Love – Gratitude

cala liliesl

Love – Gratitude

The agony is so great…
and yet I will stand it.

Had I not loved so very much
I would not hurt so much.

But goodness knows I would not
want to diminish that precious love
by one fraction of an ounce.

I will hurt,
and I will be grateful to the hurt
for it bares witness to
the depth of our meanings,
and for that I will be
eternally grateful.


by Shirley Holzer Jeffrey
Death: The Final Stage of Growth
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1975)


Thanks, Coach!

Those of you who might know me personally are probably saying to yourself, “What’s this post about? Theresa is the least athletic person I’ve ever met…” And, you would be right!

However, the title of this refers to offering my most sincere gratitude to Coach Muller of “Good Time Stories” for the following three awards.

Three awards, you say?

My disclaimer: I’ve never met the man, but I certainly love his blog. Every time I read what are indeed his “good time stories,” I feel better about myself, humankind and our future. His stories, like what I attempt with my own, portray our humanity to one another…our reaching out…our kindnesses…our sacrifices…our connectedness. If you haven’t already taken a look at his blog, please do. You will feel hope spring from the pages.

And now for some of the details…

Good Time Stories

Good Time Stories

1. Display this award on your blog. – done

2. Thank the person who sent it to you. – done

3. Answer a rhetorical question of the authors choosing.

Q: Who would you have liked to work with, if given the chance?
A: Mother Teresa.

4. Send on the award to someone you consider a loyal reader. [Note: I am only nominating one to represent all of my loyal readers; otherwise, I’d be here all night. Please see my final words at the end of this post.]

Rising Hawk Speaks


Good Time Stories

Good Time Stories

1) ADD the ABC logo to your blog.
2) ABC about yourself using one word or phrase.
3) Nominate however many blogs you wish.
4) Let the recipient know via a link in their comments.

A – avid reader
B – blunt (I prefer “direct”)
C – compassionate and claustrophobic
D – disciplined
E – educated about Egypt
F – fair-minded
G – genuinely believe in life after death
H – hospitals: I like to work in emergency rooms or trauma centers
I – inspirational (my description) and intense (my son’s description)
J – justifiably proud of my son, Alex
K – knights: I love Medieval history
L – loyal listener
M – Machu Picchu: a favorite mystical place
N – nothing is random
O – organized
P – passionate about pasta and pizza and purple and my passport
Q – queen, as in “It’s good to be Queen.”
R – Royal Clipper: favorite sailing ship
S – self-critical
T – tough Theresa the traveler fell in love with Tanzania
U – unfoolable (pretty much)
V – vacation planner extraordinaire
W – works (too) hard
X – xylophone: played with a Fisher-Price as a child
Y – yells loudly at sporting events (both in person and at the TV)
Z – zealous about making a positive difference in the world

My nominee for the ABC Award: Posed and Written


Last, but not least…

Good Time Stories

Good Time Stories

I was already nominated for this (see “In Gratitude – Part II”), but none-the-less, Coach, I am grateful for the thought.


To my readers: thank you.
I write about people, places and things that have touched me in some way.
In this, I include all of you. You touch my heart.
~ Theresa


Without These Things

Jesuit Center Cloister

Jesuit Center Cloister

I recently returned from a 7-day silent retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Those of you who keep up with my posts (thank you so much, by the way…) may recall that I am trying to remember that I am actually a human “being” rather than a human “doing.” Immersing myself in solitude for a week, other than an hour each day with a Spiritual Director, is a soothing balm for the soul. It offers a sense of peace. Tranquility.

In the quiet, I can hear my heart speak.

The weather during the week of my retreat was brutally hot – each day and night, with temperatures in the mid-90’s. And did I mention no air conditioning??? That’s right; for the person whose idea of roughing it is room service, there was no air conditioning to be had. While I tried to sleep, two small fans moved the hot air around me like a thick blanket.

I was miserable.

Which got me to thinking (a good thing to do on a retreat)… What did the Desert Fathers do? What did people do before electricity? In fact, the advent of electricity certainly doesn’t ensure that even a majority of people on the planet have access to it, let alone have the luxury of air conditioning.

How did people survive? How do people survive? They did, they do – and so could I.

Which brought me to a few things I wrote in my journal that I was grateful for, like modern medicine, eyeglasses, medication, physicians (you can tell at that point I was worried about heat stroke).

