Yesterday I decided to make a DIY video on fermented cabbage. Enjoy!
1 – Write about your spiritual mission here on Gaia. Are you a lightworker, Starseed, forerunner, Indigo, or none of the above? What have you incarnated to do or to be? Describe your mission and your journey to achieve it. Are you delighted to be here? There is no correct answer, by the way. Make it your own.
It is my hope that this blog will inspire each of my readers to consider their own life purpose. Surely it is no accident that we have all come together in this time and space, right here, right now. Rachel, I am inviting you to rise to the Challenge. Your life is such an inspiration to me and I believe an explanation of what you see as your role in this life would spur many others on as well. ❤
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As a child, I remember having a toy classroom: several little desks glued to the top of a sturdy piece of wood with a larger desk at one end facing the others. The teacher and students were bears, with the teacher being the largest. I am not sure if there ever was a little bear for every seat, but I recall spending hours with a friend of mine, taking turns at teacher and student. I definitely enjoyed playing teacher best.
It was not long before I actually started teaching. One summer in high school, my job was to visit the various parks around town to offer free tennis instruction to the kids. In college I led the first of many Bible studies with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Unsure of my ability to ‘make it big’ as a soloist, I earned my BS in Music Education, and although six months of student teaching would be the only time I set foot in an actual classroom, I spent the rest of my life teaching others in some capacity. As a church choir director/band leader, I found many opportunities to teach music theory or vocal skills. I spent 15 years home schooling my three children. Now I blog, answer questions on Quora and write books.
In the late 90’s I ran into an interesting set of education material called “Lifetime of Learning.” The author intended to convince any reader of the evils of public school and the benefits of something she called ‘delight directed learning.’ Her theory was that the modern idea of classroom-bound education (imparting endless facts that have little to do with a student’s real life experience) was sure to drive the inborn desire to learn from anyone. I do not completely agree with her premise, but I do believe she was spot on when it came to what ought to be the impetus for any means of education: the desire for knowledge. To be a good teacher, one must first be an excellent student, and nothing delights me more than discovering new information in an area of interest to me (thus my current YouTube addiction).
The truth is, I can’t not teach. In fact, I’ve lost some potential friends over it. Perhaps another trick to teaching is knowing your audience. I have come to understand the phrase “words don’t teach, life experience teaches,” yet here I am, using
a bunch of too many words specifically for the purpose of teaching! Maybe words don’t teach, but when a person has been through enough life experience, certain words will resonate. They will begin to make sense and carry the power of influence. Isn’t that the true mission of a teacher – to influence others in some way?
Today I would call myself a recovering Evangelical. I spent over 30 years tied to a religion whose beliefs I now consider silly at best, harmful at worst. During that time, like any dutiful disciple, I taught others that this religion was THE Truth and contained the answer to every question. I believed in it (or most of it) with my whole heart, only to later reject almost everything about it. Looking back, I could feel bad about how many people I potentially offended or even harmed in my dogmatic approach to the subject matter, except that I know a few things now about life that I did not understand then.
Like that evolution is a thing.
No, not Evolution like fish turning into people (which might be a thing – don’t know and don’t care), but the evolution of thought through the course of life experience. I understand now that this life is a journey, and that along that journey people change – everything from how much money is in their bank account to what they believe. I also get now that we can only give out of the well-spring we are dipping from. Christianity was all that I knew – until I blew the walls down and looked around. In that process I learned what I consider the most important lesson for any teacher: it is okay – no, imperative to be okay with – not knowing. Not knowing everything, that is. I can still feel the freedom of finally being able to say, “I don’t know.” Take it from me, having to know the answer to everything is exhausting.
There is a piece of wood paneling running between the ceiling and the top of the closet in my new bedroom. My first inclination when I saw it was to paint the phrase “Temet Nosce” (Know Thyself) across the panel. I know myself to be a lightworker – one who has come to shine in the dark places, be it a person’s soul or the world at large. One of my favorite cards in the Tarot is the Hermit. This figure portrays a solitary researcher seeking knowledge (often from within), as indicated by the lantern he carries. But the light is not only there to illuminate his own path, it is for others as well. Anywhere that his light travels, the darkness of ignorance is dispelled. That is my goal, to bring the light of knowledge to everyone I come into contact with, be they a student of pickleball or metaphysics. Will my endeavors always be successful? It depends on the audience. But as long as I keep learning, my mission will always be possible.
In answer to Linda’s final question, “Are you delighted to be here?” Yes! There is nothing I love more than learning and then spreading the word to others. And since there is SO much that I don’t yet know, I will give you some advice I once heard: “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, take what resonates and discard the rest. Maybe ‘the rest’ was wrong or maybe it was given to you outside of the context of your experience so it just won’t resonate. Remember, no one has the answer to everything, and in the end, life is the best teacher. So live it, and learn from it.
What about you? There are still a couple of weeks left in Linda’s blog challenge. Would you be game to write something about your Divine Mission? Reach out to Linda using the link above. You can post a comment there indicating your willingness to participate.
As always, thanks so much for reading!
It’s moving week. Today I am supposed to be painting my bedroom, but am distracted by the beauty I captured on my phone yesterday. Before I pick up any brushes, I feel the need to paint with some words.
As most of you know, I left behind a long-standing marriage in the summer of 2015. For the next couple of years I worked in a contract position as I went through the process of a divorce. When my 2-year contract ended, I had to make a decision. I could either find another office job (the prospect literally sent me to bed ill for a day or so) or take some real time off to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I found out about the contract end date in August – right in the midst of purchasing a home in which to run an AirBnB. Several circumstances besides the job loss turned me away from that plan, and on September 16 I moved in with my daughter and son-in-law, homeless, jobless, and wondering where all of this was going.
Some of you probably remember the backyard neighbor I had when I lived in TN. The funny blog I wrote several years back can catch you up to speed if you are unfamiliar with the saga, but in case you don’t have the time, let’s just say that he and I didn’t have the same standards in the areas of neighborhood beautification or peace & quiet. Two years after leaving TN behind, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this:
In fact, this yard is so much worse than anything I ever saw at Tony’s that I almost feel bad comparing the two. Almost… By the way, my bedroom is the only room in my daughter’s rental home with this view. Go figure.
