|Posted on October 7, 2015 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
I am very belssed and grateful to one of my spiritual teachers, Kathleen O'Connor. I met her 15 years ago on happenstance. The moment I met her I was home. I had always been searching for something, something I did not know I was searching for. But there was a yearning in my soul. Don't really know how to describe it. My friend who brought me on the retreat, told me it was just really a way to get to be at the beach. Affordable. Included room and board. She never told me about Kathleen or what really goes on. It was truly just about the beach for her. So I ended up finding my spiritual home. Kathleen taught me all about earth-based spirituality, Native American culture and traditions. She taught me how to respect myself, nature and how to create sacred space. I was taught about the way of the grandmothers and how to honor their wisdom, and be of service. I could go on and on as I have been taught so much. So the reason I blog about it today, I have now translated my wisdom from Kathleen and all the beautiful women who attend this annual retreat, to a group at the hospital where I work.
Over these past 18 years working there I have seen so much pain, poverty, severe co-occurring illnesses, and how so many people have lost hope, have low self-esteem, and no self respect.. Especially women over the age of 50. Our society focuses so much on the young, and working people, families, and once a woman becomes a certain age and is in the category as I described above, the amount of loneliness and depression is so high. So I decided to start a "Wise Woman" group. Today was the first day, and it was amazing. Everyone kept thaning me, and were beaming as I talked about the earth-based ways and how we would all be Queens!
I was so enriched being able to take what Kathleen taught me and give to these women a sparkle in their eyes! I guess part of the message here is take some time, and spend some time with the elders of our tribe. Most of them deserve it, and really need it......
For peace of mind
|Posted on October 6, 2015 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
As most of you know I love just observing life all around me. Whether it is nature, or art, or traffic, or archetecture.... And then the best one.. People! So I decided to start paying even closer attention as they seem to be the new Buddhists of this day and age. Check out some of my older blogs to read about the clerk at the pharmacy, and Ernie from Subway.... So this leads me to yet another day where I encountered a very zen clerk at yet another Subway shop. I walk in and was greeted by the brightest smile! I say my order, and he was so funny, and said; "I would really like to make that sub for you but the owner is too cheap so we don't have what you want." I started laughing so hard! So now that the stage was set we kept bouncing back and forth. Turns out he is a musician, and plays acoustic guitar. His name is Dylan... I left his info in my car, but I wanted to get the blog in. So don't worry Dylan I will get your info into this blog! You started my day with a smile.
Then yesterday, On my way home, I stopped to get some water at a convenience store, and as I was standing in the back by the coolers I start to hear singing. One of the clerks was singing along with the radio while she was vacuuming. Her partner started dancing with her and they were laughing! I got up front to pay, and I said it's nice to see people having fun at work. She said oh yes, we have a lot of fun together. Her parting words were, "Life's too short, enjoy every minute"........
Words of wisdom from the front lines. These folks have shown me over the years that they have infinite patience, work very hard, and still smile. They have shown how wonderful it can be to human. I want to say thank you to all of you! Enjoy every moment..
For Peace of Mind.....
|Posted on September 30, 2015 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
So I was driving in to work and was appreciating the colors of the leaves on the trees. I live at a higher elevation than where I work so I essentially experience the seasons twice. Its peaking where I live and just starting where I work. So this very cool for me because I love the seasons, how they come and how they go. Im always sad for a moment when they end... Then I got to thinking. We start to appreciate a season when it is in full swing, and we often start to think ahead to the next season instead of living in the current one. Like Christmas hype starting after Halloween. I'm not a big fan of the big deal people make of that holiday, especially since it has become so consumer driven. Even Thanksgiving has been tainted with the "Black Friday" event. I talk about and blog about mindfulness all the time, and wold encourage everyone to stay mindfully in each season. The light greens and pastels of the Spring. The smell of rain, and lilacs. The richness of summer, and the blanket of warmth that surrounds you. Thunderstorms, and camp fires. The bold colors of the Fall, the smell of earth and leaves. Apples and pumpkins. The crispness of Winter. The white coat of the snow on everything. The crunch of the snow as you walk, and the fireplace warm and cozy. Enjoy each season.....
