Category Archives: through the eyes of the spirit

Friends are like a Robert Frost poem …

or at least real friends are.

I’m talking about the ones who take you at face value and don’t hold your weirdness, insane moments or idiosyncrasies against you.

They ignore you when you begin talking to yourself but poke you and raise an eyebrow if you keep doing it.

They are the ones who see your random, rambling text messages or hear the off the wall, beyond the grid, call the men in white coat voice-mails and don’t freak out, run for cover or actually call the men in white coats.

They have your back.

They are the ones you can depend on in the darkest days or the most joyful moments and know they will embrace them with you either in tears or laughter.

These are the people that you can call on when you are hurting and know they will console you, pray for you, or hold your hair back while you puke.

They take the good, the bad, the ugly, the grumpiness, the tears, the yelling, the bitching, the nastiness and the smiles with a grain of salt,  a kind word or a get a grip speech.

They will tell you when you are being a jerk and hold you accountable when it is important.

They will hope your dreams come true and ground you when you get above your raising.

They won’t tell you are brilliant if you aren’t and will, if your butt looks big in that dress, be the first one to say so.

These are the people that will pick you up at two am when you run out gas in the middle of nowhere, tell you when you are being an idiot and encourage you when you think the world is coming to an end.

They will be few, but they will be there when you need them.

Everyone you meet may like you, but only a handful will be in your corner when you paint yourself into one.

Remember to thank them for liking you even when you are unlikable.

They are, after all, the flowers in your springtime and, without a doubt, the joy and encouragement on the road less traveled.

Do not take them for granted … they don’t have to like you, they choose to.

There is a difference.

You’ve got a friend in me … friendship

Just call out my name … beach2012_wed-166

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Death is imminent …

it is something that every one of us will, at some time, face.

I am saddened this night because someone dear to my heart passed away.

I have tried to rationalize it and understand it, but death is death.

My heart is heavy for many reasons.

I know, because of my own loss, what his wife is feeling right now.

She is devastated and reeling from the blow that she is now alone.

I don’t completely understand what his daughters are going through because God has performed miracle after miracle upon my own father, but my imagination runs wild.

I have, on many occasions, although it tears me into pieces, told my  mother that if she and Daddy couldn’t go at the same time, I would want  him to go first because the thought of dealing with him without her is beyond my comprehension.

I don’t want to lose either of them, but I, we, live in the real world where people die and are buried and life either ceases with their death, or we move on.

Life is what it is, when it is, as it is.

Walking on the mountain tops or soaring above them is a wondrous thing, but in reality, we are often in the foxholes, valleys and dark places.

How we deal with these times defines us.

Do we encourage or enable?

Are we a rock or shifting sand?

These are the moments that Jesus calls us to, the times that He relies on us to uphold His people.

I am unworthy on every level imaginable, but I know, without doubt or reservation, what it feels like to lose a husband.

And I know what it feels like to be comforted by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I am, according to what is “out there”, the minority, but I don ‘t care.

I know what I know, feel what I feel, experience what I experience, learn as I go, live as it comes and believe on the fantastic.

Life is a gamble and nobody, but nobody will leave this world alive.

The photo of my late husband included in this post was taken two weeks to the day after he was buried.

An image in my head could be discounted, but a photograph is, as the saying goes, worth a thousand words.

Beyond the Grave

Beyond the Grave

In order to recognize an imposter cat …

it is important to understand what a real cat does.

Real cats chase mice, keep spiders away, keep all rodents from invading the home front and bask in the sun when they have the chance.

They climb trees, chase butterflies and practice pouncing on anything that looks pouncable.  (disclaimer:  pouncable is not a real word, but worked in this post so I made it up and used it).

It is also good to know the difference between inside and outdoor cats, real ones, not the imposters.

When dealing with imposter cats, cat rules and regulations apparently do not apply.

I have learned this the hard way.

Inside cats shed their downy fur onto everything … furniture, inside the refrigerator, the sink, underwear drawer and everywhere else that isn’t covered in plastic and securely duct-taped.

