Red Balloons and Perfect Days

Fresh off a six-day visit to my second home of Florida, I take a lazy day off in the Sanctuary to enjoy some down time and nature. I took a two-hour nap on the couch, meditation break by the creek and mustered up the energy to do one whopping load of laundry. During my meditation, I was aware of the living creatures all around me. Ants and tiny spiders tickling my skin, an ebony damselfly spending time alternating between my second toe, shin and large blade of grass nearby and a flock of unidentifiable birds roosting at the top of a distant lifeless tree. The welcome sound of the streaming creek obliterated the interruption of the speeders on the nearby road who were oblivious to my peaceful intentions, and I was grateful.

In the evening, after a light dinner of delicious roasted potatoes with tomatoes and fresh basil from my simple herb garden, I sat outside reading Finding My Virginity by Richard Branson, someone I aspire to be like when I grow up. Smiles! At sunset I paused to raise a glass in gratitude as always. For my trip to Florida I stayed with priceless friends, took new ventures to Cape Coral and Pine Island (we scoped out a mango farm where I purchased sea grape honey) and excursions to new eating places. I also had the privilege to introduce myself at the Gulf Coast Writers Association meeting, an organization of over 200 authors that I’ve been a long-distance member of for years. This was my first in-person interaction with them and it was like coming home to meet a new welcoming family.  So heartwarming.

Today I am also grateful for the accomplishments of my biological family, my son’s “new” truck, a 2016 Chevy Silverado. Our banking system would not allow him a loan despite the fact that his credit rating is impeccable. He has grown into a financially responsible young man, so I was proud and unafraid to act as co-signer for him, knowing he will rise to the occasion. His thankfulness toward me, accompanied by the look on his face behind the wheel was its own reward. My foster Granddog got a new Wubba this week as she recovers nicely from eye surgery and heartworms. Life is good!

Today in my garden, I am gifted with the visit of a stunning black and yellow swallowtail butterfly that settles on my swamp milkweed to feed. She spends enough time hovering for me to enjoy and take a few pictures. In the evening I get a better show. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a Mama deer with her fawn inside my neighbor’s chain link fence. Mama scales this with ease and heads to the meadow to feed. I worry about her baby. Mom doesn’t seem to as she wanders off a bit. Baby paces and contemplates her escape, checking out leaping over and crawling under options. Mama glances and seems to send a message, “You can figure this out on your own.”  Just then, baby crawls underneath to freedom in an acrobatic act I would’ve never thought possible. Before joining Mom, fawn’s curiosity is piqued by a red balloon drifting in the field. She approaches and sniffs it before deeming her reunion with Mom more important. She runs away and the two of them prance off together in the tall grass disappearing into the sunset. I am applauding mentally in delight at this sight as the balloon drifts upward and the wind sweeps it off in the other direction out of view, white ribbon trailing behind.

This decoration is merely a random leftover from someone else’s celebration, yet it remains to help me celebrate the end to a perfect day.

Look for the perfect in your days!

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Cursive

Took some time out from the world to escape in The Sanctuary.  In between an assisted living home visit for a reading was my quiet time and ecotherapy and lots of it. A monarch butterfly flitted by and landed on my swamp milkweed. This was a gift from a friend a year ago who promised that it would attract. Promise fulfilled! This exquisite visitor alternated playing and feeding for two hours while I watched and marveled at the relaxed state of its simple state of being. Therefore, I relaxed as well. Simultaneously, a ruby throated hummingbird sipped at the nectar from my bee balm in the garden while a cabbage moth trapped herself in my screened-in area. No worries, I of course freed her.

At dusk, I took a walk and sat down in the grass at a random spot by the creek and inhaled the beauty, which included the sounds of cicadas, blue herons chirping frogs, cooing mourning doves and the view of Queen Ann’s Lace, Poison Ivy and water trickling from a lack of rain. Back in the lanai for the evening, I wondered at the orange lilies with the backdrop of peach from the sunset reflecting on my weathered wooden fence, setting the stage for the fireflies to appear as the sun sinks into darkness.

