Category Archives: inspirational

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Our lives are filled with goodbyes, some temporary and many forever. Eventually they will all enter the forever-and-ever category, but that’s a whole other blog. For now, I am going to write about the day to day ones we face with our family and friends.

Yesterday my son Deven and his delightful girlfriend Sophia, who I have become very close with, left for Maine to live in a beautiful cabin on the ocean for four months. It’s gorgeous, wild and free, and one of the most magical places I have ever visited. I am of course very happy for their temporary escape from the travails of life as we know it, and plan on staying with them for a couple of weeks sometime in the future. And just for your information, I have been officially invited as they adore my company, so I am not following them like some clingy mother ….

I have had to say goodbye numerous times to my boys over the last few years, as they left for college, or gone off on their adventures, and no matter how I emotionally prepare, it is always difficult. I fully see the big picture of how wonderful these opportunities are, and how good it is for them to be independent, to grow and be on their own, but that doesn’t take away the grief I feel every time as I watch them drive off into the sunset.

When I was a young girl, my mother took my siblings and I up to the San Francisco area to visit my uncle and his family. For some reason, she needed to leave us there for about a week, I am not sure of the details, but either way I was fine with her decision and happy to have this time with my cousins. At least, I thought so. It was not until later after saying our goodbyes in the driveway, when I saw her back up and head down the street, that I suddenly panicked my mother was leaving and I began running after her, my skinny little legs flying down the sidewalk, waving my arms and yelling for her to stop and take me with her. She had no idea this was happening and continued driving away until she was nothing but a tiny little speck in the distance. I gave up and stood there crying, then reluctantly turned around and walked back to the house. I ended up having a nice time, but will never ever forget the desperation and pain I felt in that moment as she left.

Flash forward to yesterday as I stood in another driveway, hugging my son goodbye, cradling his beloved face in my hands, and kissing his cheek, knowing he was about to drive over 7 hours away, and be gone for a significant amount of time. Quietly acknowledging there was nothing I could do, or even wanted to do for that matter, to hold him back. The same little girl who will always be a part of me, no matter how old I grow, was already preparing for the inevitable moment when my loved ones would get in the car and disappear into the distance. Thankfully I held it together, and did not go running after them, which wouldn’t have been good for anyone, especially me, as the driveway was covered with snow and very slippery.

Nevertheless, grief is grief.

Today I feel much better knowing they have safely arrived, and am already receiving videos and photos of them filling their water bottles at the natural spring, and later of my son sitting by the cozy wood stove.

This morning through the power of technology I was able to hear and view the misty gray ocean whispering over the slippery rocks, and can happily smile seeing that they are surrounded by such beauty.

Over the years, I have unfortunately experienced many other forms of goodbyes. Some with friends who I thought would be forever, some with lovers who I trusted would never leave, and even a few unspoken goodbyes from my close family members, which seems unimaginable even now. All have not been so cut and dried as the bittersweet one of yesterday, but instead drawn out, wrenched apart, ripped away, or faded slowly and painfully, inch by inch until nothing remains. These are the goodbyes that change you in ways that can never fully be healed, and at the very best, patched up with sticky glue, frayed scraps of fabric and bits of knotted string.

Some goodbyes may turn out to be for the best but this can be hard to fathom in the moments of leaving, and even more difficult to unravel later on. Our significant relationships are uniquely bound by shared experiences, time spent together, and mixed gently with the possibilities of future hopes and dreams. These are then tightly woven to create a beautiful tapestry, impossible to tease apart into separate categories of good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad. It’s only in the finished piece where we can fully see how sacred everything has been in its entirety.

Today is the last day of 2021, and I am sure I speak for many that this year has been filled with an abundance of trials and tribulations, both personal and worldly, along with the beauty and magic that continually runs through it all. I am grateful for so much, too many things to list, but I happily say goodbye to this year and welcome in the new.

For everyone who has experienced the forever-and-ever goodbyes, or the sorrows which are way too deep to mention, please know you are loved and supported by myself, and hopefully others who are more tangible. It is good to seek help if you need more; there are many programs and people in this world who foster a place of generosity of spirit and love. I believe with all my heart in the perseverance and hope of humanity, and perhaps even more importantly, I believe in the divinity that binds us all.

things haven’t changed much….important message in the beginning!

