The Thaw

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. -Paul Johannes Tillich

 

There are times I need space. I crave a quiet place to withdraw. There are times I don’t want to be accountable to anyone. I want to snuggle into myself and rest easy knowing it’s not my job to control life around me.

There are times I require solitude to reflect on the travels of my life and dream of where life is leading me now. Then there are times, I just want to be. I want to settle into me, no thoughts or agenda.

It’s as if I have been frozen and am thawing. I come alive as the stresses melt from within.

Perhaps I’m selfish when I desire my own company.

Perhaps I’m doing exactly what I should be doing to feed my soul.

Do you feel lonely when you are alone?

Just Another Storm, Or Is It?

This is what 1969 Camille did to the home of my husband’s grandfather.

Is it just another storm? For those within the path, I can tell you it is not. We always worry this might be the big one. Perhaps those who have survived a big one are a bit more apprehensive. Personally, I’d rather be prepared and not need supplies than to be caught off guard.

Here in Virginia Beach, we stocked up on supplies such as canned goods, water, and batteries. We removed garden flags, wind chimes, and other small outdoor items and secured our trashcans. We sought refuge inside and prayed our tall pines would not fail us.

Compared to Isabelle and Irene, Sandy has been much gentler with us. Rain and wind have come in bands. Winds escalated from mere whispers to occasional screeching howls through the night. Rain has been a constant pitter patter with some downright downpours. Tree debris scatters across the yard and water threatens to take over the road and yard, but we remain safe. Other areas have not been as fortunate.

Today we have the resources to track these storms better than we did forty plus years ago. I was barely six when hurricane Camille hit my hometown of Nelson County, Virginia. We were not prepared. But even in the lack of preparation and in the face of disaster, communities pull together. Whenever hurricanes loom in the near distance I am reminded of this. Every hurricane season I remember Camille. I am reminded that hurricanes don’t only affect coastal regions. Though I’ve made peace with storm memories I still rely on faith to get us through hurricane season.

I heard this morning a friend had to abandon ship. Thank God he has been rescued. Two of his shipmates are still missing. I ask for your prayers and positive thoughts for these individuals and others who are caught in the turmoil.

So as I ride out the storm in the safety of my home, I think of those not as fortunate and pray for those within the path.

This link has more pictures and information about The Bounty.

The Calm Before The Storm

A soft cicada hum fills the air as a warm breeze travels through the hundred foot pines. The grasp of autumn is apparent in the oak and maple leaves; shades of red and gold shimmer and sway beneath the brightly shining sun. Distant clouds are quickly approaching.  Squirrels scurry securing their food supply. Blue jays peck about the ground while sparrows flutter in the bushes.  Bird chirps and squirrel chatter blend into the low grumble of an airplane. With the exception of nature’s display all is still and quiet in my neighborhood. Soon the rains will pour and the wind will howl. Here on the east coast we are expecting both a hurricane (Sandy) and a nor’easter.  I suppose I need to get busy and make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. I pray for safety for all of you within the path of these severe weather storms.

 

Stumped Or Something Like It

 

 

Stumped?

Nothing to say?

Not sure what to do?

Creativity at an all-time low?

Where do you look for inspiration or guidance?

I usually am never without an idea. I get stumped deciding on a starting point. Sometimes I have several projects going on at once…and then it takes forever to complete any of them. I have to put them aside until I find the inspiration to pick them back up. I also lack the organizational skills to outline my projects from start to finish. I feel like I must learn to make that commitment my muse will cooperate. It gets much done on its own but needs structural supervision. I’m a visual person who understands the importance of not leaving loose ends on developments, but perhaps I need a better tracking system while I work. I have no problem with beginnings, middles, and ends…it’s the tying of those tiny details that stumps me. I’m going to strengthen my outlines this weekend and let the muse loose! Any suggestions?

Do you work with outlines or patterns? Do you feel these guidelines help or hinder your creativity? What methods have you found to reach your creative potential while maintaining focus and order? Please, do share.

