Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Morning Meditation at Thanksgiving

Good morning new day!! The exclamation marks are all mine as, with the stealth of sunrise, you come bringing the strengths, vision and enjoyments which daily renew us.

Help me to tend wisely to the things given to do today. It's a busy time. Things get done by going at them one by one. It's like a countdown. Each specific task lines up after the one before and blends at length in another completed preparation. It's a good feeling with an energy all its own.

Thank you for our homes and communities. Thank you for the beautiful word homecoming. Thank you for lively expectation which feeds the desire to make festive. Bless the baking, cleaning, traveling, arriving. Bless those who await their loved ones. Bless all travelers. Bless the welcoming. Bless the gathering in.

Thank you wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Thank you as we prepare the gifts of the table. Thank you for Thanksgiving appetites and the folks who sit down to eat. Thank you for the stories that will be told and the stories that will be repeated.
Bless my family wherever we are. We scatter so far. Let the Thanksgiving table extend to include all who cannot pull their chairs in beside us this holiday.
Thank you for the laughter and the listening. Thank you for the memories that are the sweet dessert. Let us pause and quietly remember the ones not with us, by dint of loss, today. Tears are the unbidden guests for which a chair must also be found on Thanksgiving Day.

Thank you for dear friends in all the places I've found them. Sometimes they're the ones who found me and called me friend. Tenderly I count each by name. Places at the table are reserved for them if only they knew it.

They can't see the napkins folded or plates set out. But it's all right. It's something we all instinctively know, that we're invited to sit at many tables today as heads bow in gratitude.

Thanksgiving reminds us we are relational in spirit. We're made to care about each other. We're made to build each other up. We're made to not stand alone but to reach across divisions that are often simple misunderstandings that come with solutions if we allow it.

Let us do all we can to remove separation from out of our midst, if this difference of experiences should be the barrier. Let us strive toward trust, peace and friendly intentions. Certainly these qualities were at the first Thanksgiving feast. May the clasp of understanding be firm and gentle as we hold hands around our Thanksgiving tables.

It's a holiday to fill us through and through. We eat and find our hearts are replenished. Help us appreciate and respect resources used. The resources are of the earth - the food foremost - and also the resources of time. Time gives us a day, set aside from the others, to honor the harvest friendship tradition. We use our time to celebrate today in the same fitting fashion.

Thank you for the people in our lives who satisfy our hunger for acceptance, respect and kindness. Let us be truly thankful. Yes!! Let us be.

Good morning my thoughts. You formulate into expression like a friend who lights the way. You direct me to gratitude. You help me start this Thanksgiving Day.

Ro Giencke - November 22, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perfect Pause

The newest Midwest Living is on the counter. It's on its way to my daughter. It's a joy to pass along good reading. With this magazine in particular there are recipes and articles to comment on. It's good to have folks who share your reading interests.

The article on St. Charles has been pointed out. Al and I enjoyed this old Missouri river town when we visited St. Louis last summer. The snowy scenes in the holiday story are far different from the warm August afternoon of our brick stroll through old town.

While there we called our daughter from one of the restaurants along the leafy and inviting sidewalks. We were at the outdoor terrace. It was an ideal spot.

Our seating was a fact we were celebrating, and you'll understand if like us you're not always ushered to the premiere spot. We sat back from the street but in position to see the action along it. She may remember St. Charles for the happy Sunday sounds of our voices as we visited with her.

The Little Hills Winery, covered in the December issue, struck a familiar chord. Little Hills is a name you see on signs in that part of town. It's a lovely name. It has a pleasant ring.

How can you not want to live in an area with the name Little Hills. The name promises green rises of land where the lift of river breeze saves you on a sultry day. Prominent slopes catching sun rays on crisp fall mornings come to mind. It's easy to picture venerable houses built on tiers of land with puffs of smoke curling from the chimneys.

The payoff in traveling is that any place once visited is yours.
Regional magazines understand this and plan accordingly. They lay out places we can easily get to and explore and come back for more.

As I write a white utility truck is drilling in the opened manhole in our street. It's making such a racket. The drilling reminds me of my dental appointment. I count on it being a routine checkup. I don't want to exceed my twice yearly visit with the need for follow-up dental work. The noise outside has me keeping my fingers crossed. I want an appointment that ends with a free toothbrush and a grateful quick exit out the door.

Pleasant November weather continues. A couple cold days in the 30s are coming. (Well, winter in its entirety is coming if you want the whole perspective.) It's been a mild advance through the month.

Some plants appear unscathed by our light frosts. Hard freezes haven't happened. The black-eye susans in the front yard must sit in a colder spot. They've folded for the year.

A few maples in the otherwise bare neighborhood continue in full leaf. They shine like gold towers when the sun is on them. Their leaves may well be pasted on. Their lasting power is phenomenal.

I'm enjoying the days. They're get out and walk days if that's your preference. They're also perfect for cozy times inside. No apologies for not being outdoors are required.

I'm current with my magazine reading. It's too early for holiday shopping. Thanksgiving preparations aren't yet consuming me. Mid-November may be the perfect pause. All is well as the seasons go.

Ro Giencke - November 15, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Home is the Country of the Heart

It must be the influence of the season. It's a couple weeks to Thanksgiving and the December holidays are in the air. It's as explanatory as anything for why the words "home is the country of the heart" popped into my head just like that.

One minute the table was being cleared of the scattered newspaper sections. The next you know, the words lining up in my mind, I am diving for a pen.

The thought grabbed hold. I couldn't set it down. It has so much truth. It needs to keep going. It's the new heading for my web site. It puts into focus the aim of my writings.

