In Love With Life

I love everything about my first cup of coffee in the morning… I love the scent that drifts through the house, the steam that rises from my cup, the heat as it hits my lips, and oh the taste of freshly ground beans brewed to perfection!

I love the bright burst of sunshine breaking through trees in the forest.

I love the feeling of being one with the ocean when my body rises, falls, and sways with the current as I float among the waves.

I love the way a babies belly jiggles with a heartfelt giggle.

I love listening to my dog snore at the end of the day.

I love the sound and rippling of red, white, and blue of the US flag whipping in the wind.

I love tracing my fingers along the smooth contours of river rocks.

I love “listening to the ocean” in a conch shell.

I love floral scents such as lavender and gardenia.

I love eating chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on cold winter days….brings back lovely childhood memories.

I love the feeling of being absorbed in nature when Dirt Man and I hike…my mind literally gets lost in the beauty and serenity.

I love listening to the babble, hum, whistle, and roar of waterfalls as I sit on the bank and dip my feet into the cold river.

I love the warmth of the sun on my back while a slight breeze tickles my neck.

I love the tightness of tiny little arms around my neck and slobbery kisses from my favorite little ones.

I love the feeling of coming home after a trip and sinking into my own bed.

I love cooking a big meal for my family and having them together to enjoy it.

I love the pitter of a soft rain against my skin.

I love the happiness I feel when my favorite songs play and I find myself moving to the beat.

I love when I pull into a parking lot and the “perfect” spot suddenly becomes available.

I love when I immediately find what I’m shopping for and it’s on sale!

I love listening to my hubby and sons laughing as they watch television.

I love the pristine finish of the first snow before the lawn is marred from footprints.

I love the mixture of rust, scarlet, avocado, and mustard tones of autumn leaves.

I love the cling clang of dangling wind chimes.

I love the daily squirrel chatter and birdsong among the tall pines in our yard.

I love the fluttering wings of butterflies on the colorful blossoms in my yard.

I love the wildly beating wings of hummingbirds suspended in air.

I love sharing my life with generous, compassionate, loving people.

Most of all I love hearing those three little words “I love you” from the people I love.

Spin Cycle: Things I Love

Soul Speaks Softly And Sings (And Sometimes Shakes Us About)

Sometimes the soul calls for things not on our agenda. I had planned on tackling three writing projects over the long holiday weekend. I wrote in my head and even jotted down a few notes, but I neglected to make much progress. Instead, I quilted and gardened. I spent time with people I love. I ate and drank. I listened to music and watched movies. Tuesday morning came and I felt incredibly guilty for enjoying myself and not making any headway on my writing projects. I reminded myself I had completed an art quilt and weeded all of my gardens. Still the unsettling of my soul lingered all day until….

Dirt Man was late getting home as he was working out of town for the day, so when my work was over I sunk and sulked into a chair in the backyard while I awaited his return. While the sun eased its way over my back, a warm rush of wind swept over me. I watched big full clouds float overhead as a squirrel high in the pines dropped plugs of green cone upon me. Sparrows and cardinals sang and fluttered through the pine branches. A touch of lavender mingled with the scent of  pinesap. I closed my eyes and let the breeze, floral scents, and clinging of wind chimes lift me. An hour and a half of  “just being” transformed me. I wasn’t oozing with creativity and the desire to furiously write. I felt content; completely satisfied with that moment in time.

Soul has a special way of connecting with us. Sometimes it sneaks up on us… a gentle sway to music, notes that calm or relax us. Perhaps soul speaks words of encouragement that nudge us in the right direction. Other times we feel defeated and soul comes rushing at us, pounding at the door. Are you listening? Do you hear it? Are you going to open the door?

When you learn to trust your spirit you can easily separate the chatter of your head from the voice of your soul. How does your soul call? Is it a gentle tap or a furious knock? Does it speak softly, sing, or shake you about?

Soul often visits in that restful space between sleep and wakefulness. After all, it is the place where wisdom flows, flowers bloom, songs are written and love is born. Soul is the place where creativity and harmony live.

The scent of lavender calms me while the exotic spices of sandalwood awaken me. The pitter of rain grounds me while the roar of the river has me swimming its current. The Blues touch me deeply while good old rock and roll has my fingers snapping and my toes stomping. The sweetness of cotton candy makes me giggle while macaroni and cheese makes me feel loved. The sight of tall strong trees and purple wildflowers rejoice my soul. I adore the imperfect design of stone beads and cold smooth texture of them against my skin. And the wind? What can I say? The sound of rushing leaves, the tickle on my neck, the sway of my body in its movement…the wind carries me with it as it soars through the trees, over the mountains and the sea….

