Archives For writing

My Singing Heart

01/26/2014

find what brings joyWhat may appear to be a simple question can often be the most difficult to answer.

Who am I?

What do I love?

How may I serve?

These are questions I’ve been mulling over, contemplating, and growing with lately. As I examine what I most love, those things that add joy and make my heart sing, the other answers rise to the surface. In moving towards what makes my heart shine with happiness, I am uncovering who I really am and how I may be of service.

do what you canClarity regarding why I blog, what I want to post about, and why I have two blogs has shone through me at last, and I am feeling renewed. Summarizing my two blogs in one sentence, Professions for PEACE is like my ministry and P.E.A.C.E. is my daily life.

Professions for PEACE is where I share my highest and most enlightened observations. I am using the definition of the word professions as in declarations, testimonies or assertions. These professions are like my Sunday sermons, so to speak, no matter what day of the week they arrive. They are my celebrations of all that inspires me. Joyful declarations of people living together in harmonious acceptance, celebrating our differences while acknowledging our sameness. It’s a faith-based place where I share what sparks my spirit, lifts my heart, and speaks to me of God. Between my longer writings you’ll find posts with inspirational quotes, posters and poetry. May each discovery of these offerings add brightness to your day.

People Excited About Co~Existence is where I post about the rest of the week as I seek the miraculous in the mundane. While the name of this site is long I hope you’ll find each visit worth it: peopleexcitedaboutcoexistence.com without spaces, caps or dashes. Co-existence begins within, in the home and in the heart. Whether we live alone or with a multi-generational family, the essence of peacefully co-existing begins inside our own hearts. I bring peace with me on all my tasks and travels, and here’s where I share how I do it. You’ll find posts on easy organizing, simple recipes, gardening tips, green shopping, walking to the store, living with pets, and other familial topics. In the minutiae of daily life I discover the shining gem of inner peace. If I can do it, any one can do it. Let’s celebrate the creation of a calmer, sweeter existence. We help bring peace into the world through happy lives and peaceful hearts.

no one injured bright side of life 400This is what makes my heart sing: celebrating what’s working. Pointing out the positive is one of the things that sets my heart to singing.

Moments that make us feel happy deserve to be noticed. I believe we need to pause, observe, and feel grateful for whatever is happening right in the moment when our hearts feel bright.
Whether it’s making kids laugh or dogs’ tails wag. Serving up an incredible meal, laughing with friends, fixing a vehicle, being in our gardens, or writing an inspiring post.

Whatever makes our hearts happy and harms no one, let’s do more of that. That’s what I share about. I blog about things that make my heart sing. May you burst into song along with me.

Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE

Image sources: 1 2 3 

Spring Fever

04/02/2013

spring-desktop-wallpaperSpring fever. For many, those two words conjure up thoughts of falling in love. I see these two words as a reignited passion for life! I feel the calling for longer walks, and more moments bird-watching to witness the returning or ‘passing through’ of winged wonders. I find myself cleaning out disorganized closets and emptying sheds. Leftover Easter ham is being cherished down to every last morsel into pasta casseroles and various soups. Windows have been cleaned of their winter grime, and curtains and blinds are fully opened to allow in the fresh spring air.

I am feeling fresh and sprite too as I’m drawn to wearing my brightest colours. My usual choices of blues, greens or browns have been replaced by tops and scarves in purple, pink, yellow and orange. Buying cut-flowers at the store feels like more of a necessity than an extravagance as my spirit longs for growing things. As if to oblige all three of my indoor Christmas Cactus are quickly becoming covered with their spectacular orchid-like blooms, and an African Violet in the front window has more purple than green as it keeps sending up more and more blooms.

Colorful_spring_gardenGarden Floor Plans have been drawn and lists compiled. There are certain perennials that need to be moved, primarily away from the hot sun at the front of the yard facing south, and into the cooler, more shaded area at the back of the yard. Now mind you, the ground is still frozen and only the very toughest plants are starting to show hints of green, so pre-planning is all I can do. Well that and neatening the garden: pulling off the covering mulch and cutting back last year’s dead plant matter. The lovely ladybugs scramble as they are shaken awake. I say Hello and carefully work around them as they hurry away. I send them love and hope they won’t go too far.