Raising a glass at sunset tonight for my countless blessings. I spent two weeks cat sitting my friend’s sixteen-year old kitty at her peaceful garden home. No spa could be the equal. Had the privilege of reaching my goal of achieving the great honor of Reiki Master with a spiritual guide and four inspirational seekers in one of the most enlightening weekends I’ve ever experienced.

Celebrated a priceless and rare night out in barbecue form with my two adult biological children minus their wonderful partners to heal past differences, share pale ale and laugh about the future. Add to that a day out with Son’s girlfriend who shared her life’s dreams and goals and plans to carry them out. Wow. All I can say about that is that our so-called labeled Millenials have such a bad wrap and if we Baby Boomers would only take the time to listen to them more we would glean an extraordinary amount of wisdom!

I am three months from a life transition “refiring” from 35 years of serving students at the University at Buffalo to serving those branded with emotional/mental diagnoses, guiding them back to their true selves using the formula that worked with me…the power of words, love, human connection and nature. Grateful to be making the connections I need now and getting the support of the local and world community. As I like to say, we all must learn to help one another.

Lastly, sharing this sign that I saw displayed outside a community center (formerly the first library I ever set foot in as a child). It made this writer’s heart sing that handwriting is back:

“Cursive Lessons.”

 

Happy Summertime Everyone!

Life is Good!

Alas! I have been neglecting my readers and my blog because there has been too much busyness of good going on in my life to deliver it via the keyboard. Until now.

A weekend at the 60th annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage in New York was so filled with fascinating workshops, walks and kindhearted folks that I was inspired to join the planning committee. On the public bathroom wall that weekend I was drawn to the graffiti message, “Love is what you make it.” Yup!

An outing on a blazing hot sunny day at the Niagara Air Show with my Godson proved that the Thunderbirds never get old, even after the umpteenth time of seeing them. My favorite trick, besides them surprising us with their overhead stealthy booming approaches, is watching one separate from the formation creating a giant heart in the sky, provoking collective cheers from us on the ground below. Love is in the air!

In fairy tale style (a surprise proposal during a trip to Ireland), my daughter got engaged to her high school sweetheart and I feel intense joy. I also miss my own Mom who loved her so much. I last saw Mom when she waved to us from her porch as we pulled out of her driveway when my daughter was eleven. She passed away the following weekend in her sleep, and my daughter sobbed for her that entire summer at bedtime. It broke my heart at the time, yet I feel Mom’s presence often, and again when I see the engagement ring.

Son is nearly finished playing Frankenstein with my Grand Truck, Goofy, his project that has taken years and a labor of love that many discouraged. “Sell that piece of junk,” they said. Now he is almost ready to show his bright yellow 1985 GMC that he passionately and patiently rebuilt from scratch with his bare hands, learning his own way and telling his own story. I can’t wait for a ride, if for no better reason than to manually roll down a window and slide the defroster knob from side to side. Smiles!

Wondering lately about the days when American Indian names reflected the attributes of nature and how we progressed from that to diagnostic labels and nasty adjectives to describe people. My latest label is “Recurring and Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.” Exercise, diet and strength of spirit are proving otherwise. As I declared to my physical therapist, I prefer Reversing and Recovering MS. My neurologist is a sweetheart, yet he only has MRI images, historical data and typical patients to work with. He doesn’t deeply know me or my motto, “Underestimate me, that will be fun.” My progress is remarkable.

From the Sanctuary:
I learned through a newspaper article that my neighbor is building an upscale development next to my Capture Life Writing Sanctuary. Exercising his passion for helping people with horses, he is including trails throughout. I went down to introduce myself to him and share my plan to help people through my passion of nature and words and inquire whether I could use his adjoining property. He assured me that there would be nothing but green space next to my Sanctuary and “Yes, because nature is meant to be shared.” It’s refreshing and heartwarming to find someone who shares your dream.

The Sanctuary is filled with the beginnings of summer! Fireflies with an accompaniment of frogs and a whispering breeze through the leaves in the darkness indicate her presence. Mom used to tell stories of capturing fireflies in jars during her childhood, so I know she is here. I was sad to discover upon returning from the nature pilgrimage that a predator (raccoon perhaps?) had invaded the goose’s nest. Mama was gone and the eggs were all empty and broken behind the shed. Grateful that I had not been there to hear what had transpired, I recognized the need for another’s survival and the natural order of things. Life goes on here in the form of a doe bringing her fawn out in dawn and dusk and a collection of adorable baby squirrels. Life is good!

