Friday, November 9, 2012

Happiness is Feeling Good Inside

Happiness is making choices that honor our values.  It means letting go regrets, procrastination, pleasing others, out-dated attitudes, and blaming others when everyone involved made mistakes.  Forgiveness and moving on with grace and gratitude for lessons learned helps prepare us for new challenges. True happiness is much deeper than momentary pleasures or quick fixes; it often involves years of soul-searching and making tough choices.

When we are happy, our posture, our faces, our words show it.  A good example would be the crowd cheering President Obama on election night, and his well-articulated determination and readiness to be our captain for this next four years.  Yes, there will be storms ahead, on land, sea and in our legislative process.  We have elected a man with courage, tenacity, grace, discipline, and a passion to make choices that make us proud again to be Americans.  He continues reaching out to us all to help make the dream that the best is yet to come really possible.  It helps to have a wife truly his partner, and daughters who share the perspectives of intelligent youth.  He has deep support on his home front, a blessing for anyone facing daunting challenges that we have few precedents for handling, globally and at  home.

This election makes me feel more hopeful and happy inside. The hard works of many citizens have spoken loud and clear. Obama won the Hispanic vote, the Black vote, and that of many other folks marginalized by the rhetoric and voting choices of the Tea Party.  The white, educated elite with huge corporate support is no longer running the show.   The Senate is now twenty percent women, including a gay woman, a Buddhist of Asian heritage, and a strong advocate for holding banks and corporations accountable in Ted Kennedy’s old seat.  This country is finally waking up to our changing demographics and priorities. We are not returning to the days when women’s primary role was to serve the men in their lives.  Our voices are being heard.  We have reasons to rejoice!

We, the Silenced Majority Amy Goodman speaks about, are beginning to find our voices, starting with the Occupy protests in cities large and small across this country, folks protesting the status quo that has created many of our painful grievances and real losses. We have overcome the powers of greed and big money trying to influence every vote in this country.  The crowd in Chicago was obviously very happy  as they waited for Obama’s acceptance speech.  We need one another’s support to be happy. Being isolated and unheard leads to depression and too often, despair.  When we trust the direction we’re going, sharing core values, it is easier to be happy and have a sense we are in this together. Happiness is a great feeling indeed!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In These Challenging Times

When real storms in our physical world
Wreck havoc on an unprecedented scale
It is vital to be patient, and take time out to find our own balance.

Within each of us there resides a calm, supportive mother who can nurture
   And abide with us when the silent inner child is frightened by circumstances
    Beyond her control or understanding.
Within, we each have a masculine presence, an inner parent who
   Offers us protection, reassurance, encouragement regarding simple, practical steps
 So our despair and discouragement are rerouted to more positive choices.

When  images on our screens show human suffering and devastation we are not meant to handle in our individual psyches
   It is time to open to beauty and the possibility we are being given messages as a species that do need our attention, so collectively we make wiser choices.  Panic, fear, and denial of changes we  need to make don’t allow creative responses to the storms in our lives.

  Let us stay open to a middle path honoring our human frailties as well as our ideals. Accepting pleasure and pain, engagement and detachment, finding strength in community and strength within, all awaken our resources to live in challenging times.
   Carol Browning, written in response to watching scenes of Hurricane Sandy's impact on Haiti, Cuba, and the U.S. East coast.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dancing Uplifts Body, Mind, and Spirit!

As darkness settled in on this First Friday of October
A part of me wanted to nestle down, stay warm, stay with the familiar
I'd already expressed my passion  and sense of outrage at the injustices of our political system on-line.  Restless, I had a quiet urge to be part of community, of others expressing their passion with music and dance.

