Those Rocks. That Tree.

As time passes, and life happens to and around us,  we are not necessarily the same people year after year.

And, it seems, to me, that we shouldn’t be.  Without compromising who we are at the core; we learn and grow. As a rock erodes into a pebble and eventually into sand over time, we have the potential to change in seemingly invisible ways every day. Our minds can change. Lord knows our bodies change. Relationships come and go and add rich layers of memory and story and sometimes hurts and forgiveness.

Our kids, the people we are raising, leave us changed daily.  Responding to the struggle(s) of the day, whether it’s the 7th grade math, freshman year jitters, college goodbyes, first heart breaks, puberty, or the teething and diapers – it all becomes part of our core. Like cooking from a recipe made so many times we feel it more than we can explain it. It just is. We just are.

My son is on the early cusp of puberty, my father has dementia. I am still a mother and a daughter but what that means and requires of me is changing as they change. Some days it looks no different than the day before, and then suddenly it’s obvious we are all different.

That said, among all that we juggle – the balls we manage to catch, and the ones we simply know are hovering in the balance, seemingly invisible but so very present – comfort can be found when we return to a place that does not change. A place that is somehow a constant for us, a landmark in both the metaphorical and concrete kind of ways.  A place that somehow soothes our soul, beckons us to memories that we can smell and feel from visits gone by, but it’s as if it were yesterday each time we return.

When you recognize a tree in the forest like an old friend, and know the one rock on which to sit by the lake.  They are unchanged and exactly where you saw them last.

That.

A place where the soul settles and rests.

And exhales.

We should all have that kind of place.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  – John Ruskin

A place where we are sure of who we are, excited about possibilities we perhaps can’t even fathom (but like those balls hovering in the balance, we know they are there…) and revel in all that has been.  From good to difficult and everything that lies between. A place where –  no matter the season,  no matter the weather  – gives us just exactly the moments we need. No matter in what direction the winds may blow, to have and find comfort in a place that we are so very lucky to know.

And I’ve been lucky enough to learn that when someone you adore adores the same place as you – well, that’s one sweet exhale.

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Ps…thanks to Lori for the Ruskin quote!
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Quit your whining. Move.

Running. Trying to run.

Gasping. Stopping. Whining

Two weeks off.

A trip.

Of gastronomic proportions.

Eating. It all.

Jet lag.

No movement.

One with the couch.

Gasping. Last one in at run’s end.

Feeling bitchy about how easy it doesn’t feel.

Round the corner.

Head down. Eyes to the ground.

Almost.

There.

Glint. In my eye.

A car. Parked. The door opens.

Eyes still down, in view are two rubber stoppers.

Those things at the bottom. Bottom of crutches.

Two stoppers. One shoe.

Shit.

I have two legs.

Shit.

Run. Run. Run.

Dig deep, woman.

YOU.Can.Run.

Heart rate picks up. Pace picks up.

Momentum surges.

Still last runner in.

Still gasping.

But running.

On two legs.

Quit your whining.

Move.

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This memory, from a few months back upon returning from our Paris trip, is still SO vivid in my mind, in ME, and was triggered by yet another  lapse in momentum.

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Note Of The Day…

“My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”  – Jodi Picoult

My mom was just that, soft and nurturing,  yet small and oh so mighty.  We went toe-to-toe in my childhood and adolescence – my strong will matched so completely by her inner strength; a power that I suspect she never quite fully realized.  It’s what I channel to this day as a mother of my own mini me.

To grow old and be like her would be an honor.

My mother lived what unconditional love looks like; she was forever my number one champion and the evening she quietly slipped to the other side marks a most striking contrast; a before-and-after moment in my life, unparalleled by nothing other than the birth of my own child. The stories I could share to make this clear are endless. My mother knew me in ways I am still yet realizing. She saw me in a way I can’t even quite yet, standing here in the middle point of my life.  She accepted me despite my many attempts to push her back, because I always needed one more test to know that she really and truly was always going to love me.

She always passed.

Today marks the day she left our world, sixteen years ago.  There will come a day, when I will know more years without her than I do with her, but thankfully we are not there yet. Even if so, her essence, her spirit really, is etched deep within; she is part of me. If life is aligned as it should be, we do not forget our mothers, and I think that we never stop needing them. At least I don’t, and in fact, the older I get, the more I realize just how much I need her. I wasn’t yet a mother myself when she passed on, and it’s my deepest sadness that we didn’t get to share this profound part of our lives.

Anticipating this milestone, I have been thinking of her more than usual, if that’s possible. Not too long ago, I unearthed a box of old journals – a Pandora’s box of memory and emotion.

In the box, I found – among so much else – something I wrote in October of 1995, while taking a creative writing class. It reveals, and reminds me of an exquisite part of her character, her everyday presence. That look between us in our photo above.  Her gift of constancy; I always knew I was at the top of mind for her.  What I wrote 19 yrs ago  – which turned out to be exactly two years before we started to say our goodbyes, my memorial to a most gracious soul  – is really my post for today.

