Let There be Light

Tapping into my spiritual self to share with you because that is what I am feeling this evening.  With Thanksgiving in the past, I am cherishing the memory of a wonderful, small family/friend celebration complete with fireplace fire to kick high into gear with the magical holiday season.  Raised on Christmas, this former Catholic has broadened her idea of the holidays through cross-cultural interactions to instead embrace winter solstice which to me incorporates all of mankind’s religions and celebrations with Mother Nature’s transformation of darkness into light.  It allows me to wish a sincere Happy Holidays to All.   I still hold onto many of my favorite Catholic/Christian messages, including the concept of communion, The Our Father prayer, Sign of Peace and Jesus’ simple message of “Love One Another.”  I had this in mind as I recently had my kitchen repainted and hung a collage on the wall featuring photos of my family together and happy.  Some photos include relationships that are in flux, yet no matter.  These people represent those that I love, and neither time nor circumstances can change the way I feel about all of those smiling faces.

Honored to have appeared as a guest on the “Welcome to See the Good” blog last week.  Kathy is a fellow writer who administers the site and promotes nothing but positive thoughts and messages, a welcome daily addition to my inbox in between the other inspirational quotes and passages that keep me moving forward and delivering my own words of kindness.

 

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

Earlier this week the first significant snowfall arrived and the new contracted plow guy lived up to his commitment.  MS be damned, temperatures bearable wearing layers and itchy to be active, I tackled the sidewalk and porch with a shovel.  Other than that I was content to admire the beauty of the fallen snow from the inside, researching my next book with a blanket in my lap.  As the snow melted this afternoon, my son’s girlfriend pointed out a heart-shaped grassy area in the snow and pointed it out to me while capturing it with her camera.  I’m delighted to share it here.

Daughter and I dropped off Midge the Wonder Foster Dog to her forever family nearby this week, so I no longer have the company of a one-eyed 40 pound Pit Bull thinks-she-is-a lap dog.  I miss her so much, yet am happy to have passed on her mutual love and affection to others.  This is good practice to adapt as I plan my own fostering dreams for children who need the love that I have to offer here at the Sanctuary.  Meanwhile, other pit bulls wait in the wings as next temporary CLW mascots.  My lap is ready!

I’m grateful for all of the time this retirement concept affords me, yet the “serving heart” part of me yearns to be expressing herself.  I’m working on funding my second floor build and getting to know my close-knit Clarence community.  I joined the Friends of the Clarence Library and Chamber of Commerce to network to see what others are doing and who may be able to help.  I’ve also lassoed the dean at the UB School of Social Work who has offered to assist.  Emotional and mental wellness promotional contacts and opportunities exist in abundance, so I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me!

 

As I write this, loud bangs (familiar at other times of the year) draw me to the living room window and a distant, yet bright fireworks display presents itself on the horizon on this rainy December night.  So refreshing and beautiful!  Once again, it pays to be alert and receptive to the unexpected gifts in life.  Those are always the best.

Sending laughter and light to all!

Love, Mary

Blessings are for Sharing

Woohoo, Thanksgiving is here!  Thanksgiving is every day for me, but I love it when the rest of the U.S. plays along.  Most get excited about the travels home, turkey, pumpkin pie and gatherings.  The gifts we celebrate are togetherness and each other and that’s what I’m all about.   On the weekend before the actual holiday, my small part Native American ancestry is kicking in, imagining how simple and brotherly that first celebration may have been.

This Thanksgiving brings me a renewed sense of magical gratitude.   My recent birthday brought me breakfast courtesy of my daughter.  The afternoon included a vintage kitchen set delivered by a collector.  When I opened my door to greet him, we both were pleasantly surprised to discover we had graduated from high school together.  Back then, his jock and my nerd status would not have us interacting, but 37 years later we caught up with ease in our shared knowledge of whereabouts of classmates and interest in everything antique.  In the evening, I treated myself to the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.  With less than ten people in the theater, I relished in watching the story of some of my favorite performers unfold, accompanied by great music.

“Refirement” brings an amazing sense of freedom. I am rewarded by having plenty of time to heal my MS with exercise, modified paleo diet and a new Vitamix.  For the first time, I will teach myself cooking in a kitchen brightly painted in “Upbeat Yellow” by my son (who accurately described it as the color of a child’s playroom).  I will play on the cloudy winter days in my sunny, beach-themed haven.  All while meditating, napping, meeting and dining with friends and planning Capture Life Writing.

