Archives for posts with tag: flowers

I slept well. I woke rested. My coffee is adequate, and I’m content with that. It’s a generally pleasant morning. Sunday’s bit of afternoon aggravation in traffic seems far behind me, and it would be easy to just let that go so completely that I leave myself at risk of repeating that experience for lack of fully considering the circumstances, and how best to care for myself and build lasting emotional resilience such that it doesn’t ever happen again (a lofty, potentially unreasonable goal, also worth keeping a watchful eye on).

The flowers in my garden may bloom on their own, but they do so more beautifully, more generously, more reliably, if I care for them with skill.

This morning I take time to consider what opportunities for self-care got overlooked, or set aside, and which among the later consequences turned out to be unacceptable compromises after-the-fact; it’s a helpful way to re-calibrate what matters most. It’s helpful for ensuring I continue to practice those practices that support my long-term wellness, even where that may occasionally also mean a long-term lifestyle change. (Trust me, making the changes in my lifestyle needed to skillfully support my emotional wellness, over the past three years, has been a journey all its own!)

Are there things I wasn’t doing, that reliably work for me?

Are there things I was doing, that reliably don’t work for me?

Are there things I hadn’t considered previously that, as practices, would support a healthy life, both physically and emotionally, and support activities like late night art shows, all night parties, social weekends, limited sleep, and being generally exceedingly busy? (“Is this an unreasonable expectation?” seems a good follow up on this one.)

Am I doing enough to care for this fragile vessel? (If I answer “no” to this question, are my expectations too high? If I answer “yes”, am I kidding myself?)

This morning I water my garden, turning these thoughts over in my head. Where is the path to success, to balance, to perspective, to wellness…? What path will I take, myself, on this journey through life? What matters most… to me?

What matters to the wellness of the world? Where do I fit in, there?

Every flower has its place in life’s garden.

I reflect on my choices. Am I the woman I most want to be? Am I living up to my promise, as a human being? What does it take to get there? Can I have/do/be that, too?

I reflect on my experience. I’m not hard on myself, although I am as honest as I am able to be from this wholly subjective perspective on my own experience. I could do better.

It’s time to begin again.



It’s morning, and the start of a new work week. I have my coffee, and I sip it contentedly contemplating the good night’s rest behind me, the work day ahead, and the reassuring joy knowing that my traveling partner will return from afar sometime today – although I won’t see him, myself, until tomorrow it feels good to know he will soon be near.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Love is not ‘forever’, generally; it is, only as long as it is, at which point it discontinues being. Some loves are brutally slaughtered by the will or disregard of participants. Some loves fade due to lack of investment or involvement. Some loves linger, maintained and managed, nurtured and valued, until all those doing that loving have passed on from the living to the dead – and a love like that may seem infinite, because all those touched by it recognize something remarkable and it lingers in their recollection. So…not quite infinite, certainly no more infinite than the yearnings that keep the desire for love ever in our attention, and at the top of so many to do lists. I am rambling on about love, although my thoughts were elsewhere, infinity-wise, until my traveling partner pinged me a cheery good morning; hearing from him, of course my thoughts are of love. 🙂

Raindrops on a rose named

Raindrops on a rose named “X-rated”.

I am sipping my coffee and thinking about life’s infinite journey; each day a new experience, each moment my own to engage, to enjoy, to savor, and I am offered a seemingly infinite series of such days, one after the after, each new… It’s not forever, though. My time is now, and will be until…yeah. Death. We are mortal. Life feels continuous. The journey itself seems strangely timeless in some moments, as though it does quite literally go on ‘forever’. Day after day. Moment upon moment. Thoughts. Emotions. Experiences. Dreams. Then, one day, I won’t wake up for another. Approximately infinite, because while my journey continues along a seemingly endless timeline of moments, at some point I, myself, am finite. I sip my coffee, still feeling quite content. Questions of ‘what then?’ don’t distress me; I am here, now. Perhaps there is something, perhaps there is nothing, in either case I am here, now, living my life and generally that’s enough. I haven’t learned all there is to know, yet. I haven’t found my way to the wisest possible perspective, yet. I haven’t mastered the practices upon which I build my contentment in life. I haven’t run out of ideas for paintings – nor exhausted the nearly endless supply of inspiration that fuels that creative work. I haven’t answered all the questions – or even figured out all the best questions to ask. I have not made an intimate sustainable connection with all the worthy beings with whom I might do so in one lifetime. I have not mastered love, Love, and loving – nor have I mastered The Art of Being. There is plenty to do, to experience, and to achieve in this one mortal lifetime – and how magical that there is no rush? Each moment its own, worthy of being savored… Each day unique, worthy of being explored… Each love, each lover, entirely individual and quite special, and worthy of being cherished – however things end. Aren’t we each many beginnings and endings, as beings?