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Here’s to you mom,

you are missed

in every way,

in my every day.

xo

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In Your Words

When I shared my word for 2014, I asked you if you engage in the process of choosing a word to guide your year also, and if so, what is it? I hoped that a few of you would comment and share a word. And you did.

What I didn’t count on was your amazing response, on so many levels, to the reflections I shared about the impact of choosing “Give’ as my word for last year. You each gave me so much in your comments and to say thank you, I wanted to reflect back to you your answers to my question:

what is your word?

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This is what you said!

Wow! Holy words batman, check us out!

We are a formidable bunch and 2014 has no choice but to stand down to the likes of us and let us move throughout this year with a healthy focus on presence and wonder; listening to our inner voice when it reminds us to be confident and accept what life brings our way; urging us to thrive so that we meet discovery feeling flat-footed and ready to dream, to be filled with hope, and just be better all around.  2014? Here we all are. Ready.

I am unbelievably grateful to be in the midst of each of you and your words.

Wishing all of you

all of this,

and more,

as we move step by step into this year filled with so much good and so much possibility…

Peace

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

What do the beginner’s mind, an organized desk, a new year,
and a bird about to take flight all have in common?

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Hope for a new beginning.
A sense of possibility.
Anticipation of something new.

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We All Carry On

It seems that over the last week, I have heard such heart breaking stories from every angle: a terminally ill young child, an astoundingly dedicated and innovative teacher who gives his heart to his students in incredibly creative ways, and then returns home each day to care for his achingly affected son; a young man raising money for his aunt who has been diagnosed with cancer; a regular person putting a crackled heart back together, a mom who struggles with her own kiddo, a friend who finds out the job he loves is not his anymore.

It goes on all around us; all of us, we each have a story.

And it’s true, being in touch with what is happening around us, really does help us keep things in perspective. How often do we hear about the circumstances of others, and then comment, “well, that sure put things in perspective!” realizing that the (fill in the blank here) we were fretting about really isn’t that bad.  It’s reminded me that it’s not just a matter of remembering that somehow someone has it worse off than we do; it’s the importance of keeping it at the front side of our brain how good we do have it.  Seeing things through a lens of abundance. Remembering that our pity-party hats are the most flattering when worn by the hat-rack. And, it seems that it’s just a good reminder to just simply remember to keep our ears tuned in to each other, our hearts soft for the person next to us; staying with the pulse of all that goes on around us.

Because it’s so very true; we all have holes…and yet, we all carry on.

 

Holes, by Passenger on their album, All the Little Lights

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Tickle My Fancy Friday

Human beings are multifaceted jewels.
We have many important dimensions to our being.
These include the physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and the spiritual.
Seek your perfection in all of these together, and neglect none.
Seek balance and harmony in all aspects of yourself.

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

If we are doing it right, we are inspired, tickled and engaged with a variety of things over the course of a day. or week or month. When we find what resonates with various parts of ourselves, we respond with an out-loud-laugh, a sigh, a wide-open mouth, a hand on the chin, big bright eyes. All of which say yes to some part of ourselves, parts that need to be visited, touched, moved and honored.  It is what brings joy, peace and a  sense of place to our lives.  Enjoy a few of the moments that brought a response ranging from a nod of my head to an out loud laugh…

Beauty

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Using digital techniques, photographer Jackson Patterson blends his own photographs with images found in old family albums.

Born and raised in Arizona, photographer Jackson Patterson has always been fascinated with the beauty of the desert and the general lifestyle of people in the American West. Recollected Memories is a series of photomontage images that were inspired by this passion for that landscape visually blended together with his larger family history. For more of these amazing, creative and stunning images, click here

Inspiration

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I need both…

Emotion

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What would you like to say?

It’s nearly impossible to know when you’ll be moved by something; when something will impact you in such a way that you feel inspired and driven to take on the world….

The Things You Would Have Said has been an unbelievable and uplifting experience, and I couldn’t have started it without first allowing my surroundings to affect me. If I could pass on one lesson I’ve learned, among many, it would be this: let the world ignite something inside of you. Be open to the emotions that surface. Why are you angry? What about this makes you cry? Are you being called to action? Instead of minimizing those answers, embrace them. Be the courageous individuals that you are and use that spark to do good, to change lives, and to make the world a little bit easier to manage for everyone in it. What an honor, right?!   Jackie Hooper is the creator of The Things You Would Have Said project and book. Visit www.wouldhavesaid.com and buy the book here.

Wit

PB & J 2.0

PB & J 2.0

In case you are wondering [admit it, you know you are! ]

Rows: Strawberry jam, Honey, Marshmallow fluff.
Columns: Peanut butter, Nutella, Cookie butter.

 

Faith

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Perhaps this is also true with our loved ones…

So, What tickles your fancy?

What gets you to take a double-take?

What gets your heart to smile?

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