The Magic of Cherry Blossoms

While I was visiting my 92 year old mom last week, the cherry tree along her front walk started to bloom – a happy sign of spring bursting forth, right on schedule. My mom walks slowly with a cane, usually looking down to make sure she doesn’t trip on anything. One day we were leaving the house and she stopped and stood under the tree then looked up to see the puffy pinkish white offerings set off by the clear blue sky.

“Thank you tree!” she said. “You’re so beautiful and you make me so happy.”

Two years ago, my mom broke a vertebrae in her back and had to spend the better part of spring in bed. We didn’t know if she would ever recuperate, and there were many moments when we questioned whether she would even survive (on many occasions she told us she was ready to go so we set up hospice). Hopped up on pain killers, she stared out her bedroom window at that cherry tree for hours and hours, watching the buds open into delicate flowers grouped like families on the limbs.

We had many conversations during those two months, and she often commented on how appreciative she was of that blossoming tree. This didn’t seem too unusual to me since my mom has always been a nature lover. But her praise of this tree was different – it’s beauty transfixed her. She never seemed upset by her accident or annoyed that she was bedridden (again, probably the oxy), but I think deep down that tree kept her in this world, grounded and blooming.

Amazingly, she has healed nearly 100% physically, but the trauma (and maybe the painkillers) turned her forgetfulness into full-on dementia. A layer – the one that caused her to worry, made her feel like she had to constantly be productive and direct the whole show – dissolved. Now she’s content to watch the birds and squirrels on her back patio instead of feeling the drive to clean, volunteer or strive. Life is easy and pleasant for her now; she lives in the moment because that’s all she has.

I wonder what her life would’ve been like if that layer had dissolved while her memory was still intact. Don’t get me wrong, she was always good-natured and positive, but like all of us she’d get swept up in the doing instead of the being. Deep down I think this happy-go-lucky mom was always there, hoping to pop out but waiting patiently till all the chores were done.

When I visit my mom these days, I like to watch her watch the world. Her delight is a reminder to me to bask in what’s truly important while I still can. Also, now I know where I get my proclivity for talking to nature and thanking it for its beauty; my marveling at simple pleasures makes more sense. I guess the cherry doesn’t fall far from the tree.

butterfly on cherry blossom PIC_YES

It’s not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

I Do This Daily = High Vibe

Last night’s dream: someone was changing the batteries in the smoke detectors. I said, You don’t need to do that, they were changed on June 18 (2016).

When I woke up, I looked in my journal to see what was going on back then. I was amazed: It was the exact time I’d had some big a-ha moments and made significant changes to my mindset and also my daily life.

Now, 7 months later, I see how those things have manifested. These days, I’m always either in a high vibe state or I can get there really quickly. I now live much more in the moment and follow my impulses (hello divine guidance). My life flows along and I make better decisions easily, without a bunch of angst. I feel in sync with my authentic self and everything else springs from there.

So what’s the daily habit that really transformed my life? Every morning while enjoying my coffee, I write at the top of my journal page:

Source, God, Universal Energy* – thank you for focusing your positive attention on me. It feels so good…

And then I take a moment to really feel how source energy is beaming love to me, in this moment and always. Usually I write more, sometimes a couple sentences other times pages, while I’m in that state. It’s been amazing the insights and ideas that have come through.

This phrase works for me because I actually feel a wave of unconditional love and wellbeing wash over me. I hook into that feeling and it instantly raises my vibration. It also gives me a sense of responsibility, in a really good way. Like, what I’m doing today matters because source energy is taking the time to focus on me (as it’s doing with everyone always, but hey, I’ll take it!).

This pleasurable little activity sets a positive and high vibe tone for the day. Later, if stuff starts happening that isn’t so great, I take a moment and look up and say again: thanks for focusing your positive attention on me. I make a point to really feel it. Instantly I calm down and regain my high vibe perspective.

If you’re looking for a reliable way to recharge, give it a try!

