Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fun at Home

Grow some fun at home today with the people you love. You have all you need to raise a bumper crop of laughter and lasting memories that will be sweeter, more nourishing, and juicier than anything you can cook up elsewhere.

I was sitting at the dining room table tonight making Yule cards (see the pictures below), listening to the sounds of my husband and two of our daughters watching a movie in the other room. Their laughter was beautiful! We've done a lot of things together as a family, but nothing comes close to the fun we have at home.

Speaking of fun, I've been growing some of my own the last couple of days. I'm no graphic artist, but I'm an avid doodler and love to make my own greeting cards. From the time I was old enough to hold a fat crayon, I've gotten giggly, giddy enjoyment out of stacks of colored paper, scissors, glue, and bright, shiny pens. What fun! Here are some of my off the wall creations, nothing award winning - just homegrown fun at its finest. And since most fun is better shared...I'm sharing. Enjoy!

Photos by Autumn Heartsong. "Good Times" greeting card copyright Autumn Heartsong. 2008.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Energy, enthusiasm, and engagement - and LIGHTS!

Check out this amazing holiday light display on Sarah Jones-Larson's blog, What a Wonderful World.

Richard Holdman has created this dazzling, computer-controlled, wind-powered, synchronized lights and music show for several years. His efforts have raised more than $10,000 for Make-A-Wish. His gated community voted last year to close the gates during the holidays because of the traffic, but he had little trouble finding volunteer hosts and the show goes on.

It really is worth a look. The videos are short and they will make you smile! Mr. Holdman has even created an FAQ and some do-it-yourself tips and a behind-the-scenes tour.

Thanks to Sarah Jones-Larson for sharing so many examples of what is truly a wonderful world!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wise Old Owl

I was running through some photo archives this morning and ran across this one. I took it almost exactly one year ago when the owl made a rare daylight visit to a tree just outside the building where I work, right in the heart of downtown.

Owls are associated with wisdom in many cultures, and with death and dying in some. Greek, Native American, and Celtic mythology are filled with references to owls. What is it about the bird that creates such powerful connections?

Owls appear to be silent watchers. With eyes focused straight ahead and 360 degree field of vision, they observe without speaking. With faces that don't show expression (at least not that the majority of us would recognize), they appear detached, remote, just watching, waiting for the right moment to snag a meal or move along to avoid danger.

I supposed we all recognize on some level that observation is one of the keys to wisdom and that talking all the time doesn't leave much room for observing. It's possible we even recognize that, no matter how much you observe, much of it doesn't require comment. There have been many times in my life where I would have been wiser to remain silent!

Maybe our younger self knows, too, the wisdom of detachment. We are all connected, all made of the same stuff, and yet we all move and live and operate separately. We have an enormous amount of influence and very little control over all but ourselves. Maybe the owl teaches us to know the difference.

To not use our influence where we can is cowardice; to attempt to control what is not ours to control is madness. Wisdom is in knowing one from the other, acting with skill and courage where we can, and gently detaching from those things that are not ours to change. I think Owl might have been influencing the original author of an old Mother Goose rhyme:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

May we all have the courage to exert whatever influence we have for the good of all, and the wisdom to let go of what is not ours to control.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In My Own Words, From Henry Miller's Mouth

How many times have you read something so profound, something that resonates with truth so deep and sure that you know you could have said it yourself if you could have found the words?

I ran across just such a quote today by author Henry Miller. Ironically (or maybe by Divine plan), the quote is about that very thing:

Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he gets desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up to discover what is already there.

My wonderful 3AC Writer's Guild sisters and I were talking last night about the voices in us that still ask, Are you really a writer? What makes you think you have anything to say that anyone cares/needs to hear? Your work doesn't sound anything like his/hers/theirs. How can you be a writer? Those voices try so hard to drown out the one true voice inside, the one that knows, the one that aches to be heard.

