Shadow Play

Sunday morning I was fortunate to be awake and paying attention to the play of light and shadows as the show took place on the garden room cherry cabinet doors and stairs. The breeze was coaxing the leaves overhead into a lively dance.

I watched the dancing shadows in pure amazement, awed at the intricacy of their choreography. Such a short fragment of time to catch a glimpse of this fluttery movement before full sunlight took center stage.

What a blessing for this singular audience to view a snippet of nature’s remarkable artistry.

Sunday Shadow Play

This morning I was fortunate enough to be awake and paying attention to the play of light and shadows as the show took place on our garden room cherry cabinet doors and stairway. The breeze was coaxing the leaves overhead into a lively dance. I watched the dancing shadows in pure amazement at the intricacy of their choreography. Such a short fragment of time to get a glimpse of this fluttery movement before full sunlight took center stage. What a blessing for this singular audience to witness a snippet of nature’s intricate artistry.

Food — so much more than what’s on your plate

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I stood in the pouring rain this morning, plastic reusable bags in hand chatting with the special people who grow the delicious salads that grace my table every evening. As those who know me best know, I love to cook and I love every part of the cooking process from choosing my ingredients on the grocery store shelf or from the simple tented stands that line both sides of the Columbia Farmers Market.

I debated whether to “weather” the torrential downpours forecast for this morning. I mean I could have easily stayed all warm and snuggly in front of the wood stove, coffee cup in hand. But the thought of missing the best of the asparagus or arugula urged me to don my blue raincoat and Whole Kids Outreach ball cap.

I have been thinking a lot about the art of cooking this week. A friend just recently extolled the virtues of getting a whole gourmet meal, divided into ingredients I would swish together in a half hour for a fabulous meal after work. I thought about it for a minute and decided that wasn’t for me. I realized as I thought about it more that cooking is an art form for me and my ingredients are my palate. I like concentrating on what flavors and colors will compliment each dish in the meal. I love thinking about this every single day that I am home, as opposed to bringing home a prepared dinner from the local grocer or having it sent in a box from a place hundreds of miles away.

I absolutely love kicking off my Saturday visiting with the growers, even in the chilly pouring rain. I love their commitment to growing these vegetables and they love my commitment to appreciating and buying them. What a wonderful relationship we have engendered which makes my homemade, homegrown meal even more special. “Good for you” meals are rooted in love – love for the land, love for our bodies, and love for each other.

I think it is the foundation for a healthy society – healthiness that has a broader definition than being focused on our bodies – I see it has an important part of a healthy social fabric. And I might be so bold as to say it is the root of fundamental social health.

The personal relationship between the maker/grower and the artist who makes the meal impacts them and those around them. A ripple of positivity occurs. There is something quite transformative that happens here. No wonder it means so much to me.

 

Writing — My Life Line

Sarah posted a blog this past week (https://www.sarahratermannbeahan.com/blog) about the importance of writing to get rid of the “BS chatter in your mind and weighing on your heart so new life and creativity can grow.

As I have probably mentioned on this site before, I have journaled for years, even before I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Cameron’s book certainly underscored the importance of writing practice. Putting pen to paper is therapy for me. I can say whatever I want, whenever I want and nothing is judged. Once I start writing I know I can dump the good, the bad and the really ugly, and leave it there within those manila pages.

Actually, it is much more to me than unloading all that is cluttering my psyche. It is also a creative expression. I absolutely love seeing my flow across the page, my handwriting curling and swirling in different colors every day. Maybe I became more devoted to my cursive handwriting when I got a “D” in third grade in handwriting. Whatever the reason, it is part of how I express myself now.

I also kick off my day’s entry with a simply drawing. Lately I’ve been drawing spring leaves on long, flowing stems, filling them in with a yellow chartreuse pencil. Coloring my own drawings brings me even more satisfaction than in coloring in any of my numerous coloring books.

I often people my monthly hair appointment is my therapy session (God love you, Josh!) But truly, my open sketch book – my beloved journal provides an emotional outlet, a healing session every day. It helps me to empty my obsessive list of to-do’s – freeing my mind so I can open to allowing my creativity and inspiration to come through me. It is amazing what emerges after just a short written respite.

