Tag Archives: gratitude

“It is my intention to astonish you all.” (And myself.)

I had a ‘chick night’ with my bestie last night, an Italian orange soda and Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd (this is not a movie review). While I have read some of Hardy’s other works, The Return of the Native and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, somehow this one has escaped me. I must have a lovely copy to linger over because I found something extraordinary and personal in the movie.

The opening lines spoken as a voice over by Carrie Mulligan knocked me to my knees. She is introducing herself, she says her name, Bathsheba Everdene and then says “I have grown accustomed to being on my own. Some would say too accustomed. Too independent.” The air theatrerushing from my lungs in the darkened theatre was nearly audible, accompanied by a feeling as though I had unexpectedly fallen hard on the ground, the ‘wind’ knocked from me. How often in the last 24 years have I expressed exactly the same first sentence? I have also heard others say I am too independent. The span of the movie (and later, I am sure, when I acquire a copy of the book) would subsequently tear away so many protective layers I would sit crying in Jennifer’s car afterwards acknowledging a different kind of fragility I have thought I had well under control – of not needing people, a well-honed self-defense mechanism resulting from repeated disappointments bestowed by those we let take a piece of our heart and who have ultimately betrayed it. This awareness that has been washing over me a great deal of late, it stuns me, it catches me off-guard, it swamps me because here is the truth; even when kindnessa habit is formed over many years, one that serves to keep us from faltering in life, tiny kindnesses crack open our hearts and those fissures let a different kind of light in, of letting people touch our souls and feel our raw essence in an amplified version of what the world is allowed to see, and in the process, we hope that we don’t scare them off, but rather that they take care of the tender vulnerability we are at our core.

On the surface Bathsheba’s story appears to be one of three men courting her, but I think it’s something more. I think hers is the timeless journey of coming to understand the most important things in our lives are often standing squarely in front of us, that these must almost slip from our grasp because of pride and then, as heroes or heroines of our own lives, we step into the fullness of our being to own our destiny to reach for what will give our lives their greatest meaning.  I have given give-receivemuch love away, yet I have been a (very) poor recipient of it which, upon reflection, this is unseemly in the extreme. I am learning to truly receive, and it is stretching me into a version of myself I am sure I was always meant to be but sometimes it makes me reel with faintness, I do not recognise myself against the familiar filter in which I have defined myself. This is good.

In this video found on YouTube Mulligan describes a passage from Hardy’s book in describing Bathsheba as being, “passionate, wild and honest as the day” – again, if for no one other than myself, I recognised the essential ‘me’. Earlier in the day my girlfriend Kirstie replied to a question I had posed with “we need the mirror provided by others to see all of our sides” and in some way, because I have a Pisces Moon in my Aquarius sign, this description by Hardy of Bathsheba resonates – I am childlike in my innocence, honest, and passionate and like Hardy’s character often in saying what is on my mind that makes others wince. Passion and honesty guided me toward (or pulled me?) what is clearly my life’s work and a new life. There are days when I am overwhelmed by my free will choice to move into something very foreign, and yet familiar.  The path toward this life includes an alarming set of variables to consider or work through, but each day I find an answer, an opening, a shelter to take cover beneath or refuge in metaphorical arms. I am stunned by the outpouring of support and love from the physically near and those thousands of miles away. At the same time everything I have ever read, experienced, or come to believe provides tools from which to draw upon Arbroathto make the scope of this ‘work’. I wrote a letter this weekend, potentially a very important letter, but the inspiration which allowed me to create it came from a document written in Scotland in the 14th century – widely regarded as the most important piece of diplomatic language ever penned (no, not the Magna Carta). Very early yesterday morning I found myself pulled into a Facebook string related to a seasoned public relations practitioner (whose choice of client I happen to be fighting over the environment) and as thoughtful as I was about choosing my words and citing external resources to document my points emotions are running high, the topic is polarizing, the people involved are lightning rods, so much so that people involved feel assaulted and insulted despite my efforts to be respectful of the skill if not how it was being used it against humanity (my opinion).

You can practice authenticity but you can’t create it, authenticity is an intention, like waking with gratitude. And everyone’s version of authenticity will be nuanced, singular. I would like to think we are all capable of living with such intention, such authenticity, but I have come to realise that so many cummingsof my fellow humans are just trying to survive each day, get through the living of life, there is not a spare ounce of energy for more. I can’t. Perhaps that is why I have been so comfortable in being on my own for so long. But I feel the shift happening. Bathsheba addresses the tenant farmers and hired hands of the estate she has inherited from her uncle; she says “It is my intention to astonish you all.” So too is it mine (as well as myself in the process).

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Green glasses.

I write about the uncommon aspects of common things. I write about gratitude and beauty. I write about awareness of the imperceptible in the cacophony of daily life. I write about how we change, and shift in our perceptions based upon experience – and by experience I mean wisdom earned.

Hannah sea glass

My girlfriend Hannah’s sea glass from Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

It is the creation, by hand, of something long lasting that inspires me most, and even the remnants of those long ago hand-crafted items which wash ashore as bits of sea glass, or are found in archeological digs (which sounds so much more impressive than rubbish tips or garbage dumps of our distant ancestors).  The shift I want to write about today is more than 30 years in the making (for myself).  Humankind has drunk from glass vessels for some 3500 years, the first known examples coming from ancient Mesopotamia – now Syria; let the sadness of the destruction of their civil war and ISIS and so forth spill forth just as wine spilt from a broken stem of your grandmothers.

20150311_140413

Waterford Tyrone

In my twenties, I aspired to own a suite of full lead, hand-cut crystal in a pattern called Tyrone from Waterford. My mother made it plain that no one in our family would purchase it for my wedding (though later she had to have their Lismore pattern), but my mother-in-law, Marcia, was of a different mindset. At the time, in the early 1980s, the stems were $31 – $33 and not only did my ex-husband and I receive some for wedding gifts but for Christmas and birthdays thereafter Marcia made sure this was my gift. Ultimately the cupboard held 6 each of Champagne flutes, red wines, and water goblets. I loved everything about them – including that they were special order only and had to wait at least six months for each to arrive. They are still gorgeous, and perfect, and have held some very memorable beverages and experiences.

On an entirely different end of the drinking vessel spectrum, I also love (Great) Depression Era 20150311_105805petroleum glass – the green. At a time when the world economy was reeling from the stock market crash, drought, and massive unemployment, and the global social malaise that would propel all of us into World War II, movie theatres (and others) in the United States of my parents youth gave out premiums in the form of this glassware – pitchers, cake plates, dishes, cups, vases and drinking glasses. I can’t recall when I first became aware of the glasses, though both grandmothers had cake plates with the sunflower (or daisy) embossed on them. But, about the same time as the Waterford was trickling into my consciousness and then my life so too, optic swirled green glasses. At less than a $1 a piece at estate sales and antique shops and with a history of 50+ years of service behind them I was enchanted – and they came home to be used, not just admired.  Yesterday morning I opened a box recently arrived from eBay with 11 of the largest of these I have ever acquired, and delighted would be an 20150311_110111understatement as with the shipping each hand-blown beauty cost less than $2.75. I washed them. I took a picture. I put them next to the other odd green glasses in the kitchen cupboard and truth be told I was RIDICULOUSLY happy. I discovered that the short ones hold the same volume as the Waterford Tyrone water goblets, at which point I did an online search and discovered that these now sell for $200 a piece which prompted my listing them on eBay. A Martini will taste just as lovely in the short versions of my new, very old, glasses as they did in my Waterford goblets. Wisdom doesn’t preclude an appreciation for the rare and exquisitely crafted, but it certainly embraces when it is time to let go and buy some good gin with the proceeds. 😉

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Tethering our lives to love

It might seem hard to process the concept of being grateful for starting your day in tears. To feel something, anything, so keenly that the only possible response is a clench of your throat, Staples-Mill-Pond-Dam-Break-2-bigfollowed by the flooding of your eyes where salted droplets spill as over a millpond dam. I am not particular how this happens – only that it does. To feel this alive in sadness, in humility, in joy, in reverence, in gratitude, my truth is that I write best when I am so filled with emotion that the only outlet after the tears have dried, is my keyboard.