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers down.” ~Steven Wright

A Shift In The Drift

 

Ruby, amber, olive, sienna, and tangerine foliage flutter through the air like colorful butterflies; I breathe in the fresh winds of autumn as it gives me a sense of freedom when walking through the woods.  When the leaves and pine needles whirl about in my own yard, I don’t feel the same exhilaration. I am quickly weighed down with thoughts of yard work.  Yesterday afternoon amid mowing, blowing, raking, and bagging I found myself racing against the sun. The task quickly became a burden. Fortunately, God knows when it is necessary for me to shift my perspective. I found gratitude within the chore before me. In this suffering economy, I am gifted to own a home with a yard. Lawn maintenance is but a small price to pay for the abundance of life’s rewards. I centered myself and created comfort in this tiring yet simple process. What a difference a small shift in the drift can make…we have the power to turn drudgeries into blessings. Do you find yourself dreading house or yard work? What shift in perspective has given you appreciation?

An Autumn Dance

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ~Isaiah 55:12

Acorns sun within a nest of Oak leaves. If the squirrels don’t get them first, they will loosen their grip and ping to the ground.

From green to rust, will all shades between, dew covered leaves glisten in the morning light.

Lemoned leaves upturn and shimmer beneath blue skies.

Orange and scarlet pop through the mustard and avocado hues.

These trees are truly a palette of Autumn delight. I love the way the green, yellow, and orange blend into a burst of crimson.

What a beautiful view from this mountain cabin. The air is crisp outside with a warm cozy wood fire burning inside. Smoke rises and drifts to blend into the colors of Fall

The ground is almost as gorgeous as the limbs waving in the air.

The trees create an Autumn rainbow when you look skyward.

The mountains blaze in the afternoon sun.

The mountains jump out in living  and dying color.

The colors reflect and brighten the water. Were it not for a chill in the air, one might take it as an invitation for a dip.

Who knows what beauty the road or bridge will lead one to….

The beauty of Autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is a soothing deep comfort, especially to those of us who call this place home.

Chop Shop Nail Service

 

 

 

If you’ve read my blog long enough you know I am not the frilly girl type of woman, kind of ironic considering I was a hairdresser for years. What I mean is I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I don’t go to great lengths to upkeep my nails. Being a daycare provider I sometimes receive gifts to pamper myself….and usually I end up redeeming them right before they expire. Last year was one of those times I got manicures like a week apart.

The first place I go to is a luxury day spa I’ve gone to in the past. My goddaughter enjoys getting manicures and pedicures and she wanted me to have one as well. I am greeted upon my arrival and showered in attention. My manicurist is a pretty little Asian girl who caters to my every need. As she is filing my nails she asks me if I come to this spa often and tells me how much she enjoys working for this type of salon.

“I used to work for family business. You no go to Asian family manicure. They chop shop. You get in and out. No pampering. Don’t meet OSHA standard.” I don’t argue with her. I know a family that owns one and they are nice, but I’ve never had my nails done there. I also keep in mind that I have another gift certificate for one such type of shop to which she is referring.

This young woman is attentive and gentle. My favorite part is relaxing in the massage chair while my feet are being soaked and massaged. Heck, I could have do without the pedicure and be just as happy with only the massage benefits!

(I took a quick picture of my hand and foot while in the parking lot to send to my goddaughter. I knew it was only a matter of hours before I would chip or scratch my nails.)

 

The following week I go to the “chop shop” to redeem my services. I hope this is not the salon the last manicurist was speaking of. I walk in to customers waiting in chairs lined against the wall. Every manicure and pedicure station is filled. The patriarch of the business belts out, “What you need?”

“I’m scheduled for an eleven o’clock manicure.” I note to myself it is ten of eleven.

“Have seat. Be with you soon.”  He continues working on his client.

While I’m waiting I notice a case on the wall with bottles of nail polish labeled with customer’s names. I recognize a few of those names. People come and go. The patriarch tells me several times they will be with me soon. About thirty minutes later he asks me again what I’m scheduled for and I reply a manicure.

“Ok. You (pointing to me) pedicure station two.”

“I’m not here for a pedicure. I’m scheduled for a manicure.”

“Pedicure two,” he repeats. I oblige and hope he’s not going to be the one working on me.

About ten minutes later an older woman ( I wonder if it is the wife of the patriarch) who is in the middle of a manicure comes over and tells me to take my shoes off as she starts filling the tub with water. I tell her I’m not here for a pedicure but a manicure.

