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My husband and I recently met up with good friends on the coast in Bandon, Oregon.  One of the highlights of our trip came from my husband researching Bandon Dunes Golf Course. He found they had a Labyrinth!

He and I have a fun history with Labyrinths that began in San Francisco one rainy night a few years ago. As we passed by Grace Cathedral, we took a chance to see if it was open. We’d never been inside and I’d wanted to visit for ages. We got lucky! While there,  Lauren Artess a Canon at the cathedral, came in and began a candlelight ceremonial Labyrinth walk. We were mesmerized and she invited us to participate.  It was an incredible experience we’ll never forget.

After that Labyrinth encounter, my husband bought me Lauren’s book on Walking the Labyrinth. After reading it, I took a weekend class with her on the subject. She’s a great teacher and I highly recommend her classes.

So, when my husband asked if I’d like to go and try to find the Bandon Labyrinth, of course I said YES!

Our friends were willing accomplices although I’m not sure they understood what it was we were in search of. It had been raining heavy all day and there was a brief break in the weather as we headed out late in the afternoon. Within ten minutes we were at the spot the article offered as its clue for the trail head.

Our friends were skeptical as we got out of the car, but I was excitedly on a mission. As my husband convinced our friends we were in the right location, I had eagerly found the trailhead and was on my way down the path.

Our starting point was Bandon Dunes Golf Course Lodge. Down a narrow path off to one side was a small sign that pointed towards the Labyrinth. The path wound its way into the forest with a few signs posted along the trail. The tall pines were dripping from the recent rain and the path was covered in wet pine needles and bark. The scent was aromatic and fresh.

My husband and friends were a small distance behind me and I could hear their voices through the quiet. The forest was cool and still after the rain. I found the entrance to the Labyrinth area. There before me, cathedral like, welcoming and ready was this beautiful sacred circle.

This Labyrinth is like the one found at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France which was also duplicated at Grace Cathedral. The Chartres Labyrinth is filled with multiple layers of symbolism, sacred geometry, and ancient cosmology. Labyrinths offer a sacred path.

 

Labyrinths are used as a form of walking meditation or prayer. An intentional offering is given as one walks the narrow, meandering, circuitous path, eventually finding the way to the center and back out again. A Labyrinth has only one entrance/exit and one path. It is a metaphor for our life’s journey….and the place in our journey we now find ourselves.

I entered the Labyrinth and began my spiritual walk. My husband and friends soon joined me in the circle, each at their own pace. The atmosphere was magical, quiet and sacred.

As I slowly and intently made my way around the circle I encountered feelings of great joy and moments of great sorrow. Memories and feelings flooded over me and I allowed them to inform me as I released them over to the Divine. At times I asked for forgiveness, other times I offered my gratitude, or lapsed into silence. The process is spontaneous, raw and incredibly healing.

Like many, our friends had confused the Labyrinth with a maze. Mazes are left brain activities. They’re like a puzzle to be solved using logic and analytical skills. Walking a Labyrinth is a right brain activity that involves using intuition, creativity and imagery.

Our friends tend more naturally to left-brained activities. This walk had one of them somewhat distracted and the other trying to quickly complete the task. They both hung in there and found their way to the center and back out again.

Upon finishing, I went up to the area’s entrance and read the monument that I had previously not noticed. The plaque explained the Labyrinth perfectly.

I asked my male friend if he’d read the inscription? My sense was he hadn’t quite understood the purpose of walking the Labyrinth. He was currently going through a difficult health challenge and I knew there was an energetic healing opportunity for him here. I was hoping he’d be open to it.

Upon reading the monument, he quietly told us he felt he needed to walk the path again with this new awareness. As he began, I watched him take his first few turns, and then I closed my eyes, lifted my arms just out from my hips, and opened my hands palms up, holding his space as I stood there, energetically, prayerfully following him around the path.

As he encountered specific turns in the circle I started to cry, sobbing silently and deeply. The release was profound physically, emotionally and energetically. The energetic imprint being displaced was very old and very deep. The shift was immediate and immense. I felt it move through my body, mind, and spirit, like a deep soul cleansing, leaving feelings of clarity, peace and serenity vibrating within me.

The beauty of spiritual work is all who are engaged experience healing. This Labyrinth walk provided significant healing for each of us, but especially for our friend.