For peace of mind
|Posted on August 9, 2015 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
I have decided to start talking to all people who work on the frontlines with the human experience. We usually think of fire fighters, or EMTs, police officers.... I'm talking about the people that serve us in our local convenient stores, restauarants, fast food eateries... They really have some stories to tell. So today I wil share the grumpy lady's story....
Ok. So I stopped off at a local convenient store on my way home. I started talking to the cashier as I often do, and boy what an experience. She was saying how the guy at the gas pump was going to call the police on her for not putting his money in the right pump. He had told her the wrong pump number though. I laughed and said "how can anyone call the police on you". I said you just have to love people....her response was so fast and honest. "I hate people". I was like no you don't. She was like. Yes I do. I said you just have to love the human experience. She said no. Told me I had my wings to go to heaven. I told her she could see things from a lighter perspective. She was like no. I told she just had to practice seeing things in a positive way even the yucky stuff. As she walked over to check out a customer she said to me "I hate people. I can't change". The guy waiting to order his ice cream looked at her. Then at me. Then back at her. As I left. I heard her say to him. "What the hell do you want?!" Then they both started laughing. From the front lines of America. Claudia Israel reporting. You just have to love people! For Peace of Mind
|Posted on July 30, 2015 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
The link above brings you to a nice newspaper article on how the festival came to be and a little more about the background that led me to run this website.
As I was being interviewed for this, it got me reflecting on the journey of the past few years. I have been blessed to know so many people on the journeys through their lives. What an honor it is to bear witness to someone else doing their life. I met a remarkable young woman where I volunteer, and the kids have a summer camp there. They were each assigned to write their story, and she was kind enough to share her story and give me permission to post it here..... She is one of the many reasons I work so hard to work on suicide prevention efforts.
I was always different from everyone else. I just knew it when I saw how others interacted. But I put up a front, for the sake of my family and myself. It wasn’t until I was in 8th grade, when my grandmother died, that the demon I pushed down cracked through its cage. I wanted to stop it, but it was too strong. I became severely depressed. Crying at the sheer thought of going to school, or outside the house for that matter. And when I did go to school, I would skip class and/or sleep. And then I learned what you could do with a razor. I did my best to cover up my tracks, and it worked for a while. When my family found out what I was doing they sent me to a rehab center, making me miss my middle school graduation. I was there for 2 weeks, putting up the front I put up when I was younger to get out of there. I went back home for the rest of the summer. My little demon came out again. I was back to sleeping a lot, staying inside for as long as I could, and was on the computer so much my eyes hurt. I knew this wasn’t the way I was supposed to live, but I didn’t care.
And then 9th grade started, I was a freshmen in high school. Everything was okay, my fake smile in place which only lasted for about a month and a half. I couldn’t take it anymore. So on the day of November 16 2011, I climbed to the roof of my 3-story high school. I just sat on the edge for what felt like hours before I started to scotch. I was almost off the edge when I heard screaming. “Get down! Get off right now!” His screams made my vision blur with tears. And with one final scotch, I was flying. The last thing I remember was the ground coming at me, fast. And then, darkness.
The first thing I remember after that, everyone was crying. This made me start to cry too. Why did I do this? How could I put this on my family? I knew right then and there, I was going to get better. I had multiple injuries all over my body, with scars to match. It took a while, but I finally learned to walk again. But I had to start off with a walker, which then got replaced with a cane. After a month of pain and tears, I didn’t need anything to help me. I was out of the hospital in March of 2012, which made me spend Christmas, New Years, and even my birthday in the hospital.
But I finally did it. I was out of the hospital with a goal set in mind. Live and be happy. To this day I think about all the wrongs that could have happened. I even ask myself, “why am I alive?” My guess is that I wasn’t done here on earth. That it wasn’t my time. So I’m here to make a change. Depression is a huge deal across the world. And I see people every day that are depressed and with self-harm scars. I just want to shake them and tell them everything is going to be okay. There are people out there that can and will help. But I’m only just one person with a tragic past. But I’m here to help. This is Valora, signing out"
|Posted on July 9, 2015 at 2:40 PM||comments (0)|
Growing up, my family went on vacation every summer. Sometimes more than once, and often we would go camping every weekend. It was fun and challenging at times. We drove cross country more than once, it was cool to see the sights, but part of it was being trapped in an old station wagon with my family... not always fun, but we always came home with so many memories. National Lampoon's Vacation movie reminds me a little about the craziness of getting to the destination! Yes it was California, and Universal Studios! I have pictures of us in all kinds of crazy places, and posing with the wolf man, and Frankenstein. We were the ultimate tourists! As I became an adult and went on my own vacations, I strived to never be a tourist, but to experience places as theie residents do. But the reason I'm writing all of this is the title of this blog.... Vacation Cows. That was our signal that we were on vacation. My family is originally from Germany. And in different regions of the the country they had different types of cows. You would see mostly brown cows, and as you found your way to the southern tier, the cows would be black and white.... So when you were so far from home, you called them vacation cows to signify we were someplace different. Why is this important? We can get stale as we live in our life day to day. We have all had the experience of "Auto Pilot". It is good to get out of this mode as we can begin to see around us again. When we drive the same road and walk the same path all the time we stop seeing.... Truly seeing. So getting a change of scenery can bring a fresh perspective. Vacation Cows! You don't have to go cross country to get this experience either. Even a day trip can freshen up your perspective. Or even trying a new experience where you live! Go to a trampoline park, walk a labyrinth! Go and get lost on the back roads and find your way home.
Change the lense! Look for vacation cows..... For peace of mind
|Posted on June 18, 2015 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
I was talking to a friend, and he shared with me how he was thinkking of me as he was making out his grocery list in the parking lot of a local store. He suddenly noticed how blue the sky was and truly peaceful it felt to just look at it. He then said he noticed the sound of some loud engine and assumed it was a construction vehicle or something. He immediately starting thinking how upset he was that someone was ruining his peaeful state of mind with all that noise! Then he realized his foot had slipped onto the gas pedal and that it was his not being mindful that destroyed his own peace of mind. He said I could share this story with all of you to first be able to laugh as it is often us, and our thinkiing that destroys peace. Secondly he wanted me to share this story because he learned that it is possible to have peace of mind even if only for one moment.
So be mindful of your feet! For Peace of mind
|Posted on May 3, 2015 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
I had two extremely beautiful experiences this past week. I believe in the good nature of people. I live in a wonderful supportive community in the middle of the woods on a mountain. When I first moved there I had a lot of chaos in my life. My landlords (now close friends) without even knowing me, helped me get to a great place in my life. I was a complete stranger. They took me in in so many ways. They even fed me when I could barely make ends meet. They are like this for all people. So this past week I went to a local shopping plaza to find new glasses. I hate to admit it, but yes I am at that age when the eys get weaker. But they see so much more clearly then when I was younger. The store was closed. So as I was exiting, there was a young man standing there with a cardboard sign saying "I'm broke and hungry. I pulled out and went across the street to a fast food place to buy him a meal. I always feel badly for people in his predicament. Some people have called me a sucker, telling me beggars are welathy sometimes and are con men. I just don't judge anymore. If this young man (who also had a black eye), was a con mana so be it. An alcoholic so be it. A hustler in any way..ok. I decide everyday to just believe in the good. So I go back to the plaza and hand him the bag and five dollars. He thanks me and I feel good. Sometimes our acts of charity are so important because we feel the good. Just like being angry at someone does not hurt them, it hurts us. I sat waiting for the light and the young man went to the car behind me, another bag was given. I became tearful (am again as I write this). The car behind that handed him money, the car behind that handed him two cigarettes. I was so overwhelmed by the generous spirit around me. I pulled out and this young man gathered his backpack and went to the bus stop. He got what he needed. As he stood there he opened the bag I gave him. I was lightly d=crying for happiness that I got to feed someone like I have been fed.
So the second thing I saw was also fantastically amazing in the midst of a tragic event. I was driving home, and some cars were off on the side of the road. I realized as I drove by someone had hit a deer. There was a man holding the deer gently and was stroking ths hurt animal. It was in some ways one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Practice kindness For peace of mind