Timeless questions; their greatest value is in the asking.

Timeless questions. Random thoughts. A series of moments.

I’m just saying. It’s a journey – the journey is the destination, and there’s more than enough time to take it moment by moment, awake, aware, alive; we reach the conclusion soon enough without hurrying. Being in this moment, now, and only this one, tends to slow the clock just a bit…or…approximately, seemingly so. I enjoy living most when I let ‘urgency’ fall by the wayside; nothing is more urgent than living my life well, and enjoying each moment I can, and learning something of value from those less enjoyable moments along the way.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

So…this morning I sip my coffee, listening to the trickle of the aquarium, and the hushed sounds of the start of commuter traffic on a busy street somewhat near by, and watching the sky turn from night to day outside my patio door. I am unconcerned with other moments than this one, now. It’s a nice enough moment, as moments go, and somewhat uneventful. A moment on a Monday morning, worthy of being, but not in any way spectacular…letting even such a moment slip away unappreciated, unnoticed, un-lived would shorten my mortal journey in some subtle way…perhaps that’s the point I’m really getting at this morning; now is infinite. Well. Approximately infinite. 🙂

Look deeper. What matters most?

Look deeper. What matters most?

Today is a good day to be engaged in the moment, and living life beautifully. Today is a good day to move forward on my journey. Today is a good day to be reassured that however many minutes of my journey I may share with others, the journey I make is, itself, entirely my own. Today is a good day to choose, to question, and to walk on.  Today is a good day to live without waiting for the right set of circumstances.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

I personally find feeling ‘inspired’ to be a strange state that is neither cause nor effect in any clear and specific way. Sometimes I am inspired by something…which seems an effect, obviously, but I’m not always certain what inspired me. Other times, although I feel inspired I don’t act on it, and it causes nothing, existing merely as a state of being, or sensation. I’m often deeply inspired. I write. I paint. I take photographs. I craft small sculptures. I organize objects in space in a visually pleasing (to me) way. I build and craft things. I am a creative being. I consider myself an artist, and a writer. I write and take pictures pretty nearly every day that I am awake… painting is different. I am often moved to paint, but I only follow through when I have the physical space to work in comfortably, the time to set up and tear down and clean up afterward (having no permanent studio space), and exist in the context of an emotional experience that feels consistent with the inspiration driving my desire to paint; it’s that last one that makes or breaks whether I paint. That last one is as non-negotiable as breathing, and is less a choice of will than a limitation in ability.

Inspiration takes so many forms... flowers...

Inspiration takes so many forms… flowers…



...a quality of light...

…a quality of light…

...a metaphor...

…a metaphor… emotion.

…an emotion.

This weekend I am painting. I’m excited about it, and my consciousness is saturated with inspiration – paintings and ideas that have been lurking in the shadows waiting their turn, queue up with exciting new ideas that arose in the hours since it became a certainty that I’d have the time and space to paint in solitude. At least for now, solitude is the only assurance of having that elusive emotional context within which I paint.

I’ve got inspiration…images…canvas…paint…time…space… and no idea of what will have come of it, when I shake off the drop cloths, fold them up, put away the paint and brushes, and acknowledge that the weekend has ended.  I know I am excited, now. I enjoy the feeling of anticipation, and the internal pressure of increasing inspiration, ideas on ideas, and the fun of making quick notes – not wanting to let a moment of further inspiration ‘get away’.

This will be my first serious exploration of mindfulness, perspective, and sufficiency in my work as a painter. I don’t know what it means to make that observation, and I don’t know what it will mean for my art. I haven’t done much painting living in this particular location, a mere handful of paintings over almost 3 years, and my last productive opportunity to paint was before I got to where I am, now, as a person. I am approaching the weekend with a beginner’s mind, and wide-eyed wonder. What will come of this? I guess I’ll know on Sunday. 🙂

There's always time for a moment of wonder.

There’s always time for a moment of wonder.

Today is a good day to try something new. Today is a good day to be eager, to be delighted, and to share the moment. Today is a good day for art, a good day for journeys, and a good day to love. Today is a good day to change the world.

