Penance

Recently, penance has been on my mind. Penance as in the following definition #1 not #2 as found in a Google search –

pen·ance
ˈpenəns/
noun

1. voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.”

synonyms: atonement, expiation, self-punishment, self-mortification, self-abasement, amends; punishment, penalty “true penance requires honest self-examination”

2. a Christian sacrament in which a member of the Church confesses sins to a priest and is given absolution.

 

It doesn’t matter Why I feel the need to make amends. Or what my offense is or what brought it on. But you wouldn’t have to look very far: turn on your television and watch the political horror unfold! I’m trying to avoid the daily barrage of incidents inciting my ire!

I was baptized Catholic shortly after birth. I’ve received many of the sacraments. But I don’t practice any religion. Not unless you believe attending the Church of the Outdoors and communing with nature is religion! I do have faith. I do believe in an organizing Power, a force connecting us to the All.

Here is my retribution: a big dose of beauty! Nature doesn’t reflect out negativity, frustration, anger, fear, and confusion. Or does it? Is nature affected by our emotions and thoughts? See more on this here

Penance

What better way to make more amends than to make an offering? These books are wonderfully rewarding. Give them a read! Let me know what you think!

Hope Heals

Read Unleashing Passions 

Read Unleashing Passions my guest blog post http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ and then come back here for more of the story. Ten years later, my life is beyond anything I could have dreamed…except…maybe I did!

Maybe I hoped and prayed and worked and wondered myself all the way to a miracle!

Ever wonder what it takes to be healthy? Exercise, good nutrition, good genes, sleep? Passion?

I’m more and more convinced traditional Western medicine does not have all the answers. Tough to prove what makes a difference in disease and healing, but results matter, even unproven!

If you’ve followed my posts, you know I believe there is so much more we share than can easily be explained. Unless you believe in something greater than ourselves and this life we see! Odd and sometimes wondrous things happen! Often!

I was diagnosed in 2006 with a rare autoimmune liver disease I feared might cut short my life! I was shocked, though I may be more susceptible to some autoimmune problems since my mom fought Lupus -another autoimmune disease- for years. I had wanted to prevent any problems by majoring in health education, eating a healthy diet. exercising. I thought by age 50, I was good! Not so fast!

Doctors said prescribed medication could postpone or eliminate need for a someday liver transplant! I did soon feel better. And I didn’t want to think about what might happen, but a few thoughts did cross my mind.

What if I died too young and my husband found a new woman? Would he love her more? Would they have a beautiful wedding with gorgeous flowers prettier than the garden flowers we had?

read for beauty and love

What if he bought her everything I never asked for? What if they did adventurous, fun things we hadn’t? These thoughts made me want to enjoy MORE before I was gone!

And suddenly, I wanted a diamond! If he’d buy one for the new woman, why not me, NOW?

Okay, that was a bit dramatic! Especially since I’d always thought jewels were just expensive and frivolous symbols…or are they? What about the power of gemstones? Don’t various natural substances have healing powers? My sister makes gemstone jewelry for healing and empowerment. See some of her work at gemstone alchemy

And I wrote about positive effects of gemstone jewelry in my Possibility Series novels – Mending Stone, Catching Rain, Seeding Hope! I even featured an amazing stone on the first covers of Mending Stone (Read it for $0.99-1.99 this week on Kindle Mending Stone And then read the other books in order in the next two weeks! Act fast and read all 3 books in the series for less than $3.00!)

Thankfully, my husband didn’t think requesting a diamond was silly. He was shaken as much as I and he wanted to demonstrate his love and support. He surprised me with a pretty three-stone diamond ring much larger than my original three-stone engagement ring from 1977!

I was appreciative, but the new ring didn’t sparkle enough to cheer me! We secured a refund, and a few weeks later, we bought another ring. I felt so loved and appreciated. But one day, I noticed a flaw. I wanted a different new ring! Again!

Then we were in Portland and went into Tiffany! Oh my goodness! What a beauty we found: 💎 a center diamond with rubies (my birthstone) on each side! WOW! Oh how I wanted it! But $24,000? Disease scare or not, it was waaaaay out of character for either of us to say yes to that purchase!

A few weeks later, a local jewelry store had a sale! We found similarly sized stones in a ring but the setting was hideous! A new setting and the sparkling diamonds were on my finger! I was filled with happiness!

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Somehow the disease did not seem so scary! I cheered up! Symbols of love are important. They’re reminders of all we cherish. Every sparkle of my diamond ring reminds me of the surprising nature of love and release of worry about the future. We must live NOW!

After ten years and several visits to Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, I’ve been relieved of the diagnosis! I no longer have the antibodies to the disease! Liver specialists wouldn’t have expected them to completely disappear! Two of four physicians said I could safely stop taking the medication! And there’s no evidence of the disease! I do have some irritating digestive issues and osteoarthritis, but not the scary liver disease!

I wonder…ARE diamonds more than a girl’s best friend? Are they also healers? Or was it medication, lifestyle changes, and LOVE ❤️ that banished the disease? Whatever, I call it a sparkling miracle of healing hope! 

 

 

 

hot deals mending stone

Hot Deals

Hot deals in Mid-July! Each of my books will soon be on a 1 week only Kindle Countdown deal!

You’ll love reading this great fiction with romance and mystery!


July 16 buy Mending Stone Kindle edition for $0.99! Yes! Under a dollar for a few days, then it goes up to $1.99 for a few days! Then you can buy Catching Rain discounted for a week, and then Seeding Hope!

Three weeks of reading great books in this Possibility Series – Act fast each week and you can read the whole series for less than $3.00!

Why would I offer these hot deals? Because it’s my birthday month! And I love sharing the fun!

Because I believe in this ongoing story!

And I know you’ll be entertained! I know you will be intrigued!

I know you will love at least some of the character! You’ll enjoy traveling across beautiful landscapes, through heartache and turmoil, and finding answers to troubling questions! I did! (Will there be a book 4 in the series? Only the characters know! I’m waiting for them to tell me the rest of the story!)

Don’t like to read on-line? Me either! But these are such hot deals, how can you resist?

Hot deals in July! Watch for them starting July 16 here

Find out more on my books page here

I’d be thrilled to hear from you! Please, leave a comment! Ask questions about the story! I love talking about the story and the most amazing journey I’ve been on since that strange winter dream…and the story which started it all…

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Listening Spirit

Spirit Travel

Ever wonder if your wants and needs and pleas are heard? If spirit—or someone—will answer? Does spirit travel like our love and prayers to protect us and keep safe those we adore?

I’m sure my relatives must have wondered this as they embarked on a trip of a lifetime. John and Mary Lorang left their Genesee, Idaho ranch in the early spring of 1910. They traveled by buggy and train across the country and boarded a ship for a six month tour of Europe. Left behind, perhaps never to be seen again, were ten children, including my grandfather, ranging in age from eight to twenty-six.

I heard little of these great grandparents while I was growing up. I didn’t see photographs of their trip – over 300! Nor did I hear of their stories, or see their diaries and memorabilia saved in attics and closets of the old home. But in 1960, I did hear my grandfather traveled to Europe to follow his parent’s journey. He took photographs and bought back his own trinkets. I remember a delicate dolly – four inches high, made of wire and felt – a larger carved wooden camel. These captured my imagination of foreign places!

The trip was not all good for my grandfather. He did see many sites visited by his parents fifty years before. Much had changed. And the long trip was taxing for a man with emphysema. He became ill – was suspected to have typhoid and was detained in Turkey. It was many months, interventions of diplomacy, and legal adoption by my uncle before my grandfather was released! After hearing this story, I marveled over his courage and wondered if someday I might travel abroad…

Fast forward from 1960 to 2004. A second cousin I’d never met, and my Aunt Janet who now owned the family ranch, successfully had it designated as a National Historic Site: White Spring Ranch Museum/Archive Library. A ceremony was held to celebrate. We gathered in the yard outside the Victorian ranch house beneath shady trees planted by the great-grandparents. I sat at a picnic table covered with a plastic cloth. As I listened to a blessing to the four winds, I set down my empty coffee cup, and reached for the hand of my Aunt Pat beside me.