At one point I briefly opened my eyes and saw that I had been joined by my friend’s wife and my husband, silently holding space with me, also with their eyes closed. My husband later told me that when he joined us to hold space, the energy was so powerful it gave him a jolt that went through his entire body. He had never felt the power of sacred space and prayerful intention so strong.

As our friend finished his second walk around the circle and came out of the Labyrinth it began to softly rain. God’s offering of a cleansing finish to this incredible ritual. The entire experience was simply beautiful.

This lovely Labyrinth is located where the filtered light and trees combine creating an outdoor cathedral and sacred sanctuary.

 

 

Just like sitting in meditation, each time we walk a Labyrinth it offers us exactly what we need; Reflection, prayer, release, answers, a glimpse into ourselves and into the Divine within us. We are in sacred communion with the Divine.

Deciding to enter the labyrinth, we choose to walk the spiritual path, to walk with the Divine.  And…as in life, we can get a little bit lost along the way. Eventually we find our way to the center, to enlightenment before heading back out onto the path.

 

 

My husband and I love art. He is a talented, skilled and trained artist. I am an appreciator of art. Art is one of those things that can transport you to a different place and time, draw out your emotions and give you insights into the artist and their time in history.  Art can touch people on a very personal level and impact an entire culture. Like reading a good book you get immersed in the story being told.

If an exhibit is well curated it tells a story as magnificent as the art. We have attended exhibits that have been exquisitely curated and others that fell flat.  For those exhibits that have been curated beautifully, there is an intuitiveness that guides the viewer through the exhibit linking the provenance, artistic interpretation, history and back story of each piece and their artists while also connecting the pieces all together.  It gives you information, knowledge and a thirst for more. Art exhibits well curated offer inspiration and leave us feeling awe struck and creatively fulfilled.  

Art exhibits not so thoughtfully curated gives us a sense of being dissatisfied, as if somehow the truth was not unveiled. These exhibits, not the art that is in them, are disappointing.  Good art certainly speaks for itself, but for those of us that did not study art in college or have not been widely exposed to museums, having a show well curated is essential.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go to a poorly curated exhibit and still thoroughly enjoy the art. There are just so many added benefits to a well curated exhibit.

What strikes me each time we attend an exhibit is both the volume of people attending and the cross section of people.  It is amazing and wonderful how many people, from all walks of life, age groups and all nationalities, appreciate art. It is, in this common experience; that we all come to a place to see canvases (or other works of art) that were perhaps created centuries before, that survived and are being gazed upon and appreciated in this modern age, that touches our souls. That’s just it; the works of art touch our souls.  We can see and feel the creativity jump off the canvas and fill us with the desire to experience or create something beautiful, lasting and meaningful.

We all have our favorite mediums and favorite pieces within a medium but we can appreciate the work, creativity, skill and dedication is takes to create and complete any work of art.  The artists make it look easy.  Their eye and developed skill captures a moment in time for us to revel in, while revealing that moment could take years for the artist to complete.  That is dedication, perseverance and passion.

Art is about passion and desire intrinsically manifesting through the artist. We as observers and appreciators can also be passionate about our likes, dislikes, interpretations and opinions of what constitutes good art and extraordinary art.  Those are discussions and debates that have lasted through the ages, and along with the art, they will never end.

Cultivating creativity is vital for our world. Art gives us a playground to explore and transcend our ordinary existence. Passion, determination, skill, practice, patience and perseverance are all traits necessary in creating and living an artful life. Here’s to curating life magnificently.

I didn’t have a lot of ideas when Paul and I started to discuss what we should do for the 2011 Christmas Card. Should it be our year in review, about the wedding or some other topic? I never thought I would be one of those people that would send out the “Christmas Letter” type of card. Quite frankly, they used to annoy me when I got them in the mail. Somehow my life just never seemed to measure up to those folks who took the time to write those yearly retrospectives.

But then, I never expected to be doing lots of things that I now do; use a magnifying glass to read small print for example, shop online or have a Facebook page. I guess the mere efficiency of the mass letter wins out over repetitive writing. Then there is the fact that times are different. Communication is different. We email, text, Facebook and stay connected as we are moving through our days, so writing a holiday card to stay in touch is old-fashioned and to many, unnecessary.