Today I'll be brining a turkey, baking biscotti and shortbread, and making a last-minute grocery run for tomorrow's feast. I'm setting my intention right now to listen and observe and let my true voice speak without censorship or reservation. I think I'll carry the camera with me, along with a pen and notepad to record the dozens of things I see each day and want to write about. And in my kitchen, I'll light a candle for myself, my 3AC sisters, and everyone whose tender shoots have ever been stifled from lack of faith.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Perfect Score: Thanksgiving - 1, Gratitude - 364

Why do we only have one day a year set aside for giving thanks? I used to ask that question and often said that every day should be Thanksgiving. But I've changed my mind. I think one Thanksgiving Day is enough. What we need more of are Gratitude Days.

Thanks and Gratitude are related but they're not the same. Thanks is the daughter of Gratitude, and the granddaughter of Awareness. Along with her sister, Humility, Thanks is the natural descendant of the true gran dames of a rich, joyous life.

When we say "thank you" for something, we are acknowledging a gift, a blessing, a current state. It's a nod to the universe that says, "Yep...I got it...and I know it's good." Giving thanks is a good thing - the right thing - to do, but the real power comes from gratitude.

Gratitude is a state of being, the result of awareness, and is the doorway through which the gifts and blessings we are so thankful for enter into our lives. To be grateful is to be open, to choose an arms-flung-wide-in-wonder way of walking through the world, open to experience, to receiving all there is to feel and do and know.

A beautiful website,, refers to gratefullness as, "...the simple response of our heart to this life in all its fullness," and adds, "The practice of gratefulness moves us in four directions: It restores courage, inspires generosity, reconciles relationships, and has the potential to heal our Earth." (Please visit Brother David's website and learn more about what is doing to move the world in those four directions.)

Gratitude starts with awareness...not filtered awareness of "the good things in our lives," but full awareness, without judgment, of All There Is and our place among that All. When we practice conscious awareness, we see the world differently. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." When we choose to be aware of All, All opens up to us, and we are the recipients of more gifts than we could possibly imagine. Grateful eyes see beauty everywhere.

I think the score is perfect. One day set aside to practice thanksgiving is long as we spend the other 364 days each year practicing gratefullness. In the words of Dag Hammerskjold, "For all that has been - thanks. For all that will be - yes."

Here's to one day of, "Thank you!" surrounded by 364 days of, "Yes!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

7,000 beautiful words... from recent weekend jaunts. Nature saves her finest garments each year for the next to-last-dance...then does the last one naked and unashamed. Enjoy these photos from her all-dressed-up dance!

Photos by Autumn Heartsong; 1 - 6, Little River Canyon, Alabama, USA; 7, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia, USA

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am a good citizen of the world when I ... the rights and work for the benefit of everyone.

This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in. -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

Well said, Mr. President...well said...change "country" to "world" and you're dead on target.

Everybody’s Got a Right…

…and we keep them or lose them together.

All the buzz around gay marriage has been a catalyst for debate and has sparked Americans everywhere to think about the issue and figure out just where they stand. That’s good; we need to be shaken up now and then. Unfortunately, most people are so focused on the specifics in this debate that they’re missing the real issue.

It’s not about gay and lesbian marriage. It’s about personal and spiritual freedom and the separation of church and state.

I’ve written about this issue before, but today I saw a quote that very eloquently captured the real heart of the matter, the thing we should be talking and writing and shouting on the street corners about.

I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose. We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us. -Mario Cuomo, 52nd Governor of New York (b. 1932)

That’s it. That’s what should have us all standing up and saying, “Enough!” The stakes in this game aren’t whether same sex couples can say, “I do!” At stake here is whether or not we will legally allow the religious beliefs of one group to determine the rights of every citizen. And the very people who are most adamantly opposed to the gay marriage issue are among the most religious people in this country. They’re the ones fighting the hardest to win when they have the most to lose.

When we protect the rights of anyone, we protect the rights of everyone. And if we allow the rights of any individual or group to be taken away, we chip away at our own.

“…the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is they might some day force theirs on us.”

Those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds are attempting to force that opposition into law. The same thing is happening with abortion laws, stem cell research, and how we teach science, literature, and sexuality in our schools.

