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

dinner for Denise 083

 

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

IMG_6807

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

Telling The Secrets Of Our Souls

Water is the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips. — (Jean Giraudoux, The Madwomen of Chaillot)

Water is the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips. — (Jean Giraudoux, The Madwomen of Chaillot)

The manner in which we live can be viewed through our simplistic or extravagant lifestyles. I once read if you followed your money flow you’d discover much about yourself. I promptly pulled out my receipts and reviewed my expenditures. Turns out I enjoy spending time at the grocery store. Well, that’s not exactly true. Grocery shopping is not a thrill for me, but feeding others is a pleasure. I love cooking and sharing meals with others.

While how we spend our money does say much about us, I think how we spend our time says more. It is the greatest indicator of personality and passion. Sure we attend events for the sake of others and even do things or purchase items which are not of utmost interest to us, and it is almost akin to wearing your heart upon your sleeve.

That said our lives might not be as secretive as we think. Though much might be left unsaid and yet undone, everything we say and do is indicative of who we are. We wear priority like an identification badge, and yet it’s all a matter of perspective.

Do you ever wonder if people know what you’re thinking? I suppose my skin is as transparent as water. My feelings are written all over my face and are revealed through body language. I can’t fake others out when it comes to what moves me. How about you?

Is it possible to hold secrets from yourself?  When you can no longer read the writing on your bones, you only need a glimpse of your childhood to refresh yourself. What is it you enjoyed doing? What interested you? What did you read? What did you play? Who did you dream of being? Does this sound far-fetched? I don’t think so. As a child I designed and sewed Barbie clothes. I played in the woods. I experimented in the kitchen. (My poor dad ate many a weird concoction with a smile on his face!) I collected rocks. I wrote. Now: I design and sew art quilts. I hike. I experiment in the kitchen. (Though my family, at times, is not as graceful as my father was at being the guinea pig!) Instead of the kid with rocks in her pockets, they are all over my house, and occasionally in my pocket or purse. Yes, rocks still catch my eye and find their way into my heart. And yes, I still write. Oh, there were years I spent away from these loves while I was attending to other loves, but yet they came back to me. What does this mean? Do you see a similar pattern in your life?

Are our innermost secrets visible to others? If stifled or neglected do they remain with us? The passions within us, secret or visible, stay with us. I’m going to tell you a little story about this. When my father died my sister and I found a guitar and a CD about learning to play the piano. We were going to toss them out and our mother told us not to. Upon inquiry we found it was something she always wanted to do and still hoped to someday. We teased her a bit, but left the items intact. A week ago my mother gave me a book (it was a fill in the blank question and answer book about life) I’d given her to write in about her life. In this book it asked what you dreamed of as a teenager. Her answer was to learn to play the guitar and piano. She has had the same dream her entire life. She is almost eighty-one, and thinks it is too late…I’ve made a few calls today and am hoping her dream can be fulfilled.

Once we become aware of the longings within, we choose whether or not we will share them. Some of us reach for those dreams. Some of us fear them and pretend they don’t exist. Some of us don’t make them priorities. Some of us think we are too busy to make those dreams become our reality. What do you do?

People who follow their spirit emit a certain vibe. There is both calmness and energy about them. (It could be that is how one wears peace and happiness.) They seem to shine from the inside out. They are living the secrets of their souls. Others flock to be in their presence. They want a piece of positivity.

The heart whispers the mysteries of peace and happiness all of our lives.

Don’t tune out the voice of guidance.

The secrets of your soul are waiting to be heard.

Spin Cycle: Secrets

Writing The History Of Our Lives

Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing. ~Tony Blair

sunrise under the pier

There will be days life will let you down. You will feel disappointed. And yet even if your heart hurts and you can look yourself in the mirror without shame, it has still been a good day.

There will be times you hold others to your own standards and they don’t live up to those expectations. Is it fair to expect others to be morally conscious?

The thing about honesty is when someone reinvents the truth enough times it becomes his reality, and even so the truth, not his or someone else’s perception, will follow him throughout his journey. The lesson will repeat itself until it is learned.

The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned was by the example of my father, to do the right thing even if it comes at a personal cost to you. He taught me the value of people and relationships. It is basically a matter of integrity…you either have it or you don’t.

When I am dissatisfied with my own thoughts or actions, I know the fault lingers within me. I take action to change my view or behavior. I work on becoming a better person, not just for myself but for others. Because this is important to me, I hope it is important to others. I have faith in humanity.

Every morning the sun rises and we are given another chance to do what is right. What a wonderful world it is to be given opportunity after opportunity to rewrite the history of our lives.

