Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can I Just Sit?

Can I Just Sit?
For Five Minutes?
Can I just sit? Can you? I don’t sit, unless I am doing something while sitting. Can I focus on just one thing for five minutes?

I scanned the amaryllis blooms as I watered them. They are gorgeous. I notice them daily when I walk by or when I’m watering or weeding. They bloom for about three weeks and then they are gone for another year.
Today, I realized that not once in seven years have I taken any time to sit and look at them. Three weeks out of fifty-two I see them in flower, and then I wait for another forty-nine weeks until I see them again. They are so fleeting and I don’t take the time. I challenged myself: “Can I just sit for five minutes and look at these flowers? Can I just sit and notice them for the first time? Can I just sit without answering the urge to weed, water, or trim? Can I just sit and look at them in the context of doing nothing else?”
I fetched my stool and my camera and I sat. I noticed. I did nothing  anything else for at least five minutes. In that time, I noticed that the throat of the amaryllis is deep green. I noticed that it has six filaments. When my five minutes ended, I kept noticing For the first time, I stuck one up to my nose: It smells like watermelon. I noticed that the petals on one flower were chewed. I checked a not-quite-open bud and found a rather satiated unidentified larva. I tossed it in the lot next door because this was sitting time, not killing time.
I noted that only a few buds remain to open and remembered that those will be the last of the blooms. I noted droplets of water sliding off petals and leaves.
I can just sit for five minutes. I can notice. I can see and learn. Can you just sit for five minutes? What will you notice?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Turn Over a New Leaf—A Real One

Turn Over That Leaf
What Do You See?

It’s a cliché: Turn over a new leaf. But did you ever turn over a real new leaf—a growing leaf, one that just evolved from a tiny red bud on a once-dry, dead-looking twig on a tree or a shrub? Such a leaf has nothing to do with the cliché’s focus on a change in your life, change in your diet, or a change your job/career/living space.
Spring in Central Florida where I live is subtle, so subtle one could miss it by not paying attention. The leaves on my pink tabebuia fall off and grow back again in the same week, so if I don’t stop and notice, the tree looks like it is always green.
Each new leaf starts as a tiny node, and when first opened, it is red, nearly raw, like it must hide from the bright light of the sun. Touch a new leaf and you will note that it is soft, yielding, ready, and open to change and growth. It is preparing for the time when it will spread and become a new color, when it will fan out and provide shade and embrace the sun and its life-giving chlorophyll.
There is a lesson in the new leaf: It takes its time to open; it opens in stages. When we “turn over a new leaf” in our lives, rather than make brash, unwieldy changes that overwhelm us and turn us from red to green and then to brown in over-fast stages, we can evolve like the leaf. We can open ourselves in a conscious fashion, being cautious to not get burned, to protect the softness still present within us before we’re ready to make a change. When we are ready, then it’s time to fan out, like the leaf, embrace the sun, and continue to grow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Love Has No Political Party

Love Trumps Politics
YesterdayMarch 22, 2016would have been my daughter Alexa's thirty-seventh birthday—would have been because she died at age seven and a half from brain cancer on November 2, 1986.
I shared Alexa's birthday on Facebook because it's one of the things I do to honor her—to remember her, just as I have her photos displayed in my home, just as I speak about her, just as I continue to love her.
I am abundantly blessed with family and friends who hold me up and show me such extraordinary love and caring whenever I write about Alexa. Hearts reach out and hold my heart. In turn, I get to hold the hearts of others because grief is a universal emotion. We need each other when we experience grief, loss, longing. I receive so much comfort and healing from each person who responds to Alexa's photo on her birthday or her “I Love You Mommie” card on the anniversary of her death.
Yesterday, as I read the kind, caring words of my Facebook family, for twenty-four hours, we each transcended the things that separate us, politics, economics, religion, belief systems. In this election year, politics especially find me drawing hard lines of separation between myself and others.
Yesterday, those lines of separation were erased. Love crossed them out, one by one, and left nothing but caring, compassion, and shared hearts.
I must remember that erasure today and every day. I must place my focus on compassion, caring, and love, because when I get to the core of my essence, the essence of all those billions of people on the planet, we can each transcend and erase the lines that separate us, and leave only love.
Thank you, my Facebook family, for all the love yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Creating Chaos and Creating Beauty