And of course writing.  Celebrating the release of my memoir, Reconciliation of the Heart. I wrote this to heal myself, published it to give others hope and help them heal.  My next book project, I Beg Your Pardon, but I am Not the Least Bit Disordered, will be a combination personal story, history, culture and insights into “mental illness.”   Also, in tribute to Mom, who passed away long ago, I will bring alive her journals from her world travels with her best friend from Kindergarten.  Until now, they have been stored in various closets, sporadically read, waiting for the right moment.  Mom once told me that she had dreamed of being a journalist, but her parents talked her out of it because teaching was a much more practical profession for women at the time.  Hopefully, by sharing her stories I can make her dream come true.

Mom’s experience brings to mind a conversation I had with my son recently when he used the term “lawnmower parents.”   This was a new one for me, so I asked what he meant.  He described a scenario that he had seen played out many times where his friends had expressed their vocational aspirations to their parents and they had responded with reasons not to pursue them…not enough money to be gained, too much competition, etc… thereby mowing down their dreams.  His insight was brilliant, describing what I had seen in my career service work for decades.

Do what’s in your heart and you will not fail.

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

The first of the snow is falling, mixing with the rains, making it slushy. There are delicate flakes falling outside of my window as I write this.  The colder temperatures are keeping me bundled in hoodies and longing a little for the beach.  That will come soon enough as I transition to the Florida move.  For now, I create the second floor expansion to my cozy little ranch house.  When complete, it will be a glass enclosed library/meeting and nature viewing area that will become the Capture Life Writing Sanctuary where I and friends will deliver services for mental and emotional wellness in my beloved hometown of Western New York.  And I know my parents, long parted from this earth, are not mowing down this incredible dream of mine. They are cheering me on instead, sprinkling fertilizer and sunshine down from the Universe.

JOYFUL, ABUNDANT BLESSINGS THIS THANKSGIVING AND ALWAYS, EVERYONE!

Love, Mary

Farewell to the Rat Race

My last day of work was this past Thursday.  I came home and raised a glass to celebrate a career that has spanned three and a half decades.  I sat on my couch contemplating and enjoying the lingering scents of cologne and perfume, reminding me of all the farewell hugs I received.  It is refreshing to be leaving the rat race. Commutes are now a thing of the past and so is setting an alarm with the same digital clock radio that has been waking me up for 37 years.  I bought it at BJ’s for ten dollars to arouse me for my college classes when my Mom told me it was time for me to take the responsibility for getting up on my own (Hint: she wanted to sleep in).

I will miss my co-workers, although personal interaction has dwindled through time as gathering at the water cooler/coffee pot and desks in open space has given way to Tim Horton stops and isolated cubicles and screens.  Voice and emails have added overwhelming volume to communication, interfering with conversation time.  My serving self will miss the students that I assist.  When I started working, many of them were older than I (single and freshly graduated with my Associate’s degree).  A lifetime has passed that included marriage, divorce, raising two children, earning my Bachelor’s and rising up the professional ladder just high enough to help students in a more direct way while keeping me away from administration.  In time that faded too, as software replaced the human touch and interaction was replaced by time for learning those systems.  When two years remained before my retirement and my position was eliminated, I found myself in a job search that had become electronic; dehumanized; the descriptions virtually focused.  The interpersonal and communication skills that I possess were no longer marketable.  I landed a position that was a demotion in title, yet a promotion for me personally in every sense of the word, because it once again put me at the frontline of face-to-face serving that I so love.  I have been blessed to have a career where I was able to always compassionately cheerlead my fellow humans in person.  Left to my personal freedom in “refirement” to make my own decisions based on what brings me and others hope and joy, the breadth of my vocation will unfold and be realized to the fullest on my own terms (based on values rather than policies) through Capture Life Writing.

I leave the University at Buffalo with happy memories of the many friends I have made, events I have experienced, people who have guided me.  And to know that I have had the privilege of assisting the lives of thousands of young adults whether through a smile and quick directions to a building or steering them from internship to career by showing them their worth; that time is its own reward.   Every day I learned something to take with me, and I am grateful.  It’s time to pass the gavel to someone who deserves the same opportunity.  And to dedicate myself to offering sanctuary literally and metaphorically.

