Friday, February 6, 2015

Gifts from a Mother's Heart

“Gifts from a Mother’s Heart”

Flowers arrived at my door today.  Trudging through the snow over the unpaved walkway, the delivery man arrived with a bright bouquet of orange gerbera daisies, red roses, yellowish-white lilies and greenery, a perfect match for my house and my tastes.  A message read, “Happy fiftieth, love Mom”, who else, simple and perfect.  Tears welled in my eyes.

Mom, I should be buying you flowers.  You gave birth to me.  You nurtured me for years.  You cleaned my room, my bathroom and cooked dinner for me for two decades or more.  You paid my college tuition.  You kissed my knee when I fell down and hugged me tight through the trials of my life, although you had plenty of you own to deal with, you stayed strong for me, your sensitive daughter.

How do I thank you?  I can’t thank you enough.  You are getting older although all my friends comment on how young you look.  You are strong and healthy.  I hope you stay that way for many years to come because I don’t want to imagine my life without you in it.  You are my best friend and my confidant.  You are my shopping and travel buddy.  You taught me to love books, travel and the world.  Again, I say “thank you”.

On the eve of my half-century mark, I don’t want to celebrate “me”.  I want to celebrate “you”, my Mommy, my Mom and now the girls Grammie.  You are all of these names wrapped into one, Mother.

My life without you wouldn’t be my life or any life.  You gave me life and love.  You continue to shower me with “gifts from the heart”, whether it’s a travel guide on Santa Fe, a paperweight with a leaf from our trip to Virginia or a cool orange coach bag.  For these and for all the treasures you have gifted me, whether it is a souvenir from a trip or your love for learning, my heart opens with gratitude.

In dedication to my Mom, Sara Joan Vahle Herron

Susan J. McFarland

February 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Discovering the Ancestral Web

Discovering the Ancestral Web
At the end of last year, my mother and I traveled to Virginia to visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.  In the past Mom and I have visited Spain, Greece, Mexico, Costa Rica and countless places in the United States together.  She loves to experience new cultures and I am happy to be her travel companion.  As she and I age (I am turning 50 in a few weeks) these adventures become more important. 

I planned this trip, not realizing the real significance of it or where it would eventually take me, other than spending time once again traveling with my Mom.  Mom loves anything presidential especially the era of the American Revolution.

Upon arriving, although having a knowing that our relatives were from Virginia, we soon realized after internet searches and reviewing historical books that my Mom’s family was closely associated with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the development of the United States.

We visited Monticello as intended but our trip led us to find the home and land of our ancestral grandfather, Dr. Thomas Walker, who cared for Thomas Jefferson after his father died.  He also owned land near Monticello, led expeditions to the wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee, founded Charlottesville, VA and worked closely with President Washington, his wife’s cousin and Thomas Jefferson as an adviser.

Coming home after this trip opened my interest in further exploring my ancestry, on both sides of my family.  Little known details of my father’s family prompted me to inquire about our heritage through an on-line website.  Researching all aspects and angles of my background was interesting and amazing.  Families from England came as early as the 1600’s.  German relatives crossed the ocean two centuries later in the 1800’s.  The amount of dates and names to discover are endless.  Yet, it is the culmination of all these names along with the choices and actions made that have brought me to this place in my life today. 

As I reflect on my fifty years, I notice many of my past relatives never made it to 50, there life was difficult and hard, yet they trudged forward.  It also makes me contemplate how I am an amalgamation or union of them all, a conglomeration of their thoughts, ideas and actions all rolled together.     This leads me to consider my own Self and how it will affect those coming after me. 

We often hear we are all connected.  I believe this, but I normally think of it in current day terms.  Yes, we are all connected and related past, present and future.  Our thoughts of today affect the lives of those forthcoming.  Together, like a spider’s web or a matrix reaching back and beyond this lifetime, we are all inter-twined, never separate.

When you are feeling alone call upon your relatives, those in the past or the ones coming in the future for support and guidance.  They understand the struggles you face and can lead you to a brighter future.     

In dedication to my ancestors and relatives, past, present and future, “thank you”.  

Susan J. McFarland
January 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Symphonic Blending

Symphonic Blending

Listening to the music of Brent Michael Davids, a Native American composer transports me to a world where everything works together in harmonic unification. 

This past weekend I had the honor of attending the performance of Native Sounds by the Grand Rapids Symphony, with composer Brent Michael Davids and the native community.  The world of symphonic music joined the world of Native America graciously.  Children dressed in Native regalia danced to the beat of the community Drum while the symphony played in unison elegantly, blending the sounds and worlds together.  The colors of Pow Wow rhythmically in unison with the melodies of the orchestra, the native singers and the heartbeat of the drum.

In the beginning the President of the Gathering Thunder Foundation, Denise Iwaniw spoke of Peter Wege, the man the theatre is named after, and his affinity toward Native culture.  Referencing his collection and return of artifacts from the Lakota Nation of the Black Hills helped to connect the audience to the piece, “Black Hills Olowan”.
Participating in this experience brings together not only the cultures of the symphony and Native America, but reflects my world and ultimately the realm of our entire existence.

