Adventuring

Today we went looking for an adventure.

We didn’t have to go far.

We just had to open our eyes.

We saw old friends.

And met new friends.

We found berries.

And greedily devoured them til our teeth turned purple.

We traveled beaten paths.

And we discovered paths less traveled.

We found ripe fruit.

And creatively foraged.

Today we went looking for an adventure.

And we found one.

Because adventure can always be found…if your eyes are wide open.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Yesterday’s Berries

Today I went out looking for a single Carolina Wolfberry.

I knew I wasn’t going to find one.  Their fruit appears at the beginning of winter.  We are now moving well into spring.  But I could see their leaves everywhere…remnants of what was once filled with bright red berries.  And so I had to look.

I had no idea when I was out this past winter that our world was about to take a giant turn.  I didn’t stop to give thanks for such simple treasures.  Carolina wolfberries, aside, I didn’t even think to be grateful for nature walks with friends.  I didn’t think to be thankful for full grocery store aisles…beans and toilet paper, paper towels and rice.  I didn’t think to be scared of a shortage of ventilators or a lack of a national plan for a pandemic.  I had no idea my viewpoint of the world was so incredibly naive and rooted on the idea of normalcy and stability.  I had taken so much for granted.

So when I saw those leaves today, I just had to look.  I wanted to remember those carefree days from just a few months ago when I didn’t worry about food supply or masks or the unknown.  Those days, in hindsight, were blissful.  There wasn’t anything hanging over my head threatening the life that I knew so well and loved.

I really looked today.  I searched between all the cracks and crevices.  I reached down to the very bottom of each plant.  I would have been happy even to see a dried up berry still stuck to a branch.  No luck.  Spring has sprung and with it, all reminders of the winter have morphed into something different.

But, as everyone knows, Spring takes Winter and morphs it into something even more incredible.  What if this is our winter and there’s a spring just around the bend?

We are living in the midst of a crisis.  Right now it’s a COVID-19 crisis.  There is fear and anxiety all around us.  We are living in fear of the unknown.  Wondering how this will impact each of us individually.  Wondering how this will impact us as a whole.  Wondering how our economy will survive the drastic measures of social distancing.  Wondering if we’ll ever have the reassurance of the norm again.

But we’ve been living in a cultural crisis a whole lot longer than we’ve been living in fear of this novel coronavirus.  We just haven’t had the courage to face it.

COVID-19 has brought with it an awakening.  A moment to retrench.  A moment to see our lives and the rush of being busy in all its clarity.

Where once our culture rushed to pick up dinner, now we gather round our dining room table, together, with home-cooked meals.  Where once many dropped off their kids at the local public school, now parents are forced to face their children all.day.long and to see them without the tint of rose-colored glasses.  Where once families rushed from extra-curricular to extra-curricular, we now have a moment to breathe deeply.  To examine our lives at a pace worthy of examining.

This could be a turning point.  If we just allow it.

The world has seriously picked up a pace that none of us can keep up with.  With the advent of smart phones and social media, our worlds suddenly became so fast paced that our brains are crashing in the race to keep up with everything around us.

Every event has become a moment to capture.  We take photos and memorialize moments that look perfect on Instagram and Facebook.  Extra-curricular activities are no longer a privilege…they’ve become an expectation of success.  Birthday parties have become Olympic-sized events, posed on social media to impress.  Where once we simply tried to keep up with the Joneses, now we have  mastered the art of sacrificing precious time with our families to keep up the Joneses AND their kids.  There is always a drive to do more, to be better, to impress the world around us.  And our world around us has stretched…we no longer live lives that revolve around our communities and neighborhoods.  All the world is connected and we rush to connect.

We have become a people that glorifies perfection, a people seeking acceptance and a people who have managed to get every priority out of order.  We have become a self-centered culture who tries in vain to find meaning, only to misunderstand where true meaning lies.

This race that we have gotten swept up in has forced us into a mode of flight, fight or freeze and our brains are tired.  So, so tired.

Today I went out looking for something.  A little bit of yesterday.  But time has forced the seasons to change and it has left its indelible mark on everything.  Everywhere life is changing and moving forward.

But you know what?  I’m glad I didn’t find a single wolfberry, because at some point, I stopped looking backwards and I began looking to see what spring had brought with it.  I was delighted by what I found.  Sea ox-eye daisies in bloom as far as the eye could see.  Ripe dewberries just asking to be picked.  Indian blanketflowers, limewater brookweed, seaside heliotrope, all blooming.  Butterflies.  Ladybugs.  Life in bloom, life in ordered motion all around me.  The beauty of nature marching forward oblivious to the chaos of humanity.

Maybe it’s time for me to accept that things may never be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be beautiful.  It’s time to accept what is and move forward.

I’m tired of rushing.  And this pandemic has given me a glimpse of a spring yet to come.  A spring where I don’t have to rush to keep up.  A spring where I can just be with my children and relish them in all their amazingness.  A spring where I can remember to be thankful for every little blessing.  A spring where a home-cooked meal and a moment to breathe deeply are worth more than keeping up with a world that has quietly spun out of control.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Nature Study: Cucumber Weed

Amidst all the insanity of the world these days (what with COVID-19 forcing social distancing and grocery stores scrambling to keep up with demand), I’ve noticed that the natural world around us just keeps marching on, oblivious to the chaos being created by us humans.  Spring is still arriving; flowers are still blooming; buds are still forming.  It’s a lovely time to be outdoors.

This little plant is everywhere right now (at least down here in South Texas).  It’s little and overlooked and I almost yanked a handful out of my garden before I realized what it was!  It gets its nickname from the smell it leaves behind on your fingers after rubbing and crushing the leaves.  Parietaria pensylvanica, its botanical name is derived from the Latin word paries which came from the Greek word parifi meaning edge because it’s often seen growing in cracks.  It’s also commonly called Pellitory Over-the-Wall.

