finding serenity


Once again, CalmKate has gone and made me very thoughtful about things. Her Friday Foto Fun prompt topic is “Serenity.”  She asks us to seek out a photo that represents what serenity means to us. Her own photo shows a warm, inviting beach with “surf, sand, sky, and scrubs.”  Beautiful!

Serenity to me is peacefulness. The feeling of safety is key to my serenity. I went for many years never feeling safe – and it’s a hard habit to break. Nevertheless, I am able to feel safe now in certain places if conditions are right.

For example, the early morning hours, still dark, are a special time to me. At that time, usually around 5 a.m., I am awake, alert, calm, centered – usually, anyway. I’ll go get a cup of coffee, and head back to bed, where I sit quietly in the dark, just being. My friend, the cat, knows this routine and shares it with me. He curls up and nestles in to keep me warm, exuding a feeling of peace and safety as he softly purrs his joy. That’s serenity.

Serenity often also comes to me while walking in natural spaces. The silence of a forest is like breathing. The trees themselves are entities, wise angels along the way, friends. Mountain paths, too, are places of serenity. The sky, the birds, squirrels, wind – it all speaks peace to me.

A small pond also sets the stage for serenity. The evidence that it is home in the truest sense for any number of inhabitants – fish, frogs, insects, birds, turtles, beaver, muskrats, snakes – makes it an intimate visit with friends. It is a quiet pause in my own activities, while I sit at their table, so to speak, and quietly watch them doing their thing in the water, among the trees, the grasses, and reeds. That, that is serenity. I used to have a pond I loved, and it was a truly special place for such a feeling.

Another moment of serenity is when I am hand sewing without distraction. The methodical rhythm of blanket-stitching my penny rugs is serenity. I love the tactile experience, feeling the fabric, using my hands. I love seeing the colors of the fabrics. I love the focus, the intention of the piece. I can’t do it just anywhere, but the places where I can, I find serenity.

Oddly enough, small, general aviation airports are also often places of serenity for me if I can experience them undisturbed and alone. I like to just watch the runways, the windsock, the comings and goings of the small planes. I always feel a tremendous sense of possibility during these periods of quiet observation. I used to be a regular at one airport where I often retreated during a stressful time. I frequently just sat in my car and watched, but they also thoughtfully provided a few nice benches where folks like me could perch.

Art galleries, too, are usually places of serenity. Surrounded by all that quiet creativity, just soaking it in, is usually a peaceful, calming experience – although, not always. Some artists bring an energy to their work that disturbs a space, and I am sure it is meant to be that way.

A garden is a place of peace and joy, too. Walk into the garden, and everything else falls away. Like the pond, a garden has a life of its own. There, I become a quiet witness to life unfolding in the most beautiful, astonishing ways.

Once again, I am grateful for this prompt. It has brought to mind so many ideas, so many possibilities for what works. It’s so easy to feel distracted, unsettled, as we go with the flow of doing what we must. But this little reverie of mine shows me how easy it is to escape all that, too. There are many opportunities to find a moment of serenity.



So, it turns out tomorrow is not only the Winter Solstice, it’s also the time of a full moon – the Long Night Moon – as well a meteor shower (Ursid). Ok, that’s pretty cool. Seems like there ought to be some kind of celebration (oh, wait, I guess folks already thought of that, hehe).

The Winter Solstice is kinda funny because it marks the official beginning of winter, but it also marks the shortest day of the year – the beginning of the days becoming longer. Woohoo! I am all for that!

Seems like everything else is going 90 miles an hour around me, with ‘holiday’ preparations and entertainment. Maybe the solstice can just be a time out. A moment just to be calm and peaceful, to notice the stars and the moon. A moment to appreciate the incredible beauty of what’s already been given to us, instead of worrying about the giving and getting of our consuming consumer lives.

Nearby where I live, there’s one of those wild light displays with every kind of holiday character imaginable – from a lit up creche to snowmen, penguins, Disney characters, Peanuts, and more. During the day, half of it sits deflated under tarps. It’s actually kind of a mess. I wish I could say it makes me smile, but it does not – either during the day or at night. I’m sure the folks who put all that effort into it mean well, but it’s misplaced.

Let’s look at the moon and the stars instead. Notice the birds on the wing. Listen to the wind in the trees. In the context of our exquisite universe, let’s ponder those we love, or share the moment with them.  The awesomeness of our universe shows us so plainly that love itself remains the truly treasured gift in our lives.

It’s beyond amazing, the gifts we’ve been given. Who needs to go shopping? Let’s just pause and be astonished by what we have.

just noticing


Many thanks to CalmKate at Aroused  for providing me with the inspiration for a wonderful exploration. Her Friday photo prompt, “Leaves,” could have been satisfied with some of the autumn leaves I captured earlier in the season, but I decided it would be more fun to go see what I could find right now – a bit of a challenge with winter having already moved in and taken over around here.

I love the way a prompt happily forces me to be on the lookout or to think with a different perspective.

I started out in town, just because I had stuff to do. I skirted along up and down the streets, looking at everything with fresh eyes. I found myself popping into the new cat cafe for a quick visit, as well as a brief stop at the food co-op where some red kale could not be resisted, it was so beautiful!

I noticed that all the trees along the main drag were bereft of leaves, except for the occasional tree covered in dead, brown leaves that refused to let go. I did spot some surprising bright green bushes in front of one large house, but nothing else really spoke “leaves” to me.