A couple of months after moving in, I was on the phone gazing out at the madness next door, when I received an inspiration. I wrote about it here, so I won’t rehash it, I’ll just show you the photo of my solution.
When my son-in-law saw it, he walked up to my daughter and said, “I can see Ireland from your mom’s bedroom!” 🙂 With the view blocked, I forgot about the neighbor’s yard … mostly. Occasionally, I would raise the window up just to see if anything had changed. Nope. But my life has changed drastically in the past year.
In January of 2018, this was my view for about 10 days:
Sometime in early spring, I revamped my website, and with my son’s help, developed this logo.
In May I self-published my first novel.
In September my dream of visiting Ireland came true.
And yesterday I took these from the kitchen doorway (also the view from my bedroom) in the new home that my son-in-law purchased this week:
Some would say that I have successfully manifested my dreams into reality, but it feels more like I relaxed, found a way to focus on the things that bring me joy, and beautiful stuff just started happening. There’s a little quote on my vision board/window that I grabbed off of the Internet when I was going through my divorce. I believe it truly encapsulates what our first goal should be anytime we are looking to improve something within ourselves or our lives. It certainly has sustained me through many a tough
Image Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/48256589
When you are ready to see a completely new life unfold before your eyes, this is step one – forget the past. Step two – accept what is, without judgement or complaint. Yes, you may be unhappy with something or someone, like I was with my neighbor(s), but when things are out of your control, finding a way to focus on something else is the real key to freedom.
Finally, move on. We have to be willing to step into that new future even through uncertainty or fear. I had a moment when I purchased my ticket to Ireland. A moment of pure terror! For about an hour afterwards, I kept asking myself, “What have I done?” After all, I had been out of work for nine months with no job in sight (I wasn’t even applying for jobs!). Yet I had just purchased a ticket to another country where I would rent a car that had to be driven on the opposite side of the road, to spend eleven days exploring an unfamiliar place – completely alone. The fear subsided as I turned my focus on the amazing adventure about to come. Now that my trip is over, I am looking for the next incredible journey coming around the bend!
Today I feel sad that I have to remove my vision board from the window. Those photos have sustained me in so many ways. They reminded me of the life I want to live, the adventures I want to have, and the power that I can exercise over any obstacle. But once again I am moving on. Seasons come and go; flowing with them is crucial to growth, and growth is a vital part of life.
So much good has come from my willingness to refocus – not just my eyes but my heart and mind. Focus is about more than seeing clearly. It’s really about what we choose to look at in the first place. What are you focused upon today? Hopefully your gaze is fixed on your dreams, your goals, your vision for your best life. The Avett Brothers said it well – “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” We have been given one life. I think we would all be amazed at what can happen when we really choose to live it.
This follows nicely on the heels of my forgiveness post from the other day. Enjoy!
Today I had the chance to share my journey into forgiveness with someone on Facebook. I thought I might post it here in case it might be helpful for any of my readers. There really is healing ahead – assuming you want it badly enough.
How do I stop holding an ex accountable for their behavior? How do I let go and forgive?
I have been going through this for the past 3 years, so for what it’s worth, here’s how it went for me.
1. I started a vision board for my trip to Ireland, and in the process, ran into a little meme that reads: “Forget shit and move on.” It didn’t have much to do with Ireland, but I put it on my board anyway. It became a very useful tool when I needed to stop the stream of hateful thoughts that came up often in those days. In terms of painful experiences, a short memory is the fastest road to salvation (read: freeeddoooommm). (See Joe Dispenza for more on this.)
2. I spent a reasonable amount of time sending the white light of love to him in meditation. Not something I could do when I was NOT connected to my inner being (who loves him, despite my feelings about it).
3. I started noticing that I kept meeting men who were JUST LIKE HIM. Seriously, ALL of them. Hm, I knew enough about the LOA to know that it was my focus on his faults that was pulling these people into my experience. I was doing it – ME, not him (reminder: I attracted him into my experience in the first place, after all). When I finally had enough, I began with the new people who were rubbing me the wrong way (I couldn’t begin with him). I reminded myself of an old adage, “hurting people hurt people” and started finding positive aspects in those folks. Then I thought about and talked about those positive aspects to anyone who would listen (especially others who were annoyed by those same people). Soon the weird relationships I had been encountering either disappeared (I started meeting really wonderful people), or the relationships began resolving themselves. One in particular continues to amaze me in terms of how much the person changed in my view of them over a very short period of time! Perspective really is everything. Now I just don’t think ill of the ex anymore either – maybe I’ll call it ‘the bleed effect’. I’ve seen too much positive change in my world to want to go back there again.
4. I reminded myself over and over that we ALL do the best we can with what we have. There are people in this world who simply do not have useful tools in the emotional box. Asking a crippled person to walk and then becoming angry when they don’t is worse than counterproductive. Shouting their disability to others who can see clearly that they have limitations is less than helpful. Usually just makes me look like an ass, not them.
5. I started believing Abraham Hicks – that I really don’t need to explain anything to anyone or justify my divorce by trashing the ex. None of it is necessary. Who I was then is not who I am now. If he chooses to change, great; if not, it’s his loss and still won’t affect me in the least. I began choosing to look into the future and stop wasting my energy in the past. A good quote: “Unforgiveness is equivalent to me drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” You have to get tired of being sick. An even better quote: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Something that will never change no matter how much energy I give to it. The past really IS passed!
6. Finally, this person is the father of my children. If nothing else, I can find great satisfaction in the joy that these three beings continue to bring me. Without him, there would be no them. I am learning from Abraham that the road to healing is paved with appreciation for the positive aspects of everyone in our experience. After all, each person I meet contains wanted and unwanted. What I focus on is MY choice, and only mine. I got tired of being miserable and started either focusing on his positive aspects or looking at something else entirely. It does help to bang a pickleball around 5 or 6 times a week. hehe
Perhaps I have not yet achieved total freedom, but today I am much happier on my journey than I have ever been. And I can even say that I am grateful beyond measure for the 28 years of pain that taught me how important happiness really is – AND the truth about where happiness comes from. Hint: Happiness cannot come from any source outside of myself, so why would I hold anyone accountable for not giving me something that they could never have given me anyway?
Many blessings on your journey into joy!
