The Mandate Of Randomness

“Everything we care about lies somewhere in the middle, where pattern and randomness interlace.” ~James Gleick

Footprints in the past

This summer has been spirit led. I put my writing and sewing projects to the side and have focused on living.  With the time I’ve had off from work one would think I’ve focused on productivity. Instead, I’ve enjoyed relationships. I’ve spent countless times with the hubby and a glass of wine in front of the fire pit. I’ve bonded with Oldest over lunches. We’ve spent time dining and hiking with friends. I’ve taken full advantage of having the time to read. I’ve been watching a lot of movies. I even went with a friend to see “Jersey Boys” which I greatly enjoyed. However, some of the home movies such as “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” have torn my heart to pieces. I can sometimes hardly bear the cruelty of humanity. And yet, I was reduced to tears of happiness last night watching a FaceBook video of a junkyard dog who daily walked four miles to receive a meal from a lady who tied up his bag of leftovers for him to carry off. She followed him one day to see what he did with them. He carried them to his hungry friends who included a chicken and a cat. People can learn much from animals.

What I was, am, and will be has always been the same. The waves of me change depending on time and place of deposit. I’ll bet this applies to you as well.

What I was, am, and will be has always been the same. The waves of me change depending on time and place of deposit. I’ll bet this applies to you as well.

We’ve traveled to and fro from sand and sea to rock and mountain. We’ve been called here and there and veered off on our own excursions without rhyme or reason. Yet, it’s all been exactly what I’ve needed. Often what seems random isn’t at all arbitrary. What we need/desire is known and provided in one form or another. Perhaps, unbeknownst to me I was seeking a season of peace and connection. This summer of exploration and connection has soothed my soul and restored my energy. I am thankful for these blessings as my cup continues to fill daily.

The praying mantis is my confirmation of needing a time of stillness and patience, knowing all things will occur in their own timing.

The praying mantis is my confirmation of needing a time of stillness and patience, knowing all things will occur in their own timing.

 

The Lessons We Learn

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. — Oprah Winfrey

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When we leave this world we leave a footprint upon the heart of each who loved us. We each are gifted with experiences to teach us life lessons. In honor of my 51st birthday, I’ve written a few of mine down.

  1. Your relationship with others does not define who you are, but who you are defines your relationship with others.
  2. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Honesty really is the best policy. Don’t leave others guessing your intentions.
  3. Let go of what you’ve been told to find your own truth. Deep held beliefs can hinder personal growth.
  4. Everyone needs something bigger than themselves to believe in. When you have no hope, faith is still there keeping rhythm with your heartbeat.
  5. You gain nothing when you compromise your integrity.
  6. Pain is like a fertilizer. Give it time and everything will bloom again.
  7. Be true to yourself for it is the key to happiness.
  8. Think before you speak. Once spoken, you can’t take the words back.
  9. Trust your intuition. It will guide and protect you.
  10. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Let it go.
  11. Value your community; good times or bad, this is where you will find your support system.
  12. Never be afraid to be alone. You must trust and believe in yourself to fully invest in others.
  13. Know when to speak and when to remain silent.
  14. It matters much more what you think of yourself than what others think of you.
  15. Know when to surrender and when to give it all you’ve got.
  16. The brave don’t always walk without fear; they just keep walking.
  17. Everything in life must be balanced. Too much of one thing or another can throw everything off kilter.
  18. Clothes do not make the man. Character is everything.
  19. Sharing and cooperating are just as important in the work place as they are on the playground.
  20. You are in control of no one but yourself. The choices of others, no matter what is said, thought or intended, is not a reflection of you.
  21. Your actions and reactions belong to you alone. Own your life.
  22. The difference between acceptance and tolerance is love.
  23. Give what you can when you can. There is always someone to benefit from your efforts.
  24. While it is important to give, it is equally important to receive gracefully. This goes for compliments as well as gifts.
  25. Be the energy and love you want returned to you.
  26. Sometimes the things that irritate you the most about other people are the very things you need to work on in your own life.
  27. Never place your own expectations on someone else.
  28. When you allow the quiet and stillness to settle over you, you become aware. It is in this mindfulness you experience the extraordinary in ordinary moments.
  29. Don’t forget to play like a child. The wonder will make your soul soar.
  30. You are creative. Even if you think you aren’t, your imagination flows through your daily life. Innovation is at your fingertips.
  31. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laughter makes most things better.
  32. Worry doesn’t change anything.
  33. Your attitude is paramount to your gratitude of life.
  34. Be willing to bend but careful not to break.
  35. Never pass up the opportunity to give or receive a hug. The exchange of energy comforts all.
  36. Peace resides within you. It’s up to you to tap into it.
  37. The things that matter really aren’t things at all.
  38. Live life with conscious intention.
  39. Never stop questioning life; your growth depends on it.
  40. Just because you can’t imagine something does not make it impossible.
  41. Adventure is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Life requires it at times.
  42. Family is established by love not blood.
  43. If you learn from a mistake it becomes a lesson.
  44. Never make someone earn respect. Offer it from the start.
  45. Choose to be happy. It really is that simple.
  46. Time shouldn’t be rushed through or turned back. Savor it.
  47. Compassion is vital in any relationship.
  48. Never feel guilty for resting your body, mind, and spirit.
  49. Be the best you can be. No one can make you shine but you.
  50. Never underestimate the importance of roots or the power of wings.
  51. Love really does make the world go round.

