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Finding Your “Ikigai”

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I just finished reading a sweet little book called “Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.” In my continuing quest to find out how other countries and cultures are creating their authentic lives as they age, I have to say that this one certainly covered all of the bases that I personally believe lead us there.

So what is “Ikigai?” As the authors tells us:

“Having a strong sense of ikigai – the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect – means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning.”

The book covers all the different aspects that go into finding our ikigai and summarizes them all into these top 10 secrets to a long and happy life:

  1. Don’t retire – keep doing things of value, making a difference, helping others.
  2. Take it slow – ours is a “hurry up” culture. As the old saying goes: “Walk slowly and you’ll go far.” Life takes on new meaning when we stop to smell the roses.
  3. Don’t fill your stomach – this was an interesting one for me and definitely one for Westerners to take heed of. Japanese folks stop eating when they are 80% full, allowing their bodies to digest and nourish them more naturally and effectively.
  4. Surround yourself with good friends – I would have made this one at least #2 on my own Top Ten list. Friends are the best medicine – we need our playmates.
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday – commit to being a little bit better, a little bit stronger, and a little bit fitter as you move through life. Plus, exercise stimulates the hormones that make us feel happy.
  6. Smile – even when we don’t feel like it. You not only lift your own spirits, you lift the spirits of everyone you meet, even strangers passing on the street or in the grocery store (when I don’t feel like smiling, I call my 4-year-old great-grandson who always has something to say that changes my mood).
  7. Reconnect with nature – even if you live in the city, you can find a park or a piece of grass somewhere to sit or do some tree hugging. We come from nature and we need to return to it often to recharge our batteries.
  8. Give thanks – having an “attitude of gratitude” goes a long way. The more we are thankful for, the more we have to be thankful for.
  9. Live in the moment – the past is over and the future isn’t here yet. The only moment we have is now. Live it to the max.
  10. Follow you ikigai – whatever it is. Maybe it’s creative like painting or writing. Maybe it’s gardening. Maybe it’s volunteering for your church or some community need. If you don’t know what your ikigai is yet, then your mission is to find out what it is. Make finding your passion your ikigai.

By the way, the focus of this book was based on interviews with the older inhabitants of the island of Okinawa, in the village of Ogimi. It so happens that Okinawa ranked #1 on the list of Blue Zones, places where the number of folks 100 years old or older is the highest. There are 24.44 people over the age of 100 per 100,000 inhabitants there. Something tells me they might have something to teach all of us.

This week on the Home Page, our assignment is going to give us a chance to come up with our own ideas about living long and happy lives. I don’t have to tell you to have fun with this one – the fun is built into it. I will tell you, as always, to remember to just keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

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The Gifts Of Invisibility

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As most folks know, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. Even though I read all of the books as an adult, with each new chapter in Harry’s life I could feel how his story empowered kids reading it also to believe in themselves and the power we all have within to take a stand in the name of all that’s good.

One of the many gadgets and props from the story that I loved was the Invisibility Cloak. This allowed Harry and his friends to become invisible so that they could carry out their youthful investigations. At the time I first read it, some 20+ years ago (can you believe the books have been out that long?), I thought it would be neat to own one of those cloaks so that I could go about my business without being seen. How free I would feel not to have to pass inspection by the rest of the world for how I looked, how I acted, and what I was doing. Little did I know at the time that I would eventually reach the age where being invisible was one of the gifts we received along with grey hair and wrinkles.

Gifts, you say? Being treated as if we’re invisible once we reach “senior status” is a gift? You bet it is as long as we don’t get invisible mixed up with irrelevant. As I thought it would when I was envious of Harry and his cloak, being invisible does indeed free one from the worry of being judged on how you look and what you do. I can take a notebook and sit in the coffee shop at Barnes and Noble for hours watching people, creating stories about this person or that one, sharpening my character building skills for a future story or book without anyone even acknowledging my presence.  I can linger in stores and shops examining goods and reading labels without being approached by some overzealous salesperson. I can sit peacefully on a bench in a park or along the riverwalk and not be disturbed in my meditations. I have carte blanche to view the world in peace.

