March 28, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 119: Sunshine In A Box

    March 27, 2015, Prescott-  I had a fascinating interview today, with the director of a Waldorf School.  He asked me to choose between committing to a full-time position, immediately and continuing to substitute, while filling in for a three-week period, during the month of May.

    I chose the latter, mostly because I want to immerse myself in the Waldorf Method, which does look fascinating, to a holistic educator, before jumping into a shallow pool head first, as it were.  I have a lot to offer this school and others.  There will be several meetings between this gentleman and I, over breakfasts and lunches, as he wants to hear more about the Baha’i Faith and to exchange views on historical processes.  Yet, I want to be prepared, in terms of methodology.

    My presentations in May will be on Mohammad, of Whom I have read a fair amount and on Jeanne d’Arc, whose historical sites in Rouen are proximate to those of my paternal lineage.  There are a wealth of interests and areas which I believe I can contribute, besides.

    A woman at our evening devotional, in Chino Valley, remarked that both those we like and those we dislike will be attracted to the light we emit.  This explains a lot that has happened to me, especially recently.  One does not get to pick and choose who is encountered in this life; only what one does with the encounters.  I came very close, today, to severing my ties with the laundry I have been using for the past year, over the owner’s reaction to the hard line I am taking with my former client.  On reflection, though, he’s right:  No one can tell another person how, or where, to live.  We can only choose to support the decision, or to cut the individual loose.  Regardless, one’s sunshine, or one’s venom, cannot be contained in a box, in perpetuity.

    Now that those two rather variant topics are off my chest, I will rest well tonight.

March 27, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 118: Consistency

    March 26, 2015, Prescott-  My client walked out of his shelter, this evening, because he dislikes the rules.  He may want to revert to leaning on me for support.  This time, though, he has made a stark choice.  It’s no longer freezing at night, so guilt is not a tool to be used.  This time, from my perspective, he will be moving on.

    Life is full of choices, and my choices are to maintain my independence, focus on the needs of my biological family, and on the legitimate needs of those who are actually suffering.  There is an organization in town, called “Angels of Prescott”.  They, and the Red Cross, will get the bulk of my time and energy, outside of work.  The kids will get my full attention, otherwise.

    It is necessary, in life, to be consistent.  There are just too many vagaries and changes in the world around us, for a person to bounce from one goal or set of behavior to another, and still expect a successful outcome, or a sympathetic human climate.  Steadiness of purpose and unconditional love are not mutually exclusive, though, and in fact. real caring, empathy for others depends on a person being reliable in behavior, and in response to challenges.

    Those who expect others to tend their rose gardens, without fail, are doomed to not smell the sweetness.

March 26, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 117: Group Therapy

    March 25, 2015, Chino Valley- Last night, a family of three lost their trailer home, in an unincorporated town, about eight miles north of here.   The oldest child attends the school, where I am working for three days this week. He, his mother and toddler sister lost everything they owned, except the clothes that were on their backs, at the time of the blaze.  They lost their pets.  That home was in an area which lies outside any fire district, meaning that residents have to pay for fire fighting service.  The family had not paid for the service, so the home was a lost cause.  Of course, mobile homes are not likely to last long, in a fire, anyway.  A crew would have to arrive within three minutes of a blaze starting, in order for it to have any chance of success in extinguishing the blaze.

    I watched again this evening, as reports of deadly tornadoes came out of Oklahoma:  Oklahoma City and Moore, again, and Tulsa, its suburbs of Sand Springs and Okmulgee, also in the wind’s cross-hairs.  This is March, so God, alone, knows how this tornado season, April to June, will play out in full.  Everything seems on hyperdrive, weatherwise, this year, though, so perhaps the season will spend itself early, as well.

    A pilot on a crowded commercial flight in western Europe was locked out of his own cockpit, and the plane crashed, killing all on board.  The cause is left to the realm of speculation- always a sauce for further mayhem and disaster.

    Terror, both natural and man-made, abounds, at any given time.  Heartbreak, both local and international, is rife, most days.  The only solution, as I see it, is unity of response and of relief.  Some of us can offer money.  Others, like me, can offer only time and energy. My point is solely that each of us can contribute to a group effort, at some level.  Only by working together, consistently, can we foster healing.  This has not come easily to me, over time, having been a loner until the age of 30, and more or less a steadfast, but somewhat quiet, spouse, until age 60.  Penny got me out of my shell, and circumstances since she left this life have kept me out of it.

