Of Mind and Heart

During this time, like many of you, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect and do many other things at home, alongside my husband, who is at home as well. For some reason, my mind has been scattered a bit, and my attention far away, not conducive to writing my next novel. It is a mixture of being sad, foggy, and in a cloud, that is how I can describe it best. It is hard not to pay attention to the news, and what I hear does not help my mind and heart. I have read some posts, and many of you are dealing with similar feelings, and trying to cope with your situations.

Writing my novel has not been easy, and I have been writing sporadically, but mostly, have put it aside, only to visit it again when it crosses my mind, almost calling me. For now, I have joined my husband in many projects around the home, some of which have been put aside for lack of time before. We have been working on clearing out bushes, trees, chopping branches, burning brush, taking out stumps, making pathways, and tackling the hard chores around this place. We still have a lot of work to do outside, and this time has been good for that. It has help both of us, I think, to feel a bit more centered, and productive as well. We have painted, planted seeds, made new gardening beds, made new garden areas, and also enjoyed the good weather days. Outside chores have been therapeutic.

My husband is not used to being at home, so he has dived in a plethora of projects to keep himself busy. Although these are sad times, we are trying to make the best of it, in our own way, as many of you are doing as well. I took my camera and took pictures around, of some work done, of little discoveries, of trees and old bottles … . For those of you who miss the old farmhouse posts. Nancy, this one is for you.

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Photo by M.A.D.

We started clearing out brush to make walking trails around. That is a big project in itself, but it got started. Eventually we will frame an entrance that will have this message – Keep on the path of the Lord.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Started a circle garden and planted all kinds of colorful flowers seeds. Some of them are already showing up. We are going to have a couple of frost mornings so I will have to cover all seeds on Friday. Hope they make it. I have yet to make another circle garden next to this one, It will be planted with sunflowers.

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Photo by M.A.D.

A fairy garden has been completed, although I am sure that I will add more faeries to it, and other critters. It is an area with moss and where all kinds of critters are welcomed. I placed water dishes for frogs, bunnies … When we bought the place, this part was covered in weeds and bushes, and there was a carcass of a dog or coyote in it. We uncovered a beautiful mossy area, and a circle of concrete that was probably the area where patio furniture was placed at some point. We made it into a grill/patio area, and the perfect spot for a fairy garden.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The last box for the veggie garden was built and painted. All seeds have been planted for this year. This area was also covered in bushes and overgrown weeds/grass. Little by little we have been getting rid of the untangled mess, and clearing out the place. The large pine tree in the background was covered as well, and now it is free and happy. It is as old/older than this place, over 110 years.

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Photo by M.A.D.

This used to be a tiny rose bush that was being choked to death by overgrown weeds. We uncovered it, and it has grown into a beautiful rosebush. We had to build a trellis for it.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The old well got a coat of paint and top. It used to be covered by bushes and grass, you could not see it. The entire place was hiding under a morass of overgrown flora. We never got to paint it after fixing it. And so did the old shed door. It was rusty, with a door hanging to one side. Amazingly, the inside has been preserved; it is the old log and mortar construction that eventually was covered with aluminum siding. As old as the home is.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

We rescued this holly tree. We found it growing in the back, under a mess. We cleaned around it, and hopefully it will do a bit better now. We might have to cut those two trees next to it.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Trees around here seem to grow in two’s and three’s.

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Photo by M.A.D.

This area was the driveway, and it was also covered in bushes and weeds. The grass was so tall that it hit my knees. A couple of weeks ago, we managed to clear out the last two stumps. These were chopped and burned, along with many other branches.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Slowly, many garden areas are emerging. I have found single plantings of what might have been a long lost garden, and I have replanted some of them. This hydrangea was the inspiration for the blue paint we used on the place. There was no garden. I have more plans for other areas, little by little. There is a perfect spot for a rain garden.

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Photo by M.A.D.

I took this picture last year. The garden was starting to come alive. This year it has come back stronger. This area will have stone where the wood panel is for now.

Here are a few before pictures of the area. I had forgotten the nightmare. On another post, I will share some more. I don’t want this post to run too long.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The old shed as it was before, at the point of being cleared of weeds. We had to make a pathway to get to it.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Here is the driveway as it used to be. You could not even see the road.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The old well in the process of being cleaned up. All around the place the grass was brown; now it is green and even feels like carpet under your feet.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Little by little we uncovered the place, house and everything else. In this picture you can see a bit of white if you follow the path my husband carved to the right. That was the shed before it was cleaned up.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The old farmhouse starts to emerge. There was even a concrete pathway. It has been tons of work but rewarding.