 

FROM THE SANCTUARY:

With nearly two weeks straight of cloudy days and inches of rain, many are complaining.  Not me.  The contrast of the yellows, oranges and reds of the maple trees is striking and magnified by the wet and grey skies.  Mother Nature is setting up her autumn decorating by painting a canvas of colored leaf decals on the blacktop driveway, deck and lawn carpet.  Beautiful!  The other day as I watched the leaves fall from the trees, I wondered whether they were victims of the wind or intentional partings, individuals tired of swaying all summer long and ready to give their host a rest to make room for the spring newbies.  The squirrels are racing around, playfully gathering their nuts.  Aside from nearby traffic, the neighbor’s leaf blower is the only outside sound beyond squawking blue jays and migrating geese whose calls reach beyond the stifling of the closed windows.  As I gaze from the inside out at the frosty temperatures, I raise my glass to all I have in this peaceful place, and look forward to a bountiful Thanksgiving.  And in preparing myself for new beginnings in the spring, I rejoice at the thought of accompanying Mother Nature in a restful, rejuvenating winter.

Fond Farewell, University at Buffalo and
Bountiful and Joyful Thanksgiving Everyone!

Love, Mary

Bring Back Relationship Sustainability

In the past three weeks my children have broken up with their significant others. Their friends are doing this too, and the grapevine is strangling with stories of people leaving each other. Separating from your partner is going viral.   After making the decision to leave her fiancé and telling me of others in her circle who are doing the same, my daughter described it this way, “Nobody is angry at one another. We are all just sad.” In all of these relationships, I still see the joy, laughter, love and kindness these couples experience when they are together, but they have lost sight of that in the quest for something better, yet they can’t define what that “better” is that they seek. This is what I experienced three years ago when the love of my life parted simply saying, “It’s complicated.”

“Better” cannot be found in the next available partner, shopping online for anything, acquiring the latest apps, job, getting lost in busyness, or telling the world about it on Facebook. It can be found in quality human connection. We rely on a few clicks of our coveted phones to have a stranger deliver our food or groceries. A summoned Uber driver will instantly deliver us to the airport when a call to a friend or relative can send off or intercept us with a warm embrace instead. What has happened to gathering around a table for a relaxed shared meal to talk about the good in our day, the laughter? Everyone’s in a rush, and car horns that used to be beeped as a friendly “Goodbye” signal when pulling out of a driveway are now reserved to blare in traffic jams. Where is the time to enjoy?

Today we communicate on a quick, superficial, unemotional level through screens, text messages and limited word tweets or shared videos and pics. Through Likes, Comments or Reviews, we express our judgments, opinions and thoughts. Feelings have become secondary, almost inconsequential. Contemplating through uninterrupted reflection and connecting via physical face-to-face communication is avoided, yet it is the best way to truly get to know, understand and appreciate ourselves and each other; to look into each other’s eyes while we are speaking and listening in person, make real friends and fall in lasting love. There is strength and power in expressing kind and honest words because taking time to speak your heart directly to another human being triggers inner peace, cleanses your soul, releases and validates your truth. This also vanquishes anger, eliminates fear and builds trust; brings out all that we were meant to be to each other; while allowing us to return to our intuitive joyful selves. And when you can trust a caring someone (even if it is only your own definition of a higher power or yourself) you will find your way back to happiness, self and relationship. To surrender to ecstatic relief.

Sustainability is the latest trendy word to describe the things we need to do to save the Earth, usually associated with the environment. Yet it is important to think about the sustainability of human joy, happiness, love, friendship, loyalty, commitment. Like many species in nature, these attributes are quickly headed for extinction and without them all else will fail. Promoting ocean cleanup, reducing carbon footprints, eliminating plastic bags and straws and rescuing animals are indeed all worthy causes. But if preservation of human relationships does not prevail, what will the planet be like after physical perfection? Before we can rid the world of its plastic, pollution and global warming, we must fix ourselves from the inside. Learn to feel again; to be kind to others without judgment, love and respect one another. Always. Then, and only then will we be able to recognize the good that exists around and in all of us and from there gather for the causes, see the beauty of Mother Earth and work together to help her from there. There is no need to seek the better when we already have the best right before our eyes.

The dogs and whales can wait, and plastic is not going anywhere.

We all must learn to love and help one another.

 

 

From the Sanctuary:
Fall is taking over the Sanctuary in the form of thousands of stinging hatchlings (today’s photo), brilliant gold shrubs, flocking robins and the hungry birds that devour birdseed in the feeder that I replenish every day. They (and I) were surprised by a majestic visit from a peregrine falcon the other day. Magnificent! It is a joy to watch the birds at my sunset gratitude celebrations, along with the squirrels that are hiding their nuts for the upcoming winter months.

Sharing this recently read:
John Lennon’s Mom taught him that he should strive to grow up happy. In school when he was very young his teacher gave the class homework to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. He turned in the paper with the word “Happy” on it. The teacher returned it saying that John had misunderstood the assignment. John responded, “You misunderstand life.”

Be Happy, Everyone! With each other too.

Love, Mary

The Wonder of Listening/Observing

 

Much has been said about our fight/flight response, hunter/gatherer days in primitive times. Yet I imagine there must’ve been hours back then between sabre tooth tiger attacks when our ancestors were just listening, observing and appreciating their surroundings. No one was talking because language had not yet been invented.

By nature I am a Listener and several people have told me I am a good one. I like that. As our society becomes increasingly entrenched in media and technology, it is a skill not so valued; lost to distraction.   People are talking faster with less attention so traditional dialog is disappearing. Often when I am trying to have a conversation with one person, we experience an interruption by a device, external sources or that person’s distracted thoughts.

I’m grateful that I studied communication in college and that as a writer and wordsmith from toddlerhood, I am keenly aware of language patterns. Being raised on the universal language of Kindness (if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all/be kind to others/the Golden Rule) is engraved in my heart and on my tongue. That language is making a cultural shift, giving way to one I don’t speak or understand. Words to describe experiences of “unfairness” dominate conversation now, backed by anger. Words like “stupid”, “idiotic”, “lawsuit” are prevalent; phrases like “That sucks,” “Can you believe it,” “That’s bullshit” are common. The media reflect that with gloom and doom statistics, crimes, guilty verdicts, tweets. Sponsoring commercials promote medications whose side effects are going to kill us, or lawyers who will get us cash for our victimization. Mistrust runs rampant. Labeled 20 years ago by a psychiatrist has me especially cognizant of the adjectives that formerly were whispered and used to describe individuals, “Crazy, Bipolar, Whack Job, Nuts.” Now those terms are used openly in everyday language to describe everyone, situations, our systems and government.

I recently read a quote that said, “Gossip dies when it falls on wise ears.” So does all negativity. We are all capable of making a choice of what to say, listen to and repeat. Smarter than our GPS’s, we can pause to recalculate and attune to a dialog of positivity and revert to the language of Kindness. We have the ability to turn off the news, listen to music and redirect conversation from what is wrong in our lives (complaining) to what is right (gratitude); to pay attention to compliments, individual achievements, good news, stories and the sound of laughter. Share those and see how much happier you become.

Through quick texts, email, Facebook, phone calls, and constant connection, we have over communicated ourselves into a frenzy of fleetingly emotionless moments. “Undivided attention” is a phrase from the past. Our children will not teach it to theirs because they don’t know what it is. We have the power to change that, one talk at a time.

Go beyond that. Redirect conversation by encouraging others, inquiring with interest, celebrating victories and especially listening device free with enthusiasm when someone is sharing their dreams.

Be a Listener/Observer for a day, have fun and truly hear what people are saying. You will have the pleasure of noticing that people get so caught up in their need to comment they will not notice your amusement. It’s a blast when they mutter so fast that they forget what they were talking about. But the most fun of all is when they speak so quickly that their minds cannot keep up and they rattle on for minutes, sometimes hours, without uttering one complete sentence. In tenth grade Honors English class we called these run-ons. Somehow the concept jumped from the page to verbalization. Only we Listeners and Observers notice. And we love our speaking peeps anyway!