When I was wee I thought coffee was simply the most horrible thing grown ups had come up with for self-torture. Adulthood had to be fraught with peril for that foul black brew to be anything but deserved for some great wrong-doing, possibly to children. It was bitter. It left a bad taste in my mouth. It just wasn’t good. That’s where I left coffee until I joined the Army.

On a humid, hot, Alabama morning, dizzy with fatigue, and dehydration, I slouched over my breakfast tray in the mess hall – first Army breakfast, first morning of basic training; I just wanted a cool shower and to go back to bed. I was very certain that the whole ‘join the Army’ decision was a huge mistake. While I sat there staring at my uneaten breakfast, toying with the scrambled eggs while I toyed with questions about my judgement as an adult, a drill sergeant’s shadow fell over me, and a white ceramic mug entered my view. The burly man-voice in my ear followed the too-loud-for-this-to-be-real clack of ceramic mug to table with a hearty “drink this, soldier, you’re going to need it!”  Hesitant to do anything to rouse the ire of a drill sergeant, I put the mug to my lips and took a taste. I know what I expected, I know what I got.

For years after that, I drank coffee – with sugar and half n half – like my body was 60% coffee, rather than water. lol I’ve quit once or twice, when my consumption got so ludicrous it had the potential to affect my health. I’ve spent months at a time on decaf, and always gone back to the real thing, eventually.  Years ago I found my way to really good coffee: exceptional beans, from verified sources, well-roasted by local craftspeople, really fresh, ground-to-purpose just prior to use; really exceptional coffee is a very different experience from the Yuban and Folgers my Mom drank when I was a child.  More time passed, and I eventually found my way to buying my own espresso machine; everyone in the house favored really good coffee, espresso beverages, and it was both a better value, and more consistent quality to have our own machine and learn to pull really good shots. Lattes every morning have been the thing, for a long time.

This morning I drink my coffee black.

This morning I drink my coffee black.

In this all adult household, more than one of us is off dairy, either temporarily, or for the long haul.  It’s a recent thing. For me it is likely temporary, but this morning, I am drinking black coffee. It’s been a while since that has been my early morning practice. The taste of coffee is so different without the smooth ease and luxury of a little cream, the sweetness of a bit of sugar.  On top of the simple change to unadorned blackness in my morning cup, we had also run out of our preferred morning beans (if you’re curious, that’s Ristretto Roaster’s ‘Beaumont Blend’ these days).  A quick walk over to the local grocer, and our weekend coffee was assured, but they don’t carry Ristretto Roaster. I got a couple other roaster’s beans for the weekend, and the beans of Saturday and Sunday were by far more pleasant than the beans of this morning, which are strangely reminiscent of Army coffee in the 80s.

So…I write about coffee, this morning. The taste of it, the memories, the importance of the experience… It’ll be black coffee for a while, at least a week, maybe longer.

There are other exciting bits and pieces. My visit to The Grotto on Saturday was lovely, and I got some amazing pictures. It was mildly disappointing, too, because although it is a garden for meditation, contemplation, and even advertised that way, it was quite crowded with large-ish extended families visiting (probably due to the Easter weekend) and they were more boisterous, and louder, than I expected or found pleasant. Gangs of giggling high school girls taking selfies and sharing social network items vocally while they lagged their parents steps were distracting, and quarrelsome couples, or people with fussy children, took the potential for real stillness right out of the experience. It was still worth doing. I got some great pictures, and enjoyed exploring the features on my new camera phone.

Symbols, and messages, in the forest.

Symbols, and messages, in the forest.

It poured down rain the entire time I walked the paths and explored The Grotto. The Stations of the Cross are not my symbols, but the powerful arrangement and beautiful statuary were moving, even so.

There were also flowers that hinted at love...

There were also flowers that hinted at love…

And the soft light filtered through rain and clouds made some blossoms seem luminous.

And the soft light filtered through rain and clouds made some blossoms seem luminous.

Colors stood out from the lush greenery, seeming magical and more exotic than 'real life'.

Colors stood out from the lush greenery, seeming magical and more exotic than ‘real life’.

From a distance, even symbols that are not 'mine' might speak to me of things that matter.

From a distance, even symbols that are not ‘mine’ might speak to me of things that matter.

It was a lovely spring weekend. Flowers, fellowship, and love generally make for a fine weekend I think.

Simple flowers, a rainy day.

Simple flowers, a rainy day.

I took a lot of pictures. The lingering sensation for me is that the pictures somehow capture things I didn’t experience in-the-moment, that day. It is strange to look at them later, and feel those feelings that were missed in the din of chattering school girls, arguing in-laws, and assorted people who’d only come along ‘because it matters so much to her‘. I wonder for a moment, if the ‘her’ I heard referenced so often is a mother, a grandmother, an in-law, or… the woman for whom The Grotto exists, in the first place? She is of many faiths, many religions, many followers; she is woman, herself.

A powerful symbol of life, of love, of family; a woman and child.

A powerful symbol of life, of love, of family; a woman and child.

Well, Spring, that was lovely. Let’s do it again, sometime. 🙂

Well, not literally ‘new eyes’, new awareness is more accurate. It’s been a good weekend for awareness. Spring is on the horizon, too, and my thoughts are full of seeds, flowers, rose bushes, trees that want a bit of pruning, and rich brown earth waiting to be turned, amended, and planted.

A promise of sunny days to come.

A promise of sunny days to come.

This weekend I could be found in the garden. In the rain as often as not, and yes, in the garden. I pruned the plum-tree out by the back fence; two summers I have fussed about tangled low-hanging branches, and the challenges of gathering the tasty fruit. This weekend I took care of that, with love and attention, and aware that soon each branch would be leafy and heavy with fruit. Each cut I made was focused on the tree-right-now, and also on a desired form of tree-later-than-now. It was as much meditation as labor, and I delighted in the experience.

I took time to prune tangled roses and potato vine at the corners of the deck, tying up long graceful canes and branches when I’d completed the pruning. I’m eager to see the outcome, in summer, with leaves and flowers everywhere.

I mixed a couple of favorite blends of wildflower seeds, with some favorite annual garden flowers much less ‘wild’, and eagerly filled pots with rich soil and compost, and a few seeds. (It’s nice to have some containers of living flowers that I can easily move here and there depending on what we’re doing in the garden.) I sowed flower seeds in a couple of borders, and along the barren bank of a small hill that I stared at with some annoyance all summer last year; surely some hardy wild flowers will grow there? I tucked dahlia bulbs between jasmine and clematis vines, near a bit of deck trellis that supports hanging pots that are seeded with nasturtiums and sweet peas. There should be a lot of flowers this year…

‘Should’ is a funny word. It sets the stage for our unfounded expectations, resting them on an illusion of a foundation – a magical world where things do what we imagine they ought to do, for some mysterious ‘reason’, because they ‘should’. I caught myself yesterday, thinking ‘there should be a lot of flowers this year…’  As opposed to last year? When I also planted a lot of seeds? Sure – but last year I wasn’t as patient with the real work of gardening, and often lacked the will to really dig in and push my effort beyond the lethargy and ennui that is often the most obvious byproduct of ‘OPD’ (Other People’s Drama). This year, I am willing to smile at the seeds, the future flowers, the vines that need pruning right now, the roses that want to be prepared for that early bout of black spot in the spring, and understand the work of Love, and the work in the garden, are the same work; tending the needs of Life to grow and thrive. I may have a lot of flowers this year. My garden has that potential. Surely, rather than ‘should’, what I have is ‘may’ – and my will is predictably a factor there, as are my choices. If I don’t water, tend the plants, dead head the roses, harvest fruits, my garden will predictably be less vibrant, less productive, and less ‘full of flowers’. So simple.

There is always work to do in the garden. If I envision an outcome, my effort makes it more likely. If I dread a particular disaster, my effort to prepare and mitigate reduces the effect that disaster may have. If I am stressed, having my hands in the soil, and among the leaves and flowers, soothes my heart. There are a lot of verbs in my garden. Seeing the work of the garden through eyes that resent labor or effort, or feel only the weight of the work, and the commitment, can make it all seem so overwhelming, and a bit lacking in any chance of completion. Seeing the work of the garden through new eyes, each task becomes its own joy, its own moment to be one with Life.

There have been years when my garden held the entirety of what was sane and whole about me in its fragile eco-system. That’s a big burden for small flowers, and it worked out mostly pretty well; here I am. I cherish my garden, each flower, each tree, each paving stone and feeder. Now I get how much more the journey matters than the destination, and even sitting down to prune a potted rose on a rainy day, or slog through a muddy yard to plant wild flowers on a slope, or hang baskets that will soon be filled with flowers, there is joy and satisfaction in each task. I’m no longer frantically working toward a finish line; I’m just working, right now.

My garden is also filled with metaphors. Change. Sufficiency. Joy. Life. Love. All the best things emotion and heart and mindfulness have to offer are right there in the garden, for me. Life’s darker lessons have their moment in the garden, too, and I see them all through new eyes.

Another work week begins, and time to tend a very different sort of garden. 🙂