… but the Future is Now
Three years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. The following is my attempt to ‘flesh out’ where I stand currently on what it means to live in the present moment.
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Anyone who knows me very well is aware of the serious condition from which I suffer. I
affectionately call it made up a name for it: Youtubeitis. It’s more of an addiction than an illness. That’s right, my name is Cindy, and I am a YouTube addict. Whether driving to and from the pickleball court, preparing a meal, or sitting on the couch in my room, you will most often find me listening to back to back talks given by my favorite teachers, all offering their wisdom for free on the Interwebs. My AT&T data plan cannot begin to keep up. The good news is, I think it is finally starting to pay off.
When I turned the last page of The Power of Now, I was fairly convinced that whatever Tolle was talking about, it was both impractical and unreachable – at least for me. Nothing about sitting on a park bench for two years, while becoming enamored with the life force of the leaves on the trees has ever remotely appealed to me. I watched the online class that he and Oprah Winfrey put out to help us ‘get it’, but I still didn’t, and I knew it.
Right around the time that I encountered The Power of Now, a cousin of mine introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza. Quickly I found that the science of spirituality made much more sense to me than the esoteric, ethereal notions presented in Tolle’s book. I have since read two books by Dr. Joe, listened to almost everything he has out on YouTube multiple times (this is a great place to start), purchased (and use) several of his meditation CD’s, and in December of 2017, I attended a Progressive conference in Austin, TX. Here is a meditation you can try for free. Let me know what you think in the comments.
About 6 months ago, I stumbled upon Abraham Hicks, and suddenly everything I had learned from Dr. Joe was amplified ten-fold! I moved from directing thought and emotion during meditation to becoming aware of my moment-by-moment feelings throughout the day in light of all that I have become. I am now learning how to elevate my thoughts and emotions in real-time, and the skill is transforming my life in ways I never imagined.
When I first read Tolle’s book, probably my most memorable take-away was that the moment you realize you are in the ‘now’, that moment is gone, and you are actually looking back at the past! Clearly I did not understand how to live in the present moment if every now moment is really a past one by the time it registers in my mind as present. (Try repeating that sentence five times fast.)
This week I have been re-immersing myself in Dr. Dispenza’s interviews on YouTube. Here is one of them. So far, he has not said anything that I have not already heard him say. In fact, the books and conference materials explain the same concepts in much more detail than he provides in the interviews, but somehow I am receiving a greater understanding in terms of application. Maybe something that Abraham said is bringing new meaning to Joe’s words, or perhaps some life experience has built a proper framework for me. After all,
words don’t teach, life experience teaches.
Whatever the cause, I am making new connections that I was unable to make before.
The concept is simple enough. We use our memory of who we were yesterday to remind us of who we are when we wake up today. That means that the majority of us depend on our memories of past experiences to tell us who we are in the present moment. Likewise, the beliefs we have about life and others, come from the thoughts of the past that we have practiced over a long period of time. Added to that, the subconscious mind guides and directs 95% of a person’s actions and emotions on a daily basis, yet the majority of the beliefs governing the subconscious were established before we turned five years old. On a subconscious level, we live completely out of our past experiences. This is why lasting change is so difficult to come by.
So the problem becomes that even though the past is gone, we do not actually live like it is. Every morning when I wake up, I formulate a view of myself and the world based on it. If that past was painful, then pain becomes the defining hallmark of my life. I define others based on the past as well, determined to hold a person hostage to the day I became the target of their bad behavior. But because we define our present reality based on the past, we are unable to imagine a different future. And when we do try to imagine our future (thanks to the subconscious programming in our brains) we envision the worst case scenario based on things that happened to us in the past. We know these fears are rooted in events that are now gone, yet we allow those same events to color our picture of tomorrow in dire shades we dare not entertain thoughts about.
What if a person was able to wake up and only see themselves through the framework of who they wanted to be, rather than who they were yesterday? What if people approached everyone they encountered on any given day as if it were the first time they met? No history of wrongs, no preconceived notions of what that person was like, only a soul, just like them, living out the greatest expression of themselves that they could be in that moment in time. What if people learned to ignore everything from their past (since the past literally does not exist in any form as a reality) and began to focus their attention on the present moment, in the context of becoming the greatest expression of themselves that they could be? Maybe that is what John Lennon really meant.
Would you be willing to imagine such a world? Do you think that you could imagine it? A world where people everywhere viewed themselves and others in light of what we are becoming, rather than dragging forward what we/they have been. The fact is, the only way to truly live in the present moment is to utterly leave the past behind. Tolle probably said that, but clearly I did not get it.
The key to it all is the human brain’s incredible ability to use thought. Did you know that when you entertain a memory (a thought) of something that occurred in the past, your brain produces the exact same cocktail of chemicals that were released during the event itself – no matter how far removed you are from it in time? Human beings are the only species on the planet who have the ability to make a thought as real as an actual event. It follows then, that our brains are capable of producing chemicals equal to future possibilities through thought alone as well. In this way, our thoughts are able to bring the future we desire into the present moment, but instead we continue to practice the habit of dragging the pain of the past into our now. We could be dreaming about a future filled with joy, appreciation, love, health, peace, and happiness – all along releasing the necessary chemicals that can change the hard-wired programming in our brain. This skill would enable you and me to live with intention going forward, and it is the true meaning of the power of now.
Backward is impossible. Forward is inevitable. And if you can imagine it, you can create it – good, bad, or indifferent. We have the choice to stare fixedly at the past, or to dare to imagine a better future. Whatever we give our attention to is what we will create in our present now reality.
Perception really is everything.
“So you’re saying that you’re ready to start dating now?” It was asked innocently enough. By someone well acquainted with the practice.
“Dating…” I hesitated. “That’s a funny word. And I’ve never been all that fond of it.” I took another sip of the Kentucky Mule. “Let’s just say that I’m open.”
“You’re open to exploring a relationship, then?” he asked.
“Yeah, that sounds about right.”
S p a c e is being made.
