Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All Creatures Great and Small

Recently,  I took a little stroll on the beach and pier at the Myrtle Beach State Park.  I was having a little quiet time after a frenzied trip to The Big Apple.  Just my camera, the ocean and all the beautiful creatures living there.  I love to watch and capture the antics of birds.  I watched one for some amount of time thinking his bouncing around was rather funny.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed that his feet and a portion of his wing were tangled in fishing line.  I followed him a bit to determine the best way to remove the line as it was wrapped very tightly.  I had absolutely nothing in my possession to remove the line provided I could catch the little creature.  I approached two men fishing and asked if they perhaps had something to remove the line just looked at me and said, "You'll never catch him, it will cut off the circulation and it will loose the leg and then he promptly went back to fishing.  I asked, are you sure..."YEP".  I became rather distraught to no avail, followed the bird a bit and yes, he was fast.  I finally had to leave the pier.  I felt so sad and helpless to do anything.  The little bird has been on my mind and refuses to leave.  Along with the bird, I am reminded of an article I recently read in "The Elephant Journal"  The gist of it is as follows:

A building is on fire, which one of the following do you do...

A)  You are so wrapped up in your own business you do not even notice there is a fire.
B)  You notice the fire, and call for help allowing someone else to deal with it.
C)  You physically assist and do all you can to help.
D)  You set the fire or add fuel to the fire or fan the flames of an already blazing fire.

Given the current state of affairs in our own neighborhoods, country and around the world you can probably see where I am going with this.  Should I have tried harder to get help from the fishermen or at the very least persuaded them to allow me the use of their tools.  Sure, it is one little bird, however isn't all life valuable.  I am dismayed by the amount of disregard for life all around me.  I am appalled by the sheer numbers of abortions (I am not proposing the right/wrong of it here) Unborn children are disposed of as if yesterday's garbage.  Homeless people are treated worse than the dogs roaming loose on the streets, at least the dogs stand a better chance of being rescued.  There are so many examples of hatefulness.  It is not my intent to focus on each issue but to focus instead on what type of people we are or we are becoming.  Who do you want to be a, b, c or d?   We fight among ourselves to be "right"  bashing each other because we are Christian or not, liberal or not and so on and on.  This solves nothing, it only adds fuel or fans the flames.

I want to be the person who is aware and offers what I can to alleviate problems rather than fan the flames.  Who do you want to be?  We are the authors of our own stories.  Everyone has a story and we do not know all the intimate details of each person's path.  Let us each be like the one we most admire, the one feeding the poor, washing their feet and giving them comfort.

If all you can manage is a smile, then do it.  You will never know what it means to someone struggling. We all want to be acknowledged and to know we matter.  My challenge to myself and to you, is this, step up!  Kind is always good.  I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice!  Whatever your path, I wish you well.  Peace and Love Y'all!

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Expiration Date for Grief

It finally occurred to me why I have been feeling sad and out of sorts lately.  Today, November 17 marks the 11th anniversary of my brother's death.  We were quite the pair and I miss him so very much!

So my dear brother, I am thinking of you today...
thinking of how you could make everyone laugh,
thinking of your kindness and compassion
thinking of your love of adventure
thinking of how you took your role as oldest man in the family so seriously after Dad passed.
thinking of how patient you were with Mom when she drove me nuts.
thinking about how you were such an awesome Uncle and are so very missed by Michelle and Heather
I am thankful for the memories we were able to make
the laughter, tears and arguments
You are such an example and inspiration 
You are my Hero!

A thought of two regarding the life we each live...
We are not promised tomorrow
Waiting around for things to happen is of no benefit...
Live Large
Spread your Joy, Love and Compassion!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys, is all peaks and valleys.  It is very hard to believe we are in mid-October!  I love the Autumn season.  Apparently, the Autumn season is not loving me this allergies including mysterious rash and hives.  So I am on prednisone, which is a nasty little steroid that makes you have road rage and such.  Case in point, some not paying attention driver pulled out in front of me and then drove incredibly slowly (thank goodness I was paying close attention) less than a block later, they took forever turning into the gas station...I was so very close to pulling in and giving them a piece of my mind.  I had to remind myself that this was not my nature and it was the drugs talking.  It was all I could do to get to the office without a meltdown.  The day has been full of annoying phone calls, computer glitches.  You know, the kind of things which do not bother you on most days.  The office is quiet now and I am taking a breather to calm and center myself.  I despise medication of any sort and this one makes me sad, mad and uncomfortable in my own skin.  Only a few more days and things can get back to whatever normal is for me.

