Simple Kindnesses

Sometimes it’s a word, a picture, something or someone I observe. Sometimes it’s something someone says to me or something that’s happening in the world. Sometimes it comes to me in the night and pokes at me all day. And sometimes I have no idea where I’m going with my writing, I just know I have to go.

Today it was a stranger in the Publix parking lot. As I was heading to my car after shopping for dinner, a woman in an SUV who slowed in the crosswalk to let me pass, rolled down her window, smiled and said ” You should wear that color (royal blue) often.” Her simple kindness brought a smile to my face and I thanked her before she drove off. I thought about how easy it is to go through the motions of our everyday lives without extending a single kindness to someone else when we’re just trying to get from point A to point Z of our day and check off the multitude of things we have to do. 

I have a “Life Is Good” plaque in my classroom. I do truly believe that, but life is also extremely hard, unfair and heart wrenching at times. Today I was reminded of how a simple kindness could bring joy and perhaps even keep someone from regretting that they even bothered to get out of bed that day. We may never know what our good word or deed means to someone, but each time we reach out we’re actively creating a kinder, gentler world, something I think we can all agree that we desperately, desperately need. 

Peace and Love 

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Fight Like An Epiphyte 

Life is wonderful, except when it isn’t. Not exactly a news flash, but life doesn’t always go our way. We aren’t always given what we need when we need it. Some days we’re sure we got someone else’s delivery of manure and all of our efforts to make something grow from it end up smelling like it. 

Epiphytes, also known as air plants (they don’t have soil to grow in) have adapted to survive by getting their moisture and nutrients from the air and decaying organic debris upon the surfaces they cling to. Without soil to supply them with what they need, they fight to survive by getting what they can, where they can. They’ve become remarkably good at it.

I started walking again today. New year, new resolve, etc., etc. The trees in our Florida neighborhood are rife with air plants attached everywhere. They’ve always fascinated me, their endurance, resilience, their will to survive. Even when detached from a form of life, they can survive. Observing them on my walk, I marveled at the lessons they offer. Nature has a tendency to do that you know. Just by being all naturey and natural it guides us to the answers we seek, if we only look and listen.

If an air plant can do it, we can do it. We are slightly more highly evolved after all. That battle we’re facing can be fought and won, or at least survived. Even the one that has nearly killed us. The will is in us. The “right stuff” we need to do battle is there. And if we feel we’ve lost it, we need to ask for help in finding it. The way will reveal itself, maybe even in the form of an epiphyte or another one of nature’s doctors. 

Fight like an epiphyte.

Peace and Love

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Endings/Beginnings

As this year comes to a close, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Ivy Baker Priest.

“The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.” 

Endings may creep up on us or slap us in the face, whisper quietly or scream obnoxiously in our ears. Whether they seep into our hearts slowly or cause our bloodstreams to gush with pain or joy, each of them is a dichotomy of light and dark, exactly like us. Where one ends and the other begins doesn’t always have a mile marker or a time clock to measure the moment. 

As a child, and especially as a teenager, my entire world crashed and burned or exploded into bits countless times. I remember thinking I would literally die because I wasn’t allowed to attend a certain party or do this or that. There were events and moments I was denied which I believed would tragically alter the course of my life forever. I’m almost positive that didn’t happen.

Through the years I’ve come to understand that endings aren’t inherently bad and beginnings aren’t inherently good. They simply are what they are and very much a part of each other. Both are steps on our personal journeys, our own red roads.

Today our calendars mark the end of 2017, the good, the evil, the beautiful and the ugly. Some of us will make resolutions and acknowledge goals. Mine haven’t changed since I wrote the following manifesto. That fact doesn’t mean I’ve failed, and neither have you if you find yourself making the same resolutions again. Repeating the same goals bears witness to their personal importance.

​You and I were made for joy. Resolve with me to breathe out that paralyzing doubt. Resolve to chase the light, understand the lessons, search for the beauty and swim in the high tides of hope.

Peace, Love and Happy New Year!

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What Was Born of a Styled Instagram Photo

What was born of an styled Instagram photo woke me up,” at four in the morning, tendrils of words, coiling around me like some heady perfume.”* 

Half empty-half full? No matter. What is in the glass is in the glass. Is is more or less? Almost Heaven or nearly Hell? I may look at your glass and make judgements, just as you can with mine. Both perspectives born of experiences, at once as unique and as universal as brain chemistry and DNA sequences. Am I almost depleted or nearly overflowing? Neither of us can pronounce the other’s state, however we can agree that there is room for more. The experiment can and will continue until such time as it doesn’t, by choice or chance. Each of us scientists, deciding the elements, compounds and  mixtures we pour into the chalices of our lives, hypothesizing about, or ignoring our futures, the very act of which, invisibly fuels our everyday perception. We rise each day, experiment, collect data and analyze our results, living and learning, or not. Halfway finished or barely started both require a comma on the way to the next goal line or your grave.

Meanwhile, stay calm and do whatever it is that floats your boat. Drink whatever you find pleasing from your half empty/half full glass, calling it as you see it. Feel what you need to feel. Say what you need to say. Respect the perspectives of others and different from your own. Strive to be kind. Remember to savor the essence of everything. I won’t judge.

Peace and Love


* Alice W. Flaherty, “The Midnight Disease” (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2004)


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Not Even A Thing

Tomorrow I turn 59. I’ll be working, so I woke early this morning to go to the place that makes my heart happiest. Witnessing sunrise at the beach slows my breathing, widens my smile and soothes my soul. Today I’m filled with gratitude for that and so much more. We never know what tomorrow may bring but today I’m most thankful for the love of my family and friends. And that 59th hill? I’ve crossed 58 of them already, so it’s not even a thing. I’m joyfully looking forward to climbing it, with the help of a few more cortisone shots in my knees, a variety of adult beverages and an adequate supply of dark chocolate.

