pausing in the tender spots

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I am chasing my two-year-old around the park as she tearfully chases another little girl with hair the color of the sun, proclaiming that she needs her stick. Of course I try to show her all of the other desirable and lovely sticks on the ground. But she’s not having it. She is in full on tantrum mode.

The mother of the stick holder looks on, not with a frown per say, but not with a smile either. I look to her for comfort, praying that she will say, “Kooky kids, don’t you hate when they act like little asses?” But she says nothing of the sort and I am left to soothe myself. Let me be honest, I don’t looove playgrounds or the majority of interactions I have on them. So I wrangle my little lovey muffin hellcat into her car seat as she arches her back and I feel mean and like I am at a rodeo wrestling a wild boar. Are there wild boars at rodeos? Clearly, I have never been to one.

I am also working on a website, rewriting an article, watching a video of my sweet brother being traumatized as he is sung to by a drag queen dressed as Bea Arthur on his birthday and dealing with a menacing zit on my chin that looks like a mini boob. So it’s no surprise when my son asked if he could go to floor hockey tonight, that my answer was, “If the angels are conspiring.” I’m in no mood to drive anywhere or think about dinner. Baseball is outside and relatively quiet which my sensitive soul can handle but floor hockey is in a gym with loud buzzers. Not good for a gal like me. And Mercury is in retrograde (I think), and I am menstruating (that is the proper term because I learned this in a 5th grade sex ed video where the young lasses from yesteryear had to use pretty powder blue belts to hold up their feminine napkins).

On Tuesday during yoga (which feels like it was 10 months ago) I smiled deeply when I heard Charlotte tell us to pause in the tender spots. Of course this is easier to do when I am on a floor in a dimly lit room with sweet smells instead of diaper aromas wafting in the air. But I have paused a few times today and let whatever was happening tenderize me. And it helps. Pause. Breathe. Welcoming all. Feeling what is sacred. Breath again.

As for my sanity, I plopped my little noodle on the couch and put the T.V. on so I could write. And it was fine. I give thanks to the powers that be for surviving another day mostly intact and the angels that are conspiring and helping me take my son to hockey.

 

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the soul in everything

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This morning on Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, I walked with my baby girl in her stroller to the sound of  birds chirping. From high up tree branches, they sang their little hearts out. Giving voice to that which needed to be sung.

I left my phone at home this time. With no temptation to pick it up and check messages, I felt truly anchored to the unfolding of life happening all around me. The messages that needed to reach me were not on my phone, they were outside in nature. Messages to keep going and stay connected. Messages to reach out. To practice gratitude every step of the way. And to keep giving voice to that which needs to be sung within me.

We can start over at anytime. We can mend and heal. A new day, a new beginning, a new intention, a new year.

And as a slight breeze swam through the humid air, it dawned on me that mother nature truly feels like a mother. Anytime we are feeling lost, plagued by a worrisome thought or just need a hug, we can head outdoors and be held by the beauty and unconditional love hidden in every leave, scurrying squirrel, singing bird, dancing tree, social butterfly and color in the dreamy sky.

They are there to keep us connected to our souls. When we connect to our own souls, we connect to the soul in everything.

It is a lullaby, a hushed comfort telling us that everything is going to be okay. On this new day of this new year, find your words, your tune, your melody and share it with those around you. We need your voice and all the voices of the world to keep us connected to the soul in everything.

stay close

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Stay close to what nourishes you, it said. Wrapped up with a sprig of rosemary and lavender and a burlap colored journal with no lines. How I love journals with no lines…the possibilities, the freedom!

Stay close to what nourishes you…to the sea, to the quiet, to wind chimes, to hope, to horizons. Salt water. To breezes tickling the leaves and palm fronds. To sunsets and sunrises that blanket the sky with soft colors of orange, pink and purple. To afternoon thunderstorms.

Stay close to what nourishes you…to freshly washed cherries, strawberries, watermelon, iceberg lettuce – crunchy and clean. To water. Cucumbers, mint, basil, and something sweet.

Stay close to what nourishes you...in bed with my daughter; our skin sun kissed. Our hair, wet. Reading children’s books; stories of imagination and flight. Of magic and kindness and beauty. Of rainbows and truth, of fairy tales and places far far away.

Stay close to what nourishes you…hugs and kisses, the “sweet spot” on the back of my baby’s neck, her rolls around her thighs, the top of her fuzzy head. Hearing laughter; my own and the giggles of my husband and children.

