turning my head

"I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You've maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of "passion" can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)"

"But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach."

~ Elizabeth Gilbert 

if it were not for the weather, i fear the week would
have eaten me up. i find solace in long walks with
my camera as he and the dog wandered aimlessly ahead of me. 
i bake bread, listen to this podcast and start a new book

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
— Paula Hawkins, Into the Water

we wake to blue sky and crisp cold air almost every day. 
i fill the feeders and watch the birds eagerly forage
and the squirrels scamper and play. i spot two cats
in the yard, mocking Basil by just sitting there and watching him,
as he runs amok in the yard, nose to the ground following
their scent. his baying fills the air and pleases me because i
know in his mind he is on to something grand. 

She had an immense curiosity about life, and was constantly staring and wondering.
— Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

we walk the lake one day, Mount Rainer in full bloom
and i watch the ducks and think about how he use to say to me. . .  
"are you happy now that all your ducks are in their pond?" 
"yes . . . i would answer. "  but today things are different and one day
worry takes over and i crash and burn and go to bed early. 
but the sun rises the next day and i find peace. 

Lasting healing comes from being curious rather than controlling, from mercy rather than manipulation, from responding rather than reacting. It is about opening what has been closed, reclaiming what has been hidden, and remembering what has been forgotten.
— Mary O'Malley

i think about next year and what it might bring. 
knowing i have little controle over most of it, but wondering. . . 
what am i open too? what am i curious about? 
and right there i pick my word. . .  


curious

cu·ri·ous”
ˈkyo͝orēəs
adjective
1. eager to know or learn something.
”she imagined what her life might be like if she followed through with everything she was curious about.
Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times - a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion. [...] Curiosity only ever asks one simple question: “Is there anything you’re interested in?” Anything? Even a tiny bit? No matter how mundane or small? The answer need not set your life on fire, or make you quit your job [...]; it just has to capture your attention for a moment. But in that moment, if you can pause and identify even one tiny speck of interest in something, then curiosity will ask you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look at the thing a wee bit closer. Do it. It’s a clue. It might seem like nothing, but it’s a clue. Follow that clue. Trust it. See where curiosity will lead you next.
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

how was your week? 
xoxox

harmony

"A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself."

- Maya Angelou

Lately I have been lingering in happiness; lingering in tranquil slow goodness that has found its way into my life. I don't resist, or bow out, but rather ask for open-mindfulness and curiosity. I have come to see that my real work is to listen and notice, and to be kind and generous with my heart. In short. . .  to love. 

I have learned to open the windows. For it seems that even in the coolness of winter, I ache to connect with the landscape around me. The rain, which falls relentlessly this time of year, nor the dark sky which surrounds me does not change my mind. All I see are possibilities of the next beautiful thing. 

I realize that my soul is the window to my life and how it was repressed for so long. The air inside was stifling and I blocked any opening where light might seep in.  But today, I keep my soul open and each day I wake for the purpose of noticing; for the purpose of love. 

If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.
— Maya Angelou


I arrange for each day to include a bit of closeness with him, along with laughter, friendship and kindness. But I also allow for time alone, preferably a walk with the dog. This dog, who is such good company, and does not step on my toes. He is patient and understanding as long as he is allowed to sniff. I am surprised at how often we come to a place in the road where we both need to stop, for our own reasons. He never questions my motives, but rather seems to embrace the opportunities it opens for him. 
 

I question at times if this is real. I could worry about the possibility of waking one day to darkness. But that would only be a waste of my time. We get to where we are with everything we have experienced up to this very moment and we cannot change that. 

We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate - thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.
— Maya Angelou

Mostly, life takes my breath away. . .  

have a magical week, 
xooox

a book review

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?”

— Mary Oliver

I placed a hold on Mary Oliver's new book even before our library had it. It was published in October and I picked my hold up a few days ago; all in all, not a bad wait for such a treasure. 

I was enjoying everything: the rain, the path
wherever it was taking me, the earth roots
beginning to stir.
I didn’t intend to start thinking about God,
it just happened.
— Mary Oliver

It is a huge book with over 400 pages and encompasses over five decades of her poetry. There is not room for it and Basil together on my lap, so I curl my legs up underneath me, and place him next to me. He is a bit miffed by the whole arrangement, but accepts it. I read to him one of my favorites and I like to think he gets it. 

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love me, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.
— Mary Oliver

I will be buying the huge volume as I can't get through more than a couple of pages without needing to set it down to let her words sink deep inside of me. She reminds me to notice, to pay attention, and that most of what is important in life is right in front of me. I want to see the world as she does; to allow it inside of me without holding back. To allow the earth's reflection and all her beauty to penetrate my very being. 

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.
— Mary Oliver

I feel her love of dogs so deeply, even her love of snakes in the cold of winter. I try and grasp the beauty she finds in the simple act of the sun on her face in the morning, or the taste of peaches. She is just what I need to balance out the uncertainty in our world today.

She gives me hope. 

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?” 
― Mary Oliver

I would suggest you put it on your Christmas list for giving and receiving. 
Have a great weekend. . .  

“Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.” 
 ~ Mary Oliver 

give and take

Imagine a great net spread across the universe. Each juncture is a “being,” and if we imagine that consciousness as a drop of dew, we can see that in each shining drop resides the reflection of every other drop on the net.
— Sandy Boucher

We carry into each holiday, scenes from the past, both good and bad. We bring our traditions together with the blessing of each new family member, morphing them together to make new traditions. Some things, like that crazy cheese in the jar my husband always has to have. we can't let go of. While others things, like my daughter-in-laws amazing vegan mashed potatoes made with cashew cream, we embrace and make it part of our growing family's traditions. 

Our Thanksgiving was slow and lovely. We had time for a long walk with the dogs, and time to play a game with snacks and champagne before our dinner. And yes, Basil could not resist that red hydrant, but I resisted posting the photo I got of him in action. 

I don’t eat anything that a dog won’t eat. Like sushi. Ever see a dog eat sushi? He just sniffs it and says, “I don’t think so.” And this is an animal that licks between its legs and sniffs fire hydrants.
— Billiam Coronel

The newlyweds live in a beautiful neighborhood full of old homes: each one different and full of lovely character. Some have been completely redone while others added on to in different ways. There are no split entries or ramblers and each one hosts a sidewalk leading up to the front door.  Many of them have amazing gardens in their front yards and gates on the side that I imagine lead to a magical secret garden in the back. Or an old shed and a picnic table. 

The cats were out in full force, even though we had both dogs with us. The dogs paid them no mind and the cats posed. One got a bit inpatient with me but I managed to catch her before she jumped. 

The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself.
— William S. Burroughs

Thanksgiving reminds me of soccer games and traveling east of the mountains to be with family. It reminds me of spending so much time in the kitchen that I don't want to even eat some years. It reminds me of the years Jordan was gone, working in The Bahamas, and how he had to eat lobster and how we missed him so. It reminds me of playing hide and seek with my cousins in the dark attic of the old house I grew up in. It reminds me of the time the new bride left the giblets in the neck of the turkey, because she did not know it was there (and no, that was not me but rather a cousin). It reminds me of my mother making the stuffing in a large, gold plastic dish pan, that she saved just for that purpose because it was the only thing she had big enough to hold it all. It reminds me of the big turkey roaster she would bring down from that dark attic and plug in so she could use the oven for other things. It reminds me of the strips of leftover pie dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and how we could eat those before everyone arrived, but not the pie. My daughter-in-law did the very same thing, offering us beautifully browed crust before we ate. Her pie dough made from her grandmother's recipe. 

Holidays are bittersweet, full of nostalgia, memories and traditions. They help ground us in this ever changing world. But they should not stifle us. Gathering with those we love and those we care about is what matters. For the first time in years I was not stressed or tired. I did not wake up with a food hangover or any kind of resentment or expectations other than to just enjoy what was offered up to me and give back what I could. The couple of days we spent with our kids up north was full of relaxed goodness. 

Give and Take...
For to the bee a flower is a fountain if life
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love
And to both, bee and flower,
the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy.
— Khalil Gibran

I appreciate you stopping by to read my rambling each week. It really means so much to me. As we head into this new season, take time to enjoy and notice all the goodness surrounding you. xoxo 

hallelujah

I think that life is a friggin’ magic carpet ride - it’s amazing. Everything about life is mysterious and beautiful and touching and tragic and lovely and mystical.
— Elizabeth Lesser
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We spend the weekend with the kids up north. We meet the newlyweds for breakfast, and later have some wine and homemade soup with the homesteaders. We make plans for the holidays in their homes which actually feels pretty wonderful. Letting the holidays go is a welcome step for me. I figure they all need the practice, and the opportunity to build their own traditions, and for right now I am so thankful they are including us. But I also understand that might not always be the case. So I am going to embrace it and enjoy every moment. 

Make your holidays a conscious season.” 
― Sunday Adelaja

There is some talk, between me and him about getting a fake tree, but both of us agree we are not ready for that step. So we will head out with Basil one day soon, and cut a small one down to bring home to light our living room with joy, knowing there is a very good chance we will be the only ones who see it. I will hand over, yet one more box of childhood ornaments, to decorate another tree and fill ours with what is left. There are plenty I tell myself, and there are. 

...freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin - inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night...
— John Geddes

I come home with over 100 photos of the chickens. They follow me around the yard like puppies, getting under my feet, so very curious about what I am up to.  When I get down to their level to snap a photo, they try and peck at my camera lens. They nap and scratch and ruffle their feathers as they preen themselves. They make me laugh. I let them out both mornings we are there, when Basil and I return for our morning walk, and bring in warm eggs. 

What I have learned from these chickens: 

it's best to just ruffle up and let it go
get outside every day no matter what the weather
stretch your wings, even if you can't fly far or very high
nature is way ahead of humans in most departments
chickens are more entertaining than anything on TV
you don't need water to take a good bath
don't be afraid to let your voice be heard
flock together and take care of each other
be curious and don't peck the hand that feeds you

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway that I’m not where I started!
And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.
Halleluiah, I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.
— Mary Oliver

have a beautiful week. . .  

authenticity in my sixties

“She said: “We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I use to lay awake at night, words bouncing around in my head just aching to get out of all that chaos, and down onto paper. I would start a blog post, only to shift gears over and over until I had it the way I needed it to be. Writing was a need for me, I see that now. It was a way of healing. But lately my head, my brain, and my heart are peaceful and quiet. 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I still need to write, daily in fact. I write in my journal and here on the photo I take most days. I plaster yellow sticky notes here and there, full of words and quotes and page numbers. And right now, I am working on a few essay for Hello There, Friends. As terrified as I was to be chosen to be part of the amazing team of writers, I find the writing fulfilling, challenging and authentic. It is inspiring for me to focus on gratitude, to narrow a tiny moment down and find the joy and beauty within that moment and to write about it.  It is thought provoking to turn something very messy in life, into something grand and glorious by taking a closer look. I write, I edit, I rewrite, I change things up, and stop and start all over until I have it the way I need it to be. And for right now, it is what I want to do. 

“Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This space has always had a mind of its own, and I have allowed it to morph and change, grow and slow down as needed. Right now I need to write with a different purpose and allow this space to be home to other obsessions. I am still going to post a photo "most days" along with a few words, because that is such a deep-seeded part of my life and I am not ready to abandon it. And because my camera is such an essential part of my day I will be posting photos here. Photos with more intention and authenticity and of course photos of Basil. 
 

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

a simple practice

“Keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life.”
~ Khalil Gibran
cathysly_20171106_9047-2.jpg

Lately, I lay in bed for just a few moments each morning before leaving him and the dog to sleep. I listen to the going ons outside the open window, behind the closed blinds. The sounds change according to the seasons: peepers in the spring time, birds come summer, the school bus in the fall, and rain and wind during the dark winter. 

I lay there and scan my heart and gage how that chunk of it, which is broken, is feeling that morning. I  come to understand that some days I can put the sorrow aside and other days I just can't. Being honest and aware of my emotions, giving them the time they deserve before my day begins, has helped. I see it as brief form of meditation.

"There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak." 
~ David Whyte

I read this post, on one of my favorite blogs. It resonates with me so as I have come to understand, over that past year or so, that I am able to live fully and wholeheartedly even with  that chunk of broken-heartedness within me. Today it does not have to knock me off my feet, or send me into a downward spiral, as I have tools and practices that help keep me balanced, honest, and open. And daily meditation is a much needed tool. 

“Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom.” 
― Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

I log almost 20 days of real meditation in October, taking time during each day to sit and breathe. I try different instructors, guided and unguided, visualization and quiet music or the beautiful sound of singing bowls. I am pleased with myself and can feel the difference. So why is it I have yet to sit once in this new month? Because I am on such a roll that I decided somehow to enhance the experience: light a candle, sit longer, push harder, breathe deeper, and smudge the air with pal santo wood. Which is nonsense and unnecessary, but like so many things in life, which are not broken, I step in and break it, by wanting more. So instead of sitting with myself for 15 minutes, I don't even get started. 

It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. It’s never too late to take a moment to look. – Sharon Salzberg

But today is a brand new day. . .  

have a glorious week, 
xoxo

accepting what is real

At the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books.
~ Norman Maclean

I want to go on record as saying this is the most beautiful fall ever. It is. The colors, the light, the crisp, cold air accompanying it all, is pure perfection. I walk the dog and sit on the bench at the pond and watch the ducks play and I breathe deep. One day we spot a heron and I stand, following him with my hand over my eyes to shield the bright, fall sun. I am mesmerized by his long wing-span and his grace. 

Later in the week we walk the trail along the river and head off the main trail to sit on the beautiful rock, we found last summer, that overlooks the river. I crave the alone time. The river is powerful and high; the water rushing by with force so loud I can hear nothing else. I watch for salmon, fighting their way up stream to the calm of the riverbed. I know they are there, beneath the rolling river, determined to make it home, but I don't spot a one. Later, we jog across the road, to where the river is calm, and I see a dozen or so. Their molting red bodies beaten up by their long joinery from the ocean. Some full of determination, others stuck along the bank of the river, the fight gone out of them. 

I think about my mother a lot, which is odd as I am elbow deep in sourdough bread baking and fish (both passed down to me through my father). My heart aches to talk with her, so badly it actually hurts. I yearn to ask her things I never thought of before her death 15+ years ago. I see  clearly now that the fight for a life of her own left her at some point. She tried hard for so long and then she slowly just closed up, giving less and less of herself to us. She shut us out, not physically, we saw her, but she stopped sharing that intimate side of herself: her dreams, her goals, her curiosity and her joy. It seems she came to a space where she accepted what was real, and let it be. She was done fighting the current. I want to ask her why? And, I want to know what to do next. 

"It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us?"
~ Norman Maclean

Why do we keep fighting the current? Why do we power thought life, over rocky shores and forces that roar so loud we can't hear or think of anything else?  And more importantly, how do we make it upstream without getting caught on the side of the bank, beat up and unrecognizable?

Sometimes I become so exhausted I lose site of the everyday beauty of my life and need something to jolt me awake. It does not have to be mind-blowing, but it does have to be something that slows me down enough to notice. Walking near the water beckons me to pause and sit with the truth, being open and respectful to myself. 

I find myself in a place now where I understand I must accept what is real with compassion and reverence for both myself and others. I am at somewhat of a crossroads and my curiosity about my choices, and what path to take could use a little Mom advice. So, I walk the river and talk with her. I feel her telling me to relax a bit, but not so much I become complacent or give in. But to allow it some time to flow into something new. 

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Speaking of something new,  I post my very first essay on Hello There, Friend this coming Thursday.  I am honored and excited and bit terrified to be part of this talented group of writers. I must say it was mind-blowing to see my photo, next to my bio with the byline writer next to it.

I would love it if you popped over on Thursday to leave me a bit of love. In fact, I hope you will  check in every Tuesday and Thursday for some beautiful writing from the heart. 

washing the windows

“Keep at least one window pane clean to check the weather. Once when I didn’t do this I sent the kids off with umbrellas for six weeks straight.”
Phyllis Diller

We wash the windows one day. He is home, so he will do the outside ones (which never get done unless I hire someone, as they require a ladder). I tell him that it would be way cheaper to hire someone then it will be when he falls off the ladder and we have to go to the ER. “Remember when you cleaned he carpet last month?” I ask him. 

"If I'm stuck, I get up from my chair and I wash windows. Or... clean the bathroom. Or vacuum the attic. There's always something to be done."
~ David Sedaris

But what I really know, from having him home this past year, is that he does these kinds of things much better than I do. He is a perfectionist and what would have taken me an hour, will now eat up my whole afternoon.

I whip through the inside ones quickly, as he digs the ladder out. He places the ladder methodically against the house and takes all the screens down and washes them, moving the ladder as needed. Then he starts washing. While waiting for him to need my help I am able to wash down the front of my cupboards with vinegar and hot water. I am able to really scrub the fridge and stove and wipe away all those nasty fingerprints that stick to stainless steal so badly. I even am able to sweep the floor.

He suggest I go over some of the inside ones, and I do because now the outside is so clean the inside just will not pass. I rinse and rinse the Mystic Maid cloth and go at it again and again. My rotator cup is getting a bit sore, and I tell him I already rowed 6.5 miles this morning. But, I laugh and keep at it because we are doing it together and it is actually kinda fun. 

"In order to see the world clearly, you must clean the windows of perception. The only problem is, our society doesn't do windows."
~Dean Lombardi

And, the sun is beyond beautiful today. And, the the tress across the street are ablaze with the light coming through them. And, later today, after we are done I will sit by the window and pretend to read and take in all that beauty, with no streaks or raindrops or dust and tell him how much I really do appreciate his meticulous ways.

I might even tell him how much I love him. 

The colors of fall take my breath away. If it didn't come with a side of rain, it would nothing short of perfection. But, even the rain does not stop me from getting out there and noticing, in fact the colors catch any light that manages to get through and illuminates everything in its path. The past few days have been such a gift of sun. I know the rain will be back and the dog and I will be back to walking in it, and drip drying on the way home in the car. 

Life, itself, is nothing short of perfection. . . 

garden wisdom

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”
~ Gertrude Jekyll

I spend a few hours in garden beds this week, putting them to rest for the winter. I deadhead the phlox and columbine, pull the wilted leaves of the daylilies and cut the asters and daisies to the ground. The peonies are gone but I leave a few stems of dried astilbe, to add a bit of interest come winter. The roses are still tall and gangly, waiting to be hardened off and cut, sometime in late February. I wonder if there be snow on the ground? I imagine blue sky and crisp cold air, my breath clearly seen as my gloved hands clean them out, getting them ready for spring. 

He helps me in the vegetables patch; pulling the bean stalks to the ground, along with the tomatoes and zucchini. We chop them up a bit and toss them into the compost bins. We pick a dozen baby zucchini the size of a tiny carrots, and the rest of the onions. There is one lone broccoli plant and a cauliflower, both with perfect mini heads. They may surprise me I tell him, so we leave them be, along with the row of beets. He hauls two giant winter squash up to the carport for winter keeping and turns his compost piles. 
 

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace."
~ May Sarton

I kneel in the grass, which was covered in a light frost this morning when I let the dog out, and I think about the bounty the garden gives us. Not only in its produce and stunning flowers in every color, but just as important is the exercise and fresh air I get. But what I treasure most is the time alone with my thoughts while maintaining it. . .  It is a sort of meditation for me. 

