Zen Moment: Sunset Calls

So fellow travelers, it is sunny and 53° (F)  outside today.

It’s also December 3rd.

About two weeks ago when a deep plunge in temperatures brought an early round of Lake Effect snow, the garden around the edge of my pond took on an early air of Christmas decor.

Today, I spent most of the day clearing out the remnants of the prolonged garden season and tending to a little bonfire in the backyard fire pit where I was burning off the piles of yard debris and many branches which had come down during recent windy days.

All around me, little birds chattered at a few lingering blue jays demanding their turn at the feeders I filled just this morning.  Every now and then the nasal “hwonk hwonk” of our resident nuthatch could be heard as it dug into the fresh suet I’d also put out. As temperatures have begun to dip down to freezing most nights, I’m mindful of keeping the feeders stocked with sunflower seeds and suet to provide good energy to help my feathered tenants and visitors refuel after the long cold nights.

Days end so quickly now, as the Solstice approaches, that I am often caught off guard when shades of pink, gold and purple begin to tint the drifting clouds overhead.  Today, when I caught the firstglimpse of color I jumped in my Rav and dashed down the road to a field where I knew I would catch a clear view of the setting sun . I was rewarded with this image.

After getting a few photos, I sat in my car and watched the sun sink below the treeline, painting a thin red orange line of light along the horizon.  For the first time in several days I felt completely in the moment and totally at peace.

I’ve reached that point of the work year where I am feeling the full impact from the loss of the daily writing time my summer break allows me to follow.  I’ve been struggling with a few different pieces of writing for a few weeks, pushing myself to finish something I felt was post worthy, but whatever I was trying to say was encumbered by undefined purpose and heavy emotions. As I drove home with the zen of this moment still wrapped around me like a forgiving hug, I gave myself permission to simply sit down and write about this and leave the other pieces be.  In time they will either coalesce or not.

Meanwhile, I will be more mindful of being present in the simple moments of joy, reminding myself they matter more than the “shoulds” on the “get done” list I might impose on myself.  Which reminds me the last full moon of the year is about to rise.  I’ve got some more joy to fit in before this day is done.

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

 

 

 

 

Window in the Sky

So fellow travelers, Zen moment framed by the trees at sunrise this morning. Yeah, I am up and out with our dog that early.

Window in the sky

First light bird songs remind us

Seek another way

At any given moment we can make a choice to respond differently. A slight shift in perspective can make a substantial difference and help us break free from reactive patterns, sense the pain in someone else’s anger and choose to not add to it, or accept the blessings in early morning wake up calls.

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

Reaching

So fellow travelers, challenges at work are on the rise right now. Mindful of the toll stress took on my physical, mental and emotional well being last school year, I’m striving to counter act it’s effects proactively.

During my recovery this summer, I learned how significant simple moments can be and how important it is to attend to them by being present in those moments.

Moments like seeing light streaming in a window after a tough session with a student struggling to get through the day.

Reaching for sunlight

Plants know to turn from darkness

Learn from Nature’s ways

Focus on positives, use what’s working well to move forward one step at a time and for the joy in those moments of Light.

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

Zen moment : Glimmers

So fellow travelers, November is living up to it’s reputation as a cold, grey month. The slightest hint of sunlight sends me dashing outside to capture what Light I can.

A break in the clouds

Leaves hold a golden moment

Hope infused our hearts

When we catch a brief glimmer of hope, we must dare to take that thread and weave it into a possibility for healing and change. Our world is greatly in need of those threads of possibility. Gather and share them whenever and wherever you can.

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

Zen Moment : Milkweed

via Daily Prompt: Surreal

So fellow travelers, the WordPress blog prompt for today is the word “surreal.”

