There are values in pain…

There are values in pain that are difficult
to see without the presence of a guest.

Don’t complain about autumn.
Walk with grief like a good friend.
Listen to what he says.

Sometimes the cold and dark of a cave
give the opening we most want.

–Rumi

 

A little over two years ago I noticed my Mom’s mind wasn’t functioning properly and when we had an appointment at the her Dr’s I ask about it. I wasn’t really used to being around mom that much at the time. She had a man friend and they would travel back and forth from Vermont to Myrtle Beach, stopping here on occasion for Holidays and Dr appointments. At that time I ask to see the Dr as well, to check her responses to normal questions. In his office she seemed to have answered correctly, even with being a bit distracted. Mom was not a very good listener, usually ready with a question about something else, maybe it was a way to deflect until she remembered.

Mom

Sometime later at her Heart Dr’s appointment, the Dr even came out to me to explain what she was to do for her self-care. He was concerned because she would not focus, and didn’t understand what he was trying to tell her, mentioning he would talk with her regular Dr. when I mentioned that we had discussed her memory issues and he was not concerned at this time.

At that point she went off with Lee, her man friend, I am sure which direction at the time. Her greatest joy was being with Lee and his Shih tzu Billy. She had a whole other family and friends there that she no longer had at home in NJ. Sometime later 3 months maybe she came home basicly  for good. Lee was concerned for her and he was having his own health problems.

Taking this walk with her was not my planned version of end life process, yet I was giving the task of being her caregiver, unprepared in every conceivable way. I began walking the autumn path of grief, anger and frustration with her it was not a happy time.

Continue reading

The View from Here.

There was a time that each morning I awoke to loving warmth of my two Golden Retriever’s, Riley and Muffin. We would get petted and nudged, roll over, dance in excitedness to see me and to begin their day. Pushing their way out the door, Muffin always first because Riley was a gentleman, but always the protector. Off we would go down the street, to our little woods, what was left since the building of the Great Wall of FedX and accompanying business. The path led along the wall of fake stone front and cement, the fortress wall only went so far, and there was plenty of nature to our left to entertain.

enter

The trapeze act of squirrels scurrying from tree branch to tree branch, High wire jump from tree to tree, chattering all the way. The sounds of birds everywhere, The Cardinal elongated call and sharp whistle informing others of intruder in woods their red flash through the green always gave them away. The chick a dee’s in winter, their little gray tones sitting on branches and following along our path. The call for the Red Tail Hawk informing us from far above that he was there, but disturbed by our presence, circling in deeper and deep turns to scout for it breakfast.  On rare and lucky occasion we would get stared down by young white tail deer until one of the dogs would get wind of it, with a bark, start chasing after what now would be a small family of deer, running off along the little paths created by them to get away, disappearing in the brush.

shifting These adventures are multi purpose, the dogs got to run about freely, in a somewhat “wild” area. They would run off this way and that, sniffing, digging, rolling in something smelly. I was always in sight if not they would wait until I was or comeback to look for me. What was I doing observing, observing the light, the shadow. That green was no longer just green it was every hue of green, emerald, forest, yellow-green. The leaves shaped like stars, or maples others of oak brown green, contrast with humus of the ground rich decay of many past season of leaves, wood in branches and whole trunks that had fallen over or uprooted by the weather. In those logs chipmunks flashed by making its chirping sound causing Muffin to go into a frenzy. All this time I am waiting for the view, the right setting, the shadow here, the light just hitting there, on a mushroom or a leaf, a twisted sticker vine, spying little blue flowers, violets, and Queen Anne’s Lace, Mountain laurel, all to be photographed.

exist

Each season provided an never ending evolution of tree, plants, downed wood, fungi and mushroom popping up here and there, the rains made streams and puddles, created stick dams to hold things back, to wade over and to sit in. Seasons changed, the years have unfolded, progress took more of forest, years took Riley just this spring. Muffin who is now older stops and starts, would rather have attention than an actual walk, even though we manage at least once a day to get a full walk. There is always photography happening, I am never without my camera, Nature is my muse, she shines and dance, she sit gracefully, she changes clothes in full view of the world. Life is an impressive, expressive place. Look around, be present. View it from Here.

Riley and Muffin
Continue reading

“We ourselves must choose each step. And to choose each step and be strong enough to endure what will follow on our repeated choice we have to develop a deep spiritual practice within the terms of ordinary life, trying at all moments to stay centered in the heart, the truth of the heart, the peace of the heart, so that the pain of growth can be borne within that peace and be infused by it” Andrew Harvey: The Return of the Mother.

Is life ordinary? Or is it not extraordinary!!! Extraordinary that we breathe each moment into the next moment. That life is ever evolving with or without our conscious involvement within it. Last evening I was granted a gift beyond my understanding of deserving the gift. Along with that gift the sense of gratitude overwhelmed me to tears, overcome with a sense of “how do I accept this?” What do I say, how can I repay this presentation? Than the realization of deeper friendship and love that lies within the gift from artist to artist, and friend to friend. Out of the depths of ordinary, out of showing up each day, out of the reaching out the hand to another one has reached back.

The songs “Make Believe” and “If I Loved You” touched some old memories, yet new meanings were layered over those memories of romantic love to to understand the idea of “acting as if” to believe in oneself even when the world seems to be falling about around you. When nothing seem to be in your favor. The Universe shines the light, cools the breeze, touches a place that has been unaired and darkened by survival.Glimpse of light

On each repeated choice we have to develop a deep spiritual practice, that practice is showing up each day, being aware of the details, being grateful sometimes just to get to the end of the day or waking in the morning.

Staying centered in truth, in peace, and in love.

I wrote the upper part of this on July 8th I didn’t believe it captured the essence of what I was trying to convey. So all writing stopped.

What have I been up to since the last blog? I have been rediscovering who I was, who I am meant to be. That uncovering is slow, yet warm and welcoming at times, is any of it practical? Who knows? Have I ever really been practical? Not very much, as serious as these blogs seem to be, I am not a practical person in that light the twist and turns of my life will attest to.

Now of course I have to get practical or serious in some cases. Taking care of myself. I need help financially, there is no more kindness of stranger or Mom. Of course once the house sells there shall be an amount that if properly managed can subside the plans I have to maintain my photography work, and build a healing/spiritual practice.

Until than I had to apply for food stamps, which I received and has been very useful for purchase of food.
There was a blog planned for that discussion. The uses of the gifts of natures goodness, plants and veggies. A friend had taken me to Produce Junction and we shared our abundance and I was more than grateful, overwhelmed with the kindness. What so much a little could buy.

Before all of this I had connected with a friend who has a space that is called Holistic Living Studio in Glassboro NJ. We shared Reiki together and as we checked in with each other she offered the space to do my Reiki practice and to host the Reiki Share. At the time I was still kind of numb but grateful for the offer and I truly considered it. A month ago we had our first Reiki share group which well attended, the vibrations/energy motivated those numb parts of me to say yes. Let’s do this thing!

The Buddha Sits

I placed out into the Universe that I am receiving Reiki Clients, three days a week during certain hours. The Universe has not gotten that message out yet but I am sure she will very soon. Along with that a friend got in touch with me with in days of saying yes to the use of the studio about doing Essential Oils workshop and a Fire Ceremony Shamanic event. We got the energy flowing for those to happen.
In that same inspiration, we discussed Reiki 1 classes for the fall. I am looking into Crystal and stone practice healing workshops, and meditation practice, as well as so many other assorted possibilities.

How practical is all of that. This is what I am suppose to do, these are the gifts I was given to share. This has been my vision for a long time. The light is now beginning to shine brightly again.

One more gift that was graciously given to me. A few weeks before my birthday I placed on my status on Facebook if anyone wished to give me a Birthday gift, the suggestion was to purchase Street Photo books from Michael Penn. I had committed to buy his self produced Philadelphia Project,  full page black and white photography magazines for $10 each. With the recent setback financially I could not afford them, and he had been saving them for me. Within less than an hour someone who I know from photography group messaged me that he was working with Michael to get the books for me. I was stunned and extremely excited and beyond grateful! I received all the back-ordered books and more, a week later!

These gifts are gifts that have been so freely given. I hope to honor that with my practice of healing and paying it forward when opportunities present themselves!

I have chosen the steps, I have consciously awakened mind, body, and spirit, through continual practice of sharing gratitude that allow the flow and vibration to bring these sources of abundance to us. The Universe has more than enough to share, so share the gifts of love.