Eight days later, I sold my guitar. I remember distinctly that day in 1995, when I walked around a music store in Atlanta, surveying guitars. Row after row of dreadnoughts hung from the ceiling overhead. The Guild was mounted on the wall. It had been my first choice, but that was Sue’s fault. What did I know about guitars? Not very much. She had played a 12-string Guild, and had done it brilliantly. She used to tell me that I had “thonky” fingers. After all, my true instrument was always my voice. The guitar was just accompaniment. In the sound room, I plugged them in, one after the other. The Guild was dear, but it had the only bass sound that resonated in that deep space inside of me. More than the Martin. Certainly more than the Taylor and the much cheaper Ovation. What were they but names anyway?
The richness of the Guild was astonishing. Not at all “tinny” like the round-bodied Ovation I would leave behind that day. Inside a molded black case, complete with strap and tuner, I carried my 6-string with me for 33 years. One of my favorite pictures was of me standing behind my guitar. Midnight jam sessions, beer and Bible studies, and the last day spent with my sister are just a few of the memories we shared. I never forgot that it was handcrafted. I always knew that it was beautiful. At one time, its music defined me. Now I have no instrument to hide behind. But then, I’ve lost the need for accompaniment.
My guitar case has been closed for the better part of three years, yet it still felt strange letting it go. The man who bought it played it for me. He told an endless stream of stories of guitars owned, lost, and sold, and then he insisted I would miss it. I have only ever owned three guitars; only ever loved one. Now space is being made.
Seven days from now, my first novel will be available for purchase. It sat open on my desktop almost every day for a good 3-1/2 years, begging to be closed. It feels strange to let it go. Even before I have done it, really. The question, “What now?” keeps coming up. A marriage and a lifetime of music are behind me. Now the novel is too – almost. It feels like I am making lots of space. But, for what? I have no clue. All part of the adventure, I suppose. The new normal that is my life on the fly.
I may not know what is coming next, but I’m open.
S p a c e has been made.
I can no longer remember how or when the idea for a vacation in Ireland came to me. I know it began as a desire to spend an extended time (3 months, even) in a different environment, possibly tied to writing my novel (fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel). I do remember creating a bucket list, and those few short sentences morphed into a vision board overflowing with photos of Ireland, modest homes surrounded by peaceful gardens, and a few pithy quotes to help me move past a difficult divorce. Continue reading “One Magical Life”
Yesterday I drove from D.C. to the end of the Jersey Turnpike. And back. In the rain. Sometimes in fog and sometimes in the dark. But mostly in traffic. Probably about one-fourth or more of that stretch of highway is undergoing some form of construction. The vast majority of it is surrounded by concrete, factories, and high rises. There was a bit of water along the way but very little green that I could see. Yes, it is wintertime, but still. It was heartbreaking. Continue reading “Dreaming of Change”
Winter is my least favorite time of the year. Even as a kid, I could take or leave the snow, and I have never, by any stretch of the imagination, enjoyed cold weather. As for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding? Blech, I am hopeless at both! No wonder I adored the time we spent in Hawaii. But this winter has seemed particularly harsh to me. Besides an early snowfall and frigid temps, the wind has been brutal. And if you know me at all, you have heard me complain about it too. Continue reading “Heart Space”
Late autumn, my favorite time of the year. The air is getting cooler, the leaves have turned and fallen, in some places there may even be the first dusting of snow. Everyone is taking a deep breath in anticipation of the busiest season – the Christmas holidays. Right there, slammed in between Halloween Christmas, comes Thanksgiving. Supposedly the time of year when to count our blessings. The real danger is finding ourselves lulled to sleep by the turkey or drifting into a diabetic coma by Grandma’s pecan pie. Much worse is the feeling of overwhelm in a house full of visiting relatives we never really liked anyway. In today’s world, how many of us truly use the time to give thanks? Continue reading “The Energy of Gratitude”
A monster lives inside of me. It is ugly. It is powerful. It is a wall. A wall with claws and teeth. It protects me and hurts me at the same time. I have spent most of my life trying to tame, cage, or hide it.
My monster’s name is Rage.
Josh never fails to touch my heart with his writing. But this one, this one fairly astounds! Enjoy! kintsugi
- Completing a novel and seeing it published.
- Spending some time in Ireland.
- Purchasing a home suitable to run an Air B&B.
In December, 2016 I completed my first novel. It is currently in the editing stage and I hope to submit it to a publisher for review by the end of June 2018. My other two goals have proven a bit more elusive. Last year I created a vision board in two parts – one for my trip to Ireland and the other for an Air B&B.
Last fall I made the decision to postpone the Ireland trip until a more opportune time. In December I began searching for a house, and three weeks ago I viewed number fifty-one. I did make an offer on a cute bungalow (probably number forty-six or so), but it was rejected by the seller due to circumstances my agent was unaware of. I think fifty-some houses is more than enough, don’t you?
January 12, 2017
I felt an episode of SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) coming on last night. Okay, I admit it, I hate winter. Hey, what can I say? I’m a beach girl. And a Pisces. With a Scorpio Moon. Water is in my
blood chart. Definitely not snow. Snow doesn’t count as water in my book. Scientifically it is water, yes I know, Einstein. Frozen water disagrees with me. Probably because I abhor being cold. Maybe more importantly, because frozen water does not move. It has lost its ability to flow. Continue reading “Going with the Flow”
I am fairly certain that I have not donned a costume for Halloween in at least 35 years. This particular celebration, while fun as a child, never really found a foothold in my heart. Add to that, in Christian circles, Halloween was disparaged as “Satan’s high holy day” – something to be avoided as avidly as cursing or reading Harry Potter.
Tonight it occurred to me that little about the rituals and celebrations of Christianity ever took hold in me either, despite spending 30+ years in that paradigm. Granted, as a child, Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year, to borrow a well-worn lyric. Certainly my parents and their tradition of Santa Claus helped (I can still remember my father peeking into my bedroom to ask if I had heard the sleigh bells – his voice was as filled with wonder as my child’s heart!), but even later on in my teen years, I remember sitting in our living room mesmerized by the glowing coals in the fireplace, while white lights twinkled between evergreen boughs laden with ornaments and tinsel. Sometimes when I think about what peace feels like, that is the picture that comes to mind.
Over the years, Christmas came to mean less and less to me – especially once I understood that December 25th was not the birthday of any deity in the flesh, much less Jesus of Nazareth. In the early 2000’s I stopped putting up a Christmas tree, and have been hard-pressed to find ways to create meaningful traditions for myself or my family ever since. Anyway, every Christian holiday is nothing more than a hijacked pagan celebration of one kind or another.