On the other hand, being treated as if we’re irrelevant is a completely different thing, and one of the cultural norms about aging in this country that needs to be shattered. There is a perfect example of this in a scene from the wonderfully funny and poignant Netflix series “Grace and Franky” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The two women are in a convenience store trying to buy a pack of cigarettes (they are planning an evening of debauchery and bad habits), but the convenience store clerk keeps ignoring them as if there weren’t there, giving all his attention to the pretty young girl who pushed ahead of them at the counter. Jane Fonda’s character starts yelling at the clerk about his treatment of them: “I AM NOT IRRELEVANT!” No, Jane, you’re not, and neither is anyone else over the age of 50 or 60. When the world starts to treat you like that, it’s time to rip off that invisibility cloak and make yourself heard.

The so-called “civilized countries” in western culture are the only ones who treat their older folks this way. In cultures much older than ours, elders are revered and cared for, the keepers of the history and wisdom of their people. Growing up in such a culture, they are also more likely to live longer, healthier and more productive lives than their western counterparts.

The authentic life that I am creating must include a commitment to the growth and evolution of new beliefs about aging. Ours is the largest growing demographic in the country, maybe even the world. That’s a lot of people power! Maybe it’s time we took off those cloaks and started waving our magic wands around. That’ll get their attention!

Over on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to put a magic wand in your hand, a.k.a. a pen, to reveal your own experiences or grievances about the aging practices in our culture and how you want your wisdom years to look. As always, have lots of fun with this and remember to just keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

Just One More Book

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Never before in the history of the world have there been so many choices available to us to learn something new, from books, to seminars, webinars, podcasts, classes and, last but certainly not least, YouTube. You can go to school online, get a degree online, learn to fix your car, build a house, or rewire your computer. You can read all the how-to and self-help literature on the face of the planet, but at some point you have to stop reading and start doing.

I freely admit that I have spent the majority of my adult life “learning” how to write. From the time I was old enough to understand that there were not only great examples of good writing, but that there were also books on how to write, my library card became my best friend. As time went on, I traded my library card for classes, seminars, and progressed on up to Amazon, the holy temple of books. I had convinced myself that if I just read one more book, or took one more class, I would be able to write just as good as, if not better than, the pros. All I needed was that one more book.

It took a fractured hip and 8 weeks of what I came to call “house arrest,” aka “can’t leave the house until my doctor signed off on doing stairs,” to realize that no amount of reading was going to substitute for planting my butt in the chair and getting it done. One more book wasn’t going to boost my confidence any higher, nor would it give up the real, true secret to successful writing. Only actually writing would do that.

How often in our lives do we put off doing what we deeply and sincerely dream of doing because we doubt ourselves? We take out that cape of “not good enough” and wear it like a king’s robe. There’s nothing wrong with learning something new. I’d be lying if I said I was not an ardent supporter of life-long learning, but not if it keeps you from actually living. To this day, whenever something peaks my interest, I hop on Google and learn all I can about it. That’s how I came to learn all about cooking and eating a vegan diet. That’s how I learned how to set up a blog page. That’s how I found a neat pattern for a crocheted tote bag. The difference is that I didn’t just keep reading about these things. I did them. I cook vegan every day. I set up my blog pages. I crocheted the bag. I wrote, and I keep on writing, every day, even if it’s only for an hour. We do not only learn by studying, we learn by doing. The time always comes when you have to put down the book and start living.

This week for our assignment over on the Home Page, we will put a pen to paper (or fingers to keys), and talk about doing vs learning. This is an opportunity to take that leap of faith. As always, have loads of fun with this and remember to always, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

 

The Dress

Today is my birthday. I am 69 years old. I have no idea how that happened. One minute I was 50 and just hitting my stride. Then I was 60 and people were gifting me with prank senior citizen jokes like inflatable walkers. Truthfully, I don’t feel a day over 50 on the inside, except for the days when I get to hang out with my great-grandson and play. Then I feel like a 4-year-old again. That’s the mean part about getting older that no one tells you. On the inside you don’t feel any differently than you always have, ageless. On the outside, well, my joints are telling a completely different story.

People have been asking me what I want for my birthday. Honestly, what could a 69-year-old woman possibly ask for that she doesn’t already have except maybe for a younger body? One of my online friends asked me: “If you could have anything you want in the entire world, if anything was possible, what would it be?” I didn’t have to think twice about it: “If anything was possible, I’d want to be able to spend this day with my Mom.”

My Mom passed in 2002 right before her 80th birthday. When we were kids, she was the quintessential 50’s housewife complete with the obligatory cotton house dress. My Mom had several of them: sleeveless for the summer, short-sleeved for the rest of the year, with or without a belt, zipper up the front and, most importantly, nice, roomy pockets on each side to hold her hankie and keys (she locked herself out of the house once which involved getting a small neighbor kid to climb in a window and let her back in so she was never without her keys after that). If we came home from school and she was dressed in anything other than one of her house dresses, especially if she had makeup on, we knew she’d been out somewhere. Those dresses were like her badge of honor in the Official Housewives club. I can remember how they smelled when I hugged her, that definitive scent of freshly washed cotton that came from hanging out on the washline all day capturing the sun and the wind.

