Transform #tinyhearts

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When I saw this heart, I immediately knew I would share something about the magical process of a becoming a butterfly. In searching, I found this poignant poem. The author wrote, “I wrote this for me…but it feels like it was meant for you too. If you know someone else who needs this, please pass it on.”  How generous! Please visit her blog Spirit Moves Dance or find her on Facebook.

Transformation

by Meg Goodmanson

It will not always feel good,
This growing.
This stretching beyond the boundaries of the known,
The comfortable.

It will not always feel safe,
This learning and relearning of your own abilities
This reexamining of beliefs
This pushing of envelopes
This breaking through enclosing walls.

You will shiver.

You will doubt.

You will want to run home.

Back behind walls of safety.

This walk to the edge will not
Feel good, safe, or comfortable,
But there is no faster way to learn.
There is no other way to grow.

So step out.
Leave your home base
Your comfort zone
Your cocoon

Acknowledge the fear and discomfort

But step out all the same.

With each step you take,
Your world expands
Your caterpillar mind will
Strain to comprehend the unbounded vastness of the sky.

Step out.

Step…step…step.

Unfurl your wings.

Fly.

 photo by Greg Markway

photo by Greg Markway

Every Word Handwritten

I gave away all my scrapbook things. We’re talking everything. New albums. Paper. Pens. Stickers. Funky scissors and rulers. It was really difficult, but it was time. My fine motor skills have gotten worse, and scrapbooking greatly exacerbates my pain.

I’ve been a serious album maker for many years. I got my first stash when our son was a baby. I went to a Creative Memories show and came home with $200 worth of supplies. Back then (well, even now) that was a lot of money. I came in the house and Greg said, “You’d better use that stuff.” I stayed up late that night making my first scrapbook of our son. Since then I’ve made holiday albums, sports albums, ABC albums, quilt albums, heritage albums, everyday happenings albums, anniversary albums, celebration albums… So much time and detail. Every word handwritten. (Link to a cool song that is loosely related)

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One of my favorite memories is walking into our family room and finding my then 10-year-old son and all his neighborhood friends (who all went to school together), gathered around looking at his Kindergarten album. Yes, I have an entire album just for Kindergarten!

It’s been a week and a half since I gave everything away, and I’m still a little sad. Greg has been super nice. I think some guys wouldn’t understand how hard this was. But he did. He also told me, though, that this was a way of taking care of myself.

I found a unique group of young women to give my things to–the “Groovy Girls Collective.” They describe themselves as “a community gathering place devoted to supporting, educating, and mentoring women of all ages, nurturing collaborative creators both locally and worldwide.”  (I may be giving up something, but if it has a world-wide impact, that’s OK with me.) One of my neighbors’ daughters is involved, and I contacted her, who said they would definitely like some scrapbook supplies. Here’s a few pictures from their Facebook page.

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Visiting an animal shelter.

Visiting an animal shelter.

A lemonade stand.

A lemonade stand.

Although I’m sad, I’m also excited, as I can already tell these young women are having lots of fun and great things are happening. Maybe some of these pictures will end up in a scrapbook one day.

Exposure and Adaptation

Enjoying the patio first thing in the morning

Glasses:  I have always thought I wanted glasses—it would be another fun fashion accessory. My friend, Amy, has always had the cutest glasses and looked so stylish. One of my previous secretaries bought frames on sale so that she was able to have several pairs of glasses to match various outfits (my fave–red frames with red shoes!) So when I went to my eye appointment this year and he said I actually needed glasses, I had a moment of euphoria. Yeah! What trendy frames would I select?

Yet the whole process has been weeks of frustration for me. Now that I needed glasses, I didn’t want them. I ended up not getting super trendy frames because at nearly $500, I needed a pair that would go with everything.  My vanity kicked in big time and I thought they made me look old. I also worried that my mostly silver jewelry didn’t go with the frames, and I couldn’t afford to go out and buy all new jewelry (although that would have been fun.)

Most of all, I have had problems adjusting to the progressive lens which were prescribed. I’ve been back to the eyeglass shop three times, and each time they’ve encouraged me to give it a while longer. I’ve talked obsessively to Greg about it. Where do I look? Why can’t I make this part come in focus? They make my nose hurt. I’m getting a headache. I can see the edges of the frames. The world simply looked weird, and I felt groundless.

