mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Helpers

“help is on the way”. . .

a hopi yei rainbow man made into a pendant. . .

a hopi yei rainbow man made into a pendant. . .

In the I-Ching, the book suggests entities like the “Helpers” and the “Sage” to whom one can ask for help. This sounds like a simple thing – and for me, one which I have found to be a powerful source of inspiration in difficult times. All it takes is to ask them for help, be open to what occurs/evolves and to thank them when you receive the help that you asked for. Often, an approach will appear that I would never have thought of on my own – and it also feels perfect at the same time.

Along these lines, I was reminded by someone I met recently about the power of the Native American culture and its Spirit World (the Circle of Life.) Years ago when I visited Sedona, Arizona, I read about spirit symbols such as the Yei rainbow man. He embodies a Spirit World helper and appears in various forms in paintings, weavings and in jewelry. Here is an illustration of a Hopi rainbow man made into a pendant.

It is comforting to me that we are not alone in this world to try to solve all our problems by ourselves. How could we? Humans tend to complicate things, it seems to me, while the Universe simplifies things. And asking for help may be the simplest one of all.

“Help is on the way” is not just a platitude for me but an occurrence that enriches my life almost every day. I am very thankful!

magical thinking . . .

DSC_5591_2Magical thinking may lead people to believe that their thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.[1] It is a type of causal reasoning or causal fallacy that looks for meaningful relationships of grouped phenomena (coincidence) between acts and events.

I don’t know about you but magical thinking permeates my life, at least lately. So many coincidental things have happened. It reminds me again of what people call “New Age” frame of mind: that there are Helpers in the Universe and all you have to do is to acknowledge you need help, ask for it even if it’s not out loud so anyone can hear you doing it, and somehow, help arrives in unseen ways.

From last Sunday to today, serendipitous things have happened too numerous to count: a repair was done on my laptop under a warranty I didn’t know I had; something of value that was thought to be lost suddenly reappeared. And greatly needed help surfaced in a situation that was permeated with bad energy and felt like a dead end.

I don’t know what magical thinking may have had to do with all of these situations, but it feels to me like there is a script somewhere that we can’t read ahead of time. In our American culture, it’s easy to think that if only we (fill in the blanks) that things will change for the better in time. Sometimes it takes a very long time. And sometimes, something happens that decimates all the things that you think you can’t solve or change.

That’s what has happened with my ankle injury in February. Suddenly, my priorities were a) how to get a good night’s sleep with a heavy cast on my leg; b)getting to the bathroom when I needed it; and c)making sure that I did everything for my ankle to heal, noticing how touching the caring ministrations of my husband, daughters and friends have been through it all.

Gratitude has a lot to do with the amount of magical dust that sprinkles itself into one’s life I think. Hardship is another factor too. I believe (and maybe this is my own brand of magical thinking,) that no matter how dark it appears to be before the dawn, that it’s important to apply oneself, to be honest with oneself and to do one’s best to get through hard times no matter how bad, sad or bereft one becomes at the seeming hopelessness of it all. Is that what is known as faith?

Help sometimes arrives years later than we wished for it. Timing is not up to us, God knows. In hindsight when looking back on my own life, events took their time coming together before the jigsaw puzzle pieces fell in place and then readjusted themselves.

Being in the moment is all we have. Most of what we berate ourselves about is small stuff in the grand scheme of things. If it has taken weeks of being bedridden to learn this lesson, it has certainly been worth it.

Thanks to all my helpers, seen and unseen!

 

a “yarn” . . .

Noro Yarn, "Cyochin"

Noro Yarn, “Cyochin”

Remember when the “New Age” was upon us? Around the time of the millenium or some years back before that? When did the new “Age of Aquarius” really begin anyhow (in the 1960’s and 70’s?)  And is it still going on? Some of my favorite CDs to play in the car are piano compositions recorded by Windham Hill, a label that epitomized new age music for me with work by composers like Liz Story, William Ackermann and Michael Jones. The music itself brings back memories of an easier time in the world, if not in my own at the time. Maybe that’s why I enjoy listening to it now: things are so much better in my life compared to then.

