Purple Blossom Majesty

Why I love all hues of purple is hard to say.

No other color makes me feel this way.

Maybe it sends me a creative spark,

or calls to me from depths of dark.

It could be the calm within the deep,

Or the aura of mystery I wish to keep.

Is it the calms that sweeps and soothes,

or the energy of benevolence that moves?

From lavender to violet intense, dreams inspire

as I grasp for balance and connection I desire.

Could it signify the secrets I dare not confide?

Or is it the magic of love and hope hidden inside?

When seeking within purple realms, answers I find,

for it blesses me with peace, imparts clarity of mind.

It could be the fragrance of childhood innocence I long

as I linger within the melody of Spring’s royal song.

Breath Of Life

In. Out. In. Out. Breathing. It’s automatic. We don’t even have to think about it. I had a dear friend check in on me to see how I was doing. She told me that she had been breathing for me, and I was thankful. Lately there have been times I seemed to have stopped breathing. Was I holding my breath or just refusing to breathe? Maybe I’ve just paused more often than usual. I generally pause to absorb something, to make it last. I hold my breath when I don’t want to feel. Then I inhale again and nothing has changed. Still I know breathing fortifies my lungs and caressing pain strengthens my soul, so I have faith all will be well.

I’ve been really tired and just can’t seem to catch up on anything, especially sleep. Again, I went to bed early last night and woke up about 2:00 am to the snoring of my dog. Her breath chugged, chortled, and shimmied like a freight train. I lay there and listened to her until she finally woke herself up. Beside me my husband slept peacefully…gently his breath filled and emptied his lungs to a beautiful cadence. I put my hand upon his chest and felt the rhythm as it rose and fell with each beat of his heart. In. Out. In. Out. Automatic. He was totally unaware of God blowing the wind throughout him. What a gift we are given and often take for granted.

I never thought much about breath until years ago when I learned to detect and halt oncoming panic attacks. I was taught to control these episodes with breathing techniques. It was a successful strategy for me. Eventually this knowledge blended into the past, forgotten until about a week or so ago. I awakened to heightened breathing and the old familiar sensation of impending doom. I settled into a comfortable spot and concentrated on my breath. In and out, slow, long, and methodical until the fear melted away and breathing once again became automatic.

I began to tend my breathing again. In the following days, I was instantly alerted if my breaths became rapid, shallow, or out of my ordinary pattern. I noticed that my breathing shifted during moments of anxiety or other intense emotions. Breathing, this effortless task had become labored for me. My spacious and inviting breath became tense and cramped. As I exhaled, the heaviness in my diaphragm tightened, moved above my ribcage, and caught, stifled in my throat. As I swallowed, the air quickly moved to stop at the base of my throat and spiraled to an emptiness in the base of my stomach. Each time I focused on the intake and outtake, I regained balance. I not only centered my breath but my attitude.

I recognize that I have allowed my emotions dominate me. In turn, my thought process compromised my breath. I am also aware that if I let go of ego and get back into the moment, my breathing will take care of itself. Just by concentrating on sensation, my breathing is less restricted and more calming.

Yet, breath is simply air. You and I partake of the same substance. I pass it to you, and you to me. This space between us sustains us.

The average person takes in 21,600 breaths a day. How many of them do any of us actually notice?

Blog Post Problems

I apologize to all who might have tried to comment on my last post. The comments had automatically turned off, and would not allow me to turn it on. You don’t want to know what I had to go through to  edit/update post. It would not accept anything I put in. I also have been having difficulty posting photos. It won’t allow me to place them throughout my text unless I post the pics and then write between them. Is anyone esle having problems or does my blog just hate me?!

Stepping Stones Across The Creek

 

The creek was literally the property line where I grew up. I spent my days crossing the creek to get to my cousin’s house. I either could traverse by rocks where the water flowed over the dirt road, or I could steady myself across a makeshift bridge positioned between both creek banks. Throughout my lifetime I’ve crossed the creek many times. I’ve waded through the water, jumped from rock to rock, and even straddled logs to get from bank to bank. Sometimes I’ve fallen in and other times I’ve cleared the water. Every time I got wet, I came up with a new strategy for crossing the next time. It could have been adding bigger rocks or placing them closer together. I may have even just needed to steady myself before taking that first step. But always, I tried just one more time. Practice really does make perfect, well maybe not perfect but possible. Metaphorically speaking, I’ve had to cross many rocks along the creek that runs through my life.

Insecurity has been a hard rock to jump over. It has taken me many attempts to trust myself. My gut instinct is almost always on target, yet I struggle to believe I know what I am doing or where I am going. I have never quite felt safe. I always thought everything and everyone was bigger and better than me. Though I craved security, I never realized that I had often been the obstacle in my own path. Only through reflection have I recently realized that I’ve always had available the tools I needed for self growth, but was to afraid to use them.