Natives have a saying, “honor the circle”, the circle of life.  This means we are all connected and what affects one affects all.  Gathering Thunder is integrated with the Black Hills, as is Brent Michael Davids, the GRPS Native Program and even my daughter.  My youngest daughter is preparing a report on the State of North Dakota, where the Black Hills are located.  All of these elements and aspects of life come together as a symphony, blending with each other to create the most uplifting and inspiring music, the music of Life.

This is how the Universe works as a blended symphony.  All musicians are important.  All must be seen, heard, and felt for synchronization. All must work together.  

I feel this is the energy of 2015.  Where there was once discord through healing and love harmony prevails.

Gratitude to Martin Luther King, Jr. on this day of peace, 

Susan J. McFarland
January 19, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

To See Beyond

“To See Beyond”

Being sensitive and empathic, “seeing beyond” is a part of my life.  First considered a curse I now see it as a gift.  As any gift from Creator it is our duty to share it with the World around.  Physically seeing is difficult for me, challenged by poor vision since a young age.  Intuitively, perhaps because of this, my ability to “see beyond” has increased over the years.  As my comfort level grows through acceptance, study and practice my ability to “see beyond” matures.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”  Jonathan Swift

“Seeing beyond” first involves seeing the cause.  Recognizing the cause of the reaction, words or deeds is a primary step to awareness.  In raising young children this is critical.  Often the action is only a reflection of the cause.  Often times it is the hunger or the tiredness that causes the tantrum at any age, myself include.  The cause often stems from the past.  The past triggers the response bringing it into the present.  We see this in the world chaos, whether it is the conflict in the Middle East or the reaction to Ebola. In order to heal this aspect, recognition must be followed by honoring.

Seeing consequences and ramifications are the second element to “seeing beyond”.   Seeing prior to occurrences, may assist in altering unwanted behavior, yours or others.  This requires being present.  We must “see beyond” the horizon, the circumstances or perceived limitations.  Living in the past or dreaming of the future causes us to not see our presence.  Seeing only the drama that is created by the outside deludes are own reality. When our vision is clouded, “seeing beyond” is impossible.  With clear vision after recognizing and honoring our reaction, we now bless it with love.  Blessing it with love allows judgment to dissipate and our “seeing beyond” expands.            

Lastly, in “seeing beyond” we see potentials and possibilities where there once was fear and regret.  By releasing our negative emotions, reactions and thoughts we open the world of promises.  Blindness is often created by actual self-criticism, “seeing beyond” helps to turn condemnation into love. By changing our beliefs we turn darkness into light.  Our future is full of hope.  “Seeing beyond” the guilt and anxiety we allow the creative flow of the Universe to guide us. 

Seeing beyond involves seeing with all senses.  Look further than the tangible reality to a world where seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and inner vision guide you.   

“To see beyond present is wisdom, to see beyond possible is faith,” quoted from the Chicago Baptist Examiner.

Close your eyes, imagine a lemon.  Hold it.  Smell it.  Taste it.  Hear it. Sense it.  

What did you sense?  Could you feel its outer skin?  Did it have a fragrance?  Did your mouth water?   Was that experience real to you?

Now visualize a world of peace, a world of oneness, a world of self-love.

What did you sense?  Could you feel it?  Could you see it?  Was that experience real to you? 

We are all capable of “seeing beyond”.  Starting with seeing the cause of the word, action or inaction allows us to avoid the ego-based reaction that often accompanies.  Once this awareness is in place, we now understand the consequences of poor vision and can alter our response to change the outcome.  In doing this the potential for growth and ultimately love unfolds.  In recognizing, honoring, blessing and releasing the emotions caused by limited sight we enhance our ability to “see beyond”.

“See beyond” that which is present to that which is possible.

What do you see?

Susan J. McFarland
November 2014 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Walk It Off

"Walk It Off"

A new year is upon us, welcome 2015!  It is winter in Michigan, the temperatures hovering in the single digits, although the sun is out, the clouds are white and the sky is blue.  I love to walk, although usually during the cold bitter Michigan winters I take a pass.  My mindset has been it is too cold to walk.  This winter I am determined to change my perspective and continue with my daily outside walks, no matter the conditions.

It is the start of a new year and with that come the resolutions to begin again.  Although I do not have excess weight to contend with, a number of people have a goal to lose pounds come January after the indulgence of the holidays.  Walking is a healthy option to assist this plan.  Walking requires little expense, a pair of shoes (and warm clothing if you are in the North Country).  For me I have quick access to a path in the woods right out my back door, so I save time driving to a gym or other facility.  It is perfect for firming leg muscles, enhancing the cardiovascular system and breathing in fresh oxygen.

The past two months I have been reading books on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage through Spain’s northern regions.  It is a month long trek through towns, fields and mountains.  While certainly a physically taxing journey, the Camino(the Way) becomes more of a mental, emotional and eventually a spiritual journey, similar to our quest through life.  This is what walking means to me.  I walk, not only because I want to walk, for the health benefits.  My physical body is aided certainly, but my mental, emotional and spiritual bodies are supported as much or more so.  I walk off tension.  I walk off stress.  I walk off anxiety.  I walk off fear.

Walking connects me to Nature.  It helps me to understand my role in the Divine Order of the Universe.  It provides patience, understanding and a knowing that all is well and good.  I see myself as an integral part of creation and related to everything around me.  I walk off my feeling of separation and abandonment.  I walk and I understand my connection to the Source. 

So in 2015, I challenge you to “walk it off”.

Susan J. McFarland
January, 2015