“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes … including you.” -Anne Lamott
It’s important to allow yourself to slow down, take a break from hectic schedules, unplug from devices and distractions. Some people power nap or meditate. Mindfulness is another option for enjoying peace in the present moment. In this space, there are no worries about the past or future. It’s an opportunity to observe and become immersed in your sensations and surroundings. It can be as simple as sitting quietly and feeling your breath, noticing how thoughts dissipate when you’re still, experiencing the beauty of nature. Yesterday, I sat near the ocean appreciating every aspect of the moment:
- Mesmerized by sunlight sparkling on the ocean
- Watching every beat of a butterfly’s wings
- Noticing drops of water shimmer on rose petals
- Feeling the lulling effect of waves rolling into shore
- Catching a random rainbow in a bevel of glass
- Admiring Birds of Paradise pointing to the sea
I heard a loud flapping sound and turned to see a Seagull perched on top of a lounge chair next to me. He eyed the sandwich waiting for me as I wrote. Then gave me a look as if to say are you going to eat that? If not I will. I quickly grabbed the sandwich and he flew away. The relaxing afternoon was just what I needed to recharge. I packed up my things to head home. I found the seagull floating in the pool. Guess he was having his moment to “chill.”
“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” – Joe L. Wheeler
As seasons change, they color our mood and perspective on life. With winter’s chill and short days of light, we retreat in our homes seeking comfort within. Springtime spurts new life in nature and opportunities for us. Summer is packed with vacations and celebrations from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But ahhh … Autumn’s sunset colored leaves scattered everywhere shifts us from warm Indian Summers with pink strewn cloudy skies to crisp mornings and cozy nights, sipping hot apple cider, and kicking off the Holiday season.
Fall’s intensity ignites all of our senses. Nostalgia lingers in the air bringing a need to gather with family, connect with traditions, and reminisce about the past. That’s exactly what inspired a trip in September to visit my sister and family in England. Renting a home on a lake in the lovely countryside of the Cotswolds, preparing meals together, hiking through long fields surrounded by water and wildlife, sharing memories and special moments became the first heart touching stop on my nostalgic journey.
Two weeks later, I returned to my roots in New Jersey to visit family and friends. Instead of the usual whirlwind tour of seeing everyone, I made a point of spending quality time with each person. We dined and danced, wandered around town, ran in the rain, laughed about old times, all while making new memories.
Nostalgia helps us maintain a sense of who we are and where we’ve been. Reflecting on the past plays an important role in revealing where we want to be in the future. Fall is a time to slow down and savor sensations of the season.
“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Reflections intrigue and inspire me. Sometimes you only see something by its reflection. Like when I notice movement in light on the kitchen counter and realize it’s a bird flying in the backyard. Interestingly, images often appear more brilliant in its reflection as seen in the sunset clouds above. Reflection photography adds an artistic element to photos. Viewing objects from a different perspective creates another dimension. There are some incredible shots on this website: http://www.boredpanda.com/reflection-photography/
Likewise, another meaning of reflection: “to give serious thought or consideration” can be powerful in altering our own perception of how we see ourselves. Here are a couple of inspiring examples:
Reflection is an important process for knowing who we are and where we want to be. Contemplating on moments, experiences and pivotal points helps us understand our feelings, values, goals, and purpose. It’s a compass to determine our path in life.
“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Walking at the park watching little girls do cartwheels on the lawn reminds me of my childhood and why summertime always brings fond memories.
Freedom from school, fireworks on Fourth of July and my birthday made it a favorite time of year. Eating juicy Jersey tomatoes, husking corn on the back steps, splashing in the pool, playing Wiffleball with our neighborhood friends, savoring Mr. Softee’s sundaes, watching fireflies light up the night, visiting our grandparents at the shore, marching in the Memorial day parade and shopping until midnight during “Moonlight Madness.” A time of simple pleasures left a deep imprint on my heart.
In our last month of summer, I hope you enjoy many memorable moments during this sizzling season.
“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed feeling a sense of despair by what’s going on in the world. Our hearts are broken every day hearing about violence.
What brings us peace is the abundant flow of kind acts to bring comfort, encouraging more kindness. It’s like the power of paying it forward. The tragic loss of forty-nine lives in Orlando moved people to spread love and hope. One 65-year man, Greg Zanis built 49 crosses by himself, then drove 1,200 miles to place them in front of the Orlando Health Medical Center to honor those who died. His message is: “love your brother, love your neighbor. Don’t judge them.”
Orlando residents handed out food and water to police, 5,300 people donated blood, Christian West Howard who owns several rental properties in the area offered the victim’s families a free place to stay, Go Fund Me websites were created and donated to. The list goes on.
When we join together, we become a powerful link. I recently saw a video of a dog being rescued from rushing waters in a reservoir. One man slid down a wall to get the dog. Then he and his friends formed a human chain to bring the dog to safety. Amazing proof of the power of kindness and joining together!
Here’s the video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DvOhBVATlk4
“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – Don Williams, Jr.
For the past six weeks, I’ve captured memories and experiences in a workshop with Roger Housden. He shared this insightful advice: “At the heart of all creative writing of non-fiction is the willingness to have an open mind about the event or events you are writing about, acknowledging that a great part of their significance is likely as yet to be still unknown to you. The writing itself, over time, is what can gradually make the unknown known. So the writing of memoir then becomes not merely a recounting of past events, but an exploration of your developing sense of self through time – a journey of self-discovery.”
This is not only a great lesson for writing non-fiction, it’s an invaluable tool helping us navigate and make sense of life’s twists and turns. Sometimes when we feel like we’re trekking through mud, we’re unaware of gifts which will eventually emerge. Looking back gives us a new perception. Understanding unfolds like a lotus flower revealing reasons for our challenges.
I learned painful events become a wise teacher. After losing my first mother, I gained a new mom who turned into my best friend and mentor. Going through a divorce at thirteen instilled independence, maturity, an early awareness of responsibility. When my father died at fifty-two, the devastating loss taught me life is precious and short.
I learned we may lose love then find it again.
Life is a roller coaster – riding high one moment then falling to some unknown depth. The key is growing stronger through adversity. What matters is taking time to sit and listen to our soul so our true path can be revealed.
“People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime” – Author unknown
I repeat this saying all the time noticing how people come and go in our lives. My brother described it perfectly yesterday when he told me people were popping into his life and helping him in different ways. “It’s weird, he said. I don’t know how it happens. It’s like there’s magic dust in the air.”
That’s how the universe works. It sprinkles people into our lives at just the right time when we need them. We throw an intention or need out there and we’re magically connected with just the right person at the right time. Sometimes it may be a perfect stranger, chance meeting, and the only time you’ll see them. Others are only with us for one leg of our journey – during childhood or college, maybe it’s a first boss who mentored you, or someone who supported you during an illness.
There’s actually scientific evidence showing the EKG of one person’s heart can be measured in the EEG of another person’s brain. In other words, one’s emotional energy registers in the brainwaves of another. I think the key is to be aware of your feelings and sensations when people come into your life. There may be a reason why you “bump” into them or they pop up. It continues to amaze me the incredible people I meet who make life more meaningful. I am forever grateful for friends who walk with me in the sunshine and dance in the rain.