Monday, July 10, 2017


In the house that we moved into, there is a grapevine that grows along the back porch.  While it was a beloved feature, it had become unruly and the grapes were suffering.  The clusters would blacken and wither before they could ripen, filled with a powdery mold.  Not only did it threaten to pull down the gutters, but it also provided a safe haven for undesirable critters.

Earlier this year, I decided to finally tackle the grapevine.  It was a HUGE project, involving hours of careful removing of dead vines and plant debris.  I also attempted to train the remaining vines, so that they wouldn't grow into the window screens or pull down the downspouts.  My arms and legs showed the evidence of my vine wrangling.

Once I had finished, I was a little nervous.  It felt oddly stark and barren.  I had taken for granted that the extra vines that were no longer alive and were harming the living ones had provided shade and privacy.  I started to regret my decision.  It was something that I knew needed to happen, but it felt a little too different.

It's the height of summer now and all thoughts of those naked vines and empty gaps are a distant memory.  The grapevine came back vigorously and profited greatly from the much needed pruning.  The leaves have turned into an impenetrable wall of green.

What I learned from this is that sometimes you've got to remove the dead and diseased things in your life, even if you've grown comfortable with them.  Taking the steps that you know you need to make, opens up your life for lush new growth and abundance.  I've started to examine my life through this lens.  What brings me joy?  What brings me frustration?  What steps can I make to remove the unhealthy things that prevent future prosperity and well-being?  What relationships in life inspire, challenge, and encourage me... and how can I maintain, feed, and promote them?  What relationships weigh me down, invite unwanted feelings, and are toxic... and how can I either change myself to be better equipped to handle them or how can I initiate closure?  It won't necessarily be easy or be quick, but they are steps I know that I have to make.  Just look at the grapevine.  I am looking forward to the sweet rewards for all my efforts.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Brambles and Webs...

Once, when I was very young, I wandered into a blackberry bramble.  As soon as I felt the needle pricks through the fabric of my pants, I panicked.  I tried to free myself.  But the more I struggled, the more I got tangled.  The more I jerked towards freedom, the deeper the scratches.  Like a butterfly in a spiderweb, fighting only made it worse.

I wish that I could say that I had a moment of clarity and that I relaxed and surrendered to the moment, slowly unwinding from my thorny captors.  But, it didn't quite play out like that.  My father heard my screams and sobs, and in a flurry of curses and adult stature, he swooped me up and rescued me.  I was free, but it cost.  My pants were ripped and my legs were crisscrossed with ruby lines.  The scars are only memories now, long since faded.

Life is a little like that sometimes.

Tempted by a berry, we can stumble into a thicket.  We can become trapped in the needling fray.  Our wings can get stuck, rendering us incapable of flight.  I find that the solutions are the same as when I was young... find the peace inside myself or surrender to a Higher Power, something bigger than myself.

The question then becomes... what is peace?  I often times hear people use the word, "peace" as though it were an otherworldly state of extreme serenity, devoid of all conflict or inconsistencies.  If this is what peace is, I've never known it.  The world around us, the greatest teacher, has never known this perfect purity.  The world... life... it is raked across with imperfections, deviations, and irregularities.  Even the most tranquil vignette is marked with the song of birds, the sound and feel of wind in the grass, and the sometimes subtle and sometimes savage cycle of birth and death.  Life is a riot of colors and sensations.  Does this mean that "peace" does not exist?  No. Rather, peace is a verb, not a noun.  Peace is a mindset to tolerate, to compensate, to surrender, to allow, to maintain, to be compassionate.  Peace is the action of finding stillness and holding on to it.  Found deep within, peace is a way to look outside yourself and the moment.

In this sense, discovering peace and surrendering to a Higher Power, are not so different things.  Both require a measure of faith, an act of believing.  This isn't about theology.  It could be.  And maybe it is for some.  But this is about being apart of something bigger.  Even the spiderweb is a collection of silk threads, strong and purposeful.  It is created by design.

We can go through life avoiding the brambles.  We can walk a path, running away from possible dangers and avoiding hurt.  But the berry will be plucked by another who is less fearful.  The brambles are still there, teaching their lessons to those who will listen.  Life is still unpredictable and chaotic.  The spider will still weave its web.  We can endeavor to exist safe in homogeny or surrender to the wild, conquering our fears and championing what ignites our hearts, and find a path through the thicket... unscratched as possible, or at the very least, alive to tell the tale crisscrossed by memories, but no less beautiful.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Days Like These...

I'll skip the hollow promises of blogging more.  While there is every intention to communicate in a more meaningful way and return to my roots, it seems like now just isn't the right time.  Days like these seem to slip-slide by in a runny blur of activity and I am just not in that mindset at the moment.

For the past few months, I've sort of been in a fog.  Deadlines loom like hanging swords and unmet expectations weigh heavily.  I find myself feeling scrapped raw emotionally and navigating the everyday world has not been easy.  Despite everything, I persist.  I try to wear a brave face and try to carry on.  It feels like the smallest efforts are manufactured miracles, summoning up more than what I've got to give.

I think the worst part is the feeling of guilt.  For the most part, I have everything that I want and need.  Of course, there's always more that could be desired or acquired, but at the heart of it, I have a good life.  It isn't always easy, but it is still worthwhile and rewarding.  But at the same time, there's a swirl of feelings that is elusive and impenetrable like a dense mist – once you clear a spot, it fills back in.

Reminding myself to be patient (with myself and others) has helped.  Also remembering that even though one might have many blessings, it is still okay to feel disconnected and it is still okay to struggle.  It helps to focus on gratitude and to fill the heart with appreciation, but still... days like these can be slippery, sneaky things that contain hidden barbs and unexpected jabs to the heart.

Small steps.  Quiet footfalls.  Fumbling.  But still moving forward.