I have been bouncing the concept of tethering around for a couple of days but suddenly it was the bonds of an impossible-to-hold-in-your-hand love that proved to be the greatest measure of tethering.  Tether is an Old Norse word. Traditionally, tether meant a rope, chain, or similar which binds an animal to a fixed object so as to limit its range of movement but it can also mean the utmost extent or limit of one’s ability, endurance or resources. It’s been commandeered by the tech community to refer to connecting one mobile device to another (such as phone to a laptop) to share the Internet connection of one with the other so as to sync mobile tethercontent and actions between the devices either by a wireless LAN (local area network) such as a Wi-Fi or by physical means such as a cable through USB ports. This post about tethering is not about technology… nor is it about animal husbandry, but it is about connection –establishing it, maintaining it and pushing the boundaries of our conceived endurance to be something more.

In just sixteen days I leave the (rather dull) surety of my life of the last six years for something unknown. To be honest, the last six years have been the longest I have lived in any single place since marrying out of my childhood home 30 years ago. I am more gypsy than anything and Gypsybeing so planted has caused me to chafe just as any animal would be tethered to a fence or a building.  It is a test of my endurance, my abilities, and certainly my ability to perform superhuman (all legal) financial machinations, to do this. There is ABSOLUTELY no safety net (though I have listed my apartment on AirBnB and have sold most of my possessions on eBay in hopes of offsetting my collective expenses).  While I have leapt into the void in response to being pulled toward Croatia, I know that whatever awaits me is going to be trans-formative. That’s a good thing, to keep expanding and not to contract into some ever smaller portion of myself where fear rules and which can happen far too easily as we get older. But this action of mine is accompanied by a confluence of apprehension and exhilaration – the Swedes (bless them) have a word for this – Resfeber. With resfeber comes a totally illogical and travel anticipationunexpected need for ‘tethering’ myself with the familiarity of my pantry found in the packing of a duffle bag filled with teabags, Aztec Elixir Vosges drinking chocolate, dark Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds, Odwalla Superfood Bars and a long discontinued, exquisitely scented candle (I admit to hoarding three of these from when they were reasonably priced) from the defunct Henry Slatkin & Co. It’s utterly insane as intellectually I know that foodstuffs are only too easily available to purchase, Split being one of Croatia’s major urban areas as well as having immediate access to the harvest that can be found from the sea literally 50 meters from the apartment I am renting. It is because I currently can’t read more than a half dozen words in Croatian and none of them relates to food that I have taken this action – a safety net of sustenance until I can purchase honey, olive oil, yogurt, butter, flour, sugar and fresh vegetables. Some part of me feels weak to need this tether yet every nomad has carried provisions with them against uncertainty for tens of thousands of years.  I am managing resfeber with my tether of comfort – uniting the woman that I am in this moment and who I will become beginning the afternoon of the 6th of November – much as a child clings to its softie or binkie.

Earlier this morning the source of my tears was a video posted by a friend on her Facebook wall for two of her friends. Facebook (despite all the less than ethical machinations of the company) has developed something truly beautiful, likely on the success realised by Upworthy, called Facebook Stories. In this video (originally posted on Vimeo) a woman in São Paulo befriends a man who had been homeless for 35 years; a man, who but for the grace of God, who could be any of us. A man who bent by life still had the discipline to write his poetry every single day; this, kindness (2)perhaps more than the happy ending this woman brought about by her acts of compassion and kindness is what made me cry.  Our greatest selves are realised only in the extension of, being a vessel for, the amplification of the universal energy commonly known as love. His words expressed, her energies to empower those words. The connection to one another possible through social media that fostered a real community of support and an endless cascade of tears thousands of miles away; the pebble in the pond manifest, tethering ourselves to another (or a vast unknown collection of others) energetically.  We do as we have been done for – the coding of our DNA and the memories housed within the epigenetics of who we all are, our expectations, our will to survive or to create or to provide comfort it’s all “there” within each of us waiting to be connected, tethered to the rest of humanity. We can be envious, resentful and mean or we can take pleasure from the fact that what we give, who we are, is part of an endless ripple of love.

Friends have suggested that I am leaving them while also cheering my ‘bravery’ for doing this Croatian rentalwithout a plan, this action of mine isn’t either – it simply ‘is’. Life is shortened by each passing day – it is our duty to live it fully whilst we have the power to do so, to embrace impermanence with passion and commitment. The recent death of the younger brother of my friend Deborah and the discovery that both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer served as the catalyst for booking my ticket. The 2″ square box of my parent’s entire lifetimes chafes at me even though we have not had contact in more than a decade of years. Facing such I recognised that I need to live more fully again. I also need to write again. Not sporadically but wholly committed to six to eight hours a day, every day for 88 days. My second book has no definition as yet but I know I will find it in salty tears at the edge of the Adriatic and the unexpected (but most welcome) kindnesses of people met as a result of social media who have become integral to my journey in this lifetime.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Olive oil, living wills and Martini’s

Yesterday I was been blessed with truly one of the most extraordinary days of sublime perfection a human being has a right to experience.

The journey of our lives is interactive,  there are segments of time in which we need to exist in a state of letting things unfold and others when the journey demands a willingness to ‘set things seget vranjicain motion’ and to embrace the consequences. Well, three days ago I finally booked my plane ticket to Croatia.  I will spend three months from November to February working (and hopefully writing in completion) the first draft of my second book in Seget Vranjica. I am ridiculously happy, but, I admit, I am scared senseless at the “OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE?”, and honestly, as a writer, ‘just where is the money going to come from to support this folly?’ aspect of this. (As I write this my heart is pounding so loudly I am sure that it can be heard in my neighbors’ apartment above me.)

My neighbor Andrea lives (as many 20-somethings do) in a minimally furnished apartment whereas I have stuff; admittedly less stuff than in nearly 15 years as I have been culling my possessions for over a year now but still.  We have worked out (between us, not with our landlord as yet) that she’ll continue to pay her rent but give up her studio and migrate upstairs while I am out of the country and live with my things and I will pick up the difference, plus electricity.  She gets a “home” and saves a tiny bit of money, I have peace of mind – everyone wins.

Yesterday morning I awoke to messages from three men from OKCupid – two Croatians, ages 24 and 34 (the latter also charmingly “tucked me in” with wishes for a restful sleep), and one Italian age 44. The first two gentlemen sharing that my soul spoke to them through my pictures and words (at least one has gone on to read some of my blog posts) and the Italian is willing to travel more than 6 ½ hours by car simply to share dinner, dessert and conversation in English with me. I don’t care how young or old you are but as a woman who will turn 54 in February can I just say there is NO FINER WAY to start your day!

POutine

@lepetitpoutine

Andrea and I went to the Farmer’s Market about 10 AM. I had hoped to introduce her to my terribly smart, physically gorgeous, ridiculously tall, green eyed goat cheese maker and shepherd friend Max (sadly we got his engaged to be married brother instead) but I bought eggs, apples, the last of the seasons’ tomatoes, some shallots, oh yes, and Cotton Candy (spun sugar, candy floss) made out of Maple Syrup sugar. In the midst of this I quite literally picked up an apple from under a tree on the grounds of the high school and ate it on the spot – the taste of cold tart sunshine spilling forth made me so happy my eyes filled with tears of gratitude to BE “THIS” ALIVE.  In this pocket of sublime perfection of beautiful, organic food, happy children, dogs out with their owners, blue skies, cold air,  sparkling light, and Andrea’s “life altering” experience of eating Lizzie’s Le Petit Poutine for the first time the suggestion spilled forth from me (before 11 AM) to go to my favorite local restaurant The Revelry and have a Martini (not “normal” behavior). The bartenders hug and kiss me, the co-owners’ sister the same. I am NOT in the league of Dorothy Parker or Hemingway yet they all know I write and celebrate this. Zach (leading man of the dominion of exquisite libation) Hemingwaycommented this afternoon that Hemingway wound up drinking in Cuba because it was cheaper than doing so in the United States; he also paid me a supreme compliment that a year ago I might not have received as such – seemingly I am a “bad ass bitch” because he views me as being smart and wise and confident.  Zach also immediately noticed and commented on my “lightness” – I suppose such is the result of having booked the plane ticket to an uncharted, yet what will surely be an epic adventure. As we all know magic happens in “the void”. The status quo destroys everything worthy in life except the surety that tomorrow will be as today whereas magic happens in the place where we are most uncertain, where anything can happen, where we are stretched beyond our comfort zone.

“Let life carry you. There is nothing to understand, life just happens. Allow thoughts and feelings to pass through you – not be a part of you. Life is unfolding perfectly.”

The last four weeks of opportunities and utter failures in my judgment (including receipt of a marriage proposal for a Green Card and cash) have taught me one thing – most people have ulterior motives and their transference can wreck even the most perfectly idealized ambitions to leave the world a better place. I won’t belabor the two points that clearly fostered ‘the leap’ as I treat them as catalysts to get to my more authentic place and not regret for what might be lost as a result of my intolerance for varying degrees of stupid.

I made Andrea cry over the first Martini (there wound up being two each). Tears of (I think) being flattered to be asked to be a witness to my need to have a living will (on the off chance Olive oilthat I needed to be repatriated for medical reasons) and then of laughter as my segue was of trying to scheme a bottle of this seasons’ freshly pressed olive oil from the harvest my friend Marijan will have helped to bring in before he leaves for two months in Germany.  Aren’t Martini’s truly amazing things?

I know that ‘the magic’ is happening because risk is proportional to reward. Remember and embrace this – there are no such things as coincidences, but you MUST decide that everything becomes as it should be when we trust ourselves and our capabilities and leap into the void.

Go. Live. Fully.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal via livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Expand my territories

This morning’s tears were based in humility of bearing witness, they came as my girlfriend and neighbor Kanika stood in the garden of my creation a little before 10AM – a silly thing to be moved to gulping tears about, really.

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 

1 Chronicles 4:10

I was already in a place of gratitude because Kanika, an accomplished actress in India prior to DSCN0146marrying and moving to the United States, has exquisitely beautiful hands and she hates having them in dirt, touching worms and insects yet she had just powered through two hours of helping me to finish clearing a new bed. Together we broke up the sod, dug down 10 inches, shoveled the dirt into a 2×4 frame with ¼” wire and then sifted and culled the debris and rocks, over and over and over again. Then we filled feedbags from my girlfriend Amy’s horses with this dirt and hauled these through our lobby and into “the secret garden” I have created over the last six growing seasons. I was already in a state of awareness having found a scant 8 worms in this soil and moving them to the reclaimed dirt now with gallons and gallons of worm food to which peat moss had been added at a 50/50 ratio, and soon they would have more organic nutrients and plants and the tiny eco-system of the garden bed would be even ‘happier’.

SHIITE-MUSLIMS-DURING-ASHURA-2002 steve mccurry

Shite Muslims during Ashura, 2002 by Steve McCurry

My garden, I suppose like every gardeners’, is part ashram, gymnasium, temple and, I admit, largely an activity I throw myself into to the point of physical anguish to connect with the Divine, to find answers in the accompanying pain, to work through complexity in the simplicity much as religious zealots have been flagellates for thousands of years – in truth it is hard to ask for help when I need it, and often the path to realization must be solitary. I ached the good ache from working with my hands and body to create, in tandem with intellect, determination and patience, a place of refuge and beauty that brings pleasure.

I was already in a place of gratitude for the blessing of the first of my Oriental red poppies opening from the DSCN0137bud it was yesterday into the exquisite crimson silk fluttering bloom in the morning air discovered at 7:10 AM, the combination of the lush purple-ness of the two different Columbine, the Flag Iris and the German Iris and the heady scent of lavender and Russian sage in combination was equal to being in bathed in the light streaming through a cathedral’s stained glass windows and the intoxication to be found in the swinging of a censer burning incense of a high service.

