Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…


Liebster Blog Award

I want to thank one of my fellow bloggers, Sylvia at  Sylvia Morice’s Blog for choosing my blog as a winner of the Liebster blog award! I must admit to being initially confused, thinking I had been recognized for a Lobster Blog Award!!  When you come from Maine, it’s all about the red crustacean!  Four other great blogs were also honored, so I also recommend that you check those out by visiting Sylvia’s blog-she has good taste!  If I could, I would add her to my list below with a “Right Back AtYa Sylvia.”  We virtually connected through one of her award winning blog entries, “I Have Met the Enemy and She is Mosquito.”

 The Liebster award is a way for bloggers to help each other out by spreading the word about their blogs.

The rules for this award are:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated your blog by linking back to them (see above).
  2. Nominate 5 other blogs (with less than 200 followers each, though I’m not entirely sure how to estimate this) and post a comment on their sites.
  3. Copy & Paste the award on your blog.
  4. Hope that the 5 you nominate will keep the cycle going to spread all that good blogging karma!

Okay, so here are my five nominees:

Kimberly Robinson is a bit of nepotism.  She is my niece.  Kim is one of the finest writers I know, and I don’t just say that  because she is a relative… and in many aspects a clone of myself.  I bought Kim her first journal, therefore I would like to take credit for every profound word she writes!  Kim can take such mundane subjects as canning jars and create a blog that is profound and hysterically funny at the same time.

Peg-O-Leg is not only a good writer, she creates the most wonderful original artwork to illustrate her blog.  Peg faces the world and it’s happenings with a wonderful sense of humor.  She always leaves me with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  This links to her post “Little Red Hen’s Christmas Tale” – destined to become a true classic among hens!

Susan Okaty is first of all to be congratulated for completing the 50,000 word National Novel Writing Month challenge during November… and still she found time to post more blog entries than I did!  What a woman, and what a writer!   Her blog, Coming East: Living One Sunrise at a Time says it all.  Susan is attentive to every aspect of the world around her and fortunately shares her perspective with us.  Finding an old box of wax paper in the back of a drawer can unleash a wealth of memories!

Jenni moved from a house in town to a farm and just gave birth to a beautiful son, her first child.  She describes this year as her experiment in simple living.  I love the quiet gentleness of her writing as she strives to “see the grace in ordinary things.”  She brings us with her in her blog “Under the Apricot Tree: Savoring the Abundance of Simple Living.”

Margie is a writer whose blog, “A Lighter Shade of Grey” I have just recently discovered.  Not only is she a thoughtful and insightful writer, I love her photographs.  I think I’ve linked to her blog for 2 reasons, I also am at that invisible age (see About on her blog) and she finds researching and writing as the means to discover what she believes.  As a visual learner, I often don’t know what I think until I write about it to process my thoughts.  Only upon proof-reading do I discover the evolution of my ideas.

Those are the five blogs that are receiving the Liebster Award from me. There are so many other great blogs and bloggers out there that are worth checking out….often when I’m visiting a blog I’ll click on the links in that person’s ‘blogroll’ and find more amazing writers and blogs to read.

There are outstanding writers out there in cyberspace to speak to every interest and aspect of you as a person.  Happy reading, and have fun exploring!


Tails to Read©

Carol Craley©

Today I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, SandDancer’s The Kiss O’Grace…

I am a therapy dog.  People call me Gracie or Grace or Gracie the Reading Dog or Sweet Pea.  When the weather starts getting warm it’s time for my annual physical and shots, then I make a trip to visit Saint Kathy, my groomer, for my “summer do.”  It’s time to start my summer job!

I have a summer job in a small library in Ocean Park, Maine.  I take on my identity of “Gracie the Reading Dog.”  My Mom and I got the idea 5 years ago to start a new reading program at the Library (where she was working for the summer).  Ocean Park is a Chautauqua (more about that in a future blog)  on the ocean in southern Maine.  Lots of people come here for a beach vacation.  Mom was a teacher and a school administrator.  She says “once a teacher, always a teacher.”

Mom thinks kids should read books over the summer so that they don’t lose important skills they have developed in school.  She also says it should be fun reading, not something that feels like a punishment.  Mom says it is especially important for struggling readers to be encouraged, gently guided and rewarded for their efforts.  It is also important that they feel safe when they are reading and learning to read.  That will affect their definition of themselves as readers.  That’s where I come in…

As a therapy dog  I went to school to learn how to use what I do best (relate to people) while harnessing my exuberant enthusiasm for life and putting it to good use.  I have visited nursing homes, worked with Mom when she worked with developmentally disabled adults, I have visited people with brain injuries in a rehab center and then I became a reading dog.  I do have to say, I am one awesome therapy dog!!  Being an attentive golden retriever I love listening to a good tail tale.  I even have a library of my own full of books about dogs, and 2 books about psycho kitties (have to keep up the belief that canines are the dominant breed).