As The Staircase Winds…

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The steps of life do not simply go up or down. They are designed to go around, to reach the breadth of all we are and can be.

We often travel up and down the same staircase. Sometimes we fall before we reach the top. Other times we find we’re afraid of heights. And there are times we take one step at a time, stopping to enjoy the view both up and down.

It is in this curve between the top and bottom where we live. This is where ordinary dwells. In the minute detail of the ordinary, extraordinary exists.

No matter upon which stair you currently stand, inhale deeply and allow the breath of life encircle you.

Be thankful for the highs, for it is where we feel the most joy.

Be thankful for the lows, for it is where we learn to climb.

Be thankful for the stretch, for this is where we connect.

Dare to take the next step…dare to bloom every step of the way.

Evolution Of Fire

“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!” ― C. JoyBell C.

Have you ever noticed no matter what you’re doing if you’re doing it by a campfire it’s ten times better? I mean the laughter is more heartfelt, the music louder, the stars brighter, the company better, and the worries of life seem to melt away.

He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. ~W.J. Cameron

Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it. The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out. ~Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr.

“We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way. But once that flame goes out, it’s gone forever.” ― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

We enjoy spending time around the fire ring or the campfire, depending on whether we are home or in the mountains. Lightning bugs (fireflies to some of you) flitter and sparkle all around us. Crickets and frogs serenade us with their night songs; an occasional chorus is yipped by the mountain coyote. Even with the business of nature’s nocturnal creatures, tranquil is the night. At times the night turns quiet, and all but the flowing river stands still.

Watch the sparks in your life. Perhaps it’s a relationship or a creative endeavor which needs flaming. See if you can build a fire. Likewise, if you don’t tend it, it will smolder and turn to ash.

I hope you get the opportunity to experience the wonders of night around a campfire with friends and family.

 

 

 

James River State Park

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance. ~Khalil Gibran

DirtMan and I enjoyed a quiet weekend in the mountains. We decided to take the scenic route home. On our way we stumbled upon the road leading to James River State Park. Did we turn down it? You bet we did! We were not disappointed, and of course we plan to visit again when we can make a full day of it. It doesn’t matter whether you are interested in hiking, biking, horse trails, water sports, or simply enjoying a picnic…there is something here for everyone.

Appears to be a batteau slightly submerged against the river bank.

Appears to be a batteau slightly submerged against the river bank.

A brief history

A brief history

View from the Tye River Overlook.

View from the Tye River Overlook.

A closer view of the train trestle

A closer view of the train trestle

...and we get to see a train, yay!

…and we get to see a train, yay!

The view is simply gorgeous!

The view is simply gorgeous!

 

Going Home

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” ~John Muir

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When I leave the confines of the city and settle into the simplicity of the life in which I grew up I find my comfort zone. The richness of roots is the freedom of a soaring spirit, inner wings which lead you where you need to be…to be HERE, NOW.

Like the wildflowers scattered throughout the fields. They sprout where the wind blows them. They dig in and hold onto sustenance while shining toward the sun. My substance comes from within and so does yours. Wherever we are, within us is the ability to bloom.

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The Butterfly Weed attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and insects with its vibrant blooms and nourishes them with its sweet nectar, not to mention the holistic value and beauty it offers to humans. We do the same for those we come in contact with through our words and deeds. By connecting with others we can spread love, instill confidence, and inspire growth. Now, that is living a good life in the most simplistic of ways.

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The shade of the walnut tree on a hot summer day is like a heartfelt hug during a trying time. The fruit of the tree feeds the hungry. We have the ability to comfort and feed others on a deeper level, to be a balm to those around us. For those willing to spend time getting to know themselves, they may find they hold the keys to open the doors they’ve been waiting to enter.

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I’ve always called this a blue tailed skink, but technically it’s a common five-lined skink. At any rate, I watched this guy sun himself and dart in and out between boards. He was both curious and cautious. We must never lose our sense of adventure, yet we must exercise our natural instincts to protect ourselves from danger.