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Photo by M.A.D.

This picture was taken two years ago around Christmas time.

I hope this hasn’t been too boring or too long. It has been quite a journey, a labor of love by two people. We still have tons more work to do. The old roof was coated and painted, but we need to install a new one. The interior was finished. I will continue with the before and after of the place on a couple more blog posts. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures of the progress so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Moon

As I was ready to go to bed last night, I glanced outside and saw this beautiful sight. I have been mesmerized by the moon since I was a little girl. My mom says that as a toddler, I used to point at it and call her lulu (for luna – moon in Spanish). I have looked at the moon countless of times since then, and each time I find it more beautiful. I hope we never damage it, as our species does with everything else. Here are a few pictures of the moon as I saw it last night. These were taken from inside because I was already in my PJs and ready to sleep but I could not pass the opportunity of taking just a few pictures of this beauty.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

On Purpose

Finding purpose seems to be a human purpose in itself. The quest that many times keeps us awake at night. What is my purpose in life? I used to ask myself that for so many years, and the answer seemed to elude me always. I engaged in many endeavors; pretty much, what I fancied at the time, I did. It was just a matter of doing it. I failed many times; I enjoyed many others, and so the tiny bits of happiness those endeavors brought. It seemed to me that once I was satisfied and “done” with something, I was on to something else. There was a sense of missing purpose in the back of my mind. Still is, but only at times. It presents itself as a question – am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? I remember telling someone who had been a teacher all her life, that I could not picture myself doing one thing for all my life. She told me, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” Very wise woman.

It wasn’t until I read this biblical verse that things became more clear for me. I had read the same verse many times, and yet I never saw the connection until one day, when I was feeling a bit lost in my current at the time endeavor.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mathew 5:16)

What could be a bigger purpose than that? It doesn’t matter what I am doing at a particular time, as long as it serves that purpose. It is even bigger than I thought purpose could be for me. It is even intimidating, as filling those shoes is a quest in itself for such an imperfect me. When I read it, I understood that everything I do must cast a light that glorifies my creator. Wow, I thought; this is too big to even comprehend, and yet so simple and straight forward. It changed the way in which I view purpose now.

If you are searching for purpose, wherever you are in life, think about this verse. It will give meaning to it. Purpose won’t feel so far away or eluding you. I have written this verse on a card and placed it where I sit in the morning everyday, just so I don’t forget, because I tend to be an imperfect human who might forget her blessings at times. Someone who thinks that letting her light shine before men is challenging enough.

A New Season

Seasons change, and so do people. It is part of our human nature. We change views, places, appearance, and sometimes, beliefs. To be human is to be in constant change, and whether we realize it or not, we are in constant movement along with the universe. It is so simple, yet so profound.

I have changed throughout the years. I am not the same person I was as a child, or as a teenager, or as a young adult. A combination of factors in living produces a new me until the time of death, as far as earth time living goes.

Going through the many seasons of life is necessary, if not essential to our spiritual growth, and our humanity as well. Many times we are hard on ourselves, for many reasons; whether we miss a goal, fail at something or think we did, forgetting our many efforts at trying, and dismissing the trial and error time as of neither value nor purpose. Instead we label ourselves as failures, hopeless, or whatever label seems appropriate to our restless mind at the time. We forget the road traveled, and erase all our footprints, many times wandering in our minds and souls, and feeling a void, spiritually lost. “Not all who wander are lost,” said Tolkien, and that rings true today as at any time.

Many times, we feel that our guts, efforts, experience, resources, our timing, and everything around us is misaligned and does not suffice to attain whatever we felt was important then. The whole universe has conspired against us, we think; when in reality we have been part of that same universe that we label as outside ourselves. “All I have is me!”  we scream in anger, despair, and disappointment. “Me” as a sole proprietor of this body and mind, with disregard of the universal bond that unites all. Our human nature blinds us, and many times renders us paralyzed, fearful, broken. The same human nature that we count on to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. We grab positive thinking books, one after the other, in an attempt to fix what is “wrong with me” and light up the skies once more. We don’t realize that the darkness we feel and label as an outside-in source that is there to harm us, is our dismissal of the light we carry in us. It is dark; I forgot to turn the light on.

