Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Hummingbirds!

Sometime early in April, I was sitting outside on our porch, talking to my mom on the phone. I noticed a hummingbird hovering nearby, and then she darted away. And then it happened again. And then I saw what she was hovering near and decided that I should continue my phone call inside. She was hovering near her nest, anxious to protect her eggs.

Ever since we moved in last year, there has been a small nest on a plant hook on our porch. We assumed that it was a wasp’s nest or something we should avoid. But, no. It was, in fact, a hummingbird nest, one that has now been reused this year. (Also: really glad it wasn’t a wasp’s nest!)

Hummingbird on nest, April 2019

We started calling this mother-to-be hummingbird our “little friend.” She grew to be more used to us, or at least startled less when had to come outside. Our laundry room is off our porch, so we couldn’t avoid the area entirely.

In about mid-April, I saw her perched on the edge of the nest, feeding her chicks in the nest. While I couldn’t see her chicks at that point, I took her sticking her beak into the nest as a sign that they had hatched!

And then there was a period where we didn’t see her or the chicks and I wondered if something had happened. But it turns out that once hummingbird chicks can regulate their body temperature, the mother spends less time at the nest and mainly comes back to feed them.

And then, one day in early May, I saw two small beaks poking out of the nest!

Baby hummingbird beaks!

After that point, we saw them more often – first their beaks, then their heads, and then their whole bodies. One was slightly larger than the other one.

Eventually they became big enough so that they mainly sat together on the top of the nest, sometimes facing opposite directions and sometimes facing the same way. My husband made the comment that it might be boring to be a baby bird: it seems to involve a lot of waiting for food, growing, and grooming.

A closer look with a better camera (photo taken by my husband).

My husband took this picture several days before they fledged (left the nest). Two weeks ago, I noticed that one of them seemed more restless, fluffing up her wings. She even hovered above the nest for a few seconds before coming to rest back on the nest. That evening, as I was doing laundry, I turned to look at both of them on the nest and, to my surprise and amazement, she flew off!

The other one, the one who was smaller, stayed in the nest for another day and a half. She was gone by that Saturday morning when I looked out.

It was truly delightful to be able to see hummingbirds so close-up. It was definitely an honor to watch these little ones come into being.

Advertisements

From 35 to 36

My 36th birthday is tomorrow. So here is my letter to my current age/year.

Dear 35,

I had a harder time writing you down as an age than most years. I say that I really don’t have many issues with aging, but I kept wanting to write “34” for about four months after my birthday. Maybe it’s because you are directly in the middle of the 30s. Maybe it’s because “I’m 35” somehow sounds more adult. I don’t really know why. But, eventually, I adjusted.

This year, I continued to grow and maintain my proofreading business. I’ve been taking more college classes. This is the year I took the Nia Blue Belt training, which was incredibly rewarding and my Nia practice has deepened as a result. This is the year that we bought our first home and have been gradually settling in, truly turning our condo into a home and a comfortable place to live.

I’ve spent so much time in my life in struggle and strive mode (on an internal level mostly) that it’s almost disconcerting not to be there most of the time. Yes, I have challenges in my life, and some I choose to face and others I have not yet faced. I am still healing in many ways from past experiences, but that pain is less at the forefront of my life. And yes, the outside world can be crazy at times. Yet I am content sometimes to just cuddle with my love and let my life be as it is.

I want to enter 36 clear-eyed and willing. Willing to take steps forward and challenging myself without pushing myself too hard. Willing to get to know new people, reach out.

I have to laugh; I sometimes think I prefer the even ages to the odd-numbered ones. Still, 35, you were good to me. Thank you for all you have brought me and taught me.

A post-wedding moment: sharing gratitude with a friend.

After our formal goodbye at the reception, as my love and I were at my car preparing to leave, my friend approached me. She gave me a hug, expressing gratitude for being there, and for our friendship. We first met in our DBT group in October 2014, where we started at the same time. She shared with me about a moment before we knew each other:

“The first day of group, I sat in my car, not sure if I wanted to – or could – go in. And then I saw you get out of your car, and I thought, ‘If she can do it, so can I.'”

“I’m so glad you did,” I said.

“Me, too,” she replied.

So grateful.

Yesterday, May 27, 2016:

I visit the river again. Seeing a school group of elementary school children going along my usual route, I take another trail. Heading north, then turning south. Crossing a small channel by balancing on wide branches and logs placed there for that purpose.

river spot

I walk until I find the spot. To me, it’s a place of ritual, located off a side trail that is well-shaded by the trees and bushes. The ground is slightly damp, almost marshy in places; the river has gotten higher at points this year.

I perch on the side of a tree and put down something that signifies a memory of the past. A feather, wrapped in string and fabric, small bead at the end. The original intention was to keep one and release the other. I released one the summer of 2013. Recently, as I was sorting through boxes, I found the remaining one and realized I no longer needed it. I remember the space where I attached meaning to it, a circle of women sitting on the wooden floor in a living room/common area of a Victorian style house. I think there was a guided visualization, someone beating a drum. Now, I thank that experience, the symbolic object, and what I have been through since then. And I let it go, figuratively and literally.

