Cycles of Change

In the northern hemisphere we are experiencing the stunning season of autumn. It is of course an oxymoron in that in everything that dies we are afforded great beauty to behold. This may in fact be the lesson for us all, to learn to think of death as beautiful. Okay, understandably some of you are shouting that death is not beautiful. Perhaps if we leaned into it a little more and looked at it as natural part of the process of life, part of the cycle of life, we would be able to accept it and all that it has to offer us.

What I have learned from experiencing the death of a loved one is to not take life for granted. Every day matters, every moment matters and to not leave things unsaid by allowing fear to get in the way. For me that is a beautiful gift.  I now practice BIG LOVE. It can be messy, sweet, complicated, joyful, but it should be BIG. I refuse to play small. The world awaits and I may only have this one day.

One of my favorite poems is The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper,

I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,

how to fall down into the grass,

how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed,

how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

This poem serves to remind me that my life is first and foremost what I make of it. Each and everyday I have a choice as to how I come to life. Even when touched by grief, we have a choice to remake ourselves and live again, to shine our light brightly. What will you do today with your one wild precious life?

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Cycles

Watching you fly around the feeders filling your bellies with the sweet nectar, I wonder what you might teach me? I wonder where you will soon be off to in terms of your winter journey, and what I am going to feel when you are gone?  Will I feel a longing, a missing of your sweet souls, one that filled my days with such joy by simply watching you consume the sugar-water? Even now I am reminded of the mortals I know that have stepped over the threshold, the ones I no longer see in the flesh, but only recall only in my heart.

As the Earth prepares to go to sleep (in the Northern Hemisphere) I find a longing in my heart for the life I once had, the one where I seemed almost oblivious to the struggles of life.   Of course, this is also a lie I tell myself. It is simply a story I create to soothe my soul, applying it liberally like a balm to the still raw aching.

Joy and comfort are always there for me no matter what the season, I simply might have to gaze a little deeper to find them, or to remember them. My life will not be what it was yesterday; it will be what it is today. Remembering this while watching the birds fill their seemingly gluttonous tummies gives me an odd sense of comfort, even though I know they are preparing to leave my porch, like many others. There is a comfort in knowing I will continue, for now, and that it is my choice as to how I will seize this day.

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going.  What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.  ~ Thomas Merton

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With Gratitude

Having been absent in almost all forms from WordPress for sometime now, first I would like to share how much I missed reading everyone’s inspiring words and stories. This absence was because of much joy in my life with first the wedding of my dear friend’s daughter, and then the wedding of my son to his beautiful wife. Both of these weddings were destination weddings, which was even more special. My friend’s daughter was married on a mountaintop outside of Vail, Colorado and my son was married in the Mayan Rivera in Mexico. We also just had a beautiful wedding reception here in Colorado for my son and his wife. These past couple of months have been full of blessings, and I stand in gratitude.

Knowing that life is a mixture of both shadow and light, I feel so fortunate to have been able to stand in the most loving light of new love. Some wonderful family blessings occurred with some great healing of strained relationships and more. Just being quiet and letting it happen was such a gift, and remaining open to all. For me, these were the ways to allow more love to flow into my life. Thank you all for following my blog, even in my absence from writing, which I initially tried to keep up, but found impossible. Another lesson was there for me, to be able to fully let go.

Today is the first morning I am back with my son and his new wife off for a month of travel in South America and my family back at their respective homes. Of course as is the way of life, we have had some bad news along the way mixed in with all the joy. My mother can no longer visit here, the elevation is too much for her and she was very ill while here requiring hospital stays as well as the knowledge that this would be her last visit. Additionally, my stepson’s unborn baby has been found to have some rather tragic issues and just this morning his wife flew back to the United States from China to begin the process of arranging the required C-Section and then surgery for the baby, with many unknowns as yet. So even amidst the joy, there has been some sorrow, but we are all able to love a little more, a little deeper and be grateful for what we have been given.

Thank you all my fellow WordPress friends for your love and support along this journey we are all on. Blessings and Namaste.

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Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth.  Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself.  Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here.  Hold on to life, even when it is easier letting go.  Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away from you.  ~Pueblo Blessing

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Happy Father’s Day

Yesterday was the “holiday” where we are encouraged to honor our fathers. However, I often question whether we should only honor them one day of the year as opposed to every day. Whatever the case might be, it is a wonderful gift of the heart to show the people you love that you care. In our home we have struggled with this prescribed holiday, as there is no father for my son. His father left this earthly realm when my son was 12 years old. Today he is 24 years old. He has now lived half of his life without a father. Writing these words brings tears to my eyes. Half of  a lifetime without a parent and still so young. Being acutely aware that this is not the worst circumstance one could have in life, I feel the blessing of all that is. Today I would like to pause and give thanks to my beautiful son for being such a wonderful man.

Earlier today before my feet even touched the ground, my sweet loving son landed on a big jet plane in Iceland on his way home, home to his childhood home we all once shared together back in a land that also seems far away from our present reality. You see he has been traveling for some 5 months now, backpacking all across Europe and into Africa as well. He has seen and experienced more than either his father or I have or will in the case of his father. He has grown, matured, and faced many pleasant and unpleasant circumstances some from happenstance and some by his own hand. Lessons. He has had many lessons on this journey. The real journey and work beginning that day on November 5, 2004 that seemed like a nightmare has led us forward to this sweet sunny summer day.

