Have a nice day

Assignment: Give and takeWrite a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

 

There was a time I lived in a very rural area of upstate NY. Living away from the everyday world was a choice yet still on some occasions one has to come off the Mountain to purchase supplies or just to visit other areas. One fine spring day, I borrowed a fellows car to go to town, I don’t remember the reason but I do recall an experience.

Moving down the Highway

I had accomplished my errands, and was headed back home. The day was beautiful, with nice fresh spring breeze, the road before me was long and wide open. Music blaring from radio or could have been a CD? I was enjoying the moment, windows open, singing out loud, the trees whipping by. Then, I spotted him. That dark car parked at the edge of the line of trees, slowing down after I passed,  too late.  I looked behind to see the police car coming behind me, now the lights. I slowed more and pulled over to stop. Letting down the window while searching for my licence and other important documents I may need.

Turning to the window which was now block by the middle section of the police offices dark uniform, tightly fitted to his form. “Good afternoon Officer!”

Bending over to look into the car, strong hard voice says, “Afternoon! License and insurance please.”

“Yes sir.” I replied, handing over them over.

“Do you know how fast you were going? In a rush somewhere?” He ask.

“Not at all. I was kind of spaced, enjoying the day. The car is a friends and I am not aware of its power.” Lame statement, made before my mind could catch up to my mouth. The officer walked back to his car.

Sitting there for what seems to be eternity, wondering about a ticket, how much, what my friends going to say, how will I pay this, and on and on. You know how it goes.

Catching movement from the patrol car, the office emerges, placing his cap back on his head. Again his midsection darkens my window, bends over face inches from mine, handing me back the licence and insurance card. “Everything seems in order here. Next time pay attention to the speed limit and your driving. This is only a warning notice. Enjoy your day”

I sigh in relief watching him walk back to his car again. I take a few moments to be thankful. Start the car, driving off to enjoy my day!

enjoy your day

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.

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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
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“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 *

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.