What’s Next?

The view from upstairs just a few weeks ago

Today is sunny and gorgeous.  Early this morning the grass was cut. But the weather people are calling for snow on Saturday.  Maybe not a lot, but snow none-the-less. On Monday there could be more white stuff.  This is Virginia for heaven’s sake.  What’s up?

Like the weather, the past year has been a muddle of activity focused on constant change. Time has rushed on, dissapearing into the fabric of life. But there are loose ends everywhere. As soon as I tuck one in, others pop up. I search for a place to anchor each one, but it’s not that simple. There are always loose ends. That is nothing new. There is no controlling where and when they will appear and at times the process of weaving them back in is daunting.  Like housekeeping it’s an endless task. We vacuum the floors, then someone comes in with grass clippings all over their shoes. 

I had thought by now I’d be completely settled into my new home.  In the past moving has always been easy, but this time around it’s been a long, slow process. I’d planned on having my studio up and running by now, but some kind of neurological disorder is causing severe pain in my shoulders especially in my dominant arm on the right.  Sometimes it’s fine, other times I have to stop what I’m doing, ice the pain away, and start again.  

Working on the computer is especially difficult at times and I’ve had to quit in the middle of writing, so my blog posts have been few and far between. The beading project I restarted a few weeks back hasn’t progressed. But this morning I’m feeling quite good. I’m doing what I can and hoping to get this post finished before whichever nerve is giving me problems starts screaming.

That same view today!

Like the weather, my moods have been high and low.  But as every cherry tree and magnolia sends forth new blooms, as they do at this time of year, I open up along with them.  I am visiting local nurseries and choosing pots to plant flowers in. I’ve had a tiny area out front cleared of shrubbery and once spring really arrives, will put in herbs … rosemary, sage, basil, lemon balm, and others.  I’ll load up one of my big, new pots with mint, as it runs wild in the garden and easily takes over.

And the birds … oh so, beautiful. Yesterday tree swallows arrived trying to take over several of the blue bird boxes that the blue birds have already started nesting in.  The gold finches are now brilliantly gold, having shed their dull winter colors.  Every day more arrive adding their voices to the morning song fest.

It’s a promising season.

I’ll not let a bit of snow or cold rain stop me
from continuing to move forward, loose ends and all.
After all, that is what life is.

It is not one big, continually blooming rose garden.
It’s an ever changing landscape filled with peaks and valleys.

Sun, snow, joy, pain, and sorrow are always on the horizon.
What we do with them makes all the difference
in how we live our lives.

The Terracotta Army

As I mentioned in my last post, I declare one day a week, MY DAY. A few of weeks ago I took myself on a date to see The Terracotta Army on exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, about an hour away from my home. It’s a great museum and I’ve been fortunate to have seen several great exhibitions there, including Chihuly’s exquisite work in glass. Bill came along and after we roamed through the exhibition halls, we had lunch with a friend we haven’t seen in a while at the museum’s fantastic restaurant, Amuse. The food is always superb and most often reflects on the theme of the major exhibition going on. This time was no exception with a menu filled with delicious sounding Chinese dishes.

The exhibition itself is a small sampling of “terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Hung, the first Emporer of China.” Life size, the beautifully restored figures of warriors, horses and chariots, were buried in 209-210 BCE near the Emporer’s mausolium to protect him in the Afterlife. Discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, were the figures of some 8,000 soldiers, 130 Chariots, and over 500 horses. Made by government workers and local craftsmen, the originals were put together from individual pieces built seperately. Then the torsos, heads, arms, and legs and were put together with more clay in a process called luting. The faces were made in molds and then more clay was added and sculpted to provide individual facial features.

It was a great experience to see theses phenominal sculptures and to imagine how they must have looked when discovered in the pits in which they were buried. I am fascinated by this army of clay figures, how they were made, and the ancient funerary practices of so many past civilizations as they prepared for death. I am left to wonder if we should be disturbing and taking the art from these sacred burial sights or should we leave them out of respect for those who created them.

I am also curious about what humans in the very distant future will discover about our current civilization when they dig deep into the earth looking for hints about who came before them. What will our landfills tell them when they uncover the remains of our Golden Arches or the bits and pieces of what might be considered primitive robotic intelligence. Or will all bits and pieces of us disspear into the dust of centuries?

What do you think?

Making The Best Of Difficult Times

I’ve been so taken up with our unsettled world and what is happening in our own country that I’ve gone over the edge once again … waking with the dreads, a general malaise, and a burning need to break away from all that unsettles me. It’s also been raining here … a lot. I’ve sometimes wondered if the sun is still up there. When I lived in Vermont I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder from November until April. The way I’m feeling right now is very similar, but I think it has more to do with what is happening around me than the light. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I easily pick up on the vibes out in the world and need to take action to get myself out of the dumps. It’s exhausting to allow myself to get so involved in things I cannot control.

So what do I do about it?

I meditate. I let myself cry if I need to. I turn off the radio and the tv and turn on Pandora to listen to classical guitar while I do my Egoscue exercises, or jazz it up with Dave Brubeck, David Sanborn and others when I need to add some energy to my day. I’m also a fan of Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Sinatra, and the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. For me music is a cure-all and a necessary part of my days.

I’m watching for signs of spring.  Since I have the smallest garden I’ve ever had, I’m thinking small and am beginning to plan a container garden mostly for herbs. I do have space for the helebores, irises, and peonies I dug up from my last home before we moved. My friend and garden helper, Maria, has been overwintering them for me and she will be coming soon to get them in the ground. I can’t wait!

Keeping my creative energy flowing is also important so last week I pulled out a beading project I had started a couple of years ago and then forgot about. It’s been sitting in a plastic storage bin since then and I’ve been anxious to get back to it, especially since it will take a good while to finish it in time for the fall. It’s a styrofome pumpkin that I am covering with tiny seed beads using Peyote Stitch. I started a collection of fruit and vegetables using this technique a while back. I find it quite relaxing. And the shifting and mixing of slightly different colored beads makes for imaginitive brain work.

I’ve also started setting aside one day a week and labeling it “MY DAY,” on my calendar. I do not plan anything ahead of time. It’s simply a day when I can do whatever I want to do rather than what I have to do. When I began writing my memoir, I did the same thing, but at that time the chosen day was reserved for writing and activities geared toward getting it published. It quickly turned into several days a week and then a rigorous work/writing schedule. This time around I’m using it just to get my creative juices flowing and I’m looking at getting a canvas set up and slapping paint on it sometime soon.

So while I’m still paying some attention to what’s happening out in the world, I’m happier, more relaxed and feeling more positive than I was just a few weeks ago. And I continue to remind myself that in order for change to happen, sometimes things have to get very ugly and depressing before we notice the light at the end of the tunnel. It is happening whether we realize it or not. It’s what life and being human is all about and I’m trying to make the best of it.  While I’m still paying attention to what is happening out there in the world, I’m spending more time in the present and worry less about changing what I can’t.

Watch! They Can Do It!

As a mother and grandmother, I’m completely bereft as the result of the continuing murders of our nation’s children. I’ve seen a lot of battles throughout my life, but I have never experienced what these kids and their families are going through at this moment in time. As our young ones go out the door to school every morning we wonder if they are safe from the brutality that has begun to smother our nation. This is not a political crisis. It is a moral crisis.

My own kids and grandkids are the most important people in my life. They are the future. I want to protect them. But so far my vote hasn’t helped the situation. Every school shooting only brings more stubborness on the part of our government and the folks at the NRA who line the pockets of those who are supposedly in power. During the Viet Nam Era, it was the youth that kept our eyes open. They did sit-ins. They marched. They got shot at and some were killed. They kept telling us that things were not right with our world and that we were losing ourselves and our nation to a war that we could not win. I don’t want to see a generation of young people massacred for the sake of an immoral nation that supposes itself Holy and Christian.

