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Posts Tagged ‘introspection’

Never Say “Never”

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I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said I would NEVER do something only to wind up doing exactly what I said I’d “never” do.  

  • I said I’d never live in a white house–I now live in a house with white siding.  
  • I said I’d never ride a bike–I now LOVE riding bicycle.  
  • I said I’d never like eating wings because it was ‘barbaric’.  Well, I now thoroughly enjoy sitting down to a heaping plateful of messy wings and tearing into them like a ravenous dog.
  • plus MANY more……..

 

One thing I said I’d never do was to have any kind of vacation place.  My husband had been talking about it for years and I’ve always said that was something I’d never do.  Well………yep, you guessed it, we now own a cottage in a nearby state forest.  As my husband kept showing me picture after picture of cabins, cottages and homes in the woods I continued to adamantly tell him that it wasn’t something I wanted.  Then, one evening he showed me a picture of a cottage that had recently been listed.  To call it ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement, but for some reason my attitude changed and I could immediately see our family spending time at this little cottage in the woods.  Knowing how much our kids loved camping in this area when they were young, I knew they would want to spend time at this little place.  We went to see it with family members and it was unanimous—everyone loved it.  We became happy owners of a little cottage in the woods.

 

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“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)

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Even though I loved the place and expected to enjoy it, I had no idea how much I was going to NEED it.  Just the time we began to spend time there things began to happen within our family.  

  • My daughter delivered our granddaughter 4 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
  • My father, who had been ill, passed away suddenly.
  • Other things happened within the family that brought sorrow.

 

As all of this was happening, I found that spending time at our peaceful, little cottage enabled me to process some of my emotions.  Many nights were spent sitting on the porch praying and crying while coming to terms with some of the grief and fear.  Sitting on that little porch in the woods, listening to the sounds of the forest as nightfall came filled me with a sense of calm.  My soul began to heal as I rocked, cried, prayed and yes, sipped wine

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The “Special” Porch

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This cottage has been something our entire family needed.  We have had several wonderful weekends at the cottage with the kids/grandkids enjoying many things as a family.  

  • sitting around the fire
  • enjoying dinner together
  • falling asleep under the same roof and then waking up together
  • seeing our first bear
  • working on projects together
  • hiking
  • canoeing
  • etc……

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Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.

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One of our hikes

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When I first looked at the pictures of the cottage, I knew it would be a fun place for our family, but I had no idea how healing it would be.  Even though I didn’t know all those things were about to happen-God did.  He gave me something I needed before the need was even there.   I can’t help but wonder how often God does this and we don’t even realize it.  I hope I can become more and more aware of all the ways I’m cared for by my loving God.  

 

I encourage you to never say ‘never’.  You might be saying no to a special gift that God wants to give to you.  It might be something you never wanted, but turn out being exactly what you need.

 

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A Gift from Above

 

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Music has always had a profound effect on me. Certain songs make me want to get up and dance, white other songs are sure to bring me to tears. Music seems to have the ability to reach inside of me and stir my deepest emotions. Depending on what I’m listening to it can be invigorating or calming, healing or even sometimes painful. I’ve often said that music is the “key to my soul”.

 

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In the past few years piano music is the one type of music that can touch me in especially profound ways. At times when I have found myself in a low place it has been the only kind of music that I could ‘feel’ in my soul. It has allowed me to tap into emotions that I had pushed down and tried to ignore. The music has given me an avenue to work through some of those feelings.  It has provided a real sense of peace and of healing at times I needed it the most.

 

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One song in particular can move me like no other—Crisofori’s Dream by David Lanz. The minute that song begins to play my heart comes alive. That song takes me through a myriad of emotions. It begins with a very sad feeling, but there are moments of joy as well. There are several ups and downs during the course of the song and my heart soars and falls along with those changes. One section always makes me feel optimistic and give me a sense that things will be ‘ok’. For me the song always ends with a feeling of peace. The last part of the song is the sad melody, but it somehow gives me a sense of acceptance and contentment.

 

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I’ve listened to that song countless times, but I am now able to feel it in a new way – playing it myself.  I played piano when I was younger, but had given away my piano some years ago. I recently made the decision to play again and bought a beautiful piano. Of course, the first song I learned to play was Cristofori’s Dream. The minute I began to play the opening notes I felt such a sense of ………. I don’t even know what word to use…contentment, peace, passion, healing, excitement, joy and even grief. I knew that I would be spending a great deal of time at my piano.

