Lighting Their Path

So fellow travelers, this last day of a long hard school year is filled with some tough goodbyes.

There are always shifts in staffing at the end of each year. This time around those shifts are hitting a group of friends pretty hard.

Today’s goodbyes are a reminder of another parting tugging at this Mom’s heartstrings. Rather than dwell on what’s to come I want to be deeply present in the time remaining.

This Zen moment from an evening spent with Favorite Younger Daughter at a traveling exhibit brought these words to Light.

Finding the courage

To send young ones on their way

Mothers love stay strong

Being present in the moments we have for as long as I can and finding joy in simple things like a walk through magical lanterns of Light.

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

Threads

So fellow travelers, the importance of family has framed many of the choices I’ve made. Those choices have in turn directed which paths I followed on this journey.

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Navigating crossroads is rarely easy. In times when we struggle against an inevitable change, our resistance can blind us to possible options. Other times we are so to open new experiences, the options quickly become an overwhelming muddle of open ended questions with no clear direction. Either way a kind of mental-emotional paralysis sets in requiring some outside assistance to help us move forward.

As the mother of two bright, independent, strong willed daughters who are now in their twenties, I try to be an ally as they navigate the twists and turns of their adventurous lives. Sometimes that means taking a deep breath and standing in quiet support alongside them at a key crossroads. Nearly six decades of life experience might give me some perspective that things have a way of working out, yet I have not forgotten the feeling of uncertainty embedded my own crossroad moments.

Threads of life experience tie us together as a family. On Father’s Day evening, Favorite Older Daughter skyped with us from the top of a trail where she and some friends were rock climbing. I listened with a full heart to the passion in her voice as she described their hike and climbing adventure.

Up she goes (Photo Credit Mike Goris) This is not the spot she was skyping from. It’s a shot from a climb on a different day.

The next morning I captured this moment between my mom and Favorite Younger Daughter who is visiting for a few weeks.

 Her visit home feels like a long cool drink drawn from a deep well after a hard journey. Long distance motherhood is a tough gig. I am grateful for the precious time together. It strengthens the sacred threads which secure our hearts in love.

More than memories

The past becomes a compass

Future paths unfold

 

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

 



Camping with memories

So fellow travelers, found this golden washed view of a day’s end in my “drafts and edit” file. It was an auspicious moment which blessed a camping trip taken last year with a dear friend soon after my mother-in-law died.

It captures some of the feeling I am often struck by when a trail brings me to a spot of magical Light.

I remember coming out of the woods to this view released a flood of emotions. It was so reminiscent of the many old postcards we found that summer when clearing out my mother-in-law’s house. The moment gave rise to deep thoughts about the long process of shifting through the mountains of things collected everywhere; my mother-in-law, God bless her, had thrown almost nothing away. Ambushes of memories and emotions were embedded everywhere, many of them dark and sad, yet there was also much love and joy and healing, oh so much healing in that process of release.

It has been a year since Joan left this life. Time and memory are tricksters of the heart and mind. The year which has passed since both daughters and our son-in-law flew home to bid their Grandmother goodbye has a distorted feeling, like an image viewed in a carnival mirror. Parts passed by so quickly the recollections are blurred, others extended so slowly the effect is painfully distorted.  Even though he rarely speaks of it, I know my husband misses his Mom and the fractures in his family left by her death are growing deeper. I am grateful one of our daughters will be coming home to visit later this week and we will be visiting my family over Father’s Day weekend.  My family is far from perfect, yet we stand by each other, just as my daughters stood with me in the church when I read the words I had written to honor Joan’s memory.

Dawn comes darkness fades

Pain becomes mere memory

Light calls Welcome Home

We are all in one way or another, together or alone, seeking the path which leads Home.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may peace bless your journey.

 

 

Solitary Loonacy: One Bird at a Time

So fellow travelers, the preliminary tally results from last weekend’s birding marathon just came out.

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While my final tally of 73 species is not in the top ten on the team list, I felt a little swell of pride seeing my tally listed higher than several teams of seasoned birders. Not a bad showing for my first solo “flight,” given the challenges of being afield without my longtime Birdathon teammate aka Favorite Younger Daughter.

Little did I know how sparsely scattered those tallied sightings would be. Our basic strategy has always been to hit known hotspots as early as possible giving us the option to track unusual sightings at locations in between throughout the day.

Those hot spots were unusually quiet, missing many of the songbirds that pass through during migration season.  In most of these spots I would find more memories than birds.

Sterling Nature Center Heron Rookery where Team Loonatics scored our first owl sighting last year.

So I spent a lot of time scouting side trails and second guessing possible back up locations. Some sightings of more common species I probably missed because I could not simultaneously drive and watch along the roadside. There’s where that second pair of eyes has always been a crucial part of our teamwork.

Perhaps more than any individual sighting my most significant discovery on this solo quest was the joy embedded in the process we had laid down in our years as a Mother-Daughter birding team. My fellow Loonatic may have been several thousand miles away yet her spirit echoed in every favorite moment of this solo run.

Hidden in plain sight

One bird’s song gives voice to love

Echoes in my heart

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

 

Solitary Loonacy: First Solo Flight

So fellow travelers, a year ago I posted a photo and poem about a  heartfelt moment during an annual birding expedition with Favorite Youngest Daughter. This weekend I returned to that spot and captured this image.

It was my first stop on this year’s Birdathon challenge, an annual event I joined for the first time in 2005. ( it’s background is in a previous post too) . As excellent a spot as Potter Road Marsh can be for birding, I had a more personal reason for starting my day’s adventure there. Like the mist on the water that morning a year ago, emotions embedded in the moment I had captured drifted through my consciousness as I prepared for this year’s expedition.

For the first time in ten years I would be flying solo. I had no illusions of breaking our tally record of one hundred and one species without my Team Loonatics partner, Favorite Youngest Daughter, whose expert ear for both pitch and cadence and accurate note taking skills were a major contribution to our final tallies. Still I had strong hopes of being able to find most of the species I could confidently identify independently and I wanted to fuel my “can do” attittude by starting the 24 hour challenge at the spot where inspiration had left a powerful memory.

Windows wide open inspite of the chilly morning temperatures, I drove towards the marsh, counting every song I heard along the way.  By the time I reached the trailhead just fifteen minutes from my house I had tallied nine common birds which I carefully marked on the checklist. Bear in mind first light was just emerging through cracks in the night sky, so I was finding birds only by calls

Stepping out of my car, I heard the sweet melodic song of a wood thrush, so loud and clear, I knew it had to be close to the trail head.  Binoculars in one hand, I moved along the trail as soundlessly as possible. Just a few steps past the trailhead I found the bird sitting in plain sight on a tree branch a few feet above me, so close I never had to raise my binoculars, I had such a clear view. Clear that is until sudden tears blurred my vision, ambushed by a memory from one of our first birdathon trips when a wood thrush had hopped out of the brush and onto a trail right in front of us. My daughter and I instantly froze in place and watched as the bird tilted its head as if looking quizically at these odd big shapes in the path. It hopped a few more steps then flew up into a tree and sang it’s signature flute like melody loud and clear before retreating deeper in the woods.

Left speechless, it had taken me a few breaths to answer my then ten year old daughter’s question of what bird that had been. Inspite of finding wood thrushes many times before, an actual sighting had always eluded me.  I remember, as a new birder taking a guided walk at a local nature center where everyone in the group I was with was able to spot a wood thrush in the trees. Everyone, but me that is, as the elusive songster kept zipping from branch to branch hidden behind leaves as I frantically focused and refocused my binoculars to get a clear view.  This “heard clearly, almost but not quite saw it,” moment was repeated for several years over many auditory encounters until that first full view on our second Birdathon adventure. The wonderful memory of that shared moment rose as clear as the notes filling the morning air and I whispered just as I had ten years ago “wood thrush, it’s really and truly a wood thrush.”

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Wood Thrush song spectrogram from Birds of North Ameirca Online; music from Oiseaux Exotiques © 1959 Universal Edition (London) Ltd., London/UE 13008. Photo by Janet Heintz via Birdshare.

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

A Hug from Heaven

So fellow travelers, as Mother’s Day dawns soon, I am mindful of what a gift it is spend the day with my Mom. For those I know whose Moms have left this life,  these words are my gift for you and your Angels.

The sun never sets

on a mother’s love she lives

always in our hearts

Walk gently on the path my friends and may simple joy bless your journey.

Rain

So fellow travelers, a breach of trust is hard to overcome.

Time heals all wounds. Sometimes rain helps the process.

Angels’ tears fall as

Life giving rain gracious gift

Hope for those who thirst

Walk gently on the path my friends and may simple joy bless your journey. 

Zen Moment Sunburst

So fellow travelers, lately the emotions of long distance love have stretched some heartstrings to near break point.

When family fills your heart, miles bridging months expanding into years sometime seem vast beyond reason. More so when one’s immediate purpose has lost its drive.

I’ve always said I never wanted to become one of those ghosts who show up at the door just to get in the hours to hit some designated benchmark. That is not who I am.

Which is why I’m struggling to redefine the meaning in my work day situations.

Then a bit of Light breaks through the dense fog of uncertainty and wakes my spirit with this

Sunburst after rain

Memory of a moment

Love arcing through time

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One moment of magic reminds me joy need not wait.

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

Stand Up

We believe kindness cannot sit down simply because anger has stood up.”  Penzeys*

So fellow travelers, recent dialogues on various social media forums has given rise to much conflict.  There’s been some collateral damage, fractured relationships and unraveling of connections. Yet within my own circle of close friends and family, we seem to have weathered the storm of uncertain times. I’ve been pondering why.

And then someone left a comment on a post I shared which contained an article about a respected civil rights leader being discounted and belitted by another elected official. Up to that point I had considered it an act of kindness to quietly remove negative, ill-informed comments, which have thankfully been rare on most of my forums. To date, I simply removed those comments without responding, although it often left me wondering if people fully grasped what their negative comments reflected about them. I try to be mindful of “casting the first stone,” we all have our flaws.  

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Love is always there, sometimes we have to look closely.

It was not the negative tone of the comment which coalesced my thoughts. It was the willingness to post without regard for the truthfulness of their comment. Worse yet it came from someone I respected, someone I thought would know enough to vet their information more thoroughly rather than simply pass along an inaccurate “headline.”

I’m not against engaging in a thoughtful exchange of opposing ideas when the content is accurate and free from personal attack towards me, other individuals or groups of fellow humans. I feel it is important to note my circle does encompass a fairly broad range of ideological stances. I firmly believe understanding different perspectives is essential in embracing the wonderful diversity of human society.

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 How boring our world would be if we were all the same. Wall collage, Portland Oregon 

I was the subject of a fair amount of bullying as a “half-breed” kid in a very white neighborhood. I may have forgiven but rest assured I never forgotten the sting of those taunts. Now, as a mixed race, internationally educated woman who works with special needs students I strive for acceptance and tolerance. I do my best to keep a positive focus in what I publish here. I’m not trying to minimize the issues, indeed its quite the opposite.  In truth I feel there’s enough negativity to fill the Grand Canyon out there. My feeling is “Let’s not add to it here.”

I said the same on my Facebook page, which I also try to keep focused on positive perspectives and action with a healthy dash of irreverent humor. Heaven knows if we can’t laugh at ourselves from time to time we truly have lost our way.

So I felt the time had come to post some clearly defined boundaries on my page. I am deeply grateful the majority of friends in my social media circles don’t need those reminders. I asked simply for comments to be respectful, accurate and kind. If it’s not something one would say face to face to someone else, then it is not welcome on my feed.

Kindness matters, to me, to our society, to our world. Going forward I hope to see it expand and shine hope into an increasingly uncertain future.

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

 

*The opening quote came from a post on Penzeys Spices web page.  The post goes on to say  “It’s simply not enough to point and say “Can’t you see what they’re doing here?” In the long run you have to offer people a better vision of the future, a vision they want more. ” and they walk their talk. I’m glad I found them.

At a Crossroad, Again

So fellow travelers, thanks to freezing rain,  I have been given the rare gift of a few extra hours this morning before I have to slide into work.  Since the call from our district office came just as I was headed to the garage to pull out my car, obviously I’m a cup of coffee or two past going back to bed.

So my dog and I are taking advantage of the chance to watch the sunrise create a beautiful painting framed perfectly by the large picture window in our living room.

Angels watching the sun rise

Since the first day of this year, any time I have been graced with a clear view of sunrise or sunset, I’ve felt a deep sorrow in my heart. I’ve felt strong emotion at day’s beginnings and endings before, as the significance of each passing day rises to my  awareness.

This is a different experience, broader in range, stretching further into the future, reaching deeper into my soul. This time, the effects of impending change impact a much wider circle than me and my immediate family.

 I am not one to take a “things are ok in my life, so no need to worry” stance. Nor am I prone to give in to the alarmist doom and gloom headlines that have become increasingly pervasive. I am made of stronger stuff or so I thought until the plot twists of history shook my faith in my fellow citizens, some of whom I consider friends or call family.

This morning, given the grace of a few extra hours to process those feelings which rose with the sun, I confronted the sense of foreboding head on.  Words heard last night echoed in my memory and it finally hit me, 

Eight years ago, we did “change the world.” We changed it enough to create the angry push back we see now. Bully tactics are cruel but lack the lasting power of true community; such systems eventually collapse under their own weight. 

In the meantime, anyone who is resolved to create a community of equality and freedom for all who seek will need to stand firm in the face of injustice and misinformation. Already, there are signs the push back to authoritarian rule may not have as much support as feared. As a true leader just quoted his wise mother  Reality has a way of catching up with you.”

So, while the colors of sunrise melded with the grey winter sky, I sat down to write. I did not make any New Years resolutions this year, yet I see clearly my ability to focus was clouded by fear.  Now I see, I feel and I know the task before me.

As we cycle back through this spiral, I am resolved to deepen my practice of compassion. I will seek out every opportunity to make a difference, to bring hope to those in need. And when reality hits hard, I will  extend a hand in kindness, reaching out across dividing lines with compassion. I know I cannot address every issue that will raise it’s ugly head, but I can find my points of focus and begin there.

A year ago I stood at a crossroad and made a choice to walk away from a path which wandered too often into personal  darkness. Today I stand a week away from another turning point. As a member of a spirited community of honest creators of Light I feel empowered to yet again choose the path of hope.

Anger may have taken the wheel for a few years, but it won’t be my driver . 

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