Mojo Monday ~ Getting to Know Your Ancestors

As I have come across written stories and biographies of some of my ancestors I have found them to be fascinating. It becomes so much more real and I gain this sense that people are people, no matter the era. Reading about them takes them from being just names or photographs to real living individuals who experienced joys, love, hardships, loss, and adventures.  The historian and story lover in me wishes I had more time to devote to genealogy research. I have been doing most of my research using Ancestry.com and thanks to other participants who are taking the time to upload photos and stories, my own ancestral background has been enriched immensely.

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Talmer Roberts
ELizabeth “Lizzie” Talmer Roberts

Let me share with you a little of the beginning story of Elizabeth Talmer Roberts, also know as Lizzie, sister of my great-great-grandfather.  Lizzie was born on June 10, 1861 in Headless Cross, Worchestershire, England.  Her father Abel was a blacksmith.  Her mother Ellen Ross Roberts had been a school teacher before her marriage.  Child education was not required in England at this time so Lizzie benefitted with her siblings from some education from her mother.

Children were expected to begin working very young.  When Lizzie was about 5 years old, one of her jobs was to sit on the fence stiles and chase the birds from the growing crops.  When she was about 7 years old she was hired out by a distant cousin.  She ran away and came home crossing a pasture where a very mean bull was kept.  She managed to get through the pasture safely, but this bull later gored her brother Thomas very badly.

At one time the family lived near a large needle factory and for some years she worked with her mother by bringing home needles to inspect and to package.  They would return the finishes work to the factory once a week.  When she was a young lady she worked on a darm and spent spent several hours a day working in the hay fields. According to a story written by her daughter Edna Shepherd Hanna, she later worked as a maid in a home on one of the large estates.  It was here that Lizzie met and fell in love with a young man named John Wiggett.

Neither her mother nor her employer were very happy about this, so they tried to keep them separated.  This only made them more anxious to be together.  They did their courting through a small window and during walks to church.  One day her mistress told here to go home until she could forget this young man.  When she returned home her mother was very cross because of her behavior, and because her wages were needed to help support the large family.

One night soon after this incident her father wanted her to go to the public well for water.  It had grown dark and the path led through a very narrow alley, which was a hangout for a group of very rough boys.  Lizzie refused to go unless her brother would accompany her.  Her father may have been drinking, for her refusal angered him very much, and he refused to let her brother William go.  When she told her father again that she would not go alone he took a heavy blacksmith belt and gave Lizzie a severe beating.  Then he made a bed for her on the floor by the side of his bed.  In the night, after she was sure he was asleep, she ran away and went to the home of John Wiggett’s mother.  She did not return home and instead her and John appeared in church for three Sundays before they could be married, a custom posting the bans.  Their marriage was solemnized at the Parrish Church in the rectory of Headless Cross, County of Warwick on August 5, 1878.

John and Lizzie began their married life and were happy for awhile.  They both worked stamping needles at the factory.  In 1879 Lizzie quit work to prepare for the birth of their first child.  Their daughter Florence Wiggett was born December 7, 1879.

In the early spring of 1880, Lizzie’s brothers William Roberts (my great-great-grandfather) age 17 and Benjamin age 16, were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They began making plans to emigrate to Utah and departed England on June 4, 1880.  Lizzie and John, still together, had their second child, a son, on May 1, 1881.  They named him Benjamin Earnest Wiggett.

About this time her husband John began staying away nights and was spending more time and money in the ale houses.  Lizzie’s brothers had written urging the family to join them in America and offered to pay the passage for those that wished to join them.  Abel and Ellen Roberts (Lizzie’s parents), with their younger children Thomas, Harry, Sadie and Alfred, left England in 1882. Lizzie had wanted to join them and held hopes that a change might improve John’s habits.  John did not seem to want to go and since Lizzie was expecting their third child they both stayed in England.  Their third child, Lizzie Wiggett, was born October 17, 1882, but died a few days later.

The loss of her daughter, together with John’s drinking, saddened Lizzie very much.  Lizzie had been receiving letters from her mother telling of their new life in America.  A letter took somewhere between a month and six weeks to arrive.  Lizzie always had a neighbor read these letters to her.  One day a letter arrived and Lizzie was so anxious to read it she attempted to read it herself.  Later when she had the neighbor read it she confirmed that she could read well enough for herself.  Lizzie make up her mind that was going to emigrate to Utah and believed that her husband John would follow her.  She had hopes of creating a new life together.  It was a difficult decision as she was also expecting again.

The necessary arrangements were made for her and her husband, along with her sister Lucy and her husband Fred Fields.  Stories say that John Wiggett went to the ship with them, but that his sister clung to him and begged him not to go.  Whatever the reason John did not board the ship, yet Lizzie and their two children Florence age 3 and Ernest age 2, along with her sister Lucy and brother-in-law Alfred, departed on April 11, 1883 from Liverpool on the ship Nevada.

Nevada
Nevada

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 8.26.04 PM

During the voyage her young son Earnest was very ill.  The stories are that the captain of the ship told Lizzie that if the child died he would have to be thrown overboard.  Lizzie prayed fervently that he would live.  When they reached New York on April 23, 1883 Lizzie son was still very ill and she began to fear that they would be quarantined by the immigration and custom service.  She had him wrapped up in a blanket and as the line moved slowly forward they didn’t stop her and instead barked at her “Pass on lady, pass on.”
To be continued….

In my next Mojo Monday on February 16th I’ll share more about Lizzie’s adventures.  Just in writing this post I also discovered a web site called Mormon Migration and there are multiple written accounts of the ship voyage. In a future post I also plan to share how a family mystery that dates back to 1946 was solved.

