Monday, February 19, 2007


Today, 2/19/07, I finished a book by Jennifer Chiaverini entitled, THE RUNAWAY QUILT. I suspect it was begging to be read because the day before I finished TRUTH, about Sojourner Truth's story, and the energies of the topic, like microwave beams, kept bouncing around and through me. (See previous post about TRUTH.)

The book began at a slow pace and I wondered if I would have to put it down. I always give myself four chapters to decide; by chapter four I was hooked and read it almost in a single setting.

For me there were notable passages which I have taken the time to write in a specially designated book. Here's one from THE RUNAWAY QUILT which completely tied into the story of Sojourner Truth and her role in history: "....I began to see how inextricably intertwined were the rights of women and the rights of slaves, simultaneous battles in the same war." She not only fought slavery after she was freed, she also fought for the rights of women.

The quilt story bounces back and forth from a present day scenario to the events in the mid 1800's; a descendant seeking knowledge of her roots and the legends of the quilts which held the messages of safe stations for the runaway slaves.

The book also is about quilts and patterns and the wonderful craft of quilt making. I have come away with a new appreciation for the tireless labor and the artistic value these heirlooms have. At one point in my reading, I had to stop and go examine a quilt given to me by my Grandmother Hendrix. It was made by her mother, my great grandmother, and great great grandmother of JoDee, Amy, Mandi, and Megan. As far as I can figure it must be near to or over 100 years old, but it looks new, having never been used.

When I read that quilters often sewed their name and date in a corner of the quilt, I quickly searched for my great grandmother's information. I guess she didn't get the memo, but what I have received from this is a greater appreciation not only for those who risked their very lives for the freedom of the runaways, but also for the art of quilting.

Here's a passage that felt significant enough for me to record:

"In l850, as part of a compromise meant to placate Southern states angered by measures to check the spread of slavery elsewhere in the growing nation, Congress passed The Fugitive Slave Law. It proclaimed that runaways, even those who managed to reach Free States, must be returned to their owners, and that federal and state officials and even private citizens must assist in their recapture. Moreover, anyone freeman or fugitive - suspected of being a runaway slave could be arrested without a warrant and, once apprehended, could neither request a jury trial nor testify on his own behalf.''

"This Jonathan told me, indignantly adding, "I cannot and will not submit to any law that compels me to act against the dictates of my conscience and my God!"

Today is President's Day. I so appreciated what Amy wrote in honor of our Founders, and I want to add my gratitude as well. The reading of these two books makes me feel particularly tender towards President Abraham Lincoln who faced such sorrowful times in the nation as he pressed forward to free the slaves. I know there were a lot of other factors involved in this, but reading these two stories has reigned in my maternal fierceness for protecting my children as I've witnessed what the slave mother's had to endure and what they had to witness happen to their children, and see them carted off as tiny little slaves, merchandies of the highest bidder, never to be seen again. It's simply incomprehensible to me.

In TRUTH she has a special place which is her own "cathedral," her "God house," the place where she goes to talk to God. At this time she is known as Isabella (she later takes the name of Sojourner Truth) and she says, "I stood in the midst of three white birch trees, grown from the same root..."

I couldn't help thinking how all of us are grown from the same root of the human family. We're individual like the separate trees, but we're connected at the soul of the family; and then I read in THE RUNAWAY QUILT, Gerda says, "...I saw quite plainly a sameness linking all of us entangled in this great conflict, so that I felt at once both guardian and fugitive, both slave and freeborn. slavery made slaves of us all, it seemed to me, imprisoning those with dark skin in the iron shackles of injustice, those who owned slaves in chains of sin, and those of us complacent in our freedom with the heavy yoke of obligation to help our enslaved brethren..."

All through these two books the words of a poem by James Russell Lowell, one of our great American poets, have been going through my mind. He lived during these times and championed the cause of freedom, and called this particular poem, "Stanzas on Freedom," and it echoes the thoughts of the character, Gerda.