I am Love…

Into trash…

“Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes.” Peter Koestenbaum   The emerging of the “Trash Project”! A few months ago during our daily walks and the change in the energy of the space in which we walk due to the field being fenced in and the woods enclosed behind that fence. Oh there are ways to still get in the woods it is just that our course has changed with Muffin’s ageing, so the exercise path is more our course around the field. Those walks had always been decorated with litter, plastic bags of course, water bottles, coffee cups, beer cans, an occasional childs toy which were left after game. My inner child caused me to collect  those toys, space aliens, soldiers, movie action figures, cars and truck, a little girls barrettes. I even found a cell phone once, I call someone on the call list so they could reclaim it.

Lost Head

Lost Head

All this began sometime ago but the “Trash Project” came about with the boundary changes and the grooming, cutting back the hedges and trees to create the walking path. On those reclaimed area new treasures emerged buried trash. At sometime the area must have been land filled, of course people use wooded areas to dump in for years… I know this all sound awful and sad, in many ways it is. Yet nature has her way of reclaiming what is naturally hers.

The Soldier

The Soldier

I have photographed this area for past 6-7 years now, my portfolio and mission to photograph the beauty all around are  testament of evolutions expressions of beauty. So you all don’t think I walk around a dump, it is not that way at all.  What I hope to express with this project is what I try to express with my nature photos. That beauty can be found in the everyday, just see it. I saw a form of creativity in the litter.

McD bag

McD bag

I had no clear objective I was looking for something creative something different to occupy my time during Mom’s transition. She had gone in rehab, my camera’s shutter release crapped out, iPhoto had malfunctioned, I thought I had lost months worth of work!  I was like oh my God I can’t take photographs, my creative expression, my meditation practice has been cut off!!

The Shape of things

The Shape of things

I had just gotten my first smartphone, an iPhone 4s which I knew nothing much about yet the camera would still allow me to take photos but I wasn’t sure what that would be like. So taking photos of “trash” seemed to be a good test. Plus the filters on the camera, and instagram app allowed for more creativity that I really hadn’t worked with before.  The emergence of the “Trash Project”

the chew

the chew

The first to photographs of found objects, one on sight, the other photographed at home before the Trash Project was truly born. The next three are part the ongoing project! Taken where found, a bit of filter via instagram or iPhone ! I bet you will never look at litter/trash the same again!

A Sense, a sense of knowing…

It is difficult for us to realize that this process of going inside and writing page can open an inner door through which our creator helps and guides us. Our willingness swings this inner door open. The morning pages symbolize our willingness to speak to and hear “our creator”. They lead us into many other changes that also come from the “Universe” and lead us to it “Presence”. This the hand of the “Higher Power” moving through your hand as you write. It is very powerful. “the Artist’s Way” Julia Cameron, Pg.85 *

Image

 

For the past week or so I have been reciting the Basic Principles as well as the Rules of the Road as prayers or meditations! When I begin my body relaxes, my voice even shifts, my heart/soul fills up,  almost to weeping. The joy that those words, those small sentences expresses to my heart is really beyond what language can convey! 

Than I was directed to the opening quote. Upon reading it I knew it was time to write, write again. These pages have had their fits and starts. Hey the blog is titled the “reluctant bloger” after all. Recently it or I have lived up to its name. 

I could have posted simple blogs with just poems/quotes and photographs. I could have filled these pages with daily accounts of the family’s experience of our Mother’s process of dying. The presence didn’t want me to go there. I used Facebook for support, that support was truly amazing! I am grateful for each person’s comments, the sending of healing, and course love. Love kept me sane, the love of complete strangers, well at least non-physical people, stepped up where friends and family would not or could not. In the case of crisis I go into social mode, hospitality mode. I suppose I was still in caregiver status in many ways. Yet finally freedom for the 24 hour caregiver position I had held for the past two years. 

Image

Mom’s going into rehab was her journey “homeward” once there she must have decided it was time. Within 2 months or less, the last week everything shut down. She was constantly cared for my nurses, hospice, family was around 24 hours a day.  The waiting seemed to be endless and longer than the 2 years we had spend together, yet it was her time, her journey that we all had to respect and guide her to and through.  That Monday Morning, which it is Monday now, I had just walked into the nursing home, as I walk up the hallway to her room, I saw the nurses coming from that direction, I knew before they told me. There was a sense of relief. My sister and my niece were there at bedside and had been for the final breath. I am sure a final sigh of relief from mom that she would finally get to the new adventure. Mom loved to travel, her travel took her all over the country, and even to Europe several times. Her new journey beyond this plane. 

Image

I got to the end of the last paragraph, I knew I was done. There is a sense of relief, and sense of new freedom. Of course the story goes on… 

I am Blessed, and I am Love, Jeff

Mediative Question: What has your latest journey taken you through? 