 

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As I worked on learning the entire song I didn’t really feel the usual emotions due to concentrating so hard on getting notes and inflections right, but as I conquered more and more of the music, I began to experience it in an emotional way. One evening I was playing and at one section I found myself beginning to weep.  Now as I play it, I am able to enjoy it and ‘feel’ the music.

 

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I’ve since learned several more beautiful and moving songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. When I just want to sit down and ‘feel’ the music this will most likely be the song I play.

If you want to ‘experience’ this song, here is a link to it being played by David Lanz. Cristofori’s Dream

 

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An evening at my piano with a glass of wine…….wonderful!

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Playing Cristofori’s Dream

***I was listening to Pandora as I wrote this and just as I was typing the last sentence, guess what song began to play………and yes, it still brings me to tears.  

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 Sulphur Mountain Banff Canada

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The line between courage and craziness can sometimes be blurry. As a 52-year old grandma, I viewed myself as somewhat courageous because I’m still very active—I enjoy many outdoor activities including road cycling and backpacking. My perspective on that, however, has come into question.

 

My husband and I were in Banff, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies, for a business trip and we decided to make good use of the free time before the organized events began. The first day we rode mountain bikes along two fairly easy trails, but then decided to attempt a third more difficult trail. I quickly began to question our choice as it wasn’t a typical mountain bike trail, but had steep banks that had been filled in with loose rocks/gravel because the dirt had been washed away. There were many times as I was slip-sliding my way up a hill or inching my way down another that I was doing some serious praying. (i.e. “Please let me survive this.”) After several hours we did make it back to the hotel in one piece albeit with very tired legs and arms (from holding on so tight to the handlebars.)

 

 

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 Me before the trail got rocky  (thus the smile)

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The next day took my questioning to a higher level. We decided to hike Sulphur Mountain, which is a fairly aggressive four mile alpine hike to the summit. I think under normal conditions we would have been OK, but the trail had a lot more snow than we expected. The trail started out as dirt and mud with little patches of snow , but as we climbed there were more and more sections that were snow covered and slippery. We both found ourselves slipping every once in a while, but then as we neared the top, I made one very poor choice in my footing. I was on a very snowy stretch, but there was a narrow strip of dirt along the edge of the trail and I decided to walk on the dirt since it was less slippery than the snow/ice. Unfortunately, as I set my foot on the dirt, it gave way. I instantly found myself on my back, sliding down the side of the mountain — I mean SLIDING at a fast rate of speed. Please understand that this is the kind of thing I’ve only seen in scary movies, but suddenly I was living it and I was TERRIFIED!

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 Me before the fall (again, smiling before disaster)

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As I slid, I frantically grabbed at any branch, root or plant I flew past. At one point I caught the branch of a pine tree but was moving so fast that I couldn’t keep my grip and began to pick up speed. Just as I lost hope of being able to stop myself I saw a tree in my path and braced for the impact. Luckily, I caught the tree with one of my thighs and finally came to a stop with my legs straddling the tree and my arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life. I breathed a sigh of relief as I could tell that nothing was broken, but that there were lot of cuts and bruises. My husband had started to slide down to try and help me, but its was so steep and slippery that he lost control too. He managed to stop quite a bit above me and we began to talk and try to figure out what to do next.  If we tried to climb back up to the trail by ourselves the risk of beginning to slide again was a very real possibility.

 

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 Trail before it got more snowy and scary

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Just then, some ‘rescuers’ came upon us. There were 3 strapping, young men coming up the trail behind us and my husband called out to them to ask for help. They carefully supported each other and climbed down to help us back up to the trail. Once I was safely back on the trail, I realized that the only way to get out of this mess was to keep climbing and finish the last mile of the hike so that we could ride the gondola down.  (Yes, we could have ridden the gondola to the top, but where’s the fun in that?)  Trying to hike back down under such slippery conditions would have been WAY more dangerous than continuing to climb. After another mile or so of hiking through snow with my shaky legs and stinging cuts we finally reached the top.

