Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 16,821 Gratitude

I am so grateful to have spent Monday and Tuesday of this week at Mammoth Cave National Park with my friend, Amy Bogard. One year ago, Amy had the privilege of spending a full month there as the artist-in-residence. In October 2010, she lived on-site, befriended the dedicated staff, and got a behind-the-scenes view of the park that few are fortunate enough to be given. She created a stunning, hand-stitched quilt inspired by her time there and I was lucky enough to get to tag along for its long-awaited delivery and presentation.

The true gift of these past two days was getting to see the park through Amy's "insider" eyes. She arranged for us to take the Violet City cave tour of 3 miles by lantern light. It totally rocked my socks off (pun intended) with its rich story soup of history, science, and myth. Above ground, she knew the best places to go and what should not be missed. Along the way, we were showered with falling leaves and warmed by the hospitality and good humor of those who love what they do and where they get to do it. We marveled at the animal medicine all around us. The wild turkeys were out-numbered only by the deer that were so tame we could stroll within about 10 feet of them (in the parking lot!) before they casually scampered off. The whole of it could not have been more enchanting had it all been orchestrated in advance of and throughout our visit.

Needless to say, I've returned home with my creative well brimming from this brief but bountiful time inside, around and above the Underworld. For this experience and all that it may inspire, I am so very grateful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 16,812 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful ...

To be reminded that we all should love and be loved like this.

To be savoring my way through Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark, by Barbara Hurd.

To be anticipating my own descent into the caves next week and what this experience symbolizes for me at this juncture on my journey.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 16,810 Gratitude

There is a lot to love about October. My neck of the woods has been blessed with an abundance of gloriously warm, bright weather the first half of this month, with turning trees set against azure sky. There have been a couple of grey days thrown in for good measure. Fair warning, I suppose, for what's to come. After the leaves and Halloween decorations come down comes November. The grey days replicate and temperatures drop along with my energy and mood. This transition can be tricky terrain for me.

The third of the wheel of the year which holds November to February may be my personal dark time, but thanks to tools that I've gathered over the years it isn't nearly as difficult to navigate as it used to be.

1) My lightbox is essential from Equinox to Equinox. Twice each day. It works.
2) Walks outside. Rain, snow or shine. Takes motivation, but so worth it.
3) Lunch and artist dates with friends ease my seasonally hermit-ish ways.
4) Massages/reflexology. Essential all year long, but even more so in dark time.
5) Needlework. For me, of the crochet variety. Meditative medicine.
6) Incense. My favorite these days is Juniper Ridge Pinon.
7) Hot tea is essential, but lately I love a cup of miso. So good for you, too!
8) Treks to the library for good books to be read from inside a blanket nest.
9) Soup-making. It isn't the soup so much as it is the process. Soul balm.

Please tell me what you are grateful to have on hand for dark time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 16,804 Gratitude

Every day I think about how I have fallen one day further behind in my 60 in 60 project. I won't lie. Each day a shouldness knot begins to loop and tug in my stomach. But then I breathe, remind myself that there's still plenty of time, and that I am always, always, always free to change the plan, change my mind ... anytime I choose. (You have that freedom, too, my friend.) Yes, even when a deal's a deal.

I am so grateful that I've given myself the gift of space and time to deeply grieve Fred's passing. He deserved it. I deserved it, too.

I am grateful that I've given myself the gift of space and time to deeply celebrate my birthday. The completion of another journey around the sun is worthy of it. I am worthy of it, too.

And I am grateful that I've given myself the gift of full engagement in this particular turn of the wheel of the year. There will be no wistful sighs, as in years past, over missing the the transition from summer to fall. I've been embracing it, wide awake and fully present. All of autumn's magic tricks of light, sound, and sensation have not been lost on me.

What are you feeling grateful right now?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 16,801: Birthday Gratitude

Bright blessings all around as I celebrate my 46th trip around the sun ...

The day started with coffee and scones with a dear friend at a neighborhood shop that has a way of stealing your heart. The wise fellow in the photo above (born through local artist, Michelle Blades) was a sweet gift and shall humbly serve as a precious totem to accompany me on this next leg of my journey. After breakfast, Amy and I were able to steal a walk on the forested trails of a local park. It's something that I always feel called to do on my birthday ... devote part of the day to nature and honor the festive decay around me as the confetti of my own rebirth.

The day kept getting better and better ...

Lunch with my husband in the Hofbrauhaus Bier Garden, just basking in the sunshine and Cincinnati Skyline. A half liter of 1810 Prince Ludwig may have been consumed. And then my favorite dinner was prepared with love at home that night ... chicken enchiladas and homemade cherry cheesecake.

Best wishes from friends and family flowed in throughout the day via phone calls, e-mails, texts, and Facebook. Constant reminders that above all else goes love.

My heart is brimming with gratitude ...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 16,798 Gratitude

Late yesterday afternoon, I finally coaxed myself into doing a little cleaning. I had pretty much done nothing since Fred's passing. There lingered a strange compulsion to stop time and keep everything as it was when he was there. But it was a bright autumn day and it felt like it was time to move forward. So as I wiped this, swept that, and went about putting odds and ends in their place, I was stopped cold in the dining room as I saw the scene below.

The setting sun is prone to shine through our front door and cast an image of itself upon the floor. Always enchanting, yes, but this was spectacularly different. The way that the rays of light were streaming in and dancing in ribbons upon the floor made me wonder if this might be an angelic visitation. Maybe Fred was letting me know that his journey across the Rainbow Bridge was complete and that he's not only okay but happy. My heart felt full.

About an hour later, with cleaning complete, I set about smudging with dried sage. I wanted the blessed smoke to dissolve and dissipate any lingering heaviness and sadness from all of those weeks of worrisome care-giving and vigil-holding. When all was said and done, this was how the light appeared.

Just as we see faces in random patterns and animal shapes in the clouds, I know that the light can play tricks on the eye and appear to be something it's not. But if there was any doubt an hour or so before, this sight sealed the deal. There are angels among us. Not always in the form that we may anticipate, but they show themselves in unique ways when we need them most. Maybe through something that a loved one says. Maybe through a song we hear on the radio as we drive to work. And maybe, just maybe, in the way that the light of the sun streams through a leaded glass window on an October day as we pick up the pieces after saying goodbye to a beloved friend.

And for this I am so grateful ...