Giving Thanks.

This past year I have again kept a Gratitude Jar and almost daily write on a 2″x2″ sticky note the date and a Gratitude.  Periodically, I pour out the notes and look at them.  Since this is the time many in America are expressing on social media their gratitudes, I thought I’d share some randomly from my Gratitude Jar.

11-18 After a dusty fall of kitchen renovations: Cleaned the kitchen! (Then on to the rest of the house!)
8-31 Head Ache medicine.
9-18 Wine with Rich.
9-20 Everything organized for the trip East.
5-3 Teaching with Terri Off.
9-9 Hike with Norlanders. (At Beaver Creek Valley St. Pk.  MN.  A Lovely retreat!
7-20 Talk with other students in the Habits of the Mind class.
1-24 Chat with Margee after class.
2-13 Good report from Doctor.
5-10 Cafe McGregor.
11-5 Made Pumpkin Pie!
11-1 Found tiny screw to glasses.
5-22 Helped a congregant in need.
2-19 Call from Nancy.
6-30 Movie “Following Roots.”
5-18 Pizza for Cyd’s B-day.
4-6 Conversation with a HyVee worker who has color deficiency.
10-31 End of an amazing trip around Washington State.
12-16 Note from Bonnie in Washington State. She was a good friend to Mom and we’ve stayed in touch since she died.
3-2 Shelly got the missing files back!

Practicing an “Attitude of Gratitude” changes the karma and increases our positive energy.  This has been fun and rewarding to do. At the end of the year, I will look at them all and ceremonially burn them.  Then, start again!

Giving Thanks

Wise words

May your days be blessed with Gratitude and may you share with others.

Yoga Labyrinth Walk

On a lovely late summer day, the Yoga classes from PCI and Toula Yoga, led by Lisa Hanigan and Cyndy Logue, picnicked and walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth. After I shared a brief introduction and overview of labyrinths, each woman began her walk. Each rang the portal bell and started her journey as I held space. Some were hesitant until they realized the path was clear.  Others boldly set out.  Energy built as they connected with themselves and the labyrinth.
Before the women walked I had opened the space and measured the energy which was low.  Toward the end and after all had left the labyrinth, I measured the energy again before closing the labyrinth.  The rods whirled over 200 times!  Interesting to me was that the dowsing rods responded differently as the women moved through and out of the labyrinth, sometimes swinging slowly and other times quickly.

The pilgrims were quiet as they rang the bell and left the labyrinth, then on the porch steps, they began to chat as they worked finger labyrinths.

Following are some observations and pictures from our day.

Wendy, who has been strong for a sister with health concerns, experienced “spontaneous tears that stopped when I left the labyrinth.” Barb felt a “tranquility I don’t’ find in my ordinary day.”  Lisa had a “deep connection with nature” and Rose Mary added to that observation remarking on the “warm peace with all.” One pilgrim simply gave a big hug as she left with tears in her eyes. Another gently stroked plants with the turkey feather as she moved along each section of the path. Each expressed gratitude for the experience.

Cyndy penned, “My experience today was very different from the first walk in Muscatine. As I reflect back on the first walk, I think I felt such intense energy that day because that is what I needed.  I had given so much of my energy away, both mentally, physically and emotionally, that I needed to recharge. I needed to trust my own intuition.  It was about taking time for me, meeting new people and hearing their story.  “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” (Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr)
“Today’s walk was about connecting with nature and being present.  Taking time to notice: the ants, bees, flowers and emerging cicadas adhered to the side of the bench. It was about feeling the breeze and warmth of the sun, and just being in that moment and enjoying it.  It was also about sharing the gift of this experience with others. “In the end, you always go back to the people that were there in the beginning.” This is so fitting for me, as my personal journey began in Lisa’s yoga class and has grown exponentially.  I learn new things about myself daily.  “The only journey is the journey within.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)
“Today the two yoga groups became one in spirit.  I’m thankful every day for the wonderful souls I’ve met on my journey of life!
“Thank you for another great adventure!”

Pilgrimage to Muscatine Labyrinth

Sometimes the experiences that yield the greatest learning are the ones that don’t follow our expectations and desires.  A group of labyrinth enthusiasts joined me on a pilgrimage to the Muscatine Labyrinth in the Arboretum on Harmony Lane. Tucked into the “elbow” of Hwy 61 on the northwest corner of Muscatine, this Arboretum with its well-crafted labyrinth is a true gem. My first experience there on July 31st was simply magical.  And, I wanted to share this with others.

