The Stillness Factor

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.  Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Have you ever noticed wisdom enters by the way of silence?

A Knowing of the soul occurs.

Mysteries are explained, problems solved, and creative urges born.

Answers wait in silence. As I learn to listen and decipher, I hear more than I ever did with my ears.

Have you ever experienced an epiphany?

These sudden realizations come to me after times of deep contemplation or sleep. These understandings even make appearances in my dreams.

Insights aren’t always clear cut. They can arrive in bits and pieces, like puzzles I must ponder to see how I fit into the equation.

If I enter a quiet time so focused on finding an answer my mind fills with chatter. When I empty my mind, I rise refreshed and observant. A simple switch in perspective is often what I need.

Refraining from speaking has been a lifelong challenge for me. I’m finding more and more how good silence is for my soul.

The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others. ~Solomon Ibn Gabriol

Nomad in the Mist

 

 

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.  I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom goes on as fruit.” ~Dawna Markova

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On our way to the mountains we found ourselves in the midst of fog. The mist would thicken, almost choking our senses, and thin into swirling grey tendrils. The scent, earthy and intoxicating, moisturized my soul. Fog has a way of slowing one down. Though not lost, it takes greater effort to navigate. Have you ever felt this way in life?

Lately, I don’t feel as if I’m traveling the mountain top or the valley. I am meandering the haze of even ground. I feel myself sinking into the soft mulch of my body. It is as if I’m experiencing an inner personal homecoming. This grey mist of melancholy is comforting. I am able to rise above and enjoy the social aspects of life and slip back into the cool night air of my soul.

There is something special to me about a germination period. It is generally a soothing time prior to a highly prolific creative phase and spiritual growth spurt.

I choose to inhabit my moments on whatever level I am taken.

I choose living and loving over fearing falling.

I choose to germinate and blossom in the time allowed me.

My Happy Place

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My happy place is one of love.

It is made of people and memories,

of water and woods,

turquoise and sandalwood.

It is a candle in the darkness

and a quilt on a bitter night.

It contains the moon, the stars, and the sun,

and the washing of the controlling tides.

It feeds hot soup and homemade bread,

and of course, chocolate and wine.

My happy place is artistic expression

in fabric and threads.

It listens to Motown and rock and roll

and reads favorite books over and over.

It is calm but cries easily yet accepts what is.

My happy place contains words of peace,

gentle touches, and lots of hugs.

My happy place is a warm breath

in the cold wind, and but a pulse

in the heart of this world.

Spin Cycle: My Happy Place

Island Time

Ever just need to get away? DirtMan and I did, and it was wonderful. We stopped a few times for photogenic purposes on our way to our weekend destination, Ocracoke Island. Weather was perfect, moderate with a gentle breeze and gorgeous clouds for photography. We dug our toes into some cool damp sand and got splashed by some wild waves. All was good; the water and the breeze were refreshing. We took our bikes along to do some exploring. We shopped and checked out some restaurants as well. We even got to enjoy a free Motown concert from the condo deck! We were able to appease our fun and adventuresome side while relaxing our bodies and souls. We now understand the term “Ocracoma”.  I had a hard time choosing only a few photos…hope you enjoy them.

Our first stop was Bodie Lighthouse. This also happened to be the stop for 100 bicyclists participating in the "mountains to coast" ride.

Our first stop was Bodie Lighthouse. This also happened to be the stop for 100 bicyclists participating in the “mountains to coast” ride.

Another shot of Bodie

Another shot of Bodie

Trail at Bodie for viewing the wetlands, waterfowl, and rear of Bodie

Trail at Bodie for viewing the wetlands, waterfowl, and rear of Bodie

It was a glorious day for clouds.

It was a glorious day for clouds.

Surf's up and the birds are feasting!

Surf’s up and the birds are feasting!

Fishing Pier at Avon

Fishing Pier at Avon

Fishing pier at Frisco which was damaged (and irreparable) in a hurricane a few years back.

Fishing pier at Frisco which was damaged (and irreparable) in a hurricane a few years back.

View from the other side of the Frisco pier

View from the other side of the Frisco pier

Taken from the condo window

Taken from the condo window

View from the condo

View from the condo

An Ocracoke sunset

An Ocracoke sunset

As she slips away...

As she slips away…

Sunset photo bomb by the Ocracoke ferry!

Sunset photo bomb by the Ocracoke ferry!

