Spiderwebs, Skulls, and Stress.

It is the last day in October and I am drying my rosemary-scented hair in the bright, mid-afternoon sun. Beanstalk is playing, uh, learning at school, and that gives me two and a half hours of uninterrupted “me” time. Time to reflect. Meditate. Write. Create. Time to   de-stress.

It is also Halloween, but I really could not care less. I have never been into this wanna-be-holiday. To me, it is just an annoying thing between fall and Thanksgiving and Christmas. I mean, do we really need one more holiday, this time of the year? And can’t I just enjoy the lighted, leafy garland I finally hung on our dining room window, two weeks ago, for ONE minute? Can’t I gaze at my dried orange and pinecone centerpiece a little while longer? Oh, I guess that would kind of be my bad, for not putting it out sooner. But for real. Now I’m supposed to replace the dried oranges, and the pine cones, with spider webs and skulls? Uh. No thank you! It’s bad enough, that by Thanksgiving, I need to put up Christmas. And somewhere in there, I need to squish in, me and my daughter’s birthdays. Those in themselves, would be holiday enough for me! But seriously. It stresses me out. And that’s not even touching the whole costume thing, or any of the other reasons why I don’t celebrate this holiday. The idea of spending a hundred bucks on cheap costumes for all of us, that we will wear only once, puts me into a permanent financial coma.

Maybe I am just too friggin’ practical.

Or maybe, perhaps? I am learning to say NO to things that are not worth the stress they put me under. I hope it’s the latter. Not that it’s so bad, being practical. But…

Back to the rosemary and the sunshine.

A good friend, who also happens to be my chiropractor, asked me the other day what I do to de-stress. I hadn’t really thought about it, recently.

But it’s a legitimate question. Especially now, as we head straight for one of the most  stress-loaded times of the year. After we figure out where to store the halloween costumes, we gotta buy gifts with money we don’t have, and put on dinners and find something to wear for family pictures, and banquets and balls. Makes me wonder: why do we even do this to ourselves? And that’s not even scratching at the political drama that will engulf us for the next three weeks. Just talking about it, makes me wanna move to the Dominican and forget about all of it. And just live!

The reality is that we all need something that combats the beating that our nervous system takes on a daily basis. Just like we need to balance all the junk we eat, with some raw veggies every now and then. Or if you’ve been on a juicing/health binge, like I’ve been, you need to balance all the raw veggies, with a chocolate chip cookie, every now and then! You get the idea. It’s all about balance.

In the same way, if you’ve been filling your brain with negative thoughts and depressing media, for your body’s sake, put something peaceful and relaxing in there, sometimes. Oh and then, consider turning off the tv, for awhile. It’s actually really good for you!

Research shows that stress is acidifying to our bodies. Who knew?? You and I both need to seek out those things that alkalize our stressed-out minds.

So, this. This is what I do. I walk outside. I take a deep breath. I let my hair dry and I let go of worry. Well, at least most of it. And for whatever’s left, I take a bath. Talk to God. Listen to music. Paint. Create food. And dream of the Dominican.

What about you? What do you do with the stress in your life? What are some of the things that you’ve found, that help you de-stress? Please share them in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I am going to breathe in this perfect day. (It would almost seem like spring if my garden was not dead, and the trees were not bare).

I may also try that hot yoga that my chiro recommended. Because I need all the help I can get, with these treacherous times that I live in.

Love, Life, and the Death of a Friend.

I sat down at the end of the day to write about my successful shopping trip that I had yesterday, and how I had scored a ton of produce, for very cheap. I was excited to share my findings, and my photos with you.

That was, until late last night, when I recieved the news that an old aquaintance of mine, a wife and young mother of three, had unexpectedly passed away in her sleep. She was thirty one years old.

As the details poured in, and pictures of her last moments, flooded her Facebook page, I knew it was over for me. I could no longer write about produce, when three precious babies had just lost their Mother. In one instant, my paradigm completely changed, and all I could do was breathe a prayer for this dear family.

I am still at a loss for words. Her family was good friends with mine, back when we lived in Pennsylvania, and her sister and I have remained good friends, through the years. I remember how vibrant and beautiful she was, even back when I knew her. And though I had not seen her in a long while, I caught glimpses of her current life through facebook, and frequent updates from her sister, Mary. I know that she was everything a sister, a wife, a mother, and a friend could be.