As I have gotten older, with each passing year, I have come to understand my mother and what her life was like as a woman of the 50’s and 60’s, especially as she started that journey towards aging herself. I am reminded of the fact that when she was born in 1926, women had only had the right to vote for a few years. She grew up in a culture that married you off young, tied you to home, hearth, and children, and gave you absolutely no voice of your own. When you got old, you were not revered like elders in other cultures, you became invisible and irrelevant, except as live-in household help if your spouse passed before you and you had to go live with one of your kids.

It was me, the black sheep in the family (every family had one and as the middle child I had the added need to prove myself anyway) who marched in D.C. for the ERA and wrote angry editorials, who argued with the man at the appliance store because he wouldn’t give me credit to buy a washing machine in my own name because I wasn’t married, even though I had a full-time job and it wasn’t my fault that my husband had left me for a differentcotton model. It was me who lost out on a sweet apartment for myself and my two little girls because the landlord would only rent to me if my father signed something to assure the rent and I called him a sexist pig. Sure, I did all those things because it was something that I believed in with all my heart, and still do to this day, but I also did it for my mother, and my grandmother, and every woman everywhere who had lived as a second-class citizen.

This morning as I was getting dressed, I pushed some hangers aside and found something that would, in a symbolic way, make my birthday wish come true: one of my mother’s house dresses. I don’t remember how I came to own it. She may have passed it on to me when it no longer suited her, or, it may have come in the box of things given to me when she died. It is nothing special, just a brown plaid, cotton, sleeveless, summer house dress with a zipper up the middle and a big pocket to carry my hankie in (yes, I am also a hankie kind of woman). Today of all days, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather put on more than this dress. Slipping it on, I was a kid again, coming home from school and having my mother meet me at the door in this dress.

I’m not sure why I have been so nostalgic these last two weeks, writing about my Dad last week and my Mom this week. Perhaps it is just the fact that the older I get, the more I long for those days when thinking about getting old and dying were the furthest things from my mind. Perhaps it is because having become the wisdom elder in the family, “the one who knows,” as Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote in “Women Who Run With Wolves,” I feel the need to review my life and look for those moments that made me who I am. Perhaps it is a way for my parents to wish me a Happy Birthday. Thanks, guys.

This week over on the Home Page, we’re going to use symbolism to connect with our childhoods. So, get ready to step on to the Yellow Brick Road. Remember to have fun with it and to always, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

The Duke, My Dad, And A Bowl Of Popcorn

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On a recent Sunday afternoon I found myself at loose ends. It was a hot, sticky day, too hot to go out and about, not that I had anywhere special to go anyway. For some reason, I felt a deep need to recapture the feeling of the Sunday afternoons of my childhood, and that could only mean three things: John Wayne, my Dad, and a bowl of popcorn

My Dad was a huge John Wayne fan. He watched every John Wayne movie ever made, from the old black and whites to the wide-screen, cinematic extravaganzas, or what passed for them back in the 60’s. Every Sunday after our big, mid-day dinner, my Dad would check the TV guide for the two local channels that played old movies. Inevitably, someone was running an old John Wayne although there were some days when he would have to settle for Randolph Scott, Robert Mitchum, or some other actor that passed for an action figure in those days. It didn’t matter if it was a Western-which were his favorites-or a war movie. As long as The Duke was in it, it was the pick of the day. How he never got tired of watching the same movies over and over was beyond my mother and I, especially my mother. The fact that she spent every weekday afternoon watching her soap operas with the same characters acting out the same plots day after day did not strike her as anywhere near the same thing. To me, however, it gave me a chance to spend a precious few hours with my Dad.

My Dad was the youngest son in a family of three boys and a girl who was the baby.  His own father, my grandfather, died when he was 11. Back then, there was no such thing as Workers’ Compensation or Social Security, nor was there a mandate that kids had to go to school. So when my grandfather died in a work-related accident by falling off a roof he was repairing, my father and his older brothers all quit school and went to work to help support the family. He picked up work with auto mechanics around the area, apprenticed himself to them and learned a trade. By the time he was an adult, he had enough experience to go into partnership with another man and open his own gas station and repair shop. Years later his partner would die unexpectedly and my Dad would work 6 days a week to keep the business open, and food on our table. Sunday was his only day off and much of that time was spent doing things around the house that needed doing. When there was nothing for him to repair or redo, thankfully, he took command of the big armchair in the living room and the television. It was time for The Duke to save the world one more time.

