a way to remain hopeful and kind amidst chaos and darkness. I have found a source of grounding that defies the human marking of time.

Make no mistake, I am still deeply in love with new pencils and crayons and Kleenex and socks and patterns, rituals of change that mark time. The summer has taught me to look deeper though, within, inside nature, inside spirit, inside me.

As the year continues to unfold, I will be sharing more about this new and deeper place of kind compassion towards myself and therefore, to all others. The mystique of this new sense of peace has come from a rough road of self-discovery and to the many out there, you know who you all are, that ride this crazy life with me, I am constantly grateful. You have listened, and suggested, and prayed, and sent music and lessons and let me cry and hugged me and encouraged me-and in return, I have reasons to hope I have done the same for you. I suggest our ritual and schedule rewriting our lives in these latter years could be leading to greater things than any of us can or might dare to imagine. Since we cannot predict how things will go anyway, I  propose WHY NOT imagine that rewriting life, at any stage, can bring us to an experience of living that is more than we could ever imagine. It could happen. It might happen. As it does, let’s talk about it-TOGETHER!

It’s so great to be back. It’s so great to know you are still here with me. It’s a privilege to share life with you all. Let me know” how goes life in your parts?” How has summer been for you? There are rises and falls every day, every season, and that they come is really not a big surprise. What matters most, I believe, in the end, is that you learn to ride the ups and downs and risings and fallings in a way that makes your world work for you! Let’s talk about that!

Until again,

JO

How to Stop Time…

Today was a big day in Missouri. It is the most memorable primary election day that I can recall in all my years of voting. There is an energy in the air and pictures posted all over with people di…

Source: How to Stop Time…

How to Stop Time…

Today was a big day in Missouri. It is the most memorable primary election day that I can recall in all my years of voting. There is an energy in the air and pictures posted all over with people displaying proudly the I VOTED stickers, especially the FUTURE VOTER stickers given to little ones who made the journey to the polls with parents or grandparents. Yes, quite the day! And, Yes, I did vote. And then….

….my day really took a jog in a surprising and delightfully joyful direction. I found myself at the City park, surrounded by shrieks of laughter and competition for swings and climbing ropes, children of all ages, families enjoying an impromptu picnic and the best companion I believe I know-my grandaughter Addie! (I wish my grandson Flynn had been with us as well).

The weather was picture perfect. Glowing sun, 85 degrees and breezy, no need for a jacket. Addie loves the park. In fact, from her wise and “live in the moment” perspective at the ripe old age of 2 1/2 years, for Addie this is HER park. She has full rights and ownership and feels it morally correct to share the park with others; but make no mistake this is HER park. And when you enter Addie’s world at Addie’s park time stops!

Her sheer glee upon arrival is magical. Watching her assess the first choice “prime” activity to enjoy is priceless. For Addie, this park is nothing short of paradise. She gazes, thinks, looks around and then madly rushes to her favorite slide! Sometimes she approaches cautiously, until she remembers this is HER park and she recalls that she knows every inch of it by mere touch. Today she chose her slide. Up the stairs she effortlessly trotted and WHEE !!! down she came and landed so strongly that you wanted to display a numbered score card-perfect 10, Addie! She is always so pleased with her success that an immediate “again” is quick to follow her initial descent down to glory and laughter. Time stops. There is no worry about elections at the park. There is no worry about much at the park. There is only joy at the park. There are only moment by moment giggles and triumphs and brave “next” steps of trial and error at the park.

Around the halfway mark of our time today was the highlight of the visit to Addie’s park. There is what is called a “saucer swing”. Coolest swing I have ever seen. It can hold 3-4 little ones easily but today it was lovingly reserved for Addie and me. That swing was for Grandma and Addie today. I sat on the saucer first and Addie joined my on my lap. I began the leg lifting and back and forth motion to ignite the saucer’s movement. Addie was in heaven. Once we began our saucer swinging adventure time was gone. There was absolutely nothing in the world but joy and breeze and giggles and smiles and the incredible bond of generations coming together. Her soul and mine were one. Holding any child on your lap, especially when they are so closely knitted to your own being that if you let go, they will fall away, or even get hurt perhaps, is, for me anyway, one of the most calming and soothing of human experiences. The trust her little body expressed as she looped up and down, up and down, up and down in the pocket of my lap with my arms wrapped securely around her made me wonder if this is what Kangaroo Momma’s enjoy with a little one tucked so close to them in their pouch. I assure you time stopped.

There was no election. There was no worry. There was no rushing. There only was what “was”. It was in a way indescribable. It was in a way mystical. Addie and I were in a world that belonged to “only us”. It was mesmerizing. We could have stayed on that swing in perpetual motion for hours. It was, after all, in the moment of her world, her park and her swing and her grandma. It was delicious. Time stops when all there is surrounding you is WHAT IS REALLY SURROUNDING YOU and you take every whisper and morsel of the moment in and savor it with all five senses seeking a way to store the moment in that place in yourself where you can revisit its aliveness anytime you want by simply closing your eyes.

How to stop time? Own a park like Addie. Invite amazement at the joy and giddyness of that first choice activity. Swing on a swing in perpetual motion with a darling on your lap and feel her warmth, listen to her smile, smell the breeze and soak in the sunshine. Let the pendulum motion of the back and forth and up and down of the swing settle in to your body as if it was resetting your heartbeat. Savor. Listen. Love. Enjoy. Mostly–LOVE!

Until Again—-XOXOXOXOXO

JO

AKA   Grandma

 

 

MY WEEK HAS A LEAK

Welcome back friends and welcome to new readers of the latest installment of HEART BEATS LIVE and a ride on the ‘JO TRAIN’ Journey   🙂

So, last week I mentioned the idea of creating an ideal week for yourself and then looking at what you chose to comprise a week of “ideal” life. We thought, then, about the idea of reflecting back on those choices to see what we could learn about ourselves. What activities made the cut for a great week? Which person/people needed to be included in your week to make your life feel abundant? Are there things in your daily/weekly routine that are missing currently that you would include to improve how you enjoy your week? How does the pattern and flow of how you actually LIVE your life from day to day compare with how you would LIKE to live your life?

I did a little experiment and watched as a “Sherlock Holmes” observer of my own week without planning it to see what I would do with things like “spare time”, anxious feelings, routine tasks, some, but not an overwhelming amount of scheduled appointments. I was quite surprised at my observations of myself and how I do and in some cases DO NOT live a week that best suits who I am and what I need. I am going to take a 50/50 guess and say that many of you have similar observations. Here is what I discovered.

What I do well is enjoy time spent in the company of another. If given a choice between a large gathering and lots of noise, I preferred a quieter venue with one person. I noticed that I much prefer a conversation which leaves me feeling connected and known BY the person I am with as well as satisfaction with knowing I took the time to be PRESENT FOR and listened well TO the person I was with. As a typically high energy, joyous being, I was surprised at how nice and fulfilling quieter and slower time can be. Which leads me to my LEAK IN MY WEEK !

You would think that a person who enjoys a quieter, one-on-one connection with another would be just as comfortable at home with spare time, quiet space, and an atmosphere of totally undisturbed activity time, right? WRONG! I have discovered a LEAK of large proportions within my being. I have a leak that apparently let’s any semblance of patience explode out so that when a need for being patient arises while being quiet and home alone there seems to be none available! NONE! ZERO! NOTTA! Being at home and alone and trying to be patient with my own thoughts or wants or needs turned out to be excruciating. I felt like I was on an isolated island in Siberia! (Ok! SO that is absolutely an exaggeration but I am really good at exaggerated metaphor).  🙂  What I am also apparently good at is being impatient! My week leaks out patience so that by week’s end, sometimes day’s end, depending on the day, there remains no patience in my emotional savings account. If anything was leaking in the house-say the sink or a toilet-I would see to it that the leak was corrected-and quickly. Yet I have little serious motivation to plug my “patience leak” by learning some skills to increase this virtue. Oxymoron-ish, you say? I could not agree with you more! Thus, the concluding thought/question for the day for us to ponder. How does one increase the level of patience they have?

I do not have a simple answer and would LOVE your input. I know I have heard so many times that the only way to learn something new is to practice. Surprise! Practicing takes patience! Does anyone else see a bit of a conundrum in this situation? How do you practice being patient if practicing REQUIRES patience and you don’t have any? With tongue and cheek I hereby declare, I am willing to patiently attempt to learn to be patient. My week will always leak irritation, frustration, restlessness and dissatisfaction if I do not find a way to plug the leak and maintain some patience within my being to have some available to call on daily. It takes patience to live with myself, with others, with the world.

Anyone else besides me out there struggling with being patient? I will attempt to begin to practice being patient while patiently waiting to hear what you all out there have to say about being patient.  🙂

Humbly attempting to plug the leak in my week and hang on to some patience, I remain joyfully interested in your input. Does your week have a leak? I will gladly share what I have in abundance to help plug your leaks. You can share with me your secrets to patient living. We  will all live happier (ever after? )….for sure happier 🙂  !!