When I am feeling particularly peevish I know it is time to stop, collaborate and listen (just kidding, but not)
Actually, it is a good time to center, breathe and give gratitude to our Source, our Universe, our Heavenly Father for the many, many blessings we each have to behold.  So what I am loving today...

The skies are the bluest blue with a slight breeze...the chill in the air...popcorn and pumpkins...the changing leaves dancing on the air and landing in fluffy piles around the yard...the colors...socks and sweaters...onion soup with grilled cheese...any soup or stew on the stove top for the cooling and Nia...apples and homemade applesauce...anticipating a visit from the granddarlings...dreaming and planning...resting, a little turning inward for the cooler months...knitting...reading...pondering...out of season beach days...herbal teas...friends and laughter...people in love...halloween little monk statue by the front door, he stands vigil encouraging each to come in peace and relax...home

I feel better already!  How about you, what pleases you most today?  Peace and Love Y'all!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making Your Insides and Outsides Match

Recently I opened my heart and made myself very vulnerable by sharing my very personal back story.  It is not the whole story, however it is significant to my growth as a person.  There are so many ways to heal the spirit.  Prior to my 50th birthday, I attended a couple of retreats to assist in the finding of myself.   A friend of mine, knowing of my passion for photography,  recommended a retreat/workshop called Inner/Outer Vision hosted by Catherine Anderson and Jennifer Halls.  It was a huge transformative step! I was reminded how to access my intuition and heal myself.   Passionate photographers intuitively know what they wish to create with their images.  Activities provided ways to access our creativity in an intuitive way.  Creativity heals me.  It is a balm to my soul.  As a child I could spend hours creating a home in a mimosa tree or involving myself in any number of whimsical endeavors.  Sometimes, as adults we forget that "knowing" .  I encourage anyone to seek that which feeds their spirit and helps with healing.  Personally, I love to learn and I love to try new ideas on for size!  It is what keeps me sane and assists with the aging process...learning experiences, creative outlets and adventure...that, my friend is the true Fountain of Youth!  Experiment until you find something that makes you feel alive and happy!  

Another way to determine what you may wish to accomplish is to write yourself a note or letter and stash it somewhere, read it later and assess where you are and where you want to be.  I have done this a number of times and it resonates with me.  The following is a note to myself written at the Inner/Outer Vision Retreat, signed, sealed and delivered to Jennifer to be mailed sometime within that year.  Let me mention it is somewhat disconcerting to see a letter from yourself in the mail, particularly when you have my memory!   The  following is the card and the message dated March 2, 2013:
Hi Lovie,
When you get caught up in the craziness of your days, I want you to pause, breathe and remember the beautiful weekend that you gifted yourself.  The time to just BE, the time to explore photography and see this as a re-awakening of your talents, those revealed and those waiting to be revealed.  Remember the silence of the woods, your own breath, the crunch of leaves and the sound of wind in the trees.
Remember to slow down and Be Mindful!  Love ya bunches, C

I am a little tightly wrapped and this reminder was perfect!  The last five years have been a source of amusement, trials and great personal growth.  I have said it before and I will say it again...Life is Beautiful!
Find your Tribe! Hang with the people that make you feel absolutely alive, delicious and beautiful!  Ditch the Drama!  Practice extreme self care!  The journey is one step at a time.  I saw this painted on stairs...You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step!  

This photo is credited to Catherine Anderson and was gifted in the form a card to retreat participants      
Catherine hosts some wonderful events, trips and offers many creative options at the following website:  Catherine Anderson Studio.  Catherine provided the photography instruction and Jennifer of You Know LLC guided us in the use of our intuition.  Jennifer offers personal guidance, workshops, retreats and a monthly meditation.  The meditations can be accessed on the above website for a small fee.  Jennifer is very generous and frequently offers recordings free of charge.  She is also a fabulous artist.

Namaste Y'all!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Girl with the Broken Smile

I was the girl with the broken smile.  I am eighteen or nineteen in the above photo.  I was in an unhealthy relationship with the boy/man who would in the next year or so become my husband.  Turning 55 has catapulted me forward in terms of releasing my old stories and dumping some of the baggage I thought I needed to drag around most of my life.

 I felt very compelled to share this post today  because of a sense that someone "out there" needs to read my words.  I was conceived in violence. My mother,  the age I was in the above photo, was date raped by a man a bit older than her.  Her first plan of action was to attempt an abortion.  I don't know about you, however,  I could have gone my whole life not knowing.  The man I always called my father adopted me when I was almost two years old.  This story was withheld until I was fifteen.  I am certain my parents did what they thought best at the time.  It was shocking news for a teenager.  I needed my birth certificate to get my learner's permit.  My dad  reminded me of his unconditional love when he said,  "I am a lucky man, not everyone gets to pick such a wonderful  daughter."  My mother dealing with rage and hurt, dealt some pretty harsh blows, both verbally and physically.  My dad was the saving grace for both of us.  My mother and I have finally come to terms with our relationship. Her life experiences contributed to her behavior.  Forgiveness has been a wonderful gift.

Despite having a really kind, loving father, I still had bucket loads of low self esteem. I sought affection in less than ideal situations.  I embarked on a series of poor choices. I sampled my mother's valium on a regular basis, drank alcohol to the point of illness and explored a few other drugs.  Relationship choices were not  good.  I allowed the young man  I was involved with to make ALL my choices for me.  He loved me and was going to do all the right things, right!   He was an extremely jealous sort and would go into violent rages if someone even looked my way.  Of course I thought that was my fault.  We married. We stumbled through a few years, he started a business...we were broke all the time.  We eventually started a family.  The pregnancy progressed, I was in an automobile accident. Things moved along as they should until one night, still too early for birth, my water broke and blood gushed everywhere.  My obstetrician determined that it was imperative to deliver as the placenta was deteriorating.  I was losing too much blood and our baby was suffering.  I had an emergency c-section. We almost died.  Our daughter was small, had trouble feeding and required a feeding tube, incubator and some assistance breathing.  Miracles do happen...Michelle stayed in the NICU for two weeks and then was able to come home.  She had no delays whatsoever in growth and development.  We were feeling blessed. We were happy parents and soon another daughter was born. Being a mother gave my life purpose and meaning.

The honeymoon period of our lives ended.  I worked full time, cared for our girls and he worked really hard building a business.  Emotionally, we were both miserable.  He sought solace with other women.  I devoted all my time to "my" girls.  I developed an eating disorder and gained weight.  I swallowed my sadness, pain and anger in the form of food.  After, I would attempt to purge.  The long and short of this story is that my husband cheated one more time, finally left me and married the other woman. I was crushed and angry.  After wallowing in self pity for awhile I began the road to recovery and discovery. I wanted Michelle and Heather to experience the example of a strong and independent woman.

  My former husband was/is not a bad person.  We were mismatched and unhappy. Neither of us had the skills to fix the relationship.   That was over 20 years ago...some people will not let things go, last year his sister felt the need in a very public gathering to remind me that her brother and I were not meant to be together and EVERYONE knew that except me.   Sometimes, you just have to walk away from unkind or clueless people. I mention this because people are quirky.  It throws them for a loop when you change patterns and change your story.

We are all broken at one time or another.  Everyone has a story. No one is immune from loss and tragedy.  We all have lies we tell ourselves. We attempt to numb our pain with food, alcohol and other substances.  People who are broken can find redemption and repair their souls. Call on your higher power.  For me, my Heavenly Father answered prayers and carried me when I was weak, tired and devastated.

 I have been married to a wonderful man for the last 17 years.  He thinks I am a beautiful, smart and wonderful human being! He reminds me daily that he is getting the best I have to offer.  The second act of my life is amazing.  We have fun, we laugh and we road trip everywhere!  We disagree about a lot of things and we are as different as night and day...we work through the problems.  Sometimes, we agree to disagree.

Life is beautiful.  Find your tribe.  Walk away from drama.  Put that baggage down once and for all!
You are enough...your existence matters.  You are loved beyond measure.  Learn to love yourself.
Change your story...there is no easy button, things that matter the most are worth the difficulty.   Follow your own path....everyone has their own obstacles and victories along the journey.  Our trials can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones...ultimately you get to choose.