Monday, September 24, 2012

Digging Deep


Zipping along the coastal road,
Bodega Bay on my left and
pastureland on my right, I
inhaled the cold sea air 
and reflected,

How did I get here?


18 months earlier, clinking
glasses in a toast at dinner
with my husband's oldest
friend ~ his Archie ~ and
Archie's wife, Jane, we all
contemplated the best way
to celebrate milestone
anniversaries and milestone
birthdays coming up in the
next year for all of us.


A plan was born:  a cycling
trip to honor love, friendship
and the blessing of 
good health.


We chose September, 
when our kids {six between us}
would be back in school, and
California Wine Country,
where Indian summer 
would be at its peak.


And so here I was, legs
and heart pumping as I
savored the valleys and
worked hard to scale 
the hills.


On this particular day ~ 
the second out of six on
our Backroads adventure ~
I physically found myself
tested like never before.


Halfway up a very steep
incline, my gears as low as
they could go, literally 
inching along, a feeling of
panic descended upon me.

I am going to fall over 
before I have time to unclip 
my shoes from the pedals!


What happened next?

I took a deliberate 
breath and

dug
deep
deep
inside,

securing my balance 
and ultimately, 
conquering
the hill.


I thought back to 
that moment
so many times the rest 
of the week.


The moment of panic.
The moment of true grit.
The wave of relief.

I did it!

This is part of
being alive, 
my friends.


The queasy feeling 
before a big speech.

The grief when leading a
beloved pet into the vet's
office for the final goodbye.

The fear of giving birth.


I can't do this.
I have to do this.

The digging down.

The flood of relief, of 
calm, of peace that 
comes afterward.


I learned a lot on 
this expedition:

Look left and right,
not just forward, or
you'll miss the view.


Don't stop on a hill,
or it's very tricky 
to get started again.


There are so many
good, good people in
this world, all with their
own tales to be honored
and celebrated.

{I met 26 of them
last week.}


We are each heroes of
our own story, as we dig
down deep and meet
the challenges in this
grandest adventure 
of them all.

Life.

xo
Suzanne



Friday, September 14, 2012

Autumn BLOOMers




A few flowers bloom
in the earliest days of
spring.....

A lot blossom in in
the spring and summer....

But a few

just a few

burst into bloom
in the autumn.


I have several
examples of these
autumn bloomers
in my own yard.

Autumn clematis
spills forth abundantly
at the end of September
in a froth of white ~

and Sedum Autumn Joy
dons a beautiful shade
of red after wearing its
green flowers all
summer long.



Then there are my
zinnias, summer posies
still going gangbusters
until the first frost, and
often, beyond.

Even in the winter, I
coax amaryllis and
paperwhites on window
ledges and baby my
poinsettas until 
Easter Lily time.



I often think of life
in terms of seasons,
from the very beginning
{spring} until we leave
this earth, hopefully
in late, late winter.

And while we usually
associate blooming flowers,
like blooming people,
with spring and summer,
there is no reason that
we can't continue to 

blossom
and grow 

right through those 
autumn and winter years, 
just like the sedum
or the amaryllis.



In fact, I think a lot of
people don't really come
into their own 

~ bloom ~ 

until they are well into 
their autumn years, when 
they have time to fully 
pursue those things that 
truly make their hearts 
sing.



Time to stop and take stock.
Time to become open to 
more possibilities.

To me....

Blooming is continuing
to learn.  Always.

Blooming is exuding
gratitude.

Blooming is discovering
joy in the small 
moments, every day.



Blooming is feeling
comfortable 
in your own skin.

Blooming is laughing, 
often, even if it's
at yourself.

Blooming is staying

in
love 

with life.



When I was growing up,
my mom had a little 
plaque that read:

Bloom where
you are planted.

Right now, I'm planted
on the cusp of Autumn.

And I'm hoping it will
be a long, beautiful season.



What characteristics
do you see in someone
who is blooming?

Are you there, yet?

Here's to 
crisp blue skies 
and sweet blossoms,
opening amidst the
the falling leaves of
autumn.


xo 
Suzanne

PS:  I will be on an
adventure next week,
blooming in my own way.
Come along with me 
{privetandholly}
on Instagram, 
or here.





Thursday, September 6, 2012

Boiling it Down


I was following
a recipe for blackberry
syrup last week,
trying to capture 
the flavor of 
warm sunshine on
plump berries which
to me, tastes just 
like summertime.


A vital step in making
syrup is boiling it down,
which leaves behind
the most delicious and
true essence of the
ingredients from which
it is made.



As I stirred and inhaled
the fragrance of boiling
berries, sugar and lemon
zest, I couldn't help but
compare the process of

boiling it down

to the lessons the universe
had been revealing to 
me in those last weeks 
of the summer.


On August 7th my cousin's
seven year old daughter,
Campbell, was diagnosed
with a rare form 
of leukemia.

Then, on August 27th 
one of my best friends, 
Kathleen, called to
tearfully share that
her doctors had found
a mass on her lung, a
mere two years since
she was diagnosed and
treated for breast cancer. 


Suddenly, my own day
to day concerns seemed to
bubble up and 
boil away.

The true essence
of life came into
focus for me, 
loud and clear,
once more:

good health,

family and friends

and

love.


When you boil it down,
these essentials are 
absolutely
irreplaceable and more
precious than any things
we can possibly own.

When you boil it down,
if you and those you love
enjoy good health, 
everything else 
in life is simply 

frosting 
on
the 
cake.


When that syrup of life
is condensed to what is
most essential, we savor the
sweetness like never before....

And realize how 
fortunate
we really are. 

Four little jars of blackberry
syrup are now nestled on
my pantry shelf.  I know 
that in the cold months to
come, when I sample this
summer in a jar, I will also
taste all of the blessings in 
my life that are so easily
taken for granted.


I sincerely hope that each
one of you reading these
words is able to rejoice
in your own good health,
family, friends and love.

I so hope.




And if you have a moment,
please send positive thoughts
and prayers for Campbell and
Kathleen as they bravely
fight the good fight.

xo
Suzanne

Today I am joining Patty at

findingserendipity.com

where she asks bloggers
to share a moment of
beauty that they captured
from their week.