People are taking a frighteningly shortsighted view. They believe they’re winning when they get their way. Look further down the road; what damage can be done by the precedent we’re setting? Winners and losers can change places in a societal heartbeat. You may be thrilled to defeat the gay marriage issue now, but what issue will come up next and whose beliefs will win that one? What if your cherished morality becomes unpopular? Are you willing to put your spiritual path up for vote?

I’m not. And I’m going to keep talking about it as long as I have a voice. I hope you’ll add your voice to mine and to all the voices already speaking up about the dangerous erosion of personal and religious freedom. It’s a bigger, scarier issue by far than having two grooms on a cake topper.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A View of the Mountain - Autumn in my Life

Looking out my kitchen window this afternoon, I caught the first glimpse of White Oak Mountain in the distance that I've seen since late March, maybe early April. In spring and summer, the trees completely block the mountain view, so much so that you wouldn't know the mountain was there if you didn't know the area.

Not exactly earth-shatterng news, is it? Trees shed their leaves every fall, graceful branches standing naked and unashamed, revealing sky and views hidden when they're all decked out in foliage. What struck me as I was looking out that window was how the trees and the mountain view were mirroring my own life right now.

I'm 52. My birth daughter is days away from 28, and my two step-daughters will soon be 20 and 18. The nature of my role as Mom has changed dramatically in the last few years. My baby girls are now beautiful young women, quite self-sufficient most of the time, and are actively pursuing their own interests. There are spaces in my life now that used to be crowded, spaces that reveal views I've missed for a long time.

I've reached the early autumn of my life and the leaves are falling. As those leaves drop away, the me that I used to know when I was a child is coming back into view.

I like her. She's creative, thoughtful, a writer and a photographer with an eye for beautiful things and a desire to share them with others. She's smart and she has a sense of humor She loves to cook and likes to eat, sometimes too much (some things never change). And she's learned a lot of things through her life's spring and summer, stories and lessons and memories that beg to be told, so she writes daily and loves it.

My friend and fellow writer Sitara says, “Give me an eight-spoked Wheel and I’ll show you the wisdom of the world.” She's so right. I can feel the Wheel turning, through the day, through the year, and throughout my life. The wisdom is found in paying attention, listening, and staying in synch with the Wheel.

I'm paying attention as the leaves fall and the views are revealed, some familiar, some new. Unlike the seasons, my own life is not infinite. My wheel will eventually stop turning. Time is short and I'm going to enjoy every vista along the way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bittersweet Progress

I received the following story in an email from a cherished friend and heart sister this morning. She and her nine year old son, Bo, had taken a walk in the woods near their home, woods they both love. Her story touched me deeply. I have tasted bittersweet progress and know that Cherie is right - sometimes you can't go back.

Thanks, Cherie, for allowing me to share your poignant words with my readers. May your tiny seed of life grow tall and strong and safe.

Many things in life are bittersweet, but one of the hardest for me is the loss of the wild places. Urban sprawl fueled by greed is quickly shrinking them in the name of progress.

Bo and I decided to take a walk in the woods behind our house yesterday. We made our way behind into the woods and onto a small path made by cows in another time. The sun came through the canopy of reds and yellows, its rays dancing off of the leaves and lighting up the leaf strewn floor of the forest in a magical way.

After walking for a few minutes, we started to see signs that people had recently been though the woods. There were blue ribbons tied around trees; other, smaller trees had been hewn down with a machete or small axe. Then we came to a clearing.

We could see that earth movers had widened the path, uprooting and mowing down everything along the way. We followed the path to a clearing. What was once a lush meadow now contained a tractor trailer loaded down with cut trees. We skirted the rig and continued along the path, now a wide swath of devastation running through the woods. We followed the path upwards, and as we crested a hill, stared in horror at the scene in front of us. Acres of wood had been cleared of all vegetation. What remained was dry clay and rock.

“I want to go back” Bo said, sadly. His words hit me like a thunderbolt: sometimes you can’t go back.

We turned around and walked back into the woods. We lingered there for a while, capturing as many trees as we could on film. We passed a young maple, whose leaves seemed afire with glorious bright red. “Come closer” she seemed to whisper. I made my way through the underbrush towards the tree. As I adjusted the lens of my camera to capture her brilliance, I saw something I had never seen before. Hanging from her branches were bright green spiky seed pods, the kind that turn brown and children throw at each other during recess.

Before we left, I plucked one seed pod. “Thank you” she whispered.

When we got home, we planted a seed pod. We will watch it grow and tend it in honor of what was, and what is.

Life continues.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In The Life of Another

Extraordinary video by Nik Askew...might we not all have an impact on the life of another?

I got this from Luminous Inspirations, a wonderful blog by 2Da1. Visit and see all the inspirational, moving, uplifting pieces collected there!

'in the life of another' from Nic Askew on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marriage, the Law, and Doing the Right Thing Twice

Did you happen to catch Keith Olberman's Special Commentary on the passage of Prop 8 in California? It's passionate, articulate, bordering on brilliant. I can't figure out how to share it directly in this blog so please click on the link to watch.

I cannot be silent on this issue. Like Mr. Olberman, I'm not gay nor is anyone in my immediate family. But this isn't just a gay issue. It's a human issue, universal and timeless. And unless we keep the momentum headed toward positive change, it will remain a universally unfair, unjust, and just plain wrong issue.

My stance on this issue is simple and straightforward:

Marriage should be defined by federal law, consistant in all states and territories, and should consist of a set of binding legal agreements to which applicants agree and are held accountable. The government should not get involved in defining the relationship or who can participate. As long as all parties meet the legal requirements (primarily age and the ability to contract), government has no responsibility and no right to place any further restrictions on the arrangement.

If faith-based organizations want to further define the relationship according to their beliefs, so be it. As precedent, the Catholic church has long refused to recognize marriages that don't meet the requirements of the faith, even when those marriages are perfectly legal from a civil perspective. The consequences of the Church's approval or disapproval are only relevant to the practitioner from a personal, spiritual standpoint. Any religious institution should be free to use whatever moral compass they possess to decide if they and their god(s) approve of the union, but they should have no say in the legal aspects.

Here's how I get there:

Legal marriage in the United States is first and foremost a property agreement. Under our current system of employer-sponsored health care benefits, it also provides a consistent framework for determining who can be considered a dependent for the purposes of insurance coverage. It establishes a next-of-kin relationship wherein spouses have first and final say in certain health care decisions, hospital visitation rights, and so forth. And there are tax provisions for married couples to lessen the tax impact on two income families.

Nothing about legal marriage as it is currently defined has anything to do with relationship, love, comittment, or morality. It has to do with legal rights and contracts. And nothing about those legal rights and contracts has anything to do with the gender or orientation of the participants. People of the same gender are just as capable of fulfilling all the obligations inherent in legal marriage as are one-man-one-woman couples.

Where we've gone astray is allowing the religious definition of marriage - specifically the mainstream Christian definition - to creep into the legal definition. We have abandoned the constitutional principal of separation of church and state and given that power over to religion. Shame on us!

Interestingly, that influence seems only to have gone so far as to restrict who is allowed to participate. It hasn't done anything at all to enforce the other ideals of Christian marriage. The government doesn't care one bit whether people who apply for a marriage license have been married before, as long as they've fulfilled the legal obligation to divorce. There is no government mandate that individuals share the same faith, that they love, honor, cherish, or respect one another. Marriages of convenience or for economic considerations are common. The only absolute requirements are that the couple be of legal age, not currently married to someone else, and that there be one man and one woman.

The age requirement makes sense from a legal standpoint; binding contracts require that parties be of legal age. Not being married to someone else is debatable, but the argument can be made that allowing multiple partners would require rewriting estate law among others, so I'll concede that one temporarily even though it, too, is a moral judgement. The one for which I can find no sustainable argument whatsoever is gender.

Why? Why does the government care who enters into the agreement? Why do we insist on denying the legal rights of marriage to anyone who is willing and capable of agreeing to the terms of the contract? We let anyone with decent credit and income buy a house, a contract that lasts longer than most marriages. When you strip away the moral fru-fru attached to marriage, what's left is no different than any other contract. If you can buy a house without a genital check, why can't you enter into a marriage contract without one? From a legal standpoint, the government has no business checking genitals for a contract that has to do with property and taxes.

As important as this issue is to gays and lesbians who wish to enter into legal marriage, it's even more important in the bigger picture. If we allow religious beliefs to shape government policy, we will eventually be a religious state. Notice I said we. America is a democracy and we are responsible for blurring the line between church and state. If, in fact, the majority of people support something so clearly unconstitutional, we have lost our own compass. We're giving up our rights as we wander blindly, thoughtlessly accepting what has seemingly always been. Every erosion of that all-important separation erodes the ability of each of us to choose our spiritual path and live it without fear.

I support the right of every adult in this country to marry whomever they choose. If I believed it morally wrong for same sex couples to marry, I would still support their right to do so. It harms no one and the disapproval of it is based solely on religious beliefs which, under the Constitution of the United States, are not to be imposed by governement. In protecting the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, we're protecting our own rights to worship and live as we choose.

It's doing the right thing twice, a double good too important to be quiet about.

I don't want to be a groan up anymore!

I'm tired of being a groan up! Yep...I'm done. From now on, all my groan up activities are banished from my life and I'm going to be a grin up.

I've been a groan up for a while, so this is going to take some work. I'm making a list of groan up traits I want to get rid of. It's a work in progress, but for starters:

Groan Up: "[groan]Another Monday...back to the grindstone!"
Grin Up: "Whoohooo! Monday's here! I survived the weekand and I still have a job!"

Groan Up: "Time to get up already? [groan] I just laid down!"
Grin Up: "Is it time to get up and play yet?"

Groan Up: "It's five o'clock and I've got to make dinner...again. [groan] Maybe we can order pizza."
Grin Up: "Hey,it's almost time for dinner. Maybe we can have pizza! I love pizza!"

Groan Up: "The car looks like crap. [groan] Didn't I just wash it last week?"
Grin Up: "I've got a car! And look at all the fun places I've been!"

Groan Up: "[groan]I hate my job!"
Grin Up: "I've got a job!"

Groan Up: "I look and [groan] feel so old!"
Grin Up: "Hey, look at that - I'm still above the dirt!"

Groan Up: "[groan] What now?"
Grin Up: "What's next?"

Want to be done with your groan up life? Join me! Comment with your groan up/grin up lists! Leave your Twitter ID and link in the comments and I'll Tweet your lists, too. The world has enough groan ups - let's start something!

Come on...grin up, already!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stop the perfecution!

Oh, the power of a typo now and then!

I read an email post by my friend Raventalker today about perfection and our obsession with it. The subject line read was "Perfectuion." With the addition of the mistyped letter U, my mind read, "Perfecution," and I thought, "What a GREAT word!"

There are areas of my life wherein I'm anything but a perfectionist. There are other areas where my desire...some would say obsession...with getting it "right" all but paralyzes me. I become my own worst enemy, persecuting myself for failures large and small, real and imagined...anything short of perfection. "Perfecution" is the "perfect" word for the act of persecuting oneself for lack of perfection. I'm adopting it immediately!

Along with my new word, I'm adopting a renewed committment to not "perfecuting" myself so much. Perfection is wonderful as a goal; it pretty much stinks as a standard. Gratitude is being able to accept and enjoy what is, as is, without reservation. That includes me. I am enough.

Thanks, Raventalker, for both the wisdom of your words and the unintended gift of one little typo - a small imperfection that led to the perfect word and a perfect reminder to see the world - including myself - through grateful eyes. Grateful eyes see beauty everywhere.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ups and downs...

...on the road of life.

Yeah, I know...couldn't be cheesier if it was melted over a pizza...but sometimes truth is cheesy. There's a reason phrases become cliches. Words that capture truth resonate with us; they encapsulate something complex into a compact package we can wrap our minds around. In the best of times, my life resembles the ups and downs of a mountain road; at other times, it's been more like a roller coaster. In any case, the photo made me smile and the cheesy cliche holds true yet again.

My husband and I spent the weekend with friends at a cabin on Lookout Mountain. We hot tubbed, ate too much, and took time to enjoy the most beautiful fall I can recall since childhood. My friend Peggy and I took a scenic drive and hiked up and down hills, over rocks, and across No Trespassing signs to get better views, leaving me with sore thighs, good pictures, and great memories.

As good as the weekend was, I found myself a bit overwhelmed on Saturday night. Even the best of sounds - good music, honest conversation, and the laughter of friends - can be too much if delivered in an unbroken stream, and by Sunday morning, I needed to recharge my batteries.

I rose before everyone and took a walk, enjoying the cold and the gentle morning light. Finding my way into the woods, I was invited by a centuries-old rock to have a seat, and for a half hour or more he and I enjoyed wordless companionship. Have you ever felt a rock's pulse? It's a throbbing, basso profundo wave that begins imperceptably and rises gradually so that you're not aware of when it starts or stops but you feel it. And if you sit long enough and listen with all your senses your own energy rises and falls with the wave and your thoughts slow down... slower... deeper...until finally you're heart and breath and mind are humming with the rock and all else fades to the background. When the press of time once again quickens your senses and you rise, you realize that the rock, while aware of you and maybe even grateful for your company, is not diminished or troubled by your arrival or your departure and will be right there when you come back.

And if, like me, you find yourself without anything to offer in thanks for that most precious gift except the grateful tears on your face and the wordless song rising in your throat, you tilt back your head and sing to the rock and the morning and the light and leave your song behind as an offering, knowing without a doubt that it was heard and welcomed and remains for the next person who comes to draw strength from the rock, to be heard not with the ears but with the heart.

I hope they'll sing along.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good morning, America!

Good morning, world!

I am 52 glorious years old today and celebrating a brand new morning in America. How cool is that?

"This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were." - Barack Obama

Last night, I watched as the votes, includine mine, were tallied and Barack Obama became the next president of the United States. I listened to John McCain, a man I admire and respect even though I don't want him running the country, give a gracious, energizing, and unifying concession speech. And I watched Barack Obama speak to the country - and the world - from his heart, with fire and passion and conviction. I cried and clapped and chanted with all the happy people in Grant Park:

Yes, we can!

We did.

And now we must.

The election was the easy part. Barack Obama is an inspired and inspiring man, but he cannot transform this country alone. It's not his to transform. America is all of us. We have to be the ones who put an end to the poisonous name-calling, the fear-mongoring, the talk-radio inferno that whips up anger and resentment and fear-based reactionary rhetoric that small-minded listeners play in an endless loop until they're enraged over imaginary evils.

Stop listening to that junk! Stop! Turn it off! They are not nice kids and you can't play with them anymore. They're greedy show-biz folks who are willing to rot the country at the root to make a living. Blech! Ack! Phooey! Spit! Yuck!

To fill the silence when the radios are turned off (not that all silence needs to be filled), let's make happy talk. Let's talk about getting along, getting together, and getting things done. Let's talk about how we can all prosper. Let our conversations be about what we can do that really matters. And let's talk to - no, with each other. Bring back real conversation and listening skills. Hear what your neighbor is saying, feeling, doing. Pay attention. Engage.

Finally, I leave you with this from Rabindranath Tagore, the most beautiful prayer I can think of for a post-election morning in America:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action --
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

So mote it be!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My eyes look to the west... the crossing of Madelyn Dunham...and the sad, human drama of Barack Obama's loss. I have a candle burning for all who loved Madelyn Dunham, and particularly for Barack and Michelle Obama. The weight of such a loss and the fatigue of a long campaign must seem a burden too big to carry. They will carry it, of course, and I will hold them in my heart as they do. May they find comfort often. I cannot help but believe that Madelyn Dunham will choose to stay around at least until the election results are in. Would you want to miss that? When she's ready, I hope Mrs. Dunham crosses gently and peacefully to whatever awaits her.