I know there have been studies that have shown the importance of writing – the powerful connection between the hand and the mind. With pen and paper at my fingertips I have navigated a myriad of challenges with grace and determination. My writing has helped me to persist.

a case for imperfection

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”   Author unknown

I keep thinking about this statement and all the applications in my life….

The three grain bread I made today isn’t rounded on the top – but it smells good and it tastes delicious, certainly better than any bread I can buy a grocery store.

My body – same thing. My curves are curvier than they were last year. My feet seem to ache more than they did a couple of years ago. But I love that my eyes can see the exquisite beauty of this late summer afternoon, my ears take in the twitter of the birds in our trees and the voice of the breeze in the trees calms me.  My happy feet and legs make my walks along the river possible. The wonders of my body make my life richer despite my graying hair and the lines on my forehead.

My relationships bear this maxim out as well. I have been married to the same tall, creative, determined lovely man for over 40 years. Our marriage has weathered its fair share of storms but I still can’t wait to see him when we’ve been apart for a few days.

I mean, what would our worlds be like if all was perfect???? I believe the imperfections are the guideposts for new lessons and growth –the kinds of things that make us want to get up in the morning.

I’ll take the wonderful and learn from the imperfections. Life is good this way.

The Long Defeat

I just finished reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It is the story of an anthropologist and physician, Paul Farmer, who works relentlessly for better health care and population health in underdeveloped countries.

Towards the end of the book Kidder asks Farmer a question that he has asked before. Basically, why he continues to fight for what sometimes looks like a losing cause.

Farmer says, “I have fought for my whole life a long defeat…… I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win. I don’t dislike victory……

You know people from our background – like you, … like me – we’re used to being on a victory team, actually what we’re really trying do in PIH (Partners in Health) is to make common cause with the losers. Those are two very different things. We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.”

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a new colleague about my decision to remain in health care. I admit, I thought it would feel better if I was doing something creative and fun, something that could produce joy and fulfillment. I was disenchanted with health care because I felt the needle wasn’t moving. I thought we were just t spinning our wheels.

I see that I wanted to see a victory, to know that our work was making an impact. But I understand that I was being led to stay in the health care fray because I know it well and I am using my talents to contribute to an agenda that may not produce significant results in my lifetime.

Paul Farmer has inspired me to lock arms with him and the people all over the world who are focusing on the work, the process, despite whether we are losing. I want to rid myself of the idea that victory is the ultimate goal. Rather, I want to keep believing I am still involved in health care because I want to help and I have been led to contribute in this arena even though I thought I wanted out.

And honestly, I am happy here, working hard to help improve the health of underserved Missourians. I know I am in good company in this work, and that is gratifying. I am glad to be back and fully engaged in the work, whether it is considered a ‘long defeat’ or not.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

As some of you may remember I started an experiment at the beginning of December. I was going to try to sweep the negative thoughts out of my life and see what would happen.

Well, here I am the first week of February and I feel like my life is on fire with possibility. I feel like cleaning the closet of my mind, and continually trying to keep it uncluttered from negativity has reaped BIG rewards.

In tandem with this mind set experiment or maybe because of it, I also started a 30 day Yoga Camp with Adriene. I had “take a yoga class” on my to-do list for over a year and nothing seemed quite right.

Then Sarah invited me to join her on doing this Yoga Camp that was going to combine yoga practice with mindfulness and spirituality. Of course I was game because I could dig doing yoga that would be part of my spiritual practice and I could look as dumb as anything at home with no one to watch.

I am doing Day 30 tomorrow and I feel like it has been a fantastic experience for both my body ad my mind. I am more flexible now, a bit more balanced (it seems like my left side is weak which is understandable). And I feel stronger.

There is something very special about this yoga practice for me too. Adriene continually asks you to open your heart, lift your heart – I so needed this. Putting bodily action to what I was thinking in my mind and in my heart supercharged my outlook on my world.

And it seems as if the more I open up with my body, mind and spirit, the more the world is opening up to me. It is like my whole life and even the lives of those who are dearest to me are just full of continual affirmations of our goodness, our talents, and our desire to serve.

It feels so good to have so much YES happening. I am just humbled and grateful beyond belief.

And tonight, I take a yoga class with others. Day 29’s mantra was I love myself. I figure I do, and loving me means I do this for me regardless of what my form looks like. In fact, it will be fun to see how close I have come to the benchmark. And there will probably be lots of opportunity for me to laugh at myself.