I’ve shared my list; now, let’s hear yours. How does your soul speak to you? Does it whisper softly or sing loudly?

Put your senses to the test to awaken your spirit. What feeds and fulfills you? What scents soothe you? What music makes you dance? What do you see that makes you smile? What inspires you? Where do you lose yourself? What calms, energizes, moves you; makes you feel complete? What have you experienced so beautiful it made you cry? What single breath of time felt like you were born to live that moment?

On Not Forcing The Course Of Nature

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” ~Alice M. Swaim

No matter how tempting, you can’t force a bud to open. It will flower in its time.

Timing is probably one of the least understood aspects of life.  We often plan our lives, but time interferes. We rush ahead trying to save as many minutes as we can. Not enough time for this or that. Other things occur before expected. We eventually learn to flow with it and let life unfold on its own accord.

When we force ourselves ahead of life we fail to bloom as nature intends. Projects are the same way. When we push through with half-hearted efforts, we’re not giving it our best. Sometimes we need to wait to allow that “best” to develop. Talent takes time, energy, and even passion.

Other times we merely need confidence; the courage to believe in ourselves. Perhaps we feel it a tad vain to think we have what it takes to “bloom”…then again, if we don’t believe in ourselves why should others?

Like early spring flowers, some ventures bloom unexpectedly. Others need a bit more rain, sunshine, and perhaps a little boost of fertilizer. When the time is right, they will unfold and petals will emerge to create a lovely blossom.

Do you ever get that feeling the time is just not right to do something? You don’t know quite why but feel like you need to sit on it a while. That happens to me often. I find half started quilts or sewing projects in drawers or storage bins. I discover words scribbled in notebooks. I run across draft files I’ve forgotten about. The point is they come back to me when I’m ready for them. I had the instinct to know they weren’t ready at the time…I knew I still had work to do. Does this ever happen to you?

Here’s hoping all our spring buds will bloom into hardy summer blossoms!

Living in the Gap

May 25, 2012 – Importance of Life Stories

I’m working on a memoir so I call my dad to compare my memory of a specific event with his. I can’t seem to recall some names so I describe in detail the mannerisms of the people I am picturing. He knows immediately who I am referring to and tells me I remember them surprisingly well. We talk for a good half an hour about those “good old days”.  The softness of his tone and the words he chooses display admiration for these people, and I sense his longing for days gone by.  I can almost see him smile through the phone. My heart warms and aches at the same time. More than ever I realize the importance of recording these stories.

When the Forecast Calls for Rain…

College football game...and rain...and then this!

College football game…and rain…and then this!

The forecast for life is sunshine with occasional rain though there is the possibility of storms. How we live our lives tells what we focus on.

Do you hide away because you fear a storm on the way?

Do you pack an umbrella or raincoat?

Do you look forward to dancing in the rain?

Yes, clouds often loom overhead. Instinct tells us when to trudge forward and when to seek shelter.

Sometimes the sun shines amidst the downpour, and we are blessed with the beauty of a rainbow.

Remember behind the clouds the sun is waiting to burst through and light up your life.

Living in the Gap

May 22, 2012 – Morning Java

Steam curls and clings to the cup; tiny dots of moisture drip. Steam rises in a swirl and becomes ones with air. Our words curl in our mouths and rise to the air, only to disappear unless there are ears to hear what we speak. And even then are our words forgotten as quickly as the steam of a morning cup of coffee?

Living in the Gap – When light hits the subject

May 23, 2012

A dust of darkness lay upon the chest, objects blending into the oak surface. As the lamp lights the world beneath it comes to life. The bulb shines through the shade and light flows beneath. On the wall just behind an arc of brightness scans the wall. The frogs on the ceramic bowl remain in their circle…but now they appear lifelike; ready to hop into the day.

Living in the Gap

May 24, 2012 – Shattered

The sound of crashing dishes turns my head. The tiny teacups are now burnt red shards splattered across the white counter.  Kind of like words on a page demanding to be seen; silently they wait each day to be utilized. Stored away, perhaps an excuse for a rainy day…and life takes care of yet another storage issue.

Hate, Or Something Like IT

“We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” ~Jonathan Swift

Growing up no matter how angry we six siblings became at one another we were forbidden to say those three little words “I hate you.”  I only know of one time it was ever spoken, and the aftermath was not pretty.

