Trusting In The New Year Ahead

As a child I moved constantly. My dad was an architect/ home builder and we often lived in half built houses while he finished them off and then sold them. It was a pain of course having to change schools, leaving “best” friends behind, and feeling my way during those first weeks in new schools and neighborhoods. I did it though, often missing what I’d left behind. It wasn’t until I was in highschool that I stayed in the same school with the same classmates that I finally felt I really had a home. But when I graduated I moved to Vermont with my parents and went to college there. Another new beginning. Bill and I met there, got married there, and that’s where our kids were born.

We left Vermont in 1979 and came to Virginia where we’ve been ever since. For the most part I love the weather, except for  hot and humid July and August. The rest of the year is pretty awesome though. We moved here to the Charlottesville area in 1985. Since then we have moved three times within this community. Each place we have landed was perfect for us at the time and when we needed something new we moved on.

We’re still in Charlottesville and continue loving it. The new home we moved into in November is perfect for us right now. We’ve been able to simplify and find that aging is easier than it would have been in the lovely home we recently left. This place is smaller, better organized, and easier to take care of. And we continue to still have the friends we made here.

We’re still getting settled, but we’re warm and cozy and enjoying the array of birds at our new birdfeeder. Even the resident blue birds come to feed. I’ve never had them come to a seed feeder before. When summer comes I’ll be offering them meal worms to keep them around. Our aging kitty, Lilliput, is now an indoor cat and is no longer a threat to the avian and rodent communities around us.

All of us have just moved into a new year. There will be more fresh starts and adventures ahead. What are you hoping for in 2018? What will bring all of us joy during the next 12 months? What will we bring with us that will sustain us during possible trials ahead?

I’m bringing TRUST as my word for the coming days and continue to work with last years word, PAUSE, which I still need to work on. I trust that the days ahead will be filled with love, kindness and ease. I hope to continue to pause when life gets tough, remembering all of the things that I am so grateful for … including family, friends, and you, my followers.


Morning Meditation


When I was asked the other day, if I’m still meditating, I had to admit that I haven’t sat on my cushion in months. That’s more of a winter thing and though on rainy days I might still sit, walking in the early morning before the day heats up and the humidity level gets overwhelming has taken its place.

It’s Sunday morning around seven. I’m out the door before there are many cars on the road. The neighborhood is still asleep except for one or two people walking their dogs. The bird song is the first thing that hits me. This spring we’ve had a Wood Thrush in the area, singing his heart out in search of a mate. I presume he’s found her and is off somewhere preparing a nest, since I haven’t heard him for about a week. I miss his fluid song, similar to the sound of a mountain brook. It consistently brings my stress level down and I imagine myself floating peacefully somewhere in the ether.

Even without bird feeders our yard is filled with a huge variety of birds, as are the tree-lined streets in this part of town. This morning there are Robins, Cardinals, Cat Birds, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Wrens, and a Woodpecker drumming in the distance. The only incongruity that interrupts the joyous symphony of winged creatures is a wailing siren going about the business of humanity.

The temperature is about 75 degrees. I’t muggy and the air is still. I take my sunglasses off and on as I move into shade and then into light so bright I can’t see without them. I begin counting my steps, loose track, and begin again.

When I’m meditating on my cushion, I focus on my breath … the in, the out, and the space in between. Out here that’s difficult. Having fallen last year because I wasn’t paying attention on one of my walks, I want to stay aware of where my feet are, how I lift them, and put them down. Counting helps to keep me somewhat focused until my mind again wanders.

Ten minutes in, my shirt is getting damp and my breathing is a bit more labored as I go up a hill. I’ve got a bit of a twinge in my lower back and my feet are hot, encased in athletic shoes. This is how it is walking in the summer. I allow myself to really feel it, then push away the thought of quitting and going back to my air-conditioned home. I refocus on my steps.

As I walk down fraternity row, there are actually roses blooming in one the frat house yards. When the University is in session, there are usually beer cans, liquor bottles, and discarded packaging from fast-food establishments littering every inch of ground. I like the summer look better.

As a runner brushes by me on the narrow sidewalk, I turn the corner onto a small, one-way lane where older homes stand under a magnificently dense canopy of trees. It’s always cooler here. On  this street are two gardens that I adore. Walking by slowly, they always make me smile. I want to stop and sit on the bench in the one on my left, surrounded by a graying picket fence. There are winding paths through thick beds of ferns and other shade loving plants. But I don’t even dare to stop and take a photo. I’m a private person and I assume everyone else is too.

