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.

Today…Tomorrow…Yesterday

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Today…Tomorrow…Yesterday! What do I want to write about this morning? It’s interesting, when sadness or joy are not playing with me, there is a quiet in my brain; a dull almost lazy haze. Why does it take extremes to feel the energy of life? Why can’t this middle place be the most productive, the most inspiring time ever? I don’t need life to be thrilling or desperately sad, do I? I don’t want to always be out there at the end of the rope. But, now, here I sit, today, wondering “What is important enough to write about?”

I mean really, how many times can I describe how beautiful and smart my grandson is? How many times can I give an accounting of our time together (this week, we went to a sculpture garden and he hated it). How many times can I update this journal on my daughter’s wedding plans? (This week was the dress fitting and today we are polishing brass candle sticks). How many times can I write about my walks in the woods, the joy I feel from running into a deer along the way, the peaceful sense I get from simply walking and listening to the birds?

And why is it that this state, of neither too high nor too low, doesn’t last? It’s a prelude to something to come and I usually spend this time worrying that it’s going to be bad. So, this state of “calm” makes me restless! How can I enjoy it when what I do instead is spend the time with worry or guilt about something that might or already did happen.

What I need to do is find as much pleasure in this state as in that state of extreme. Love this place in my life for what it is. Empty is the wrong word. This place, in my life, is…free! That’s the word…FREE!

I am free of plans, worry, obligations, feelings of sadness, or despair, feelings of extreme elation, giddy silliness. I am simply FREE to ponder life. And so that is exactly how I intend to spend this moment. I am not going to spend it projecting worry on the future or feeling guilt about my past. I am going to spend it reflecting on the lessons of life and the beauty of my surroundings. I’m going to walk with appreciation for my family, my girls and their men, my grandson and soon to be new grandchild, for my sisters and my brother, for my people whom I believe to be friends. I will appreciate my life of good health, right now, and my ability to get out and enjoy it.

I am FREE to use this time to be productive. I don’t need to write a book or produce a piece of art. I can be productive by making healthy food choices and helping my daughter wash the bottles for her wedding, pay some bills and respond to emails. OR, I can use this time to read, to watch a movie, to walk and take pictures in the woods, to simply breathe in the warm summer air. It doesn’t matter, does it?

This space, in my life, is a gift.

And I will be present enough to simply say “Thank you”.

Every New Beginning Starts By Saying “Good-bye”

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Every new beginning starts
By walking away.
It’s finding the inner strength
To let go of yesterday.

Memories want you to linger;
Thoughts of what you leave behind.
Anticipation moves you forward;
Wondering what tomorrow has in mind.

Surround yourself with flowers now.
Something about them calms the fear.
Find a place to just be still.
Let God be ever near.

This new beginning
Is part of the path that’s meant to be.
It leads to future memories;
New joy and happiness. You’ll see.

Every new beginning
Somehow makes you cry
Because every new beginning
Starts by saying “Good-bye”.

For Me

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I walk the woods
in silence,
letting my thoughts
lead the way.

Today,
my eyes are drawn
to someone’s
abandoned bouquet.

They’re delicate
in shades of
purple
and white.

I think
they’re simply
beautiful
as they rest there
in the evening light.

Who were they
meant for?
And why were they
just left in this tree?

I let the answer be
simple.
They must have been
for me!

Just Bloom!

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Here I am, waiting for my chance to bloom.

Today, I want the sun to shine on me.

I will be great, if you give me some room;

I want to be the best you’ll ever see!

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My child, all my creations are like flowers.

Blooming is just a natural thing to you.

It’s time to be yourself. You have the power.

Trusting in Me is all you have to do.

But I’ve wanted to live out many dreams,

Thinking others were so much better than me;

Prettier, stronger, is how it always seems.

It’s them, I think, I wish that I could be.

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It’s time. Step out of the shadows of gloom.

You never needed to compete.  Just bloom!

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Captured Beauty

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Sweet smell of blossoms fill the air.

Warmth of the sunshine makes me smile.

Tender leaves fill branches once bare.

I think I’ll linger here awhile.

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Jogger runs past with rapid pace

Recorded music in her ear.

So grateful I’m not in her race.

Content with songs of birds I hear.

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Captured beauty. Stored it away.

Saving it for a raining day.

The Right Path

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Today’s the day, I find my way.

Today’s the day, my path will clear.

Today is different than yesterday,

Today, I walk with you near.

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Child, the other paths weren’t wrong,

Each one helped you to find your way.

You say you searched for me so long,

But, I’ve been with you every day.

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Thank you, then, if you’ve been my guide.

I’m always here, right by your side.

A Mother’s Thank You Note – To God

Dear God,

Thank you for allowing me to become a mom.

Thank you for trusting me.

I have finally learned how to listen to your messages; to be gentle with myself.

But being a mom wasn’t easy.  I made so many mistakes. I worried all the time.  I questioned myself and my decisions daily.

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Now, I believe that, all along, you were guiding me down the right paths.

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Although the paths were uneven and I lost my balance often,

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It was you who believed that I was strong enough to handle it,

You taught me to be patient; to just keep going.

You helped me to breathe.

Thank you for focusing my attention on the beauty of this gift.

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You were always there, whispering softly, “Appreciate the little things.”

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“It’s your job to build a home.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.

It just has to be safe and full of love.”

Thank you, God, for filling my world with such joy.

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Through hard days and challenging times, you kept reminding me that I had a  beautiful song inside me.  You helped me to share that song with my children. You kept me positive. You showed me how to point out life’s joy.

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And through all of life’s obligations, your were there to remind me to slow down; to pace myself so I didn’t miss important moments. You were trying to teach me to just go with the flow.

Still, I’d find myself flitting here and there with nervous energy.  I know, now, that it was you who continued to ground me, reminding me, again and again, to just appreciate the  magic and mystery of life.

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And while I was busy guiding and teaching,

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you said, “Remember to take time for fun”

because you knew that all too soon my babies would be grown,

and the nest would be empty.

In the middle of all those years of parenting, I may have been too busy to hear you,

but now I know you were always there.

Now, I am listening.

And now I know that Mother’s Day has been

every day since I became a mom.

It’s me, now, who wants to give thanks

for my two beautiful daughters, who have been the light of my life,

and for my baby grandson who is now flooding my world with new light.

Thank you, God, for giving me a lifetime of gifts.

Erin, Katie, and Me

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Finding Inspiration In A Rock

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I Am A Rock

For a few years, now, I’ve been on  a journey to “find myself”.  I know, people used to think that’s something for the young and foolish but when I was young, I didn’t have the time to find myself.  Now, I do.

So, currently, I am engrossed in a book entitled “The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity“, by Julia Cameron.  I am actively participating in multiple, suggested exercises, feeding my brain with positive affirmations, unblocking negative thoughts and fears – things that block creativity.

One of many, simple activities was to go on a rock hunt. Search for rocks that stand out  for some reason.  She said that they were, then, to serve as “small constant reminders of creative consciousness”. That’s all… Hmmm. Ok.

So, off I went to find rocks that spoke to me. I walked and walked, looking for the first rock that stood out. It took a while! I was, finally, drawn to one but it was snug in the ground. The earth was muddy and wet.  I wasn’t inclined to kneel down in that mud to dig out a rock,  so  I tried nudging it with the toe of my shoe. No luck. After several failed attempts, I noticed a rock quietly sitting right next to the stubborn one. I picked it up and looked at it. The first word that came to mind was “Ease”. While I was trying to force one out of the ground, this one had been sitting there all along, just watching and waiting. Maybe out of frustration…or gratitude, I put it in my pocket and moved on.

The next one I chose seemed to, actually, jump out at me.  It was far from pretty or unusual but it had this rugged exterior and, instantly, the word that jumped into my mind was “Toughness”.

Then, I knew that I wanted to find one by the waterfall.   That water, surging over piles of rocks, to me, stands for “Power”.

When I returned with my rocks, I simply put them on a piece of paper wrote the words “Ease”, “Toughness”, and “Power”. They sat there, trying to be my “creative consciousness”, but they needed further definition.  So out came this:

Ease: Life doesn’t need to be hard. We don’t need to force things. Sometimes the things we’re searching for are right there in front of our eyes; almost calling out, “Hey, over here. Choose me. Choose me.”

Toughness: Rugged exterior. Can hold up under pressure but not so tough that it can’t be influenced by weather. Still it survives.

Power: Water powers over rocks.  The rocks try with all of their massive weight, to hold it back, but they can’t.  And so, they concede.  They let the water rush over them, and accept change as part of their life.

As I reread the book, I understand that the author is constantly reminding us to think about personal affirmations –

“An affirmation is a positive statement, of (positive) belief,

and if we can become one-tenth as good at positive self-talk

as we are at negative self-talk,

we will notice enormous change.” (p.34)

I looked, once again, at my rocks and my descriptions of them and I realized that these were indeed affirmations for me!

Ease: Life doesn’t need to be hard. Things shouldn’t be forced. Perhaps,  the things I’m searching for are right in front of my eyes. And I realize that I am that rock; that rock that’s just sitting there waiting for my turn, watching while other rocks are picked because they’re prettier, more interesting, more intriguing.  “Hey, what about me?  I’m right here.  Choose me.”

Toughness: I might have a rugged exterior. I know how to hold up under pressure. But, I am not so tough that I can’t be warn down by the weather. Still, I will survive.

Power: I am the rock, at a waterfall, using all of my power to hold back the water.  Yet, no matter how hard I try, I can’t.  While I feel so strong and mighty, I have no strength when that water rushes over me.  So I just let it cleanse me.  Over time, it wears down my hard exterior and then, once again, I become something new.

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So go find your rocks.  Let them inspire you, too.