 

From the Sanctuary:

Today I had the pleasure of watching and listening to my little brother passionately play his coveted drums with his band. There I met two friendly women who were retired. One told me that it took her a good five years to slow down after working. So I came home to the Sanctuary with that in mind, taking to the creek a blanket, notebook, and pledge that it would not take me that long to relax. For 1½ hours, I practiced. I lay on my back and listened and observed just as my ancestors did. I enjoyed the “screen” of ever changing cloud patterns, willow canopy, birds, butterflies, spider webs, a peaceful perched mourning dove, three crows, a swarm of gnats, bees and especially the silence. All were awe inspiring, slowing me down. Instantly.

 

Love, Joy and Kindness, Mary

Playgrounds and Empty Nests

In preparation of settling into the unplugged world of Myfi in two weeks, I’ve been spending the past several months establishing an online network through LinkedIn. During my years of helping college students create profiles and encouraging them to join this platform when it was first available, I created my own yet didn’t use it much beyond learning the basics to assist them in reaching out to find internship leads and mentors. So when I jumped on in February as way to connect with likeminded mental and emotional health practitioners, Reiki Masters and holistic-minded folks, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find others with similar values, and I am happy. It is here that I am building my joyful, loving, compassionate kindness network. Wow is there ever a lot of good going on in this world that shows up in my feed and message box every day. In two weeks I will bid farewell to Internet in The Sanctuary, relying instead on local libraries and cafes to provide limited access for free. My attention span and budget are grateful and looking forward to the respite.

Speaking of farewell, I made the appointment to file retirement papers for my separation from the University at Buffalo.   How do you say Goodbye to a place that has been your second home, housing your work family for 35 years? I do it by thanking the Universe for a rewarding career, offering gratitude for a generous pension. It will be awesome to get paid a salary with benefits for not working while  “refiring” into a venture manifested by a lifetime of passions and dreams. Magical. Watch out world, here we come in the form of Capture Life Writing.

Shout out and raising a glass to fellow Linkie Rick-Michael from Australia whose video coincided with my own plans for a weekend filled with play. It featured him narrating a reminder message of play from his gleeful room complete with craft supplies, stuffed animals and even a Tickle-Me-Elmo and made me laugh out loud.  Note:  he’s an “adult” who has thankfully not lost his childlike qualities. That synced with my own “abandon all chores” schedule for a Saturday spent with Godson Jimmy stuffing ourselves at a Chinese buffet for lunch, followed by a picnic in a quaint village with new nature friends and a perfect backyard gathering with friends old and new in a setting under a full moon with lanterns and soft LED lights that resembled a fairy garden. I suppose it was magnified by the presence and hug from someone special to me. Although tables were set up, we arranged our chairs in a circle for group conversation and laughed into the late summer night surrounded by a soft breeze and the sounds of distant barking dogs and katydids.

Sunday brought resting, reading and sending book revisions to my publisher. In the late afternoon Son and family arrived for a barbecue and bonfire. Those are all my ideas of playtime. When the interruption of Monday morning and work arrived, I looked at my kitchen counter, every inch covered with dishes, empty bottles and litter and smiled about the joy those two days had inspired. I cleaned up when I came home, smile still sustained by the memory.

Reflecting on empty nesting lately. It’s been nearly nine months now. My kid peeps are thriving and keep in close touch. Daughter is patiently helping me with social media and technical needs. She recently had a new tattoo with one simple word etched in her skin, “Excelsior.” When I asked her what that meant to her she texted something like, “onward and upward, keep moving forever forward” etc. So proud of this girl!   Because he knows my love for nature, Son sent me photo of four baby robins in a nest atop a fence from his playground (a remote country garage where he tinkers with mechanics). One week later he sent me a photo of the same nest empty with a single leaf settled in it (today’s blog photo). I told him it was too bad he didn’t get the chance to see the babies learn to fly, yet nature takes care of things in her own time, just as my babies knew how and when to fly.  Now they are soaring.

 

Overheard:    My co-worker’s statement on coping with negative comments on Facebook, “I’m embellishing the snarky.”

Son’s girlfriend describing her hair, “My hair looks like 50 shades of I don’t know what.”

 

Keep smiling and playing, whatever that means to you.  And if you don’t know your playground, find or create it!

Love, Mary

 

 

 

 

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.”)

 

 

 

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