Friday, February 7, 2014

A tiny flame...

Day fourteen (OPC)  The last couple of weeks have been an adjustment for me. Old habits are beginning to fade away and I can feel my thought patterns shifting with each day. My sleeping habits are changing as well and most mornings I wake feeling much more refreshed than I used to. As I continue moving forward I can feel my own strength growing in increments, that tiny flame is still only a pinpoint in the darkness, but it is just a bit brighter each day.

Imagine, if you will, trying to start a fire in a cave with only a spark, just a tiny ember. Your life depends on this fire. You don't blow on it, instead you only whisper a bit of air over it. You feed it blades of withered grass until it's strong enough to have a few pine needles. The flame that finally arises is smaller than the ones on your birthday candles, and so fragile. You know that if you dump a bunch of leaves onto it you'll smother the last of the warmth and it will die. And so you're carefully tending it, putting all of your heart into it. Soon you're able to add bits of wood as thin as a pencil, then as big around as your thumb. With each addition you are careful to add only what your small fire can handle. You don't feel relief just yet, but you feel a strong hope that the fire will live, even though a gust of wind could extinguish it completely. Your focus is solely on the flames in front of you because you know that your survival depends on it. After a while you can add branches as thick as your wrist and you know that you can bring the larger ones closer so that they begin to heat up without being right in the fire. It takes patience and time but, once you're able to add the thick branches, you know that the heavy logs around the perimeter will soon be burning and you will have a fire that will not only keep you alive, but will be strong enough to keep your cave warm enough to thrive. You'll still need to tend it each day but you know that you can count on it being there.

This is a little bit about how I feel right now. My tiny spark is growing and is now strong enough for the pine needles. As long as I stay focused on it (my Spiritual health), I know that I'll have a bonfire before long and I'll be able to dance around it in celebration of my Life.

In the meantime, I've created new routines and am learning new habits. The kind of habits that will keep me alive through all that I have planned for my life.

May you all have that flame in your hearts and may it be strong and sure.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Still Catching Up...

Day twenty: Darkness

There are different kinds of darkness and each affects us differently. On a summer night the darkness can bring a sense of peace to our minds, a softness to the edges of life. In the middle of winter the darkness can invigorate our sense with the sharpness and clarity reflected in the stars above.

When there is a darkness in our souls, though, it can hurt. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and crushing. Some people are unable to see what little bit of light and hope is in their lives.

My sincere wish for you all is that any darkness you experience... I hope that you find solace and peace and Light.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A week of thoughts...

This has been a fairly hectic and sometimes strained week. Writing has not been in the list of vital things to do, but that has brought a sense of incompleteness to my days. I've been so busy with a variety of other things that even my journal has been set aside. I'm hoping to get caught up and to stay focused.

Day seventeen: Mystery

I look around me at the changing season and can feel the desire rising to be more creative. I want to find something to express the ideas and passions in my soul. The twists and turns, the splashes of color, the beauty. Knitting has been my canvas for several years. Before that it was beadwork, and before that it was counted cross-stitch.

Why, when the natural rhythm of the planet is urging us to slow down and to rest, do I want to decorate the world with the visions in my head?

Day eighteen: Sorrow

I started this as a personal journey to look within and see what is there, guided by the prompts of a friend's own journey. When I saw this prompt I had to stop for a moment. I don't have a deep sorrow this year. Yes, I miss some of my loved ones and I do worry about some of them, but I've not lost anyone dear to me this year. My son is no longer in Afghanistan. My family is mostly intact and safe. Yet... I do feel the tears rise for others. For the children who won't get to see a parent this season, for the parents who are missing their children, and for those who lost a loved one and are looking at the festivities with a heavy heart.  I do wish I could hug them all and tell them that, though I can't know how they feel, my heart is going out to them.

Day nineteen: Suffering

Do most of us even know what suffering is? I have been so blessed in my own life that I am certain I can't fathom the depth of suffering others feel. Even so, when I see someone with pain in their eyes it breaks my heart a bit. When I hear about a parent losing a child, the tears flow freely. But that does nothing to ease the world's pain.

I've written and rewritten a few paragraphs for this day, yet none of them truly convey what I'm feeling. I can't really find the words. What I wished to do was to share something that would lighten someone's day. To ease the suffering they might be feeling. I feel inadequate.


I know that I still have a few days to catch up on, but they will have to come later.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Catching up

Day fourteen: Star

The stars, the stars. Oh, how bright they'll shine, on that home that we build in the meadow.

Since I was a very young child I have been fascinated by the stars. I can remember traveling somewhere late in the night and looking up into the sky at the stars and wondering why they seemed to stay with us. I have no idea where we were going or coming from, only that I usually fell asleep with the stars in my dreams. Even when I was a little older (around 12 or so) my bed was positioned in such a way that I could look up as I drifted off.

I don't know that many constellations or even which stars are in the hemisphere, but I've always been able to pick out the Three Braves and the Bear, the Hunter, the Dragon. Occasionally I can find others, but it's not the imaginings of others that interest me the most, it's the wonder of the stars themselves. The distance, their size, and their beauty.

Day fifteen: Nature

Nature has always held a very important role in my life. From watching a mama "horny toad" with her babies in a Texas back yard to seeing the graceful swoop of a bald eagle in flight on the Huron River, I've always been able to feel a sense of wonder at the wildlife around me. Perhaps that is part of why I wanted to live in the mountains so much... there were more animals than people.

I could go one about this subject, but I think it would be a whole post an I do need to shower and get ready to sleep.

Day sixteen: Cycle

Each time the days shorten to nearly nothing I've felt a pull to slow down and really take a look at my life. At the same time I feel a great need to create something new and wonderful. In the years past I've used that fire to design a couple of sweaters. They both were fabulous in their own ways and I love them. Last year I was hit with another design, but haven't yet put it to paper. But it's there, building and waiting.

Around the Solstice I usually take time to be alone. I'm not sure how that will happen this year, but I will do what I can to make it so. Generally, I sit in silence and think about the longest night and how the Earth is shifting and tilting to give us the cycle of seasons. I think about the position of the planets around us and the cycle of the sun. I think about the animals sleeping soundly and the birds flitting from tree to tree. I think about Life and Death and how it all spirals around us, each day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day thirteen: Gift

It's a dangerous business, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no telling where you might be swept off to.

I think about the gifts I have received over the years and realize that, even though others might not see how precious they are, these gifts are truly jewels. And... they aren't what you might think.

A car accident that "should have" killed me and my daughter. A gunshot in my back yard. Struggling with the bills for so long. Even my recent bout with pneumonia. Each and every one of these caused me to stop at that point in my life and reevaluate what was going on. Was I really taking good care of myself? Was I truly doing what was best in my life? What did I need to focus on?

I'm not saying that I want to receive these gifts frequently, but when they do come along, I hope that I always have the clarity of mind to see them as a way to stop and gather my strength and make better choices. The most important way for me to live is to be true to myself. I know that others will not agree with my choices, but they are mine and no longer will they be to appease another.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day twelve: Ornament

Warm and Cozy
When I think about the ornaments I've had over the years I can't help but smile. There have been the cute homemade ones that the kids would bring home from school, their faces beaming with delight with the knowledge that they did something cool. There were special ones that we'd pick out each year, one new ornament for each of us. Even the simple glass balls that added a little glamour to our wee trees.

But my favorite one of all is this one. There is a hole in the back where a light plugs in (the regular strand kind of bulb) and creates a soft glow in the "room". I have had this since before Anthony was born, but I'm not sure exactly how far back. I do recall that I bought it from my Avon lady. This one is my favorite simply because it embodies all that I think of when I think of a warm and peaceful evening. The fireplace is glowing with the flames, the cat is curled up and sleeping, books on the mantle are waiting to be read, and the tree is quietly reminding us that Nature is a huge part of this season.

It's funny, the emotional attachment we place on things. I know that this is a silly bit of plastic, and I'm not even reminiscent of the time that it was purchased. Instead, it's the feeling of hope and wonder that it reminds me of.

May you all have a wonder-filled day.

Day eleven: Wreath

I realized that I've never actually had a wreath. I thought about it and can't recall ever a time when we had one in the house, on the door, or even on the car. If I got one, though... no, I'd make one. With lots of dried herbs and spices so that it would be fragrant and pretty all at the same time. Maybe I'll have to do that soon. With crystals, too.

Wreaths are supposed to represent eternity and strength and they have an amazingly long history. I won't go into the details this morning, but you could check out the Wikipedia page about them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day ten: Lights

December 10, 2013
A day late... I did have a plan to post yesterday, but then shut off the computer without thinking.

I've always loved the magic and beauty of holiday lights. I've even had the white ones strung up around my house throughout the year (it's been a long time... I might have to do it again soon). I can recall laying on the floor of my Phoenix apartment with my kids just watching the tree twinkle to the music (I had a cool box that we'd plug the lights into).

Through the years I had lost the desire to put up a tree and decorations. I guess you could say that I was becoming a bit of a Scrooge. But that started to change a few years ago when Brianna told me that she really wanted a tree. It was then that I started to feel more "in the spirit" of the holidays. Instead of grumbling about the Christmas music in the stores I'd start to hum along (or sing if I knew the words). I'd even look at the new ornaments that were out for the year with delight instead of dread.

This year, Brianna and I decorated the house instead of a tree. This way, each room has something in it to bring a smile to our day. We hung the lights in our bedrooms since that is where we are most of the time and I can't help but smile when I walk into one of the rooms and see the bright colors.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Day nine: Bells

August 23, 2013 -
Oddly enough, this is the only picture I can find of my
chimes and you can barely see them on the right.

I think of all the bells that have had a significance in my life and realized that most of them are the soft laughter of the wind chimes in my gardens and yards. As far back as I can remember there have been chimes singing out in the night as I drifted off to sleep. During the soft breezes I'd hear a gentle ting of the metal hitting against the wooden striker. When the storms would, hit the clang of the pipes would ring out in alarm at the sudden gusts. Then they would quiet again as the thunder faded.

There was a small set that I'd hung in the front bushes in Sandusky. The neighborhood cats would walk near them, occasionally rubbing against them before they'd lay down for a cool nap in the shade. There were larger sets hung near the gates to the back yard that would warn me of any uninvited visitors. And there is a large set of pipes currently in a box awaiting new string for repairing. I even have a tiny chime that was once a pair of earrings and I'd smile as I walked because I felt like I was carrying the magic with me.

I can't imagine a home without the sound of wind chimes. No more than I can envision a home without a cat. It would just feel discordant to me.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day eight: Evergreen

August 18, 2013
What does it mean to be evergreen? Yes, I know that during this season's festivities there are a lot of evergreen trees and wreaths and other decorations, but what do they symbolize?

Interestingly enough, each evergreen tree or shrub has a different "meaning". For example, cedar represents healing, pines are for eternal life, spruce for hope, and juniper is for protection. There are, of course, more detailed descriptions of all of these, but I'm not going to add them all tonight.

I decided to take this idea and internalize it a bit. To be evergreen would mean to remain flexible and able to bend when the winds are blowing you around. To be able to let the winter come, bearing the weight of the snowy burden without breaking. And to stay strong enough to stand up straight again when the storm has passed.

Can I be evergreen? Can I get through the turbulence and the burden and still stand up straight when the spring comes again? Most of me says yes. even though there is a small part that wonders if some part of me will break under the weight of the snow (worries). But most of me is sure that I won't break. No part of me. I will stay strong and flexible and able to stand tall after all is said and done.