In 2006 I began what turned out to be a 10-year trek out of my Christian faith. Not that I am an atheist per se. I believe – probably stronger than I ever did as a Christian – in the absolute existence of a spiritual dimension. I am certain that death is not the end. But the job of determining whether there is a personal god out there running our universe is beyond my pay grade, the purview of religion, and better left alone by li’l ol’ me.
Perhaps because of my recent fascination with the Celts, faeries, and magic, I have gravitated most towards the old religion or what many call paganism. Admittedly, my stint in Christianity has caused me to shun any and all religious traditions, especially those who claim to know ‘the way’ or ‘the truth’. But the seasons of the year and of life are something I am familiar with. And I have always had a special affinity for the moon. That is the other strong memory I carry from my teenage years: monthly chats with the man in the moon. I had a perfect view of the moon at its full from the swing in our backyard, and I have always been able to see a face on the surface of it. In fact, I am hard-pressed to look at a full moon and not see a face.
At the same time that I find myself drawn to the cycles of the moon, I also feel a renewed sense of connectedness to the earth. I do desire to establish traditions to follow, but I am content to move slowly, listening closely to my own heart and what it whispers about the lessons, comfort, joy, or depth that a particular holiday celebration can lend my spirit. I began following the full moon cycles sometime in 2015, and this year added the new moon cycles to my monthly observances. Late in the summer, I determined to celebrate as many of the eight pagan festivals (beginning with Samhain, pronounced Sow-en) I am able to this year. October 31 marks the end of summer, the last of the harvest celebrations, and the beginning of the new year for the Celtic pagans of old. Samhain is a time to give attention to our ancestors and other loved ones who have passed. Many see it as an opportunity (perhaps even an obligation) to learn about their heritage and honor dead loved ones in some fashion. Still others believe that the veil between our world and the world of the dead is thinnest on this night, making possible communication with those who have passed.
For me, I wanted to take some time to think about how those family members who have gone on affected me while they were here. To that end, I put together a display of photographs, peppered with candles, fresh flowers, and crystals (particularly those related to the root chakra) on my buffet.
I started the process the first week of October and did not complete it until this past Friday. I took my time, and thought through the many photo choices, discovering a couple of folks whose legacy I found myself unable or unwilling to honor. They are not on display this year, but perhaps I will come to terms with them enough to include them in future.
Through this process, I began to think about the legacy that I want to leave behind. I even asked myself what kind of legacy would be left should I pass today. Sometimes I wonder if the reason many of us throw our lives onto the wide screen of the internet is in hopes that something we say, do, write, or photograph will touch enough random people that our legacy may somehow live on after we pass. Perhaps it is our way of dealing with the fact that death comes to us all. We as a society have certainly invented many ways to avoid ever thinking about our own death, yet that is precisely why we remain haunted by the prospect.
My sister used to tell me that she believed when we die, there is nothing, it’s over, kaput. Nonsense, I say. Her belief created years of fearful living, but now she knows the truth. Those who are able to celebrate life understand that death is not the end, but merely the beginning of a new phase of our journey. J.R.R. Tolkien said it right well:
PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
For C.S. Lewis death was an expansion of the world of the heart. Narnia opened up into infinite possibility, like the layers of an onion peeling back in reverse. Because of him, I will forever think of death as a doorway from the barn into the open field, with mountains beckoning beyond. (The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia)
Last night was the new moon, a black moon (by definition, the second new moon in 1 month). Tonight begins Samhain, the Day of the Dead, and tomorrow the Wheel will start to turn anew. The near overlap of the black moon and the beginning of a new year holds special significance for me. I have learned that new moons are a good time to set intentions for the coming months. Since this was a rare black moon so closely connected with the start of a new year, it became a time for me to consider what I would like to see in my own life in the coming months. As I reflected on my day, I realized that it was filled with exactly what I want for the coming year: meditation, healthy eating, work, writing, and loving encounters. A good omen for what is to come, I think.
Whatever your tradition, Halloween, Samhain, or All Saints Day (November 1), may you find comfort in your roots. May you come to understand the legacy your ancestors left behind. May you honor that legacy, and learn from both the victories and mistakes of those who precede you. Above all, may you find comfort in knowing who is watching over you, and who waits for the joyous reunion to come.
Yes, I still exist and (sort of) keep a blog.
I did not want you all to imagine that I fell off the face of the earth in the recent past, but truly, the blogs I am working on are not quite up to posting snuff as yet. You will have to content yourself with a short
blog resuscitation question and answer session. (Apparently, this has become a thing on the Interwebs in my absence.)
List 2 things you have to be happy about?
- My grandson. In a few short days, the miracle born on my Birthday will be 6 months old! There are not enough adequate blogging words to convey my joy when I am with him. Happy is a poor weak word for it. Ecstatic, over-the-moon … these come a wee bit closer to the mark.
- I live less than 20 minutes from my parents. My mother graciously cooks me breakfast every Wednesday before work, and I sit and sip my coffee while listening to my father and brother talk politics (government or church, whichever is the choice of the week). On Wednesdays I come to work with a smile and a heart filled with love. I also live close enough to my daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandson to spend almost every other weekend with them! The presence of my family members in my life has served as a much-needed anchor through the turbulent seas of divorce. Perhaps now you will know why I have been conspicuously absent of late…
If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be?
The coasts of Ireland – the one place in the world I most want to visit. I often think of my novel as basically Irish, and I love everything Celtic, for one reason or another.
Should children be seen and not heard?
Not hearing my grandson would be a tragedy in every sense of the word. His gurgles warm my heart; and although his squeals at times may pierce my ears, I eagerly await the day when his amazing words of wisdom pierce my soul.
List at least five of your favorite first names.
Collin, Aubrey, Ian, Desdemona (Desi for short), and Justine
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week I created a gratitude wheel prior to finding out that my contract (job) would be renewed in September. I am grateful for the contract renewal, but even more-so that I have learned to be grateful without needing everything in life to go smoothly (did I mention that divorce is hell?).
