Posts Tagged ‘life challenges’

We are all challenged in so many ways nowadays – every single one of us on this planet. Some days more, some days less. I wanted to make a meme that might touch everyone, and would give you hope, some encouragement, no matter what you are dealing with today. Here’s what I came up with.

Does this work for you?

And then … a note on social media, that ever-hungry, (sometimes) beast that would like to devour our time. But here’s something I really like about it, particularly on Instagram. I am finding so much new music to love, thanks to people I follow who share it on posts and reels.

That I am being exposed to music in different genres, from different cultures, in different styles – it just makes my heart sing. The following is one of the loveliest pieces I have heard in a while. I guess you would call it folk/pop (?), and the song is “Bloom” by Lullanas. Thanks to @sawsanakar for opening my ears and heart to this piece. I hope you enjoy it.

May you be well, looking forward to an enjoyable weekend, and maybe just a little inspired.

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That pretty much says it. Despite the fact that I am still working – and very thankful for that – and am hardly in need of things to do in any area of my life, my focus is, well … intermittent would be a good word. Some days are pretty “normal”, but at times there is a sense of drift that never used to be in my life until the Coronavirus blew into town.

I know you are all experiencing this, too. I have yet to speak to anyone who isn’t dealing with some variation of this theme. As best I can tell, those of us who are creative have taken a truly palpable hit. I haven’t blogged in a month; I feel like I have little to say. Or perhaps I’ll just whine. So I started thinking in pictures. I went through the last few years of my photos and below you’ll find a little walk through my town, a little walk through summer. Hope this offers some cheer.

It was early spring, April 12th to be exact. The pandemic was in its serious upswing. I didn’t feel like walking that cloudy morning, but I did anyway. The streets were pretty empty. The flowering cherry trees were in bud, and I was cheered to see our flag, a colorful beacon on one of my neighbor’s porches. It was a comfort in a time that left us all unsteady on our feet.

Daffodils in bloom, the little entry area to the bridge freshly manicured and mulched, but still, it looked pretty bleak. A sunny sky would have helped. There were next to no cars on the road. Everyone was home, wondering what was next. And still, there was our flag, posted by my town, somehow a hopeful reminder – to my way of thinking – that we’d be OK.

My back porch last summer. It was the summer when I got all those amazing plants from Rice’s Market, pictured in a previous post – gorgeous coleus growing like crazy, stunning petunias and snapdragons. This part of the porch was quiet but pretty with pots of impatiens. This year? The porch has the furniture, but the plant market was closed, and I didn’t really have the energy/desire to pot plants anyway. There’s always next year, I thought. I am still surrounded by beautiful hostas, lilies, and hydrangea on the other side of the porch railings. I’m good.

Jazzy napping in a favorite sunny spot in the bedroom. The painted stool was one of quite a few hand-painted children’s items I’d made when living in Pattenburg a number of years earlier. My next door neighbor had converted what was once the town’s General Store into an antiques and collectibles shop, and she featured my pieces. I loved the painting and stenciling. Something I think about doing again, but …

It was a grey-ish day, but the cemetery at the Unitarian Universalist Church was tended so beautifully, it didn’t matter. It was very calm. Peaceful and pretty.


Another view of the Delaware River, separating New Jersey from Pennsylvania. I love this photo as much for the gleaming handrail of the bridge walkway as for the unusual cloud formation. When you live so close to a river, it’s hard not to take photos of it.

Did someone say Jersey tomatoes? New Jersey is The Garden State and this is tomato season! Those rich, red beauties put other tomatoes to shame, and make the best sandwiches anywhere. In reality, you don’t even need the cheese – just plain tomato sandwiches with a little mayo work, too. I literally just came back from a tomato run at Phillips Farms’ new farm stand with a bunch for the week.

Marilyn. Who can forget her? Here she is remembered in a retrospective of the works of Seward Johnson who founded and built the magnificent Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, NJ. His works are always on display, but friends and I made a special trip down for this exhibit which extended throughout the 42 acre grounds and inside galleries. Just do a search on this site for Grounds for Sculpture  (or start here) and you will be treated to both his works and those of many other wonderful sculptors. Johnson is known for his lifelike figures, especially those where he’s brought to life the famous paintings of the Impressionists.

 Hydrangea bushes are here and there all over the adjoining property, part of which surrounds my back porch. So lovely, here in pale green, slowly changing over the summer from snowy white to glowing rust.

The view at the end of my block. I am just 3 houses away from the Delaware whose many moods charm and inspire. This was from a previous summer, in her full green regalia. This summer, the area is overgrown, and the ability to access a nearer point as was possible in the past, is blocked; whether intentionally or not, I have no idea. So much has changed as of late.

Thank you all for visiting. For those whose blogs I visit regularly, forgive me if I have not stopped by in any sort of timely manner. I value what you add to my life and to life on the internet as well. I’ll get there. As I mentioned earlier, I am just all over the place, but you are in my mind and heart. Keep writing. Your words and images matter.

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It was inevitable. No matter how well products manufactured 30 or 40 years ago were made, sooner or later, they’re going to bite the dust.

So I bid a very fond farewell to my longtime, faithful AT&T cordless phone. It has seen me through more life events than I care to relate. And yes, of course it looks like an “old lady” phone, but if you can believe it, the battery in the handset has only needed to be replaced once in the approximately 35 years I’ve had it. You just don’t throw a phone like that in the trash, and that’s why I’ve kept it, homely as it might be, for all these years.

This phone and another upstairs which is plugged directly into the wall have been my landline, something I have known my entire life. When power went out in Superstorm Sandy, I still had phone service because the upstairs phone didn’t require electricity to run. It was a great security blanket, despite my having a little flip phone on a second line forever. But lately, the cordless has occasionally been staticky, dropped a call here and there, and the antenna is holding on by a thread. Not to mention the ridiculous price I was paying my carrier for the privilege of having a landline.

Time to join the 21st Century, like it or not. I am changing carriers and saving an amazing amount of money each year going forward — transferring my existing flip phone to a new model as my backup (in case the other needs to go to Apple for some reason), switching the landline to an iPhone; and going completely wireless. (Let me just say here … oy.)

Kicking and screaming? Not so much as fretting and panicking, and I’m not enjoying it at all. Since I am Mac based, I assumed this would be a breeze, but it’s not just the fact that I have to learn two new phones in a very short period of time. It’s that I’m giving up the security I’ve known all my life with a landline. I honestly never thought this would affect me the way it has. I’m almost embarrassed because this kind of stuff doesn’t usually rattle me. (And yes, that we are locked down in a global pandemic may be in play, too.)

Everyone assures me that I’ll have this all down in no time (probably true); that many, many people are completely wireless nowadays (I’m aware); and that once I am used to it, I’ll love it (undoubtedly true). But logic is rarely the best diffuser of anxiety.

In my experience, the only way to deal with this is to keep on moving through it, fretting and all, because curling up in a ball or going back to how it’s been are not options. I comfort myself each morning during periods of change by reading a particular section of this book by Deepak Chopra in the “Law of Least Effort” chapter, which reminds us that every tormentor or tyrant, each upsetting situation, is in our lives at this moment because it’s exactly what we need to evolve, and is the opportunity to create something new and beautiful. I do believe that’s true, and it’s what I’m holding on to.

So if I accidentally disconnect your call or inadvertently send you a partial text, please bear with me; I’m overcoming the loss of a security blanket. And I promise I’ll never be one of those people in the supermarket who cannot stop gabbing on their phone for two seconds. I’ll still be me, just looking a whole lot more 21st Century.

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Though I cannot take credit for them. We all experience times in our lives when people are acting badly, situations hover and sway as if on the edge of a precipice, and everything is moving too slow … or fast … or in the wrong direction. It’s just life, but from time to time it can leave us spinning.

On one such recent occasion, I removed the previous day’s page from my wonderful Wayne Dyer desk calendar, and found these wise words.

Sometimes you just have to laugh. They couldn’t have been more perfect.

It doesn’t mean that things will always be that way, or that we can’t change them, or that we can’t intend to change them. It just means that right now, it is the way they are. Point taken. And just in case it may be one of those times in your life, I figured I’d share them with you.

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This morning when I went out to the mailbox to retrieve my mail, I spied something at my front door. It was sitting quite nicely in front of my little children’s bench which holds a flower box filled with overflowing pink and white Impatiens. What could that be? I thought. I didn’t order anything. And because I was feeling a tad under the weather, I immediately wondered if it was a misdelivery, something from a company I didn’t order, etc. Whatever it was, it did get my curiosity going.

I brought it inside and looked at the label. Sure enough, it was addressed to me, and from a company I’d never heard of. More and more curious. I opened it up to find no note or identifying information, but when I brought out the one item inside, it brought tears to my eyes.

Someone had sent me one of the most meaningful and thoughtful gifts I could receive at this moment in time. Something that affirms my strength as a woman and as a writer, from someone who obviously knows the challenges I’ve faced over the last 5 or so years.

We all have our challenges; there is no doubt about that. I was joyfully on my journey of writing and illustrating children’s books, and had been for a while. It was a long-awaited return after I had studied under the renowned children’s book author and illustrator Uri Shulevitz at the New School in NY so many years ago. And then things happened. It doesn’t really matter what they were, but they had the effect of disrupting many aspects of my life, among them my children’s book journey. This was my dream. And although it had to sit on the sidelines for a while, it never sat alone. I did everything I could, however tiny, to keep it alive even though it could hardly take my full attention.

As time passed and I worked to regain my balance in all aspects of my life, I have – little by little – returned to my writing for children, to my dream of being published. I don’t have the luxury of writing full time, as most writers do not, but more and more, it is in my thoughts and in my daily plans. I know I’m back on track – maybe not sprinting yet, but I am out there and picking up speed.

And whoever sent me this mug knows that, and I thank you deeply for acknowledging it. I will find you and I will thank you.

For the rest of you women writers out there, especially those who face challenges and proceed in spite of them, tomorrow morning I am going to toast you all with my first cup of coffee in this mug. Cheers to you and your writing dreams.

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When I first saw this photo, I had to swallow hard. That is not a bridge I’d be able to cross. The photograph is of the Carrick-a-rede-rope bridge in Northern Ireland and connects the mainland to a tiny island. It is now a tourist attraction, but was once used by salmon fishermen for over 350 years. It is 98 feet, above rocks and the sea, built only of wood and ropes. It is easy to imagine how it would sway when one crosses to the little island on the other side.

It reminds me of  bridges in my own life … the sometimes difficult paths that I am traveling to places I want to go. Just like real bridges, some of these can be crossed in hours, days, or maybe years. Some are nice and secure and amazingly happy, like when I used to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, and some are much more challenging, like this one would be. Some feel like they have a sheer drop to the sea and cliffs below.

We all have bridges we need … or want … to cross. I’d had a discussion of this metaphor with a friend a few years ago; a particular challenge I faced, (and still do), seemed the equivalent of crossing this rope bridge. How would I get where I wanted to go? She suggested I imagine the rope bridge bathed in white light, one continuous safety net. I accepted this in theory, but it didn’t banish my fears. And then I had a thought. If I really, truly wanted to get there, I could crawl. Maybe not a bold or terribly brave move, but if that’s all I can do right now? Then I can crawl.

And sometimes that’s what we have to do. Some days we can dance around and through wherever we want to go. Others we can walk with our head held high. But if we sometimes have to crawl to get there,  at least we can say we never gave up. One day, one step at a time.

We’ll all get there.

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WingbackChair2If you’re sensing that there may be a bit of a double-entendre in that title, you are so right.

Here you see a photo of a wingback chair, new to me. In some ways, it seemed to have arrived in my possession as a consolation (prize) to offset a number of things I found myself having to deal with recently. And, being an item that I’ve wished I had for such a long time, I find it not only the most wonderful reading chair possible, but also one that consoles me when I curl up in its winged shape.

There really are times when we feel we’ve spent as much of our energy as we have coping with whatever is on our plates. But wait … the Universe has one more challenge to throw our way. Really? I say. Apparently so. In Living in the Light, Shakti Gawain writes about problems as messages. She says that when there are problems in our lives, it may be the Universe trying to get our attention, to tell us something we need to be aware of, something that needs to be changed. If we pay attention, we learn from the messages; if we don’t, the problems often intensify until we start to pay attention.

So I’d say I’ve been smacked quite smartly about now. And I am paying attention.

But back to the chair.

I’d gone across the street to my neighbors’ house to discuss something relevant to said problem and we chatted for an hour or so. When we came out, I noticed a wingback chair sitting at the end of another neighbor’s driveway in the spot where he usually puts out his garbage or recycling. Could that chair really be there for someone to pluck? I immediately sat in it. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, right? Mmmmm – comfy. He was mowing the lawn so we waved him down to see if, indeed, this chair was there for the taking. It was.

In no time, I had this chair, which had been in his family for quite some time and is in excellent condition, in my living room just waiting for me to grab a book and read. He was happy it went to someone he knew and I was thrilled to have it. (And of course, he has visiting privileges.) Somehow this chair appeared in that spot in a very brief period of time … it seemed meant for me, a consolation for an array of recent difficulties and for which I am very grateful.

I sit it in it and read and I sit in it and contemplate … exactly what is the message I’ve been assiduously avoiding that I needed such a wake-up call? Of course, I’m quite sure I know, and now I have someplace to sit and plan what steps I next need to take in my life. Funny how things work out.


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I believe it was the Christmas before last that a dear friend gave me The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Nepo is a poet who writes a daily (prose) offering of guidance for the reader, drawn from his own experiences, from others who struggle with their own humanness as well as the wisdom of the great traditions and teachers. Every day is a different subject and a beautifully written piece.

When I first got the book, I diligently followed along every day, enjoying the wisdom offered for the entire year. Now I dip in when I feel the call to do so which almost always assures me of a nugget of truth which is exactly what I need to hear at that time. I opened the book this morning to where my bookmark sat, May 25th, Through the Wall of Flame. The first paragraph reads:

Living long enough, we each find ourselves surrounded by an old way of being, thinking, or loving that is going up in flames. In that unexpected moment, we usually find ourselves full of fear, feeling trapped by an old way of life coming in on us. But this is the passage of rebirth that we must move through if our lives are to unfold. It is the momentary and painful crossing from what is old into what is new.

Nepo goes on to say how understandable it is to stall at this wall of flame, not wanting to go through, but that old ways can burn forever, and we can waste years in the waiting for the flames to go out. And they often never do.

I find there are times in life where things seem to be going smoothly, where we are moving easily forward in positive ways, where our goals and dreams are clearly in view. And then there are other times when they are obscured by Nepo’s described wall of flames … time to learn another lesson to help us grow. Oftentimes, the lessons are the same ones we have been learning and struggling with all along, but now at a new level, a new depth, with a greater challenge and … with a greater reward for pushing through. Even though we may occasionally lose sight of it in the trying.

Over the years, I have been told to be thankful for these challenges as they are opportunities to grow and to grow closer to my dreams. It’s not always easy to cross through the flames, and, while our hands are burning hot, to be grateful as well. The choice, however, is to stay safe at a far greater cost. What I have learned to do when it seems there are flames all about me is to just put one foot in front of the other and believe. Believe that I am always loved, believe that I will always survive the jump through, and believe that what is on the other side is richer than what I ever imagined.

In front of a wall of flames? Let’s all of us take a breath. Ready? Jump!

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