Carol Craley©

Some boys and girls read really well.  They will even read me a chapter from a chapter book!  The problem with that is I never get to hear the end of the story.  Some boys and girls have to work hard when they read.  It is not easy for them.  Many of them are shy and start out their stories with a soft little voice I can hardly hear.  Then, by the time they finish the story they are reading loud and really excited about the story!  They always make me feel good because I know they trust me.  I give them extra special hugs and kisses with their Tails to Read© bookmark.  Those boys and girls often have mean kids at school who laugh or make rude noises when they are slow at reading or make a mistake.  Sometimes their adults expect too much or are embarrassed because they are not quick readers.  I have as much time as they need and special ways to show I  enjoy their company, accept them as they are and love their stories..

Sometimes a boy or girl is a good reader, but has a hard time with people.  Sometimes they are so afraid of people that they hardly ever talk.  I help them also.  It’s not scary reading to someone with reddish fur, big brown eyes, a big smile and a giant heart that loves everyone.  No one knows how smart they are when they are afraid to talk to people.  It makes their mothers cry when they hear them read to me.

Sometimes I get really little boys and girls to “read” to me.  Their parents want them to be comfortable around dogs and really don’t know how to read yet.  I help them learn how to approach a dog, how to be gentle and treat them with respect.  In return, they bring picture books and create a story to go with it.  Those are great stories told with gusto!!

My Mom’s favorite question when a woman brought her son to read to me was to ask if I understood books read in French.  They were from Quebec and French is their first language.  My Mom stood up straight and proudly announced that I was a multi-lingual dog when it came to stories, that I understood tails tales told in all languages!  I am one smart golden, if I do say so myself!

Being a reading dog, and therapy dog is very important work.  I help kids feel confident about their reading and about reading books.  I help them enjoy their vacation even though their dogs weren’t able to come on vacation with them.  I help them know that dogs can be their friends and be good listeners.  I offer two good ears, soft fur, kisses and let them know that each of them are unique and special.  Mom always tells me in the car on the way home that I make a lot of kids and adults very happy.  I’m glad I am a therapy dog.  The people let me know that I have a special job and a special gift to give to others.  That makes me one happy, but tired, puppy!!!

Carol Craley©

Leave a comment

Magical Places, Part I

One of the spiritual highlights of my life evolved from a kismet moment.  While travelling through Ireland I walked into the bookstore in a small town where we were staying.  Piled on a table were autographed copies of a book written by an Irish author and scholar who had made a book appearance the day before.  The book had to do with Celtic spirituality, an interest of mine, and was autographed by a local Irish author…done deal ~ a unique memento of my trip.

The book was anam cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O’Donohue.  My life was forever changed by the book and the connection to John O’Donohue.  The term anam cara is Gaelic meaning “soul friend.”  These are the people with whom we share a sacred connection.

O’Donohue talks about our connection to the landscape.  He writes, “Even in the ruins long since vacated, are the souls of those who had once lived there, still had a particular affinity and attachment to this place.  The life and passion of a person leaves an imprint on the ether of a place.  Love does not remain within the heart; it flows out to build secret tabernacles in the landscape.”

Throughout my life I have come upon geographic areas for the first time and felt a sense of belonging immediately upon placing my foot on the earth.  There is a sense of deja vu, of meeting an old friend after many years apart.  Yet, oddly, it is a connection to a place I have never been. There is a profoundly deep connection that has nothing to do with current residents, fun things to do, gastronomical delights or even beautiful landscape (which coincidentally is usually found).  The connection is rooted deep within the sand, soil and clay.  It rises from the ocean or lake.  It is the connection to the soul(s) of the land.

This sense of belonging explains our connection to the land where deeply held religious beliefs and events have taken place.  It is the reason for religious pilgrimages.  Unfortunately, it is also the reason for religious wars over control of land that continues for centuries.  Sometimes the connection is more subtle.

I later met John O’Donohue at Omega Institute and spent 3 days in a workshop with him centered on the concept of anam cara and Celtic Spirituality.  We later met again at a poetry reading he gave at NYU.  Unfortunately, John O’Donohue left this life in January 2008, far too soon.

The sense of place that John writes about leads me to question, Why do we choose the places we visit?  Are we looking for a spiritual connection to the land?  Are we looking for excitement and adventure?  Are we content to find a life style and pace in a perfect climate?  Are we looking to retrace historic places and events that have captured our imaginations?  Or, do we plan our travels to give our lives a mixture of all of those situations?

