Razor’s Edge

So fellow travelers, the ability to maintain an objective space for others on their journey requires unyeilding concentration.

How therapy dogs accomplish this is nothing short of miraculous.

Me? It’s a daily challenge, but this old “dog” is doing her best to learn the tricks.

Sitting in a quiet space watching madness ebb and flow
dancing on the razor’s edge between sacrifice and salvation
a million lifetimes evolve within each moment
none are your stories to tell
yet to listen
to simply be present
is enough
for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This dotted line of hope appeared in the early morning sky.  Spring is coming.

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

Until

So fellow travelers, this early morning image of our recently thawed pond feels like a metaphor for things evolving around me.

 

Darkness

smooth as glass

deep as night

soft as velvet

deceptively inviting

mesmerizing

until

a spark of Light

ignites hope

tread water

listen

love calls

from the illuminated shore

hear

follow

swim

breathe

live

All problems have root causes and I firmly believe if we are not part if solutions, we become part of the problem.

I endeavor to be part of the solutions. More to follow.

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

Enough

So fellow travelers, this post references issues of current concern in the United States. It is my perspective, based on my personal experiences. The topic is difficult yet it has become impossible for me to move forward in my daily creative routine until I address it. Even after extensive editing, it is long. It may be difficult to read; I know this is by far the hardest post I have had to write.

On the morning of March 13, 1996, I put my not quite seven year old daughter on the school bus, waved goodbye from the porch and went about my morning routine of finishing chores and then walking our dog. At lunchtime, I turned on the TV to catch the midday news and weather. Instead of our local news team, I found network reporters covering a horrific incident which had occured a few hours before. It was my first encounter with a school shooting. My plans for the afternoon fled my mind, as I sat counting the hours until our daughter returned home, bounding off the bus full of the chatter and news about all the goings on in first grade that day.

“Mommy are you ok?” she asked when I hugged her a little tighter and longer than usual. Maybe she caught the tears in my eyes. “I am fine, I just missed you a lot today. How about a snack while you tell me what you did in school today.”

It did not matter on iota that the Dunblane School Massacre happened over 3,000 miles away, far across the ocean, in another country. I did not sleep much that night and it took every ounce of willpower to put my child on the bus and send her to school the next morning. I could not keep a morsel of food down all day, in fact I ate very little for several days until the weekend thankfully arrived. It had never occured to me that my child or any child would be shot in cold blood by by a total stranger while attending school. I felt completely and totally helpless, there was nothing I could do short of keeping my child home to protect her. I seriously considered it, even researched the process of applying to home school her. But she liked school and home schooling would deprive her of the socialization of being with her school friends.

At the time, my husband was working in another town, commuting home a few weekends a month. He had taken on the job as a short term contract, but the project had stretched far beyond the intial six weeks he said it would run with no defined end date. The long periods of separation were putting a strain on our marriage; I still have the note my young daughter wrote in crayon on a scrap of paper “Plese dont get a devors.”

I knew pulling my daughter out of school would take away much needed normalcy her school day provided her with and as the days passed and I watched the quick response of the British people as their Snowdrop Campaign successfully pushed for changes in Britain’s gun laws, my own fears began to ease.

Fast forward to 1999. Our marriage has weathered the storm (the note from my daughter had a lot to do with that) we now have a second daughter and I am considering making a move from active PTA volunteer to a full time staff position at our local elementary school. Then, late on the morning of April 20th, two boys open fire on their fellow students at Columbine High School. At the time it was the one of the worst mass killings and the worst school shooting in our history. Yet it was not until after the tragedy at Sandy Hook that lockdown drills became a routine practice in our own school district. By then I had been working as a special education teaching assistant for just over twelve years. Having started at our local elementary school right up the road from our home, the heartbreaking stories of the terror and loss of life at Sandy Hook was beyond my comprehension.

But not as incomprehensible as the complete lack of action by our legislators to take any steps to address the issues of escalating gun violence, particularly the issues surrounding civilian access to assault weapons, the arsenal which had become the firearms of choice for shooters intent on mass killing. Year after year we would go through our mandatory lockdown drills, feeling like sitting ducks, fully aware if an intruder managed to enter our building, there would be casualities. And nothing, no amount of carnage seemed enough to jolt our elected “representatives” into action, not even the terrible events in Las Vegas which left over 500 people injured and a devastating loss of 58 lives.

