Into the Woods

Several weekends ago I headed into the woods on what was to be the first stop on a local excursion to snap photos for the WPC Local (WordPress Photo Challenge), but I ended up into-the-woodsspending hours alone, exploring the trails; immersed in nature; in solitude; in quiet.

There are three marked trails in this forested area and all three cross over and co-mingle with each other in various locations. Some are well groomed while others are more rugged. Some are even unmarked!

As I travailed through the forest all up in my head, I began to contemplate why an outing as this brings me such solace. I know myself well enough to understand that nature is a very healing place for me regardless of the season or the milieu. I am just as much a zen baby in the woods as I am at the beach. I prefer the beach in the off seasons than in summer and in early morning or evening (during the summer) as opposed to during the day. It is impossible for me to truly hear the ocean’s voice when it is drowning in the cacophony of human jabbering.

In the woods, it tends to be quieter no matter what the season. On this particular trek, I barely encountered a soul despite the beautiful day in Fall. What continued to bubble up in my mind was the sense of adventure that the forest gifts us. While many paths were manicured and marked, I tended to be attracted to the more rugged and unmarked trails I discovered. Why is this? Why do I gravitate to the path less traveled? The path unknown? unmarked2What is it that I am searching for?

I’m not sure I fully understand why the more difficult trail appeals to me, but it probably has something to do with my love of solitude, and maybe even a need to prove to myself that I can navigate successfully on my own. At 54 one would think I should have this ingrained, but I guess I don’t completely, and I’m ok with that. Sometimes I actually do choose an easier route, especially so when visiting the quarry where I rock climb, but I digress.

The other realization and insight I gleaned from this hours long ambling through the wooded wonderland was the multitude of occasions upon which I ended at a crossroads. Which way did I want to go? Which path did I want to take? Which one looked less traveled? But yet, I didn’t want to miss anything hidden within the paths I chose to ignore. Now in this small forest, I can easily revisit and opt to explore the other pathways, even though they wind back around on each other. Not always so in life.

What have I missed by choosing the paths I have walked? Was there a lesson I missed? I don’t have any regrets on where I am in life or of the paths I have taken thus far. I am very decisionsgrateful for what I have, what I have accomplished thus far, and for where I am headed. I like to believe that if I missed a treasure on a path I chose to ignore that maybe either I didn’t need to discover it or that it will appear on a path yet to be chosen.

So I will continue to find nuggets of inspiration and insight as I traipse through the forest, through life, and dare to go deeper into the woods. For there is where the real treasures are hidden, and maybe that is why I am so drawn to the darker, more rugged path less traveled.

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Buddha & Deepak – On Chaos

Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence – Buddha

All great changes are preceded by chaos – Deepak Chopra

Diligence is indeed necessary, especially today , November 8th, for the United States.

Changes are on the horizon….love them or hate them but learn to bend with them as the willow bends with the storm.

Drought

The leaves in my area have been slow to turn, and the colors not all as vivid this autumn due to a lack of rain. We are in a drought. Not a severe drought, but a drought nonetheless. When I heard this from my trainer, several weeks ago, something clicked within me.

Drought. A lack of water, of sustenance, of cleansing. Drought. Physical, emotional, spiritual.  3 That is how I have been feeling. Spiritually in a drought. In need of an emotional and spiritual storm to clear out and cleanse. Wash away the dirt, the grime, the pain, the sadness. Clear away the clouds.

It has taken me a few weeks to write on this. Last week’s storm derailed me.

Several weeks ago I committed to attending a beach retreat scheduled for last weekend. I was so excited to be going to the beach. It had been almost two decades since I had buried my feet in the sand, listened to the waves crashing on the shore, felt the cold water splash my legs, rinse my feet.feet

I was so excited. 20 years since I felt the pull of the water raking the sand from under my feet; jostling my steadiness, sinking me deeper into the shore. It seemed to be just what I needed to correct my drought. A good cry on the beach to jar loose the dirt, the grime, dead debris. I was so ready for this trip. Heading into the weekend with a loose plan, but open to what experiences would come to me.

