Clouds and Shadows

After stormI find myself drawn to clouds,
trying to capture their essence.

How, at times they rise,
like sculptures of the gods…

or how they dissipate, leaving
wispy trails in their wake –
not wanting to let go.

 

paradiseblueI remember cloudless skies
of Arizona – the perfection
of blue crowning our days.

It is that clouds forewarn
that intrigues me the most –
those dark masses that move
swiftly across the screen
blotting out sun, heralding change
sun breaking throughPerhaps it is not the clouds,
themselves, that fascinate,
but their shadows…

dark, clinging to light –
how the two are synonymous –
a revelation that somehow
brings me comfort.

 

(All photos from personal collection – feeling obsessed with clouds lately.  Written for V.J.’s weekly challenge: shadows.)

 

Building a Foundation (with help from wikihow.com)

  1.  Choose the type of foundation to build.  I want a foundation strong enough to carry me through hard times, yet flexible and able to adapt in the moment.  Something sustaining, and solid, but not rigid.  
  2. Set your footings 2 feet across.   Two feet on the ground, firmly planted, well balanced, not alone, but interdependent, both partaking and contributing.  I like it.
  3. Align the 2″ wide x 10″ long boards to build the forms of your footing – each principle has equal weight – well measured and cut (considered).  Time tested.  Strength and consistency.  Imagine that.
  4. Square and level the form not sure I’m comfortable with square, nor level (never could walk or think a straight line). I prefer flee-flowing.  Can I live with square, or is it too confining?  There is fear in that for me.
  5. Make your concrete.  Concrete is composed of fine and course materials – the grit of faith and the rocks formed from experience – bound together with cement.  My glue is willingness and determination.  Too much water will result in concrete, too little with will make the cement unworkable.  So I need to balance fluidity (emotional or mystical) with common sense.  Makes sense.  Balance is good.
  6. Make your concrete foundation.  Blend the contents and pour into the desired, preset frame.  So this is why the form is necessary.  A foundation without edges would neither hold nor serve.
  7. Finish your concrete.  Smooth the surface with a rake or trowel to achieve the desired effect.  Be satisfied with the finish, assured that what you have chosen will hold and support your constructs for year to come.

(V.J.’s challenge this week is foundation.  Thought I’d have a little fun by comparing the actual construction of a foundation with forming a metaphorical one.  Wikihow.com provided instructions in blue. Also submitted for Fandango’s One Word Challenge – balance.  Featured image is a photo and haiku by yours truly.)

Continue to Question

Inquiry is a trait teachers hope to instil in students – the ability to not just take for granted that which they have been taught, but the curiosity to question evidence, and to research beyond what is given.

Questions form the basis of a reflective life.

This week’s challenge was to think about the questions we ask, and the responses were diverse, demonstrating that there is no limit to what we might ponder.

My thoughts wandered to ‘what ifs’ and the road taken, as well as the mother’s role.

Kripi questioned the  purpose of existence and suggested a communal approach to understanding.  This is Kripi’s first visit here, and I hope not the last.

Proscenium, the irreverent (yes I’ve typecast you now), asked questions that I’ve actually expressed when driving past opulence.

Olga, from Stuff and What If... posed philosophical questions, reminding us that fear must always be balanced with appreciation for what is.

We Wander..We Wonder also joined us this week with a question of what becomes of us and the world we know – something I ponder often, as evidenced in my work.

Sgoeil asked “Why as adults/ do we lose our/ sense of inquiry?” a question we should challenge often if we are to keep our minds and spirits renewed.

Thank you, all, for participating.  The challenge is always open, and just this week I received a new contribution to last week’s challenge: personification.  Heaven’s Sunshine sent in an excellent photo and caption depicting the theme.

See you tomorrow for a new challenge.

(Featured Image is from my personal collection and depicts my two-year-old granddaughter asking an important question:  Is it safe?  The subject of fear was a toad who had suddenly appeared.)

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A Week of Accomplishment (VJWC)

To know I have accomplished something each day, is as important to me as the first cup of tea in the morning.  It is the satisfaction of knowing I have contributed, that I have made a stamp (no matter how minute) on the passage of time.

Prior to illness, I didn’t think much about accomplishment; I just did – driving through each day, with a mile long to-do list, at the pace of a fast-moving train.  No time was allotted for reflection or appreciation, as if I was chasing an unattainable goal.

