Sunday, January 31, 2016

Remembering Passion

While walking the dog in the bitter cold winds, there in the dark recesses of my mind I spied a time and a person where I first experienced passion from the heart.  I saw myself, age eight, wearing a black leotard in the winter and climbing the steps to the second story dance studio where the heater didn't begin to warm the rooms. I shivered, but only for a moment.  Once she placed the
Virginia Lee Wilson. 
needle on the record, our bodies began to stretch and glide.  

Where did you first learn or see passion?

There she stood, not much taller than I stood in fourth grade,
Tom, Virginia, Tom Pat, Bobby Wilson.
clicking, tapping, shouting, demanding, and then guiding, repeating, and teaching us dance steps. We learned how to tap dance, glide pose, bend like a ballerina,  follow the footsteps of a partner in ballroom dancing, and move our bodies in rhythmic physical steps to the different beats of jazzy tunes. Every step she walked modeled passion; her passionate love of dance, of music, and most certainly of life.  Her passion may have shown itself in her feet, her moves, but truly it radiated from her heart. 

She also spent hours outside of her studio coaching, training, and
Norse Stars, NEO Drill Team 1953 
drilling a group of young ladies known as the Norse Stars.  During the 1950's and 1960's, we competed against the Kilgore Rangerettes ( History of Kilgore Rangerettes, Tyler Texas  Apache Belles (History of the Belles) for the best drill team in the nation.  Our performances placed us on center stage of the NEO football games, basketball games, NJCAA National Basketball tournament in Hutchinson, Ks., and parades. Through it all she pressed upon us the importance of drill, repetition, practice, and "smiling."  (Mrs. Sandmire was always there to add lipstick.) There were no goodies, rewards, or trinkets given for performances. She simply expected and demanded our best, and we willinging followed her lead, like trained dancers. I can't speak for others, but I most certainly dreamed of being a Rockette and performing in the Macy's Parade in NYC. 

I didn't grow up to be a professional dancer like some of her students, but I learned what Virginia Lee Wilson taught, that passion is powerful, and when we lead with passion from the heart we can make a difference.  

That dream and passion instilled from Virginia Lee made a difference throughout my life.  Most recently, on a family trip to New York City we spent an evening enjoying the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. 

How has passion made a difference in your life?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Passion, from the Heart

A few weeks I wrote a blog called "Goals from the Heart" which awakened something deep within me. I still can't name it, but I think it must have something to do with passion in our lives. Ideas sometimes strike me like a tree branch slapping me in the face when I'm walking and dreaming, not watching and walking.

Sometimes we call these moments serendipity, which I think is a delightful explanation. Perhaps that's how I find things that I'm not searching for, or perhaps these words, "from the heart" are chasing me.

Recently, I listened to a TED talk by Isabel Allende called Tales of Passion. Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion  Her words, "Heart is what drives us and determines our fate." caused me to ask, "What is my passion? Where is my heart leading me?  Do I have the drive or the hunger to complete my goals?  Her words hit a cord, and I flashed back to a movie called "Joy." 

What are you passionate about today?

In the movie, JOY,  actress Jennifer Lawrence, presents a powerful character in her representation of Joy Mangano, inventor and entrepreneur. The life choices portrayed on screen and in Joy's real life vividly define words like perseverance, passion, and determination.  
One of Joy's many Inventions. How many do you own?

Joy Mangano writes on her website,  "I guess I've always wondered why the ordinary things in life need to remain ordinary? For as long as I can remember, I've had ideas, dreams for new ways to design something better.  More color, more style, more function. ...Here's my little secret.  This isn't work, it's my passion, and that is how I find joy." Finding Joy

from the heart...
My mind circles around faster than I can create a story, in fact, too fast sometimes. When this happens I often ask for guidance from above. Ironically, even the Lord sends helps through souls who've asked and answered this question. Georgia O'Keefe walked right into my mind shaking her head, "I gave up everything to be a painter. I focused on my heart. Is that what you want?" 

I smiled thinking, No, I'm not willing to give up everything, so I'll just enjoy the moments passionately....

When did you last follow your heart?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Healing Years

Our country home on 10 acres
Twenty years ago we packed our belongings and moved to Hutchinson, Ks.  We left behind our youngest son and daughter, friends, family, and friends. Even though I fell in love with new friends, country fields, and sand dunes during those eighteen years we lived in Kansas, I could not revisit our land east of Norman where the healing took place.  We came home often for family events and football, but never once drove east on highway 9 to 108th street.  We never turned down Baltic avenue to see what changes the new owners of our ten acres might have made; we never once drove to the parks to walk through the trails lined with black jack oaks, sumac bushes, and worn down rose rocks. We never once set foot on the land that Washington Irving called the "crosstimbers."  It simply hurt too much.

Retirement offered us the time to return to Oklahoma, but not to our land. A home in town, close to family is where we need to be at this time in life. Last spring, I drove my mother-in-law out to see the historic flooding around Thunderbird Dam, and then with a deep breath I turned north on 108th, west on Lindsey, and north on Baltic. A gate stood at the entrance to their winding drive down the sumac lined hill to the tri-level native stone home. A tear trickled down my cheek. What were they keeping out, I wondered? Still I couldn't write about it.

I found this picture two weeks ago while helping my sister clean out the clutter.  Seeing the happiness on our faces must have been touch magic, my heart opened, and I felt refreshed with the memories, the sharing could begin. 