 

One experience from a few days ago immediately came to mind, as did several images I’ve captured recently. There is something about the way light can transform an ordinary object, like a milkweed plant so it generates an ethereal feeling in which significant messages are embedded

The change of seasons

Continuity of life

Illumination of hidden hopes

all these contained in the tiniest of seeds

Given the choice between a surrealistic ride in an ambulance where the future morphs into to blurry question mark or the surrealism of sunlit milkweed casting seeds of hope I’m going with the milkweed

Life’s too short not to bet on hope.

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

Zen Moment: Park Bench

So fellow travelers, warm weather continues to linger and I’ll take it in as long as I can.

Yesterday a passing front left behind dramatic clouds, promising photo ops worth the drive to the other end of the lakefront park where Delilah and I often walk. It’s not far, but that end of the park is often more crowded and I usually prefer the quiet trails closer to my house. They are a go to spot for sorting through a challenging day’s residual impacts.

Delilah was delighted to have some new critter dens to explore while I stood in awe of the gallery which greeted my senses. The lake and sky had outdone themselves in creating canvases of light.

The smell of autumn leaves filled the air, a light breeze brushed my face. Laughter echoed from the playground where many families had gathered. Is there any sound more joyful than the sound of kids laughing? It lifted my heart which is carrying concerns for several friends facing life challenges.

Walking towards the lake I spied a bench where I could sit to watch the sun paint the sky with golden light as I sent some positive thoughts to my friends. This morning as I looked through the images from our walk I found one with that bench and this haiku with an extra line emerged from the memory of the moment.

 

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Park bench in my mind

you meet me here and we sit

in silent laughter

with the setting sun

 

Friendship is a treasure beyond worldly rewards. Like the golden gift of a beautiful sunset it’s value is beyond measure.

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

Zen Moment : Secret Smile

So fellow travelers, it’s that time of year when darkness begins to encroach on both ends of my day.

Now sunrise kisses the sky just as I am headed in to work. A few days ago, I caught sight of the last faint sliver of the waning 4th quarter moon. Just a wisp of light, a smile fading quickly in the glare of daylight, a symbol of hidden joy. Hidden perhaps by the harsh glare of day’s demanding realities but known now to me, a secret tucked into my awareness to reach for when my own smile fades.

Night gives way to day

Crescent moon’s ghost of a smile

Joy’s hidden secret


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

Postscript: The moment also reminded me of another smile I found on my #Spiritof60 Road Trip. You can read about that in the post at this link .

Voices in the Myst

So fellow travelers, now that the school year is in full swing my sweet summer morning ritual of sitting with a good cup of coffee and writing for an hour or so has been pushed back again.

I miss it.

 

(Photo : a bit of humor a friend sent me on social media. I might have to add this mug to my collection)

Writing not only helps me process life, it actually compells me to seek out experiences. Other times something happens and I’m thrown off balance.  I hit the trails, letting the my emotions swirl and boil at will in the relative safety of solitude. Then, when I am ready I sit at my laptop and let the words come.  Often those words need a sleep or two to become cohesive.

This summer more than ever I drank deeply of the spirit to follow the call in my heart. Relinquishing the freedom to rise and write was harder than ever this September.  My wake up call for work is too early to allow for time to write before leaving and so far I have been too exhausted at day’s end to put coherent thoughts together.  So, for now I accept I am back to weekend writing sessions and yet even as I do it’s only possible because I know I will have that freedom once again.

Creative exploration and expression are an essential element of my ability cope with the increasing challenges of my job. The beginning of this school year has brought some positive changes but also a growing awareness our administration’s expectations far exceed their ability to support the special education teams I am part of. (“Make it work,” for example, is not a productive response to staffing shortages.)  Coming into this year I made a committment to strengthen my own support system. I am determined to prevent a repeat of the detrimental impact stress had on my mental, emotional and physical being last year. In combination with other routines my creative time is part of my self preservation.

Why we have to fight so hard to stay on track with making positive choices is a puzzle. Getting caught up in negativity rarely feels good, yet we all find ourselves stuck from time to time. Self-awareness is a gift which calls us back from the pits of distress but we have to be listening to hear that call.

