and no, not in a Pirate fashion after too much rum, although that is such a fine idea.
Just thoughts about the year as it is nearly ready to depart.
I try hard to practice gratitude on a daily basis. I know that my life - although not perfect from my view - is still soooo much better than the lives of many of my brother and sister Earth Monkeys.
So very seriously and with gratitude for the lesson learned I would like to thank some people.
To those who ignored my, repeated, requests for help this year. Thank you for reminding me why I don't like to ask for help.
To those who just assumed I would pick up the slack whenever and wherever it was required, without thought to what might be going on in my life. Thank you for reminding me that I am not Cinderella/a doormat/ a universal multi-functional resource that requires no thanks, acknowledgement or recompense.
To those who walked away from my pain. Thank you for making me, the person whose first instinct is to walk towards someone in pain, realise that I don't have to do that but I will continue to do it anyway.
To those who don't offer me support because I am "strong and don't need it" - actual quote. Thank you for reminding me of my strengths.
Too those who went out of their way to make me feel small or unnecessary, actually no, I can't think of anything to thank you for.
There is a Buddhist tradition of mind training and perception altering called Lojong. It works with slogans which kind of put you in another head space. I love them. Some of my favourites:
* As you breathe in, take in and accept all the sadness, pain, and negativity of the whole world, including yourself, and absorb it into your heart. As you breathe out, pour out all your joy and bliss; bless the whole of existence.
* When everything goes wrong, treat disaster as a way to wake up.
* Take all the blame yourself.
*Be grateful to everyone.
and this one is very helpful on a daily basis -
*Don’t worry- there’s nothing real about your confusion.
These are the tools of transformation that I am applying to the life lessons I have been given this year.
I have to say that Ged would be in any list of mine that was about Heroes. And the second book in the series, The Tombs Of Atuan, is one of the most extraordinary stories you will ever read, and it will stay with you for a very long time, always in fact (if you are like me I guess I should add).
But it's the dragons that really get me every time.
Here is the first time we meet a real dragon in A Wizard of Earthsea - some young smaller ones have gone before, Ged does not even need to use his staff to dispose of them, shouting "Go tell the Old One to come, you wind-worm!"
"No creature moved nor voice spoke for a long while on the island, but only the waves beat loudly on the shore. Then Ged was aware that the highest tower slowly changed its shape, bulging out on one side as if it grew an arm. He feared dragon-magic, for old dragons are very powerful and guileful in a sorcery like and unlike the sorcery of men: but a moment more and he saw this was no trick of the dragon, but of his own eyes. What he had taken for a part of the tower was the shoulder of the Dragon Pendor as he uncurled his bulk and lifted himself slowly up.
When he was all afoot his scaled head, spike-crowned and triply-tongued, rose higher than the broken tower's height, and his taloned forefeet rested on the rubble of the town below. His scales were grey-black, catching the daylight like broken stone. Lean as a hound he was and huge as a hill. Ged stared in awe. There was no song or tale could prepare the mind for this sight. Almost he stared into the dragon's eye and was caught, for one cannot look into a dragon's eyes. He glanced away from the oily green gaze that watched him, and held up before him his staff, that looked now like a splinter, like a twig."
was a great Buddhist adept, a yogi, physician, blacksmith, architect, and a pioneering civil engineer. He is said to have built 58 iron chain suspension bridges around Tibet and Bhutan, several of which are still in use today. He also designed and built several large stupas of unusual design including the great Kumbum Chörten at Chung Riwoche, Tibet; established the monastery of Dege Gonchen (Gongchen Monastery) in Derge; and is considered to be the father of Tibetan opera. He is associated with the Shangpa Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and the tradition of "mad yogins" known as Nyönpa.
So that is the short version I pinched from Wikipedia, you can read more here. And there is a book about him "King Of The Empty Plain" He was one of those amazing beings who appeared in Tibet over a number of centuries, who seemed endless in their energy, abilities and desire to be of benefit. From the book:
"Believed to be the great Indian master Padmasambhava appearing again in the world to benefit living beings, he discovered techniques for achieving longevity that are still held in highest esteem and are frequently taught six hundred years later."
I was fascinated when I first heard about him and have enjoyed the subsequent learning more. I am planning a trip to visit one of the remaining bridges the next time I am in Tibet.
So why am I boring the world with this information?
