TAKE A CLOSER LOOK

I’m not sure what I spent my time on so far this year, but I just noticed it was NOT posting on my website! January 1st? It couldn’t have been that long ago…! But the internet NEVER lies. My life must be awfully barren… like this bleak landscape

4-18-15 peony w bgYet what if I take a closer look? Actually I could tell the landscape was alive, just not with anything I could recognize or want to get too close to. This was a weed if ever I saw one. Something I wouldn’t want to eat and risk dying from some mysterious plant poison or even touch and get a rash that could eat off my flesh.

It took my COURAGEOUS curiosity to take that closer look. I’ve heard of enough things lately far more dangerous than a stationary growth in my backyard to know I couldn’t be too careful wherever I was or not expect the worst from whatever I saw no matter how insignificant or innocent it might appear. Sort of like my seemingly lackluster activities so far in 2015, though I’m certain I’ve been busy. Something to reflect a bit closer on too I suppose before I instantly make negative judgments.

Oh my, what a discovery! Beautiful and rare, generating envy from those who4-17-15 NATIVE brown peony have enough experience to know what things truly are. It’s a native Brown Peony. It can’t be cultivated or mass-produced. It grows and blossoms when, where, and exactly how it knows to… just like me… and you.

PS: Take a closer look. See its little buds ready to open and amaze!

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YOU DEFINE THIS IMAGE

Billy Heaven

That’s right, you decided what it means. You decide what it shows, what it communicates.

I love this picture. Every time I look at it, a new word pops into my head and I relate to what I see in it in a brand new way. Pictures, like words are important, especially when they appear separate and apart. Without other distractions they can convey a distinct yet different emotion with each viewing, whether by different people or by the same person seeing it over and over again.

The first time I saw this picture words did not enter my mind. The emotions I felt could not be labeled. I think what I was feeling was awe. I looked again and then again, and then the words began to come. Happiness, nature, freedom, beauty, purity, exhilaration, celebration, gratitude, wonder, thrill, delight, blessed, bliss. The first time I looked at this picture the last word that came into my mind to describe what it meant to me was GIFT.

You see, the person that you can’t really identify in this picture is my younger brother, and he passed away unexpectedly this November. His life was a difficult one, filled with challenges, and I believed a lot of sorrow and disappointment. Right after his death I spoke with his best friend and asked him if he had a recent picture of my brother since mine were pretty old. He said he’d look. I said I would appreciate whatever he could find.

A week later when he handed me this photo I suppose the truth is that a feeling did immediately come to me – SHOCK! It was after the shock passed that words and feelings flooded me then and continue to each time I look at this picture. Sometimes my reaction is one I’ve already had and sometimes a new word or feeling emerges, but the one that continues to occur every time I see or think of it now is GIFT.

What I was given was not a photograph. I received the gift of confirmation that at least for one moment my brother was filled with indescribable joy. This gift will live in my heart and my life, with my memories of him, forever. Now it’s your gift too and the person experiencing this ECSTASY can be you.

Happy New Year!

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Autumn’s Rainbow Nymph

Where did summer go? The better question is what were BLOSSOM and I doing all summer? It obviously wasn’t writing. Since my last post w-a-y back on The 4th of July, I thought I was busy, though I couldn’t prove it. I set writing goals. My deadlines came and went. I had great new blog ideas ready to crank out. At this moment I can’t remember any of them. I suppose I just wasn’t inspired enough, so BLOSSOM had no alternative but to go dormant for the season too.

Being a Master Gardener I know that’s not the time to slack off. Summer is the time for planting, pruning, and popping. Time for growth and major change. And that’s what happened, just without my participation. Not only did my writing stop, but so did my gardening. It’s a good thing Mother Nature didn’t wait around for me to give her a hand. She POPPED up everywhere without any help from me. I was aware enough to notice the changes and I did marvel at all HER energy. I just didn’t have any of my own or as I often told myself, “I didn’t find the perfect idea today.” Not an idea to put on paper or flower to cut or weed to pull. Now that’s pretty barren!

I felt like I did years ago when I first got the idea for BLOSSOM. I was at a low point in my life then. It was February and I sat alone in a mountain cabin at 10,000 feet looking out at nothing but a barren cold white landscape. I thought, “In a few months this lifeless scene will be a green meadow covered with every color of wildflower imaginable. It will be filled with birds and critters and amazing sounds, smells, and activity. How does Mother Nature do that, and since SHE does it for the wild world would she do it for me?” Life eventually returned to the mountain and to me and BLOSSOM was a new part of that returning life.