I finally realized that I’m fighting too hard and I’m definitely not being self-compassionate. I wish it hadn’t taken me three weeks to figure this out :) I’m expecting this to be easy and feeling like there’s something wrong with me for not adapting more quickly. The eye doctor told me it would take three weeks of wearing them nonstop (DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF, he said). I beat myself up and called myself “noncompliant” because I did not do as he said. I’d make it for several days wearing them all the time, get frustrated and take them off, only to start over the next day. The eyeglass shop people were very kind and told me I was not unusual. They’d heard all these complaints about progressive lenses many a time. Yet I still felt like there was something wrong with me.

I think I’ve forgotten just how complex the brain is, and how this is a really tricky thing I’m asking my brain and eyes to do. From now on, I will gently remind myself that change is hard for most people, not just me.  I’ll also remember that people adapt at different rates, and I will give myself the time I need.

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve every posted a picture of myself sans make-up. Talk about exposure! I’m working on the vanity thing.

Weather: You can’t be a Missourian and not talk about the weather. This is a screen shot of the temps we’ve had lately, and there’s no rain or relief in site. It’s strange, once it’s over 100 degrees,  you don’t really notice the difference. I’ve desperately been trying to keep my flowers alive. A few have bit the dust. I should’ve taken a picture of the dead ones to remind me that everything changes; everything dies; it’s just a matter of time. I’ve been giving the birds fresh water several times a day. We’ve created quite the oasis for our feathered friends. I’ve mostly been doing my bird watching through a window these days. I rearranged some furniture downstairs just so I’d have a special place to enjoy their antics. Sometimes there are four birds splashing in the birdbath at once. It makes me smile!

Hydrangeas from our yard and
my grandmother’s antique mirror

Photography: Now that I have glasses where I can see close up and far away, I’m going to try to learn photography. I actually had some decent photography and darkroom skills as a journalism major in college, but I have forgotten everything I used to know. Up until now, I’ve just bossed Greg around telling him what pictures I need for the blog—actually, the system has worked out pretty well! But I think it will be good for my brain to focus on learning something new. This picture took me about an hour, with Greg’s help.

The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

         –Yousuf Karsh

There’s Something About Birds

Photo by Greg Markway

I had planned to write about meditation today. I’m on Day 5 of Sharon Salzberg’s 28 day meditation challenge and I was going to share how it’s going. Here’s the short version: It’s been fairly boring. Actually, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. I’ve always had this aversion to formal meditation practice. I like to be doing things. I don’t know, but it might be my German heritage that values productivity (which I’m not knocking; productivity has it’s place). I’m just not so good at being. But all the books I’m reading on self-compassion say that meditation and mindfulness are keys to learning to be kind to oneself. So when I read online about this meditation challenge, I thought, “Hey, I’m in.”

So this morning I’m doing my “sitting”–that’s the lingo for meditation practice. My eyes are closed gently and I’m focusing on my breathing the best I can. I’m letting thoughts come and go gently. I’m trying not to be judgmental (I really suck at this) or expect too much (I’m not having any great insights). I start feeling sleepy. I remember reading that if this happens to open your eyes slightly, which I do. Out of the corner of my eye I see all kinds of commotion out on our deck. There are so many birds flying in the trees. Then the dogs, Lily and Larry, go wild barking to be let out the back door. Now I have a dilemma. Do I keep “sitting”? I’m sure advanced meditators are used to dealing with distractions. But this is too big of a distraction. Now Greg is coming from the other room to see what’s going on. Well, my formal meditation practice ends, but my informal mindfulness practice is just beginning.

For about fifteen minutes, I stand there staring at these amazing creatures. I focused on the cedar waxwings, which I’d never seen before. I noticed their beautiful aerodynamic shape with what appeared to be a black mask across their eyes. They had touches of yellow with a fluorescent red tip on their wings. There were also about a half a dozen bluebirds feeding at the same time. I never before realized how much beautiful color could be right outside my window on a winter day.

This is practice, too. Being open to the present moment. Being open to the unexpected.

Greg went and got the camera and took a few pictures. Soon the birds flew away. Ahhh. Change. Moments are here. Then they’re gone.

Yes, this is practice, with all it’s lessons, both boring and beautiful.

Here are a few other pictures Greg took this morning along with some quotes I found:

“Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.” –Bernard Meltzer

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.”            –Robert Lynd

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”                                    –William Blake

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”     –Chinese Proverb