Happy February, everyone. Let’s have fun this year. It is the Year of the Monkey and anyone who has been studying this, knows the Monkey is about having fun. Yes!

 

Coloring my life

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I drew this tree and colored it in this morning. I’ve drawing pine trees for a week now with less success. I like this one. I used my “pine green” crayon for the first time and it colored this tree in so nicely – and guess what?! I can still smell the scent of crayons even after I’ve finished the tree. Ahhh, that makes me happy!

Scientists and their research studies have “proven” that coloring is good for us. I mean look at the stores – the word is out. Coloring is the rage now! The smell of crayons helps lower blood pressure and the action of coloring is a sort of meditation – a way to get into relaxed state.

I’ve know this for many, many years – since I was a little girl actually. My favorite toys were my crayons and coloring books. I spent hours playing with color and paper. I packed them in a little case when we went on vacation. I do the same thing now. And if you saw my art supplies, it would be no surprise.

My drawings continue to be very simple….childlike to most adults. But I am not drawing for them. I am drawing for me and now I am drawing for Elly who seems to appreciate Nano’s suns and moons and stars.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!

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A mindset experiment

The gray of winter has settled in around us here along the Missouri River. It has been raining steady for three days which means limited time to walk on the trail.

But, the indoor time has offered me more time to read and to really think about what I am reading.

I started reading The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks while I still lived in Wyoming. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to its content, so it has been on the “to-do” shelf for awhile.

I cracked it open on one of these rainy days and today’s chapter really has challenged me. The author poses the question about how we spend the majority of our time. He posits we often spend good chunks of time on worry, criticism and blame, squabbling, deflecting praise, or getting sick or hurt. Hendricks believes these behaviors keep us from reaching our full potential – they hold us back and oftentimes we allow them to because we are afraid of what living in our fullest glory might be like. We are afraid and so we waddle in all sorts of negativity.

I am really thinking about the implications of this in my life and in our world. What would happen if we quit thinking, verbalizing and acting in these ways as individuals and as a community – for a day, for a week, a month???

What would happen? I am going to start doing an experiment with myself in this regard. I’ll let you know how things go.   🙂

Breaking Camp

I have been on my personal adventure out here in Cheyenne for over a year now. It has been such a wonderful experience I really hate to see it end. But it is time to break camp. The joys of this part of my life’s journey are so sweet, so dear to my heart, it is very difficult to pull up and go home to Missouri. But thinking about returning to Marty and our home on the bluff brings tears to my eyes each and every time I let my mind wander there.

I can’t part without paying tribute to the people and experiences that have made this time so memorable to me. For one, I have treasured living so close to Beth. We have not lived close to each other in 14 years and we made up for missing those years together. We have shared so many wonderful talks, walks, and tender moments. It is really a gift to know that my daughters are my best friends and to live within six blocks of one of them has been a gift I will remember always.

And then there’s Elly. She brings a smile to my face everyday – she is a little package of joy this adventure has gifted me. I am so incredibly grateful to have developed a strong bond with her I know we will always share. It is terribly difficult to think I will not be seeing her almost every single day.

Then there’s the friendship I have developed with Chase. My goodness, what a nice person and what a wonderful father and husband he is. I love our chats and the times we share fixing dinner together. I am lucky to have had this time to get to know him as a good friend.

Of course a good deal of my time has been spent  helping people all over the state of Wyoming learn about the health insurance marketplace. At first the task seemed a bit daunting due to the fierce independence of these folks, and the political tenor of most of the people that live here. But, I was part of an incredible, dynamic team of people who pulled together and drove the miles, suffered the hours and the weather conditions to do the good work out here.

I feel like I have been part of a team that has gone into battle and has grown stronger and wiser from the challenges we faced, and the people we helped. Being part of this grass roots effort taught me so much. I have been in the trenches with my colleagues and I believe all of us have grown wiser from this work.  I know we will look back on this experience in years to come and know we were part of the birthing of something new and important in this country.

But so many signs are showing me it is time to move on, to break camp here. I look forward to stoking the home fires again with my sweet husband. And I know there are new opportunities, new people to meet, and new ways to serve.

I am smiling through my tears.