I continued on my quest, now headed for the trails. There, I discovered just the merest bits of green peaking out here and there, in a sea of browns, greys, blacks, and white. Most of the leaves are on the ground, wet or frozen, and clearly getting into the whole composting thing. The trees were bare, save for a few now-exposed nests.

The awesome part was the birds. As I carefully observed my surroundings, I could hear them twittering all around me. I paused and just watched for awhile. The longer I watched the more I saw.

Black-capped chickadees hopped from twig to twig. There was a pair of yellow birds – finches, I suppose? I spotted my first winter cardinal – that wonderful bright red in the middle of everything. There was also a woodpecker having at it, a rather small one – gonna have to look him up. There was also plump black squirrel with a nut in his mouth who made a study of me before capering off.

I would have missed all that, along with the rushing river, and the amazing black dog I met, named Bernie, along with his human friend – if it had not been for CalmKate’s invitation. I may not have a particularly amazing photo to show for it, but I am grateful for the inspiration that got me out the door right then, alert and curious to life.

waking up, bit by bit


I always feel like people are waking up. I seem to see it and feel it around me more and more.

I read about folks living minimalist lifestyles, tiny houses, sustainability, simplicity.

People seem to be more conscious of inequality and injustice – and the roots of those issues.

Things like organic foods, recycling, and mindfulness are mainstream.

It makes me hopeful to sense this burgeoning awakening.

Then, what do you know, something like Black Friday comes along, and Cyber Monday. And we just hop on the bandwagon.

I don’t get it. The days of uber consumerism just seem passé to me now. Is that just me? Is this really the tradition we want to hand along to our kids?

And how many people are actually aware of Small Business Saturday? If there’s buying to be done, wouldn’t you rather help out a neighbor than Jeff Bezos?

Is it just my own illusion that people are waking up?

I see the strangest dichotomies all around me, all the time.

We all know the best gifts have no price, but we’re still driven to buy.

We all diligently recycle, but our recycling bins overflow.

We all become outraged for a time at the notion of children being taken from their parents, but tens of thousands of children dying of starvation remain in our periphery.

We dote lovingly on our cats and dogs while happily chowing down on a cow or a pig or turkey that was raised to be killed.

We have religions professing the belief that it is absolutely wrong to kill, but giving the nod while wars proceed apace.

We know exercise, nutrition, rest, community are the keys to good health, but we look to doctors and pharmacology for a fix instead.

We’re all about renewable energy, but there’s no meaningful effort to reduce overall consumption.

I don’t know. Some of this stuff just doesn’t seem that complicated. So why we keep participating, enthusiastically, is kind of mysterious. And disappointing.

Maybe that is just how change happens, though.  Two steps forward, one step back – that sort of thing.

Most often, it’s a simple matter of not doing. Doing by not doing.

Black Friday, in my mind, falls in that category.  Not doing. It’s one thing, anyway.

Bit by bit.





New kicks


It was time.

There were just so many miles on my beloved running shoes. I mean, we were totally bonded. All that bonding took its toll.

My bedraggled, worn out shoes originally came into my life as a delightful surprise. One day, I headed into the running store to meet up and head out on a run. Upon arrival, the store owner told me that, courtesy of my son, I should pick out a pair of new shoes. Turns out that my awesome son had remembered my birthday and managed to think of the absolutely perfect surprise for me. He had called from out of state to my fave store and made the arrangements.

My son may not have envisioned the little impromptu party that went along with it (or maybe he did). Here were my running buddies, all of them also delighted by my son’s thoughtfulness. And then, the ensuing birthday wishes and, of course, shoe shopping. Ultimately, there was a get-together at the local brew spot. It was all very festive.

Those shoes went with me through wind, rain, and snow. They crossed finish lines. They bore witness to my tears, expletives, affirmations, and joyous aha moments. They were there when the geese flew over, when the butterflies circled, when the birds sang, when the alligators made their silent dare.

So many amazing memories, but emotional attachment cannot stand in the way of good, safe running.

Uhm, can it?

As I mentioned, it was time.

In a new-to-me town here, I made my first venture into the local running store in search of new shoes. I came out with just what I wanted, and so far, so good. Got the Altra Escalante, zero-drop, roomy toe box. Kind of weird to feel the cushion in there – feels very self-indulgent, but I think I’ll adjust. And I also understand these kicks to be vegan-friendly.

The shoes are not inexpensive to me, but they are important to me. It is a good thing that I could allow myself to make this a priority.

In a world that seems to be getting a little crazier by the day, it’s important to stay centered and hold peace in intention. Don’t ask me why or how, but my locomotion is part of how I make that happen.

So. Time to break in the new kicks.

sunshine and shadow

veru10_24_18bA really nice run late in the day.

It started out kind of rough.

I was really aware of how closed and tight my body was feeling. I focused on relaxing. I paid attention to my breathing.

My mind was all over the map and anxious. I decided to count the entire run – very slowly. This leaves very little room for, you know, thinking. I noticed that counting slower improved my pace, too. Go figure.

It was chilly out, but the sun was shining. Where I was running in shadow, it felt cold. Where I was running in sunshine, though, I could really feel the warm. I started noticing the light and the dark as I approached them.

It reminded me of one of the first quilts I ever made – a simple variation of an Amish Sunshine and Shadow pattern. Lots of bright colors juxtaposed with black. Everything, of course, solid colors.

After I got going long enough, I unzipped my windbreaker, and my hat actually made things too warm.

I found that by the end of my run, I felt relaxed and my mind had settled down. I looked up at the blue sky and felt grateful.

So many reasons to run.