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Blue Ridge Parkway

It was a glorious, brisk day on the Parkway. The color will be gone soon, but the view will be here forever!

Enjoy!

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BJ

BJ

When it rains, I think of you.

A little girl in blue jeans and her hair in French braids.

We always heard the story of you standing at the window watching the rain fall. Your cheek and your hand pressed against the window pane.

“Pou’in’ down rain.”

I miss you, Sis. I have my memories, but it doesn’t take the place of having you.

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Raindrop Mosaics

I could feel my heartbeat quickening. Just my luck it would start to pour as I pulled into the grocery store. Luckily, I was in my sweats and crocs so getting wet was really not a big deal. As I reached down to turn off the engine, I saw this image. Suddenly this world of dreary rain was transformed into a raindrop mosaic. I just sat there for a few minutes taking it all in.

Yes, I got wet. I couldn’t ‘run’ into the store – crocs are very slippery when wet and as a 64 year old woman, I don’t take those types of chances. Although a bit scraggly looking, I managed to get my shopping done and head back to the car.

My drive home is only about 15 minutes. The rain had stopped, but the show had just begun. The rain mixed with the heat of the day caused steam to rise out of the mountains. It was as if there were fire-breathing dragons nestled between the ridges of the mountains. I was flooded with memories of this same steam when I was a child. I am always a little surprised when childhood memories – locked away for years – decide to surface. We think we have forgotten these little slices of our life, but they are there. Carefully guarded little snippets of every place we have been, tucked away until we call upon them again.

As I turned into my driveway, the steam rising off the asphalt was almost like fog. It was magical. I did not engage my logical brain to try and analyze what what caused the steam, I just took it all in. Yes, magical indeed.

What started as a quick trip to the store under less than perfect conditions turned into what I like to call a ‘breathable moment’.

Breathable moments may be God’s way of telling us to slow down and relax. I need more of those in my life. The funny thing is they are around us all the time. We just get too harried and too busy to take note. My goal is to move a little slower, a little more deliberately.

As I undertake writing a blog every day for 365 days, I will be taking advantage of all the breathable moments I can get. I want to rest my analytical brain and activate my creative and playful brain.

Last night was a good start.

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Weaving Cobweb Ladders

Today I have been strolling through time. I have been in my head a lot and trying to make some sense of where I am emotionally. For the last few years I feel I have been straddling the fence between living and dying. So much loss in my life has brought me to the realization that I am stuck. I need to move on and today I realized for the first time in a long time, that I am ready to do so.

I recently signed up to take what I thought was going to be a rather innocuous online writing class. I’m not sure why I signed up to begin with other than I knew of the teacher, Maitri Libellule, from an online community. She always had my respect so I decided to go for it. I had no idea what to expect and I immediately began to question whether I should do this. I mean, after all, I’m not ‘really’ a writer. I have a history of starting and stopping projects and honestly, l half expected this to turn out the same.

Boy was I wrong. Maitri has created a safe space where a group of very diverse women from across the globe look forward to gathering. Once a week, for two hours, we are guided through some very sacred work. I didn’t expect it. It can make you feel vulnerable and exposed but even so, we all seem to flourish there.

Through my own writing, I have examined people and places I did not necessarily want to visit. I have found a deeper place I had kept hidden – buried almost – because that seemed safer somehow.

What I am realizing is when you bury events, or pain, or even happiness from seeing the light, the darkness seeps into you soul. You don’t realize it. You may not even know it’s happening until something happens to release it all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a therapy session, although the writing can be very therapeutic. This class is designed to remove those things that block us from being everything we can be – everything we were meant to be. I was stuck. I know that. I knew it years ago, but I refused to acknowledge it.

In all the dust, I have found cobwebs which I am now spinning into ladders. I am climbing out. I am finding myself and my voice. My voice has been sad and dark for a long time and I am tired of feeling that way. I have JOY in my life and I want to see it in the full light of day.

So, how do I accomplish such a huge goal? For one, I remain faithful to the commitment to attend The Sunday Night Writing Group For Women that Maitri so generously hosts every week. Secondly, I have committed to join her and blog every day for 365 days. Wow. That sounds overwhelming. What will I talk about? Maybe just my every day life. Maybe my dreams. Maybe my projects. Maybe I will even blog about some of the sadness in my life, but I know I will not make that the prevailing theme of what I write. I do not want to feel stuck any more.

It is a first step. Now I need to decide where to blog – here or on a totally new blog. I have a week or so to decide so I will post here and let everyone know what I plan to do.

I am anxious to explore this time, these feelings, this newfound joy. I am moving into a place of greater joy and that makes me happy. I am so thankful for this class and for the revelations it has uncovered for me. I am moving and movement feels glorious when you have been stagnant as long as I have been.

If you are curious about this class, click the link above and read about it. Currently, registrations are closed, but I urge anyone that earnestly wants to dive deep into their lives through writing to at least check it out. You will not be sorry.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Rumi

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A Year Changes Everything

imageToday is my sister’s birthday. It still takes my breath away knowing she is no longer with us. She was all about living, loving and just being. Last year was the first time since our move to the Carolinas that we were able to spend her birthday together. Our brother and his wife joined us for a simple day of just hanging out, talking and sitting in the rocking chairs on her porch. None of us had any idea it would be the last birthday we would spend with her.