    First a trip to Goodwill, looking for fairy wings for my Halloween outfit, but $12 felt excessive, and I chose instead some simple gifts for my two sweet granddaughters.  Maybe I'll make a mask this year instead of buying wings made in China.  The Salmon Festival is a fun autumn celebration for being creative!
     Leaving the low-energy of Goodwill at closing  time,  I drove downtown, too tired to hit the art galleries or negotiate parking on main street.  A band played on A Street, but I wasn't moved.  As I walked about carefully in the growing darkness, I found Jeff and Tom setting up to play nearly, when the other band was done.  A part of me that seldom gets to play is a wild dancing woman.  Nothing is a better antidote to frustrations on the political scene on top of seeing the dentist, the chiropractor and my acupuncturist all in one week, than a chance to dance to the hypnotic beat of a great band.  It's astonishing how grand it feels to dance, and watch a truly remarkable young woman dancer who sure moved to her own sensuous, exotic rhythm, embodying the graceful and uninhibited movements I'd never seen in real life.  She, too, was on he own, needing no partner to let loose, responding to the drums, guitars, and haunting melodies.
      This felt like my modern-day tribe, coming out on a Friday night to express without words our passion, our joy to be alive in this place on this planet.  The night was cool and bright, perfect for this gathering of souls seeking dance and great music to erase the worries of our week.  In olden days in so many cultures, after a week working hard for little or no pay, the common folks took to the streets and danced out of sight of their landlords and others of the uppity classes.
They danced, as we do this night, for the sheer pleasure of movement to music that touches their hearts.  I came home encouraged, refreshed, tired in a good way.  The street dancer in me is still alive and well.  It wasn't a night to browse the art galleries, but to dance with abandon, no agenda but to enjoy the good times still possible, even in  an aging body still eager to express herself!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Wisdom of Solitude

Anything we do introspectively embraces the courage to trust
the importance of alone time
It takes courage to be alone with our thoughts, apart from the many distractions
That inundate our culture, from television to texting to mindless busyness.
Silence is the birthplace of much creativity
For as we dare to love ourselves in all our moods, our ups, our downs

A deep river of self-respect emerges
Reminding us to live more fearlessly
Have confidence in our talents and the dreams that matter to us personally
We learn to trust the paradox of being both human and divine, with our need for connectedness, for contribution, for balance so we do feel grateful for sacred moments throughout the day. 
We listen reflectively to our own needs, and in so doing; we’re more able to be a compassionate listener to others.  We live in such a complex world.  There is much wisdom in pausing and reflecting before we set our intentions each new day!

“Pour out the feelings, in a song, a letter, a poem, a conversation that you’ve buried about a loved one no longer with you.  Trust the healing that comes with feeling deeply.”

Carol Browning

Friday, September 7, 2012

Autumn is a Special Time for Letting Go

As the days grow shorter, the nights longer, it is good to celebrate this season of letting go by making changes that make our living area more inviting, more comfortable for the season when we often do spend more time indoors.  Consider beginning the day with a resolution to let go of five things in your home that are taking up space.

It’s a good practice, letting go, trusting more, not hanging on so tightly.  To keep the task manageable, focus on one area where you would like more clarity, less clutter, and dedicate 15-30 minutes getting rid of what you no longer want or need, having a container to get it out of the living area, and saying “good-bye, it is time to let you go.”  When it comes to clutter, persistence, determination, and honoring your pace all matter.  Welcoming help can speed up the process too, especially if you have the collaboration of a non-judgmental friend.

Why do we have difficulty letting go our stuff?  For me, there is comfort in being surrounded by the familiar, even when it is too much.  Do we trust the Universe will provide new possibilities if we let go? I have a friend who learned to have a place for everything, and if she needs something new, then it doesn’t enter her home unless something goes out.  Many of us didn’t grow up with this discipline that keeps down the clutter.
We do have to face our habits that undermine letting go.  I work better with a potential reward, like a walk in nature, watching a movie with a friend, or a special healthy snack for my efforts.  It often taken decades to accumulate stuff, so be realistic.  It won’t just disappear unless you have a house fire, so it has to become a priority to down-size.  It takes time, but like losing unwanted weight, it can be done.  If you have been hanging on to something thinking your kids or grandchildren will want it, go ahead and ask them if they want it now (or later)! In reality, it is easier to part with your things if you know a family member will want and appreciate it.

