Archive for January, 2011

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to a Congress, humbled by the shootings that occurred a month ago in Tuscan, Arizona. Republicans and Democrats intermingled, sitting side by side in a show of support for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and in the spirit of toning down the hateful rhetoric of the past. I was touched by many points in the President’s speech and was especially moved at the very end when he said:

“From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream.  That’s how we win the future.

We’re a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.”  “I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree.”  “I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.”  “I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there.  I know we will.”

We do big things.

The idea of America endures.  Our destiny remains our choice.  And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Thank you.  God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”

This struck a cord for me, vis a vis my search for the “real” America (vanishing or otherwise) and my reflections on my ancestors journeys to find freedom and fulfill their destinies in this new land that offered options and choices they had never known. I began to discern a thread that perhaps weaves my two passions of yesterday and today’s American dreams (that show up on the roadsides of our land) and my quest to understand the motivations that drove my ancestors to push ahead into new lands fraught with danger and challenge. It’s this inimitable spirit that courses through our veins as “Americans” – full of as much diversity as one could imagine – that has endured as the “land of the free”.

So what will I choose? I will continue this exploration into the two strands of discovery that pull me forward – not knowing where I’m going really! but adventurous to continue this discussion despite the fact that I’m not sure where it’s taking me.

I’m still editing my photos from our Florida road trip and will post them in the next few days along with musings about the American culture we discovered – the one that hasn’t vanished yet!

Onward! (maelife)


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Frozen wonderland

Today is the second day I’ve awakened in my cozy, warm, magnificent home after our road trip adventure to Florida and back. Yesterday I felt enormous gratitude to have made it home safely through the treacherous driving conditions we encountered coming north, straight through in two days. Whatever I would have written then has been eclipsed by the stunning beauty out the window this morning as the sun has finally emerged to reveal a sparkling universe of deep ice coating every surface. The reflections and stunning highlights bounce off each branch, in stark contrast to the deep shadows of the forest below where the sun has not yet penetrated.

I am once again reminded of being in the moment, with awe and appreciation for whatever inspires and moves me, right now.

So much I have wanted to share about insights and observations from our road trip. Perhaps tomorrow after I’ve had time to sort through my photos. For now, the landscape reveals the bliss of consciousness that courses through each moment. Serenity.

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This glistening moment

The snow has been falling for hours and continues now – creating a serene backdrop for my peace in the moment. Richard just pulled up the driveway carrying our son Chris and his stuff to his ride back to college. I admire the Christmas tree with its branches still uplifted, lights twinkling, and all the precious ornaments we’ve collected over the years – holding it in my consciousness – tomorrow it will be gone. The red chile pepper lights and greens on the mantle, adorned with Christmas cards and greetings from family and friends too will be gone. And I will be the one to destroy this perfectly perfect Christmas scene this evening after work, when I’d much rather be sitting in the chair admiring it again one last time.

The house is perfectly quiet now. I have this precious time to choose what I want to do out of the many things that shout at me to be done. And yet, I’m conscious of savoring this moment to reflect on the nature of what we hold dear. The Christmas tree is ever more special because I know that it will be gone tomorrow. Our son has been with us for two weeks for Christmas break – our sacred small circle of MaryAnneChrisRichardErickson is by far my greatest joy in life. We basked in one last sit-together-on-the-couch and watched a movie last night after dinner with our dog Molly snuggled between us. Our normally elusive cat Tina even joined the family unit to sit on my lap. Ecstacy!

Now, today everything has changed. Tomorrow we’ll be packing to go on our trip and the movement of energy will take on a totally new dimension – that of an adventure. For the moment, I’m savoring the glow of love that lives inside me as my family and my home, so precious this glistening moment.


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I was chatting with Richard last night about my hesitation in beginning this blog – “I don’t know where to start”? How do you describe the enormity of an African elephant when all  you can really see or experience is a microscopic close up of one skin cell? That’s how I feel in setting off on this exploration of sharing myself, my projects and passions in this venue – and yet I know the value of recording experiences as they happen – the saliency of life occurs in the moment, not in the retelling of it many days later!

So back to my writing guru Gary’s words of wisdom to me about finding my voice – consider:
1) Who are you?
2) What do you love?
3) Knowing you will die, how do you want to live your life?
4) What is your gift to the family of the earth?

I know I am passionate about pursuing the things in life that I love! and these things are (not in any order of preference): exploring my personal legend (my ancestors stories / my stories), saving and capturing vanishing roadside Americana (the culture of our ancestors / my culture growing up in America), living life with as much vitality as one body can harness (playing and excelling at tennis, biking, and working in our business), exploring the depths of love and intimacy with my life mate and husband, Richard, and being the mom for Chris that I would have wanted as my own mom.

I want to live my life as fully present to the present moment as is possible – one of those Zen koans that we remember and forget, remember and forget, remember and forget again.

My gift to the family of earth is sharing my heart, which grows each day out of being present to the gifts I have, the abundance in my life, and living with a sense of adventure and fearlessness. I’m present to the difference I make in people’s lives when I share the joy that is inherently who I am.

Thank you Gary for helping me crystallize this as a mission statement for this blog! and for my life (maelife).

Now onto the fun stuff – what exactly does the elephant look like from the view of this microscopic vision? I consider it a giant jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered all over the three-dimensional board and of course many which “appear” to be missing. There are days when several chunks fall into place and a big “aha!” moment occurs. Exciting times that spur my enthusiasm as a puzzle solver!  Then of course there are all the “organizing the pieces” moments – (I know I’m really good at this). There are the sleuthing moments, which occur simultaneously with the organizing (and disorganizing), when I’m actively seeking “the answers” to “the questions”.

So the elephant – beautiful, powerful, ephemeral – a glimmering holographic entity that is this delightful life journey I’m on – is being played out just for fun as my “personal legend”. My ancestors are smiling as I discover them and their stories (which I will share in these pages). And the old Route 1 from Maine to Florida is smiling as Richard and I are about to embark on a good old-fashioned American road trip this Sunday in search of treasures from the past, to paint and preserve for as long as anything will last. These are the moments that this blog is dedicated to, and they will be interwoven as they are relevant, and the beauty of the entire vision will be revealed piece by piece.

maelife (my-life)

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