Hope

 
 

A List to Remind Me That the Sun Shines

Aspens. My favorites.

Aspens. My favorites.

MSH reminds me when I start ranting about something and threaten to write about it on my blog, that I always intended for this project to lean toward the positive and optimistic.

Then I remind him that I’m also “keeping it real” which might not always come across as roses and sunshine.

Keeping It Real

How real do I feel comfortable with here on the blog? How real am I comfy with in person? All last month I’ve debated this with myself. And I didn’t write much during that debate. Lost my groove, I guess.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

I felt braver a couple of years ago. Bolder. Speaking my mind came easier. Opening up about my life happened naturally and with less reserve.

This past year, in many ways, I’ve caved in on myself. I’ve tucked in the frayed edges. I keep the strained or raveled seams covered. I’ve inched toward a more hermit-like life. I used to do that during the month of January every year. I saw it as a naturally occurring regrouping and recovery from the two or three-month holiday season.

My January recovery session during the past year stretched into eleven other months. Maybe longer.

An online friend of mine wrote a (somewhat annoying) glowing top ten account of his past year for the following reason:

“Things can get difficult, and you never know when I might need to remind myself that these things happened, and how and what I felt like when they did.” ~ Brad McBride

Good reason to write up a top ten, you gotta admit. Even if it annoys semi-irritable people like me.

I’ve just survived a year (2014) where I needed to remind myself of happier times to get myself through the day or the week.

I’ve also just been through a year (2014, yes, same year) with some amazingly wondrous good things happening. I mean A-MAZ-ING! Happiness like nothing I’ve ever known.

Talk about a paradox.

I’ve felt lost and found, abandoned and loved, forlorn and supported, ready to give up and anticipating greatness, numb and electrified. At times hope eluded me and then there it shone like a stunning sunrise nearly blinding me.

So what would be my top ten good things for 2014?

  1. My oldest daughter’s new baby girl
  2. The volunteer work I get to do
  3. Hanging out with my favorite teenager while driving her to and from tutoring
  4. Spending time with a certain three-year old
  5. Snuggling from a fun-loving one year old
  6. Almost the entire family together for a weekend in November
  7. A Christmas concert extraordinaire
  8. Summer sunrise walks
  9. My family reunion – time with Mom and Dad
  10. Sitting in a high mountain meadow for hours with MSH

See, my life’s filled with wonder and joy. I just forget sometimes. The difficulties can cast such deep long shadows that block out the sunlight in such a way it almost feels like night. I just need to step out of the shade and let the sun warm me from time to time.

Am I Right? Or am I Write?

This blog has been a source of light for me as well. It’s like a conversation I have with myself to sort through things and make sense of the world. So I add a number eleven to my list.

11. This writing thing.

So I’ll keep things real. The good, the ugly, the stunning, the what-the-heck. Life as I see it written down right here just for me.

If you want to follow along, you’re welcome to join me. Just don’t make too much noise. It is morning, after all.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Hope, Mental Health, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Best Advice I’ve Gotten In the Past Year? “Practice Radical Self-Care”

Great recs found here.

Great recs found here.

The best advice I got during the past twelve months wasn’t directed at me. And it arrived through an unlikely source, a Goodreads question and answer session.

I don’t usually follow or sign up for these sorts of things. I think the author’s work normally speaks for itself. But I made an exception this one time.  When Anne Lamott, the author of “Help! Thanks! Wow!” among other hilarious, heartfelt and honest books, accepted a stint on the Featured Author Chat over at Goodreads, I jumped on board eager to pick up some writerly advice and a few laughs.

The directness in Anne’s writing reminds me of my best friend who passed away early this year. They both have a no-holds-barred approach to communication. Say it like it is. Don’t worry about offending anyone. Speak truth. Let it all fall where it ought to.

Feels like I get an infusion of new oxygen in my blood after reading Anne’s books. I figured I’d more than enjoy reading what she has to say in a different medium.

Little did I know how helpful it would be.