Just as the season requires us to slow down, change some priorities to prepare for winter, there are real benefits to having a more organized and clutter free home.
More spaciousness is usually more relaxing, easier on the eyes and it is easier to find what you are looking for if it is organized.  Just as yards look better without weeds, tools left out, leaves in compost area or bagged, so too, the inside of our homes is more inviting when we clear out the old.  So best wishes this fall on creating space not by expanding, but by letting go!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


My friend and I drive to the coast for two nights at Harris Beach
Slowing down, settling in to a precious day with nothing scheduled
We take  time to savor the sunshine, the brisk breeze, a simple breakfast on our picnic table-fresh cantaloupe, granola, warm tea or coffee, a chance to share meals and be outdoors with a friend.  No bugs, no sizzling heat.
A bunny hops by, eyeing us cautiously.

While Dorothy naps, I read a bit, and enjoy people-gazing: the neighboring camper playing his guitar, enjoying a game of hacky-sack with his sons. An older couple walk by with their 3 month old Chihuahua and a 3 year old Pekingese, not so keen on the youngster dog.
A woman clad in purple jogs by with her backpack, more ambitious than most.
Two exuberant black kids with glistening bodies and wet towels return from their adventures at the beach, likely playing in the cool ocean waters.
Youngsters with parents in tow bicycle by, enjoying this chance to  bike the local trails in this lovely state park, far from the street dangers back home.

That is what vacations are all about.  Taking in new sights, smells, food, breaking from familiar routines to explore in new settings.  We grumble a bit at all the work it takes to get ourselves here, but it is well worth the preparations.
Slowing down, being more present, less distracted by any should do-list, we say yes to life and its beautiful moments, in this special ocean-side setting.  Gratitude makes  everything better!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It is all too easy to fall into negative self-talk
It takes a certain mental discipline to focus on what is working.
On a sultry, hot summer day, what nurtures the creativity in you?
What helps you cool off when it’s too darn hot by midday to even be outside?

How about finding a way to play in water?
A pool, a stream, yes, even the shower or a wet shirt can bring relief.
Fans create an instant breeze, making it easier to focus.
Take action to cool off.  Wallowing in frustration is no help at all!
Look at paintings, or create a collage of images that make you laugh, make you smile.

It takes courage to break old habits
It takes courage to embrace the awkwardness of being human
Accepting our ever-changing moods, needs, desires.

Change your thinking.  See possibility instead of “I can’t do that!”
Be open to surprise.  It is amazing what you can do when resolve replaces self-doubt.

When we choose to free ourselves from old habits and fears, we begin to feel more confident.  We become curious, questioning familiar patterns.  We realize rigid judgments and fixed opinions are old stories that we have the power to change. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


In our essence, we are all divine beings, full of vibrant love in whom all things we choose to focus on, give our full attention, shall in time, manifest.
     When we choose to feel lucky, healthy, strong, articulate, connected, joyful, capable of attracting what we want, we are living in the faith that we are divine beings, and our actions reflect the generosity, the warmth, the compassion and the openness of the God-spirit that dwells within each one of us.
      Whenever a fearful, sad, or discouraging thought enters our heads, we can choose to stop, push delete, and refocus our attention on  healthier choices.
We can play the "what if" game to our advantage, and allow ourselves to feel better by imagining what we want is already unfolding.  If we face an obstacle, we can recall memories where we've overcome or circumnavigated obstacles in our past.  We can imagine, "what if every cell in my body is capable of wondrous healing, of removing toxic material or thoughts?"  What if I am part of a Divine plan to collaborate with other caring, open-minded folks to bring more light, more wisdom into this world, helping restore and preserve this precious planet?
       What if this isn't just the dangerous world we see portrayed so frequently on the news, but an ever-changing world that is meant to support a more sustainable, harmonious,  and peaceful environment for all creatures?  What if life is an adventure, with challenges, yes, and we do have support if we choose to be open to receiving  it in whatever forms it shows up?
      You are divine, part of the mystery we call God or Great Spirit.  I am part of this marvelous force, too.  We are part of this wheel of life, and with meditation, attention, faith, and collaboration, we are giving birth to a new world ordered not by the dictates of harsh rules and governing institutions out of touch with our basic needs, but by a growing consciousness that is unfolding across this planet.  It is an awareness that we are the peacemakers, the shape-shifters learning to create a viable, just, and amazing new world, governed by love that flows from our core, dispelling hate, doubt, fear, ignorance as it floods this land like the morning sun returning lightness to each new day.  May you be happy.  May you be at peace. May we all be open to celebrating the new life, new freedom, new possibilities we are helping to create.  Blessings to all creatures, large and small!
   July 4, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