The garden directly across the street is about the size of a postage stamp. The Ancient brick home was probably built around the turn of twentieth century, but its worn well and looks welcoming and cozy. Its short walkway to the front door, is covered with a multitude of potted plants. There is Coleus in dark maroon, with pink and lime green highlights, variegated hostas, ferns, and other plants with colorful leaves that I can’t identify. If I were to move to a smaller house without much of a yard, I’d choose this one or one like it, tucked away on a quiet street.

In my delight of seeing the gardens, I’ve again lost count of my steps. I almost tripped a few steps ago. My toes sometimes drag rather than lift off the ground. I begin again, trying to stay on count, allowing everything else fall away.

This is a quiet segment of time here. The UVA students are gone, elementary and high schools are still in session, and the tourists haven’t yet arrived. I love the bit of sleepiness the city exudes for the moment. But it won’t last long. Soon summer school will be in session and in early August students will begin returning to continue their year long studies.

Forty minutes later, on my way back down the hill toward home, I wave to a neighbor out weeding his garden. Though I’m tired, sweaty, and hot, my head is clear of the tension and worry I started the day with. I’m ready to begin the work of surviving the twists and turns of today. Will there be surprises? Boredom? New discoveries? Disappointments?

This is my morning ritual. On days when I don’t have time and need to rush from one thing to the next, I get lost in the chaos. Is this walking a meditation equal to sitting on my cushion? I think so. It’s a time for noticing, for asking questions, for being relaxed, and finding the light in my heart.

Are you a meditator? Do you have a morning ritual that you consider meditation even though you aren’t sitting on a cushion watching your thoughts pass by?

My Garden Buddy

Mr. Robin May 1, 2015

Mr. Robin May 1, 2015

A member of the thrush family, American Robins are our most common birds. When they return from their winter travels we know spring is on it’s way. Here in Virginia they only seem to disappear for about a month or two in January and February. There are usually one or two that hang on even in the coldest months and I’ve often wanted to knit little jackets for them. I don’t put bird feeders out because I have a cat. I don’t think they eat many seeds anyway.

This year, when they returned from where ever they go, they came in huge flocks. The neighborhood was filled with their sharp clucks and trills and as the days passed some moved on further north. They’re found on most everyone’s lawn, digging about for juicy worms and grubs. They are as American as apple pie, baseball, and the Big Mac.

When I was about ten years of age, a robin became my pet for the summer and when he died later in the fall, I was heartbroken. You can read that story here. This year one of the Robins that frequents my garden and its numerous birdbaths, has become my gardening buddy.

He’s a handsome guy, with a black head and tail feathers, charcoal wings and a bright orange breast. He started hanging out with me a couple of weeks ago when I started digging up plants that needed to be relocated. Once the plant was out of the ground and I was planting it in it’s new spot, Mr. Robin dove into the soil I had just disturbed. He quickly downed the worms that were trying to wriggle their way back into the damp dirt and out of harm’s way. He’s very quick and gets quite a few out of every hole I dig.

Mr. Robin May 1, 2015

Mr. Robin May 1, 2015

When I start talking to him about how lovely the day is or ask about his family who must be nesting nearby, he stops digging, tilts his head to one side, and stares at me. Over the past few weeks he’s gotten closer, maybe two feet at times.

When I told a friend about him, she was worried that I wouldn’t have enough worms in my garden to keep it healthy, but I’m sure there are plenty to go around and I don’t mind sharing the bounty. The whole idea of keeping a garden is to relax among the plants and attract wildlife whether it be a plain old robin or a rabbit looking for a carrot patch.

The other day when it was raining and I chose not to work in the garden, I found Mr. Robin out on the patio near one of my french doors. He was looking right at me through the glass, chirping up a storm. Was he calling me to come out and dig a few holes for him? Maybe not, but with my creative imagination, I had to wonder. There are other numerous robins about but they all fly off as soon as they see me. This robin, however, is usually not visible until I start pottering about the yard. He hops about, inspecting the soil where I’ve just been working, gathers half-a-dozen or so juicy worms and flies off, returning a few minutes later. I presume he is feeding Mrs. Robin, who is keeping their light blue eggs warm.

Miss Liiliput

Miss Liiliput

Oh yes, what about the cat you ask? Lilli is getting on in age and stays in the house most of the day. Though she still stalks birds, she goes out later in the afternoon when the air has warmed up nicely, but by then it’s too warm for me to be gardening and Mr. Robin is hanging out elsewhere. When summer heats up, Lilli will be out and about more than she is now, but I will be done with the digging and planting by then. Mr. Robin will probably go off into another garden where no cats wander about.