Soaking Up The Rays


As many of you readers know, I’ve been on a mission of contentment in my life. Pretty much since I moved almost a year ago…and maybe even some years before that really. Coming to the south was part of that on a number of levels for obvious reasons. Gee, I figured living where it was warm all the time, well, I would just naturally just be happier.

Today I had an interesting realization related to that expectation. Usually this time of year, as midsummer rolled around in New England, I would almost get depressed. I love spring and summer. They were my favorite times of year! You can’t beat the beauty of those seasons in the North–let’s face it! The budding flowers, then in full bloom, the trees filling out with their greenery, the smells and birds. And of course, the lack of snow and cold!!! This was the best part.

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Winters could seem endless there: the blizzards, downed power lines, leaking roofs, shoveling snow, winter jackets/boots/mittens/hats/scarves and frozen body parts, plus the driving. It was all just awful! When those days finally melted away into warmth, it was heaven on earth. Those who haven’t experienced it, well, they don’t know real beauty.

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So when August would come, I would think: summer is half over and that means Fall and that means it will start getting cold soon. I know, silly of me, but I couldn’t help it! The summers seemed so darn short some years and the winters horrendously LONG. And time just moves faster now that I’m older. All the projects one planned for the summer, there was never enough time…

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But I realized today: wait a minute….there IS no real winter here! No fall or snow coming in few months. In fact, it’s lovely weather (although I haven’t minded the hot weather either). It was crazy to think about! I’m tan, have no winter clothes to drag out, no boots to find, no moth eaten hats, no rusty shovels to find…nope, just my flip flops. Yesss!

True, the gardens aren’t as nice. I do miss that terribly. I’m not crazy about cactus or Palm trees, or lizards. But I have seen Cardinals and some other cool birds. Maybe the new place I’ll put up a feeder. And maybe I’ll try some more potted plants. And since it’ll be my own back yard (sort of), I’ll sit out more and enjoy.

You see, I have this tan now–all year round!

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Zoe The Only Child: The Thanksgiving Box


As Zoe lay groggy in bed, she thought about yesterday. It was vacation time from school because it was almost Thanksgiving, so Ma had taken her into the big town to get prepared. This year it was their turn to have the family dinner and everyone would be there–all of Zoe’s very favorite relatives!

Auntie Frieda was Ma’s oldest sister and was Zoe’s secret most wonderful Aunt. She brought special treats for Zoe because she knew that sometimes Zoe was sad that she had no brothers and sisters.  There were others too and everyone would laugh, sing, and eat lots of food! Zoe thought there was almost too much food and she never liked that it was sometimes wasted. She had heard in school that there were many people in the world and in our own country that were hungry.

But this year, as Zoe looked out her bedroom window and saw the pretty leaves that were still left on the trees, she wasn’t as happy as last year. Zoe was thinking about what she saw in town yesterday with Ma and she couldn’t stop seeing it in her head.

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It wasn’t often they went into town! It was kind of far away, and Ma said it was crowded and everything was so expensive. “But this time of year is special sweetheart,” she said with a smile, “and maybe we can start our Christmas shopping too.” It was extra special for Zoe to be shopping and spending time with her Mom, so she grabbed her little purse and they had hopped in their old car.

The countryside was so beautiful as they had driven along and Ma played the radio loudly. Sometimes her Mom would sing–Zoe thought her Ma had a really nice voice, but Ma only laughed and said, “You silly doodle, I sing like a goat!”

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Even though Zoe’s tummy was beginning to grumble for breakfast, she still wanted to lie in bed thinking about yesterday’s trip. She liked to daydream and many grownups told Zoe that she seemed older than her real age.

When Ma and Zoe finally had gotten to town it was buzzing with people. It was a much busier place than her small village! There were so many shops, restaurants and lots and lots of PEOPLE! It was almost a little scary to Zoe. But Ma was right with her and held her hand, so off they went.

After they had walked a while down a big street with lots of cars, Zoe had begun to notice something strange. There were very large boxes on the street and in those boxes were blankets. And on those blankets were people.  Zoe had become confused and could not understand why people would be in boxes on the street.

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“Ma,” Zoe turned and pulled on her coat, “why are there people in boxes? It’s cold outside–won’t they get cold? Why aren’t they inside?” “Oh Zoe dear,” her Mother had said sadly, “those people don’t have a place to go inside. They are homeless. They live in those boxes on the street.”

Zoe stopped walking right there when Ma had told her about these people! They lived in boxes? How could that be? This didn’t see fair, wouldn’t they get sick? “But how do they stay warm at night,” cried Zoe getting very upset. “Sometimes they make fires to stay warm and cook their food,” she had said, and Zoe could tell that her Mother was very sad too.

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Wearily, Zoe remembered all this while she lay in bed. “I know I live in a little house and we don’t have much, but I don’t have to live in a box. I guess I am very lucky,” mumbled Zoe out loud. (She often talked to herself).

Finally she got up and Zoe stumbled through the day trying to help Ma get ready, but kept trying to think about what she could do to help the box people. Wanting to help and to see what it was like not having a home or enough to eat, she began to think of an idea.

That night, after Ma was sound asleep, she tip-toed into the shed. Her Ma would never wake up because she was always very tired from working so hard. Zoe remembered that there was a big, huge box left in there from when the man came to bring the new refrigerator! Zoe decided to drag it in the house and sleep in it.

“I want to see what it’s like for those people I saw in the street,” she thought. Zoe knew she could not do it outside or her Mother would be very worried and upset, but at least Zoe would feel how small the space was–how dark and lonely.

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Zoe pulled it in the living room and tugged in some blankets from the couch. She made a little nest inside the box and crawled in. Inside the box, Zoe felt cramped and whispered, “it’s so dark in here. It’s a little creepy and I’m glad the box is in my house.” She thought about all the people living in real boxes outside that very night and drifted off to sleep having bad dreams about people asking her for food.

In the morning Zoe’s Mom came into the living room and saw a big box in the middle of the floor. “Good gracious,” walking slowly toward the box, “what have we here?” With her foot she kicked the side of it. Of course Zoe’s Ma had seen Zoe’s little toes sticking out the end of the box, so guessed who might have been inside.

The tap woke Zoe and she jumped hitting her head on the inside of her box-home. “Ouch,” she snapped, “where am I? Oh wait, I’m in my box, that’s right, I forgot,” said Zoe as she started to wake up.

“Good morning Sweetpea,” Ma said, “what are you up to with this box?” As Zoe crawled out she explained to Ma about wanting to see what it was like to live in a box. Zoe told her it was spooky and dark last night and way too small. “And I wasn’t even outside!” Zoe said understanding how hard it must be for the people in the streets.

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Zoe had learned some things from sleeping in the box, but it wasn’t enough.  She wanted to do more. In her dreams, the people in boxes had been asking for food. She wondered if maybe she could help by giving food too? Now she really had to think hard about what to do next.

In school kids had whispered about a boy named Joey. They said he dressed funny, was too skinny and didn’t like to play with the other kids. Some of the kids said his family was poor  and they didn’t like him because he lived in a trailer. Zoe never thought Joey was any different. She had always tried to play with Joey on the playground, but he always seemed sad and shy. Zoe thought that maybe she shouldn’t bother him because maybe he didn’t want to play with other kids. She wasn’t really sure before, but now she was wondering about Joey.

Zoe was wondering if maybe Joey didn’t have enough food all the time, or maybe he didn’t get to go to town like she did and buy things with his Ma. Maybe being poor meant that your were sad and afraid to be near other kids. Zoe had heard they came here from another country and were all alone, just like she was in the box last night. Alone and scared.

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Suddenly, she had an idea! Maybe she could invite Joey and his family for Thanksgiving! There was always plenty of food–and isn’t that what the Native Americans did way back in history? Aren’t we suppose to share and be grateful for what we have? “I will ask Ma right now,” shouted Zoe as she ran to her Ma skidding into the kitchen.

Zoe told her Mom the great idea she had about inviting Joey’s family. And, because Zoe had the best Ma in the world, she said yes! So now Zoe just had to find his house and invite them.