Apparently the seed was planted because I don’t tell people I hate them although I admit there are a few I dislike. It is usually their behavior or attitude that irks me. In all honesty, sometimes the behavior and attitudes of people I do like irk me as well.

I’ve found the things I hate are usually things that make me angry or sad or things I simply don’t understand. There are also things that frighten me. Then there are things that disgust or annoy me.

With “hate” as this week’s spin topic, I’m going to use this opportunity to vent as Gretchen suggested:

I hate it when broccoli gets stuck in my teeth and I walk around half of the day talking to people before someone tells me.

I hate it when I my curser moves and I end up typing in the middle of another sentence.

I hate it when I proofread and don’t find mistakes until after I push the publish button.

I hate it when I clean the dog poop from my backyard only to return to the front or side yard and step in dog poop left by someone else’s dog.

I hate it when my customer service phone call is answered by a machine that sends me on a number punching circle and refuses to allow me to speak to a real person.

I hate when people purposely do or say things to make others feel inferior just to lift themselves up.

I hate that political and charity calls are exempt from the Do Not Call Registry. I also hate they are now calling my cell phone.

I hate it when visitors to my home go through my closets to see what I have or how neat/messy I am and make snide remarks about the things I own.

I hate it when people expect me to drop what I am doing to be of service to them, yet they don’t do the same for me.

I hate it when I walk in a room to get something and forget what I went after. Even worse is when I go to the store and come home with every item on my list EXCEPT the main thing I went to buy.

I hate it when people think their opinion is the only one that matters.

I hate it when people litter…this includes throwing cigarette butts out of the window of a moving car.

I hate the way my hair frizzes on humid days.

I hate it when I’m crabby…I also hate it when other people are crabby.

I hate when I procrastinate, yet I continue to do it.

I hate that people intentionally hurt others physically and emotionally.

I hate that the cure for cancer has not been found.

Most Annoying Moment This Week: The lady in front of me in the Express Lane had two items as I also had two items.  As soon as the cashier gave her a total she showed him a coupon and asked him if the store had a certain product she couldn’t find. He called for assistance over the loud speaker. After a few minutes someone showed up and the lady sent her to look for said product. When she returned with the product, the customer asked for a second of said item. When the cashier finally added these and gave her another total she told him she didn’t want the original item he’d already rung up. Again he adjusted her total. Then she handed him another coupon and asked if they had this item in stock. He shook his head no… I think he might have been a tad bit more annoyed than me.

Ok, I’ve complained enough and released all this pent up frustration.  As Nancy says, “Ah…that’s better!”

Spin Cycle: Hate

For the Love of Lighthouses

We visited the Cape Henry Lighthouses this weekend. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is open to the publci, but the New Cape Henry Lighthouse is not. I’ve selected a few of the photographs for your viewing pleasure.

The lighthouses are located on the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek/Fort Story (Navy/Army).

More information about the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse (1792) can be found here.

The original Cape Henry Lighthouse is the first lighthouse built by the Federal Government. It is one of nine lighthouses registered as a National Historic Landmark.

More information about the New Cape Henry Lighthouse (1881) can be found here.

The New Cape Henry is the tallest cast-iron, fully enclosed lighthouse in the United States

This photograph of the new lighthouse was taken from the top of the old lighthouse.

Living in the Gap

May 19, 2012 – Sweet innocence of children

“Can I pet your dog?” asks a dark haired girl dressed in purple shorts and shirt. She appears to be about five years old.

“Of course you can. Thank you for asking first.” Dirt Man replies.

The child rubs Wylie all over and in turn she wags her tail. The mother asks us what kind of a dog Wylie is and we chat about kids and dogs.

As we say goodbye and start to walk away the little girl puts her arms around my waist and gives me a big hug. I hug her back and she smiles. She moves on to Dirt Man and hugs him.

I tell the mom she has a very sweet little girl. She replies, “Well, she just knows good people when she sees them.”

What a lovely ending to a walk at the park.

Living in the Gap

May 20, 2012 – Time with the “Birthday Girl”

I take a birthday cake to visit with my elderly friend. She has never told me her age…her nephew told me she will be turning 100 on this birthday.

“Sing to me.”

At first I laugh because I don’t sing…then I remember she doesn’t hear well, even though she does have her hearing aid in.

I oblige and she thanks me.

“I’m turning ninety. Not too many wrinkles for ninety, huh?”

“You look fabulous,” I tell her, and I mean it.

“You once said you’d never tell me your age”, I add.

