I looked out the patio doors and saw a magpie perched on the railing. He was quiet as he looked around. Then with a gentle step towards the feeder he pecked up a piece of suet and flew away.
The crowded planters with their tiny seedlings sing their praise for the first frost has passed. No longer a deep chill to quench their growth. No longer the ominous clouds that threaten snow. They gleam with morning dew. Their tiny leaves speckled with the overnight droplets and reflecting the morning sun.
It is still quiet outside, my slow breathing and the distant sounds of crows cawing the only rhythm I hear. Here I think about the day, in the stillness and tranquility that only crisp early mornings can bring.
I calm my anxious mind, telling it to think in portions of wonder, advising it to seek out synchronicity and recognize wonder. I meditate this thought as though it is the only worry of the day, the only worry of life.
Soon the children will wake, their tired eyes will squint open, their arms stretching out like the tiny seedlings in pots. Their tummies will rumble with morning hunger and their fierce little scowls will denote morning confusion. They will race through the house, in an anxious swirl of activity, recounting the nights dreams in fast talking excitement. Their eyebrows will raise and I’ll look at them with wonder, How do they know so much?
Their small arms will gather around my waist and they’ll nestle their heads in my belly, I’ll tickle their necks and kiss them their morning greeting.
The silence for the day will be over then. The moments of reflection will have passed and in its place something tangible and loud. I can grasp a hold of this and never let go.
Growing up faster-By Markella Mildenberger
Sun is shining
Feel the touch of warm rays through my shirt
Children echoing parental calls in far away yards
They are playing in the mud
The rubber of their boots sinking into the soaked earth makes the squish sound
The sound as addictive to a child as a cigarette to a smoker
They watch the watery mud slide around the boot
In slow motion
They lift their feet to hear the slurp from underneath
mother thinks the giggles to mean
then a song erupts from the child
In off key fluidity
There is now a cake
Formed with bare hands and sticks
Topped with twigs and earthly
remnants from autumn
The chanting continues , it’s a cake for Hailey
The sound of sudden quiet pierces the air
A dog barks and the child squeals with delight
“Happy Birthday Hailey” the child laughs
The dog barks in joy
Mother opens the screen door, I imagine a fowl glare on her face
She scolds about the mess
The muddy cake, the dirty hands
and calls for Hailey to stop eating the mud
“But, it’s a cake mom”
The child defends
“It’s mud. Now get in here.”
The screen door shuts
Hailey barks loneliness
Had I known 15 years ago that I would have children of my own, I may have chosen a different path in life to ensure their full stability in an economic world. But, as life would have it, I could not, and still can’t see into the future. Thankfully.
I went about life, as was intended for me then. To work hard in my youth, to endure all kinds of trials and tribulations that are often thought of for those twice my age. And, somehow through the rubble, a little piece of wonder glimmered through.
Transformed into passion and roads that were pre-made. I journeyed upon them, thinking this had to be it; the ‘right’ way to live. A great career, steady and solid income and stability of pensions and retirement a feasible outcome on this path.
For a while until an unexpected turn of events made me realize this was simply another pile to dig out of. Sometimes, we don’t even notice we’re underneath heavy weighted boulders until a glimmer shines our way. This is me.
All seemed great, until yet another pile of gravel buried my feet. Stranded, without so much as a clear sense of direction.
Here I stood.
Gazing at my reflection and looking for the glimmer of wonder.
Nothing shone in obvious bursts. No epiphany loomed above waiting for me to capture.
Just rocks, brick walls and hurdles I couldn’t seem to jump.
Sitting in the quiet, day after day, I waited for this supposed burst of vigor to run through my veins. I awaited the juices of creativity to rain upon me in showers. Finally, after waiting, I gave up.
Some think the first part was giving up; it wasn’t. I made a conscious decision to stop waiting for my purpose to find me.
Instead, I choose to seek it out myself, and if it were hiding in some dark crevice or abyss, I would yank it out by the hair!
I worked at it, with a series of unfortunate events trying to cripple me into disparity. I fought each one off with any energy I could muster. Finally, they were beaten down enough to stay a squashed version of my former self. Stay there! And they have.
Lo and behold, I found myself starting at pages filled with words entwined into sentences that were weaved into paragraphs, that formed stories.
Lo and behold, I found stacks of blank canvases that called out for something, anything…. and the affair with art is still at its heightened state. Perhaps, no longer an affair.
I stood, waiting for purpose to grace me like it did in so many inspirational movies and books. I stood waiting for someone to pull me over the beaten brick wall, and nobody did. I had to climb over, with the skill of a newborn to peer over the edge and see just were I was.
Purpose. This path, or the one with rubble, walls, sinkholes…little gremlins waiting to raid pockets filled with wonder.
Purpose is the path. Living with purpose, is choosing either path.