Is he chasing the sunset, too?

Is he chasing the sunset, too?

...and the lighthouse lights up.

…and the lighthouse lights up.

Just an island view

Just an island view

Ocracoke Lighthouse in the daytime

Ocracoke Lighthouse in the daytime

From the other side of the island looking back at the condo

From the other side of the island looking back at the condo

Another shot looking across the water

Another shot looking across the water

Grabbed a photo opportunity while waiting for the ferry home...love sea oats!

Grabbed a photo opportunity while waiting for the ferry home…love sea oats!

Made it back to Hatteras just in time for the sunset

Made it back to Hatteras just in time for the sunset

Love this seascape at dusk

Love this seascape at dusk

Love the colors here

Love the colors here

...another day is done!

…another day is done!

Bonus pic: This is the only night shot I took of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, and it was taken with my cell phone.

Bonus pic: This is the only night shot I took of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, and it was taken with my cell phone.

Reclaiming Peace And Inspiring Creativity

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Yesterday I wrote about being off center. Fortunately, I recognized it was happening and knew what to do. I found the feedback from this post interesting since there was overwhelming indication nature soothes us and sets us back on track. Nature is calming. We can’t help but relax into it. The brain chatter disappears and creativity flows. We don’t need to head to the wilderness. A trip to a local park or a walk around the neighborhood seems to be all that’s needed to find ourselves. It’s almost ironic we need to leaves ourselves to find ourselves…but then again we seem to think ego is the safe place to fall. However, most of us know it is when we stretch ourselves we see deeper and reach farther.

I’ve spending my creative time in the kitchen. The past few weeks I’ve celebrated the ending of summer by making homemade ice creams. I tantalized the taste buds with blackberry, strawberry, and peach creams. Then I ushered in autumn by baking peach pies. Apple pies will be following. While I felt better I still wasn’t quite centered until I got some outdoor meditation.

This weekend I plan on getting back to nature and in my groove. I’ll tell you about it next week.

I wish each of you a relaxing weekend. I wish you the opportunity to rejuvenate your souls.

I hope you get outside to enjoy the changing season.

Most of all, I hope you, too, are back in the flow.

When We Call Ourselves To Attention

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” - Eckhart Tolle

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

I feel disconcerted, not anxious about any particular situation just not quite centered. Unable to focus on reading and unable to pull forth words from my heart to write, I take it as a cue to sit and pay attention to breath. In a matter of moments I settle into myself. It’s interesting when one is enveloped in peace the rest of their world follows in a cloud of calm.

I spend the evening outside. The cool air welcomes me like a new adventure, fresh, exciting, and filled with promise. I spot a praying mantis slowly making his way across the back of the house and fly off. Cricket song keeps me company while darkness creeps in and wraps itself around the tall pines. Luna dances across the sky, only showing about half of herself which is enough to light a path through the velvet shawl of night.

After regaining my tranquility, I wonder how I allow it to slip from me. Without asking, I know the answer. It is always when I get too busy to pay attention. When I’m not in a state of awareness I find myself on the river bank of life’s flow. One would think it would be enough to keep me mindful. The moments of now are what keep me centered. As I watch Luna pull back the stars as she passes through the trees, I am at peace.

Do you ever feel out of whack? How do you find your center when you lose it? What gives you a sense of peace? When you find your calm disappearing, do you find it to be from outside influences or from not taking care of yourself?

dusk through the trees

The Grace Of Grief

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~Washington Irving

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For someone who believes in living in the moment, facing reality and not dwelling in the past, I did a poor job of managing my own emotions. I didn’t realize I had slipped behind a veil of denial. I didn’t realize my grief had lodged itself in my chest. It had layered and twisted into an invisible but painful knot. I felt as if I’d been caught in an undertow, the current pushing on my chest and stifling my breath.  I had vowed to stay strong which might have been my undoing. I wouldn’t allow myself to fully feel, and I couldn’t cry. I lived in only what I can explain as a bubble of fear. I’m not quite sure what I feared except the changes in life, in our family unit. As a highly emotional person, I have no idea how I pulled this off. Needless to say, when it hit me months later, I wasn’t just sad but felt the emptiness and a pain so deep it gnawed my soul.