I have another 3-day weekend coming up, during which time I plan to engage in deep discussions with my daughter and her husband. We like talking about parenthood, spirituality. money. education, and even politics. I will be
cooking new GF foods making a mess in my daughter’s kitchen (not mine!), and rolling around on the floor taking pictures of the wonder of my world (yes, of course my grandson) gurgling, squealing, attempting to crawl, or all of the above. His bubbles remind me that all is right with the world.
My life simply could not be any better than this.
So, what’s going on in YOUR world? Please share, then link back to your post in the comments below!
I got this idea from Anxious Mom. Be sure to stop by and give her a holler!
Five years ago I published my very first blog post on WordPress. The post featuring Roger Federer – arguably the greatest legend in the game of tennis during my lifetime and perhaps of all time. In 2003, Federer secured his first win in a major tournament. He went on to dominate the game for the next decade. Fed holds the record for most consecutive weeks at no. 1 in the rankings and many other ATP Tour records besides. I do not really care about the record books. For me, it was all in the way Fed moved.
I have always been great at meeting people. I greet them, chat with them, get to know them and love them – easy as pie.
At least, it used to feel like that.
The older I become, the more difficult it seems to make meaningful connections. At almost 52 years of age, recently separated from my husband of 28 years, and living in yet another ‘new’ area, I find myself with no one to call when I need a ride home from the car repair shop. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have at least twenty close friends in my phone list, but the majority of them live at best, two hours away and at worst, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Most of my family either live too far from me or are not available in this type of situation. I seriously never had to think about things like this before.
I wonder how much of the problem stems from aging, self-reliance, or the culture in general? I worry that the people my age already have their fill of relationships to maintain, and are left with no time or energy to add me to their list. But perhaps in the interest of independence, I have become so good at doing everything for myself that I have forgotten how to cultivate friends I can call on for help.
Maybe my friendship problem is simply the result of a culture that relies on hashtags and thirty-second video clips for connection, while I pine for the long-lost days of front porch news over iced tea, and the neighborhood kids playing mosquito-ridden games of kick-the-can.
It seemed to be easier to develop deep friendships in college or church, as a parent or military spouse. In those seasons I was surrounded by people like me (shared age, shared values, shared beliefs, or shared circumstances). But if connection is a function of like-mindedness or being in the right place at the right time, what if I never again find anyone else who thinks like me, lives like me, or is as old as me? What if I am no longer able to find the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time?
It stands to reason that I have felt this way before. I have lived in nine distinct locations over a 28-year period, for pity’s sake. If memory serves, each major relocation was a struggle when it came to relationships. Every. Damn. Time. This time just feels so much harder.
You would think that after years of practice I would have developed a formula for meeting the person destined to be my next incredible BFF. Sadly, if such a formula exists, I have yet to discover it. I am not even sure I know how it happens in the first place. But remembering the struggle, knowing I have been here before, and at the same time, looking back with amazement on all of the people I am privileged to call ‘friend’, I can well believe that she is working/eating/exercising/living somewhere in the nearby vicinity.
Will we cross paths before my car needs its next tune-up? Only time will tell.
On July 22, 2015, I drove thirty minutes to a nearby beach to watch the sunrise.
Darkness shrouded my walk from the car. For all that I wanted to live near the beach, this would be my last day. I would not leave without seeing another sunrise. My phone! I thought. I stopped, turned back toward my car, then thought better of it. No pictures today. No interruptions. This is your chance to take it in, to live in the moment, to somehow find the strength to leave.
The concrete eventually transitioned to sand and I took off my flip flops. A cool dampness greeted my calloused soles. Now to keep the callouses off of my soul, I thought, half smiling to myself. I took my time. This was not a moment to rush. I reached the little bridge that stretched over the inter-coastal stream and stopped again. On my left, the sand grass tilted gently in the morning breeze. Their billowy tops formed feathery silhouettes against the faint light to the east. It was quiet. Even the sand gnats were still. A mercy considering how they had harrowed us the night before.
I crested a little knoll and the path gave way to a wide expanse of sand. Looking around, my first thought was how empty the beach was compared to the last time I had come here to witness the dawn breaking. Had it been only ten days? I approached the water’s edge and felt a sudden rush of sadness. I will not pass this way again, I thought. The magnitude of that truth pounded through me like the waves crashing onto the sand. It was a familiar feeling accumulated over the past twenty-eight years. Had I really moved twenty-seven times? Was I seriously volunteering to make number twenty-eight a mere six or so weeks after the last one? And this time alone?
I set my toes into the warm water knowing I would have to wade out knee deep to discover even a hint of coolness. Despite days of rain and milder nights, the water still felt more like a bath than an ocean. I was used to Virginia waters, so cold that only the Northerners braved it before the pounding mid-July heat had settled in. Even in August, a dip in the water off the Virginia coast was refreshing. But not here. Not in June, July, August, or maybe even September. I wouldn’t be here to confirm my assumption.
I walked then. Following the shoreline, I stepped slowly in the direction of the lightening sky. My purpose was nothing more than just to enjoy – one more time – a stroll through shallow surf at sunrise.
The sky grew almost imperceptibly lighter. I glanced out over the water searching for the birds I had seen hunting just a few days ago. I stopped walking to scan the horizon as well as I could in the near darkness, but my eyes found only empty crests in the choppy, predawn sea. Where are they? I wondered, futilely. I didn’t even know what species of bird they were, Tern, Osprey, or Frigate. It was fascinating to watch their gray forms skim over the water in pairs, threesomes, and more, one straight line of outstretched wings that occasionally beat in no discernible rhythm. Then one or two would break from the flock, rise higher, and plunge headlong into the surf. I was too far away to see the prize held in its beak. I could only watch it rise from beneath the crest to float on the surface of the water. I was struck by the bird’s willingness to abandon itself to the sea in order to survive. In more ways than I could count, I had abandoned myself again and again to the whims of a capricious ocean. Like those mysterious birds, I had no roots, but had flown endlessly over a barren sea looking for life below the surface. Mercifully, I had found it in the most unexpected swells. Now exhaustion dragged at my wings. I could no longer maintain flight. It was finally time to land, but first I would have to leave.
Deep in my soul, I think I had known for a long time that there would never be a landing without first a leaving.
