Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End? by Mary Oliver
is simply beautiful.
Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking outward, to the mountains so solidly there in a white-capped ring, or was he looking to the center of everything:
the seed, the egg, the idea that was also there, beautiful as a thumb curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring, as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?
Sometimes, if we care to listen, we can learn so much from our children. This precious 6-year old, offers wise words to her mom about a pending divorce in the family. She’s “not trying to be mean, not trying to be a bully.” She’s trying to be …straight.
She says, “My heart is something. Everyone else’s heart is something too. And if we live in a world where everyone’s being mean, everyone’s gonna be a monster in the future!”
There’s something special about morning hikes, isn’t there? Maybe it’s the smell in the air. The moisture is heavy and the ground, plants, rocks and surroundings have a chill to it.
Or maybe it’s the soft light that comes through. Not bold and in your face like a mid-day hike – I actually keep my face turned upwards to feel it’s warmth.
Maybe my mind is not as filled and is still open to new ideas, talking with people (real, imagined and dead) and angels, animals, birds and to myself (of course!)
It’s a different canvas and it just takes a bit of planning to get up and get out as a way to enjoy it.
Last week I was returning from a scenic hike and a woman was coming towards me talking … on her phone. I heard her say, ” Just be sure to make the beds and I’ll stop at the store for groceries…”
Really? This couldn’t wait? What was worse, (in my humble opinion) was the volume of her conversation. Isn’t hiking something sacred and equal to being in a church? Or a library? Yes. Of course It Is! Talk if you must, but lower your voice and respect Mother Nature.
As this rude woman talked, the mule deer munched their breakfast, inching away from her and further up the hillside. I wonder if she even saw them.
As I am doing the spiritual thing – expressing gratitude and awe of the sky, colors, smells and nature – others are busy in their own world too. I try not to judge but this really is my place of worship and I want others to behave as if it is theirs as well. (No judgement, HA!)
Come with me and we can practice proper hiking etiquette together!
Book Review | Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
I loved this book when I read it last year and when I reread it last week, I sat in admiration for the words of insight, kindness and advice offered by Cheryl Strayed. She offers advice in a no holds barred sort of way.
The book is a collection of questions and answers sent to Dear Sugar advice column.
The questions ran the gamut of issues – topics include self-esteem, relationships, friendship, death, birth, love, work, fear, happiness and on and on. Some are just musing.
Some replies are pages long. The message in the reply is often quite poignant as Cheryl has a way of speaking to the heart of the person on the other end. Her words hold you accountable. If you are at fault, own it. If the world has been unfair, shout it from the roof tops. If you’ve done wrong, forgive yourself.
With most replies, she relates to something she has experienced. She writes with an openness that makes the reader listen more closely than ever before. As with most issues, the writer probably already knows the answer but can’t see a way out. Some others write because they have a need to unload. Others write with a palpable desperation.
Some questions ask about love. Will we find love? Is this love? The heartfelt questions span
“I can’t say when you’ll get love or how you’ll find it or even promise you that you will. I can only say you are worthy of it and that it’s never too much to ask for it and that it’s not crazy to fear you’ll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong. Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
To get a good understanding of the genuine questions and replies that fill this book, here is a question and a link to the answer. Find the book and read it. The answers and suggestions spoke to my core. Maybe they will do the same to yours.
I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?
Do you ever wonder if your presence here makes a difference? Like if you left the physical planet tomorrow would it matter? Did you make a contribution, a mark, a difference somehow, someway? Have you made this world a better place?
The reason I am so pensive about this topic is because I met someone who HAS made a difference. She is a high school student who is sure to be missed when it’s time for her to leave this earth. Each step she took made a difference and now she has created jobs, awareness and community. This is a 5 minute video of her and her talk at Ignite Fort Collins.
She was chosen as Student of the Month by the Fort Collins Rotary Breakfast and suggested we watch this video instead of her standing up and talking to us. She brought 3 baskets of her dolls. I am almost certain she sold them all.
I want Olive to be the leader of our tomorrows. Someone with vision, creativity and kindness. Someone that sees a problem and finds a solution. At the young age of 16, she has left a mark, made a difference and offered hope to others.
One thing I do know is we all have a story. The classy lady down the street that looks like a million bucks has a story that may shock us all. The sweet couple in the grocery store, the new mother, the cranky boss. The hidden stories are what make the world go round. This inspirational story lets us see a glimpse into what is possible.
There is a boldness in taking action and creating something that was never there before. Boldness in standing up for a cause, solving a problem or voicing an opinion.
I think we can all point to one thing we’ve done that has made a difference. Whether we’ve mothered a child, painted a picture, shared our love of __________ to someone, we’ve made a mark – even if it’s a small one.
Would you be so bold as to let your own light shine for this brief moment and share something?
Would LOVE to hear from you!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson
November is over and today is the first day of a new month, the last month of the year.
For some reason, November was a tough month for me. I didn’t like the cold snap which took away the colors. And then the time change took away the light. It bothered me and I took it personally.
I did, however, keep busy with a multitude of activities and am proud to say I did most everything on my November list.
The big one on my list was painting my bathroom. I still need to paint the baseboard and door. I’ll put that off as long as I can.
Reading books was easy and I had some good ones that I really enjoyed. I adored reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Something more recent called The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). I loved it and look forward to additional books by her.
I met way more than 5 people and I am in the process of joining a group. I hiked on a new trail and was active 5 days out of 7. No colds or flu just a few broken nails.
Thanksgiving Day began with a hike and then was spent with new friends. I greeted the sun and saw the most colorful skies. And I saw some lovely sunsets too.
I connected with siblings (finally) on Oovoo and there were 3 of us chatting at the same time just last week (Oovoo is like Skype but instead of talking to just one person, you can talk to 2-6 others.)
And now it’s a new month – the last month of 2014. There’s something so sad about saying goodbye to this year. I wish I could understand the melancholy way I’m feeling. I guess I’m not ready for a new year on my doorstep or on my calendar. Funny how the Universe doesn’t care about what I want, huh?!
So, it’s time to let it go and embrace something new. Something new and wonderful? Something new and exciting? Something …
A way to help me feel grounded and sane is to count my blessings. I believe when I acknowledge the good in my world, I am opening the door to more goodness. One thing in my world is the weather. Where I live in Colorado has been the most amazing autumn I can remember in a long time. Most years we get an early snowstorm that takes down branches and leaves and everything is bare even when the weather turns nice the following week. This year has been glorious, colorful, warm and welcoming. No snow, no wind, no worries!
Because of this amazing weather I’ve been able to hike more. There’s something special about starting out on a cool crisp morning and finishing with the warm sun shining down on me. That smile on my face just appears – and is full of thanks for two strong legs, two happy arms and eyes to see the wide open sky. I always welcome a hike so if you’re needing a partner or want to join me, let me know!
Another blessing has been writing on my blog about ways to stay sane. I enjoy looking back over the posts for the past month and am pleased I sallied forth with my challenge. Receiving comments and input from my readers is appreciated as well as reading what they are writing.
I am blessed beyond measure and I bet you are too. Care to share?
One of my favorite ways to stay sane is to listen to music. Depending on my mood the music could be upbeat to raise my energy or low-key to help me settle down and concentrate. In the mornings I enjoy classical music, no words, just the familiar sounds of lilting notes.
When I’m outside the music of nature soothes my senses and helps me get into a new sort of rhythm. I also enjoy the sounds of nature at night, with my windows open, I welcome the cricket symphony which eases me into slumber.
Music helps me remember past moments as well. I am pulled back in time when I hear a song from my childhood, or a song from my teens. I can go right back to another time and place when I hear a particular song. Music helps bridge where I stand today with happy moments, celebrations, and reunions of yesterday.
Music makes me cry too. Does that ever happen to you? A song about lost love, car accidents, war casualties, and other real life experiences just reach out and grab me. And, it usually happens every time I hear the song, not just the first the time. And that’s ok too.
Ok, time to wipe my eyes.
I hope your day is filled with sweet sounds that bring smiles to your faces.
As you may have guessed, I am a people person. I love connecting with friends, strangers and soon to be friends. Although I enjoy silence and time alone, I find I am at my best when I am with others.
I realized the best way to connect is to join an organization that does something I approve of and want to take part in. Organizations like local Rotary Clubs, Peace Corps, Meet-Up groups, clean-up committees, volunteer projects, house building organizations, school tutoring and other similar organization appeal to me.
The act of volunteering allows me to contribute to something bigger than myself. The act of connecting gives me a venue to meet and socialize with others who are drawn to the same issues that interest me. It makes me feel good about myself mentally and emotionally. When I am doing something physical it’s even better because I feel as if I am giving and receiving at the same time.
Another way I receive while giving is by meeting new people. I may be cleaning up a highway or taking tickets at an event and you can bet I am talking to the people next to me, the patrons and the organizers. I learned long ago that we all have a story to tell so when I meet people I wait for their stories. Sometimes it takes a few minutes; sometimes it takes years. In the meantime, I am listening, sharing and enjoying the give and take of it all.
Today I sat next to a woman who was holding her 18 month-old daughter on her lap. The daughter had just fallen off the bench and her nose was all bloody and she was crying . The woman was trying to soothe her daughter but she was agitated and eager for the service on her car to be finished.
She was really fragile and as we chatted she told me she had no family nearby and her husband worked out of town. It was just her and the baby all day long and she was so homesick. I remember how I felt when I moved to Colorado. I so wanted to be back where everything was familiar. Where I had my long-time friends and where my family was my source of entertainment.
And I remember when our phone was installed and I cried because I had no one to call. Then within a year or two of living here, I had to return to my childhood home and as the car was pulling away, I looked back at my house and felt a pang of homesickness for it and I hadn’t even left.
This woman is focused on what she doesn’t have (her family) and not creating what she needs (new friends) right here and now.
This is the thing: it takes time, energy and effort to make friends and create a support network. It takes boldness to stand in front of strangers and share your story with them. It takes patience to be available to connect but not appear too needy.
And making friends is about give and take. You can’t share your life story all at once. You can offer some information and then gauge how safe you feel. After sharing, it’s time to listen. Then share a bit more, then a bit more. I have a feeling you’ve been in her shoes. Moving to a new place only to realize you have to start all over again with new friends, routines, doctors, services, schools and on and on. It’s hard and scary in an exciting sort of way. And it’s lonely until you make that first friend.