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July 28, 2017

Blooming on Dead Wood

Blooming on Dead Wood
July 28, 2017
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“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” ― Dean Jackson



I planted a Butterfly bush last year and this year the yield of brightly colored winged-ones has been a true joy. I try and seed my environment with symbols of change, to continually reinforce my belief that metamorphous is always possible, and that transition is the nature of life itself.

My father moved in with us in late March, and he is moving into his new apartment in a couple of weeks. He is in the middle of great change, and this morning we had a conversation about trying to go back to the actual environments where we have experienced a sense of peace and tranquility. For me, it was in Cabot, Arkansas, where I lived as a kid.

Up until I was 15 years old, I thought that I would live in Cabot for the rest of my life, my parents would grow old there and that often wished for sense of safety (which is always accompanied with mundaneness) would be my future.

Life had different plans....

In one week, I learned that my parents were divorcing, my brother and I were moving to Little Rock and attending a private school, AND we found my dog dead near a creek that ran between us and our neighbor's house. It was a pivotable time for me. Mundaneness went out the window, along with my belief in the possibility of life not changing.

I discovered that my suffering was tied to this idea that change was bad after a few months of shock. And I believe my body decided to take me on a ride where change would be front and center for the rest of my life.

What to do? Resist the lesson and continue to suffer? Or embrace the change and learn to navigate with wings instead?

I swear I think I grow a new set of wings every year...metamorphous isn't a one time deal. Changes allow us to continue strengthening our wings, but eventually, your wings give out and it's time to grow another pair.

Life has a way of handing out experiences where you can choose to fly or stay grounded.

A few years ago, Shayne and I moved back to Arkansas, thinking we could capture what we left behind us years ago...childhood friendships and that sense of safety and peace. I mean, we were of a certain age, right? No children...maybe it would be good to be around those that have known us for years and years, and we could settle in for this last half of our lives in a place where we had rooted before we learned how to fly.

Not surprisingly, we came back as Butterfly's surrounded by lots and lots of caterpillars. We were seen as weird...we were not the same people dressed in older bodies.  Drinking hot tea instead of Lipton's sun tea in the middle of the afternoon was commented upon as...peculiar. Our tea moment around those that had never left, never leapt from their place of birth was a pivotable experience for us, and we started laying the groundwork to take flight again.

The previous longing I felt for rootedness where I had rooted before started to feel more like having my feet tied up with invisible fishing line...a tangled mess with no hope of untangling. I started to realize I was going to have to cut the line to be really free.

One thing that I observed during a weekend reunion of sorts was the part that alcohol seemed to play in the lives of those that never left. Have you ever seen a bucket filled with sea crustaceans? The ones that try and climb out of the bucket are always pulled back in by the others too afraid to make a break for it.

That image of crabs grabbing for the legs of those trying to rise up nagged at me while I was there.

I watched them as they greeted each other with, "You haven't changed at all!" like that was a good thing. The stench of staleness was palpable in their words and actions. Many seemed to be in a  rush to don beer goggles to soften and distort the reality that we were not in the bloom of our youth.

Do I believe it is possible to grow and change if rooted to the same spot year after year?

You bet...but you have to cut off of the dead wood to do it. I'm not advocating against staying rooted in the same spot...I'm advocating for growing where you happen to be regardless of how long you have been there.

Who are you right now? What if you couldn't remember who you were or how you were perceived by others before you had your eyes opened to the gift of change and transition?

My Butterfly bush will be cut down to the ground this fall and next year will grow into an entirely new bush. I think we can do that too...drop what you were and learn how to experience yourself as all new growth instead of trying to bloom on dead wood year after year.

I'm constantly tending to my inner garden, trying to determine where the dead wood is and eliminating it. It's very difficult to cut off a branch that I've become accustomed to having attached...but the new growth that is sure to arrive quickly erases my unease about cutting it off.

Our environment has the answers if we are willing to stop and listen to what it is trying to teach us.

Have a nice flight, butterfly!


July 13, 2017

Pretty, Shiny Things

Pretty, Shiny Things
July 13, 2017
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I started making jewelry again this week after yet another set-back. I found myself in the Emergency Room a couple of weeks ago with severe chest pain.

I was nervous about it having something to do with the surgery, but it looks like it was a recurrence of an old chest injury I did to myself last year after helping Shayne lift up some sheet rock.

The Emergency room doctor thought a virus could also be responsible but we will never really know. I feel pretty sure that it came about because I started feeling my oats and bit off a lot more than I should have chewed...I know that it was debilitating and disheartening.

I still have limited energy to do much, and on the days that I have to work even a short shift, I conserve my energy so that I can be vibrant and helpful while I am working. I have had alternating periods of feeling really frustrated, to just giving in to the way I feel and resting if I need to. Mom said it would be 6 months before I really feel like myself again, and I believe her now that I am almost 3 months post surgery.

This summer I have busied myself making areas for sitting and resting much more cozy and beautiful since that has been my focus. My front porch is now a little bird sanctuary where I can drink my coffee and watch the sweet winged ones come and go, squabbling and chattering, whistling and chirping to me, the neighborhood cats and each other. I am discovering the personality of my land...the little ones that inhabit this 1/2 acre are extensions of my family now...and I have a morning routine where I feed and water the birds, and take down raw peanuts and corn for my neighborhood crows.

I am fascinated by corvids...always have been. They are so smart...and devoted to their family. I call out, "Hey Crow-Babies," and they are usually waiting for me to appear with their morning treats down on our second tier. I love that they no longer fly away when they see me coming, and watch me spread out their morning feed on the ground. I bought a pretty, shiny silver scoop that carries their food down the hill. From what I've read, it is largely a myth that crows collect and hoard shiny things, but I am hoping they associate that bright scoop with me carrying it as a friendly sign.

I have a serene screened porch, almost like a treehouse, that has needed some loving care in the furniture department, so I bought some deep seated chairs and an ottoman for ultimate comfort. Shayne and I will enjoy sitting out there during all the weather changes...I am truly living a dreamy existence with my living space merging into my yard.

I have the day off today and plan on making jewelry for at least half of it. I'm still being patient with myself,  holding myself back a bit so that I can continue to make progress without any setbacks. I am finding I have energy for just one thing a day...working at the store, or working at home. But not both yet. Still have to work up to that...and nap when necessary.

My neighbor had a birthday while I was recuperating and I made her these simple, shiny hoop earrings. I love them...pretty, shiny things have never been as important to me as they are now. But shiny is typically associated with newness. I am looking at my world with fresh eyes, looking for new opportunities for connecting with others as well as myself. I think that is the emphasis for me this year...freshness and consciously creating a supportive and thriving environment for me as well as those that find themselves in my company.

I am very behind with my accounts and updating my shop. I am hopeful that will soon be remedied.



July 8, 2017

How to get a full night's sleep

How to get a full night's sleep
July 8, 2017
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Do you suffer from lack of sleep due to a racing mind?

As you may recall, I decided about 6 months ago to take on a part-time position with a local health food store, and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made because of all the great information and people I am exposed to weekly.

I enter into many conversations with customers about problems sleeping because 'their minds won't turn off' and the incessant loops of thoughts keep them up at night, or, they can fall asleep, but they wake up with this loop of thoughts preventing them from going back to sleep.

We all have thousands of thoughts moving through our minds daily...some of them are really mundane, while others are profound.

I've found that if you are not pulling out the mundane thoughts, like unwanted and scraggly weeds, your thought-garden gets too clogged up to allow the profound and life-enhancing thoughts any room to grow and go to seed.

But how?

One method that works for me is dumping what I hear in my head on paper for about 25 minutes and then throwing the paper away.

What do I mean by dumping what I hear in my head?

Literally, for 20 or 25 minutes, I sit at my dining room table with a pad and pen, and write down what I 'hear' going on in my head. I don't judge the words, I don't try and think about what I am writing. I just get out the random thoughts.

If I am nervous or tense about something, I usually do this exercise at night before I turn in.

For example:

Did my heart just skip a beat? Is that ok? What do I need to make for Cam's next dinner so that she doesn't have to worry about cooking while she is getting to know her new baby? What can I use instead of aluminum foil so she can reheat a Mexican casserole in the oven? What can I do to get rid of the hundreds of curly worms in the basement? Does that weird smell in the basement have anything to do with the worm bin? Did Shayne feed the worms this week? Do I need to let him know where to plant the new Hydrangia? Do I need to tell him how deep to dig the hole? Should we amend the soil? 

And this goes on and on for 20 more minutes as you watch where your mind goes, and what is it is currently preoccupied with. I usually crumple up the paper after I am done and just throw it away.

Sometimes a question or observation will pop up that needs more attention, but usually the stuff I am worried about, or that is on my mind, are things that will be taken care of when the present moment has the energy and inclination to deal with it.

Once those thoughts that keep you up at night are weeded out of your mind, you can sleep.

The looping happens because you are habitually thinking about things that you most likely have no control over in the middle of the night, and they just need to be pulled out and briefly examined.

I often find that the answers to my looping thoughts will quickly come up to the surface once I give them a little life on the page.

I believe it has something to do with acknowledging them...like a little kid that is constantly trying to get your attention. Once you acknowledge the thoughts...they quieten down and stop aggravating you to tend to them.

Over the years, with this practice, I have noticed a profound peace as it pertains to the chatter in my mind. By pulling out the weedy thoughts, I have developed a sense of trust that the answers to my questions will be answered when the time is right.

Now I trust I will know what to do when the situation that I am worried about actually shows up in my physical experience.

This also helps you cultivate within yourself a deep sense of patience. With patience, trust in the natural flow of life happens naturally and your mind relaxes and stops provoking you to pay attention to it.

When I first started experiencing long periods of time where the voice in my head was quiet, it was startling. It happened rather spontaneously about 5 years ago.

I remember calling my brother wondering whether or not I was beginning to experience dementia. The chatter in my head was silent!

When I was living in Chattanooga, I was first introduced to this practice of writing down what you hear in your head and leaving it on the page.

After doing it for a while, I noticed that my sense of worry about the future diminished greatly, and I was able to focus on what was immediately in front of me instead of projecting thoughts into the future.

By remaining present, and focusing on what is immediately in front of me, my future has taken care of itself, and I find that I am for the most part, happy and content with a sense of deep fulfillment. I laugh a lot, and feel much more grounded.

If you are plagued with a mind that likes to poke you while you try and sleep, I hope that this little exercise helps you get your sleep back...stay with it and watch what happens!

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