Black and White walking

Black and White walking

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Reflections

There are gifts under the tree
For you, for me
There are decorations everywhere
On the houses, in the Square

Perhaps snowflakes on the ground,
Or palm trees all around;
Cold winds or warm sands
The holidays are being celebrated across the lands

There are parties and traditions,
Some old, some new renditions
Frosty cold mornings with clear skies of blue
Or a warmer winter’s first light, the ground covered in dew

Delicious treats
Music with holiday beats,
And caroling by the streets

But was it that ties it all together?
What are the things that are the same,
Even though we are all different?

- Love -

It is the biggest gift,
Cannot fit under a tree,
It is the best gift there is,
For you, for me

It spreads through life,
Like those beautiful holiday lights,
Bringing joy to those around us,
Steady and bright

It is warmth in the cold
The page turner, when our stories are told
The courage that makes us bold;
A cool ocean breeze in the heat
The common thread, that keeps us marching to a better beat
When things are going well
And when they’re not so swell
It is there. Love.

The parties, the treats,
Become so much better when it is woven throughout
Reminding us to care, and what life is really about;
What is real
What will last
When this season has passed,
And the new year comes,
After the holidays are done,
And the next has begun;
Another year to celebrate life,
Being alive
A time to reflect on the year
That has passed before our eyes
And the one that is before us.

There are still challenges and struggles,
Sorrow and troubles
But the difference is, that no one need be alone
We have each other

Like ornaments on a tree
New memories are hung, by you, by me
Alongside the ones seasoned by time
Those memories are mine,
And yours

Celebrations of life lived,
Life loved
Life with love
And a reminder that in the darkest of times
There can be hope
And a sunrise on the horizon

It’s not about the gifts,
Though they are lovely
Or the decorations,
Or the tree,
Or whatever your observances may be;
It’s about connection –

Friendship, joy, encouragement, and strength
Looking within, looking without, outside of ourselves,
To something greater.

And so, however the holidays are observed by each of us,
May they be merry and bright
Seasoned with laughter and hope,
And new memories to share.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

First Light

There is a small space of time in the early hours of the morning just before sunrise and when the sun is first coming up that I love. Everything in my small world is cloaked in sleep as though covered in a cool morning fog and I am quiet after just waking and opening my eyes. I stare absently at the ceiling. It is when I do some of my clearest thinking because I’m not trying to think at all; no noise, no busy day, no crowded convoluted thoughts have had the chance to barge in and demand my attention; even after sleepless dreams I can just close my eyes, let the spiraling thoughts dissipate and feel the calm of the morning quiet steady my nerves.

There is a small airport strip near my home and this morning I can hear a single engine plane flying overhead, the steady humming of the engine creating a rhythmic sound as it passes over. Perhaps its pilot is on the way out for a jaunt across the open summer sky, or perhaps headed to pickup and deliver goods to a tiny island nestled somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. My imagination roams.

Sometimes the birds chirp loudly outside my door, singing and digging for worms; but this morning they are all quiet as if they feel like me and want to steady themselves in the warm summer air and fold their wings for a moment’s rest.

My cats love this time of the morning, too. They lounge on the carpet or on a tossed-off blanket and lie quiet, each with their head resting on their paws, as though they sense the stillness too.

Eventually, they will both run up and down the hall and get into mischief like cats do, and the birds will stir and begin their morning concert of chirping and singing, branch-hopping and flying busily from tree to tree, and more planes will buzz about the sky to unknown destinations; and I will get up and set my silver kettle on the stove to boil fresh water that will become rich fragrant tea to fill the room with spices and the promise of a new day. 

But for now in this slice of solitude, in this moment of quiet clarity, I can reconnect with a silence that steadies me; it is a small fragment of time when my mind is as quiet as the air around me.