*( I used other expressions for God which Julie Cameron had not used in the opening quote.) 

 

What do you long for?

Last week or so ago, the poem used here today was shared by a friend on Facebook. I said I going to borrow this for my blog for I felt it resonated with my journey at the moment, and some of my photographs would complement in a visual way the journey outward to go inward. 

As I prepared the blog something spoke to me about finding out who Melissa La Flamme is. I am glad I did. Her website intrigued me, the little that I read, so I reached to her via email, and then a bit later via facebook. Where we at once connected via messaging. Making sure all was clear to publish the poem here, that she was a Jungian Psychotherapist who incorporates Shamanism into her practice, was a flash of my not so distant past a vision to create just this type of therapy combination. 

What did I long for, so unaware of a dream set aside. Called out through this poem and Melissa’s own practice. We discussed a possible guest blog or interview later in season, which now I can hardly wait for ! 

I will let the vision unfold: 

 

I AM CALLING YOU: by Melissa La Flamme

 

What do you long for?
How do you call its name?
Listen to the ways it calls to you?DSC_6550

Take your longing to the earth.
To the woods. The trail. The park. Your well-tended lawn.
And if you can get there, to the desert.
And with devotion, give your self to these questions.
Like you would a lover. A baby. A tender green shoot.
Like this, tend your own fragile heart.
Your longing will ravish you.

DSC_7833

You must ravish back.

When you do, your soul will walk you
to the soft, thirsty ground
of your being.

DSC_8122
Sink in,
all the way in.
You will lose your mind.
You will sing to rocks, seduce pine trees, make love
to red earth.

DSC_8590

Songs like this will carry you till
your own song sings you.
You must let them.

©2014 Melissa La Flamme

 

The Art of blogging 201

A few weeks ago I signed up to take part in Blogging 201 Branding, Traffic, and Growth. Day one began yesterday April 15, at 10 am est. I am already overwhelmed ! The more I try to understand, the more confused I get.

DSC_8058

The basics of the first assignment is setting Goal’s. I can I do that! Of course the lesson begins with a nudge, a question: Why are you doing this? 

I am doing this to gain more followers of course, to get clarity, to create a more comprehensive understanding how blogging works.

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like? I would post at least three time a week, it would continue to be “personal” as well as artistic, and connective. It would not only have followers but regular commenter’s, links, resources.

Those visions into three goals:

  1. To publish at least three blogs a week. Art blog,  personal blog, and feature blog.
  2. To gain 50% more follows in 6 months, by September 15th.  Not only followers, commenters as well.
  3. To be more organised and more knowledgeable about the workings of blogging.

This is not like my regular blogs of course. I wanted to make this public so that in some ways I would be accountable for the course of this process.  Fellow bloggers/followers you are my coaches.

 

Success is rarely created unless you’re having fun at it.

There may not be any quotes to lead off this blog. There may not be any photographs to enhance this blog. There may not be any coherence to this blog, it my wander aimlessly with thoughts expressed as words, “like why hell is the type so small?” Okay fixed that.

To state the obvious it has been months since writing, the reluctant bloger certainly has lived up to his name. It certainly not because he has had nothing to write about, for surely that would be an untruth. The truth of the matter is I have been waiting for the “right moment” if there ever is such a thing? I had ideas of blog I wanted to create, with photos and words, those still may materialize? The moment now happened because I could not find something else to distract myself from not doing the writing. The voice in my head kept say, “it early, there is nothing else pressing, and other distractions you are finding boring. So write, create, just like yesterday when one of the first things you did was photograph the roses from the exhibition reception, capturing their beauty two weeks later. (now here is a lead in if there ever was one)Reception Rose

Opportunity to share photos and to write about the Artist reception for the Photographic Society of Philadelphia’s tribute exhibition which I curated.

On March 16th 2014 after a month-long run of the exhibition the artist reception took place. It was a smashing success, a semi climax to a year and a half long process of promotion, invites, chatting, networking, for submissions of Photographs and Photography equipment and a bit of history the show open the first week of Feb 2014.

Submission began coming in January 29-30, from members of the society many of them I knew, a few were either new members or just new to me personally. The submission process was simple, three pieces each, sizes and genre varied from artist to artist. There is not theme, there is no juried submission, or competition. The mission of the PSoP is to offer the opportunity to photographer of all styles, and ability to exhibit together, to meet, to discuss work, share knowledge of equipment, and technical abilities. This allows for a much more relaxed form of exhibiting.