Illness forced me to put life on hold.  I’ll never forget the day, when in the midst of moving house, my spine shut down at the bottom of a staircase, rendering me immobile. Frustration mingled with tears, as I had to concede defeat.  From that day onward, I had to readjust my definition of accomplishment.  It became a feat just to perform simple self-care routines, such as brushing my teeth.

Still, I was driven to do something, and writing filled that need.  While the body was inert, the mind kept pedalling.

As Olga (Stuff and what if…) and I discussed, a slower pace offers new perspective.  I love what she has to say about accomplishment, in her post “Creative Play”:

“My greatest accomplishment in recent years is finding what was left behind, but never lost; being a seeker of the creative life that sparked me as a young girl.”

The rebirth of creativity has certainly been the treasure in all of this for me.

Proscenium, ever the irreverent, reminds me that accomplishment is subjective.

My husband reminds me of this also, shrugging off my complaints that I don’t do enough to merit my existence.  It’s a whip of my own making, and one I am working to abolish.

Sgoeil elaborates and suggests that accomplishment isn’t always just about the self, but in the way we provide background support for others – an important perspective.  “Accomplishment” illustrates, in poetic form, the various aspects of this concept, articulating much of which I struggled to convey this week.

Please take time to visit the contributions and remember: it’s never too late to join in.

Tomorrow marks a new challenge, and we can set this theme aside and focus on that.  See you then, and as always – thanks for all the input!

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CFFC: Windows and Greenery

My lens is drawn to windows, not for what I can see beyond, rather for the mystery they invoke.

windowreflections

I watch the world through the frame of a window – life passing while I lie still, praying for better days – certain that few would guess that I am here, wonder at my well-being.

Now, able to get out of the house, camera in hand, I wonder who else might be trapped behind a window, listening to the calls of the birds, the constant flow of traffic, or the sound of my footsteps echoing on the walk below.

windownbranches.jpg

Rain falls and windows take on a protective edge, promising shelter, and a front row view from a place of comfort.

suddendownpour

(Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Week 1:  window, bushes, etc.)

Post also works for my weekly challenge:  Mystery

Reflections on a Travelling Life

KoipondIt is easy to engage in surroundings when vacationing:  all travellers belong,
having escaped (even if momentarily) their scripted lives.

We project friendliness onto strangers – mothers meeting outside our day-to-day – have new things to discuss.  Dare to confess concerns, or approach the personal, and the shunning is immediate.  Only peripheral conversations are expected here.

No problem; we move on.  Return to our inner security, and focus our search on the next landing place.

We will reach out again when landed, the challenge always how much to extend, and remembering to stay out of the emotional.

Is this why some return to the same place, year after year – the yearning for deeper connection and community preferable to the superficial?

RV-Able: Misses and Gains

FaceTime, phone calls and videos exchanged cannot replace in-person chats and hugs, especially when the recipients are grandchildren.  I miss chasing eighteen-month-old Auggie around the house, or cuddling with Sloane to “watch something”, or exploring the million why’s of Finn.  I miss my grown children, family and friends whom I value deeply.  Homecoming, I know, will be emotional and overdue.

Palm treesI do not miss the cold of an Ontario winter, how the weather creeps into old veins, cramps muscles and exacerbates pain.  I don’t miss being homebound for days because my walker won’t glide through thick slush.  I don’t even miss the home we sold and left behind to expedite this journey.

There is much to be gained in daring to venture, to risk pushing beyond the boundaries of routine existence, to drive purposefully into the unknown.  Stripped of the stresses of debt and schedules, Ric and I are experiencing each other in a way we never could before:  we are free-spirited and finding that laughter comes more easily.

We are discovering new vistas, reveling in the small moments, like scrumptious food, or the sighting of a new bird, or the marvels of how many varieties of flavoured potato chips Lays offer in the U.S.

Mostly, minus the distractions of everyday life, we have time to commit to ourselves, to developing new passions or deepening old ones. I am writing more, and have enrolled in painting lessons.  Ric and I have started birding.  He is revelling in tinkering about the motor home, learning the ins and outs of RVing.  We are focusing on making healthier choices, caring for ourselves.