Outside cats are different, but not in a big way.

Real outside cats rub on the porch, scratch the railing making it look mauled and walk up and down across both the front and back window of your car leaving muddy paw-prints as evidence.

And they don’t care that they leave evidence because they are cats and cats are immune to human fallacies.

They will urinate on your vegetation and cause it to either stop growing or grow into something that isn’t of this world.  It is quite the phenomenon … the results of cat urine.

They will become accustomed to being fed at certain times and if not accommodated, will scratch at the door like dogs.  (don’t tell them they act like dogs though or you could easily lose an eye).

They will chase other cats away if any should show up at your door by hissing and chasing, thus making them look like real cats who do cat things like chase mice.

When you see the first sign of mouse droppings inside your house, you will know that your outside cats are not on the job.  For further proof, watch the food bowl.

Imposter cats will sit and watch birds eat their food.

Birds.

Cats.

Cats watching birds as they eat the food they scratched on the door for.

What Brigadoon have I fallen into where this kind of thing happens?

I didn’t ask for these cats, they just appeared.

I don’t have the heart to see them  hungry, so I fed them.

My mistake.

Now I have a horde of furry creatures that look like cats but don’t chase mice, let birds eat their food and put their paw-prints all over my car.

Imposters, one and all.

I would call the dogs, but the cats are laying against them to keep warm.

What, I ask, is the world coming to?.

What, indeed?

Hello.  I’m Yellow Tom.   What’s your name?maternity_crystal-132

Friendship comes in many forms.friendship

Birds fighting over cat food.thebirds

The end of the beginning …

is here.

The end of the first day of the year, that is.

A day when many will implement their newly made resolutions only to give up on them in a few days.

What is it about midnight on the eve of the dawning of a new year that makes people promise things they don’t intend to do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of humanity.

But not this time.

Not this year.

I am making no resolutions of any kind.

I am going to take each day, each moment; each good, bad, unbelievable, mediocre, mind-blowing, life-altering, emotion shattering, ego-bursting, uplifting, encouraging, incredibly beautiful, intensely disheartening, inspirational, creative moment as it comes.

When it comes.

Living life.

In real time.

Jesus has my back and for me, that is enough.

I didn’t start this day on resolutions, instead, I started it outside, under a cold, blue sky.  The cold was painful, but the beauty of creation in the winter made me forget, for the most part anyway, that I was cold.

It was a good day to be alive.

Icicles hanging from the Gorge walls … Guest River Gorge trailicicle

Little Stoney, full from recent rainslittlestoney_jan14

Light at the end of the tunnel … Guest River Gorge trailguestgorgetunnel

The forks of Guest River … whitewater rafting in its primeguestriverfork

The Bridge over Guest Riverguestgorgebridge

A moment of clarity …

is priceless.

Like fine wine from a stellar year.  A bottle unopened and virginal in it’s uniqueness.

A moment of clarity when all of the world is in color, without shades of gray, without confusion that masks the wonders as the snow on an old TV.  Clarity without aluminum foil to make the picture clear.

I love these moments.  They are like photographs that have been taken simply to remind me that this moment isn’t all there is.

There is more.

There is much more.

I am feeling hyper these days and that makes me anxious.  It is such a small step from hyper to manic and I work dilligently to not be manic.

It comes when it comes and I have no say about it.

But it hurts those I care about.

I don’t care so much about myself.  This is my life and I live it, but when it touches others, it hurts me on a level that is far beyond what I feel capable of handling.

I am me.

I don’t know how to be anyone else.

I don’t, however, want to be a burden to my friends.

Yes, I am hyper, but am not yet manic.

It is only a matter of time.

I try to close myself off from everyone when this happens, but there are a few that I lean on and hope that, when all is said and done, they will forgive me yet again.

They are the people who bring me back to reality when I stray and they know who they are.

I only hope they know I don’t take them for granted.

Just a day in the life.

It isn’t always pretty, but more often than not, it is.  I live for the “it is” moments.

I am a survivor and this impending event will not break me.

It may bend me, but it will not break me.

I get by with  a little help from my friends.

clarinethands

Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

Taking it easy, literally …

It has been a long few days …

or has it been weeks?

I haven’t posted anything new.

No blog posts.

No photographs.

Nothing.

I have been in a holding pattern of sleepwalking, nightmares and erotic dreams that leave me confused, wondering and bewildered …

and all the while, trying my very best to make it, without losing my cool, through the seemingly endless days and eventful nights.

I have had patients cry on me, their families strike me, people pulling at my heartstrings which are linked directly to my tear ducts and during all of this, trying to find out if I am to blame for something I had no control over.

I wonder if I have severed a crucial friendship and have already began to mourn the loss of it.

I have a way of ruining beautiful things because I rarely feel worthy of them.

I have slept outside, sent messages I wasn’t aware of and tried desperately to hold it together.

A difficult few days, indeed.

But tonight changed all that.

It came a storm.

A big one, with lots of lightning and torrential rain.

Normally, during such an event, I would be set up on the porch with my tripod and camera, but this time was different.

This one wasn’t to be documented and photographed.

It was to set my spirit free.

And it did.

I stood on the porch with my jeans and t-shirt, getting soaked.

But as time passed, I wanted no earthly barriers between me and the blessing that God was giving me.

A cleansing.

A fresh beginning.

Letting the past be past and bygones be bygones and memories no more than a blip on my radar.

One piece of clothing after another was discarded until I found myself standing nude and vulnerable under the rain, with the lightning flashing, the thunder bellowing, echoing between the mountains and valleys …

tears running down my face.

I prayed to a God that I had decided had forgotten me.

He hadn’t.

I think He was just waiting for me to remember Him.

It was frightening.

It was freeing.

I was liberated from the hold this world had on me.

I was, for that span of time, one with nature and the God who created it.

I still struggle with the emotions and thoughts in my head, but He designed my brain and is well acquainted with my mindless and sometimes senseless ramblings.

He doesn’t hold them against me and so I won’t hold them against myself.

Not everyone believes in my God.  I don’t find fault with them.  I know what I know, they know what they know.

I can only be who I am and, despite all my faults, and they are many, I feel at peace.

And despite that, my friends who don’t believe in my God like me anyway.

I am humbled by that.

Just  as I accept them, they accept me.

With our differences of opinions and thoughts.

It is irrelevant.

Isn’t that what it was supposed to be like?

Love one another?

Are my thoughts still burning through my head? Yes.

Do I still sometimes feel out of control? Yes.

Do I have someone to share the thoughts and emotions with? Yes, and I am thankful for them.

Do I wonder if I am making the right choices? Yes.

Following Christ doesn’t mean that everything is just peachy.  In all honesty, it is the opposite.

I don’t do it right, I never have, but I hope to at least encourage somebody along the way.

And selfishly, I hope to be encouraged.

I wonder sometimes if I am nothing more than the punching bag of the universe.  I don’t mind it if it keeps someone else from suffering, but every now and then, it wears on the soul.

And then, an incredible storm comes, I stand in the rain, and all is right again.

The circle of life.

It is what it is what it is what it is.

It is what we make of it that counts.

So make it count.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

Picking and culling …

is a real pain in the nether regions.

I’ve been going through things in my house today, what to keep, what to trash and I find that there are really very few things I have any use for.

It seems that the most important things to me are my photo albums, laptop, external hard drive, camera, national geographics, 1000 places to see before I die book, coffee grinder, a portrait I drew of my dad as an Airman, the photos my daughter and nieces have drawn through the years, a blown glass wine cork and my lava lamp.

When it comes down to it, that, out of a houseful of useless things, doesn’t amount to much.

I suppose, if I needed to, I could easily put all my “treasures” in a garbage bag and live happily under a bridge.

I like hot showers, though, so that might pose an oppositional equation.

I have friends and family who have things that they treasure.  I don’t really treasure anything.

Not anything I can hold in my hand.

They are just things.

The objects I treasure aren’t objects one can take off the shelf and admire … they aren’t really objects at all.

God.

Creation.

Friends.

Family.

Loyalty.

Music.

Words.

One can’t own this stuff.  They can simply be a part of the magnificence as it as unfolds, one day into the next.

I didn’t mean to have an epiphany while cleaning house and doing laundry, but it just happened.

I had the chance to drive across the Hoover Dam back when you could drive across it … and drive through the desert to get there.

I had the chance to stand before the Lincoln Memorial and know that I was living a dream.

I have so many places I want to see, so much of creation that is only a picture in my mind, not one imprinted on my soul for I have not seen it for myself.

I want to.

That is what I want to hold onto.

The dreams of what can be accomplished, what can be sought after, what can be found simply by following the imagination.

I have things that my late husband gave me.  They are good for nothing but reminders.

The memories are in my heart and mind and soul.

I’m not really big on memories as it seems the difficult ones, the hard ones … they are the ones that come to mind.

I have to work to bring up the good ones.

So I’m culling more than picking … and I feel good about that.

Someone I admire a great deal …

likely much more than is good for me …

once told me they occasionally live a John Denver kind of life … I’m going to try to be more John Denver-ish myself.

I will have the courage to submit my book, my poems, my photographs.

I will have the courage to feed my wanderlust and see the place I long to see.

I will simply have courage.

I earn a paycheck as a nurse, it is true, but in my heart, I am more and, at the same time less.

I only have so many years to live.

What is that song?  100 years?

There is no point in deluding myself that I will ever make it to a hundred years old.

Why wait?

Why indeed?

The innumerable stars of the sky

The innumerable stars of the sky

Love is the most powerful of emotions

Love is the most powerful of emotions

Through Abby's eyes ... i miss this sweet girl

Through Abby’s eyes … i miss this sweet girl

One of the longest weeks on record …

is happening now.

In real time.

I was so disappointed this morning when I woke up to realize it was only Thursday.

I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up just in time to get in bed before nine-thirty.

My body was convinced I was dead since I haven’t been in bed before midnight in months.

But I wasn’t dead … just exhausted.

And it isn’t even a full moon.

The Harvest Moon comes in September.

God help us all.

I have sleptwalked (is that even a word?  I don’t think so, but I’m past worrying about vernacular correctness), twice this week and once, spent some time (how much time is still undetermined) sleeping in my back yard … not camping, as in sleeping bag, campfire, guitar player, roasting marshmallows, but …

On.

The.

Ground.

With the spiders and other things that creep in the night.

Never, I heartily assure you, is it a good feeling to wake up outside when you started out inside and then wonder how you actually made it to the yard without falling off the porch and breaking half the bones in your body.

I am, it seems, fairly agile in my sleep and maneuver as well or better as when I am awake.

I now have nightmares about my nightmares.

Scary.

And then …

I  hit a deer on the way to work yesterday and in doing so, messed up my car enough to put it, for the moment, out of commission.

The deer, other than a probable bald spot (this deduction coming from the amount of deer hair on my car), seemed no worse for the wear.

It is the first time, ever, that I have hit a deer.  It made me cry right before it made me puke.

Never mind that the deer jumped up, looked directly at me as though cursing me to hell and back then bounded over a fence, I was physically ill.

Twice.

The September raptor migration along the spine of Clinch Mountain is coming up and I need my convertible to completely enjoy the experience of driving up the mountain.

Top down.

Wind in my face.

Sun on my skin.

These are things that are of utmost importance to me.

My weekend warriorness (again, not a real work, but whatever) kicks into gear once Autumn gets here.  Five  A.M. never seems quite so early on Autumn Saturdays as it does when I get up during the week to go to work.

Go figure.

Two of my sweet little patients have passed away.  It takes me about two minutes to fall in love with them.

I have said before I am too softhearted to be a nurse and yet … well, here I am.

I haven’t taken a photograph in over a week.  Not because there hasn’t been anything to photograph, for each day offers something magnificent, but because …

I don’t even know.  I don’t have a good excuse.

I am too tired to even try to come up with an excuse.  Judging from the posts and messages from facebook friends and tweeps, I’m not the only one feeling the weariness.

It’s been a busy, busy, busy … well, you get the picture, week.

Ok, let’s be real here, a busy month.

My teacher family and friends are wishing they were, even now, at retirement age.

Talk about wishing your life away.

But even though I am exhausted, I am thankful.

I am more thankful than I am tired and that makes up for all the other stuff.

Most of the time, anyway.

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

When God gives one a heart of compassion …

it is understood that it will get broken.

There is no way around it.

I am still learning this.

I find that is is both  an honor and a privilege to watch the end of life come to pass.

It isn’t easy nor can it be considered pleasant, but it is a part of life that not everyone gets to see.

The living years is what most of us look for, find pleasure in and hope to be a part of.

But to be present when a spirit leaves this world is nothing short of amazing.

The last breath.

The last heartbeat.

The last moment.

I cannot help but cry for it is, in it’s way, very sad … and yet, when there was suffering, it is also a comfort.

I try, in my weak way, to console the ones left behind, but at that particular moment, there really are no words to say.

I can only be there, in the background, in the edges of the moment, to hold a hand or wrap my arm around those who need the contact.

I’m not, by nature, a hugger or toucher.

It doesn’t really come naturally to me as it does to true nurturers … and yet, I find myself being pulled into the emotion.

It is difficult, but I cannot turn them away.

Not in their moment of need.

Maybe I am weak. But if I can offer some bit of strength in their moment of weakness, then my strength has been made manifest.

I can do, for this moment, what I have learned through experience to do.  Not book experience, or clinical experience, but life experience.

I understand loss, especially unexpected loss that blindsides you and leaves you reeling from words left unsaid.

It is what it is and there are no do-overs.

It is enough to know that you loved someone while they lived in a way that they knew, unconditionally, that they were loved.

It is enough.

Move forward as you can, but whatever the cost, move forward.

To remain where you are, in grief and sorrow is the last thing in the world the one you lost would want.

Don”t be afraid to live.

If you aren’t afraid to live, then when your time comes, you won’t be afraid to die.

It is a circle.

Don’t break it.

Where is that thing …

the TV remote, that is.

My niece Gracie came over for a visit today and the very first order of business for her was to turn on the TV.  She turned it on by the power button on the set (what a concept) and there was nothing but static.

She said “fix it Nini”.  And I stood there, dumbfounded, because I couldn’t fix it.

In order to fix it, I would need the remote and I haven’t seen that particular piece of equipment in weeks.

Or maybe months, I’m not certain.

She frowned at me as though I had popped her brand new balloon with a needle.

But what was I to do?

I don’t know where it is.  I have looked for it so I could watch “Lord of the Dance”, “The Fugitive” and “Wolf”.

I haven’t found it, but I have, most diligently, looked for it.

Mayhaps the elusive mouse that I have been trying to catch carried it off.

I have looked everywhere, even in places that I am certain, without a shred of doubt, that it could not possibly be because who really knows what goes on when I sleepwalk?

But I looked anyway just to satisfy my own curiosity.

It has simply disappeared.

I haven’t had the TV on in months and have had no need of the remote.  That doesn’t justify its disappearance.  It didn’t simply evaporate.

Or maybe it did.  What do I know?

So instead of the TV, I subjected her to my current obsession with John Cougar.  She didn’t seem to mind, not overmuch anyway, but every now and then, she would look at me and shake her head.

It is hard to swallow the disappointing looks from a five year old.

Sorry, Gracie. I’ll try to do better next time.

kisses blown from an angel

kisses blown from an angel