Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Practicing Joy at Mabon

The topic this week at the on-line Spiral Steps meeting this week is Step 7, and the moderator has asked us to focus on the latter part of that step: "We let go of dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors and we consciously welcome joy, love and peace into our lives."

Here in our home, we are getting ready to celebrate the return of the autumnal equinox and the harvest moon. I haven't written much since the oil spill began as the terrible threat posed to wildlife in the gulf took up so much of my time. Like so many others, I'm feeling tired and worn as the wheel turns but I am also full of gratitude for those first responders and wildlife rescue volunteers who did so much against such great odds, who faced (ongoing) deceit on the part of BP and such (ongoing) ineptitude on the part our government. The threat to residents and wildlife in the gulf is still very great (1) and there is still much work to do, but the well is capped, at last, and for that, I'm grateful.

I can't speak for any of the gulf residents or volunteers, or indeed, any of you, but I think that, like the wetlands, we all need restoration. I know that I, who have only served on the sidelines and then only in very small ways, need joy. So I am grateful for this topic at Spiral Steps and I'm giving it some thought.
Here is where I find myself at Mabon:

I am working today to welcome creativity and peace into my life. For me, peace means time and silence, gifts I must give to myself. As I said, I need joy. Not delirious, short-lived, over-the-top joy, just the simply, daily, ongoing, quiet joy I used to have, joy I created for myself over time. Small threads make a tapestry and small actions make for a life filled with joy. I can have that joy again if I am willing to claim it.

I take joy in walking my dog. She's a pound puppy but it's anyone guess who really rescued who. I take joy in living in the
glorious Pacific Northwest, near a town so unique and charming that the bumper stickers read "Keep Portland Weird". I take joy in working with animals, in making new friends and cherishing old ones and in making a difference where and how I can. I take joy in good books, in music, and good meals. I take joy in listening to my heart, in speaking my truth with kindness and in making connections to people and to this green-minded, tolerant, polite place that supports my path in healthy ways. I take joy in what I've learned and in knowing that I'm brave enough and strong enough to learn more, and that the learning doesn't always have to be done the hard way. I take joy in laughing with my loved ones every day. I take joy in the foster kittens currently turning our guest room into a circus tent.

I also take joy in the fact that my mother is still with us and that she is glad to be so. She has suffered a year full of accidents, health problems, surgeries and visits to the ER; a year we all now refer to as the Annus Horribilis, but she is once again independent and active. (2)

I am reminded by those who love me, that
I have my own health to think of, now, and I have promised to move my body more, spend less time on the computer and more time out in the woods. I will be quiet more often and let the silence speak to me. I have promised myself that I will write every day and take better care of myself physically. Tomorrow, I get a massage. I can't wait. I have an more of a reason to get one now since I read how much it can support my physical and mental health. (3)

I'm also using this time to get in touch with some joys I have lost. I don't know why I let these wonderful (and often simple, inexpensive) joys slip away but it is time now to reclaim them.

When I listen and look, ask for help, and remain open to the teaching that comes my way, I get what I need. This season, this year, I believe we are all asked to love ourselves a bit better, and to love Mamma Gaia much, much better than we've been doing. There exists for me, for others, and for unique, natural places like the gulf wetlands, an urgent need for conscious care, support and renewal. This is the wisdom I encounter more and more as I get older, and my practice makes that possible - what a joy that is.

Wishing the blessings of the season for you and yours,


Art is from a t-shirt offered by the International Bird Rescue Research Center. Please support the work they do rescuing wildlife in the gulf and elsewhere.

Gulf Oil Spill: Spoonbill release courtesy of IBRRC


(1) While the well is finally capped, most of the oil is still on the bottom of the ocean, the wetlands are still a mess and millions of migrating birds are on their way to the gulf while many people in that area still face horrific job losses as well as health problems from breathing oil fumes and from the dangerous (and in many places, banned) chemicals used to disperse the oil.

(2) Recently we spoke about the fact that when she was my age, both her parents and her in-laws had all passed on. My generation is perhaps the first to care, en mass, for their elderly parents living into their 70's, 80's and 90's, while our parents struggle to keep their cherished independence and to navigate our dysfunctional health care system as they watch their retirement savings melt away. Legally speaking, I am her primary caregiver, but really, I'm a member of Team Mom and she's the captain. This is a respectful and sometimes difficult dance we do, and I could not do it alone. I have my spouse and my friends (many of whom share the same experiences) as well as her friends, and some very good doctors and nurses to help us all through this. My thoughts today are with all those who acting as caregivers to young and old alike, and with elders like my mother who face the challenges of aging with grace, humor and courage.

I also have two doctors appointments next week for routine tests. I will get my mammogram on time this year and take joy in the fact that I have access to health care and that I get to live a healthier, enriched life if I'm willing to do the work. My sister who died of breast cancer at 47 did not get that choice. I owe it to her to take care of myself and to cherish the gift of health.

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