Never Leaving Home

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I left a place that I called “home”
But realized that “home” is not a place at all.
A place is rooms with carpeted floors
A box with windows and paint on the wall.
A “home”, on the other hand,
Is much more than that.
A “home” is pictures, and gifts,
and stories from your past.
A “home” is the collection of treasures
from your children’s younger days.
Those things they wanted kept safe
When they moved away.
A “home” is those stubborn plants
that survive!
They must want to be with me.
They’re still alive!
“Home” is a typewriter,
an old-fashioned pair of shoes,
a harmonica, a magazine rack;
things I could never bear to lose.
“Home is all those things
that I was willing to pack and carry away.
Then, quickly take them out, place them around me.
And then I realize
“Home” never moved away.

Summer Solstice

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Surrender to the
Ups and downs of life.
Make each day a reflection of your soul.
Mirror the beauty you see in front of your eyes.
Everything God created carries messages of love.
Remember that you were given life to carry lessons too.

Soothe your mind
Of all negative intrusions.
Let fresh air cleanse your thoughts.
Stay focused on the warmth of the sun.
Take in the light of the longest day of the year.
Inch by inch, feel your body fill with renewed strength.
Center your thoughts on your incredibly unique journey.
Enjoy the fact that you have this moment, this day, this life.

Fresh Start

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The message of the deer –                  “Be Gentle With Yourself”

All the negative aggression of yesterday

disappears with this simple sight.
I will seek out safe and nurturing people;
my thought in fresh morning light.

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I will trust my instincts;
See the adventures in front of me.
Different paths, new insights;
Important things to learn and see.

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And, I will be gentle with others
But also myself;
Leaving negative aggression behind,
To sit on someone else’s shelf.

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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!

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.

Life is Fragile. Handle With Care

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It’s spring time. New life is popping up all around us. It’s delicate.  We need to handle it with care.

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“Be gentle”, we tell children.  “Soft touch.”

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Sometimes, though, when something new is happening, even we, as adults, forget to be careful, and accidentally step on this delicate new life.

But, it’s not just new life that should be protected.

All life is fragile.

Any life can be, quickly, broken with a single step.

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So before you step on someone’s life, remember:

Watch where you’re stepping.

Tread lightly.  

Be gentle.  

Soft touch.

Life is fragile.

Handle it with care.

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Today, I Am An Athlete

Yea, right. Everyone, who knows me, is laughing, like hell, right now! She just called herself an athlete? HA!

I was the kid who was picked last for any game in gym class. I’m the one who joined a coed volleyball team, as an adult, and at the end-of-season social gathering, silly prizes were distributed. My prize was a rag; given to me to represent all the time I spent on the floor, ducking to get away from that volleyball. They said, “As long as you’re down there, you might as well keep the floor dry for us.” Later in my life, I bought a bike. I took it for a ride. It was a scenic ride, through a wooded area, but it was totally downhill. I had the brakes on the entire time, gripping them with everything in my being. I have, now, moved the bike to three different homes, but haven’t gotten on it since. More years pass. I get older, weigh more (too much) so I decide to join a gym. Looking back on that early experience, I think that I must have assumed that just being in the gym was exercise enough because this was my routine…I took along my Kindle with my favorite book loaded, propped it up on the treadmill and started to walk, slowly enough so that 1) I could easily read my book and 2) I didn’t sweat. I wasn’t a fan of sweating. Well, needless to say, I never lost any weight or got any stronger. Instead, I grew tired of the trip to the gym just to read a book. So, you must be really wondering, now,  why I have chosen this metaphor for myself today. It doesn’t seem to fit…at all!

I chose this metaphor because, I think, deep down we all want to be athletes and we want to be winners. This week, watching the NCAA Championship game gave me the opportunity to witness true, driving athleticism. It was a visible display of focus, intent, and power. I could tell that the skill didn’t come from wishes and hopes or weak attempts but, instead, from practice and determination to be the best and then more practice and more determination because you can always be better. In the end, my team didn’t win the game, but, oh yes, they did! They showed thousands of people what being an athlete really means. It means believing that you are a winner. It means, remaining humble and lighthearted when the pressure to succeed grows intense. It means staying focused on one goal at a time. It means never giving up. It means pushing yourself well past the point of tired. And, it means being proud of what you’ve accomplished, even if you don’t hold the “winning” trophy at the end. This team won our hearts. They were, indeed, true winners!

I think I’m finding that kind of winner in me!

What is your motivator? For me, the motivation, that finely pushed me, was frustration and anger. I was frustrated with the voices that said that I lacked coordination, was too weak, and too old to change. It made me angry when I heard those voices saying that I just needed to accept the fact that getting older means accepting weakness, aches, and pains as normal for my age. Frustration and anger became my motivation to put myself back in the game.

Today, I sweat through cardio exercises, push myself through squats, am working on the tightest abs I’ve had since I turned 40 and I lift weights, a little heavier each time. Initially, there was that voice saying, “You can’t do this!” but there was another, more positive voice saying “Yes, you can. Just try.” With a mix of feelings; frustration, surprise, joy…and pain, I realized that sweating can make you smile. Some days, I struggle more than others but that positive voice is there, saying “Just 5 more. You can do it…4, 3, 2…come on “I’ve got you.” And, when I finish, I am ecstatic! And that voice says, “You just burned through another level.”

Some days my muscles sing in pure pain but I hear those positive words ringing through loud and clear, “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” So, again I smile. That’s why I think that, today, I can call myself an athlete. I’m not a mountain of muscle, but I’m growing stronger every day. I hurt, but so do others, and they still show up with determination and I can too! Some days, I’m slower, but I keep moving. This challenge is not a race. I’m not competing with anyone but me. And what’s most important is that I show up.

But, now, it’s about more that physical fitness. I want to be in this big game, called Life! So, I’ve added that to my goal. Pushing through exercises is preparing me to take whatever other burdens are placed on my shoulders and push through it. Life hands out some pretty heavy weights, at times, throwing you off balance, sometimes moving you to tears. But, if an athlete shows determination, focus, and drive, then that’s what I have to do. If an athlete is disappointed, even heartbroken, by a loss, they don’t quit, instead they  review the loss for it’s lessons, and go out and play again and again. An athlete says “I am a winner”. A failure one day is just that, a failure one day. They don’t all of a sudden say “I am a failure.”  They get up and try again. So, they never really lose. A score on the board (or on the scale) is just a number. I want to be the kind of winner who walks away, in the end, stinking with sweat but so damn proud of how well I played the game. Today, I am a winner. And I will push myself to keep saying that every day for the rest of my life. I must be an athlete!

Now, I’d better get up, out of this chair, and go for a walk. And, I should put air in those bicycle tires.