Ties That Bind Our Hearts And Souls

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of. ~Ellen Goodman

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Memory has carved her signature upon my soul. I remember the warmth of love radiating from smiling faces, laughter tickling the walls of the house, and foods of childhood comforting the voids within us.

This time of year is steeped rich in tradition, making it bittersweet for many. Our traditions have evolved through the years. I prefer not to say they’ve died because they still exist but not in the context of the past. People die, move, estrange themselves…still, time moves on and love builds bridges. While I long for gatherings of the past, I am encouraged to birth new moments of deep connections.

As I plan menus, choose gifts, bake desserts, and write lists, memories sweep in and out. At first, I felt a shadow upon me knowing I can’t recreate the past.  Now, I realize my preparations are merely the setting for future memories. More important than cherished memories are enjoying the moments as they are happening and I hope to make that my focus.

While DirtMan and I are now empty nesters, we find distance to be an issue. Neither our adult children nor our widowed mothers are in close proximity. We find ourselves traveling often to visit, and welcome their presence into our home. We treasure these moments as they slip away all too quickly.

When it comes to family gathering, I no longer look at it as entertaining the masses but loving the individuals. And I so look forward to doing that.

This year we get our children for Thanksgiving, and we’re on our own for Christmas. Youngest and his longtime girlfriend will arrive tomorrow. Oldest and my mother arrive a few days later. I anticipate their arrivals like a giddy child on Christmas Eve. I plan to savor the moments as I do the flavor of my food.

It is time to focus on what is, not what isn’t. I wish each of you memorable moments of love, good food and drink, and infinite joy. May your tummy and heart be filled to capacity. May you have enough. Remember always, you are enough just as you are.

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. ~Susan Lieberman

Coming Home To Yourself

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I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches. ~Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Once upon a time I thought life was about who had a bigger house, sportier car, higher paying job…

Then, I decided life surely had to be about who loved deeper, lived harder, gave more, fell softer, and learned quicker.

Sounds more accurate, but is it really true?

Now, I’ve learned, life isn’t about WHO. It’s not about comparing yourself with others.

Life is about YOU. Measure against your own capabilities and desires.

Are you living and loving enough? Are your senses awakened?

Life is not only about knowing others. It’s about knowing you.

A serious question I ask myself is “Am I living the message I want to send the world?” This helps me define not only who I am but what I want to be. It brings my values and priorities to the surface. Am I living what I believe? If I am, then I know I am on the right path for me.

When I set my intention for the day to giving rather than getting, I am satisfied when my day is done. But better yet, when I set my intention on being rather than doing I find I accomplish both.

What I have been has brought me into who I am now and this will shape me into who I will become. The same holds true for you. I love that we are ever learning and becoming…and that is the true purpose of life.

The depth and breadth of my living comes down to the capabilities of my heart…where is it leading me? It comes down to the fine line between holding on and letting go, the ability to find success in the midst of failure…only to realize there is no failure, only lessons learned.

They say life is what you make of it. I find it to be true. In being, that is my life. Who can assess the accomplishments of one life by the standards of another? My journey is not yours; nor is yours mine.

Where is your focus? Time, energy, talent…is your life more about what you use or what you waste?

I ran across this the other day, and it continues to speak to me. “Just keep coming home to yourself. You are the one you’ve been waiting for.” ~Byron Katie

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.  ~Joseph Campbell

When Autumn Calls My Name

“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon? ~Hal Borland

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While I love the colors of Autumn, specifically October, I think what endears my heart the most is it teaches me the continuity of life. I see the beauty in maturity and death, and the hope of another cycle.

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When I witness the brazen burst of color upon a subdued landscape I feel as if I’ve come home; I see in nature what I feel inside.

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Jeweled trees dancing in the breeze and the crunch and rustle of leaves beneath my feet awaken the gypsy within me.

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No matter where that road may be it always seems to be calling me home.

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I find myself on that familiar path of home, the one tugging on my heart.

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The mountains whisper my name, their messages traveling in the wind until I answer.

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I settle into the soft hues of the meadows I call my own, and I am content.

The Little Rocket That Couldn’t

DirtMan and I hustled to the oceanfront in hopes of getting some great photos of the Antares rocket launch. Though launch was at Wallops Island, we knew we could get a glimpse from Virginia Beach.  He chose the 13th street locale so we could include the pier in our shots. We quickly set up with only a few minutes to spare. We heard a loud boom and assumed it was some Navy training since they were flying in the vicinity. We waited until the ten minute window was over, assuming the launch had been cancelled again. A passerby informed us of the epic fail, telling us of the explosion upon launch. At least, it was a beautiful evening to be at the beach…the air was warm with a slight breeze, salty scent of the ocean…

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Pick Your Poison

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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We each have a thing. You know the thing that prohibits growth, keeps us stuck. It could be anything…fear, materialism, greed, addiction are examples of habitual obstacles.

What does this photo of persimmons have to do with this? Well, you see my childhood memories of persimmons are bitter. Yes, the mouth puckering kind. DirtMan told me to try one. He swore they were sweet. I picked the firmest one I could reach. Oh my, the inside of my mouth drew up like a dried prune. He told me to try a soft one, the mushy ones that looked like they were about to rot on the tree. I was hesitant but complied. It was sweet, juicy, and downright delectable. Some things in life take time to mature. We go through many phases before we come into our “goodness”. It is mostly a matter of awareness and the desire to want growth.

When we focus on our poisons, we gnaw away our insides until it clearly shows on the outside. When we don’t allow the blossoming of our souls we become bitter like that persimmon. Listening to our needs and following what insures growth permits us to sweeten.

DirtMan casually mentioned downsizing now that we are empty nesters. How dare he? This house holds my memories. It is my comfort zone. He claims we need to think about settling into a one story because one day those stairs will be killers on our knees. So, he has a point. I don’t do well with disruptions to my routine. I fear change…yes, the big word here is FEAR. I don’t like my security compromised. Here I am looking at what could be a new and exciting adventure as an end to my life as I know it. See, it’s all in how one looks at things. I could get used to the idea and go with it…might take me a while, but I’m sure I’ll come around.

The inability to let go; yep, that’s my poison. What’s yours?

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.