Love is not ended through goodbyes, no matter how it may feel. Love is eternal and everlasting.

Happy Beautiful New Year

In Peace ~ Raven

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Procrastination….

“Is the action of delaying or postponing something.” Oxford Languages

I am seriously procrastinating right now, especially as all day long I have been thinking about how stressful it is to procrastinate something when I know it has to be done. “Wouldn’t this make an interesting topic to write about,” I thought to myself as I meandered aimlessly and somewhat nervously through the daylight hours.

So here I am at 8:00 tonight, procrastinating by sharing my ill-gained wisdom from my procrastinating all day. I have a few serious things that need to be done or there will be big consequences, and last night I vowed to myself I would get started first thing this morning…

…12 Hours Later- “After I have breakfast,” I told myself… “Maybe tidy the living room… a few minutes of vacuuming would be great… the dishes are piling up… isn’t there wet laundry to dry… I really should take my daily walk before it gets dark… a quick little rest would do me good… just a few chapters of the book I am reading… I better make dinner soon…. I know, I can write a blog!”

It’s an endless nightmare that I could have avoided if only I had sat down calmly this morning and at least started something. In under fifteen minutes I could complete the one task that has been hanging over my head for weeks now, which has already been stressful, but will be made even more so, if I don’t fill out and send the required forms.

Hint: DOOM

The other project needs to be done by Thursday at the very latest. This will take significantly longer, but has the great potential to yield wonderful results in my life.

Either way, negative or positive, I can’t seem to begin.

I feel like I have been pressing the snooze button all day, but not getting any extra sleep.

Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage, and a symptom of depression and anxiety. It can also be something as simple as a misplaced belief that things are better accomplished when under pressure, poor time management, lack of self-discipline, or just plain avoidance issues. I seem to have all of the above.

It turns out I really don’t have very much advice to share, other than to be kind to yourself. Compassion for one’s imperfections is the best approach under these circumstances, why pile more stress onto an already upsetting situation. It is a form of self-love to take care of the things looming in your life that may cause further issues down the road, and hinder your ability to find serenity in the now.

I absolutely promise myself that I will take care of the easiest task tonight, before I go to bed, AND by a reasonable time. Tomorrow is a new day, and I will try again. There, simple as that!

In Procrastinating Peace, Raven

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Meaning

Every day I find myself looking beyond what is in front of me, deep beneath the surface, a smidge behind the obvious, and up over the above, all to find a greater sense of meaning.

I am unable to live a life with my heart and mind closed to the sacred. Despite simple reason, I experience everything through the lens of someone who has walked this earth before.

I understand the finite days and nights we each have to live. Filled with a divine blend of beauty and sorrow, the stories we become, despite how we intend them to be, are so much more than how they appear.

How can any of this possibly matter, as we while away the minutes into hours, if we forget who it is we really are. What is left when you remove the layers of your armor to the soul behind your smile.

I want to tell you there is more to this journey than just the struggles we endure. Perhaps if we close our eyes to what we think is real, maybe…just maybe, we will be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of eternity.

May We All Walk in Beauty ~ Raven

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Happy Birthday Tiana & My Dog Has Fleas

It’s early morning, my dog is snoring, it’s my daughter’s 20th birthday, all my kids are home, we are safe, we are loved, we are blessed with warmth (it’s 26 degrees outside), we have abundant good food, we have each other, we have this beautiful day to celebrate, and my dog has fleas.

I woke up too early today, and before I could retreat back into a peaceful slumber, my mind quickly filled with all of the above facts, along with a myriad of to-do lists, worries, possibilities, expectations, gratitude, and overwhelming emotions. It’s been eons since I wrote out-loud; I write in my head all the time, but I suddenly felt inspired to share, and so here I am.

Once long ago, I was a happily married stay-at-home mom. Every day I felt safe and secure. We were a home-schooling family, which meant for us that we followed our hearts and lived a fulfilling life of adventure, love, and joy. Years later, the reality of our story has turned out to be even more wonderful than I ever imagined.

