Ode To An Autumn Woods

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Ode To An Autumn Woods

Oh, autumn woods, I thank you!
So many lessons learned beneath your trees,
You’ve taught me what to do.
You’ve guided with your gentle breeze.
But it’s time.
Your tree’s brilliant colors captivate!
Reds mixed with yellow and hues of green and brown.
You told each leaf that it’s time to celebrate.
Listen! The leaves are applauding all around.
It’s time.
Change is happening. I can see it in the sky.
Summer’s warmth, while so sublime
Now chillingly says “It’s time to fly.”
Time to let go. It’s time…
It’s time.
Then the winds grow still all around
A quiet respect fills the air.
Geese take to the sky with a mournful sound.
“Good-bye”, they seem to share.
It’s time.
Colors explode with each new day.
Trees still filled with brilliant splendor all around.
Then suddenly the leaves exclaim, “I can no longer stay.”
And they drift, unceremoniously, to the ground.
It’s time.
The leaves are now a burden to the tree
But they did their job and they loved it so.
Drifting, floating, suddenly free
They understand. They need to let go.
It’s time.
The sun peaks out from behind a cloud
Shining, now easily, through branches of the tree.
“Don’t be sad”, it seems to say out loud.
“I’ll put sparkle elsewhere, you’ll see.”
It’s time.
Animals are busy, scurrying about
Gathering food to tuck away.
It’s like they’re telling me, “There’s little doubt
We must prepare for another day.”
It’s time.
Plants, dropping seeds everywhere, you’ll find.
They tell us this is how they survive.
They say, “Leave a little bit of yourself behind.
Then you, too, will stay alive.
It’s time.
Oh autumn woods, it’s so hard to say good-bye.
“Don’t worry, my child, you’ll be fine, you know.
It’s time, now, for you to learn how to fly.
You can do it. You just have to let go.
It’s time, you know. It’s time.

Today’s Challenge To Myself

To have a beautiful life,
find the beauty in everything.
Sarah Marie Thompson

Ok, I need to play this out. This is the month from hell. Rethinking it as beauty, is today’s challenge to myself.

My daughter, her husband, and my grandson are leaving.

Sadness

Beauty

I will no longer take care of my grandson 3 days a week. What a gift it has been to have been allowed to care for him for nearly 2 years.
I will miss the time I have spent with this daughter.  She was so insistent that I get involved with her passion.  So, I spent time volunteering to stuff envelopes, run errands, and help out at events. I was able to be part of the magic that is First Stage, a children’s theater academy.  I was able to help my daughter but I ended up feeling like part of a greater family.
I worry for my daughter.  She has left friends, family, and a job she loved to make this move. I am proud of my daughter.  She loves her husband so much.  She is, selflessly, turning the spotlight on him right now. That’s true love.
And the hardest part of all is that they will all be so far away.  Thankfully, there are such things as Face Time now.  Video chats can happen every day, if we choose.

I am moving too!

Sadness

Beauty

I somehow found myself renting a place that actually faces a nature preserve. This beautiful space has been my meditation space for 3 years. I am moving closer to another daughter.  We can easily walk to each other’s place whenever we want to.
When I first moved here, the animals that came out of the woods, scared me a bit.  Raccoons would peer right into my patio door at night.  Now, we have become comfortable with each other.  I will miss their visits. I, now, have such a beautiful appreciation for the gentle nature of animals.  They have taught me so much about resilience, risk taking, and simply being gentle with myself.  Their messages will live with me forever.
The paths into the woods were just steps away from my back door.  Walking these paths has become a time of true meditation. I have found something that brings me peace when I am troubled.  I know, now, that it’s worth a small drive to spend time in such a sanctuary.
Why would I leave such a beautiful place?  Rent!  My income will not increase but the rent goes up each year.  That fact makes it too difficult to stay. My rent will go down substantially with this move allowing me the extra cash I will need, now, for airline tickets to visit my other daughter and grandson.

You know, I think this worked. Maybe just for the moment but this was a great way to refocus my brain.

This Place

Journal Entry - July 30, 2015
Post # 10 of how Morning Pages(my journal) 
helped me process through a change.