So a small group of us headed out to Muscatine on Sunday, August 13th.  A mild day. I-380 to Hwy 218 to IA 22 East flows into Cedar St. to Houser St. to Harmony Lane.  What a great name!

The Labyrinth

Co-Founder

We hear about the arboretum.

When we arrived, instead of a quiet entry, we were basically waylaid by an elderly woman who turned out to be a co-founder of the arboretum.  She enthusiastically shared all about the history of the founding, where trees were planted and puzzled over “that structure” – pointing to the labyrinth.  In effect, she told us passionately about her love of the space, how hard people worked to make it happen and how proud she was of the results. She insisted we had to see various structures and parts of the arboretum.  All the while she was quite oblivious to the fact that we were there to walk the labyirnth. Other features would come as possible.

As I chafed to accomplish our “goal”, the members of the group were kind. And, so I learned, too, that even when – especially when – our plans are impacted by other circumstances, it is how we are “in the moment” that matters.  Eventually, we were able to communicate why we came to Muscatine’s Arboretum . Ms Lynn was puzzled as she moved off slowly with her dog.  She sat and watched from afar as we began.

My role as facilitator was to hold the space for people to walk peacefully.  Suddenly, Ms. Lynn was right in our midst on the labyrinth speaking loudly, “You have your shoes off.  Why do you have your shoes off? You don’t have to take your shoes off.”  So, I walked quietly to her and managed to steer her off the labyrinth itself.  As she continued to talk and point out features around us, I inched her farther away from the labyrinth.  Staying centered and calm and compassionate to her needs was a struggle for me. Even when I stated that this is a time for quiet for the walkers, she loudly declared that there is not much time for that anymore. Definitely ironic.  Again, she moved off and watched the walkers.

I circled the labyrinth slowly to hold in the sacred energy and offer a buffer for the walkers who completed their journeys peacefully.

When I asked later how they felt about the intrusion and interactions some were neutral. Others slightly amused. Some acknowledged her presence and chose not to engage.  Others were grateful I guided her to the side. Rose pointed out that likely we were the first people she had talked to all day so her enthusiasm spilled over.  And, Lijun noted, “She is part of the story.” Thank you both for perspective.

We followed a path across a wetland to the Veterans’ Memorial – simple and elegant. Then, back to the cars.

By county roads, we drove up to Tipton for dinner at Mi Tierra. Then up IA 38 to US 30 and home. Great meal and some synchronicity for Amy Kris Ackman as you will read soon.

Reflections

Standing.

Feel the earth under your feet.

Rose Gabe found the labyrinth much longer than others in Cedar Rapids.  She gamely walked the circuits, paused occasionally, assessed the journey and continued on.

Robyn Miessler-Kubanek observed: “Walking the labyrinth barefoot was marvelous. I go barefoot as much as possible in every other context, so feeling the decades’ old bricks under my feet while studying their shapes and scars brought focus and depth to my walk. How many others have those bricks held upon the earth? And how many more will they support? Yet their roughness made me happy to finish and walk in the grass again.”

Lijun Chadima:  “I felt a history there connecting me from the past to the present and walking toward the future.  The energy at the center is so great.  I liked the square that I could walk four corners then sit at the bench before I walked to the beginning where I started.  I liked walking on the old bricks.  I also liked the trees touching me while I walked.

“The flan completed the good meal at the Mi Tierra.  The chiles rellenos were great.  Mi Tierra is a right size restaurant for a small town.  A roadside farmer’s stand made me connect to the earth we are living.”

Entry

Inviting entry.

Cyndy Logue: “I felt very connected and noticed an energetic feeling in my third eye chakra.  Last night I looked back through my Earthing book and found this helpful: ‘Earth Qi is absorbed, without thinking about it, when we walk barefoot, which may explain why it’s so relaxing to walk without shoes and why exercises geared toward strengthening the body and relaxing the mind (yoga, tai chi and qigong, for instance) are often practiced without footwear. A central focus in Chinese practices involves “growing a root” and has to do with opening up communication between the bottom of the feet and the Earth.’

“I think the energetic feeling was a reminder to just go with the flow and be present for the experience.  Dinner at Mi Tierra was a great way to close the afternoon! Thank you again for coordinating this fun excursion!”

 

Amy (Kriz) and Mark Ackman: “My experience with this labyrinth was interesting. When we were interrupted by the lady commenting on our bare feet while we were barely on our way, I just had to chuckle. I thought maybe I didn’t need to take things so seriously and could just take people as they are (or meet them where they are) instead of trying to fit them into my expectations.