Stay close to what nourishes you…imagination, creativity, freedoms, silliness. Dancing. Singing. To space and time. Chirping crickets, twinkly stars in the night sky, and freshly cut green grass. How the air smells when it’s about to rain.

To bats cracking balls and soft commentary – a baseball game on T.V. Summer sun. Falling snow. Changing leaves. Showering pink cherry blossoms. Bougainvillea petals. The scent of jasmine, gardenia, and plumeria. The full moon dancing on the water.

Stay close to what nourishes you…Stan Getz and Reggae. Zap Mama. Music from India…mysterious, haunting, wonder tears, chills and a lump in my throat. To songs of unity, peace, and bliss. True stories of humor, wit, and wonder. My blankie.

Heart to Hearts with friends over coffee or on the phone. My chest beaming with fullness, bursting with brightness. Feelings of wholeness, gratitude, oneness and connection.

Being there for someone I love or someone I just met. Witnessing a broadening of their chest and smile, a dropping of shoulders. Transformation. Transcendence.

Stay close to what nourishes you…authenticity, warmth, twinkly eyes, laugh lines, fingertips, my dog’s paws. My son’s amber eyes and the sound of his voice saying Mama. My husband’s freckles and his back, his shoulders, his smile, his absolutely everything.

What, my sweet friends, nourishes you?

 

 

tackling fear

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To me not talking about what I fear is like walking on a beautiful path on a woodsy spring day with cool air and warm sun shining down on my shoulders and coming across a gigantic boulder obstructing the path.

If you pretend it isn’t there, in fear of it ruining your walk, it is sure to ruin your walk. You are just going to keep bumping into it and eventually have to turn around.

But if you pause to examine the boulder for a moment by touching it and looking at it and around it, you will see that there is actually a space between the giant redwood on one side of the boulder where you can get by.

And only then can you continue your lovely walk in the woods.

stars

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When I think of stars, I think of the ones from my childhood in Arizona. Brilliant desert stars not only flickering and winking at you from above but all around you too – even to the sides of you so if you stretched your arms out wide, you could touch them with your fingertips. I also think of my grandmother, Nana reminding us to look up and admire their magnificence after a dinner out at the Quilted Bear or Mother Tucker’s.

I think of last summer when I woke my son up at midnight so he could see a shooting star for the first time. From a deck outside of a house on Nantucket, we watched with awe filled silence as the stars fell from the sky like magic pixie dust.

I think of the stars on Lake George in the Adirondacks. The ones that laid smiling on the lake. The ones that laughed with us while my friends and I paddled around in our canoe yelling, “BEAR” in the middle of the night, warning the other campers. We believed the water to be our only safe haven after a visit from a not very big black bear around our campfire.

I imagine the other campers sleeping soundly in their toasty sleeping bags nestled in their tents cursing at us and our melodrama.

But I had never seen a bear before! When I first spotted him uncomfortably close to one of my friends, I thought someone was playing a prank and dressed like a bear to scare the crap out of us. As if that was a normal occurrence. But I was petrified of this man eating beast! And when we fled to the water to paddle for our lives, my glasses fell off in the process. And I can’t see very well without them.

But the stars were so brilliant you didn’t need glasses.

After paddling back to our site, hightailing it to my friend’s little red Chevrolet Cavalier in the parking lot and spending the night there, we went back the next morning finding my glasses at the water’s edge. I plucked them out and thanked the powers that be.

I also thank the bear. If he hadn’t paid us a visit that night, we never would have gotten out on the lake. And we would have missed all of that beauty…all of those twinkly stars guiding us home.

 

 

 

 

 

the gift you give yourself is the gift you give others

froggy happy“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is silencing the mind.” – Carolyn Myss

My current state of mind is all over the place.  One minute devastated, the next minute hopeful.

The news is heartbreaking.

But I am reminded of a Mr. Rogers quote that always lifts my spirit, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

There are many earth angels among us, and there is a lot of goodness in this world.

But I still want to cry. And I want to make things better. It feels infuriating and overwhelming when humans repeat the same mistakes over and over again. But worry does nothing other than take you out of the precious moment you are in.

This is when I try to breathe. To just pause and breathe.

The other day while on a walk with my family, we stopped for a “mindfulness moment.” This has become a bit of a habit that we practice whenever on a long walk. It is a way of checking in with ourselves and one another.