* I have truly been fortunate to discover that stories and photos have been uploaded to Ancestry.com by distant relatives.  I have also branched out at times and have found that opening up a search based on an emigration date, birth date, marriage date, or death date can sometimes lead to new discoveries.

Do you have any genealogical research tips to share?  

Have you come across any great family stories or photos? 

Have you spoken to any grandparents, great aunts or uncles about their lives or the lives of their parents?

Mojo Monday ~ Furry Family

Once upon a time (around September of 1996) a stray can showed up on my front porch.  He was adorable with a little round head, bright green eyes and the softest short coat of fur ever.  The little guy adopted me and basically took up residence at the house.  Here is a photo of adorable Oscar with those bright green eyes joining in the pumpkin carving fun at Halloween.

Bandito Mommy - Oscar
Matriarch Oscarina

Next spring I suddenly noticed some behavioral changes in Oscar and quickly realized that Oscar was a female cat and was indeed pregnant.  Now being called Oscarina I took good care of the expectant mama.  One day while at work I received a call from a roommate stating she thought Oscarina was going into labor.  I left work early and arrived to find her in labor.  From what I had heard most cats tend to seek out private and hidden areas when it came time to deliver.  Not Oscarina.  She was in the bed I had prepared for her but she didn’t want to be left alone.  She even rolled on her back and I rubbed her belly a little.  She had me right there by her side as she delivered four kittens into this world on April 8, 1997.  It was amazing to watch as she birthed all four and then went into mama mode, cleaning and caring for them.

Oscar and kittens
Mama kitty with her 4 kittens.

Each of the kittens had a unique appearance.  One kitten looked like he had the Phantom of the Opera mask across its face and was named Phantom.  A little black and white kitten had a cute little white goatee type look and we named it Foo Man Chu.  The third looked a bit like a racoon with a mask around the eyes and we named it Bandito.  The fourth didn’t really get a name that stuck and as it would happen she was the one adopted by a friend of a friend.  If I remember right after all these years I think the plan was to name her Daisy.

As it worked out only one of the kittens was a boy, that being Phantom.  Foo Man Chu a little girl kitten, ended up being nicknamed Fooey.  Bandito, also a girl , continued to be called Bandito.  About 6 weeks or so after the kittens were born a friend found an abandoned kitten and brought it to me to add to the family.  This new kitten dubbed Cracker came with some issues but mama kitty and the other kittens took her in.  Mama would turn on her once or twice when Cracker would become aggressive about food with her other kittens.  Sadly one day mama kitty came limping into the house and proceeded to die.  All we could think is that she had been side swiped by a car and had sustained internal injuries.  We gave her a proper burial and mourned her passing.

Phantom and Bandito
Phantom and Bandito

The kittens continued to grow into healthy young cats.  Bandito was the kitten I chose to keep for sure.  One of my nieces ended up adopting handsome Phantom.  Cracker, the step-sister, also found a new home.  Little Fooey stayed with me, but was always a skittish, so unlike her confident and friendly siblings.  I now think Fooey was just waiting to find her human soul mate.  She did finally find him when she met my dad.  That little thing claimed him as her person and my dad fell in love with her in return.

The years passed and it was nice that most had gone to family so I could stay up-to-date on how they were doing.  As these things happen eventually my niece’s Phantom developed a cat illness and passed away.  About two years ago my dad’s precious Fooey showed signs of illness.  He took her into the vet and learned she had some serious mouth issues going on.  They recommended mouth surgery and my dad proceeded with the treatment.  Fooey had a couple of teeth extracted and the vet thought there might be a mouth cancer at play.  Fooey never fully recovered and passed away three months later.

Queen Bandito
Queen Bandito

My matriarch Bandito has been the ruling kitty queen in our home for many years.  When we added our dog Shanti to the family in 2003 she begrudgingly accepted the new addition, but made it clear that she rules.  Shanti to this day will roll over and be submissive to Queen Bandito.  When our twin daughters were born I wasn’t sure how Bandito would respond.  She ignored them for a few years, but when they developed good petting skills she finally gave them stamps of approval.  She used to jump up on the bathroom sink for her food and water.

Bandito chilling with the twins.
Bandito chilling with the twins.

Bandito turned 17 years old in April of 2014.  A few years ago she began to develop a cloudy cataract in her one eye.  We have also made various adjustments in the home over the years and recent months to make accommodations for her.  As a strong cat she used to jump up onto the bathroom counter to eat and drink her water.  This kept the dog from scarfing down the cat food. Eventually she didn’t want to jump high anymore, so we put a kitty door in the bathroom door for her.  In recent months she didn’t want to use her cat box with the lid on, so I removed and then bought a smaller box with a lower lip for her to step over.  We also took off the kitty door flap because it seemed to be bugging her.

Bandito at 16 years old
Bandito at 16 years old

About a month ago she appeared to have an episode of some sort.  Maybe a seizure or min stroke.  Yet after a short pause she was back to normal.  Except for losing some extra fur around the house.  Then this last week things turned suddenly.  She wanted to hide in a closet and I finally noticed a strong disagreeable order coming from her.  I googled a few things and grew concerned it might be renal kidney failure.  Just this past Friday we took her to the vet.  The examination of her mouth revealed a couple bad teeth and a horrible mouth infection.  They took blood and urine to test, gave her an antibiotic shot that would last for two weeks to help with the infection, and suggested having her come back in when she was a little better for surgery to extract some teeth.  We left the vet unsure of the outcome.  When they called with the lab results it was surprising for a cat her age that there wasn’t anything significant to be concerned about.  Yet it also became clear that at her age the infection and tooth issues could be very serious.  When I heard about her sister’s results after mouth surgery I grew more worried.  I was questioning whether to put a cat her age through such an ordeal.  My dad recommended to not do it.

