Thursday, September 3, 2015

My blog has moved

Please read my newest posts in my blog's new location,

I posted one today (September 3, 2015). 

Until the box to sign up to receive blog posts from me is moved to the top of the sidebar, you can find it under my book, "Sophia's Table."

I hope you will sign up to receive future posts.

Thank you,


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Graced with Community

Community empowers us. Isolation weakens us.
Community is a critically important element in growing into
conscious elderhood and enjoying this new chapter in your life.
Conscious Living, Conscious Aging
Ron Pevny

"I'm amazed at the number of groups you belong to...that you find that many interesting groups in Dayton, Ohio," my Pittsburgh friend, Sharon, said.

Our Wichita friend and solitude seeker, Kathryn, concurred. "I think it's great."

Sharon, Kathryn, and I met in 1975 at United Theological Seminary and soon found ourselves a part of a community of like-minded students. After graduation, we've maintained a long-distance friendship, considering ourselves "spirit sisters." We connect via monthly conference calls and yearly reunions. We know each other well, having walked together through many phases in our lives. I value and am grateful for our connection.

Kathryn, Linda, Sharon -- August 1980

 Linda, Sharon, Kathryn -- June 2013
Three Spirit Sisters before The Three Sisters in Monument Valley

Because I am single...have so little family...writing is an isolated activity...growing older often results in isolation...and I value consciousness, I find it necessary to seek community where I live as well.

In earlier posts, I featured two of my communities--our Sage Sisters where we focus primarily on growing older with consciousness and our Cincinnati Writer's where we write our reflections on growing spiritually around a variety of topics. 

I seem to be a groupie, though I prefer to think of myself as a people person. I've loved small groups since I was a young woman, maybe because I cherish hearing people's stories. Today, I find empowerment in several. 

Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze
that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others
who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful
as you are to be there.
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Anne Lamott

Angel Group: I joined this intimate women's group a little over a year ago. We meet weekly and focus on meditation, gratitude, and spirituality. We also enjoy learning new things and recently increased our understanding of ourselves and each other by studying the Enneagram, helping us grow even closer.

Dream Group: Dreams are often called the language of the soul. Teresa is in training to learn this special language. A few of us from the Angel Group participate to give her practice. She's a skilled facilitator as she helps us discern the message in our dream from the "holy dream maker."

Spirituality Forum: I found this group at our local senior citizens center. In retirement, Tom, our leader, found a passion for learning all things spiritual. We learn from the resources he brings in and from each other. What I appreciate about this diverse group is the openness and acceptance of each person's spiritual path.

Spiritual Sundays: This new group meets about once a month and focuses on Integral Spirituality. We attend to our bodies, minds, and spirits through movement, meditation, identifying our growth edges, discussing a topic, and sharing a healthy meal.

Book Discussion: A small group of women gather about once a month or so to discuss Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This book is so deep, we read a small section and then share how we relate from our life experience. It's a thick book, so it could take us years to get through it.

Hithergreen Writer's: This group of writers from our senior citizens center comes together monthly to share our writing, support each other's projects, and explore our next steps. 

What communities light up your life?

In what way does their electricity and juice empower you?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I have never thought of  myself as a good writer.
But I'm one of the world's great re-writers.
James A. Michener

Michener's book, The Source, is one of my all-time favorites.

And Steve Berry seems to have loved him as I did, giving a wonderful introduction to Michener's life and writing in a new edition with a lovely new cover.

Michener's quote caught my attention because I've spent the past 2 1/2 months polishing my memoir--twice. And that involved some re-writing as well.

The length of time it took surprised me. I spent several hours polishing each of thirty-one chapters on the first round. The second round took less time but still a fair chunk. And being so close to readiness to send it to my beta readers, I became obsessed and hardly moved out from behind my keyboard.

On Friday, April 10, I sent A Long Awakening to Grace: A Mother's Journey to five fabulous people who agreed to read and give me feedback. This is a little like leaving your baby with a sitter for the first time. A bit unnerving, I'm surprisingly calm. I've done the best I can and am grateful for their willingness to help me make it better. And then I'll be re-writing again.

Did you notice? I've added a subtitle since my last post. Feedback varied. One on-line writing friend said, "I think A Long Awakening to Grace is such a lovely title that no subtitle is needed." I loved that feedback. This title was a gift from the Universe, so how could it not be lovely? 