It was the openness of the land that created the healing energy I needed when we moved to the country in 1990. In 1988 our daughter, left home angrily creating her own path; Jack's father died on Land Run day, and gaps and voids began to
fill my heart. A year later in 1989 my mother died suddenly in August; my father died of a broken heart eight weeks later.  Everyone, from family and friends to children at school, stepped in to help; to love; to hug; to hold; but broken hearts take time to heal.

In time our daughter found her way home, and back to the land where she felt secure. Our boys began the explore their life journeys. Jack and I found solace in the land, in the
colors of nature, during the seasons of change, alongside the deer, bobcats, birds, and snakes. Walking paths created by the animals widened as two people walked them daily searching for answers. 

The animals, the trees, the grasses shared their space with us, and likewise we shared our space with others.  Friends often came out in late evenings and weekends to sit on the back deck or walk serenely down the hill, through the ravine, across the rocks where waters ran in the spring, or up the hill to a patch of wild flowers growing in the sunlight.

One day we discovered a pile of left over

native stones hidden at the top of the hill near the water well. One by one Jack and I carried the stones down the hill to the back yard where he built a garden around a tree.In time grasses grew where once red clay soil baked in the sun.  A soft cushioned swing hung from a tree, and a hammock floated between two trees giving a starlit view of the summer meteorite showers. 

Like the stones carried down the hill, one by one, our hearts began to heal. Color came back into our lives filling us with laughter and creating flowing peaceful moments. When my mind closed down and depression set in, nature rose to my rescue. She showed me a washed out area of land that held the remains of worn but recognizable rose rocks. Often I sat on a the land and picked up rose rocks,

admired their beauty and forgot why I was sad. One evening at sunset, I came face to face with buck on the same path as I. My heart raced, he held firm and then like a flash of lightning leaped down the ravine. Tears of awe and joy ran down my face and filled my heart with peace.

Late one night, when my mother might have said, It's too late, don't go walking out there, I went walking out there. Led by the dog who adopted us, Black Bart, I started up the hill through scrub oaks and fallen logs. Suddenly, Bart stood sideways on the path and stopped my advance. I heard the growl and scream from the bushes nearby. The dog and I turned running. He beat me to the driveway and once again stood sideways like a

motionless shadow on a moonless night with his nearly invisible long black hair. I never saw him until I plowed into him, flew into the air, and rolled down the incline into the drive way. Startled and dirty, I lay on the driveway while the dog licked me, and assured me we were safe from the mother bobcat and her kit.

Though sometimes bruised from trips and falls, I healed in those five comforting country years. Now each day the birds outside remind me to be mindful of the healing powers of nature.

The Seven Sisters.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goals from the Heart

We were there,
the top of the Empire State Bldg.
Sometimes I have to look back to see where I want to go or what I want to do.  Setting a goal for the New Year involves the same steps.  Looking back at 2015 and the decades before, I find my need for friendship and relationships with others tops my lists. For the last week in December the morning shows share ideas on how to set goals and keep them.  The lists often seem the same--lose 10 pounds; travel; exercise; eat healthy; give up sugar; organize the closets, and more.  These I label as paper goals, certainly achievable with willpower and a plan. When I'm faced with these issues, I find books like Willpower  by John Tiernay very helpful. 

These days I'm looking inward, searching  for a goal that resides in my heart, and resonates in my core.  Last year I wrote a simple mantra, as a goal, and posted it to my calendar. Every two weeks these words pop up:  See the Beauty and Grace in Everyone, rather than being judgmental. Believe it or not this simple mantra lifted my heart and brought a smile to my face each time I read it.  It also achieved the goal of tempering my words.  I'm still harsh, and blunt from time to time, but I hope that every year I'm less harsh and show more grace. So I thought, if something that simple lifts my spirits why not dig deeper and discover other beauties of the heart. 

After many hours of reading and reflecting I recalled a phone conversation several years ago from my friend
Manon Bradbury and Letty in the desert.
Manon.  Lamenting that her girls were constantly texting and chatting without ever listening or hearing the voice of their friends, she said, "I much prefer to hear from my friends by phone!"  She's right.  I thoroughly enjoy our few conversations during the year because I get to hear her French Canadian accent and the zeal with which she lives and breathes.  I can't hear that in a text. 

With a zig and a zag, my mind flashed back to that November three years ago when I began calling classmates I had not seen in nearly 50 years.  What joy to hear
Lynn Farrier, Letty  MHS Class of 65
their voices and stories.  Thanks to those phone calls I've personally reconnected with my childhood friends. Now I know their spouses and a few glimpses at how they've lived over these decades. 

This year my goal is simple but sincere.  Pick up the phone and call a friend once a week. A phone call connects us to the heart of the person, much like using a puppet to communicate. My joy of being a puppeteer came
from observing the eyes and hearts of the children as they gazed in wonder and belief at "Book Dog", "Squirty", or
Book Dog
"Frisky".  Every now and then a child would say, "That puppet's not real.  You have your hand inside of it!"  I smiled and responded gently,  "Sometimes we all need a little help. This puppet is no different than I am because it speaks and listens with its heart."

So this year, I will use the arm of a puppeteer and call someone weekly. Yes, I will continue to text and email, and oh, how thankful I am that we can use technology for staying connected. My Facebook friends know I love to chat online, and my Instagram followers see that I like photographs that offer a moment to ponder.  I will continue to send postcards from afar, because I know from experience that they remind us that someone is thinking about us.  

What will you do?

What goal from your heart could make a difference in your life or someone around you?

How will you act on this goal?