September 25, 2018

Remembering What We Want



I stumbled upon this quote recently:

Discipline is remembering what we want.

It's a good one.

For some reason I have hardly ever been at a loss for knowing what I want. It shifts, and morphs, and re-balances to be sure, but like most of you probably, at any given moment, I am pretty adept at putting my finger on what it is that is going to ring my bell.

So maybe we know what we want, especially the older and wiser we grow. We could make lists about what we want in every little area of our life. From what we want to make for dinner this week to the big picture in life- like how we want our world to be. We could make lists about how we want to feel, how much stress we want in our life, how much downtime and together time we want. We could make lists about what we want to do with our time, who we want to hang with, and basically how we want to operate and maneuver through our lives.

Every day we make decisions about who we want to be actually.

So where is the disconnect between knowing what we want and then doing something that is totally not in line with what we want?

Ahh yes- we forget what we want. Sometimes just temporarily but frequently for way too long. Or, what we want seems so outlandish and outside the possibility of who we have always know ourselves to be, that we give up on what we want before we even try.

Usually out of fear.

Or maybe it's that we get too tired or too hungry or too overwhelmed, or sick, or too exhausted from having someone else be sick, and we forget to listen to our internal compass. Life happens. Things get in the way. There are bills to pay, and fires to put out and mouths to feed.

Sometimes there are just too many flies buzzing around our head.

Well this I know- the only remedy for remembering what we want- is to slow down long enough, and get quiet enough, so that we can hear ourselves. For some people it's meditation, but for me I can pinpoint so many things in my life, and zero in my happiness, when I am out running, hiking, swimming laps and recently, biking.

Discipline is remembering what we want.

Gosh I wish I knew this back when I was fifteen.

For more related reading there is another post here.

Have a good week.

Get quiet.

Listen to our hearts. It's right here with each of us, waiting for us to put our hand on it and take care of it.

Oh yes- and one more thing- be sure to click on the magnificence of the photo above. Among other things, like the lighting, I love the peeling paint.

Belovodchenko Anton,you have outdone yourself.

August 31, 2018

JOMO, the new FOMO



JOMO
Oh what a great acronym.
Time alone- the precious and sometimes hard to find commodity that I so love.

On this note, I will say no more, and sign off & head for one of my favorite places (the shower) and then to bed. 😉

The joy of missing out.

Ciao miei amici,
Louise


August 28, 2018

And In The End



.......the love you take, is equal to the love you make.
 ~ Lennon & McCartney


I’ve had quite the journey in what has historically been a long, loving, ebb and flow, 30 year marriage.

Until the last few years, when the tides navigated a much more challenging course.

It’s a meandering story of course but I will share this- being at the effect of some else’s quandary has been excruciatingly difficult.

My patience more than ran its course and about a week before my mom passed, I finally began to cut the cord from the sorrowful tunnel where I had been residing, stretching deep from the umbilicus.

I know... :-(

The house has been sold and I've moved to a nourishing little new abode where I’ve begun to lay down a fresh path for myself. It’s been a hard road of severing the octopus tentacles of my emotional entanglement, to so many things this year.

I keep reminding myself that it's okay for life to not turn out the way I always thought it would.

I keep trying to remain in the present, and not rehash the past, or worry about the future. 

"Be here now", I tell myself over and over again.

Take life, just one day at a time. 

I keep reaching to trust the process and searching, like a spiritual inspectress, for the silver linings.

And I can’t tell you how much better I feel. Not yet better, in all ways, than how I once felt, but so many little gems of happiness better, from where I’ve been.

Baby steps for us all, my dearhearts.

Several things have helped me to not end up in a cuckoo's nest:

  • Every day I try my best to take care of myself. Yoga, swimming, running, eating well, journaling, getting enough sleep and talking with loved ones.
  • Each day I ask myself "What needs to be done today?" and as best as I can, I set about doing it. 
  • Changing the channel in my head, when I begin to go down the road of SHOOTING 2ND ARROWS- Either arrows shot backwards at myself, by rehashing unhelpful thoughts and conversations, or arrows of worry, or arrows at someone else, when I forget to stop and proceed with love and acceptance, rather than anger and resentment.
  • Reading articles and books, like this FABULOUS ONE. Sound support for not taking someone else's situation personally and focusing instead on the best personal mind, body, spirit self-care of your life.
  • My therapist. Thank gawd for him is all I can say. He reminds me frequently that I am soundly stable and am handing well the mother load that was laid before me this year. He helped me from slipping into the gutter.
  • And lastly- and this has been hard amidst the craziness of a new life- keep doing and searching for what I love. For what lights me up. For what rings my bell. For what brings me joy.
 ....And for how I can harness my new found strength and play it forward.

Phew, this was a big one.

May love and peace and gratitude, be with us all,

💜 Louise



July 30, 2018

Notes To Self



Every so often I like to reread this list I made many years ago, when the blog was young, titled "10 Easy Ways to Age Gracefully Today".

I am re-titling it now to "Ten Easy Ways To Feel Better Right Now" :-)

I haven't looked at this list during my tumultuous last few years and I wish I had, as it holds some good Louise truths and reminders.

The good news is that I am rising from the muck, and things, in so many ways, are on the upswing. But more on this in the future, as it's not the easiest of stories to share.

So here is the list again. For me and for you <3


  • If you can't change it, move on.Thou shall not stew.

  • Stop getting stuck in your story about woulda. coulda. shoulda. and get on with doing what you love to do.

  • Surround yourself with loving, low-maintenance people who increase your vitality instead of rob it.

  • Remember that aging is part of the wondrous cycle of life. It is normal and it is what is suppose to happen, just like getting our baby teeth.

  • Take care of that pesky task that has been hanging over your head for way too long. It won't take nearly as long as you think it will.

  • Have an orgasm.


Did I just say that?


  • Stop worrying about what other people think. It's your life.

  • Don’t forget that human's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Acknowledge someone.

  • Get over your fear. Fear is normal, so embrace it and then you can move past it.

  • Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. Be your own best friend. It is the foundation for a good long life.


Photo by Jef Bettens, Limburg, Belgium




July 20, 2018

A Vibration, A feeling, A Thought




I'm not a big prayer, at least not in the typical sense.
Someone told me recently that what we think about is actually like praying.

"Thinking is like praying," she said.

So it's best to think good thoughts so that negative thoughts, or worries, don't become reality.
So that we don't give strength and life to them
or a tree to grow on.

What we think about, we become.
Like lovely little affirmations.
Like little bits of golden gifts to ourselves.

Sending love and prayers out into the world to you all today.
xo,
Louise

June 29, 2018

Into My Heart

This photo of my mom was taken when she was my age.

Almost every afternoon since I can remember, she made a point of setting the timer on the kitchen stove and taking a nap for 20 minutes.

A mother of five, stealing some time for herself to rejuvenate, between her piles of ironing, making pie-crusts, canning peaches and putting a wholesome dinner on the table, every night of the week.

She was the epitome of mindfulness, way before it was ever a common word in our culture. Before we all grew so busy with double income households, in order to pay for life's necessities, and before smartphones took over our lives.

She passed away already 3 weeks ago but I found her again several days ago, in my heart.

This is where she has moved to, where I can still touch her now and hold her. Where I can take her with me anywhere.

Where I can call on her for strength.




June 22, 2018

Sleep My Child and Peace Attend Thee


After a long, hard year for my mom, she passed beautifully and peacefully at the age of 96, while her children sang her the lullabies that she had sung to us, so many years ago. 

It was incredible to see her take her last breath. Not unlike the first breath of life, in its miracle.

After she passed, I crawled into bed with her and held her until the funeral home came to take her away.  No longer worried about hurting her frail, tired body, I will never forget how it felt to hold her, and breath her in and feel her still warm heart, until I could no longer.


Mama, I know how much you wanted to live to be a hundred. 

I’m glad you didn’t though as this past year had times of being so very hard for both of us. 

But there in the darkness however, 

lived some of the sweetest moments I’ve ever had with you. 

Thank you for moving here six years ago. 

At 90-years-old you arrived with zest and optimism for the next chapter in your life. 

And I got to know you, not through the eyes of a rebellious teenager or a tired working mother, but as an empty nester myself.

It’s as though we had our own little honeymoon.  

During which, I realized how similar we are.  I’ve had moments of not knowing where you leave off -and I begin. 

I will be forever grateful for your easy-going-ness and for your ability to see life through this kaleidoscope of kindness 

and gratitude

and love 

and beauty. 

I will be forever grateful for our friendship and how you made me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread, 

when I am not always. 

I could tell you anything. 

Thank you for demonstrating such good self-care. 

And for reminding me of how important it is to take time out for ourselves. 

Thank you for telling me that after a good nights sleep, that things almost always look better in the morning. 

Thank you for teaching me, by example, not to gossip. 

Thank you for teaching me how to swim and how to knit. 

I’m so very grateful that later in life, you discovered the artist in yourself. 

Thank you for being the most nurturing, open minded and liberal Mom on the block. 

But most importantly, for always loving all of us, just as we are and for who we are. 

Mama, I will love you and carry you with me, forever. 

And I will miss, from this day forward, not to ever be able to give you another Eskimo kiss again. 




May 30, 2018

Midlife Unraveling



Brene Brown wrote an excellent, and very timely, article this past week about the midlife crisis/transition.

Be sure to share it with anyone you know who is struggling or knows someone who is, as I do.

She is amazing. Click here to read.

In love and in peace,
Louise


May 20, 2018

All That Grows From It




"Some days I wake with a cloud around my heart. The heart, like the earth, is usually blanketed by ever changing atmospheres that come and go between days.

So faith, could be defined as the effort to believe in light when we are covered by clouds. It may seem like the overcast lasts so long, but the reality is that the sun never stopped burning it's fierce light behind the fog.

No clouds last forever.

The earth and all that grows from it knows this truth.

And like the earth knows, so does the heart, and everything that grows from it. Even in spite of all our understandable pains.

*Note how the trees and flowers do not collapse when the clouds roll in and draw strength from this truth."

~ Anonymous


Beautifully said don't you think?

With love as always,
Louise

P.S. I got these gorgeous pink lilies at Trader Joes more than a week ago for like $8 and their beautiful complexity has been knocking my socks off ever since :-)


April 29, 2018

The Arrow




"The Buddha speaks about the "second arrow." 

When an arrow strikes you, you feel pain.

If a second arrow comes and strikes you in the same spot, the pain will be ten times worse. 

The Buddha advised that when you have some pain in your body or your mind, breathe in and out and recognize the significance of that pain but don't exaggerate its importance.

If you stop to worry, to be fearful, to protest, to be angry about the pain, then you magnify the pain ten times or more.

Your worry is the second arrow.

You should protect yourself and not allow the second arrow to come, because the second arrow comes from you." 

THICH NHAT HANH

April 24, 2018

Today


And the other benefit is, that like smiling at someone, it makes us feel good too.

In love and light,

Louise




April 13, 2018

I Am

My Mama's hands


I am not old…she said
I am rare.

I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.

I am the retrospective
Of my life as art

I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense

I am the fullness
Of existing.

You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure.
I am a map.

And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey 


Ask me anything.


~S.Reynolds

April 06, 2018

Lately


When life gets challenging, as it has been for me for about a year now,

I try to remember that this is just many hard moments, strung together, like a necklace, that I am passing through.

I try to find the new strength in myself.

I try to find the deep down lessons.

I try to see who I am now, that I wasn't before. 

And what I have discovered, that I never would have, if adversity hadn't come my way.

It sure brings gratitude to my doorstep, when I remember to look for it.

It brings an optimism for better days, that I have never had to reach for.

But it has also made things much more crystal clear for me, of what I want and don't want.

Perhaps this is one of the greatest silver linings about hard times, in the middle of our lives.

So here I sit thinking.

A fish outside of water.




February 28, 2018

My Visit to Cuba

I had yearned to visit Cuba since my early years of watching I love Lucy and seeing Ricky Ricardo play the bongo drums in his Cuban nightclub.

This and that I've been very curious about the country, just 90 miles off the coast of Key West, especially since Diana Nyad peaked my interest when she successfully swam the voyage from Cuba to Key West in 53 hours in 2013 ( her 5th courageous attempt).

Cuba, a land that has been so close, yet so far away, because of the complicated political landscape.