Yesterday and today I have watched my beloved Bandito grow more listless.  She has been refusing food for about 48 hours now.  I have been able to get her to drink some water by bringing it to her bed.  I hold her for stretches of time.  She purrs and cuddles in tight with me.  She lets me pet her all over and brush her.  She doesn’t indicate she is in pain, even if I pet her near her chin and mouth, which is good.  She just looks so tired and listless.  She has tried walking, but is wobbly.  I wonder if the time has arrived for her to pass on.  Every couple of hours I tear up and cry.  Like right now.  In finishing up this posting I just want to go and get her and cuddle her close.  Not knowing if it will be the last time.

Me and Bandito
Me and Bandito

Bandito has been in my life for nearly 18 years.
I have been her person since the day she was born.
This fur kid has been such an important part of my life.
She will be forever in my heart.

Do you have fur kids?

Are there fur kids who have passed on
that will remain in your heart forever?
(I had a cat named Holly who lived to be 18 years old too.
She holds a special place in my heart too.  I still have photos of her.)

 

We track the lineage and ancestry of humans.  
What would it look like if we tracked the
lineage of our furry family members?
(I know for me it feels very special to have know Bandito’s mama
and to have been there when she was born.)

Mojo Monday ~ Looking Back & Looking Forward While Staying Present

William Roberts and Sarah Briggs Family
Maternal great great grandparents William Roberts and Sarah Briggs and children.

Looking Back

lin·e·age

ˈlinēij/
noun

  1. 1.
    lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or pedigree.
 
My blog writing, besides coming from those stories that inspire me personally and topics that I wish to share with others, is also sometimes informed by my connection with my Cosmic Cowgirls tribe.  My writing appears not only on my personal blogs, but also on Cosmic Cowgirls member web sites.  Over on the Rodeo of the Soul we are going to be exploring the theme of Lineage.  When I began delving into my own personal ancestry research about a month ago I had no idea that this was part of the new year plan.  It is rather serendipitous how things are falling into place.  
In light of this theme there will be more exploration of ancestry in the coming months, yet it won’t be entirely focused on genealogy per se.  When I think of lineage in broader terms, beyond my own family tree, I think of honoring the wisdom of all women (and men) that came before.  I think of a video I recently watched of Bill Moyers interviewing award winning writer Ursula Le Guin who is about 85 years old now and the wisdom she shared.  I think of suffragists, feminists, women historians, activists, artists…..and onto the legendary work and impacts we are leaving in our wakes for the women and girls to follow us.  There is much to explore in the coming months.  

Looking Forward

At the beginning of a new year most of us not only look back at year we just wrapped up.  We also look forward to the new year, perhaps with dreams, goals and resolutions in mind.  Here are brief introductions to several articles that offered some thoughtful ideas for looking forward to the new year ahead. 

Beyond Carb-Cutting: Resolutions After A Trauma — Sleep, Play, Love – I especially love the simplicity of these heal-the-trauma resolutions and wonder how life might flow if these were your most primal goals for the year?  (Click the link for the full article.)

1. A restful sleep
2. Play, Sing, Dance  

3. Love the One Who Is With You 
4. Be In Nature
5. Ban Perfection (though I might tweak this one to Embrace Imperfection)

2 Choices That Can Make This Next Year The Best Year of Your Life – A fan of the wisdom of Dr. Margaret Paul and her Inner Bonding newsletters and program I found her two suggested choices to be sound advice – Gratitude and Intent to Learn.  (Click the link for the full article.)

If 2014 Tried You or Tested You, Do This – If 2014 was a hard year for you I encourage you to click on over for a visit to this article.  It has the ability to shift perspective.  I especially loved the passage below.  (Click the linked title to access the original article.)

“I believe 2014 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.

Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage”

10 Ways To Live Simply In 2015 Inspirational and thoughtful descriptions of ways to simplify.

Staying Present

Simple and wise words from Maya Angelou.

If you must look back Maya Angelou

 

Have you read any inspirational articles that you’d like to share about in the comments?

What are your thoughts about looking back, looking forward and staying present?  

Mojo Monday ~ Ancestry

Linda Hogan Quote

A number of years ago I got into doing some genealogy.  Maybe it is the history lover in me.  Maybe it is my curious nature.  My last foray into delving into the history records was before I had twins. Plenty of things fell to the wayside after I became a mom.  Recently though as my husband delved back into his genealogical research I too decided to sign up for a month of access on Ancestry.com. It is a fascinating journey to find the connections and the mazes of my family tree.

A week into it, sometimes obsessively tracking and connecting the dots of one generation to another, I found myself asking “Why am I spending my time doing this?  Does it really matter if I find out the names and birth dates of the people who I share my DNA?  Does that have any bearing on the present and my life today?”

What I find myself contemplating is how all of these people who I am related to were once alive and walking on Earth.  They were born, grew up, got married, had children and eventually died.  I am perplexed at times how quickly memories and historical information in a family can fade away.  So many stories and the history of a family can be lost in a generation.  I consider how after I die and my daughters grow old and die that I too could fade away.  I consider that this too is just how things are, and yet at the same time I think about keeping the stories alive and doing my part to preserve some of the family history for future generations.

I wish I had realized

There are moments such as when I discovered the death certificate of my paternal great grandmother Eva Lavendar that she and her life story becomes more real to me.  My paternal side of the family I new the least about.  More of her life story began to unfold as I discover census documents, a marriage certificate, and her death certificate.

