Are You an Unknown Woman?


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As women in modern society, women are told to do a lot of things. We are told to talk, to shut up and to sit down. We are told to speak up and to quit talking. Life for women, has been like this for Millenniums. One way women have been able to survive this subservient treatment has been to get to know who she really is and what she wants to be. To survive the patriarchal hierarchy, women have to be certain of themselves and who they are. How do we do this? Solitude. Solitude, aloneness, peace are what we need to discover ourselves.

 

Alice Koller was a PHD from Harvard University. Her doctorate was in Philosophy. She realized she couldn’t find meaning in here work, or in her relationships with men, she felt she had reached bottom. So Alice decided to take a journey. She decided to take a journey inside to find who she really was. She rented a small house on Nantucket. She bought a puppy and determined to stay until she understood who the woman was she saw every morning in the mirror.

 

    Solitude   

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    A red Kayak. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People come and go in life. Take care of yourself.

People come and go in life. Take care of yourself.

 

An Unknown Woman, is the story of her journey to herself. The book was written at the beginning of the sixties and the women’s movement. I am sure Alice isn’t the first to go looking for herself, nor will she be the last. I am sure you will understand her friends thought she was crazy. She was determined to find the source of her unhappiness. She realized that there was no place where she wanted to be, where she belonged, or where she could go.  Solitary walks on the beach with her puppy and surviving a winter on the Nantucket shore kept her pretty busy. I do suggest you read the book or take a similar journey in your lives. Ladies, remember there is nothing wrong with alone as long as you choose your solitude. Good luck to everyone journeying to find themselves.

 

 

A woman on a journey to herself.

A woman on a journey to herself.

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Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Who Wants War?


Many People have wanted peace for millenniums. Artists of every different types of media have to ability to see and feel the importance of peace. Many have written affirmations. Composed song lyrics, written poems.  Artists paint for peace and sketch for peace. Artists need to rise up and make your voices heard. Not in a violent way, but loud enough to shake the rafters.

 

 

 

 

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                                 Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

 This quote is from Vincent Van Gogh

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Peace


 

 

joyful song

joyful song

Peace

Quiet yourself.

Reach out with your

mind’s skillful hand

Let it go inside of me

and touch

God.

Don’t be shy, dear.

Every aspect of Light

we are meant to know.

The calm hand holds

more

than baskets of goods

from the market.

The calm soul knows

more

than anything this

world

can offer from here

beautiful

womb

–By St. John of the Cross, taken from Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

St. John of the Cross has been long recognized as one of the world’s great mystical poets. His verse reveals a profound, tender experience of divine communion.

 

A heart of love

A heart of love

 

 

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Morning From My Garden


It is Saturday morning and it is tropical outside. The flowers are fragrant and exploding with color. I love summer nights when you can go outside and it is just you and the night sky. The stars have been my friends since I was a child and I love to go out and breathe deeply and feast my eyes on the firmament. I like to remember that I am star dust and it always make me feel so amazing. It makes me feel so alive and connected. At some time, long after we are all gone, the will be star ships up there and humans will meet other species. Our thoughts will still be traveling out there in space. The Universe will always carry the imprint of our lives and what we accomplish during our brief time here. Try going out and watching our little part of the Universe. Good morning to all of my friends and readers. Namaste

 

 

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Summer smiles photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Summer smiles photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

My garden photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

My garden photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Red roses for the heart. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Red roses for the heart. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Rio rose photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Rio rose photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

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                     Peach Drift rose photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

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     Asters photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

 

Pink roses. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Pink roses. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Orange broom. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Orange broom. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Iris. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Iris. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

The innocence of Daisies. Photo taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 Photo taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Late tulips. Photo taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Late tulips. Photo taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Song of the Open Road


 

Song of the Open Road

 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Health, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

 

The earth, that is sufficient,

I do not want the constellations any nearer,

I know they are very well where they are,

I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

 

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,

I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,

I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,

I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

 

You air that serves me with breath to speak!

You objects that call from diffusion my meanings

and give them shape!

You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!

You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!

You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!

I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

 

All seems beautiful to me,

I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me

I can repeat over to men and women,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,

I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,

I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,

Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,

Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.   —excerpted from Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

 

 

Acrylic painting of courtyard in the French Quarter. Painted and copyrighted 2009

Acrylic painting of courtyard in the French Quarter. Painted and copyrighted 2009 by Barbara Mattio

 

 

 

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The Bahamas. Photograph taken and copyrighted 2013

The Bahamas. Photograph taken and copyrighted 2013

 

 

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What a Wonderful World


 

Life is a glorious adventure. We are given opportunities to learn lessons and to face challenges. We are given happy times to make joyful memories and we are given times of such amazing joy, we need to pinch ourselves to see if it is real.  Life is golden and bright white light and it is such a good thing to be alive.