That’s how I felt this summer, except instead of lifelessness, I was surrounded by an explosion of life, none of which I had a hand in, at least not this summer. Maybe Mother Nature was trying to show me what is possible. Flowers grew in abundance where they’d never been before. Hummingbirds appeared in greater numbers and butterflies fluttered everywhere. As summer came to an end I realized I’d seen an example of how life goes on whether I decide to be part of it or not.

That realization still wasn’t enough motivation. What was I waiting for? Why the Autumn Rainbow Nymph of course!

morning rainbow girl 11-13-14 shadow correct 4 WP My landscape had turned brown and the overcast sky yielded neither rain nor snow. Inspiration was still rare. Then I woke up, LITERALLY. My bedroom window faces the mountains and a deep green forest.  One morning when I opened my eyes, right in the middle of that view I saw a rainbow. It was coming out of the trees so close I thought I could touch it. I raced for my iPhone to document the sight before it vanished, then raced outside to get a clearer photo and better viewpoint. And there she was – right at the base of the rainbow! Talk about “a pot of gold”. This image is more than a “sign” to me. It’s a “blessing”. With her star wand christening the changing season with a rainbow, I SAW and FELT a change in the air and in ME. What grows and BLOSSOMs in the winter? I DO. Keep reading my blogs and see me bloom like a Christmas Cactus!

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Independence Day – A Day to Commemorate Change

larger peopleToday is the day of the year I remember to celebrate, or perhaps more appropriately, commemorate the changes that have occurred during the course of my life. I didn’t consciously pick Independence Day to do this. It just revealed its significance for me over time as my touchstone.

Christmas was almost always celebrated at home and with so much excitement and activity, except for the occasional fantastic or disappointing gift, that each blended into one generic memory. Birthdays followed pretty much the same pattern. Thanksgiving was family, close friends, and food, differentiated by an added or missing participant, though the drama surrounding the new cuisine of deep frying the turkey by my fearlessly confident nephew has added memories that do stand out. But the Fourth of July was different. Different places due to vacations or relocation, different activities based on venue, new and supposedly spectacular ways to improve on the already spectacular caused America’s Birthday to stand out from the rest of the year and provide me the opportunity for personal reflection. 

I must give credit to where I grew up for why celebrating Independence Day stood out to me from an early age. My grandparents moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, before it was Sin City, before it was even a city. Their 40 acre ranch was located exactly 5 miles north of Fremont Street or “Glitter Gulch”, but when they settled there in the late 30s, it and the famous Las Vegas Strip didn’t exist. There weren’t any bright lights to look at, just lots of dark space on the valley floor that stretched out below their homestead. By the time I came along 30 years later, there were visible twinkling city lights marking the town’s growth and in the distance through the then pristine desert sky I could see for 10 miles or so and watch neon bubbles float up the Flamingo Hotel marque.

City lights and the brilliant stars that filled the sky over my head, since light pollution hadn’t yet happened, made their sparkle an everyday occurrence for me that I grew to see as commonplace, not awe inspiring. But the Fourth of July provided a new light show, courtesy of the Las Vegas firemen, who created a fireworks display that lit up the valley sky with an unobstructed view from my family property perched on the still undeveloped outlying hills. It was the first holiday celebration I remember and I was probably 5.

My next Fourth of July memory began with a bang. My grandfather owned a building supply company and since it was downtown and we lived far from the populated area, he stored the dynamite he sold at the ranch. One year when I was old enough to anticipate excitement and fear, my father decided to set off an explosion to remind the encroaching property owners, now about a mile away, it was time to start celebrating our nation’s birthday. He set up his prank in our lower pasture, far from the houses, and ran like mad when he lit the fuse. I watched and waited. Nothing happened. My father waited too, but always impatient, didn’t wait long. He was already headed back toward the dynamite when it blew. He wasn’t hurt, the sheriff got alarming calls from startled nearby residents, and my grandfather put a lock on the dynamite house.

Refusing to release control of the dynamite, the next year my grandfather compromised by ordering a huge box of hi-tech fireworks, rockets, roman candles, the works. I believe that year the neighbors were watching our show with as much attention as they did the firemen’s show in the opposite direction. But we got all their attention when my uncle accidentally dropped the punk he used to light the devices into the fireworks box. Its remaining contents ignited all at once, culminating in a blazing finale, as the spraying fireworks set the sagebrush hill next to my grandparents’ house on fire. The flames were put out with a garden hose manned by my father, but one of the dogs bolted in the excitement, never to be seen again. That was my last memory of a personal fireworks display. Fireworks weren’t ordered again per my grandmother and sparklers didn’t warrant a record in my mind after what I’d already experienced.

What did register was the Fourth of July was a day to look forward to, imagine what might happen, and reflect on what did. I moved to big cities where to see fireworks you had to go to a stadium, endure traffic, and inhale lots of choking explosion smoke. I watched New York’s fireworks extravaganza on television, while looking across the water from Long Island to see them burst in real time seconds before appearing again on the TV. I moved to small towns where I marched in Independence Day parades and medium-sized towns where I did parade route crowd control.

Every year on July 4th I couldn’t keep from thinking about all my earlier celebrations. I would compare them. “Didn’t measure up to last year” or “Way better this time.” Somewhere along my journey to maturity, I realized I was anxious about the holiday. “Would I be disappointed? Would I be alone or with people I just met and search for faces I wanted to see again?  Would I be so blasé or tired I’d just skip it all together?”  Finally I asked myself why I was analyzing the holiday instead of celebrating it. I didn’t find a reasonable answer.

Now I celebrate my past memories and in-the-moment feelings. I no longer compare. I just enjoy and I smile. Right now I’m sitting outside under a bright blue sky, not thinking about colored sparks against a black background coming in a few hours. I’m looking at my waterfall, my golden retrievers playing on the grass, and the few patches of snow left on the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance. And I’ll remember this time too on July 4th for all the years I have left.

You can do this with any or every holiday. A long time ago, Independence Day came to be my touchstone. Maybe something deep inside wanted me to know it is important to be myself, to be independent. It just took some time and lots of changes, along with breathtaking fireworks for me to understand how good it is to be me.

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LIVING Labyrinth

Just when you thought BLOSSOM didn’t have another bloom in her, she pops out to surprise you, just like my peonies. Spring was lost on me this year and I don’t even know where my concentration to connect more than two sentences together went, but it is reemerging and just in time to celebrate SUMMER. FLOWER HERB LABYRINTH cropped Just so you know I haven’t become obsessed with labyrinths. I promise this is the second and last one you’ll see in my blogs, but this one is too beautiful not to show off. Though it doesn’t meet the exact requirements of the traditional labyrinth with the cross, corners and dots, it definitely has the quality to inspire – at least for me. It was created as part of the Rose Parade celebrate in Portland a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to have a friend there to capture an image while it was in full bloom. Composed of little pots of flowers and herbs, the design was not that hard to make – not like my rock one – and fortunately not as permanent either. After the festivities, people could select their favorite piece of growing art and take it home to eat or meditate with – or both. That’s what I call a win – win.

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MOTHER NATURE’S LESSONS

lab 6 str sml180This is a picture of my backyard and the labyrinth I completed yesterday. I started its construction in earnest recently after a couple of years of dreaming, designing, and false starts. The good news is after truly working on it with my brain and my back, I got it to this point in a little under a month. The bad news is that’s at a snail’s pace compared to the speed of Mother Nature’s handiwork.

Unlike most of the country, where I live in Reno, Nevada, winter didn’t come.We didn’t get the foot winter1crop180deep ground cover of snow I’m used to. I wouldn’t give up on the hope of snow though and by mid-March I still hadn’t cleaned up the dead growth I’d left to protect my plants from the typical harsh winter weather. Snow was supposed to be hiding this ugliness from my view. Finally it was time for me to get to work, clean up my landscape, and accept that Winter was over and Spring had arrived. I had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. Growing season would arrive soon or so I thought. I put on my gardening jeans, hat, and gloves and literally dug in to prepare the ground for my plants to awaken from hibernation.

spring2crop180

What I discovered to my surprise was that Mother Nature had started without me. While I was still praying for winter, she KNEW it wasn’t coming and without my knowledge or input had already started her magic. Here’s what I found within minutes of clearing last year’s remains. It was obvious that with or without my help or hard work, Mother Nature was on the job and on schedule. What a relief to know that the world continues on pace because a loving Mother who provides for us whether she’s noticed and appreciated or not. A lesson learned.

But back to my labyrinth. I worked quickly to uncover the new growth in my yard once I saw Mother Nature hadn’t waited on me. It needed to be done fast so I could get busy on my labyrinth before the ground “naturally” dried into a hard shell and my dream project would be delayed for another year. My labyrinth work also needed to be done fast because I had to remove and replace each rock from ground that every warming day was more determined to hold in place what had resided there for thousands of years.