Even though the flower beds look pretty bare and forlorn, life is very much alive below the ground and come early spring the first green will start to emerge. It is always a surprise that they make it through the snow and rain, our gray days here in the PNW, and the darkness. There are winters where I have felt that I won't make it. So, I am in awe. There is a natural cycle to nature and I think about the lessons to be learned here. 

Even in the years that life has been too busy, or too wet, or I lacked the motivation to clean the gardens up, she still pulled through. She still died back, folded into herself and, took a long rest. She did not fight it, but allowed herself time to recharge and feed her soul. And while you or I might look at the dried flowers, soggy and wilted and on the ground and think she is dead, below the ground work was being done and a miracle was happening. And come spring, when I finally got out there to clean her up, I would find tiny, fresh, green stems emerging, There was no stopping her. 

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul."
~ Alfred Austin

In a world where more is always better, I learn from nature that for me that is not the case. I learn to slow down, to allow myself to just rest, to pull back and fold up inside myself and listen to my breath. I learn to not fight the cycle of nature, but to lean into it with awareness and gratitude. I learn to be still with my thought, to sit in my feelings and to allow tenderness to enrich my life. 

Each time, I am blessed with energy, courage, gentleness and grace. So, it is with honesty that I say the gray, rainy days, coming our way, make me a bit uneasy. Days without sunshine or light will force me to really notice and meditate on darkness, to find shadows in weak light and to not give in to bleakness. This year I prepare myself with something new to nurture and bring to life. 

sour·dough
sou(ə)rˌdō/

noun

1. leaven for making bread, consisting of fermenting dough, typically that left over from a previous batch.

coming home

“I’m an introvert... I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”
Audrey Hepburn

I spend a few days away from home, dog sitting for the newlyweds. My other son and his wife, live close by but are working during the day. So, I am left to my own devices. I spend the time doing pretty much just what I feel like doing, and not much more. My son invites me to dinner one night and I actually turn him down, wanting to just stay home with the dog and read. I feel blessed because I can tell just by his response that he is totally okay with my decision and even gets it. 

“We need solitude, because when we're alone, we're free from obligations, we don't need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts.” 
― Tamim Ansary

I try and go shopping one afternoon. I try on shoes and go to my favorite used book store and drop into a store I have always wanted to check out. I talk myself out of everything. I do stop and have a latte, in a real mug, and sit and people watch. 

“I discovered windows one afternoon and after that, nothing was ever the same.” 
― Anne Spollen, The Shape of Water

We spend most of the day on the covered deck. Even when the weather turns a bit chilly. I bundle up in my flannel and my sweats and read and write a bit. I catch him sitting on the couch one afternoon and scold him and then take the blame as I had forgotten to put his bed outside that morning. I mean look at that face, he is definitely trying to tell me something. I hear you, I tell him! 

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” 
― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

I spend one day away, visiting a dear friend and her family in their new home. We talk, go out to lunch and walk on the beach. I get some hard news while we are together and I find myself thinking how blessed I am to receive it with her by my side. I have lots of time to think on the news on the drive back to my son's and I grow and understand myself a little bit more by morning. Being alone is just what I needed to let it go. 

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
~ Hermann Hesse

The day I am heading home, my son asks if I want to go to Cloud Mountain to taste apples. They are going to get a few apple trees. I think, oh, I should get home. I think, he and the dog are waiting for me. I think, I have been gone five days. And then I think, what would you like to do? And, I hop in their car. We taste apples and pears and eat wood-fire pizza and listen to music. The day is glorious and I bring home an olive plant, which has the most beautiful foliage. I think real olives growing on it would only be a bonus. We laugh on the way home because there is hardly room for the three of us among the trees. 

"October is the opal month of the year. It is the month of glory, of ripeness. It is the picture-month".
- Henry Ward Beecher

hope

Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
~ Barack Obama

I have been working on a post for today. It is about simple blessings and personal healing and the changing of the seasons. But somehow, sitting in my office this morning with my warm latte, all safe and snug, I just couldn't post it. Today is meant for reflection and prayer. I will be limiting my exposure, trying to focus on the facts and the people. 

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and spreading hope any way I can. . .