Prior to my move to Maine I vacationed here for 30 years.  It was a place I returned to every summer.  If a vacation was for new adventure, it was always in addition to a trip to Maine.  I was never able to return to my teaching/administrative position until I had breathed some Maine air.  Now I get the opportunity daily.

Maine for me is my spiritual center.  It is a culture and pace of life that suits who I am and where I am in my life.  Aspects of Maine  are a constant stable force in an ever changing life and world.  It is a place that keeps me grounded and connected to my core beliefs.  There needs to be a physical place of connection to that which we value and fear is slipping away from the world at large.  These are our magical places.

Periodically over the next few months I will blog about some of my “magical places.”  Please come along.  Please also post comments about your magical places and why you travel where you travel.

John O’Donohue had a wonderful lyrical voice.  I am grateful that the sound of that voice is deeply imprinted in my brain.  I can pick up one of his books or poems and hear it in his voice.  That is a blessing in itself.  If you would like to hear John talk about his beloved Burren in the west of Ireland, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtEL7u1BnTQ.

For more information about John O’Donohue and his writings, http://www.johnodonohue.com.


Me’s Pop

  He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.                  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

Throughout my life it was a surprise to me when I would meet girls/women who were so deeply bonded with their mothers.  They always made me feel separate, that there was a “female club” of which I was not a member.  I came to realize the difference between them and me was that I was part of another “club” ~ a group of women who were “Father’s Daughters.”

In the psyche of familial evolution, Father’s Daughters see the world in terms of ideologies more historically linked to men.  Fathers raised their daughters to be strong, capable and independent people.  They taught them that the world is full of infinite possibilities and that they were entitled to partake of any of those possibilities.  In the 21st century, (following an evolving definition of the role of women in the family, society and the world) the group known as “Father’s Daughters,” is becoming a historical marker in the sociological evolution of society.

As far back into childhood as I can remember, I wanted to model my life after my father.  He was a quiet man, but as Kelland states in the above quote, he didn’t need to speak to teach.

The top 10 Reason’s he improved my life:

  1. “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
  2. In the time before the Civil Rights movement and the term “racial equality” was a common part of vocabulary, his best friend was of a different race, he was the only “white brother” in his Christian Brotherhood Breakfast group and he spoke out against injustice at a time when it wasn’t acceptable to do so
  3. He exhibited and honored the integrity of all peoples
  4. He believed that education must include the “soft” subjects: art, music, great writing, philosophy, psychology, and to use “mistakes” as lessons
  5. He believed that success in work (be it professional, personal or recreational) is to “do your homework” and give your all to being the best you can be at every stage of development
  6. He modeled the Shaker phrase, “Hands to Work, Hearts to God”
  7. He was creative, believing that doing only what was expected or “usual” wasn’t worth the effort ~ that we needed to make the investment in making each task our own
  8. He spent his life looking outside of himself to “pay it forward” in his community and society
  9. He held his children to high standards of behavior, but knew when to scold and when to hug
  10. He worked hard and with a passion, but he also knew when it was more important to turn off the motor to idle in a boat with a fishing pole or sitting silently waiting for what Henri Cartier Bresson called the decisive moment when all elements move into optimal space

It will be ten years in November since I lost my father.  While I still miss him desperately, I am grateful for the blessing of having him as my father, my teacher, and my mentor.  I am grateful that with every off-the-wall, out-of-the-box idea or plan I came up with he supported my right to explore that idea or plan and stood beside me for gentle support during it’s evolution… if he felt it was really out of line, I would get suggestions of approaches I might try also.  (That being said, if I wanted to ride my tricycle out into traffic I would get more than gentle suggestions!)

Happy Father’s Day Pop!

Love,  Me

Leave a comment

A Question for Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day.  That statement elicits a multitude of meanings and implications:

  • The potato salad is made
  • The ribs are marinating

  • The watermelon is chilling
  • It’s time to dig out the white shoes and clothes because since I don’t live in a tropical climate it is only now “legal” to wear them until Labor Day
  • The current method of greeting friends and neighbors in my beach town is to whisper in hushed tones of “they’re back.”
  • Loud whoo-oops of “Yahoo!!” as favorite seafood restaurants and ice cream stands reawaken after a dormant winter
  • There is a parade in town today

  • If one is still in the winter doldrums, it’s time to “Get Over It!!”
  • Most importantly, it is time to pause, and in quiet reverence, remember those who have fought to preserve, protect and defend the freedoms we too often take for granted

That reverent reflection leads to one of my “deep questions” du jour for pondering.  What do I believe in enough to defend, to the death if necessary?