It is a new season, full of labels, but a new season indeed. It is always a new season.

Breaking a Lifetime Tradition

December is almost here. For me, it always meant a time for reflection, introspection, rating of my performance, and goal setting or resetting. Over the years, for most of my adult life, and even younger, I followed the tradition of setting New Year goals. I enjoyed the process. Hot cocoa at hand, pen and paper, I would sit and think of the present year, review past goals, and silently rate my performance. I was good at keeping what I set to do, and I accomplished most goals. However, I was disappointed for what I didn’t do. It felt as if I came short of something. It always left me with an incomplete feeling, and even a bit of sadness. Then, I would decide if to include those unmet goals for the new year along with new ones. I would finish my cocoa, and be ready for a fresh start.

I changed all that. I don’t set goals quite like that anymore. Call it wisdom in aging, or whatever, I don’t rate my performance anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to think of the “meaningful thing” that I would like to do for the new year, whether it is only one thing or more. As far as planning for it, the only planning I will do is to make sure that everyday I try to take a step in that direction, and leave the lists, rating, and self-judging to the side. Discarded are the breaking into small manageable goals rituals, as well as written tasks, along with the self-reviews. Either I am on track to do a meaningful thing (to me) or I am not. Breaking a lifetime tradition is never easy, but it is as simple as that.

The Great Revelation – A Square at a Time

Imagine that your life is a canvas or a screen, a picture made of pixels divided into tiny squares that come together to reveal the big picture – the wholeness of it. Sometimes, life feels as a series of squares, of compartments that are not related. We keep a home life, a work life, a church life, a secret life (in some cases), and so on. We disconnect ourselves from the big picture, and end up feeling anything else but whole. We lack continuity because we have compartmentalized our existence. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the source of it all, the divine force of our existence.

Sometimes, it takes a step back or a few steps back to change our perspective from a square by square or pixelated vision to a wholesome perspective. It takes many times, more than a few steps back, to realize the connection between all the squares, all the compartments of our life, and in the end, they disappear and all we see is continuity, neither beginning, nor end, but continuity. That is more than the big picture; it is the great revelation.

Turmoil

Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.

Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.

Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.

Simple Beginnings

The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.

As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.

I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.

Sweet Familiarity

As much as we plan our lives, unpredictability may knock at our doors at any time and we are forced to answer. Life is happening every day; life is every millisecond that unravels and it is continuity whether we understand it at the moment or not. Whether we measure life in heartbeats, brain function, hours, years, or the moment we open our eyes in the morning to mark another day, life goes on, and is, all the time. We may hope for better days but we are constantly living; we cannot hope to start living.

We take many things for granted – jobs, material things, water, electricity, a home, food, and unfortunately, even people. It is in the absence of any of these things (or all at once) when we realize their value. Have you ever thought of the possibility of losing any or all of these? How would you react? If the safety of your everyday routine were to be shaken and threatened, would you appreciate life more, however you measure life? Think of these things for a couple of minutes – from your basic needs to your more sophisticated needs or wants, and the people who make up your life circle.

To quote Forest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates … .” However,  we don’t expect to find the box empty. Our challenges in life determine our level of strength. Our perception of these determine our level of sweetness many times, but it is up to us to add the sugar. Maybe tomorrow may start and be similar to today, but it is when this sweet familiarity disappears that we miss it the most.

Sanctum

SanctumA sacred or holy place. A private room or study. (American Heritage Dictionary)

As writers, we tend to be protective of our space, our writing space and writing time. We view interruptions as muse killings. We need our focus and total concentration on the piece at hand. Our space, whether a corner, office or other, is our sanctum. It is where we retire to create.

There is another type of sanctum, an emotional and psychological one, where we retire to recharge or survive when things are not going as expected or life brings on a new challenge. It is in that very private space in the heart and mind that we thrive, and because of it, we are able to come back, stronger and wiser.

Every person has a sanctum and the ability to access it depends in part of our vision of the now (the present events), and our vision of the future. Our vision is important, especially in times of duress and calamity, because from it depends if we have the courage to open the door to our sanctum. Opening that door means safety, in a way, and also that we give ourselves permission to rest before we fight back with all our strength and wisdom. Instead of hiding in plain view, we retreat to become stronger, wiser; we enter the safety and warmth of our holy place, our private space, in order to survive, be, and become.