“Well, I tell you everything, honey.” I smile and give her a hug. I don’t have the heart to tell her I know the truth. If I looked that good (and even if I didn’t) and was turning one hundred I’d probably tell anyone who listened my age…

Living in the Gap

May 21, 2012 – Sounds of the dark

Wind chimes clatter and clang amidst the rushing wind. It sweeps in and out drifting like sand. Rain pitters and patters with an occasional splat caught in a breeze. Sirens wail and dogs howl in the distance. Up close and personal my own dog snores while the grandfather clock ticks away downstairs. I hear a creak on the far side of the house, maybe a limb scraping against the roof or perhaps just the house settling in…

In the Still of the Rush

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” ~Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die 

We practice patience in an impatient world and seek perfection in an imperfect one as well.

We count the minutes, attempt to store our time, and plan our days all in a timeless universe.

We walk the line; bold, solid, and as unyielding as a fence. Sometimes all we see is the fence line. We neglect to see that flowers thrive where grass refuses to grow. Better yet, maybe the line should be constructed of rope; easily bent to reroute, twistable to return, and knotted for strength to hold us up when the going gets tough.

Perhaps most of our disappointments occur because we set unrealistic expectations. Why not be a little easier on ourselves? We are here to live the journey, to love and learn along the way. Choose joy; it waits for each of us.

For today, let’s not stomp our feet in impatience. Let’s not pretend to be who we are not for we all know perfection is an impossibility. Let’s not squander our time nor try to trap it in a bottle. Let us walk in this world as we are…better yet; run and dance circles around the “line”.  Peace will come.

Don’t rush; remember all things meant to be come in time, even in a timeless world.

“Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life”. ~William Faulkner

Living in the Gap

May 16, 2012 – Rainbows in the Road

Purple and blue swirled, peaked, and gave way to orange and yellow.  Shadows loomed and formed a shining design that appeared as if it was rising to the sun. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope as the design seemed to be ever changing from each direction I looked. Yes, I realize this rainbow on the road was an oil slick, and while I don’t advocate environmental pollution this was something that caught my eye.

Living in the Gap

May 17, 2012 – Ducking the Morning

I heard the fluttering and quacking before I saw the two mallards waddling across the lawn. I chased after them with my camera. They scurried around the corner squawking all the way. As I approached the ruckus picked up so I backed off and let them enjoy the wet morning lawn.

Living in the Gap

May 18, 2012 – Messing with the Neighbors

As I approached the trashcan which is located at the side of the house with bushes secluding me from my neighbor I heard what sounded like a squirrel scuttling through the tree limbs. I was doing my usual talking to myself (stop judging me, you know you do it, too!), naming things I needed to do while I was outside. I glanced up to see the “squirrel” I heard was actually a handyman cleaning off the neighbor’s roof. What did I do? Run inside embarrassed? No way, I continued talking to myself…only louder and even answered myself. I chuckled as I went inside. I’m still waiting for the paddy wagon to pick me up….

Fruits Of The Spirit

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. ~Unknown

Some consider fruits of the spirit to be taken in only a religious context. Whether you are religious or not, you have been bestowed with these same gifts. It is up to you to use them.

Fruits of the spirit are not seasonal.

They are ours for the picking all year long.

We are each gifted with the ability to love. Most of us illustrate unselfish concern for others on a daily basis.

Peace resides within each of us. We must learn to quiet ourselves to feel it. Once you find serenity of the soul you never want to let it go.

Joy lives in our hearts. It is a deep faith of knowing there is good in this life and delighting in it. When we put our hearts into life and live each moment fully, joy finds us.

I think forbearance is often misunderstood. I used to think it meant I was supposed to suffer. Now I feel I need only practice patience and exercise the ability to endure in the face of adversity.

Kindness is one of the first things we are taught as children. We all enjoy being around pleasant people. Naturally we are all inherently good. When we exercise compassion and respect we are showing kindness.

Goodness is an air of integrity. We live a life of love and generosity in action.

Faithfulness stems from dedication, a commitment to trust. We are secure in our beliefs and consistent in our behavior.  We are responsible for our actions.

Gentleness is a beautiful virtue of the soul. It doesn’t take extreme effort to be tender, considerate, and fair. It only takes being less selfish and more thoughtful.

Self-control is probably the most difficult attribute to achieve. When we apply discipline to our thoughts we are able to restrain our actions. This creates a calm temperament, thus a tranquil environment.