This year, we are celebrating her birthday by spending it with her granddaughter, Joelle. We started the day with pancakes and blueberries and now we are watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It is just the kind of morning she would love. Later we will make chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles and have an Angel Birthday party to celebrate her grandmother….my sister. We will laugh and have tiny adventures in the mountains – just the kind of birthday my sister would enjoy – loving and laughing and staying in the moment.

Life really is precious and fleeting. There are no promises of time so it is so important to enjoy every tiny spectacular moment. the tiniest moments really are the biggest gifts.

Happy Birthday, Sis. I miss you every day. I guess I will always feel like there were not enough days, not enough hugs, not enough ‘I love you’s’. But today, I will stay in the moment, enjoy the little miracles and you will be with me in every thought, every smile and every little miracle.

 I love and miss you SO much.

 

 

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Kicking 2016 to the Curb

To say 2016 was a difficult year is not giving enough credence to all that transpired. I have felt in upheaval almost all year. So many things have happened I can scarcely recall them all. Of course, life has a way of allowing sparkling moments in the midst of heartache and I must acknowledge there have also been some truly sparkling moments!

The year started with a dramatic change in lifestyle. It was a chosen change, but dramatic nonetheless. I was so excited to be near my sister after being so far away for so long. She had been fighting cancer for years and just being close meant the world.

img_2740Unfortunately, five months after I relocated, my sister lost her battle with cancer. Losing her was devastating. Her passing came at the end of a difficult hospital stay and all the family was lost. For me, this was the second sister we lost to cancer, so every sad memory from before resurfaced again. I still have not grieved the loss of my sister even after all these months. I have built a very big and ugly wall that keeps me isolated from my feelings. I know when the moment comes it will be extremely difficult. The funny thing when you lose a sister and there are ‘closer’ family members, I think some people may not realize the depth of the loss. I do not want to diminish the impact her passing had on each and every member of our family – it was SO hard for everyone. Maybe it is my wall, but I felt isolated and alone in my grief – I still do.

A few months prior to my sister’s passing, my brother was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was in treatment but did come to see her in the hospital. I know this loss has had a tremendous impact on him as well. Again, as siblings, I don’t think people understand the impact. We all lost our mother to cancer when we were young adults, and that witnessing and experience never leaves you. My brother and I talk almost every day and his wife is taking such good care of him. I am witness to yet another fighter – strong and defiant – but I know it has not been easy on him.

We also had another cancer diagnosis in my husband’s family so it has been a pretty tough year where family health has been concerned. We are steadfast in our love and support – the fight goes on.

img_7433We were fortunate enough to find a place we loved near the mountains. It has been glorious but even this had it’s challenge. This year we had a long drought and the mountains near us were burning. We had smoke, but thankfully we were never really at risk – others were not so fortunate. The good people of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN, suffered tremendous losses. It makes you realize just what’s important.

My sparkling moments were spectacular – all my children and grandchildren together for the VERY FIRST TIME to help me celebrate my birthday. It was more than I could have dared ask for.  I watched them talk and play and just be here and that was all I needed. It was truly beautiful.

Another sparkling moment occurred when I met four beautiful souls I had never met in person. You would not believe the amazing connections we all shared. It was beautiful. SARK brought us together ages ago and the relationships were built over many years. Such long-lasting connections were not unusual in our group of online friends. Luscious and succulent and even more so in person! It was a beautiful blessing.

I was able to attend a family reunion this year and see cousins I have not seen in – oh – say 40 years or so. My brother was there, too, which made it extra special for me. I’ve learned so much about our family as I have taken the plunge into genealogy, so seeing everyone again and remembering our parents and grandparents was so rewarding. Looking forward to seeing everyone again in 2017.

Then there was the election. No political discussion on my blog other than to say my wildly beautiful and culturally rich family and friendship circles are worried about what lies ahead. If you are in my circle and love me, I expect you to stand beside me and fight for the rights of those I love if the need arises. Enough said. I have faith – for without it I would be lost.

And let’s not even talk about all the amazing musicians and entertainers we lost this year.

But back to the sparkle – I still get the sparkle.  Some of my most sparkling moments are very personal and very private – those protected moments are blindingly beautiful. They involve my heart and soul.

So, I prepare to say goodbye to 2016. It is with a heart that is both heavy and overjoyed at the promise of what the future holds, that I say goodbye to this year of my life. I look forward to 2017 with hope, love and unfailing faith in the inherent good in people. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I just know that I need to focus on the promise of a better 2017. Bring on the JOY!

Cleanse is my word for 2017.

“I dismiss _________ in favor of _________” is my phrase. (There will be a LOT of those phrases!)

theothersideOut with the bad – in with the good. Here’s to crumbling my emotional fortress and allowing myself to feel and grow. And in saying goodbye to this difficult year, I say goodbye to my sister. I really miss you, Sis. More than I think you ever could have imagined I would. My life is forever changed.