Sure, she answered queries about writing and about her personal life. But then, a surprise question and an even more surprising answer came through.

In response to a reader’s question about how to deal with depression and discouragement, Anne Lamott’s answer jumped out at me as if it’d been highlighted with fluorescent green marker.

“Depressed and discouraged is really hard, and plenty to deal with. My response, if it was me, was to practice radical self-care, by being exquisitely kind and gentle and patient with myself, exactly as I would be with a friend. Love and gentleness are always the answer. “ – Anne Lamott, from a Goodreads discussion 12/12/13

“Practice radical self-care.”

I’ve said that to myself over and over ever since I read it. Even more so since a funeral and burial and the ensuing grief that’s hovered all year.

So we’ve all heard that “self-care” part of the equation over the years, right? But “radical?” And how do you care for yourself in a radical way?

I turn to my usual sources. I like the third Merriam-Webster definition of radical.

“Radical: very different from the usual or traditional : extreme.”

So I’ve looked at how I normally care for myself and I attempt to do the opposite, or at least a ninety degree shift.

Sounds difficult. But I’ve given it a try anyway.

So how do I “practice radical self-care”?

  • Letting myself ignore all my lists occasionally and the usual side of guilt they’re served with
  • I say “not right now” instead of “sure, anytime, anything”
  • Simply sitting and letting my mind go blank, often
  • Crying when the tears want to leak out
  • Laughing even if it goes against all reason or feels wrong
  • Planning something unprecedented, like getting a manicure, or a spur of the moment trip
  • Saying “No”
  • Reminding MSH that I’m not depressed, just grieving
  • Practicing my depression treatment steps, just in case
  • Accepting that sorrow and faith can coexist in the same brain
  • Journaling, several times a day if necessary, letting words carry some of the weight
  • Napping, earlier bedtimes, later wake times
  • Talking about how I’m feeling

The other part of what Anne said, I’d applied in situations involving others, but rarely with myself.

“Being exquisitely kind and gentle and patient with myself.

The key word there: “exquisitely,” as in “acutely perceptive, discriminating, intense.”

Kind, patient and gentle with myself. How could I go wrong? That was easier the first month or two after my friend died. But then I hit some preconceived notion of “times up” on the grieving thing and stopped being so easy on myself.
Photo by Kettie Olsen

Photo by Kettie Olsen

So I try again and again. And I remind myself again, as Anne said, “Love and gentleness are always the answer.”

I get radical. I care for myself. Practice exquisite patience and gentleness. I apply the concepts of love and kindness to myself. Kind of extreme ideas for me.

It’s a daily, sometimes hourly process working through depression, discouragement and grief.

I owe big thanks for such unusually worded advice from someone who’s been there to someone still wandering the path toward a new normal.

*~~*~~*

Categories: Cancer, Death, Hope | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whateverness

I skipped out on writing a Gratituesday post yesterday. Not that anyone would notice except me, really. It’s not like me. Even if I don’t write anything for a week I always, always, always post something I’m grateful for on Tuesdays. But nope. Not yesterday.

Part of me said to myself that Monday’s post about the “Twenties” could serve as my gratitude offering for the week. Part of me doesn’t want to think of things I’m grateful for lately.

Who could be uncheered by a sunrise like this?

Who could be uncheered by a sunrise like this?

Why would I do that? What is it about human nature that makes me want to wallow in whininess and self-pity rather than pay attention to the abundance surrounding me. Or maybe it isn’t human nature at all. Maybe it’s just my own personal nature, prone toward the negative. It’s an ongoing battle, most days holding my ground or even gaining some ground. Other days the foe pushes harder than my stamina and will power. Then I find myself mired in the old, all too familiar ground of smudged glasses, a fog in the air, stuck knee-deep in depression and meh.

Does it matter that I pushed through the tiredness and volunteered with MSH at a food bank for a few hours  yesterday? He thought it would do me good, give me some perspective. I’m sure it did somehow deep down. I tried, later, to compose a post about the experience, but found my heart had stayed closed off to the experience as well as any potential good I could have gained from it. Shelves got stocked, meals made available, families and individuals got served. Now my muscles ache and my back hurts. I should have felt a sense of satisfaction, of joy, but nope. Nada.

Veggies in my future?

Veggies in my future?

Does it matter that I dug out my seed collection and, in an act of extreme faith, even for a desert gardener, put seeds into the ground early in September? I try to envision radishes pushing up through the soil, imagine beets with their tiny red stems poking though, lettuces for future salads, carrots with their furry tops, pea vines winding up the wall. Do you think it will really happen? Or will I fail to keep the soil moist enough over the critical week or two of seedling spouting? Will the temperatures soar and bake the now saturated ground along with the tender shoots of my offering of faith?

Just after shaking off the pond water.

Just after shaking off the pond water.

Did today’s face to face encounter with a coyote stir something in me, make me feel more alive and lighter? As I said, “Oh, hello there!” and those gray eyes looked through me, judging, assessing, weighing the danger, did I wonder at such a confrontation? Perhaps, a bit.  And only minutes later, when the geese complained at the coyote’s invitation to breakfast, did anything stir in me as they flew overhead, the sunrise backlighting them just so? I took a photograph to share and smiled a little. That’s something. The whole day ought to have brightened at such an occurrence, my heart should have jumped and laughed out loud at the very least.

Maybe I’m behind on my sleep. Maybe I need to take vitamins, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water. Maybe I need some hours lost inside a book, oblivious to my surroundings. Maybe it’s time for some extreme sanctuary, silent meditation or exceptional prayers. Maybe I need a few days camping, saturating myself in pine-scented oxygen and unfettered starlight. Maybe I think too much. Maybe I think about the wrong things. Maybe I need some serious chocolate. Who knows.

Looking for calmer waters.

I’m just trying to make sense of my life, and some days honestly, there’s very little sense in it at all.

In my decades long war with depression, I’ve learned to remind myself that what I’m feeling is temporary. That I won’t feel like this forever. Days will get better, laughter will come easier, I’ll feel like being around people soon enough. There’s no need to give up hope.

I declare today a mental health day for myself. I’ll be gentle with and generous to myself. I’ll rest and renew and find a toehold to push myself back up to solid ground. I’ll reread some of my gratitude journals. I’ll push harder on the heavy door that’s shut everything out and open up my heart to the possibilities around me.

~~~~~

Turns out today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Far too many people have weeks and months and yes, even years of lassitude, depression, stress, trauma, the weight of the world on their shoulders, and general inability to cope or find help. It turns out hope does exist. Please educate yourself so that you can help someone who needs a light shining in their dark hours. Or educate yourself so that you can see your way to a source of light and hope and healing. God bless.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Hope, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Raining Twenties From Heaven

Pennies from Heaven?

Pennies from Heaven?

Thirteen years ago, this month, MSH had just landed a contract out-of-state at a facility that had something or other to do with the airplane industry. He’d had a ton of gigs that lasted various lengths of time and I seldom kept track of what exactly each involved. On the morning of September 11 he called me, told me to turn on the TV, and the world changed. A couple of weeks later he drove back home, his contract ended abruptly along with hundreds of other contractors and employees. A similar scene unfolded all over the country that fall and winter.

Months and months and months and months later, I forget now how long, no other contracts came available, no other work opened up. All our reserves siphoned away, all our options dried and cracked like a Phoenix river bed.

I took a sales position that brought in enough to cover a couple of the utilities. I took on other manual labor as well. MSH took what work he could get, but it utilized none of his decades of experience in the computer industry. Not a nice memory to look back on, I can assure you.

Surprisingly, a few bright spots shine through the dark, hopeless feeling of that time.

One ray of light in particular stays with me.

Occasionally, unpredictably, an envelope would show up taped to our door, a twenty-dollar bill tucked inside. No writing on the envelope. No clues whatsoever where it came from.

Twenties from Heaven

Twenties from Heaven

Twenty dollars bought a grocery cart full of fresh produce where I shopped. Gratefully that’s usually how we used that gift.

Tucked inside that envelope, along with the crisp or crinkled bill, a bit of hope and a sliver of love. I never had any way of thanking whoever thought to send such caring our way. The timing of it always caught me off guard, usually on a day of discouragement and exhaustion.

If I didn’t already believe in angels before those twenties started showing up on my door, I certainly became a believer afterwards.

Whoever sacrificed that amount for us and taped it to our door may not have had wings or known how to fly, but they most surely wore a halo shining with human kindness and glowing with sensitivity.

Almost every time I use a twenty-dollar bill all these years later, I’m reminded of those twenties that blessedly and magically came our way.

When I start to think that the world holds little of goodness in it, or I get discouraged by life in general, I simply remember back to those envelopes on my door and feel grateful for good people, the real gifts from heaven.

~~~

This song kept rolling through my head as I wrote today… Might have something to do with the record rainfall we’ve had today in the Phoenix area. Or it could have been a message I needed to hear. I’ve included the original version by Bing Crosby as well as a cover by more recent artists.

I’m wondering if it needs to make a comeback.

Enjoy.

Or if you prefer a more current rendition here’s the Paul Anka and Michael Buble cover of Pennies from Heaven.

(Here’s the lyrics.) 

A long time ago
A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That’s what storms were made for
And you shouldn’t be afraid for

Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don’t you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You’ll find yor fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don’t run under a tree.
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me

~Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke

Categories: Hope, Mondaze | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A World of #cultureofcharacter

Before the housing bubble implosion, I worked with a real estate appraiser as an apprentice. My boss and I drove in her new hybrid car to Las Vegas for an appraisers convention.

I wouldn’t describe the drive as scenic. Far from it. The one highlight I remember appeared in a yard just on the outskirts of a tiny town that boasted life-sized rusty metal sculptures of animals, a giraffe being the most memorable.

Vegas was meh. I’m not a big fan.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pretty much this was the view. By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

On the way home from Vegas, about forty-five miles either way to a town, in the middle of desert and sagebrush, my boss looked at her gas gauge, gasped and said, “We forgot to get gas before leaving Vegas!” She all but slammed on the brakes mid road.

I leaned over to look at the gauge, thinking she was overreacting and saw the needle pointed solidly at the “Empty” side.

“Oh, crap,” I replied. Or something along those lines.

Nowadays, you’d just whip out your smart phone, find the nearest gas station and turn around or head forward. Or your car tells you how many miles you have left before you run out of gas.

All we had eight years ago was a map book, a cell phone and no cell coverage. We weren’t really sure where on the map we were. We’d also, apparently brought along some overconfidence it had just flown out the window.

My boss wanted to turn around and go back. I voted we keep moving forward. Either way we were surely going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, in the heat. And when we ran out of gas we’d be on a two lane road with almost no shoulder.

Windblown

A few miles ahead we pulled into a sad excuse for a rest area. “Better to stop here, than be stuck on the side of the road,” my boss explained. There was one other car parked there. “I’m going to go have a chat with the person in that car,” she said as she climbed out.

My boss never shied away from a situation, but I thought she might be pushing her luck. She talked for about five minutes. When she got back in the car here’s the story she told me.

The person in the car was a younger woman. She was at the rest area because it was a half-way point between where her ex-husband dropped off her son at her Dad’s place and her home near Vegas. Her Dad drove her son to the rest area and that’s where mom and child reunited.

The young woman said her Dad owned a tow-truck but he’d probably be just in his regular car and that he could go get gas and bring it back to us after he dropped her son off.

That’s doable. We’d survive. Yay!

Still it’d be a long time waiting in the car in the desert. I got out, wandered around. Sitting in the partial shade on a rickety over-painted picnic table, the wind sucking the moisture out of my skin, I wished for Star Trek transporter technology and wondered what my kids were doing.