This brings me to the rock of fear. I have grown up emotionally afraid of almost everything unfamiliar to me. I lacked courage in so many ways. I probably would have done a better job if I’d closed my eyes and not seen where I was going. Seeing is what caused my fear. Once I saw what was in front of me, my thought process took over and paralyzed me. Had I felt my way across the creek, I’d have gotten to the other side much quicker. Eventually, I found the courage to rationalize and trust myself. In trusting I learned that if I got wet, I’d dry in time…all I needed was a little sunshine.

I was once in a place of sadness. I didn’t know that most of it stemmed from selfishness. I was focused on myself and how others affected me. I wasn’t confident I had anything of value to offer others, nor had I examined how my actions and reactions affected them. I lived wanting the world to change, not knowing that simply altering my own heart would shift my small world. I removed myself as a victim in my world and began to live victoriously. When I instilled generosity into my life, joy, peace, and harmony naturally found their way into my life.

The most difficult rock for me to step across was anxiety. My life was based on apprehension. I was a bundle of nervous energy waiting for the world around me to collapse. I had to retrain my thought process and adjust my view. I had to stop thinking about what could happen. I had to stop worrying about the future and start living in the now. I had to learn to focus on the positive aspects of life and let go of negativity. This was also the most important step I’ve ever taken. It was life changing. This very process me led me to the inner peace I never knew existed.

Many times I’ve rearranged the rocks in my life. I’ve had to rebuild dams, piling rocks higher in certain areas and removing them all together in other spaces. The result has been freely flowing water with the creation of lovely falls. My dam is stronger in some places and needs continuous reinforcement, but such is life. Ever constant and ever changing, but beautiful all the same.

Day By Day

As we drift through the winds of time we pick up little gems while we drop old habits. We learn what is important, what is not needed or even a hindrance, and what makes us flourish. We scatter our own seeds among those we meet along our way. These experiences shape us into who we really are, who we were always meant to be. We are like rocks carved through a lifetime of weathering.

I feel like I’ve soared through much of my life oblivious to the seasons of my soul. I’ve taken a rest period to regenerate. What I notice is that externally I hardly recognize the woman I’ve grown to be. What happened to that skinny freckled girl who waded the creeks and ran through the fields of Black-eyed Susans? Where is the young harried mother who juggled work, home, and soccer practices? I look in the mirror and see this strange woman with bits of gray hair and lifelines etched at the corner of her eyes looking back at me. With all the changes occurring around me through the rush of time, I’ve neglected to notice how much I’ve changed.

Yet amongst those physical changes, on the inside I am more like me than I’ve ever been. I have become all the things I’ve hidden inside, the things I was afraid would chase others away. I try not to run from my emotions anymore. I am open to love and life. I suppose I’ve hit a plateau where my life has caught up with me. I am tired of hiding. I am not afraid to be me. I’ve emerged from the shadows and embraced the gifts of my life. I no longer need to blend into the background. I realize it’s ok to be uniquely me. I’ve learned to love myself, and in doing this it has allowed me to love others more fully.

This period of regeneration has been a time of self reflection and personal growth. While I still don’t know exactly what my life purpose is, I know that I am supposed to love and promote goodwill. I’ve never really been one for a five or ten year plan. Oh yes, like anyone else I have dreams, most are fleeting and changing. The only constants are the sun and the moon, and even they cycle. I live day to day, moment by moment. I make small short term plans and when they don’t pan out I accept it as there is supposed to be a lesson somewhere else for me to learn. And if I’m fortunate enough, one day I’ll look in the mirror again and not recognize that strange woman I saw today, her few gray hairs will have taken over and the lifelines will have extended fully into a life lesson that will have stretched past her own confines.

Enjoy your life. Love those around you. Step out of the urgency and let peace sweep over you. Live fully each day because we never know in advance when we have fully lived.

Let Your Love Light Shine

When you blame others, you give up your power to change. ~Author Unknown

I’ve recently read some really good blog posts on powerful subjects. Sana wrote an excellent one on self responsibility. I read another one on blame, one on life regrets, and yet another about guilt. (Sorry I can’t remember who authored these.) While we deal with all these in our own realities, there are times, often tragedy, that we experience all these emotions at once. It’s a conflicting whirlpool that has the ability to drown us if we allow it.

Regret, guilt, and blame have no place in a heart that wants to move forward. Healthy relationships are based on love and acceptance. It all starts with self responsibility. When we become responsible to ourselves we become respectful to ourselves and others. We alone are responsible for our own realities.