 

Life is also like that coin in your pocket. The one you flip and choose heads or tails with. Life can be painful and terrifying, it can be a waking nightmare. Ask a veteran what they think. Life can break your heart into small pieces. You can hear it crack open in the silence of your life. Life can produce as much darkness as it can light. It can take away your ability to trust and it can give you the friend who will be by your side for a score of years or more. Life can bring you shock or happy reverie and smooth sailing or rough seas.

 

So, in reality, life is a combination of events which can enrich and strengthen us or break us and leave us like a wounded bird at the bottom of a tree. What makes the difference?  We do. We are responsible for the outcome. We are not responsible for what life drops in our laps, but we are responsible for what we choose to do with it

 

Some people have rough lives and have a struggle year after year. Some of these people will rise up out of the mire and pull themselves up. Some will reach up to pull another person down with them. Some face terrifying heartache and loneliness and will do all that is humanly possible to make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Some choose to fill their hearts with an acid that damages their broken hearts even more than they were and are guaranteed to make someone else’s heart hurt as much as their own heart does.

 

Some people allow themselves to be so damaged, and seek no treatment for their damaged bodies, hearts and souls. Others will choose to seek help. To seek medication if necessary. Some will turn from the light that is in their lives and will seek to blot out that light wherever it can be found. Science hasn’t figured out yet why two people can go through the same horrible experiences and yet one will become a serial killer and one will spend their life trying to make the world better. Doctors and scientists are trying alternative measures to help people completely heal so that the remainder of their years on this plane can be filled with more light and love than they would otherwise have. Some choose to sneak around in the dark and making others suffer for what has happened to them. It is the innocent that they hurt. Perpetuating the problem and the pain.

 

It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or which God you believe in. It doesn’t matter if life bent you or broke you. Each day is your choice. What are you going to do to make this world a wonderful place for yourself and for others? Tomorrow morning is a chance for you to make a new choice or to reinforce the ones you have all ready made.

 

No one can make this choice for anyone else. Never allow anyone to make it for you, even if your life is on the line. Each day wake up knowing you are what you are and you will make life easier, smoother and more loving for someone else. Or you will wake up, angry, resentful, bitter and try to make someone else feel the same way you do. I choose the love, joy, compassion, kindness and peace. That is my decision every day no matter what happens.

 

 

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Interpreting Your Life


 

 

 

“The decision to speak out is the vocation and lifelong peril by which the intellectual must live.”   —Kay Boyle

 

 

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“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged…I had poems which were rewritten so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.”  —Erica Jong

 

 

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There are ordinary truths and eloquent truths. The ordinary truth is that some painters can garner six figures for their canvases while you probably can’t. The eloquent truth is that this abrasive fact need not alter your resolve to live an authentic life. The ordinary truth is that you will make mistakes and messes and fall short many times. The eloquent truth is that this need not defeat you, that you can keep trying and that you can keep kicking. When you marry these two ideas—willing yourself to matter and willing yourselves to reckon with the facts of existence—you truth becomes much more eloquent.

We should be reminded of Sisyphus, who was doomed to toil for all time rolling a stone up a mountain but who rebelled by asserting an essential freedom of attitude. They myth of Sisyphus and his stone is the story of a man reckoning with the facts of existence and not subcumbing to them. Had he succumbed to them, he would have been left with nothing but an eternity of pain. Here is how the myth ends, Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of the stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

A creator’s task is to reckon with the facts of existence very much as Sisyphus reckons with his. Viewed one way, it is a cruel, harsh and punitive universe. A creator might come to the same conclusion about his/her situation, were he/she to tote up the facts of existence not to his/her liking. Sisyphus has decided to force his life to mean. He makes use of the freedom at his disposal and reckons that,  as he is not dead, he still has meaning to make. It seems absurd to call him happy but  if that is how he sees his life, then who can argue with him?

We all have the choice to decide what our life is worth and what we have to give to others to make the world a better place. Let each and every one of us make the decision that benefits their inner needs. I choose to give back. I choose to make a difference. You can make your choices.

 Gerber daisy. Acrylic paint Painted by Barbara Mattio  copyright 2009

Gerber daisy. Acrylic paint
Painted by Barbara Mattio copyright 2009

 

 “You have not lived a perfect day…unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.  — Ruth Smeltzer

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Mother Teresa


Mother Theresa in the early years of her ministry

Mother Theresa in the early years of her ministry

Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun who saw the poverty and suffering around her and she was filled with compassion and kindness. She and her order of nuns began to assist the people everyone wanted to forget. She began in Calcutta, India and worked selflessly with “the poorest of the poor.” Her order began in 1950 and  are called the Missionaries of Charity. There are now more than 500 centers around the world to help the sick, the dying and the destitute. This woman  was a heroine and is considered a saint in the Catholic religion. I am told she was working her way to sainthood. This is all great, but what has amazed and inspired me is Mother Teresa’s compassion, caring, kindness, generosity and authenticity. She walked her talk.

Mother Teresa admonished people to listen to the silence, because if your heart is full of other things you can’t hear God. I believe that all religions and spiritual paths would agree with this. Whether you pray, meditate or chant when you go inside you are in the presence of the One. Being in the presence of the Divine is to experience real love and compassion. The contemplatives and ascetics of all ages and spiritual paths have sought God in the silence and solitude of nature. Many live in caves, forests or on mountaintops. Mother Teresa also would withdraw at times to recharge herself for her work among the least of God’s children.

” Silence of our eyes,

Silence of our ears.

Silence of our mouths.

Silence of our minds.

in the silence of the heart

God will speak”    —Mother Teresa

“Love each other as God loves each one of you, with an

intense and particular love.

Be kind to each other: It is better to commit faults with gentleness

than to work miracles with unkindness.”  —Mother Teresa

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This is a story Mother Teresa often told. I am quoting her words. “One day I picked up a man from the gutter. His body was covered with worms. I brought him to our house, and what did that man say? He did not curse. He did not blame anyone. He just said, “I’ve lived like an animal in the street, but I’m going to die like an angel, loved and cared for! It took us three hours to clean him. Finally, the man looked up at the sister and said, “Sister, I’m going home to God.” And then he died. I’ve never seen such a radiant smile on a human face. He went home to God. See what love can do!” I wonder how many of us have ever shone kindness to a homeless person, let alone one covered with worms.

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Mother Teresa daily gave care to lepers, the dying and the hungry. She also never worried about catching a disease or if she had eaten. I have always made it a practice to give money to the homeless. I am not rich, but I try to divide what I have. One day in Memphis, I was with friends and I saw an obviously homeless and destitute woman sitting on a bench in downtown Memphis. As our group was walking by and talking, I noticed her and took money from my wallet and gave it to her. My behavior horrified the people I was with. One dropped back and asked me why I did that. I told him that I make it a practice to practice random acts of kindness. He expressed surprise and a young woman scoffed at me and said the woman probably owned the building. I responded that that would be fine because she would pass the money on to someone who really needed it. Yes, I know I am an optimist.

Another story that Mother Teresa told was as follows: “Some time ago I made a trip to Ethiopia. Our sisters were working there during that terrible drought. Just as I was about to leave for Ethiopia, I found myself surrounded by many children. Each one of them gave something. “Take this to the children!” they would say. They had many gifts that they wanted to give to our poor. Then a small child, who for the first time had a piece of chocolate, came up to me and said, ” I do not want to eat it. You take it and give it to the children.” This little one gave a great deal, because he gave it all, and he gave something that was very precious to him.”

” Our mission is to convey God’s love—not a dead God, but a living God, a God of love.”  —Mother Tesesa

“Poverty doesn’t only consist of being hungry for bread, but rather it is a tremendous hunger for human dignity. This is where we make our mistake and shove people aside. Not only have we denied the poor a piece of bread, but by thinking that they have no worth and leaving them abandoned in the streets, we have denied them the human dignity that is rightfully theirs as children of God.”  —Mother Teresa

All over the world, we are shoving people aside and taking away their dignity. Here in America, we have replaced compassion, kindness, generosity and love with hatred, bigotry and violence. This is why our societies are breaking down. So, I recommend random acts of kindness. I recommend writing to your Congresspeople. Find the love and compassion for others we have lost and use it to make a better society. Remembering that we are One Family living on One World and love is what binds us together.

Mother Teresa before her death.

Mother Teresa before her death.

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The Tidal Nature of Life


The beach in the winter

The beach in the winter

“Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.”   ——James Baldwin

Change comes with each breath we take. Some people thrive on these changes and transitions. I have learned to flow with them. When I was younger, I was afraid of them and of what they would bring. With maturity came the realization that changes can’t be stopped. So I have learned to buckle my seat belt and to go with the flow. Now that we are in 2014, there will be changes in ourselves and in the world around us. You may feel at times as if you are walking a tight rope over a fast running river. The Divine will not let you fall as long as you trust and stay calm. If you do you will be surprised how must easier the path is than you expected.

Tree lined path into the woods

Tree lined path into the woods

The best solutions rarely come to pass swiftly. Time as well as distance may be necessary to the proper unfolding of events. What we can do is to surrender my sense of urgency and frustration. We need to ” stay calm” and to take slow deep breathes. Doing this will allow life to unfurl as a gentle wave. The kind you might surf in the summer. I love instant gratification, but the better plan is to breath and if life takes you on a longer fork in the road, you need to honor the tide of life. If we try to push things along in haste we are getting in the way of the Universe and what the Divine has planned for us. I accept the Divine’s divine timing in my life. We attune ourselves to the tempo of our highest good.

“People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.”  —Anne Sullivan

So to begin the new year, I embrace the timing of the Universe as my own timing. I place my faith in the divine wisdom that unfolds the seasons each in its own time. I allow myself to be nurtured by the Divine at the proper timing so I can be all I can be. Will there be bumps on your journey, yes there will. Will your journey take you where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there, yes you will be there. It is like riding the biggest roller coaster in the amusement park. You may scream, you may close your eyes and hold on, but it is the journey planned just for you. For myself, I do not like roller coasters any more but I am finding much more joy in life.  If you let yourself enjoy the ride, uou will too.

The earth is filled with the love from the Divine

The earth is filled with the love from the Divine

Veteran’s Day


Thank you for all you have given and suffered

Thank you for all you have given and suffered

Happy Veteran’s Day to every woman and man who has served to protect our country. I have a story. It is a surprise to me. It is about my paternal grandfather. He brought his family here to America for freedom and for a better life. He was born in 1880. I had recently put Ancestory.com app on my IPad. I figured I would play with it and see if I could find anything or anyone for free. I have been working on my grandfather. He died before I was born. It was two years before I was born. I would stay at grandmother’s house and I would sleep in his twin bed and would think about him. My paternal grandmother died when I was nine. I remember no photos of my grandfather but I am sure they were there. Grandma and I would have tea in the afternoons I was there visiting.

I knew two facts about grandpa that he was born in 1880 and died in 1948. He had a window washing business and tried hard to support a wife and six children. Now this is not an ad for Ancestry but it is involved. I put my grandfather into his spot on the family tree. I immediately got a leaf. I felt excited like I was in a commercial. I clicked on it and there staring at me was a photograph of my paternal grandfather. I was speechless. He was handsome and I could see my father in his face. I was so excited I called friends to tell them. I figured this was just wonderful. There was also a photograph of my grandparents grave stone. Wow, I had struck gold. As time went by, I found out that the family had come into America via Nova Scotia. Again, excitement and happiness.

A day to reach out to a homeless, injured or hungry vet

A day to reach out to a homeless, injured or hungry vet

Then Ancestory found his mother, Jane. A pretty common name but the story I had always heard was that he had grown up in an orphanage. So now I knew his mother was living. Months went by and no information about his father. I had never thought of my great grandfather because he must have died since grandpa was in an  orphanage in London. Months went by and suddenly my great grandfather appeared. No picture, but now I knew that he had died rather young. Then they found his sibling. It is so cool. I feel like I was given a gift than can never be taken away. I got busy adding photos of my children and grandchildren, all nine of them. And I worked on in laws and cousins.

TAPS is played at military funerals

TAPS is played at military funerals

Yesterday, I decided to join for a month and see if they could find anything else. I noticed that the photograph of their gravestone had a holder for an American flag. I got a magnifying glass and was pretty sure he was in WWII. But if he was born in 1880, how could that be true. Then I discovered the Wall of Honor which contains photographs of servicemen. Again, excitement. I decided that he must have fought in the Great War. I did the math and it had to be the war he served in. So I plugged in the required information, no grandpa. So I figured they were wrong and maybe he never served.

Then my friend who was here suggested that I should look at the servicemen who served in WWII. So, with frustration, I changed wars and entered the information. And I found him. But how could that be? He would have had to be in his sixties. So it was time to do more reading and research. I found “the old men’s ” draft. I am a history buff but never heard of that. It was the fourth draft but people called it the “old men’s” draft. They drafted the older men to help on the home front. This draft called men forty five to sixty four years of age. So now I knew about my paternal grandfather but I couldn’t figure out the orphanage aspect. Then I found that my great grandfather’s date of death had been added. He died rather young and left my great grandmother with four children to raise alone.

Women were very limited in what they could do to earn money. Ancestry has not given me any hints about how she survived and fed her children. Rationally, I think they might have been in a debtors’ prison because of debts or she put one or more of the children into an orphanage because she couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them. Kind of a Dicken’s type of thing, but it was the late 1800′s. Women back then were really really not equal. They weren’t trained for a job and this financial dependence made them need a man. They also did not yet have the vote. There is human courage and bravery in every families story.

Marines in Iraq. No one is left behind

Marines in Iraq. No one is left behind

So today, I say thank you to all who served in any war or police action. Especially to the old men who served well past the time they should have been serving. I am still a Dove, but the two World Wars couldn’t have been avoided by the United States. So my grandfather served in the Army. This has been quite a journey and I am grateful that I have found out so much about my family. I think the quest is still continuing.