Friday, April 05, 2013

Gardening for the Soul

If you ask the simple question, "What does it take to make things grow?", you get a multitude of answers. Think in terms of a garden... You need sunlight. True. You need water. True. You need dirt. True, yet again. All of those things are unquestionably essential. But can you grow things with nothing but dirt, water, and sun? Sure you can.

But to grow things well, you might want to till the dirt before you get started. Dig it up deeply. Stir things up. You might even want to mix in some undesireables. They're available whether you want them or not, so instead of excluding them, welcome them in. Mushroom soil, or just plain old manure, or even something as simple as dead fish. All those stinky things that we'd rather suppress or put away from our minds (and noses)... Because without that malodorous fertilizer to encourage growth it will likely not be quite as productive.

Then you're going to need some good seeds. I mean, there's nothing wrong with letting the birds plant your garden for you, but it takes some effort on your part to choose those things YOU desire to grow. We all love the poison ivy that shows up uninvited, but it's not quite as nice as the petunias you had hoped for. And it surely cannot take the place of an ear of corn on your dinner plate.

So we take a little forethought, we till the ground until the soil is loose and ready to plant, then till a bit more to mix in all the stinky stuff, create our furrows, plant our seeds.

Then we go off and take a long summer's nap and await the crop? No?

My frustration has been, prepare as I might, once the garden is growing, it's all too easy to get busy and forget to tend it. But at some point, when the green shoots start to push through this fertile ground, not all of them are friendly. There are the wild seeds planted by birds, the grass whose roots managed to survive the tiller. Everything wants to jump into your little patch of heaven. If you pay attention to the garden, you will see the need to tend your crop, whether that is to hoe a few weeds or to put a bit of mulch down around the keepers so as to encourage their growth while slowing down the other, it takes a bit of constant nurturing but sooner or later you will end up with a thriving garden.

Imagine, if you will, midsummer arriving, with its varying downpours and long days of harsh sunlight, the garden growing at a rapid pace, then withering a bit in the heat of the day. If you have done your job well, there will be enough cover to hold in moisture so that the crop can continue to grow, little competition of distracting weeds. But what would happen if you decided that the smell of the manure is too strong? Would you get a shop vac, and enter the garden, to remove that unpleasantness? Will you go in with shovels to do the same?

Of course not! It would be not only utterly silly, it would be disastrous. Without the rich soil to support the roots of your plants, they would wither and die.

With proper care you will have a wonderful crop.

Imagine our lives, our souls, as a huge, living, breathing ecosystem. A garden inside our bodies. With careful tending, the crops we grow will thrive, through storm and drought. Through long sunny days and dark, dark nights.

But it seems that as humans, we cannot accept the imperfect inside of ourselves. We must destroy it, suppress it, throw it out. The dead fish and the manure must go.  And our lives are diminished because of it.

What if, instead, we were to accept that these unpleasant things are just byproducts of a natural process, and incorporate them in some healthy way? Why not accept them and not dwell on the negativity, and find ways to enrich ourselves through that acceptance?

We can grow a garden, of sorts, with only sunlight, water, and dirt. But wouldn't our garden be better if we put some forethought and care into it? Carefully till and fertilize, select only the best seeds to plant in just the right places, and lovingly nurture them. As weeds sprout, we find them, and acknowledge them, and return them to the compost bin to be recycled with the new crop of fertilizer, for future crops, allowing the good plants space to grow and thrive.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fear and its nemesis

It is natural for all of us to experience fear.

There are many fearful situations that either exist or potentially could exist in our world, in our daily routines.

So how do we get beyond our crippling fear?

Do we deny it?  Bury it?  Run from it?

They say, "There is nothing to fear except fear itself..."  But who are they, and what do they know about me and my situation?  In all of the millions upon millions of people in the world, I am unique in my soul, and my experiences, and in my perceptions.  THEY don't know anything.

So how can one deal with one's fears, one's insecurities?

How, indeed?

I think willpower alone is not the answer.  Many of us just muscle through the days fighting against the demons that haunt us, reaching the end of our day, spent, trembling with exhaustion.  Do you?

I believe there is a journey involved, and it's not likely to be something we are transformed by overnight.

I found myself, a few years ago, relating a story of myself to someone I barely knew, and at the end of it came to the question, the core question, "Am I even a good person?"

