Thursday, September 24, 2009

Unexpected joy......

I’d like to pay tribute in this blog entry to a man I did not know very well. His name was Franklin Morgan. Father of 8 amazing individuals, husband to a beautiful woman named Maureen. Franklin was the father of Kevin Morgan. Kevin, you could say, is our artist in residence at the Ranch. He is responsible for the look of all of our t–shirt designs, our website design, our signage, logos and so much more. He has helped to create our brand recognition in the last twelve years and before that designed Jorma’s CD covers, various poster art and ad mats for promoters on behalf of Jorma and Hot Tuna. His talents run deep. I think it is safe to say that his gift came hardwired when Franklin and Maureen created him. I could go on and on about Kevin…or the rest of his siblings but what moves me at this moment is the spirit of Franklin. Jorma, John and myself just got back from his wake…an Irish wake. No, there was not Irish whiskey but rather a room filled with more people than this little funeral home could hold. There were children, cousins, a local historian, Ohio University employees and friends that had come from all over Ohio. After we waded through the wall of guests, Kevin and his wife Janet, who were standing by two photo books that were filled with pictures dating back to, I think, the 1930’s, met us. I was taken by a series of photographs of Kevin’s father as a very young cheerleader. A man who loved sports who was too small to play so he was one of the first male cheerleaders in his area. He ended up being a sports writer for the majority of his career and made a huge impact at O.U. at a time when O.U’s football team actually won more games than they lost. It was clear that this was a celebration of his life and his legacy.

While we were waiting in the receiving line to give our condolences to Maureen and his daughters and sons, Kevin stood by us and was recapping the last few days. Franklin has been sick for some time. It had been touch and go for months. The last few days were counted in hours. He was in his hospital room, the OU game was on, and Maureen was by his side. She said to her beloved, “You were the only man for me, and I was the only woman for you”. O.U. scored a touch down and Franklin was finally at peace.

I make it to the casket and look at this peaceful soul and I look over at Maureen sitting there consoling those who should be consoling her and she is glowing. She is beautiful as are her daughters. The spirit of this family runs so deep. I admire Franklin and Maureen for everything they did and continue to do for their children. It is something to model my own life after, as a parent to Israel Love. Some times I feel like all I do is run around. From home to the ranch to Izze’s school, back to the ranch, back home, to the library for Izze’s weekly visits, to play dates, to the grocery store, to her music classes, back to the ranch…blah, blah, blah. I only have one child and I am tired. How did Kevin’s parent do it? How did my parents (who had six kids) do it? What am I missing? Maybe nothing. Perhaps everyone who is a parent feels this way but we don’t want to admit it. Like I said, I did not know Franklin but I know he gave of himself to his children, his wife, his career and the community. For me, he leaves behind the desire to be good at everything I do, even if I am tired. To love my family unconditionally and to trust that what the universe puts in my path is what I need to see for whatever reason….even when I question why…because everything has a purpose. Then, if I look at all my running around as precious moments that make up my life, I realize how special this life is. Like watching Izze's reaction to a beautiful Monarch hatch from it's chrysalis or watching Jorma's spirit grow just a little bit more when he plays me the new song he just wrote or to be part of this unique experience at The Ranch when 42 new students gather for the first time not knowing each other, then watching them leave as friends. That's what this life is showing me.

Long may you run Franklin

Friday, September 11, 2009

There's a Fairy in my Labyrinth


Some of you may be wondering why I chose to call my blog Labyrinth. For me it was simple. We are all on a path...exactly where we need to be. I like to think this is true for me too. The Labyrinth is a model of that path.

A Labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of a circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth (and especially for me) represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world...this world. Labyrinths have been used for more years than I can count, as meditation and prayer tools. At its most basic level the Labyrinth is a metaphor for this journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a heightened and broadened understanding of who you are. I say a metaphor.... because; can we really learn all of this by taking one pass through the Labyrinth? Maybe not.

My experience with walking the Labyrinth here at the Fur Peace Ranch has been a work in progress.... like me and like the ranch itself. In the twelve years we have been hosting workshops and special retreats, it always starts out looking very different. We prepare for each camp or retreat with cleaning out of the old, celebrating the event prior to the new one, refreshing the grounds and walking an unknown path to meet new guests that will become part of our lives. Then you come and you offer a new path for us that present another way to define the way we live and work and how we will treat the guests that come after you have left. Each master instructor and student presents a new twist, turn and perhaps a blind alley. It becomes a left- brain task that requires logical, sequential, rational activity to find the correct path into the Labyrinth and out. Sound a bit heavy? Well, for me it has been and in only the best way. You see, many years ago I wasn't living my life very well. I wasn't honoring my body and wasn't honoring the gift of my life. The ranch became a place to live again, to experience that great universal love.... I choose to call it G-ds love. It is so simple...I just became willing. Willing to listen, to work hard and to appreciate your gift of you. The Labyrinth is very much me...because of you.

I said in my earlier and very brief blog posting that I was not sure how long I would blog. But I thought I might have something to share. Today I am simply saying "thank you." Thank you to our instructors, our students, our guests that drive miles into the hills to take in a rare concert performance and to my incredible staff who are fearless. They have walked this wild dream with us and they all work harder than anyone I have every worked with. My gratitude cannot be described in words. How about this.....You all rock!

May you all be blessed with a safe journey,

Vanessa Lillian

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm blogging????

Hi everyone,

I am attempting to be a blogger. I cannot promise how long this will last but for now I think I have a lot to share about things that you cannot see at The Fur Peace Ranch. Sound strange? Tune it for more where that came from....