Not just ours…

We watched it.

Mesmerized by it’s glow. It’s charm.

Its seemingly languid way.

Of slipping away.

Until it was gone.

Kind of like it was teasing us with a childlike chant…

“now you see me, now you don’t”

The afterglow was proof enough that truly we hadn’t just imagined it.

It really had been there.

But.

If we had blinked, we would have missed it.

We watched it slip behind the horizon, slip off the edge of our today.

A new thought washed over me.

We think of the setting sun as ours, the closing of but just one of our many days.

I, for the first time, realized…

that final slip, that closing…

…is not just ours.

It is now the beginning of something altogether new.

For someone else.

It is not just ours

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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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Be Open. Be Receptive.

“The open mind and the receptive heart – which are at last with fortune’s smile the informed mind and the experienced heart – are to be gained anywhere, any time, without necessarily moving an inch from any present address.”

– Eudora Welty

A few mind bending and heart opening finds from around the world found from the front row seat at my own computer screen.
Is your mind open and your heart receptive?

SEE

photomanipulations-self-portraits-zev-fiddle-oak-2

14-year-old Zev from Natick, Massachusetts, has taken the photography world by storm with his surreal photo manipulations. Better known by the nickname of ‘fiddle oak’, Zev presents a highly imaginative portfolio of surreal self-portraits, which he created together with his sister Nellie (aged 17). His work seems to mirror the transition from the fairy-tale childhood worlds into those that are way more complicated and still unknown.   Websites: fiddleoak.wordpress.comflickr, and  http://www.demilked.com/surreal-self-portraits-14-year-old-fiddle-oak/

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FEEL

SUSAN SONTAG ON LOVE

The recently released volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, is a treasure trove of insight — on writing, on censorship, on aphorisms — from the deepest corners of one of the greatest minds in modern history. But besides her extraordinary intellect, what made Sontag a force of nature was also her complex and ever-evolving emotional perception, brimming with extreme self-awareness and keen reflection on her relationships with others. sontagonlove_brainpickings

“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.”
source:  Brain Pickings 

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THINK

VANISHED: THE SIXTY-YEAR SEARCH FOR THE MISSING MEN OF WORLD WAR II

The B-24, a WWII bomber, is nearly 70 feet long with a wingspan of more than 100 feet. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find something that big, but in September 1944 a B-24 went down with its crew of 11 in the Pacific and remained hidden there for nearly seven decades. Hylton’s gripping book begins with a modern-day mystery. Did Tommy Doyle’s father, who was a member of the B-24’s crew, actually survive the crash and live a new life with a new family? Tommy’s wife, searching for an answer, located a man named Pat Scannon, explorer, wreck-hunter, seeker of lost WWII gold, who had been looking for the very same plane for the past six years. Combining the modern-day search for the missing plane and the stories of its crew as they prepared for what would be their last flight, the book is both the tale of an exciting scientific expedition and a little-known WWII story.

“I told my agent I wanted to do a book because I just wanted to find out what the hell did happen with Tommy’s dad,” he says. If this West Texas football coach who had broken down crying was representative of any significant portion of the families of 47,000 men lost in the Pacific, then “there was something big, some big epidemic of this particular kind of grief that I’d never heard about.”  – Wil S. Hylton

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Excellent Article on the story, it’s author and the book
I
t’s already downloaded to my Kindle.

Happy weekend. Happy exploring.

Be open. Be receptive.

See.Feel.Think.

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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

JacksonPatterson8

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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46 for 46

In approximately 46 days, I will turn, well, 46.  There it’s out.  That means you all have 46 days to get my mailing address and send a gift! Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?

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Oops, that’s not what I meant!

What I meant to tell you is that I read something last week that made an impression on me.  From a blog I follow, called Kind Over Matter and whose tagline reads: ‘touching the world with kindness, inspiration, gentleness and love”  authored by a variety of writers, came an email with the subject line  “how giving gave my birthday meaning”.  Knowing that I am just mere days away from turning a new number, it caught my attention.  I am not one to shy away from birthdays for fear of more wrinkles, aches and creaks; I believe that age is a state of mind. But I do approach a birthday with an appreciation for and an interest in looking at what my life means, to me and to others. Cake [lava cake to be specific] and presents are always welcome, but not required. Wine, on the other hand; is most definitely required. I’ve heard that anti-oxidants are good for anti-aging…

When Random Acts of Kindness was a novel idea, I was an early adopter, intrigued by the whimsical and yet positive impact of reaching out to others in unexpected and unnecessary but delightful ways. I may have actually paid someone’s toll booth fee on at least one occasion. It also reminded me of a memorable experience from college, when all my friends and I were broke and had had our fill of Top Ramen and mac-n-cheese.  A lasting impression was made on me when one of our friends invited a large group of us out to a nice restaurant – and paid  – for a fantastic meal for everyone. He shared that in his culture, it’s the custom to give to others in your life on your birthday, to return the gifts of friendship and love.  So, the more I considered this notion of a giving birthday, the more captivated I became. The blog post illustrated how one woman completed 35 acts of giving to celebrate her 35th birthday, and because this is me we are talking about, I have to take this literally – naturally  – as much as I appreciate the random nature of things – and have 46. Right? Right.

I have been quietly pondering this possibility, considering the different sides of ‘signing myself up for this’ and on some days, I am fascinated, and on others, intimidated. I have a lot in front of me at the moment;  this is my busy season at work, a big presentation to prepare for later this spring, and so on. And then I remind myself: we are all busy, everyone has too much to do.  And each time I gave myself permission to let it go [after-all, who would know?], I found myself coming back to this idea. In my mind, the challenge has been presented, and frankly, I think it’s probably necessary, something I may even need.

So, here we go, we are doing this.  Yes, you heard me correctly. We.

I was tempted to go about this quietly, not say anything, in part because that makes sense to me and in part because it’s often just how I do things.  It’s counter-intuitive to me to make it my mission to share and then tell everyone about it. But then I realized: I would not have learned about this possibility if someone else hadn’t talked about it. I would not have been inspired if someone hadn’t taken the opportunity to be an inspiration.  So, I convinced myself that sharing this is OK and again, because it’s me, put my own twist on it, and ask you for help.

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Remember the WE that I mentioned earlier?

This is where you come in and where YOU and I become WE.  I want to let myself be nudged, and turn the turning a new number into one of giving, and I’d like your help.  My goal is to somehow give in 46 ways to mark 46 years and I need your ideas for how to give, what to give, and to whom.

Let your brains fly   – WWYD – What would You Do?  Think of ideas – from simple, sentimental, and silly, to as fun, crazy and  ridiculous as you want.  Some can cost money, and some shouldn’t.

I will make a list of our ideas…a combination of yours and mine..and over time, as I complete them, share how it goes with you. We are in this together after all.

And for those who might be wondering, my word for 2013 is…

give.

And yes, I am intimidated. And fascinated.

“We make a living by what we get.

We make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

Really and Truly

Here in this place, we tend to say, share, what we really want to, truly need to. There is some kind of unwritten rule perhaps, that that is why we are here?  And when we let that voice speak, the one that may not get the chance in other parts of our day, or with other people, or maybe with anyone else at all, how can we be anything but inspired by the other voices chiming in on our conversations, adding fresh perspectives and warm nods of agreement and understanding.

I never expected to find myself here and when I first began I certainly did not envision such a place.  I considered rolling up the carpet a couple of times, but a little something told me to just ‘deal’ with those funny feelings that come when we step outside our comfort zone.  And then to find that there are others who are a whole lot just like you.  Hanging out too.  Like the best virtual coffee house in town.

This inspires me every day.

And I think it goes without saying that there is that little flip and flop in your belly when someone says, “hey, I notice you, I like you…”

And sometimes, it feels like a whole lot must be said, when really, what is most important is a simple, heartfelt thank you, and a wave back. So, today I wave, and say thank you to those who said, “Hey, you over there, I see you and I am listening”

Two people who inspire me with each post, each share, each find…have gone and turned me into a puddle of gratitude mess. Some days it is laughter, others head scratching – yes exactly what I was thinking -wonderment, sometimes even tears, and always admiration. I don’t quite have the words for how to express when someone who inspires you, says that maybe, on some days, you inspire them too.

So, I wave and say thanks to Mimi (Waiting for the Karma Truck) who shared the Inspiring Blog Award with me.   With each post, Mimi manages to raise up thoughts I didn’t really know were there, but are; or make me laugh in some kind of solidarity; or stop in my tracks (to re-read) so I can fully absorb the grace I find in what she writes, and always makes me feel I have a place there in her corner.  And because it is humbling to “accept” an award when I still feel like I am finding my own blog legs, it seems to take me an inordinate amount of time to figure out how to say thank you, which I say also to David (Lead.Learn.Live), for this very same award he shared a ways back at this point. Each day I visit his blog, he ceases to amaze on finds that strike a chord, make me ponder something about life, walk away with a new appreciation for words and images and somehow has managed to pick out a few finds from my old stomping grounds, making me feel right at home.

So I say with the most heartfelt thanks I can summon in words, thank you!

So, as it goes, the ‘rules’ are

The Rules:
1.) Copy and Paste the icon on your blog- will do!
2.) Thank and link back to the blogger that nominated you- Of course
3.) List 7 things  about yourself – done!
4.) List blogs that inspire you – check!