So okay, call me old-fashioned, but I actually think there is still a lot to be said for receiving a hand written note with an interesting stamp on the envelope. Of course, my note is mostly done on the computer but I do try to add a little something handwritten to each person. Whether or not anyone can actually read my writing is another matter. This year I was running so behind that many of the personal notes just didn’t happen. Of course, I don’t bake cookies and give them out anymore either. Time seems to evaporate at a rapid speed.

So this might surprise you, I actually enjoy going to the Post Office, engaging the postal clerk in light-hearted conversation (I consider this a challenge), view all the new commemorative stamps and then purchase several different kinds. I am sure this annoys all the other postal patrons since everyone today is in such a hurry. I want to look at all my choices. When I am at the counter I tune out all the other customers and focus on the stamps. Maybe it is the fact that the postal clerk has an interested consumer or just that everyone else in line has to wait, I don’t know but it is fun seeing them smile.

I bring the stamps home and decide which one goes on each envelope depending on the contents and destination. I like to think people notice. I actually think they like little things like fun postage stamps. I like to believe those little images make them smile. Seeing the stamp on the envelope is something simple that may only affect them for a few seconds, but I choose to believe it makes a difference.

Back in the day collecting postage stamps was a huge hobby and the most collected thing world-wide. It also was important where the stamp was postage marked and if it was hand cancelled. Postage is one of those items that we all come in contact with and use. Kind of like the weather we all experience it and have it in common. Not as easy to start a conversation about stamps as it is the weather, but the connection is there all the same. Of course weather can actually impact our lives, stamps just facilitate information being sent and received from person to person.

Most men seem to view commemorative stamps as unnecessary. They go straight for the flags or whatever is in a book. Nothing fancy, just a stamp to stick on an envelope and get the job done. Women on the other hand like the variety and shopping experience of choosing their designs. We develop a connection with whatever we are sending and want the appropriate stamp on the envelope. Now there are websites out there selling personalized stamps. While I think those are cool, I kind of think it is cheating. There was honor that was associated with stamp design and people couldn’t be on a stamp until they had passed. Yes, I know…old fashioned.

I must say that since the stamps have become self sticking they feel more like a sticker than a stamp. It used to be such a process to stamp all the Christmas envelopes and put them in the mail. We would get out a little dish of water, a round sponge and a cloth to keep our fingers non sticky. Now it is a breeze. That is one modern convenience that I greatly appreciate.

So this is a mundane fascination with postage I know. But I bet you look at your envelopes from now on and see what type of postage is on the upper right corner. If it is a commemorative stamp you know someone took the time to stand in line to purchase that especially for your envelope. Be appreciative and the next time someone makes a comment about the weather, ask them if they have seen those new Tiger Stamps yet?

Last year, the beginning of October, Paul and I put out our Fall and Halloween decorations inside our Lincoln home.  It is our favorite time of year and we so enjoy this ritual.  Every year we add to our collection with a few new pieces.

We don’t go overboard on the Halloween theme and focus more on the fall aspect of the season.  We tie the two seasons together with crows. We have quite a few of them in different sizes.  I started un-wrapping the crows from storage one by one.  As I un-wrapped them I began to place each one in different areas of the house; On the leaf garland over the fireplace, perched on top of Ben our grandfather clock, resting on the wreath hanging on the front door, on the landing going up the stairs, a pair flying over the dining room table and another pair pecking at the pumpkins and gourds I had placed in the family butter churn.  Each one seemed to add fun autumn energy to the house.  Paul would comment on how they brought an interesting element to the different decorations.

As I worked on decorating the house I welcomed each one back into the home.  I have a tendency to talk to things as I work with them telling them how much I enjoy them and how I appreciate them.  My thoughts were about the crows in the fields this time of year and the flock that flies in for fall and lives in the tops of the redwood trees in my Roseville neighborhood. They are only here for a short time and yet they help to create a noticeable transition from summer to fall.

As I placed the smaller ones in the butter churn I heard all the pigeons that hang out on the house next door fly away.  I turned and looked out the window and there they were….crows!  They were all lined up on the fence looking around and saying hello!  It was so very cool!  I called Paul over to look. We laughed and enjoyed the moment.  I had been calling in crow energy and they responded.  It was magical…like the morning autumn mist that lingers above the tops of the warm summer fields…it is there… but you must look quickly before it dissipates into the day.

