‘Til we meet again……

So fellow travelers, this 31st and last day of August 2020 brought me to a gathering at the beautiful Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse to mark the passing of a friend and colleague.

The last time most of us gathered together was 13 years ago when we threw Jim a 50th birthday party at the assisted living center he had moved to. Jim had Multiple Sclerosis. In the ten years I worked in Video Production I never saw him once give ground to it, no matter how hard he had to push to get things done. He ran the video department for the Catholic Diocese with a commitment inspiring to see and he brought that same focus and energy to the hundreds of hours he spent on our local cable television crew. I had the great fortune to share the sometimes wild and wacky experiences of all kinds of productions from local studio talk shows and Common Council meetings to bigger more exciting events like the NYS Empire Games and SU basketball loud and live in the Carrier Dome.

Jim was perhaps the only person on our production team who could out talk me in a conversation. If you’ve met me you know that’s a Herculean feat of verbal aptitude. As differently-abled as his body might have been, Jim’s wit and memory for detail was unparalleled. It hurts my heart to know his final years were steeped in struggle and at times great isolation. When reflecting back on my own 63 years, I often say I have no regrets; with Jim’s passing I can no longer say that with absolute conviction. While we stayed in contact through social media, I wish I had been able to connect with him in person one more time.

Ironically, just last week. sorting through photo albums (a project I started back when quarantine kept me homebound last spring) I had come across an album with dozens of photos from those video crew days. There are no coincidences right? When the Facebook message thread posted with news of Jim’s death, I added a couple of the photos he was in.

And when our small group of friends met at the Cathedral, the memories we shared brought Jim back full circle to those days when he would jump down from the back of the production truck, saying “I got it,” and dash off to get whatever was needed at that moment. And while my friends caught up on where other members of the crew are now and shared our current life details from kids to career changes it dawned on me how much of who I am today is rooted in the friendships and experiences of my past. How blessed I am to have shared so many amazing experiences with truly good people throughout my life.

If who we are now
is the sum of all days past
friendships count the most

Somehow I don’t envision our friend Jim “resting in peace” wherever his Spirit moves now; in fact I expect some Universal project just found it’s new on site manager and God can expect major progress is gonna happen. So stand straight as you finally walk free, my friend. Laugh long and loud among those night stars, I promise I will be listening.

James Funson August 4 1957 – August 14 2020

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way.

Insights for a New Decade

So fellow travelers, this has been a busier than usual holiday season for which I am grateful to have had a full two weeks off from work.

In between road trips to visit family, I have managed to rearrange several rooms in our house. My efforts have allowed me to resurrect my pilates machine, reclaim art studio space with good daylight and establish a new meditation and yoga space.

I’ve been honoring this last gift by spending time every morning reflecting on the passing year and clearing out any burdens I choose not to carry forward as I set intentions for the new year.
(This photo is the spot in my parents townhouse where my Mom meditates and says her ancestral prayers each day.)

Entering this shiny new decade free from past hurts, resentments, guilt or regrets is a gift we can only give to ourselves. I have been trying to write about this (in between packing up Christmas, moving furniture and clearing out clutter) but it came out sounding too diadactic.

Then friend and fellow blogger Lisa Dingle put up a blog post which embodied what I was trying to say- only absolutely on point with her signature Light touch and good humor. You can find her post here https://justponderin.com/2020/01/03/on-my-cup-and-the-new-year/

Synchronicity struck as I read Lisa’s post right after writing my own intentions for this new decade on the first blank pages of my 2020 journal. Intentions which revolve around making choices which will fill my own cup with less judgement and more tolerance and compassion, as much for myself as for others because we cannot give what we do not hold for ourselves. So I raise a cup in a toast of united commitment to “doing the work.” Here’s to the spillage bringing more hope and joy into our weary world.

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

Christmastide

So fellow travelers, Christmas morning dawns today with radiant Light

Although our kids will not be with us this year, I am profoundly happy they are celebrating together in PDX and we will open presents with them via Skype later today.
And I am deeply grateful to be at my parents’ home for Christmas this year.

It has been over thirty years since I opened presents with my parents on Christmas morning. Back in 1986 they joined me and my husband for our first Christmas in our new house in Upstate New York- the house we still call home, where we raised our daughters creating so many special Christmas memories over the years.

This afternoon our kids will join the family gathering at my brother’s home to share Christmas greetings via video on our phones. I am grateful for the technology which will make it possible to be connected when I might otherwise feel so far away from them. It is a distance which I plan to bridge in the coming year.

As I watched the sun rise through the window where my parents little tree glowed surrounded by many presents, words of gratitude began to speak from deep in my heart.

Of all the gifts beneath the tree
I know the best is yet to be
For later on our family
will gather with much revelry
Joy and laughter will resound with
presents passing all around and
warm thank you hugs we will exchange
and pause to reach for who remains
as memories within our hearts
be near or far, no distance parts
for Love transcends and outlasts time
the greatest gift to yours and mine.

Walk gently on the path my fellow travelers and may this season of Light bless you and yours with peace and love and joy.

Home Away from Home

So fellow travelers, this weekend brought a much needed road trip through beautiful snow kissed valleys and mountains


and, more essentially, some greatly appreciated time with several good friends . Which is why my favorites views on this trip were actually from two different windows

Sunrise at the Quarry

Morning at the foot of Mt Monadnock

To visit the homes of dear friends who have always made me feel “at home” was a respite my work weary spirit was grateful for. I may write more about this trip but for now this haiku will express my gratitude

A new place and yet
instantly you feel at home
friendship’s sacred gift

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

Orion’s Return

So fellow travelers, a few weeks ago I received a reminder from Earth Sky (an astronomy news site I subscribe to) that Orion will be returning to the evening sky.

Orion is the hero of our dark winter skies, shining valiantly through the bittercold nights which seem to last an eternity. His reappearance is my reminder that Light prevails even in the season of deep cold darkness.  And ever since my good friend Kate wrote a poem which featured Orion, he also stands as a reminder of the gift of solid friendships; to see him rising on a cold night fills my heart with warm memories. Ours is that rare kind of friendship which picks up right where we last hugged goodbye, impervious to time or distance.

Sunset view from one of our adventures

Today in honor of her solar return ( aka birthday ) the stars at dawn gave me these words to wish her well.

Orion returns 
behind him winter lurks but
friendship keeps us warm

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready
You can follow Kate’s poetic journeys at her blog Life with Horace

Back to the Beginning

So fellow travelers, back home from the last road trip of the summer, which brought me to the summit of several mountain trails.


Red Hill Fire Tower, one of two fire tower hikes accomplished this week.

Today, a turn of a calendar page, September arrives and just like that, summer adventures give way to another school year.  Back to the Beginning* we go.

Reflecting back on summer, it has packed so many good memories and peak experiences it somehow feels more than just ten weeks have passed. A measure perhaps of coming to the end of 73 days feeling satisfied not only with what I’ve done, but more essentially with how I lived those days. 

New friends

Time with family

Precious memories from a memorable event

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Even a few wishes granted

Side Stage at the Fillmore, in Philadelphia PA. Watching Switchfoot on stage from the stage was incredible. Best view of Chad’s drumming in 13 concerts! Yes, my favorite humans even staged a snowball fight as a nod to the snowed out concert last February. And finally getting to see one of Jon’s legendary after shows, singing along with so many other people- community, FAMILY at its best.

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Remarkably, this summer did not feel as if it flew by too quickly, making it unique to every previous summer I can remember.  The pace of life felt just right- a benefit perhaps to a conscious choice I made to live these months as if I am retired.

 Not that every day was perfect; mid-August brought an unexpected challenge in a long standing friendship which caught me off guard. Although the dynamics were not within my direct family, the fallout rippled through close relationships with people as dear to me as family. Navigating the emotional war zone felt like walking through a minefield, one wrong step and the collateral damage could be brutal.  

Or not.

The abandoned Overlook Hotel near the summit of Overlook Mountain

I could instead choose to not engage in the conflict, to honor my boundaries and create space for me to stay true to myself. 

Angry confrontations never resolve conflicts but choosing not to engage in confrontation is often seen as a sign of weakness. “Man-up” people say as if this stereotypical frame for confrontation as being “manly” aka “powerful and strong,” makes it more acceptable. It’s an expression which, if used in ernest, all but eliminates any respect I might have for someone.

Words spoken from anger rise from fear and people given to confrontation are always driven by their fears. Everyone is afraid and if we refuse to face those fears they become our Achilles heel.  Like an untreated wound, unknown fears will fester and eventually poison our choices with toxic dysfunction. Fear also blinds us to the goodness in our lives. It can harden our hearts and prevent us from giving and receiving love.

View from Overlook Mountain Fire Tower, a 1450 ft ascent, 3hrs 5min of hiking, 5.1 miles roundtrip and worth every step.

Sometimes the hardest crossroads are the ones where we must part ways from someone we care for deeply, yet we can continue to love them even as we move forward on our own journey, knowing they too can make a choice to change and healing will come. Standing in the shadow between then and now, I am grateful for the peace and strength gathered on this summer’s journeys. 

New season, new beginnings, let the adventures begin again.

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

*Back to the Beginning is one of my favorite songs by ( of course ) Switchfoot. I may not surf but it has carried me through waves of many changes.

After the Storm

So fellow travelers, it has been a week of intense storms.

This afternoon a dark, violent outburst flung powerful cracks of lightning with thunder claps close enough to rattle windows throughout the house. Thankfully a quick survey of the yard revealed no damage other than a few large branches down here and there.

As sunlight breached a gap in the dispersing clouds, raindrops glistened everywhere in my garden while chirping goldfinches descended on a patch of diamond studded sunflowers.

Rain storms cease and now

Only soothing bird songs fall

From newly washed trees

There have been storms of a human nature around me as well, fall out from long standing issues with which I am not directly involved, but find myself deeply concerned for the emotional well being of people I care for as much as my own family.

Just like physical injuries, neglected emotional wounds fester and mar our ability to engage in healthy relationships. Unresolved trauma and grief give rise to fear which often explodes as anger. Anger blinds us to the consequences of words spoken in fury; trust shatters, hearts fracture, bonds break. Only the power of love can call us back from the brink and only if we stop raging long enough to hear and heed that call.

Someone has to dare raise a voice, perhaps more forcefully than expected, to be heard above the raging storm. Stop! Listen! Anger, like thunder, is a warning to disengage, seek refuge, find safe haven. Let the storm pass, let tears bring relief, so the wounds of the past can finally begin healing and love shine like diamonds of cleansing rain.

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


Warrior Mothers

So fellow travelers, surrounded by family and friends, two of my dearest friends were married yesterday.

Favorite youngest daughter flew in from Portland to be here for this long anticipated event and her help with the venue decorating and floral arrangements was a tremendous blessing.

The ceremony took place in a peaceful little grove of birch trees, leaves dancing gracefully in the wind. Grandkids and nieces greeted guests, filled and handed out paper cones with birdseed, read poems, carried rings, scattered flowers, rang bells and made a rainbow with celebration flags.

In a day filled with sweet, funny, joyous moments, my favorite is this one

Ashley drove 3,000 miles, across the country in a van with her four children, aged 2 to 11 to be here for this special day. She is brave, determined and yes, more than a little crazy and she is my hero for undertaking a trip most people would find far too daunting to even consider, for perservering through check engine lights and bad motels and for maintaining a miraculously positive perspective through each long day.

These words are for her and for her Mom, my dear friend Lisa. who raised this fierce warrior Mom

Warrior mothers

iron wills

open arms

fierce intention

tender hearts

raising bright comets who race across the skies of time

and shine like beacon stars to guide us forward.

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

Tidal Wave

” A tidal wave is a regularly reoccurring shallow water wave caused by effects of the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth on the ocean. The term “tidal wave” is often used to refer to tsunamis; however, this reference is incorrect as tsunamis have nothing to do with tides. ” NOAA Ocean Facts

So fellow travelers, the weekend has been filled with the sound of surf and woodland bird songs. The unique combination has stirred thoughts of both home and my week in California with my Switchfoot Family.

Bird songs familiar yet not quite recognized, rise from the pines and seagrasses like images from a dream fading all too quickly, things almost known but not quite grasped before waking.

“Back home” feels more here than where I will be returning in a week.

The sound of surf grows louder with the incoming tide. Emotions rise and swell in waves, my thoughts drifting like pieces of seaweed pushed and pulled by the force of changes underway.

and through it all runs Switchfoot’s music, songs which have become the soundtrack of my journey.

These are songs which over a decade have made hope “the anthem of my soul” and the week I get to spend with the band has become a time for renewal of Spirit punctuated by bright notes of joyful moments with old and new friends. This community becomes more like family each time we gather. It is a reflection of the honest, generous, compassionate, fun loving band of musical brothers who live their faithby example rather than preach from a stage. These guys remain truly humble through success and solidly rooted in family values. And suddenly, in the heartfelt conversations, there it is

Family

the beacon in the harbor where I have set my sights on dropping anchor in the coming year…

and thanks to the inspiration of these five amazing humans I know I will be able to navigate the tidal currents between now and then.

Some favorite moments

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

Blessed by Love

So fellow travelers, here’s my view for the weekend ~

We are on the Washington Coast celebrating Favorite Older Daughter’s birthday. Surrounded by family, dogs included, I cannot imagine a better setting for honoring three amazing decades of joy, learning, laughter and love Favorite Oldest Daughter has brought into our lives.

Time flies one two three

days or decades blessed by love

may your dreams come true

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