When it’s time to take a break and come indoors, the delicious aroma of Lentil-Pea-Ham soup greets me from the slow cooker. Yesterday’s hearty Ham & Corn Chowder was happily devoured by the family. Hopefully today’s soup will be as well received.

I wanted to share a glimpse into my bustling ‘spring fever’ days here in early April, when the mild winds are pushing small white clouds across a bright blue sky. The temperatures are warming through the day and even staying above freezing at night (barely but 2 Celsius is good for me!). So I say Thank You God for another spring day, and thank you to all of you cherished readers for encouraging me to pause a moment and share about my day. May your day be filled with energizing spring breezes and a deep sense of gratitude that wells up and fills your heart to overflowing. Life is Good! Namaste.
.
.
[Images not mine; unable to locate sources.]

“Remind yourself what it’s like to have fun on All Fool’s Day. Surprise your loved ones and co-workers with whimsy ~ not practical jokes that embarrass. Instead, devise comical, absurd, and amazing surprises.
At home, turn everything topsy-turvy: serve bagel, pita, or English muffin pizzas for breakfast. And pancakes or waffles for supper.
After school tell them you’ve got to take them to a doctor or dentist appointment and then head for the ice cream parlor.”
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ‘Simple Abundance’

Perhaps it’s because April is so full of dazzling sunlight. Perhaps it’s because the earth seems greener. Perhaps it’s because resurrection is this month’s signature. Is this why our spirits start to soar? Now the season of darkness diminishes as the season of Light increases in strength. In the garden, primroses, pansies, violets, tulips, and lilacs burst with color. Each flower, plant, and bough bears profound witness to the power of authenticity. This month we continue to grow gracefully, creatively, and joyously into our authentic selves, awakening to our own beauty.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ‘Simple Abundance’

Painting of Red Robin by Elizabeth Blaylock

Painting of Red Robin by Elizabeth Blaylock

Thank you to the beautifully wise and creative writer Sarah Ban Breathnach. Her writings shared in celebration of April help bring me to the computer with encouragement to copy them out here.

Copying. Plagiarizing. These are generally unpleasant and emotion-filled words.

However I am reminded of an important childhood memory, at the tender age of seven, when I spent two weeks camping in a trailer with my mom and creating some of the best memories her and I made together. I enjoyed swimming daily at the campground’s outdoor pool. One day, upon waking earlier than usual, I felt inspired to go hold my nose and jump in again… splashing around like a frog and pretending I was a dolphin. Away I ran barefoot through the early morning sunlight, clad in my little girl’s one-piece with towel in hand. It was exciting to be there earlier than usual… it was so quiet! The doors were unlocked and I walked through the showers to the pool area.

There were people at the other end that I paid no mind to as I dropped my towel, held my nose and bombed into the deep end of the pool to joyfully splash and scramble with terrifying excitement to clutch the side of the pool. I swam around a bit before noticing that I was being called over. The grown-up of the group at the other end of the pool was asking if I was part of the lesson? No? I had no idea what he was talking about? At last I understood what he was saying: Terribly sorry but the pool is closed and you’ll have to leave.

I remember feeling embarrassed and chagrined, but also curious. What were they learning? What else was there to know about swimming other than jumping in and dashing to the side to bravely survive not-drowning? I clutched my towel around me and walked around to the outside of the chain-link fence. I watched. I listened to what the instructor was telling everyone. And it made sense. No one had ever told me that before. I stood there, getting a lesson without ever signing up, by watching and soaking it up. I became a much stronger swimmer that day. Less clumsy frog-like movements and smoother dolphin-like movements. I began to understand the concept of holding my breath better, and practiced all I’d seen when the pool opened at 9am.