This came in the post yesterday.
It's a phurba (ritual dagger) made from one of the iron links from one of his bridges. Only a few were made.
I had not a skerrick of justification for this purchase other than "I want it".
It's ridiculous how excited I am, but it may well be one of the coolest things I own!
It's made from Rowan wood (Ah beautiful Rowan. If you are ever unsure about your Anglo-Celtic connections, stand under a Rowan tree when she is in full bloom, you will hear the Old Ones dancing around you).
Lovingly smoothed by a careful hand, the wood is satiny and warm to touch. The crystal has a connection to me and my story. And lastly and most importantly, it was gifted to me.
When I had my shop I often felt I also had a way point, a stopping off place where people could breathe for a minute before continuing on their journey. Complete strangers would walk through the door and tell me the most amazing, often intimate, stories about themselves. Sometimes they would come back, sometimes one visit was all that was needed.
This particular man was journeying back very slowly from a pretty bad place. And a lonely place, I used to get a strong feeling when he wandered in that I was the first person he had spoken to for days. But he was coming back and he was finding a path that fitted him. He would save up and buy a crystal every now and then. He rushed in one day with great excitement to tell me he was going to start making wands and had found a Rowan tree for the wood. Not wanting to just take the wood he waited until the tree dropped a branch.
He disappeared for a while, and I did wonder, and worry a little. But a person who stands behind a shop counter can't really ask every one who comes through her door "do you have money, do you have food and a place to sleep, are you safe?"
Although in fact I did ask those very questions often enough, and did something about the answers when they came. But to ask this man these things did not feel right, maybe it would have shown mistrust that he was able to make his life work again.
Then he re-appeared. He looked good, he was proud and standing up, visible, not hiding like the beaten down can do. He had a woman by the hand. There were smiles. This was a good thing.
And he produced this wand, told me how he had made it from the special fallen branch. Of the many hours he spent smoothing it, shaping the coppper band and attaching the crystal. Of the magic he had put into it, and how he had made it for me.
"This is the first crystal I ever bought from you and it is coming back to you again."
Just the business part, for now. I have been wanting to jazz up my Arura Healing Centre site for a while. It's functional enough but just not very eye catching somehow.
There does not seem to be (within the Typepad framework) a way to really utilise the thousands of photos I have from my Tibetan travels - other than clunky photo albums, about as much fun as a slide night.
I went through all the various themes and constructs available here but nothing was pinging. I am not tech savvy enough to go down the CSS path, (and don't know that the family unit would survive me attempting it).
So that is the first step onto the road, the road of a thousand intersections as it turns out. And no, I don't want to just hand it all over to a web designer at this point in time. There are a lot of choices out there for those of us wanting to use an existing platform of someone elses construction. (Man, you can still make a Geocities web site if you want - retro!)
A lot of people, including the number two son, started saying Wordpress to me, at various levels of loudness. Weebly was thrown in to the ring, GoDaddy and Wix among the many many others.
Do you know how boring it is to "shop" for a new web site? I was ready to poke forks in my eyes.
Wordpress. Ok, under stern advice just to go with Wordpress.com, NOT the one you download and upload yourself. Yes son. Hmm, ok, and the templates are nice enough, but not much customising available, unless I want to give them money that is.
Free is a funny word.
And even if you do hand over the cold hard stuff, hmmm, not that much free-will in return. And guys, you understand that tech idiots like me prefer things to be "intuitive" yes?
After a week of painstakingly re-formatting every page of information from the old site to transfer it to the potential new site, and then re-format it again within the constraints of their template, I stopped doing it.
And went around all the other options, again.
Wix is the current front runner, simply because I can customise almost every element of each and every page, and they let me build a slideshow header - happy with that.
I guess I will arrive at the point of no return where I have invested enough hours and brain fatigue to just stay put where I am on that day. Hoping so!
He doesn't have this problem I'm sure, lucky man.
There is only one cure for this degree of computer and internet ennui ...
I know I have spoken disparagingly of you in the past, and no you are not my favourite time of the year. But this year, after such a long and cold winter, the theatre of blossom in my garden has been so gorgeous, I forgive you.
We are friends again, for now.
"My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."
All material on this website, including photographs taken by me, unless otherwise attributed, are copyrighted to Karen Stone. If you wish to use any of the information or pictures, just drop me an email and ask!