Last year, the crows did not visit us again after that first day.  I was honored that they responded to our welcome call. This year, we were gone for the first part of October and were late in placing our decorations.  The crows had already moved on.

Fall shows up in so many different ways. For the first time in a few years, there were cobwebs floating in the air. I am not sure what makes this phenomenon occur but it is both cool and odd. I remember one year as it was happening, I had a manager come into town to work with me. As we drove around the area, he saw all the large webs, some with particles from the cottonwood trees attached to them, floating through the air.  They crossed our path several times as we were walking and while in our vehicle. It freaked him out.  I just laughed. I have lived here so long I guess it has become normal to me. He could not wait to get back on his plane later that day and away from the webs.

We have been lucky this year that the autumn rain and wind have been minimal allowing the leaves to linger on the trees, shimmering with all their different colors and looking like stained glass windows throughout the city.  The air is crisp, the sky is blue and the reds, yellows and oranges of the leaves dance for our wonderment. Fall is definitely in the air, but the crow energy is gone for now.  We will have to wait until next year to call them in and say hello.

Now that summer is here I find myself wearing lots of linen and cotton, both fabrics that look better when ironed. I love to iron. There is something very soothing about ironing. The scent of the steam as it hits the clean cloth. The immediate satisfaction of something wrinkled becoming freshly pressed. I can get lost in ironing. My mind relaxes and I just let it drift. It is one of those chores that accomplishes something and at the same time allows me to let go and process my thoughts.

I like to use a small bottle of lavender water to spray my clothes with as I iron. I enjoy the smell and it is kind of nostalgic and almost indulgent. I iron in batches mostly. I wait until I have a large grouping then haul it all out and do it all at once. Sometimes I am really indulgent and I watch a chick flick while I iron.

My fiancé on the other hand irons everyday. He likes to have his clothes freshly pressed right before he puts them on. He uses magic sizing instead of lavender water but the smell of the steaming iron as it glides over his clothes still makes me smile. Well that and the fact that he actually irons his own clothes.

In this modern world where everything happens so fast ironing is kind of a throw back. It takes a bit of time, there are no short cuts and the basic iron hasn’t changed too much over the years. I like that. I take comfort in that. A heavy stainless steel iron with steam is still the best bet.

The ironing board is an important piece as well. It needs to be adjustable, padded well and good sized. If the pad is not thick enough you can get the imprint from the ironing board on your clothes. That is not good. It isn’t as easy finding a good board these days as it is a good iron. I like to use both ends of the board. Sometimes the back end of the board is perfect for the shoulders of a shirt.

My mom taught me how to iron. There is a proper sequence to ironing. Well at least there is my proper sequence; Shirt collar, then sleeves, front lapel, front sides, shoulders and back. I don’t really vary too much except sometimes I do half of the front then do the back and then finish up the other side of the front. Pants are harder to do because you have to get the seam right down the front. I am fairly picky about how the piece looks once I hang it up and look at it. If it isn’t right I take it off and put it back on the ironing board.

When I was growing up I liked to watch my mom iron. It was a chore for her but I liked to see all the clothes get hung up on the little rack she kept next to the ironing board. Her dresses (they called them shifts) and my dad’s work shirts hung right next to each other. My mom liked to sew when I was growing up and made most of her shifts. When I was quite young she made my clothes too. We had lots of shifts that matched. I loved that! Both of our dresses were hanging next to my dad’s chambray work shirts…ahh…the simple things that make an impression on our young minds.

My aunt took in ironing to help support herself while I was growing up. When my mom and I would visit her she would be standing in her family room ironing other people’s clothes while we visited. It was interesting and kind of cool to get a glimpse into other people’s closets. She made decent money at it and I think she kind of enjoyed it. It gave her time to think or watch television as she worked. The tools were easy to put away and it was inexpensive to operate. She was able to stay home with the kids and yet bring in spending money.

Ironing is about feeling good about what we are wearing and being presentable to the world. It is about positive self image and it is about doing a chore, seeing results and relaxing the mind. All good things… I like that.

Lisa Joiner

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