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.

Zen Moment: Small Things

So fellow travelers, today someone made a difference in my day with a simple “thank you.” It came via email, as I was working through an unrelated problem born from a minor misunderstanding. The misunderstanding itself was minor but carried an emotional impact because it is part of a serial communication problem that surfaces periodicially in a key relationship.

The simple note of appreciation allowed me to feel heard and understood, even though it came from someone else. In turn, that moment of grace gave me some insight on how to move beyond the impasse I felt caught in. It was a gentle reminder healing and hope can be granted if we ask and release any expectations on when and how they are granted.

Forget not small things

Acts of kindness and thanks~ Grace

given and received

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Walk gently on the path my friends and remember kindness matters.

Editor’s note:  The photo is from a hike I wrote about in this preview post.

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.

lantern walk

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

Birds of a Feather

Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him?” A Course In Miracles

So fellow travelers this quote popped up in my morning feed today.

My immediate response was ” Me!  I would! ” and while I understand the quote’s intended spiritual lesson is we deny too much the power we have within us, I know my response comes from a place of truth.

Osprey in flight Fair Haven Sate Park May 2017

 

Of course I marvel at the amazing grace and power of raptors, watching in awe whenever I am blessed with a sighting. Who wouldn’t want to soar above the trees and spiral gracefully upwards on thermal drafts? I’ve had dreams of flying like that. Yet the honest truth is I relate more in spirit with the little song birds who chirrup as they dash about the forest underbrush, diving down to snatch a cool drink from a brook, darting up into the air to snag a juicy treat, then dodging into a secret sanctuary among the leaves.  Tucked safely away I would feel free to sing the song in my heart without fear of reprisal.

The admonition is clear. You have been given tremendous power. Why hide it within a smaller self?  I contemplated this yesterday afternoon as I sat in my favorite chair by our little pond taking in the birds enjoying the feeders I had just refilled. Chickadees, finches, cardinals, juncos and grackles hopped back and forth between the trees, feeders and the ground gathering the seeds with great gusto. Occasionally one would hop daringly onto the rocks by the pond and, eyeing me with utmost caution, dip their little bills into the waterfall for a quick drink before dashing back into the trees.

In my current quest to come to peace with what is I find myself eyeing reality with the same caution as my little visitors. I have never been one to give in easily to situations which do not feel right and I am not about to start now.  The philosophical and spiritual foundations of  who I am have been built from hard won battles with both personal and global negativity. Maybe this grants me the wingspan and power of an eagle but if I am honest with myself, those wings do not suit me. I am simply more comfortable flying about on smaller, more agile wings.

A flash of color

A song sung true from the heart

Tiny feathered warriors

Guide me on my path

Tree Swallow Sterling Nature Center May 2017

Who’s to say power can’t be tucked into those little feathered wings ?

 

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

Editors note: The poem is a flipped haiku format using 5/7/7/5 rhythm



Surrender

So fellow travelers, one of those pieces that has been waiting in the wings came together this rainy afternoon while editing a mediocre photo.

The monster came 

and spent 

I turned to face It

Deep in those cavernous eyes lay

an aching chasm of souless void

Exhausted and resolute I offer mine

An eternity passes in an instant

as I let go

shredded into a thousand pieces

Still I remain and now

there is much more of me

I am here 

                                  there 

e    v   e   r    y    w    h    e      r    e 

I am lighter 

softer

free to fly on the wind

nest with birds

sing cicada songs

and carry dandelion puff wishes

 to the listening ears of Heaven

 

In the process of recovering from a prolonged period of unsettling and stressful situations, my current focus has been on relinquishing the struggle against what is. This is not to say I am willing to accept anything which counters my core values. It means I realize no amount of resistance is going to change certain circumstances. Moving forward requires me to process the emotions embedded in these experiences so I can find new balance points. Surrendering to the depth of feeling felt like coming apart and yet created a sensation of spacious grace making it easier to stop struggling and regain my self awareness. Time to set a few wishes free.

 


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



Zen Moment : Rising Crescent Moon

So fellow travelers, a sudden thunderstorm filled  the evening air heavy with cold damp air.

Trinity of Lights*

Stepping out for the last dog run of the night, I looked up and saw the waxing crescent moon rising above the big maple tree by our little pond.  A tree frog’s evening serenade set this flow of words in motion.

Sun sinks below the horizon

pulling all light beyond the edge

abandoned

alone

as darkness closes in until

a silver crescent cracks the night 

and one lone frog sings out 

a kindred soul 

in search of hope

Sunday evenings have brought increasing heaviness as this challenging school year evolved. However, this extended holiday weekend provided much needed respite to help me reset my energies for the final weeks left. I have never been so glad to see a year come to a close. When it is finally done I will spend the summer building on some insights I have gleaned from the chaos.

Forward. No need to look back. Onward to a path of greater Light.

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

*Postscript: for those who inquired, the “floating” green sphere is a solar lantern with a green wicker exterior that hangs by our pond. The other two lights are a porch window and of course the crescent moon.

After the Storm

So fellow travelers,  the first big thunderstorm of the season blew through earlier this evening.

Tree frogs are serenading me to sleep through open windows for the first time this year.

Night falls tree frogs sing

Gusting winds and rain abate

Calm after the storm

 Walk gently on the path my friends and may you rest well this nearly summer night.