I turned my attention to the water splashing over my feet. As I watched tiny waves form to crash onto the sand in uneven bursts, I noticed how they all began as individual crests, only to merge into one shallow wash of water that moved in an almost circular motion. Pushing forward, the water strained against an inexorable pull back into the unplumbed depths from which it came, only to begin the cycle all over again. The constancy of the syncopated rhythm of the ocean continues to mesmerize me. The simplicity of wave after wave merging into the complex ebb and flow of tides in and out, day after day, year after year, millennia after millennia only makes me and my decisions feel small. That one section of beach and my narrow vision of those few waves represented less than a drop in the bucket of uncounted miles of shoreline around the globe. My mind can barely grasp the enormity of so many coasts, much less the vastness or depth of the sea itself. But even as I feel smaller, as I watch myself shrink in the face of the sheer magnitude before me, I understand that like my tunnel vision of this small stretch of beach, my everyday decisions – small in themselves – when put together, made up an entire life. And there is more to a person than their decisions, their actions, or even their thoughts. As I pondered all of this, I caught a glimpse of the vastness within myself I still had yet to explore.
The sky slowly began to change color. Deep blue gave way to paler shades overlaid with oranges, purples, and hints of pink. There would be no blazing ball today, at least, not for me; only colorful clouds whose outlines continually transformed in the early morning breeze. Every blink revealed a subtle shift of color in the jagged edges of cloud cover overhead.
Around me camera lenses began opening and snapping shut. That had been me a few days back – working hard to capture a memory on the canvas of a photo lens. Somehow I knew that today needed no lens; the memory of this sunrise would live on in me for as long as I could remember. Forgetting would be harder. My failure to stay the course, my inability to love in the end, the hurtful words that had left implacable scars on the soft places left in my heart – these would be much more difficult to forget than the skies’ colors, even my camera, I knew, could not faithfully capture. But forget I must. What bird would ever dare to dive back into the deep dark if it did not forget the promise of a waiting predator below the silent surface? The bird’s only chance is hope – hope that the shadow spied below is nothing more or less than its morning meal.
The sunrise complete, I returned the way I had come. With the light of day behind me, I chose hope and gratitude. The past twenty-eight years had by no means been wasted – rather, they had shaped me into who I was that day, just as that day would shape who I was the next, and the next, and the next. This was not the end of a story, but the definitive close of a very long chapter (that now felt strangely short). In any story, from chapter to chapter, the characters may change, the scenes may shift, the plot may take an unexpected turn, but the storyline continues, and so would I.
Taking one final look over my shoulder, I glanced sidelong at the sun, still hidden in brilliant cloud, and said farewell to broken dreams, hopes unfulfilled, and the shadow of a bleak future. As I crossed back over the inter-coastal, I knew that I was doing the only thing I could do in leaving these shores; and, with my back to the rising sun, I walked straight into the arms of a bright, new day.
Or, I wish life would laugh with me, not at me!
Life has a strange sense of humor sometimes, doesn’t it? You know what I mean. Like the fact that I spent two years trying to rid my yard of Nutsedge, only to move three states away into a neighborhood where every yard uses Nutsedge for grass. Seriously?? I spent $60 a month last summer for Scott’s lawn service to get rid of the pesky weeds before the upcoming wedding weekend, then fired them when the Nutsedge took over my side yard only two months into the deal. Now, all I can see in every direction is that little ‘weed’.
It crawls under ground like Bermuda, only worse! Whatever you do, do not attempt to pull it!! That only makes it grow 99.936 times faster!!
Life. Funny, isn’t it?
At my previous location I had oodles of birds to go with the oodles of Nutsedge. I all but became a bird watcher, right along with my kitties. They used to love sitting in the window watching the cardinals, chickadees, titmice (titmouses??), and colorful finches feed. There were even mourning doves and chipmunks to enjoy the seeds that fell on the ground.
I preferred to sit on my side porch where my next-door neighbor (read: best friend) and I would drink wine, grouse about the other neighbors (or husbands, whichever were most deserving of our snark at the time), and watch the birds come to several feeders I placed in, around, and under the flowering tree that was the central focus of my side garden bed. I never found out what species the tree was, but it bloomed twice every summer and I absolutely adored it. The squirrels, though, the squirrels were my nemesis.
I am not ashamed to confess, I despise squirrels. I’m one of those people who will swerve to avoid a turtle or frog but then aim a tire right at a squirrel in the road. Hey, natural selection. If the critter is too stupid to get out of my way… Besides, birds will not come to a feeder occupied by such a demanding and voracious animal! And, squirrels continually ate me out of house and birdseed (never mind the endless trail of useless bird feeders they managed to either chew to bits or clean out in an hour). I had one feeder with a screened tube that held the seeds, allowing them to empty into a tray at the bottom. Mind you, this feeder was huge – so huge, in fact, that we had to secure a 2X2 piece of wood to the shepherd’s crook to support the feeder when full. (Well,
I’m lazy I worked full-time and did not want to fill the feeder every dang day!) Soon after I put it up, I discovered that screen is a wonderful material for little squirrel claws to hang onto. One squirrel was literally wrapped around the tube – upside-down, mind you – feasting on the never-ending abundance in the tray! Oooh! *&^#@!! Squirrels also adored my vintage feeders. They sat on the saucers and feasted from the cups. How convenient for them. *sigh*
You should know, the birds (and turkeys!) liked them, too:
In an attempt to rid myself of squirrels, I purchased two (yes, two) special feeders designed specifically to keep the squirrels out. But, life has a twisted sense of humor, remember? (Before I continue, you should know that I am cheap.) My neighbor-friend searched online and invested in a caged bird feeder guaranteed to keep the squirrels out. I found the imitation at Walmart. One day I looked out of the window to see a squirrel’s hind legs balanced on the pole of the shepherd’s crook while it’s forelegs reached through the cage bars to steal seeds from the feeder. I’m pretty sure this squirrel should join the circus (and leave me alone!). But the baby squirrel sitting inside the cage took the cake – er, bird seed. All of it! Next I purchased a (slightly) more expensive “squirrel-buster” feeder designed to close the gate to the seeds when an animal of a certain weight sat on the perch. I soon discovered that squirrels are smarter than I (and probably the creators of these feeders). You guessed it, the pesky thief simply balanced on the shepherd’s crook and helped himself to the plethora of seeds from the opening. Perhaps the squirrels in my yard will be able to avoid my tires, too. Evolution at work.
