But is this a choice?

 

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Certainly the dogs are making the most of this time

Yesterday, I wrote, “Through no choice of our own, we are all being called to pull inward, to the comfort of the hearth fire.” Later, I began to think, Is this really an absolute? Aren’t we, in fact, co-creators of our destinies? Do our thoughts, along with our actions, not weave, eventually, into being? Invisible threads coalescing into paths that we will inevitably walk, whether we want to or not?

Few (I hope) would now deny that climate change is something that has been greatly affected by our collective actions (and thoughts).  In the hours after I wrote yesterday’s post, I found myself thinking about the thoughts that I have held inside incubation and then, at some moment, unbeknownst to my conscious mind, let go.

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During one of my recent walks, my husband and I followed a glacial rift and found the head of a dragon. How many times have I longed to walk the dragon lines here?

Some of these thoughts of yearnings and wishes have now become my reality. I cannot deny the gifts of their existence.

Held inside the rules of quarantine, is the gift of family time slowed down. Distilled into poignant moments. They are not always easy moments. Often, there are they are bursts of heightened emotions. The tumbling of fears erratic struggle for air. Letting go can also be a gift.

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A beautiful day offered a social distancing hike with the cousins. Off devices (mostly) and in nature.

We are walking more, together, hiking trails through the forest nearby our home. The four of us, plus our two dogs, who could not be more pleased with this enforced family time. How often have I wished for more of these walks in the woods?

And the excuse and time to grow our own food, despite our lack of sun? Or begin the daunting task of sorting through fifteen years of photos and keepsakes to create albums for my children before they leave the hearth fire?  And, what of the pull to break free of the comforts of the known and venture into the unknown with my own work?

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Cherry tomato seedlings sprouting in the kitchen window

How many of us have longed for something similar? To slow the rat race into a meaningful walk? Could this disease that threatens the lungs also be an opportunity for us to breathe together, with shared purpose? Joined, as we are, in isolation from the oftentimes maddening cacophony of our “normal” lives?

 

Distilled time. Seconds treasured for their ability to span into minutes, then hours, and days held in the embrace of the beloved. Gratitude for the simple gifts often overlooked. Certainly Earth is breathing a bit easier without her usual congestion from our created actions.

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The family together for a walk yesterday

 

 

 

The Geranium in My Window and Why Houseplants Give Me Hope

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The Geranium in My Window

This Saturday morning found me soaking the heat from the pellet stove and gazing in wonderment at the geranium in my window. Outside, the waking sun filtered golden light through the boughs of the hemlocks laced with yesterday’s snow. My mind was adrift with thoughts about those things that can worry us. Specifically, the state of the world and whether the inspiration I found watching seven compassionate and intelligent individuals debate amicably on a stage in my home state of NH could inspire a new feeling  of hope in those who had lost it.

Sometimes frustration and despair overwhelm. Hope is lost in those shadows of darkness that seems to grow beyond our control. Yet, there is always light to be found, even in the small, seemingly hidden places. There is always the ever-present force of life seeking its source. I began to look with focus at the houseplant I had brought in from the summer. Noticing, as I pulled my thoughts into the moment, how its spring green limbs were growing with gusto even though there were no buds to be found on their tips. This life seeking the light outside my window, growing inside my home in winter because I had brought it inside.

There is a soft peace to houseplants. Roots contained in potted soil can thrive if the human hand tends to them with compassion. A gentle caress and a kind word now and then can make them flourish, just as we flourish with love. There is hope to be found in the way they accept the containment, asking only to be watered and given a space to receive the filtered sunlight. In turn, they offer beauty while their cells silently filter the air we breathe.

Sometimes, when I think of the devastation humanity is causing across the land, I think of my houseplants. I think of the air they filter and oxygenate that will enter my lungs and gratitude for their presence fills my heart. I marvel at how even in the depths of winter, I can behold green life growing as it gives back and receives only what it needs in return. I think about how this is, in essence, life. At its most basic components, and yet, there is nothing more beautiful or wondrous. Life existing in the quiet grace of peace.

 

Do Over Day

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It’s been one of those days.  There were moments, more than one, when I wanted to hold my hands up to the sky and ask, “Can I erase the last 24 hours and have a do over?”

But that’s a fool’s wish. To wish that life could go backwards and erase, then place before us a new scene all fresh and sparkly clean, is not only futile, it’s self-limiting. Life has a way of serving up our greatest lessons in a bowl filled with needles. They prick us in the exact spot that needs to be healed. They find the wound that was already there, even if it has been buried for a long, long time, and dig in until we bleed fresh.

It’s not always obvious why we’re being pricked and prodded at. Or, why it may seem like we’re being asked to walk over a pile of red-hot coals in order to get to the next leg of our journey.  But, when we allow ourselves to dig down to the essence — that spot that is rubbed raw and open from the wound — we can find a bit of the light behind the story we have just lived.

Today was one of the most challenging days of my life. Maybe not in the top ten, but I’d safely put in in the top twenty-five. It could have been much worse than it was. And, in retrospect, it perhaps wasn’t all that bad after all. If someone else had lived my day, she or he might have considered it less than great, but not all that bad in the greater scheme of things. Just a part of the life of a parent, they might say. To be expected, but not by me.

The events of the last 24 hours brought me out of my individual cocoon of dormant life. Threads were pulled until the raw exposed body remained and I was faced with the choice: Do I find another wrapping to hide inside, or do I face the elements head on. Here’s the thing about these choices, there’s really only one option. If we hide, life will simply find another way to unwrap us, and chances are, it will be a harsher exposure than the one we face at the present moment.

To hide is to put off the inevitable. We are here to learn and grow, and quite often that learning and growing is not just for our sake, but for others as well. Our lives weave together in a sophisticated complexity that our minds cannot wholly grasp. Sometimes it’s better not to ask the full depth of they “why,” then, but to accept the growth that is offered.

Therein lies the beauty. The raw self exposed begins to heal. Air breathes through the freshly opened wounds and the light that feeds life spreads its golden filaments to repair what was once broken. Now I find myself peering inside the wound(s), trusting the network that I cannot wholly understand. How my life is woven to others. Some I barely know, some I have known since conception. I find myself seeing the love that has already woven its threads through the hurt and the pain. I find trust and strength that I didn’t know was there. There is a vulnerability that feels both uncomfortable and embracing.

It could have been worse, much worse, and I am grateful that is wasn’t. Today has been a reminder, above all else, of what is constant and unchanging, albeit difficult to hold onto at times. And that, simply, is love. No matter how difficult we make it for ourselves to find it, it is always there. That constant pulse of life threading through all of us. Love. Pure and simple, yet infinitely complex in its reach. And so I breathe it in with each inhale and trust that it is always enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Time

It’s been a week of slow time. Minutes unhurried as they spread languidly into hours that stretch the boundary of day into night. I find myself shedding worry easily. It falls like dead strands of hair ready to let go with the lightest tug. I do not miss its absence, but find myself welcoming the lift of its weight as it releases.

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I needed this week beside the lake, where my eyes can travel the surface of water to meet the rise of Earth before it gives way to sky. Clouds pass by winged travelers. Sea gulls catching gold on their wings, even though the ocean is miles away. They too care not for time or place. Blue dragonflies skim the horizon in search of mosquitos. A cormorant puffs out its chest on the raft we have just anchored as though we have brought it just for him. Another displaced traveler. Or, maybe not. I allow myself to believe I belong somewhere else most days. My home an hour away, holding a calendar of scheduled dates I choose not to think about while I am here. Trading it for this slow time beside the water.

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Most days, I slip inside the fluid molecules to swim. The build of heat releases and the body cools as it finds the memory of origin. I realize how much I need its enfolding.  When I return to land it is to feel the soft, sticky floor of pine needles beneath my bare feet. My soles will be blackened by the end of the week. Tattooed by the reminder of slow time that will inevitably speed up again.

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This week I have found myself thinking, when thoughts slip through the moments, of how much we carry and do no need. How even when we are meant to be relaxing and letting go, we pull out the phone to snap and share. To preserve and even boast, as though we must believe that our time is better than someone else’s. Forgetting that the less we carry, the freer we are. Forgetting that when we let go of all these attachments, there is no separation.

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When I open the artificial screen, I feel its drain. The body constricts. And, so I close it in favor of the easy breath outside doors and windows. Here, where light arrives from sources beyond our grasp, and I can soak in the vast expanse of being. Just being. Present sometimes with just the self, and sometimes with my beloveds and their companions. I find that it is not so challenging, here in this slow lake time, to be a parent to teenagers. To be wife. To be a woman in this stage of life called middle age. I find that it doesn’t matter what I do so much as how I present. That mostly, it’s this letting go. This slowing down, that matters most. This living in time and not through time.

The Hummingbird’s Visit #YogaPoetry

While sitting on the porch this afternoon, I had a visit from the resident hummingbird and found myself pulled into the stillness of the present to bear witness to life. While it is all too  easy to try to take over life in our hurry to live it, sometimes it is worthwhile to allow it to take over us. If even for just a few moments.

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Sometimes it is enough

to watch the circle of life

and listen to the rise and fall of its notes

How the sky screams the hawk’s warning

before a spirit lifts from the body of a chipmunk

to rejoin the infinite expanse

Hidden in the green, the house cat

skulks as though it were in Africa

The dimensions of size and place lost

to the memories of cells

In the stillness of the moment

tense is erased by the rhythm

of the breath’s own steady rise and fall

inviting the heart to find

the harmony of the dance