My son – having heard me talk numerous times about how I love to be outside among the trees, water, and animals – asked me if there was anything else that gave me this same feeling as being  in nature.

I identified what it is that I most love about being outdoors. I love the freedom, the openness and vastness, the lack of walls, boundaries and rules; the natural light and color.

And what I most adore about being in nature is that sense of steady peacefulness. It feels like a break, an escape. There is nothing to figure out, no problem to solve. It offers a glimpse into the understanding that we are all connected and all navigating this messy beautiful world together. In this place we take turns being the helper and the helped and we are never alone. Everything somehow feels alright.

Nature teaches me compassion, empathy, resilience, and humility over and over again. It creates feelings of awe, magic, and hope. It adjusts my perspective reminding me that I am just one spark in a sea of stars.

I realize that there is a place I go to when I yearn for this similar sense of calm, balance and ease.

And all it requires is a little stillness.

Years ago, before having my son, my doula (which is an emotional support person,) asked me how I handled pain. I realized that sometimes distraction was helpful like watching a funny movie or going out with friends. At other times venturing inward felt necessary.

These are the times when we just need to step away from the battery of external and internal noise and focus on a peaceful place within.

The great Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, talks about the many benefits of creating a gap. She writes, “We can stop and take three conscious breaths, and the world has a chance to open up to us in that gap. We can allow space into our state of mind.”

Sometimes it is easier to connect to this space than others. But it is always there and always available to us when we are feeling lonely, scared, and anxious. Or joyful, grateful, and relieved.

She also writes, “You get so caught up in the content of your life, the minutiae that make up a day, so self-absorbed in the big project you have to do, that the blessings, the magic, the stillness, and the vastness escapes you.”

For me this restoration of soul happens when I simply pause for a few minutes during the day and consciously tell my thoughts and list of things to do that I will get back to them. Then I focus on nice big belly breaths…inhaling through my nose while pushing my belly out and expanding my chest to the count of  3 – 5. Then exhaling out of my nose, belly back towards my spine for a longer count.

That space, that stillness born after the exhale and before the next inhale, can feel like both nothingness and everything-ness. It can feel like a flash or an eternity (mostly just a flash for me at this point.) It is the sweet moment right before the next thought arrives and it’s a blissful little window for my soul to peek through and make its presence known.

Right now as I practice accepting that my days, my hair, my kids hair, and all of our emotions may be all over the map, I am working on letting go of expectations and the need to try and understand why things happen the way they do.  I have no control over these things.

But I have control over how I choose to look at the situation before me. If I can find my breath, I am better equipped at staying focused, present, and even joyful.

I am just trying to breathe and find nature inside.

And it helps to remember, when feeling a bit un-tethered, that there are always angels in our midst. Like the 92 year-old angel dressed in purple that I met the other night at the retirement home while my son and daughter, along with their classmates, sang Christmas carols.

This earth angel with the sparkly blue eyes told me she still felt like she was 10 and that every morning when she wakes up, she prays to be a blessing to someone else.

I believe if we take moments periodically during the day to pause, breathe and count the blessings all around us that we, too, can be blessings to others.

We become more of who we are and peacefully present to the nature within and all around us.

And our presence may just be the best present we can give.

Wishing you and those you love peace, freedom, health and happiness!

 

Children Naturally

Love Life 

from the Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin

Your children naturally love life

Their love of life is so spontaneous

and unconscious.

It delights in every nuance of light

and color.

It wonders at every shape

and form.

It dances in their bodies

without self – consciousness.

They are not taught this love.

It cannot be taught,

only lived.

If you live this love for your children

you will guide them,

but never demand a certain response.

You will welcome them,

but never smother them.

You will give birth to them,

but never possess them.

You will nurture their dreams

and guard their self-respect.

They will honor you naturally,

not because of who you are,

but because of who they are.

Don’t worry about how your children treat you.

Concentrate on how you treat yourself.

If your children see in you

a sincere celebration of who you are,

they will return eventually

to their natural joy,

in themselves and in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

love note for nature

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Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

I believe that what you sing to the clouds
will rain upon you when your sun, has gone away” – Michael Franti

Recently I committed to doing what I love, not because I am good at it, but just because it brings me joy.

I am not a poet, and I know it. I am scared of criticism and others thinking, “What the Fu#@ is she talking about?”

But I am going to share this poem anyway.

Because I wrote it a few weeks ago after a blissful walk with my dog in the throes of peace and gratitude.