It turns out that now it's quite easy to visit Cuba. Much easier than I had imagined. All you need to do is get a visa at a gateway airport and pick one of 13 reasons for traveling there. I chose "Support The Cuban People." I arrived armed with an itinerary to do this and held onto whatever receipts I was able to collect to prove my whereabouts. The truth is however, I don't think anyone is really checking to see if visitors have simply sat on the beach as their  primary form of entertainment.





What I liked most about Cuba was the music (which I didn't get enough of) and the kindness of all the people that I came in touch with, especially the cab drivers.

One of the other things that drew me to Cuba was all the old cars. It occurred to me while there that this was most likely because when I was born, being the 5th child, my parents decided to buy a Checker cab to tote around their growing family. By the time I was in kindergarten, this was a very embarrassing car to be seen in, but in reflection, it is one of the little gems of my childhood.


One of the other things I liked is that much of Havana is in disrepair or even in ruins. This of course is sad, in many ways, but I love the beauty of imperfection and the Wabi-Sabi that is everywhere in Cuba.

Two other highlights, besides sitting down and people watching, were swimming in the warm, beautiful aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico and visiting Hemingway's home, as seen in 3 of  the photos below.

Being in Cuba only 4 days, I didn't get to venture outside of Havana like I had wanted to. Especially to the village of Vinales, as well as to the chocolate factories in the oldest town of Baracoa.

For more good info on the villages of Cuba click here.

Hemingway's home
Hemingway's home
Hemingway's home

Shoemakers in Havana
View from breakfast at the hotel

Cab ride to the beach in the taxi driver's grandfather's 1955 car
Day at the beach with a beer and fish for lunch
Havana cathedral


February 27, 2018

Quieting the Voice


I returned from my trip to Cuba on Thursday to growing concerns about the precarious health of someone in my family. For me it has been a year of worry and great concern about a multitude of things that life can unfortunately throw at us.

It has also been a year of realizing that I truly don't have control over much, except my thoughts and where they wander, as well as taking very good care of myself.

Last night I eased myself into the pool and Cried Myself a River. I remember when my Dad passed away, almost 17 years ago, that the shower became this oasis for me. The pool wasn't nearly as private of course, but I discovered that allowing myself to wail, whilst swimming, was so very cathartic.

I'd been holding onto the tears for days, trying to be the strong woman, I fear not being.

I believe that letting the tears come, allowed me to sleep like a baby last night, with the comfort of my mama's soft, red plaid, fleece blanket, wrapped around my naked and very frightened inner child.

Let our tears come, let them water our souls.

May we step into the light,

even when it is raining.



January 31, 2018

On Becoming




A refreshing message to read and encompass at mid-life,

or at any age actually.

How often is that we think we know how things are

only to find sometimes that they are perhaps scarily, yet rejuvenatingly, different?

Not very often.


Where do we hang when what we've always hung upon is uncertain?

With ourselves is where.

When nothing is certain,

anything is possible.

There is such beauty

in the curiosity and mystery of living.

xo


January 23, 2018

My Mama's Reds

My mom's beautiful 96-year-old hands, like parchment paper.


My mama turned 96 yesterday. She has also remarkably, and very gratefully, turned a corner within her dementia, to a much happier place, as of late.

The last 10 months have been a harrowing experience for her and for me, as she further lost her memory and slipped into acute paranoia, calling me sometimes several times a day, in utter panic about not just the safety of her own life but for her loved ones as well.

This is a woman who had, until then, lived a life of balance and happiness. A woman who raised five children and had a long, loving, 58-year marriage to my Dad. She is also a woman, who grew up with a bi-polar mother and never really processed how that affected her. As my mom's dementia settled in, so did her fears that she was becoming her mom. The underbelly of what showed up was her trepidation of what people thought of her, something that she no doubt worried about since childhood but kept under wraps, until she could no longer.

Three things came to her rescue this past year: Medication (although it took awhile to get it right), her willingness to seek counseling, at the ripe old age of 95, and her red plaid blankets.

Oh yes, and one more thing, vanilla ice cream.