iWith no word of good-bye, you chose to die, my friend.  We shared simple joys of living, often without many words.  For you, having Parkinson's felt more like a curse to endure than a disease to somehow befriend, and be open to healing modalities outside Western medicine.  We rarely spoke of it, but as you felt your mind slippage away, your body so often in pain, and mounting frustration as you became more disconnected from your strengths, it must have been disheartening, leaving your home, being with strangers where you needed to adjust to the schedules of a new place.  I weep now, realizing I had no idea you had internally decided life was too much.  So we never said good-bye, even on the phone.

  I want you to know you were a real gentleman, always kind, grateful to have my company for plays, walks in a park, shared meals.  I shall not forget you, and hope you afre now at peace in a way that was not possible when so many shoulds, so many regrets from your past madae it hard for you to live with present realities.  I am grateful we had some fun together.  My life, too, is challenging every day, and I am sad for us, and glad to still be a part of this marvelous journey we call life, with all its joys, sorrows, and in-between  time

Friday, June 1, 2012

In the Early Morning of the New Dawn

In the early morning of the new Dawn, I hear you gentle voice, Ancient Mother
Calling us to come home, honor you in whatever ways we are called to do.
   For some it means walking the land, gathering strength, courage, tenacity to endure and embrace the changes to come.
   For some it means creating gardens that give joy to our vision, our tummies, our sense of working in harmony with you, our dear Mother.
   For some it means traveling far from our comfort zones, offering our services in other lands that need our helping hands and hearts at this time.
   For some it means climbing to the mountain and the hilltops, to have a clearer perspective on the direction we are to go, granting us courage for the journey.
   For some it means taking more time to tune into the stillness, letting go the busyness and the mind-chatter that detracts us from our deeper yearnings.
     You speak to us in the wind, the soaring eagles, the busy ants, the ocean waves, the old forests quietly holding hillsides in tact, protecting our watersheds.
You speak to us through voices and photos on the Internet that touch our souls, encouraging us to reach out to one another in love, not in fear.
      You speak to us in prayer, in song, in dance, in storms, earthquakes, eclipses, and tsunamis, reminding us to listen to your pain, listen to your need for us to protect, preserve, and honor you however, whenever we can.  May we have the good sense to listen, Ancient Mother before it is too late.  You have blessed us to be alive at this time when the Earth is changing.  May our lives help make this planet sustainable by our collective and individual choices.  Ho. Ho. Blessings!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Living for Today: Finding Meaningful Ways to Connect

Is all the media craziness and focus on violence, scandals, angry tirades against the “other” side depressing to you, too?  How can we connect with one another with hearts full of frustration, judgment, and fears?  Even activists with worthy causes can burn out when not paying due attention to their own personal and community needs.

We need to create networks of support, some on-line like Facebook or Twitter, but we also need supportive circles where we meet face to face—book clubs, church groups, neighborhood potlucks, community gardens, intergenerational gatherings for causes dear to us locally.  The list is endless.  These are gatherings to rebuild communities where folks care about one another, and small enough that we genuinely get to know one another at a deeper level than is possible in large protests, taking a cruise, or workshops with large numbers of strangers.

When we are sick, and someone brings us soup, we feel cared for.  It makes a difference when we are grieving the loss of a parent, spouse, or good friend and someone gives us a helping hand, alleviating our loneliness and worries.  Kindness and a gracious heart matter more than rhetoric when we are down, and need somebody to be our friend.

In this technological age, it is too often easier to connect on computers instead of taking time to get together or have a phone visit, letting us tune into non-verbal cues. A pyramid has strength because it has a firm foundation.  When we focus on building sustainable communities where we live instead of expecting Washington to come up with answers, we return to a self-reliance and interconnectedness with a strong base when we have to make tough decisions that affect our home fronts.  We create meaningful connections that can keep regenerating when elders retire and the kids move far away.  In such a mobile society, we often have to count on extended family for much of our support. Often our original family members live far away and cannot lend a hand due to distance or job demands.  We need to stay open to new ways to connect so feeling isolated and alone isn’t our constant reality.

Part of being resilient as we age is staying open to new friendships, new ways of learning, and keeping our brains active and curious as well as attending to our bodies.  All this takes time, focus, and commitment or we fall into familiar habits, some of which may no longer serve us.  It feels good to give back to community with our own unique talents.  It feels good to have a sense of belonging, and be flexible instead of rigid in the face of changes we often cannot predict or control.

Carol Browning

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Prayer in Celebration of Peace

May we be instruments for Peace
Tender, kind, forgiving one another
Open to new possibilities beyond old patterns
Respecting and treasuring our diversity.

May we be well, healed from our personal
Addictions and consuming anxieties
So we are more aware of grace in our daily living.

May we be open to courage, tenacity, and faith
Taking risks to move beyond our insane beliefs
That too often prevent us from nurturing the best within us.

May we be of good cheer, with a grateful heart
Today and forever more
Peace begins within, spreading like the rays of the morning sun
Giving hope to this war torn and weary world,
Ready to consider and celebrate our common yearnings for Peace
In our time, on this precious planet.

Carol Browning

Inspirational thought:  “That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson   “In any given moment, we do have a choice.  Pause.  Does this choice serve my intention?” 
Carol Browning

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A 106 year old survivor speaks out

     In my last "Wisdom through Story-Telling" class the instructor shared more stories from Greek mythology, about the bickering among the gods and how the five visible planets were given the Roman names of prominent Greek gods (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars) and goddesses (Venus).  She reminded us of the summer Olympics in London this year, and how in early days, all wars were put on-hold for the Olympics as nations competed for the finest athletic prowess instead of doing battle.  To this day, the flame of the Olympic torch is ignited in Greece and carried by private plane (you can't have an open flame on a commercial flight) and by foot-messengers to the site of the current Olympics.  We do still honor rituals globally that celebrate the human spirit!
     Last evening on Independent Lens I watched an incredible documentary about a man, now 106 years old and his wife of 60+ years who were Hollanders transported to German concentration camps, surviving under horrific conditions in the Holocaust.  Over 120,000 Dutch Jews were in their camp, and only 5000 survived till the Allied Liberation.  They were in love, writing letters to share their passion and hopes for survival, for over five years.  Near the end they were deported in different directions by train, not knowing if they'd ever be reunited.  The man was 70 lb. after years of hard labor and starvation rations, barely surviving typhoid fever, which killed so many fellow mal-nourished prisoners.
     The documentary is a modern story of heroic survival against unspeakable odds.  The couple were reunited, married and had three children and five grandchildren.  The wife was as spunky and articulate in the interviews as her husband, and there were scenes of him playing tennis and chess into his nineties.  They attended the 60 year Commemoration of the Liberation in Holland, with tears flowing freely as they remembered and honored so many of their fallen countrymen.  Even in their hundreds, they speak of what the Holocaust was like before school children whose parents have often forgotten how dark this chapter in human history truly was.  This documentary is a modern-day story of the triumph of the human spirit against adversities and atrocities few of us living have ever endured.  Without enormous optimism, great love for one another, perseverance, and sharing their dreams for a brighter future in the darkest hours when only their determination to survive kept alive their flames, they too would have been among the 16,000 comrades dead in their camp when the Allies came, ending this horrible chapter in human history.
    If your local WORLD PBS station airs this documentary, I encourage you to see it.  It helps put our own troubles in perspective, showing how common folks can indeed become heroes,  living to share their stories with generations to come.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Patagonia, Wild and Awesome!

     Watching a photo presentation of Maria and Steve's trip this January-February to Patagonia filled me with wonder that such majestic, stark, wild and beautiful places do still exist.  No pollution, no crowds in sight, for this is a land for the courageous travelers who still have their wits and athletic bodies intact.  They stayed in huts that house 32 people with  simple dorm rooms (8 in each), down covers (at best it is in the 50's in summer, often with high winds and driving rains), and a simple kitchen to prepare meals.  Often travelers can enjoy unbelievable views from their windows or the decks on a good day.  The valleys look like Yosemite before the tourists.   The boulders as one ascends the mountains look like they come from a giant's playground, huge compared to what I was used to in the Sierras, and the trails often very primitive, narrow,  requiring trekking poles and very sturdy boots.  It is a land where world-class rock climbers come, with the most vertical, steep granite ascents I've ever seen, making the peaks in the Sierra look like child play.  There are lovely glacial-fed lakes, but not the aspen and huge healthy forests of the Canadian Rockies.  This is a land that looks like something from another planet, where basalt and granite co-mingle
to form mountains like giant pillars.  Some of the peaks are in national parks, and some in privately-owned parks; the Argentinian government hasn't realized what jewels these mountains are, in need of protection from private interests.
   Winters must be impassable, as summers look marginally a habitat for humans on foot; one needs Wellington boots for the deep, muddy terrain and sturdy hiking boots for any climbing.  Somehow I've missed National Geographic specials on this land, but it feels more intimate to see photographs from folks I know.  They still backpack in the Sierras regularly, and use the YMCA daily to be in shape for a trip like this.  It was stunning, and made me think how my dad, who died suddenly, run over by a car at 55, would have been enamored with this beauty and challenge, more so than the rest of the family!  Hats off to those with the conditioning, determination, resources, and courage to explore this mysterious, wild and free landscape.  Back to my more mundane pursuits as I make oatmeal with apples, nuts, and sunflower seeds!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Creative Women: Our struggle to find our voice

In Shakespeare’s Day, it was impossible for a woman bubbling with creative genius to find support for or a venue for expressing herself.   Women had no identity outside of being a servant, a caregiver to aging parents if she remained a spinster, or a wife.  In many of Shakespeare’s plays, strong female characters speak with passion and courage.  If he had a sister (we know so little about his family this isn’t known) with creative genius like his, she would have not been allowed enough schooling to write or read well. She would have faced poverty and real danger trying to live on her own in London. Even if she aspired to act on a stage, it was unheard of in his day.  All actors were men.
               If a woman dared decline the partner her parents chose for her, she would be beaten, for standing her ground was not allowed in affairs concerning her future.  It was accepted a husband could beat his wife and treat her as he chose.  Her protestations would have no audience, so she learned her lot, and kept silent in her misery.
             In the early decades of the twentieth century Virginia Woolf wrote a dozen novels, published six volumes of letters, and was a prodigious essayist, biographer, and literary critic.  E.M. Forester believed she was “the finest writer of her generation, pushing the light of the English language a little further against darkness.”  In 1928 she delivered a series of lectures to the women’s colleges of Cambridge, including a searing fantasy about a female Shakespeare.  She included this in her essay “A Room of her Own” where she used her wit, courage and pen to protest the overwhelming prejudice against women having any right to belong to themselves, much less express themselves in unconventional ways. Until recently, there are so few great women artists because of this prejudice and the male expectations of women.  It was fine for women to be obedient wives, great cooks and seamstresses, work beside their menfolk in the fields, give birth to and raise ten children.  It wasn’t acceptable to enter politics, the ministry, or aspire to be a great artist or composer. 
            In a recent performance in Ashland of this lecture about “A Room of her Own,” the actress invites the women in the audience to be the generations no longer shamed and silenced, as Shakespeare’s sister would have been, to become the poets, novelists, and playwrights we need to awaken our contemporaries to women’s artistic voices.  Virginia was a remarkable woman who did assert her right to express herself.  Like many great women writers, she suffered periodic times of mental illness (like Eleanor Roosevelt, too), and drowned herself in 1941.
            We no longer live in Shakespeare’s time, but even today, without  decent health, supportive friends, good education, a room of her own, and some degree of financial security, it isn’t common or easy for a woman to excel in the arts.  It isn’t easy for men either in a culture that devalues the role of artists, offering little external support so they can concentrate on creative ideas beyond survival. 
            However, we have come a long way from the sixteenth century, and we do have more role models like Virginia Woolf, Hillary Clinton, Gwen Ifill, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Mary Oliver, and Meryl Streep.  It is a time for our voices to be on stage, in music, in writings, and on airways to make a difference.  The women of Shakespeare’s day were silenced and expected to be submissive.  This is no longer acceptable; we are finding our unique voices!

Carol Browning 3/26/12

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In A Moment

In a moment, we can change our lives
Allowing grace to erase judgment, doubt, fear we aren't up to the task at hand.
Maybe it's a day to be playful, contemplative, quiet
Honoring the rhythms within, trusting each moment is a new opportunity.

So much of our lives are responding to schedules and expectations, our own and others too.  It makes sense to slow down, pay attention to what feels nurturing instead of perpetuating busyness.  In a moment, we can shift gears, say no
To the doing we all get caught up in, and honor what works best for our own aging bodies.  What was easy at ten or twenty or thirty may simply not work for us at our current age.  So when we feel stressed, question the belief that says "I should" or he/she should."  We are all unique, and there are times for solitude we may need to recharge ourselves, doing less, appreciating with kindness and mercy the reality before us.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What do we expect from Love?

Love is awakening in the night
Feeling the wonder, the magic and serenity of the silent full moon
Beaming her Light through the window, calming my restless spirit.

Love is music that comforts, uplifts, calms and inspires us
To come home, letting go the worries for these special moments
That bind us to the master artist as she or he weaves this creation.

Love dispels fear, envy, hate, self-doubt
Inviting us to the dance of a new day.

We expect love to take away our pain, make life easier.
Maybe love is our Inner Lover who embraces us, is there for us
Whatever we are feeling, binding our wounds, restoring our faith
Refilling our well when we are thirsty and in need of her life-giving waters.

Carol Browning

Inspirational thought:
“ Courage is contagious, so seek out friends, old and new, who take chances, stay open, and are willing to be different.  Befriend the part of yourself willing to be passionate, take a new direction, surrender to times of not-knowing, too.”

Living for Today: The Power of Healing Touch

Each day is a new beginning.  With our hands and smiles, we let our bodies know they are precious and valued, no matter how we may be feeling.  Self-massage is a great way to comfort an injury, alleviate tension, honor what feels good IS good. There are times we may be the only person at hand to do this self-affirming nurturing!
We touch when we give a friend, or even a stranger, a big smile, a word of encouragement, a gesture of kindness that lets another know this could be a brighter day.  We all need appreciation and encouragement. In our fast-paced world, it is too easy to be forgetful and dash from one project to the next.  Let the sun, rain, or snow touch your face when you go outside.  Let positive images on-line, in books or classes move you to respond in a way that may touch someone needing connection. The skin is our largest organ, our interface with the world outside our own body.  It protects us constantly.  Do we remember to bathe her with creams that soften the dryness?  Do we give ourselves a big hug for a job well done, or in empathy when things are not going well?  Do we choose to move like a small child does when great music comes on, suddenly becoming the dancer long neglected? Primal folks dance readily; many of us struggle with this as adults, for we’ve lost our spontaneity and free spirit.

Oxytocin is a vital hormone that helps us relax, get out of our heads, and bond with the object of our delight. It connects a mother nursing her baby, lovers kissing and sharing fond embraces, and the welcome gift of a lovely bouquet to honor a special day.  Without it, we can become hard and rigid, disconnected from those we care about and from ourselves.  Simple pleasures from a walk on the beach holding hands with a friend to watching a movie that makes us laugh and be glad again can release this important hormone. Sacred rituals can also release oxytocin, like a reception after a wedding where folks hug, dance, eat, drink, and let down their guard.

Rituals can honor a very difficult time too, like when a loved one dies, or we give away a newborn child in an open adoption, accepting our role as a parent is ending. Such times are poignant and touching, requiring courage, self-care, and compassion beyond anything we may have previously experienced.  Touch is a vital, lifelong need, too easily neglected when we may need it most, while drugs often deaden sensation and connection.  Touch indeed has the power to assist in healing whatever ails us!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Dawning and the Pregnant Moon

    Each morning is the dawning of a new day.  In the night I awoke to the beauty of the Moon, beaming her serenity, her silence, her sacred light into me as she reaches her Fullness in a few more days. 
    We are wired to honor her Wisdom,  respect her rhythms.  Like great music that stirs the soul, She is the quiet lover that comforts, uplifts, calms, and inspires us to come home, letting go the worries and cares, basking in her Light.
    Let her dispel fear, envy, hate and awaken to our own courage as we learn to dance to our own rhythms, our own drummer. 
    We expect love to take away our pain, erase our loneliness.  Maybe Love is our Inner Lover, like the Moon, patient, faithful, reliable, present whatever we are feeling.  Love helps bind our wounds, restores our faith that Goodness has a magic we all need, refilling our dry rivers when we are thirsty and in need of her life-giving waters.  Too often our beliefs are like clouds, casting out the Beauty all around and within us.  May we celebrate the new Dawn and the Moon in all her phases.  Both have much to teach us when we awaken to their Wisdom.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Even in our dark times when we are sick, afraid, confused, needing rest
We need to trust reaching out as well as inward helps weave the web of Life.

We are the Ones we’ve been waiting for.  We matter when we lift our hearts in prayer,
Our voices in song, our drums in celebration of this new Era.  We march and dance with passion born of injustices that need mending all over this world.

We women are becoming the leaders, no longer silenced and discounted.
We have a resilience, a fortitude, a way of honoring our own wisdom
that needs to be shared and amplified so all living forms feel this River of Love and Peace that shall not be stopped.

The bloodshed, heartache, isolation and astonishing imbalances on this beloved planet, coming from greed, indifference, and polarized politics means we all share
responsibility for honoring the changes needed now.  So don’t give up, sisters, and trust there are kind-hearted men too who share our passion, and are ready now to listen to our voices, welcoming our talents and insights

To turn this world around.

By: Carol Browning

Inspirational thought:  We are all God’s rays of possibility when we illuminate what brings a smile to our faces so we enjoy the Journey, reach out with Love, and gather our Courage to share with one another. 
By: Carol Browning

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Magic of Being Open

 Living for Today:
The Magic of Being Open

Being open and trusting allows magic to unfold that may be totally different from what we expect when our lives are programmed by too much structure and scheduling.  Yes, most of us were raised to honor commitments, and stay on target with what we planned to do on a given day. 

The weather isn’t predictable and on schedule.  Today it was supposed to rain.  Instead I am being blessed as I write with an awesome pink-hued sunset, clouds as lovely as they can be in Hawaii, a sense of stillness and magic as the changing tones begin to darken, and in minutes, darkness shall prevail.  Happily, I was open to glancing out my window at a lovely view I could not begin to paint.  The magic of enjoying simple pleasures happens by being present to unexpected beauty.

Life is constantly changing, and if we choose to cling to the familiar and resist new possibilities, we get stuck, maybe even angry, resentful or depressed.  Friends move on or die or can no longer engage in our lives because of changing circumstances.  This is true for family members too; once we were close, and now they lead lives that allow little time spent together.  Today I phoned a new friend.  She called back to say she would love to hang out in our local YMCA pool, so we shared gentle exercises and caught up with one another in a setting comfortable and relaxing for our sensitive and no longer athletic bodies.  We enjoyed an adventurous moment close to home, costing us nothing but time.  We’d both had a hectic week, needing some time for simple friendship.

Both of us live with the uncertainties that come with chronic health conditions requiring great perseverance, patience, flexibility, and radical self-acceptance.  We need to be open to supportive good company one day, and making peace with solitude the next. When exhausted, it is a time to withdraw from desires that deplete our energy or expectations that don’t honor our internal voice that says, “Take it easy.  You need more down time right now.”  Being open to our emotions instead of spinning off into judging them to be good or bad requires basic trust in our own goodness; sometimes life is difficult, the way unclear, and we need some quiet retreat time-out for self-care.  This means saying no to the busy mind focused on the “to-do” list.  It means having a soft place in our own heart to accept illness, pain, and disappointment when being present may mean making peace with loneliness, not judging it as bad.  There is magic in honoring restful times needed for renewal, gathering our inner resources so we make wiser choices.  May we all pay more attention to whatever makes us more compassionate, more honest and open in this New Year!