She knew that he lived at the end of the village and it wasn’t a very long walk. Ma said she would go too just in case Zoe got lost, so off they went hand in hand, hoping to find the right trailer!

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Once they arrived to the street where Joey lived, it was luck that Joey was outside feeding their chickens! Zoe loved all the chickens in the yard and was happy to see her classmate.  “Hey Joey,” Zoe called! “Oh hi Zoe,” Joey said in his shy voice, “what are you doing here?” “My Ma and I know you are new in town and have no family around here and wanted to invite you, your Mom and Dad for Thanksgiving dinner at our house,” Zoe said with a huge grin on her face!

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Just then a door slammed and out came a pretty woman. “Joey, who are these people,” said a woman with long dark hair? “Mama, this is Zoe from school and her Mother. They want us to come for Thanksgiving dinner! Can we Mama, please? Zoe is my friend!”  The woman looked startled and a timid smile came over her face, “Let me ask Papa first, but that is a very nice thing to ask.”

The woman went back inside and in a moment, Joey’s Papa came out too–he was tall and slim with big muscles. “Hello, I am Joseph and this is my wife Carla. We would be so happy to go to Thanksgiving with you. You see I lost my job and it is very hard now. It is like a gift you ask us. This is what makes America great,” Joseph grinned widely!

Ma gave Carla all the important details of the gathering and they waved goodbye. With everthing settled, Ma and Zoe left and walked home. Zoe felt very good. She knew she wasn’t helping all the people in boxes, but she was helping one family. And now she knew that Joey was her friend!

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Thanksgiving day arrived bright and beautiful. All the guests started pouring in the house and it smelled so good. There was lots of food, almost too much! Zoe did not eat meat, but other people did, so there was all sort of stuff to eat. There was turkey, stuffing, vegetables and LOTS of desserts. Zoe hoped this year nothing would be thrown away. Maybe she and Ma could even give the leftovers to Joey and his family!

Zoe was especially thankful this year. She knew that she was a very lucky little girl. She had a home, even though it might be small, it was not a box on a street. Ma made sure she always had enough to eat and she never had to worry that she would be hungry. Zoe had family that loved her like Auntie Frieda. And this year, she had a special gift: she had her new friend Joey. Plus Zoe had learned how good it felt to be nice to other people, and Zoe thought this was the most wonderful part of Thanksgiving she had ever felt!

ems 1

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Phases


Phases are found in every aspect of nature and life on this planet. Look to the moon and watch it wax and wane in its monthly cycle around the earth. And the lovely butterfly: from larva to amazing gold studded chrysalis and then birthed into flight as a full winged angel. There is the brilliance of Summer painted with color, bursting with food; and the glorious riot of Autumn with trees hung in their last hoorah before the solemn rest of the snow covered quilt of Winter lays the world to rest; and on to Spring where babies and sprouts tenderly crawl and peep to start it all over again.

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These cycles, phases are so numerous, so abundant and obvious that often we simply take them for granted. They beat within us like the ancestral clock that started from when we crawled out of thick slime and our eyes first opened to the great firey ball in the sky. And this clock has not stopped ticking since.

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But there are also the human phases we face. These too may be obvious like the ones where we pass from childhood to adulthood. We celebrate the turning of our phases by weddings, funerals, Bar-Mitzvahs, Baptisms as to honor the next phase into which we are passing.

Some phases are not chosen by us: a divorce therefore making us now a single person, moving out of the once blissful cycle of marriage. Or maybe we were once clean but life, circumstance and inner struggles have moved us into the cycle of addiction. These kind of phases can be painful to pass through, seemingly bottomless pits of despair and pain.

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When we are young these cycles seem to whir by like scenery in passing car, our noses pressing up against the cool window–life flashing by blurred and blending together. But as we grow older we begin to grasp onto phases, realizing that maybe with regards to our own lives, there may be some choice.

Some are surely beyond our fingertips: one can’t stop the wrinkles (no matter how much cream you apply) or the creaking bones. It’s more the direction one’s life is headed and the quality of one’s soul work that may be within our ability to manipulate.

