Slowing Down

Too often in my life, I have lived as if my life were a swiftly rushing river.  I came from a hyper family and fit right in.  One of the things I’m still learning is how to slow myself down!

rushing river

Rushing River

Much of my work life I juggled rearing my daughter alone, several part-time teaching  jobs, driving nearly 100 miles most days, and writing. When I look back at that time,  I don’t know how I did it.  I think this is unfortunately the life story of many people today. Today many people have added even more things and distractions in their lives: cell phones, gaming, texting,  twitter, fast food, Facebook, little sleep, hours of TV.

waters in stream

Racing waters in Stream

I dabble in Facebook (because of my blog) and have a “stupid phone”, so today I have not gotten so caught up in electronic devices. I work on my computer at home. I feel I am fortunate that my stream (of life) is slowing down.  Recently, I was with a student, who is a senior in high school. He told me that he had to make a deliberate effort to look people in the eye to talk to to them because he was so used to looking down at his cell phone.  I was very impressed that he was conscious enough to notice what he had been doing and was trying to change his behavior.

Here is a TED talk praising slowness by Carl Honore:

“For fast-acting relief try slowing down.”  – Lily Tomlin

river bend

River slowing down

One of the bad habits I have acquired due to having lived a fast pace so long, is I interrupt people more than I wish to admit. I am trying to bite my tongue more; I still embarrass myself some. I have people I care about in my life who remind me nicely when I’m interrupting them.  My latest long time habit that is getting me into trouble is how I walk. I even need to walk more slowly and deliberately. This year I have already paid the price because I have fallen down.

pond

still water of a pond

For me I meditate more now, and prayer has been helpful as I work on slowing myself down. I also live where the speed limits are low. Now I have more time to smile at cute children and people who are friendly, more time for walks and hanging out. For moments, I even have some serenity.

“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness not because they never found it, but because they didn’t STOP to enjoy it.”  – William Feather

 

 

 

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Flowers, Nature’s Beauty Queens

dogwood tree's flowers

dogwood tree’s flowers

I love this flowering tree. I remember the first time I saw dogwoods in the spring, I lived in the eastern USA. I was thrilled.  The flowers on a dogwood are like special butterflies on trees. The white dogwoods are lovely, but too me, the coral dogwood is heavenly. Once dogwoods lose their flowers, they become very ordinary small shade trees. I am thankful for dogwoods and particularly for the flowers. When I moved to the west coast, I was a  little sad because I thought there would be no dogwoods here. The first spring here, I was proven wrong, and I was joyful.

dogwood flowers

Dogwood flowers close up

snowball bush

snowball bush flowers

I like these flowers because they are fun. If you ever had a snowball fight, sometimes a hard snowball was almost like a rock. This flower would make a gentle snowball fight. For peace loving people, it is a kinder, warmer, more beautiful version of a snowball.

Here is an interesting TED talk about flowers from  Jonathan Drori.   It includes gorgeous photos of flowers and explains about how flowers deceive and attract pollinators.

"angel plants"

“angel plants”

I call these “angel plants” (which I know is not the correct name) because the entire bush when it is full of these flowers, to me, it looks like angels’ wings.

Columbine flowers

Columbine flowers

Flowers are so important to our lives. They tend to make me feel happy, are great as gifts, some smell great.  Although many people have allergies (at times, even me), somehow seeing flowers makes the suffering worth it to see amazing natural beauty. And flower’s nectar feeds birds and insects including our friends, bees, which we humans in turn get honey from.

flowering plants

Rose garden with flowering trees and plants

This is a small portion of a local rose garden, even before most of the roses have bloomed.  The combination of colors delighted my eyes. As usual, my simple digital camera did not do it justice.

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daphne bush

Daphne bush

This is a new flowering plant to me. I have already sung its praises in my blog from mid February. It blooms early (this year earlier than normal). I have never smelled a more fragrant flower. It even outshines most roses, even those not grown in hot-houses. Thank you Daphne and all flowers for all that you do to adorn our world.

“The Amen of nature is always a flower.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

What is (are) your favorite flower(s)?

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The Fog is Lifting

Fog beginning to lift

Fog present

Recently I realized I have been in an emotional and spiritual fog.  Two years ago this summer I will have moved to a new area. I thought I’d found Eden. I was volunteering with groups that seemed perfect and my spiritual life seemed beyond compare.  More recently cracks have been appearing in Eden. A few of the groups I have been involved in reminded me of a dysfunctional family (which I am familiar with) or at least an uncaring one. I managed to make myself sick with disillusionment about what I discovered. Also a person I care about seemed to have vanished from my life with no explanation.

fog beginning to life

Fog beginning to lift

The fog began to lift once I started noticing what was making me so distressed. Taking walks I’d get messages from my source that showed me I was not alone. I had other help from friends who reminded me that often in a new place I did not cause the problems; and I can’t control already existing problems or cure those problems. Any way, I could barely control my own emotional/spiritual state and needed to cure myself.

Fog lifted

Fog lifted

In order to lift my own spiritual fog, I had to become more realistic with my expectations about our human family and myself. Each of us comes with a story. In organizations we bring our stories with us and without help from a deep spiritual source or some major work, most of us hurt people just continue hurting others. I needed to go to my own spiritual source to become compassionate with myself in order to heal myself. I needed to try to be compassionate towards those persons who acted in ways that I thought hurt the groups I was involved in. But it did not mean I could change or cure the people in those groups.

“Why be in music, why write songs, if you can’t use them to explore life or an idealized vision of life? I believe a lot of our lives are spent asleep, and what I’ve been trying to do is hold on to those moments when a spark cuts through the FOG and nudges you.”   – Rufus Wainwright

Last weekend I took two “Be thankful hikes or walks”, and as I walked I thought and named those I care and love in my life and was and am thankful for; I saw all the bounty of green and flowers where I was walking. I heard the birds sing and saw a butterflies. I was thankful to my eyes that can see the colors and views better than my camera can capture. I smiled whole-heartedly at everyone I saw and was met with beautiful and friendly broad smiles and greetings. Warning: you may start feeling so joyful you might feel like crying! That’s O.K. too. I felt like I was in Eden again  It is still here. And I am ever so thankful to my source and the miracle of this beautiful world that I can appreciate it once again; that spiritual fog that had inhabited me is lifting.

These are a few photos from that walk:

flower

be thankful walk flower 1

trees

be thankful walk trees

flower 2

be thankful walk flower 2

 

1000s of flowers

be thankful walk 1000s of flowers

flowers

be thankful walk millions of flowers

The fragrance of the grass speaks to me….and my heart soars.”

                   – Chief Dan George

 

 

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Graffiti with a Purpose

I love art! To me art reminds us humans who we are- both the good and the ugly.  To me graffiti can be great street art. Wandering around where I live I have found graffiti that says something to me.

Graffiti

Graffiti 1

Much of my life I have worried about a lot of things, way too many things. At times some of my worries came to pass. While I was worrying, I surely did not feel good about my life or myself.  Usually I worried about things over which I had no control, or sometimes they were problems that were some one else’s business! Therefore, this graffiti made me laugh at myself, and it gave me some relief.

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 2

This graffiti speaks to me because I didn’t get to ask  questions growing up. That was a new “brain” muscle I have had to learn to exercise: how to question anything. The “Keep calm” part I like too,  as I have learned to value serenity greatly. Sometimes it takes time for me to get there, but I have found programs and tools of living that are supporting me to regain my serenity.  P.S. I’m glad I photographed this graffiti when I did because recently the fence where it had been had been white washed.

graffiti 3

Graffiti 3

I’m not sure what all of this graffiti is saying, but the “Hear” part spoke to me. For much of my life, I have been a poor listener.  That got me into trouble along with my being arrogant about “what I knew”. I did NOT want to hear what others had to say, so I and some others I loved have had some consequences which were unpleasant.  It was a great lesson in humility though too acknowledge how poorly I had listened and try to be more open to listening today.

The now well known Graffiti artist from Bristol, England  had this to say:

Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world I can’t even finish my second apple pie.”    –  Banksy,  pseudonym

graffiti 4

bonus Graffiti

I called this bonus graffiti because I got it as an early Mother’s Day gift. My daughter is a photographer. She photographed this in LA years ago.  This is street art that I find beautiful because it reminds all of us that we can at least be beautiful on the inside if we choose with how we behave on this planet. Sometimes it takes years to change old unkind habits and defenses, depending on the childhood you had. I have found that this journey has been rewarding, and I’m still in process.

I’m thankful for street art- graffiti is my good friend and teacher.

If you still don’t get this blog or even if you do,  please watch this TED talk from JR:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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