    My only question:  Where on the involvement spectrum are you?

March 25, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 116: Chains of Roses, Chains of Thorns

    March 24, 2015, Prescott- I became further acquainted with two families today. One, whom I’ve known in cursory fashion, for nearly thirty-four years, is saying goodbye to their matriarch.  The other, of whom I only know what is told me by one member, is comprised of about seven remnants, each living fiercely separate lives, until very recently.

    A.  was strong, opinionated, but deeply loving woman, who guided her children, without being overbearing.  She prized her independence, in that way resembling my own mother.  Only gradually did she give in to the inevitable and let one of her children take her in, for the rite of passage to a more equitable realm.  The scent of this veritable chain of roses will waft gently into that good night, though A. did her share of raging, during the dying of the light.  Now she knows there is a much brighter light, lying beyond.

    The Y’s, (not their real first initial), were raised by an overbearing woman, angry at having been dumped by her restless, knockabout of a husband and left with the three kids. The lives of all assumed a rootlessness that scarred each and every person in the family unit, in two cases fatally. That husband and father, never knowing the meaning of either word, has been in and out of his children’s lives ever since, thus far to no good end.  He is reaching the end of his days, and may yet reconcile with his two remaining sons.  The process of such a mending, though, will be lengthy and most likely incomplete.  The tale told me this evening, by one of those sons, is a story straight out of Edward Albee, or Tennessee Williams, a chain of thorns, whose roses have long since wilted and fallen to the ground.

    I was one of the lucky ones.  My parents were devoted to each of the five of us, in the right measure, according to what they could see of our needs.  Mother is still with us, and still of acute mind.  My only wish for her is to remain so, for as long as she can maintain her own chain of roses.  Our family has a bond that will endure, whether across the miles or across the street.  It’s what we do.

March 24, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 115: Habitat

    March 23, 2015, Williams- Today, I helped a friend haul stuff out of her old double-wide trailer, in a remote area about ten miles north of this tourist center, along Route 66.  It had been her regrouping home, whilst she was decompressing from other life events.  She returned to a community-based living situation, about two years ago, and is donating the trailer to Habitat for Humanity.

    We had long conversations, on the way to and from the place, and I got a  lot of affirmation of my life plans, as far as they go right now.  This friend is another person who serves as an older sister or cousin, so this support is well-taken.

    I have had a checkered relationship with Habitat for Humanity.  In the ’90’s, I gave a fair amount to the charity, and its mortgage arm.  Around 2005, much came to light about Habitat foreclosing on several mortgages, and evicting people.  While I am now sure that some of this was fair business practice, it left a sour taste in my mouth and I no longer contributed to the charity, after 2006.  My contributions resumed, briefly, last year, when my in-laws’ house here was sold, and some of the furniture went to Habitat.

    I have definite criteria for my charitable contributions:  The bulk of the money must go to its intended clientele, not to administration, and the charity must not do harm to that clientele, especially in the name of revenue generation.  I rely on Charity Navigator, my available funds and my gut feelings, when making a contribution.  So, it shall continue.

March 23, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 114: V Bar V

    March 22, 2015, Montezuma Well-  Today would have been my father’s 88th birthday.  He’s been gone from us for 29 years now, but the wisdom of the man resonates still.  A lot of that wisdom, I am convinced, was passed down through the faded, but still perceptible, knowledge of our Penobscot ancestors.  I am ever drawn to Native American perspectives on matters, perhaps because of this.  Having lived among the Navajo and Hopi people for several years, I have internalized many of these perceptions.  I visited some long-time Baha’i friends this afternoon, in this quiet community, north of Camp Verde and along the tributary of the Verde River that is known as Wet Beaver Creek.  My friends, a Navajo man and his wife who is of European descent, and their elder daughter, greeted me at their home just west of  Montezuma Well National Monument.

