Being alone with one’s self is a holy act.
I woke up today, did my yoga, took my shower, had my oatmeal and my luscious rich morning coffee. The air was perfect. A slight breeze wafted through the windows and the sun glared just high enough on the glass to glow but not shock my eyes. There was a healthy silence; one saturated with calming energy and a peaceful fullness.
My husband wandered in with his coffee and sat down next to me. He took a deep breath and we smiled in a silent understanding then closed our eyes for just 5 more minute before we had to start our busy days.
These are the times I acknowlege the gift of my new home, the comfort of my couch and the security I have built in my life.
One of the things, I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy in my new home is birds. They are everywhere. Our property is as much theirs as it is ours. There was an old bird bath tucked in a corner when we bought the house. When we first discussed it, my attitude was, toss it. My husband was reluctant and decided in his yardscaping madness to place it in perfect view of our kitchen window . He cleaned and filled it up. By the end of the day the birds were in it; drinking, splashing, and bathing as intended.
To my surprise as soon as I started watching these beautiful creatures of multiple colors and features, all of a sudden it became one of my favorite things in our new home. I found myself happy and honored to share it. I even clean and fill the bath myself.
Recently a huge bluejay, we’ll call him Mr. Blue, started visiting and often. He seemed to be taking over and moving in. After a couple of weeks we were in the yard cooking out with friends. I noticed a strange protrusion at the top of and under his beak. He came so close and stayed long. My friend Pam and I felt he was trying to get our attention. He flew closer to the top of the fence and looked at us, pecked a bit, obviously annoyed or disturbed with his issue. We couldn’t help but believe he was asking for help. We talked to him and he looked at us then flew back up into the big pine.
Over the next 2 days my husband Scott and I paid special attention. Mr. Blue was staying close, not leaving the yard. He had found a branch in and cozied up in a hollow of one of the big pines by the bird bath. He’d fly down every 15 mins or so to drink.
We were worried. His behavior seemed odd. I grabbed the camera and the telephoto lens. We made our mission to get a close and clear enough shot of whatever it was affecting him. We did. It was a growth of some sort. Poor baby, he looked so tired. Through the lens we could see him closing his eyes. He was weary.
We went online to see what he might eat. I put some berries and chopped veggies hoping to help, then called a wildlife rescue. I was told unfortunately, that if he was still flying there was nothing we could do. She said as long as he can eat he will survive.
My heart broke knowing it was just be a matter of time. That there was nothing I could do but make sure he had water and pray he’d eat some nuts and berries. It’s funny how we adopt these creatures. They become part of our home and our routines. We care for them as if they know we do, well knowing it is we creatures ourselves who need to love.
Its been two days. I miss him. His trust, his rocket blue sleek feathers and his quiet moments at the birdbath where he let me get so close. I can’t help but pray he gets better and returns, but know more likely that he’s not coming back. I hope his spirit will bless that birdbath so that others know it is a safe haven and a home.
Good luck my dear Mr Blue, thank you for the time.
Words spoken through gentle eyes
A feeling growing in the depths
Blurring vision with blinding color
An intoxicating magic
Underneath the skin
Is a breathing organism
Made of blood and energy
Feeding our minds and our hearts.
We discover ourselves beneath the surface
Beyond the mirror
It is the only truth.
Our gap is in the idea of ourselves.
Our weakness is our assumptions
Of what and who we think we should be.
But beneath the surface
We live freely, breath openly, invite others in
Unafraid of ideas or projections
Unconcerned with fear or failure
A simple truth;
To be shared
To be embraced
It is Life.
On an amazing Saturday in Miniwaska State Park my husband, niece, 12 year old rat terrier Shyann and I went on a quiet yet complex hike up to one of our favorite points, Millbrook Mountain. The trail has some steep inclines and ragged, rooted, rocky paths. I will admit I was exhausted by the time we reached the top, we all were, but it was well worth it.
Along the way we stopped to catch our breath in a hollow. This is one of my most beloved spots in Miniwaska so far. The way the sound of the river softly mumbles as the birds serenade begets a calmness that only nature can induce. The air there is always slightly damp and cool, a retreat from the humidity that besieged us after exiting our air-conditioned Prius. We sat on the moss covered stones, searched for unique rocks (the best and cheapest souvenirs available), laughed and bathed in the muted voices of the trees.