“My dad would have loved this!” I whispered.

Tears sparkled in our eyes as she responded, “I miss him.”

“Me, too,” I said. The words were still on my lips when my styro-foam cup scooted several inches and stopped in front of Aunt Pat.

“He’s here,” we said gawking at the cup and squeezing each other’s hand.

My dad loved coffee. The last thing he did on earth before dying the previous summer was take a sip of decaf vending machine coffee, smile, and quip, “AHHHH!”

Spirit seemed to send me a clear message with the empty styro-foam coffee cup not blowing over or tipping, just sliding sideways!

Something special happens whenever we go to White Spring Ranch where my great grandparents farmed and raised their family, where my father grew up, and I went every year as a child. Though this was the first time I visited without the physical presence of my parents, I felt their spirits travel with me!

I felt a strong kinship with all those gathered there that day, many relatives I’d never met in our large family with Catholic roots. We were witnessing our heritage with collections of photos, diaries, letters, and possessions now on display and being archived as historic treasures of not only generations of our Idaho farm family, but also lives shared across the nation.

A desire rose in me then to learn more of my forebears, and possibly follow in their footsteps on a similar journey across the sea on the hundred year anniversary of their journey!

Oh, but sometimes, life develops differently than one might hope or plan!

As 2010 arrived, that trip was on my mind.

Did I have the courage to go even though my husband declared he wouldn’t go and didn’t want me to go either! I stewed about how I could negotiate through his objection and also allay my bigger fears of foreign travel! It was silly! My great grandparents had gone with only letters and a few telegrams to connect them to home and family left behind!

But could I leave mine and go?

I continued to stew as winter months were passing and I was not finding a way clear to go without great difficulty. My husband of over thirty years was not seeming himself. And I was afraid to go without his blessing or accompaniment. Then in early spring, we were cutting firewood of bug kill trees at our mountain cabin in the Oregon woods just 60 miles from the family ranch in Idaho. Suddenly he turned off the chainsaw, limped to the four-wheeler, and barked, “Let’s go.”

We weren’t finished stacking the wood! And he is…well, you could nicely say he likes to finish what he starts! We silently returned to the cabin and went inside. Then, my husband shocked me with announcement: “My hip hurts! I’m going to see a doctor about it! And, I’m having heart trouble!”

“What heart trouble? How long?”

“Over a year.”

What? How could this be? My strong, can-do-anything husband is only 57! Had the spring wind been warning me of this? (See my post about the wind: Unleashing Passions at http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ )

Unleashing Passions at the Cabin Land

 

 

 

That summer 2010, I did not go to Europe for the adventure of a lifetime. I nursed my husband back to health following a full hip replacement.

Our daughter was away house sitting in Santa Barbara and experiencing life in California. Our son, who was finishing his first year of law school at ASU, was away on a six-week exchange program in Italy. His studies allowed time for numerous short trips around Europe. We were thrilled when he returned home for a visit in August;  he brought me a glimmering volcanic rock pendant. As a kid, I’d taken a big chunk of identical and colorful carborundum for show and tell at school, but never told him about the stone or where my dad’s rock-hound friend got it.

“Wow! Beautiful!” I said.

“I bought it for you at Mt. Vesuvius,” our son answered.

“Pompeii? My great-grandparents visited there 100 years ago! And my grandfather did fifty years ago. Up at the ranch, they have pictures and samples brought back from their visit!” 1910 rocks from Pompeii

 

 

 

The next month, September 2010, our daughter’s helicopter pilot friend she’d house sat for offered a thank you, all-expenses-paid vacation overseas. Quick plans were made and soon they were off on a big adventure and our son was back at law school in Phoenix.

Prescribed medications to treat hubby’s irregular heart rhythm had rendered him incapable of working or functioning at more than the level of a very old and sick man. So after he’d recovered from the hip surgery, he opted for cardiac ablation. It was terrifying for him to go under the knife again so soon after his hip surgery but he was determined to get everything repaired and back to full health! He had excellent doctors and almost no issues with his recovery! I breathed sighs of relief and prayers of thanks!

