Category: Life Cycles


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My garden grow boxes lying Fallow 2015-2016

Fallow (adj) ~ adjective. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated. not in use; inactive. (of personhood) ie My creative energies have lain fallow this year.

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During the last three summers of my home gardens, I decided to add grow boxes in the middle of my front lawn, as well as planting and tending all the border gardens around the boundaries and sides of the property. It was a joy and delight to witness all the green goodies…flowers, herbs and vegetables…. spilling out of those raised boxes…healthy and lush and easy to tend (no weeds!).

Sam garden

Jardin

Jardin one

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Sam garden

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These gardens gave me inspiration, strength, encouragement, hope and grounding during the several years of intense national and personal challenges in my life due to the economic downturn that so many Americans and home-owners were facing at that time. Holding on as best and as long as I could  came to an end in 2015… my “Year of the Thorn”…. when that way of life and the land had to be released, giving up home, gardens and land that could no longer be sustained.

 

 

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2015 My Year of the Thorn~ Loss and Letting Go

 

Receiving sanctuary with the dearest of friends, I was welcomed to stay with them for  the next year of my personal paradigm shift and healing of spirit. My grow boxes, once the containers of vibrant overflowing life, now lying fallow in their woods below a white pine.  And myself, fallow in spirit and activity as well, though still teaching piano to a small handful of mature students. Spirit-wise, though the rich compost of Creativity lay somewhere deep in my Soul, all was still and quiet and as empty as the soil in those grow boxes. Where to go next? How to work in new ways, how to sustain myself? How could I live in joy without my gardens, the source of so much creative inspiration, healing and connections to the Earth?

The blessings of my sanctuary friends and their own beautiful gardens still surrounded me with the green Veriditas so vital to my well-being. The joy of their land and its growing bounty helped during this fallow time between my familiar old life and my as yet-unkown new life when no new vision and direction revealed itself. Though their land and gardens were not mine, I was still tethered to the Earth while I waited for new as yet-unknown seeds of Soul to sprout.

 

Jungle Kitty Big

Madeline’s Garden

Eventually, when the Year of the Thorn  and the Fallow Period shifted slowly into the new life that I now live, those grow boxes were gifted to my daughter, and to a couple of elder friends who were happy to have them for easier gardens to tend. There are no more grow boxes or gardens at ground level for me now. 

But still…. this is not the end of the story of My Garden, My Soul. I am living with Veriditas (the greening spirit) .., but in a new way… with my “gardens” of green growing things and of Creative spirit.

Stay with me. There are still a couple of chapters to come.

 

Jardin in pot ED (4)-001

My Garden, My Soul

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

There are many ways to live with Veriditas, the Greening Spirit of Soul!

You are invited to visit my other blogs…

http://sensuoussoupsandseuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (actually..herbal recipes for year round)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share the Thorn ip(2)

 

There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine have been sweet reminisces, for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges as emotional and situational experiences in our personal journeys. This series so far  has been mostly re-blogged/newly written celebrating and sharing  about the gardens..my gardens …for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything and the time between my “old life” and my “new life” became a true personal paradigm shift from landowner to apartment dweller and the loss of my treasured gardens.

2015 was the “Year of the Thorn” in my life’s journey and relationship with the Garden of my Soul.

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The  invasive wild white rose vines bordered my garden on the back side of my land separating my front lawn from the lot next door, every year sending out a line across the yard and wrapping itself tightly around the water spout of the house. It was an arduous and often painful experience cutting this vicious plant back, as the vine…thick and hard..was covered with very large dangerous thorns with a tiny backwards tip at the end that pierced and embedded itself deeply even through protective gardening gloves.

The several years leading up to 2015 and specifically 2015 itself were the years of, and specifically the “Year of.. the Thorn” in my life’s journey. Due to severe economic challenges in our country of those years and it’s impact on my work…losing a major portion of my private music teaching income when my many students were also financially impacted and had to let go of their frills including piano lessons…I was no longer able to sustain myself, my home and my land. The thorn of personal and societal disaster hooked itself deeply into my life, wrapping itself around all that was familiar, piercing my Soul-filled life as musician, teacher and gardener.

In short, I lost everything. Income, House, Land and Gardens.

What was left to me..household furnishings, a vast library of books, piano and instruments, and all manner of the stuff of living went into storage.

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Packing up a life

 

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Storage GS

However, I was truly blessed by loving and generous friends who invited me to stay with them for a year between my “old life” and my “new life” …a year during which I had no clue as to what would come next for me, where I would go, how I would continue the Journey of my own destiny. A double blessing was that these friends were also gardeners of exquisite skill and magic, and though the gardens were not mine, they surrounded my exhausted emotional life with their green healing power and beauty.

 

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My friend Madeline in her garden…the year between my old life and my new life

My grow boxes, once overflowing with flowers, herbs and veggies, also become un-employed as they, empty of life,  were stored and sheltered under the trees in the forest of my friends.

 

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My growboxes stored in the woods during the Year of the Thorn

                                                                   Remembrances

Jardin

There is no escaping challenges and changes if we are alive on the Earth. Like the plants in the Garden, there are seasons for everything including us in our life’s journey. Some years of bounty, some years of barren-ness. It’s always a cycle of letting go and letting “in”, of deconstruction and re-construction, of loss and then renewal.

This is not the end of the story of “My Garden, My Soul”.

Stay with me. Chapter 24 is next. Like Life.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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You are invited to visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com  (music and memoirs of a piano teacher. Me!)

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (healing herbal recipes. Fire Cider!)

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (kitchen memoirs and recipes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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burdock, iris, chives, lamb’s ears, milkweed, daylilies

The Everything Garden is just that! The delight of green growing things, colorful flowers, healing and culinary herbs, delicious vegetables on whatever little (or larger) plot of land you are blessed to care for is a joy. If one is an artist in your spirit and soul, but perhaps “painting” is not your skill, one can plant and create painting-like images in your garden that invoke moments of stillness, awe and wonderful memories if you have a camera to capture and hold them…How I loved my morning walk along the garden’s edge above…a wild mix in the border..

Jardin one

My years of gardening in the yarden surrounding the house that was mine for an extended time was supported and cared for with hoes, rakes, bags of soil, the best compost, trellises, grow boxes, raised beds, little fences, and garden decorations created by my artist partner, David…and…my CAMERA!

 

The Dance of the Femine Face of God

The Garden Dancer by Canadian Artist David Hickey

 

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The Great Mother by Canadian Artist David HickeyT

The pictures in this series was from that time and will be from that time since… But a primary part of my gardening adventures has always been a camera, for during the growing season I would be in and out of the house multitudes of times throughout the day to visit, tend and photograph the life journey and antics of my green Kin.

An exciting, interesting and humble way of life. Humble ..as from the word “Humus” ~ of the earth. Living with Humility as in the true definition according  Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister –

                            “Knowing one’s proper place in a Universe of Wonders”

                 ..and for sure, the garden is one place to experience those wonders!

 

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Aren’t these Poppy seed heads fun?

       

                                       More Images from a Universe of Wonders!                                                                                                                     

SIGNED Ed Bursting

Bursting

 

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Mountain Laurel by my front door

 

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Chives in bloom in the un-mowed border

 

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A Universe of Wonders ~ The stars in the center of chive blossoms

 

                                                                An Everything Garden!

 

Veggie Garden

ONE of my Everything Gardens!

 

Well now. There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine are sweet reminisces for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges in our personal journeys. This series so far has been mostly re-blogged, written in 2015,  and celebrates and shares the gardens..my gardens for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything. (The last several chapters are recently written.)

Has there been a pivotal year as well somewhere in your life when things changed and you had to let go and live creatively between your old life and your new life? What does that new life look like now?

A few more chapters to come in this story of My Garden, My Soul  from 2015 to the present now of 2020 when EVERYTHING that was familiar for all of us is pivoting into the as-yet unknown and the now new-normal.

It is important that we still be Gardeners of new ways. Staying close to Mother Nature. Staying close to each other. To choose and attempt to make our lives and the way we live a Sacred Garden.

 

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Garden stone for my garden by Canadian Artist, David Hickey

Mary Oliver Gardener

From Christine, The Greening Spirit ~ July 2020

Moi FM

Please enjoy some of my other blogs here on wordpress!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (delicious and healthy recipes and kitchen memoirs)

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http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (herbal recipes and memoirs)

Fire-Cider_landscape

http://musicmistress.wordpress.com (music and memoirs from a piano teacher!  Me! )

Piano Teach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an occasional instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at a nearby University. The OLLI program across the country is a college for seniors, age 50 and older, who come back to school just for the fun of learning, because it is NEVER too late to learn new things or buff up on skills and talents put side during the busy years of looking after others or working full time.

This past fall, I taught a course inspired by a wonderful book by the author Christine Valters Paintner. With a rather unusual title, “Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom” the book shares Benedictine monastic practices and daily rhythms to deepen our spirituality in a complicated world AND guide us back to that  “room” in our souls where creativity is  birthed and stored,  hopefully followed by  the courageous  re-entry into our actual individual  time-apart studios to manifest artwork, poems, writing, sculptures or crafts.

Our class was exceedingly exciting as we employed various meditative practices from monastic life to settle down, reach inside ourselves within the context of silence and stillness, and find our way back to personal artwork and creativity in new and surprising ways, gathering up long ignored pen, paper, journals, paints, brushes and the like.  Our  daily inspirational mantra was a prayer from the Divine Muse, with which we initiated our creative endeavors awaiting the surprise of new expressive ideas:

“Now I am revealing new things to you.

Things hidden and unknown to you, created just now, this very moment!

Of these things, you have heard nothing until now, so you cannot say, ‘Yes I (already) knew that’ “

Some wrote exquisite poems, some shared reflective journal entries. One woman started an art project, a beautiful book of paintings..one for each of the monastic hours (Lauds, Vespers etc) with eloquent musings on each…and with delightful imagination, one woman made for the homeless, a comfy sleeping mat from colored plastic bags, much like a hooked rug, and complete with the ability to roll it up and carry with handles.

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Crea Mona Se 4 One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our class was a total delight but our Eldest Elder was one of the most delightful creations herself.  “Joan” is well known and very beloved by all  who know her at OLLI. In her mid-90’s she attends a variety of classes for enjoyment, inspiration and, as she has told me a number of times, to find out what it is she is supposed to be doing with her life at age 95!

During the class she sat attentively up front as always, usually rather quiet until she has something to say.. generally a soft-spoken one or two-liner that catches us by surprise and makes us all laugh with delight…or a question that reveals a piercing depth of curiosity and wisdom that stops us cold to ponder.

Throughout this class as others brought their creations in for our opening “show and tell”, eliciting claps and smiles, we knew that Joan had not as yet gone back into her “studio”  to start painting again which had for quite a time, maybe years, been set aside. She was quite elusive about why she was unsure about doing it.

But then …..

On the last day of the class, she and her daughter came in with a surprise!

Joan had in fact gone back into her “studio”,  picked up her brushes and painted a picture of the rough ocean waters  near the sea wall after a wild storm! Like Joan herself who is quite a “modern-thinking”  Elder at 95, her painting is also modern in expression, impressionistic and with dynamic movement.

Crea Mina Joan PICA ED one 1 (2)

I am a Senior now as well, and the rhythm and responsibilities of life have shifted although I am still far from being  95 years old. With new “open spaces” in my days, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing with my life now, knowing that it is up to ME to create the new meanings and that, given good health, I need to listen and follow The Divine Muse who has ideas for me to be creative and of service in a world so needing inspiration and beauty.

I think on one level, Joan’s work at 95 is being a “Muse” for us younger Elders… 

 And… for the record…..

We’re  paying attention to you, Joan!!

Crea Mona Group PICASA Blue (2)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

 

 

 

 

 

I was kind of in a hurry, dashing into town to pick up a few things. It was cold, grey and damp, but my car was warm and my four wheels could get me where I needed to go quickly and then back home again to host a friend’s visit.

You know…..that light at the four corners takes FOREVER to change so I  cleverly turned left for a short-cut behind Bess Easton Coffee to quickly drive across the parking lot and across the street to the pharmacy and Belmont’s market.

But no such luck. Turning the corner to make that quick dash, right there squarely in the middle of the road heading in the same direction was an old woman, pushing a little shopping cart with empty shopping bags attached. She was all bundled up against the cold, layers under coat, hat, gloves, scarf and she was SLOWLY making her way..and I mean SLOWLY…inch by inch….alone.

My first inner response  of impatience was “Oh, SHEESH!” ….. but just momentarily as I reminded myself that I now live in a Senior Housing Apartment complex and though I can quickly veer around those with walkers or a cane in the hallways of the building, someday a number of years from now, that could be me!

Compassion, my dear. Let’s polish that up a bit.

I backed up and turned my car around going to a store behind me instead and also stopped to top off the gas in my vehicle. And then I proceeded to my original intended destination, though about 25 minutes behind schedule.

The old woman was gone from the middle of that short-cut, and I was able to cut through, across the parking lot, across the road to the big parking lot of the pharmacy and market.

And there she was… inching her way step by slow step over towards the market…! She had covered quite a distance in those 25 minutes and quite frankly, I was awed and humbled by her determination, her courage, and her intrepid spirit making her way alone, without partner or friend, on a cold grey day. It was a very long walk in distance and time.

ELDER-kin. There are so many of us now…from about age 60 to 90+..especially single women, living alone in senior apartments.. families somewhere else and ever so busy..adult children on the move and grandkids too and so much time between visits. We did not know when we were younger about the sometimes isolation and lonely journeys we must take in this third life chapter.

It takes courage and pure GRIT to take that LONG WALK alone to the market on foot on a cold day. Women, I must say, are known for that kind of pure GRIT… haven’t many of us just up and done what needed to be done as we once accompanied partners, children or aging parents through all kinds of growth pangs?

Seeing this Elder Kin sister from across the distance stirred my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I blessed her, and me, and all courageous elders who are are taking that long walk…even when it is slower than it used to be.

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

update Feb 2016 (2)

 

In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

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What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

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And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

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I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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During the past several years, I became hard-pressed to make some very difficult choices in my very familiar and somewhat predictable life: choices like letting go of a house/home of many years, leaving behind a plot of land that was the garden canvas upon which a colorful array of flowers, herbs and vegetables nourished me physically, spiritually and mentally, choices that challenged the way I earned my living as a humble means of security and choices that initially did not allow me to see a clear path into a grounded and stable future.

My life had been filled with color, music, dance and creativity. It was juicy and plump with knowing that I was fulfilling my destiny and blooming in rightness for me.

But then there were gradually some serious challenges in going it alone in a very changing and unstable environment around me and  those circumstances pressing in on me, pressed me as well, sucking a lot of the juice and energy out of my calmness and..well…flattening me and the fullness of familiarity for a while.

I am happily back now in a new and stable phase..gloriously so I think…. but I have learned something important having survived pressing circumstances and being “flattened” for a while myself.

So let me talk about Rose Geranium first as an example. For the year between my “old life” and my “new life” I lived with dear friends, who also had large and bountiful gardens which were a comfort to my loss in the interim. Outside of their front door was a lovely rose geranium plant in bloom all summer and fall, its rounded and scalloped leaves when stroked, exuded a sweet and musky perfume that evoked a sense of sensuality, earthiness, and LOVE. This plant beckoned to me every time I came and went about my tasks such as I was trying to live them out.

 

In the ensuing fall…last October…and before I knew I would be moving finally to a delightful new apartment in totally new circumstances I asked the plant permission and started to harvest some of her finest leaves pressing them between the pages of my books about Hildegard of Bingen which were references for a course I was going to be teaching at the local University.

When in time, I arrived in my new and delightful sanctuary,  my now apartment, and settled in beginng to prepare for the course, I opened the books and again met those leaves…. those now pressed and flattened leaves and I was stunned by their beauty…a NEW kind of beauty… as they emerged from having been nestled and pressed safely between those pages and  lying surrounded by all those beautiful words of wisdom front and back.

In their now pressed and flattened state, their strength and structure and divine and exquisite order…their master plan and destiny… was clearly revealed altho the physicality of their leaves are now seemingly…some might say “thin-skinned”.  But no, I would say instead “delicate, vulnerable and refined” and  with the color and beginning translucence of maturity. There is dance and frivolity and movement in the frilly-ness and happiness of their edges and I see that being pressed has not taken that away…in fact, it has made the happiness more pronounced and visible as the essence of who and what it really is,  is clearly seen.

Rose Geranium 1

It has gloriously survived being pressed and has evolved into a new phase of being.

What I have learned from being pressed is like all that I see in this rose geranium leaf and  which has been revealed in the still- beauty, sensuality and love that is available when surviving pressing situations that seem to flatten us. If we can be surrounded by good words and the friendly, caring protection of friends/family and community, the “stuff” of which we are made is never lost..just perhaps transformed into what is truly important. Our essence.

And most importantly, is the awesome revelation and knowing of the Divine Order and Guidance of our lives and in that leaf, never fully appreciated until we are squeezed, challenged, or pressed to claim and reveal our deepest selves.

I have been promised a cutting of that plant to bring here in my new apartment. Rose Geranium (Pelargonium Capitatum) A special flowerpot is all ready and waiting! I believe this plant has more to teach me…..

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Please check my foodie blog too : http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

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Nana Fursa RESTORE

When my mother died a number of years ago, I was the recipient of a large box of old family photos and record-keeping papers that I had never seen. There had been a lot of tragedy in my mother’s side of the family, both her mother and father immigrants to New York City from Poland in the early 1900′s.  I never knew my grandfather, he dying when my mother was one years old, leaving my grandmother to raise my mother and seven older siblings on her own through tumultuous years and through the remnants of the Great Depression.

My grandmother came to live with us when I was ten, moving from a small tenement apartment in NYC where she lived with a lone surviving son, my Uncle Eddie, and his family. We ourselves had moved upstate from a city apartment to my parents first real home..the pride of home ownership that included a bedroom for Nana and a new life living with her daughter (my mother) and our family.

Nana was quite strict and yet loving, but she could often be heard through the door of her room in the quiet afternoons, crying and saying the rosary. She was sometimes a trial for my brother and me, at times threatening harsh discipline for our honestly small misbehaviours, yet she had her place of honor and respect at the dinner table and we were family.

She was “old” (so I thought then) when she came to join us, and that is the way I experienced her although she was beautiful for her elder years and always elegantly stylish in her dress, taking walks around the back yard, steadying herself with a fine shiny black cane for balance. She was dignified and she was proud and capable of laughter.

But being young myself, growing up in the youthful self-focused way of youngsters and teenagers, altho she was with us every day I never really knew her, except as “Nana”, yet always hearing the stories that accompanied her and my mother, of family tragedies that haunted them both until their deaths.

One of the pictures in my mother’s record keeping box was an old photo…badly damaged by time and travels..of Nana’s wedding. Coming here from Poland at the age of seventeen to “look for her brother” who had earlier emigrated to NYC, she came alone on a steamship and passed through Ellis Island to somehow search the city for him.

There are huge gaps in the chapters of our family history and what happened when she got here is hidden in the mists of time. But she did meet a man, a Polish man I think, and married. He was not the best of the lot and died violently in shabby circumstances after fathering eight children, leaving Nana to the fates of being a widow and single mother of a multitude of children during the worst of times.

When I saw this picture, I was intrigued to see a grandfather whom I had never known, and more intrigued to see the picture of the woman who would later become my grandmother, who I would see as “Nana” as I grew up, but whom I truly did not know. What intrigued me most about this picture however, was the fact that in particular, it was her face that was most damaged in the old worn photograph and I was distressed that I could not see her the way I would have liked. Who WAS she?

Henya's Parents0001 (2)

And so, with the editing program on my computer, I started to slowly and carefully, as best as I can, try to restore my grandmother’s face so that I might know her in a new way..the young woman who came alone to this country from far way, who had a fertile if not disastrous marriage, bearing eight children, becoming a widow left to raise them on her own in the big city, working as a seamstress when possible to bring in money, and facing repeated tragedies… in time burying three young handsome adult sons six months apart, one taken away by accident in the military (lightning hitting an air traffic control tower where he was on duty) and two by separate unfortunate acts of violence as innocent bystanders…later losing a beautiful daughter to cancer and a daughter who went mad.

As I work to restore what I can of Nana’s hidden-ness in the damaged photo, I uncover a woman who like her children had the gift of physical beauty, one eye  the prototype of the family “beautiful” eyes…perhaps green or hazel… full passionate lips, a strong jaw for fortitude and inner strength yet smoothly rounded for the soft tenderness of motherhood for it was said that she was a wonderful mother through it all.

I am connecting with a part of my family history through the restoration of this photograph and coming to a new understanding of the tumultuous and often difficult emotional scenarios I grew up with in our home, usually generated by my mother’s grief and dramatic explosive tendencies, mixed with a gift of laugher in between. We have few stories from that side of the family except either  “the tragedies” or the glorification of family members.

I have read that often survivors of the Holocaust who started new lives elsewhere after devastation frequently go silent in the storytelling of their past experience,  and I do believe that the sufferings of times like war, the disastrous loss of one or more children through accident or violence way before their time, or  the terrors of those who survived the Great Depression and its aftermath years later often go silent as well, though one can hear solitary crying behind closed doors during the dark hours of night or on an afternoon behind the closed door of a personal bedroom…there are secrets in every family and blank pages in every story but the truth of experience never does go away inside…

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I am glad for this opportunity to restore my Nana, my Grandmother Marie and to intuit finally knowing her. A survivor.

Hello, Nana……

***memories of bits and pieces of the family story have slowly surfaced as I wrote this essay. The tiny bit of information that my grandfather, Nana’s husband, had been secretary to a Count in Poland and fled to this country after breakdown of the nobility there. My grandmother met him while he was working as a laborer in a pocketbook factory in NYC to earn money. She herself was the daughter of a gentleman farmer. Her mother held a reading circle in their farmhouse teaching others to read. When the soldiers of the Czar (Prussians) rode in on horses, they quickly  hid the books and took out their sewing and embroidery needles and hoops.

 

UU2From Christine, the Greening Spirit

also: https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress,wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

 

Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus

Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus

Ah, Taurus! Ruled by Venus, the goddess of love, the arts and the earth’s lushness, luxury, ease, beauty, art and music, harmony and peace, gardens, sensuality and the senses (sight, sound, scent, touch), delicious food and drink,  wealth and prosperity.

During this particular Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus, I went wild in my moon manifestation mandala creating my perfect living room…elegant and richly appointed with scultpure, paintings, flowers, draperies, sensuous outrageous ORANGE sofa, pillows and  padded coffee table. Beautiful books of course to read in regular “time-out indulgences with a luscious bowl of fruit for sweet and juicy nibbling in langurous relaxation. A large sparkling diamond in the center… bright,, crystal clear, deeply cut and many-faceted (Iike me when at my best! ) that can be displayed or hidden depending on the whim of the elegant draperies. The diamond also a symbol of the dream for economic stability…no..wait! … I must ask for MORE…and that is, yes, WEALTH and prosperity consciousness instead of fear and roller-coaster finances of the self-employed creative artist of life. The first question to be asked in this Manifestation Law of Attraction practice is “Am I worth it?”.

Well, we must first believe it to receive it in some appropriae form. And creating the image of what arouses us to feel and take delight in all things that we find beautiful, soothing and truly fulfilling is part of the process. (“If you build it, they will come” ~Field of Dreams was on to something!).

Beauty in all forms, natural or created, lifts us up, delights and inspires us. Beautiful music, words, gardens, stories, colors, images and even furnishings in our homes can be an outpouring and appreciation of Soul in manifested form. Why would we not dream of and choose that over impoverishment of senses, spirit and life?

I love this mandala… and I love this room and that orange sofa! Orange, btw …the color of creativity.

orange me 10From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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