Tag Archives: Gratitude

One with the Storm

Carol A. Hand

Suddenly the sky fills with dark clouds,
Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles,
Echoing from the hill to the west, intensifying its power.
Heavy rain begins to fall, buffeted by the wind.

I offer tobacco with a prayer,
Please spare us all from harm.”

Suddenly I am one with the storm raging overhead
I can feel its energy coursing through my body
My heart is aglow and I feel the warmth
Of healing energy flowing from my hands.
I send out love to all those who are suffering,
And to those who cause others to suffer.
May we learn to live in peace with each other
And in balance with the earth we all share.”

The storm quickly passes,
The sky clears and the wind calms,
Leaving only rain-soaked gardens in its wake.
I offer tobacco again, “Chi miigwetch.”

I wonder, “Is this the key for surviving other storms?”

garden june 29 2015

Photo: June 29, 2015

*

Reflections on a Rainy Morning

Carol A. Hand

We’re approaching summer solstice. At least here in the northern hemisphere, daylight hours will begin diminishing as they increase in the southern hemisphere – the yin and yang, give and take, of life on this planet we share. Time is so short, yet I wonder how many years I have missed spending time with a child – helping her learn how to plant flowers, listening to her read out loud, and watching her delight in the beauty of life.

11535894_10205610152670294_1080661039035588560_n

Photo: My Daughter and Me – Duluth – June 12, 2015

I’m grateful that life has given me the opportunity to experience these wonders once again.

10382436_10205610155310360_748966135421903625_n

Photo: My Granddaughter and Me – June 12, 2015

This morning, I’m reminded of something Jiddu Krishnamurti said.

You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.

I’ve learned that to learn, raise children and plant gardens, you need to be prepared to work hard with no guarantees. The task of caring lovingly for others and one’s surroundings is a sacred responsibility without any certainty of personal rewards. It is living with love that matters. The miracles of life show themselves in their own time, in their own ways, if we’re patient and attentive.

11390315_10205610153870324_3795635285347147393_n

Photo: My Granddaughter and Me – June 12, 2015

May your solstice and life be blessed with opportunities to express love and experience miracles.

***

When I Think of Love …

Carol A. Hand

When I read poetry that speaks of soul-deep love
I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
When I think back, it’s not romantic love that touches me most deeply.
It’s a mother’s love for a daughter.

Jnana & me

Photo: Minnesota State Park – Fall 2011

We have lived through many challenging times
in more states than I can remember,
ridden horses together on Haleakala
and traveled by ferry to Madeline Island,
one of the ancestral homes of the Anishinaabeg
where we saw a magical epeaturstrich.

horse 4

Photo: Haleakala, Maui – Fall 1998

When I think of enduring love, dear daughter,
I think of you and the words of an old song.

215603_200818563289593_100000843525245_502492_8215608_n

Photo: Turners Falls, Massachusetts – Summer 1974

Of all the people and places I remember fondly,
In my life – I love you more.”

(for my beloved daughter, Jnana)

Video Credit: Emi Fujita, singing the Beatles song “In my life

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Patience

Carol A. Hand

Patience –
it’s not my strongest attribute –
but I do try as I anxiously wait for spring to really arrive.
Sometimes, I feel the need to take risks because winter often comes so early.
I plant things before June.
For two mornings in a row this week, I looked over my gardens,
grateful that my neighborhood was spared a killing frost.
I hope other neighborhoods were spared as well.

It’s the first spring in the four I’ve experienced here
that the columbines might flower before being eaten by deer,
the first spring that the tender little plants might be able to grow tall enough to survive torrential, pounding rain.

DSC00744

Photo: Looking southeast as the sun sets – June 1, 2015

As I watched the gently moving shadows created by the sunlight
filtered through the newly emerging leaves this morning,
I wondered how many people in the world today
were able to awaken to a peaceful sanctuary.

This morning and every morning to come,
let me remember to envision peace for all
no matter where I am.

bleeding hearts

Photo: Bleeding Hearts – one of the first flowers to bloom despite very cold nights – May 22, 2015

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s Paint the World with Peace and Joy

aadi and crocus

Carol A. Hand

Someday I’ll tell you a story
But I don’t know how to start
Should I lead with my intellect
Or speak from my heart?

Will you see me as arrogant
Or understand I’m shy
That I’m just a little different
And I really don’t know why?

I’m more comfortable in nature
Singing with brooks and talking to trees
Speaking with people
Never puts me at ease.

But I’m here for a purpose
And I know that you are too
To learn to live in peace with others
That’s what I try to do.

I wish I could say it’s simple
But that ideal’s so hard to reach
It takes suffering and discipline
To have something meaningful to teach.

It takes listening deeply to others
And caring about what they say
It takes listening to our hearts and dreams
And being present now, each and every day.

Please be patient as I struggle
To find the right words to share
To let you know you’re special,
To let you know I care.

Let’s paint this world together
In colors bold and bright
In colors of hope and kindness
In colors of peace and light.

(Inspired by The Painting (le tableau, Director – Jean-Francois Laguionie)

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Someday Soon the Sun Will Come

Carol A. Hand

There are mornings like today
When the promise of spring seems months away
When the snow falls again and the sky is grey.

DSC00667

Photo Credit: The View from by Back Steps – Duluth, MN – March 19, 2014

As I greet this morning when all that I hear
Are the sounds of sirens and droning traffic near
Overpowering the songs of birds. Let me not fear.

I send you love when the first memory that comes my way
Is the depth of sadness in your eyes
When you I saw you briefly yesterday.

My beloved grandson there is little I know to do
Except to let you know how much that I love you.

60695_4313542553924_868530826_n

Photo Credit: Ava, Aadi, and Ahma – Hawk’s Ridge – Fall 2012 (Photographer – Jnana Hand)

I know the noise will pass, and spring will soon return
Sometimes only suffering is how we need to learn
But know you are loved, much more than I can say
You’re always in my heart and prayers each and every day.

family 2010

Photo Credit: Ava, Aadi, and Ahma – Duluth, MN – Winter 2010 (Photographer – Jnana Hand)

Your presence in my life is a sacred joy,
May you learn to see your many strengths,
A strong but gentle man who’ll always be my little boy.

Aadi & bubbles

Photo Credit: Aadi and Ahma – Lac du Flambeau, WI – Summer 2002

It helps me to remember when days are dark and grey
That our lives all have a purpose
To walk the path of life with love for all
The ancestors will guide our way.

May you learn to find your inner strength and beauty,
May the ancestors walk with you and guide you on your way
May your life be filled with peace and love, and
May you remember you are loved each and every day.

Richie Havens – Here Comes the Sun

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections about Beauty and Sorrow

Carol A. Hand

Seeing the beauty around me
brings both joy and sorrow.
I realize the fragility
that may not survive tomorrow.

I remember the forest that
inspired my childhood song
cut down to build houses,
a sanctuary long gone.

I remember the dreams of peace
from my youth now gone bye
chickadees still sing and crows still circle high
but new wars begin as drones fill the sky

Here birds greet the morning as tree tops turn gold,
While many children go hungry
And my heart hears their cries
Because leaders want power and their hearts have grown cold.

They poison the waters in the rush for oil,
as oceans are warming as sea levels rise
they poison the air and poison the soil
they close their hearts to the earth’s cries.

Let me greet every morning as long as I live
mindful of beauty and suffering
and mindful of the hope
only love can give.

lake superior sunrise

Photo Credit: Lake Superior Sunrise and Silhouettes – Photographer Jnana Hand

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Morning Thank You

Carol A. Hand

I just wanted to thank everyone who sent kind and thoughtful messages, and also to anyone who visits this blog. It will take a little while for me to respond individually to everyone who commented because my sight will be challenging for a while.

The cataract surgery I had yesterday morning was pretty uneventful except for the slight delay by the anesthesiologists. They were in a panic about my advanced directive for absolutely no attempts to resuscitate me if something went wrong. My surgeon had to intervene and we came up with a compromise that he agreed to uphold. They could try to start my heart once if it stopped because of a rare occurrence – touching the eye in a certain way during surgery can stop the heart. But under no circumstances could they do more just because they tried and failed the first time. He agreed to honor this, so we proceeded.

Today, I am able to read with my “good” right eye with my glasses perched lopsided to make room for the protruding clear plastic cover over my left eye. I do know that the sight in my left eye is already immeasurably improved.

