Tag Archives: peace

My Happy Place

The cool breeze skimmed over the dark water, tracing the ripples all the way to the rocky shore where it broke into pieces and scattered into the forest just over the pine-needle laden floor. The tree branches above danced as the wind wound its way upward in a tango toward the star speckled sky.

She sighed deeply, closed her eyes, and inhaled. The frogs and crickets chirped and sang, echoing back and forth across the dark liquid expanse. The fire flickered behind her. This peace, this quiet, this was exactly what she needed.

The night, especially the night in the middle of nowhere, hugged her closer than any other creature on the planet. It leaped into her heart and squeezed her from the inside out. This, this simplistic, primal, natural gorgeous place was where her soul was formed. She ran her hands through the pine-needle covered dirt beside her and let the dirt sift through her fingers.

Hugging her brown cable sweater a little closer, she shivered in the dark. Time to go sit next to the fire, she thought. Lingering just a little longer, she stared into the sky, briefly identifying a few constellations here and there. She’d been away too long and could only identify a basic few – Orion, the Big Dipper, and The Little Dipper. In a galaxy far far away, a long time ago, she could identify several more but that knowledge had been left behind in the distant past, buried. She sighed, slowly stood, and walked carefully back to the fire pit.

The flames danced rhythmically with the gentle breeze, sparks flying here and there. The crackles and pops served as the percussion as the frogs and crickets sang along in a falsetto. Oh, how she had truly missed camping.

When she was a child, her parents went camping quite a bit. Her favourite place to camp as a kid was at the beach. There was nothing like sitting next to a campfire with the roar of the ocean behind you and the cool sand behind your toes. It’s quite something to realize the sand isn’t always wont to burn the bottom of your feet off. And s’mores on the beach – oh my goodness. That’s a whole ‘nother level of heaven right there.

But this – the mustiness of the trees, the soothing constant lap of the lake as it played endlessly with the breeze which frolicked just above it, the echoing of the various creature calls – this, this was camping – this was heaven. Solace. Solitude. Peace.

She sat there, book in hand, reading, until the flames flickered one last time as they sank deep into the dirt to sleep for the night and await rekindling in the morning. Unzipping her tent, she climbed in, took off her boots, and climbed into the sleeping bag. As she drifted off to sleep, the lake whispered a lullaby as the breeze intensified, helping the trees cradle the night just above her.

Everyone has a happy place in their head, a place to which they escape when things get tough. If you don’t, you should. I’ve just described mine to you. Tell me about yours. Where is your happy place? What does it look like? How does it make you feel?

In the Silence

There are thoughts in the silence.

They are there, drifting through the quiet waters, hidden beneath the fog which drifts just above the cool water and is held gently by the warm air millimeters above the mostly unbroken surface of the dihydrogen monoxide.

They float just beneath the surface, waiting until you have your back turned to pop through like hungry fish in search of sluggish insects upon which to feed. If we are fortunate, we catch some of these thoughts and pull them out of the water to share with others, much like a fisherman. We, writers, are fishers of words, always on the hunt for new ideas and words to share with the world. We revel in every capture and regale ourselves with dreams of the big ideas lurking even deeper beneath the surface.

But, just as any good fisherman would tell you, it is difficult to fish amidst distractions.

No fisherman wants to cast his pole in the middle of a crowd. No, they tend to seek out the quiet and peaceful spots. Places where the fish are likely to gather and not be scared away by plenty of noise and activity. Sure, you can fish in the midst of a throng but you’re not likely to catch anything. And if you begin to catch a lot at a particular spot – word getting out that the fishing is good there, the spot is ruined so you move on to another spot.

I’ve been quiet on the blog over the past few months. A handful of people know why, and I plan to blog about it once the situation has completely resolved. In non-identifying terms, of course.

A large part of why I have been quiet lately has been due to the situation which has plagued us for the past few months – since May, actually. As I said, you can fish in the midst of a crowd but you’re not likely to catch anything. Writing is the same way for me – I can’t write well when there’s a constant hubbub of noise and interruptions – interruptions and situations which lead to doctor visits for medication for anxiety. It is difficult to hold any sort of idea in my head when I am not functioning at the most basic level.

I am okay. We are all okay. In the end, that’s all that really matters. We are slowly re-adjusting to our new peace and quiet, embracing the sunlight and happiness flooding back into our lives. We have our new fishing spot and it is more amazing with each new day.

Start your day with a #listof3

Last summer, I started doing something on Twitter I’d recommended to new moms fighting battles with Postpartum Depression previously. No, I wasn’t struggling with PPD again (it’s been nearly six years since my last episode), but I was low as I struggled to make sense of the world in the vortex of divorce.

Every morning, among my first tweets, there would be one which read something like this:

“This morning, I’m grateful for: coffee, hiking, and good friends. For what are you grateful? #listof3”

It picked up steam and others in the #ppdchat community (a hashtag based community available 24/7 for support & information and a moderated chat every Monday at 1pm & 830pm ET) began to use the #listof3 tag as well. Then it spread. It’s not a huge community but on mornings when things aren’t going quite well or weeks when I’m in the dark, the #listof3 brightens my day. It also brightens my day to see others randomly using the hashtag in the morning even when I’m not.

There’s a #listof3 for the evenings too – I don’t do it as much – in the evening, list three things which made you laugh (a small smile counts if it’s really dark in your life).

The main goal of this exercise?

To re-purpose your day, point your mind on a positive path, and allow gratefulness to become an intrinsic part of your daily morning routine. As gratefulness entrenches itself in your life, it changes your outlook.

Today, I’m grateful for good food, a good swim, and a good man in my life. For what are YOU grateful? Tell me in the comments!

#HAWMC: Lost in the light

Today I took some time just for me. I drove an hour to a state park and meandered on the trails for over two hours. I ended up at a dam which is where I sat and ate lunch, listening to the rushing water, the birds, and enjoyed the gentle breeze flowing around me.

I watched a crow fly from one side of the lake shore to the other. Boats came and went on the water beneath the dam, some of them stopping to cast a line in the hopes of catching a fish.

As I sat there, soaking up the atmosphere, sunshine, and basking in the relaxing view, I realized that no matter how hard things get, no matter how dark they might seem, the sun always rises the next morning. So shall we.

I lost myself today. Not in the darkness, but in the light. I didn’t want to leave the grassy knoll above the dam. I could have stayed there all day. Losing yourself in the light instead of the darkness is an experience like no other. Your heart soars and tumbles like the strong hawk floating on a thermal high in the sky. You smile as you exhale, closing your eyes as you drink in the peace around you, remembering a time when you could have sat there and not seen or felt a thing.

It’s days like today which make me grateful for the dark. Because without it, days like today wouldn’t mean so much to me.

Life Lessons from Mother Nature

AP English, my junior year of High school, was taught by a lanky old fellow with a shiny bald head on top supported by an explosion of white hair at the bottom. Oh yes, the balding mullet. He wore huge 1970 tortoise frame eye glasses over his large rotund shiny blue eyes, Dr. Scholls old man kicks replete with the old man uniform – a white dress shirt and Khaki pants – which were perfectly pressed every day. Occasionally he wore a powder blue sweater vest – always unbuttoned and drooping over his shirt and pants.

You got the feeling that back in the day Mr. A had been a damned fine student of the establishment at one time. But you also got the sense that somewhere along the way, he took a left turn and never looked back toward the right. Mr. A rocked our world. He challenged us to read the greats and not just because it was his job to do so – no, he challenged us to look under the words, to really peer into the author’s soul and grasp with furor the process which allowed the words to come to life on the paper of our textbooks, on the paper of all books.

Through Mr. A, I came to know Mr. Henry David Thoreau. I met many other great authors through Mr. A – Emerson, Wharton, Wolfe, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Shelley, Yeats, Browning, Frost, and several others. But Thoreau and Emerson stood out the most.

I remember a joint field trip – one for both AP English & Government class. It wasn’t anything terribly spectacular, just a meandering in a pasture as the cool wind whipped through the throng of high school kids popping bubble gum while wondering what we were doing in a field with our teachers.

Mr. A had us stand in front of him as he sat down on a stump in the middle of the field to read us a portion of Thoreau’s works. At least that’s the way I remember it. I froze that day as the words of Thoreau swirled about me with the wind. But my mind grew exponentially as my soul was set afire as words sprung off the pages of Mr. A’s worn copy of Walden.

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

~Henry David Thoreau~

Later that year, during the summer, I convinced my parents to let me sleep in a tent up on the corner of one of our fields at our farm. They agreed but only if I took our trusty dog, an Akita, with me every night. I read my Bible, slept on the hard ground, returning every night for two weeks. I stopped going not because I loathed the hard cold ground but because there was a bobcat which got very close to the tent and caused our dog to growl for more than a few nights. It simply was not safe for me to continue to sleep in a cloth tent with such a threat lurking nearby. Even though I abandoned my tent, the lessons learned from Thoreau have stayed with me all these years.

As many of my followers already know, my father was involved in a motorcycle accident on Monday morning. He’s got a few broken bones but is otherwise just fine. My Monday was very difficult (Although I am sure my father’s was infinitely more so!)

I have always found solace in Nature, ever since I was a little girl. The lessons learned from Mr. Thoreau further impressed the importance of Nature and the lessons to be learned within her realm. This is a principle of which I had not given a terrible amount of thought to until today.

Today I found refuge at a local Botanical Garden. I needed some quiet time alone with my thoughts, time to just be, time to reflect and be peaceful in comparison to yesterday’s wild emotional roller coaster ride. Not only was I excited at the prospect of quiet time in the midst of hundred year old trees, I was excited about pushing my body to do more, to be more. I looked forward to the comforting feeling of pushing my muscles to work. Even a few months ago this prospect would not have thrilled me. But I’ve changed. Moved forward with my life.

There were three elements of nature which held lessons for me today. I did not go seeking lessons. They came to me.

My first lesson was 35 minutes into my hike – well after I had leapt across a broken bridge in the middle of a swamp (don’t be impressed – it was just a foot or so), hiked up to the very top of a high hill and back again, and stopped to take a photo of rocks arranged in a peace sign. I hiked back down the alternative route and back onto the main trail. Within a few hundred feet, the wide river, fed by the tiny stream I had been hiking along, curved against the shore. The water had clearly etched this curve after years and years of work.

I stood there, staring at the tiny eddys swirling just below me. Twisting, turning, always flowing. Every so often, a series of large bubbles came to the surface then rushed furiously toward the eddys swirling like over-caffeinated toddlers just ahead of them. As the muddy water repeated the same action over and over again, new water each time, the bubbling churning up and out, like pressure, it hit me. Water, in a river, is always changing. Water is always moving, it carries life, never stops to think or reflect, there’s no time. Water moves forward here, never backward. Water just does. If something blocks the path, it adjusts course or carries the object blocking its way out of it’s way. Suddenly I hated the water for being able to do such a thing. I hated the water for not having to do anything but just flow in a riverbed or swirl about in an ocean, never worrying about anything. Then I realized that life is just like that – if you let it be – it will naturally change course, force blockages to move, and never think or reflect. I think that’s where water misses out – in thinking and reflecting, we learn from the negatives in our life. It’s through thinking and reflecting we are then allowed to change course. We are therefore like water in that we too, are capable of changing course, but we are not like water in that we have to think and reflect in order to do so.

My next lesson hid in a giant Water Oak reaching out far over the wide and muddy river. This tree arched well over the water yet clung to the shore with a tenacity which screamed a desire to never give up. Trees are constantly reaching for the sky yet solidly rooted in the Earth. They are strong, sheltering, comforting. Trees watch, wait, witness, and are filled with patience. Trees give us shade when we are tired and weary. They also let us know if wind is barely playing or barreling down upon us with a frightful intensity. Mothers are like trees. We arch over those we love with sheltering arms. We cling to the shore (our home) with a tenacity like no other. We reach for the sky with our hopes and dreams yet stay firmly rooted in reality when things don’t quite work out. We watch, wait, witness, and are expected to be filled with patience – some of us are better at it than others. Some of us get bowled over by the lightest wind, others only fall in the face of a stiff derecho wind. But we all are. We stand in the great forest – all different kinds, in a band – together. For it is when we find our forest we are the strongest.

And finally, my last lesson depended upon a gleam of yellow – a lone daffodil at the edge of a swamp like a gleam of sunshine in the darkest of caves. Shortly up the hill from that lonely daffodil was a whole gaggle of daffodils. Even the most common beauty will spring forth in the gloomiest and most unexpected places. Even when we feel down, sad, lost, left out, trapped in the darkness, we are still beautiful. We may just be a bulb beneath the ground, but one day, with even what we feel is not enough care or support, we still bloom. Optimum care is of course, always desired, but even in the darkest of circumstances, we will always bloom, just as long as we learn to grow first – push ourselves through all the dirty stuff on top of us – and then we’ll be a beautiful flower in the midst of a powerful forest next to an always changing river.

A Little Slice of…. Normal?

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

As my Postpartum OCD slammed against my shores, the skies darkened and angry bolts of lightning seared through the atmosphere. I hunkered down in a deep dark cave, curled up in the fetal position while wishing the skies would clear. Eventually they did and as puffy white clouds took the place of the dark angry ones, I began to realize the island I now found myself on wasn’t so bad. The laughter and comraderie filling the valleys no longer grated on my nerves. Not even the whining and crying could push me back to my cave. In fact, I slowly began to forget where my cave was – I think it’s been overgrown with dense vines or is hidden away behind a waterfall.

This afternoon with the kids was completely blissful. All three of them played together in the floor without arguing. They peacefully shared with their toys and burst with laughter. Allison wove a wonderful tale of marital bliss with Cameron’s toy cars. Charlotte giggled at Cameron’s newfound block playing skills. And Cameron just soaked up the attention from his big sisters as they surrounded him.

I immersed myself in the joy of watching my three children enjoy each other’s company. THIS is what motherhood is like without the angry and confusion of a mood disorder. Wow. I didn’t have a mood disorder after having Cameron but there were all the issues with Chris’ addiction that threw me for a loop. Moments like these- moments so tantalizingly perfect never fail to blow me away. They make all of this worth it – all the struggling, the fighting, the tears, the pain – all of it makes the joy I now feel so much brighter.

And it’s this joy that i wish for all the families I come in contact with because I remember all too well not knowing it.

Shirley & Marcy

A mom was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school.

He didn’t want his mother to walk with him.

She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence but yet know that he was safe.

So she had an idea of how to handle it.

She asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn’t notice her.

She said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor girl he knew.

She did this for the whole week. As the two walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy’s little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week.

Finally she said to Timmy, ‘Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week?  Do you know her?’

Timmy nonchalantly replied, ‘Yeah, I know who she is.’

 The little girl said, ‘Well, who is she?’

‘That’s just Shirley Goodnest,’ Timmy replied, ‘and her daughter Marcy.’

‘Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us? ‘

‘Well,’ Timmy explained, ‘every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, ‘cuz she worries about me so much.

And in the Psalm, it says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow  me all the days of my life’, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to  it!’
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

May Shirley Goodnest and Marcy be with you today and always.