I feel a similar rush of surreptitiously spied and copied excitement this morning. Lately I’ve ‘fallen off the horse’ of writing regularly. Feeling inspired to copy out and share Ms. Breathnach’s writings is like a gentle ‘leg up’. I feel encouraged by copying out what she wisely wrote years ago, wisdom that has inspired me for years and does again this morning. It feels the same way that memorizing classic poetry twenty years ago did for my own writing: it tremendously inspired me and soon found me writing my own poems.

It feels like newness. And growth. And spring!

Copying others isn’t always a bad thing. Copying others and saying it was our own idea is terribly uncool and creates bad karma. But copying others and sharing who it’s from and being thankful for the inspiration is completely different. We all feel honored when we can inspire another. Imitation is the finest form of flattery, specifically when acknowledged and honored.

Thanks Sarah… for helping me to get back up on that horse!

Horse Painting by Alison Zapata

Horse Painting by Alison Zapata

References:
Author Sarah Ban Breathnach’s SIMPLE ABUNDANCE: A DAYBOOK OF COMFORT AND JOY
Elizabeth Blaylock – Oil Painting of Red Robin
Alison Zapata – Horse painting

rose petal heartThis post title was introduced to me by a blogger I tremendously enjoy following: The Dad Poet. He is a talented poet as well as a poetry aficionado. If you enjoy poetry even a bit, I am certain you’ll enjoy visiting his blog. I have learned so much more about poetry from him! He also includes videos of himself doing readings as well as other poets doing recitals, both on his blog and on YouTube.

Thank you David for the inspiration for me to share this delightful poem today! My answer to the presented question of a love poem I wish I had written is easy: Arthur L. Gillom’s “I Want You”.

This rhyming poem with its strong visuals was rather effortless for me to memorize decades ago for a wedding I’d been invited to recite at. The presentation of this poem went wonderfully, and it was a special way to lead into the reception that followed the ceremony. It is a piece of poetry I deeply cherish and I hope you enjoy. Please note that I was single when I memorized this. I allowed the powerful love these words portray to permeate my being and raise my spirits, helping me know my true mate would arrive in the right time. And it came true! If you are single and wish not to be, never give up. If you have found your love, always cherish and value your relationship. We have the power to help create our own destiny. May yours be beautiful and loving.

Arthur L. Gillom I WANT YOU

Additional Reading:

https://dadpoet.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/love-poems-you-wish-you-had-written-4-with-walt-whitman/

https://nowrigglingoutofwriting.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/love-poems-you-wish-you-had-written-2-elizabeth-barrett-browning/

https://professionsforpeace.com/2012/06/18/on-memorizing-poetry/

Langston Hughes

02/01/2013

langston hughes poetry lineAs far back as I can remember, I have adored poetry. I’m especially drawn to the works of poets who courageously dive deeply into their stories… their journeys through life. These are my favorite kinds of poetry: raw and honest tales of joy and of woe. These are the poetic stories which can become eternal.

Writer-poet Langston Hughes (Feb. 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was born 111 years ago. Happy Birthday Langston Hughes! I am joined with millions of other readers who continue to be moved by your poetic stories to this day, for your works are eternal.

langston hughes poemJames Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a small child and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois to live with his mother and her husband before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Lincoln, Illinois, that Hughes began writing poetry. Following graduation he spent a year in Mexico and a year at Columbia University. During these years he held odd jobs as an assistant cook, launderer, and a busboy, and travelled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman. In 1924 he moved to Washington, D.C.  Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in “Montage of a Dream Deferred.” His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.  Source: Poets.org

Here are a couple of delightful books for readers of all ages to enjoy:

langston-hughes-american-poet-alice-walker-hardcover-cover-art

Langston Hughes: American Poet” By Alice Walker ~ Illustrated by Catherine Deeter

When Langston Hughes was a boy, His grandmother told him true stories of how African people were captured in Africa and brought to America enslaved. She told him about their fight for freedom and justice. Langston loved his grandmother’s stories. To learn more stories and bear more beautiful language, he began to read books. He fell in love with books and decided that one day he would write stories too, true stories about Black people.

