A New Year Resolution in a Word

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In a recent post in her inspiring blog, Christine Kane talks about an idea that she and her friend came up with a couple of years ago. Instead of writing a list of New Year’s resolutions this year, she suggests choosing one word that is meaningful to you. Let this word guide you throughout the year in your actions. Since so many of the words resonated with me as I read her list, I printed out the words, cut them up into individual pieces of paper and placed them all into a bowl. I closed my eyes and meditated about my intention to choose a word that would speak to me. Then I swirled the words around until I felt it was the right time to stop and then carefully picked out a piece of paper. It said:

Beauty

The word “beauty” derives from the Middle English beaute, bealte, and from the Anglo-French bel, beau, all meaning beautiful, also from the Latin bellus meaning pretty.

Merriam Webster gives 4 definitions of the word:

1: the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness

2: a beautiful person or thing; especially : a beautiful woman

3: a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality

4: a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance <that mistake was a beauty>

As I thought about what beauty means to me, I kept coming back to the idea that it is more of something felt than of something seen. So, in googling the word, I was particularly drawn to this quote by Helen Keller:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched … but are felt in the heart.”

A day later, I was browsing at the bookstore and a book fairly jumped off the shelf at me, Way of the Lover: Rumi and the Spiritual Art of Love by Ross Heaven. I have learned from past experience that it’s always good to pay attention when something is placed in your path like this. Bringing it home, I turned to the first chapter and discovered the following quote:

“…those with mirrorlike hearts

do not depend on fragrance and color;

they behold Beauty in the moment.”

Wow, how perfectly this fits with my meditations on my word. For months now, I have been trying to be mindful of living in the present and enjoying the gifts of each moment. This can be very challenging at times but the rewards far outweigh the challenge. If you make it a part of your daily spiritual practice, you enter into a new way of seeing the world.

So, I continue to contemplate my word as the calendar turns from one year to another. I will let Beauty be my guide in this new year.

Happy New Year to all of my friends and family, new and old. Let our “mirrorlike hearts” reflect our love for each other and may we all behold the Beauty in our moments.

Sunday Morning Tea

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After all of the cold, wintry weather we experienced here in the northeast before it was officially winter, we have been enjoying a stretch of milder weather during the holidays. With my windows opened wide, I can almost feel a hint of spring in the air.

This morning I am savoring a cup of China White Paklum Tips. From looking at my photo above, you can see why it is called white tea, with all of the downy white hairs on the leaf. These leaves are the newest growth on the plant, gentle and fresh.

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In honor of the white tea, the winter and also the milder weather, I am sipping from my tea mug entitled “Snow, Spring, Earth”. I like to choose my tea mug, cup or bowl with the feeling I get from the particular kind of tea I’m going to brew. This mug is beautiful in the simplicity of its design much like white tea is beautiful in the simplicity of its processing. After the leaves and buds are plucked, they are laid out to wither and then roasted/heated to stop the natural oxidation which would occur.

The liquor is a muted yellow, sweet and silky on the tongue. The taste is mildly vegetal with light fruity, toasty notes. There is also a slight suggestion of cocoa in the aftertaste. The aroma is warm and comforting. As with all white teas, I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water. Depending upon how delicate or strong you like it, you can brew the leaves anywhere between 3-5 minutes. I like a milder cup so I brew for 3 minutes. Mmmmmm…

A big congratulations to our boys from Foxboro, MA, the New England Patriots, for finishing their season last night undefeated. Go Pats!

Saturday Morning Tea

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It has been snowing on and off all week. Mostly, delicately falling flakes that don’t stick to the roads but lightly frost the snow already on the ground. It’s perfect for this time of year as we celebrate the season of Light, birth of the Sun/Son. At 1:08am this morning, Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year here in the Northern hemisphere and starts our winter season. As I gaze out my window upon a sea of sugar dusted houses and trees, I am enjoying a cup of Melange Noel in honor of the season.

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Black tea blended with spices, dried fruit and nuts, it warms me all the way down to my toes. The liquor is a rich reddish brown color and the flavor is fairly full-bodied with notes of cinnamon and orange. I am drinking from my traditional Christmas cup, purchased years ago at Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan. So, as I sip, I am filled with wonderful memories of Christmases past spent with family in Michigan.

Joy, love, hugs, comfort

Christmas time in Michigan

going home again

Storytime

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Several months ago, my Mom lent me her copy of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” audiobook and I rediscovered a passion that nourishes my soul. Listening to a book on CD brings me back to the pleasure of being read to as a child. It fills my imagination with all of its descriptive language spoken aloud. It has changed my work commute which has always been a stressful drive in traffic. Now I am not bothered at all by the many vehicles surrounding me as I am transported by words to another world.

Here is a list of the books I have listened to since then.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – A riveting tale about 2 women’s lives over the course of 3 decades in Afghan society during Soviet occupation, civil war and then the Taliban. Mariam is 15 when her mother commits suicide and she is given in marriage to 40-year-old Rasheed, a cruel man who abuses her throughout the many years of their marriage, especially after she cannot have any children. Laila is 14 when her parents are killed by stray bombs and Rasheed takes her in and marries her. The 2 women come together in that household and slowly develop a deep bond that carries them through the worst of times. I smiled and laughed, cried and sobbed as I listened to the story of their lives unfold.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – A very intense story about a 14-year-old girl, Trixie Stone, whose life comes apart after her boyfriend breaks up with her and then rapes her at a party. Her mother, Laura, a college professor who teaches a course on Dante’s Inferno, and her father, Daniel, an artist who draws fantasy comic book heroes, cope to keep their family together as their world unravels around them. Their traumatic experience eventually leads them to Daniel’s boyhood home, a remote Alaskan village. Picoult has an amazing ability to bring out such depth in her characters, showing all of their faults in colorful detail. A lot of twists and unexpected turns in this story.

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier – The story of a man’s life from age 12 until he is very old. Will Cooper is bonded to an “antique gentleman” when he is 12 and he sets off for the general store where he will be working. Narrated in the first person as Will looks back upon his life, his journey is described in beautiful, poetic language. The story is set in the Southern Appalachian mountains in the 1800s and the landscape is described so beautifully that you can picture every tree, every creek, every ridge, every mountain. Will is adopted by Bear, a Cherokee chief, and he then grows up to become a lawyer and then a state senator, defending his people and their rights to their land as Jackson and his government move the Native people out west. Will’s deep love for the young girl, Claire, is woven into the tapestry of his many years. The actor Will Patton does an amazing job with the accent and his narration.

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes – By the telling of myth and story, Dr. Estes explores the instinctual nature of the wild woman archetype. Her soothing, melodic voice invites you on a journey to discover your own power, creativity and passion. I read this book in the early 90s and that sparked an exploration into Goddess myths and archetypes. It inspired me to embrace my creative nature as an artist. Listening to her stories again brought that wonderful journey back to me and deeper into the spiral of my psyche.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Brilliantly read by actor Patrick Stewart, this classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge is sure to delight, especially at this time of year.

My polymer clay guild

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I’m a member of the Rhode Island polymer clay guild and last Saturday was our monthly meeting. It is a day of sharing ideas and delicious food, inspiring and being inspired, laughing and supporting and, most importantly, being part of a tribe of very creative and talented artists. I always come away from each meeting feeling rejuvenated, like my artist spirit has received a wonderful massage.

Dora demoed her version of a feather cane (shown above), cutting a Skinner blend up and stacking the pieces in a unique and interesting way to make the cane. I made a blend of blue and orange with white in between the colors so as not to end up with a muddy blend. I’m looking forward to creating something with it after the holiday season!

If you live in the Rhode Island area and are interested in joining us for a meeting, please do let me know.

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Saturday Morning Tea

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I’ve always loved the image of early spring flowers peeping up through the last remnants of winter snow. Just experiencing our first significant snowfall of the season, we seem very far away from that magical spring moment. To bring us all a little closer, especially with another storm on its way, I have chosen another hand-tied display tea called Golden Flowers in Full Bloom for my Saturday morning tea. What a glorious name.

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The green leaves are carefully formed into a mushroom cap shape around a beautiful golden flower. I carefully poured 180 degree F water over the bud and then sat back to watch the birth of the flower inside.

I left the tea leaves and flower in my bowl and gently touched the rim to my lips to experience my first sip. It was mellow and smooth with light floral/nutty notes. Very soothing. With each sip, I felt words rising up from inside of me, just as the flower came forth in the water.

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A golden flower

births itself in my tea bowl

I sip its beauty