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    After a light lunch, three of us went over to V Bar V Ranch Historical Site, which is maintained by the U. S. Forest Service.  Today was the second Archaeology Discovery Day, at this site.  There were several booths, as well as the permanent ruins of the ranch, from the 1880’s and several petroglyphs, which appear to be of the Beaver Creek Style, dating from the 12th and 13th Centuries, A.D., and associated with the people known commonly as Sinagua or, to their Hopi descendants, Hisatsinom.  In this style, animals and people are often depicted together- either as prey/predator or as observed and observer.

    On the way in, we encountered the ruin of a chimney and fireplace, virtually all that is left of the ranch that that once dominated this area.  There is a former ranch house, now used as rangers’ offices, at the north end of the site and next to it, a Visitor Center.

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    We were first pleasantly greeted by a lilac bush.

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    The importance of agriculture, then and now, was highlighted by a table which featured traditional plants and seeds of the area, including white and blue corn, and various beans and squash.  Brown native cotton was also on display.  We were each given several packs of heirloom seeds.SAM_4620

    Each sherd of pottery found in the area is kept in a dignified manner.  Each piece is treated as representing the energy of the person who fashioned it, many centuries ago.  It was explained to us that many modern Native American officials a re now more interested in oil and mineral royalties, and the pursuit of corporate wealth, than in maintaining traditional languages and cultures.  The preservation of archaeological sites, then, is, ironically, entrusted to the Federal government.

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    The petroglyphs themselves, and the way the sun hit an area near a crack in the rock face, drew the largest crowds..

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    Globemallow were in full bloom.SAM_4646

    There was a spear throwing contest, using an atlatl.  None of us were immediately adept at it.  I would need several hours of practice, in order to properly use the instrument.SAM_4648

    Many other wilderness survival tools were on display, including several fishing implements and hunting snares and traps.SAM_4652

    As ever, my outing got an affirmation from the spirit realm.  There were several heart-shaped rocks along the trail.

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    I was well-impressed by the site and the various displays, which offered a wealth of explanations to young and old alike. This was a fine way to offer an homage to my father.

March 21, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 113: Naw-Ruz

    March 21, 2015, Prescott-  We had a lively Naw-Ruz observance in Goodyear, last night.  The food was, likewise, delectable and varied.  Today, our Prescott area communities had a joint celebration, a bit more restrained, but no less fervent.   I did the devotional, and offered up some contemplative, and some lively, music.   The food was equally as good.  We are in a solemn mood as a group, right now, because of the precarious health of a couple members of our immediate, and extended, Baha’i families.  God will guide us all through this, though.

    Naw-Ruz, as I have mentioned earlier, is a Baha’i New Year, and has ancient roots, stemming from Persian culture, which itself goes back 2,600 years.  The notion is fertility and prosperity, thus it coincides with  the beginning of th enorthern Spring.  All Iranians, and their neighbours, such as the Afghans, Kurds, Turkmen and Tajiks, revel in this festival.  Baha’is, being unencumbered by nationality, have brought the Festival of Naw-Ruz to the world stage.  Indeed, when I posted greetings on another social medium, return greetings came back from all parts of the world, even in places where I have never met anyone, previously.

    May peace and prosperity dig their roots in deeper, even in areas seemingly consumed by chaos.  It is known that as fire, or lava, cover a surface and destroy all in their paths, underneath, the seeds of new growth are opened by the heat.  So, too, is a new civilization, based on unity in diversity and love for all peoples, going to be built on the ashes of iniquity.

    Let me close by switching gears, with a couple of affirmations I left out of my last post.  1. I will read at least ten pages a day, in each of at least two books.  2.  I will work to set up a visiting team, from Angels of Prescott, to the Arizona Pioneer Home, whose residents seem to be sorely ignored by the community at large.

    Next:  A visit with some old friends, near Montezuma Well.

  • The Road to 65, Mile 112: Spring Affirmations and Goals

    March 20, 2015,, Goodyear, AZ-  So, as I headed down to this western suburb of Phoenix, for a reunion with old friends, on the occasion of our Nineteen-Day Fast’s conclusion, the March Equinox brought Spring to the North and Autumn to the South.  The evening was mostly convivial, and I got to know someone, who had once been off-putting, a bit better.

    The occasion of Naw-Ruz, the ancient Persian celebration of the Vernal Equinox as New Year, has been adopted by the Baha’i Faith as our New Year.  More about this, in my next post.