I wandered taking photos as I often do in these woods. This place is my creative muse. I watched as my niece retreated up along the brook alone. She sat on the rocks taking it all in so quiet in her beauty. It warms my heart to see her enjoying this special place, calm; knowing that it soothes her as it does me.
She’s was with us for the week and we had all been looking forward and excited to share this place. On the way we picked blueberries and discussed how different a “real” blueberry tasted in comparison to store bought. There is nothing like plucking the berries of the bushes and wishing we had them at home all year long. There are so many in those woods. We were actually able to continue to moisten our palates with berries on the long hike after drinking all our water.
At the top we sat and watched the eagles glide, mediated and warmed in the sun. The air was so much clearer up there, less humidity and more breezes. We sat for quite a while refueling our energy sources for the trip back. I wish we could do this with her every week; escape into the real world and renew our souls. For now we have this day, these memories of an amazing young lady full of dreams and desires, delectable blueberries, two middle aged hippie wanna be’s and a 12 year pup who now only goes one way…we had to carry her down!
Southie: the protector, the defender and the neighborhood that wasn’t mine
I look out onto the street from my second floor window. I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for, but I know it’s different from what I see.
Silver Street is dirty and filled with jagged memories. There are the stairs I sit on longingly waiting for my dad to drive by. I watch the corner with an eagle eye hoping the tough girls don’t come around. The gym where the nasty boys hang out and where Atilla and Finegan (two very large and scary dogs) reign sends shivers through me. I’ve spent more time running into this house and away from the world than living in it. I’ve confronted meanness and aggression too many times, I’ve had to stand up to protect a friend only to bawl my eyes out from fear the minute I’m alone.
Yet I sit here watching – remembering the laughter, the singing, games of kickball, and the old man who comes by every day to give Rags bologna. I think about the flames breaking out from behind painted wood windows during a warehouse fire across the street that fascinated and terrified me. I’m reminded of the many special 4-leggers who have come and gone; my beautiful Vicious who wandered into our lives introducing us to love bites – gentle nibbles of gratitude on the cheek, our handsome Bruno – a stunning tramp of a Shepherd who let us adopt him for a couple of months then moved on, Medford Tom downstairs who’s wild stories of his harrowing life scared the pants off us and his rottie Eric who stole my heart, Buffie my best friend whose belly was my pillow, and Rags – the most well lived dog I’ll ever meet- he knew more of Southie and its secrets than the many humans who live here.
I picture how beautifully Silver St. lives up to its name in a thick snowfall. The light sparkles over the uninterrupted drifts of snow covering the grittiness. There is a quiet sadness in my observations. This place is my foundation. My parents are from here, it’s in my blood. I am so different than this world. I don’t belong and I want nothing more than to leave; to run far and fast from the hardness of it. I am a stranger here and yet, it is a part of me.
People in Their Environments 056 – South Boston 1983 by, Sage Sohier
In my search for an old photo of my hometown, I came across this picture and was immediately awed. I reached out to the photographer to tell her how much the photo moved me and reminded me of my childhood. I asked her if she knew the girls in the photo, she did not. As an artist and photographer myself, I wanted her to know she had captured something visceral for me. In the poem above I mention the “tough” girls. While this isn’t all of them, it is some of them…the actual girls! That is the corner of the street I grew up on, straight down across from that car was my house and the fire I mention was in the warehouse the car is parked in front of. I have personally destroyed a bike and my nose on that very pole these girls are sitting behind.
I want to share how much a simple photo by a stranger can unexpectedly move someone even years after it is taken. I am nostalgic of the location itself, but also by the girls. These girls terrified me as a child. They were hard, mean and often cruel. Looking at them now as an adult knowing so much more about life and considering those around me, I see their pain their longing and their dreams of escape. I see now that their anger was not at me, I just happened to be the easy target.
I love this photo. I wish I could afford it. Its only available through a gallery for quite a hefty fee, so I will simply admire it from afar. I highly suggest looking up the artist. I am grateful to her. This photo allows me to look back at where I came from. To see the pain of my past in a new light, to see and forgive that hardness of life and to remind me of how fortunate I now am.
I said thank you for
the compliment I deserved.
An inviting change.
Last night at a friend’s place for an Independence Day cookout, a nice group of us gathered to sit, laugh, eat great food and enjoy one another’s company. It was a perfect and the weather was wonderful. Soft cool breezes danced by as the music of Sinatra and big bands played.
With all that there was about a half hour where everything stopped. Everyone gathered along the wall smiling and sharing, taking in the joy of one of our greatest gifts here on earth…a simple sunset!
I love books! For me, like a great movie, they get me excited – move and inspire me. I want to share a couple of books I’ve read in the past few weeks and for 2 very different reasons. One is non-fiction and the other fiction…though funny enough they have an unintended connection.
I’m actually a big fan of leadership and self-help books as I am on the constant road of personal discovery. A friend gave me the Happiness Project to read during my recovery. It was a good choice. I wouldn’t say it is the best self help book I have read, however I really enjoyed her personal perspective and her process of finding new ways to bring more joy into her life. There are a lot useful guides and ideas and a ton of pertinent quotes…which gets me every time! I also really enjoy that the author has a blog. Her followers offer an additional perspective on Rubin’s personal journey. What I found most interesting is how she and the book have inspired others to create their own Happiness Projects, god knows we can all be a little happier. In fact she’s inspired me to start (or add to) my own project (more on that next week). I am addicted to ideas and people who can inspire others to make their lives better.
I actually have a personal tie to this one, a friend wrote it! It is her debit novel and I can objectively say it’s awesome! Making this all very exciting for me. The book is written in diary form and Ms. Lai’s unique voice is so clearly expressed; from witty sarcasm to the unique brand of self reflection in her main character Marty. The novel draws the reader in immediately on a clear ride of self reflection, family, cultural dynamic and personal growth.
Being a lover of self help books myself I can relate to Marty’s addiction to them. In each step in Marty’s journey as she faces a challenge, Ms. Lai includes the advice Marty has taken from the many books she has read. I love how she includes the title and location where it was bought and the cost (“Dreams Unwoven, Strand, $14″) . It adds to Marty’s quirky personality.
What I truly enjoy about this book is that it about a real person with all too real experiences. She is funny, quirky, confused and flawed. There is something so relatable about Marty. I personally found her relationship with her mother, a key plot driver, both frustrating an moving. The relationship between a mother and daughter is incredibly complex, especially when a parent’s life circumstance contains so many multifarious components; age, career, family, status, culture. We as children don’t and often can’t see why our parents are the way they are, only how it relates to us. It is difficult to take a step back. They are the parents and we are simply in search of love, support and understanding (the way we have been taught it is supposed to be by our all too lofty American standards) and it is too painful to look past being hurt to want understand that often it is our mother/parent who is struggling. They are doing the best they know how.
It is amazing how fully culture shapes who we are. In Not A Self Help Book, Mama is truly shaped by her Taiwanese culture, while Marty is American and living in the world with those ideals. However she must adapt to a belief system that is or at least seems foreign. I myself, though not to the extent, related deeply to Marty’s struggle. My mom and I come from South Boston (home of Whitey Bulger, The Departed (based on Whitey Bulger), Good Will Hunting and memoir All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald- another GREAT book by the way!), which at least in the past bread a culture of privacy, anger and distance. One was taught that you do not speak about one’s business, if you do you are branded a traitor. It somehow deems your own life and experiences insignificant when your memories and experience are not yours to share. As family its all interconnected, often there is not one without the other especially when that person is a huge part of your life. Ms. Lai successfully shares the complicated, confusing and desperate need to both separate and connect to the key human in our lives. She does it with humor, witty sarcasm and true compassion. When I started the book I found it difficult to find anything redeeming about Mama and by the end I had honest compassion and wanted to know and understand her as I have begun to do with my own mother.
To anyone looking for a great quick and fulfilling read, the perfect vacation book this summer, do not hesitate to pick up Not A Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu by YiShun Lai which is, by the way #3 on the Small Press Distribution List! I think that speaks for itself. You’ll not only be supporting a great independent publisher, Shade Mountain Press…you won’t be sorry!
To purchase the book simply Click Here