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 :-)



September 27, 2017

On Finding Peace



The other night I was driving home from swimming and looked up and saw the brilliantly shining crescent moon.

Suddenly I felt that all is right in the world.

That our country, through all the craziness and disbelief that is before us, is at the place that it is because we're learning and preparing for a better version for ourselves. Together we have to go through this darkness to get to a better place. We have to be woken-up and released from what isn't working.

The same is true in our physical environment with all the hurricanes recently.

And also for whatever we are all going through personally in our lives and being able to trust the process of our growth for a happier and more enlightened life.

I leave us today with this wonderful quote and hope for a better future.

With love always,
Louise






September 24, 2017

22 Minutes to Bliss

Along with doing more yoga, I've been searching for meditations to help me relax and this one is really wonderful. It sent me right into slumber land.

I hope you are all well out there.
In love, peace and health,
Louise

August 31, 2017

Finding Peace



In a world that tends to make the cause of everything outside each of us,

we are robbed of our power...


On the brink of the last holiday weekend of this summer of delicious weather,

 I leave you with what I think is one of the Dalai Lama's most profound quotes ( simply click on photo to expand).

I wish you peace & joy & love,

Louise


August 25, 2017

Our Souls Must Notice What We Do With Them


"Our bodies shrink, crumble, lose their robustness, while the face gains distinction and beauty. How sad that we don't see enough old faces in the youth-crazed west, I thought. Surely some ethical damage occurs when the faces of old people aren't on view, or their faces have been tucked, pulled and made-over, preventing wisdom from seeping through the cracks. It seems dishonest to keep hidden what becomes of our true faces. Our souls must notice what we do with them."

By Laurie Gough

Thank you for your beautiful wisdom Laurie.

From her book, Kiss the Sunset Pig

 

August 17, 2017

And So It Is


I've been struggling lately with the world dragging me by hand.

I bet some of you can relate.

It seems that the only remedy recently for me is to get out in nature, write in my journal or slip under water and swim. So many concerns and details swirling around me.

In my life I have loved ones being challenged. One in each area of the body, mind and spirit. I'm trying like the dickens to not let their struggles be my struggle but when you love someone it's hard to do. I keep reminding myself that we are all on different journeys.

Getting involved with someone elses's journey is like picking up someone else's knitting project, painting on their canvas or eating off their plate.

It's easy for me to not turn on the news and ignore all the concern about North Korea and the culture war that is happening at the University of Virginia. This is one of the biggest gifts to myself perhaps.

I think that the best thing for anyone to do is to detach with love and keep doing what we brings us pleasure and take very good care of our body, mind and spirit.

And also remember that almost all things shall pass.

Hope you're all having a good week.

With love and light,
Louise

July 31, 2017

Reaching Further


“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness.

The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don't bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy.

The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.

― Deepak Chopra