Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day 2018

Today I paused to reflect on all the things, people, animals, rocks, and trees that nurtured and nourished a new life within me, a thought, a poem, an idea, a greater understanding, love, or a child, so that I could birth that life into the world.

The rains that washed me clean. The sun that provided illumination. The sorrow that showed me the depths of loss, but also the depths of love. The seed that taught me patience. The migrating bird who taught me to follow my internal compass. The faithful pup who taught me loyalty. The stars who taught me humility, and to see myself as part of something greater. The sunset that revealed the darkness within, so I could heal it. The sunrise reminding me that the light will always return. The everyday acts of kindness that transformed and renewed. The hand that simply took mine offering the assurance I needed. The sound of footsteps walking beside me. The music that motivated and inspired me. The child whose sense of wonder reminded me of my own. The friend whose laughter recalled me home. The tree who provided shelter from the storm. The praying mantis who reminded me to live with prayerfulness, and the swan who reminded me to live with grace. The eagle who reminded me that I could fly and trust the wind to lift me. The rocks who grounded me and taught me about inner strength. The parents who loved me, provided for me, and protected me (sometimes from myself). The bear who reminded me to go within and rest. The river who taught me to move with the currents of life in both drought and flood. The sunflower who shows me the importance of facing always toward the light. The mountain who shows me that all things change with time. The storm who reminds me that there are things I can’t control. The tiny ant who teaches perseverance and faith in my own power no matter how small I may seem. The honey bee who reminds me how interdependent we all are. The love that awakened my heart, lit the path, and guided me.

I see now that to live is to be mothered. There is no greater gift.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How I love spring and the return the songbirds and the peepers, and the lovely colors of the Redbud blooms! Soon it will be the crickets and the fireflies! I hope you are enjoying the reawakening and the wonders of spring!

Spring is clearly a time of change and growth. This year it’s a time for me to honor the change and growth of my daughters. One will be graduating from college and one from high school within the next two months. It is a time of joy, and a time of feelings of loss. It’s a challenging mix of those two emotions. My daughters are both determined and talented young women, and I couldn’t be more proud to be their mom. I’m grateful every day to be part of their lives. How I will be part of their lives will be shifting. Of course, that has shifted more than once before now. That’s simply part of life.

There’s a line in a poem that I wrote recently that puts the challenge I’m facing very concisely, “How to reconcile grief with the truth of change.” (The poem was published online here.) That’s the struggle I’m facing. Reconciling those feelings of loss with the truth of change. Just because it’s a natural part of life for children to grow and move on, doesn’t mean there isn’t grief associated with the process. Yet, I feel such joy for them as they set out on their new adventures! So I will be sitting with both the loss and the joy, hoping to find a balance.

As is the Universe’s way, it handed me something to give me cause for reflection during this process. I’ve been listening to a book called EveryNote Played by Lisa Genova. I knew nothing about it before I began it. It’s an extremely emotional book. I think it’s actually more difficult to listen to it than reading it myself would have been. It’s a book about a concert pianist who is diagnosed with ALS. It is very specific about the process his body goes through as the disease progresses. That’s not the most difficult thing though. The more emotional part for me is the regrets he and his former wife face as his disease brings them back into contact. The weight of those regrets, and the things left unforgiven are great. It’s a powerful story, but not an easy one to read.

The connection for me to the process I’m going through was the invitation to look at regrets or things undone as I’m facing this time of transition. I’m happy to say that upon reflection, I don’t have much in the way of regrets in my relationship with my daughters. There is always the desire to have spent more time together, but that desire isn’t usually matched by a teenage girl! Somehow this reflection, this lack of regrets has helped ease the feelings of loss a little. I’m finding peace through that knowing, that while I will grieve their more constant presence in my life, I have done all I can to prepare them for their future, and to live it with joy and passion. So, while the tears will come, I believe the joy will far outweigh the feelings of loss. That feels like a tremendous gift, and is one I might not have recognized yet, if ever, if I hadn’t been reading this book at the same time.

I think that’s part of living mindfully, being present with the things or people who arrive in our lives and have something to share. We might not recognize right away the power of their gift, but if we remain present and mindful it will unwrap itself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A new poem of mine, Icy Heart of Winter is available on Kind Over Matter! It deals with grief and loss, the inevitable changes in life, and how they can leave us feeling empty, and stripped bare.

Kindness matters.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Balance and the Vernal Equinox (from March 21, 2018)

I was reflecting the other day on balance. I know that I often talk of balance on the equinoxes, however, it came up for me differently this time. I am pondering why, when I think of balance, I automatically think of equal parts, of something symmetrical. I actually prefer asymmetry in art. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before at the equinox to think about a different kind of balance, one that isn’t equal parts this and equal parts that. Balance can be incredibly beautiful without everything having to match.

What then if I applied that thinking to our perspective on the light and shadow within us?  It was a revelation to me, though perhaps you’ve thought of it before! I am a visual person and had been writing recently about negative and positive space and the image that is created by both. So while I knew this before, now I see it with more clarity. In this human expression, our goal isn’t to eradicate the shadow within us, but to find a beautiful balance of it in harmony with the light. And the gift of asymmetry is that we can allow and encourage the light to be so much greater than that shadow that we all have, and yet, still have balance. I can acknowledge the shadow side, and be aware of its reminder of the choice that as a conscious human being I can make each moment for compassion, for love, for peace, for light. I can let the memory of asymmetry be my reminder of the opportunity to consciously diminish the shadow within myself, in balance with my goal to always be growing the light. What a beautiful image that can make!

Now I see the asymmetry of potentially our biggest snowfall of the year so far, against the contrast of the first day of spring in a new way.

Just for fun, in honor of the snow falling outside my window, check out these amazing magnified photos of snowflakes. I think I’ve shared it before, but it’s worth sharing again!

May the light always be growing within you!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Venn Diagram

I’m exhausted by rights and wrongs. We spend our lives drawing circles around groups of people; them, us; left, right; Democrat, Republican; rich, poor; black, white; gay, straight; Christian, Muslim. It goes on and on and on until we are trapped inside our bubbles of separateness, staring out at each other through gauzy dividers of our own making, pointing fingers, fearful, blaming. I see the bumper stickers everywhere, with different names after each election, but always the same message, “Don’t blame me, I voted for ____.” Fill in the blank. Fill in the blank with who is to blame, because surely we must have someone to blame. Surely I must be right and someone else wrong. Surely it must be the fault of someone outside of my bubble. So I sit self-righteously inside my circle with those who are like me, looking out.

The problem is that life isn’t as simple as that. People don’t, and shouldn’t, fit so neatly into little circles of sameness. Life is more of a venn diagram. Our circles overlap, our interests overlap,  and those places where they meet and blend, create new spaces and new colors. Those are the spaces of our common ground – safety, peace, security, food, shelter, joy, love. It is in the spaces where we overlap where we must meet and dwell. Those are the spaces where we can talk about the future we all want for the children, and for generations to come. Our need to be able to put food on the table. The desire to have a safe, comfortable place to live and rest. The safety and freedom to worship or not worship, as we feel called to.

Life is a venn diagram. Look for and seek out the places where we overlap, and gather there, find yourselves in each other there. Because in the end, despite what the bumper stickers say, blaME ends with ME.