Blame fills our lives with anxiety and stifles our personal growth, not to mention the guilt and devastation it places on others. I once had a pastor who said that whenever we point a finger at someone we have three more pointing back at us. Hearing that years ago had a profound effect on me. That doesn’t mean I’ve never done it since, but usually in reflection I do catch it and try to right my wrong. And though it happens at times, it should not be a way of life. The way to a fulfilling life is through self responsibility, love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Blame only succeeds in making others feel guilty which does nothing to solve the problem. The root is usually unhappiness for one reason or another of the person inflicting blame. Often people are afraid to explore why they feel the way they do. It takes a strong person with good values to reflect and mend. Finding fault does not create remedies. Accusations only cause more pain. Blame is simply a copout. We can’t change circumstances or other people, but we can change ourselves and our perceptions. In fact, perceptions are another reason we blame others. We too often only see how things affect us. If we remove ourselves from the situation, things look much differently. Not everything in life is about us, and sometimes none of it is about us.

Self-responsibility starts with you and me. We might grow up with certain attitudes and tendencies but if we are wrong it is our own responsibility to fix ourselves. We need to make ourselves accountable. We may not be able to control all, but we each have the power to shape our own destiny. We have an obligation and an opportunity to do what is right. Acceptance and forgiveness are practices we should incorporate into our daily lives. We all have the ability to give and receive love. And truly at the end of the day, isn’t that all we really want? When we take responsibility we are humbled and others place their trust in us, and we do the same in return. When we do this, our relationships flourish, and we as individuals expand. We touch others with our love and our lives, and they in turn do the same. We become the ripples in the pond.

We waste too much time wallowing in the dark cave of self pity when we can be out creating sunshine. When we’ve done right, we have peace in our heart. That alone gives us the power to let the situation go and move on. Forgiveness releases us more so than whom we think we are forgiving. Forgiveness is freeing, like the sun rising each morning. May we each go out and be the sun in someone else’s life.

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future. ~George Bernard Shaw

A Rose In The Garden

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.~ Albert Pike
I am the youngest of six children. We are all have different personalities and process life and death differently. Losing our brother has affected each of us deeply. We have been given the choice to continue to drift through life on our own or alter our course and seize the opportunity to support one another and be the family we always could and should have been. I think this has been a wake up call to us about family and relationships. I’m not saying that we haven’t been there for one another when it counted. I’m saying we can look back and reflect on our own lives and the legacy of our brother and make the most of our future together. We have much to learn from our brother’s life in the way of acceptance, forgiveness, love, and generosity.

I think each of us learned a bit about our brother that we didn’t know. We knew he had a soft and kind heart. We knew he loved passionately and was loved in return. We had no idea how many lives he touched or the impact he had on the Spanish community in his area. We were all so busy living our own lives that we didn’t take time to intimately connect with his extended family. As unfortunate as these circumstances are, we have been blessed to get to know this family and community throughout this time. They are wonderful people of tremendous faith. I’ve always thought family was important, but I am learning through my brother’s example that family is not limited to the unit you were born into or the community in which you were raised. Family is built with mutual love, respect, trust, and acceptance.

If Monte didn’t have anything good to say, he said nothing at all. He didn’t point fingers or hold grudges. He simply accepted people for who they were and forgave those who caused him pain. He had a Christian heart long before he professed his faith. He is an example that we should live for one another not for things. He had his priorities in life straight…he knew that love mattered most of all.

I had never thought about losing a sibling until my brother became ill. I still didn’t know how I would feel when I lost him. At first it felt as if I was being scraped with a knife from the inside out. Yes, the fabric of our family has been torn…we have a hole that can’t be filled. Though our family might never be the same without Monte, we can take all that he has left us and learn how to love more completely. We can even stretch our fabric to include this wonderful extended family and enrich the future for each of us. We have the power to take these seeds and plant a beautiful flower garden. Knowing that I was a flower in his garden and knowing his fragrance lingers fills me with peace.

Sometimes in life, and also in death, things happen that we have no answers to explain. As always, I pick things apart and try to find reason. Though I have no answer, I do know that Monte’s life was not in vain. He both lived and loved to life’s fullest measure. His heart is a shining example of what I’d like mine to be. I hope that we each take these lessons he has left for us and apply them. I don’t think he’d want anyone to let selfishness or pride get in the way of loving one another as we should. It is never too late to apologize and make amends, nor is it ever to late to accept them and build from there. Life is short, and we’re here to love one another.

My life has been far from perfect. I know I have said and done things I greatly regret. I hope I am forgiven. Though I never hesitate to tell the people I love how I feel about them, I hope my love shows in my actions. I pray that I have the ability to pause before I act, so that I live a life of grace.