Our eyes look to the west today...sail smoothly and rest well, dear lady. Well done.

If you haven't voted yet...

...go now! Go! GO!

I will turn 52 years old tomorrow, and this presidential election means more to me personally than any of the other eight since I've been old enough to vote. Maybe that's not a good thing...maybe I should have been more involved all along. I've paid attention, cast my vote, but I've never felt such a visceral connection before.

What's different about this one? Well there's the obvious...a black American running an impossibly close race for President of the United States. The smart, strong woman who gave him one hell of a run for his money in the primary. Eight years of recent history screaming for change. A female vice presidential candidate who some say was selected because she was female. The polarizing issues of faith-tinged politics that leave me feeling queasy and fearful. Environmental economy in turmoil.

Yes, I'm engaged in this election...for all the reasons above...and maybe because of the shifts happening in me, too. I've felt myself riding the line between Mother and Crone for a while now, and I am definitely moving to the Crone side. There's a certainty in my life that I've never known...a more convicted stance on issues. I struggled with politics all my life because issues have so many gray areas. I still see the gray, yet I find myself taking stands and speaking up in ways my younger self wouldn't have.

Why is that? Do we just get crankier and more likely to take positions as we grow older? Have we finally learned enough to feel more confident in our opinions? Or do we carry some crazy I've lived this long so you have to listen to me because I've earned it nonesense?

While I like to believe I've picked up some wisdom along the way, I think the real reason for the change in me is a lot simpler. I'm running out of time. At 52, I have most likely lived well more than half my life. My remaining years will see a (hopefully slow) decline in physical, maybe mental, ability. If I'm going to affect positive change in the world during this lifetime, I've got to get on No more waffling on issues, no more fence-sitting. There are still gray areas, lots of them, but it's time to quit waiting for clear black or white answers and throw in with the closest gray on hand. Let's get the job done and worry about perfecting it later.

So, yeah, I'm fired up about this election. I've already voted, my first early voting ever. I'll be watching the results tonight and I'm fairly confident I'll be celebrating tomorrow. But I promise, whether I'm celebrating or shaking my head and asking, "Why, America?"...I won't stay in either state for long. There's too much work to be done.

Monday, November 03, 2008

To everything a season...

Mists on the lake, originally uploaded by Heartsong Images.

(Photographed on my way to work early last week)

It was so cold this morning...and for a moment I thought, "I miss summer." But as I drove to work, this sight greated me when I crossed the lake. Every season has its beauty. I don't have summer's warmth in October; but I don't see this in August. I'll take them all, please...everything Nature has to offer...and pray that I can stay in the moment enough to enjoy them.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The color returns...

My mom and I took an afternoon drive today to check out the fall colors. What an amazing sight! We drove up Lookout Mountain to Cloudland Canyon, part of Georgia's excellent state park system. It was a beautiful day with the setting sun playing golden light games all over the canyon.

All the way up the mountain, Mom was squealing...yes, literally squealing...with delight. Mom hasn't had a lot of delight in her life since my dad died almost six years ago. When my oldest brother crossed the veil early this year, the small recovery she had made was yanked out from under her and she fell hard into the dark again. She also suffers from memory loss and has a lot of difficulty with word recall. There are times when loneliness and frustration over her mental confusion combine forces to all but paralyze her.

But today she was happy. She loved the trip up the mountain and enjoyed walking along the canyon rim. For all of her mental struggles, she's strong and moves well for eighty-one. She clambored up and down steps like a pro! She also had company - friends from her church - earlier this weekend, and we dropped in on old friends today before we drove to the park. I don't know if it was the company or the drive or both, but Mom had a good day today. She even wanted to sing together on the way home..."Red River Valley," "Birmingham Jail,", "Summertime,"...she even added a nice harmony to "You Are My Sunshine."

The colors of the seasons are beautiful gifts. Fall leaves always make me smile, but seeing a little color return to my mom's life may just be the best gift yet.