Tomorrow brings my request to the town for a permit to build a second floor for space to host programming on an individual and small group basis to promote emotional and mental wellness for others. Fingers crossed!

Happy Belated Father’s Day with Love to All of You Devoted Dads!
And Happy Summer Solstice to All! Carry that excess light with you.

Love, Mary
(Self labeled today as “One Who Loves All Living Things.”)

 

 

 

Mommy Love from the Snow Globe

From the Sanctuary:

Magic keeps happening here. At last the tree and bush buds have fully emerged and the air is drifting with cottony seeds rather than snowflakes. I feel like I am immersed in the glitter of a snow globe, only warm. Thousands fall at a snail’s pace, taking my blood pressure with them. Exquisitely beautiful relaxation.

The Sanctuary is alive with activity. There is a treasure trove of bumble bees, yellow finches, cardinals, mourning doves, mallard ducks, catbirds, bluejays, red winged blackbirds and orioles all competing in song. ‘Tis a lovely concert. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the baby geese on the shed roof nest. I thought I saw some movement when Mama hopped off for a bit this morning to eat breakfast, so I stepped outside for a closer look. She didn’t mind my presence, but no fuzzy peeking heads yet. An evening visit from a curious deer this week came within 15 feet of my enclosed space. She came closer when I gently called to her during my sunset gratitude ritual, and that made my day. Thrilled to report that the butterfly garden is thriving and Wild Geraniums, Bee Balm and Bachelor Buttons are back. A new shepherd’s hook has been added with extra bird feeders and the hummingbirds have found their way back, yay!

The grounds are taking beautiful shape thanks to the diligent assistance of Son who came and spent a day trimming, shaping mulching, landscaping. He requested my company as he worked, so I tagged along for hours of uninterrupted conversation. This continued after the work was done and well into the darkness while we shared beers on the porch. Priceless!

Proud to announce the arrival of my new Granddog, Midge. Daughter and partner are fostering her as she recovers from eye surgery. She’s a beauty of a Pit Bull and very affectionate, but then again, I’m biased. Kudos to Son’s partner who aligned herself closer to her sea life rescue dreams with the acquisition of a new position at the Aquarium of Niagara Falls. Go Girl!

Mothers Day brought another special landscaping/beer/conversation visit from my son and a backyard party with my Daughter. Flowers (in today’s photo) and a special bracelet she made with a new technique had the message, “It is well with my soul.” She knows me. A belated celebration barbecue brought me a joy-filled day out hosted by Son-by-Love Osmosis, his partner and their Little One Daughter and friends. Precious moments. Also, an afternoon spent with my twenty-something Godson talking about healing and people helping each other did us both good. Since Mom has always been my favorite role, it’s hard for me to describe the way these gatherings and gifts touched my heart. So I will try these words learned from my daughter, Woot and Huzzah! And Thank You!

Capture Life Writing is unfolding and flowing. Reconciliation of the Heart, my memoir of my journey to Joy, Love and Compassion will be at the publisher’s this week, and hopefully to readers this summer. It’s my heart and soul’s greatest work. The evolving plan to deliver mental and emotional wellness from the Sanctuary and beyond is solid enough that my venture coach tells me that I need only the data to seek funding. Since I am number-challenged and data is a four-letter word, I’m reaching out to a friend for that one. Smiles! Meanwhile, life and the Universe keep bringing me the good folks and opportunities to build my dream and I am so grateful.

For a phenomenal good news moment, Google “Rita Ganim Message in a Bottle” for a heartwarming and fun read about how a random act turned miracle by my friend and humor mentor 20 years ago has touched an 11-year-old’s life.

May your Memorial Day trigger many happy memories of awesome times and loved ones!