Seven things:

  1. I hesitate every time I hit the publish button…
  2. I ‘performed’ in the 3rd grade talent show; my friend played her guitar, and I did something that approximated singing. It’s a wonder I don’t have nightmares about that.
  3. I have seen an iceberg
  4. It is one of my greatest sadnesses that my son never met either of his grandmothers, and that they never got to know him.
  5. My cable service/DVR crashed recently, and other than grieving the loss of approximately four hours of viewing Jon Hamm on Mad Men episodes from last season that I hadn’t had a chance to watch yet, what I missed most in the days it took to get a new one,  were the music channels.
  6. I look for, and savor the moments of play in my days: joking with the barrista at Starbucks, surprising my students, teasing my son, finding moments to say something unexpected that makes someone smile or laugh.
  7. I took the time and started a conversation with the woman who works at my post office recently. I know her name now, how many kids she has, that she has a cake decorating business (23yrs!) and I get a big smile every time I walk in now. It’s really not that hard.

The bloggers who continually inspire me:

In our day -to-day 3D lives, we tell those closest to us how much we care for them, over and over; it never gets old, right? And so, with abandon for the idea of not wanting to be repetitive, I am sharing blogs that, in addition to the two already mentioned, Mimi, and David, are the ones who  truly do inspire me, whether it be the insightful thoughts and diverse perspectives shared, the validating inclusion in the blogging community, or engaging in the comment conversation.  Know that I look forward to finding out what you share on  any given day, and that if we were to have the good fortune to bump into each other in a coffee house, how much I would enjoy sitting with you and just seeing where the conversation might go.

Stuff I Tell My Sister

Help Me Rhonda

Dianne Gray

Fly Away Home

Truth & Cake

Misifusa’s Blog

Words Become Superflous

Smile Scavenger

Hip Mama Media

Mercantile Muse

Mother Sugar

A Grateful Man

To each of you, thank you for sharing what you share, for your insights, your ideas, revealing bits of you along the way, trusting all of us. Please know that if  you just want to savor this, sip it like a perfect latte. Or cup of tea. Or, if you want to share, pour a cup for other bloggers who inspire you.  You get to choose!

This Dot. That Dot. Connected.

I was reading something the other day, from a book whose title I am not going to reveal, for fear you might all find me to be somewhat of a nut (or more of one!). But no matter our individual bents or philosophies on life, perhaps this is something worth thinking about…

‘Thoughts are things…and may create crimes or miracles.’

‘There is no such thing as an idle thought, for so called idle thoughts are the building blocks of more complex patterns of thinking…thought patterns grow with feeding, and as thought patterns grow, they gather momentum…’

Whoa. I like this; thinking about thinking.

In reading this, I realized it not only resonated with me now but that it connects with something I heard while attending a national professional development conference a couple of years ago. It was a session I almost skipped, because something in the session write up – the one in the program book everyone carries around, their informational GPS device for the duration of the conference – seemed, well, a little touchy-feely to me. Which generally is fine in my book, make no mistake, but this was a conference with more than a thousand people in attendance and not a lot of hi-how-ya-doing interpersonal interaction.

At the start of the session, the presenter brought out a guitar and in what I can only describe as a very campfire song-like style, began singing – and  asking us to sing along. What? I silently cursed myself for not heeding my own internal first thoughts – as by now, you surely know that I am not that kind of angel. Singing and I unfortunately do not peacefully co-exist (in my dreams yes, in my car yes, in reality, no.).  But, I played along, well, to be honest, I lip-synced, so as to appear that I was playing along, and spare the other attendees sitting oh so near to me.

Within moments though, I realized I had made a good choice; it ended up being one of the best sessions I attended that week, with relevant, pertinent information I could bring home and actually use in my job. Life is funny this way, yes?

I scribbled notes on the hotel notepad I had grabbed from by the phone in my room, and apparently tucked away those two little pieces of paper in the time since, finding them again only recently (realizing I had failed to make note of the presenter’s name…).  When I pulled them out, at first all I saw were the words Stop, Keep, and Start, and I wasn’t sure why I had kept them. Then it slowly came back to me.

The presenter focused this portion of the session on how our brains think in patterns, seek out patterns really.  And that in the context of creating more good in our lives, cultivating more success, achieving our goals, and to help develop a more positive outlook, get us further down our own paths towards wholeness, growth,  understanding, mindfulness, peace, etc.; that we should perhaps consider these three questions:

 — What should I stop doing?  —

— What should I keep doing?  —

— What should I start doing?  —

I can think of a zillion scenarios in my own life in which I could, should, implement this: running more, eating less, eating better, communicating more clearly, improving my time management, becoming a better writer, trusting my own instincts, second guessing myself less, being  a better parent, being a better friend.

If I allowed myself, my list would be longer than Santa’s list of good boys and girls.

While reading my you-might-think-I’m-a-nut book, I connected one dot with another.  It made it more clear, for me, this connection that our brains do want to find patterns, and that we can actively feed our thoughts in ways that help them gather momentum; a momentum that hopefully causes  an avalanche of positive, innovative, constructive, affirming thoughts that move us closer to what we want, or want more of in our lives.

So, you know what I’m thinking? I wonder what you think about all this thinking.