Cucumber weed (Parietaria pensylvanica) is an annual member of the Nettle family that appears when the weather is cool.  Its simple, lanceolate leaves alternate up the stem almost spiraling as they go due to the way their square stems twist.

It is important to note that cucumber weed leaves are smooth along the edges with tiny hairs (not to be confused with plants in the Acalypha genus whose leaves have toothed edges and lack hairs…those are toxic mimics!)

Cucumber weed has adorable tiny flowers which attach directly to the stem.  The flowers are green and hairy and lack petals.

Cucumber weed is edible but proceed with caution.  There’s a chance you could react to the plant.  Aside from being edible, it’s also useful…in its entirety, it can be used to clean glass and copper.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Kindness Matters

From the moment my feet hit the floor, I am assaulted by words.

Often without purpose.  Often without malice.  Often without meaning.  But often with hurt.

Sometimes it’s personal.  A complaint about this or that.  A snide remark, a passing comment.  Sometimes it’s an insult tossed out toward mankind not directed at me per se, but it attaches itself to me regardless.   Sometimes it’s a generalization, but a mean one that I take to heart.

These words.  They enter my house through living people, through social media, through mainstream media, through print and mail.  Lots of messages.  Lots of comments.  Lots of words.

So.many.words.  Every day.

And in the midst of the onslaught of words, I wonder if we’ve forgotten.

Have we forgotten that KINDNESS MATTERS?

kindness-matters

We’ve become this people who think we must have an opinion about everything.  That we must speak about everything.  That everyone is seeking our advice and that we must offer it, in no uncertain terms.

We’ve become a culture plagued by verbal diarrhea.

We don’t know when to stop.  Or maybe we don’t know how to stop.

But we must stop.

There will be times that we don’t stop, though.  And for the times when we don’t stop, we must at least pause.  And remember.  Kindness matters.

Just keep repeating that to yourself.  Kindness matters.  Kindness matters.  Kindness matters.

There’s an ugly root beneath all these words.  I don’t know the root.  Maybe it’s unacceptance.  Or maybe it’s unjustified judgment.  Maybe it’s the need to feel heard.  To feel opinionated.  To feel valid.  To feel accepted.  I don’t know.

What I do know is that words have power beyond our understanding.  Words have the power to get into our psyches and guide our actions.  Words have the power to build someone up and the power to tear someone down.  Words can be amazing, uplifting, rejuvenating and words can be ugly, mean and humiliating.

At the end of the day, it matters.  Because all the words we’ve heard have seeped into the inner recesses of our souls.  And they matter.

We have the power to choose which words we use.  And I implore you to remember…kindness matters.

Worn out and stretched

october-2016-076_1_1I have this sweater that hangs in the back of my closet.  To be honest it’s not very flattering these days.  But before it was worn and stretched and washed and dried incorrectly only to be washed and stretched again, it was a delightful sweater.

I bought the sweater back during my junior year of college. I had been invited to spend a weekend with a friend in Boston.  Dad and I went shopping a few weeks before my trip.  I saw the sweater and fell instantly in love.  Never having been one for style, I tended to gravitate toward comfort.  And this sweater just breathed comfort.  But unlike most of my fashion choices, this sweater was beautiful.  It was charcoal gray with flecks of color splashed about.  It zipped up and had a hood.  I grabbed it from the rack and Dad agreed that it had a Boston look to it.  Very New Englandy.

The sweater and I in Boston during my visit in October 1999.

The sweater and I in Boston during my visit in October 2000.

The sweater traveled to Boston with me that fall.  And then to New York in the winter.  Philly the following winter.  Alaska in the spring.  Raleigh the following Christmas.  The more I wore it, the more it stretched.  The more it stretched, ironically, the more I loved it.  It had character and despite its misshapen identity, it still breathed comfort.  It lost a little of its beauty on the outside, but to me it remained beautiful.  A treasure that withstood the passing of time.

I pulled it out this morning, this first morning that has had a taste of fall.  The temperature is comfortable but the breeze is giving me shivers.  I just needed a little added layer to take the chill off.  Wrapping the worn and loved sweater around me and zipping it up, I relished its comfort, its history, its trek through life with me.

This sweater and me?  We actually share more than just travel and cold days.  You see, my body isn’t so perfect anymore either.  Back before it was worn and stretched and tired, it was a delightful body.  Time and babies have taken their toll.  Bits of it have stretched beyond repair and bits of it sag thanks to the law of gravity.  But this body?  The one Daxson reaches for in the middle of the night?  The one my babies snuggle up to when they’re scared?  I’d like to think it’s still comfortable.  It’s beautiful in a way it hasn’t always been.  It has nurtured life within its womb and stretched and given way to miracles.  Tiny little miracles.  Four of them here on Earth.  Three more securely tucked away in Heaven.  It has nursed my babies into healthy toddlers.  It has lifted those children and rocked them and held them close on the nights when their dreams weren’t so sweet.  It has spoken of love and pleasure to a devoted husband.  It has been pushed to its limits with my obsession of diets and working out.  It carries on despite its lack of good sleep, a rest from stress and access to a perfect diet.  It is faithful despite my nonacceptance, my constant criticism.

This morning, I snuggle a little deeper into my sweater and I look down at the stomach that is no longer flat.  Instead of criticizing, I praise the stretch marks, the sagging skin, the abs that will never boast of themselves in a bikini and I accept it all for what it is.  A vessel for love.  And my sweater?  I praise it, too.  For teaching me the beauty of a body well used.

**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2016)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is.  Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**

 

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{this moment}

this-moment-with-every-intention

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.