Love, Mary

 

 

To Wellness and Spring

 

Having fun with the new diagnosis this week. Met the new PT who was filled with nothing but encouragement for my MS after a thorough examination and assessment. Of course this will take some effort on my part, so there is exercise homework to do. I was instructed to get a playground ball, so I selected one with a Batman logo to make it extra fun. Then she gave me some activities to reprogram my brain to improve my physical self. Hey, if I successfully retrained it to reverse the negative thought process, this should be a piece of cake. I’m already feeling better.

Raising a glass in thanks for available treatments and the folks who deliver them. Especially nurse Dan who came to The Sanctuary to administer my latest steroid infusion. He carefully wrapped up the catheter for the next day’s administration. After he left, the orders for day two’s treatment were cancelled, and I celebrated learning that I’m good to go for a month with the exception of the catheter removal that Dan gave me instructions for over the phone. To do this, I stepped way out of my squeamish comfort zone, successfully completing the procedure while declaring out loud, ”Ewwwwwwwww!” More in my league was the Reiki treatment I received from friends that left me energy filled and relaxed for days after. This combination of Western and holistic medicine is doing the trick. I’m so gratetul for those dedicated health care professionals who have it in their hearts to complete those actions daily to serve others.

From the Sanctuary: Spring has sprung! A Canada goose has selected the top of my angled shed roof as a nesting spot just in time for Mothers Day. This tickles my sense of humor because it doesn’t seem very comfortable or safe to me. Like giving birth to my children in a tree, Smiles!

Earlier in the week the temperatures reached the seventies and I spent a glorious evening happily barefoot at last on the lanai with my glass of wine and spectacular show in front of me. As the sun set, I looked around and took in the explosion of leaves on the trees before me. The willows are growing their slender streamers again, adding delicate decorations in contrast to their bold branches. The close by maple tree that progressed from red bud to tiny red leaves has given birth to baby green leaves. At dusk the bats came out exercising their radar and speed against the midnight blue sky, feasting on the newly hatched insects. A mighty bird (owl or heron perhaps) flew out of the creek bed and flapped in slow motion just a few feet in front of me taking my breath away. All of this was accompanied by a soundtrack of peepers and I rejoiced in the showcase until night took over and I couldn’t see anymore.

Heading to bed that night I was at last able to open my bedroom window; less than twenty feet from the creek. Since then, my body relaxes instantly and my mind soothes immediately as I quickly fall asleep to the lullaby sound of the rushing, healing water.

To wellness and spring, may they always be a part of your life!

Until the Pink Goes Away

 

From the Sanctuary: I take a different vantage point in the Sanctuary today as part of my new “Reverse that MS” therapy. The neurologist has ordered some IV steroid treatments which have me alternating crashing for an hour and cleaning/decluttering my house for several more. We’re almost done with those guerrilla treatments, and my closets will miss them. My supplemental self-therapy was great today. Quiet nature walk and photography session followed by lollygagging and meditating in a lawn chair for an hour creekside in the sunshine; a water bottle by my side with ¼ glass of wine inside of it watching the ducks meander by. And now writing. Never saw that on a prescription slip, but it works for me!

I experienced some awesome nature sightings this week. Swooping birds were the main theme: a seagull bravely landing in front of my moving car for a discarded piece of bagel, a nearby hawk that I unintentionally frightened on the way to the mailbox who eyeballed me from a close branch and a heron splashing his way into the creek. A stunning nature scene presented itself one evening as the sun shone through the snow showers with a backdrop of two deer lying down in front of the hedgerow. If snow lingers still in April, at least it presents itself like a holiday card!

Humor came out in full form regarding this persistent winter with a weatherman snapping a snow shovel over his knee and my getting an email inviting me to a golf outing in July with the subject line, “Snow or Shine.” Lovin’ our happy, hearty Western New Yorkers! And as always when we have long winters, the new life in spring happens overnight. Today I’m embracing the fifty degree day with remaining snow on my deck and forget-me-nots all over my lawn.   Now that it is here, the warm weather is even more savored.

