Tag: gratitude

Goodbye to the Weavers

Goodbye to the Weavers

The tattered web dripped with raindrops as the old, faded spider held on to it. No longer able to repair her artistry; unable to do anything but await her death.

For seven seasons the golden orb weaver spiders have instructed me on the cycles and rhythms of life. From the first April I moved into the home, the tiny hatchlings began their life full of vigor and determination to educate me on spider life.

Gradually the stronger females created territories and webs that amazed me. They grew in size and their color deepened as they captured insects and feasted around my home. The tiny males stayed out of reach of the females yet reaped the benefits of close proximity to the amazing predators. After mating, the females dined on the males. And this year, I was able to see the wild dance between a male and female as he mated with her and then ran for his life. Two days later, he was gone.

Each year the same process has been carried out. Little cocoons woven with spider silk are attached to the house, shrubs, and trees awaiting the spring. All through the winter they wait….and wait….and wait.

When I put my home for sale this past summer, I fretted over the spiders. Most people don’t share my intense love of critters, especially spiders. I asked the spiders to keep the front steps and porch clear this year, which they did. In years past many visitors to my home were squeamish over the large, colorful gals and their cool webs. I couldn’t bring myself to ‘neaten’ the outside of my home by removing the spider webs….couldn’t do it even if it meant offending potential buyers.

So now that the weather is chilly and the season of cooler weather is upon us, I say goodbye to my spider friends. One-by-one I have said goodbye over the past month as they disappear, their webs falling apart with winds and rains and no spider strong enough to repair them. I feel such sadness when they die but they leave behind hope for their future with bountiful cocoons filled with eggs, ready to devour insects next year.

By observing nature so intimately, I am reminded of the cycles of my own life. There are times of intense productivity, times of waiting, times of going within and times of expressing myself with immense joy. I consider the spiders my friends…Betty, Gertrude, Sally, Trixie and your hundreds of sisters….thank you. Rest in peace sweet ones. I hope the next owners of this home give your babies space to grow and be the amazing insect eaters they are born to be.

Freedom to Be

Freedom to Be

Last night I met a six year old boy who created a camera out of driftwood. He instructed me to push a button on it and anything I photographed would come to life. It took him only a few moments to invent this magical tool.

I was photographing him and his parents at the beach. The hour-and-a-half we spent together was fun and enjoyable but the true gift was much more than this.

So many times society takes creative souls through a deadening process. Trying to keep someone in a small realm of acceptable norms kills the creative spirit within us….and makes us think we are not okay because we are different. And let’s face it, we’re all unique and ‘different’ at our core.

I’m sure many who read this understand what it’s like to think differently or express yourself differently. I have met a great number of people who have lived their entire lives in emotional pain because they are ‘different.’ Their creative genius can be lost…and that’s a loss for all of us.

This youngster was such a light and could imagine inventing something from anything. I ‘saw’ him as a young adult creating solutions to problems on our planet or inventing brilliant new things never before conceptualized…so powerful was his ability to invent. Major credit goes to his parents who champion him and his amazing inventive skills.

He inspired me to give myself permission to create with wild abandon and imagine my life in ways I’ve dared not even dream. I’ve spent today reflecting on freedom and wholeness and self-permission.

It was ‘just’ a photo shoot that almost didn’t happen…but what a loss it would have been to miss meeting these beautiful souls. How grateful I feel for this old soul in a young boy’s body reminding me to gift myself with the freedom to be.

I felt inspired to make a logo for the new magical camera…to maybe inspire him to keep creating.

(A special thank you to this wonderful family for giving me permission to share their images).

The Dawn of Spring

The Dawn of Spring

So close to making it to the beach for sunrise but alas that amazing orange orb rose over the swamp as I pedaled. It didn’t matter. It was still an outstanding start to Spring. And was still low enough in the sky at the beach to offer very nice light for a couple of phone photographs.

I felt my life begin to open last weekend with manatees, kayaking, a book signing at Franklin Anderson Gallery of Art and a visit with an old friend. Laughter with my friend, water, sea cows and a family of artists I met were Spring tonics. Clarity began to ease the old stuck places into motion and it feels as if my life can breathe once again.

This is the magic of Spring. Not first stirrings but all-out growth bursting forth.

Growth doesn’t happen simply by reaching for light. We must dig our roots deep into darkness and dare to explore the Unknown before we leap forward into light.

My friend Deco. His dad took us on a fun ride on the Suwannee River.

What a glorious dawn of Spring that amplified the joy from the past weekend. Grateful for so much….friendship, soul-sister-artists, manatees, water to play in and answers.

Véineas agus an Ghealach

Véineas agus an Ghealach

Pre-dawn in Árainn, Ireland….I’m still dreaming of being there.

I woke at 5am and rushed to put on my cycling clothes along with a Smartwool undershirt. It was the first crisp day to ride of the best riding season of all on the Alabama Gulf Coast….which is ANY time the humidity drops below 80% and the mornings are crisp.

As I pulled onto the highway with my bike loaded on the back of the car, the sliver of the crescent moon hung very low in the eastern sky with venus in perfect alignment beneath it. The crescent was horns up with the dark of the moon creating a perfect circle above it. And there was a red planetary body to the right of the moon. The triangular alignment was spectacular. It made me think of a delicate silver moon necklace with a small chain hanging down dangling a brilliant diamond beneath it.

All the way to the state park I watched the beautiful firmament. Stars twinkled and all seemed to point to the incredible dance of the moon, Venus and Mars.

When I stepped out of the car, the chilly wind caught me by surprise but not nearly as much as the constellations shining so brightly overhead. I attached lights to my bicycle, put on my shoes, helmet and jacket and took off into the darkness.

One of the many, many moments of bliss I discovered within myself in Ireland.

Immediately I recognized the feeling and it was the first time, since returning from Árainn, Ireland, I felt it. Stars, chilly air, darkness, nature…..ah…..laughter erupted as I pedaled. It was awesome to be able to find my bliss again and find home in my skin.

After such a powerful time of travel and adventure, there is often a time when the big energy that built with the experience collapses and life returns back to a place that wasn’t so awesome. But the changes and leaps made in Ireland continue to propel me forward. The energy of change and growth remains strong and the renewal gained there is clear and bright.

Véineas agus an Ghealach….Venus and the Moon reminded me how my wild woman self loves stars whether under pine trees with a humid breeze or on rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean. May I continue to dance with wild abandon to the untamed heart within me.

An Lá Foirfe, I

An Lá Foirfe, I

The first day of my solo adventure was the absolute perfect weather day. Skies were beautiful blue with white, puffy clouds and the temperature was warm. It was quite a shift from the blustery wind and rain from the previous night.

The only plan I had was to rent a bicycle and take my camera along on a ride. The intention was to see what wild places called my spirit and follow.

I felt drawn to the end of the island I had not yet explored so pedaled until the road terminated and leaned the bike against a rock fence. The stile in the fence led to a nice path leading through a rabbit-filled meadow. I had no idea where it went but it looked inviting so I unpacked my camera from the pack and set off on foot toward the sea.

The grasses along the hills were lush and heavy. A part of me wanted to lay in them and rest in their softness but the path called to my adventuresome spirit.

Before too long the flat rocks known as Glasson Rocks appeared. I remember reading about the tragedy that occurred there in 1852. It is the place where 15 men were swept into the sea by a small tidal wave while they were fishing.

While researching my route later, I discovered the little valley near the rocks is known as Gleann na nDeor, the Vale of Tears. It’s where people used to watch ships leave filled with Irish people leaving for America. I can only imagine the sadness the land must still carry from the tears shed there.

The path followed the intersection of land and sea and the gentle slope of the land as it grew in height. Not far from Glasson Rocks there was access to rocks that were underwater at high tide. I carefully watched the sea before entering the tidal zone and found myself asking permission to enter. The power of the place was palpable.

I slowly moved below the cliff through wet rocks keeping my awareness on the sea and the height of waves. I experienced feelings of awe at the beauty mingled with respect for the sea and a slight tingle of healthy fear of rogue waves. I didn’t linger there as my intuitive voice was urging me to find a safer location to appreciate wild nature.

There might have been a heavy sigh of relief from my guardian angel after I found higher ground. The grassy path felt like an old friend and I settled into the task of climbing through the rocks as the incline took a turn toward steep. But the scramble up through the karst and grass was worth it.

The 300 foot drop into the sea was breathtaking. All week I longed for a vista such as this. I had seen similar views but only from a great distance. I felt such joy that this magnificent place called me to it. I simply had to surrender, listen, and follow the call to find it.

My camera was busy documenting the place while my spirit was absorbing beauty so absolute I found myself shouting thank you to the rocks and sea. I felt the rhythms of sea and tides and waves in my bones as joy cascaded through me like water on the rocks below cascaded back to the sea.

When it felt like I had taken-in as much beauty as possible, I turned back to the trail and began the descent. But more beauty awaited as I passed places that looked completely different from the ascending point of view.

At one point I stopped to photograph the angle of cliff and sea, the turquoise ocean contrasted beautifully with the dark rocks. As I was looking through the viewfinder on my camera and pressing the shutter, a  rogue wave leaped at least 20 feet over my head. I had seen no waves that high on the way up nor while I was observing from the top. It was a strange feeling to realize that the location of the wave was where I had walked below and experienced such uneasy feelings.

I’m not sure how I wasn’t completely soaked but not one drop of water touched me….or more importantly, my camera gear. And even more importantly, I wasn’t in that dangerous place beneath the cliff when the unexpected wave crashed onto shore. But I understood why my internal warning alarms were loudly screaming at me while I was down there.

After a few moments of jitters, I continued my walk down and around the point of Árainn. Back through the rabbit meadow I went, through the stile in the rock wall, to my waiting bicycle.

I cycled back to the B & B to shed layers as the day was warming rapidly and I was very much overdressed. The plan was to go to the pub to eat lunch but as I cycled toward Killeany, I saw a historical sign that read, Dún Dubhchathair–The Black Fort. It felt like a magnet pulling me so I quickly turned left onto the little lane and pedaled. Lunch could wait.

The ratty mountain bike I rented wasn’t the best bicycle but it did okay on rocky, unpaved road as I left pavement and continued pedaling. Eventually I had to abandon the bicycle along the rock fence and hike up the remaining incline.

When I reached the top, the historical marker was pointing…but what direction? The entire landscape was a field of karst with grass growing between the gray rocks. Hiking was challenging with close attention having to be given. There was no path. Just a general direction and no fort in sight.

Again, I followed the pull of the sea and eventually found the remains of the fort; however, it wasn’t the fort that was so spectacular–it was the fields of karst and the sheer drop into the Atlantic Ocean. Once more, the yearned-for spot called me to it. I was nearly ecstatic. It was difficult containing the emotions that wanted expression…. gratitude…. joy…. excitement… happiness… peace… exhilaration… appreciation… wonder… awe.

I reflected on my desire to find these places of wild, spectacular beauty all week. I wanted to photograph them. And for me the process of photographing places offers a deeper connection to them as I open myself to more than the seen and invite the unseen essence and energy of a place to speak to me, whisper its secrets.

It was challenging to comprehend the magnificent gift that was unfolding with every step of the journey on that perfect day. As I sat in solitude and stillness at Dún Dubhchathair, I pondered the process of manifestation. With an open heart I visualized exactly what I wanted all week. I had no attachment to it yet felt the longing build–I want to be where the sea and rocks meet…I want to see it…feel it…photograph it. It was a physical experience of longing, like wanting to reconnect with a long-lost lover. So why was I so surprised that what my heart most longed for came to pass? All day…at every turn….the vision I cultivated manifested over and over again.

An Lá Foirfe…The Perfect Day–Part I