Wednesday, January 11, 2017

On New Years Resolutions

I've been wanting to write a post on making New Years resolutions for months. Or rather on NOT making them and how well that has served me. In the autumn of 2013 I was in the midst of a divorce and feeling pretty lost. I noticed that the word CLEANSE kept popping up. I'd open a book and the word would jump off the page. I'd be in line at the grocery story and overhear a conversation that included the word. It would come to me in my morning meditation. I decided that for 2014, CLEANSE would be my word, my focus. As there was much to clean up after over 10 years of marriage (both literally and figuratively), it seemed a good choice. I also decided that I'd quit making New Years resolutions and just have a word ready to put into action every New Year. Well,  2014 was indeed a year of cleansing and I made great progress in taking back the house and property and ridding myself of excess things, a process that continues to this day. In late summer of 2014, the word SERVICE began to surface in much the same way CLEANSE did the year before. So I made the decision that SERVICE would be my focus for 2015 and in so many ways it informed that year. I began volunteering in the kitchen of Haven for Hope, a massive homeless shelter in San Antonio. My youngest daughter Lily had open heart surgery in Dallas and I stayed in North Texas for over a month helping with her recovery. In September my mom had a knee replacement and I took a 2 week shift in her care along with my sisters. Mid summer of 2015 the word MERCY came to me. It didn't pop up repeatedly, it just showed up once with such presence that I knew it was the word for 2016. I had just decided that in 2016 I would take my epic trip overseas and I knew for certain MERCY was what I should focus on. About a month later Pope Francis declared December 8 to November 20 the Year of Mercy.
 During my travels I was the recipient of MERCY over and over. I experienced kindness and compassion like I've never known. I also had the opportunity to offer MERCY to others. It helped create an atmosphere of favor that continued well after I returned home.
While traveling, my constant companion was a book by Elizabeth Gilbert entitled Big Magic.
I would sometimes devour chapter after chapter on a long train ride or ruminate over one sentence for weeks. I came across a word in the book that intrigued me. EUDAIMONIA. It was mentioned only once, but I couldn't get past it. I began studying EUDAEMONISM and as a result I've become an avowed EUDAEMONIST and it became my word for 2017.
From the Merriam Webster dictionary:
EUDAEMONISM- a theory that the highest ethical goal is happiness and personal well-being.
Another definition: A system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood that good actions will produce happiness.
Imagine that! Good actions producing happiness! What a novel idea! Well, not really...the Greek philosopher Plato is attributed with this word, although he might have just expanded on an idea of Socrates. Meaning it's a concept that has been around a long, long time. Nevertheless, I know that this is the way I want to live my life. This is what feels good and right.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Year!

2017! Can you believe it? And with the new year comes change. When I returned to the states in mid August, I spent time with my family in Connecticut and then visited my grandsons in Virginia before heading to the Dallas area to see Lily. We visited for one night before she drove me to Kaufman, about an hour southeast of Dallas where I spent 11 days at a silent meditation retreat. No phones, no books, no communication at all with any of the other 50 or so women. There were 50 men at the compound as well, but we were segregated at all times except during group meditation where we sat on opposite sides of the massive dhamma hall. 10+ hours a day simply meditating. It was exactly what I needed after traveling alone for over 6 months. My re-entry back home was jarring to say the least, but I dove in and began the massive clean-up and purge it demanded. I cooked for my very last Thanksgiving at Cypress Springs as my beloved boss, Robert Parker passed away while I was gone. It was my 14th Thanksgiving cooking for a group of folks that had become family and it was beyond difficult to say goodbye to the people and the ranch. It was by far the most wonderful job I've ever had. It's been great to be with my kids and grandkids, to visit friends and work on my house. I am in the process of sorting and packing up 25 years worth of possessions in anticipation of moving into a much smaller house I'm building on my property. My plan is to rent the big house and move into the commercial kitchen while the new place is being built. Already the commercial kitchen is being dismantled and it's been bittersweet. It is a place that holds so many sweet memories of late nights baking, dancing and singing in the kitchen with all the ovens on and the smell of yeasty goodness in the air. But now it will house me for a few months and I'm grateful I'll have a place to stay that I love so much. I don't plan on getting the new house in move in ready condition, but really just dried in and secure-a place to store my furniture and my pared down possessions. I'm leaving the end of April to move to Ireland for a year to Inishturk Island. A sweet little cottage came available for rent right next door to where I stayed on the island and before I left I made arrangements to rent it beginning May 1st. I have to admit that, although it's been great to be back, a big part of my heart remains in Inishturk. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the island and its people. It will be an interesting time I believe. Winters are quite brutal-no snow and it seldom freezes, but bitter winds and almost constant rain. The ferry, which generally runs 12 times a week, sometimes doesn't run at all due to rough seas. For months it becomes a locked in grab any opportunity to go to the mainland because you never know when the opportunity will come again. For some strange reason that is an attractive idea to me. And I stay amazed that this gal who always considered herself solar powered is moving somewhere that demands wool socks in the summer. Ahhh, change.
My cottage is the one on the far left with the red door.