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!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

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.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

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.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

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.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

MY DOG DIED TODAY

L&H 02 72PDI

To be accurate, my dog Heidi died four years ago today. This is my tribute to her for the ten years that she enriched my life and as dogs do, made me a better human.

Being a Border Collie, Heidi was as smart as some people. Being a dog, she was more loyal and loving than most people. Applying the “how many does it take to change a light bulb” question to Border Collies, the answer is one, but then the Border Collie will also look at the electrical plans and update all the house wiring. That was Heidi. She learned all the standard dog commands with ease, even doing agility training until I learned the trainer (me) had to run the course just as fast as she could while still having the breath to call out the directions just as fast and in the right order for her execute. My agility competition days ended long before Heidi’s would have.

She was a natural herder who never took a lesson and never saw a sheep, but I witnessed her herd everything from bees to cats. And if you ever wondered if there’s an exception to the saying “as hard as herding cats”, just instigate a race between a cat and a Border Collie. Once when my cat had wandered to close to the end of my 100 foot long driveway, I told Heidi to get her back to the house. They both took off at top speed, but about halfway up the drive the cat turned around to see how close Heidi was and not seeing any dog behind her, slowed to a casual pace. When she turned her head back around to look in the direction she was running, she was startled into a screeching stop. Heidi had made an end run around the cat and was sitting motionless on the step waiting for her.

Intelligence and speed were minor factors that made up Heidi. The major one was her heart. She heart was a combination of devotion, compassion, intuition, and wisdom. I suppose that describes the contents of every dog’s heart, but that doesn’t make hers less unique. Heidi connected to my heart in each of our experiences, whether it was throwing her ball or easing my fears or healing a sorrow with a nuzzle of her nose.

Heidi gave me all of her heart without expectation or complaint. She was a friend I imagined would be with me forever. At least I never thought of life without her.

Then today after her morning romp of ball chasing and tail wagging, she came inside, laid down on the floor, and died. She never made a sound. Less than 10 minutes had passed since she’d wagged her tail with its white pompom tip and surrendered her ball.

I think that maybe she didn’t want to worry me if she felt something wasn’t just right. I believe her limitless loving heart and her limited physical heart just told her she had to leave me silently and without warning because I could never manage to say “good bye’.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Gardens offer us a perfect opportunity…

Gardens offer us a perfect opportunity to reconnect to our true selves and remember our place in the natural world. Rather than approach our gardens as mere investments of energy, we can look at the entire process of gardening, from planting seeds to harvesting food, as a way of deepening our conscious relationship with the creative force of the universe. By changing how we see something, we may discover a deep peace and renewed sense of wonder. Image

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Read Outside

This photo brought together 2 things I love, reading and nature. I suggest to you do something that I’m adding to my To Do list. That is not only make time to read everyday, no matter for how long, but do it in a place that feeds your senses and your soul. It’s an easy feel-good CHANGE!

Image

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Bud, Blossom, and Beyond

I hope you’ll go to Daily OM site to read the rest: “When we can appreciate the full beauty of each stage of the cycle of life, from bud to blossom to disintegration, we feel more at home with our own earthly process. We can be inspired not to hold back the fullness of what we have to offer, knowing that our time to give of ourselves in this way will come to pass.”

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS