Nominated for the Liebster Award

leibster-e1400545410460I am thrilled and grateful and honored that Stephanie Rose Bird of http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com/ has nominated me for the Liebster Award. I’m still in awe with the nomination and so thank you Stephanie for thinking of me!  I only know how to be me and to write what I know and the responses I’ve gotten from other bloggers and followers have rocked me in their acceptance and encouragement and to that I thank you all! You all inspire me to keep writing! 

So what is this? The word “liebster” is of German origins and it has several definitions: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, sweetheart and boyfriend, being among them. Some describe this award as a daisy chain. You get nominated for the award and if you choose to accept, you get to nominate additional bloggers for the award. You answer their questions, the new bloggers nominated answer yours.

The rules for accepting this award are:

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)
11 Questions asked of me by http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com/:
1. What is your favorite day of the year and why?
I don’t know if I have a favorite day per se, but I do have a favorite month and this is August. It’s a bittersweet month with the sadness of the closing of summer and yet full of promise for change with the fall and new beginnings.
2. What fairytale resonates with you the most?
The Little Match Girl because of the braiding of sadness and hope and love. I also deeply love the story the Gift of the Magi but that’s not a fairy tale.
3. What is the most important thing for you to do daily?
Have some quiet time. An absolute MUST.
4. What do you wish you had more time to do?
Write and travel.
5. If money was no object what would you spend your time doing?
I would travel all over the world and  experience as much as I can–like climbing ancient steps in Machu Pichu; go on a safari..
6. If you could have one magical ability what would it be?
I think it would be to fly, so I can feel the wind around me and not feel like I live in my car as a commuter!
7. With which animal do you feel those most affinity?
The Bear, for sure. They are such gorgeous creatures that look gentle but are strong and protective.
8. Where do you go for inspiration for your blog?
Honestly? Everything. People, Situations, looking out my back window as I listen to the birds and feel the breeze on my cheeks and just let me mind wander.
9. If you could have a one-on-one interview with any author, poet or artist, living or deceased, who would you interview?
Hands down it would be Maya Angelou or Rene Magritte. Maya because she was such an inspiration simply by being herself and to just sit and talk to her would be a dream. I would also choose the artist Rene Magritte  because I’ve always been in love with his paintings and would love to pick his brain as to what goes on in there to create such wonderful, imaginative pieces of art.
10. What would you most like to try that you have never done before?
Oh that’s easy–rock climbing!!
11. Pick one word that sums up your work?
Inspirational.
 
Okay, so next up are 11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. I learned English from watching Sesame Street-go Bird bird 🙂
  2. I dreamed of being an artist when I grew up, but when it came time to apply at college, my art got in but not my grades so I changed majors.
  3. I love driving fast.
  4. Cooking to me is like meditation and artistry rolled into one.
  5. My favorite pastime is to people watch.
  6. I would love to live in Seattle.
  7. I love being in a city as much as I love the country.
  8. Though I wish I could live off the grid, I appreciate the benefits of being on the grid too much right now.
  9. My first car was a bright orange 1967 Mustang.
  10. I grew up in a haunted house.
  11. I love to sing.
My nominations for The Liebster Award:
I just love these blogs and the people behind them. The posts are inspiring on so many levels and I really urge you to check them out:
11 Questions for the next Nominees:
1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. What is your favorite season and why?
3. What makes you laugh?
4. What is your favorite movie?
5. If money were no object what would you do?
6. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
7. What is one thing you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
8. What inspires you?
9. If you look up from this post right now, what do you see? What is in front of you?
10. Who is your favorite author?
11. Pick one word that would sum up your writing.

 

 

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Defining Ourselves

I read something the other day that asked how do we define ourselves? The article went on to say that it was another way of asking the Mother of All Questions: Who Am I? I became intrigued with the idea of how we define ourselves as the underbelly to that Master question.

Throughout time, philosophers and religious seekers have asked the question, Who Am I? Depending on what religious or philosophical texts you read, there are many answers, but general agreement seems to be that we are not who we think we are in this physical manifestation. We are more: We are an extension of the Universal energy (or God or whatever your name for it is) that brought us to be born in this human body in the first place.

Personally, I experience this connection—this extension—in my deepest meditations, yoga practice, or when I sit in Nature and in balance with what’s around me. In those moments, the truth of oneness becomes undeniable.

If you asked me to define myself, I would rattle off that I am a wife, a media project manager, a yoga teacher, a writer, and a daughter. In reality, those are labels of the things I do and are to others. They define my roles in society and my abilities but they do not define me. Labels are made up and so are the associations with them. I don’t believe labels define a person. I believe that moments do. If you take any defining moment in your life—it’s in those moments that we reveal who we are and our true nature.