 

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At the top—shaky, but smiling

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Back at the hotel, as I got my wounds cleaned and tried to assess whether I needed stitches, I began to ponder the question of whether I’m courageous or crazy. I realized how lucky I was and felt grateful for several things. First, I was very thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I somehow escaped with just scrapes on the back of my arms, larger cuts on my legs and bruises in all kinds of places.  I was also grateful that I had packed mostly slacks and long sleeved shirts for the rest of the week since my arms and legs were NOT very pretty. I was, of course, also thankful that my hands escaped unharmed so I could keep making jewelry. 🙂

 

So…here’s the question…..is a 52-year old Grandma that does somewhat risky things like this courageous or crazy? …. And, even if she’s crazy—– should she stop? I kinda think that crazy isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

 

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Gondola ride down Sulphur Mountain

 

20140517_121807View of trail near the top from Gondola

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PS—Believe it or not, I climbed back on a mountain bike a few days later, but I was VERY nervous and extremely cautious—-basically a ‘chicken’.  I guess I’m going to stay ‘crazy’, but maybe a bit more cautious than before.

 

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Being sick is never enjoyable, but we can find ourselves with unexpected blessings during those times and Good Friday was one of those for me.

The week before Easter I developed a bit of a cough that eventually wound up developing in to a bad case of bronchitis. Not sleeping, coughing and feeling basically rotten isn’t something I wanted for this special time of year. I had hoped to attend the Good Friday service at our church. Unfortunately, I was exhausted from not sleeping and was still coughing a fair amount so I wound up sitting on my couch feeling disappointed—then I saw IT.

I was looking out our back windows at an absolutely gorgeous sunset. The sky was turning vibrant shades of pinks, blues & purples– it was truly breathtaking. My eyes fell on a clump of trees that are off in the distance and all of a sudden I saw an image in those trees that I’d never seen before….an unmistakeable shape of a cross. The longer I looked at it, the more meaningful it became. I saw it as God’s way of reminding me of the true meaning of Good Friday.

 

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I had my husband take this picture and yes, I posted it to facebook. One comment made by a friend stated my feelings perfecty – “Way, way more meaningful than a church service”. It seems that sometimes we think that the only way we can have a spiritual experience is to sit in a church sanctuary, but we need to be reminded that God can meet us wherever we are—even being sick on a couch.

God gave us the MOST incredible gift on the cross that day, but we continue to be given loving gifts . We just need eyes and a heart that can ‘see’ them.

 

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My Good Friday Cross

 

 

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The First Snowfall
Peace on a Snow-covered Path

Peace on a Snow-covered Path

I thoroughly enjoy seeing the first snowflakes of the winter season just as I enjoy other ‘firsts’ of each season….the first daffodil in spring, the first day it’s warm enough for shorts in the summer and the first leaves that change color in the fall.  I’m very thankful that I live in a place that has seasonal changes.  Being self-employed gives me flexibility in my schedule and the opportunity to take advantage of the gifts that comes with each season.

The beginning of winter brings on cozy things like lighting the fireplace, burning candles and digging out the warm, fuzzy slippers.  The lower temperatures of winter also mean that it’s time to bring out the winter coats, hats,  mittens and yes, even the snow boots.    The cold temperatures definitely limit the time I’m able to be out on my bicycle, but as long as it’s above 40 and there is no snow on the ground, I am still able to bundle up and enjoy occasional rides.  When the weather doesn’t allow for bicycling, I can always dig out my hiking gear and head out to the Appalchian Trail for a beautiful, wintry walk in the woods.  When I can’t be out in nature I can be doing something else I enjoy—sitting at my workbench creating some new piece of jewelry and enjoying a nice, hot cup of coffee.

We had our first snowfall a few days ago here in Central PA and as  I sat at my workbench and watched the snow coming down, I decided to take a break so that  my Golden Retriever, Denver, and I could enjoy all that the snow could offer.  I bundled up in all of my winter ‘duds’ and headed out my back door for a walk in the field behind our neighborhood.  Several neighbors keep a path mowed through the tall weeds and trees and it is a perfect place to enjoy a walk in the freshly fallen snow.