As for me, I was the second of three daughters who would go on to produce yet more daughters. The sons would not come until our children grew and had their own families. Since there were no sons to share his Sunday afternoons with The Duke, I became that son. Together we would sit through the taming of the American West and World War II. Somehow, when it was over, you always felt better than when you sat down. You could always count on The Duke.

So last Sunday I popped a bowl of popcorn, scrolled through YouTube until I found an oldie but a goody, and, with my Dad smiling down from the photo on the wall next to the TV, we watched The Duke rescue his grandson from criminals, fighting the bad guys and saving the day (Big Jake), then fight for the underdog by taking on the town bully (Rio Lobo). Yep, you could still count on The Duke to make you feel better about the world. On that Sunday, I was 10 years old again, just me and Dad, and The Duke. It felt good. It felt like home.

We all need to take a few moments from time to time and reconnect with those things that fed our souls when we were children. Perhaps it was one-on-one time with a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Perhaps it was a special place that you called your own, somewhere safe that made you believe, even for just a few hours, that all was right with the world. As adults we often get so caught up in what scares us about the world that we forget what that feels like. Just like we recharge our physical batteries with exercise, good food and time spent out-of-doors, we need to recharge our internal batteries as well by finding our “safe place” again and connecting with what that feels like. We all need a Duke to remind us that everything will be okay when the credits roll at the end.

This week’s writing assignment on the Home Page is going to take us on a trip down Memory Lane to our “safe place.” As always, have lots of fun with this and remember to always, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

Time For A Reality Check

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There are books that I take out and re-read every few years. I have found that as I get older, my experiences shift my understanding of how the world works, and that often gives me a new perspective on something I thought I already had a handle on.  Often something in a book I’ve already read will suddenly jump out at me as if I had never seen it before, or take on a whole new meaning. Such is the case with the book: “Yoga And The Quest For The True Self,” by Stephen Cope.

For those of you who may not know, Stephen Cope is the Director of the Kripalu Institute For Extraordinary Living, and Senior Scholar in Residence at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. He left a promising psychotherapy practice to go on what was intended to be year’s sabbatical after the end of a long-standing personal relationship, at a time when, in his 40’s, he, like many other people at this stage of life – having achieved the career goals, the house, the lifestyle – start to ask the questions: Is this it? Is this all there is? If it is, why do I feel like there’s something missing? His sabbatical turned out to become a completely new life for him, and a mission to teach others what he had learned.

As I was reading through the book, a conversation between the author and a woman attending a weekend retreat jumped off the page and captured my attention. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t seen it when I’d read the book before, or that I didn’t understand or agree with what she was saying, quite the contrary. It stated, in no uncertain terms, the realizations and changes that have taken place in my own life:

“Just being in my body makes me happy. I don’t have to do anything or prove anything. What freedom!”

What freedom indeed! I have come to appreciate all of my senses and the workings of my body much more deeply because they allow me to experience the world around me, the real world around me, with a depth and clarity I did not have for most of my adult life. That I had them as a child, as we all did, somehow got lost in the process of growing up and spending our days trying to “be” someone, or to “prove” something. Those beliefs reside in the realm of fiction. There is a relief and a profound freedom in being ordinary, in not having to earn our worth through accomplishments as defined by others. When we honor our own voice and our own take on what is real, happiness becomes our natural state.

This week our writing assignment on the Home Page is going to give us a chance to use our senses as tools in creating our authentic lives. As always, have fun with it and remember to always, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

Confessions Of A Rainy Day Writer

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I have a confession to make. For all of my constant chatter about writing every day, even if it’s only for 10 or 20 minutes, there comes a time when planting myself in my chair even for that long can be a real challenge. That time is now … Summer! Who could possibly want to chain themselves to a desk and rack their brains when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are singing their hearts out, and the air is calling to you in that sensuous, addictive voice that says: Come out and play! Come out and breathe. The trees and the walking paths are waiting for you.” Now that I’m struggling to get down to some serious writing, a.k.a. a fiction novel, the challenge has reached Olympian proportions! If it weren’t for rainy days, nothing but a few pages in my journal would get done, if that. As long as the spirits of summer keep calling me, my notebooks and computer screen stays blank … until it rains. Then I have no problem staying in, staying dry, and staying productive.