Read it carefully and with feeling to get the full meaning of his message:

“Stanzas on Freedom"

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother’s pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?

Women! who shall one day bear,
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains—
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?

Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true Freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.

by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

I want to take the world into my arms and free all who are enslaved and wash away their sorrows with my tears, and heal the wounds with my touch, and soothe the broken hearts with my song, but of course, I can't, so with hope I'll send my tears, my touch, and my song on the wings of the wind to carry to those who have gone before, to those who remain behind, to the gathering clouds of the future to rain a measure of sweetness, like cleansing rain, upon those who have yet to come. If only that could be possible, perhaps the burden on Mother Earth could be lightened and she would not grieve as she now does.

Sometime, when the spring appears and the grass has returned, go lie upon Mother's breast and tell her you love her. Thank her for sustaining your home. Tell her that for your little plot of ground there will be love and kindness, charity and devotion, righteousness and right living. Tell her she need not worry for you because you will lift her burden by your acts of kindness both in and out of your family. Let her know of your devotion to her as the footstool of our Heavenly Father and Mother. I've done this before and words cannot explain the moment nor the tears which flowed from my eyes to her bosom. There is so much for which to be grateful.

These past few days have been rich in reading for me, and if anyone made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I'll end with the words which my dear friend, Jill Homer always uses at the end of her emails: - Live in Gratitude. :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Two More Books

I've finished two books in the last two days and I'd like to mention them in a brief review. At first they will seem to be two completely different books, but as I think about the content of each , I realize how much there is in common.

The first is LIVING WITH PASSION by Peter L. Hirsch; he develops the "10 Simple Secrets That Guarantee Your Success," and I have to say it was a fabulous read. I heard him speak years ago, bought his book at that time, but just got around to reading it a few days ago. I guess it took me that long to be ready for what he had to say.

Very briefly the 10 Success Secrets he develops with anecdotes, reasoning and statistics are:
1. Challenge
2. Belief
3. Purpose and values
4. Conquering fear
5. Attitude
6. Focus
7. Commitment
8. Desire
9. Goals
10. Choice

There is nothing "new" about the principles, but his packaging is refreshing and I had a few "ah ha's" that were fresh for me, and about three book titles to consider developing my own take on these principles. The bottom line is the power of attraction and intention. There is never too much that can be said about the power of the Law of Attraction, that what we hold as our prevalent thoughts will be attracted to us. We simply are giant magnets.

The second book I finished a few hours ago is, TRUTH by Jacqueline Sheehan. It's a biographical, fictionalize historical novel based upon the life of Sojourner Truth, a black slave who overcame unbelievable challenges and left her mark on the world.

I first read her name in my American Literature text books, but I didn't know anything about her life. This book, TRUTH, was sitting on a shelf in the doorway of Wal Mart and begged me to take it home. I've had it about a year, and today was the day to read it, or rather finish it since I started it last night.

Let me share this one small part that I thought was note worthy, and a metaphor for all of us: She is talking about copperhead snakes, how the copperhead is a much maligned snake.

"The fact that she has poison in her fangs makes her honest and purely defensive when she isn't looking for a meal. 'Copperhead' came to mean something different when the full-out battle against slavery grabbed us all by the throat. Then it meant a northerner who was in favor of slavery. They picked too honest a creature to describe such a vile person.

"Here is what I learned from snakes, and the one I gathered the most from was the copperhead. When the sun warms the earth and wakes up all the animals from their winter sleep, when the snow is another year's memory, and when rocks are warm to the touch, then the snake takes notice and, with her boundless wisdom, emerges. I truly don't know where snakes go in the winter. It must be deep, because they would freeze and shatter if left exposed to one of our winters. But come midspring, when the bulb plants have burst through the earth, the snakes wake up.

"I like to find them on logs near a creek, sunning themselves, staying still for so long......The snake was unfairly hated. I knew what it was like to be despised on sight, to have lies told about me by people who knew nothing of my thoughts or actions. I gave snakes a chance until they proved themselves untrustworthy, which they never did. If you understood them, you could expect them to be perfectly honest.