One of my morning rituals is to read my horoscope in the Huffington Post before I check the news. (I check both Pisces and Aquarius, since I was born on a cusp, a fitting place for someone who is of mixed ancestry). Silly and superstitious perhaps, but the opening phrase for Pisces today was amusing. “Your perspective is bent out of shape today…” (It only took me ten tries to type this simple post hmm, now eleven, oops now twelve.)

I’m sending a heartfelt chi miigwetch to all. (Ojibwe for “thank you very much”)

bird-feather-13486506267nW

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Horses and the ABC’s

Carol A. Hand

How I wish I had seen the movie, The Horse Whisperer, before I met Amos! Unlike Sara, I didn’t grow up on a farm surrounded by horses and hogs. I didn’t ride until I was in high school and it was an experience I haven’t been eager to repeat. I honestly can’t remember exactly why I agreed to go riding with classmates on a field trip to a national forest. But here I was, a tiny teenager assigned to Amos, the smallest horse of the group that we would ride along the forest trails. Amos and I were to be first in line behind our guide because Amos had a problem – he bit other horses.

Even though Amos was small compared to the others, he was big and intimidating from my frame of reference, and I’m certain he could sense my fear. But I climbed on his back and off we all went. Things were fine for the first few minutes until we came to a small pond. Amos decided he was going for a drink and left the line to wade into the pond and have a sip. And there he stayed. The guide told me to pull on his reins and gently kick his sides. I did and Amos sat. And sat. And sat. He wouldn’t budge. And the rest of the group gave up on us and rode away! And Amos sat. Finally, a boy scout who was hiking through the forest saw our predicament and took pity on us. He waded into the pond, reached up and took Amos’s reins in his hand, and led us out. I was so grateful. I have no idea how long Amos would have remained otherwise.

When we reached the shore, Amos immediately took off at a gallop to catch up to the rest of the horses, with me clinging tightly to the horn on the western saddle. I’m sure it was a funny sight! (It still makes me laugh when I think of it.) We did catch up and I learned why he was originally first in line. As he passed the other horses, he bit each one in turn as he assumed the lead position again. We made it to the end of our trail with no more stops, but I wasn’t eager to repeat this experience.

It took a special incentive. I didn’t ride again until I was faced with the Physical Education requirement for college. (I stopped playing competitive sports when I was in seventh grade – after being deliberated clubbed in the head by someone on the competing team during a field hockey game. I guess I stole the hockey ball one too many times and outran the other team toward the goal. For me, it wasn’t about beating others. It was about challenging myself.) The other options for PE, modern dance and bowling, were also rather funny. Too uncoordinated to dance, and with wrists that were too small to remain unsprained with the weight of even the lightest bowling ball, the only other choice was horseback riding. It’s when I met Buster.

Like Amos, Buster wanted to be the boss. He was also a biter, yet we did fine on the days when we rode in the indoor arena. But the days on the trail were a different story. Buster was a master at trying to dislodge me from his back, and this time, I was using and English saddle without a horn to cling too. I only had my legs to wrap ever-more tightly about his middle. He could “trip” with his front foot, lurching forward – causing me to lose my balance, and he would rub against tree trucks to try to force me off his back. Yet we both survived the ordeal. While my peers learned to jump, I was content to know that I could simply pass my semesters by staying in the saddle.

It would be decades before I would climb on another horse. And this time I have photos to illustrate my daughter’s amusement as she witnessed my lack of skill riding horses. We were in Maui in September of 1998. My daughter, Jnana, is far more courageous and adventurous than I. Bicycling down the steep winding road that encircled Haleakalā, the volcano in the center, was not my idea of fun. Instead, we compromised and decided to go horseback riding midway up the mountainous heights. I’m embarrassed to admit I only remember the name of my daughter’s horse, Brandy. My horse’s name began with a “C.” It could have been named Calypso (like Sara’s horse, whose story brought back these memories).

horse 2

We arrived at the riding center mid-morning, after the mountain mists had lifted. Our horses were saddled and waiting. Mine, Ms. C, appeared to be dozing, eyes closed with her head resting peacefully on the split-rail fence. Our guide was of Portuguese ancestry. He told us a little bit about the history of ranching in Maui and the paniolo – the “ new breed of Hawaiian cowboy” that emerged on the ranches that dotted the slopes of Haleakalā.

horse 3

I must admit I was nervous as Ms. C walked the narrow rocky ridges, or even down gentle rocky slopes. But it was a lovely way to explore and learn about another land and other histories and cultures. I’m grateful my daughter and I shared this adventure, although I haven’t ridden a horse since that time. I doubt that I will again, even though Ms. C was gentle and sure-footed, a welcome change from Amos and Buster.

horse 1

horse 4

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Haleakalā, Maui – 1998

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections About the View from the Margins

Carol A. Hand

Walking in two worlds may mean feeling one really doesn’t belong anywhere. Yet, it’s liberating in another sense. It provides an opportunity to experience other cultures and settings from the margins. After sharing memories with a colleague about our past adventures working with elders, I suddenly understood the value of living on the margins. During my lifetime, I have lived in many places and worked in many fields and settings. I entered each setting as an outsider, a space that gave me a unique vantage point to see things differently than those who “belonged.” I could think critically about what I saw and envision not only “what was” but also “what could be” based on the expressed purpose that each group or organization publicly espoused. I could also assess my “fit” with group or organizational cultures.

maui 1998 horseback

Photo Credit: Another Pacific View – from Haleakalā on Horseback – Maui – 1998

(Photographer, Carol Hand)

It’s risky to point out dissonance between what people say they want to do and believe they’re doing with the objective reality of what is actually occurring from an outsider’s perspective. My thoughts this morning reminded me of the oft-used metaphor of the “frog and the pot of water.” Although the metaphor is based on a story that hasn’t been supported by scientific evidence (indeed, a grisly and abusive experiment to contemplate that has actually been repeated many times), it is a helpful cautionary tale when one considers how easy it is to accept the power of “group think” and the compulsion to feel one belongs. One of my friends described an organizational experience we shared from her vantage point.

“I still recall her captivating teaching demonstration in which she presented information on an Ojibwe perspective on the welfare of children. With sensitivity and self-confidence, she mapped out the cultural hegemony exerted on many levels that supports the continued outplacement of Native American children and the racial disparities that undergird these practices. The beauty of the event was that she was speaking truth to power. Regardless, some faculty members criticized her performance because the information on two of her overhead transparencies was handwritten, not typed. This was the first of numerous warning signs concerning how difference mapped out on an uneven playing field within the school. Unspoken assumptions and beliefs steered action and the school’s social justice mission revealed itself in relation to my colleague in words, not actual behaviors….

“I was anything but an ally during my Native American colleague’s first year in the school. I responded defensively when she commented candidly on the social justice mission of the department as more fluff than substance. I wished she would take more time before making judgments to understand the culture of the department and all the work that had gone into creating what White faculty members believed was an innovative program. In retrospect, I find it disturbing that what I expected from her was something I was not willing to give: I was not at all prepared to see “our” world through her eyes. It was okay for her to direct her critique at the child welfare system. But when she directed it at the organization I had invested inordinate amounts of time building, that was too close to home.” (Maxine Jacobson, 2012, pp. 275-276).

The observations my friend shared as she reflected on the dynamics of group think point to a crucial realization that I had not consciously understood until now. What helped me survive came both from within and from sources other than the judgments of external groups. It came from a legacy of protective cultural beliefs. My ancestors have always walked with me, enfolding me in their protections during times of danger, providing guidance when I was at risk of straying from the path of life, and visiting my dreams to share their wisdom. I am profoundly grateful for their presence even though I tried for many years to shed the heavy responsibility it signified. I realize that my view of this “force of love and responsibility” is framed through my cultural and experiential lens, but is something that all of us carry regardless of culture or spiritual beliefs. It is available to everyone if we take the time to listen deeply enough to find our heart and spirit.

maui the road to hana

Photo Credit: A Pacific View from the “Road to Hana” – Maui – 1998 (Photographer, Jnana Hand)

If enough of us take the time to find our center and live in peace with each other and in balance with the earth we all share, we may be able to find our way out of the pot of ever-warming water that surrounds us during these challenging times.

Work Cited:

Maxine Jacobson (2012): Breaking Silence, Building Solutions: The Role of Social
Justice Group Work in the Retention of Faculty of Color, Social Work With Groups, 35(3), 267-286
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01609513.2011.642265

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.