Another made the following point. " your subtitle very much. Subtitles help to direct expectations, identify the 'subgenre' of the work, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. Yours helps." So I'm adding the subtitle, A Mother's Journey.

While I await my reader's feedback, I'm grateful for Hemingway's reminder:

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

COMMUNITY: Cincy Writing Group Wow's Me

...the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which
the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
Kurt Vonnegut

This is the second in my series on creating community. In this post, I’m featuring the Cincinnati Writing Group I was invited to join in 2010. Writing is such a solitary activity, it's important to get together sometimes to break our isolation. 

Back row: Jennie, Kate, Lynn, Jean
Front row: Linda, Gary, Isabelle

Two years after semi-retirement, I had a cancer experience. The year before had been a tough one. Three members of my family died within seven months of each other. I read in O. Carl Simonton’s book, Getting Well Again, it’s not unusual to develop cancer after suffering a significant loss. Fortunately for me, I had a highly treatable form, lymphoma, and have been in remission for over five years. During the time of treatment, I kept my friends up-to-date on my progress through the Caring Bridge site.

Two of my friends were in a writing group that had been meeting for several years. A couple of their members  had moved away and they were looking for a couple more. One day I received an e-mail from Jean, “You’re a good writer. We’d like to invite you to join our writer’s group.”

They knew my friend, Kate, also a writer. When Kate heard about my invitation, she wanted to join, too. So, once a month, Kate and I head for Cincinnati, join the group, and usually have a bite to eat afterwards before heading back home to Dayton.

We are not a critique group. We choose a topic and the seven of us write a couple of pages and bring it to read to the group at our next meeting. It is amazing the diversity of approaches to our topics, ranging from humor to philosophy to poetry. We all write with a self-reflective component focusing on our spiritual growth. Some of our topics include:

Reflections on Aging
What my Soul Tells Me
What is my Element?
What’s Right about Me?
What Surprises Me about Myself?
Where am I Headed?
What Stops Me?

Since I’ve been nearing the end of writing my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, I’ve expressed a need for more feedback about my writing.  

Our Cincinnati group met last week Friday and I read my piece on our topic: What Christmas Means to Me in 2014. Immediately after I finished reading, the positive feedback began. What I heard is...

Your writing is really improving.
Your piece is coherent.
You took us on a journey with you.
Your theme is clear throughout.
You are really honest with yourself.

And when I mentioned not being able to write in the poetic way some authors do, Jean, who teaches memoir added, “I think your piece is poetic.” 

Wow!! As you can imagine, this feedback brought a smile to my face. It gives me hope that my story, which I know is a compelling one, is written well. The workshops and classes I’ve been taking are reaping rewards. 

It gives me great pleasure to be learning new skills in retirement and to consider myself a life-long learner.

I’d love to hear from you:
How do your communities put a smile on your face?
What is a new area of learning in your life?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

COMMUNITY: Sage Sisters

“The community,
which is so necessary for physical, emotional, and spiritual health
throughout life and especially as we age.
Ron Pevny, author of Conscious Living, Conscious Aging

For my emotional and spiritual health, after retiring from my profession as a therapist, I became intentional about building community. As a single introverted woman, this hasn’t been easy, but has been well worthwhile. In this post, I want to share with you about one of the communities I was invited to help form...the Sage Sisters.

We have been meeting once a month for a couple of years and have used resources to guide our exploration: Joan Chittister’s, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully; Angeles Arien’s, The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom; and now Ron Pevny’s, Conscious Living, Conscious Aging.

All of us have been committed to a path of personal and spiritual growth and have a spiritual practice that sustains us. We enjoy attending lectures, taking classes and workshops, participating in book clubs and spiritually-oriented groups. One of us learned to play the piano at age 65. Another married late in life and adopted two teenagers.

We are an eclectic group. One of us has travelled abroad extensively with a special interest in visiting Black Madonna sites. Another of us has the privilege of being part of the decision-making in how to share and distribute funds in a family foundation. One of us volunteers for hospice and knits prayer shawls for hospitalized people locally and beyond.  Some of the issues we give our energy to include the environment, the food we eat, how we live in community, issues of injustice for the poor and disabled, how to attain world peace. 

Our focus is on making a difference in the world. We are each called to do that in different ways. We see this time in our lives as “give back” time, but any activities we invest with our energy and wisdom must be meaningful and purposeful. It is our hope that the world will soon recognize and honor the gifts elders have to offer. We enjoy sharing our wisdom and mentoring younger people. 

Two of us are published authors.

We intend to serve until we take our last breath, and at this time in our lives, we find ourselves letting go of the “do, do, do” of our younger years. We are drawn to an inward, reflective path. Crowds of people and noise have lost their allure.

We support each other in facing the challenges that come with aging consciously and with wisdom and grace. Most of us have health challenges. Our attitude is “WE are all in this together.” We’ve all had the experience of loss that comes with aging and we face together the need to “let go” of “what was” to more fully embrace “what is.”

As you can see, we are an amazing group of women. We range in age from 72-85. Even though we are older than the baby boomers, like them we intend to live and age consciously—with meaning and purpose. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Monday—A Grace-filled Day

The special moments in which we individuals receive a grace
show how the universe loves to become personal,
to incarnate itself in time and space.
David Richo

Photo taken by Joshua Thomas of Red River, New Mexico

For our Angel Group’s meditation on Monday morning, we each said a little prayer before drawing one of Cheryl Richardson’s Grace Cards out of a hat. Then we one-by-one slowly while breathing deeply shared the wisdom contained on the card. I drew silence. It was lovely.

One of the Angels shared how she thinks of me while doing an exercise for her back. She’s a do-do-do kind of person and lying on the floor for ten minutes is an eternity for her. She thinks of how silence was so important for me on my recent retreat. Later she gave me a hug and told me she reads several times a week the personal message I wrote for her on her Christmas card.

Last week in the Spirituality Forum I attend at our senior center, one of our members mentioned Anne Lamott’s book about the three essential prayers, Help Thanks Wow. I shared that my prayer at this time is “Help!!” Monday afternoon, a friend from the group called to respond to my prayer of last week. She’d been thinking about me and called to share a spiritual practice she used at a time in her life similar to mine that helped her. She added that she sees me as a good person who deserves to have what I want in life. When we ended the conversation, she said, “I love you.” Needless to say, I was moved to tears.

I noted, “This was probably risky of you to call and share all this with me.”

She agreed, admitting she doesn’t think she has the right to interfere in another person’s life. I told her I did not experience this as interference. I felt loved and cared about and thanked her for taking the risk.

I will be adopting her spiritual practice.

Then later in the evening the phone rang again. A very dear friend of many years (the same one my daughter and I called upon for help recently) had been thinking of me during the day and decided to call. She had an experience yesterday that increased her appreciation for my listening skills.  She said, “I think you’re a highly evolved human being and I’m really glad we are friends.”  

After her call, I wrote in my Grace journal these wonderful connections made during the day and the gifts of grace these women bestowed upon me.

We all need to know we are loved and that we make a difference in the world. I’m grateful for these women extending Divine love to me in human form and to know I make a difference in their lives. And I’m grateful for the difference they make in mine.

I am truly in awe at the gifts of grace bestowed upon me on this amazing grace-filled Monday. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

An Opportunity to Practice

An intention for 2015:
Increase my awareness of the light of grace in the midst of life’s messiness.
Linda A. Marshall

On January 1st I posted this intention on my blog.

On January 2nd messiness entered my life.

As I set that intention, I wondered if I was inviting messiness in. It seems that I had.

I received a tearful phone call from my forty-three-year-old daughter who is single and has a disability. She depends on me. She’d just experienced a significant loss in her life.

I might have jumped in to try to control the situation. I’d certainly done that often enough in the past. But letting go and accepting my powerlessness over people, places, and things is something I began working on some thirty years ago.  

And, as I reminded myself, I’d made that intention. So, at the beginning of 2015, I remained calm and looked for the light of grace.

I listened to my daughter’s distress and then asked, “How can I support you? Just let me know what you need and I’ll do it.”

She was conflicted about what she needed from me. She needed my presence but my presence would not have been well received by those she had to deal with, making her situation even more distressing.

And so we waited for guidance. And then the still small voice of Wisdom within gave us the answer. “Reach out for support from a friend who cares.”

 Thank God for friends.

Karen has served as a gift of grace in the midst of the messiness in our life on several occasions. She appears in my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, as just such a gift. Once again, Karen entered as usual—with compassion, empathy, and a deep wisdom of her own.

I write this post with gratitude for the increase in my awareness of the light of grace and the decrease in the length of time it takes for me to notice.