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Went for a walk in the woods yesterday and took a couple pictures of a hawk.  It waited for me to take each photo so of course I had to look up it’s message

  •  “You’re caught up in too many details, so step back so you can get a greater perspective on the situation.
  • Stay alert and focused on the task before you, eliminating as many distractions as possible.
  • Spend some time observing and studying the situation and when it’s time for action make it quick and decisive.
  • Be aware of any personal psychic attacks and be prepared to defend yourself.
  • Stop trying to change others or the situation and work instead on accepting things as they are.”

Well, doesn’t that message just about say it all, especially the last one.  I must accept things that happen.  I must not try to change them.  It’s not my place to step in front of someone’s life journey.   I know that.  I do.  It just really hard, though, when their decision affects your life. I will try to stay calm and observant.

I love my place right now but I am working to find another.  It’s time to reduce the rent and maybe live closer to one daughter.  There’s something telling me “it’s time.”  Time to not be living alone or at least quite so alone.  I look outside, here, and my heart breaks a little just thinking about leaving and I think of all those other times I have moved.  I wrap myself up in protective layers and just start packing – one closet at a time.  Sorting, discarding, choosing.  I take down my “home” – make it uncomfortable to stay in any longer; feeling so uncomfortable to stay that I can hardly wait to escape this place that no longer feels like “home”.  Then, I quickly get to the next place so that I can make it feel good enough to spend that first night.

Ok, I’m not leaving yet, but it’s coming.  I know it.  So, for today, I breathe in the air, take photos of the flowers and the animals. enjoy the quiet meditative peace that has been my backyard and send up praise to the powers that be that I was given this gift just when I needed it most.

This place has provided me with companionship even though I lived alone.

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This place guided me through a hard divorce and the sickness and death of my brother.

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This place gave me the strength to walk into a gym and hire a trainer; a trainer who was the brightest star I could have had cheering me on as I worked to put physical strength above wasteful, harmful pastimes.

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This place gave me a place to come to when I felt the pain of leaving a lifelong career.

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This place allowed me to find another job; one the filled that initial void and made me feel necessary, still.

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And, it was this place where I celebrated the announcement of my first grand baby.

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It was this place, where I’ve been alone, but not alone.  I’ve been surrounded by some kind of wonderful energy that has continuously shown me love, guidance, peace, and power!

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This place – Thank you, God for showing me the way to this place.

I Write, I Write. Everyday, I Write

Journal Entry - July 26, 2015
Part Nine of how Morning Pages(my journal) 
helped me process through a change.

I write.  I write.  Every day, I write.  Yesterday was everything many dream of.  A quiet, peaceful day with nothing to do.  And I did nothing. Oh well, that’s not exactly true.  I cleaned my little home, then went for a walk in the woods.  Someone had told me that mosquitos don’t like the smell of vanilla.  I had to try that out.  Come to find out, it’s true! It’s a little messy, spreading vanilla extract all over yourself and I walked through the woods smelling like a cookie but it really does repel mosquitos!

Then, back here to just sit and decide what next.  I watched a lot of TV and then got sad thinking about my grandson.  If they move away, this will be my life everyday.  This quiet, peaceful existence…everyday…BORING!!!

I didn’t want to dwell on it.  I’m trying to let God handle it.  I went to bed early and slept until 5:30 am.  It felt great.  And now, laying ahead of me, is today.  It’s Sunday.  Nothing to do.  House is clean.  Plants watered. Weather beautiful.  I’ll walk the woods this morning and maybe again this afternoon.  I can’t spend money right now.  I need to save for other things.

It’s a strange time, right now, in my head.  I’m empty of light.  I read through other’s posts and I don’t care.  I try to think of something to write and I come up dry.  Empty. I wanted to be that person who could help guide others to the light.  Right now, I think “Find your own way!”  I’m in protective mode.  I’m waiting for the bomb to drop.  I’m working out how I’m going to respond on that day when I hear the words.  I’m trying to be ready in case God’s plan is to move them away.  Slow, deep breathes…Slow deep breathes.

When I walk the summer woods, it’s hot and humid and still.

IMG_8464 IMG_8467Animals move slowly. Birds sing a little less during the day.  I breathe in the oxygen of the leaves and I walk, trying to think of nothing.

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Then, in pops thoughts of a brother who died homeless, and an ex-husband who took his own life, and I feel guilt.  I should have done more, tried harder, been better.

I’m alone, right now, maybe because I deserve to be!

I need to STOP taking the blame…or the credit for every other person’s journey.  I am not that special!  Remember?  My brother and my ex-husband did as they did of their own accord.  To think that I caused it is being pompous.  Each of us has our own power to play out our life the way we want.  I, right now, have the power to get on with mine!  Find other interests, meet other people.

But, right now, I don’t want to.  Right now I am choosing to be alone.  I am choosing this!  It is not a punishment.  As I chose, yesterday, to sit and watch TV, I will choose today to maybe do the same.

We’ll see.

Who Would You Call A “Trusted” Friend?

Journal Entry - July 23, 2015
Part Seven of how Morning Pages(my journal) 
helped me process through a change.

What are the characteristics of a “trusted” friend?

  • Someone who doesn’t judge
  • Who drops everything to be there when you need them
  • Who feels comfortable sharing with you
  • Who gives advice, gently, but doesn’t criticize if you don’t follow it
  • Someone who can make you laugh through the tears

So, why am I writing this?

I’ve, once again, pulled out the Animal Spirit Guide Message Cards by Steven D. Farmer.

To use these cards, you simply have to shuffle them until you feel ready, then pull one card that seems to call out to you for some reason.  All the while, you are thinking “Which animal spirit guide could help me right now?”

My card suggested this activity along with thinking about one or more people I would consider to be a “trusted” friend.  So, I make this list and think “Who fits this description?” The answer is my oldest daughter; no one else.  My sister comes close but, oh, she has so many problems of her own.  And, then, I think “Why don’t I have more friends?”

In high school, I hung with a small group of girls, part of a pack.  Not sure…no, I’m sure, none of them were real friends based on the list above.

Then, college – roommates…friends?  Well, we got along, if that counts.  I was in one’s wedding, another was in mine.  But the waters parted when I got a divorce.

On to work friends – We shared so much and I thought some were the best friends of my life until I left teaching and became an administrator.  Oh no!  I drank the kool-aid!

Now, friends – Two people I see once a month for lunch. another who swears she’ll reschedule a time to meet after she had to abruptly cancel one…three months ago, and some people at the gym who are friends…at the gym.  There’s a neighbor who watches my cat when I’m gone.  Does that count?

Look at this list?  I don’t really have any friends!  There is no one, right now, who I can talk to about my life except my daughter.  And, she is trying to cope with this change as well along with trying to stay excited about her upcoming wedding and attempting to piece together jobs that might add up to enough money to pay the bills.

In other words, everyone has issues, pain that they are dealing with.  Life is not easy for anyone.  So, going to someone and dumping your problems out to them seems like adding burden to their already weighted shoulders.

It reminds me of a time when I asked my brother if maybe he could show me how to hang wallpaper.  It was the first time I had ever reached out to him or anyone, really, to ask for help.  His  answer – “No, I’m already helping too many people.”

It seems like, pretty much all of my life I’ve been able to count on one person.  That person is me.  I will figure this all out.  So thanks, Spirit Guide Message Card, but today, I’ll pass on your guidance…unless you can help me find a real “friend”.

I Want To Ask, But I Don’t Want To Know

Journal Entry July 21, 2015  

Part four of how Morning Pages(my journal)helped 
me process through a change.

I want to ask but I don’t want to know or rather, I’m afraid to know the answer.  Are they or are they not moving away?  I don’t know.  To  me no news is good news?!?  I feel like I’ve been through this before.  Gut aches and tears, right there waiting for those words.

Instead, the text yesterday was “Our 12 week appointment went great.  All is well.  Heartbeat 155. J still think’s it’s a girl.  I think it’s a boy.”  And I’m happy for them and I want to distance myself from falling in love again.

My day with my grandson was wonderful, as usual.  He grew over the weekend.  Now he walks to the refrigerator and says “Milk”.  We spent the day doing little things; going to the construction site, watching a excavator dig a big hole, then swinging at the swing park.

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He sat in the swing so long that I thought he was ready to sleep.  So, I encouraged him to stop (“10 more pushes and then we’re going to stop.”) so we could actually get home for his nap.  The ride home woke him up enough that we had time for some lunch and the read several books before his nap.

While he napped, I worked on a video of this past weekend.  I had uploaded a song hoping it would be allowed.  The words were perfect.

Let The River Run

by Bob Seger

I’ve seen the top, I’ve seen the view

Lately, I find, not much is new.

And there’s always a hill out there beyond

Where I could be, where I belong.

Some always take, some have to win.

They leave you with scars, again and again

As they reach for the sky, only to fall,

They never change. I’ve seen them all.

Let the rivers run, like they always do

It’s not up to me.  It’s not up to you.

When we reach the end, when our time is done

Let us all be still while the river runs.

Let the rivers run from the great divide.

I’ll stay with you .  I’ll be by your side.

When we reach the end, when the words are done,

Let us listen well, while the rivers run.

 It’s a beautiful , truthfully peaceful song and I couldn’t use it in the video.  Copyright infringement.  So it’s written here as the message that came to me as I was trying to enjoy the beauty of the weekend that was so hard.

When my daughter and her family move, I will go sit by that river.  I will listen, well, to the messages that flow off the surface of the water.

But for today, I will go back and enjoy that little boy who is growing right before my eyes, and I will “let the river run, as they always do.  It’s not up to me.  It’s not up to you.

Searching For Guidance

Journal Entry - July 16, 2015. 
Part Two of how Morning Pages(my journal)helped me process through a change.

Searching for a way…to reconcile my feelings with what will, inevitably, happen.  I walked my woods looking for a sign.

There was the robin, never leaving my path.

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“Let go of the drama and allow as much joy and laughter into your life as you can.” (S. Farmer, 2006)

Dragonflies have been plentiful, as well, and I have been ignoring this part of the message because I felt safe.

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“Be on the lookout for any falsehoods, deceit, or illusions that are clouding a current situation or relationship.”

In the pond, turtles are poking their heads up between crowded lily pads.

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“At this time, pay particular attention to the shifting sensations in your body, as these are, energetically, resonating  with subtle changes in the vibrations of the earth. Get out on the land and walk around at about half  your usual pace, using it as a meditation.”

Then, the geese.

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“This is a time of good fortune.”

Ah, it doesn’t feel like that, actually.  

“Call on your ancestors for guidance and protection and once you do you’ll notice a significant increase in your spiritual awareness.  Even though it may not always appear to be so, you are very well protected.”

Then, I came upon a deer, too suddenly, and scared it a bit.

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“You’ve been involved in some aggressive, negative circumstances and need to seek out safe, nurturing situations and people.”

And, that’s what I did last night.  My head hurts from a bit too much wine, but it felt good to listen to the prospective of another (outside eyes).  She gave good sound advice even through my tears, of which there were many yesterday.

Ok, so here it is again…my daughter and her family are working on a move to North Carolina.  Her husband is committed to finding work there and has indeed interviewed, now twice, with a company.  My daughter is pregnant with my second grand baby. It doesn’t matter. My other daughter and I have tried so hard to help with their son, giving them opportunities for nights out, even whole weekends for small vacations, not to mention providing weekly childcare so he has never had to deal with the rush of a morning schedule, or leave his home.

I think, my daughter wants to go 100%.  My other daughter thinks that she has to want this for her husband. She doesn’t have a choice.

Still, yesterday, I nearly lost it when I realized that this daughter sought out guidance, from a trusted shaman, on how to deal with ME!  I had picked up vibes that something was going on, so I asked her if her husband was interviewing for another job.  When she said “yes”, my only response was, “Where, this time.” I stayed quiet.  No tears.  Still she contacted her shaman.  As I reflected on that, further, I did, indeed, feel as though I had become a burden; the one obstacle in the way for their true life.  Here, I had been thinking that I was working hard to be a great help.  I called my other daughter, sobbing. She helped right my sinking boat for the time being. Yet, still today, I feel old and in the way.

But then this daughter calls  and says,

“Could you come early today.  I have a meeting at 8:30.”

And, of course, I will be there.

My grandson doesn’t know the ache I feel, right now, anticipating lost moments.

Finding My Flow

July 15, 2015
First in a series of journal entries that 
mark my path through a deep and hurtful change.
Writing, in a journal, each 
day helped me see my thoughts
on paper and guided me to my strength.

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Breathe deep!  Just let life happen.  I knew it would come.  It was inevitable but still my gut aches. My head pounds.  My body feels heavy.  I need to find that place inside me that gives me the strength to move through “this” because “this” will happen whether I move through it or not.  That is how life goes.  Life moves, keeps moving…forward.  I choose to go with that flow or become a puddle off to the side, where, of course, I will soon dry up and disappear.  Right at this moment, I’m leaning towards the puddle idea.  That’s how my body feels, that’s what my head wants me to do, pull out of the flow.  You, kind of, think that if you do that, you will somehow be missed and “this” flow of life might reconsider because it wants you in it.  But who are you kidding?  Flow doesn’t stop to notice a leak.  And, you are just a small leak in a massive, powerful flow.  Don’t think that you have the power to make a difference in this forward movement.  So, it might be better to just go with the flow.   But what does that mean?

The current has changed.  The direction has changed.  I will not be in the front, now, helping to lead the way.  I will be further back…important but not necessary.  Does that make sense?  Well, it does to me.  These are powerful forces that have picked up your movement and added new energy to it.  Your work to get to this spot was, indeed, important but the new force can take it from here.  You are being told: “You can stay in the flow, if you want.  Thank you very much for your service, but we can take it from here.  We’ll always remember and appreciate the work you have done.”

Stay with the flow or go?  Stay with the flow or go?  How much strength do you have?  You don’t need to be a small leak that puddles off to the side.  You could forge a new route of your own.  It’s, for sure, scary.  I mean, what if you don’t have enough strength to cut through the rugged terrain?  It’s also lonely.  I will have to have strong conviction and belief that I can do this alone because I have no guarantee of followers.

Stay with the flow or go? Am I a follower or a leader? Do I really want life to just happen or do I want some control?  It’s scary.  It’s lonely.  But, right now, I am basically just going with the flow and I don’t like the lack of control.  Some days, I’m important.  Other days, I’m in the way.

Ok, I will not block forward progress but I think, no I believe, that I am a leader.  I forge my own destiny.

Stand up straight, then.  Be strong, focused, energized.  It’s time to choose your own adventure.  It’s time to follow your own light. And don’t be surprised if you find out that you had actually been a drag on their flow.  Celebrate your skill, your own power, your own freedom.  Let them celebrate their’s.  Let life flow as it should.  Now get out there and find your own flow.

Morning Pages Become “Mourning” Pages

They came into the house together, my daughter and son-in-law.  Why?  It didn’t take long to find out.  They had news they needed to share…together!

They were offered a job.  They’ve accepted.  They’ll be moving away in October.

My initial thought was “I want to throw up!”

Instead, I picked up my grandson and gave him a hug.

I’m going to miss taking care of you three days a week.  I’m going to miss watching you grow.  And then, I walked away for a moment.

I wanted to just walk out the door; go home, crawl in bed, pull the blankets up over me…but first, drink a bottle of wine!

Collect yourself, Jane.  You need to let them tell the story.

And so, I walked back into the room.  Then, I found a way to say the right words:  “Life is short.  You have to do the things that make you happy while you can. This is a door (an opportunity) that has presented itself.  You’ll spend your life always wondering “what if” if you don’t walk through that door.  This will provide you with life lessons.  It’s meant to be.”

God, please help me to truly believe all of that.

I cried but hugged them both

Then, I found a way to drive home.  There, I sat with a glass of wine and a stomach ache.  I kept repeating the words I had found to say to them.

  • Life is short.
  • Everyone should do things that make them happy.
  • This is a door.
  • They would regret not walking through it.
  • This will provide life lessons.
  • It’s meant to be!

I prayed to God to just let me fall asleep

I slept.   And then the next morning, my clock radio woke me up to this particular part of this song by Rascal Flatts:

What hurts the most was being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin' what could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was trying to do

The words say it. I’ve tried to tell my daughter before but it always came across as unsupportive. I want to support.  I thought I had been supporting.  They are walking away from nearly two years of open arms childcare.  They’re walking away from a willingness to continue indefinitely. I was ready to  welcome child number two.  I thought I was loving them the deepest, most profound way I possibly could.  And they are walking away from it all to live hundreds of miles away.

I wrote the words of the song down

in my morning pages and just sat there, looking at them.  And I cried again as I wrote the whole event out in longhand, dumping it onto paper, with all the anger and grief that filled me, hoping that I could find some relief from the pain.

After three pages, I wasn’t crying anymore.

I had moved on to the reality that my daughter is pregnant, has a two year old little boy and she is now moving away from her family, friends, a job she loves, and doctors she trusts.  Her burdens, right now, are heavier than mine.  She doesn’t need to carry me as well.  Stop crying in front of her.  Let her talk about her fears.  Be her mother!  I was able to support her through my divorce from her dad, his death, multiple boyfriend breakups, buying her first home, getting married, having her first baby.  I can support her through this.

She is trying to be a support for her husband.  She loves him and her family.  That doesn’t mean that she no longer loves me.  It also doesn’t me that she is walking away without appreciation for the things I’ve done over the past two years.  It’s time to let go.

And so I closed the journal

with a new resolve.  I closed my eyes for a minute.  They were burning from all the crying and too little sleep.  When I opened my eyes, I said to myself, “Alright, it’s time to open your arms up to your daughter this morning…

With a vow to help her walk through that door.

Did I Choose That Path or Did That Path Choose Me?

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Originally posted in 2015 – Time to revisit this message

My life has been the ultimate journey.  I’ve heard it said that your life is a series of choices.

But really:

Do you actually get to plan your trip?

Do you really get to lead your life your way or …

Do you simply follow paths that are laid out for you?

I Was Not A Planner

I remember realizing, during my junior year of high school, that my friends had plans to go to college.  What?  I hadn’t even given it a thought!  Good god!  I visited the guidance counselor for the first time, about then, saying something like “HELP!  Should I be going to college?”

Two years later, I was in college and started out in the Business School.  Why?  Because, I don’t know.  It sounded like a good idea, and I had to start somewhere.  It didn’t take long to realize that I actually hated business classes and there I was, sitting on the floor of my shared apartment, combing through a course catalog trying to find something that sounded interesting.  Did I plan on the field of education or was I guided there?  I don’t know.  Did I choose to leave the field of business or were my lack-luster grades telling me to GET OUT while I still have a grade point average of some kind?

Subtle little messages along life’s pathway are not planned.  They’re just there.  When I got married, did I plan to get a divorce?  Not at all.  Yet there it was.  And when I retired from thirty plus years in education, did I plan to walk away from a beautiful new house to move to a little apartment?  Ummm.  NO!

Planning Without A Plan

I’ve never gone on a vacation without some forethought.  I  choose the destination and pack accordingly.  I also take enough money to allow me options once I arrive.  However, I never enjoyed vacations where too many things were preplanned.  And, it’s been that way with my life as well.

Of course, there is fore thought that goes into choosing a career, getting married, or having children, but beyond that initial “plan” there are no guarantees.  And so, I have learned to plan without a plan.  I plan for things to change.  I plan for surprises.  I plan to sometimes be disappointed and sometimes be pleasantly surprised.

Feeling Blessed To Be Alive

I come from a family burdened with heart disease and cancer.  My father died when I was in 7th grade, my mother when I was a brand new mom.  Since then, two brothers have passed away and one more brother had a severe heart attack and has had triple bypass surgery.  Add to all of that, my girl’s father gave up on life, choosing suicide, instead.

I need to simply be thankful for each day.  I know that I can not choose every path my life takes but I can choose what I do…today!  I choose to be happy.  I choose to accept life as it is.  I choose to reflect light.

I Choose To Breathe In Positive Thoughts

I produced this video during a time when I could have been depressed.  Instead, by some miracle, I found myself living on the edge of this beauty.  Some people, who live in this same apartment complex, have never stepped into this woods.  They say “It’s too hot!  There are so many mosquitos!”

I, on the other hand, chose to follow the paths and listen to the messages that were  there to guide my way.  If I hadn’t done that, I would never have seen the beauty that lived right outside my back door.