Denver, of course, went completely wild, running as fast as he could through the un-marked snow.  I, on the other hand, got partway through the field and just stood still.  There is something so peaceful and calming about being outside while it is still snowing.  As millions of tiny snowflakes begin to lay a white carpet over everything there is a sense of tranquility that comes with that.  This particular morning it was so quiet and still that I could actually hear the snow as it gently landed all around me.  I even allowed myself to be a bit like a child for a bit and turned my face upward and opened my mouth, allowing the snowflakes to land on my tongue.  (yes, hoping that the neighbors were not looking out their windows.:) )

Denver and I were alone in the field and it felt like time almost stood still.  I’ve always found hiking somewhat therapeutic and a time when I can sort through things in my mind, but it is even more helpful when it is snowing.  Taking step after step along the snowy path in the silence of the morning was so refreshing that I almost wished I could go on like that forever.  Being out in that silent solitude can help me to put other things in my life in perspective and can make the other more complicated aspects of my life not seem quite as overwhelming. Unfortunately, after a while, the cold began to seep through all of my winter clothing and I finally had to head in for a hot cup of  tea to thaw out.

As I said in my last post, I am hoping to be more purposeful in how I spend my time and energies.  I hope to take advantage of other opportunities to enjoy many different things that may present themselves in my life.  That day it was stopping the work of the day long enough to do something that is truly good for my soul.  It is my hope that doing things like that will help me to become more ‘present’ and to become more thankful for things that I have a tendency to take for granted……like the beauty of nature.

As I sat back down at my workbench after the walk, I did have a more peaceful and positive feeling.  If only there was a way to bottle that feeling……….or better yet, make a piece of jewelry that could somehow impart those feelings to the person wearing it.  Hmmmmmmmm……….I wonder what that would look like. 🙂

Denver enjoying the snow.

Denver enjoying the snow.

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Whew!

Well, the craziest part of my year is now behind me and I find myself breathing a huge sigh of relief…………..let me explain.

Part of my job involves taking my designs to local shows/festivals to sell. Since I’m not exactly a youngster these shows can be somewhat physically challenging for me and take much of my energy.  This past year I’ve tried to keep the number of shows to one a month except for October which had show 3 weekends in a row.  I was WAY beyond tired when that was finished.

Even though the shows are hard work there are many aspects that I enjoy.  One thing I love is the opportunity to interact with my customers in person.  It is VERY affirming when a customer comes in and says that they had purchased some of my jewelry the previous year and were hoping I’d be back.  I enjoy the feedback and suggestions of the people who stop by my booth.  Some of my design are the result of an idea from a customer.

One obvious thing I enjoy about doing a show is when the sales are especially high.  The shows this past year were all very successful, despite extreme temperatures a few showers and some wind.  The temperatures went from  104 degrees in July to 38 degrees in October.  I’m always amazed at the excitement of the festival attendees despite less than ideal conditions.  Whether they are melting in the heat or shivering ice cold, they are very happy to be out enjoying the fairs and checking out all of the artisan displays. (and buying LOTS of jewelry. 🙂 )

The shows in 2012 went better than I could have anticipated, but now that the whirlwind has passed, my mind has the chance to slow down a bit.  I’ve realized that being fairly busy can have beneficial aspects as well as some potentially detrimental consequences. On the good side, it can keep me focused and give me a clear direction for each day. I am a goal-oriented woman and I tend to start the day with a list of tasks that I hope to accomplish and I almost always manage to complete my ‘list’.  On the down-side, it can cause me to neglect other aspects of life—friends, family and other personal matters.  Now that things have slowed down a bit, I’m faced with a choice of what to do with this more relaxed time of year.  I can allow life to just ‘happen’ or I can make a point of using this slower-paced time wisely.

It may not be the official ‘new year’ and a time for resolutions, but for me, it is definitely a time for some self-care, introspection and a determination to learn to live my life with a clear and meaningful direction.  I hope to be able to reflect on some spiritual and emotional matters.  Yes, I’m sure that I will be making jewelry during much of this introspection, but my thoughts will be more on more personal and important matters and not on the details of some upcoming show.  Even at the wonderful age of 50, I find that I am constantly discovering things about myself, others, and life in general. Human beings are deeper and more complex than I think most of us realize and that means that we must constantly be ready and willing to face the challenges that may cross our paths.  I guess life would be boring if we didn’t continue to grow and change and I can definitely say that my life is anything but boring.

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