The defining moment for a firefighter battling a blaze reveals his courageousness in his desire to save people. The defining moment for parents reveals themselves as love when they stay up all night nursing a sick child. The defining moment for a lover reveals selflessness when he puts aside his own desires when he sees his partner in need. Even defining moments that at first glance reveal something negative, really aren’t. Taking it deeper, even a person caught stealing is not a thief. Yes, per the label he is, but the defining moment of theft reveals that he is a fearful person. Someone who is hurt and in need.

We need to be careful here also of mistaking our reactions to events as tells to who we really are. When we are pressed in situations, most of us react until we learn not to. Don’t take that reaction to be the answer to who you are. Take it deeper into what’s behind that reaction.

These defining moments can come to anyone at any time. They don’t need to be earth-shattering life events. They can be simple, and small, but hugely profound in their reveal. I found myself in my own defining moment recently when I was practicing Yoga. I was having difficulty keeping a balancing pose, so in a third attempt, I yet again, renewed my intention and shifted my focus. As my foot came up against my standing leg and my arms rose above my head, my thoughts suddenly shifted to “I am love. I am love. I am love.” With each repetition, my pose became surer and straighter. That single moment was a defining one for me. So who am I? Lots of labels, and lots of things to many people and yes, I am an extension of the universal energy, and I am also love.

Who are you?

 

Nominated for The Lighthouse Award

the-lighthouse-award

I want to give a big thank you to Caffe Maggieato at http://mscoffeehouse.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for the Lighthouse Award. It’s exciting to me and an honor for the nod. It means so much because bringing “light to a pure world” was my incentive for lilypadheart from the beginning. Receiving this award makes me want to reach out more–higher and farther and to keep writing, loving, laughing, and sharing my learning.

Here are the rules:

• Display the Award Certificate on your blog.
• Write a post and link back to the blogger that nominated you.
• Inform your nominees of their award nominations.
• Share three ways that you like to help others.
• Nominate as many bloggers as you like.

Three ways that I like to help others:

1. Encourage people to make whatever is the next step for them to take.

2. Write posts, stories, poems, whatever it takes to bring focus, light, clarity, questioning, and amusement even at the sake of myself and to show people they’re not alone.

3. Showing that by taking something, anything, just a little bit deeper, how different things can be.

My nominees for others that share the light:

http://lauramacky.wordpress.com/ Laura’s photos always take me away and are inspiring, breathtaking, and just plain beautiful. They make me feel the wonder in the world as I see the world through her camera lens.

http://b-due.com/ It’s simple. It’s thoughtful. Carrie and Becky’s daily challenge is a wonderful reminder of the simplest things in life that are often the most important. Little things mean a lot!

http://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/ It’s just so full of heart and touches me with every post.

https://teri-connolly.squarespace.com/blog/ Teri’s has just such a beautiful way of expressing herself and her writing always makes me feel like I’m never alone in my own wanderings.

http://angelsbark.wordpress.com/ Michele’s writing  has brought me to my knees by taking me wherever her posts have decided to go for the day. She pulls me in for the ride each and every time. A site and a writer that is as full of heart and passion and just such good writing as it comes.

On a personal note, I want to thank all of you who have supported my writing and this site. I feel so honored to be able to reach out and touch so many people, because I feel honored by how many people have reached out and touched me. Since starting this blog, I’ve been fascinated to see the ripples of connections that start from one comment, one thread, one post, connecting people around the world. So many circles and yet all part of one big heart. Thank you to all of you for being my inspiration.

 

 

Soundtrack of Summer

I can’t believe that Memorial Day is just days away! Summer is thisclose and I’m dazed by how quickly time is passing. Before I know it, I’ll be making plans for Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas shopping, but until then, my most immediate plans are farmer’s markets, watching the robins pick at the worms in the freshly mowed lawn, and long lazy weekends in the backyard.

I woke up this morning to the familiar warm air and crisp smell of a day when you don’t even have to look at the calendar to know that June is coming. I opened the window wider and leaned my head against the frame, closed my eyes, took a deep breath in, letting my senses take me back as my mind replayed for me in no particular order, the movies of summers past:

Sitting on my parents’ patio with the radio on and a fresh glass of ice tea next to me, soaking up the sun like a lizard and listening to some new singer by the name of Madonna;

Driving around in my parents GMC pacer with the windows rolled down and my red mini-boom box strapped to the passenger seat because there was no radio, blasting Bryan Adams, “Summer of ‘69”;

Working at a private pool for the summer hearing Don Henley sing about the “Boys of Summer”;

Going with my best friend to the local public pool. The air permeated with the smell of chlorine and French fries, and the cries of “Marco” “Polo” were mixed in with Bananerama’s “It’s a Cruel Summer” and the Motels singing about “Suddenly Last Summer”;

I remember days of jumping through a sprinkler because there was no other way to cool off, and when there wasn’t a sprinkler, my husband and I became nine years old again throwing water balloons at each other and chasing each other around the back yard with Super Soakers as the Beach Boys, “In My Room”, Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”, and David Lee Roth’s version of “California Girls” played on the stereo.