It is when I often see the clearest because I am not trying to understand, when I often think the clearest because I am not yet awake enough to crowd my own thoughts with rules or time or space; it is often when the deepest parts of my heart speak to me in moments of transparent lucidity because I am actually listening with no resistance or logic, and my mind roams wherever it will because I am still not awake enough for the static noise of life to jam the signal. It is when I know myself better and what really matters to me, beyond pride or uncertainty or fear; and when I feel the draw of being connected to life and something greater than myself. These moments are there in all of us, waiting for a chance to surface; un-convoluted moments of clarity when our guard is down and our heart is free to speak and for just a brief moment we can see simply, letting our squinted eyes and strained vision relax and go out of focus, moving us beyond the blurry outer layer and into the vast 3-D image that so often is hidden behind our own fears and uncertainties. It is a moment when we have stepped out of our own way and let something real and deeper take hold, what has been there just under that surface waiting for a quiet moment of simple un-awareness of the noise and a heightened awareness of who we are at our most unpolluted self.

I breathe in a deep breath and close my eyes.

Another tiny plane passes overhead as the sky traffic begins to pick up, different planes each on the way to some unknown destination. I will journey too, as time goes by; we all will; to destinations unknown to us now and veiled in mystery and uncertainty but there is also beauty in the not knowing if we learn to breathe and just be and let it unfold as it will, before our very eyes.

The sun is beginning to peek around the edges of the curtains now, as though beckoning me with its warm glow and to smile and breathe in the air of a new day and see where it takes me. I think I will.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just Be

Today was a busy day, working and running errands and trying to get everything done that needed to be done. Long day, busy streets, going to the market, I was really ready to get home. When I left the grocery store I noticed a thunderstorm moving in. As I turned into my neighborhood, I had a better view of the sky all around and was surprised by the sight. On one side of the sky there were deep grey clouds, and on the other, sunshine breaking through amid patches of blue. And in the middle of the sky where the two met, there was rain falling down, not too hard, not just a drip, but a steady, gentle rain, like a veil cascading over the deep green grass that lined the sides of the streets as I drove by. When I pulled into my driveway I opened my car door, and the rich smell of fresh earth and green, green grass permeated the air as I got out and took a deep breath. Such a beautiful sight, those rain drops, refracting the sunlight like hundreds of tiny prisms dancing about in the air and against the pavement. I got out of my car, the warm summer air all around me like an old friend, and as I took another deep breath of the rain-fragrant air, a deep distant rumble of thunder rolled across the landscape. I walked out to my back yard and took it all in, leaving the umbrella behind. The raindrops were falling softly against a canopy of deep green leaves and ivy behind my home, and the birds were flying about high above between the branches of the trees and up into the sky, as if telling me to remember what life is really about and to just be. I looked at the rain falling down and couldn’t help but grin and feel myself laugh as the drops tickled my face, and I took off my shoes as I watched the birds lark about, and remembered that there is so much to be grateful for; I can see; there were summer sounds all around me; I heard the sound of the distant thunder and the birds singing and a tiny frog hidden away somewhere in the brush croaking, as though telling an amusing story to himself, and I remembered that I can hear; I felt the warm wet ground beneath my feet as I stood there, rain falling on me, all around me, and remembered that I can feel; I breathed in deep breaths of the warm summer air, all heavy with rain and sunlight, and I remembered that I can breathe. Gifts that mean so much, and that I too often forget to be grateful for in the middle of the hustle and bustle. It is so easy to forget to just be. The best gifts are often the most simple and I am reminded of what really matters when all is said and done. Now let me look about, there must be a rainbow hidden away amongst those clouds.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Hummingbird And The Ocean

I heard something the other day that I found hard to believe, and had to look into it myself. I grew up most of my life in the south, and have been familiar with the tiny hummingbird for years. Only growing to be 3-5 inches in length and usually weighing between 2-6 grams, these birds are beautiful and fast, but very, very small. Knowing this, I was amazed to learn that they each year these little birds attempt what should be impossible in order to migrate. They cross the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of miles, from the U.S. to Central America, with intense winds and sometimes stormy seas, these incredible tiny birds have been spotted by fisherman and oil rig workers alike. I could easily believe that a larger, more powerful bird could make such a journey, but a tiny hummingbird?

What an inspiration to learn that something so small and seemingly weak can make such an amazing journey. I have been turning over in my mind how easy it is in life to look at the road ahead, the goal in mind, and then stop when the ocean seems too big and I feel so small. And then I think of these little birds.

The stories they could tell about all their travels and what they have seen. Through sun and storms, high winds and calm, they stay the course, focused intently on the goal. I wonder if they love the feel of the salty ocean breeze against their wings, the rush of the journey and the freedom of flight coursing through every cell. Who knows what creatures of the sea have swum beneath them with their own stories to tell of the sea and all its mysteries? What a beautiful and amazing picture; a little bird flying above the waves, no more than a tiny dot in the midst of a great ocean, with the salty waves below and a warm sun above, and miles and miles of water all around. What a beautiful and amazing bird, and a story of strength found in one of the most unlikely places.

                                          Hummingbird Ocean Sunset - photo by Sam Edwards

Monday, June 10, 2013

Purple Grass

I’ve been mulling over a couple of quotes today. “The grass is greener on the other side” versus “The grass is greener where you water it.” I have to say that I’m going to go with quote number two. When I think of the first one I picture someone standing out in a patchy yard of brown grass, peering over the fence of a neighbor’s property, taking in the green turf, the new vehicle, the big shiny grill; the man on the other side seems to have it all. Or does he?

What if someone were to say, “Well, no matter how much I water my grass, it will always be brown,” or “what if all I have is rocks, or sand?” That’s when you bring in potted plants and hanging baskets, and design a rock garden and put in a Koi pond. Let’s go a step further. If you do have grass, who says it has to be green? I think I’d rather have purple grass, and blue trees with red leaves, and fish that are all the colors of the rainbow. Why not challenge ourselves to push past limited thinking and embrace the possibilities that can open up before us when we see things differently?

It is so easy to see things through a one dimensional lens, and to get so hung up on what is happening in the present that we can’t see past it to the other side. It is in those moments when we can feel lost. But what would happen if time could stand still and we could take a moment to see things from a different view; the view of the bigger picture. To see the result of our hard work, to look onto the outcome of our labor, to see the harvest from the seeds that we sow? It is all too easy to feel swallowed by the details, and I say that because I do it all too often myself.

If a chef was making a gourmet cake and pulled out all the ingredients, then just stood staring at the bag of flour, seeing only that one ingredient, there would never be a cake. He envisions the completed work, the purpose behind the effort, and mixes and stirs, adding what is needed, seeing that each step will lead to the end design, and the reward that will come from all the effort.

In the same way, an architect does not stand and just stare at a pile of building materials, blueprint in hand, only seeing one box of nails or only focusing on one board. He looks beyond the moment when the shovel first breaks ground, and envisions the building that will rise with each hammer stroke, and become stronger with each driven nail; established brick by brick, steel beam by steel beam - knowing that every drop of sweat will translate into progress.

I recall a time over seven years ago when my husband and I moved to a new city to make a better life and start fresh and search for opportunity. We barely knew anyone and didn’t have a clue what we were doing. A lot of people thought we were crazy for leaving a nice apartment in a city where we knew so many people and everything was familiar and predictable, to move to a place where we were strangers with no real game plan except to follow our desire for a better life. We hardly had any money, and I didn’t know what I was doing or how it would turn out. We lived in a ratty cheap apartment where the sink overflowed when the washing machine drained, the dryer outlet was closed off so lint blew everywhere and condensation gathered on the walls when we dried clothes, and there was such a large gap under the sliding glass door that we had to tape it closed to prevent bugs and rain from getting inside. I would see other people my age who lived just down the road driving expensive new vehicles, and see people out shopping, carrying designer handbags and looking like they had figured something out that I hadn’t. I felt so small, so insignificant. But they didn’t have it figured out. I just didn’t know it yet.

One day not long after moving, I was driving our older car home after buying a few grocery items; it started running hot and I was advised to park and pour water into the radiator to keep it cool. I pulled over at a gas station. As you can imagine, when I unscrewed the cap, scalding hot water shot out and burned my leg through my jeans as I stood in the parking lot. I was angry, in pain, and humiliated as tears almost as hot as that radiator water formed in my eyes. Thoughts raced through my head; “what were we thinking coming here? Most everyone thinks we are crazy; what am I doing???” After making it home, I remember sitting on the floor that night with my head against the wall and crying, with nothing but a small thin triangle of light cast across the floor from the partially open door of the bathroom, that bathroom with the overflowing sink. Part of me wanted to throw in the towel, call it quits, admit defeat, like a runner yearning to give in to utter exhaustion after trudging uphill looking for the top, but instead seeing nothing but rocks and a seemingly endless road, and feeling trapped in suspended moments of time as the muscles scream and the lungs search for air. But another part of me deep within said “be strong.” It was in this moment, sitting in that shadowed room, that I had to make a choice.

I am relieved to say that I chose to be stronger. After a lot of hard work and sweat and tears, we started to carve a life in uncharted territory and were eventually able to move into a better living situation. I will never regret putting on my boots and getting out there and seeing what was possible. I had so much to learn, so much I did not yet understand about myself and who I was and who I wanted to be, but in that moment in the shadowy night all those years ago, the seeds of change were planted.

Moving to this city changed my life. If someone had tried to tell me seven years ago what I know now, I wouldn’t have believed them, and if I knew what would be seven years from today I would be equally befuddled. There is something about the not knowing that is maddening and exhilarating at the same time, but it compels me to keep forging ahead and doing my best, so that I can find out what is around the next bend, and the next, keeping my running shoes on as I go and trying to stay alert. I don’t have all the answers. I would truly be a foolish person if I assumed that I did. I screw up, I succeed, and back around again and again – it’s all a part of the journey. And somewhere along the way the roughness starts to be smoothed away and we find ourselves beginning to see beauty emerge from deep within, and feel strength growing, until we are like hammered bronze or clay made stronger in the kiln.

We are no longer small children who have no control over our circumstances. Courage is a choice. We forge ahead because something greater drives us. We are not bound by the invisible lines of expectation unless we allow ourselves to be. New paths are never discovered by doing nothing; we carve a path with resolve and sweat and laughter and tears. We have all been challenged by the journey, and will be challenged again and again as we navigate through life. Just as a runner grows stronger with each stride, and every heart beat pumps blood through the body, and every drop of sweat cools the skin, so every bit of hard work means something. Every morning that we choose to get out of bed and try again, every time we walk into our place of work or create something new, we are building, brick by brick, what will become the best version of ourselves, and growing the seeds that will make us fiercely beautiful, like purple grass, or blue trees, blending into all the colors of the rainbow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Peas and Water Guns - A Short Story

One evening a young couple went to a friend’s house for dinner. It was nothing out of the ordinary – a relaxed meal, everyone seated at a nice table with stoneware plates and mostly matching silverware. Good food, pleasant conversation, all the usual ingredients. But on this particular evening, the host asked these two guests, Aaron and Sabrina, if they wanted any peas; now, instead of the usual response of “yes, thanks” or “no, thank you,” Aaron and Sabrina looked at him and then at each other, and burst out laughing. As you might imagine, the host was confused by this response and asked “what’s so funny?” Still laughing, Aaron said “oh, nothing, sorry,” and through a chortle Sabrina managed to say “you don’t have a water gun, do you? I love peas with a water gun.” Now everyone was confused as they both laughed louder. “Ok,” their friend said, grinning, “you have to tell us the story behind this joke. We want to be in on it.” And so, wiping their eyes, Aaron and Sabrina began to tell the rest of the people at the table the story behind it all. If there had been no peas and water guns, there would not be a story worth telling. But there were, and there is a story, which I will tell you now.


One week before, Aaron and Sabrina, together for four months, had just sat down to have dinner after a long day of work and classes at the university. Not having much time, Sabrina had cooked chicken and peas, and they both sat quietly at the table, Aaron pushing the peas around his plate and Sabrina watching. “You’re pretty quiet tonight,” she said, eating a bite of chicken. “Everything go ok at work?” “Oh, it’s fine; just been a really long week.” “Dinner ok?” she said. “Yeah, it’s fine.” She looked at him for a moment. “I didn’t use butter on the peas this time, I tossed them in olive oil. Saw it on a cooking show. Could you tell a difference?” Aaron looked at the forkful of peas he was holding. “Oh, you did? That’s nice.” He glanced across the room and noticed two brightly colored water guns lying on the coffee table. “What are those for?” “Oh, those are James’ and Matt’s toys,” Sabrina said. “I got out of class early and picked them up for Liz. We went to the park for a bit and they played, then we came back here to wait for her. They forgot their guns. I’ll drain out the water after dinner and give them to Liz tomorrow.” “Was nice of you to pick up the munchkins for your sister” Aaron, said, still pushing the peas around his plate. “Thanks, they exhausted me. Think they could run circles around a squirrel.” He smiled. “Speaking of water,” Aaron said, laying his fork down, “Did you have a chance to wash my shirt today? I want to get out of this stiff button up. Oh, and I washed and dried the towels last night while you were at your class, so they’re taken care of.” “Thanks," she replied; "I saw them in the cabinet. Yeah, I washed your shirt; it’s in the machine still. I put it in with a basket of other stuff.” He stood up and went to the washing machine across the room of their small one bedroom apartment and lifted the lid to pull out his favorite shirt and put it in the dryer; it was a light colored t-shirt he had gotten in Mexico last year. He looked into the machine and said “I don’t think it’s in here, all this stuff is pink and red. Did you leave it in the basket in the closet?” “No,” she replied, turning in her seat to face him. “I put it in with that load. But I washed it on cold just like you said.” He quickly pulled some of the pieces out of the washer and a horrified look came over his face. “Sabrina, what did you do to my shirt?!” He held up the once light shirt, which was now a lovely dark shade of pink. “I don’t understand,” Sabrina said as she stood up and walked over. “I washed it on cold so it wouldn’t bleed.” He pulled the rest of the wet clothes from the machine and tossed them in an empty basket. A nice dark pink blouse sat in the middle of once light clothes. “Well, this is just GREAT, he said, holding his t-shirt in his hand. You don’t ever wash dark pink colors with lights! I loved this shirt.” “Well, don’t get mad at me, I didn’t do it on purpose. Besides, it still looks nice. Maybe you can still wear it. Pink will look good on you.” She half-grinned as she said it. “It’s not funny, Sabrina. This is the fourth shirt you’ve ruined in the last two months!” “Well I’m sorry my clothing skills aren’t PERFECT like your mother’s laundry magic; why don’t you take it to her?” “Don’t rag on my mother just because she’s detailed” he quipped. Her smile disappeared. She jerked up the basket of clothes and answered heatedly, “You know what, Aaron? I am so sick of trying to be perfect. Perfect with the laundry, perfect with the housecleaning, perfect with your family, with my family, at work, in class, perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect EVERYTHING. I am SICK OF TRYING TO BE PERFECT!!!!!” And with that, she took the basket of clothes and dumped it on his head. “What the – what is your problem?” Aaron said as he tossed the basket off; “nobody said you have to be perfect, and you are definitely NOT, so no worries in THAT department. And you know, I do a lot around here. I made dinner last night” - before he could finish she interrupted - “well that’s great, thank you, except that you got up for your little midnight snack and left the rest of it out on the counter so I didn’t have any lunch today.” “Oh, now it’s all my fault?" he snapped back. "Well, you’re a lousy housekeeper.” She balled up her fists at her sides.“Well, I hate the way you leave your gym socks on the floor! It’s disgusting. And why the hell do you leave the top off the toothpaste? It’s so juvenile.” "Well, you snore!” he fired back. “I do not!” “Yes, you do.” The tension was mounting as Aaron stormed over to the table and pointed at his plate. “You know what?” “WHAT” Sabrina retorted, following him. “I hate peas. I hate them! My mom always made me eat them growing up and she would never listen when I told her I didn’t like them. I HATE them! Everybody is always on my case, telling me what to do. I can’t even eat the vegetables that I like! Rules rules rules. Always going by the rules. Well, here’s to the rules. And with that he grabbed a fistful of peas and squeezed them until they oozed out of the sides of his clenched hand. Sabrina stared at him. “That's disgusting - and why didn’t you ever tell me you didn’t like peas?! The only reason I even cook them is because I thought you liked them. I mean, who doesn’t like damn peas?” She glared at him. “You - you know what this is REALLY about? This is about the fact that I can’t cook as good as your mother.” He looked at her. “What? Well, since we're on the subject - I won’t ever be able to fix things like your dad does, OK?? Accept it. I am just not great at changing the oil or fixing a headlight. I can fix software problems and play all kinds of music, but don’t ask me to work on the car, OK? I am not superman.” “No, you’re definitely NOT” Sabrina retorted. They stared at each other for a moment. The atmosphere was so tense it felt like high noon outside an old western coral with tumbleweed blowing across the street. He looked at her a moment. “Well, this chicken is DRY.” “WHAT???” Sabrina snapped. “THIS.CHICKEN.IS.DRY.” He pointed with his non-goo hand to his plate. Sabrina’s face was red now. “Oh, the chicken is dry? It’s DRY? Well, let’s do something about that!” And with that, she walked briskly to the coffee table and picked up one of the water guns and promptly aimed at the plate in front of Aaron and started shooting the chicken with a “zap zap zap” as water and peas and chicken were sent projectile. “What the hell are you doing?!” Aaron shouted as bits of wet chicken and peas flew about everywhere. “On second thought,” Sabrina said, “YOU look a little dry.” “Sabrina, don’t even think about” -- and with that, Sabrina aimed and hit him square in the chest with the cold spray. He ran over and grabbed the other water gun and with an “Oh, it’s on now,” proclamation, started shooting at her. They both ran around the living room of that tiny apartment shooting water at each other like juveniles in a schoolyard. They ran into the bedroom and ended up standing on the bed shooting at each other point blank until the water ran out.

