It Just so Happens…All Roads Lead to Home

Glass ball sitting on a rock in the ocean being splashed while reflecting sky and sea with mountain in the background

The Elements as Allies — hmm, I wondered what I was getting into this week when serendipitously participating in this formal discussion. Uncertain where this topic would lead, my curiosity surfed the wave of energy surging through my life lately. Opening commentary — how critical Mother Nature’s elements are to our life force. Earth, fire, water, air — are our life force. I was on board. ‘Sounds like a simple natural law but sadly forsaken. (To be continued…perhaps on Earth Day.)

We meditated on merging with water. I could see an all-encompassing bluest of blue sea, feel its massaging push and pull, and the color, that exquisitely pure turquoise that mesmerizes my eyes and pierces my soul. Quickly, I felt its far reaching capacity had no beginning or end, that each body of water — oceans, seas, bays, rivers, streams merge with each other until its vastness becomes   one. There is no end. It is no different in humanity (or life). Each may appear different or separate but whether warmed in daylight sun or glistening in dazzling moonlight, both are beautiful. Both are one.

Mother Nature and the Tao teach me “oneness” — as seasons merge from one into the other or taijitu depicts two opposing yet complementary halves not as two halves, but as one.

Learning the group’s discussion was based on Sandra Ingerman‘s work with  strong ties to hand drumming and reconnecting with nature, was no surprise her information found its way to me. There is no doubt in my mind that all paths I’ve traveled thus far led me here.

Likewise, the natural beauty of the Turks & Caicos has allured me for years.


When many people see photos of the beaches and lagoons of the Turks and Caicos, they believe that the water in the images must have been edited. In actuality the ocean is typically far more vivid when seen in person.

When finally making travel plans to this long-awaited destination, I hadn’t forecasted the trip would morph into a winter ebb, a spiritual retreat you could say. Since the bookend deaths of Bess and my brother I’ve longed for quiet solitude where I can more deeply process six months of profound change. Hopefully the magically soothing turquoise waters will fit the bill when I arrive today.

In the fascinating beauty of nature I feel the sacredness of oneness.  And as with the Tao, and as with the vast oceans and seas, there is no beginning and there is no end.

Globe sitting on the sand in front of the ocean reflecting the clouds and sand (upside down)
Original photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

Feature photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels

The Vista of Time

Two men standing on barren ground, looking toward the New Year on the horizon

As 2020 approaches, time is in the forefront of my mind. Running deeper than lines on a clock face or flip of a calendar page (“swipe” for you digital divas), my concept of time morphed over the years and invisibly orchestrates my life.

On a grander scale, the new year transition symbolizes life itself — passing and birth, loss and gain, here and gone, doors closing and windows opening, full and empty, flowers dying back to bloom next season — transformations all illuminated by the paradoxical Tao. In the Tao, there is no beginning or end. It is simply a continuation of a force, an energy, the “flow.”

The Tao expanded my concepts of forever and eternal which were often intertwined but mistakenly so as in the nebulous differences between an eastern hemlock and a Tsuga Caroliniana, a sparrow and finch, or twilight and dusk. Mother Nature’s subtleties are far-reaching. So are we in humankind. So are my thoughts on time.

Photo of lengthy hallway seemingly extending to forever
Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Like fraternal twins, eternal and forever share gossamer-like characteristics — forever indicating an endless or continual period of time; eternal meaning without beginning or end, always lasting. If something is eternal, it always is and always was. It exists outside of time.


If time is man made, why can’t we produce more of it?  Does staying in this exact moment freeze time — being neither in the past or future but always and only right now? Is “staying in the moment” the only way to make time stand still?

Perhaps in the trinity of time — past, present, and future, the only way to feel like we control it IS to stay in the present. Look not behind or ahead. If that is the case, then I have no reason to say “Happy New Year,” but perhaps [be] “Happy Now.”

 

 
Featured photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Ms. fortune

Blemished red beefsteak tomato on broken stem with baby green tomato

Have you ever…

  • Looked forward to something that resulted in something vastly different?
  • Expended effort that did not produce fruition?
  • Gotten involved in an activity that became incompatable?

Sometimes life just is.


Tomatoe on vine with insect damage and inset photos of basket full of good cherry tomatoes vs some bad tomatoes in a collander

 

Nothing is as nothing is

to both you and me.

Fortune and misfortune are neighbors

Sai Ong Loses Horse.

 

 

Plants need sun to flourish

but rain too.

Mother Nature can’t be told

what and when to do.

Natural stone wall with yellow flowers and green plants growing out and over it
Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash

One left eye and one right,

Two sides of the same coin.

The charming stone wall beckons

a flux of flowers

but wasps and snakes find home here too.

 

Appreciating a plentiful crop

dwindles garden blemishes.

“If only they didn’t destroy the plants…

but there’s really more than enough.

Green basil leaf partially eaten by insect

 

“They didn’t eat much anyway.”

A gardener’s small loss; an insect‘s joy.

Misfortune is what fortune depends on.

Fortune is where misfortune hides beneath.— Tao Te Ching

 

Tao of Spring

I love this time of year — one foot stepping away from dismal winter, the other turning toward spring’s pulsating energy and invigorating growth.

Mother Nature turns her pages as weeping cherry blossoms invite sleepy trees to leaf out.  Rosettes emerge beneath woody stalks from last year’s Autumn Joy…lifeless looking rosebushes begin to swell…rain purges pollen while transforming blue skies into grey and flourishing winter’s grass resplendent green…alluring buds rouse allergies yet spring’s intoxicating sights and scents are ecstasy to my  spirit.

Insensate winter unfolding to scintillating spring — assurance that endings are beginnings.

“It feels as though the beginning and the end are intertwined, thus leading to a never-ending cycle. Surely this will not be the end. Just as it can’t be considered the beginning. Just as it can’t be determined where the beginning or the end is.”

Eunjin Jang, No One Writes Back

 

It’s all a Matter of Time

Daylight “saving time” is an oddity to me.  The only time I think I’ve saved is when I am more efficient like writing my store note while my phone call is placed on hold.  Other times it’s planning my route to accomplish the most along the way — or speeding up (just a little bit) to get somewhere sooner than later.

Being highly organized, I think I’ve saved a lot of time over the years but, sadly, there’s no place for its safekeeping — like a rainy day fund.   Boy, I wish there was.  Just think.  If you could bank all those hours — kind of like the vacation time or sick days allotted at work — and use them where ever and whenever you want — like when you’re rushing to an appointment, just pull out an extra hour and that traffic jam doesn’t matter.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

We could extend a vacation with extra time or in a macabre sense, have more time if diagnosed with a fatal disease.  A friend with esophageal cancer told me, “Six months to live is just not enough time.”  Think of it; if he could have been banking hours to extend his life,  he’d have enough time to complete his bucket list.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find the time.”  So where is it?  How can we find it?  Numerous articles exist on time management.  The one I offer here is by a favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott.

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Photo credit: Markus Spiske temporausch.com from Pexels

Regret often bears the lament, “What a waste of time.”  Yet, in hindsight and particularly if lessons were learned, it was not a waste of time but an invaluable training ground.

My concepts of time have changed as time has changed me through the years.  Going too slowly in my youth, they said I was wishing, wishing my life away when I could barely wait to be five, then thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.

Years thereafter I lived in the past and worried about the future.  Too often what was happening in the “now” was unpleasant and not where I wanted to be.  It took a lot of retraining to attempt to stay in the moment.

Lately though, I’ve been so in the moment I’m wondering where did the time go?  Somehow its evaporated, transformed into one longer moment from this moment into the next until the day is gone.   Am I on accelerated speed?  Are the clocks running fast?  Time no longer lingers as when I was very young.

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Photo credit: geraldfriedrich2 on Pixabay

For most of my life, nature’s timing of the seasons seemed perfectly natural.  Until these last few years, there was a consistency I do not feel in my own life even though I’m often living from one task to the next, one project, one calendar page to the next.

Now, my time spirals like a spinning top that one day will just stop.  At least in the physical sense of here and now.  Like perennials that bloom then wither and die to return again next year, being one with Tao offers eternity.  But eternity sounds like “the future” to me.  The traumas I’ve experienced and bagged up thus far have been exhausting.  I don’t know if I could take eternity.  Better to stay in the now.