First light this morning revealed a thick mist settled eerily just above the ground. As the sun rose, it cast strange colors into the fog. I slept poorly last night, unsettled emotions from powerful conversations echoed through out the darkness. So I sat by my pond watching the “myst”erious interplay of light and fog.

A shot from another equally misty morning

Feelings shifted

Words came

and just like the rising sun dispersed the heavy fog,  clarity lightened my thoughts

Mystified

Suddenly lost in the fog

you stop

unable to see the path

standing still

breathing deeply to calm the fear

and over your breath you hear them

the voices in the mist

angry, monstrous sounds

you dare not proceed

yet you cannot go back

so you wait

and now you hear cries of pain

the need to help compels you to move

even as the fog thickens growing darker

so you hesitate

and stepping back a bit you see it

a ray of rose gold light

piercing the mist

watching as it grows stronger

dispersing darkness

as the path emerges from the fog

you realize those voices came not from out there

and the monsters you feared are yours

to leave behind or carry forward

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

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit of 60 Road Trip Part Two: Comfort Food

So fellow travelers, a little over an hour later, I defied the GPS directions to stay on the highway and headed south on Route 17 because I knew full well what wonders could be found along this alternate route.

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There is something about a hearty meal of good comfort foods that fortifies a troubled soul. After a brunch of corned beef hash, poached eggs, rye toast and good strong coffee I definitely felt more settled.

 

Driving through the vibrant green hills, often alongside rushing waters which still retain their Dutch names for “creek” such as Fishkill, Mudkill or Littlekill, another Buddhist teaching came to mind.

In this story, two monks are traveling and come upon a woman standing at the bank of a river, afraid to cross because she cannot swim. One monk offers to carry her across on his back, much to the dismay of his fellow monk. Upon reaching the other side, the woman climbs down and bows in gratitude, thanking the monk for giving her safe passage across the rushing waters. The two monks continue on their way and after a while the other monk breaks his disgruntled silence, indignantly questioning how his companion could dare break sacred vows against touching women. To which the monk who had carried the woman across the river replies,

“For heavens sake, I left her at the bank, You however are still carrying her with you.”

Clearly he choose to be of service and let go of any “sin” incurred in so doing, but the other monk carried a burden of anger and judgment far longer than the first monk had carried the woman in need of help.

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Rounding a bend in the road, I caught sight of a tall barren tree, filled with birds perched on the dead branches. The image spoke forgiveness which my heart accepted gratefully. Then, as they so often do, words began to weave thoughts into form

 

Forest bones stand tall

Feathered ornaments adorn

Purpose beyond death

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Photo Note: the tree is a similar image which presented itself later in my travels when I could stop to take the photo.  Add birds of your choice.

Oh and if you ever have the good fortune to travel along route 17 through Roscoe New York, do yourself the favor of stopping for a bite at the Roscoe Diner.  It’s worth the trip.

 

Zen moment : Morning with a Wren

So fellow travelers, sitting by the pond enjoying my morning coffee, I hear a little wren has discovered the house we put up last week. 

New wren house in morning sunlight. The tenant stayed hidden in the shrubs while singing.

 

It may seem late in the season for adding a birdhouse yet I must take advantage of my husband’s assistance when he’s available. Good weather usually finds him out on a golf course or in the garage restoring a classic car.  For him the yard is something to mow and weed whack. Still, I am blessed he recognizes it as my sanctuary and I’m honestly  grateful for his efforts when I need them.

Our pond for example, where I spend so many moments gleaning peace, was a birthday gift built one hot summer, eight years ago.True it came at the urging of Favorite Youngest Daughter, but it would not have been accomplished without his hard work. 

Listening to our newest yard tenant’s joyful bursts of song I am reminded of the importance of simple joy.

Trilling proud and loud

Inspired morning wren song

Seek joy live each day

Finding joy in each day, living the moments with simple gratitude. Lessons to carry with me forward on the journey.

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