The Christmas before last, she purchased an innumerable collection of red plaid fleece blankets to give as gifts. The multiple purchases were also coupled with confusion, of how many she had bought and who she had already given them to (par for the course at 94...or even at age 55, as I was having a hard time keeping track). My initial thought about the blankets was, that although they were very synthetically luxurious, they were a far cry from the wool blankets that I grew up with and loved. I thought they were kind of icky. To her however, they were a heavenly comfort, better than a stuffed teddy bear. She kept two for herself (as you can see in the photo below) and they became the security blanket that helped usher her over the hump, of losing her mind.

In recent months she has lovingly referred to them as "My reds". On the worst of her days, I came to her rescue. Equipped with vanilla ice cream, I would wrap her in her reds, sing to her and hold her, reaching for solace, to appease not only her, but myself. It is only now that I can look back in reflection, through my tears, and begin to see the subtle beauty of those moments.

One of things that has helped me to cope, the past several cold winter months, is the same thing that has helped her. At night, in an effort to bring myself comfort and sleep, I wrap my body in my own red, before pulling the duvet over my shoulders. Wrapped in this little cocoon of coziness, I've been sleeping very deeply on many nights, like a relatively content, newborn woman.

At the same time, my youngest daughter has been there for me through my struggle and her own, whilst wrapped in her own cocoon of coziness too. <3

December 29, 2017

Where The Light Is



Where do we find the light hidden in the tiny crevasses of winter?

So easy to see when the sun shines upon glistening snow

or when firelight catches someones eye,

in their naked truth.

Sometimes it's simply hidden inside the silent words we read

or the familiar melodies we hear

or in the tenderest of moments we see,

just beyond our reach.

Or in the hand we touch and draw slowly to our lips,

softly nibbling a knuckle.


December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas Crafting

Christmas is one of those love/hate traditions for me. I love crafting, wrapping gifts, making cards and being together but I don't like all the commercialism and the pressure to get everything done on time. This year I successfully stayed out of the mall, purchased some things online and made lots of felted wool garlands while my youngest daughter baked her heart out and also made these fabulous gingerbread candlesticks that I posted about several years back.

This year she also sliced oranges and baked them slowly in the oven at 200 degrees for 6 hours. A garland of them is hanging in our kitchen window and looks so very beautiful when the light shines through them.

I made a little video for Instagram of the ramshackle Christmas chaos in our kitchen over the last several days, as it all came together ( see below).

Wherever you are, I hope you are safe & sound and have friends or family around you.

Merry Christmas, from my home to yours.

xo,
Louise



November 30, 2017

Elements of Resilence



Above all else, let us remember that we are all spiritual beings on a path of discovery, love and awakening.

Even in our hardest moments.

Above all else, let us remember to take utmost care of ourselves, regardless of what swirls around us and within us.

Fresh air, keeping our bodies in motion and nourishing all 5 of our delicious senses,

but also remembering to love who we are, just as we are, and knowing that we're all connected to an energy greater than ourselves, regardless of how alone we might feel.

We really are.

Above all else,

let us remember to keep searching for what inspires and ignites our soul.

Because it is in these moments that we connect with, not only ourselves,

but with each other as well.



November 21, 2017

When The Tide Comes In


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, near and far. To those of you I know and love and to those of you I have not yet met and probably will never have the pleasure of meeting.

I hope that when you find your way to Lines of Beauty it is a comforting place to land, on this long and winding road to growing older.

This has been the hardest year of my life but in it I have found an inner strength I never knew I had and more gratitude for everyone and everything that surrounds me in my life.

As time carries on, I will share more of my story.

Several months back I created a "Jar of Gratefulness", a ceramic jar that resides on the island in my kitchen. I made a small pouch on the side of the jar and put little slips of paper in it to write on. When I see it, it is a reminder for me to stop and be conscious of something new to be grateful for.

Or something old :-)

Old or young, I am grateful for all of you, my dear readers.

Sending love your way, on my favorite holiday this Thursday.

May peace be with you,

Louise
xo




October 31, 2017

What's The Secret



At almost 96-years-old my mom is having a good day, which hasn't been the case lately. Frequently I ask her questions and write down her answers to tuck away and have when she is gone.

Me: Mom what's the secret to a good life?

Mom: You tell me.

Me: No you tell me.

Mom: A happy smile.

Me: I like that.

Mom: I don't think I'm going to be climbing any mountains any more though :-)