In my own mind, I thought I knew I was better than Hitler, but beyond that...  What was really down there?  Objectively, I could see that I made better decisions day-to-day than some people, but I made bad decisions and lived bad examples, as well.  Which left me adrift in a wide sea where I didn't quite have an anchor.  So at the end of my story, the core question was presented.

"Am I a good person?"

The person with whom I was corresponding took some time to answer, and when she did, she related her own story.  It told of a young, somewhat naive and innocent person, who experienced some very tragic events in her life, and after weeks and months of despair and agony, she tried to end her own life.  At the last moment, she was moved to take action to save herself.  She ended up in an emergency room, and she survived.  She became a better person for having survived the original tragedy and the one averted... But for having done what might be considered the Ultimate Sin, she asked me, "Does this make me a bad person?"

My answer?  "Of course not.  You were a good person in a bad place."

That answer... It was my own answer.  It has stayed with me, for years.  Picture yourself, or anyone, in his or her darkest days.  Just because you live or lived there, does that make you a bad person?  Of course not.  You are a good person who has been in a bad place.

Our intuitive nature often leads us into trains of thought where we depict ourselves as moral failures, when quite often, we are beacons to someone, somewhere.  But doesn't that just make it worse?  We think that "if they only knew the half of it....." (somehow we think that they would think we're just shams, living our lives in some two-faced lie...).

But sometimes our self-intuition is wrong.  The truth of the matter is we are all human.  This human condition makes us imperfect.  That is true of every person living.

We are human?  Does this make us bad?  No, we are good people, sometimes finding ourselves in bad places.

So if we can wrap our souls around that idea, that it's okay to be a human being once in a while, and not a saint.  If we can accept the shadow, acknowledge it, deal with it, then we can begin to grow, to move on, with our journey.

Try this exercise   Go to a mirror, and look into it.  Don't look at the mirror.  Don't look at the hair on the person you see.  Don't look at the eyes, the nose, the shoulders.  Close your eyes for a moment, then look again into the mirror.  There's a stranger there, that looks just like you.  Take a few moments, and look into that person, through their eyes into something deeper.  Forget all the surface stuff you see, and try to find what is buried underneath it.  Don't be fearful.  When you can begin to discern the soul hidden underneath all the layers of outside-ness, tell it, "I love you."

Really.  If at first, you don't succeed, if you cannot find your voice, or if you cannot see the soul, then pray, meditate, live.  And each time you look at the mirror, take a moment or two to look deeper.  Try saying, "I love you."  Try feeling it.  Live it.  Find that Spark of Divinity, Spark of Beauty, that lives in every human being, the one spot of innocence and perfection that is down there, somewhere.

And if you cannot, then ask questions.  Why?  Why can I not go there?

I would not ask, "What is wrong with me?" but rather "Why can I not see?".

Because at the bottom of it all, the fault is not "me", the fault is blindness.  And our journey involves opening up the blinders.  Of seeking, and exploring, and accepting the good as well as the things we perceive as bad within ourselves.  Remember, always, that you are a human, and you are imperfect, but your imperfections are not bad, in and of themselves.  The actions you take based on your imperfections can have tragic consequences, for yourself or for others, so you must learn to cultivate the positive aspects of your soul and accept the darkness instead of letting it remain suppressed until it rages outward, with a life of its own.

A good example I heard recently, was this image of a person that knows sometimes when they have a bad mood, it creates a black cloud around them, and soon everyone in the home is snipping at each other.  But those days when they get up, that's just how it is... No one can escape it.  But what if that same person got up, and recognized the signs, and says, "Oh here we go again...."  And laughs at the grump, saying "I am going to go out and do the opposite of what old grump-head wants me to do, and goes into the day with a positive attitude."  The darkness is still there, but because it was consciously acknowledged, it is put in its place.  The downside is that maybe everyone else can still sense it, and expects this to be just another dark day, and their responses are automatic reactions to the past... The answer is to break out of it.  Tell a joke. Go to a quiet place, and read a book.  Watch something fun or inspirational on television.  Pray.  Old habits die hard, but they never die unless you consciously focus on them.

Bottom line is that we are all human.  But if we can take the time to look into the mirror, and accept and love the soul we see, then we can move forward through life, understanding that we are worthy of love, of respect.  When there are those "out there" that refuse to see the good that you know exists "in here" then the failing is theirs, not yours.  Repeat that.  "When others do not show love or respect, it is their failing, not mine."