Yet let me start at the beginning to give great grandma Eva Lavender a moment in the spotlight. This is a woman who could fade away if descendants, like myself don’t keep her memory alive.  Eva Lavendar was born on July 28, 1880 in Menard Co., Illinois.  She married Thomas Franklin Higginbottham on January 1, 1901 in Weiser, Idaho.  They moved to Missouri and their first child, Howard Higginbottham was born on October 19, 1901.  Their first child Howard sadly died the following July.  Their next child Jesse Ray was born on July 20, 1903. The third child Annie may have died at birth as the records only estimate she was born in 1903, though I am guessing it had to be more like 1904.  Their fourth child, my paternal grandmother Lula, was born on June 9, 1905. Following the birth of my paternal grandmother Lula, my great grandmother Eva would go on to have seven more children.

I read on the death certificate filed in August 1914 that Eva died from childbirth, a postpartum hemorrhage on July 18, 1914.  She was only 34 years old.  The child she gave birth to died too.  I discover this as I look at the birth and death date of her 11th child.  As I contemplate her life I do the math and figure out she married at age 21 and had her first child that same year.  In the course of only 13 years she gave birth to 11 children.

Death Certificate Eva Lavender (Higginbotham)

There are many women in my family who had this many children or more.  My maternal great great grandmother Sarah Roberts (Maiden name Briggs), was born March 17, 1868 in England.  She emigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings and married her husband in Beaver, Utah on April 16, 1884.  Her husband William Roberts had also been born in England and had emigrated to the USA.  Together they had 16 children.  Her first child was born when she was only 17 years old and her last child was born when she was 44 years old.  My great grandma Ida was her 10th child.

Roberts (Briggs) family tree

Roberts (Briggs) family tree page 2

In my research I came across a short written biography about my great great grandmother Sara Briggs parents and family. Her father James was a Methodist Minister in England.  He ended up converting to Mormonism and married his wife Betsy Fielding who converted with him.  They left England on the ship “Idaho” on June 30, 1875 with four of their children Betsy Alice, John, Alma and Sarah.  They arrived in New York City on July 14, 1875.  They then arrived in Utah by rail on July 22, 1875.  They were received in Salt Lake City by Bishop Jacob Wheeler.  Two of their older sons had come to Utah two years before.  In my searching I come across some journal accounts of those two sons.  In with the biography I also discover someone wrote a poem about the Briggs family.

The James Briggs Family

There was Robert, Alma, John and Joe
Finest of men you would ever know.
Bob, a shoe maker, the best they say,
Made many a shoe without any pay.
Joe lived in Frisco, for a long time,
Was superintendent of Horn Silver mine.
Alma and John owned a big her of sheep,
And would tramp o’er the hills, till they got sore feet.
The girls were Sarah, Alice and Nancy,
Lovely and charming as girls could be.
Sarah, blue eyes with blond curly hair,
When she caught the eye t’would make folks stare.
Nancy, brunette and brown hazel eyes.
And a shy little way that took folks by surprise.
Alice was small, dainty, gentle and sweet,
As pretty a lassie as e’re walked down the street.
The Father and Mother were Betsy and James.
They reared this family a credit to their names.
James lived the gospel and knew it by heart,
And in every way tried to do his part.
‘A very good family’, folks would say,
Now may years have gone, since they passed away.

Madeliene L'Engle quote

I am bound to them

 My explorations will continue.   It feels like a treasure hunt and when I find photos and stories posted it feels especially exciting. Getting a glimpse into reading my ancestors life stories is interesting.  There are other people on Ancestry.com who have created their own family trees and they show up as links and hints because we share relatives.  I have yet to reach out to any of these long lost relatives. I came across an article called My Top 7 Tips for Finding Old Photos of Ancestors on a website called Teach Me Genealogy that offered some great ideas too.

Have you done any exploration into your ancestry?

 Do you still have great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins, who you could talk to about your family history?

Are their family photo albums, bibles, or other records that could provide details about your ancestors?

In addition to genealogy sites that require you pay like Ancestry.com which I am using, I came across a list of sites that offer free resources. I haven’t looked into all of these, but feel free to explore for yourself:

  1. Family Search www.familysearch.org (For research, historical records and
    volunteering to help index)
  2. Find a Grave www.findagrave.com (Millions of online memorials, from transcribed headstones)
  3. World GenWeb Project www.worldgenweb.org (Genealogical data per country)
  4. US GenWeb Project www.usgenweb.com (Genealogical data per state)
  5. National Archives www.nationalarchives.gov (Archived Genealogical data from the US Government)
  6. Genealogy Today www.genealogytoday.com (Genealogical Data)
  7. Google www.google.com (Genealogical data, images, maps, and more)
  8. Access Genealogy www.accessgenealogy.com (Online Genealogical Data)
  9. Family Tree Searcher www.familytreesearcher.com (Online family trees)
  10. GeneaBios www.geneabios.com (Genealogy Biography database)
More highly recommended Free sites:

Genealogy- chasing your own tale2

Mojo Monday ~ Fun Deficit Disorder

Life isnt as serious

Sometimes I can be really serious.  I am sensitive to world events.  My heart hurts when there are painful and sad things happening.  I struggle with the big issues regarding injustice, violence against women and children, as well as hurtful actions against animals, which is why I adopted a vegan diet 6 years ago.  I also happen to be in my fourth year of writing for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine and while the first years leant themselves to me writing about inspirational uplifting topics, we as a collective group have dug deeper into more challenging topics, especially this year where the theme is Taboo.  I have now tackled the topic of Naked Vulnerability, “Death” in We Are All Going to Die. Poetry Can Help , “Ambiguity” in Shades of Fucking Gray or Delicious Ambiguity? and the most recent, sexual abuse of children, in The Bogeyman Under the Bed.  Goodness I sometimes feel like this series is putting me through the proverbial wringer.

In my off time from contemplating and writing about topics like death and abuse I can also get caught up and focused on chores, to-do lists, keeping my car clean, organizing my emails and hanging up my clothes according to color scheme.  (Oh dear, I am revealing my idiosyncrasies.)  Yes, there are aspects of my moderate OCD personality that likes everything in a certain order.  It is the last trait that can trigger my irritation about towels hung up haphazardly, the bed not made, books and homework strewn across the dining room table, too many things cluttering up the house, jackets thrown on the floor…well you get the idea.  It is something I feel I have to tame regularly if I am to avoid the true grumpy grumps and grumbles about wanting to live alone, so I don’t have to clean up after other people.  I love my children and my hubby.  It is terrifying to consider a life without them, so obviously moving out or moving them out really isn’t the answer.  What I aim to focus on instead is making peace with things I cannot change. Not always so easy, but when love trumps everything else, you do what you need to to make it work.

Even Cowgirls get the BluesSo in consideration of how serious I have been feeling, and in all honesty, the blues I have been struggling with for months now (yes even Cowgirls get the blues), it was timely to receive a newsletter that reminded me of the importance of Play.  It also seemed appropriate for the magical month of December.  I laughed, but related especially to the description of FDD ~ Fun Deficit Disorder.  Let me share with you the inspirational message from Kathy Tyler of Innerlinks that struck a chord with me.

 

 

Inspirational Message

Maximize every moment of liveness. Experience 
pleasurable involvement in all your activities and enjoy what you are doing.  Have Fun!
Play is at the heart of our creativity and animates our being in our most carefree moments. It helps us live with absurdity, paradox, and mystery. It feeds our childlike joy and wonder. It keeps our search for meaning grounded and on to earth.
There is so much going on in the world, and within us, that our stress levels have adjusted upwards to a new ‘normal’ creating a hidden epidemic of fun deficit disorder (FDD). Play is an antidote to stress. It can totally absorb your attention and cause a cascade of feelings that greatly impact your happiness quotient.
Play engages us with the imaginal realm and supports and enriches our metabolization of life. It is integral for generating insights and effortless realizations. Play literally gives us a ‘breather’ – restoring our vitality at a core level.
This month find a fun activity that totally captivates your attention to the point where time seems to slow or even stop, and the voice inside — (the one giving constant commentary on what you’re doing, have done, or will be doing) — ceases.  Laugh heartily at jokes, situations, and yourself.
Wishing you playful, joyous moments throughout December. And, transformed FDD to F:):)….
Warmly,
Kathy

Ways I am choosing to have fun this month ~

Created a new holiday music mix and will be designing the cd cover.

a-sprinkle-of-love-christmas

Prepared the annual family holiday letter with photos and news about our 2014.

holiday letter snapshot

Getting creative with our Elf on the Shelf named TwinTweety.

IMG_2325

Delighting in putting up lights, including a new heart and star
on the porch that make me happy.

IMG_2327

Decorating the candy house with the family.

IMG_2326

As one who loves finding and giving that oh-so-perfect gift
I’ll delight in wrapping and preparing gifts for loves ones.

present

Before I head off for the fun task of
plotting the next adventure
for our Elf on the Shelf
I encourage you to consider how you

can make this a Season of Magic.

IMG_2329
Artwork by Kristina Swarmer ~ card by Brush Dance

I’ll also close with another
inspirational message from Innerlinks.

Intentional Butterfly Circle

You are important.
Your thoughts create.
Your actions matter.
Your presence changes everything.

Be an Intentional Butterfly,

a participant in the ripple effect of caring.

This is the beginning, now is when you start. It is time to awaken to your presence, to be inspired in your actions, and to hold the highest and best outcome for the planet, humanity, and all life on earth. You make a difference and you decide what that difference is. What you think about yourself affects how you feel and how you act. What you think about those you meet affects how they view themselves. We all create each other. I am cannot be a teacher if there are no students. I cannot be a student if there are no teachers.

It is not a question of whether what you think matters. It absolutely does. Your participation is mandatory regardless of your perception. You are here, you are a part of life, and you make a difference. You are a participant in the creation of our future. So, the only question is; what kind of difference do you want to make? It is up to you to decide to be a conscious or unconscious participant. Non-action, to do nothing, is a choice and one you are ultimately accountable for. And, sometimes, non-action is the most courageous choice. But, to do nothing because you do not want to get involved is an excuse to stay disempowered and unaccountable. So, make choices with intent. Be willing to learn, grow, and evolve in your ability to discern what to do and what not to do.

As you go about your daily activities, you touch numerous people most of which you do not even meet. The woman or man behind a cash register who serves you at the counter, your interaction adds or subtracts from their day and how she/he then interacts with the next customer or co-worker. Your interaction with them may tip their inner balance point in the direction of kindness or anger. What kind of influence do you want to be? What is the ripple your energy is creating?

Become a beacon of intention. Intend kindness, peace, grace, appreciation, and recognition of the spirit of the person who is in front of you. You do not need to ‘know’ them to extend your good will and good heart. It is not the receptivity of the other that prevents you from extending your best to each moment.

Practice goodness, become an intentional butterfly that lights upon each interaction with the blessing of the true reality that is our shared humanity. Add your presence to the love and compassion that are the healing agents that free our spirits and open our souls to the knowing of our true selves.

Each interaction is an opportunity to start a chain reaction of caring. Of giving the moment a magic touch that reverberates and carries out like a ripple on a pond. Endless in possibilities to affect an outcome many steps down line from your initial incidental action.

This is a way to contribute to the phase shift where change can happen. Like water heating to the boil, there is a moment before it reaches the temperature to start to boil, but if the heat remains at that point or drops, the water never makes the phase shift to actually boil, to become steam, to change its frequency. You can be that moment; you can choose to add to the phase shift of another. You can be the butterfly with the gentle touch that contributes to the phase shift, to the change. You may just be the difference that changes everything. Don’t miss your opportunity.

Join the circle, become an Intentional Butterfly. Make a difference. Start now, be a conscious, caring, human being. You are part of a larger picture, a much grander plan then what you may perceive. What you give to one gives to the whole and ultimately gives back to you.

Keep your acts of intention simple.

  • Open a door for someone and as look in his or her eyes, smile.
  • Let in front of you the driver who is waiting to merge.
  • Ask the cashier how they are.
  • Compliment your partner.
  • Give specific appreciation to your children.
  • Return a shopping cart to the door.
  • Recycle your cans.
  • Make a phone call to someone who lives alone.

Build on simple acts increasing in frequency. Frequency meaning both: more often and increase in vibration. Upping your intentional actions. Extending your loving presence to touch that in another.

Then, ask for more opportunities to be an intentional butterfly. Keep your heart open. Stay alert to the seemingly incidental moment that can change the outcome of someone’s day.

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Mojo Monday ~ Impermanence

Impermanence expresses the Buddhist notion
that everything is constantly in flux.

Cultivating an acceptance of the transitory nature
of our current situation helps us deal with change and loss.

Sharon Marroquin
Sharon Marroquin

On January 8, 2010 Sharon Marroquin received a phone call that informed her she had breast cancer.  Twenty-six months, three surgeries, sixteen chemotherapy treatments and thirty radiation treatments later, she wanted to make sense of the journey.  Confronted with her mortality, angered and frustrated over her inability to handle the disintegration of her body, Sharon Marroquin begins to consciously deal with it through art and decides to create a dance called “Materiality of Impermanence”. Through the creation of the dance, Sharon escapes to another realm that is not confined by physical limitations, disease, childrearing, teaching and running a home. “Foreign Puzzle” is a visual testimony of the transcending power of the human spirit.

Please watch this brief video introduction about Sharon and the “Materiality of Impermanence.”

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/15778371″>Materiality of Impermanence</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user4842461″>realtalkies</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

“When I saw the photos they were beautiful,
it was a turning point because I realized that this horrible
thing happening to me had some beauty in it
and that’s when I started thinking I could make a
dance about this so that people outside of myself
could see both the ravages of what one has to go through
but also the beauty that’s within the human spirit”
~ Sharon Marroquin

Face to face with mortality- Sharon Marroquín
Face to face with mortality – Sharon Marroquin

“I have to learn to surrender to this journey
and to use it as an opportunity for growth, for learning…”
~ Sharon Marroquin

Video clips from the performance
“The Materiality of Impermanence”

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/96272112″>The Materiality of Impermanence (trailer)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user19911064″>Sharon Marroquin</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

photo-1

 

From Mandalas & Meditations for Everyday Living:
52 Pathways to Personal Power
by Cassandra Lorius

“Because nothing lasts, our natural reaction is to grasp on to people or experiences, but this can lead to emotional suffering.  It is more healthy to learn to remain open to what comes into our lives and accept the situation when it leaves.  We can become more adaptable and appreciative of the present moment.  To do this, try to drop illusions and expectations, such as the direction of our own life and career, how we have imagined our parents’ and siblings’ life stories, our relationships, the need for someone to love us unconditionally and take care of us, our religious certainties, the kind of people we prefer our children to grow into, or our assumptions about health and longevity.”

Meditations on Impermanence

1 Think back to a time when you became aware you were holding on to an illusion.  Recall your discovery that it was just an illusion, and remember how that felt.

2 Think about the new awareness that must have created the conditions for your realization that it was an illusion.  What was the scenario that unfolded?

3 Relive the release when these illusions were dissolved.

4 Become aware of the spaciousness and sense of freedom you have when you live without illusions.

5 Let go of each and every one of your illusions, releasing them into the vast space of the universe.

Mojo Monday ~ What Every Salmon Knows

FullSizeRender
Photo by Michelle Fairchild – Battlecreek 10/22/14

What people have forgotten
is what every salmon knows.

~ Robert Clark

This past week I used a vacation day so that I could be a parent chaperone for a field trip for my twin daughters 3rd grade class.  It turned out to be a rainy day, but seeing as how we desperately need the rain here in California there weren’t too many grumblings.  Instead we wore hats, jackets and carried umbrellas.  The first portion of our outing was to the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery was established in 1942 to help curb the loss of natural salmon.  Our guide was soft spoken Jack Blanke who had many interesting facts and figures to share with us during our tour through the hatchery and the two mile nature hike that followed along Battle Creek.

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Photo by Michelle Fairchild ~ Coleman National Fish Hatchery

We observed the Chinook Salmon, as well as Steelhead Trout in the various holding tanks.  The fish start out as tiny eggs and are fed and cared for until they are released.  While they are young they have their adipose fin clipped and a wire clip is embedded into their nose.  When such fish return to the hatchery years later they can be identified and it will provide biologists with useful information.

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Photo by Michelle Fairchild ~ Spawning room Coleman National Fish Hatchery

An unexpected part of the tour for myself and my daughters was the spawning room.  Male and female salmon die naturally after they lay their eggs.  The fish actually quit eating during their journey to the spawning pools and their bodies absorb their own intestines to survive.  At the hatchery they speed up and mechanize the fertilization process.  The process begins with an elevator full of water and fish rising up so that staff can more easily grab them.  One of the workers then jams the fishes heads into a box with an automated hammer, that is intended to kill them quickly. A number of the fish do not die from the hammer and instead are beaten over the head with a club.  All of this took place while we watched.  It was after they were “dead” that a pair of workers would pick up both a female and a male fish and essentially force out the females eggs and the males milt.  One worker injects the female fish with a device that blows air into her, forcing her eggs to come flowing out, while the another worker presses on the male to eject his milt.  The eggs and milt mix in a basin.  The dead fish were then dropped down chutes, and then routed to a refrigerated trailer sitting outside the building, which would later be transported to a processing plant. The meat is primarily distributed to food banks and prisons.  Local Native American tribes in the area also have rights to put in requests to transport whole fish from the hatchery free of cost.

I personally was relieved to leave the spawning room.  As a person who gave up eating meat and adopted a vegan diet six years ago, seeing animals, even fish killed, was not a pleasant experience.  My daughter Maya was especially sensitive to it too and her teacher tried to explain that the fish would have died anyways.  That sound reasonable, though iI kept thinking about the difference between laying ones eggs and dying peacefully in a river or being killed by a slam to the head with a hammer or a club.  I tried to make some peace with it by looking at the bigger picture and how the hatchery is responsible for hatching over 13 million fish, and in doing so helps to ensure the populations of salmon and steelhead continue to thrive.

If I haven’t bored you to tears with the account of the salmon tour and you are still bravely reading on I want to share with you an essay from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  Not having read from this book in awhile I opened it and flipped to the latter dates of October.  I have to wonder if it is synchronicity or coincidence that is just so happens his essay for October 30th called The Art of Facing Things is about salmon.  Maybe this particular essay wouldn’t have caught my attention if not for the recent outing, but I decided there might be a message in it that I should take note of more closely and I wanted to share it with you.

“Salmon have much to teach us about the art of facing things.  In swimming up waterfalls, these remarkable creatures seem to defy gravity.  It is an amazing thing to behold.  A closer look reveals a wisdom for all beings who want to thrive.

What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside–from center to tail–into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely, and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall.  Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey.

From a distance, it seems magical, as if these might fish are flying, conquering their element.  In actuality, they are deeply at one with their element, vibrantly and thoroughly engaged in a compelling dance of turning-toward-and-being-hit-squarely that moves them through water and air to the very source of their nature.

In terms useful to the life of the spirit, the salmon are constantly faithful in exposing their underside to the current coming at them.  Mysteriously, it is the physics of this courage that enable them to move through life as they know it so directly.  We can learn from this very active paradox; for we, too, must be as faithful to living in the open if we are to stay real in the face of our daily experience.  In order not to be swept away by what the days bring, we, too, must find a way to lean into the forces that hit us so squarely.

The salmon offer us a way to face truth without shutting down.  They show us how leaning into our experience, though we don’t like the hit, moves us on.  Time and again, though we’d rather turn away, it is the impact of being revealed, through our willingness to be vulnerable, that enable us to experience both mystery and grace.”

  • Sit quietly and meditate on the last time you opened yourself to the life coming at you.
  • In recalling this, try to focus on three things; the way that opening yourself caused you to unfold, they way that being hit squarely changed your life position, and where leaping like a salmon landed you.
  • Breathe steadily, and invite the lessons of opening, being changes, and landing into your heart.
  • Breathe slowly, and realize that you are in this process now.
  • Relax and turn the belly of your heart toward the day.

Chinook salmon

Here is a brief video of the salmon attempting to jump and vault a controlled waterfall.  You can excitedly hear children cheering on the salmon as the launch themselves.  We kept hoping one would make it.  What we finally learned is that at this time of year the volume of water is increased to such a level that the salmon will never make it to the upper level.  This forces them to look for an alternate route, which happens to be a man-made fish ladder that directs them into the hatchery pools.  During the non-spawning season the water flow is reduced and fish can then naturally swim up and down stream.

I also ponder some additional questions and ask them of you too.

Is there anything that you are avoiding or not willing to face?

When things are difficult and challenging how do you handle them?

Do you think your methods and ways of dealing (or not dealing)
with challenges are healthy for you
or could you benefit from learning some new coping skills?

Suggested reading – Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart

Mojo Monday ~ From Here to There

life-me-orlando-espinosa

 

smile to hide

 

overwhelmed scream

 

overwhelmed

 

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bigstock-overwhelmed-woman-on-a-chair-durring-a-storm

 

remember youre going to die

 

inspirational-quotes-42

 

 

panic attack

 

they will pass

 

Feeling-Overwhelmed

 

 

 

coyote-help-218x300

 

 

SONY DSC

 

images
itll be okay

 

 

stay strong

 

let it go

 

Overwhelmed-by-gratitude

 

mom-quote

 

robin williams

 

enjoy the little things

 

bubbles

 

swing

 

slow down relax enjoy life go outside

 

Dr.-Suess-Motivational-Quotes-images-inspiration-18

 

start again

 

be happy

 

 

Practicing-Happiness-Gifting-Your-Mind-a-Breath-of-Fresh-Air1-604x270

 

You know that when it is only Sunday morning
and you are already dreading
going to work the next day
and you then begin to cry
that things have grown much too stressful.

This photo and quote Mojo Monday
is in response to the
incredible overwhelm and anxiety
I am experiencing at this time.
I found transforming my feelings
into visuals and succinct quotes
was helpful and almost therapeutic.

Then to look for images and ideas
for helping one cope and deflate
the stress and overwhelm
also helped to bring
some present peacefulness
to the forefront of my mind and spirit.

When you feel overwhelmed or
overcome by anxiety what do you do?

If you are struggling with someone
or something in particular
try turning the situation into a visual collage.
Look for images that reflect the problem.
Then look for images on how you would either 
like to resolve the situation or at the very
least how you would rather be feeling.

Mojo Monday ~ Love and Loss

IMG_1697I know a few things about love and loss.
I know a bit about grieving,
for I have danced with death on more than one occasion.

As I begin to write this post about a death, a birth and two heart surgeries my quirky mind jumps to thinking about the film called Four Weddings and A Funeral or those jokes that start off with “A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…”  Perhaps it is not in my best interest to share how ADHD my thoughts can be, and may I add, how they exhaust me at times.  Yet it is true that these past two weeks have included the death of a great uncle, the birth of a great niece and two heart surgeries, an aunt’s and that of a very dear member of my creative Cosmic Cowgirl community.

My auntie’s heart surgery went smoothly and she is on her way to recovering.  The heart surgery of Sue Hoya Sellars, a master artist and matriarch, on Thursday, September 18th also appeared to be successful. All the monitoring during the long procedure indicated things went well.  There was a beautiful video live stream post surgery, where those present and those of us miles away could touch base and share in wishing Sue a speedy recovery.  However things didn’t go quite as expected because Sue didn’t wake up.  As the hours and days rolled on vigils began and still family and friends held onto hope that she was simply healing in “Sue time.”

As more time has passed the shadows of doubt have grown.  The community has circled around sending waves of love from around the world, while writing poems, drawing and painting, in honor of she who has taught many how to wield a paintbrush and how to mix her unique blend of black paint. In the midst of tears that I shed multiple times a day I am inspired by all the creativity and love that abounds.  There is the 30 day Committing Art with Sue that launched.  I have seen so many beautiful drawings and paintings posted by those who have been touched by her and this community.  I have fallen head over heals for the quotes that artist Christina Gage has been creating from close ups of her paintings and the wise words of Sue herself.   I have been moved by the poetry and written words of so many who wish to share their experiences with Sue and offer words of comfort to one another. I have loved hearing how many have visited the hospital, sitting and talking to Sue, singing to her, drumming for her and certainly praying for her.

Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage
Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage

Even as I write this on the evening of Thursday, September 25th, Sue is alive, blood flowing through her veins, and her heart pumping.  Actions were taken earlier today though to remove all the tubes and wires, so that family and friends could move her to her beloved Terra Sophia homestead.  The latest update was that she remains unresponsive and it is expected that she will transition from life to the great mystery called death.

Every day since the surgery I have awaited the announcement that she has awoken.  I have expected to hear accounts of her waking to joyous reactions and great relief.  I have imagined her look of surprise to learn she has been sleeping for a week.  Many have suggested she has been soul traveling and will return with stories of visiting the cosmos and spending time with ethereal beings.

I reflect and find irony in how my most recent taboo article for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is entitled We Are All Going to Die.  Poetry Can Help.  The day my article was published is the day I learned Robin Williams was no longer with us and not long before that one of my all time favorite human beings, Maya Angelou, had passed away.   In the here and now of grieving for the very real likelihood that Sue transitions in the next hours or days, the title of my own article feels more real than ever.  Yes, we are all going to die and yes, as I continue to witness, poetry can help.  So can painting, singing, drumming and writing as we transform grief and loss into expressions of love and beauty.

Sue believed strongly in the power of art to heal and to connect with our consciousness.  As a part of fulfilling her deepest wishes and the legacy of her vision a Barn Raising has been initiated.  Sue’s longtime homestead is called Terra Sophia and an invitation has been extended to be a part of Sue’s vision for her property to become a sanctuary for committing art.  Please visit the “Barn Raising” site to learn more on how you can participate.  On this site is also a beautiful video that offers a peek into Sue’s world at Terra Sophia.

I have been a part of the Cosmic Cowgirl community since October 2008.  This tribe of creative women has impacted my life significantly.  Sue intimidated me a little the first time I met her and I joke that it was the “toilet paper lecture” that did it.  Those who have heard this same detailed instructional guide from Sue can nod knowingly and then giggle.  It was the second time I met her that I was struck strongly by the depth of her love and kindness.  I saw in her eyes the wisdom and the generous heart that poured forth.  I admired her deep contemplative mind and her gentleness.  I also loved her humor and wit.  That second time upon preparing to depart from an amazing weekend spent with Cosmic Cowgirls I went to say my goodbye to Sue and found myself spontaneously announcing “I love you Sue.” I saw the glisten in her eye as she took in my heartfelt words.

Some people affect us more deeply than we know, especially when faced with their departure from our lives.  Sue was at the heart of the Cosmic Cowgirl community.  She is beloved to us all.  I pause while typing this to hold my hands to my face while stifling a sob. I wipe my nose and dab my eyes and return to sharing written words for comfort and a way to process the grief.  Later I will turn to the paintbrush and a canvas to transform tears into expressions of art.  Always I will turn to this community of creatives for connection, friendship and support.  We are bound by the red thread.

an-invisible-red-thread

 

In closing a song that felt called to be shared.

Raven Song
by Elephant Revival

Raven Song
Lyrics by Elephant Revival

If I was a raven
I’d fly on through the heavens

I’d fly to all my loved ones
If I was a raven

(vocalizations)

If memory’s worth saving
I’d savor the feeling
of knowing love and loving
I’d remember the feeling

(vocalizations)

Some say upon that mountain
there is many a raven

They call out to the living
from somewhere far beyond them

From those we’ve loved
that have flown on

From those we’ve loved
that have flown
on

In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette
In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette