The Gift of Time

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How many of us awaken unconscious and unaware, deluged by the usual daily dread of work, caring for ourselves or loved ones or besieged by other obligations that pull at our energies before our feet have yet to hit the floor? I imagine many of you feel this way constantly, or at least from time to time-because really, who hasn’t?

We are only reminded of how fragile time is when a sudden illness or death or when Mother Nature’s fury unleashes herself on us, halting our daily routine in its tracks and-at its worst- upending our life for a long period of time.

I have often written about staying present, mostly when I am aware of being on the verge of a major life transition. During this juncture, I want to capture every moment, knowing that it will soon become just a memory. Then, when my life becomes more ordered and wrapped in routine, I quickly forget to take things in and savor what’s right in front of me, even if it’s not particularly exciting or positive-like being stuck in traffic at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Of course, I am not advocating that you should rejoice when you’re in gridlock; I remember being aware of how much time was wasting away during the 65 minutes it took me to get to my destination on Tuesday and how angry it was making me!

Then Hermine began to whisper in our ear Wednesday, staying well into Friday afternoon. Schools were closed; thus giving me an unplanned five-day weekend. I had much to do; the start of any school year is always overwhelming. The days fly by and there is truly never enough time in a work day to keep organized and plan ahead.  Much is left to be done after hours.

I recall waking up Thursday in a state of agitation. My thoughts were scattered. Speed work had been cancelled the previous morning due to thunderstorms. But early Thursday arrived with what was to be a brief respite. I knew a good workout would begin to clear my head. Sure enough, it was exactly what I needed! Not long into the run, I looked up and saw a great blue heron, my steady animal sign that reminds me to be patient. I saw still another wading at the edge of a verdant pool in someone’s front yard. I sent out a prayer of gratefulness to the universe; this is exactly what I needed to be doing!  My restless night and worries sloughed away.

While it is important to keep the boundaries of home and work separate, I felt as if Thursday and Friday were unexpected presents-not only to relax- but to gather myself a bit, work wise. I slowly began to check off the tasks that had been stuck in my head overnight. The sense of urgency disappeared; my mind was clear and a weight was lifting.

I write this not as a reminder to be constantly productive but as mental cairn to be open to moments that point us in the right direction. The signs are always revealing themselves; we just need to pause, take a breath and look around.

(This image was taken by me a month ago. However, the post and the image were also inspired by Emily.  She was out on a local hike up north yesterday and she texted me this message: “Just saw 2 blue herons flying at Weir Hill. Cool breezes, warm sun, blue sky. It’s my church today. Peace, sister.”)


Tropical Watch


Plumeria in the pouring rain outside our back door

The water falls in gray sheets enveloping the air in a veil of fog. The windows are open for the first time in months. The precipitation has brought a welcome cooling, enough so we can trade our stale air-conditioned environment for the sounds of Mother Nature. A shroud of silent solitude permeates the park outside the rear window. Two people are walking their dogs, sheltered by their umbrellas. The little vehicle traffic that exists is muted by the steady beats of rain.

We’ve slowed ourselves down this afternoon. The daily urgency that greets and meets us is on pause. We wind down, wait, and watch.

Moving Out of Comfort Zones

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For nine years I have been living outside my comfort zone. Previously, I had a steady vision as to how my life would proceed. But now I realize I was wearing rose-colored glasses most of the time! In August of 2007, my life’s plan was wildly disrupted and I was thrown into the turbulence of divorce. It was as if the earth had opened up and I was being swallowed whole into circumstances that were beyond my control. I spent the next five years in various states of unease and hardship as I navigated my way into an independent life. Along the way, however, I enjoyed moments of great peace, joy, grace, and a growing sense of inner strength that surprised me time and again.

As much as the independent life I had created brought contentment, it was unsustainable. In fact, it was becoming uncomfortable as the responsibilities of single home-ownership were beginning to become more taxing and overwhelming. Additionally, my boys needed to move forward into their own lives. The adventure was finished. I had done my job.

I am now literally in a whole new zone. I’ve said it before, I know! The climate makes me sweat profusely, and at times I think there are way too many sunny days. There’s a whole lot more traffic and this place seems so BIG to me.

Yet within this seemingly vast concrete jungle, there are delicious bits of paradise. (The paradise that brought people down here in the first place, the paradise that is at risk of getting lost for so many reasons). I have the comfort and contentment and continuity of a healthy partnership. A partnership that doesn’t pass judgement and is consistently patient and supportive, undemanding and full of humor! And, for the past year, I have spent many of my days way outside my educational comfort zone- teaching in positions that grew my brain cells and tested my creativity as an educator. It has been exhausting and exhilarating! But most of all, it’s been a gift. I found my community once again. A place which accepts and embraces me in all the ways I hoped.

In the nine years that my life turned in an unexpected and vastly different direction, I have learned a lot about myself and about who I really am. I have met and continue to meet some truly outstanding and amazing people. People whom I never would have crossed paths with if not for that dastardly day in August all those years ago.

Moving forward is a path that is rarely straight. But if you’re willing to allow the way to unfold before you, the detours may bring you unforeseen adventures!

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Speedwork Under a Full Moon

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Rising in the early morning dark has its benefits. When I set out in the humid air this morning, I was blessed to see the full Sturgeon moon. Since moving here, I don’t think I have really see one in all its glory until today.  I was lucky enough to have a regular monthly siting when I lived up North. Less artificial light and a more rural setting really spoiled me in that regard. The whole house would light up and I often would go outside for a little while just to look. In fact, the boys and I even went “owling” in the deep woods on a frigid and snow-filled January night. We had no need for flashlights to guide us. Incredible memory!

Forgive me, I digress…. Recently, I have felt much like the sturgeon itself, at least when it comes to running. I feel ancient, that’s for sure, but certainly not threatened or endangered as these unique fish once were. Still, I was in need of a comeback, much like them. I needed to take action. Yet, somehow I lacked the motivation to do it all by myself. So, imagine my delight when just 3 weeks ago, I came upon a group of people doing speedwork just one mile from my house! I was even more excited when they invited me to join them the following week. It turns out that the guy who coaches the group lives in the apartment complex next to my house and works at the running store where I buy my shoes! I have 2 weeks under my belt, and while getting up @ 4:30 to be ready for a 5:30 run is not everyone’s idea of fun, I really look forward to it. Today I was asked if I have a next race. I don’t. My goal is to get out of my running rut and feel better about myself and my body. If the work reveals a race to me, I’ll go with it. Right now, I’m just happy to be in the peace of the morning with just the moon as my guide.






Keeping the Spark

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How do we make the most of the life we are presently given? How do we keep the wolves of work at bay when we enter the haven of home? Where do we find daily peace of mind?

For me, August is one long Sunday night. The anticipation of a new school year looms everywhere even if you’re neither a teacher nor a student. We are all gearing up for the busyness and the changes we know these next few weeks will bring. Our heads are full. We are standing on the cliff’s edge trying not to slip and fall because we are just shy of becoming overwhelmed.

In this mindset, it is easy to forget the gifts of the previous season. If you’re lucky enough, you may have spent some time away recharging your batteries and renewing relationships. You may even have gone on an adventure of a lifetime.

So why is this very quickly forgotten? Why are we allowing ourselves to get caught in the trap of not “getting enough things done” at home or at work?  Yes, yes, of course we all have to be grown-ups and be responsible for ourselves and others. Yet, what gets lost in the translation is Joy.We approach the sometimes drudgery-filled daily to-do list with dread instead. I say save your dread for those things that may require it! By this I mean things that are literally related to your health and well-being. And even then, do not let those destructive demons destroy the joy that lives in your heart.

Lately, I am hearing lots of news about loss. People I know and care about are living with heartache. It’s an awful place to be. Most of the time there are no words of comfort we can offer. We can listen. We can show up. But more importantly, we can remember what we have and appreciate it once again.

We are given a chance every day to embrace our time here on Mother Earth. We cannot take it for granted. Some of it will be a struggle. Some of it will be nothing more than the daily grind. But whatever it may be, we must always allow for even the tiniest pinprick of light to shine upon us.

I write this as a reminder to myself; I am simply human, a person like others who at one point was very broken and is now more whole. At the same time, I  know I still have work to do; there are relationships out there that are fractured. The roads to reconciliation have yet to reveal themselves. I remain-as always-hopeful that the fog will clear and the healing can begin.

Today and every day, go out and do at least  one thing that fills your spirit and lifts you up. It may change your life.

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Thursday Morning

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We lay in the early morning darkness as an August storm announced itself ahead of our usual daily alarms. I was too sleepy to check the time; I was hoping that the clock would read 1 am or something close to having hours more to sleep. The rain poured down hard, in torrents. The thunder and lightning seemed to hover over our house. Storms seem closer here, as if they reside inside your body.

We slept a bit later than normal, knowing that a morning run or walk was out of the question. I put the coffee on and opened the back window curtains. The park- still dark- was deserted. The puddles added a slick glistening to both the grass and pavement.

My body ached more than usual today. The yoga poses were difficult, but they managed to untangle the knots in my calves and feet. The park remained deserted save for a lone person dashing across, umbrella in hand. The day began to have a serenity about it in the aftermath of the earlier roars and rumbles.The sun eventually rose, adding a pink hue to the sky. The pond’s surface was deep green and glass-like in its stillness, the only movement being the large white ducks silently swimming its circumference. I lost track of time; days like this are reverential and somewhat melancholy. My head was swimming with thoughts and prayers and intentions; I was thinking of those known and unknown who were experiencing losses.

I sped up my preparations for leaving the house, my hopes for a good day tucked away in my heart.  A rain cloud chase me all the way to work.


Hot Spell Hibernation

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My stepdaughter once said to me, “We have only two seasons here: hot and really hot.” We are well into the second season here. Unlike the Northeast, where an ocean breeze feels like air conditioning and the heavy surf is bracing cold (maybe 65 degrees if you’re not on Cape Cod) the beaches here do not provide any true relief. The breeze is torpid and the water temperature is 89 degrees! We are at the height of heat and the new school year is just around the corner!

I have found it strange not to have a clear demarcation of the four seasons. Even in the darkest, coldest and snowiest of winters, we knew it would eventually end.(Although if you lived through the winter of 2015, you might beg to differ!) Winters are the hardest part of living up north for various and valid reasons, not the least of which is hoping that your roof doesn’t cave in from too much snow or your pipes don’t freeze if the power goes out. Of course, if you live in the city and depend on public transportation to get to your job, and the conditions shut everything down, it has the realistic potential of your losing a few days’ wages. When you live there, you just have to be prepared as possible for the worst weather and it is often very disheartening and depressing.

Still, I cannot help but compare. I’m looking outside right now and it’s gorgeous. What the heck am I doing sitting here? Well, for one thing, I’m wiped out from my long morning walk and back yard weeding. It’s 91 degrees with a dew point of 80. It’s damn hot!  The current conditions just sap away at my energy. When I lived up north and it was sunny (regardless of the season), I went outside for as long as possible. Why? Bad weather was always around the corner. Sometimes it was weeks away, sometimes days, sometimes hours or even minutes. My body and mind were in sync with this practice. Plus the air was so refreshing and invigorating! Even on a zero degree day with the sun out, it was tolerable. Trust me, I have done it.

In contrast to where I currently live, we hibernated during the season when most of Mother Nature goes dormant. Those deep, dark December days when the sun sets at four can are at once agonizing because of the lack of light or pleasing because it’s a great excuse to get into your jammies and curl up with a good book.

So, is this a matter of synchronizing my body to the fact it will always be less dark and more hot here? Is it also a matter of adjusting my mind to the idea that despite of how the day looks, it is just as bad as a cold and dark winter afternoon? Perhaps. I’m just grateful that we have good air conditioning!