What’s a bird-lover to do?
Well, I moved the squirrel-buster to a tree in hopes that there would be no access to the seeds (it seemed to work, but then, just because I didn’t see a squirrel eating from it did not make it so). As to the cage, I let the baby squirrel clean out the feeder prior to my move. That way, at least I didn’t waste any seeds.
Finding reasons to willingly feed the enemy = cosmic humor!
Last week (at my new location), I hung the cage bird feeder on a shepherd’s crook in front of my bushes. Unfortunately, I am unable to hang it from the one tree in my yard in an attempt to confound the gymnast-squirrels. I have been watching, hoping to discover what kinds of birds will find it. I should probably just ask Mike – he’s a real live birdwatcher, but I’d rather discover this all on my own – a kind of adventure. Today I caved and looked up bird species in my area. I was not disappointed to find that the same birds live here as in Tennessee, but I have yet to see any at the feeder. Thankfully, no squirrels have shown up either! *stows shotgun back inside corner cabinet*
Last night I sat on the porch drinking my daily shot of whiskey. I was sorely missing my Tennessee neighbor (read: best drinking buddy) and wondering if I will ever find anyone willing to join me for
some snark a drink on my new front porch. Suddenly I saw a rather large bird fly into the neighbor’s yard. It was a mourning dove tending to a nest in a little nook above the neighbor’s front entryway. It kept looking back at me as it sang the familiar whoo-hoo song that is so mournful and yet so lovely at the same time. When I asked my neighbor about it, he informed me that this is the fourth year in a row the dove has raised its chicks above his porch. Hooray! At least I will be guaranteed of one feathered friend to entertain my kitties and me. Maybe instead of laughing, life is smiling on me at last. 🙂
Inspired by RawrLove. Pop over and show some love to Rara and her hubby Grayson. They could sure use some right about now!
Things I never wanted to do, but had to anyway …
- Live in Jackson, MS for 4 years.
- Fly in an airplane with a sinus infection, lose my luggage, and spend 2 days in a snow storm with no coat (I won’t bring up underwear if you don’t).
- Stand humiliated before a Judge in order to explain why I’m declaring bankruptcy.
- Live (as a family of 4) in someone else’s basement for 2 years.
- Say goodbye to my husband after his 2-week mid-tour leave from Afghanistan.
- Be forced to stop home schooling in order to find a full-time job to support my family.
- Move 25 times in 27 years.
- Watch a mental illness drive a loved one to suicide.
- Exit the 4-walls and 25-yrs. of music ministry, only to struggle to find community because of doctrine.
- Watch helplessly as my sister dies a painful death, while unable to communicate.
- Feel at a total loss as to how to fight a system that would unjustly put a friend in jail.
Come on, I know you have a list to share! Post it and link back to RawrLove. Let your friends know what Rara is suffering and how just $1 can make a difference!
Wow. I love Rara’s post about time. I’ve done a lot of thinking/writing on this subject over the past couple of years. This was a different take on it than I’ve thought about. WELL worth the read!
July 9, 2005, a banner day in our family. What better way to celebrate my eldest daughter’s upcoming 16th Birthday than a Mother-Daughter hike up the Kolekole Pass? So, with lunch cooler and camera gear in hand, off we went. The day promised memorable adventures, but who would have thought when that clear Saturday dawned that we would have the adventure of a lifetime? Everything started out ordinarily enough…
The hike wasn’t a difficult one, and as we began we walked with ease, chatting happily while admiring the scenery along the way. The wide trail soon narrowed, winding through trees, becoming root-strewn and steeper as we went. We could see blue skies through the needle-laden limbs of the little pine forest we passed. The landscape surprised us by opening suddenly into a wide, grassy clearing where we decided to rest and eat our lunch.
Filled to the full with food, water, and the beauty of our surroundings, we continued our hike. We had the trail to ourselves as we forged ahead. Slowly the path became steeper and rockier until we had to use the tree roots for secure footing. Ahead I spied the steepest incline yet and above it a rope that resembled a hand-rail. Below us were innumerable trees descending a treacherous slope.
The rope ran horizontally between two of the smaller trees. Leaves obscured the path ahead, but we doggedly pressed on. One of the things I adore most about my eldest daughter is her unflagging cheerfulness. Quick to laugh, she never seems to be without a smile. She also possesses the grace of a ballet dancer, clearly seen in the way she skipped across the rope-bordered path. Supported by the tree on the other end, she waited for me to take my turn across.
After about 3 steps I knew I was in trouble. The ground was literally slipping away beneath me! Knowing instinctively that my only hope was to lower my center of gravity, I quickly sat down to stop the downward slide my feet were taking. Trapped in the middle of the path, unable to go either forward or back (any small movement started the landslide all over again), I had a flash of memory.
Stationed in Hawaii the summer of 2003, I never thought I could love a place as much as I did the balmy island we then called home. I knew it was a temporary (3-yr.) duty station, and we had recently learned the Army would take us from there 6 months earlier than expected. At that time, I had been saying, “I could be buried here” simply meaning I’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life on this island paradise. But that day, celebrating 16 years with my daughter, struggling to hang onto a melting path, looking over a precipice I knew I’d never survive, I laughingly prayed, “This isn’t what I meant, Lord.”
Survival mode kicked in. Putting the camera bag on the ground beside me to provide even more stability, I instructed my daughter to sit down next to the rope and follow me back to the other side (I still wonder how she had managed to skip across the nonexistent path in the first place). She obediently complied and very slowly we inched our way to the first tree, breathing a sigh of relief when we finally had firm ground to stand on. The time spent on that path felt like hours, but, while likely only moments, it is still firmly etched in my memory some 7 years later.
Looking at my daughter, alive and well, I apologized for celebrating her Birthday by almost bringing about her death. The climb back down was uneventful except for the laughter that accompanied our banter. We were very happy to be alive and unharmed from our recent ordeal. Back home we smiled as we told the story animatedly, but the truth is I thought we’d never come back from that one! In spite of the dangerous circumstances we were in, we will always be able to say we remember well how we celebrated my daughter’s coming of age.