“Why you at pedicure?”

“Because he told me to sit here, “I nod at the patriarch. She shakes her head and turns off the water and goes back to her manicure. Eventually she finishes with her customer and leads me to her now empty but dirty manicure station. I sit with my hands in my lap, allowing her space to clean her table. She asks how I want my nails shaped and tells me to pick out a color. I think she’s going to clean her table while I pick a color. No, she walks to the back and checks on her customer whose polish is drying.

When my operator returns she lifts a Tupperware bowl off the floor beside her table and takes it to the back. She comes back with the bowl filled with steaming water. She does not sanitize the table surface but scoots an area clean for my arms to stretch over the table and places my hands on a paper towel scattered with nail clipping from the previous customer.  I am tempted to walk out. I decide not to be rude, but to keep my eyes on the instruments she uses. She does remove the used instruments and takes out sterilized ones to use on me, however she starts working on my hands over the used paper towel. I am disgusted. She works fast and furiously. No gentle touch, she digs my cuticles and cuts too far back causing a small bleed which she blots with a fresh cotton ball. We are finally finished and I am not happy with my services but I tip anyway. I silently vow to never return. In fact, if someone gives me a certificate there I will not use it.

They were busy as it was a federal holiday, so maybe I’m being too harsh. However, having managed a salon for years, I know the conditions were well below standards. I suppose the saying “you get what you pay for” rings true. At least, it does in this experience. The prices at this place are cheap which matches the services I received. On the few times I actually have my hands and feet pampered, I want just that, pampering. It’s worth paying the price for not just luxury on occasion but to have services rendered in a sanitary environment. I do know people who swear by this place and say they’ve never encountered this type of service, but they also say they like it because it is so inexpensive. I can only hope my experience was not the norm.

Spin Cycle: Beauty

Truth Of The Matter

The Truth is more important than the facts. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

The truth is:

Listening is important but hearing connects us.

Touch validates us but hugs help us heal.

Sight is a matter of perception as our views are to a degree based on our beliefs.

Taste is more than sustenance. It is an emotional experience with the power to transport us in time and space.

Scent can distort or enhance our observation of a situation.

The truth is our senses deeply affect our thoughts and behaviors. We use these faculties to assess and view our world in order to form beliefs. Our exposure to the world is why truth varies from person to person.

The truth is we must speak what we need in order for our needs to be fulfilled.

Truth is the heart of all matters as it empowers and frees us to live the life designed for us.

When The Cairn Almost Topples

My waters seem to be running swiftly and deeply.

Some days I don’t feel like I can touch bottom or keep my head above water.

I am usually the cairn maintaining balance and pointing the way.

Lately I’ve been teetering and feel like I’m losing my way.

I know the way, but doubt blocks its entrance.

Doubt’s cohort is fear.

I don’t like these intruders in my life.

They interrupt my sleep, disturb my peace, and rob me of my now.

I’m handing them over. And this time I’m not taking them back.

Though I know I cannot control areas which do not belong to me,

I refuse to relinquish power over my own thoughts.

I will rest in Him who comforts me.

My chest is no longer tight and I’m breathing.

In. Out. In. Out. Just breathing for now.

The Music and Art of Nature’s Fall

It’s the time of year the wind becomes my music and the landscape my art. The crisp winds of autumn sweep me home with the fallen leaves. While nature is preparing for a long winter’s nap, I am coming to life. Yes, it’s the time I break out the hiking boots and head for the woods. Hues of scarlet, mustard, and pumpkin woo me to walk a bit farther and faster. I breathe in the breeze as it carries the fruity spice of bayberry and the resin aroma of pine and cedar. Dry, shriveled leaves rustle and twigs snap beneath the weight of my feet as the wind whistles and hisses through the forest.  Acorns and hickory nuts ping to the ground. Though the sun sparkles off the golden leaves the cool air is damp. I lose myself into nature as I give myself to God. I walk in the wonder of constant change; the change in color from evergreen to avocado to crimson to apricot to sunflower, the change in sound from chirps and chatters to swooshes and crackles, the change in temperature from the sticky hot to comfortably cool, the change from sweet flower fragrance to musky wood, and the change in myself as I let go and settle in. Yes, this is my time, my season.

Spin Cycle: Autumnal