Devoted Attention

Attention is the beginning of devotion.  - Mary Oliver, Upstream

Christmas has passed, the new year welcomed.  This week I find myself in an odd state of suspension, a limbo, my decorations still up for one more week, and my mind not quite ready to move forward to what's next.

To get my sluggish self moving I resume my walks with Popeye, walks that had been cut short because of his injury (why I couldn't go without him I cannot explain except to say that it felt like a betrayal of sorts).  We head out to our favorite spot, a road off the beaten path that also has a small nature trail.  Here it is quiet, cars passing by few and far between.  The sky is steel gray but bright enough that I feel my spirits lift.  

It's peaceful here.  A place where I can walk and reflect.  

And this is what I learned:  that the world's otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness- the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books - can re-dignify the worst-stung heart. - Mary Oliver, Upstream

It is here in nature that I feel most tranquil.  It is here, quietly walking with Popeye by my side, that my thoughts slow, my mind exhales, and I am able to listen to what my heart is trying to tell me.  To rest when I am weary.  To create when I am inspired.  To heed my inner clock and follow it's whispers.  To yield to change (for it seems that change is happening more frequently now as I grow older) to welcome it and the wisdom it has to offer.  

You must not ever stop being whimsical.

And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life. 

-Mary Oliver, Upstream

I think a lot lately about how I view my place in the world.  I used to compare myself frequently to others and often found myself coming up short. Too sensitive, too awkward, not outgoing enough.  Aren't we always hardest on our selves?  But now I allow myself the same kindness I extend to others. I am good enough. 

Our walk over, we head back to the car, my mind now clear, his senses full, both ready to move forward to what is next.  Another new year, another new beginning.

Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca.

Gratitude

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Some days I only need to stand wherever I am to be blessed. ~ Mary Oliver

On this day I am thankful for the small things.

...the sweetness of sugar in my tea

...the comfortable ache in my bones after a week of hiking

...Popeye's warm body snuggled next to mine as I sit and read

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It is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in this broken world.  ~ Mary Oliver

Then there are the things that keep me grounded and remind me that there is still beauty and peace to be found in this world amidst all the anger and hate...

...the holy hush of a forest path

...the gentle patter of rain on the roof

...a smile exchanged with a stranger

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Convince me you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.  ~Henry David Thoreau

There are so many wonders to be thankful for...

...the friend who knows what you are feeling before you have even expressed it aloud

...the resilience of love through good times and bad

...the connection and friendship that can grow between two people who have never met but feel they have known one another for years.

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For all of this and more, I am thankful.

Spending this week expressing gratitude with Michelle GD.
Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca.

This Day

 

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” ~ Jim Bishop

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The sun cuts through, warming my face.  I am reminded of L.M. Montgomery's Anne, who once declared, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

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Frost is the great artist of our clime - he paints in nature and describes in rime. ~ Thomas Hood

The mornings have turned cold, necessitating hat and jacket.  Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, making me smile.  I cannot imagine living in a place where there aren't four seasons.

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Today...

I rake the leaves from the front walk, resisting temptation {just barely} to leap into the pile feet first.

Popeye and I take a stroll around the nature trail in the next town over.  Usually the fence lining the path is strewn with bittersweet, but this fall they are notably less in number.  Birds cheerfully call one another from the branches above us; perhaps they have been getting their full before winter comes?

The days grow shorter and I find myself turning on the lamps late afternoon.  Tonight I also turn on the twinkle lights that are strewn along the rafters of the family room, their soft glow reminding me that the holidays will be here before I know it.  I curl up on the couch, snug under a soft red blanket with Popeye at my side and a good book on my lap.  How I love these October days, don't you?

Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca.