I read some of the Mother’s Day post yesterday on FB and found it nice that people could express publicly their love and devotion for their mothers. I also couldn’t help but think about the people who felt loss or void on this day. This “holiday” leaves me feeling ambivalent.
Either way, it “is what it is” as they say. My day was wonderful and for that I am grateful.
Back to ordinary things…my bees. I have just added the second super and from the look of things my queen bee is very busy laying eggs – thousands of bees have taken residency in Elizabeth’s butterfly garden. My hens are laying and I am picking 2 quarts of blackberries each day – those early spring rains were good for something. All of the above spell some sort of happiness for me, simple and totally procured by nature. I have been stung twice so far, hurts but it’s okay. It’s worth it to be able to look inside of their secret world where everything, however random it appears, is governed by a natural force that gives much purpose to these little creatures.
I am still busy planting my pantry, a place to go for food that I know is clean. A disturbing thought crossed my mind yesterday however, a hurricane could run through my orchard and destroy all of this effort and years of growth. Fruit trees are shallow rooted and so easy to topple (hmmm, this statement could apply to many things). It would be a tough situation for me…but risk is something I choose to take. Anyway, whatever season it is, is my favorite and this spring is not disappointing.
A good friend of mine gave me a small gift long ago when I was actively raising my five children. I was busy like those bees but instead of seemingly random behavior it actually was random – constant movement going in all directions, reacting to life reacting to the moment – somewhat out of control. Anyway, she became a mother a bit ahead of me and knew firsthand what was happening inside my house and inside of myself. One random day, she thoughtfully brought this little refrigerator magnet to me that said “children and gardens need tending each day”. It turned the page for me…that simple thought put my commotion under the heading of normal and told me there were many mothers and others out there that, some days, they seemed to be like gerbils on a treadmill, getting to completion only some of the time but, it was ok. Just tend to your children and your “garden” each day and one day you will look at both and smile…a belated Happy Mothers and Others Day to mothers and “gardeners” who have arrived at this point of realization and feel contentment from their huge and sometimes unnoticed efforts. It all starts to make sense…somehow.
It was a day of ultra-sensitivity. Perhaps it’s that super moon lurking in the heavens – creating some sort of magnetic force that drew out those feelings like a poultice drawing out toxins but instead of poison , positive energy surfaced – making me see how beautiful it all is. Nothing special happened today other than I just ignored any thoughts that were not radiating beauty – I was able to find so much just right here within the edges of my tiny world.
Elizabeth’s graduation june 2013
First and always, my family is safe. There are
things not exactly right, perhaps, by the standards of this cock eyed world but
in my world, it’s all good and that delivers the greatest amount of happiness
and inner peace.
There are the bees – the bee keeper has left them here throughout the summer this year – I am hoping it is because they are still finding nectar and making honey. I watched them for several moments today – watching as they made their contribution to this planet – against all of the harm that mankind has delivered, all of the obstacles man has put forth – they still do their jobs, they do not hesitate.
Then there are the pears that have grown in abundance – allowing me to use so many for smoothies, and more to make pear butter and plenty have fallen and are giving my chickens such a feast.
Even the moments I spent in the house working were wonderful – this old house has kept us comfortable and safe for nearly 30 years. I continually find things here that seem to hide from me until I need to find them – little remnants that soften some feeling that might need to be softened. It’s pretty messy in here and some days I can feel discouraged by it all but not today, today I embraced the piles and saw them as signs of a rich life. I even hung the laundry today – something I have not allowed myself the time to do in a long long time. It was such a Zen experience – taking the time to create a mosaic on the clothesline – watching the wind gently blow it all dry as dragonflies, huge from summer, lit on old wooden clothespins and made me think about a baby girl in a laundry basket watching me.
I found a beautiful scented flower in the backyard – it’s a ginger plant and the fragrance is just like honeysuckles…I cut one and put it in a vase to grace my messy kitchen.
“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” Eleonora Duse
I woke up at 5 this morning – on purpose because it is Saturday, a day I could wake up “unpurposefully”. I wanted to see where my thoughts were at that time of the day, a time when the media was at bay, a time when I could come to my computer to write and not yet be bombarded with each second of the day moving across the screen, images of rape and murders and dirty politics – I wanted to hear my thoughts. It is difficult to find those places anymore, it is difficult to be you anymore – to be still and think their own thoughts – we are always trending.
I have written many times about the natural world being over developed, the woodlands, the forests, the coasts, those places to “be” in are hardly available to us anymore, concrete and corporate have “bought” them and now much of that space is gone.
I am fortunate to have a bit of space that is in a natural state – not that big, but enough. I can walk through the field and spot a morning dove nesting in the tall grass and I can go to the edge of the woods and gather handfuls of honeysuckle to put in my kitchen. I can, in early spring, find wild blackberries to pick and I see the wildflowers bloom in complimentary colors each year, perfectly scattered in the fields and woods.
For me, not being able to experience these simple gifts from the natural world would be the absence of joy – I would not have inner peace, however fleeting it may be at times, if I did not have the natural world to connect to. It is spring and I must put plants in the ground and pick a bunch of wildflowers and honeysuckles and wake up early one Saturday morning in April and listen to the wind chimes in my backyard as I drink a cup of coffee and just be me.
“Selfishly seek joy, because your joy is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. Unless you are in your joy, you have nothing to give anyway”.
I thought this might be a wonderful thought to take with you. Sometimes we feel “guilty” when we are happy and someone we know is not. This perspective helps with that interpretation. I believe happiness is contagious, a habit, and most importantly, what Abe Lincoln declared, a choice.
To begin with, as a foundation, I need a spiritual self – one that truly believes in a higher power and one that insist that we are here to help others and to utilize the gifts we have for the betterment of the whole, for me that is a given, it is my religion. But in matters beyond that, I have this idea that the two things that make us feel good at the end of the day, when we stop and access, are productivity and control.
Productivity is such a rewarding feeling – and the high from it is directly related to the challenge of the task. In my life, I relate it to the job of raising my children (the most important job in the world) or the completion of a painting or a column or pea seeds popping up from the freshly made garden. Some days, I feel productive just cutting the grass, some days I need more, but every day I need something – if I want to feel happiness. I need to feel productive and the more my productivity enhances the lives of others, the better I feel.
And control…I do not mean this in the negative sense – control freak – I mean this in the sense of being the captain of your ship. You have control of your life as opposed to being a raw piece of meat waiting for something to happen to you. I feel like I would like to scale down the possessions and the duties of my life as I get older – I feel this way because at some point I will not be able to do all that I do now; I will lose control…I will need a smaller life to feel a sense of happiness, a life I can control, less is truly more.
This control feature, I believe, has a lot to do with preparation; it is a good idea to prepare for your life, to equip yourself with tools to navigate the dark alleys and the peaks of sunshine – for both, the ups and the downs of life, are inevitable and they will both set you on a course, point you in a direction and the more equipment you have the better your decisions and reactions.
So, there is my two bit philosophy. I am writing this raw this morning because it burst into my head when I looked at the mess in my kitchen. I realized that it was out of control and I was not very productive on the domestic front yesterday – this is a small insignificant example incapable of making me happy or sad but it did make me think of the bigger picture, the important one about my family and how I hope they are gathering tools.
That’s it, just an observation I wanted to share, something to ponder. We are all trying to find happiness and the feeling of contentedness but sometimes we look in the wrong places, sometimes we think we need to have more, do more, but sometimes having more and doing more cause you to lose control and you find yourself in an awkward spin that immobilizes you and then you lose productivity and that saddens you. Again, I have absolutely no qualifications to say what I just said, it is just an observation of my own life that I thought might be something to think about. Control and Productivity – something to strive for, perhaps.
Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There was a night this past week that caused me to feel a sense of pure joy – something happened, something was said, that seemingly came from “nowhere” to tell me a wish was coming true. I was talking to my son, Matthew, on the phone from Boulder. I was busy asking “20 questions”, how’s school, are you eating right, is it cold, etc. when he unexpectedly began describing the morning view from his apartment window. He told me about the sun rising over the Rockies and how it “motivated” him to begin his day and how wonderful it was to wake up that way each morning. In that moment I had such a rare feeling of arrival, that something had “taken”, something worked, someone was listening. For me, and I emphasize, “for me”, this type of reveal means more than anything – people measure worth in many ways, this type of perception and appreciation is how I measure and for Matthew to express this intrinsic feeling to me means I have been granted my wish. I carried that joy around all of the next day and will reflect back on it when I need to – it is there. It is proof that they are listening, they are watching and their fabric is from the bolt that is you. It is beautiful but it is also a responsibility, the greatest of all.
I suppose that is how the universe works; just keep doing what you feel is right and in God’s time, you will hear, “Mom, you should see the sun rising over the Rocky Mountains”.
“I remember one morning getting up at dawn… there was such a sense of possibility… and I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is the beginning of happiness, this is where it starts and of course there will always be more.’ It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning, it WAS happiness.” – Clarissa Vaughn
I just had to post this – it is so thought provoking…
The morning is frosty, and good. It is good because my children are all happy and well. That has become my measuring stick since I have become a mother – my happiness is directly plugged in to their state of being – this is how my life will always be from now until the end. I struggle to even use the word ”happiness” – it is very amorphous and generalized. I am more comfortable using the word content or the phrase, at peace. I can determine where to place the bar on contentedness – I can customize it to fit my outlook and view of all things worldly. As evident in my writing, I am trying, and being pretty successful, at lowering the bar of materialistic/worldly concerns and trying to live my life in spirit. I have, because of this altercation, found myself “at peace” more often than not – I’m not buying into it. I cannot understand how I once lived any other way – I was sucked in by the propaganda that follows us around and tries to penetrate our spirit. It is so freeing to disconnect from that ball and chain but it becomes more difficult to connect with many aspects of society, hence the term, recluse. I am not there yet, but it could happen! I have been blessed with the love of the arts and I look forward to the waning time of tomorrow when I can fill my days with painting and writing and growing my own food – I hope those days will be given to me, I hope to live in a state of peace. Anyway, the autumn air is chilly here and the season of commercialism is upon us – each year tops the one before. Where does it stop? I hope I have been able to instill in my children the value of developing themselves with challenges and intangibles and not relying on society’s morphed and materialistic measuring stick to tell them who they are.
The kitchen was hot this midsummer morning peeling Kieffer pears that had fallen from the tree, fallen from a strong furious wind in the middle of an extremely hot day – trying to cool off the planet but instead made a wreck of my fruit trees. So, here I am in mid-June with a bucket of premature pears. I left some on the ground for the hens – I’ll get them later in the eggs they lay – but I am putting most of them in a crisp or cobbler of sorts. It’s a wonderful summer morning – one I will remember in December when soup is on the menu and holiday anxiety is trying to sneak into my life. I think these mornings are the “times of my life”. I say this with an emphasis on “my”; I don’t include the lives of my family in this, for they are the “reason” for my life and have my total devotion and all of my heart. I say this to refer just to me, if there were just “me” – this would be my kind of happiness, very simple, very non-threatening, very organic living, living that keeps a slow pace that allows awareness and time to extend myself more. My twins were telling me about a study conducted on a college campus about a guy dressed up in a clown suit riding a bike through campus – and when asked if they had seen him, only a very small percentage had even noticed – too busy being “connected” to technology and stress. For that bit of time in the kitchen with my fallen pears, I am content and connected…
I think I am happiest or most content when I think less, “think” meaning prejudge, assume, expect, anticipate – I group all of these words into a negative, toxic bundle. For me, they are destructive. The flip side is to be open to everything and expect nothing – this gives you freedom from stress and the path to some happy unexpected moments. I remember when my kids were little and something big was coming up – a birthday party, a trip, a new bike – my mom would always warn me – “don’t tell them too much”. I get it now (thanks mom) – life is so much more enjoyable when it just happens. Each time I told them, they began to prejudge, expect, anticipate and guess what; their expectation was always greater than the reality of the situation – disappointment. Whereas, if they did not know and here we are on a plane to the Magic Kingdom WOW – happiness.. I remember a much anticipated trip to the Miami Metro Zoo when my oldest was 6. He waited restlessly to get there to see the white Bengal tiger – for some reason, this was fascinating to him. He thought about it , we talked about it, it was paramount – well, the day we made the long trek to south Miami to see this very new zoo and this exotic tiger was one of the hottest on record and the allusive tiger did not come out of his den! Disappointment…1000 miles from home in the Miami heat. His younger brother, on the other hand, had no expectations and whatever he saw was just great for him! His day unfolded and he was happy with those unexpected gifts of his day. My mother in law used to have a little phrase for this – “anticipation is greater than reality”. I have found this to be true most times.That’s why we don’t like to tell someone about something “good” that is about to happen, we might “jinx” it – no, you won’t “jinx” it but what you will do is start prejudging it and in your mind, it will always be flawless and greater than the reality it will become. I suppose it’s just a “glitch” we have – a defense to only allow our thoughts about our future to be “perfect”??
So, I set forth on this journey of my day with as little anticipation and expectation as possible – I have to work on this – and I hope to, at the end of my day, have experienced and more importantly, noticed, the gifts that are there for me. I hope to carry this even further into a metaphysical realm and not prejudge the people in my life, not determine how “I” think they should be and instead, not only accept, but celebrate who they “are” , their true, beautiful, just like God intended being, because , after all, I am just the co – pilot; I have no credentials to fly this ship alone.