Here’s the thing: just because you’re not sitting with a screen or a notebook in your hand, it doesn’t mean you’re still not creating. I’ve known many times, as any writer can tell you, when I’ve seen something on one of my walks, or just sitting outside on a park bench, that sparks a hint of recognition, that takes root as a thought, that grows into an idea, that ends up in one of my books or blog posts. Take for example, yesterday. Yesterday it was a perfectly beautiful day. It was warm but not oppressive, low humidity, an enchanting breeze, with big, fluffy clouds sailing overhead. I was sitting outside my apartment complex on a bench under a tree waiting for the mailman who I had spied coming down the block from my perch on the third floor. As I sat there, I inhaled the feeling of the sun, the breeze, the warmth, and the life of the neighborhood going on with its life around me. There was the #35 bus heading west – the bus driver honked and waved. The “chicken man” from the sandwich shop across the street had his grill going, sending the smell of barbecued chicken all over the street. The lady with the two tiny, white dogs was holding onto their leashes for dear life as they ran excitedly after a squirrel … and all of this, all of it, will end up in a draft of a chapter of my book later today – because today, it’s raining. Yesterday was research. Today is application.

A writing teacher told me a long time ago that even when we’re not clutching a pen or hitting keys on a keyboard, we’re still writing. We are collecting data via all of our senses. The touch of something silky, the sound of a child’s laughter, and, yes, even the feel of rain on our faces, or the smell of chicken cooking, is food for our creative juices. It’s the stuff of life and, if we’re honest about creating an authentic life by using our creativity, then how we process the goings on of the world around us has to be included in the building. Writers are always writing even when we look like we’re taking a walk, or watching puppies scamper, or waiting on a bench for the mailman. It’s all part of the process.

This week our writing assignment on the Home Page will give you an opportunity to be a reporter of your own life. This is one I shouldn’t have to tell you to have fun with – the fun is already built-in – but I will remind you to always, always, keep writing. Peace and blessings!

 

Life Lessons From Out Of The Blue

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Much has been written over the last few years about regions around the world called Blue Zones. Blue Zones are places where the number of people living long and healthy lives, many up to 100 years old and above, are higher than average. Everything about the lifestyles of these centenarians has been researched and the findings can help us as we commit to creating our authentic lives.

It goes without saying that diet and exercise were high on the list of things that set these folks apart from the rest of us. They all ate what was available locally, much of it grown and harvested with their own hands. This means that they only ate and grew what was indigenous to the area. They also prepared all their own meals … the only “fast food” was a cup of locally grown and brewed coffee from the local coffee shop. Alcohol was taken in moderation and mostly, also, locally brewed or pressed.

Exercise also played a huge role in their lives. People didn’t need an alarm clock. They rose with the sun and went to bed when it went down. Their bodies were in sync with the natural rhythms of the earth and the seasons. They were not afraid of hard work, and put in a full day in the fields, at their jobs, or in their homes.

Everyone that was interviewed said that an important element of the day was when the family all gathered around the table for the evening meal, multi-generations all living in the same house. That time was sacred. No one ate sitting in front of a TV, or with an electronic device in their hand. Their only communication was with each other, sharing their day and being in gratitude to be together.

These concepts are well worth taking note of, but there were two others that I think speak to us the most as we go about creating a life that speaks to us. These two concepts were: a sense of purpose, and community. Each one of them greeted the new day with a sense of purpose. They all had something that called them to be out in the world serving a purpose, whether it was to earn a living, work in the fields, keep house, cook meals, assist with child-rearing, or even doing the laundry. They considered it a gift to be able to stay fit and healthy for the betterment of themselves and their families. They were also nourished by their sense of community. There was no such things in their vocabulary as loneliness or isolation. Not only did they spend regular time together with their peers, but also with different age groups. One group of grandmothers in Okinawa were in charge of entertaining and assisting with little ones in schools and day care centers. Young and old learned from each other.

Reading about these beautiful people, listening to their testimonies and watching the documentaries about their lives has been very inspirational for me. It not only reminded me of the elders in my own Italian-American family, but reminded me that more often than not, it is the simple, down-to-earth things that have the most positive effect on our lives. As actress Lauren Bacall was fond of saying: “ I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent, and I have my friends, I call it content.” I call it a beautiful, authentic life.