As in all aspects of life, it is people who make the difference.  We have enjoyed meeting new people and the highlight to date is meeting a fellow blogger in person.  Jazz of Steps and Pauses and I hit it off immediately online, and were pleased to find that the connection continued in person.  We spent a lovely afternoon with Jazz outside of Austen, and hope to meet up again along the road.  IMG_0181

I am confident that home relationships will endure our absence, and even more certain that this adventure of ours will only better our lives.  Every day, as the landscape changes, and our health permits, I give thanks for our good fortune and the blessing that is my husband, for who else would have conceived of taking a chronically ill woman and loading her into a 40 foot motor home and driving her around the continent?  He has given me the power to define myself as something other than useless (my word) and I love him for it.

One Thing

Before ME/CFS, I was a Learning Support Teacher, overseeing a three-room Resource center for students with special needs. It was hectic, always demanding, and I loved it. Four years later, I still dream about teaching, which was the inspiration for today’s poem: “A Call To Teach”.  This post, originally penned in November of 2013, captures a day in the life of a teacher.

One Woman's Quest

Sipping my second cup of morning tea, I breathe in the solitude that nature dropped on my doorstep overnight:  great mounds of white, silently commanding the world to a halt.  The tea is extra sweet and warming when accompanied by the luxury of leisure time.

Shaking off the frayed edges of yesterday’s insanity, I contemplate a more relaxed day – some laundry that has needed tending to all week, a few hours of schoolwork, and maybe even an apple crumble.

The snow continues to fall outside my window, softly, without a sign of letting up and I rise from my last sip and stretch, lingering to revel in the majestic beauty of the landscape before me.

Yesterday, everything was chaos, or so it seemed.  The wind was howling and a cold sleet constantly beat against the windows, and indoors, the students were restless, hyper, inattentive, and I was short on…

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Sufficiency

My living room has beautiful big picture windows facing two directions, allotting me a full view of the neighbour’s front gardens to the north, and the constant comings and goings  on the  street in front of the house.  Lying on the couch with my morning cup of tea is how I like to greet the day.

On Sunday mornings, the rush of traffic is replaced by clusters of runners, with their long, sleek bodies, puffed out reddened faces, and self-satisfied grimaces.

“My wife had CFS,”  a man once told me, “but now she runs marathons.”

It is hard for me to believe.  The distance between my own physical capabilities and these weekend athletes far exceeds any race they might run, the copper-coloured legs of my sidekick walker remind me.

Maybe wheelchair races, I chuckle to myself.

Now that my life is confined to the four tiny rooms on the main floor of our home, I have new perspective.

I cannot remember a time when I did not feel lacking in my life – not enough hours in the day, not enough help, not enough money – but the truth is, in retrospect, I always had exactly what I needed.

Today, I do not have the legs to carry me swiftly on my way, nor do I have the energy to aspire to such feats, but I do have a home that I can easily navigate, surrounded by the endless beauty of Nature, and friends and family that truly care.

Abundance, I am discovering, is an attitude, not a state of material wealth.  It comes with the recognition that life is sufficiency, not lack.

(Note:  This passage originally appeared on One Woman’s Quest in October of 2014.  The house is gone now, of course, replaced by even smaller quarters, but the message still pertains.)

Life Is Like This

Biting, the sun’s brilliance –
set against a cornflower blue sky –
competes with the mustard gold,
tangerine orange and chartreuse
leaves, shimmering in the breeze

the vividness of colours, too sharp
for just awakened eyes, begs retreat.
I contemplate what I have witnessed,
think life is like this: too beautiful
at times for words, glorious perfection.

In a blink, the sky changes – white
clouds forming a backdrop, the autumn
wind tossing the tree about, branches
dipping, pulled apart, and the harmony
of the moment is gone, and I think

life is like this:  turning without notice,
what once was balance suddenly lost,
and we are left spinning; I can hear it now
wind rushing against the windowpane,
taunting:  Change! Change is coming!

And I know what it speaks is true, for
life is like this:  ever-fluctuating, and
the reminder is bittersweet; my heart,
reluctant to let go of summer, knows
it’s okay; it’s just the way of life.

(Image: http://www.mnn.com)

(This post is a rewrite of an early entry on One Woman’s Quest.  The original was written as prose and I thought it might be interesting to rewrite as a poem.)