Friday, February 19, 2016

Munching The Weeds

Nature and metaphor…this pairing is a constant source of insight for me and inspiration for my writing.  Sometimes nature’s wisdom “speaks” while I’m out in the wild.  Other times its wise voice can be heard right in our own backyard.  

The (much needed) rains here in California have fueled a backyard explosion of unwelcome weeds - oxalis, mallow and stinging nettle.  There are also other plants, ones we welcome, popping up in large bursts across our yard - poppy, miner’s lettuce, nasturtium, feverfew and arugula. As I attempted to make a small dent in weeding last weekend, I noticed that along with the influx of gargantuan weeds, there was an army of mighty little ladybugs (or lady beetles to be more accurate) scattered throughout our yard, munching their way across the mallow leaves and either nibbling or tucked, as if napping, in the miner’s lettuce. 

One of many lady beetles nibbling on miner's lettuce in our backyard

Meanwhile, on a family hike we enjoyed earlier this week, several caterpillars, congregated on a single plant, caught my eye, and they too appeared to be either munching or resting.

Hungry and sleepy caterpillars!

These observations are helping me feel more hopeful about a nagging challenge.  I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with clutter and disorganization and have felt as though paperwork, memorabilia and “stuff” have taken root as stubbornly as some of those weeds in our backyard!  In my own defense, I’m dividing my time and attention between parenting and family life, the expanding branches of my work as an artist, notecard designer and maker, after-school instructor and SoulCollage® facilitator (plus the accompanying facets of being a “solopreneur” and doing it all yourself) and each step, big and small, on my ongoing journey of healing and self-care.  This leaves time for decluttering and reorganizing efforts only in fits and spurts.  I take a few steps forward, then falter a few steps back, never advancing far enough to make what I would consider meaningful progress.  My frustration has been increasing to gargantuan proportions similar to the weeds!  To add a level of complication, as I’ve become more conscientious about reusing and repurposing, and creative ideas have become more prolific, I’ve admittedly had a harder time letting go of things.  

This week’s sightings of lady beetles and caterpillars have reminded me that although I may not have the time or energy to completely “pull up the roots” all at once, I can (and will!) make measurable progress if I keep “munching” away at the clutter and disorganization while also allowing space for rest and rejuvenation.  In fact, even in bite size pieces, I’ve already made progress.  The plants we’re happy to see thriving in our backyard are pleasant reminders to pay attention to the positives that surface amidst the challenges, offering perspective and balance.  Little did I know that the “evil mallow” (as it is called by our family) and the lady beetle would teach me these lessons!

How have nature’s metaphors shared their wisdom with you?  (What are some of your favorite organizational tips to share?!)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Beginnings, Endings, Beginnings And "Betweens"

Beginnings and endings...endings and beginnings...and the spaces in between.  This concept has surfaced in my mind repeatedly across the past several months.  In an online SoulCollage® group to which I belong, a fellow member shared this quote a few days ago, and the idea of writing a post about beginnings, endings, beginnings and "betweens" solidified for me.

"And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end
And all is always now."
- T.S. Eliot

As you may already know, nature is one of my greatest muses, and although it's still officially winter, and while we're still in one of those between spaces, nature is offering simple wisdom on this complex concept of endings and beginnings.  There are already early hints of spring here, of the new beginnings we can always expect as spring approaches and arrives...

the lushness of rain-nourished flora along trails and new, unfurling growth, 

plump buds on buckeye trees and perky blossoms on our almond tree, 

colorful calendula and feverfew blooms beautifying our otherwise disheveled winter garden and volunteer lettuce seedlings muscling their way through the soil in our now derelict vegetable patch, 

and wild "fairy sculpture" mushrooms emerging from the carpet of a nearby pine forest.

I've been thinking about the cycle of a seed sprouting, a plant growing, thriving, then fading, drying and shedding new seeds to be scattered into the soil, laying dormant until the cycle begins anew.  In simplistic terms, it's easy to compare this cycle to that of one's life - being born, growing, thriving, fading, dying, scattering "seeds" of love, memories, inspirations, influences and the essence of one's soul.  

While I continue to mend my heart (broken open yet again with another passing of a loved one just last week), and as I gain an increasingly stronger awareness of my spirituality, I find comfort in having faith that although each of our lives inevitably ends at some point here in this physical world, a new beginning opens up for us in the spiritual realm.  With respect to different beliefs, I believe in our souls being eternal, and this belief helps me navigate, with a more centered perspective, through the unavoidable emotions faced with the death of a loved one.  This belief gives me hope for his or her soul's journey as well as my own soul's journey.  As I comtemplate T.S. Eliot's quote, "all is always now," I begin to realize that with awareness of this eternal cycle, I can start to better understand how all is always now.

I share this post, admittedly on the weightier side of concepts (and one I'll be continuing to ponder), in the hope that perhaps it will inspire you to consider your own beliefs and perspectives on the soul's journey...