Fall is Falling

Where does time go when it flies? What seems like just a few minutes ago we were celebrating June birthdays, the 4th of July, and playing in the summer sun.  Suddenly, autumn is standing on my doorstep looking in the window.

Driving through the woods of “North Country” in Minnesota I look around and see an incredible world of trees.  There are so many it seems hard to believe there are places on our planet where these beautiful botanical creatures have been abused and destroyed.  I call them creatures because, like us, they are alive.  They stand quietly watching, listening.  Trees know things.

Sometimes I ponder what they think of us and our ways.  Then I come to my senses when I see a weeping willow.

I do love summer.  I love and am so grateful for the opportunity to live on a lake and watch Mother Nature ‘up close and personal’ as she helps all her babies grow, give birth, thrive.  I love the warmth, fishing, and sharing with family and friends.  Yet, it’s fun and humbling to imagine all these trees contemplating dressing for cooler weather.  The golden-orange tips of leaves are the first clues for us to think about,IMG_1748 gasp, sweaters!

It’s time to sit down at the fire pit, roast marshmallows and tune in to the conversations between the trees, the wildlife, and the lake.   It is a reminder that winter will soon be tucking them all into bed for renewal.

In spite of loving summer, my favorite time of year is fall.  The symphony of color is breathtaking.  Even the lakes feel different.  They look the same yet I can hear the rippling water telling us to  prepare for the greatest show on earth.  With humble elegance they share their reflections.  They tell us it is a goodIMG_1746 time for us all to sit quietly and reflect as well.  I think I will.

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus

“Autumn is the season of change” – Taoist Proverb

 

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Words with Friends

WORDS WITH FRIENDS

“We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.  One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese.”

We all know the feeling when we try to say something with a specific intention and it either comes out the wrong way or is misinterpreted.  I certainly do.

I have this ‘think1533133g’ that often confuses a conversation with someone I love dearly.  It is like a pit I occasionally fall into.  This ‘pit’ is a habit, a pattern of behavior I know is there yet it trips me up all the time.  There I go, down that same old rabbit hole.  Those are my “I did it again, time to slap myself on the forehead’ moments.  Sigh.

My habit, like all habits, is based an archetypal pattern.  It rears its head when I hear something this special person in my life says and then I react emotionally to what I think he said rather than taking a few seconds to digest it and understand what he really meant. I know without a doubt he would never say anything to hurt my feelings; and yet I stumble.  It is that old reacting vs responding thing again – and again.

The soul uses images to share its wisdom, so once we know how to translate the imagery there is no confusion about what it is trying to say.  That is not the case with the spoken word.  The English language can be quite puzzling.  We do need to be careful using it.

How we say things can be inspiring, puzzling, hurtful, confused_dogmisleading, and sometimes just plain funny.

I can speak from my soul and it can be profound; but if I speak from my soles I have talking feet.  If my hair stylist has a sudden attack of shear madness I get a wild haircut, but if she has a sudden attack of sheer madness does that mean she is crazy?  My husband was raised on a farm, they used it to produce produce.  Really.  He really was raised on a farm and they really did produce produce.

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. If Dad is Pop, how’s come Mom isn’t Mop?

All joking aside, it is wise to choose our words carefully and to  listen just as carefully before we react.  Responding is a much better option because once we react we can’t unsay or unhear something.  We can’t unring a bell.

“The art of communication lies in listening”

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The Freedom of Being You – Where to Start?

499807fbfe8279443efcb34cf61370e3There are times in our life when we all ask ourselves questions like, “Who am I?”  “Am I the Real Me?”  “Am I who I was meant to be?”  Or, “How did I get here?

Usually we don’t begin to ask those questions until we take a good look at how we are in the moment.  That’s the time the question becomes, “Do I like what I see?”  It’s hard to ask that question because it is often clouded with worries of how others see us, or how to get more of the things we believe would make us happy.  The ‘yeah buts’ or ‘if only’ excuses of life.

Because we are creatures of habit we tend to try to see or change things from the same mindset we always have when the answer is to see them from a totally new or different perspective.  The real question then becomes, “how do I gently stop being who I am not?”

How do we stop creating the false fronts we use to please others, or eliminate the need for power and security that in reality keeps us small and contained…feeling less than?

It’s true, we do have to make mistakes to figure out who we aren’t, but the next step is to admit it to ourselves, then the most important part… take an action without giving in to the worry of what others will think or say.  We usually have to try different things until the “shoe fits.”  It is a lot like painting a picture and not liking it.  Our options are to keep painting the picture we don’t really like just because we started it, or begin again.  Each time we figure out what our painting isn’t, we are one step closer to finding out what it is.  We must take the action for the insight, or “aha!” to follow; and it will.

It isn’t easy to stop being who we learned to be; the things we learned in our earlier life were our training wheels so to speak.  The time arrives when those training wheels must come off.

I don’t know what your first action will be, but mine involved coming to a full stop.  I had to stop living unconsciously as if I was going to live forever and yank myself out of auto pilot.  It involved a lot of honest introspection.  Then I broke the rules I learned in childhood.  They were right for me for a long time but one day I realized they were no longer my rules.

Over time I realized it was OK to change my mind, that it is necessary to leave many of the old ways behind.  Our parents don’t tell us this, most likely because they didn’t know either. It is part of the ‘solo’ journey we all have to take, parents included.

When I turned 40, (a very long time ago I might add) every week or so I would try to figure out something I would no longer agree to do or to be.  I had quite a list but one of the first things I accepted is that the word “no” is a complete sentence.  It was in my best interest to learn how to say no; to set boundaries and not give in to the need to be all things for all people.  Of course it didn’t happen overnight, but eventually it did.

It also included saying no to my old wounds; those that were perceived and those that were real.  I learned not to let others ‘push my buttons’ like I had in the past.  The most difficult and enlightening one was when I finally understood that when I reacted and followed my old patterns it was because I chose to. An unconscious choice, but a choice nonetheless.  I had to learn to choose different things.  I realized my personal power is rooted in responding rather than reacting.  It is a powerful and potentially life-changing concept.

The bottom line is it is not in some people’s interest for us to find ourselves, but it only matters that it is in ours, and the world’s, for us to proceed.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

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A Conversation with a Fish

It is official, we are having a White Christmas!  A new, crisp blanket of white fell with the promise of more to come.  The world looks gloriously pure from my window.   It is like a blank page eagerly waiting for a story. We now also have ‘hard water.’  The miracle of these huge lakes freezing over leaves me in awe every year.

You may think I am crazy for living in places that get as cold as the East Coast and Minnesota do, but I do love winter.  It is quite an adventure on so many levels.  Even though we had a spectacular blizzard last month, winter temps didn’t really hit until a few days ago.  Yesterday morning was extra special with temperatures reaching… down to -23.  And that is before the wind chill factor!  Those of you living in warmer climes, try not to turn green with envy.

icecoveredI suspect I am where I was meant to be.  I say that with with a grin because being a Southern California girl one does not really expect to be living in a place where there are little houses sitting on frozen bodies of water in the winter months with  people drilling holes in the ice to go fishing.   Ice in California?  We hardly ever even got rain!  As I contemplate that I remember my very first job and the very first thing I bought with my very first paycheck.  Would you believe I bought a beautiful forest green cashmere wool coat!  (Insert laughter here).  I mean, who needs a heavy wool coat in Southern California?!

So here I am in December in Minnesota wearing a cuddly red coat (not the green one that died of loneliness so many years ago).  I’m standing at the lake’s frozen edge to check out the ice and have a chat with our huge cottonwood tree.  By the way, her name is Angelica.  Angelica sits right at the shoreline where bald eagles perch on her top branches to spot prey on both land and water.  I love watching them do their majestic eagle thing; it is such an awe inspiring sight.

I could see all those  miracles in comfort from inside our toasty house, but I wanted to view everything from a different perspective.  I stand there imagining all the fish swimming around under the ice thinking how stressful their lives must be.  I say to myself, “They search for food non-stop while trying to avoid predators.  I say outloud, “you poor wretched creatures, stuck in a world of conflict.  “Your days are filled with fighting for survival and the constant scrambling to avoid being prey to those that are bigger and stronger than you.”  I am feeling very gratified I am not a fish.

girl-talking-fish-clipart-1Suddenly my imagination takes its usual turn into a flight of fancy and in my mind’s eye I see a fish suddenly break through the ice and it begin talking to me.  Mr. Fish says, “You poor wretched creatures, stuck in a world of conflict.  Your days are filled with fighting for survival and the constant scrambling to avoid being prey to those that are bigger and stronger than you.”  “I am feeling very  gratified I am not a human.”

I that moment, I saw my world from a totally different perspective, courtesy of an invisible fish.

“Dare to turn life on its end and you may find that turvy-topsy is a truer perspective than topsy-turvy” ~ Robert Brault

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself” ~ Henry Miller

 

 

    

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The Gift of Change

Changing my life didn’t used to be challenging.  Actually, I relished change in all its forms, especially the really big ones.  Now?  Not so much.   In my earlier life I experienced the usual changes we all deal with growing into adulthood; education, jobs, love, marriage, children. Then there is the change that no one escapes.  The change called Loss.  As wonderful and devastating as all these changes are, it is with awe and gratitude that I often contemplate all the events that have formed the person, the soul, I am today.  It seems strange to be grateful for the painful experiences, yet there is no other way.  It is impossible to see light without dark.

A few days ago I woke up to the magic of dense fog.  It was so mystical, almost holy in its fog-on-lake-of-two-riversabsolute stillness.  As I watched the light struggle  to break through the darkness of the night.  I could just barely see the reflection of the trees on the water and hear the ghostlike scene challenging me to do some reflection of my own.   I imagined it was asking me to look at my own fog.  The pesky fog that exists within us all, camouflaging and protecting us from our painful memories.  That loss thing again.

Yet, that morning I couldn’t help but go to those treasured places in my heart.  Yes, I still feel the pain, but now it is softened by time, by  precious memories, and by the love that gift wraps them, keeping them safe.  That is never lost. As the fog begins to lift outside, I am reminded that life is not yet finished with me and my own fog begins to lift as well.  I am wondering what life has in store for me that will change who I am tomorrow.  I smile and sip my tea.

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The Lone Cardinal

Fall has been glorious in all its rich, colorful splendor, but now November is about to be escorted out by our first winter storm.  The skies are cloudy and grey and cast their colors on the water as the first few snowflakes start to wander in the breeze.  It seems it should be a cold and sad scene but it is not.  It is beautiful in its own special way.

I gaze out at the wintry scene and it seems as though time has stopped.  I picture the frigid water knowing it will soon be under the ice, moving  in desperate slow motion searching for an opportunity to break through the cold surface and reach for the sun.  Even though I am aware that nature’s winter dramas are constantly in action, nothing moves outside and I find myself sitting perfectly still in my warm kitchen with my coffee cup raised halfway to my lips.

Suddenly, the spell is broken.  The bare branches that frame our view of the icy lake begin to sway ever so slowly as the earth exhales, the sky releasing one gentle breathe after another.  I find that I also have been holding my breath as my coffee cup continues its journey to deliver its steaming brew.  The bird feeders are now teeming with feathery life.  As I watch the birds in all sizes and colors, I think of little flying spies trying to come in from the cold, each one on their own secret mission of survival.  lone-cardinal

I wait for my coffee companion to arrive, and as usual, she arrives with a red and brown flourish.  She lands gracefully on the cold deck railing.

There she is, Mrs. Cardinal.  Once again, I wonder about her story.  I heard Cardinals mate for life, yet my little friend is alone.  I wonder where her mate is.  Is she a widow?  Is she a single mom?  Does she have little mouths to feed?  Are they cuddling in their nest waiting for her as she scours the countryside looking for food or is she an “empty nester?”  These thoughts wander around in my mind even though I know this is not nesting season.  Imagination has no boundaries.

As I watch totally mesmerized, I mull over what I know about Cardinals.  Some of the sources I found say Cardinals indeed do mate for life; however, their life span is not much more than a year.  I am saddened to realize the friend that has been visiting me for the past two years has actually been two individual ladies. I also realize there will be a new one next spring.  I imagine my current friend has outlived her mate and is not only in the winter of the four seasons; she is in the winter of her life.  As she spreads her wings and flies away, I bid her adieu.

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The Living Dead

The Living Dead, a timely yet strange title for this post, right?  If you’re reading this it did its job; it got your attention.  LOL.

As you probably guessed, I am talking about October 31 and its many meanings from trick-or-treat to a day of remembering.  Most of us in the US think of Halloween as a time for scary movies, spooky costumes, and playfully extorting candy and treats from our neighbors.  For many others worldwide it is a day for celebrating the lives of those they have loved and who have passed on; have left this life and gone on to their infinite adventure.  For those people it is not a day to remember they died, but a day to celebrate they lived.dia_de_los_muertos_by_kiki71-d499x4c

In my lifetime I have celebrated it both ways.  My ancestors came from Spain, but I had the unique experience of spending my early years in Mexico City.  Mexico is where Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, originated.  My dad worked for the US Department of Agriculture and was sent on a “mission” to Mexico where we lived for several years.  I actually had to learn English before coming back to the states!  But I digress…

As the most mystical, crazy, and scariest night of the year, Dia de los Muertos  is also the time where everything truly is not as we think it should, but as it is.  As Robert Moss says, “it is a topsy-turvy, inside-out time when the past lies ahead of you and the future walks behind you, breathing down your neck.   It is the night where the doors between the worlds swing open.”

Halloween is when the delicate gossamer veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and for some it is lifted.  Sounds really scary doesn’t it?!  But it isn’t.  My mom and dad are gone, and yes, they still visit me often.  They are my parents, why would I be afraid?

n-dia-de-los-muertos-628x314That probably sounds weird to some, (ah, that “w” word again)  but you can be sure that if you have lost someone you love they most likely visit you as well.  So instead of being afraid, try lighting a candle and talking to them.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them” — George Eliot

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