We sat waiting another half-hour or so when in pulls a tow-truck.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

JACKPOT!!

The truck pulled up next to the other car and the young woman hops out, gets a huge hug from a cute little blond boy and then hefts him on her hip as she chats with the guy behind the steering wheel. She points over at us, talks a bit more and then puts her son in her car. As the tow-truck pulls past us she walks over and says, “That’s my Dad. He decided to drive the tow-truck today. Lucky, huh? He’s just going to turn around and back in, then you can just drive up to the ramp, he’ll winch the car on, lock ‘er down and he’ll give you a ride to the gas station.”

Wow!

Lucky, huh?

Felt like more than luck. Felt like hitting the jackpot.

Apparently, we’d stopped about sixty miles from the nearest gas station. Glad my boss had pulled over. Turned out she wasn’t nuts, just inspired.

And the tow-truck driver? Nice guy, pleasant to chat with. He hadn’t had a lot of business lately and thought maybe if he drove the truck, even though it cost more in gas to drive it without a call to respond to, he might get lucky and run into someone who needed a tow or get a call while on the road. “Every little bit helps,” he said.

And yet, as he dropped us off right in front of a gas pump, he refused to accept the money my boss offered him. “I was in the area and I’m just glad I could help you ladies out today.” And off he drove, into the sunset, every bit a knight in shining armor. It wasn’t really sunset, but that’s how I chose to remember it anyway.

A person of character and class? Absolutely.

People like that restore my faith in the human race. It happens more often than we hear about.

I’d like to hear about it more.

What do they call that? Random Acts of Kindness? Tender Mercies? Karma? Grace? Charity? Selflessness?

Whatever name you give it the effect remains the same. Troubles alleviated, hearts lifted, humanity redeemed a little more.

#cultureofcharacter

I have a friend who tweets #cultureofcharacter followed by a description of kind acts and observations. I’d love for that to go viral. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be something to log on and see a massive list at the end of every day of things people saw or did or heard about that showed class and character in the actions and words of the people around them?

Small moves, tiny acts, they make all the difference in a world run amok.

It’s certainly works that way in my world.

How about yours?

I’ll be watching for your tweets.

This book will surprise you. It's where the phrase "culture of character" originated.

This is where the phrase “culture of character” originated.

#cultureofcharacter: an idea from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Categories: good ideas, Hope, People, The World | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Smell of Hope

 

Nothing.

Nothing surpasses the scent of rain in the desert.

Raindrops meeting ground smell like hope.

Each droplet washes dust from the air.

Those first tentative splashes

hold every scent the sky has held.

Millions of them combine

to baptize a world hazy with heat and baked too long.

Life pours out of the sky

washing

renewing

cooling

calming.

As clouds loosen their purse strings,

Heaven sighs,

Earth relaxes,

and the two settle into each others arms

like a long married couple.

 

Paths fill with every scent washed from the air,

puddles grow and overflow with evaporated life,

temporary ponds hold every drop of love the sky bestows.

And the land

savors this elixir,

love potion extraordinaire.

Flooded water retention basin after a desert rainstorm.

Flooded water retention basin after a desert rainstorm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I created this poem in response to a writing prompt from WordPress: “What’s your favorite smell?”

The photo I took earlier this week after far too many months of no rain here in the Phoenix area. Normally, this scene is an open expanse of grass, but after an hour of rain, it became a temporary pond, drawing out every desert dweller in the neighborhood.

 

Categories: Hope, Nature, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

One of Those Phone Calls You Don’t Want

When your phone rings at bedtime or after and it’s one of your siblings, a jolt of lightning shoots through your chest. It’s best to sit down before you say hello. Important to remember to keep breathing.

Whatever niceties you normally say, you say them, even though you know that’s not what the phone call is about.

You hear pieces of words, not full sentences. You try to put it together like a puzzle dumped out the box before you’ve seen the picture on the box.

You want time to move backwards to ten minutes ago, ten days ago, ten weeks ago, ten months ago, ten years ago. You want this not to be happening.

Not my favorite place. But glad they exist.

Not my favorite place. But glad they exist.

Not again.

Another stroke.

A different kind this time. Ischemic.

Ischemic, not hemmoragic. What does that mean?

A million questions. Very few answers, mostly uncertainty.

Tests to run.

Prayers to offer up. That’s all I can do from this many miles away.

Calls to make.

Decisions. Patience while hoping and praying, always praying, for the patient to improve.

The patient.

Mom.

That one word sends the tears cascading and threatens to spill what little logic yet remains all over the floor making a huge mess of things.

Grateful for group messaging to communicate with siblings quickly, easily and clearly.

Hours later you read words that calm the pounding in your head and heart.

Resting. Stabilizing. Talking. Leveling. Normal Function. No clots so far.

You write not in first person because you need the distance created by the preposition “you.”

You write because sleep seems incomprehensible.

You write to have something to do about frayed nerves and the ache burning through you.

You write because surely you want to, should be able to, create a happy ending.

You write as a sort of prayer through the fingers. A keyboard rosary. Each keystroke a pleading for intercession.

Hoping for the best.

Hoping for the best.

Still praying.

Still praying.

Still praying.

 

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ~Mother Teresa

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Hope, physical health | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Recipe for Spring

We didn’t get much of a winter around Phoenix this year. I think I covered plants to protect them from freezing one time. I’m not complaining. Flowers still bloom and in fact thrive from last fall’s plantings.

Today’s post is in homage to spring, or what few weeks we have left of it here. It’s not long before the heat locksteps itself into its summer encampment. So I’m reveling in what I can.

If you’re still cabin-bound with snow and ice and freezing temps, maybe this can give you hope of things to come.

Here’s this year’s version of my recipe for Spring.

To one small plot of ground add the following:

photo 2-2 copy 8

Fresh jalapeno’s

Fresh jalapeno’s,

Cilantro

Cilantro

Cilantro

Tomato plants. (These have some petunias nearby for a dash of color and interest.)

Tomato plants. (These have some petunias nearby for a dash of color and interest.)

Tomato plants

Basil, comes in handy for more recipes than this one.

Basil, comes in handy for more recipes than this one.

And don’t forget Basil

I used Romaine, but any will do.

I used Romaine, but any will do.

Newborn tiny lettuces, which hopefully grow quickly before the heat makes them bolt could liven up the flavor of your spring.

Newborn flowers, also known as seedlings if you forget what kind you planted there.

Newborn flowers, also known as seedlings if you forget what kind you planted there.

Add some newborn flowers of various types. (Hopefully, unlike me, you mark which kind you planted where so you know what they are when they sprout.)

Time, patience, kindness, love, they're interchangeable, really.

Time, patience, kindness, love, they’re interchangeable, really.

Mix well and water often and gently.

Bake for a little bit of time and with some patience thrown in for good measure.

Grapefruit, still a few unpicked on the tree, and  their blossoms, bring a particular sweetness to this recipe.

Grapefruit, still a few unpicked on the tree, and their blossoms, bring a particular sweetness to this recipe.

Top off with some fragrance as well, like grapefruit blossoms, which in the evening become particularly intoxicating on the cool air.

photo 4-2 copy 5

Serve on a platter of surprising wildflowers, this pink one showed up among the yellows and oranges, all by itself and makes a sweet addition.

Gnome 1

Gnome 1

What garden is complete without a gnome?

Gnome 2 (they won't tell me their names)

Gnome 2 (they won’t tell me their names)

I added two as a nice garnish.

Bird. This one's pretty quiet.

Bird. This one’s pretty quiet.

Although real birds will visit, I also garnish with a little bird of my own.

Some new leaves on a tree add a nice touch.

Some new leaves on a tree add a nice touch.

Serve alongside anything else you might want to add: new leaves, penstemon, or even a bird bath.

Penstemon comes in many colors, choose your favorite.

Penstemon comes in many colors, choose your favorite.