Silence fell as they both stood on the bed, holding the empty water guns and looking at each other, chins dripping and hair drenched. Lowering their guns, a long silent pause filled the room. “Uh,” Aaron said, somewhat embarrassed, “what just happened?” “Um,” Sabrina answered, “I’m not really sure.” More silence. “Your hair is soaked,” he said, and, reaching to pull away a strand stuck to her cheek, he forgot about the smashed vegetables still on that hand, and the wet peas smeared on her face. “I, uh, I’m sorry – there are uh, there are peas on your face, Sabrina.” They were both quiet again. A small piece of wet chicken had stuck to Aaron’s forehead from the table incident, and it was at this very moment that it fell off, in between them, onto the bed. A grin slowly spread across Sabrina’s face, and then Aaron’s. They both started laughing, first low, then louder, and then laughed and laughed until their sides hurt and they had to sit. Tossing the water gun to the side she said “what do you say we just cook some Ramen noodles tonight?” “Yeah, that sounds perfect” Aaron said, face red and eyes watering from laughing so hard. They kissed and he hugged her tight. She promised never to wash a pink shirt with whites again and he said he’d try to remember to put the food up at night when he had a snack. And they decided to frame that pink shirt and hang it up on the wall in their bedroom, just for kicks.

And that, my readers, is the story of the peas and the water guns.

And that is that.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


We are living; but are we alive only in the physical sense or are we truly living the lives we were intended to?

See in color, dance with music in black and white moments of vintage bliss; live a life changed from within. Inhale and exhale life through love, beauty, imperfection; clarity and confusion, anger, and grace – live within and without.

Feel water and air, solitude and love; let them embrace you and become you, within you; cry freely, laugh wholly, dance from your heart and love from your soul. See the raindrops reflect the sun; feel the water as it drips from your skin and reaches within to refresh the soul.

Be. Be in life. Be full of life. Cry, shout, feel - see the moments dance before you in a kaleidoscope of colors, feel the wind pass over your fingers, hear the sounds of an ocean tide; let the passion of life wash over you, and become part of you. Present and eternal we are; we love, we live, we are here; so be here, be present; get lost in a moment; do not let it elude you; see, see in color, with passion and with grace; love, live, be ever present and existing through beauty and pain, joy and confusion; struggle and fight to break through the shell, say what the hell, spread your wings and face the sun; you can do it. Be imperfect. Be flawed. Be etched glass and raw clay.

Be – you can, you must, you will; you are alive, so live - I will raise my hands to the sky and let my voice catch on a whisper of wind: “I will never give in;” I will stand, I will fall, but I will keep getting up again, with dirt on my face and fire in my eyes; through it all I will live, so you live too. We live on in the same world, in different worlds, but always orbiting the same sun; we are the same; birds to fly, striving because we have seen the sky through the cracked shell and will never settle for the ground; it is what we live for, what we bleed for; hands in the fresh earth finding newness in life, we spur each other on; no wind or fire or pain or struggle can take this light from within me.

Live. Be. Just as you are and for who you will become; let the sun find you; reach out for it and never let it go. We none of us were meant to merely survive, but to be alive within every moment of life that we are given; cry freely, laugh wholly, love with grace, and see that there is so much to live for.