Somewhere in the middle, my marriage fell apart, and so did any feelings of safety and security. Since then it has been a major struggle to arrive where I am today, but somehow, in part thanks to the generosity of people who love us, and my creative determination to walk my own path, we have thrived.

Through it all, my children have been my source of strength, my focus, and the reason I have been able to move forward. Our relationships with each other have grown beyond family ties and are based on mutual respect, devotion, companionship, and unconditional love. We are each other’s best friends forever.

We took these sweet photos last year on Tiana’s birthday

Now they are grown and each moving in different directions. I find myself at a lost for how my life will unfold. My son Deven reassures me that our lives are expanding rather than contracting, and as they move onward, it can only open us up to new relationships and new adventures. Already it has begun, and I do see the beauty of change, but still my heart quietly mourns for what will no longer be.

Me and my lovely daughter

Determined to live in the moment, today we are all home, together in our little house by the lake, and I am grateful beyond measure.

Soon a fire will be made, the tea kettle whistling, and the house will be filled with the sounds of my children’s voices and the constant rumbling of the washer and dryer as I work to wash every pillow, blanket, curtain, and piece of clothing that may-or-may-not be hiding any fleas or their future off-spring. After a lovely breakfast, I will break out my new high-powered vacuum cleaner I bought to remove the scourge that has entered my home and clean every inch of our dwelling. I have had dogs ever since I moved here to New England 30 years ago, and we have never had fleas. None of us are happy about this, especially Skadi.

Poor pup doesn’t understand why she no longer has the run of the house

Hopefully I can also find the time to make pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips, take my 3 mile walk, and maybe read a few chapters of my book.

Most importantly, I will remain present, express myself in a loving way, and be grateful for every moment that we can be together. Even if my dog is scratching next to me……

UPDATE: I actually wrote this blog yesterday morning on my daughter’s birthday before everyone got up, but just as I finished, she came into my room crying that she didn’t feel good. We ended up at the emergency hospital for most of the day while they tested her. Thankfully we were able to go home and she is currently on the mend. My poor sweetie, what a way to celebrate her special day. We managed to have a peaceful evening, and the only thing I was able to accomplish on my great to-do list was to take my much-needed walk around the lake. This all goes to show how quickly life can change, and how very precious each and every moment of time is that we share with our loved ones.

In Itchy, but Grateful Peace, Raven

Barefoot In My Nightgown

This past Thursday, which happened to be the day after my birthday, I woke up early and sauntered barefoot in my turquoise-blue nightgown out into my backyard to say hello to the bright new morning sun.

Because of the recent rain our grass has grown very long, hiding all the fallen acorns and nuts the trees have been dropping in preparation for the changing season. I love to be barefoot, so this makes it very difficult to see them before it’s too late and I step right onto their unforgiving hardness….ouch, ouch, ouch!

I decided there and then to mow my lawn. This is not the first time I have impulsively done yard work, barefoot and in my nightgown. Although we live on a lake, we have many large trees surrounding our home, which does give us some semblance of privacy. I figure no one really cares to watch me ramble about the yard in my silky garb, and if they do, oh well.

I grew up in California-beach-weather, where the days were mostly hot, and sunny. I wore less there going to the grocery store, or skating on the boardwalk. Besides, I have come to a certain age in my life where I feel free to do whatever it is that makes me happy. It’s not that I don’t care what other people think, it’s just that I like the peace in my mind from not wondering.

California me back in the 80’s

I believe it’s one of the privileges that arrives with being over a half-century old.

Video: Late last night….if you listen very carefully you might hear the owls hooting in the background. Either way, just know they are there.

I am becoming more eccentric in my ways, returning to a time long, long ago, when my life was not so complicated and I trusted in the beauty of my path. I celebrate this re-awakening by wearing feathers in my hair, listening to old classics on my record player, like Bad Company, and getting up in the middle of the night to hear the owls hoot across the lake.