I was going to write a letter to 2012 wishing it good riddance,but decided to write 2013 a letter of love instead. After all, the past is finished, isn’t it?
We haven’t known each other for very long, a few days at best. I wanted to make sure I set the ground rules for our year long relationship. Perhaps I neglected to this in a coherent way with your relative 2012.
In any sense, we need to get things off on the right foot if you and I intend on coexisting in harmony.
Firstly, please no negative surprises at the start, middle, end, or even in each quarter of the year. I plan on remaining a positive spirit and friend of support and love, so again let the Debbie downer idea escape your thoughts.
No that that’s out of the way, here is what I vow to you and myself 2013:
I promise to try. Try and do. Even if I have to dig real deep and feel like giving up, I won’t.
I promise to never stop doing what I love and feel passionate about. Never , not even for you.
I promise to give my family the best of me, all of me, all the time.
I promise to take care of myself. My health, my spirituality, my mental and emotional well being.
I promise to write, to finish and start new projects. To submit my work in hopes for the first rejection letter that will lead to a yes.
I promise to make new friends, even when I feel like being a hermit.
I promise to dream big and act big.
I promise to cry more instead of holding back.
I promise to laugh more, to have more fun.
I promise to keep putting myself ‘outside the box’.
I promise to clear away the clutter in my life.
I promise to forgive.
To say I’m sorry.
To say ‘I love you’.
I promise to stand up for what’s right, always.
I promise to let the small stuff slide.
To smile more often.
To give my time, love and energy where it’s needed.
I promise 2013, to keep my promises.
I know you’ll come through with a surge of love, juju, karma, or whatever. I know you’ll be the light, the way. 2013, you won’t just be one year but we’ll begin an affair, to last a lifetime.
Count me in.
The anticipation for December 25th creeps into every waking thought of each person who celebrates the season. Children are being threatened at every closing opportunity, and adults are out rushing into the hullabaloo of the commercial markets to find the last minute trinkets or treasures to fill the remaining holes underneath the Christmas Tree.
Menus are being devised, to create feasts fit for any king, houses being scrubbed from carpet loop to the grout in the tiles. Preparations for one day of pure joy.
I want you to sit, a few minutes before the magic of the season takes its full force. Sit somewhere quiet, near a window. Look out at the calm or cloudy sky. Clear your errands from your thoughts and for those few moments;
Think of the children in poverty stricken countries. The ignorance of what they don’t have written clearly on their gaunt faces. Their big eyes, filled with the simple needs of survival. Think of their orphaned little bodies holding the hand of an even smaller child. And in your moment, offer them your love, your prayers, your respect. Let your tears be the gift you give.
Feel, in that silent moment for the lost. The people who lost their earthly battles this year, to reunite in another place. Feel your soul feel theirs, and let the humanity you are comprised of, feel for the families left behind. The families who, must go on, everyday. Think of the small children left behind to question why? Or the parents who waited with eager anticipation for their children to discover the treasures underneath the Christmas Tree.
Think of the wound and utter emptiness they feel as they try to hide the pretty wrapped packages from their sight. A reminder of the child lost.
Grieve a moment as your gift. Lest we shall forget.
Think of the battles that rage on in so many countries. The simplicity of freedom a complicated facet of life. Buildings that collapse from bombs and the spitfire from bullets that rape the air and steal lives. Think of the fear, struggles, and desolation that war brings. Let your prayers for peace and gratitude for your freedom be your gift.
Remember those who are struck with illness; their physical battle with disease as evident as any war torn country. Be thankful that today, you are free of this. Let your gift be your life, your acknowledgement of healthy cells and fibers working in harmony. Let your silent prayers reach them to heal their injury. Heros need not be named.
Remember in your silent moment, your life. A volatile chart of happiness and utter sadness. Then, stop and be thankful for your time, your opportunity to be the change. Let this be your gift to your life.
In your moment, reminisce about Christmases gone past. And ask yourself, what truly made you happiest in those days of seasonal magic? Can you, find that happiness and spread it throughout your year? Give this gift to yourself.
Now stop and hear the beautiful silence in your soul. Know that you alone cannot change the world, but you CAN be the change you want to see. Look at your Christmas Tree, your twinkling lights, stockings and freshly polished floors. Celebrate your Christmas, with those you love. Celebrate, to close off a year. Celebrate and remember why we celebrate.
The snow is falling, creating with it a silence that can be heard even indoors. The calmness in the air is distilling, the white haze embracing and shadowing any view of scenery.
For this is the scenery, the frozen tears from heaven falling onto our worldly abyss.
Holding breath, waiting as the quiet engulfs all in its midst. The solitude and melancholy it brings a reminder of the year gone by. Thoughts begin to drift like the sweeps of soft snow piled on banks. A bittersweet pinch in the heart, praying for no regrets but yearning for yesterday. The snow, it’s soft beauty bringing the gift of tomorrow, the peace of goodbye and the anticipation of a new day. Wishing under the snowflakes for a new year, a beautiful year, but trying to calm the ungrateful emotion from a year wrought with the torment of battle and bleeding hearts.
The snow is falling, creating a silence with it that can be heard. The snow is falling, in beautiful wisps of creation. The snow is falling and bringing with it birth.
I saw a once vivid and self-proclaimed beauty queen today. She used to cover her deep red locks with a silk scarf, a shroud for her. She would wear light coloured gold tinted sunglasses that would span the width of her face and her lipstick would be perfectly kissing all the creases of her lips. I remember the way she would dress; in a polished suit with a silk scarf gracing her neck and her filigree Italian necklaces hanging from her small and graceful neck. Her nails would be perfectly polished, and the rings that she wore all held a story. She was poised, and yet sometimes abrupt and opinionated. She was sure of herself and certain of the way all things should be done. Her apartment was a dedication to the life that she had lived, full of artifacts from many previous lives, loves and adventures that she ventured on. It was her museum, and like her, everything had it’s proper place and story, everything had meaning and everything was to be cherished and loved from afar. I remember thinking of how glorious it must have been to have travelled the world, experienced the exasperation of falling in and out of love, of finding comfort in certainty and of knowing exactly who she was at any given moment in her life. I always thought I knew this woman. I held a bracelet given to me from her only a few years ago, and it brought me back to days in her kitchen. She would spend hours cooking up a feast of food, wearing her apron around her polished suit and the bracelet would be hitting pots and pans as she would stir and tap her wooden spoon on the saucepans. A quick taste here and there and barely flinching from her committment to feeding us, she would gracefully and confidently construct a delicious meal to set before hungry and greedy mouths. We would clamber to the table and she, in her own perfection, would serve us. We would eat, and she would sit at last, only to get up a few moments later and clear the table.
I saw a woman today, frail and weak. I saw her beauty beneath the 87 years that she carries. I saw a woman today that didn’t know who she was. I saw a woman today who didn’t remember who I was. I saw a woman today, crushed and devastated to know that she doesn’t know. There is no certainty. There is no proper place, no suits or lipstick. There are no rings, no artifacts that grace her room. There are no silk scarves, only bibs. There are no patent leather high heels, but slippers and a walker. There is no nail polish on perfectly shaped nails, just fragile fingers uncontrollably shaking. Her eyes have grown small and the wisdom has slipped away, just like her memories and her moments. Her lips quiver when she speaks quietly and with confusion. I hold her hand as we walk. She looks at me like it’s the first moment we meet, and for her it is. We met about ten times today and each time, her heart breaking as she momentarily grasps my familiarity. I look at her deeply, trying to find her. Is she there, my self-proclaimed beauty queen ?
I saw a woman today, standing in fire, slowing looking for someone to save her, but unsure if she was in pain. I saw a woman today who made so many of my memories and made some many of my moments. I saw a woman today when I looked at her, looking through me.
Breathe. I inhale the cool morning air. I cough as it tickles my lungs. I can see the snow covered mountain tops, glistening not far away from where I stand on my deck. A sparrow perches in front of me, starring intently, it chirps as it gazes at me. I smile.
Breathe. This time I smell fresh grass and the smell of dirt that the morning breeze carried over. I can hear the chirping of little birds and a dog barking somewhere in the distance.
The sun makes everything look clean and crisp this morning. This would be the perfect morning to hang laundry on the clothes line, especially bedsheets.
The Weeping Willows are starting to colour again, this is my favourite tree. Their graceful and sorrowful branches and stems reaching downwards as if desperately trying to conceal itself from the world; only to discover by doing this, it has only become more beautiful.
The hillsides sleek in fresh green patches, from a distance they look like they are covered in soft smooth velvet, and my hands ache to smooth over them. Some of the hills are dotted with black specks,cows. Grazing the new grass and slowly walking to the next spot for a sweet taste.
The leafless trees starting to bud their innocent new leaves all simultaneously as if they know it’s safe to show themselves to the world.
Breathe. I can smell somebody’s breakfast. I wonder if there is a morning cooking frenzy happening in their kitchen. With frying pans laden with egg residue and drippings from fresh waffle batter strewn on countertops and dotting the floor. I wonder if their kids are playing in couch cushions, still in their pyjamas waiting for the breakfast call. Maybe there are no kids. Maybe the mister is making a divine breakfast in bed for his darling. They’ll read the morning paper , and fumble with trays and coffee cups to cooperate on the clumsy bedding. They’ll laugh as they spill coffee on the freshly washed sheets.
Breathe. I sip my coffee which is quickly getting cold in the breeze. Time to start the day.