Peace and Love

 

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Through A Different Lens

To see the world differently you have to look through a different lens. 

We can buy new contacts that change the color of our eyes or frame them up in ways that match our outfits or mood du jour. Sure, we can correct our vision, but besides a transplant, can we truly see the world around us or just a certain situation with new eyes? 

The physiology of how we know what we see begins with light entering the retina and ends in the inferotemporal cortex of our brain, which “tells” us what we see. Sounds simple, unless you truly want the details. It’s not just a bio mechanical process though. There’s history on those neural pathways, postcards from the past, in addition to sensory reactions and gut feelings that give collections of atoms and beams of light meaning. 

Besides buying those clichéd rose colored glasses, how do we go about notifying our brains that a sparkling new identity belongs to a certain tattered black and white situation? Nike has the answer. No, not the Greek goddess of victory, although that would be entirely fitting. I’m referring to Nike, the shoe company. We have to “Just Do It”. We alone can change our perception. We alone author our story. We alone have the power to define ourselves and everything that happens to and around us.

Of course there will always be an onslaught of volunteers; people, institutions and organizations eager to tell you how to be, who to look up to and what exactly determines your value. Don’t fall prey to the gloss and the noise. Rise each day and vow to see through the smoke and mirrors. Rise each day and remember to adjust your aperture to the 5 year old you, the one eager to capture each frame of life, to marvel at the minutiae and find inspiration in the mundane. Call out the young hearted you, the one willing to open up and go for that so called cockamamie dream. You’ll be overwhelmed some days and forget. Life is like that. But when you do remember, it’ll be a really good day and I promise you won’t regret it.

Peace and Love

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Indomitable 

Hurricane Irma took part of our Bottlebrush tree. I feel guilty for even saying that out loud when so many others lost entire lives. Lucky us, she must’ve not been that hungry when she blew through here and therefore thankfully left us with everything else. As my treecutter son sawed off one entire side a month or so ago, I cringed at the remains and the new shape. Wanna visit? We’re the house with the lopsided tree. He said not to worry, it’ll come back in no time. This morning as I was leaving for work I noticed he was right. The word “indomitable ” came to mind as the morning sky highlighted the new growth reaching up and out from the chopped off limbs. Tonight I reflect and pray that we may all be “indomitable “, that we can find that force within to carry us up and out of the cut off places we’ve been living in, the fallen ways we’ve  felt and viewed ourselves. May each of us smell hope in the morning dew, hear joy in the simple trill of a morning bird, and see promise in tomorrow’s sky.

Peace and Love

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Moment In Time 


Wooly clouds sailing south,

high tide rolling westward to the shore,

as the sun inched above the distant horizon 

I was struck with a sensory illusion 

of Earth actually rotating,

chosen witness to a holy event 

previously reserved for the stars.

CRR

11-5-17

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House + Love = Home

                                                               

Yesterday marked 13 years that hubs and I have lived in this house. Although he’s been far less mobile than me, it’s the longest time period that either of us have lived at one address. Despite the fact that we’ve had multiple marriages and been around the block, (subdivision, trailer park, town, state, country) more than a few times, it’s one of the many wonderful things we’ve never experienced with anyone else. 

Hubby’s numbers are in the low single digits while my list includes 13 schools attended and 33 houses/places lived in. And I wasn’t a foster kid or a military brat, so go figure. My mobile life seems to be the result of hunter-gatherer, gypsy tendencies, or a “hey the grass is greener over there” type of thing. Being the hard headed, “I’ll find my own truths” rebel I am, it took me a long time to recognize that so called “greener grass” (and several other illusory tricks) as a smoke and mirrors racket pulled off by my own mind.

My midnight musings got me thinking about the characteristics of our physical abode and how they relate to the feelings of home that we’ve been blessed to find in each other’s eyes and arms. The concrete block walls surrounding us represent the sturdiness and strength of our best friends, partners and lovers bond. The high ceilings give a sense of freedom within and the sliders opening up the back of the house to a lanai, provide space for us both to dream and fly. We have cool tile and warm carpet, commensurate to the haven of our relationship, the one place where we both find what we need when the outside world fires us up or freezes us out. Our open floor plan allows us to be together but never feel stuck, the majority of our waking hours. I have my home office on one side of the house and hubs has his on the other. We each have a space (mine is beachy, his orange and blue) dedicated to our selves, personal and symbolic of a healthy independence, but with comfy seating for when we want to share with each other. Plenty of windows allow light to stream in and help maintain that Natasha Bedingfield “Pocketful of sunshine, love that is all mine” feeling.

“Home is where the heart is.” 

Pliny the Elder

“Home is where you hear love within the stillness.” 

Raquel Franco

” Peace, that was the other name for home.” 

 Kathleen Norris

 “Home is where there’s one to love us.” 

Charles Swain

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”

Christian Morgenstern

“Home is a shelter from storms-all sorts of storms.” 

William J. Bennett 

Those are just a few favorites of the multitude of sayings about homes. Certainly those who’ve lost theirs in man-made circumstances or natural disasters feel a huge hole in their hearts, but I found out 18 years ago that losing your home and almost everything in it can sometimes be the beginning of gaining what you’ve always wanted and all that really matters.

Peace and Love

CRR

11-1-17

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Missing Seasons 

South/Central Florida and Autumn, antonyms. 

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