My hope is that maybe it will inspire you too…not necessarily to write poetry, although, that would be great, but to risk making an arse out of yourself for something you love.

My friend Lori reminded me recently that it is better to try and to fail, than to ignore that which we have been wanting to do but haven’t, because of the fear associated with it.

This is a thank you note to the beauty in nature that always leaves me feeling supported, seen, cared for, and a part of something big, beautiful, and mysterious.

 

The long low hoot of a morning Dove

The sky – a robin egg blue

or the color of a jacket and skirt my Nana wore

I run my hands along the clouds

dipping my finger tips in a cool pool on a hot summer day.

 

Squirrels playing hide and go seek; jumping, leaping

from branch to branch.

A red cardinal glancing at me through the window

dappled light shining on his bold, bright feathers

bearing witness to my pain.

His presence, his peace, guiding me

letting me know I am never alone

there is always someone

or something

loving us in every moment.

This, is how we enter the world

and this is how we leave.

 

The gentle rhythm of palm fronds swaying sleepily

dreamily in the wild wind.

The fleeting sunrise and sunset

limitless

a mysterious ballet with swirling purples, pinks, and creamsicle-colored

silky ribbons held in the sticky hand of a joy-filled child.

 

The sun’s rays breaking out behind a cloud – stretching wider and brighter

with welcoming arms of warmth and kindness

embracing those who pause long enough to notice

the wispy, white-winged angels.

 

The moon; big, bright, and yellow

rising over our Earth

like vanilla flavored birthday cake.

At night, the freckles of light

flicker on the water

diamonds dancing, sparkling with truth

as the phosphorescence

in the dark wet sand

like stars, wink

underneath my feet

lighting the way – a magical, gem-strewn path before me.

 

A dolphin; smooth and gray gliding under the waves wearing a smile

always a smile

swimming fast, faster

playfully birthing hope, tears, and life.

A seagull’s cry on the cliff overlooking the thunderous waters.

 

The smell of damp leaf-covered earth

on a raw chilled-to-the-bone morning.

A canopy of Sycamores overhead.

 

Monarch butterflies flying

like pieces of stained glass

under a witch’s spell

tickling my shoulders.

The twigs and leaves of eucalyptus trees

with their heavenly smell – clean, crisp, pure

perfect air

they are my saving grace.

 

One can hear the butterflies – listen –

their wings singing, undulating, flapping freely

without a care in the world.

Sage, rosemary, basil

healing, soothing, purifying

earthy, and sun-drenched.

 

I place the succulent leaves to my nose

inhaling slowly and deeply

coveting the blessed reprieve

from stifled, suffocated, shoebox air.

 

The fragrance of frangipanies, of gardenias

and jasmine

intoxicating

and uplifting,

promising spring

an evening filled with laughter and a tingly buzz.

Brightly colored paper lanterns

swaying to the sounds of Spanish guitar.

 

I hike up a mountain to the summit blanketed in white.

I walk by a bee and a bear

by the crater filled with ice

by the house with the barking dog running

back and forth in his yard with an invisible fence.

While Maple leaves float about like dancing sprites in skirts of red, orange and yellow.

 

The stroll in the glittery new fallen snow

a mint in my mouth

leaves me feeling cool headed and warm-hearted

for the first time in a long while.

 

I wait for a kiss under a Dogwood tree

as it showers the pavement below

with pink – purple confetti.

 

The sanctuary of the beach

the temple of the trees

the sunrise on a strangers face

nature is how I understand

and relate to God.

 

The cycles of the seasons,

day break and night fall,

elephants

leaf-cutter ants

monkeys, bamboo

tide pools, rocks, shells, and sea glass

thank you for showing up here.

I relish the abundant gifts of diversity, simplicity, and majesty.

 

Thank you Nature for the gentle nudges

and signs,

for the rain,

and the plentiful flowers and weeds

fruits, roots, and vegetables.

 

Sometimes I fear you

but always I have faith in you.

I will do my best to trust my intuition

and this journey

to love others unconditionally

and to be present for you

in your sorrow and triumph.

 

Thank you Nature for the reminders to be

and to share joy

simply because we are alive

and we matter and how we live matters.

We are valued because we exist.

 

We are all connected

an intricate tapestry, an essential web,

an integral part

of the family of things.

 

For more inspiration…copy and paste this link to watch Alanis Morissette’s lovely video, Big Sur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyNUeVkzKYU