Winding Roads

Someone read a poem today.
That made me think

The winding road
is
our lives.

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Many of us reach the same destination.
Albeit different ways,
Different paths, whys, hows,
with different words
for the same concept —
a nearly same experience.

Isn’t that the wonder of our uniqueness
yet sameness?

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We begin a path, a book, a plan,
then change course
for whatever reason.
A break-up.
Job loss.
Dying desire
to live
one’s passion.

Altering our course
we may step back
and the change brings greater challenges
we did not forsee
ahead
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yet we gain along the way
from what we did not know,
And then it is behind us.

 

 

Why focus on the end
when we never know
when
the end will truly be?

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Fluent by John O’Donohue

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

 

“Flexibility”

I begin each day picking a word for guidance out of the cobalt blue glass container.   Just a little something to set my intention for the day before the mental chatter of the “TO DO list” dictates my time and ultimately my mood.  Today, the message is flexibility.  “Good choice, I think to myself already knowing that the weeds are growing as well as the tomatoes and basil…that my border collie is waiting for her morning Frisbee…the phone doesn’t stop ringing, e-mails are mounting, the grass needs to be cut, and I’m trying to get in a daily walk.  Oh yeah, did I say I have responsibilities of a job to pay the bills too?  I’m guessing you can relate to this and your list is probably even longer.

Someone suggested placing no more than 5 items a day on my To Do list.  That’s never seemed possible yet yesterday’s unfinished tasks glare at me rather than offer a cheery “Good Morning.”  Intellectually, I know this sets me up for feeling unaccomplished and sometimes overwhelmed.   (Being an HSP, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.)

My MO is tackling a project and staying with it til the end (while feeling guilty that other tasks wait for attention) but as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”  Sometimes yes.  Sometimes no.  Probably no, more often than not.  Living with a workaholic does not support my efforts for balance and flexibility yet underscores the importance of it.   (I learned that the hard way years ago but that’s another story for another time.) For now, I need to take small bits at a time.  Weed one section of the garden, mow one acre, respond to e-mail only at designated times of the day.  Reprioritize as necessary.  Go with the flow.  Be flexible.

Even the word flexible seems to have a nice bend to it and immediately conjures up an image from a quote I read long ago:

Baum_Sardinien Bending Tree

“…A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind…”  – Lao Tzu

To not be flexible is a death of sorts.  If I first make time for stillness (meditation),  the day will gently unfold, rather than feeling like I’m tackling each task like a football pro.  Again, I am reminded of Lao Tzu’s wisdom:

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.          Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

He wrote this in the 6th century B.C.!  Just think about that.  It was long before technology, computers, planes, cars, etc., but the population was fraught with worry and running around frantically even in those times.  Perhaps these are simply life lessons for being human. 

Lao Tzu’s sentiment has appeared before me a few times this week. No surprise.  Thank you, Universe.  Yes, everything will happen as it’s meant to be, on its own schedule.  Gardening has taught me that.  Sometimes I need a reminder.  I’m human.  Now, I’m going to take a deep breath and do some Qigong in the garden with my border collie then let the day unfold as it will…

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Infinity

When I look, really look at the variety of colors, shades, textures, patterns, sizes, etc., etc., etc., in the garden and mountains beyond, I am stunned.  Consider, for just a moment, the endless shades of pink.

 

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How does that make you feel?

How do they know?

I made a hearty bouquet last week of wild tiger daylilies and spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis that I placed in a cobalt blue vase to greet me in the morning and accompany nighttime meals.  This lively contrast of oranges and purples contained flowers in bloom and those in waiting.

On day 2, several of the lilies had closed and dried while others had bloomed.

On day 3, several other lilies closed and dried.  New ones bloomed.  The same held true for the spiderwort pods.

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As this process continued throughout the week, I noticed that each bud seemed to be taking turns in its cycle of life.  I wondered, “How do they know when to bloom and when to die?”   

Transformation of Endings

Source: I Don’t Get It

In visiting another blog this afternoon, I was moved by the writer’s sadness and confusion of impending death and realized each of us is so different in how we think about and interpret life.

I came into this world contemplating death and vividly recall such thoughts as early as age 5. Death (separation) use to frighten me. I could not imagine being separated from the ones I love. (Note, despite my “attachment” to loved ones, I grew into an independent female.)  Oddly, the “death” of these individuals gave me a deeper understanding of “life.”  Someone told me that my suffering was because I was selfish in not wanting to let the dying go. That was hard to swallow but stepping back, I gradually understood what they meant and focused more on the moments I shared with that person or pet, rather than on the “loss.”

In my youth, I was introduced to a mix of Protestant Christianity (Presbyterian and Methodist doctrines) then investigated Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Several decades later I find myself believing in bits and pieces from all of them (aka take what you like and leave the rest). I do believe in God and that each of us may call it something different including “the Universe.”

But, it was working in the garden and being led to Taoism that transformed my fear of death to acceptance and understanding. Seeing a flower that buds, blooms, withers and dies, then returns each year gave me a concrete understanding of the cycle of life and hence, tremendous comfort.

If we are all interconnected, then why wouldn’t my life continue as it does for the flower that I cannot see during the winter but greets me each spring?

As in the photo I’ve included here…if I am not conscious enough to look beyond the winter grey, I would not notice the dwarf irises coming back to life in spring.

Reading about past life regression and end of life experiences also helped me arrive at my current view.  In 9 months, I lost 3 very important people to me — my mother, best friend of 20 some years, and spiritual guide.  In answer to my questions, a Unity minister responded that, “We cannot know another’s journey.” My resolution was that their work this time around was complete.

In the midst of processing these losses, I’ve also had a few scares with cancer.  Now, I am learning about the critical importance of our thoughts. And words. As Florence Scovel Shinn advised so many years ago, “Your word is your wand.” I try to be more conscious now in my thoughts and words…having faith answer the door when fear comes calling.  Sometimes I do better than others.  Afterall, this is reprogramming, “transforming” several decades of thinking.

More and more I have shifted my viewpoint to believe that endings are also beginnings. I heard a radio preacher one day say that death is the gateway to our transformation. Truly, I view death as not the end per se, but a transformation. I just have to have faith of where it will lead.

Gardening Grey

A garden is usually vibrant in color — even simple whites pop against lively green leaves like lilies of the valley.  But, have you noticed the greys?  Dusty miller wears yellow flowers while lamb’s ears show off pinkish-purple spikes.  There is no “all or nothing.”  Like life.  Like the Tao.

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Taijitu (symbol for yin-yang concept)

 

Look closer at that familiar symbol for yin-yang.  It is often identified as positive/negative, dark/light, female/male, etc., etc., yet in reality that is not entirely true.  There is more to it.  Like life.  Like Tao.

In my busyness, I thought this symbol meant opposites.  But, in waking up, I see the 2 small dots of opposing colors within each section.  There is no complete 50/50, black/white, one or the other.   Each has some of the other, and each needs the other to become whole.  Life, for me,  looked different then.

And the garden continues teaching me.  About life.  About Tao.  Rain can nourish or flood…beautiful flowers can produce allergens… bees can pollinate and sting!  Day turns to night, perennials bloom and die then return next year, the sun casts shadows (yin is for shade, yang is for sun).   Everything is inter-related.  Look at the white sunlight that produces the varied colors in a rainbow.  There is so much to life, so much in between; it’s not all grey.

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The Flow

I am better off, my days are better off when I begin in the flow of Qigong.  Years ago I practiced Svaroopa Yoga.  Its deep relaxation served me well.  But, then I tried Qigong and my life really started to change.  I love the cyclical flow of energy — be it in my environment or person.  This morning practice is my wake-up — of energy and to life.  Naturally progressing to readings from the Tao, my life transformed into a new philosophy of living, thinking and breathing.  Being a gardener, the Tao deepens my connection to nature which has deepened my understanding of life.

“Tao is the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony” so Merriam-Webster says.

If you are unfamiliar with Qigong I encourage you to sign up for the free monthly Qi Talks from the National Qigong Association.  Their site is full of useful information like detailing what Qigong is, determining your energy composition, finding a practitioner who can teach you the movements, etc.  And if there is no one in your locale, you can always try a DVD or visit YouTube.  My favorite DVDs are Daisy Lee-Garripoli ‘s Radiant Lotus Qigong   She also has videos on YouTube.

Like Yin and Yang, I find these practices produce a more gentle yet exuberant way of living life.  Do you practice Qigong or the Tao?  I’d love to hear your experience and how it’s influenced your life.

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The View Beyond

Plum tree branches

heavily laden with raindrops

bend toward the ground

temporarily obstructing my view

of the garden beyond.

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Like the challenges we face

sometimes a relentless tsunami

We do not fully understand

or see the gifts

until widening our perspective.

 

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Bend, like the plum tree.

Go with the flow.

Accept.  Spring back.  Do not break.

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Rain pummels and hydrates.

The sun shines and scalds.

Endings are beginnings.

It is the perfectly natural rhythm

of imperfect life.

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Stranger Things Happen

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I didn’t make a connection with a stranger on “social media,” but I did through a review on TripAdvisor.com.  In reading reviews about a place I long wanted to visit — the Caribbean island of Nevis — I sent an inquiry to a woman who posted that she and a friend had an enjoyable lunch at the Oualie Resort — a pricey place beyond my budget.

As it turned out, Mary and I connected instantly — she was also from my home state of Pennsylvania but started a new life in Nevis with her own business.  Knowing the manager at Oualie, Mary got me a significant room discount.

When I visited Nevis a few months later, Mary and the resort manager welcomed me with dinner and cocktails.  We had dinner a few more times during my 10-day stay, and she was kind enough to give me a complete tour of the island as well as invite me to her home in the rain forest.  For years I had been drawn to this island without knowing why. The friendly strangers I met all around Nevis made this an unforgettable journey of Synchronicity.

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Some lesser known tidbits about Nevis…

  •  Nevis first got electricity in 1954.
  • The first Secretary of the US Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis.
  • At 98%, Nevis has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere.  English is the official language.

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