At last, yesterday my backbreaking, but spiritual, job was complete enough to photograph. I knew it wasn’t perfect or finished to the point I’d envisioned… and then I stopped, looked up, looked around, and realized Mother Nature’s next lesson. She teaches so many lessons if we just pay attention and this is my “Labyrinth Lesson”. While I was working hard and fast to complete my mission, she was continuing to grow those plants I’d uncovered weeks earlier. No pressure, no stress. There was no concern about them being perfect or finished. Mother Nature was simply doing and showing how life is supposed to be lived. I understood my labyrinth, like my life, will never be perfect or finished, and that’s the way it’s always been. I just didn’t know that until I build a labyrinth.

 

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BLOSSOM – An OFFICIAL Spirited Woman!

official Spirited Woman Top 12 book pick list small

Today, BLOSSOM, A Flower’s Journey was picked as one of Spirited Woman’s Top 12 Spring Equinox Book Picks. Just as exciting for me is this happened on BLOSSOM’s birthday. My picture book focusing on courage when facing change, launched one year ago on the 2013 Spring Equinox. What a wonderful 1st year gift! Visit BLOSSOM and the 11 other wonderful Spirited Woman books on their link.

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Change arrives with the Web

Change is definitely in the air. You can see it by looking for the web. Not the “world wide web”, but the Spider Web! Old cobweb strands that dangle from ceilings and soften the corners of attics or basements are being replenished with dazzling new creations that seem to appear out of thin air under roof eaves, along window casings, or between fence railings and at the joints of tender spring leaves. How truly amazing these intricate silk necklaces are and yet many people recoil at the sight of them. Beware! Spiders must be nearby!

spider green free

Spiders! Danger! Run! Kill it if you dare get close enough. Yes, people have an instinctive fear response to spiders. This response is often similar to the emotion generated when we’re confronted with a life change. Remember the last time you knew a change was about to occur in your life. Think of the gut reaction it churned up inside you. Compare that feeling to the usual reaction to spiders and the typical aversion to the glistening artwork they spin.

The next time you discover a spider’s web, stop and marvelspider rose crop at what you probably missed in the past. Consider that you may have applied the same reasoning to the idea of change. Spiders provide the world with magnificent structures that not even the most talented engineer can create. The blessings they weave are a thrilling example of the wonder that change can provide in each new occurrence. Now transfer your new awareness of this spectacular result that comes with change to your personal situation. We can look beyond the physical instinct to glimpse a spiritual message. The spider’s creativity reminds us that we have the ability to weave our lives into resilient works of art. With that in mind, you just might begin to see the next change you encounter as a gift in disguise offered up to you from the Universe.

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BLOSSOM on TOP 12 BOOK PICK LIST

2012 BACK w BLOSSOM crop flatten RGBThis Spring Equinox will be BLOSSOM’s 1st birthday and with it comes a BIG birthday present! BLOSSOM will be included in Spirited Woman’s Top 12 Spring Book Pick List. Here’s a preview of the description you’ll find March 21st when you visit www.thespiritedwoman.com:

BLOSSOM, A FLOWER’S JOURNEY is written for everyone ever frightened by change. This full-color picture book appeals to children and adults alike. Children learn to look forward to new experiences, not fear them. Adults recognize the opportunities change offers. Blossom’s journey teaches how every change can result in growth that ultimately adds to the joy and purpose of life.  www.lindavivianelester.com

The front book cover will be displayed instead of the back cover shown here. If you have any other suggestions for changes to my 60 word limit promo, please send me a comment and let me know – BEFORE March 12th. Thanks and keep BLOSSOMing!

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What’s Your Challenge: Stopping or Starting?

beginnings are endings cropChange is all about something being different from what it was up until now.  You are dealing with a new situation. You’re starting a new behavior or you’re stopping an old one. It seems like it’s one or the other. That’s simple. But we all know it isn’t. If you don’t want to recall your own personal challenges with change, just ask someone who has decided to stop smoking or start exercising. Stopping or starting should be easy. At least one of them should be. So why does the thought of change create the angst, the fear, the procrastination, the drama, and then often the resignation to or abandonment of that something different?

I think it’s all about perspective and I think LaoTzu agrees. Beginnings and endings are intricately linked, like Yin and Yang. Stopping and starting aren’t “either or”, but “both and”. That’s why I believe we have similar stress doing either. If you stop smoking, you’ll probably have to start hanging out with new people on your coffee break. If you start exercising, you might have to stop watching so much TV. And then what will happen? You guessed it. You are confronted with the mystery of the unknown.

So getting back to perspective, how about instead of thinking of mystery as scary, thinking of it as an adventure, an exploration, a quest for hidden treasure? It’s a treasure you may find inside you or somewhere out in a world you never knew existed. There’s a surprise waiting for you when you have the courage to embrace change. Change is really a present ready to be opened.

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