Sitting in Silence

DSC04934.jpgIt is Tuesday and the day I write for the Slice of Life blog. A day each week that I write about the happenings and the thoughts in my life. But today I have avoided my computer all day. Writing seems to difficult at this time. I have avoided words. Today is a day of reflection.

I know that many times it is writing and words that help us to process the events we find hard to understand or accept. I know that writing can bring a release of the emotions that spin wildly in our heads and our souls.

That said today I have no words that I feel are appropriate to say –

  • Charlottesville
  • the President
  • the anger
  • the loss of life
  • the fear that builds in all our lives

It is all to much right now.

So what I can say is –clouds.JPG

Take time away from the screens, talk to your family and friends, reach out to those who are in the line of fire – and take time to be quiet and reflect.

What are the values we wish to bring forward in our country?

Once you know what is important to you – model those values for others, talk about them and help others in a loving and peaceful way!

 

Posted in Reflection | 2 Comments

Watching the changes

images.jpgIt is August and you can feel the change in the air. It is easy to catch the back to school fever even if you don’t watch TV.  I do not get the adds on the “big box tv” but my Facebook line has informed me that parents are out shopping for school clothes, notebooks, pencils, markers and all the other stuff. The school buses are going up and down the block checking out their new routes due to summer construction. My daughter is gearing up to organize her classroom and text messages are asking for help. Can you help me sew new shades for the over head lights, are you setting up the fish tank – I will be in the classroom on Thursday? These bold signs of fall are all around but I am looking at something else all together.

The smaller signs in nature that tell me fall is approaching are showing up – like the sunset is now at 8:34 pm. It means I need to turn on the house light as I go out for an evening event or walk. If you have been watching the shadows the morning light has shifted creating sharp lines and deep shadows across the gardens. The oaks are dropping acorn seeds, the crab apples are making a mess on the neighbors sidewalk. The air has changed (at least here in Minnesota) to more cool evenings with dew soaked grass in the morning. The bushes around the yard are heavy with berries for the winter birds.

These signs of fall feel a bit early to me this year. We have not had our blazing hot August sun that dries and kills off the grass. We have not had the nights where you know there is no sleeping without an air conditioner. I am in fact sleeping with windows wide open and blankets ready to use in the deep of night when the air turns very cool.

I am not complaining mind you – just observing. I love the cool nights, the glorious damp morning walks and the birds feeding. I am happy to not use the air conditioner and to watch the buses sort out how best to arrive at schools on time.

tomatoes.JPGAll that said I am still a bit worried. The seasons are creating new patterns. The time tables are shifting. My garden is reflecting the change in the growth cycle.

My peppers are small and not flowering, my tomatoes are now at full growth and green but not sure they will ripen in this cool weather.

I have been able to grow cool weather crops all summer – lettuce, spinach, and radishes but the heat loving plants are just looking at me like I am crazy. The bean plants looks great but no beans. (well I found two baby beans yesterday) The cucumber plant has two very small fruits on it. Here is hoping at least one of them will grow into something we can eat. The daylight is shortening and this is giving a signal to plants to shut down production of fruits instead of the message to keep growing.

So as fall approaches – we have had a summer full of lettuce and radishes but there is no salsa, beans, or beets in the freezer for winter. There are lots of beautiful green plants growing but production is not good. If this were long ago and this garden was our winter food supply I would be really worried. It would be a winter of very little food. Beans.JPG

I wonder if this is just my corner of the world that is off or are the large production gardens also seeing the climate change. I always look forward to fall – cool temps, colored leaves and a freezer full of food. Hmmm – here is hoping that the fall is long and the frost holds off until late October so maybe some of the veggies will mature and my freezer will fill.

Posted in gardens, nature | 4 Comments

Safety means communication

It is the first Tuesday of August. It means it is National Night Out. It is a time to meet your neighbors. A time to learn who lives in your building or the house next door. This program began in 1984 as part of the Town Watch Program. Matt Perkins, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania help develop this to a program where people could begin to know each other.  A time when we stop and talk to the people who live around us.

Today National Night Out includes thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. That is thirty eight million neighbors in sixteen thousand communities across the nation who are taking part in National Night Out.

IMG_0426.jpgA short conversation, a bite to eat and maybe a game or two played with the neighborhood kids is all it takes to make an evening of fun, the building of new friendships or the rekindling of old ones.

This year it seems more important than ever for us to stop and meet the people around us. It has been a year of violence both physical and emotional. The language and behavior of people on the national level has filtered into the country leaving us shaken and angry. Many have pulled back and are hesitant to reach out to those around them. We are unsure of reactions and our sense of trust has weaken. When we do not trust we do not feel safe. When we don’t feel safe we tend not to talk with the people around us. We walk by with our heads down, our eyes averted and move quickly on our way.

Tonight is the night to break that cycle. Tonight is the time to makes a salad, a few IMG_0427.jpgcookies or pull the family grill out from the backyard into the front. Even if you have not planned ahead – put your front light on, buy a package of cookies and take a few chairs out into the front yard or the front stoop. Take that step outside and look around, say hi to those that walk, by offer a cookie and a smile.

My guess is you will feel safer, a bit happier and so will the people around you!

Posted in behavior change, Reflection | Tagged | 7 Comments

Searching and getting lost

A good title right – I got you! It give the impression of a deep and thoughtful post. Ha – not so much!  This is really my being mentally lost this morning. I am not able to stay focused. I am a bit anxious and I have no idea what to write.

So I went seeking for ideas – first I looked over my email and found only junk there. Mainly it was politics which I am just not going to write about. It is to upsetting. Then I turned to Facebook. There must be a topic there that would strike my interest in writing.

Facebook is a large rabbit hole and down I went. There were the political posts, there is the post about another issue with the airlines, my friends birthday party, and the duck with the duckling stuck somewhere (this seems to happen a lot – someone is always recusing ducks).  I click to read one post and find myself clicking another article and then another and soon I have no idea where I am or what I am reading. I am also amazed that the side ads are getting more risque’ with each click. Time to get off of this site. Oh, did you know Judy Collins and Steve Stills have a new album coming out in the fall. What am I doing????

I have also been watching the sky outside my window go from clouds to brilliant blue to clouds all in 40 minutes time. I am listening to the sound of my neighbors hand mower and  the rustle of dried leaves or seeds from the failing tree across the street. The garden in my front yard is beautiful right now and the Balloon flowers need deadheading. I have old dishes to wash for a tea party book club tomorrow, we read The Perfume Collector. It was great fun. I am sure there is laundry that needs doing and I know I should dust somewhere in this house.

I have check the time over and over again 8:45, 9:15, 9:16, 9:40 – there is a doctors appointment at 10:45. The Cardiologist awaits. It is my one year check up a bit early. Questions run through my head – can I quit some of these heart meds?  what happens if I quit some of these heart meds?  have I exercised enough? have I lost enough weight? (mind you I have never weighted very much – now it is even less) what happens with those two partial blocks in my heart- are they a waiting heart attack? what else should I not be eating?

I have check the garden seeds that need to go in before fall and looked over the tulip catalog getting ready to order. Then I realize I have already ordered 125 bulbs from a different catalog and have not yet created the new bed for those bulbs. I write a note to plan out the new bed and what I will put in it. I check over my garden journal and write a few notes there.

I get ready to …

Can you see I am lost?

I was searching for writing ideas only to find myself thinking and doing everything but writing. I was letting my anxious self run away with my thinking. So after about an hour of crazy searching and tumbling I did what many writers do.

I opened up my blog and started writing. Writing anything, writing what I was doing at this very moment. I just needed to write. I just needed t o put words down on paper or screen. I needed to begin to ground myself in words. Words of any kind.

There you have it. A morning of being lost, seeking, wondering and then just writing. Somedays are like that. Just put words to paper and call it good. Tomorrow may bring more focus and may help me to find my way home.

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Posted in behavior, journals, Reflection, writing | 8 Comments

Sudden Changes

” All is connected like a chain. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes.

If we do not accept that fact we will always suffer. “

                                                                                                              – Phra Saneh Dhammavaro

 

I was drawn this morning to a handmade book of four poems I wrote years ago. I created the poems and a friend made a beautiful book to hold them and to share the movement and ideas through art. The books title is In the Sand –  book of permanence and change. The book is not of importance but the idea of accepting change is.

There are moments in our lives that come suddenly and unexpected. Moments of great sadness, sometimes anger and fear. These emotions tumbling together, rolling like waves. Often when caught in these moments our instinct is to dig in and hold tight. We latch on to this sadness or anger and begin to fight. We get stuck and are pulled down into depression and fear.

I understand that so well but have learned that it does not help or heal. It leaves us tumbling over and over not moving forward. So with lots of yoga, meditation and help from friends I have slowly begun to learn how to let go, how to accept change.

As I have taken on change, both physical and emotional, I have found the need to step back, to watch closely and hold on to those parts of my life that can remain the same, let go of parts that are painful and embrace change that moves me forward in a positive way. It is a process and it is difficult. This is far easier to slip into the negative space that change can open up.

This does not mean that I don’t feel sorrow, sadness, fear, or anger. It doesn’t mean that I don’t act when action is needed.

It does mean I listen and watch. I try to let go of the negative and look for a positive way to help or an action I can do to help me or others understand the change that has been placed before us.

Change is a daily occurrence. It happens in small ways – to much sun and the flowers wilt, the waves wash over the beach washing away the foot prints of those who have taken the early morning walk, There are the big changes – cancer, heart attack, a job change or sudden death of a friend or family member.

In our interconnected lives changes are all around us. Each day we face the positive and the negative, the small and the large changes.

Take time, be still, breath and let go – moving with the emotions that surface and find your way forward. Change happens – nothing is permanent. beach.JPG

 

____________

This reflection was written to help me handle and think about the recent tragedy that has happened in our neighborhood and yoga community. We lost Justine Damond, a yoga teacher and life coach, in an unexplained shooting by police on Saturday night. We are saddened, angry and confused but are looking to find ways to celebrate the light and gifts she brought to so many in the short time she had with us.

Posted in Reflection | 5 Comments

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Dana Levy’s new book

goodstory_3Dwebres-wpcf_200x273.png“This Would Make a Good Story Someday” a perfect line many of us writers have used over and over again as we think about events in our lives.  Well, Dana Alison Levy followed up on it and wrote a humorous family story.

Levy is known for the Family Fletcher series, which I have not read but now want to go back and find. In this new book she takes us on a train ride across the United States with the Johnson- Fischer family and some new and wonderfully funny friends. We follow this train trip through the journal entries of Sara with a few added written pieces from one of her mothers, her older sister and a new “friend” who Sara wants nothing to do with.

We learn about families – the good, the bad and the ugly. We learn about places and fun facts of the United States, we learn about coming of age (the pre teen spot is hard place to be) and most of all we learn about how strangers become friends and family. This book is full of events that become adventures. What else would you expect when you put a group of strong willed people together in a confined space for long periods of time.

We also get a great model for journal writing – since Sara is writing in a required summer journal on their trip. A trip she did not want to go on. One of her mothers is hoping to write a book about this trip as well but it is clear she is having writers block and seeks to get insights and ideas from Sara. Sara is not willing to share and is not at all interesting in being part of a book about her crazy family.

The writing is quick and lively, the jokes and tales are perfect and by the end of the book I wanted to keep riding the rails with this wonderful family. I was ready to find my own train trip.

What a great idea this was for a book! Indeed this did make for a good story!

This would be a good read aloud for early in the year as you are starting journal writing and discussing how authors write about the world around them.

Enjoy this fun read!

Posted in Book Review, journals, Reading | Leave a comment

Layers and Layers of learning

longfellow.jpgOn a bright and hot Saturday morning I find myself sitting in an old historical house taking a botany class. It is Botany for Artists to be exact. I will not call myself an artist but I am learning to draw – plants of course. So this class is the perfect thing. I have taught elementary science for years, I have an on going love/hate relationship with my garden (don’t all gardeners) and I am learning to draw.

I will say up front it really is the perfect class but as I sit there thinking I can handle this I slowly begin to sink into the couch I am sitting on during the lecture. The terms and Latin are coming at me fast and furious. My spelling is failing me and as I try to correct my notes our teacher has now made 5 new interesting and important points that I have missed. I take notes as best I can and will review later I keep telling myself. I am now breathing fast and my shoulders are getting tighter and tighter. I assure myself it is just hot in this room.

We move to drawing and the microscopes – fun yes!!  Well, I forget my eyes have aged and the bifocals are driving me nuts. I need to work with the microscope in a new way -another layer of learning – but I got this! Right?

I return to my desk to draw and see the beautifully detailed drawing of the botanical drawing 1.JPGartists around me. (Oh yes, the comparison game is happening here.)  They have been drawing for years and are really good. I pull out my drawing pad and slowing and shyly work drawing 3.JPGin my corner of the room. See, it almost looks like the flower we are drawing – I am learning I tell myself.

As the 2 and half hours end I pack up and quietly leave with a sigh. My brain is swimming in new information, terms, ways of working and how to’s.  Layers and layers of learning were taking over. I loved it but I also noticed the fear and sadness in myself in how much I did not know. There was so much to learn in so many different directions. My self concept was pretty low. When I got home the drawing journal and notes got put to the back of my desk and I have not touched it for two days. The words ringing in the back of my head are I can’t do this. Why did I think I was so smart and could handle this class? These people are way smarter than I.

Oh, that old negative self talk can slip out of it’s hiding place really quickly. I sulked all weekend and acted like a little kid. (Aren’t we all little kids when we begin learning new things? oh please tell me it is true!!!)

On Monday I went to yoga where my instructor pulls me into her garden. “You have to help me,” she says. “What is wrong with my plants ?”

For me it was easy to see there were aphids everywhere. We talked about how to get rid of them. We walked the garden and I helped her identify a few plants and gave suggestions on what might help or where to read about the issues she was having. She was please and I was thinking I know this stuff.

We moved inside and settled into a long yoga session of stretching and letting go and that is when I saw it or felt it – the layers and layers of learning and learners. The self concept issue dropped away and I realized once again we are all learners all the time.

Each of us at different levels at different times around different topics. I moved away from thinking that not knowing something is a failure or a lack of smartness. Not knowing is just a place to start – a beginning that builds over time to knowing.  It does not connect to ability or smartness – not knowing is just not being exposed to these ideas, concepts, processes, skills or words at this time.

You know at 65 years of age you would think I could remember this and not sink into that old pattern of feeling bad or stupid. This thinking pattern goes way back to childhood and is hard to erase from our emotional self. It takes time, reflection and patiences with oneself to remember we are all learners.

It is ok to be a learner even when you are old!

Gazania 1.jpg

Posted in behavior change, gardens, Reflection | Tagged | 6 Comments