Alas, a storm came a few days before leaving for the beach. I almost backed out of the trip. Nevertheless, I went. Heavy hearted and wanting so desperately for my internal storm to rage up and vent upon first sight of the mighty waves crashing upon the shore. It didn’t. Maybe tomorrow, I hoped.

The weekend weather was summer’s final appearance; sunny, 70-80 degrees. I was happy. I felt peaceful. I posted photos, sharing my contented moments via social media. I met new people.

I allowed myself to open up a bit yet never manifesting the internal storm continuing to churn within me. I tried so fervently to bring it to a head in my solitude, as I stood in the sand, waves lapping my legs. Epic fail. No tears. No sobbing. No rain. Just endless waves rhythmically bathing the shore.

Feelings of peace, of bliss, of gratitude immersing my soul. Yet deep down, the storm churned, precluding eruption, denying the purge. Nourishing further my drought, or so I thought.

4I felt guilty. Allowing myself to have fun, to be happy; yet remaining aware of the storm within me; the storm taking place 150 miles back home. I felt torn. Sending comforting and consoling texts back home, amidst posting happy photos on Facebook. Grateful for the opportunity to fill my soul, realign with the rhythms of the ocean, yet conscious of the grief harboring in my soul, conscious of those languishing back home.

For two days, I embraced the healing spirit of the tides; cuddled in the arms of Rehoboth’s quaintness, snuggled in my solitude, and acquiesced to the cessation of my drought; albeit not in the expression I preferred.

I wanted a tempest, a mighty monsoon, a deluge, a ravaging hurricane of tears. Instead, wavesmy drought doused with summer warmth, sun-filled heavens, cool sea breezes, and refreshing ocean tides.

Home a week now, the churning storm has subsided; blown out to sea no doubt. My drought is waning with each word I write, each post I share, and each visit with the ones I hold dear. My gratitude is stronger. My blessings are more vivid. Faith and belief are ever growing clearer.

The torrential downpour that never manifested may rear up later down the road. For now, 5my soul, nourished by the ocean, not entirely sated, but no longer parched, can begin once again to flow, maybe not as mighty waves in an ocean, but  at least as a few ripples in a pond.

Such a Wide Net Tragedy’s Pain Casts with its Ripples

Last week, a storm hit, by way of a phone call. A destructive storm. A storm so unexpected, I never saw it coming. I was totally unprepared. A storm so forceful, it uprooted deep 5internal mire. Churning up the darkest, deepest emotions of pain, choices, consequences, life, and death. Churning up unfairness. Churning up loss. Churning up survivors’ guilt. Churning up helplessness. Churning up the inevitable “why” questions that never yield meaningful answers because there just aren’t any.

Churning up anger, first at the ethereal energy or being with which one recognizes and identifies. Anger misdirected because we cannot bear to direct it accurately. Why did you allow this? Why didn’t you prevent this? Why…? Why…? Why…?

Anger at ourselves, also misdirected because we cannot bear to lay it at the appropriate feet. At the feet of the one who left us with consequences for which we did not ask. “I should have…” “I could have…”

Laying the anger at the right feet may come, maybe soon, maybe never, hopefully later. Later; when strength and insight, compassion and love allow us to see that it isn’t really 2anger that we feel; but a deep and painful sadness for what could have been had choices been different. Sadness, deep sadness, for discerning what “free will” unconditionally means; for understanding how “free will” can manifest in others.

How can I console and comfort them when I am crying; aching in sadness at yet another loss. In pain, having gone through this before. In pain, watching them go through this for the first time. In pain, knowing that it may not be the last time. In pain, just wanting the madness that continues to stop. STOP! Please STOP! Damn it, STOP!

Enough loss. Enough death. Enough goodbyes. ENOUGH! Enough souls being removed from this Earth before ever fully gifting their talent. Enough of the Russian Roulette. Enough of the denial. Enough of the “it won’t be me.” This time it was. Enough of the silence. Enough of the pretending it isn’t my responsibility. Enough of the stigmas. ENOUGH! Damn it, ENOUGH!