Last year during this time, I felt the anniversary energy so strongly: it had been a year since I admitted myself to the hospital for having suicidal ideations. I celebrated life and the choices I made to get to that point. This week, which marked two years since that time, I don’t feel as heavy. Those memories are certainly still painful, and they also have less pressure behind them. As time goes by, I gain more perspective. I continue to feel more at home in myself. I feel grateful, so grateful for my life.

Saying goodbye.

Yesterday:

“Are you prepared?”
Hard to say, I thought. I ask questions on what to expect and yet..how can I truly prepare for the last time I may see a person alive?

A family friend has pancreatic cancer and he may only have days left on this earth.  In a matter of weeks, his wife has had to accept this process of losing, of caretaking, of grieving while savoring these moments.
There is weight and significance in this visit.

There’s a feeling in the room when we get there that’s communal, sacred, holding space. Long term friends are there, there to say goodbye to him, and to support her.

We go in to see him. He’s lying in a hospital bed facing an open door looking out into the back yard. There are lilac bushes, and our friends tell me there have been hummingbirds, nearly the first of the season. 

I give him a hug. His arms are skinny, his face more narrow than when I saw him last. We exchange good to see yous. His voice is raspy, barely above a whisper. He gets tired easily, can only visit for a few minutes at a time. In his wakeful moments today he seems lucid, although it takes him effort to communicate.

He still loves jokes. He tells one about Dennis the Menace growing up to be Donald Trump, Several people get on their iPhones to search for jokes to tell him. A joke about current politics, a joke about language. I can see his eyes light up, his appreciation for the funny and entertaining coming to the surface for a moment.

He radiates a kind of light, almost an ethereal quality. He seems like he is retreating and yet it’s like there is this fullness around him. His energy, other energies, holding him, waiting.

We leave him alone to eat dinner. He has stopped eating and is repulsed by the mention of food. We, the visitors, exchange words, and we’re somehow less of strangers due to the nature of the situation.  There’s a certain kind of intimacy we share because we’re there to be there with them as death comes closer.

Before we leave, we say goodbye to our friend. My dad says, “Until we meet again,” and I simply say “Thank you.” I put my hands on my heart, and he does the same.

My thank you contains more than the two words I say out loud: Thank you for being the one who finds random things funny, who seems to find joy so easily in the present moment. Thank you for the way you have lived life.

Love letter: Courage.

Lion - watermarked

Lion – courage – card from my personal oracle card deck

Dear Courage,

I remember holding my new stuffed animal, a lion, tightly to my chest. My mom had given it to me because I had just flown alone for the first time – to move to Oregon to live with her. I was eight years old. “You are so brave,” she said.

I took courage from the spirit of the lion, whispering to myself that I was brave, courageous. Courage, I needed you so many times throughout the years, through moving states and schools, through my awkward adolescent years, as I grew up and tried to find my way in the world. And often, you whispered back, you will get through this. Just hold on.

Courage, you aren’t always this bold and bright spirit, brought out for situations like public speaking (although certainly you are a wonderful ally in those situations). Sometimes I feel you like soft arms holding me. I remember reading this quote, framed on the bathroom wall: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher. I took heart in that message as I went through a holistic healing program, as I lived in community and approached process after process. I found I needed you most when I went into crisis, where others told me that courage was choosing to leap and face the flames. You came and stood beside me as I crumbled, as I started to realize that getting help, and then leaving, was the best option for me. You reminded me that I define what courage is for me.

You have been with me through depression, through tears, through laughter, through choosing love. You don’t push me to overcome anxiety and fear, but to acknowledge them, make informed decisions, and keep going. Thank you for your fierceness, for your softness, for being such a powerful ally.

Sensory gifts

As I continue to realize how much my sensory processing issues have affected me throughout my life, I acknowledge that it’s easy to fall into thinking how they have challenged and limited me. I recognize that these issues and experiences bring both gifts and challenges.  I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some of the gifts:

  • The incredible delight I can feel when my fiancé touches me, the way simple sensations can be exquisitely amplified.
  • The way music feels when I can concentrate on it and allow all my senses to come alive, as though every instrument is stroking me softly.
  • I love how I appreciate soft textures, how touching certain fabrics can soothe me.
  • Tasting something delicious can feel like a whole body experience.
  • I feel deeply and have a high level of empathy and energetic sensitivity.
  • When I retreat to restore my energy, I enjoy my own company.
  • I appreciate my rich and intricate inner world.
  • My sensitivities deepen my creative process as an artist and a writer.
  • I have developed excellent self-care skills.
  • I have gained incredible strength and insight in finding how to approach my life in ways that work for me.

I am sure there are more.  What gifts does something that challenges you bring you?