It was hard going through all of it with just the two of us together, but that is what we pledged when we married. We were growing closer with fun adventures and not so fun health scares! (I’ll write more in a follow-up post about MY health scare I mentioned previously in the post Unleashing Passions at http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ ) But don’t worry, spirit has a clever way of answering prayers and fulfilling our desires.

Our daughter enjoyed her “once in a lifetime” trip overseas. She brought back several gifts: a sliver Cartouche of my name, and a chunk of quartz to make into a necklace. (She hadn’t known her brother also brought me a beautiful stone souvenir though they both knew I love stones and believe in our connections to the earth.)

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I was struck by an odd sense of serendipity and peace as I worked that fall on edits for my debut novel: Mending Stone – a story of heartache and longing, family, and foreign travel!

In 1910, my great grandparents, and fifty years later, my grandfather, had traveled around Europe as our son did in 2010! And our daughter had traveled to another place they stopped and posed for photos!

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My body did not journey to foreign lands on the 100 year anniversary of my grandparents’ trip, but my blood did!

Spirit travels like prayer, and answers.

 

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Health

Health. Such a simple word. Where do you find it?

What is the key factor in health and longevity?

Read about it here

http://themindunleashed.com/2017/02/one-thing-helps-people-live-longer-anything-else.html


I’m lucky to live where I can be outdoors and close to nature. But it’s also a choice.

I’ve “sacrificed” money by giving up jobs I enjoyed because I needed to be outside. I needed to be with nature.

health
I love color and texture and form!

There’s so much of all of that in nature! I find I’m suddenly more creative and able to solve problems more easily after I’ve spent time outside, especially if it’s walking in the forest.

But sometimes a walk down the aisle at a fabric store can free up some ideas!

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What do you love? What can you do more of? Do you think you would have a more positive outlook and better health if you could do more of what you love?

Do it! Maybe only a little bit more. And a little bit more. And more of that…

 

 

therapy in nature

Therapy and More Therapy

What if reading the right book could cure what ails you? What if you could trade a trip to the doctor for a visit with a librarian? Or a hike in the forest? That’s the premise behind some amazing kinds of therapy!

I’ve experienced bibliotherapy! Who doesn’t feel better after reading great classic fiction, an inspirational book, or a lovely memoir filled with grace and beauty? But can reading really improve your health and well being?

Read more on the fascinating concept in this cultural comment from the New Yorker article on Bibliotherapy

I’ve been so happy since I read this! See, it works!

Happiness also fills me when the weather warms, flowers are blooming, and we’re getting out into the forests. Give me sun, winding paths, big trees, and water…you will see me smile!

ecotherapy

 

 

 

See the tiny person standing on the rock? (Actually, braced on the rocks to keep from slipping?) ME last week! The water spray was powerful! It felt like a shower! My shoes were a little slippery climbing down the rocks. It was thrilling!

There’s an emerging field of ecopsychology called nature therapy or green therapy. Read about ecotherapy here in Psychology Today

If you can’t actually get out in the forest, enjoy a bit of nature now. You know you need it! Breathe…

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What if you combine bibliotherapy and ecotherapy, reading and nature? Double the therapy!

And it can be free! Try it now. Get a book or magazine.

Feel the paper between your fingers as your turn the pages. Smooth your hands over the cover. Feel the weight on your lap. This is real. This is substance. This is made from something of the earth. You are something of the earth.

Go ahead. Go outside. Breathe…

A world of adventure is waiting for you…img_2585

 

loneliness

Going Through The Door of Loneliness

This on loneliness by David Whyte, a writer/poet I follow on a winding path of words…