When he was only fourteen, Langston wrote his first poem, and for the rest of his life he was always writing — stories and essays and, most of all, poems. He wrote about Black people as he saw them: happy, sad, mad, and beautiful. Through his writing he fought for freedom from inequality and injustice; and his gift of words inspired and influenced many other writers.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was one writer Langston influenced. In this moving and richly detailed portrait she celebrates the life of an extraordinary man. Accompanied by stunning paintings by artist Catherine Deeter, Langston Hughes: American Poet will introduce a whole new generation to the life and works of a great African American Poet of the twentieth century, and one of the most important poets of all time.

AUTHOR BIO: Alice Walker (b. 1944), one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

langston hughes book cover - my people

My People Poem by Langston Hughes ~ Photography by Charles R. Smith Jr.

Langston Hughes’s spare yet eloquent tribute to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.

Editorial Review (Amazon.com): “Smith’s knack for pairing poetry and photography is well documented in books such as Hoop Queens (Candlewick, 2003) and Rudyard Kipling’s If (S & S, 2006). Here, his artful images engage in a lyrical and lively dance with Langston Hughes’s brief ode to black beauty. Dramatic sepia portraits of African Americans—ranging from a cherubic, chubby-cheeked toddler to a graying elder whose face is etched with lines-are bathed in shadows, which melt into black backgrounds. The 33 words are printed in an elegant font in varying sizes as emphasis dictates. In order to maximize the effect of the page turn and allow time for meaning to be absorbed, the short phrases and their respective visual narratives often spill over more than a spread. The conclusion offers a montage of faces created with varying exposures, a decision that provides a light-filled aura and the irregularities that suggest historical prints. A note from Smith describes his approach to the 1923 poem. This celebration of the particular and universal will draw a wide audience: storytime participants; students of poetry, photography, and cultural studies; seniors; families. A timely and timeless offering.” ~Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

silverrain.langston blog.susangaylord.com

By Langston Hughes ~ Calligraphy Image Source: blog.susangaylord.com

Langston_Hughes Hold Fast to Dreams

what does peace feel like

What Does Peace Feel Like?

.
Through simple words and pictures, this thought-provoking book suggests some interesting answers to the question, “What does peace feel like?”.

The author opens with children, adults, and one dog saying “peace” in different languages and ends with a listing of nearly 200 of them from around the globe. In between, his signature style on double-paged spreads asks how peace smells, looks, sounds, tastes, and feels.

The vibrant paintings work well with the text, created by Radunsky and a group of eight- to ten-year-old children from The Ambrit International School in Rome. Peace looks “like a cat and a dog curled up together in a basket,” it sounds “like everyone’s heart beating, making one big sound together” and it tastes “like your favorite food times two.”

Perfect for sharing with children of all ages who will want to share their own visions of peace with each other, this is a soothing remedy to headlines of war and terrorism.

Review Source: Kirkusreviews.com

ISBN: 0-689-86676-3
ISBN-13: 978-0689866760
Page count: 24 pages
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Oct 26 2004)

About the Author – Vladimir Radunsky has illustrated many wonderful books, including ‘The Maestro Plays’ by Bill Martin Jr and Woody Guthrie’s ‘Howdi Do’. The children whose quotes appear in this book all attend The Ambrit International School in Rome. This is their first book.

Please click on these links to view this heart-warming and important book on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

I dreamt about doves today

Swirling, nearly blown away

By winds that threaten peaceful ways

doveWinds that blow, but not always

 

In my dream I saw them strive

To dip, and swoop, and stay alive

I saw that though they might look frail

These small white birds could stand the gale

 

With strong hearts they rode the storm

They used the air to transform

This ever rising threat to peace

To help us humans to release

 

doveIn my dream I saw them land

At last they settled on the sand

With boughs of olive in their beaks

They sought out humans whom peace seeks

 

These beacons had ridden out the gales

Made it through for hope prevails

Brought to us the proof of peace

That warring factions may release

Their hold on hatred, false beliefs

doveAnd gazed at me, a snow-white dove

A beacon, messenger, bringing love

I woke amidst a fluttered sound

I felt I floated off the ground

I pondered how peace does exist

I knew it wasn’t just a wish

I felt deep love for humankind

I know peace now is rightly timed.