I let these memories continue to play as I started my day and headed out the door to go to work, which brought back its own memories of traveling the Garden State Parkway.

Being a Jersey Girl, driving down the shore was a rite of passage with traffic so thick you could hold a conversation with the people in the car next to you for a few exits until the next toll. Strains of music could be heard from each car’s own choice of summer tunes, but nothing, absolutely nothing beats a Bruce Springsteen song on those parkway drives with all the windows down and the volume cranked to the belting of “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive….” Call me jaded, call me old, but I don’t care—when I hear that line, it still makes me smile and gives me goose bumps.

I never realized until today how much of a role music played as a part of those summer memories. Every one of them has a soundtrack—anything by John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and The Eagles; “Summer Breeze,” by Seals and Crofts; “School’s Out,” by Alice Cooper; “Saturday in the Park,” by Chicago, “Under the Boardwalk,” by The Drifters; “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” by Sly and the Family Stone, and on it goes.

My summer soundtrack for this year is still to come and I’m looking forward to creating new memories with maybe some new songs. With this last thought, I made the final turn into the parking lot of my office. Shifting into park, my hand stopped midway to the radio to shut it off when the unmistakable first beats of Mungo Jerry came on the radio…“In the Summer time when the weather is hot…” You’ve got to be kidding. Serendipity at it’s best. I laughed out loud and stayed to listen to the song smiling all the way.

Yeah baby—welcome to summer! What’s your soundtrack?

Wondering About the Seven Wonders of the World

Question for this Thursday—and no peeking!

What are the Seven Wonders of the World?

How many did you get? If you are able to name them, good for you and I bow to your memory! But if you’re anything like me, coming up with anything beyond one or two was a struggle. The only one I could readily name is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and my husband could only name the Taj Mahal. Together we were able to remember the Great Pyramid of Giza, but after that we just stared at each other.

Curiosity got the better of me so I did a little digging and discovered that there are not just the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and sometimes an Eighth), but there are apparently other “Wonders” as well: Seven Wonders of the Modern World, Seven Natural Wonders of the World, New Seven Wonders of the World, Seven Wonders of the Underwater World, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, and Seven Wonders of the Solar System, and many other Wonder lists that aren’t relegated to the number Seven. As a matter of fact, a Google Search of the Seven Wonders of the World resulted in 33,800,000 hits (!!).

For those of you like me, who couldn’t remember the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (also known as Seven Wonders of the Classic World), here they are:

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Later historical lists included more “contemporary” sites such as the Taj Mahal (the Wonder my husband came up with) Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Great Wall of China, and Cluny Abbey. Maybe they were added because the only one left from the original list is the Great Pyramid of Giza!

Many of these lists are subjective and were created from the public surveys and compilations guided by groups such as The American Society of Civil Engineers, CNN, New 7 Wonders Foundation, USA Today newspaper, New7 Wonders of Nature, and CEDAM International to name a few.

Thinking about all of these Wonders inspired me to create my own Seven Wonders of Renata’s World. I’m not a time traveler or a world traveler and these wonders aren’t all man-made, or all natural-made but they are Wonders to me nonetheless. In no particular order of Wonder, here is my list:

The strength of a tuft of grass or dandelion to find the spot to push through and grow in between cracks of cement
The power of thunderstorms
The grace of an ocean wave
The depth of feelings of relief, acceptance, and gratefulness when forgiving and being forgiven
Falling asleep curled up in your lover’s arms
A Parents’ hug
Falling in love

If you were to list Seven Wonders in your world what would they be?

One Day Last Week

One day last week, I got home before my husband, so I had the house to myself for a while. It had been a hectic few days so it felt like a guilty pleasure to change into my sweatpants and just sit and relax without having to move right into making dinner or starting laundry. Sitting quietly on the couch, I had the TV on low, tuned into a British medical drama I’ve always passed by but thought this would be the perfect time to watch it. So there I was, letting my senses and soul knit themselves back to normal as I let myself get lost in the lilting British accents when I heard a distinct whhhhoooooossssh THUMP.

I tend to hear weird noises in my house (who hasn’t?), but sometimes things have moved on their own here before and I also grew up in a house that was spiritually active so I’ve always been around bumps in the night, or in my case days also. After hearing the noise, I still jumped and thought “What now?” It didn’t take long to find it and I laughed after I got over my shock. A book my husband had put on the bookshelf a few days prior had slid off the top shelf and landed on the floor. The title? God will Provide. No kidding. It was a book on the lives of various saints that we both enjoy and have always loved the title. Huh. I left the book where it was to show my husband and sat back on the couch. There was no reason why it had fallen from a secure spot.