When I think about people I would classify as heroes I realize one thing they all have in common is the fact that they all have a deep abiding belief in a set of principles that causes them to invest everything they have in what they define as “the right thing to do.”  They do it not for notoriety, but because it makes the world a better place.  I’ve often wondered where the source of  defending “what is right” originates.  Is it learned from parents and caregivers?  Can it be learned from role models?  How can that level of integrity and commitment to being a light bearer for a belief system be nurtured?

The founding fathers of our country went against the norms of society.  They dared to believe that loftier ideals of who we are as a nation would take time and effort, but are attainable.  I lived through the civil rights movement and watched such groups as the Freedom Riders (who just celebrated the 50th anniversary of their mission) risk their lives to make us a better and more unified nation.  The struggle has been long and slow and progress is still being made.

Inventors and artists and others who challenge our belief systems about what is possible and what is just and fair and “right” have an admirable level of integrity.  They are authentic souls.  Authenticity, I believe, is not a matter of just “doing your own thing” or expressing your opinion.  To me, authenticity requires publicly living your beliefs through thought, word and action when to do so would bring a risk of alienation.  It is living with a set of beliefs that go so deep to the core of your being that the preservation and implementation of those beliefs becomes a driving life mission.

On this Memorial Day, I applaud all who have taken imagined dreams and taken the steps to make them reality.  I applaud all who have embraced those dreams and joined the cause of redefining normal.  I applaud all who have fought the battles against hatred, bigotry, alienation and failure to look around you and say “I see you.  I hear what you are saying and see what you need” to others.  They are all heroes who use their thoughts, words and actions to make the world better for all of us.

I think we should change the name back to Day of Remembrance  lest we picture too many hot dogs and burgers and white shoes and lose sight of the real message of Remembrance.  What do you believe strongly enough to defend with your life?


The Light Bearer

Acadia at Dawn

*Profound apologies for disappearing for a month.  Sometimes life presents us with “new normals” that require quiet reflection before they can be processed and assimilated.  This is perhaps a blog for another day.  Anyway, I’m back!

I have been thinking a lot lately about people I consider to be “Bearers of Light.”  Paulus Berenson (from my first blog entry) is a Bearer of Light.  My father was a Bearer of Light.  He guided me  to always grow toward the light and to use my light to encourage others out of the darkness.

One of the first people I met when I moved to Maine left this life a few weeks ago.  Ken Read was a Light Bearer.  Two months before I moved to Maine from the Philadelphia area (while here on a vacation/house hunting trip) I ended up in Maine Medical Center having emergency quadruple by-pass surgery.  Being a driven woman, the house was found and purchased, the arrangements were made and I moved right on schedule.  Before the boxes were unpacked, I was enrolled in cardiac rehab.

My first day in phase 2 rehab at the local sports and fitness club I met a gentleman in his early 80’s on the treadmill.  He was intelligent, had a broad base of knowledge, was passionately opinionated (as am I) and had a wicked good sense of humor.  I swear I could have walked the equivalent of a marathon while engaged in conversation with Ken.  My number one task each time I arrived for my rehab session was to arrange my stations to wind up next to Ken on the treadmill.  Those opportunities for dialogue became highlights in my week.

A Light Bearer is someone who leads quietly, by example.  They are usually very intelligent.  They are people who examine issues from all angles before making choices and when they do make those choices they will defend them with mind, body and spirit.  Light Bearers are people with strong principles and solid integrity.  By taking the time to quietly observe those around us, we will find the Light Bearers in this world.  If we are attentive, they will always lead by example out of the darkness.

Ironically, while sharing stories about Ken at his memorial service, his sons and granddaughters told tales of some of his holiday gifts which were usually a bit “out of the box” in a figurative sense.  Ken apparently kept returning to the theme of “lights.”  They had all been the recipient of sources of light in every conceivable color, shape, design and intended function from camping lanterns to lamps to be worn around your head to snake lights and lighted key chains.  I thought of my father, whose gifts of light were not quite so obvious and I thought of Jill Elizabeth, a jewelry designer who crafted this piece called The Egyptian Light Bearer.  Her work is created with a mirrored tile used in construction, beads, jewels and colored wire.

Egyptian Light BearerThe piece that tied all of this together was the memory of hearing Robert Fulghum speak.  He was relaying a story from his book, It was on Fire When I Lay Down on It.  It involved a shard of mirror whose sharp edge had been rounded and carried as a reminder of the meaning of life.  I read this story at my father’s memorial service.  It concludes:       I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.  Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men – and change some things in some people.  Perhaps others may see and do likewise.  This is what I am about.  This is the meaning of my life.

Ken obviously feared that his sons and granddaughters may, at times in their life, feel they had entered a dark place.  He wanted to be sure he had prepared them to find their way out of any darkness and back into the light.  I will miss his light…