Category Archives: Life

My Blessed Buddy

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My Grandmother’s name is Jeanette but we call her Buddy. Everyone calls her Buddy. They have called her Buddy for most of her life. When I examine this wonderful woman’s life, I see a vessel spilling over with joy. My memories of her are warm smiles, bubbly laugh, hugs and a work ethic that amazes me even now that she is in her 80s. She still volunteers at the hospital and cares for all the people in her life when she can.

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My Grandmother and I are wrapped in a bond that I cannot quite describe. When I experience a traumatic event I rely on her Faith. Although she is not physically with me, I draw her strength into my being and know I can handle anything. This bond makes me understand more each day that the spirit and spunk that is part of me was passed from my Grandmother to my Mom and then to me.

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My Grandmother is generous, loving and kind. She is also a woman who is opinionated and direct. I think she might have the ability to grant eternal forgiveness or curse those who do not adhere to the tenants that the God I was raised with demands of us. My Grandmother taught me truth when it comes to religion and a spiritual life. We must follow and set the example in lieu of worshipping and putting on pomp and circumstance. I love that she is a devout Catholic in a true sense of who Jesus would want all of us to be. I love that her devotion has touched my life helping unite me and a God that I understand in my daily life. As my Grandmother, my Blessed Buddy, reminds me, This Too Shall Pass. Time is a gift that God bestows upon us, an infinite endless eternal moment and a life that happens in the blink of an eye. If there is one lesson I carry with me from my Grandmother it is this-

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Celebrate life wherever you find yourself with whoever is with you, and know that we are infinitely loved even when God throws us a curve ball. My Grandmother has definitely experienced plenty of those and walked through them with grace. Her laugh rings in my ears and my heart. I thank God for her every day and the love that we share. My life is truly blessed because of Buddy.

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Road Trip- Death Valley

Driving from Mt Whitney to Death Valley, the road descends onto a godforsaken landscape. It is flat, barren- carrying a false sense that it is devoid of life. If a visitor is willing to continue past this point, the desolation eventually bursts into one of the most mesmerizing places on earth. We were willing.
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I never dreamt I would fall prey to the rapture of the desert. I never imagined the dryness of this place would seep into my soul, wetting an appetite for the harsh, extreme, stark beauty that exists in a Valley of Death. The road plastered to the earth stretches for miles. The asphalt runs in dips and bumps.

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At times the road is completely covered. Weather compels the desert to encroach, making travel difficult or impossible. The desert wants it’s solitude back. It wants to remove the passage that allows travelers to visit.  Earth piles up all around. A larger than life bulldozer pushed and pushed until towers of etched hills formed. Water and wind work to break them down. The earth wants it’s earth back. Back to the valley floor it comes in the most interesting ways.

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In this dry place, water is the driving force for change. The texture, colors and depth are a whirlpool of wonder swirling- asking me to stay for days, weeks, months. There is too much to see. Too much to experience. Looking closely, the details are here and there. They are everywhere. Particularly, in the Devil’s Golf Course. In each space, around every corner, there is a whole new world. A world teaming with life found nowhere else.

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Artist’s Loop creeps up. The colors are powdery pastels. Mixed with water they will paint the landscape. The loop clearly shows how water can rush in every crack and crevice or wash over everything.

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Heat is the core of this place. Temperatures cook in the summer months. Volcanoes played a part in its creation. Craters remain to tell the story.

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We stumble upon an unexpected surprise. Although it doesn’t always appear so, water is ever present in the desert. A castle is a fitting symbol in an oasis that provides life for anyone daring enough to travel this landscape.

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We long to go in. We will have to wait. Light and warmth diminish quickly in the winter desert. Driving through the dark looking for a campsite is a daunting task. At our last stop, Zabrieski Point, where the sunset is divine we meet a couple who tells us about Tecopa Hotsprings. Tecopa will be our resting place. Camping for the night, we meet another element that drives the desert.

 

 

 

 

Road Trip- Mt Whitney

Four month road trip. A wild idea born in my imagination during a moment of freedom.

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Stars aligned perfectly, providing opportunity for escape. Traveling from coast to coast and back again, a total of 13,000+ miles added to our Ford Ranger.

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Mt Whitney. The campground was perfect- empty and free. Not the warmest time of year for camping at the base of a stone monstrosity. Being hardy campers we made due.  The solitude of this area filled me with a sense of longing. One that I search for to this day and occasionally find in odd places. The weather was not cooperative to summit. Through a bit of exploring we found “movieland” in the Alabama Hills.

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This is the kind of trip that solidifies a relationship- binding it in communion that never breaks or leads to one partner abandoning the journey to never look back.

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Transformation

The snow has been plentiful this season. Myriad individual flakes piled up to create a fluffy blanket.

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Bitter cold created sparkling white glitter. While warmer temperatures brought snowcone slush. Gravity worked on the moisture, forming delicate daggers dripping so slowly that my camera could not catch them.

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Observing the snow changing made me aware of transformation. Transformation: a thorough or dramatic change in appearance or form. Water takes many forms and appearances. Vapor, Clouds, Flakes, Slush, Ice …

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Although it takes on many forms in many different places, over 95% of the water found on earth is found in the ocean. I have felt the fearful joy of being completely immersed by this seemingly infinite amount of water. It was an experience that reinforced my insignificant, significance on this planet. It was the place I felt most connected to the whole while realizing I am only a minute player in the grand scheme.

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The snow transforming made me think about my own transformation. From an innocent babe with soft skin; to a kiddo who’s skin had to toughen up; to a young lady who wore her heart on her sleeve and wondered why it got broken. Now I am at a new stage in my life. I see the laugh lines around my eyes which remind me of all the good times. There are more stray strands of silver streaking my hair. They are a vivid reminder that my time here is limited.

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I feel compassion creeping into my soul as I live through more experiences and relate to the struggles we all go through. Maybe the real reason I am focused on transformation is because I am staring a birthday in the face. I welcome the coming year knowing that just like water is transformed by forces greater than it, my next transformation is inevitable and will be driven by forces greater than me. It is this awareness that keeps me in the present moment able to appreciate the beauty of nature and the passion of life.

Unraveling Grief

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I have been barreling through life at break neck speed. Anytime anything happened that warranted grief I wrapped it up and put it on a shelf labeled “to deal with later”. It is finally later. I never fully understood loss and I don’t think I have ever really been capable of grief. Until now. Grief is not an emotion. It is a complex unraveling of an event or series of events in order to come to a place of understanding. I am letting go of something that is so intrinsically woven into the fabric of my being that it has been a slow, delicate surgery with no anesthesia to remove it. As the last pieces are peeled away from my core it dawned on me I think I am grieving. Looking back I think I have been grieving for awhile. The point at which the denial set in is not really clear, but this “thing” was clearly dead years ago. I clung to it like I was hanging on to a flotation device in open water. Anger has been a hornet’s nest that I kicked and just kept getting stung. Bargaining is sneaky, and I tried to make a million deals with it so I did not have to really face this. I found out that depression is a part of grief. This is not depression in the same sense of a person who suffers from depression. It is a subtle form of sadness, despair, dullness and apathy that soaks into flesh and bones and slowly sucks any remaining ounce of life out of the body and soul. I did not want to admit this feeling. Once I named it, a huge burden was lifted and energy is seeping back in giving fuel to my spirit. This thing that I am letting go of is just a thing, but everything I have been stock piling on that shelf labeled “to deal with later” tumbled down as I stacked this box on top. Acceptance hit me and whispered let go. Acceptance is the doorway to hope and healing.  It is time to slow down. Take a breath. Let it all sink in and fully, completely grieve for a life I am done living.