Thursday, December 29, 2011

Celebrating Winter: Retreat and Renew

By:Joyce Eckes
Without darkness, nothing comes to birth.
Without light, nothing flowers.
~May Sarton

During this often hectic holiday season, we are invited to remember the value of slowing down, connecting to the earth’s vast changes, and finding sweet moments to reflect within and renew. On December 22, we celebrate Winter Solstice - the arrival of winter and the longest night of the year. A turning point in the seasonal calendar, it marks the day of many earth-based traditions across the globe honoring the peaceful, healing gifts of the darkness while simultaneously celebrating the gradual return of the sun’s light.
Rituals for Winter Some of us are naturally enchanted by winter’s magical qualities, while others experience hardship from the cold weather and decline of the sun. Whatever your constitution, may these practices help to inspire more ease and play for you this season!
Slow down and connect: Carve out tranquil moments to pause and connect with winter. What does this time of year mean to you? Savor simple pleasures like watching the snow fall, taking a contemplative walk to appreciate nature, making a snow angel, or admiring the sun’s reflection upon a luminous blanket of snow. Make a warm beverage, rest, and soak up the long, still nights.
Make a winter altar: Create a seasonal altar and bring winter inside! Collect pine cones, aromatic greens, dried berries, or some mistletoe. Adorn a special table with these winter delights and top it off with a string of colorful lights! Let this altar serve as a reminder that we can sink our own roots deep into the earth to find strength during the cold, just like the plants and trees.
Rest and renew: What nourishes you? Just like many animals that undergo hibernation, we also need to conserve energy and replenish our reserves. Engage in restorative activities, like enjoying healthful foods, naps, creative activity, yoga, meditation, relaxing with friends, or curling up with an inspiring book. Simply be, breathe, and practice gratitude.
Reflect and seed your desires for the New Year: Contemplate your life experiences during 2011. What do you most appreciate? What have you learned? What brought you the greatest joy and love? It’s equally important to consider what may be missing in your life, what you are most deeply longing for. Listen closely to these desires in your heart. Write them down or speak them aloud while you light a candle, symbolizing that the expanding sun will nurture your dreams. As we begin to identify and seed our desires now, we open to an abundant life in 2012 filled with infinite possibilities!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


By: Mary Oliver

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Closing Cycles

By: Paulo Coelho

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.
Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden? You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.
Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.
Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.
This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Grandma Kay's Obituary

Kathleen “Kay” Elden, 76 (Park Point) Duluth, MN died peacefully on December 13, 2011. She was born on August 27 1935 in Duluth to Joe and Gene Trotta. She was a lifelong Duluth resident, Central High School graduate, and was a dedicated Housekeeping supervisor at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
On February 27th 1954, Kay married the love of her life, Joe Elden, who she was overjoyed to share 47 incredible years with.
Kay was a phenomenal cook and loved feeding anyone and everyone who walked through her door. She could play the piano beautifully by ear. She enjoyed gardening and took pride in having a beautiful yard. She cherished her life on Park Point. And most importantly, the central focus of her life was to love and care for her family who meant the world to her. She will be greatly missed and her legacy and kind spirit will live on in all she has touched.
She was preceded in death by her husband Joe Elden; son Matthew John Elden and her parents.
Kay is survived by her children Mark, Coco, Anthony and Joel (Denise) Elden; her grandchildren Kyle, Katy, Amanda, Kacey, Andy, Jody, Cassidy, Chelsea, Matthew John and Calley Jo; and many beautiful and cherished great-grandchildren; her loving sister and best friend Gail Trotta and her devoted brother Michael Trotta.
With tremendous gratitude our family appreciates the love and care our sweet mother/grandmother received from the gracious staff at Golden Oaks in Proctor.
A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday January 5, 2012, with Visitation 11am until the Noon Memeorial Service at Bell Brothers Jarvi-Dowd Funeral Home, 925 E. 4th St., Duluth.
Arrangements by Bell Brothers Jarvi-Dowd Funeral Home.
Please leave a memory of Kay or words of support for the family at

Thursday, December 15, 2011


By: Kyle Elden

beautifully fucked up
sharp illustrious edges
shine like diamonds
alluring, calling out all the want inside
rising like a snake upward to
the flute music of its charmer

I’ve chased rainbows
cast from shattered bits of life
illusions of light breaking through shards
stomping over the shadows
the dark underbelly
the substance upon which I stand
longing to be soaked in color
intoxicated on false hope
a mirage just always ahead
dry throat, unbearable thirst
through nights, and days and years
drinking from empty glasses
broken cisterns

Jesus, God your name
used to be stones in my mouth
I tried to choke down, or spit out
a dam holding back
a great force of rushing water
I was afraid would swallow me whole
but the Kingdom is so much greater
than I imagined
there was always so much
steam and condensation
I’ve now wiped away from the mirror
to see myself clearly
to see myself as You do

I have burn marks from the flames of hell
across my body
scars from the casket that held me like a womb
dirt underneath my fingernails from the grave
I’ve been climbing out of
cuts from rocks and roots I’ve grabbed
to pull myself up

Toward you
the greatest love of my life
You are everywhere
and within
above and beneath, all around
You were always holding me
wanted me to feel my head against
the beating of Your heart
Your arms wrapped around me
love pouring into me overflowing
glasses of wine and laughter
dancing with me, spinning until
I see stars
singing into daybreak
kissing my forehead
brushing the hair from my eyes
whispering in my ear
“my child, welcome home!”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Blackwater Woods

By: Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Friday, December 9, 2011


By: Paulo Coelho

We may think at times that the only thing life offers us tomorrow, is to repeat everything we did today. But if we pay close attention, we will see that no two days are alike.
Each morning brings a hidden blessing; a blessing which is unique to that day, and which cannot be kept or re-used. If we do not use this miracle today, it will be lost.
This miracle is in the small things of daily life; we must live in the understanding that at every moment there is a way out of each problem, the way of finding that which is missing, the right clue to the decision which must be taken in order to change our entire future.
But how to find the courage for this? As I see it, God speaks to us through signs. It is an individual language which requires faith and discipline in order to be fully absorbed.
Saint Augustine was converted in this way. For years he sought – in various philosophical schools – an answer to the meaning of life. One afternoon, in the garden of his house in Milan, as he reflected on the failure of his search, he heard a child in the street: “Take up and read! Take up and read!”
Although he had always been governed by logic, he decided – in an impulse – to open the first book which came to hand. It was the Bible, and he read part of St. Paul which contained the answers he sought. From then on, Augustine’s logic made way for faith to take part in his life, and he went on to become one of the Church’s greatest theologians.
The monks of the desert used to say it was important to allow angels to act. They occasionally did absurd things – such as talk to flowers or laugh without a reason. The alchemists followed the “signs of God”; clues which often made no sense, but which always lead somewhere.
“Modern man tried to eliminate life’s uncertainties and doubts. And in doing so he left his soul dying of hunger; the soul feeds off mysteries” – says the dean of Saint Francis Cathedral

Thursday, December 8, 2011


By: Sara Joy Davidson

I remember the first time I saw the snow

The bleak blanket of new

Glazed with a sheer coat of truth.

New and untouched

A blank canvas

With only the shadows

Of birch and elm

Cast about.

Swollen tan reeds whisper on the sidelines

Gossiping like catty old women.

The scarce sighting of a bird that lost it’s hope

It’s flock-

And remained here

Alone and cold.

As the sun rises it heats the white robe of winter

And changes the tracks

Pressing it’s power down

Changing things.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Five Regrets

The five regrets

by Paulo Coelho on June 23, 2011

(One of my friends here sent me a link while commenting on “Insult the dead”. I checked it and I stumbled upon a very interesting text by Bonnie Ware. Below a resumée: )

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.