The thousands of words already written have mirrored this concept all along without my quite recognizing it. Home is the country of the heart. This is the field, the thought tells me, in which my engines hum.

Thoughts come to all of us. Many are in the form of spontaneous advice or encouragement. We didn't even know what we're going to say until it's said. The right words and right thoughts show up because they come from a deep and caring place.

Unsolicited and freely appearing, either in conversation with others, or in quiet periods when our brain can pay attention, there's much wisdom to tap from others or our own selves.

This is an anniversary month for me when it comes to wisdom words. I first began writing down, on loose lined notepaper, compelling thoughts read or heard on TV or on the radio. My first entry is from 1986. It came from Glamour magazine.

"Listen to your inner voice," the article recommended. "Many experts on creativity believe that we're 'brainstorming' good ideas of all kinds (innovations for work, plans, gifts, decorating schemes, moneymaking ideas ...) all the time, but don't pay attention to them. Carry a notebook and jot down useful ideas as they occur. You'll see your creative self more clearly - a wonderful ego boost!"

It happens that I do carry a notebook with me. I like the comforting feel of pen in hand and the concept of pen and paper working together as a kind of team to keep me on track.

My notebook is more my mobile to-do list than anything. It's where what's needed from the store gets jotted down as I grab my handbag and head out the door at a run. On its tattered pages, slewing around in the depths of the purse, along with the eggs and milk reminders, are things to look up on the computer when I get home. Very occasionally something else gets noted down.

No brainstorms have arrived via the notebook as far as I can ascertain. This doesn't lessen its importance as a recorder of ideas. It's all part of training your mind to intercept, to use a football term, the ideas that show up unannounced. And most do come that way, no matter how much groundwork of thinking or preparation for the idea you've put into action.

Jotting down ideas - even if it's a note to match fuchsia scarf with your tweed jacket as seen on the person walking by - nudges your brain to observe and record useful information. Along with imagination, information is basic to harvesting the successes waiting to happen.

Profitable ideas don't need to materialize as dot-com enterprises. They can be, as with me, thoughts that make you smile or give a certain light to something or open a door to yet another thought.

Here are some thoughts recorded recently. Some come from other sources. A few are my own.

"Any small thing can save you" -title of book by Christina Adam read May 2011.

"Here's to getting lucky" -store sign at mall. I love the insouciance of this, especially as balance to catching my windblown image in the window glass on a blustery October afternoon.

"Life is better in a sweater." This is from The Limited, also seen at the mall. It's a favorite new thought. Life really is better in a sweater. They got that so right.

"Italian music even seems to understand where your heart is at the moment." This thought, which is mine as are the next three, came from a wonderful Italian restaurant complete with New York City ambience. I read the line and it's like the table is newly set to enjoy all over again.

"A good life is the cheerful adaptation of what comes along."

"Things have a way of being a little more interesting after you've had a little more experience."

"Happy times are meant to be shared." Happy start to the holidays everyone.

Ro Giencke - November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dreams and Roots

A Norwegian royal visit to this country last month put me in mind of my grandfather whose birthday is today. Royalty and roots - I weigh the concepts in my mind.

King Harald and Queen Sonja were in Minnesota in October as part of a Midwest tour preceding their visit to New York City. During their visit we learned that one in five Minnesotans has Norwegian in their background. This includes me through my grandfather.

As time passes, separating us further from our original homelands, our heritage can become of mild interest or not at all. Our cultural reality is the present day. We shape ourselves by our choices and interests as much as by the guiding environment that first forms us or the rituals of belonging to any certain group.

That said, an allegiance of sort ties us to places carried in our blood. Whether our ancestors fled for reasons of persecution, hunger, opposition to current authority or for opportunity of any kind including economic gain or plain simple adventure, some of their reasoning for starting over rides in our veins.

We continue to bring forth and bring out the realization of the hopes they brought to this country. Whether our immigrant forebears are a generation removed or as ancient as the land bridges from Asia we all come from somewhere. We're headed to dreams we call our own. These dreams are our preferences for the life we wish to lead. Nevertheless they proceed from what comes before.

Their majesties bring with them a renewed sense of the importance of ties. We keep and honor ties because of their value. It's a value based on no mere thing.Ties are stronger than the casual connection on which we base many of our relationships or loyalties these days. It implies an essential attitude of allegiance based perhaps on nothing more than respect and good will. This is enough.

My grandfather, born a year after his teenage mother came to this country, grew up American. Norwegian might have been spoken in the home in the first years. Norwegian traditions and foods went into the makeup of the ethnic community in which they lived. But all in that farm community had dreams. They put down roots so their dreams could flourish and the families born here could take new strength from the land.

Vision is passed along through the decades. It alters as it will and as we make it happen. Our part is to choose our dreams well. Our decisions will describe our future. We are wise to borrow from the past to build our dreams. Experience serves us well. In the testimony of those who've gone before it offers the abundance of hope.

When grandpa was born the farm neighbor women came to visit. Fruit soup, a Christmas Eve tradition and a gift to the sick (and new mothers it would seem), was brought. This old recipe, copied down, handed along and surely modified at some time, is below.

Fruit Soup

2 cups raisins
2 cups prune
1 cup dried apples
1 cup dried apricots
few slices lemon
pinch salt
cinnamon stick
5 cups water

Boil until fruit is tender. Add 3/4 cup sugar (to taste). Add 1/2 cup tapioca, some grape juice and 1 can mandarin oranges, drained, and cook until tapioca is tender. Remove cinnamon stick.

Ro Giencke - November 3, 2011