The air tends to lift before dawn, so I had been awake since 4AM and as it caresses my face like a lover’s kiss I can’t help but wish to respond fully – awake and alive, bristling with the anticipation of creating something from the blessing of a new day even before most people consider it ‘day’.

I had felt all the sunshine pouring into me with the taste of the sour and the sweet of lemonade I had peeled zest from and squeezed out of lemons the night before.

And so, to the tears.

Last year I captured a picture of a robin frolicking in the birdbath that I was given by the executor of a estate sale I had attended.  She was back this year with her offspring and over the course of the last four weeks she has used my little garden as ‘easy pickings’ for teaching her babies how to gather worms.

This morning one of her babies who has been keeping me company in my state of quietude the last few weeks joined Kanika and I as we contemplated the next efforts. The baby robin, no longer shy birdbathat my presence or voice, felt sufficiently safe to do as his/her mom had last summer and bathe with our standing in proximity. And as the water drops picked up the sunlight and the feathers ruffled in and out of the water and Kanika and I stood there and took joy from ‘being present’ I welled up and cried.

A sanctuary of safety in which to be fully alive.  To be part of the infinite and endless, to exist in harmony and to be aware of the scope of the blessing to have been able to create with your own hands and every fiber of one’s being. The mandate of leaving one tiny piece of the world a little more beautiful so complete in this effort, in “fullness of being” and with the sure knowledge that I possess “all that I need”. To know such grace is beyond humbling – there is no word adequate to describe what I felt watching a second generation of common robin feel at home.

Oh such tears as these I welcome as frequently as my heart has the capacity to shed. Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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To Be Seen

revelryLast night as I waited for a girlfriend to show up (ultimately she didn’t and I left at the hour late time stamp) at a restaurant in my neighborhood I frequent, I watched as the bartenders (who always take very good care of me) basically work around a couple at the end of the bar. I couldn’t attribute the lack of service to anything in particular but it bothered my psyche somehow – and I dwelled on it, and dwelled on it and now this post.

My sister-in-law recently sent me a hyperlink that touched me in a way that Hallmark cards ‘use to’.  Her accompanying words were only, “saw this, thought of you”.  Even when we live small lives (by that I mean not a speaker on the TED circuit or appearing in the tabloids on a regular basis) our very basic human condition cries out to be seen. (She clearly ‘sees me’ even though the rest of my family think I am a freak.)  In expressing this ‘need’ to be seen I don’t mean in billboard sized gestures, I simply mean each of us deserves to be ‘not invisible’. In our hyper-connected world we are so incredibly disconnected from observing, acknowledging, extending kindness, or even offering a smile to our fellow beings it hurts the heart to consider. (I might be particularly sensitive to this because I had a German boyfriend some years ago – before Smart Phones – who “documented” everything taking pictures constantly but never actively being present; PUT THE DAMN TECHNOLOGY THINGS AWAY, YOU ARE MISSING LIFE!)

Last Friday morning, slipping inside the sanctuary offered by Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston (my former place of worship and community) to connect with the Divine, I was acutely reminded of our collective path. The pew I selected included a fresh take-away bag from L.A. Burdick’s with a fork, a napkin and a fresh, wrapped, untouched treat. In my kneeling humility I asked, as always, “expand my territories; make me an instrument of your will”. I believe that for the grace we desire to manifest we need to exist in a constant state of mindful gratitude, it’s never lost upon me how quickly I know that ‘my prayers have been answered’ as a result of this intention. The following took place in a physical space of less than two city blocks over the course of perhaps three quarters of an hour (least you ever question if the God you pray to is listening).

ImageFirst, before we even left Emmanuel, as my girlfriend Jennifer and I slipped into Lindsey Chapel the chamber music ensemble began Easter weekend rehearsal and I was met with the nod of recognition from the 1st violin – I was “seen” as someone familiar and welcome though it had truly been years since we had had any interaction.

DSCN0018Outside a young man in a hoodie weighed down with a box of potted daffodils each wearing blue foil wrappers to adorn Boston in conjunction with the Boston Marathon on Monday (he looked so incongruous I had to take his picture) provided a physical manifestation of Boston Strong – renewal, determination, solidarity, resilience and of sunshine.