At glass-raising time this week: Someone once said to me about the sunsets in Florida, “We tend to take them for granted and don’t pay much attention to them.”   I thought about her words as I watched the sun sink into the Western New York horizon for the umpteenth time. I’m not there yet.   That’s my occasion to pay homage to the good of the day. ALL of the rest can wait until the pink goes away…the dryer buzzer, the mailbox, the garbage, the text messages, the cell phone. There is beauty to be beheld; serenity to be experienced, joyful moments to be cherished. And I don’t want to miss out on them. I notice the birds chirping goodnight, the buds emerging on the trees the swaying pine branches, the ever-changing clouds making way for the visible sun that has been elusive. And as it descends, I celebrate a night out this week at a fundraising dinner for an organization that my friend’s family started in memory of their Mother/Grandmother and my daughter’s role in that, my friend Carol and her kitty, a full week back to work, my job, my Capture Life Writing venture, my medical team, my son introducing me to “trap music,” etc. There is always etc, for the thankfuls never stop coming.

Sometimes you have to create your own sunshine. But today is it is here. May you enjoy it in peace until the pink goes away, and beyond…

 

 

The Magic of Being Held

 

On this Easter Sunday morning during this season of rebirth and renewal, the powers that be are playing an April Fool’s prank by casting giant snowflakes down from semi- blue skies through the sunshine. It really is delightful. I’m held spellbound by the minute-by-minute visual change. Which brings me to the theme of today’s blog, the magic of being held.

As I was waiting for sleep to come the other night comfortably cuddling my teddy bear (never too old to do this), I happened to think about how nice it is to be held. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where hugs were prevalent. I have pleasant memories of my parents hugging each other and me and my siblings often. My father was more warm and fuzzy in this respect than Mom, so when he passed away suddenly when I was seventeen, that physical touch was missing from my life.

It didn’t fully return until the birth of my children years later. Motherly hugs were awesome, offered by my toddlers as they ran toward me, willing arms outstretched. Through the years as they grew into adolescence, those arms became stiff to my loving offerings, reluctantly returned in exchange for some teen need. That changed exponentially when they moved out on their own. I was blessed to receive a strong collective hug from my son and his girlfriend after they made me dinner the other night. And my daughter held me tightly for a time in her arms the other day after learning of a diagnosis I had just received. Pure therapy.

I was lucky to know someone who taught me how to really hug. This man showed me the value of holding someone close for more than just a fleeting moment. We spent many years together, and when we parted at the end of each day, it was always with that glorious embrace and a simple kiss. My head fit perfectly in his chest and I loved the feel of my hands pressed across his back. For me it was the epitome of intimacy. What I took away from those moments allowed me to realize and expand my perspective and ability to hold others.  First, there’s the obvious physical hug. I use this for my family, friends and clients when they are comfortable. I extend the hug handshake when meeting new professionals (placing my second hand over our clasped two). I prefer this over the traditional firm handshake as a warmer introduction and gesture of trust.

I’ve also created imaginary hugs which I can give and feel by reaching out in kindness to strangers, walking through nature, and conjuring up thoughts of loved ones, (departed or not) and bring them into my arms. There are so many ways to hold others beyond the physical. Hold space for them, hold them in the light, hold them near and dear. It all amounts to the same results. The other day in the grocery store line there was a woman in front of me with a baby boy in her cart. He chomped on his teething ring between granting smiles to me as I engaged in friendly conversation with Mom. When she wheeled him out of the store, he held my gaze. Carefree, gleeful; I carried that throughout the day.

When I think about how good it feels to gather others in these examples of holding, I am always brought back to those magical moments with my hugger teachers. I’m grateful for those having become the beginnings to all of the endless ways I’ve learned to share love with my fellow human beings.

 

From The Sanctuary: After a surprise diagnosis of MS this week, I had some forced time off in the Sanctuary for some spring ecotherapy. Noticeables were prevalent as I stood by the creek, inhaled and felt the mud soften beneath my feet. In my stillness the creatures were not afraid to gather. The birds landed on branches close by and called to me and to their mates. A herd of three deer gathered to steal a look. One took a few steps toward me and then changed his mind. A mink snuck out of its nearby den to steal a quick swim before returning to safety. This morning I rescued a starling trapped in the lanai, whispering to him until he let me gently hold him and send him out the door to freedom.

Raising a glass today to wellness, renewal, and the realization of the physical transformation of The Sanctuary into Capture Life Writing headquarters this summer. It will be a healing place!

Hold that thought and Group Hug!