Peace Like A River

If you' re not beside a real river, close your eyes, and sit down beside an imaginary one, a river where you feel comfortable and safe. Know that the water has wisdom, in its motion through the world, as much wisdom as any of us have. Picture yourself as the water. We are liquid; we innately share water's wisdom. — (Eric Alan, "Meditation Draws Its Power From the Water," The Oregonian (September 11, 2005))

If you’ re not beside a real river, close your eyes, and sit down beside an imaginary one, a river where you feel comfortable and safe. Know that the water has wisdom, in its motion through the world, as much wisdom as any of us have. Picture yourself as the water. We are liquid; we innately share water’s wisdom. — (Eric Alan, “Meditation Draws Its Power From the Water,” The Oregonian (September 11, 2005))

I carry an inner peace. I am able to feel calm in the midst of storms. Recently I began to feel a growing agitation within. At first, I thought I’d allowed outside forces to disrupt my harmony.  I realize we are each subject to a certain amount of negativity and chaos, and I was quick to blame my lack of serenity on that. Once I began to soothe my soul, I discovered it was my own lack of spiritual practice which had caused my unrest.

How simple it is to slip away from the things we need the most, and by things I don’t mean material means. I’m talking about meditation, prayer, solitude, rest, and whatever it might be that feeds or comforts one’s soul.

I suppose it could be said a spiritual life is as important to overall balance as an aligned spine is to physical health.  Have you ever felt out of whack and realized you held the solution in the palm of your hand? Unclench your fist, and read the writings of your heart.

Here’s wishing you enough…

Enough time alone, and enough time with loved ones

Enough quietness to hear the voice within

Enough insight to see the beauty before you

Enough touch to feel the love surrounding you

Enough awareness to feel the wind in your face

Enough fortitude to stop long enough to enjoy the fragrance of the day

And

Enough sensitivity to taste the zest of life…

James River State Park, Take Two

 “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”  ― Rachel Carson

Sunset over the Tye

 

We made a second trip to James River State Park while on vacation. The Tye River Overlook was so pretty we wanted to catch it at sunset. It did not disappoint.

IMG_6712

 

This time we walked the river and wetland trails, taking in the beauty of the wildflowers.

IMG_6731

 

On our last visit, we enjoyed the river from the banks at the picnic area. This time we ventured onto the beach. The sound of lapping water and wind whistling through the trees drew a soothing solitary scene for us.

IMG_6732

 

Someone before us had created stone art.

IMG_6735-1

 

The wetlands, woods, and brush provide cover and food for the birds, bees, rabbits, and deer.

IMG_6750

 

As always, we enjoyed our walk through nature and snapped a few shots here and there.

IMG_6781

The Nature of Negative Emotions

“The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.” ~Sophocles IMG_5725 Negativity gnaws at the spirit leaving the soul stripped and tangled. Our challenges become problems. We focus on what is wrong rather than solutions. Negativity obscures the benefits of learning and growing from overcoming obstacles. It is one thing to make this an internal choice, but quite another when we deliberately share this with the world. When pessimism spreads it is not good for anyone.

Opportunity hides in the solutions of negativity. When we rise above those low vibrations we find there are good things waiting for us.

Peace does not live in the midst of negative emotions. We have the power to live a positive life. Traveling the road of optimism leads to fulfillment. Living a contented life opens the doorway to lasting happiness.

Most of us know at least one person who thinks the world is out to get him…it seems nothing ever goes his way. Doesn’t being around those types of people weigh you down? The influence of a bad attitude can surely ruin a good mood. Try to avoid them. If you can’t, don’t allow them to suck you in.

Negative thoughts are ego based. The spirit offers affirmation you are enough just as you are. Spirit allows you to be you and to reach for your dreams. You will constantly battle with ego while you settle into the peace of spirit.

Protect yourself by allowing the negative forces to pass by.

Focus on the good things in life.

Be grateful for who you are and what you have.

Love greatly. Laugh often. Live your dreams.

“Be too large for worry; too noble for anger; too strong for fear and too content to permit the presence of trouble. Be so powerful that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” ~The Optimist Creed

The Courage To Continue

suzicate:

On the eve of the 45th anniversary of Camille, I remember as many of my Nelson County friends and relatives.

Originally posted on The Water Witch's Daughter:

It was the night of August 19, 1969 and the early morning of August 20th that death and destruction intruded the land and lives of Nelson County, Virginia. Hurricane Camille came quickly, and it’s strength and greed took everything within it’s path. An excess of twenty-five inches of rain in a five hour period of time pounded the land and the hearts of it’s people. These are my people. The people I love and respect. These are people of courage. People of love. People of hope.

My husband's grandfather's house.

They clung to life through the night in tree branches and on rooftops swept into an uncontrollable surge of water . They called to family members separated by swift rapids until the only sounds left were one’s own heartbeat and the roar of the water. Daylight brought annihilation of life and land they had never encountered or envisioned in their lifetimes. The morning sun brought…

View original 714 more words