These fruits of the spirit are pleasing virtues. Practicing them daily will lead to a harmonious life. You will feel a satisfaction that transcends material acquisition.

The Tradition of Tree Giving Continues

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” ~William Blake

As a little boy my youngest son gave my father a tree. Every time he visits my dad they go out to check the progress of the tree’s growth. The once small twig now stands taller than both of them. My father’s love of trees has not only passed on to me but through me to my youngest son. This year for Mother’s Day he gifted me with a tree. Not just any tree, but a Dogwood tree. The Dogwood happens to be both the Virginia state tree and flower. Think the Old Dominion has a love affair with the Dogwood? I have been so tickled for our yard to be home to some Cardinals (Virginia’s state bird)…and now I am home to a Dogwood as well. Do you get the idea that I absolutely love living in Virginia? Why yes indeed, I love Virginia from the mountains to the ocean and all in between!

Living in the Gap

May 12, 2012 – Heat of the Day

I wake up with yesterday’s migraine in the background. It lingers, punching now and then to let me know it has the power to take over at any time. DirtMan and I go to purchase landscape plants. The heat presses on my forehead and down my neck now and then. DirtMan has a flat of ornamental purple fountain grass and Japanese sliver grass. I attempt to meet him at the checkout with my cart of sweet basil, lavender, bee balm, lantana, and verbena. As I approach the flat, I see him outside carrying two more plants. When he returns I question him about getting more. Apparently while he left his cart unattended to help me get fertilizer someone stole two of his plants. Two ladies in front of us (apparently they were witness to his realization of the theft) turn around and tell him they almost took some of his plants and hid them while he was outside just to see his reaction. He laughs and tells them his watchdog (me) is now on guard and would have readied the situation. We look to the side and see his two plants in an unattended cart. I watch to see who comes to the cart…appears to be a sweet elderly couple. Perhaps they thought the flat was a display stand. As we roll our purchases outside one of DirtMan’s pots fall off the flat, dirt splays onto the pavement but plant remains intact. One of the ladies remarks as to whether it is a sign he is not meant to buy those plants! The heat and headache don’t make for a good day of planting, so we save the work for the next day.

Living in the Gap

May 13, 2012 – Taking it Slow

Both male and female cardinals perch upon the feeder. Each time we get close to the window to take a picture he flies away. Time after time we approach slowly, and still the male takes off as soon as he catches a glimpse of us. The female doesn’t scare as easily. She pecks and pokes her head about as she continues to eat. At times she sits till and stares right at us.In fact, it is almost as if she is posing for the camera.

Living in the Gap

May 14, 2012 – Impending Rain

After a leisurely walk with Wylie, DirtMan and I relax in the backyard. We both notice the change in the air. Dampness hangs about us as a crisp moisture enters the atmosphere. The sun has not set but it is nowhere in sight. Clouds float and reshape. The chimes cling and clang in the slight breeze. A peregrine falcon gracefully soars among the treetops. Wings arched, it appears to be a capital M drifting into the clouds.

Living in the Gap

May 15, 2012 – Morning Storm

I hear what sounds like furniture scraping against the floor upstairs. It grumbles a bit louder, and I realize it is thunder. I look out the window to see a veil of darkness pushing its way in like a schoolyard bully forcing his way into the sandbox. As the rain starts to plummet it appears as if someone has placed a layer of plastic wrap between me and my world. Tree limbs that were gently swaying are blurred into a green mass of watercolor.

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words?

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.  ~Dorothea Lange

We each see things differently. What is pretty to me might not be to another. We possibly have different tastes or our eyes focus on different aspects of the picture. Lighting changes; dimness softens while brightness sharpens. Items are added or taken away. Sometimes we simply see what we want or what we are looking for.

This is a place I go to often. While it looks somewhat the same, the ambiance changes not only with the season but the time of day. It exudes serenity, but at dusk it takes on an entirely new charm. When the sky is cloudy the colors are more abundant and the sunset more alluring. This serves as a lesson to me on how I look at people. What I see in mere appearance is not who they are. Their colors come to surface through attitude and action.

On an equal note, as lovely as this scene is under certain conditions it has the power to not be as lovely. After a hard rain, there is a threat of flooding. When winds are harsh, downed trees cause damages. Again, this lesson resides in people; just because they look lovely it doesn’t mean they are attractive from the inside out.

Picturesque? Are you pleasing or are you a pleaser?

Don’t merely look at your world; see it.

Know your scenery. Know your people. Most of all, know yourself.

Spin Cycle: Pictures