Seismic Shifts

So fellow travelers, five weeks to go in the final stretch of this school year.

Like marathon runners “hitting the wall” going into the last quarter of the run, our team is digging deep to find the energy and willpower to see this through. Resources depleted, we keep each other refueled and focused as best we can. Requests for additional support and questions we ask go unanswered but recent events may force some issues to a critical point. Time will tell and until it does, we forge on.

Cold wet weather was keeping me and my trusted four legged companion Delilah off the trails and slowed the return of spring migrants to a trickle. No hiking, sparse birding, minimal walks had me plodding along in a fog until a sudden tragedy jolted me back to awareness.

We received news a close friend suffered a tragic, unexpected loss leaving her family reeling in shock. Tragic news has a way of setting seismic shifts in motion. When a friend is in need, all concerns about other matters are dispersed by the call to be of assistance; it does not matter whether this assistance takes the form of action or the gift is simply being present to listen. To be silent and strong when someone feels their world shatter around them, to be the one who can take action when others are immobilized by shock, anger or grief is what it means to “be there” for someone reeling in disbelief at the chaos life has sudden thrown at them.

To be present for others requires us to shift our focus outside ourselves even as we reach within for strength and compassion.

As the priest spoke of departed souls being near in times of loss, three large turkey vultures swooped over the trees. The black messengers circled the graveside gathering of family and friends several times gracefully spiraling higher and higher into the air carrying with them the prayers of the grieving and heart broken.

I no longer pass off such moments as mere coincidence and in the instant of accepting the sign, comfort took form in these words.

Dark raptors soar high

Ancestral spirit blessing

One soul welcomed home

There can be lessons in times of loss. Healing and grace, forgiveness and awakenings, gifts embedded within grief.

Walk gently on the path my friends and  if you too are grieving a loss, may peace settle on your hearts.

Perspective

So fellow travelers, on the road this weekend again and I’m struck by the picturesque contrast of bright spring greens against stark hillsides.

Persistent rain and swaths of fog veiled the views in light too flat for decent photos but I did catch one image at a rest stop on the way to Philly for the weekend’s family brunch to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Cold wet yuck to some

Life giving rain to others

Perspective matters

I’m grateful to be spening the weeken with my Mom, even as I count the days until I can visit with my own daughters whom I miss so much when we gather as a family here. Yet some close to me are struggling with the heartache of loss as Mother’s Day arrives. Whether recent or over years a loss suffered in motherhood or from mothers now gone becomes more acute at times when so many are celebrating. If tears, like rain must come, my wish they bring healing to those whose hearts ache an this healing blesses the life still waiting to be lived.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Rejoice

So fellow travelers, this Easter Fools morning greeted me with a joyous serenade. Sweet notes, bright enough to wake me just before dawn.

As I watched Light gently transform the last shadows of the night through the window I caught a glimpse of orange as the solo songster flew off towards another tree. So clear and bright was his song, I could still discern the notes as they drifted across the greenspace in front of my parents little townhouse. I drove to Philly yesterday to celebrate my Mom’s 88th birthday. My two brothers and their wives (who have become more sisters than sisters-in-law to me) and nieces and nephews and their partners all gatherered around a table toasting the blessing of being family.

Immersed in the glory of it all I uncharacteristically missed grabbing a photo, although when it was time for the cake we did grab a photo op with Mom and the grandkids.

When I shared the photo online a friend asked if it made me miss my daughters. No, I said, not as much anymore. Of course I’d love to have them here, but in their absence being with my nieces and nephews is a joyous experience. They each shine in their own unique ways and the older ones have chosen partners who are so genuine and funny. I feel renewed by their spirit and humor.

It has been a long winter, harsh in ways beyond weather. The silence here in my blog is a measure of its toll. Yet struggles, like seasons, shift and eventually pass. Today’s predawn solo songster found me waking to a heart filled with gratitude, rhythmic words spontaneously taking form, affirming a time of renewal.

The wait feels endless
Light shrouded in mists of doubt
Until robins sing

May the blessings of Spring bring renewal to you all.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

The Twenty-first Crossroad

So fellow travelers, people often speak of kids growing up “in a flash.”

That has not been my experience as a parent.

The passage of three decades from the birth of our first child to this moment of Favorite Youngest Daughter reaching adulthood has felt more like a marathon, one I ran far more willingly than any actual foot race. My husband is the marathon triathlete. I am more likely found on a 5 mile hike than a 5-K run (yes, I am fully aware 5K is actually 3.1 not 5 miles.) But I digress.

Anyone who has undertaken the daunting responsibility of raising kids knows that parenting is not for the faint of heart. Yet nothing in this life I have accomplished has been as rewarding as the adventure of watching our two daughters grow from curious high spirited little girls into creative, independent young women.

 

 

And even as we skyped with Favorite Youngest Daughter last Sunday on her 21st birthday, it’s clear the adventure is far from over. In many ways our lives are beginning a new phase of this grand journey, a stage where my daughters and I relate as women, supporting one another as we take on the dreams and goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Still, as a awesome writer and friend of mine recently blogged “We are never quite the same after someone we’ve loved leaves our everydays.” While Ms Dingle is referring to her grieving the recent passing of a cherished family member, it occurred to me as I read her post I too have been grieving. I realized this process began the morning I left Favorite Youngest Daughter standing on the platform in a train station in Tokyo, two years and six months almost to the day of her recent hall mark birthday.

The memory is a vivid as if it has just happened this morning. I can still feel the effort it took to walk away after giving her a long hug goodbye.  My eyes tear up just as they did that moment,20150831_212415 as I willed myself not to look back, knowing if I did I might run back to stay with her and make the parting impossibly difficult for both of us. This was her moment to step onto the path she had chosen, I had to be strong enough to let go because letting go said “You can do it, I believe in you.”  Still, sitting on the train which would bring me back to our hotel, I had wild thoughts of not getting off, of riding the train until it circled back to her station, of  not going to the airport or getting on the flight that afternoon which would take me and my husband back home. My heart hurt so much I could barely speak when I did arrive at the hotel where my husband had remained to check out while my daughter and I made a pilgrimmage to a sacred memorial which held special meaning for both of us.

In retrospect I see now that was the moment when the heartstrings of full time motherhood fully broke. Yes once a mom, always a mom but from that moment on I would have to learn how to be a long distance mom for both my daughters.

Favorite Youngest Daughter had stepped into independence in a way far different from her older sister. Favorite Older Daughter’s crossing into independence was more gradual, evolved closer to home and by the time she left for college, she had already found her ally and partner for life, the devoted young man I now refer to as Favored Son-in-law. The moment those heart strings began to release came as I watched them get ready for her senior ball. In the way only a mother’s heart can know, I sensed it was a glimpse into her future.

 

 

Our younger daughter’s break from home came as an all-in-one major leap of faith which took her half way around the world for her first solo flight. She has never looked back. Oh, she’s been home a few times and those visits have been deeply rewarding, as have our visits to Portland each summer when we reconnect as a family with our older daughter and her husband.

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Recently the inevitable goodbyes felt surprisingly harder; I hugged my kids tighter, longer, my tears stung sharper. Insights from my friend’s writing granted me a fuller awareness of the grief embedded in this change from full time motherhood to long distance mom. Looking back I find it’s been there in my writing for a while.

With clarity comes the gifts of perspective and acceptance. Those “everydays” Lisa writes about are the void we must reframe and reclaim as our own and as I said before, our adventures as women on life’s path are far from over. Acceptance allows me to see the sign posts pointing the way to undiscovered adventures and whether I walk those paths alone or with friends and family I am eager to set forth on this next stage of my own journey.

 

 

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See you on the trails.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 

 

Inside Out

So fellow travelers, I’ve been feeling besieged by storms of many origins.

Outside the wind howls

Ice pelts windows while inside

Faith flickers but holds

Truth is I miss my daughters

I miss my backyard birds

I miss my favorite trails

I miss my sanity

Well not entirely, not yet.

There’s some still left holding on by a few threads strengthened by revelations shared from the hearts of others.

Wisdom and hope, beacons of truth and insight like lanterns illuminating a dark passage.

Where there is will there is a way.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Leaving a Light on Always

So fellow travelers, tomorrow Favorite Youngest Daughter wings her way West again.

This parting is stretching my heartstrings more intensely than before. I know it is because her path forward from here is less defined than a Mother’s mind is comfortable with. Yet deep in my soul I also believe by following her heart she is making her best choice  and I am committed to sending her on her way feeling supported and loved.

 

Beyond darkness Light

The comforting warmth of Home

Love is always here

 

 

There’s no greater gift we can give each other than our acceptance. When our children reach the time where our paths diverge we stand at that crossroad, holding hope in our hearts that everything we have given will hold them steady in their journey. Knowing all choices hold challenges, we pray what wisdom and strength we have passed along provides them the resiliency they need to live their dreams.  So I will invoke the armor of love to surround my daughter as I wrap her in an until-next-time hug.

Then both of us will shoulder our packs and head out to explore the adventures calling us onward.

 

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 


The Last Shall Be First

So fellow travelers, we have arrived back home after a long circuit of family visits for the holidays. Most of the drive was a tense journey on slippery, slushy roads through misty bands of wind driven snow. (God bless my husband for driving.) It felt like a very appropriate metaphor for the stressful twists and turns which made this past year such a challenge to navigate.

But there were moments of glorious adventure, great joy and earnest personal insights too. Just like the weekend’s cherished moments with family, the year now counting itself down brought gifts of love and laughter to ease the pangs of change and loss.

A bright full moon followed us on our drive home this evening and I realized this full moon is both the last full moon of 2017 and the first full moon of 2018. It too is a metaphor for my mind so full of thoughts about the coming year. To be honest I feel a bit of uneasiness regarding what lies ahead in the months to come although there is more hope in the mix than I felt a year ago.  There are many elements I am more than ready to leave behind when I change the calendar pages at midnight and there are lessons to carry forward to fortify the resiliency so essential to thriving in troubled times.

The last being first and first being last, are remnant puzzles from my Sunday School years, left unsolved by college comparative religion classes and only slightly clarified by meditative reflection on the yin-yang continuity of life’s ebb and flow.  What I know now is simply this.  What will be will be and when what is falls beyond our control, all we are left to master is our response to it. Our response may be the only choice we have in some circumstances, but it is also the most crucial choice we make because it creates the framework of how those circumstances affect us and how we in turn affect others.

So I have chosen to carry just one resolution with me as I cross this Light bridge created by last and first moons: this year I intend to be mindfully present in as many moments as I can, to experience these moments as fully as possible as they happen, unfiltered by past judgement or future concerns.

To that intent, a simple haiku for the moons of 2017-18.

So first shall be last  

The fullness of an ending

Beginning afresh

Happy New Year fellow travelers. Thank you for joining me along the way. 

Walk gently on the path my friends and as always, may the adventure of this coming year find you ready.

 

 

 

Zen Moment: Deep Freeze Sunrise 

So fellow travelers,  a deep cold  snap has settled over our humble home.

My little pond has become a skating rink for the resident squirrels who slide across the surface to drink from little pool which forms around the heated aerators. Below the ice, fish sleep suspended in hibernation until Spring.

Last night when howling winds woke me I thought I was hearing voices singing. The clock showed just past 3am but no ghosts of Christmases past, present or future appeared. Still the eerie chorus must have echoed in my sleep, strange images swirled in my dreams until dawn, fueled a bit by the dynamics of  processing the stress from the last month at work and balancing the logistics of family gatherings throughout the holidays.

I’ve been feeling the impact of some personal losses this season too so when I caught the radiant light of sunrise this morning it stirred a desperate longing for peace giving words to this haiku styled prayer.

 

I want to believe

In every sunrise promise

Dig deeper for faith

Breathe in reach for hope

Deep in my soul I know each of us will find our way forward through challenging times.  We have strong bonds of love woven by family and friends near and far. A new year is coming and although it is “just a flip of a page on the calendar,” as someone rather jaded recently pointed out, for me at least it is still a chance to review our direction and reset our course as needed.

The glowing Light of sunrise is my daily reminder every day brings the hope and promise of  a new beginning.  I will greet this coming year holding strong in my resolve to believe the journey always brings us to where we belong.

 

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 

Christmas 2017

So fellow travelers, the last of our Candle Night lights has been lit.

Christmas Day has come.

Beautifully wrapped gifts from my dear friend Lisa.

There will be gifts and greetings shared with family near and far. We will linger over hearty meals and hugs. Thanks to the technology  of Skype we will be together with all our kids for a little while later today.

Outside winter winds howl and lake effect snow adds more and more inches to the holiday card scenes in my yard but no weather can lessen the warmth and Light of the joy in my heart on this blessed morning.

Treasured ornaments

Lifelong memories shine bright

Bringing peace and joy

Walk gently on the path my friends and may blessings of the season go always with you.

Winter Solstice Reflection

So fellow travelers, its easy to lose ones bearings when navigating the maze of life….so many twists and turns, too many conflicting directives and confusing maps which lead us everywhere but where we truly need to be. Yet all we need to find our way back to our true path is just a glimpse of light.

 

You have wandered so long

misguided by trail markers and maps meant for others

when darkness heightens awareness of how far off path you meandered 

you had forgotten you are lost 

until a distant glimmer of light beckons you home.

 

 

 

 

As long we have someone who dares enough to hold love in their hearts for us there is always hope we will find our way.

Walk gently on the path my friends, blessings of the solstice be with you all