One thing that disturbs my sense of peace are the loud and constant sounds of people using their power operated lawn equipment. It really takes me out of the moments when I am trying to relax in my own yard. Personally, I feel good knowing I am not contributing to the noise and air pollution, and find it efficient as well as meditative to use the old-fashioned quieter tools like my mower, brooms, and rakes. Plus it’s more fun!

Several years ago I bought a push-operated mower, which is super easy to use: I practically dance across my lawn! The only sounds you will ever hear from my endeavors are the occasional warnings I sing out to the cute little toads to safely get out of the way, or my ongoing chats with the wild birds and squirrels who frequently stop by for a visit. I like to think of myself as their neighborhood ambassador, as none of them care for any of that pollution either.

Timothy the Crow

There’s something very satisfying about feeling the dawn-wet grass stick to my feet, and seeing the once messy lawn become smooth and neat. I am always grateful to be alive and in the moment, with the sun shining overhead, and the soft breeze blowing my cares away.

Skadi keeping watch while I play

Being barefoot in my nightgown has a certain rebellious flair that suits my returned sense of freedom, and reminds me that although I am a mother of three, a good friend to many, a daughter, a teacher, an artist, and a healer, I am also a sensuous, vibrant woman, who finds great pleasure and adventure in the simple everyday moments of my life.

So hop-hop-hop away little toads, here I come!

In Barefoot Peace, Raven

Cutting the grass with my vintage style push-mower, dodging acorns, barefoot and in my nightgown, is the delicious cherry on my gluten and dairy-free cake.

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Wild Flowers

I just returned from staying in Vermont for the past several days, and the lovely family I was visiting lives on a large expanse of land: it was serenely spacious and quite beautiful.

All around us was the beauty of mother nature: trees, mountains, ponds, greenery as far as the eye could see, the eternal vastness of sky, and a wash of wildflowers in every direction.

Each night we would dine on the cozy porch, comfortable on well loved couches overlooking a pond filled with an entire village of singing frogs and swaying lily pads.

古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音
Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Old pond…

a frog jumps in

water’s sound

Haiku by Matsuo Basho, literal translation by Robert Hass

Along with listening to the loud chorus of ribbits and peeps, one of my favorite experiences was the tradition we shared before our evening meal. One by one we would take a moment to express something we were grateful for: be it the glorious weather we were having, the beauty of the trees, or the sweet happiness of creating endearing new friendships.

Around and about there is another pond, this one quite big, with a wooden dock to sit at, reflect, and place one’s feet in the chilly water.

There were tadpoles, and many salamanders swimming and exploring in the dappled sunlight.

A fuzzy caterpillar came to greet me…….

I was generously given the use of a small cabin built upon a hill nestled among the trees.

Once we were ready to settle in for the night, I would carefully make my way up a slightly steep, meandering path towards the cabin. My only light was the headlamp I carried in my hand, and the flashing of fireflies, whom you may also know as lightning bugs, flickering between branches and long grass.

As I wended to the cabin one cloudless night, I saw the brightest shooting star streak across the sky and I wanted to lie in the grassy field to gaze at them for hours.

Another time soon I will return to do just that.

It was very magical to be outside like this, long after the sun had gone to rest, where the darkness was deep, untouched by civilization.

All around us was the beauty of mother nature; trees, mountains, ponds, greenery as far as the eye could see, the eternal vastness of sky, and a wash of wildflowers in every direction.
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com
Photo by Flash Dantz on Pexels.com

I could have stayed in the house, but I was happy to have a chance to enjoy the intimacy of being immersed in nature, and so I chose to live at night without electricity, plumbing, and running water.

Earlier that day…..

Basically, there was one bed, two side-tables, a long counter which held a camping stove, a makeshift sink, and a tray of brightly colored Calendula flowers that were slowly drying.

In one corner a large screen was placed over two chairs, creating a natural rack for drying more plants; the one below is Motherwort.

In another corner hung a fragrant bunch of Lavender, which made me smile just to be near it.

Some of the the windows were glass, but many were only screen, with an entire wall of them perfectly placed in front of the bed. There was very little between me and the great outdoors.

Once inside I would turn off my meager light and with only myself to confide, deep in the stillness of the forest cathedral, every one of my senses came to life in a way that was both invigorating and free.

The croaks from my froggy companions continued to serenade me as I stood there in the sanctuary of my solitude, surrounded by tree guardians on all sides, while the song of two owls called to each other to celebrate my arrival.

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

I stood there at the window for a few moments just to soak up every exquisite moment of peace. After, I crawled into bed under my heavy pile of blankets, and kept my eyes open for as long as I could, looking out into the shiny, flickering darkness.

I slept well each night and woke gently with the first rays of light. When I was ready to re-enter the world, I slowly made my way down the hill, my bare feet cold and wet from the morning dew as I walked through the grass and back out among the wildflowers.

One of my all-time favorite songs!

I absolutely love Tom Petty, and am so grateful I was able to see him in concert before he sadly left us. I will always carry his music in my heart.

Wildflowers by Tom Petty

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

In Beauty & Peace, Raven

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Hope Springs Eternal

People often ask why I like the East coast so much more than the West coast where I grew up, and I would have to say that experiencing the seasons is one of the things I love best of all.

Forsythia; one of the first flowers of Spring

Living in New England for the past 30 years has attuned me to the rhythm of life in a way I had never understood before, and learning to enjoy each season for its unique blessings and challenges, is a good way to create harmony between us and the natural world.  

Pussy Willow

Being part of the changing circle of creation, forces us out of our everydayness into something flowing and alive. Just when we have reached our limit of cold winter days, the warm tendrils of Spring make their way across the land into our hearts, whispering softly of its promised arrival.

Like the finest of connoisseurs, I can feel it coming from miles away. Waking up from our long slumber, siblings to the trees, bodies stretching up towards the sun, we arrive, rejoicing in our eternal story.

Experiencing both moments of hardship and joy, brought to us on the winds of each new season, strengthens our resolve to live fully and with gratitude, knowing underneath the fertile soil are the miraculous stirrings of new beginnings, wonders never cease.

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; each an opportunity to celebrate the gifts from Mother Earth, and to release any lingering shadows held far too long, inspiring healing choices of forgiveness and love.

The symphony of birds outside my window every morning sing to me of dreams created during long winter nights. Heralding its arrival, robins sent out as tiny ambassadors announce the brightness of a new day.

Every season different, from beginning to end, renews our spirit, offering us a chance to grow and adjust our path. Though the days of time move in a continuous circle, our footsteps, if we desire, never having to be the same. 

Spring is in full bloom here in New England, and has been for a couple of weeks. The tulips and daffodils are lovely and already the magnolia blossoms are losing their petals, yet their sweet fragrance fills the air.

A dogwood tree in my front yard has started flowering, and each day on my walk I see something wondrous. Soon baby geese will paddle gently behind their parents on the lake, and I will take great pleasure in spying bunnies nibbling on clover during my morning walk.

Dogwood tree blossoms

Already the young crows are exploring, their voices loud overhead as they call to each other through the trees; under the fullness of the moon I hear the frogs sing across the water, and just today I saw my first butterfly, it’s wings softly painted white.

The arrival of this particular Spring has gently nudged me out from under the umbrella of melancholy I have long sheltered beneath, and into the cleansing rain of a new season.

“Life is brief and very fragile, do that which makes you happy,” is a quote I saved as a teenager. I made it into a collage which I brought with me when I moved here from California over 3 decades ago. I have it hung in my room as a daily reminder.

Despite my uncertainty in the unknown future, I am determined to remain open to all the beautiful possibilities life has to offer. The magic of each season holds a special message for everyone of us, if only we are willing to listen.

Drip-drop, ribbit-croak, nibble-hop, waddle-paddle, blossom-grow, flutter-fly, caw-caw

In Springy Peace, Happy first day of May!

Raven 

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Measure Of Time

Every day without fail, my eyes drift open into the early darkness of morning light and I immediately reach into the data base of my mind to remember what day it is; like a revolving door it returns without fail, the liminal space in time, where in that portal of nothingness, weightless in the unknowing, I am completely disconnected from the outside world, even from my own physicality, without substance or conscious intent. It is that one vibrant moment where I am aware of my soul, with no beginning or end.