LONELINESS
is the doorway to unspoken and as yet unspecified desire. In the bodily pain of aloneness is the first step to understanding how far we are from a real friendship, from a proper work or a long sought love. Loneliness can be a prison, a place from which we look out at a world we cannot inhabit; loneliness can be a bodily ache and a penance, but loneliness fully inhabited also becomes the voice that asks and calls for that great, unknown someone or something else we want to call our own.
Loneliness is the very state that births the courage to continue calling, and when fully lived can undergo its own beautiful reversal, becoming in its consummation, the far horizon that answers back.
In the grand scale of things, loneliness is a privilege. Human beings may have the ability to feel aloneness as no other creature can; magnified by the power of intelligence, longing and imagination. Loneliness asks us to speak and specify a life we feel we might be missing.
Loneliness is the substrate and foundation of our belonging, the gravitational field that draws us home and in the beautiful essence of its isolation, the hand reaching out for togetherness. To allow ourselves to feel fully alone is to allow ourselves to understand the particular nature of our solitary incarnation, to make aloneness a friend is to apprentice ourselves to the true foundation of vulnerability from which we make our invitation others. To feel alone is to face the truth of our irremediable and unutterable singularity, but a singularity that can kiss, create a conversation, make a vow or forge a shared life. In the world or community, this essential singularity can even join with others through vision, intellect and ideas to make a society.
Loneliness is not a concept, it is the body constellating, attempting to become proximate and even join with other bodies, through physical touch, through conversation; through the mediation of the intellect and the imagination.
Loneliness is the place from which we pay real attention to voices other than our own; being alone allows us to find the healing power in the other. The shortest line in the briefest e-mail can heal, embolden, welcome home and enliven the most isolated identity. Human beings are made to belong.
Loneliness is the single malt taste of the very essentiality that makes conscious belonging possible. The doorway is closer than we think.
I feel alone; therefore I belong.

‘LONELINESS’ In ‘CONSOLATIONS’: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.© David Whyte & Many Rivers Press 2015

It’s summer, and I am not in lonely for I have all of nature rejoicing in color and form around me! But this was too lovely and thought provoking not to share!

Get outside! Breathe in beauty! You are not alone! You are one with all!

Go ahead, go through the door beyond loneliness: allow yourself to sparkle with life!



Thinking Problem

Song I was thinking: country music singer David Ball singing, “…I’ve got a thinkin’ problem…”

It popped into my mind as I was mopping the floor for the third time. No, I’m not a clean freak. But I wanted to be sure it was all clear. Even pulled out the refrigerator and the stove drawer to clean under! Why? Because I wasn’t careful in my thinking the night before…

We had a barbecue at our house. I made potato salad and had fixings for green salad. And I meant to make ahead a strawberry rhubarb crisp with rhubarb from our farmer friend David. He’s the generous widower who two years ago with his wife Karen, bless her soul, let us stay in our 19 foot trailer on their 40 acres at Alfalfa for 3 months after we sold our house and were in the process of securing a new home. That’s another story!

I love strawberry rhubarb crisp: it says home and family and summer celebrations with memories of my Grandma Faye coming for the day from Idaho. She made it delicious! I don’t have her recipe, but I looked up several and pulled out all the ingredients to make it but was missing oats for the crisp topping! And it’s 5-12 miles to a store depending on which direction we head! We were anxious to get down to swim at Brasada Ranch where we still own a half-acre lot, so we went down to the resort and checked out the little store there. They had individual serving cups of maple flavored oatmeal for $3.50 each!

Wow! That’s some expensive oatmeal! But it saved me a longer trip and time to another store. So after swimming, I put together the crisp and set it to baking while we barbecued and ate with our daughter and son-in-law and the grandsons aged two and four.

Our two English Labradors were underfoot begging for scraps as we cleaned up after. Hubby commented on how the one year old pup Abby is a bit thin as she loves to run and carry big sticks! We did let her have bites of hamburgers the little ones didn’t finish as it seemed a shame to waste the food.

thinking problemI brought the beautiful 9″x12″ pan of crisp from the oven to cool while I whipped coconut cream We’re only a year into eating a plant based diet and I’ve only made it one other time, but it turned out perfect!

The crisp was delicious and tart, not too sweet, and the coconut cream melted over it in each bowl. We ate too much, but there was still more than half the pan uneaten. I left it on the cupboard to cool while saying bye to the kids and their parents. I was thinking how full I was, AND how the crisp would keep calling me until it was eaten! I certainly don’t need that much dessert! And also, I have very touchy digestion. But I knew I’d keep eating at it until it was ALL gone since I can’t resist homemade sweets (especially with special memories of happy times) if they’re in the house!

