the gift of a delight-full soul

Carolyn & Charlie Akins

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Delight-Full Soul

The peaceful drifting
of her delight-full soul
to a place beyond
strengthens the love
flowing between us.
In her honor
we fully embrace
the precious moments
we are given
to be together.

 

This poem is dedicated to Carolyn Akins who passed away March 17th, peacefully with her husband Charlie and her daughter Michele at her side. Charlie and Carolyn are dear friends of my Mom and Dad. They RV’d together, visiting new places, eating, dancing, shopping, and just hanging out together. I noticed how, through the difficult final weeks, my parents affection for each other grew even stronger – and I thought that was one of the most beautiful gifts Carolyn could leave. Rest in Peace, dear Carolyn.

 

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* My mom took the photos in this post. The first is of Carolyn and Charlie at a dance and the latter is of the always smiling Carolyn bundling up to stay warm.

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art of attention

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Another lovely invitation from John O’Donohue (from Anam Chara) which I first read on the Mindfulbalance blog. (Thank you, Karl, for making me aware of another lovely piece by this author.)

We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to the inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence…if you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to yourself.  Your soul knows the geography of your destiny.  Your soul alone has the map of your future.  John O’Donohue

 

This seems a sage suggestion, especially since recently I retired from IBM. Instead of my work and leadership mostly determining the shape of my days, I have the opportunity to create my life, to really lean into manifesting an abundantly delicious life that is open with possibility. What a beautiful time to practice the art of attention, to listen for my  inner rhythm. The newfound space is quite special, although finding my rhythm is a journey and the path for coming home to myself is sometimes elusive.  🙂 Mr. Donohue’s wise words invite me to trust and be patient.

 

* I took this photo near Kotor, Montenegro on the Lustica Peninsula.

 

If you liked this, you may also be interested in these other posts featuring John O’Donohue’s work:

with the light of day

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I wrestled in the dark of night

With the light of day I quit the fight

 

There are just times when life is challenging. Sometimes the source is obvious – I can see it and others can as well. We can point to it and say – ah, yes, that is why you are feeling this way. At other times I can’t pinpoint the source of my malaise. It’s almost like all the cells in my body have conspired to set me straight – and I don’t even know how I’m off course. 🙂  Often a good night’s sleep will bring things back into balance. Sometimes it takes a good dose of sunshine, or friendship, or self-compassion.

 

* I took this photo on a fresh new day at sunrise on the beach at San Agustinillo, Mexico.

create a brighter world

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Hearing to listen
Listening to understand
Understanding to act
Acting to create a brighter world

Have you ever noticed how you feel when you really listen to someone else? You know, when you are lost in their experience, totally immersed in what they are thinking, feeling, seeing. When I am ‘over there with another’, I feel alive and my heart is happy. I may be projecting but it seems when I set myself aside, I make the world a little brighter for whoever I am with.

 

* I took this photo in Baltimore, Ireland. The rain had stopped, sun was trying to break through the clouds, and this fella was listening attentively to my every word – and brightened my world.

rich lens of attention

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Entering the Kingdom (excerpt) – Poem by Mary Oliver

…The dream of my life
is to lie down
by a slow river
and stare at the light in the trees –
to learn something by being nothing
a little while
but the rich lens of attention…

 

Mary Oliver is another one of my favorite poets. This poem was speaking to me lately, inviting me to slow down, to notice, to give my attention fully to the beauty before me.

 

* I took this photo at my friend’s lake house on Lake Koronis, Minnesota, where I’ve found myself staring into the light shining into and through these beautiful trees.

blushed with beginning

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This poem is by one of my favorite poets, John O’Donohue (from Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings)

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

 

This poem really speaks to me right now…

In a few weeks, I finish a 9-month sabbatical from IBM and officially retire from the company. (I celebrated my 20-year ‘Big Blue’ career earlier this week in Thank You, IBM.) While I am excited about my newfound freedom and the space for my creative energy to take new form, a sense of emptiness sits with me as I reflect on the opportunities and relationships that will no longer flow to me through my work. While I know amazing possibilities lie ahead, with even grander challenges and amazing people, a little piece of me feels like it is done, and that makes me sad, for that piece had so many moments of joy and fulfillment. Of course, I know that, whatever is dying will give life to something new – and stand in fresh pastures of promise, where the air will be kind, and blushed with beginning.

 

* I took this photo on the way to Piazza Amerina, Siciliy, Italy this past summer. The glimmers of green in the fields seem like blushes of beginning. You’ll find more

fully into the present

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Fully

To feel the breeze on your tender skin
to hear the quiet sounds of living around you
to laugh out loud and sing the song in your heart…
the space invites a gentle grace and vibrant aliveness –
a contagiously thrilling and irresistible pull
to open fully into the present.

 

This poem is dedicated to my new friend Mary, a gentle spirit of a woman who was my next door neighbor on my latest holiday to San Agustinillo. During several of our conversations, she mentioned the spaciousness of being retired and this beautiful place in Mexico – each time was an invitation to lean into the possibilities opening before me.

Jim and I were grateful to have Mary and Kayleen as our neighbors. They were generous and open, sharing their food, experiences, and sweet dog Lucy visit with us. Such wonderful role models of relaxing into retirement and embracing someplace not-home as home (they were staying for 2 months). We hope we’ll be with them same place same time next year.

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* I took the opening photo on the beach at San Agustinillo, Mexico at sunset. The closing photo is of sweet Lucy, who brought us many delightful moments.

perennial

perennial

dancing in circles
shining with vibrant aliveness
cycling into quiet darkness
moving in a cosmic rhythm
like a blossoming, dying
blossoming, dying
perennial

 

We’re deep into winter where I live. Outside the trees stand naked, While the day light hours are technically increasing, it is dark, and cold. This time of year, a kind of fading and hibernation happens. I turn inward, nourish myself, indulge in rejuvenating activities like cooking something delicious or curling up in a cozy chair to read. When spring comes, the trees bud in the warmth of the increasing sunlight. And, I too, move differently, feeling strong, energized, and ready to stretch into the growing light.

This poem is about the cyclical patterns I notice in my emotional experience. I am filled with joy and see abundant beauty, and then I feel sad or angry and life feels gray. Always, sitting in the darkness, light comes again – and through the light, gray approaches and pulls me into darkness. Over and over. Sometimes with so much space between them, sometimes with so little. I’m learning not to judge either one as good or bad, just ‘what is’. I’m discovering that when I sit long enough with any experience, it changes, morphs into what’s next, something else, something born from what has come before.

 

* The images at the opening of the blog are photos I took of a clematis vine that used to grow on the railing of my back deck – one when the blossoms were at their peak, and the other when their glory was fading.

When you showed up

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When you showed up

You showed up without an invitation.
bursting into my life unexpectedly.

I set out to beat you,
determined to show you
just how things will be the same
and I will be who I have always been.

Yet, you won –
you showed me
how your power changes things
and I was different the moment you showed up.

 

This poem is about how unexpected challenges change us, despite (or sometimes because of) our resistance or denial. I wrote it originally in spring of 2012 about my experience with an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. Circumstances are different, yet the wisdom seems fitting as much today as it did back then.

 

* I took this photo of the needles on a saguaro cacti in San Agustinillo, Mexico.

befriending

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befriending

inside my head
the little voice
whispers worldly words
that I want to push away

resistance raises
her arms to fight
then I remember
to take a deep breath
to slowly walk up beside the voice
acknowledging her wisdom
grateful for her good intentions
and to stand calmly in her presence

from this accepting space
the world opens
and I feel free
to write a different story
that moves me
in the direction
that I truly want to go

 

Today’s post is a tribute to Teresa, who led restorative yoga classes at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for breast cancer survivors back in 2012. One day in our practice she invited us to befriend, rather than resist, our natural unpleasant thoughts…to try standing beside them versus pushing them away. I remember the sense of calm that came with her invitation and this fresh relationship.

This post is also dedicated to ‘Coach Christina’ who guided me for 6 months in early 2012 at a time when unwelcome thoughts were abundant following my mastectomy. With her guidance and incredible loving support, I was able to befriend and shift my thoughts in ways that brought welcome catharsis.

I am so grateful for the wise leaders who guide and inspire me.

 

* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Mexico. These two little guys capture so nicely how I would like to be friends with those sometimes unhelpful voices in my mind. 🙂