*Source, God and Universal Energy are all really the same thing. And they are all Love – capital L unconditional Love. I write them all just because it feels nice. You can use whatever you like as long as it represents that unconditional Love energy that everyone is connected to.
love flower

Change Your Perception, Change Your Life

0213161258b~2A chunk of ice… A frozen heart… Or maybe nothing at all if you’re distracted by your dinging phone or some negative thoughts.0213161259~3~2

Maybe you notice the craftsmanship. These amazing sculptures were made by ice carver, Peter Slavin.

But do you see the beauty? What about it moves you? Maybe the textures of the ice, the curving lines or the way it glistens in the sun. Do you see the whole or the details? 0213161259~3~3

Taking the time to observe beauty and let it have it’s way with you is a surefire way to feel good. Give it a try next time you’ve got the blues or can’t seem to think straight.

Let beauty distract you.

1455395136404Beauty resets your emotional gauge back to it’s natural state of contentment. From here you’ll soften and start feeling clarity return. Inspired ideas will start to flow again.

Once you regain that contented feeling, you’ll start seeing even more lovely sights… it’s a beautiful cycle. frozen roses 1Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.  – Amit Ray

Finding Inspiration: Nature, Music and Magic Mushrooms

You never know what’s going to catch your eye or move you in some way. I like to snap things here and there to record striking colors, interesting patterns and whatever I find beautiful in its own way. And sometimes I just can’t let the face of a cherub on my shiitake get away without documentation. Here’s what turned up in the past week…

Ice-melting creek, an impromptu colored-pencil drawing I did while listening to an odd music mix, a journal/sketchbook that I dolled up with handmade paper and an old pendant, the aforementioned cherub (I didn’t eat him), a rose from a magenta and orange bouquet that has been making me smile everyday for a week now, ice crystals creeping up my window pane, and the first page of a new chapter.

Inspiration Collage

And here’s what I conjured up today…

icy rose in frame art backgroundBeauty awakens the soul to act.
– Dante Alighieri

 

Embracing Earthy Energy

Iris budI opened the front door this morning and the sweet, warm smell of freshly mown grass rolled into the house. I peered out over the exploding fuchsia Rhododendron blooms and saw the first irises unfolding their silky layers and splaying into fragile plumes. Bird songs filled the air, like a soundtrack for the cinematic colors and lush textures of spring.Iris4

When the Sun in in Taurus, we’re more in tune with our physical bodies and the pleasure we derive from our sensory experiences. We gravitate toward what nourishes us, both physically and on a soul level. Just-picked strawberries and tender asparagus (or maybe for you it’s bar-b-que’d ribs on the grill) soothe our souls. After the wrapped-up winter, our skin welcomes a brush of soft air and it’s mild enough to linger with another under the stars.

Iris3aIt’s the perfect season to ask: What moves your soul? Maybe it’s cooking an al fresco dinner for friends or going to see live music at your favorite local spot. Indulge. Let yourself feel it, hear it and taste it. Relish. Let the physical world nurture your deepest and most authentic you. Luxuriate. irisPleasure leads to well-being. And well-being is the sister of intuition – you’ll get in tune with the signs and symbols that grace your life and show you the easier, more natural way.

So go ahead and linger in the morning bakery, sip the cold glass of chardonnay in the garden while admiring your irises and give someone you love a back rub. It’s all sweet music to your soul.Iris w&p

Inspiration: It’s Closer Than You Think

If you’re looking for inspiration, sometimes there’s a whole world of it right nearby. You might be in the habit of walking or driving around without really noticing your surroundings, but if so, you may be missing out on some idea-generating treasures right in your midst.

When I need a change of scenery to get my creative juices going, I usually just take a walk through my neighborhood – Chestnut Hill (a section of Philadelphia). I’m very lucky to live in a place where residents and business owners take great care in making their properties look enticing and attractive. Even so, sometimes I breeze by the beauty a little too fast and miss the special details (hello, Mr. Cricket!). I took all these photos within a block of my house (except for Woodmere), and just that little jaunt has given me some new ideas and fresh photos to use in my next round of collages.

Chestnut Hill 1The little lending library (top left) is a new addition – you can take any book and bring it or another back whenever you like (I took Awaken Your Senses, of course, and a steamy-looking novel by Paul Theroux). Everyone’s flowers are crazy lush this year – eye candy everywhere! I often pop over to Paris for a La Vie en Rose cocktail on Friday evenings – there’s even a jazz club downstairs, bien sur.

Chestnut Hill 2The green revolution has come our way, thankfully, and there are some great eco-friendly shopping options up and down the Avenue. My world changed when Green Soul opened – fresh pressed juices, smoothies and yummy salads, all with fresh ingredients… heaven. 054

The outdoor exhibit (top right) is put together by a group called Fresh Artists that works with public schools and businesses to mount shows of students’ work. (Love how the frames are actually part of the print – brilliant!). The Woodmere Art Museum (top left) has a permanent collection and special exhibits of regional artists, and they often have outdoor installations on display as well (and a hay bale maze come Halloween).

I love my neighborhood! It continually encourages me to really look around and discover the beauty and magic right outside my door. Although I love to travel and explore new towns and sites, there’s something to be said for the smaller, more intimate discoveries close to home.

How about you? Where do you go to find inspiration? Your backyard? Down the block? A couple towns over? I’d love to hear where you go for a quick and inspirational pick-me-up!

Jimi Hendrix Was Wise

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

holding hands

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye. – Jimi Hendrix

faded rose

Music is my religion. – Jimi Hendrix

It all has to come from inside, though, I guess. – Jimi Hendrix

music door

Jimi was wise.

11.27.42 – 9.18.70

What nourishes your soul?

All weekend I felt emotionally rung out and vaguely sad. On the way home from doing errands, I decided I needed to stop in my tracks and figure out what would nurture and nourish me. I turned the car around and drove along rambling country roads dotted with Pennsylvania farmhouses toward my favorite farm stand. Well, it’s more than a stand – it’s a full-on produce/garden/homemade goodies menagerie of healthy pleasures. Starving, I picked up an asparagus & raisin cakey-loaf (made that morning); also, I chose one outstanding coral peony (picked that morning), and I hand-selected, spear by purple-y spear, a bunch of fresh asparagus (harvested that morning).zucchini

As I drove away, eating the small, sweet bread as my lunch, I came upon a $5-for-a-bouquet honor system stand in front of one of the picturesque farmhouses. I stuffed a bill in the metal box and selected the bunch with the bursting apricot iris, several tight peony buds and some other magenta and violet beauties. My weekend went from hole-in-soul to satiated soul.

What soothes and nourishes your soul? How do you turn your world from mundane to blooming?

094For me, it’s beauty – I’m inspired and enriched by wandering through a garden, reading a gorgeous magazine, making a simple and delicious meal (such as a mound of fresh asparagus topped with feta cheese and two fried eggs – it was heavenly) or driving through the idyllic countryside. Through beauty I find my center, my soul-peace – and it’s from that deep and sacred place that I go out in the world to love, create and celebrate.

In bed that evening, I read an article by Ronda Rice Carman (author of Designers at Home) in the May issue of House Beautiful.  In it she wrote:

“I have long wondered what inspires one person to elevate the mundane tasks of daily living and another to despise the regular routines of life. In an age of increasing mass production and a recurring sea of sameness, I hold in high regard those who ponder the idiosyncrasies of living life in a unique, meaningful and deliberate manner.”

How do you live life in a unique, meaningful and deliberate manner?

 

Josh Ritter: Preacher & Poet

Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band at the Trocadero, 5/16: 

Josh 7
I went to a secret service in a wooded grotto and held the steamy hands of strangers as we gathered in a horseshoe shape around some ancient mossy rocks. Josh summoned the forest nymphs who sprinkled gold rain onto our leafy heads. He sang of love and beauty and nature and light.

Josh 6Josh 4

Then he leads us out of the woods and into a sunny meadow where we laughed at the dandelions and waded through the hula waves of tall grasses. Clouds race by like sailing ships, and we danced with the can-can tree tops in frilly skirts… kick, bounce, knee, bounce, kick, bounce… till they showed their petticoats and took a bow. I blew milkweed fluff and wondered how my bare feet could never before have been so connected to the damp earth, while my soul mingled so freely with the sun’s rays. Josh offered a blessing and the dandelions smiled.

Josh 3

(Josh is also a novelist – check out Bright’s Passage. I’ll write about it in a future post.)