    I used today as a time to formulate short-term affirmations and goals, for the season of Spring itself.  These are in the categories of personal, community and extended community.

    Personal- I will adhere to waking at 5:30 AM, each day.

    I have eliminated sources of frivolity from my daily routine.

    I will continue the regimen of daily health checks, morning devotions and exercise.

    I will add evening devotions to that daily regimen. (This being one activity that lacked consistency in my life).

    I will walk at least a half-hour after dinner, wherever I happen to be, every evening.

    Hikes will continue to be a regular part of my weekly regimen.

    I will continue with random, and intentional, acts of kindness, each day, wherever I happen to be.

    Community- I will remain actively involved with my Baha’i community, with the Red Cross, with Angels of Prescott, and with Slow-Food Prescott.

    I will serve out the remaining months of my term with the American Legion Post, though continuing as its Chaplain is a matter on which I am undecided, at this point.

    Extended community-  I will continue to expand on the size of this.

    I will visit with friends both locally and farther afield.

    I will offer daily  messages and acts of support to those in my world.

    I will continue to share and educate people, regarding do Terra Essential Oils.

    I will make a journey, in late May and the month of June, to the Pacific Northwest and  to Southeast Alaska.

    Knowing these affirmations and goals will resonate with some, and viewed askance by others, I will honour them anyway.

March 20, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 111: Waldorf

    March 19, 2015, Prescott-  I had the first of two interviews, and a tour, on a visit to Mountain Oak School, on the near north side of town, this morning.  Mountain Oak is a Waldorf School, meaning the stress is on integrated learning, with music, art and kinesthetics built into the curriculum.

    I have dabbled in holistic learning, at various points in my career.  It has always made the most sense to me, engaging the whole child, and in a manner that eases the child into the day of learning.  At M.O., the first two hours are spent in structured, challenging, yet engaging activities.

    While touring, I watched as students co-operated with one another in cleaning up a mess, while  continuing to sing a lesson.  It has been well-established that musical presentations of lessons help integrate the two sides of the brain, working together.  Fifth graders were doing an integration-oriented activity in cross-body coordination. Grade 7 was on a walk in the campus wood.  Eighth grade seemed a bit more traditional, but I could see they were preparing for a Socratic Seminar, which even the public middle schools are bringing into the fore.

    I would imagine that the average Mountain Oak student will come away from a nine-year experience here with a far more complete picture of the way he or she fits in the world, than will those whose comparable experience is rooted in textbooks and paperwork.

    I have a second interview next week, and the complete scope of how I would fit in here, as a substitute teacher and social sciences/language arts contributor, will be made clearer.  I can’t help feeling that this experience will also awaken parts of my own psyche that have been asleep for some time.  It’s not only my outer frontiers that are expanding; the inner worlds are, as well.

March 19, 2015

  • The Road to 65, Mile 110: A Million Miles

    March 18, 2015, Prescott-  Donald Miller, in “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, essentially outlines a game plan for moving away from the blame game, by which people simultaneously sabotage their personal and professional lives and cast all blame for their situations on anyone but themselves.

    I spent  twelve years of my life, 1998-2010, in this sort of tailspin.  Jeff Olson, in “The Slight Edge”, points out that energy can either work FOR or AGAINST a person, depending on how the individual chooses to set course.  Seeing what damage I did to myself, and what a confusing example I set for my son, by blaming “the politicians”, “the enemies of the people” and “my ill-wishers” for my own lack of delivery, both personally and professionally.  The fact is, I knew HOW to deliver on my promises, but the WHY was inconsistent.  One must have a “WHY”, in order to bring about what one’s words say will happen.  Then, the “HOW” must be put into consistent practice.

    I spent today delivering- establishing solid contact with the leaders of two alternative charter schools in our area, both of which have proven track records, and talking this evening with a person who would be regarded among East Coast business professionals as a “High Marker”, a successful businessman here in Prescott, who expressed interest in my Essential Oils endeavours.  Of course, these are baby steps, and someone like Donald Miller, Jeff Olson or Franklin Covey would admonish not to get distracted or giddy with excitement.  The next steps must always be anticipated, and taken in a state of awareness.

    So, this wondrous Wednesday, at a time in March that has so often been tiresome and challenging in years past, now brings the aura of progress.