I think you’ll enjoy this recipe, or any variation you decide to make of it.

Note the bird bath in the corner, attracts birds and toddlers alike.

A bird bath attracts birds and toddlers alike.

You can never go wrong with Spring. It’s fresh, lively, invigorating, and full of hope.

Dig in and enjoy as soon you can!

Categories: Gardening, Hope, Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

From Me to You Wherever You Are

It’s Gratituesday! Who would have thought that one birth, one life, one death, could have such an impact on a world.  It has on mine. And this year particularly, his resurrection feels like a part of the season of celebration and gratitude. I think perhaps it will continue that way  for all the Christmases that follow.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

I wish you Peace!

A quilt work of the heart my youngest daughter helped me make.

A quilt work of the heart my youngest daughter helped me make.

Oh Holy Night

– Marcus Tidmarsh

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

 “God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity … down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.” ~CS Lewis on the incarnation

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Hope | 3 Comments

Planting the Green, Green Grass of Home

October is spring time for me and I don’t live in the Southern hemisphere.

I can explain.

I grew up with four seasons. The traditional ones. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Three months, more or less, of each. Winter was the brutal months. Walking to the bus in the near blizzard conditions made me question my desire for an education. The first few weeks of sledding and tubing and snowman construction got old quickly when the snow melted and pooled around my toes in galoshes. I did not like the cold. I still don’t.

Umpteen moves later we’ve temporarily settled, for the past 15 years, in the Phoenix area. Two seasons exist here: hot and warm.

Because of the southwestern desert heat during the summer months of April through September, I stay inside with air-conditioning keeping me cool and sane. Sure, I venture outdoors in the early morning hours before the sun comes up, and after the sun goes down. When the sun’s visible, I try to avoid being out there. It’s brutal. One hundred ten, one hundred fifteen, and that’s in the shade. I get cabin fever stuck inside so much.

If we had a pool I’d be out there more, but that’s a luxury, even here.

By time the temperatures drop below a hundred and the evenings cool into the seventies I feel like a bear that’s been hibernating all winter. Finally, I get to go outdoors, breathing unprocessed air, walking, biking, gardening, swinging kids at the park, picnicking, hiking, living.

I often and mistakenly call the fall months springtime here. Weird, but that’s how my brain processes finally being able to escape the indoors.

photo-18 copy 11I just spent four hours outdoors overseeding my winter lawn with rye grass seed in my backyard. If I don’t do this the cooler temperatures force the Bermuda grass into hibernation mode and I look out on three hundred square feet of dead looking grass until April. It’s not much fun to play on or lie on, or walk barefoot in. Not to mention the dead stuff gets tracked into the house and makes a mess. So, environmentally irresponsible or no, I scalp the lawn, spread the perennial  rye  grass seed, layer on the topping mulch or, (gross) steer manure, and then water faithfully three or four times a day for a week or so.

The end result?  A lush, living, breathing carpet of green as a foreground to my raised vegetable and flower beds.

While spreading the dirt over the freshly scattered tiny seeds, I thought of all the seeds I’ve planted over the years. Vegetables, flowers, grass. Some grew and some didn’t. Some shot up tiny seedlings and then died off. And some took off and grew into incredible plants with a yield that would do any master gardener proud. I just never know what results to expect.

That’s so much like my life.

photo-17 copy 17I’ve put effort into things I thought would produce happiness and satisfaction. I’ve spent time with people I believed I could help or who needed what I had to offer. The various seeds I’ve planted boggle my mind if I think about it much.

And just like the vegetables, flowers and grass, some of my seeds have done nothing. Some looked promising and then died off. And some became a rich and stunning plant that gave back more than I ever put in.

I’m afraid I might have planted too much meaning and hope among my grass seed today. I get a little antsy when I do that. Putting myself into something scares me every time. Over-investing myself in anything feels particularly risky.

Oh well.

I throw the seed out there. I water, I fertilize and I hope.

Categories: Gardening, Hope, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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