Always strive to show kindness and compassion to others.  Just as you may have found or may find something divine within yourself, worthy of love, that spark exists within every human, as well.  So humanity is not just about the dark things we do, feel, live.  It is just as much about the light.  Just as the best people you know have flaws, so the worst have goodness.  It's hard to understand and believe this as well.  There have been monsters who lived on the Earth, responsible for the deaths of thousands or millions of people.  But even they, too, once were innocent souls, conceived in a womb.  When you run across someone that you perceive as less than worthy, instead of judging them, yelling at them, talking badly about them, just consider that they are human, too, and quite possibly not as enlightened as you.  If you can, pray for their situation, and if you cannot then accept the fact that their failings are not your fault.  And move on.

Once you can recognize that Spark of the Divine within yourself, look again at the world around you.  Stop to smell the roses.  Stop to look at a snowflake.  Stop to gaze up at the full moon or the starry skies or the bolt of lightning streaking across a dark sky.  There is that Divine Spark, that Beauty, all around us, and as long as we have removed the blinders, hopefully we can begin to see.

"I once was blind, but now I see..."  When you are comfortable within your own skin, and you can perceive that the world IS a beautiful place, and you are, too, then you can begin to live a life transformed.

I was recently called into a manager's office at work, someone who does not much like or appreciate me. I do not know his whole story, but I sense that perhaps he feels somehow threatened by me.  He says things, but then does other things, and suggests that I am not grateful for appreciating what little was done.  He doesn't listen to me, but instead responds to his perceptions of me.  I sit in the office, calm with the faithful knowledge that I am good, and however this meeting may go, it will be all right.  He reacts to my smiles when he tells half-truths, and I realize that my calm really annoys him.  Underneath my skin, I have a guilty pleasure in knowing that he is angry because I am not.  That, too, is my humanity shining through.  Worst case scenario, my meeting could lead to termination with my employer.  I don't think it will, but if it did, what then?

I'd go find another door to open and life will go on.  Bottom line, sometimes we need dark moments to force us into change, and change can be a very good thing.

After the meeting was over, looking back over the time, I realized that although I had been somewhat nervous going in, I was uplifted by the faith that I am a good person, and not trying to 'get one over on anyone', and it's all good.  And the fact that I didn't react visibly made the manager very upset.  But it is what it is.  "When others do not show love or respect, it is their failing, not mine."

I just turned forty-two years old.  That is twice twenty-one.  I think about that.  How many things have I done in the past 21 years?  How much have I grown?  Looking forward, how many more Good Things can I accomplish in the next 21?  The next 42?  In the big scheme of things, a meeting with my boss or any other uncomfortable situation that last a half hour or a week or a month, are not so important after all.

Learn to have Faith in your Goodness.  Learn to Respect Yourself.  Learn to Live with Life, and not against it.  Faith begins to come naturally.  And with Faith, comes the companion, Hope.  Armed with Faith and Hope, and Love, none of the day-to-day challenges that we all face will cause too much pain.  And THAT is what conquers fear.

I would argue that what we should strive for is to live a better life.  It's as simple as that.  If we are living a Good Life, then we can accept the challenges that come, holding the hands of our neighbor when they or we need strength.  Love without bounds.  And LIVE.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

February 20, 1986

February 20, 1986.

Now THAT seems like such a long time ago.  I was in 9th grade, and that was my 15th birthday.

The other day I found something.  It was a birthday card. Ruth and Glenn Hicks had given it to me, and it was printed on parchment paper, and purported to be a "Happy Life Insurance Policy" and it listed all the reasons why I should celebrate and be merry for this birthday and for many more to come.  It insists that despite all the negative things that might be out there, that I deserve to be happy, and that I have the right to pout if I am not.

Less than a month before my birthday the space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff, sending parts of itself down into the Atlantic with great plumes of smoke.  The repeated video footage of the event would imprint themselves on my brain, and to this day I can see the three main trails of debris as they fell toward the water.

On board was the first school teacher to attempt reaching into space, Christa McAuliffe.  I was sitting in English class, and Mr. Ramage, the principle, came to the door, calling out Mrs. Parker, to inform her.  We didn't know Christa, but it didn't matter…

Two and a half months before the Challenger tragedy, I went to school one day.  Dennis, my brother-in-law, came knocking on the door of my agri class, telling Mr. Watkins that he needed to speak to me.  I went out into the shop, where I was told, "James, I don't know how to tell you this, but your Dad is dead."  You know, it took a lot of courage to do that, to be so open and up front with me about what was going on.  I don't know how much he knew of what had happened, but as it turned out, Dad and Ted had gone to do some work that morning, and Dad told Ted that he wasn't feeling well, leaving the tractor and going up to the truck to sit down for a few minutes.  When he didn't return, Ted went looking and found him.

Tiny Goodman, the coroner, said that a team of the world's best doctors probably couldn't have saved him – he had a massive heart attack and his life was snuffed out just like that. I spent a long time regretting that I had not told him "I love you" that morning as we went our separate ways. But really, how could I know?  

I remember the cold, gray November day at Owley Cemetery, where Pastor Bolt of the local Assembly of God, my classmate's father, came to speak.  My uncle Wilbur, more like Grandfather than uncle, and his daughter Sue (more like an aunt than a cousin) were there, along with others in the family, from Mississippi.  I remember Sue laughing loudly at one point.  I appreciated that – as funny as it may sound.  It meant the world wasn't over, despite how I felt.

From November to February was a blur.  I don't remember Christmas at all.  In fact, other than the Challenger I don't remember much of anything about it.  But since I found the card from Ruth, I know I had begun to work for her at the elementary school in the evenings, doing janitorial work.  I did that throughout the rest of high school.

In the years since then, many things have happened.  Glen got his kidney transplant, and it failed, then got another that worked wonderfully, then had his own heart attack that took him away from us.  The last year or so I worked with Ruth, it was just her and I.

After I graduated, I didn't know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go.  I had some vague notion that I might go to college and become a teacher, but I had seen folks who did that and returned to school way too young, and I thought it needed to wait a while – and besides I didn't really have any goals.

I finally joined the Air Force and after six years in uniform I went to work in the same office that I had just left, but not in uniform any more.  A year later I went to work for another company, doing more of the same.  A few weeks ago, I hit my fifteen year anniversary with that company.  I won't be there for the sixteenth.  But, that's a story for another day. 

I was thinking about that card.  Looking at it this morning, I read Ruth's note, written in her left-leaning script, and thought about how almost 27 years ago, her hand touched the paper and wrote on it… She's gone now, along with Glenn and a few others in my story.

I have letters written to me when I was in the Air Force by my cousin Sue, the laugher, who passed on several years ago.  She was the first I heard say, laughingly, "I'm a poet, and didn't even know it."

I have notes and journals hand-written by my Mom, who has been gone now for almost three years.

These treasures are special, but so hard to look at sometimes.  There's a magic in the written word.  The idea that you are holding something once touched by another, reading words once written by someone whom you cannot see right now.

I am thankful this season for the many blessings I have today, and for the warm and happy memories I have, and oddly enough, for the many hardships that have helped to forge the person I have become.  According to my birthday card, I had at least 1,000,000 (and counting) good wishes for my birthday and for all of the birthdays to come.

And just in case we ever have to face the day when, for one of us, tomorrow never comes, I want you to know that I love you.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Oil Salesman

I am no conspiracy theorist, but something's fishy in Texas (or is it Washington?).

The former president and his right hand man were both oil executives. I am sure it had nothing to do with any decisions they made while in office, but still... The oil industry seems to have a huge ability to influence Washington insiders, to include members of the legislative branch as well as, potentially, the executive branch.

In those years, the government clamped down on anyone's ability to regulate "speculation" in oil prices - meaning with rumors of a possible war in the middle east, crude oil prices can jump through the roof - and even though no supply is cut, the price you and I pay at the pump can rise as much as thirty or forty cents in a week's time... On rumor! And when the war drums start beating more slowly, the crude oil prices bounce back down, yet it takes weeks for the 'trickle down theory' to go to work at the gas pumps.

For a while now, I've had those thoughts - why can mere rumor cause my fuel bill to go up by a hundred dollars or more in a month's time?

Then I started reading some things by the oil industry, who who are still, after all these years of recession, making record profits (we can't control the price at the pump, they say, and we hardly make any money as it is off fuel sales, etc) (Ref the propoganda machine here: (If you believe them, they're actually LOSING money: "Over the past five years, we incurred a total U.S. tax expense of almost $59 billion, which is $18 billion more than we earned in the United States during the same period." )

Now, the GOP folks in Congress and on the Presidency trail, (whether you're Republican, Democrat, or Independent, it doesn't matter in the end, we're all paying the same price for our gas), are bashing Obama's presidency for "doubling the price of gasoline". My memory may be weak, but it seems to me like it was pretty darn high in the good old days of George W. Bush's presidency, and I was thinking, "How can the price have doubled?"

Someone sent a link to someone's "useless trivia" that showed how much he paid for gas every time he's filled up since 1979. Ref: The charts seem to show a huge spike downward just at the end of the Bush years and going into the Obama term...

Then I found a more official site for gas prices that confirm these charts. Suffice it to say, in June and July of 2008, regular unleaded gasoline was averaging around $4.00 per gallon:

06/02 3.932
06/09 3.979
06/16 4.007
06/23 4.002
06/30 4.027
07/07 4.051
07/14 4.054
07/21 4.005
07/28 3.896

With a presidential election just around the corner in 2008, I will note that from this high point, gasoline prices just kept dropping. This may not have been affected by politics, but if the oil industry folks wanted 'their man' to win, then they COULD have done something to appease the very restless voting public. Unfortunately, so many people were getting laid off left and right and the economy was a shambles, for a variety of reasons, and 'their man' lost anyways... But that's okay, because all the way through December, gas prices just kept dropping:

12/01 1.790
12/08 1.681
12/15 1.648
12/22 1.635
12/29 1.590
01/05 1.672
01/12 1.772
01/19 1.832
01/26 1.813

On January 20, 2009, President Obama was sworn into office. December ended with gasoline prices at $1.59, and in January, remained in the middle-upper $1-$2 range, but was already drifting upward again.  Now Representatives McConnell and some Presidential candidates are bashing Obama for the doubling of prices - when in fact, those prices haven't yet hit the Bush-era prices as seen in mid-2008.

Now that another big election is just around the corner, you've got folks pushing rumors of war, and speculators again driving up the gasoline prices... It seems that even as our economy improves, the gas prices are moving upwards again (trying to break the momentum for political reasons? Maybe not, but... maybe).

It's about time that reason prevails. I am NOT a big fan of government interference and regulation - but there are times in every industry where people will manipulate numbers to get what they want. I for one would recommend that we educate ourselves on what causes these problems.

I found a pretty good writeup on it here. I do not endorse any views they represent, but if you look you can find even more information elsewhere:

If you follow this article through to its conclusion, it gives a good insight into the problem and what has/has not been done to curb it.

An exerpt:

By betting on the price outcome with only a single futures contract, a speculator has no effect on a market. It's simply a bet. But a speculator with the capital to purchase a sizeable number of futures derivatives at one price can actually sway the market. As energy researcher F. William Engdahl put it, "speculators trade on rumor, not fact" [source: Engdahl]. A speculator purchasing vast futures at higher than the current market price can cause oil producers to horde their commodity in the hopes they'll be able to sell it later on at the future price. This drives prices up in reality -- both future and present prices -- due to the decreased amount of oil currently available on the market.

Investment firms that can influence the oil futures market stand to make a lot; oil companies that both produce the commodity and drive prices up of their product up through oil futures derivatives stand to make even more. Investigations into the unregulated oil futures exchanges turned up major financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. But it also revealed energy producers like Vitol, a Swiss company that owned 11 percent of the oil futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange alone [source: Washington Post].

As a result of speculation among these and other major players, an estimated 60 percent of the price of oil per barrel was added; a $100 barrel of oil, in reality, should cost $40 [source: Engdahl]. And despite having an agency created to prevent just such speculative price inflation, by the time oil prices skyrocketed, the government had made a paper tiger out of it.

President Obama and some lawmakers are reviving the notion of oil price oversight/curbing speculation - but of course they are being blocked on almost all fronts. There's some folks making huge money off these oil speculation games... (at our expense).

What if the speculation has to do less with the rumors of war and more to do with the attempt at getting rid of the ones who would curb it?  (ie., ruin any recovery to the economy and you can oust the incumbent).  Maybe... maybe not.  But it's an interesting notion.

Regardless of that, I suggest you take the time to write your public officials and recommend that they look into the issue of oil/gas price manipulation through speculation. 

If enough people start to push it, someone will notice:

One final thought:  What would YOU do if the price of gas dropped by $1 or more? If you spend $200 a month in gasoline now, what would you do with the $50.00 that you saved?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Whatever happened to Creation?

We have become accustomed to, conditioned to live a Reactionary lifestyle. The holidays are coming, so I must make great amounts of tasty food. I have great amounts of tasty food, so I must eat too much. I ate too much, so now I must diet.

It seems like a simple example... but it is typical of how many of us live our lives, day-to-day. This thing happened, so I did that. A reaction. A new door appeared, so I went in. It can be a good thing. A new job opened up, so I applied. My sister turned 50, so I sent her a birthday card (errm. I'm only a few months late with that!!!).

Whatever happened, though, to Creation?

I have learned to have a mix of reaction and creation. In this modern world, there's no way to avoid chain reactions. Someone posts a "Hello" on Facebook, and you reply. Someone pokes you, so you poke back.

But Creation, in my terms, means having Vision. A Master Plan. Or maybe, it doesn't.

I picked up a camera and went out into the world and took some photographs. It was a reaction, yes, an escape from the mundane, from the stress, but it was transformed into something more. Something in me sought out some place to share the one or two photographs that had particular meaning, to me. Particularly my photo "Heaven's Light", a rural church at sunset. When I found that place to share, I posted the photos in a public forum.

Within moments, I had two new 'friends' who liked the photos, and commented on them. One of those friends dropped off the radar after awhile, the other, is still one of my best friends. Over time, more and more connections were made, essentially because of one photograph that I took. It was a reaction, at the time, but also a creation. It was "stopping to smell the roses" or see the sunset, as it were.

Eventually, through the personal encouragement of my friends, my family, I decided to compile my photographs into a book. It took over a year, off and on, with a wild, mad final rush, over the last couple of months. But I did create the book, with no particular feel for what I'd do once it was done. I just had this burning, craving desire to create Something Good.

I haven't ordered any of the books now, in a couple years. But while I did, I sold all I ordered. More than a hundred, all told.

Reactions... I showed the "photo" that started it all to a friend. She said that she knew someone that would like it, and called her up. The Someone liked it and wanted a copy. I had one printed and took to her. She liked it so much that she wanted a copy of the book, as well, sight unseen. So I brought her a book, but told her that I'd sell it to her full price, only she could give me $5 less and donate the rest to the church, that was featured on the cover.

Next thing you know, she called me back and asked how many more of the photobooks did I have? I said, 3 or 4. She said she had pending orders for 7 but if I needed to order more, hold off... A few weeks went by and when we talked again, she had sold several more. I ordered some more - and in all, through her, I sold 28 books, with a $5 each donation back to her church - which was met dollar for dollar by a church organization, and the church took the $280 earned, and paid for some much needed furnace repairs.

The Holiday-Food-Diet reaction chain didn't do much.. but mixing Reaction with Creation works wonders.

I got my start in photogaphy back at Mount Ida High School as a photographer on the yearbook staff. Truth be told, I'd always been interested, I'd gotten my own camera at about 11 or so, and just kept taking photos.

But as an adult, I didn't like spending money on film, so it fell by the wayside. A neighbor lost her husband due to a heart attack, and I started mowing her grass, because it was way too much for her alone. When she finally settled the estate and was getting ready to move, she gave me a camera as part of the thank you for helping. I didn't want payment, but appreciated the gesture. I took the digital camera and took some photos, and loved it so much I bought a better camera. And the rest, as they say, is history. There's a lot of Reaction in this story...

But the Creation is good, too. In addition to the old church getting much-needed repairs, the book opened other doors, as well. One old farm, featured in the book, I titled "home". It was an old farmhouse and barn that has always stuck a chord, deep within me... It's nestled near a mountain, cozy, inviting, feeling like "home".

Turns out, when Robin (now my wife), saw the photo, and saw the caption, it certainly meant something to her, as well... For it was her Grandfather's farmhouse. He's gone now, and the farm is owned by someone else, but there's still that deep current of "home-ness" that connects us, and always has connected us, even when we did not realize it.

If I continued to live Reactively, then I'd never have known. We would never have been. Creation is more important today than ever. Be reactive - you can't help but be, we're all human. Transform the Reaction with Creation and you never can tell what Wonders may be discovered.

Be still. Listen, not so much with your ears, but with your heart. Find a quiet place to grow. To be. To create.