Sowing Seeds of Hope
Today started out crummy. I slept in my clothes, not a good beginning. Yesterday, I ate about thirty smoked, lighted salted almonds and worked a crossword puzzle at the same time, so I didn’t chew them well. I followed the almonds with a huge plate of nachos, and continued to work the crossword puzzle, again not chewing well. An hour later, stomach pains hit. I have been so careful about avoiding such distress that I’ve had little need for Zantac, so mine was expired. I took it anyway, hoping it had outlived its expiration date. It had not, so I retired to bed, groaning in pain. After a few hours, I reached for the Pepto and some ginger ale. By that time, I was exhausted from pain and self-chastisement for eating so fast. I fell asleep in my clothes and stayed that way until this morning.
It’s Friday, so I had to take the trash and recycling cans to the street. I gathered the errant cans, bottles, and papers from the house and schlepped the blue recycling can to the street. Next, I removed the dead (literally) things from the fridge, again chastising myself for not eating those leftovers and not cooking that thawed chicken. When the foul garbage gathering was over, I schlepped the huge trash can to the street.
I always feel creepy after touching the trash and recycling cans, so I decided it was a good time to get my hands wet and water the plants. A huge mound of dirt was strewn across the walkway because something dug during the night and made a mess of the flowerbed I planted on Sunday.
I felt diminished and disheartened and it was only 8:30. I continued to water and then I noticed the seedlings. On Sunday, I planted several blue morning glory seeds. I didn’t soak them like the directions advised, but I wet the soil well and kept it wet each day—after hosing the strewn dirt from the creature digging during the night.
I felt so low that I almost didn’t notice the seedlings. They are so new that they blend in with the surrounding dirt. When I saw them, I smiled. In spite of the dead things in the trash, yesterday’s clothes, and germs on my hands from the garbage cans, I felt hope. Here was something new, something growing, something that will bloom and bring beauty.
Far too often, I berate myself for the chaos I create in my life. Plenty around me reminds me of the seeds of chaos I’ve sown. Not often enough do I congratulate myself for the beauty I create in my life. I sow seeds and I often forget that beauty will result—and not just in the garden. The morning glory seedlings reminded me of creating beauty—and hope. Perhaps the flower’s name is no accident; a bit of glory early in the day brought hope and a smile and changed my day.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Put Your Hands in the Moment

Put Your Hands in the Moment
Children Are Never Too Old for Love's Touch
Throat and ear infections had served up my child over a week of pain. A ruptured eardrum made it almost unbearable. She braved the infections with painkillers and antibiotics while I was 1400 miles north of her. A few days after I arrived home, I sat on the sofa next to her. She put her head in my lap, and I gently moved my hand on her head, smoothing her hair while my other hand touched her arm.
That moment, my hands in the moment, opened my eyes once again to what matters—family, closeness, touch. That moment, my hands in the moment, also again opened my eyes and heart to the realization that our children are always our children. The same child who placed her head on my lap I loved nuzzling when she was a baby, her milky kitten scent awakening my own senses and filling me with delight. That child is now twenty-five years old and her milky kitten scent is long gone. What isn’t long gone is the instinctual need for parent and child to connect.
When our children are infants, toddlers, and preteens, we touch, soothe, and hug them so often that we cannot count the ways. As they get older, recognizing their individuality and desire to wean themselves from our constant care, in our culture, we often minimize or even stop regular touch. We may stop, but the need doesn’t stop. The desire to connect with our children, no matter what their age, doesn’t stop. The comfort of touch and the love it expresses don’t stop.
As I, too, have reached a certain age, I often touch, soothe, and hug my young grandchildren. My child’s head on my lap and my hands in the moment remind me that my adult children—and I—also benefit from hands in the moment.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Enough" Limits

Put a Limit on Not Being Enough
I can limit that voice, that overseer that
constantly reminds me I’m not enough.
I have a nasty cold and I have zero energy. My bills are behind and the house is dirty. I’m way behind on work, and a week from tomorrow I leave to go north for three weeks. I have a mess in my rental house to clean up. It all is so overwhelming. It’s 10:30 in the morning and I haven’t accomplished much today. A bit of cleaning and clearing. Walking dogs. Trash and recycling out. It isn’t enough. It seems like it’s never enough day to day regardless of how much I do. It’s only January 2, and I feel like I have a year’s worth of things that are undone.
What can I do today so that at the beginning of the day tomorrow I will not feel so overwhelmed? First, I can cut myself a huge helping of slack. The week spent blowing my nose and watching Netflix could not be helped. Getting out of bed too soon complicated my recovery from this cold. I can’t do the things I would have done in the last six days had I been well. That whole year’s worth of things to do? At the beginning of each year, each of us has a year’s worth of things to do. They might not be stacks of clutter or paper or floors that must be mopped and carpets cleaned and flowerbeds weeded, but it’s a year nonetheless.
That year of things facing me? That year is made of 365 days. Today is only one of them. It’s limited. I’m limited. If I were to resolve anything for this second day of the year, it would be to recognize that this day is limited. I can do only so much. I steal and negate my own energy by chastising myself for what is undone as I begin this day or any day. I can limit that voice, that overseer that constantly reminds me that I’m not enough. I am enough, yesterday, today, and each tomorrow of the year that awaits me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Failure Occurs Without Effort--Without Resolve

Failure Might Occur
It Will If You Don’t Even Try
Go ahead. Do it. You know you want to make New Year’s resolutions. Ah, but you hesitate because you’ve been led to believe that you will set yourself up for failure. You’ve been led to believe that sweeping changes aren’t possible. You remember those other resolutions that ended in the first hours, days, or weeks of previous new years. Failure might occur, but it definitely occurs if one doesn’t even try. Even a day or an hour spent at something positive is more than zero time.
Resolutions in hand or not—it is a new year. This first day, we approach a not-yet-filled slate of days, weeks, and months. It’s fresh; it holds possibilities, dreams, hopes.
It’s a fine thing to pin your heart, your thoughts, and actions to the possibilities that await you.
It’s a fine thing to pin your heart to the dreams you want to fulfill. It’s a fine thing to think about and decide what you want.
To make possibilities and dreams a reality, you must take action. Resolve leads to resolutions and then to action. It’s a fine thing to make some resolutions.