Next, as Jennifer is newly divorced and starting to date again I wanted to introduce her to the luxurious beauty offered by La Perla lingerie, so we walked down Arlington to Boylston where this haven of femininity is located.  My current circumstances preclude purchasing and I think Jenn is still recovering – understandably – from price point as mortgage payment for the jacket she fingered but it was the level set for grace to happen, next.

Feuillage Tulle Set by Jean-Paul Gaultier for La Perla

Feuillage Tulle Set by Jean-Paul Gaultier for La Perla

As we left La Perla for Jennifer’s car parked alongside Boston Public Garden on Boylston another car identical to hers disoriented me for a moment – and that’s when my prayer “make me an instrument of your will” was answered.  You see, I am ever mindful of ‘but for the grace of God’ and it was the homeless woman crossing the street coming toward me that the L. A. Burdick’s bag was clearly meant for and the synchronicity of our meeting was ‘ordered’.  As I gave her the bag, our eyes met and hers replied back “thank you for seeing me” and I wrapped her in my arms and hugged her tightly and both of our eyes welled up with tears. (If you aren’t aware of the brouhaha some of my other Episcopalians are stirring up in North Carolina – click here and here and this will help explain the rich blessing of tears I experienced as a result of my encounter with this woman, this despite the fact that I do not consider myself a Christian.)

Years before, and years after, my friend and former colleague Kurt Anderson wrote on the back of one of my business cards “Use your power wisely” I recognise that I function best in a place obscured from scrutiny and floodlights.  The validation of “me” I require isn’t large, taking up too much space is something I struggle against in a society which encourages celebrity and grandiosity – this woman walking in the shadows of Boston’s Four Seasons, Hermes, Anne Fontaine, St. John and other such shops saw me and I saw her fully and completely in our common human struggle. Maybe it was the first time in days or weeks that she had been seen, her view of my being just as elemental and important.

Our filters, honed and influenced over a lifetime, determine our perception, how we will act and interact, what transparency is offered, how we see and what we see.  Toward the end of DSCN0089this same day, I dragged Jennifer (who had already stated loudly via email that she didn’t need anymore books) into another hallowed ground of the Greater Boston area, that of Cambridge’s Harvard Book Store.  People who love books surrounded us on this Friday evening but one in particular stands out for me – because while he was immersed in the pure joy of what he was reading, tucked into a wall niche that I had long forgotten existed, he graciously let me interrupt his revelry and let me take his picture.  For myself it was the laughter which spilled forth from “Mario” (clearly not his real chocolatname based upon our later email exchange) that garnered my attention, only when Jennifer said “Captain Jack Sparrow” did I make a connection to Johnny Depp physically. But I didn’t see him as the lead character of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series, what I saw instead was “Roux” from Chocolat.  My lens, partly based on our tiny conversation, transformed Mario into the romantic drifter that makes things right in the face of prejudice and who subsequently ceases to wander as a result of what he finds when he opens his heart.

When we wake up in the morning we can’t know what actions we will be guided to take, or the impact these might have on the world around us.  As Amanda Palmer so eloquently points out in her TED talk (link above) there is a give and take of our human condition where each action provides is more gift than payment.  In this post-Easter season when righteousness runs a little higher in some folks (just as it had for Chocolat’s Comte de Reynaud) I think that there is an analogy around lingerie that is useful – “to be seen” can also mean to have impact without being seen by anyone at all, the power of lingerie is its secrecy; just as actions that bring about positive change can be quietly accomplished, one hug at a time.

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Your good deeds – before man and God – Syria

ClementinesIt is Christmas Eve, Bach Cantata’s currently fill the air around me in my living room with the soundtrack from Love Actually queued right behind.  I just ate a couple of juicy, gloriously tasting-of-sunshine and warmth Clementines (which would have been the height of luxury a hundred years ago in a Christmas stocking) and the snow that is coming down is non-threatening and insignificant tiny wisps coming from the North (as it should be).

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My Christmas tree 2012

Some years I go all out with rather Norse and Celtic pagan and Druidic greenery overload (mantles, lintels, door swags) adding sleigh bells to my door knocker and then taking all the living room lamps out and living with candlelight and a Christmas tree lights for three weeks – which is fantastically romantic, but totally impractical – this year didn’t feel right about any of that. The truth is I have ceased to really celebrate holidays – not because I don’t believe in their merit, and not because I am Scrooge and holding onto a heart hardened and mean.  No, it’s largely because when you exist in a state of perpetual gratitude (as I do) there seems a falseness about the stress levels and overachieving and over purchasing attached to days that are supposed to be sacred and times for rejoicing and reflection; people fighting more instead of being bathed in pure white light – this hurts my heart so I purposefully avoid the pain.

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Henry Avignon, 2013, For Dylan Hockley

A little more than a year ago a man with a history of mental illness destroyed the lives of 26 families and that of their surrounding community and shook America (again) to its core.  And an artist friend of mine listened to the words of his son and created a memorial collection of art that is filled with light and love gifting the families with the images he created for each victim.  Shy of the year anniversary a song was published and recorded by a band called Alternate Routes – the song is called Nothing More (and you should listen to it) at the end of the YouTube video a not-for-profit that works in the memory of but one of those children is featured but the words, oh – the words:

To be humble, to be kind. It is the giving of the peace in your mind. To a stranger, To a friend To give in such a way that has no end. We are Love We are One We are how we treat each other when the day is done. We are Peace We are War We are how we treat each other and Nothing More To be bold, to be brave. It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved And the darkness can come quick The Dangers in the Anger and the hanging on to it. Tell me what it is that you see A world that’s filled with endless possibilities? Heroes don’t look they used to, they look like you do.

I didn’t put up a Christmas tree this year – instead I donated the money I would have spent to the special appeal for Syrian children through UNICEF primarily because my girlfriend Farrah (a dual citizen, American-born Lebanese) cried out for help on her Facebook page because ‘that handsday’ nine Syrian children had died of complications from the cold in their refugee camps.  And as the universe has this uncanny way of making sure that such things maintain equilibrium I have a bottle of Islay Scotch from my ex-husband to offset the ache in my heart of such senseless loss.

And so, when I saw a story in the Wall Street Journal about how DIYers were using their forearms to knit, huge chunky blankets and scarves my first reaction was to share it on Facebook and ‘hope aloud’ that somehow this skillset could find its way to these refugee camps so that parents stripped of their dignity through no fault of their own could be empowered with a hand up rather than a hand out, and create with their love necessary warmth to protect their children.

Which lead to the trail of posts and comments you can find here, which ultimately lead to this Tweet, TY4 FT  @ahsan_jehangir – http://www.thistleandbroom.com/…/tab_pr_2011_0504.htm … this is the beautiful yarn for @hands4Syr #PeaceAndLove pic.twitter.com/hIjBCAHkxF and a happy ending to my story – where my amazing Welsh accountant and his wife will deliver kilos and kilos of this energetically pure, certified organic wool from the Isle of Mull and spun at the UNESCO World Heritage arm knittingSite of New Lanark Mill to the drop site in Edinburgh this Friday morning and onward to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey or wherever Hand-in-Hand For Syria takes it.

The Bible is conflicted on ‘how’ we do good deeds – Matthew 5:14 says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Whereas Matthew 6:2 says: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

As someone who believes in a Divine presence but is less certain about which monotheistic (if any?) faith S/HE is particularly aligned with, let me just express if there was a way to get all of refugeeswinteryou to ‘just do’ something amazing and kind and charitable by willing it to be so with my energy I wouldn’t be telling you this story tonight, the presumed holiest of holy evenings of the Christian faith – but I understand the limitations of my presence here on Earth.  I am not seeking ‘points’ with God, or with you dear reader.  Whether you embrace either chapter and verse of Matthew I tell you this story of suffering and action to challenge you, my readers in 201 countries to ‘do’ something. We are Love, We are One.

If you enjoy my blog please consider “buying me a cup of tea” in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal and please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book, thank you!