“After (we ate) in Tipton. I couldn’t believe that our destination restaurant was located right next door to a store called Wild Angels Expressions. When I saw it, the name looked familiar. Then, I recalled that earlier that morning, while rummaging through boxes of paperwork from the basement, I found a beautiful little card from a friend. The card spoke to me so much that I thought I could reuse it to make a new card for another friend. I was so impressed that I flipped the card over to see the brand and saw that it said Wild Angels Expressions! I had never been to Tipton before.” {Yet here was a card from that very place! We call that Synchronicity!}

“Thanks for inviting us, leading us, and opening and closing the space for us!”

The afternoon was wonderful for us all.

What We Love About Summer!

Winding Pathways asked for reader submissions on what they love about summer and here is what folks shared. 

Dan P was the first. with this short, pithy remark: “Summer = it’s not cold ;)”  

And here is the back story on that. As a kid and teen until his Junior year in high school, Dan delivered first the Penny Saver and then the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  Every day all year round.  Only a few times, when we did our annual Black Hills vacation, did he get a substitute.  So, he was up before dawn, bagged and banded papers and walked his route.  Then, he’d come back and go to bed, or head off to early bird classes at Washington H.S. On really bitter winter days Rich went with him to get the route done safely and more quickly. He has always been a hard and reliable worker with the mantra:  “Show up. Work hard. Be honest. Be nice.”

Here is a picture in winter 1994. And a recent photo. So now you know what Dan loves about summer.

Daddy Sunflower

Giant Sunflower

Jan Watkins added this amazing picture of the “Daddy Sunflower” in her yard and how it came to be.  “I have never raised sunflowers, so last year when a sunflower appeared in this location, I was delighted. It seemed so special there on the ledge. Not really looking into the sun, but rather it seemed, it was looking in at me. It was fun to see the goldfinches feasting on the seeds. This year, I’ve watched the sunflower grow and bloom in the same place as last (year), again facing into my house. It makes me think of Roy. He lived in Kansas for years, the Sunflower State. Its leaves have ruffled edges, a big flower on a short, strong stalk, different from the others.  Definitely special. I have to smile.  I love it.”

 

 

From Joye Winey: “The best part of summer is Saturday Morning Market. From early summer with jackets and jeans to midsummer with short and flip flops. From greens, rhubarb, peas, to melons, zucchini, tomatoes, corn eggplants and sunflowers— A great way to start the day. :)”

From Rebecca Groff:                                   “A Peaceful Iowa Morning”

“The lack of any human noise outside my bedroom window greeted me on an early August morning, and the Universe’s message was clear: preserve this special moment. So I grabbed my camera to capture the sights and sounds on our acreage, which happens to be my favorite kind of church.

“Outside, sparrows and mourning doves took breakfast at the bird feeder in among a stand of white pines as I strolled around the yard videoing this peaceful Iowa morning. A capiz shell wind chime jingled softly in the background.

“It was too early for butterfly activity, but just right for the small rabbit that darted out from the butterfly garden, having finished off most of the young delphinium I’d planted in my butterfly garden this past spring. Ah, well. There is a bit left and maybe it will come back. I know bunnies need to eat, too. (Sigh . . . . ) At one time I’d considered seeding that spot over to make it easier to mow, but then the idea came to plant it solely for the butterflies and other pollinators, and I’m glad I went with that decision. Pink and purple phlox, native purple coneflowers, various lilies, Japanese iris, gaillardia, coreopsis and bee balm in red and pink have been well received so far this summer.

“Were someone to offer me a tranquilizing pill, or a chance to be outside working in my yard, hands and nails filthy with soil, the dirt work would win every time. “Dirt therapy,” my sister and I call it. We both agree it can soothe the roughest emotion days.

“In front of our house I established a circular butterfly garden. This year I filled it with pink and white cosmos, coreopsis, nasturtiums, and zinnias to keep company with the two tomato plants I set out — one red and one yellow. Just enough for us and for sharing with our neighbors.

“The acidic smell of tomato plant green is one I never tire of and I couldn’t resist rubbing the tender leaves between my fingers. There was a B-L-T sandwich coming my way in the near future!

“The sun was edging higher in the sky, and the sound of traffic on the main road a mile away was starting to pick up. Soon there would be lawn mowers whirring, and kids bursting outdoors to play and the weekend busyness of humanity all about the neighborhood.

“But for a few minutes, I had the best spot in the Universe all to myself, surrounded only by trees, flowers, birdsong and fresh dew on the tips of my toes.”

Susan F in Arizona wrote: “Weather is easing back from triple digit temperatures to upper nineties.  And we have had a bit of humidity the past week or so.  Of course our humidity is nothing like what happens out east.  Humidity was in the 50’s this week.  The monsoon rains have been causing quite a bit of flooding but it has been spotty.  All depends on the terrain what kind you get, flash floods in the hill country or just high water on flat land.  Canals and runoff ditches help in the larger cities, but there is no decent drainage system to keep streets (from) flooding.

Finch

Finches fun to watch.

“I still enjoy my birds.  I continue to get sparrows, finches, hummingbirds and Quail families.  I have watched the baby quail grow from tiny babies (no bigger than a silver dollar) to toddlers, preteens, to teenagers.  Right now the oldest of this year’s babies have color patterns which have helped ID them by sex.  I know I have three male teenagers.  The next batch coming along is almost to that stage and the littler ones are developing the topknots on their heads.  Sometimes I have all three age groups, other times only the oldest three come alone with no parents to escort.  The younger ones come with their parents still.  Fun to watch.  I also have a curve-billed thrasher that spends more and more time each day by the food block.  It especially likes mornings and late afternoon.”

 

Jackie and Peter Hull in Virginia take in the back roads with these observations: “On a pristine day with not a cloud in the skies we often begin a journey northwest to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is here that we can see for miles to the north, south, east and west. Looking westward over the Great Valley we can view the Allegheny Mountains stretching clear to West Virginia. We marvel that the pioneers were able to cross the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains on foot, horseback and rafts down the multiple rivers and streams to settle the country centuries ago. Enjoy our country and love it!”

Virginia Mountains

Clouds over mountains

And another observation from Virginia: “Tuesday we had some intense storms here in Bedford,
Virginia. As I looked out the French door windows, I could see some nasty clouds slowly slipping over the mountains. For a while nothing happened. I turned away to fold some clothes. As I moved back into the living room, I was startled to see a grey white cloud had completely enshrouded the
western mountains. At first I was perplexed. Then I whispered, “Oh, my gosh.” I could hear the rain pounding as this cloud  steadily moved closer to us.

“The trees disappeared as did the silo and then the house next door became a blur. All at once the rain was pounding on the roof and I could hardly see my vegetable garden. Passing slowly over my house the rain continued eastward obstructing the eastern view of Turkey Mountain. After all was said and done, we had two inches of rain in a short time frame.”

Wapsi-Ana Gardeners Visit

What fun Winding Pathways and the Wapsi-Ana Garden Club had on July 26th! Charlene George gathered fifteen avid gardeners and close friends who followed “rooster” Rich around like chicks. They chatted about gardens and childhood experiences, explored the yard with a “Treasure Hunt”, learned about solar and rain barrels and took in the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth. The members used their senses as they listened to various natural and human sounds.  They judiciously tasted plants on their “Treasure Hunt”. Many verified that healthy lawns have diverse plants.  Great descriptions of the phallic looking “Stinkhorn” fungus. Cicadas and Rattlesnake Master fascinated members. These amateur sleuths would have impressed Sherlock Holmes himself with their collective knowledge and hilarious manners.

Enjoy the photo gallery below of our morning with the Wapsi-Ana Garden Club. Come again!

High Summer Labyrinth Walks

What fun hosting  Bankers Trust staff and clients and welcoming an out of town visitor to the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Tuesday, July 11 was steamy and threatening storms.  But, the hardy crew engaged in lively discussions and asked probing questions about the more simple lifestyle we embrace at Winding Pathways.  Now, simple does not mean easy.  Tending a large yard and five circuit labyrinth are work.  Rewarding work. And, people are curious about chickens, managing small gardens, maximizing space, retaining water on our property, heating with wood, and creating diversity that welcomes wildlife. Topics like ways to save energy which saves money to be invested or used caught their attention. And questions on managing pests like ground hogs and deer. We touched on a lot and had a great time.

Go to 1080 Labyrinth for a photo album of the afternoon and evening.

Then, with storms obviously to the south showing off cumulus and anvil clouds but no threat, all walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Mike T’s comment summed it all up.  As he and Terri entered the center a cool breeze touched their faces.  Mike paused and said, “I never want to leave.”

Thanks Terri Doyle for organizing and promoting!