Outside, things feel bleak due to the frustratingly protracted political gridlock in Washington, D.C.; to the shock waves due to mass shootings, global spying, hacking, identity-theft, you name it: everyday it hits us on the news, in the newspapers and on the radio while driving around doing errands. The age we live in now is also pre-empted by an ever increasing social media frenzy whipped up by the press along with random ads that pop up everywhere you look on the internet: a dizzying melange of unasked-for opinions and cyberspace junk mail.

In quieter times past, I, for one, used to rely on “signs”, reading the Tarot spreads on occasion, writing down intentions, visualizing goals and so on. Lately, not so much.

Even so, I was thinking the other day about certain events that have occurred in our little world that have made a big difference, a turn of events outside of our own control. I recognized that almost everything important in my life has unfolded that way: moving down here for a new job over twenty years ago, and meeting my second husband (a piano tuner) because the movers didn’t put the lyre back on my Steinway properly.

You can call it synchronicity or serendipity. Or we could just acknowledge that the Universe, and God, have plans for us that we know nothing about until it is revealed to us. It almost makes me think that we should just live and let live, and mostly get out of our own way so that the Universe can do its thing more easily than having us try to fix things ourselves. Do you ever find that to be true in your life too?

I am writing about this nebulous topic today because of what happened to me this weekend. I had been unsuccessful in three attempts to order yarn online from WEBS, a yarn warehouse about an hour’s drive away from me in Northampton. The appearance of the three lots of yarn in my hands was very different in gauge, weight and color from what I had seen (or imagined) on my computer screen.

instead of mailing it back a third time, I got in the car and decided the only way that I might find yarn I wanted to make something for myself with, was to go and take a look in person.

I was right because there was only one yarn in the entire warehouse that drew me in, a gorgeous new Noro yarn.

yarn 5It was multi-colored and a swatch had been knitted up that hung beside the yarn on the shelves so that you could see what the colors looked like knitted up. I’ve worked with many multi-colored yarns before this, most of which surprised in a negative way, the colors not blending or looking right, which can result in omitting some colors and being surrounded by lots of little balls of various color lots to choose from when finishing a garment. I’ve been there lots of times, so I was glad to see the swatch that showed the beauty of how the colors played out together.

It was very expensive, but with the credit of the returned yarn, and a discount based on the dollar amount of the yarn, I could almost justify going for it. I thought maybe I could afford just six skeins and knit a vest with a kimono look. At the last minute, I asked for four additional skeins which brought the discount up to 25% off. With ten skeins of this unusually beautiful yarn tucked safely in my car, I found a parking place in town after a few tries and had a quick lunch at Osaka, my favorite Japanese restaurant. Over soft-shell crab tempura, I sketched out designs on index cards while I ate to see how the ten skeins of yarn could be used in an unconventional manner but didn’t come up with anything novel or exciting.

On the way home, as I was thirsty from the saltiness of my lunch, I decided to swing by Barnes and Noble to have an iced tea and look at their yarn books, not having found anything earlier in Northampton. The book section didn’t yield anything, but then, my eye fell on a magazine by Noro, the manufacturer of the yarn I had just bought with a patchwork sweater on the cover made out of the same exact colorway of the new Noro yarn that was sitting in my car.Yarn 2

The pattern was perfect: a loose-fitting tunic with dolman sleeves and interesting patches knitted in various cable designs on the asymmetric tunic front. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though I led myself (or was led) to look for and find the yarn in one place, and then find the pattern in a second, three hours later, a third of the state of Massachusetts apart.

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Oh, and that’s not even to mention that while I was browsing in one of my favorite stores called “Irrisistibles” in Hamp that has books and household whimseys, I saw a display of metal hanging placards, one of which said, “Everything Will Be All Right.” It was $30 and I thought, I can just print that out myself when I get home and put it on the fridge. It was definitely the right message for me at the right time. New age or not, that familiar twinge of recognition, seeing a message meant for me was unmistakeable. I was buoyed up by it on the way home having forgotten that maybe I wasn’t struggling along alone after all.

So, how “new age” is that for a day filled with coincidences? You’ve heard of the phrase, “there are no accidents,” right? Well, what I take away from this little yarn saga is that the Helpers are definitely out and about and that even when I don’t think I need help, their generous handiwork is very apparent. They must be laughing their heads off up there!