"Their changing was what I most admire. At some point, their outer self grew tired, too tight, and had to be abandoned. They shed their old outer self like a full-length scab that must be scraped off. I had occasion to watch a snake or two leave her old self behind and emerge fresh and bright, aglow with colors begging for hope. It looked like birthing, hard groaning work, and the emerging body seemed to be unprotected. The old tube of skin hooked on a stickery bush, and the copperhead, with her dangerous eyes and honest fangs, was born different from before.

"I wanted to be sister to the copperhead; I wanted to shed my old outer self and emerge scarless, fresh, full of hope, to coil my body around a warm rock and flick my tongue for the whole sunny part of the day. I did not want to be who I was, where I was."

I can completely resonate with the idea of shedding the old and emerging new, but bless her wounded heart, her beautiful enslaved heart, I've never "did not want to be who I was;" I have so much for which to be grateful, we all do.

We've all experienced disappointments, pain, and heartache to one degree or another, but we've never known this kind of sorrow, cruelty, deprivation, and hardship. Compared to the lives the slaves had to endure, ours are rather cushy; and suddenly the spilled milk, muddy foot prints on the carpet, the clothes on the bedroom floor, the incessant noise of boisterous children, the undending sameness of motherhood take on a new meaning, something to be celebrated instead of cursed, for it means there was milk on the table to spill, and shoes on the feet to track mud, and carpets on the floor to be track upon, children with the freedom to make noise and express themselves, more clothes than the ones on their back, and even a bedroom instead of a cold, dirt floor one room cellar to live in. None of us have to worry about our children being taken from us when they're only six years old, sold to other slavers, never to see them again. Before she was born, Sojourner's mother had given birth to 12 children, and all of them were sold and taken away. Sojourner was sold when she was only 9 years old, and her younger brother, Peter, age six, was sold and she never saw him again.

So what do these two books have in common? It's simple really. Sojourner Truth lived what Peter Hirsch wrote about; she instinctively lived the principles of success facing challenges, holding onto beliefs, living on purpose and with her values intact, conquering her fears, keeping an attitude of being the best at her work, focusing on the possibility of freedom, being committed to freedom, her family, to God, never giving up her desires or goals.

I recommend both books. Oh, and I've started WAR AND PEACE. YIKES! This is going to be a challenge....:)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Valentine

In honor of Valentine's Day here's a poem by Carol Lynn Pearson:

I loved
The valentines we made in school.
I never cut the hearts out flat-
The two sides would never match for me.
I always folded and centered
And scissored out a half a heart
That opened into perfect symmetry.
So they never had a side that was fat
And a side that was skinny.
I loved them for that.

I felt sort of nice and tidy that way
The day we saw the shape of our being one-
As if it had opened from some good design
That made two matching halves,
Yours and mine.

But I find we don't stay put like paper.
We are not comfortable with glue.
Your edges have shifted, stretched,
And mine have too -
But not to a pattern.
If we folded our halves up today,
They would not fit.
Occasionally I itch for the scissors,
I will admit.

Ah, well.
I will put away childish things-
Cut them off like braids.
We are no valentine, you and and I.
We are something so alive, so moving,
So growing, I cannot yet
Put a name to the shape.
I only know it goes on and on and on,
Pressing toward whatever border
There may somewhere be.

Your center and mine are one,
And between the halves there is flow.
That is much.
I will let the edges go.

I'm so grateful for the steady, safe, comfortable, loving relationship we have grown into across 39 1/2 years. It has certainly been worth the journey.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I have just closed the last page of a life altering book entitled, SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS, with a sub post on the cover, "Great Achievers Reveal How to Integrate Mind, Body and Spirit." The authors are Thorn Bacon and Lyle Nelson.