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When I’m surrounded by the beauty of nature, my soul is at peace. Listening to the chirps and peeps of birdsong and whistles of wind, I am completely at ease. The thing is I have that same power wherever I am. I carry my peace within. We all do. We are free to be. Tap into your source, and enjoy the feeling of contentment wherever and whenever.

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I only see American goldfinch during the warmer seasons. It seems they have faith protection and provision will be provided during their travels. If only we each had the same faith to pursue what we feel called to do…how many of us hold back in fear, fear of danger, fear of our needs not being met, fear of the unknown? This gives a new meaning to walk (or fly!) blindly with faith. In other words, don’t be afraid to take a chance. I’m getting better at stepping out of my comfort zone. How about you?

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This single Queen Anne’s Lace stretches toward the sky. What does it say to me? It’s important to spend time alone, but equally essential to connect with others. Never be afraid to reach out, to expand.  Life is intricate, beautiful, and unique to each of us. And sometimes, when you look at the underside of everyday situations it is where you find the real beauty of life.

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

A Step of Faith

Faith is a passionate intuition. ~William Wordsworth  red maple 014 We live in a society controlled by ego. The world influences our perceptions and conditions us to make choices based solely on logic. As we fall prey to this pressure we lose touch with our souls.

We seldom take time to listen to the quiet voice within. Albert Einstein nailed it when he said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” We all experience intuition whether we realize it or not. Perhaps it’s a voice or a feeling of urgency which directs us to do something out of our normal routine. Sometimes, we shrug it off. Other times, we obey not knowing how it has impacted our lives.

We have become distrustful of ourselves. We question ourselves until we doubt the validity of the voice. We assume this intruder is our imagination, and we block its entrance into our lives. Through the shaping of society we have lost this Divine Guidance, the gift of spirit connection. Because it is in our nature to question, many refuse to listen to this unknown source often referred to as a gut feeling or instinct. Tapping into this unexplained knowledge requires trust.

We struggle to know the difference between ego and intuition. Ego is in your head whereas intuition comes from within, meaning you will feel a physical sensation as well. Ego speaks loudly and becomes almost obnoxious when ignored while intuition is more of a gentle nudge in the right direction and will continue to whisper or redirect you if you make the wrong decision.

There are times we must not look to others for answers but to ourselves. Answers and guidance reside within us. We must quiet our minds and listen.

The inner voice is in agreement with our bodies, minds, and spirits. It knows what we need to hear and when we need this information. It is important to learn to distinguish intuition from thoughts, emotions, and opinions.

Exercising awareness develops intuition. As we practice attentiveness we grow intellectually and spiritually, thus connecting us with our life’s purpose. Where has your intuition led you?

Blog Hop Around The World: Get On Your Creative Genius!

Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions. ~Paulo Coelho

I was asked to do this blog hop by my longtime friend, Patti. Patti is a nature lover, especially birds. She can identify them like no one else I know. And the fabulous pics she gets from her kitchen window, you just have to go to her blog and check them out. Now, if I was taking photos from my front window they’d be filled with window smudge not beautiful birds and squirrels…perhaps, I can talk Patti into coming over and cleaning my windows!

What am I working on? I am working on a novel, currently titled “Chasing Shadows”. I’ve only restarted it five million times, and it has evolved into an entirely (well, almost entirely) different story than when I started. Same main character, same first line, somewhat same backstory, but is finally coming to life. My main character is talking to me and leading me…YAY!  I also have two other novels started and placed on the backburner. I am still slowly working on some memoir as well as another nonfiction book.

I am also a fiber artist, and always have several projects on hand. I don’t devote as much time to this during the summer months as there is so much to see and do. I’ve just started the beading process on a fractal threading project I was working on this past winter. (Photos attached at end of post.)

How does my work differ from others of its genre? As far as my WIP novel, I really haven’t placed it in a genre as it is both character and plot driven at this point…perhaps, that is how it’s different, huh?

As far as my nonfiction, most is inspired by nature photography. I will take a photograph and then the words start swirling in my head…so maybe one could say the words are written by an offbeat lady with a connection to the natural life around her.

As far as fiber art goes I am self-taught. Most of my projects are mixed media, containing quilting techniques, crochet, painting, beading, etc… I especially enjoy using semiprecious stones and natural objects in my work as it gives me a sense of grounding.

Why do I create what I do? I feel called from within to write the words I write. I don’t write to say something; I write when I have something to say. This goes for fiction as well as nonfiction.

Also, I am a storyteller at heart. I consider it a gift from my father who could spin a tale and have everyone within earshot spellbound. While, I can’t do that verbally as he did, I hope to someday do that through written word.

With sewing and crafting, it comes naturally. I’ve had a needle in my hand since I was four years old. My babysitter taught me to sew and make things, and it’s brought me great joy all of my life.

How does your creating process work? My muse tends to visit in the middle of the night. We are currently fighting with his timing. I’d like my process be whenever I get the opportunity to write, but apparently I need to become more disciplined for that to happen.  I keep a notebook and often when I am reading a book on the craft of writing, scenes of my book will arrive in snippets which I jot in my notebook or on a computer file. Whenever bits and pieces come to me, I write them on whatever I can find handy if my notebook is not nearby. I am much more prolific if I start writing by hand and then transfer to computer. I’ve found my organization works better by hand as well. I use index cards to record scenes to place in order later. I also use a writer’s program called WriteWay which keeps me organized. Yeah, I realize I do most of these things twice by doing them this way, but it helps me know when it’s time to “kill my darlings”!

With fiber art, a vision of a completed project appears in my head often while hiking. When I get home I sketch it out and proceed from there. Many times, my projects end up taking a left turn and wind up nothing like I originally anticipated.

I have two creative blog friends I’d like for you to meet. They will post their blog hops on June 30. Please check them out.

Kenzie is a fabulous writer. I have no doubt some day her name will grace the spine of many books. She recently took up photography and has soared with it and opened up her own business. Once you take a look at her awesome portraits you will see why. Her photography blog is here with a link to her writing blog.

Becky is my ever talented friend. I mean she can do ANYTHING! Give her an object and she will remake it to reuse in no time. She can write, cook, sew, and can. She teaches cooking and canning classes. You name it she can pickle it. Seriously, who knew you can pickle strawberries? I didn’t until I met Becky. She is my go to person for recipes and tips. Make sure you visit, Becky, at Chicken Wire & Paper Flowers.

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Lightening The Load

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The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~ Hans Hofmann

I’m a clutter bug. As soon as I toss it, I’ll be sure to need it which will necessitate my purchasing another of the same item. Or I can’t possibly part with said object due to sentimental value. I tend to treasure items with memories of loved ones attached.

I can let go of clothes, appliances, and even some furniture. I just can’t toss out those baby shoes and a couple of much loved toys.

I am able to part with things I know can be of use to others. I have a difficult time letting go of things I know won’t hold the same value to others as it does to me.

Perhaps I need to perfect the art of detachment…to objects, that is. More and more I’m finding the things that matter really aren’t things at all.

My garbage cans have been filled twice. I have many bags lined up for the donation center. I’ve given much away. I’m simplifying in my own way, lightening the load. It might be a long process, but I already feel freer.

In removing the superfluous substances I am reclaiming the substance of what remains. Order is being restored. I feel as if I have more room to think, to breathe. It’s almost as if my energy has been renewed.

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”  ~Author Unknown

Where The Flow Leads

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Crabtree Falls

 

We often attempt to control people, especially as a parent we tend to try to control our children’s choices. It’s understandable to want to teach them morals and manners, but sometimes we try to sway their college choices and even decide careers for them. The art of letting go and allowing our offspring to lead their own lives can be both painful and joyous.

When we see our children in the flow of life it is liberating and beautiful. Sometimes it is only in looking back we see synchronicity working in their lives. My youngest son is an example of this. You all may remember my talking about trying to sway his choices a few years back…it only now I see his selections put him where he is supposed to be.

He originally chose a college about four hours from where we live while we had hoped he’d go to a private school near home. It ended up he didn’t like college, and played with the idea of joining the Army. Don’t ask me why, perhaps it was a parenting thing, but I just didn’t feel a military career was up his alley. Then again, maybe it had something to do with his best friend trying to get him to join with him rather than it being a dream of his own. I prayed and prayed he wouldn’t enlist. On day three after the announcement of his plans, he tore his MCL and ACL playing football, not exactly what I’d planned to thwart his efforts; but none the less he had to have surgery and much recovery time which changed his plans.

A couple of years after the knee injury, he met a girl attending the private college I’d wanted him to attend.  Sounds as if he was meant to meet her. They have now been dating for three years. During this time, my son has had a steady job but decided he wanted to become a master electrician. He was just admitted to a program about a thousand miles away. It is near where his girlfriend’s family lives. My son’s program is five years long, and it will take his girlfriend five years to obtain her MFA and Doctorate. Today, the hubby is helping them travel across several states to settle in to pursue their dreams together.

There were many bits and pieces of the process of them getting to this point, but it seems it has all fallen into place. That happens when you are in the flow.

This teaches me to sit back and watch, rather than trying to guide my children to my desired outcome. God knows much better than me where they need to be and when. It’s freeing not to try to be in control.

Though my youngest hasn’t lived at home for several years, it’s still difficult to let go. We gave our children roots, and it’s time to let them use their wings to fly where life takes them.