.

Copyright © 2012 Professions For PEACE 

swing

I am a passionate person. Whatever I undertake, I put my all into it. When I was a child I adored swinging and wanted to swing right over the bar. I loved perfecting my swing technique and being as fast and strong as possible. That moment of weightlessness at the top of the arc was worth everything. It felt like flying.

My way of guiding my creativity sometimes results in a lack of balance. I will grab onto an idea and research it for hours. I am tenacious about whatever I set out to do. With my blogging, after six months of building and maintaining two blogs, and nearly 200 posts and 3000 comments later, I am longing for balance. Even now in my forties I see that I am still the kind of person who tends to swing into extremes. I can only hope that in growing older, or growing ‘up’, I observe my own behaviors more quickly than in the past. I want to calm the ‘pendulum swing’ that goes too far one way and then pulls back too far in the opposite direction. This time, unlike playground swings, I intend to remain closer to the center.

I intend to carve out a section of time for enjoying the community and creative process that is the wonderful world of blogging. And then be able to step away. An hour for the ‘socializing’ section of replying, visiting and commenting on other’s blogs, then an hour or so for creating some thoughtful posts, and then signing off and stepping away. Rather than two or more hours socializing, three or six hours researching and writing my posts, and then signing back on within the same day to reply to any comments and reciprocating with Likes.

pendulumI’ve asked other bloggers ‘How do you do it?!’ but I know it is something I have to find balance in for myself. We are all so different. Some can keep charts for who they follow and return for visits with many Likes and Comments on a cycle, and others are able to easily find balance between working at home, family, and interests along with daily blog posts.

Balance doesn’t come easily for me. Perhaps it’s from my over-zealousness. Although I have occasionally posted a few ‘posters’ about my latest themes, generally my posts are essays about personal and heartfelt issues, or long-researched topics that generate great passion in me. I draft and re-draft and then re-draft again. My work habits developed after decades of administrative management rise to the surface in the guise of perfectionism. No typos. Sentences structured logically. Images placed just so. I am definitely harder on myself than anyone else. And as an Admin, I am not so much a writer as a proofreader. So in joining this blogging world of sharing something meaningful, I proof-read and then proof-read again, and then often save a post to my Drafts folder to languish indefinitely as I try a new topic.

I am sharing all this because I want my readers and followers to know that while I have stepped away recently, I am not gone. I’m working on mastering balance in my life.

swinging in the skyI adore time spent with my husband. I enjoy gardening, cooking, home décor, camping, bird watching, Indie movies, and time spent with my dog. I want to continue learning guitar and playing songs with my hubby. I plan on joining him in his passion for photography as he has extra cameras and welcomes my company on his excursions. I want to create a hand-stitched poetry book with the help of my eldest, the artist who hand-stitches gorgeous tightly-bound papers together into beautiful books. I’d love to learn disc-golf with my youngest, visiting our nearby course. I intend to continue to work towards converting more space in our sunny backyard into growing more food. I want to offer meaningful work in the world through time spent volunteering. I want to get in better shape and do more yoga. And I shall continue my spiritual journey with time for reading insightful material such as the Bible and more, and deepening my meditative and prayer practices.

So, there it is. My journey towards balance. It is my goal, and my loving intention. I want to choose to turn off the computer (even when I don’t necessarily want to) and say goodbye for now to my online family, and spend time with my physically present family, and all the other interests that drive my passion.

In this way, rather than feeling spread too thin and offering less than my best, I can hold onto what matters most in my world, and offer the best of me, both through blogging and in my own life.

I deserve this, and so do you.

Namaste.