Nothing that is until the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, stood up, called “BS,” took to the media and the streets and said “Enough!” If our elected so called “representatives” think these kids are going away, they have seriously underestimated the tsunami about to hit them square in the ass. Because its not just the Columbine generation standing up and calling their inaction out. It’s the survivors of decades of mass shootings, the friends and families who have lost loved ones to any form of gun violence, it’s the educators like myself who have now become the front line of prevention who are standing up with them to say

E N O U G H

We speak, finally, because these courageous young people have helped us find our voice.

And anyone who knows me well, knows I’m not about to shut up anytime soon.

Walk gently on the path my friends, and remember kindness matters, it may even save a life. ( more on that in the next post)

The Final Disappearing Act

As a rescue volunteer, stories like Merlin’s always touch my soul.
That he had a second chance is a gift granted by special people. I hope Dianes post inspires others to give another dog a second chance.

Merganser's Crossing

The story goes that Merlin’s tail saved him.  He was born in South Carolina, and just before his move to the Northeast, he lived in a cage in a barn with a bazillion other unwanted dogs.  A dog rescue worker had been through the barn and made a list of the dogs she wanted to pull and send to rescue organizations.  Merlin was on another list.  The list for dogs to be euthanatized.  He wasn’t even a year old.  We don’t have the story about how he ended up there.  I imagine that he was a handful and just wasn’t wanted.  But the rescue worker noticed something about him that she couldn’t ignore.

His tail never stopped wagging.

He was hungry for attention and made it known that he was really a good boy despite his youthful energy and inability to pay attention for more than 3 seconds.    She said…

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Hidden Losses

So fellow travelers, sometimes the trails I traverse are haunted.

Footsteps crunch on snow

Hidden birds burst from branches

Regrets and losses

Scatter like feathers

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.

Two Hundred Thirty Two.

Nancy’s writing goes right to the point and speaks right to my heart.

tales you win

20180107_092343 (002)

Oh…hey there! Yeah, it’s been awhile. Sorry about that. It’s not you, it’s definitely me.

Yes, 2017 slipped by with barely a word here from me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t have stuff to say. I can always find SOMETHING to say. It’s just that somehow, I didn’t find much time to put everything I had to say down in written form. That may not seem like much of an excuse…you should make time for your passion. You should make time to do the one thing that always centers you and brings you joy.

And yet, time escaped me. When was my last post? June-something? And then I blinked and it was New Year’s Eve. There may have been time travel involved. Yikes!

So here we are.  From June-something to a week into 2018. Seems like a good time to hop back in the old saddle…

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On Snow Events and Wonder

So fellow travelers, hush….listen

 

can you hear it?

 

Uh huh,  that is the legendary “sound of silence.”

I’m not sure it’s what Simon and Garfunkle had in mind when they penned their iconic song, but anyone who lives in deep snow country knows it and it is what I woke to this morning after hours and hours of constant snow.  Sixty-six hours for anyone keeping track, which of course the airport weather station does for us.

66 hours and 19.5 inches later our yard is an arctic landscape, minus the glaciers, although if our sub zero windchills continue those may be coming soon. Stay tuned.

Lake Effect bands like this are common here. Unlike Winter Storm Grayson which blustered up the East coast earlier this week they are a not product of specific low pressure systems, but the result of several conditions (cold dry air, open waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, shifting winds) which combine to create streams of snowfall over areas of Upstate New York.  Our weather teams don’t refer to them as “storms,” they call them “events.”

How feastive!

I suspect it will be a while before I can put away the outdoor Christmas decorations.

It’s been a while since we had such a severe start to a winter season. Favorite Youngest Daughter commented it’s the first white Christmas we’ve had in a while. Oh we always get snow well before Christmas, but in recent years it seems it melted right before we most wanted it. Not so this year, in fact winter is ramping up to be one long, brain freezing endurance test.

So, if Old Man Winter is laying down the challenge, I’m determined to summit those wind driven snow drifts and seek wonder wherever I can.

Like the quiet “chip!chip!” outside my kitchen window,

drawing my attention to a flash of red, revealing a brave yard resident reminding me to check the feeders,

where little tracks are my thankful reminder not only birds are counting on me

and a burst of early morning color shines with anticipation for the coming year.

Dawn comes silenced winds

leave glistening gems of Light

Pause Wonder Breathe Be

 

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.