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As we grow older and begin to value the need for quiet and being alone (at least at times), one can begin to hear the song inside one’s own being. All the accumulated time we have spent speeding through our phases and watching the cycles of our world have woven together a story in our hearts. This story, when we sit with it, begins to form a pattern and as it takes shape can clearly lead us down the next phase of our life.

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It is at this point that we do not have to sit back and be unwilling participants in our lives where the world happens around us, or let people do things to us. But rather we begin to steer the boat and head toward the shore where we want to land. This is the beauty of growing older.

So within this phase, I continue to honor the Earth as She tries desperately to follow the phases that She has for millions of years. It is in joy that I watch the birds, plants and animals in their cycles upon this world and the planets, stars and clouds cross the vast sky. And it is with great humility that I now try to move forward toward the next phase of my life.

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Transitioning


It’s been a particularly brutal winter here in New England–long, sub-zero temperatures and ridiculously huge amounts of snow. I’m not fond of winter anyway, but I came into this one with a positive attitude and a new pellet stove. It pushed me to my limits and my pocketbook to the seams.

But now maybe, just maybe I’m seeing some signs of it breaking. It’s starting to transition and the signs of spring are finally, albeit extremely late, are starting to appear.

The red-winged black birds are finally back, accompanied by other familiar song birds who have followed the lengthening light. I’m finally starting to see the sap buckets starting to hang, although I’ve heard the lament of the maple syrup farmers say that it’s way past its usual time. Woodpeckers were out this morning banging deep for the worms and bugs which must finally must be squirming around in the bark of trees. And the local cock was crowing early today as I walked my pups on their daily walk–I haven’t him crowing for months! My raised beds are finally uncovered from the mounds of snow and some of my back yard is starting to show ground. All the bob houses are off the lake now and people are starting to fall through the ice and needing to be rescued! That’s always a sure sign (not a good one!) And there’s that wonderful earthy, snow-melting, fresh smell to the air.

I’m fairly convinced now spring will most definitely will arrive, even if we do get some rogue snow storm in April. Soon I will even see snow drops, crocuses and daffodils! And I can’t wait. It’s been a long winter.

But through this long, dark winter and this transitioning seasonal time, I’ve had time to transition too. I’ve spent a lot of time being within my dark place. This is what the winter is all about: digging in, being quiet and being contemplative. I’ve been trying hard to take the cold, harsh months to take a good look at my life and myself. During these times there has been much I’ve seen that needed changing, growing, harvesting, fertilizing, pruning, seeding and blossoming into bigger things.

Spring is my season…and summer. I love warmth and see it as my time. It is my best time and I hope the seeds that I’ve been nurturing during the winter months can burst forth during the warmer months.

We all have the opportunity for transition in our lives. Many of us are conscious of these times in our lives if we are going through some obvious pivotal point in our life such as a divorce, marriage, graduation or having a baby. These moments change us. But some moments are not as obvious. And some transitional times we can create ourselves.

Ancient humans seemed that these time were more innate and they were often timed by the changing of the season, or the passing of the sun and moon. The celestial time clocks moved their transitions as they had no formal clocks. They too had ceremonies based on major life changes that moved them from one stage of life to another. They were often elaborate maybe lasting more than a day. They understood the importance of transitions, and their spiritual beliefs mingled with their daily lives. Many of our ancestors felt it was vital to their existence to appease entities to have good harvests, good marriages, smooth births and therefore had ceremonies during these transitional times.

Today, maybe because of how busy we feel we all are, we tend to down play most of these types of transitions in life. Some are still important to us, like marriages. But the seasonal ones, are insignificant to most. We don’t celebrate winter leaving and the coming of spring, even though most of us are so joyous about it!  Or when our harvests come in, because none of us even notice anymore. We just go to the grocery store now.

For me, these kinds of transitions are still vitally important. I feel them in my bones and soul. They are important from an ancestral point of view! They connect us to our past, they connect me to my past. When the red-wings come back and I hear them again, when I smell that familiar spring like smell in the air and see that particular day light—all the things I’ve seen so many, many years before, something stirs within me. It connects me to the pattern, the web of life of which I am part, that circle of life on our spinning blue ball.  And it assures me that some things in life are predictable, and in this crazy world, this is a good thing.