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Sometimes, by nothing other than pure dumb luck, you take a photo that is so deliciously gorgeous, you want to weep.
Or jump up and down and cheer.
And to me this photo of our sweet girl is exactly that.
The light was perfect.
The sky was majestic.
And Miss P. looked like a movie star.
But more than all that, it captured a perfect moment in time.
Glorious summer evening.
A feeling that I was in exactly the right place, for as long as I wanted to be there.
Nowhere to go; nothing to do but be right there.
I recently read a quote from one of my favorite authors/mentors, Mark Nepo. My paraphrase is this:
Instead of trying to be a celebrity, celebrate being.
Isn’t that juicy?
And so right on?
Hope you’re enjoying your summer.
Present moment, perfect moment.
When Bud was getting his orthopedic shoes fitted the other evening, we knew we had to bring Miss P. along to be his support system.
Whenever one of the horses has an appointment with the vet or farrier, both go.
They provide comfort, familiarity and safety for one another.
They are each other’s herd.
In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo tells of seeing two monkeys at Central Park Zoo, squatting on a stone perch, sleeping.
Amidst the hustle and bustle from the noisy onlookers, they slept.
He describes how their small, delicate hands were touching, their monkey fingers leaning into each other.
“It was clear that it was this small sustained touch that allowed them to sleep. As long as they were touching, they could let go.”
I thought of these monkeys as I watched Pepper stand with Bud as he got his new shoes.
Every so often he would lean into her, so that their flanks touched. Other times she would turn and rest her head on his back. They were small, brief gestures that communicated a huge message.
“You are not alone.”
Of the monkeys, Nepo says, “It was one of the most tender and humbling moments I have ever seen. Two aging monkeys weaving fingertips, as if their touch alone kept them from oblivion.”
He offers the perfect words for how I feel when I observe the comfort that flows between Bud and Pepper.
And I am reminded of the people in my own life that provide comfort, familiarity and safety.
The ones that interlace their lives with mine to reassure me that I am not alone.
What a blessing.
What a gift.
What I found as I continued pondering and writing, was that it isn’t a simple topic. But it’s been enlightening for me to work it through.
What indeed holds me up?
I wrote yesterday about people, who make up a huge part of my supporting foundation. Without them, life would be quite shaky.
To all of the people in my life, including those of you who take your precious time to read this blog every day, I send a genuine, heartfelt thank you.
But wait, there’s more.
Again, in no particular order, here’s the rest of my list of supports – at least what I’ve figured out so far. They are the things that make my life work.
- Doing Art. I find that when I allow long stretches of time to pass without creating something, I get grumpy. My head is a swirl of color, shape and ideas that beg to be put into real form. I’ve only just realized how important this is for my mental health. The good news is that it feels like play rather than work. And who doesn’t love to play?
- Spirituality. I have a deeply held set of beliefs that ground me and help me feel safe and cared for. I try to read something each day that feeds me spiritually. Right now I am enamored with the author and poet Mark Nepo. The Book of Awakening has helped me enormously.
- Spending time in Nature. My daily forays to feed my two old sweeties, has helped me immensely with my need to spend time in nature. I’ve learned that I need flowers and clouds and trees and rivers as much as food and water. I hope you get an inkling of that in some of my photos.
- My Animal Friends. I am blessed to have wonderful, loyal, loving animals in my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t share my life with a cat, or dog and now horses. Animals are amazing teachers and help me learn so many valuable life lessons. Mija, Bud, Pepper, Phoebe and Izzy are some of my current teachers, and I am really grateful to know them.
- Writing. I love to write and have done so since I was a girl. I’ve learned lately that when I don’t allow myself time to write, I miss it. Like doing art, writing is one of the pillars of who I am.
- Music. I sing. I’ve told you before that I sing to the horses, I sing in the shower, I hum at the computer, I sing when I drive. My life runs the smoothest when it has a soundtrack accompanying it.
- Self Care. This is a familiar topic for most of us. We can scarcely open a magazine, newspaper, or blog post without seeing some aspect of the need to take care of ourselves. I have learned for myself that I do best when I get enough sleep, eat food that is good for my body, and build some kind of daily exercise into my schedule. (Still working on consistency with that last one!)
- Making a difference. I know this may sound a little too “touchy-feely,” and like the overly naive statement you might hear from a nineteen-year old contestant in a beauty pageant. And it also is one of my truths. It’s important to me to do meaningful work – to reach out to people, care for them, and share their journey, helping when I can.
For now though, when I’m able to live into these, my life works pretty darned well.
Like those stacked up bales of hay, anchored with two long wooden poles, I’m supported.
Thanks for listening and helping me to be accountable.
P.S. Happy, Happy Birthday to Judy and Ros. You are beautiful, dear women.
“From the beginning, the key to renewal has been the casting off of old skin.”
Resolution making has never been all that successful for me, so I thought one simple word of intention would be much better. If I got off course, which seems inevitable for me, remembering a single word sounded like an excellent way to get back on track.
One word was easy to remember. I could repeat it like a mantra, when I was in need of encouragement or focus.
The word I chose was release.
I wanted to be intentional about letting go of what was no longer working for me.
For too long I’ve held fast to thoughts, ideas, commitments that no longer must be kept, and things.
I’ve held on to a boatload of things “just in case” I might need them one day.
What I’m coming to know in my heart is that what I really need is to lighten my load, both mentally and physically.
Cast off the old dead skin so that what is growing fresh beneath it can see the light.
It’s spring in the pasture and at this time of year, the horses are masters of release. Their bodies automatically know to shed the old and make way for the new. Each time I go out to feed, I pull out the assorted brushes and combs and let fly the old, dead hair that is no longer needed.
It looks like a snowstorm around Bud as I brush off hair by the handfuls.
“Out with the old, in with the new,” I whisper as I move the brushes along my old sweeties in a mesmerizing rhythm.
I’m the one who needs to hear it – not them. Shedding is hardwired into horses and they do it without thinking.
Not so for their human friends, though it’s an intriguing idea.
Every spring our bodies would automatically let go of what is no longer working in our lives, leaving us tender and new to begin again. Like snakes, we would shed our old, tight-fitting skins, and grow into our new, more expansive selves.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d like an automatic boost from Mother Nature.
This business of being intentional and conscious about life isn’t all that easy.
Much of the time I have absolutely no idea the direction in which to proceed.
What about you?
Wednesdays with Mija
“When feeling urgent you must slow down.”
Some bloggers are doing something called Wordless Wednesday.
Since this is my only day to be in the spotlight, I’m having trouble going totally wordless. I have entirely too much to say.
But I’ve decided that on occasion, I can say less.
So today, I leave you with this totally feline, on the money quotation from Mark Nepo.
And my illustration of just how to carry it out. 100%, full-out relaxation. Its my speciality. Well, one of them…
Chillax Baby, and Happy Wednesday!
“We tend to make the thing in the way the thing.”
I don’t know if you’re feeling the crush of projects to complete, commitments to honor, people to please, and in general, just a whole lot to do.
A huge work-related project has fallen into my lap with an early deadline and I feel buried.
Exhausted before I even begin.
For me, that often means I need a good old-fashioned dose of nature.
So I sorted through my photos to find one of my favorite photographs.
This picture of the late afternoon sky at the pasture always makes me feel better.
When I look at it, I remember to breathe deeply.
I sink into the clouds and the memory of the day when I pulled out my camera to get the shot.
My heart stops racing.
And I remember who I am and that I can get through anything by breaking it down into manageable steps.
If that sounds like a lot to get from one photograph, it may be. But somehow in the great mystery of life, it does just that for me.
And I offer it to you in hopes that it will do the same for you.
P.S. Send a good vibe or two my way if you’re so inclined. I can use all the help I can find. Thanks!
“In truth, our aliveness depends on our ability to sustain wonder: to lengthen the moments we are truly uncovered, to be still and quiet till all the elements of the earth and all the secrets of the oceans stir the aspects of life waiting within us.”
One recent morning I shuffled downstairs from my bedroom, still more asleep than awake. I opened the door to the patio just enough to allow Mija to step onto the deck for her morning sniff of air. It’s our routine and she demands nothing short of perfection. We must do this every day at approximately the same time.
I looked out and saw a fox just at the edge of our yard. My eyes sprang fully open, my heart thumped loudly.
Thank goodness the fox was concentrating on digging in the grass and didn’t see the tasty morsel that had just stepped outside.
In a move that looked like something you’d see at a dojo instead of my living room, I scooped Mija into my arms, brought her safely into the house and closed the door.
Then I took up my post at the window.
It turns out there were two foxes in the yard that morning. They snuffled around in the grass, chased each other, and tumbled again and again into a blur of spindly legs and red hair against the greenish brown backdrop. They were having a high time on that crisp late-autumn morning. So was I.
I was filled to the brim with wonder, and watched them play for at least ten minutes. I know that the urban foxes are becoming a common sight in town these days. Some people take it for granted, as if having two foxes wrestling in your yard is no big deal.
For me it remains a very big deal.
In May I wrote about the thrill of seeing the fox in our green belt for the first time. I’m proud to report that my delight is still there. I asked for more wildness in my life, and this early morning date with two foxes was just that.
A taste of the wild.
A reminder that the external civilized existence that I lead most of the time adjoins a life within me that is much wilder; much more free.
I believe it’s there in each of us, just waiting for an invitation to show itself.
So what do you say?
Let’s get wild!