That’s what I was thinking…

And then, CRASH!

The pup came running from the kitchen where the baking pan was shattered on the floor! Apparently, saying she was thin and thinking I didn’t want to eat any more was an invitation for her to gobble the crisp! Had she understood what we said and also read my mind?

I should be more careful with my thinking!

One thing for sure, no more giving left over bites to the dogs!

Welcome to a glimpse into my strange world! Does your thinking work this way?

Here’s a recipe similar to what I made – though I used vegan margarine and I substituted the coconut whipped “cream” for ice cream as the topping.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/rhubarb-crisp

Enjoy the beautiful offerings of summer!

 

rich

Earning Power

Some dads have earning power. It might be one of the biggest things they pass on. Not so much my dad.

earning power

Mom and dad launched into adulthood at seventeen with marriage and child but no high school diplomas! They worked hard at whatever jobs could be had: farm work, hide tanning, milk delivery, retail, child care, ironing. Despite dozens upon dozens of financial and medical set backs, they got up, showed up, and kept up appearances.

What my parents lacked in high school education they learned through community classes, friendships, life experience and being willing to try developing new skills. They failed many times. Repeatedly! Laughably at times. Painfully, too, with many accidents and injuries! But nothing stopped them for long! They demonstrated pluck!

I don’t think they believed in luck.

I knew when I headed off to college what possible career I could do. But when I decided out of boredom to go away from what I had determined was my biggest skill – working with materials and sewing – I struggled to see myself in any job with earning power. I really only wanted to “make people happy” I told my dad. To which he replied, “Be happy! Make like a virus and let everyone catch it from you!”

That was what my dad passed to me. That’s what he struck rich with: LOVE!

Earning Power

 

 

 

 

 

 

There I was in his arms in the photo above taken in Philadelphia. At twenty-one, the Idaho farm boy was a dad of two children and another on the way. And then another. Just what he knew as a teenager he wanted: 4-5 children and a wife! He started early! And, he ended early at age 69. While it is difficult not “seeing” him. I can’t say his is gone. I can’t say I believe in loss.

In mathematics, in the universe, in energy, there is no loss. There is only change.

That is one thing my dad is extremely skilled at! Change: constantly moving, doing, making the most of what they had. And that, I think, is as good as earning power: conserving and resourceful reusing of materials, He and Mom could see potential in everything and everyone!

Even me! I was born over two months premature. I failed to detectably breathe for 32 minutes. Doctors said I would likely not learn to walk, talk, or hear. I was colicky and cried. And cried. But Dad was determined to help me in ways he could: exercising my weak legs, talking and joking with me (he was the king of groaners – you know, those bad jokes that make you groan!) And he loved me. That’s what I always felt. What I still feel.

Though he struggled, Mom struggled, and they struggled together more than 50 years, his  – their – greatest trait was believing in others, and themselves. Again and again, their expectations and potentials were not met. But again and again, they proceeded with faith and support. No “earning power” needed.

Love has it’s own power for replenishment.

That’s what I’ve learned. Finally! Again! That’s what Dad teaches me. That’s what he passes on. That’s where he lives: in a world of generosity of spirit!

Don’t worry about earning power. All needed will be provided.

Use learning power to move forward!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I appreciate all you give!

I love you now, and always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More posts to follow related to this! Check back soon!

Being Here

Being here…

Do you listen when your body says to rise even though you think you’d rather be sleeping? Do you glance outside, then step into the garden in the last moments of a morning moon?


Are there faces where you look, and you smile, saying, “Thank you for being here?”


Do you let whispered words fall into your ears and your eyes drink in their color?

being here
Do you let yourself fall for beauty?


What if every face could be recognized for its own beauty? How would the world change if each person experienced beauty every day?

What if we could see beyond clouds to mountains standing tall and glistening in light?

Many stand…though we do not see them just now…

Can we change the world by believing in the power of our faces lifting to the light…And saying, “Thank you for being here?”

Can spreading beauty to some who have little change us all?

Would the world also change?

Could ugly actions and words and intentions be transformed…just by beauty?

Just wondering…

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