Why couldn’t he be one of the lucky ones? Why couldn’t he have gotten a second chance? Why couldn’t someone have been there for him, like it was for me? Why…? Why…? Why…? No answers. Only pain. No answers. Only sorrow. No answers. Just “if only’s.”  If only I had… If only he had… If only someone had… If only it had… If only we had…

Family, friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, classmates, administrators, medical professionals, social workers, friends of friends, family of friends, strangers, everyone, 9anyone, someone, but never no one…all thinking the same thoughts, asking the same unanswerable questions, positing the same if only’s… Such a wide net tragedy’s pain casts with its ripples.

What words do I have to console them as we cry together? I can only muster, “I am so sorry that you are going through this.” I whisper, “There are no answers to your questions.” I choke as I say, “I know how painful this is for you” “My heart aches for you.” “I would take this pain from you if I could” All else I think of to say just doesn’t seem appropriate 8for the time. Maybe later. Weeks later. Months later. Maybe never.

So I remain silent, listening to them cry while wiping away my tears, and then softly saying, “Lean on your friends, you all need each other.” “Lean on those in the rooms; many have been through this at least once already.” “Lean on your family; we have been through this before.” “I am here for you.” “You are on my heart.” “I am thinking of you.” “I love you.” Whispering as we hug, “This madness needs to stop.”

Second chances were there. Second chances different than yours, but they were there. Second chances. Third chances. Many chances; just ignored. In there 7lies the pain, the tragedy. An invitation to grab your hand and come aboard….rejected. And so it is with invitations, opportunities, chances, gifts. We can extend them but it is not our place to force their acceptance onto others. Just as we are free to choose when to give, we are also free to choose when to receive.

Free will is a blessing as much as it is a curse. A life lesson you are so young to have to learn. A life lesson you are now so much stronger for having experienced so soon. The “Why’s” 3and “If only’s” will fade in time as you work through the storm of pain and emotions. In your own time, the clouds will clear; you will see the rainbow, remember the joy, and feel only the love you know as EC; your triplet, your brother, your friend.

Daily Prompt: Waiting

via Daily Prompt: Waiting

Autumn. The season of harvest. The season when all of our toil throughout the year is to pay off in a beautiful and abundant yield that we pleasantly reap and celebrate throughout the season. A season to which we eagerly await not just the harvest, but also welcome the unmatched beauty of turning foliage; colors so vibrant and rustic and grounding.

thA season dedicated to gathering. Families and friends gathering to give thanks. Gathering of food for the impending winter. Gathering our thoughts of gratitude. Gathering our unwanted clothing for donation. A clearing out of unnecessary clutter. Simplifying. Preparing. Sharing.

It is nearly the end of October and the leaves here in my area are beginning to change. Check out my Photo Challenge post. And I have been, and still am, approaching the season with great anticipation of an abundant harvest. My yield being the fruits of my labor in launching my writing career.

Here I am, trusting in faith, that I am on the right path. Yet I am questioning my decision. Here I am wondering if I am delusional. Yet I hold tight to the belief that I can live the life of which I dream. That I can design the life I want to live. That I am, indeed, the architect. That I am in tune with my something “special”. That I know my gifts and how to practice them. That following my passion is the solution. Yet, I cannot see my harvest. I do not see anything yet ready to reap. And so, I am waiting, waiting, waiting.

Sometimes waiting patiently and assuredly. Believing that I planted healthy seeds. Believing that I watered them, fed them, and protected them from the weeds, throughout the spring and summer. Waiting patiently for my crop to mature and yield me sustenance.

Sometimes not. Waiting is difficult. Patiently waiting, even more so. How long must I wait I ask? Will there even be a crop I ask? Will it be enough I ask? Do I just suck at gardening I ask? Do I suck at writing I ask? Is 2the Universe really for me and not against me I ask? Am I cut out for this I ask? Can I make it on my own? Can I have this life I imagine? Am I good enough?  What do I have to hold onto if not faith in my ability? Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting for answers. Waiting for my crops to mature. Meditating. Questioning. Meditating. Toiling still. Waiting some more. Believing is seeing I tell myself. Feeding my garden with gratitude, positivity, faith. And yet, waiting still. Is this a season of the starving writer? Is this a season of the abundant writer? Is it somewhere in between? And so I wait…wait…wait.

Cliques fill my mind; some are weeds, some are fertilizer. My timing is irrelevant I know; The Universe delivers in glorious occasion. And so I wait; sometimes patiently, sometimes not.

Nonetheless, I wait, I watch, I toil some more. The season of harvest is upon us and there will be reaping; whether it be a sustainable crop or just chaff from dead seeds remains to be seen. And so I wait….wait…wait.

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Photo Challenge: Local

via Photo Challenge: Local

just-beginningWhat started out as the first stop on a journey of my locality to snap photos for this challenge, ended up being my final destination as well. I just cannot help myself when presented with the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon in the woods, especially in the Fall. What follows are some of the best photos of my hours long hike through the twisting trails of the wooded park. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

 

The trees have just begun turning. I’ll need to revisit in a few weeks after the leaves have had a few more weeks to get their groove on.

Deeper into the woods we go now, exploring unmarked paths and stumbling onto unexpected discoveries.

Each tree a part of the collective woods, yet each tree so unique in its own beauty. The more gnarly and twisted, the more beautiful is each. In bareness, we see each’s true beauty.

And as my journey came to an end today, alas this photo post as well. Stay tuned for a MIRROR post of mindful discoveries from today’s adventurous trek.

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Photo Challenge: H2O

via Photo Challenge: H2O

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Water bubbling in a small tabletop fountain. Water gushing from ornamental garden fountains. The trickling of water from the faucet. A babbling brook. A spring or fall rain shower. Rain hitting the gutters and downspouts. A cleansing shower after a tough workout. The powerful rushing water of streams and rivers. The ocean waves crashing on the shore. The sound of water has always been soothing and grounding to my soul.

My tabletop pagoda fountain that rests on the marble top between the kitchen and dining room provides my endless measure of serenity.

Initially purchased as a watering dish for my cats, it now provides a soothing background sound to remind me to remain mindful. It is a calming lull when I meditate; I can hear its voice wafting into the living room as I lay on the floor, eyes closed, mind emptying.

Its voice is the first sound I hear when I arrive home; I live alone. Its voice is the last I hear as I head upstairs to retire for the night. Its voice is the first sound I hear when I descend the stairs in the morning. Faithful trickling, varying its intensity depending on its water level. Never disappointing. Always comforting and steady.

Water…..sustenance for my body, yes…..but sustenance for my soul, so much more

 

 

 

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Daily Prompt: Realize The Magic of a Lighted Birthday Candle

via Daily Prompt: Realize via Daily Prompt: Candle

rosesYesterday was my birthday. I turned 54. I celebrated the day with an hour of strength training. I arrived before my trainer, as I usually do, to give myself time to change into my lifting shoes. Several minutes later, around the corner came my trainer, carrying the most beautiful bouquet of red-tipped yellow roses. The perfect colors of Fall. I felt so loved, as the staff, and other members of the club wished me a happy birthday. I realized at that moment how much they consider me part of the family, even though I still feel a bit disconnected from them. The disconnect is more of my own doing than from how they treat me. I really need to work on deepening those relationships….pardon the digression.

The remainder of my day was spent on daily tasks like errands, correspondence, and ghostwriting. I didn’t like that I had neglected once again, this blog. But here I am, finally, addressing an aspect so crucial to this blog. Realizations are one of the R’s in MIRROR, after all. Not too many realizations came to mind while working through the remainder of my day yesterday….that is until it came time to get ready for dinner with my family.

We were heading to a favorite local restaurant and on my drive to meet my family, I realized how much I miss the magic of the birthdays I experienced as a child. The simple act of making a wish, blowing out the candle, and believing that your wish will come true is so magical….and I wanted that back!

As adults, we become so jaded as we grow up and learn to deal with the “real world.”I wanted to be that child, making a wish, blowing out the candle, and believing, if even for a few silly minutes, that the magic is real. And so I did.

I asked the waitress if she could add a lit candle to my piece of snicker bar cheesecake, and candleshe was more than willing to appease my inner child. And my family graciously sang happy birthday to me, without me even asking. I recorded the magical moment on my phone and posted it on my Facebook page. And for a few moments, I was that little girl watching the glow and flicker of the candle while everyone celebrated me in song.  And then I closed my eyes, silently stated my wish, opened my eyes, and successfully blew out my candle.

And today I have held on to the magic of my birthday wish, knowing in my heart that it is coming true, even if I must take steps toward its manifestation. Asking is the first step of manifestation, and believing is the second step, active waiting is the third step. Active waiting is simply following inspirations and intuitions that come to you out of the blue and move you in the direction of your wish.

Yesterday I wrote. Today I wrote. Tonight I write again. Tomorrow I will write. And the next day. And the next day. And the next. Until it becomes habit. And when I am at a loss as to what I shall write, there are WordPress Daily Prompts to motivate my mojo. There are Meditations, Insights, Random Realizations, Observations, and Reflections to guide my introspection. So write I shall. Everyday. In some form or fashion.

Happy Birthday to Me!

And my wish is to be…..a writer!

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Pretend

via Daily Prompt: Pretend

 

Pretend: acting or speaking in a way that causes something or oneself to appear in a way that it is not.

Posers. Imposters. Hypocrites. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Masqueraders. Pretenders. 33Deceivers. Frauds. Phonies. Two-faced  ____________….ahh there’s a good one, which is usually followed by some derogatory noun, either gender-linked or not. I’m sure you have already filled in the proverbial blank, without even thinking ;).

Such negative connotations….for adults 😝

Yet, we encourage a child to engage in pretend play. In fact, it is one stage of play that has been defined as necessary for healthy cognitive development. Just Google “Pretend Play and Cognitive Development” and you can spend a day reading the plethora of articles.

Well…..sometimes I just want to be able to play and act like a child!  Yet we hear: “You’re Acting like a child!” “Stop acting like a child” “Act your age!”and many more derogatory 4comments when wanting to pretend, if only for a moment. Yet, somehow “Fake it til you make it” is completely acceptable behavior, and encouraged for adult self-confidence building. Go figure!! I guess I should be grateful that there is one societal acceptable manner in which to pretend as an adult 🙂 Well there’s also Halloween….but I’m not much of a costumer, so I’ll just take the “Fake it til you make it” pass! Thank You very much!

Adulthood, for all its wisdom it is suppose to impart, sure looses a lot of meaning, excitement, and wonder when the child’s play of pretending is removed. Yet we hear of, and see, an inundation of articles touting the importance of reconnecting with our inner child, and yes we surely must. So call me what you will….but I am going to enjoy my 4moments of pretending that I am someone I am not! I’m going to enjoy faking it til I make it! I’m not always going to act my age….I don’t know what that means anyway!  How am I suppose to know what that looks like without falling prey to the precepts of a society or culture to which I do not always want to belong; from which I am trying to pretend to escape in the first place ;).

Don’t get me wrong here, I love who I am but I also want to continue to grow as a human being. To evolve into the most spectacular version of me. So, pretend I will! Fake it til I make it I will! Enjoy the journey I will! All the while laughing pretendersmy way through life……pretending. It worked out well for Chrissie Hynde and her band mates! It will certainly work for me too 😛

Quest

 

via Photo Challenge: Quest

top-out-5-4-quarryI have recently begun the sport of rock climbing as a result of an interest spurred by my brother and nephew. It began with me tagging along on climbing outings and playing videographer with everyone’s phones to capture their climbs and top-outs. Then I actually decided to attempt some indoor climbing and while I never reached a top-out, I realized how much I love pushing my fear boundaries. Yes, I am afraid of heights, but I no longer want my fears to define me and limit me.

Last month I actually decided to send an actual rock face and take on the quest of topping out. My first attempt was a top out on a 5.2 climb (photo to the below, right), about the lowest rating for a climb ;). My second attempt a week later I topped out on a 5.4, the photo you see on the top left!

While mytop-out quest for the top and for more challenging climbs is not progressing as crazily as my brother and nephew, I do enjoy the challenge. There is a powerful feeling that one taps into when ascending a rock. For me, it is not about conquering the rock but working with the rock to reach the top. You learn to trust yourself, your belayer, the rope, and the rock.

 

 

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