I hadn’t wanted to make the drive out to return the yarn, and when I did, the only yarn I liked appeared to be prohibitively expensive. With the credit and an additional discount, I unwittingly purchased ten skeins, the exact amount of yarn required by the pattern on the cover of Noro magazine to make an unusual patchwork tunic sweater.

Plus, the real gift of the day was coming across and being reassured by the comforting admonition that “everything will be all right.” If you believe it, maybe it will happen.

Priceless.

so far, so good. . .

so far, so good. . .

“the whole world” . . .

truro 30A few weeks ago, I came across a saying online:

“When you realize there is nothing lacking,

 the whole world belongs to you.”   (Lao Tzu)

I don’t know if this quote is attributable to Lao Tzu or not, but it sounds like him, doesn’t it?

A variation that might follow along that theme is this quotation:

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

I don’t know who said that, but it strikes close to home for me. Throughout many years, being out on my own from an early age, raising children during a long and unhappy first marriage, then patching together a life afterwards with a demanding career in mid-life, I’m habituated towards feeling like my glass was half empty even though my brain might tell me that it was probably more than half full, most of the time.

Yesterday, I don’t know how this happened, but I woke up from that errant dream of being vaguely unhappy. Here’s how it came about.

A ritual I’ve taken on every year after Christmas was to look for the perfect winter coat at the after-holiday discount sales: a puffy but fashionable shiny black down three-quarter length coat with a huge, luxurious coyote or fox fur hood (real) that I had glimpsed in the New York Times Style page years ago and carried the clipping around in my wallet. This hunt served as amusement (or served as withdrawal from holiday shopping,) with a succession of coats tried on, delivered and then, mostly returned to the seller. Sometimes, I would buy one, then give it away to one of my daughters when they needed one more than I did. And so, the elusive coat search continued, at least until now.

Over the weekend, I looked at Patagonia, North Face and Nordstroms before I somehow found myself looking at “vintage LL Bean” listings on Etsy yesterday. I’ve been a fan of LL Bean for their quality, classic stock, especially in decades past. On about the eighth page of listings, I came upon a 1970’s vintage duffle coat, size Medium, in a deep army green with a yoked back, hood and a blue/green woolen plaid lining. It hung gracefully on the model in the photo, not crumpled up and bedraggled like others that were also online. In any case, as soon as I saw it, I instantly felt that the grand hunt for my winter coat was over. It had no fur trim, no contemporary flourishes, just a plain woolen coat that reminded me of my youth, truth be known. I also happen to have a loden shearling hat that G. doesn’t use and a Barbour tan and forest green plaid scarf that matches the color of the coat. Turns out that I had the accessories before I found the coat.

I don’t know if I can convey the sense of home or grounding that I instinctively felt with this coat. Perhaps you know what I mean. It’s as though one goes out looking for something and it turns out to be hanging on the line in your backyard or in a wooden storage chest that you forgot about or something.The other thing that this coat has done is to bring me full circle “back to my beginning” (a la T.S. Eliot) from the extravagances of decorating, food, gifts and spending that the holidays entailed; including taking everything apart, repacking the stockings, the ornaments, replacing broken ones, saying farewell to the Frasier Fir tree that was still fragrant, its needles still fresh to the touch.

As a loner at heart, my interests have been pretty insular for the most part, which is to say that I do most things I enjoy by myself: read, play the piano, cook meals, clean the house, knit, and so on. I realized after finding that coat that I have everything that I have ever wanted (and struggled for) including the most important intangible ones that are not always just up to us. I also noticed that my former habitat of being not very happy for most of my life had shifted to being happy without my truly “getting it” until now. This is not as strange or peculiar as it may sound. In any event, I awakened from feeling unhappy, to understanding that there is nothing keeping me from being happy now, except for old habits I wasn’t that aware of.

“When you realize that there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

Thanks to the Helpers of the Universe who have shielded, guided and pushed me to this place. It feels as though it has been an enormous struggle but perhaps at least half of that burden might have been of my own making and wrestled within my own head. Attitude is everything and mine has been edified by finding an old duffle coat and a quotation that floated by my screen unbeknownst from wherever.

As noted,  the Sage, Helpers and the Cosmos have helped me create a soft landing for my life. I just haven’t felt it to its fullest until now. And I am thankful more than ever.