After last weeks tragic school shootings in Florida, it is the children who are picking up the pieces and are attempting to open the eyes of all of those who refuse to see the horrible mess we adults have allowed to happen. The children of this country are under seige by those whose only interest is is to keep their pockets lined so that they can continue to live the pointless life-styles they so treasure. In this country we are at war with ourselves and the victims of this battle are the children. Despite their fear, these future leaders of America are stepping up and taking over for the blind adults who refuse to bring change to our world.

This past week I have heard well meaning adults say that what these children are doing is useless. They will be dissapointed. They will fail to change anything. But we have handed them the responsibility for their lives by not protecting them from trigger happy, insane individuals who can easily buy assault weapons that are meant only for killing people. They cannot wait for those in power to wake up. They don’t have time to sit back and pray that this unconscionable war against themselves will stop on its own.

If the current leaders of our country cannot protect our children, give these young ones a chance. They will prevail. They have been left to protect themselves. I am behind them and support their efforts to bring change to this shameless, hypocritical world.

Watch!
They Can Do It!

Adjusting To What’s Next

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin

Bill is 78 and I’m 75 year old. We both have arthritis and these days we talk about aging a lot. As many of you know Bill has already had one knee replaced along with a shoulder. The other “good” knee is now giving him trouble. It isn’t bone on bone yet and he’s taking his time using a brace and gently working on it until he feels he wants to have it replaced. He’s also been having a bit of trouble with memory loss. We haven’t yet heard of brain replacements, and even if that were possible, how do you download 78 years of memories into an artificial brain and still be human?

Although joint replacements never work like the real deal, artificial knees help make those suffering from pain continue to move about comfortably. Our Orthopedist says that those who tell us that we’ll be as good as new after a replacement are full of you know what. And when it does happen it’s extremely rare, especially if you’re of a certain age. But we go for being comfortable and spending our senior years continuing to go on adventures. Bill’s recent week on board a ship with 700 joyful Irish musicians was a wonderfully fun time him and he got around happily using a cane or a wheel chair when he had to.

I myself have just been diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis in my right knee. Although I move around most days comfortably there are days when it’s too painful, especially during this stormy winter when I can predict a tempest coming well before it arrives. I, too, will be trying a brace for a while, and use a heating pad or ice to lessen the pain. Our good doctor does not want to jump in with his knives. He’s conservative and doesn’t like to be overly invasive. So we’ll spend a while seeing how it goes before we enter an OR.

The other complaint you often hear at our house is how long it can take to get things done. We’re moving much more slowly than we used to and completing tasks that used to take an hour can now take up to one or two hours more, depending on how complicated it is.

I’ve just discovered how addicted I have become to schedules and time. It seems to be how the world operates these days. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. We wait in line overnight just before a new electronic device comes on the market so that we can be one of the first to own it. And big box stores open their doors on Thanksgiving day giving all the “must haves” a chance to get whatever it is they want before the store runs out. They forget that spending time doing something relaxing with their kids and other family members is essential while the world spews more and more stress our way.

I may not know what to do about my knee right now, but I do know what to do about this newly discovered schedule addiction of mine. Firstly, I quit wearing a watch a few weeks ago. Silly me used to check it constantly to see if I had plenty of time.  Secondly, I’ve discovered that by taking more time to do things, I notice all of things I used to miss when I was in such a hurry. What I sometimes considered distractions, like watching the birds at the feeder or a flower slowly opening its petals in the garden, help me to be at peace with myself and the world around me.

Aging may be something that many people don’t look forward to, but I’m discovering that it is delightful to allow myself to go with a much more slow and gentle flow than the tornadic activity that too often accompanied my younger days.  It’s all about adjusting to what’s next!