Mom Viewing exhibition

During the submission process along with Pauline Jonas as was my Mom,  I was unable to leave her at home, plus it gave her a chance to socialize a bit, which is something she was sadly in need of. Her wandering was a bit distracting but also entertaining to watch while she view photographs and met people who chatted with her, kept her company while Pauline and I received the art.

During the course of the exhibition I went to the gallery several times, to view hanging, to take in other works that were still coming after submission dates. The extra visits allowed me to “really” view the photography, admire the work of the members, to readjust the positions of some of the work for better viewing advantage. I used my networking to promote the exhibit with the Philadelphia Inquire, the story even made the Sunday edition!  Next was another visit with Don Brewer for his blog DoN ArTs NeWs interview and photographing the exhibition.  During both these interviews members of the township were interviewed about the gallery in the municipal building. Which created more excitement about this collection.

The interview w Pauline & Kevin

Culminating in a successful  Artist reception of March 16th 2-4: a fairly nice day weather wise, since we had had so much snow and freezing weather, the opportunity to go to a gallery, enjoy art, meet the artist, have a nosh, even view a film on Ansel Adams to round out the afternoon. A pleasure to me of greeting 40-50 people, fellow exhibition photographers, all but two attended. Family, friend, people who had either read the article/blog or followed post on Facebook.

Mom was unable to attend for she had had a fall twice in less than a week, on the second hospital stay Drs. recommended 20 day rehab which she had just begun two days before the reception. She was missed by many, her spirit was there with us.

The Exhibit comes down next week April 2-3 ! This journey has been an amazing opportunity to be involved in the creative world of art in new form, in active creative participation, one that will expand they way I view art/photography and its world!

 

This is a work in progress…

This is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth. I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need. The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always. We are just uncovering them. We are rediscovering them. We’re not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else. They’re here. That’s why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part. Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds. No one else gives this to you. People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.

From Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, page 51.

Pema Chodron

Low visual

Low visual

Groggy from allergy medication and then headache experience beginning New Years Eve afternoon, continuing into New Years day after which forced me back to bed. Early morning wake ups because Riley seems to dislike being alone at anytime of the day, continues to cry throughout the night. A dying pet and a Mother with Alzheimer’s is a fact of daily living… it seems I have reduce mom to tears several times in the last few days as well. She going off to her room as early as 6 pm. It is mostly due to trying to understand what she is either doing or wanting to say, listening, explaining, listening, and explaining. For she cannot follow through with task she either wants to do or ask to do, and she is always asking if she can help. Which to me is easier to do myself. The thing is we have both been very independent people, we are much a like, and it begins to rub the wrong way. My task this year is to get her into day care, and/or companion care. I can no longer continue to do this on a regular basis. I had 24 hours free yet being so exhausted and stress filled that sinus and headache were my companions. Plus fear the few hours that I could spend elsewhere would be only a moment of sunlight, appreciated, too soon gone.

A different perspective

A different perspective

I have been consciously aware that I don’t take the camera with me as often as I use too. Part of the fact it has been too darn cold to be out longer than our walks. And the fact that the community recently had fence’s placed around the field we walk through and around, closing in or off part of the wood that we would walk. It is still accessible from a different direction yet so-called civilization has encroached as well as affected the line of sight. I am very “sensitive” to nature being altered by humankind. Some of that alteration is for progress, some just what seems to be forced enclosures!  So yesterday knowing that I was not going to get to Philly to photograph the Mummer’s Parade. I made a point of documenting the first day of the year, in black and white, nature and to make use of the fence as an object of art, which in some ways represents my situation in life at the moment. I had recently thought of doing my black and white photography for a number of reasons. One it is a different challenge, to see in another way, the shadow and light play, winter causes much of nature to be dull and seemingly lifeless. So if I am “forced” to photograph the same thing everyday find a new way to approach it is creative venture. I recall a photographer who lived in the burbs of NYC, who photographed out his window every day for years, the street below him, the light, the season. So why not make what I am doing a more conscious act. Season to season, year by year, different times of the day, weather etc.

repeating patterns

repeating patterns

A lot of this work is already done. For I have photographed the same area for the past several years, some of that you can see by viewing the photography here on the blog, redbubble, and Facebook pages. Even though I consciously did not submit the same views at different seasons they do naturally show up.