This week over on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to challenge you to think like a centenarian! As always, have fun with this and remember to always keep writing. Peace and blessings!

Leaving It On The Page

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The best writing advice I ever got was from the brilliant author and creator of “The Artists’ Way,” Julia Cameron. Speaking on the subject of the value of Morning Pages, three handwritten pages of free-thought flow writing as a tool for creativity, she said that once you’ve let it all out and freed your mind you should, and I quote: “Leave it on the page.” 

There is some kind of creative magic that happens when your pour out your heart on the page and the words stare back at you. It is as if they have found a safe place to fall and can happily live there forever. That means that once you close your journal or notebook, you are relieved of the burden of carrying around your grievances, concerns, anger, and limiting beliefs. Just imagine how that might feel! You might find yourself letting out a big sigh, or finding a smile starting to spread across your face. You might feel lighter in body and spirit. Most of all, you just might find that with your mind emptied of all that negative chatter, inspiration finally has a way in and your creative juices start to flow. It’s hard to focus on building something positive when negative emotions and beliefs keep putting cracks in your foundation.

I have come to trust this idea of leaving it on the page completely after seeing the effect it has had on my life. I have often gone way beyond the suggested three pages if I was really on a rant! Once I had squeezed every drop of negativity out of me, when there was not one tiny bit left, I felt emotionally and spiritually free, kind of like putting down a heavy boulder I didn’t even know I was carrying. I have been known to shout out “YES!”, or even start singing! No question, leaving it on the page is the best medicine in the world for blocked creativity.

As you may have guessed, our writing assignment on the Home Page is going to ask you to get it all out and leave it on the page, so be prepared for an emotional house-cleaning. I don’t know if I should tell you to have fun with it, but I will tell you that this is one shining example where it pays to always, always, keep writing. Peace and blessings.

 

At Home In Our Inner Mansions

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Earlier in the week on my blog “Flower Bear’s Garden-Growing A Life,” I wrote about a trip I took with my 8-year-old grandson, Stanley, to the Roberson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton, NY. As well as touring the museum and taking in all the exciting and educational displays, we also took a tour of the Roberson Mansion next door, and it was there that I had an epiphany.

The Roberson Mansion was built by Alonzo and Margaret Roberson in 1904 and was quite spectacular and advanced for its time. It had indoor plumbing, a dumb-waiter, central heat, an elevator, and an intercom system. At the time of his death in 1934, Alonzo provided that, on the death of his wife, the home would become an educational center for the community, which it did in 1954.

We did not tour all of the rooms as not all of them are open to the public, but we did manage to see some of the most interesting and undeniably beautiful rooms including the master bedroom, dinning room, sitting rooms and parlor, the ballroom, and, my favorite, the library. My grandson was amazed: “People lived here? Didn’t they get lost? It’s HUGE!” I, on the other hand, was deeply touched as, in each room I entered, I could almost feel the presence of the family who made this their home. It was as if they were inviting us in, standing beside us as we moved from room to room, turning our attention to points of interest or personal keepsakes. Each room had a different feeling, as if each were designed for a specific purpose beyond the usual (as in a bedroom for sleeping, a dinning room for eating, etc). It was in the library, however, that I was most moved. Surrounded by magnificent bookcases and furniture, with beautiful, hand crafted books on every subject you could imagine, I could feel the hours that people had spent here reading, learning, writing and dreaming. As a writer and avid reader, what other room could have, or would have, elicited such a feeling within me?

In our lives, we have within us an inner mansion, containing the rooms that house the different areas of our lives: emotional, material, physical, spiritual. Each of these rooms is there to help us feel safe as we navigate through these realms. Some days we will spend more time in one or the other. Other days we may need to stay in one longer, perhaps all day, until we feel safe and secure enough to come out and move throughout the rest of our life. What’s important is that we stay until we are truly ready to go before we take on another room. It’s like trying to clean the whole house at once instead of going room by room until the dust is gone and the windows shine, letting in the light. Whatever we need to work on to feel at home in our own lives, and make them as brilliant and authentic as the Roberson home was when it was built, and continues to be today, we can work on one step, one moment, one room at a time. Attention to details, just like in building a home, will make all the difference.

This week over on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to ask us to take a peek into our own inner mansions and see where we may need to do a little remodeling. As always, have fun with it and remember to always keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

P.S. If you want to check out my Flower Bear’s Garden Blog (and experience the natural world through the eyes of an 8-year-old), you can check it out here: http://www.flowerbearsgarden.blogspot.com.