This is one of those moments when words are not adequate for expressing the depth of the impact of this material. I can only toss out the invitation to any who happen to stumble upon this message to have a leap of trust and partake of the message. For me it was a phenomenal read, and a part of a gathering testimony for me that when the student is ready the teacher will appear, or the testimony that there really is a divine order in life. I've had this book for years and have never opened it. The other day it fell off the shelf into my arms and spoke to my spirit and said, "Now, you're ready."

My gratitude to the Universal principles and the Power of Intention, and the Laws of Attraction, and the Divine System that makes it all work.

There is too much to share in a single post, but here are a few dangling carrots - [For you who are too young to know about the dangling carrot-- that is how we used to get the donkey to move when we wanted to ride him at Aunt Dode and Uncle Richard's house in Cottonwood, AZ. We'd tie a carrot on a string attached to a stick, and hold it out over the donkey's head just out of reach, and the little ass would go for the unreachable carrot and we'd get our ride.]

I'm not trying to liken any reader to a little "ass," but hopefully it will intrigue you enough to take the journey. The book is filled with interviews with accomplished atheletes, some who became authors. They speak of the experiences of being in the "zone." So many inspired writers are quoted and borrowed from that I've filled the front covers with the titles of books to be read.

Here's a thumbnail sketch of the "Self-Actualizers" presented in the book. [ Self-Actualization is a term we hear a lot about, but may not understand that being "self-actualized is defined as OPERATING AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF PERSONAL POTENTIAL."

So here are the ways to accomplish this:

1. Self-Actualizer Number One: AFFIRMATIONS - Affirmations speak to our potential to perform, more than our current state of perfection, (and this performance is for anything we desire, not just sports.)

2. Self-Actualizer Number Two: CLEARLY DEFINE GOALS - Goal setting is indespensable to the achievement of the outcomes we wish is amazing how many opportunities our subconscious, with the help of the RAS, can "see" to make our goal(s) come true. [RAS = reticular activating system - we don't have control over the RAS, it silently functions to create what our conscious mind is focused on. Gives new meaning to "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," doesn't it?]

3. Self-Actualizer Number Three: VISUALIZATION - According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, "Your mind cannot distinguish the difference between that which has actually happened and that which is vividly imagined." Information is loaded into our subconscious more effectively through images than through words... [Read on the "eye of faith" Alma 5:15; and Ether 12:19-20]

4. Self-Actualizer Number Four: PLANNING - As we plan, we are creating a goal or event; we are thinking about how to bring about the outcomes we want. Planning requires focus; and focus unleashes the potential of the mind.. When we have a plan, the Reticular Activating System (RAS) will alert us to all relevant information that could help us accomplish the plan.

5. Self-Actualizer Number Five: CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT FOSTERS PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT. "Often, the first big step to self-actualization is to turn your back on what is in order to participate in what can be. Remember, it is much easier to change yourself than to change somebody else."

6. Self-Actualizer Number Six: FOCUS ON THE REWARDS NOT THE SACRIFICES. "Everybody has to pay a price for success; that's how life is....Focus...on what you have accomplished, congratulate yourself on where you are, and make a point of creating new rewars as objectives to work toward..."

7. Self-Actualizer Number Seven: ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SPIRITUAL NATURE - We will be able to regard ourselves in high esteem if we will develope these three traits:
1. An obligation to do the morally right thing
2. A belief that life has a purpose
3. A strong sense of individuality, but a realization that all
individuals are a part of a grander order.

8. Self-Actualizer Number Eight: MAINTAIN YOUR MAGIC CARPET - our bodies are our "magic carpet." "...It is bodily energy that allows you to transport your mental and spiritual strengths to where you want to use them for as long as is earthly possible."

"The brain only responds to positive or negative thoughts furnished by the mind. So make of yourself a sensational human by believing that you are."