There Is Hope

Dirt Man brought this song to my attention, and it has brought great comfort to me these past few days. I’ll be gone for a few days, so I wanted to leave you with this. May this fill you with hope as it did me.

As Time Runs Out

I have no words as I lost my brother yesterday afternoon. In remembrance of his beauty and bravery of fighting the battle for his life, I am posting this essay I wrote about him. I wrote this on the prompt “Reflections on green” , and it was published on Women’s Memoirs. I posted a link to it at the bottom of another post a few weeks ago so you may have already read it. My dear sweet Monte, I will cherish the memories and love you forever.

Though he was ten years older, I still tagged along in his lush world as often as he allowed. We ventured from tranquil ponds and running streams to the thick forests of pine and fern to the flourishing meadows below our house.

We frequently circled the reservoir, taking in the frosty fragrance of the surrounding mint. Monte would reach his hand over the concrete ledge to pull me up those last treacherous lichen entombed stones. Together, we leaned over the mossy water and watched the tadpoles scurry between our grasping fingers. We’d slide our fingers over the velvety algae coated sides of the reservoir and pull up strings of deep green slime and toss them to the center of the aqua pool, watching the fish nibble at our meager morsels.

I was forbidden to swim there. It could have been the age difference or the fact that he was a boy that gave him the approval of my parents. I watched him dive and whirl in the crisp cool water throughout those hot summer months. From the sides, I kicked and splashed with hopes of connecting with him through the deep. Our laughter rippled like the water’s surface and echoed through the grove of poplar and oak. I lived for the times Monte placed me on his lap and paddled the inner tube across those forbidden waters. Unlike my mother, I never feared we’d drown.

We moved on from the reservoir to the emerald pools of the soapstone quarries. Again, I was not allowed to swim. I lived through my brother. I watched him search for treasure beneath the giant boulders. I held my breath and tasted the earthy bottom in his every dive. My body sighed in relief each time I saw his bubbles burst upon the surface. I heard the tiny plops as the fish emerged around the whoosh of his rising body. I inhaled the pungent sediment from the murky bottom as he stepped from the water. The cool breeze whipped against my bare legs as he shook the water from his skin. I both envied his freedom and exhilarated in his experiences.

I was still quite young when he moved away. Minnow bucket and fishing reel in tow, he popped in throughout the years. I was finally allowed to swim, but splashing and diving had been replaced with fishing. I never really liked fishing, but still I tagged along. We sat there, side by side; he in his world and me in mine. When I found my own freedom, I dropped fishing all together.

Bound by blood and water, we continued to live out our days. He cast his line from river bank to river bank, and I drifted out to sea. He ground his boat upon the rocks and decided he was not a seafaring man. I refused to spend my afternoons on a riverbank with minnows and worms when my peace was found Oceanside.

Though we never connected in the deep as I’d hoped, I see his reflection all over my life as we are here so many years later being pulled in and pushed out by the tide. We are both fighting against the crashing of the waves as they are pounding upon my brother. Cancer. Terminal. Growing rapidly. One month. I feel like we are drowning. My mother’s fear has come back to haunt me. I fail to see the green in this situation. Cancer is black, pulling us under, as slick and unyielding as an oil spill. I ramble through the leaves of memory, knowing there is no return to our verdant days of childhood innocence. I fling my memories in with the minnows, nibbling away at me, and together they dart in and out of my heart. If the roles were reversed, Monte would tell me to climb on his tube and hold on tightly.

I have no lifeline for my brother to hang onto, only my hand. No matter how swiftly the river runs, I’ll hold him as the river twists and turns through the grassy fields on his way back home.

Within The Flow

 Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world. — Brenda Peterson

At times we drift along, unaware of where we’ve been or where we’re going. We sort of just go along for the ride. We can sink, or  become stagnant, and we often hang on for the sake of it with no intentions in mind. Sometimes, we just need to absorb our surroundings before we can move on. Other times, something significant happens in our lives or in the lives of those we love and suddenly we not only float but start to swim.

We get comfortable in life and don’t want to venture on. Variations can upset our confidence. We don’t want challenges and are not agreeable to change. Sometimes life dictates otherwise, and we must filter our way through the best course putting in action all life lessons from our past.

Life flows like a mighty river. We’re not always aware of every rock and it’s purpose within our path. We possibly know what we want, where we’re headed, and even we think we know exactly how to get there. Sometimes, one rock or limb of debris can alter our course. We must let nature take over and trust that all will be well in the end.

We all approach the same vast deep ocean. Some fight against the flow. Some float while others tread water. The more experienced swim with the current. Eventually we learn to relax and accept the situation. Sometimes, faith and hope are all we have.

Thousands have lived without love, but not one has lived without water. — W.H. Auden

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