Truly, without those things, I would either be dead, blind, or lost inside myself.

Which brought me to this journal entry on May 31st:

Without flight, I would never have traveled to so many countries, met so many wonderful and diverse people, did so many exciting things…

Without paper and the invention of the printing press, I would have never read all of the tens of thousands of books and writings of scholars and saints, of humorists and philosophers; the works of classic literature and fantasy, of mystery and love stories, of essays and politics, of angels and cake recipes; their words challenging me – healing me – inciting me – knowing me…

Without God’s gift of creativity to the artists and creators of music and poetry, paintings and sculptures – I would not know of beauty that speaks to my soul in a language that is universal…

Without farmers and fisherman and growers, I would not have delicious foods and spices and sustenance to nourish my body and to break bread with friends and family…

Without carpenters and engineers and architects, I would not have a home to live in or roads to travel or bridges to cross or cathedrals with buttresses that sing to my soul…

Without botanists and horticulturists, I would not have flowers that carpet the fields with color or trees that reach up to the heavens or plants that can heal the body…


So I made myself a promise that I would remember to not take things for granted, and to think of 5 things each day for which I was grateful.

So here is my first gratitude list:

1) Thunderstorms.

2) Cats (especially Freddie and Peanut).

3) Toothbrushes/toothpaste.

4) The Hubble Telescope.

5) You – reader of my blog – friend.

Thank You, Hubble

Thank You, Hubble

In Gratitude – Part II

Once again – my humble gratitude to fellow blogger and new-found friend Ajaytao2010 for nominating me for the above awards. Although I am still too new to blogging to understand much about these award nominations, I am supremely grateful to Ajaytao2010 for acknowledging my attempts at inspiring and touching people through sharing stories of special people whom I’ve had the privilege to meet, offering my favorite quotations to consider or even some published poetry that has touched me at some moment during my life.

I am also grateful for the new visitors it brings to Soul Gatherings, whether from these nominations, someone reblogging one of my posts or another blogger suggesting one of their followers take a look at my site. Another great benefit – it brings me to some absolutely wonderful blogs that are new to me, where I am able to meet people who inspire me to continue reaching out. There are some terrific sites out there, just waiting to be discovered, and given enough time, I hope to become an avid visitor to many of them.


1-Display the award logo on your blog.

2-Link back to the person who nominated you.

3-Answer 7 questions.

4-Nominate (no limit of nominations) other bloggers for this award and link back to them.

5-Notify those bloggers of the award requirements.

In keeping with nomination guidelines, here are my answers to the 7 questions provided to me:

1) If you could create your own planet, what would it look like?

It would have waterfalls, majestic mountains and dramatic valleys, beautiful flowers and towering trees, still lakes and endless oceans, natural rock formations, blue skies and white clouds, riotous colors everywhere (but especially purple and countless shades of green), and animals living peacefully in their habitats, unthreatened.

2) If you could visit one nation you have never visited before, what nation would that be?

I’ve already been to the ones I’ve always wanted to visit, so I’ll say Chile or Botswana.

3) Have you ever taken a long-distance train trip?

The longest were only about 4 hours: once in Peru, going to Machu Picchu and the other going through beautiful Alaska. On my bucket list: a train trip across the Canadian Rockies or through South Africa.

4) What is something you would collectively change about humanity?

More tolerance, compassion and understanding of others, recognizing that we all have far more in common than differences. Hopefully, that would bring more cooperation and working together for the needs of the many, rather than the needs of the few. Peace.

5) What is your favorite song?

I can’t answer any of these with only one thing. A few that come to mind: The Prayer (Andrea Bocelli), Ave Maria, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, The Last Song (Elton John), Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel) & Until the Last Moment (Yanni).

6) If you could meet one person who is still alive, who would you choose to meet?

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

7) If you could choose one symbol to represent you, what would that symbol be and why?

A lighthouse standing on gray rock overlooking the ocean, with lots of purple flowers and shrubs around it.

Now, to nominate some of my fellow bloggers:











If you aren’t already familiar with the above bloggers, take a few moments to peruse their sites. To the bloggers: keep up the good work!

My blessings and gratitude to all who have shown me the way…

In Gratitude

nominated by Ajaytao2010

nominated by Ajaytao2010

I would like to express my deepest thanks to Ajaytao2010 for nominating me for one of three awards. My delay in acknowledging his gift to me has nothing to do with my feelings about it, only to do with the myriad of things happening in my life at the moment. Needless to say, I know my readers and fellow bloggers understand this. I hope that Ajaytao2010 does as well…

I decided on the Blog Sunshine Award, which will no doubt be a surprise to my husband and son. Both of them thankfully follow my blog (I think I threatened them if they didn’t), and often moan about the fact that too many of my posts are, as they describe them, “tear-jerkers.” I must confess that their comments surprise me, as that is not my intention on Soul Gatherings.

My hope with this blog is to inspire my readers with stories about the triumph of the human spirit; of what happens when ordinary people do extraordinary things, from which either one of us, or all of us, benefits. People reaching out to others – whether by words, actions, thoughts, photographs – people touching others. In almost all the cases, the people I write about or the quotations I post have touched my heart. I pass them along so that they might touch yours.

That’s where the Blog Sunshine Award comes in – if some of the posts elicit a few tears, then they were poignant and meaningful and inspiring. Mission accomplished! And when folks reblog some of the posts, that’s even better.

Contrary to popular belief, tears can be a good thing, too.

So my blessings and gratitude to Ajaytao2010. I can only hope to live up to his expectations…

The rules suggest that I nominate 15 people for this award. Please forgive me if I do not reach 15, as I am still reading new bloggers each day and getting to know them, and many of them have already received this award. There are so many worthy bloggers out there, but I lately I just haven’t had the time needed to follow them (or, as you’ve already noticed, post things other than quotations, either). Here are 10 blogs I enjoy:

Travel Love Laugh

A Word in Your Ear

Stephen Liddell

Owl McCloud

Jenadee 222


Sleepless Psyche

Smile Calm

T K Morin

Pearl Street Gallery

[Note: If someone can tell me why my presenting the above names as a “link” didn’t follow through, please let this new blogger know what I did wrong!]

Lastly, I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself. Since I already have 7 in my earlier post, Gratitude, I’ll try to come up with some new ones:

1) I have never regretted my career change in mid-life.

2) I have a passion for ancient civilizations.

3) I have a passion for visiting the locations of ancient civilizations.

4) I read 5 different archaeology magazines each month.

5) I admit to watching Amazing Race and Survivor because I love to “profile” and “diagnose” (in a psychology sense) the participants from afar.

6) My son says growing up with me as a mother was “intense.”

7) There’s a reason for everything. Yes – even suffering.


I am sending out humble gratitude and blessings to “I Have a Voice” (girlwiththepen1118) for nominating me for the above three awards.

My intention with this blog when I began it less than 2 months ago (after having read 2 books on blogging, I’m still trying to figure it out) was to share stories of people whom I’ve met in my life who have touched me in some deep, elemental way – the people you carry with you in your heart long after meeting them.  I thought a blog would be a way to honor them, as well as to perhaps inspire others to remember that no matter how small a thing they might do for another person, it might actually be something of great importance, enough to change a life.  We human beings have a great capacity to love and to reach out, most especially in the midst of darkness.

I also wanted to include quotes that hold meaning for me, that inspire me, as well as some of my travels that have helped me along in my spiritual growth.  As I’ve said in my blog, I am a work in progress…

With apologies that I may not be able to exactly follow the rules of nominating 15 other bloggers – since I’m still getting to know them as a follower on my own – I’ve listed those below to whom I am passing on the “Shine On” Award for their having given me something wonderful on any given day – whether thoughts or poems or videos or photographs.  Some of them may already have an award, but regardless, they deserve either another one, or the same one again as validation of their value.

Word Press Shine On Award


Fun Girls Live Better

Jon Lilley


5 Kids with Disabilities

Sophia’s Voice

The CoF

Simple. Interesting.

John Coyote

Thoughts Alone

The Positivity Blog

Finally, I believe for one of the awards, I am to tell you all 7 things about myself.  Here goes:

1) I changed careers in my late 40s and it was the best thing I ever did.

2) My favorite color is purple.

3) If I could choose my last meal, it would be some type of pasta.

4) I believe that nothing is random.

5) I’m a U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) history nut, especially on the topics of medicine and women.

6) I have visited over 15 countries (not counting islands in the Caribbean), and that’s not nearly enough.

7) I love castles – the military fortress type, not the palaces type (there goes the military history again).