Here’s 20 quotes about living in the now

And did you know Daylight Saving Time was originally conceived by Ben Franklin?

If I could freeze this exact moment in time, my skin would stay supple, my eyesight strong, and I would remain spry.  So, even though I am staying in this moment in time, time itself is moving ahead — whether I like it or not — and I am running out of time.

The Daylight Saving Time change ill-affects me.  Preferring to keep things as natural as possible, I don’t want my circadian rhythms messed with.  They already have enough trouble from my PC, thank you.  The Earth continues to rotate in 24-hour cycles.  Are we going to try to change that too?

How do you perceive time?  Has it felt different as you age?  How do you feel about  Daylight Saving Time?  Does it have any affect on you?

 

 

Nature’s Circle of Comfort

Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting. 11-2-18 004 hay bales

I hadn’t observed this prior to practicing Qigong where I first felt a gentle, circular energy flowing between my hands.  The movements soon enriched my gardening activities and evolved my thinking about continued life which led me to the Tao and a spiraled understanding of nature and our connectivity to the universe.images

Yin-yang‘s circular energy symbolizes life’s continuum and oneness; that nothing is 100% black or white, right or wrong; we need one to have the other.  Hours accelerate around the clock transforming day to night through the calendar of winter to spring, summer to autumn, season to season, year to year, era after era, wrinkled newborn to withered senior.  This energy of oneness incorporates ourselves, others and the universe.

It is said that with Qigong (or Tai Chi) practice, you begin to view all of life as part of this circle. I have and am grateful for it.  I see the circular trees, the ever lasting round sun and moon, the flowers that know to return year after year, the rounded hay bales at harvest.  I use to fear death as a finality of life.  But Qigong, gardening, and being in nature have taught me otherwise.  This freedom from despair over my eventual death or that of loved ones is healing.  Perhaps that is why the hay bales are like Mother Nature’s hugs, offering a soothing kinship with nature and all that is around me.

200px-Yin_yang.svg

 

Fish in the Grass

Heavy rains make weeds grow freely

but

also easier to remove.

Rainstorms

flood the pond.

Fish are swimming in the yard.

Not so lucky for them

but the heron is happy for food

and the grass will be fertilized.

tyler-butler-691603-unsplash
Photo by Tyler Butler on Unsplash

This is my gardener’s perspective on a Chinese folk story called “An Old Man Lost His Horse – Sai Weng Shi Ma.”

From Taoism to Shakespeare’s, “Nothing is good or bad.  It’s thinking that makes it so,” the lens widens as the circle of learning continues.

images

Misfortune, that is where happiness depends;

happiness, that is where misfortune underlies.”

 

Get a Universal Hug!

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day sat on my bucket list for several years.  With no events offered in my small, semi-rural community, I made up my mind last year to drive 1.5 hours to participate.  The powerful group energy felt like a profoundly calming universal hug, not to mention the good people I met and now have the pleasure of studying the Tao with.   Yes, I make the 3 hour roundtrip drive to do this monthly but it brings me so much pleasure it’s a worthy investment.  Now, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an annual must do event for me.  (FYI, it’s always the last Saturday in April at 10AM local time.)

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person),  safeguarding my own peace and serenity (aka well-being) is critical for me.  Detaching from the bombardment of frenetic and frantic energy through sensationalized “news” while staying engaged with humans and the environment is key, and I’m meeting numerous others with similar observations.  Like the waitress who sadly said, “I’m serving more and more families who come in and sit glued to their phones rather than talk to each other.  It doesn’t make sense!”  Or the fellow concert goer who high-fived me after first responding in shock, “You did what?!  I’d like to give up this thing too and get my life back.”

tech free

For the record, I recognize some value in having technology like GPS or locating a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, but it’s not worth the expense to me — financially, mentally or emotionally. I just don’t need technology. My life M.O. has changed to “discarding” rather than “adding” non-essentials. I value my time more. I see how easily I could become addicted. And I see the stress — whether to the user or those around them — from constantly pinging phones interrupting each moment, deteriorating eye contact and banishing personal interaction. I see others trying to remedy their lives after their electronic financial accounts were hacked… What I don’t see is the value of turning my life over to technology.

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Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash

But anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you to try World Tai Chi & Qigong Day if you haven’t already.  Whether you are or aren’t engaged with technology, Tai Chi and Qigong are certain to bring a calmness into your life.  And couldn’t we all use that these days?

Visit this site to find an event near you:  http://www.worldtaichiday.org 

 fhug

Be Still

“To be still, get still,” popped into my head while feeling dizzily over-stimulated from noisy store crowds, parties, and meandering traffic this week.   The holidays can drain anyone and especially with technology’s hastened pace and constant bombardment.

For many years I’ve chosen to celebrate the holidays through the beauty of the land.  Whether it’s gathering aromatic pine boughs on the morning of Christmas Eve or breathlessly climbing a steep slope of evergreens to gain fresh perspective on New Year’s Day — intimately connecting with Mother Nature is my holiday spirit.  It is the quiet, the crunch of my boots in the snow, the sun warming my face, and breathing in fresh pine, that speaks to me deep within.  Glowing candlelight and a poinsettia paint the mellow ambience I love.   Add in laughter, healthy food and hand drumming with friends, and voila’; I’ve created a non-traditional holiday out of love, not stressful obligation.  And as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I want for nothing more.

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This year, I’ve received wise words from unexpected sources — women I’ve never met but with whom I share a Nature-focused spiritual path:

  • Particularly comforting in the midst of losing so many trees to pipeline construction are the words of a Yoruba priest: “Nature is resilient. The trees will come and go – some naturally and some by the needs and destructiveness of man.  Don’t cry for the trees.  They have served their purpose and they have planted their seeds.  They have helped those of the earth in many ways – the humans, the animals, the air, the soil, and other nature beings. Their spirit is resilient and they will be reborn in other forms and once again, serve their purpose. Perhaps one of them lies in you.  This is the nature of life.” 

pine candle

 

 

 

The Sacred Science Pinecone Meditation

Find a pine cone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit.

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The wisdom of the land is why I love it so.Santa Key Smile  It teaches me about living life.

 

Daily Prompt: Gratitude

I didn’t think much about gratitude while growing up.  Actually, I’d say I was pretty ungrateful in those years.  Raised in a dysfunctional family — although I didn’t know that’s what it was then, just that my father would rage at a moment’s notice — we often ran for our lives.  Literally.  It wasn’t until I married a man in a 12-step program that I considered the word gratitude.

While my new husband’s recovery from prescription painkillers opened the Al-Anon door for me,  I couldn’t relate to others struggling with loved ones’ active addictions because my husband already had three drug-free years when we met.  In times of angst, I turned to gardening but it couldn’t eradicate a darkness I felt deep within.  And then I found a different 12-step meeting — ACOA.  For the first time in my life I felt I belonged, and tasted true fellowship.

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Listening to others traumas from similar or worse upbringings lessened the impact of my own.  I now realized my family wasn’t the only one that didn’t look like Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear paintings.  Feeling safe and unjudged, I unveiled the shame that overshadowed three decades of my life.  I now understood my father as a rageaholic and how this ill-affected our family.  (This is the early 1990’s before recovery became a buzzword and rehabs became multi-million dollar businesses.)

Twelve Step meetings — of any kind — frequently discuss gratitude and suggest keeping a gratitude journal to heal the spirit.  My gratitude can be as simple as I’m grateful the sun is shining, for the joy my dog gives to me, or for my eyes to see the beauty around me.  It is a daily prompt in my thoughts illuminating my heart.

A gift of the Twelve Steps is learning to live life instead of just surviving,  existing,  staying sober or stopping an addiction.  Hearing someone share, “I was so busy looking at the thorns that I didn’t see the rose,” changed my life forevermore.  I now look for gifts in unanticipated circumstances rather than see challenges as problems.   The more I became grateful, the more I’ve had to be grateful for.

A few more decades later, I’m still evolving and learning other shades of gratitude.  I’ve come to realize and feel grateful that the darkness of my youth led me to 12-step recovery.  The Twelve Steps expanded my spirituality and lessened my fears to try new things and be who I really am.  I evolved to become passionate about hand drumming which led to my interest in the Tao.  My understanding of the Tao and life grows through gardening.  Coming full circle, I more fully understand and am grateful for all the layers of my life.  As my 12-step friend once told me, “The gift is as great as the pain.”