One minute I am floating along in my river of dreams and the next tossed abruptly awake into the waters of reality. How far have I drifted from shore, no longer tethered by the measure of time. Until I know what day it is, I remain on the threshold of the in between, without need or purpose.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been unemployed since the pandemic began almost a year ago. It took many years of struggle to dig myself out of financial trauma, and mostly by working jobs I greatly disliked. Finally I had reached a place of security with my children’s program, something that was meaningful, built out of love, and all my own. They say it takes several years of opening your business before it becomes lucrative, and for me I was heading into my 4th one when it all came crashing down. I think if I were comfortably retired right now I wouldn’t mind the unknowing, but because I am *shamefully* unemployed I carry a simmering pot of angst in almost everything I do. I manage to escape it for the most part by tucking it away into the box of avoidance, but it’s in that exact moment of wakefulness that I must face every day, the decision to leave the sanctuary of my spirit and step back into my human need for physical, mental, and emotional security.

It turns out it really doesn’t matter what day it is, because I have very few obligations in life. If it weren’t for creating my blog/magazine, and my new idea to become a visual storyteller by taking up photography, I would have nothing in place for the future, and even in this current endeavor my chances for financial security are based on my wish to connect with a gigantic amount of people who will hopefully like me enough to follow. It’s all a numbers game whether my family will thrive or not, but I have faith in my ability to survive and so I move forward.

Marketplace treasures, some of it was given to me for free

The other day I needed cash for some treasures I found on Marketplace. After leaving the ATM I drove out of the parking lot, cozy in my car with it’s special deluxe seat warmers. As I approached the red light, I saw a woman standing on the medium next to where I would be waiting for the light to change. It was only in the upper 20’s, and she was bundled from head to foot with her jacket collar raised to cover her face like a mask, she stood holding a cardboard sign I couldn’t read, shivering on her small patch of concrete. I cautioned myself as I inched forward; don’t look at her, you are not giving her money, what if she has Covid, neither of you are wearing a mask, it’s not safe, you can help someone else another time, you are unemployed…and so on. Mind you all this was happening in the blink of an eye, because I was quickly next to her before I even finished my silent list of why I could not possibly do anything.

Photo by sergio omassi on Pexels.com

Suddenly another voice rose up inside, and not from my place of lack, my simmering angst, or my fear of the plague. This voice was the familiar one I wake up to every morning, the one that keeps me company while I sift through my thoughts of what day of the week it is. The voice that is always there under the surface of my outside self, the voice of my spirit, heart, and soul.

Help her, it said, you proclaim to the world to follow the path of beauty, you know what it means to be scared and alone, you understand desperation, and grief. There is no separation, this woman is you.

I sat there in the crossroads and made my decision. With haste to do all this before the light changed, I reached into my purse, grabbed one of the bills and like a slapstick comedy routine I pressed the lever of my window with the intent to lower it only enough to push the money through. In my clumsiness the window rose up smashing my wrist, and then all the way back down, leaving me exposed to the elements as well as any possible germs. Simultaneously, I called to her, my 20 dollar bill fluttering in the wind while my window rose up and down, up and down. She mumbled something behind her jacket scarf, her eyes crinkling in the corners with age, smiling in delight. With one last attempt to control my wayward window I wished her luck and sped away.

I am sharing this not as a way to expand myself in your eyes, but to express my very real struggle in that turning point to overcome my own fears, and to live by love. The money meant nothing to me as I was able to see it for what it was, an exchange of energy. I had told myself to not even look at her, but suddenly I was looking into her very soul, and she into mine.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

I thought about her later and wondered if she had a place to sleep that was warm and safe. I want to make a difference in this world and hope to do so by my artistic expression. Maybe I can turn this blog/magazine into something more, perhaps as a way to create change for all people who don’t have a place to live, medical care, or enough food to eat. We all deserve it, not because one person is better than another, or our skin is a particular color, or even because we express our sexuality or gender in a particular way, but just because it’s a basic human right.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I think it’s time for us to check into our souls and make choices that are not based on our projected ideas of morality, politics or religion, but on the one undeniable truth. We are all connected as living human beings, and are here for one purpose only, to exchange love. The world is changing, nothing can stay the same, which is a good thing since much of what we know was born out of ignorance and fear.

This time, I am hoping Love wins. So cast aside your judgement, for it all begins with you.

Today my friends, is Sunday.

In Peace, Raven

*I wrote this awhile back, but it’s about questioning our inherited beliefs and why we believe what we do. You may find it interesting! https://ravenwolfsong.com/2020/12/11/why-we-believe/

The Cardinal

Here in New England we are having a 48-hour mini-storm, complete with ice, sleet and snow. I recently discovered that walking on icy roads, though adventurous, is not always the best idea (see my previous post for my most recent perilous expedition). So, here I am now staying inside enjoying my hibernation. With my guardian-polar-bear-dog Skadi on mostly high alert, and my cozy wood stove, I am safe and warm.

A day in the life of Skadi, a snowstorm, and a couch

The weather is always interesting, which is one of the reasons why I love living out here. Several days ago it had warmed up to a balmy 43 degrees which turned the snow to slush and melted all of my beautiful window icicles. Everything is frozen again, but for a brief time I smelled the coming of Spring. Last night it was back down to a seasonal 19 degrees. Brrrrrrr!

Frozen-slippery-cold outside, and our firewood is almost all gone, but I still love Winter.

Several days before the storm while I was taking my walk, I found myself deep in thought; haunted reflections of my past and stressful concerns for my future ambushed all focus and I was unable to think of anything else. Immersed in a labyrinth of contemplation, I walked like I was asleep, my gaze turned inward, oblivious to everything around me.

Step, step, step…the sound of my feet hypnotized me as they hit the rough pavement.

Step, step, step…”You are going deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper” they sang

Step, step, step… I was a captive to my thoughts, unable to escape the spirals of my mind; remembering, pondering, questioning, worrying, thinking, thinking, thinking.

Step, step, step… side-tracked from one corridor to the next, I explored all the reasons why.

Step, step, step…searching hidden corners I considered every possibility.

Step, step, step…my mind is filled with corridors, spirals, and corners.

Step, step, step…I no longer remembered what I had originally been thinking about in the first place.

Step, step, step…sometimes it’s exhausting being in my head.

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Out of nowhere, a beautiful streak of red cardinal flew swiftly across my path and into the trees, startling me from the deep caverns of myself and back into the vibrant presence of my surroundings. He, with his brilliant red plumage, darted by so fast that I didn’t even have a chance to formally greet him.

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Females are a tan color, with an orange beak, while males are red, with a matching red beak.

If you are curious, or maybe a little superstitious like myself, you may already know that cardinals foretell good luck, most likely because seeing them is always a cheerful sight. Some people believe when meeting up with a cardinal, they are being visited from someone dear who has passed away. Because cardinals mate for life, with both recognized as caring parents, they are natural representatives for love and devotion, two of my favorite values. These loyal cardinals are also known for their lively songs, sometimes performing duets with a list of over a dozen romantic hits.

All of these fun facts rose quickly to the surface of my memories, but the main tidings I understood from this delightful messenger’s sudden appearance were unmistakably clear:

“Stop thinking, stop trying to make sense of everything, let go of needing answers, accept uncertainty, move forward, and don’t look back.”

In that fleeting speck of time, I did exactly that. I stopped thinking.

You may consider this to be a small thing, but I have been working towards this moment for years. Today a line was drawn in the snow, and the bright flash of my red-feathered friend ushered me unceremoniously over to the other side. To stop thinking means to remove the well-worn bookmark, creased and tattered from constant use, out from the recesses of my history book. I am ready to turn the page and begin the manuscript for my newest chapter.

Leaving the labyrinth of my mind means liberation from my past, with a new hope for the future.

*See if you can find the camouflaged snowman*

And so unchained at last from the endless loop of my thoughts, I was free to enjoy the rest of my walk, this time completely aware of my surroundings (which is actually a much safer way to travel) and awake to whatever came next…

…which, strangely enough, happened to be several versions of snow-people, my loud talking crow friends, and a somewhat muddy white chicken crossing the road.

A lot can happen on a 3 mile walk!

It’s a little blurry, but here it is!

Citizens of the snow

Here are a few of my crow-friends, eating the roasted-unsalted peanuts I brought for them as a treat.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I have no answer for you, I told you, I stopped thinking.

In Winter Peace, Raven

Watering My Plants

Today is watering-my-house-plants-day, which is something I do once a week when I know I will be home alone. It’s a dedicated time that I set aside specifically for their care. Tending to my plants has slowly evolved over the years from being a basic chore to a sacred ritual that I find very calming.

Being surrounded by my plants brings me such happiness; they are my ever flourishing reminders to the beauty of nature.

I believe creating rituals that are significant to you, will strengthen your ‘soul-er system,’ by opening up pathways between your body, mind, and heart. This holistic perspective will give you the clarity to live a life that is more genuine, purposeful, and truer to your inner convictions.

Traditionally, many rituals are practiced by performing a meaningful course of actions, with the intent to honor and/or connect with the divine. However, rituals don’t always have to be elaborate in order to be authentic: you can easily take a simple routine such as making your morning meal and turn it into a ceremony of gratitude, just by adding purpose and higher intention to your actions.

My leafy pals are my daily companions, each with a different personality, energy, and personal story. For instance, I found my giant Fern on the side of the road while on a walk last Summer. Another time while driving I saw a person about to place this full grown Spider plant on the curb. I quickly pulled over and they handed it right to me.

My large aloe, and pink geraniums were freely given to me by a generous gardener two summers ago. She carefully dug them up from the ground and I brought them home wrapped in a blanket, dirt and all. They are now potted so I can bring them outside during the warmth of summer, then back in for the cooler months.

These origin stories are only a small part of what I see as I water each one: they are also reminders of who I was when they first arrived and who I have now become in the present. Watching my plant friends evolve through the changing seasons has been a helpful way for me to measure my own personal growth.

Recently, my potted geraniums have begun flowering, which is amazing since we are in the coldest part of winter; they are very pretty against the backdrop of ice and snow.

Establishing rituals can support one’s belief in the divine, and manifest the possibility that we are part of something magnificent and holy. By our very actions we become active participants in beauty.

baby bay leaf tree and thyme

Watching my plants grow in size and seeing their newly sprouted leaves is so rewarding. Some of my favorite plants bloom throughout the year: delicate little whites, tubular fuchsias, purples, and rosy pinks, all blessings of joy to brighten my world; I have several heirloom varieties of scented geraniums: lemon, apricot, nutmeg, lime, and orange, along with my organic herbs: rosemary, oregano, and lavender, all delightfully fragrant and pleasing to the senses. I also have the added joy of caring for my friend’s Patchouli plant while she is away being a ‘traveling nurse hero’ during this pandemic.

patchouli plant

I find the ancient custom of rituals found in different religions and cultures to be fascinating, which is why I follow my own. I have learned in my quest for emotional healing that rituals can help reduce anxiety, just by the weight of comfort and stability they provide by performing familiar steps. Rituals offer up a sense of spiritual continuity which by its very nature is a reminder of peace.

My three eldest are trees, two Ficus, and a Norfolk Pine, all standing over 6 feet tall. We have known each other now for more than a decade. They have been my non-judgmental, supporting witnesses during significant times in my life, such as raising my children, divorce, financial struggles, romance, loss, and of course everything else woven in between.

Many leaves have since fallen, and dried branches broken off, yet we continue to thrive and reach for the sun.

I know my plants are happy to be here and I sincerely believe they love when I compliment and praise their beauty. I am also certain we have the same taste in music.

Prayer, walking, cleaning your house, building a fire, preparing meals, bathing, making a cup of tea, writing, exercise, art, gardening, can all be forms of rituals if you want them to be. The key is to stay mindfully focused, step by step, and to engage your entire self in the process; body, mind, heart and soul.

In Ritualistic Peace, May we Walk in Beauty, Raven

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. I think ritual is terribly important.”

Joseph Campbell

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