My heart is utterly wrecked for all of them. I stagger at the fact that she was a Mother, doing what she loves, like I am a Mother, doing what I love.

I am sure that she tucked her children in that night, the same way she had done many times before. She probably kissed her five-year old and nursed her nine-month old, before cutting the lights, and plopping into bed, tired from her full-time job as a stay-at-home Mom. I don’t know all the details of that last Friday night. I just know that she never woke up. A friend found her, in her bed, the next day at noon, surrounded by three children clamoring for their mother.

It crushes me when I think of those children. Did they know something was wrong? Did they try to wake her? Was the baby hungry? I can’t even fathom why these things happen. Much less, why they happen to three innocent little souls, who are just wondering why Mommy hasn’t made them breakfast yet.

That image has altered my world for the past twenty-four hours. It just hits home for me, in so many ways. Ways that I cannot even begin to describe in this blog.

But above all, I am reminded of how delicate life really is. There are no guarantees, except that it will always be too short. Whether it ends at thirty-one, or at seventy-two. It is never long enough to hug all the people you needed to hug. To give to all the people you needed to give to. To feed all the ones you wanted to feed.

Even ninety-eight years is not enough, to say everything you were sent to say. To channel the infinite love of The Father to a tiny space, a speck in time.

We can, however, take strength and comfort in knowing that if we live and love fully, as my friend, Ruth did, we leave behind a legacy that will live on and carry our loved ones, even after we’re gone. It is that Infinite Love, that will sweep up this family and hold her children, now that she’s not here. I know that her loved ones are finding comfort in the part of God that she left behind.

I am reminded that everything I do here, is an eternal seed. Nothing ever dies, without something else living. And if I, like her, plant the seeds of compassion on the earth, who knows the flourishing shelter it will provide someday, for those I love?

Even in all this anguish, I am confident that when we live from our hearts, the place where God breathes, there is grace for death, even the unexpected death of a thirty-one year old Mother.

Infinite Love never stops loving.

Seasons of Grey.

By now you know that I get a little sentimental this time of the year. And if you’ve been around long enough, you may recall that there is always that one blog post in the fall, where I sort of gush those sentiments. Well, consider yourself warned: this is going to be THAT ONE.

I have come to understand that this is just a part of what makes up this season for me. And I am okay with that. I have come to accept the layers of grey that seep into my soul, every October.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt always catches me on an off-day though. When life is good and I am completely present, and I am driving down a colorful winding road. Actually that’s probably why it happens. I start to think about the person who taught me to appreciate the world I live in. The one who taught me to notice all the shades and textures of life, including the grey. He was my dad. I miss him. Somehow I can’t get through a beautiful fall day like this one, without remembering who he was, and who I am, because of him.

I think about my three-year-old brother and how he never made it to his fourth birthday. I remember how his eyes would sparkle with wonder, much the same way that my three-year-old daughter’s do now. He was so alive and happy, just like her. I think about my Mom and what she has been through. How she could ever bury her child. I shudder and then hug mine a little tighter.

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The evening sun is casting its shadows on a lonely old barn, and I think of all the texture that is my life. The color and the grey. It’s days like this that I remember the seasons that have come and gone in these thirty-three years.

I am thankful for all of them. And I am realizing that seasons are just that. A season. A temporary state of being. One that not only ends, but leads right into the next.

I feel bad for people who cannot accept change. Because everything on this earth changes. Nothing makes me more aware of that than Autumn. Today the leaves are a little bit crispier than they were yesterday. A few more have fallen to the ground. The atmosphere holds a little less moisture, a little more Winter.

The key for me, is to enjoy each moment, as if this is the only moment I get. To notice and appreciate when the trees are green, when they are yellow, and when they are strikingly bare.

I know that I must let go of one season, to fully appreciate the other. There are times that I tend to get stuck in summer, and refuse to accept the fact that life is moving me into fall. Even more-so when fall ends and beckons me into Winter. That is usually when I become frozen and unthankful.

I want to move through all of life’s seasons with the grace of a child. One that not only accepts the changing leaves, but embraces them as a whole new opportunity for fun, an exciting new wonder. One who doesn’t pine for the sandbox when I’ve got a pile of leaves to jump into. One that lets go easily of what was, for that which is, right now.

So while I miss the people that once colored my life, I am fully aware and thankful for who and what is right here. In this moment. In this season.