Until again—

JO

 

 

 

PURPOSE-what is that, right?

Hi friends….

Good to be with you on a Friday evening waiting for the temperature to change and waiting for possible snowfall over the weekend. (I know , I just lost the half of you that are sun worshippers didn’t I  :- 0  )….

Regardless of your preference in weather, purpose is still always an interesting pursuit. What do you all think? Is a purpose a calling or an experience or a feeling? Do we like talking about that word? Does it scare us? Does it disturb us? Is it a spiritual dimension of our lives?

In my last entry, I talked about how important it is that we are all HERE. Where is your “here” ?  I think we have many places we can call “here” in our lives every day. HERE can be home or work or a party or a meeting or a lunch date or a peaceful “sit” on a park bench. Does your PURPOSE change based  on location? Perhaps the description of the activity which you are purposed to accomplish absolutely varies based on location. Yet, is there a weave of the sense of purpose on a larger scale that seams its thread in every location on every day in every place for every person? And is THAT perspective on purpose—well—the real purpose of PURPOSE?

I propose for discussion today, the answer to the query above is a YES. I base my conclusion on a fact of logic. You take “you” with you everywhere you go. Your heart and spirit and characteristics and motives are with you all the time. I wonder if this larger sense of purpose which I am proposing comes out of this larger sense of who we are. What are we at the heart and spirit and motive level?  I am talking about the reality that is “US” at the core. And could it be that “us” just being “us” at this core level daily in fact, be our purpose?  Let me state this a little more clearly.

I would generally say that I am a warm hearted, gentle spirited, outgoing and encouraging type of person. Therefore, for me, perhaps my purpose is to bring my warmth, gentleness, joy and encouragement with me wherever I go. Could it be that simple? Could it be that living a purpose filled life for me means living a life where I am awake and tuned in to the important core characteristics that makes me, ME and using them to salt and season all the multiple places I may end up calling “here” in any given 24 hour period? Could it really be that simple?

I think maybe it can. Of course, in order for any of us to salt and season the world with the core of who we are, we need to know that core of our being. How many of us take the time to do that? Do you know YOU?

Maybe that is step one. What am I like? Whom do I like? If I could create an ideal week what would that look like and what does the perfect week I would create say about who I am at my core?

These are not easy questions but they are important ones. You are here and so you are worth knowing these answers about yourself. It’s worth it for me to challenge myself to ask these very questions. Tall order but good investment. Yes? And you are also worth it, from my vantage point anyway, to ask these questions of yourself.

Let’s talk about it.

Until again—snow or not    🙂

I am, yours,

JO         🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I breathe-therefore, I live!

Hi !

Welcome aboard the “Jo Train”. It’s been a wild ride these first 57 years. If patterns of history are clues to the future, I suspect the ride could remain interesting. Let me begin by re-addressing the BIG questions I ask, maybe you do too, often.

Why am I here?

What is my purpose?

I am here because I did not die- Not in 1958, when there were two fetuses in the womb, ( I survived, my twin sister did not). I was chosen to live. Therefore, I am here. I believe that means something.

I am here because I did not die-Not in 1989, when I was in an emergency surgery situation and my twin sister (fetus in fetu-a type of dermoid teratoma and expression of Vanishing Twin Syndrome) was no longer doing my own body any health favors. The bloodwork and my immune system was screaming “live or die” and the gamble of antibiotic mixing paid off. I was chosen to live. Therefore, I am here. I believe that means something.

I am here because I did not die-Not in 1995, when life’s traumas and the grief and loss of my twin sister overwhelmed me and I was treated, successfully, for major depression and anxiety. I was chosen to live. Therefore, I am here. I believe that means something.

YOU are here too, reading this, which means you have not yet died-Not in 2016, when, no matter what life threw at you, you persevered and conquered. YOU were chosen to live. Therefore, YOU are here. I believe that means something.

WE ARE HERE-I believe that means something. This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey you and I, and WE, can all take together. We can share our tears and grief, our triumphs and joy. We can tackle the everyday life challenges and plunge deeper into muck of struggle. We don’t have to do this life alone. EVER. So let’s do it together. YOU, ME, US.

Here comes the “Jo Train, Jo Train”. Hop aboard with me. Share your struggles and triumphs. I will share mine. Together we will all become stronger than we seem, smarter than we think, braver than we feel.

READY?     ALL   ABOARD !!!

til again,

 

JO