It has been a year today since my father’s death. The emptiness has quietly taken a seat at the table. Though some days it speaks and I listen. There are days sadness wraps around me like a thin shawl and my soul can’t be warmed. Other days, memories warm my heart and a smile spreads across my face. And there are moments I see those wise eyes looking back at me from a photo and I feel tears well in my eyes. Beneath whatever identifiable feelings, gratitude rises. I am thankful to have had a father who loved me and taught me I am equipped to deal in this lifetime. I am grateful, for I know without his influence my life would not be what it is, and I am truly blessed.

I miss him more than words can convey. He was a gifted storyteller who held attention with his personal flair and humor. While he was a talker, he reserved within undeniable power and wisdom. To those who loved him, he was larger than life; and through us, he lives on.

Love doesn't hide. It stays and fights. It goes the distance, that's why love is so strong. So it can carry you all the way home.”

Love doesn’t hide. It stays and fights. It goes the distance, that’s why love is so strong. So it can carry you all the way home.”

Fall: In Love With Virginia

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”  ― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

If you’re contemplating a trip to see the autumn colors, check out Virginia. The leaves won’t be peak until about the third weekend of October, but here’s a few pics from autumns past.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I can feel it in the air, the way a crisp breeze will catch beneath my hair. I see it as the leaves are slipping into yellow. Aromas and tastes of apples and pumpkins are tickling my senses. I’m beginning to hear the crunch of dryness beneath my feet and the rustle of leaves in the air.

What do I have to say about fall? Bring it on!

Humpback Rock

Humpback Rock

Humpback Rock

Humpback Rock

Beaverdam Park

Beaverdam Park

Beaverdam Park

Beaverdam Park

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Spin Cycle: Fall

 

What Does Silence Say?

“What do we any of us have but our illusions? And what do we ask of others but that we be allowed to keep them?”  ― W. Somerset Maugham

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I am an observer. I am enlightened, educated, and often entertained by people watching. I enjoy seeing what makes others tick.

The thing is a general impression upon observation is not the truth of the matter. You must know your subject or at least a good bit of his story for the pieces to fall into place.

Emotion is the driving force of action. People act or react due to love, anger, guilt, fear, jealousy, greed, and so on. Sentiments leading the deed are indicative of motive…and those of us in the audience often make guesses. I don’t suppose it makes us right or wrong, just human. We are born to reason and thus empowered to opinion. The question arises whether voicing said opinion without firsthand knowledge of the situation is helpful or hurtful.

The amazing thing about people watching is not what I find out about them but what I learn of myself. Do I agree with their position? Do I try to sway their opinions? Am I tolerant of their beliefs or actions? Do I feel myself getting angry or fearful? Am I touched by their attitudes?

Have you ever witnessed people bully, belittle, or boss others to do things their way or agree with them?  We pride ourselves with our uniqueness, how we look and act differently, yet we are appalled when others think differently than ourselves. We fear their beliefs and reduce their opinions. Perhaps this is done in our own need of validation.

I am a sky watcher. I no more tell the clouds how to behave than I direct the shining of the stars. I simply observe, enjoy or annoy as it depends on the weather, and learn what I can. I prefer to do the same with people.

So Where’s The Chocolate?

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food. ”  ~Michael Levine

I don't think anyone loves chocolate as much as my Mama...here is my father watching her eat chocolate! I think I inherited this love from her!

I don’t think anyone loves chocolate as much as my Mama…here is my father watching her eat chocolate! I think I inherited this love from her!

A fun and yummy tidbit I ran across is that tomorrow (September 13, 2014) is International Chocolate Day! Yay, I don’t think there could be anything (food wise) better to celebrate except maybe caramel. I looked it up and oh no, I missed that day! And beer day, too! In fact I missed a whole bunch of great food celebrations. Click here to see what you’ve missed and what’s coming up!

Little gets me as excited or delighted as chocolate! (Except caramel!) In celebration of this most delicious day I have six chocolate brownies in the oven…YUM YUM!

“Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.”  ― Judith Viorst, Love & Guilt & The Meaning Of Life, Etc

“Will looked horrified. “What kind of monster could possibly hate chocolate?”  ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”  ― Charles M. Schulz

“Can I come back and see you sometime?”

“Long as you bring me some chocolate,” Gramma said, and smiled. “I’m partial to chocolate.”

“Gramma, you’re diabetic.”

“I’m old, girl. Gonna die of something. Might as well be chocolate.”  ― Rachel Caine, The Dead Girls’ Dance