I couldn’t stop smiling. What a great message. I really wasn’t scared. Who would be with a message “God Will Provide”? Yeah sure the delivery of the message was a little unusual but I was willing to look past that. A short time later, a smudge feather I’ve used in many Shamanic practices that had been sitting on a drum across the room suddenly flipped over end to end with a soft whoosh of the feather and landed on the floor. That one I caught out of the corner of my eye and so witnessed the whole cartwheel. This one startled me a little bit more. There was no reason—no breeze, no gust of wind, no open window, open door, no nothing that would explain that flip. It wasn’t even a sliding off but it flipped end over end. Again, I was shocked, but feathers are very special to me, and this feather, in particular, and I went back together a long way so I knew it was motivated to move by a good energy.

I told my husband about the book and the feather when he got home and asked him if he thought there were any logical reasons that he could see why they had fallen, and he admitted no, there really wasn’t. These two occurrences have stayed with me since then and I’ve wrapped myself up in the comfort they’ve left me with the loud and clear message that I am not alone and that no matter what happens, “God will Provide” and the feather falling told me that my guides and helping Spirits were around.

I thanked whomever it was that helped deliver the message (and yes, accepted the signs from only in the highest good). I have some otherworld helpers for sure and to me it doesn’t matter which one of them did it but rather I am grateful for the message. It was timely. There are days I pray from the knees on my heart for peace, grace, and strength to do whatever needs to be done and sometimes the prayer is just one of thankfulness for the new day and to see what I will learn. Messages of confirmation or love or support from the Universe or whomever, aren’t always that direct to many people or me I know, so the fact that it was so exacting really told me a lot. It was a spiritual slap upside the head to say “Hey! It’s okay! Don’t worry. Things have a way of working out.”

Sometimes I have fun and I outright ask, “Show me what I need to know for right now or for today.” And then I let it go, but without a hitch, at some point I will come across an advertisement on a truck, a vanity license plate, overhear a part of a conversation, something that will just root me to the spot that fits in perfectly with what I may need to hear. We hear what we need to hear in many different ways. So if you’re praying for something and you don’t think you’re getting an answer (yes, sometimes not having the answer is also an answer), be open to what crosses your path and see if you don’t find that answer in the most surprising places.

A Doctor’s Visit—The Bitter Pill

I recently visited my doctor over concerns I had with some physical symptoms I had been experiencing. Of course, I looked up all my symptoms and they could have been a number of different things, but I decided that I wanted to be sure and rule out anything more serious that might be an underlying problem.

So there I sat on the exam table and he asked what brought me in today. I started to explain my symptoms, and without even letting me finish, he declared, “Stress. It’s Stress.”

I said, “Okay, I figured that but what about—“
“Stress.”
“And then there’s—“
“Stress.”
“Even—?““
“Stress.”

I was not able to finish my thought before the same diagnosis was spoken again and again and again, all before a stethoscope and not even a blood pressure reading.

He finally listened to my heart and said it was fine and that what I was feeling was mental and stress and then proceeded to fill out a script for an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. Whoa. Anti-anxiety I get but antidepressant? NO. Neither script got filled.

I looked deep into his eyes and firmly told him I did not want to be medicated first without having him take a deeper look. He was nonplussed, looked me equally in the eye and told me to take these meds whether I wanted to or not and in the meantime he’ll look deeper. In other words, come back tomorrow for a blood test and (because my husband strongly suggested), a referral for a stress test. My symptoms may well be from stress, but I still wanted to rule out any additional medical cause that may be underlying.

I ended up having an EKG right then and the good news is my heart was fine. What stunned me though was the absolute lack of listening to the rest of my symptoms. I did not feel heard and to me, that is one the worst things a doctor can do to a patient.

I go to a doctor for guidance and evaluation on my physical well-being when my own health practices don’t seem to be enough. The last time I was even at the doctor for myself was last September for much needed medication for Bronchitis, so it’s not like I run to the office for every sneeze.

What bothers me so much about this particular visit is the dismissive nature of my feelings and physical complaints. Even if it is “just stress,” stress is a known deathtrap and constant elevated levels wreak havoc on every system in our body. To blindly treat symptoms with these two scripts without even a hint of planning to look deeper is just not fair to me as a patient.

I have seen the same type of dismissiveness with my mother’s doctors, my husband saw it with his father’s doctors, and I’ve heard others go through this so sadly, it is nothing new. I personally know many practitioners in the medical community and they agree that too many doctors are writing scripts to treat symptoms and don’t bother to look any further or deeper into other possible underlying issues causing these symptoms.  I think what has saved me from a complete lack of faith in the medical community is the level of treatment my husband received from his oncologist and their staff. They were fantastic and a wonderful example of patient care.

I went to my doctor, trusting this member of the medical community for his knowledge and training and I suspected I might receive some sort of medication, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be a bitter pill.

Doctors need to take it deeper!