The book is a life line to anyone who desires to change for the better. It has been incredibly inspiring for me; maybe it'll bless you as well.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

A Time to Edit

The other evening I was channel surfing and happened to land on a rerun of "Everybody Loves Raymond." The writers of this show are witty and clever as they weave unbelievable humor into this dysfunctional family. Every archetype of human foibles seems to make its way to the surface in this sitcom, and just when I think I can't stand the unkindness, the screaming, the sarcasm, or the criticism, something happens that saves it for me; Frank will let Marie and the audience know that he really does love her; Marie let's Frank and the audience know that she really does understand him; Raymond and Robert in spite of their pettiness at each other really do defend and support their brotherhood; Debra, ever long suffering at Marie's interference, is a stabalizing force, but gives in to her own fits and tantrums, and yet, as an observer there's no doubt that she loves her family and her spoiled husband.

There's just so much noise on the show with the kind of yelling that hurts the heart, but it's the kind of yelling I sometimes want to do, but don't, and the kind of insults I think but don't voice. I really can't defend that kind of family life, but perhaps it's honest.

It's just such a strange juxtaposition of love and hate...the things that happen in real families, but perhaps in other families it happens in a more civilized way, or then again, maybe not.

Ok, so what am I rambling about?

This particular rerun was Robert and Amy's wedding when Marie stands up and says a mouthful of ridiculous things at that point where the Priest asks if there's anyone who knows any reason why they shouldn't be married. Marie goes on and on as people are sitting in stunned shock. She's not really voicing an objection, but she has something she needs to get "off her chest," and she does as she multiplies words upon words upon words. Raymond sits down on the step as she drones on. The Priest joins him, and then suddenly she finishes saying what's on her mind. They limp through the rest of the ceremony and the scene segues into the reception, where we see a bedraggled, wounded, deflated bride and groom take their seat at the head table. Marie has marred what was supposed to be the happiest day of their life.

Next is the toast and Raymond is asked to speak a few words. He's not sure of himself. Everyone is sort of on auto-pilot just wanting the get this "happy" occasion over. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Robert and Amy, embarrassed for the families, and completely irritated at Marie, even if she did have good intentions.

I don't remember everything Ray said in his toast, but I was moved to a place of a metaphor in life by what he said. The writers had triumphed again with a hidden gem of wisdom that exploded in my consciousness.

He spoke about the video which was made of the wedding, and he openly spoke about what his mother did which ruined the ceremony, but then he said that the great thing about making a video was the ability to "EDIT," to cut out the parts that weren't good, that didn't add to it, that marred the beauty of the event. I honestly don't know if he expanded the "editing" to include those things in life which are not so happy, or if my mind simply ran-away with the thought? Whatever it was, I was caught up in it.

It really does appeal to my senses to consider all of the things to be "edited" and removed from the constantly running camera/video of life. I don't have to play the reruns of painful events. They simply do not have to be a part of my life's story anymore; I can edit them, especially that which doesn't add to anything. I'm not talking about the painful parts which have brought me to higher consciousness and greater learning and understanding, but that which keeps me in darkness. I do not know about the editing process of film, but there are many ways to "edit" the film of the soul, repentance and forgiveness being two of the most powerful.

I remember connecting with the Greek meaning of repentance as that of being the simplicity of "changing one's thinking." That definition appealed to me for it didn't carry the judgments of "sin" which had wedged into my world view. I can change my thinking, and what follows a changed mind is changed actions, and changed habits, and then a changed life. Yep, the Greeks have it right.

Forgiveness is the other side of the coin. Simply desiring to forgive and speaking the words are the beginning steps to the freedom which awaits those who bless themselves by this act, and by extension, they bless all who are involved in their life.

Moving out of judgment, honoring the paths of others as they call forth their lessons, concentrating on the business of my life and not other's lives, are powerful tools for achieving forgiveness. Never giving away the power for anyone to offend in the first place, is a supreme surrendering to the energy and essence of forgiveness before it's needed in one's life.

My intent was not to give a Sunday School lesson here, but just to offer up thoughts of "editing" the soiled parts of the video tape of our lives. The metaphor has merit in my world, perhaps it can work in yours as well. Namaste.