Standing in gratitude for your love, for your beautiful soul and spirit my gentle son. I wish you nothing but love and peace for the rest of your journey, but know that when faced with the darkness you have the tools to understand the need to rest there first, and then find the strength to reach for the tunnel of light. You have been such a beautiful blessing to me. I am so sorry you do not have a father, but you have the most important gifts right inside your very own heart. Savor the remaining days of your journey before I see you standing in Denver on Friday evening. I cannot wait beautiful boy to see your shinning spirit. Happy Father’s Day my beautiful son.

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We do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children. ~ Chief Seattle

 

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Words

Castaneda tells us that whenever the internal dialog stops, the world collapses, and extraordinary facets of ourselves surface, as through they had been kept heavily guarded by our words. Our words, so precious and yet so often profoundly misused whether by intention, lack of empathy, or simply by not being present to the now which sets in motion the potential to create great detriment in the world. Words, by definition are a meaningful sound or combination of sounds that is a unit of language or its representation in text. A meaningful sound, that is a powerful thought to take in, and of course, the meaning of the sound may present differently to the one that uttered the sound than to the one that digested the sound. Therein often lies the problem. However, what if we in the role of speaker were more fully present before exercising the usage of any words? This simple shift has the ability to require one to become more fully present, as well as hopefully creating less misunderstanding in the world. Such a simple and beautiful gift to quiet the mind, not necessarily an easy practice, but one that is doable and when one can attain this state if only for brief moments just as Castaneda implies, the world collapses and we gain knowledge of our inner most beauty. In these moments we also gain knowledge about others, the world, and our beautiful Mother Earth. Listen, pause, drop the urge to always be speaking and get into the habit of being present. To be present in the moment is where the extraordinary dwells.

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The Path of Least Resistance

What gifts are you grateful for this day? Are you able to acknowledge whatever has been brought to your door, be it sorrow or joy? Do you shut your heart to love, or open it fully with compassion to all? This can be difficult, especially when we consider opening our heart with love and compassion to those that we do not agree with in terms of their values, or lifestyle. Personally, I struggle with this one a lot! Today in the United States we are to honor those that gave their lives up to the war machine. This can be a difficult aspect to consider staying open to when we do not believe in war, which may result in judgment as well as conflicting emotions being wagged in the heart.

What one simple thing can you do today to let go of some of this judgment you might be holding onto to allow for more love to enter into your heart? Silence and meditation are wonderful ways to get in touch with your inner self and to begin to make small steps toward this place of non-judgment. Immersion into the depths of the silence of your own soul will surprisingly show you the path, and as we already intuitively know it is usually the one of least resistance.

Yesterday while on a mountain hike with friends we somehow missed the trailhead coming down. This was altogether easy to miss since at the top it was snow-covered and we were chatting rather than paying attention to our surroundings. What is worse is that there was a group that had descended before us and we began to follow their footsteps once we realized we had missed our own trail. This was silly for any number of reasons, not the least of which was they had communicated to us at the top that they had approached the summit from a different trailhead in a completely different direction than we had. At some point fairly close to the top, I knew we should retrace our steps to the top and proceed from there. None of us really wanted to as we had climbed the trail fast and furious on our ascent and were joyfully looking forward to descending, not go back up to the top again. This was a mistake, and as we proceeded down we kept going and also lost the other group’s tracks entirely. We kept this up until it was impossible to return to the top. We pushed through deep snow, climbed over many trees, and had tress falling down on us whose roots had been softened over the winter by the magical work of the snow. We trekked and trekked with me at the forefront until I looked up and saw the sky darkening with thunderstorms. In that moment I knew we had to be off of that mountain quickly. As I became quiet and stopped to rest my mind, I also spied a small stream, one that we logically decided to follow given we knew it would follow the path of least resistance. This was the best plan and we successfully walked out into a glorious field of tall grass, only to find we had no idea where we were. We kept walking until we spied a house, all the while the skies continued to darken around us. Luckily for us the first house we went to had someone home. This wonderful man, whose name was Brady, gave three of us and the dog a ride back close to our vehicle, which we had left at the original trailhead. As a side note, at the beginning of our hike we went into an area that was closed to all traffic, but someone was out and had moved the signs and as we talked to them they appeared to be in charge and allowed us to move on through. Wrong! They were in charge of nothing, and as we ran and walked the last mile plus down that road with the skies fiercely rumbling now, we were only too thrilled to spy our vehicle, however, we were greeted with one more reminder to stay present,  a National Forest Service ticket on the window warning us not to be in the area, it was closed. Luckily for us it was only a warning. We had made it safely back to the car and just as we closed the doors the rain began to pound down all around us.

What could we have down to have made all of this easier? We could have been more mindful at the top when we began our descent. We could have gone inside and used our intuition, which to be honest at some point in the bushwhacking coming down I fully believe we did when we paused to listen and found the small stream which we then followed. This could have all turned out so very differently, but we were blessed in that moment when we found our inner space and listened. Where we lost our way was in the moments when we were no longer being mindful.

Hiking is simply a metaphor of life, one needs to pay attention wherever they are to their inner voice and be quiet, ushering in compassion and non-judgment for all, including the war machine we are to celebrate on this Memorial Day. We can simply turn inside and choose to honor those who surely must have also been loving human beings even if they were lost for a moment inside of the machine. What is clear is that we all get lost for moments and can easily take the wrong path.

Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom. ~ Buddha

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